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Christian Love Has No Sell-By Date   Leave a comment

It bears all thingsbelieves all thingshopes all thingsendures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Paul spoke of four different qualities of love, all linked to each other by the word rendered “all things.”, which seems to fall short of communicating what Paul is saying. Love does not, for example, believe everything. It is not “love” for a mother to believe her child when he denies getting into her freshly made pie, when the meringue has formed a mustache around his mouth. Paul had just written that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (verse 6). While we tend to read these as separate phrases, they are dependent upon one another and should be understood in context. How could he inform the Corinthians that “love” accepts everything as truth, believing whatever one is told and not contradict that earlier statement?

Image result for image of love enduresInstead, what it means is love is always characterized by certain qualities, without exception. Throughout history, man has sought to excuse disobedience or sin by convincing himself that his situation is an exception. Jesus was asked if a man could divorce his wife for any reason at all (Matthew 19:3). His response was a refusal to dwell on the exceptions. He focused instead on the rule. He knew that for the Pharisees, the exception had become the rule. This is why Paul had already excluded any “loopholes” in the Bible, by insisting that whenever we succumb to temptation, it is not because we had to (The “I’m only human” defense), but because we failed to act upon God’s divinely provided “way of escape”:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

And so Paul informed his readers that there are four things love never ceases to possess and to practice, four things which can always be expected from genuine love.

(1) Love always bears up under adversity (“bears all things”).

Love had endurance. It can continue no matter what the opposition.

Edwards points out that the Greek term employed by Paul has two senses:

The term used here by Paul “… means originally ‘cover over,’” … then, “contain as a vessel.” From this latter meaning two metaphorical uses of the word are derived, either of which may be here adopted:

  1. that love hides or is silent about the faults of others;
  2. that love bears without resentment injuries inflicted by others.

(T. C. Edwards, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (London: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.) p. 347)

I do not believe we are forced to one choice or the other. It is completely within the realm of possibility that Paul meant us to understand this word in terms of its broader range of meaning. If true, we can see two major dimensions to love’s consistent capacity to “hold up” rather than “fold up.”

Firstlove bears up silently; that is, love covers sin with a cloak of silence. Sin is shameful, and love does not wish the sinner to be shamed more than necessary. Noah’s son, Ham, broadcast his father’s shame to his brothers when Noah was drunk and naked in his tent. His brothers “covered” Noah’s nakedness in a way that prevented them from viewing his shame (Genesis 9:20-23). Peter reminds us that Jesus suffered silently, not responding verbally to the abuses hurled upon Him, and that this pattern of silent suffering is to be followed by all the saints (1 Peter 2:18–3:15; 4:8).

Matthew’s Gospel sheds further light on this matter of our silence when Jesus teaches His disciples about church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20). We are to go privately to a brother who has sinned against us, and if he repents as a result of our rebuke, the matter is settled, never to be made public. If, however, this wayward brother resists and refuses to repent, then the matter once dealt with in the strictest privacy must now be dealt with in a way that becomes more and more public. After all efforts to turn the wayward brother from sin have been rejected, the whole church must be notified of his sin, and he must be publicly ex-communicated. Love always seeks to keep the sin of a wayward brother as private as possible, but this does not mean we cannot and should not be confronted publicly, if all private efforts have failed.

Second, love always bears up, no matter how great the persecution, suffering, or adversity. Job’s wife “tempted” him to sin by urging him to “curse God and die,” thus bringing his suffering to a conclusion. Love never caves in or collapses under duress. Love always holds up. Should we attempt to deceive ourselves by thinking otherwise, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:13 jolt us back to reality.

Third, love always has faith (“believes all things”). Love never forsakes faith. The word translated “believes” in this verse is a verb, and the noun which shares the same root is very often translated “faith” in the New Testament. Of all the many times Paul employed the verb found here in our text, virtually every time it is used in a context which indicates the one who “believes” is the one who “has faith.” It is often used of those who have come to faith, those who have become “believers” (see 1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:5; 14:22). Only once in Paul’s epistles does this verb refer to a belief in something other than the truth of the gospel:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it (1 Corinthians 11:18, emphasis mine).

Love always believes; it always has faith, even when life seems to be crumbling about us. Adversity is never an occasion for unbelief. Paul, imprisoned and awaiting a verdict from Caesar, was filled with faith, trusting that his death would either bring him into the presence of God or that his life would be used to draw others nearer to God (Philippians 1). Suffering is not an excuse for the failure of faith; rather, it is an occasion where love and faith may be demonstrated.

I know that faith, hope, and love are often mentioned together or are found in very close proximity to each other. I’ve come to appreciate the very close association that exists between love and faith. When Jesus summoned the four fishermen, Peter and Andrew, James and John, why did these men leave their nets, their boats, and even their fathers to follow Jesus? Was it because of their faith? Partly, but I think they were drawn to Jesus out of love—His love for them and theirs for Him. These disciples did not understand a great deal about Jesus and His gospel until after His death, burial and resurrection. What kept them following Him before these things were clear in their minds? Faith, in part, but also love.

Love always has faith. Our love for God and our trust in His Word should give us unlimited faith in Him. Those men and women whom we love we must also trust, but within limits. We dare not believe everything we are told. In Deuteronomy 13, Moses warns the Israelites concerning those who would lead them astray. Included among those who might mislead us are those we call our “loved ones” (see 13:6-10). Love is never a license to uncritically accept all we are told. The love we find in the Bible is based on the truth (see Philippians 1:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:5).

