Proceed With Conviction: Same-Sex Marriage in the USA

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b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98This weekend, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us however, our celebration is darkened by the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage for every American this past Friday. News like this tends to affect us in two ways: first we have an emotional response of anger, sadness, or shock. Secondly we have a sense of duty to do something; a feeling that we need to respond somehow. I think it is helpful for Christians first to zoom out and get an appropriate, wide-scope, biblical vision to give us perspective. Then in light of that we need to define specifically what our reaction should be and how we will proceed going forward.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS A VIOLATION OF GOD’S DESIGN

We need to first acknowledge that legalization of same-sex marriage is a multi-layered, sinful decision. It is sinful because it accepts as good something God has declared to be sin. The Scripture is clear that homosexuality is sinful behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition to plain statements of prohibition, there are many other negative examples, such as the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 13:13; 19:1-38).

Not only does the legalization of same-sex marriage normalize sin, it elevates it to the sacred dimension of matrimony, thus polluting and diminishing the social concept of marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman that is patterned after the relationship of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33).

Same-sex marriage also destroys the biblical structure of family. Children should be raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother who model proper gender roles and adult behavior. Even the fertilization of an egg requires sexual complementarity. As Christians, we must acknowledge the sinful nature of same-sex marriage.

HOW SHOULD WE PROCEED?

Affirm God’s sovereignty in heaven and earth. This decision did not catch God off guard. He may very well be using this situation to purify His church and to rekindle our devotion to Him.

Pray for our nation’s leaders, the church, and the lost. We should pray for those who lead our nation as they make decisions that set the course for the nation. We should pray that God would grant wisdom to the church in these difficult days as well as courage to continue the work of the Great Commission. Of course, we pray for those who do not know Christ that they will be turned from darkness to light.

Speak with prophetic voice concerning national sin. While we learn how to best engage the culture over these tough issues, let us always speak the truth of God concerning sin. The call of salvation is a call to repentance. We must speak truth in the midst of a sea of lies.

Model the gospel in our marriages and families. Too long we have preached against homosexuality without removing the log from our own eyes. Let us sanctify our homes and marriages to reflect the glory of God. We are living in a day when simply living in biblical, covenant marriage will be a radical testimony to the gospel. Let’s faithfully represent Christ and the Church.

Recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. The church’s mission is not political activism, but global evangelism. The gospel doesn’t work from top down, it works from bottom up. We are to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we bring about the reign of God on this side of the second coming.

Prepare to minister to refugees of the sexual revolution. There are going to be people hurt from the fallout of same-sex marriages and the church needs to be wise enough to prepare to receive them. There will be people connected to families in our churches who will obtain same-sex marriages. We need to be ready to confront with the gospel and minister faithfully.

Live in anticipation for God’s coming kingdom. We should not panic. Jesus is coming and this moment in time is just another tick on the clock that brings us closer to his appearing. Live as though God is completely in control and is bringing history to its appropriate end – because this is exactly what He is doing.

HELPFUL LINKS

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/26/why-the-church-should-neither-cave-nor-panic-about-the-decision-on-gay-marriage/

http://erlc.com/erlc/scotus

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/

Sermon Video – “Slaves” Romans 6:15-23

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This is a sermon I preached at Reed Springs Baptist Church Sunday morning, May 18, 2014. My sermon title is “Slaves” and my sermon text is Romans 6:15-23. Here is the sermon outline:

“Slaves” Romans 6:15-23

1. We are slaves to whom we obey (vs. 15-16)

• Slave — doulos — completely controlled by someone.
• Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters”

2. Slaves of sin or slaves of God (vs. 17-19)

• 1 Corinthians 6:9 “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God…”

3. The wages of sin or the gift of God (vs. 20-23)

• Slavery to sin leads to more and more sin and death
• Slavery to God leads to sanctification and eternal life

Will God Judge Christians for Their Sins?

