Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"LGBTQ … and the love of God …"

Sometimes I want to scream … and I'm sure I'm not the only one.   I want to scream, "Stop lying to people.  Stop perverting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Stop twisting God's Word to make it say what you and others want it to say.  Don't use the very words that God gave and that have the power to bring life, to sentence people to death by leaving them in their sinful state before a holy God!  Stop telling people that God's love is "all-inclusive," that God loves everybody, no matter what they believe or even IF they believe."  But while I want to scream, I know that those who need to hear aren't listening, don't want to listen and … without God's Spirit, will continue to refuse to listen.  So my only recourse is to continue to speak God's truth and to OFFER God's love to those who have been given ears to hear by His Spirit, all the while praying that God will use His Word to bring some, or even one, out of their spiritual darkness and into His marvelous light.

I read a newspaper article recently that was written by a "gay Christian."  In it he claims that he wants to "recapture the gospel" from those who have made the debate about homosexuality the central issue of Christianity.  He says that those who speak out against homosexuality are hindering people from hearing the good news of God's all-inclusive love in Jesus.  We have, according to him, let people know what we are against, but not what we are FOR.  He states that those who refuse to welcome LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, questioning … or queer) people into the church are making the church look uninviting to those who are not "straight" and that only by opening our arms to all people can we really understand and express the true gospel which is good news for all people.

There is so much that is wrong with what he says that I scarcely know where to begin, and what is even worse is that many people in the church are agreeing with him.  I have heard people say, "Well we all sin and we should accept anyone who comes with the same grace God has given to us."  But wait, it is indeed true that we all sin, but you're missing the point that is being made by the LGBTQ lobby.  They are saying that homosexual or bisexual behavior is NOT sin …  Don't miss this.  And as sad as that is, there are those in the church who believe that such behavior IS sin, along with other heterosexual sins, BUT, that we must love and welcome those who ARE LGBTQ … learning to understand each other better and to live together by ignoring what the Bible declares to be sin.  We'll just talk about God's love.  We need to be "welcoming AND AFFIRMING."

What's wrong with that?  What's wrong is that the Bible that all these people seem to like to quote says that confession of our sin, repentance - a heartfelt sorrow for sin that causes us to desire to turn from it - and faith in Jesus Christ are necessary in order to receive God's forgiveness and to be received into His eternal kingdom … to be saved from His wrath and judgment.  The Bible reveals that while God OFFERS His love to all, ONLY those who come to Him through the narrow gate RECEIVE His love and grace and enter into His kingdom.  Though offered to all, God's redeeming love is NOT "all-inclusive."  It never has been.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16".  And John goes on to write, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:17-18).

So don't "gay Christians" believe in Jesus?  Well, what does it mean to "believe" in Jesus?  I can't question what you or anyone else believes, any more than you can question what I believe.  However, what each of us believes can and must be judged by the Word of God.  What you or I believe is only "right" if it matches what God's Word teaches.  To "believe" IN Jesus means to know who He is and what He has done for His children, His sheep.  To believe in Jesus does not mean simply to believe that there was an historical man named Jesus who died on a cross 2,000 years ago … or even that He rose from the dead.  To "believe in Jesus" means to know that your sin was laid on Jesus and that He suffered God's wrath and judgment against it.  And to believe in Jesus means that His perfect righteousness has been credited to your account by God's grace through the instrument of faith (a gift of God).  And to believe in Jesus means that you acknowledge Him as Lord and seek to live according to the truth that HE has revealed by HIS Spirit in HIS Word.

There are undoubtedly some "gay Christians" who believe in Jesus and who struggle with their sexuality because they know it is sin to act on the feelings they have and which some may have had as long as they can remember.  ALL who are seeking God's redeeming love must be and are welcomed by the true Church, by believers who understand God's grace because we all need it.  But what we cannot do is "affirm" sin.  God does not allow us to say that what He says is sin is now OK.  When I speak against homosexuality and other sexual immorality it is not to condemn people but to point them to repentance, forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ.  I need that myself!  I need to repent, I need God's forgiveness and I need the life of Christ.  By God's grace I have received Jesus Christ as Savior and confess Him as my Lord.  Now, what HE says is my guide, and when I sin, which I still do, I am convicted by His Spirit to confess my sin, to seek His forgiveness and to rely on His power to continue the work He has begun in me until it is complete, conforming me to His image.  While it is true that some who claim to be Christians and who may know about Jesus spend their time condemning others to make themselves feel better, there are many followers of Jesus who are FOR grace and forgiveness.  We are AGAINST sin because it not only enslaves people in this life, but for those who have not been called to repentance and who have not been born again by the Spirit of God, sin leads to eternal death!  We are FOR LIFE!!

I would agree with those who say that some have made the church uninviting by continually pointing out God's just judgment against sin and by singling out one sin or another (and homosexuality has been an "easy" target), without offering the solution.  God's grace and love have been buried under a mountain of condemnation by some.  Yet, doing the reverse and claiming that God's love is blind, or that what God calls sin is no longer sin because we decided it is not, does people no good when they finally meet the Judge of all men.  Those who claimed to know Jesus but judged and condemned others will face His wrath … but those who cried out that their sin was NOT really sin, in spite of what God's Word says, will be condemned right along with them.  You see, GOD is always right … and He judges fairly and impartially.

Romans 1-3 makes it clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10).  And "the wages of sin is death"  (Romans 6:23) … while "the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  People like the man who wrote the article I read are trying their best to lump all those who claim to be Christians into one mold and condemn all of us as guilty of not showing God's grace and love.  He has never met me or the congregation I serve.  All people are welcomed to worship with us and to fellowship with us.  What none of us are allowed to do is ignore the sin in our lives … sin we all still struggle with.  Together we approach God's throne of grace and confess our sins, knowing that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).  That is the hope of the Gospel and that is what we are "for."

My desire to "scream" turns into a deep sorrow and grief for those who are being misled by the lies of those who say they care about LGBTQ people.  God says, "If anyone is IN Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come" (II Corinthians 5:17).  Leaving people with an identity defined by their old nature of sin is not good news.  What I and others in the body of Christ who love God and who love people are FOR is the truth that Jesus sets believers free from the guilt AND power of sin.  God's grace doesn't just cover up sin, it delivers the captive!  As I have written before, in Christ there is no such thing as a "homosexual," simply a person who struggles with same-sex attraction.  While I understand that this is all tied together with companionship, love, marriage, benefits, "rights," etc., the bottom line is God's redeeming love in Christ.  His love is offered to all, but must be received by a faith that includes repentance and confession.  A "faith" that does not confess what the Bible calls sin and that has no desire to turn from sin is not a faith produced by the Holy Spirit.  It is not "saving faith" and it leaves people in their bondage.  God's Word is clear:  "Repent and believe!"

I pray that more Christians will love people enough to tell the truth … God's truth.  Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"  May those of us who have been rescued throw God's lifeline to those who are drowning in the sea of sin and help them find firm ground on which to stand at the foot of the cross!

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