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ImageThis question came up in a recent Pastor Q & A session at Reed Springs, “Why will believers be judged if Jesus paid for our sins and God has forgotten them?” This is a very good question. The fact is, believers will NOT be judged by God for their sins. If we were judged for just one of our sins, we could not go to heaven. We are justified in Christ. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection of all who repent and believe in Christ (Romans 3:28). Through justification we receive a new standing for God has declared us to be righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of justification, the penalty for sin is done away with for the believer (Romans 6:23).

Believers WILL, however, be judged for our stewardship. There are two different judgments for the believer and the unbeliever. These are separate events that take place at separate times. The unbelievers are judged by their sinful works (Rev. 20:11-15) and punished. Believers are judged by our spiritual productivity and rewarded (1 Cor. 3:10-15). The Bible actually says that we will be involved in judging the world and the fallen angels (1 Cor. 2-3). Our sins will not exist. The judgment of believers will be concerned with the spiritual fruit our life produced and how we handled the gospel on earth. It’s like if you were unemployed (unsaved) and someone hired you (saved) and gave you an evaluation after 90 days (judgment) to determine what kind of raise you deserved (rewards).

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (ESV) According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This distinction is very important. Many Christians have a very negative view about the Christian life, as if we are only called to meticulously avoid sin so that we won’t have too many strikes against us when we stand before God. This is absolutely backwards. I fear that many Christians are so afraid of doing something wrong, they never do anything at all! Remember, the disobedient servant was scared of doing something wrong, so he didn’t do anything with what his master had given him (Matthew 25:24-27). Rather than focusing on the “thou shalt nots” the Christian is called to focus on the “thou shalts.” When we become concerned about what God has called us to do, then the other things sort of fall in place. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he didn’t give a “thou shalt not” answer. Instead he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself…” (Matthew 22:37-40). If I am focused on worshiping God, growing in Christ, helping others, and sharing Christ with them; then I won’t have to continually worry about the things I’m not supposed to do. Remember, believers will be judged. We will be judged by our productivity and effectiveness as Christians. When we properly understand this and truly believe it, it will greatly affect how we live our lives. 

 

The Sermon We’ve All Been Dreading

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It’s Sunday morning. You eat breakfast, get ready, and go to church. You are excited. The music is great. You open your bulletin and underline a few upcoming events you are interested in. You place your offering in the plate and then… “open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 5…” How do you respond? With excitement? Joy? Anxiety? Fear? Dread? I have heard from more than one Christian that they always “got more out of” the singing part of service than the preaching. This is not reflective of the words of Peter, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). What is it about preaching that is off-putting and sometimes dreadful even to professing Christians?

I don’t think that all people feel this way all the time. I know of several Christians who love to hear a sermon preached. I have dear saints in my church that regularly tell me they enjoy my preaching, and I believe they are sincere. I think it has mostly to do with the condition of the hearer’s heart. Jesus told the religious leaders in Jerusalem, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (John 8:43, ESV). Jesus’ audience in this instance could not bear to hear Jesus’ words because they were unsaved. Their hearts were dead to God and His Word. I think this is true in many cases today. When we see people that have a fearful aversion to the Word of God and preaching, it should alarm us because the true sheep hear the voice of the shepherd (John 10:25-27).
It is understandable that those who aren’t Christians feel this way toward the Bible, but why do professing Christians sometimes distance themselves from God’s Word and God’s preachers? I think this is due to our fallen, sinful nature. It isn’t so much that every sermon is a scathing rebuke of our lifestyle, as it is we fear the scouring presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We know that the message of God uncovers sin and calls us to respond with repentance. When the preacher opens his mouth to speak, we sometimes cringe knowing that we are exposing ourselves to the sharp, double-bladed sword of Truth. Even a born-again believer who is not in the will of God, can at times dread a powerful sermon, but this should not be the normal attitude of a Christian. A true believer should be eager to hear God’s Word, and not take a defensive or fearful attitude towards it. Before we head to church Sunday, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word so we can say with the psalmist: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103, ESV).