Our faith must not be in our fellow man, but in God. No matter how bad things may be, no matter how much grief others may dish out to us, we should have unlimited faith in God. We should have faith in His promises to sustain us, to keep us from falling, and to perfect His work in us. We should have faith that God is using our trials and tribulations to strengthen our faith (Romans 5:1-11James 1:1-18) and to bring about our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Paul found great consolation in his sufferings for Christ’s sake because it enhanced his sense of identity with Him and his love for Him (see Philippians 3:8-11Colossians 1:24-29).

All too often I see a kind of cynicism in Christians that is not compatible with faith. Of course, we believe in the depravity of man. We know this world is passing away and that the unbelieving world’s efforts to bring about the improvement of man’s moral and spiritual nature are doomed. We know a genuine and permanent peace will never be negotiated or brought about on this earth, apart from the return of our Lord and the establishment of His kingdom. Nevertheless, we can have faith that God will bring about His purposes for this earth and that He can save those who are seemingly hopelessly lost in their sins (such as Saul of Tarsus). We can be optimistic about what God will accomplish through us in this world. Love, true love, always manifests faith.

Fourth, love always has hope. Faith is believing in what is ultimately real and true but not immediately seen (see Hebrews 11:1). Faith believes God is going to give us that which our eyes do not and cannot see but which God has promised to us. Hope is our longing and desire for those things which are future, which by faith we believe we shall receive.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:22-25).

The concept of hope is frequently found in Paul’s writings. Hope enables the Christian to face even the most adverse circumstances, hoping for the promised blessings which will follow. “Hopeth all things is the forward look. The thought is not that of an unreasoning optimism, which fails to take account of reality. It is rather a refusal to take failure as final. Following on from believeth all things it is the confidence which looks to ultimate triumph by the grace of God.”

We can fairly readily grasp the relationship between faith and hope, but what is the relationship between hope and love? It seems to me that we hope for what we really love. I think we see this kind of hope in the life of Jacob. When Jacob fled from home (really from his brother Esau), he went to live among his relatives in Padan Aram. Finding his uncle Laban, Jacob stayed with him, falling in love with his younger daughter, Rachel. Jacob worked for seven years to earn the dowry for Rachel, only to discover that Laban had given him Leah instead. It took another seven years of labor before Jacob had paid the dowry for Rachel. And yet we read these words concerning Jacob’s attitude toward the delay in obtaining Rachel for a wife: “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20). Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him both hope and endurance.

Of course there is a sense in which our love for others should give us hope for them. We love the children God has given us, and as they grow up, we have hope that God will save them and that they will grow up to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Our hope, however, is not in them so much as it is hope for them. We have hope for our children because ultimately our faith and hope are in God. We have hope that God will accomplish certain things in them.

Many of the Corinthian Christians were Paul’s spiritual children (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). In spite of all the abuse he had taken from these, his children, Paul had great hope for them (see 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 9:11-15; 13:6-14).

Man’s hope may be wrongly placed (see 1 Timothy 6:17), but the only true source of hope is God, and particularly the Lord Jesus Christ (see Psalm 33:171 Peter 1:21Psalm 31:24; 38:15; 42:5, 112 Corinthians 1:101 Timothy 1:1). Christians should be characterized by hope in the midst of adversity, and it may well be this hope which opens the door for sharing our faith with others: “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). True love is characterized by a consistent hope. Love always hopes.

Fifth, love always perseveres (“endures all things”). Some have been troubled that the first description of love (“bears all things”) is too similar in meaning to Paul’s last description (“endures all things”). I believe these two things are related, just as “faith” and “hope” are related. I see the “bearing” of things related to the intensity of the trial or offense. “It was more than I could handle,” someone excuses. “How much am I supposed to put up with?” another asks. Perseverance or endurance do not focus so much on the intensity of the trouble as the duration of it.

Love, Paul wrote, does not run out of time. Love lasts. This point will be taken up in the following verses. No matter how difficult the trial, love bears up under it; no matter how long the trial, love perseveres. This was not the case when the Corinthians divorced one another (chapter 7) or when one believer took another to court (chapter 6). There is a world of difference between a Christian asking the question, “How long?” and the Christian throwing in the towel with the excuse, “Too long!”

This, by the way, are what marriage vows are all about. When a man and a woman love each other and enter into covenantal marriage by the taking of vows, they promise to love each other, no matter what. And when they repeat their vows to each other, they commit themselves to loving their mate, “until death do us part.” Love does not put time limits on its own existence, even when things get rough.

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Good Friday Sacrifice   4 comments

What’s the one thing you look forward to most on Easter?

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Easter is the high holiday for evangelical Christians like myself. While Christmas gets all the flash and bang by society, Easter is the pivot point of our faith. The entire life and work of Jesus Christ, right up to and including His death on the cross, means nothing outside of Easter. None of it would have had any effect had He not risen again.

Image result for image of the Lord's Supper

For me, Easter starts a couple of weeks before the actual date. Baptists don’t celebrate Lent … actually, I’ve never really understood that word “celebrate” in connection to Lent, which is a time of self-deprivation. I tried it one year with some friends as an experiment and, while dealing with the sudden cravings for chocolate that I’d never had before I chose to give it up for Lent was interesting, but I didn’t have a spiritual experience from it. My pastor at the time suggested this was because Baptists already practice self-control in many areas that society thinks are odd, so saying I wasn’t going to eat chocolate for 40 days was simply just practicing a skill I already possessed. Maybe.

But back to the subject. Once a quarter during the year, our church does the Lord’s Supper and Good Friday is one of those times. I do a more relaxed format of this every quarter, but Easter is when I really try to be formal with myself. A couple of weeks before the Lord’s Supper, I essentially start a Step 4 inventory of my life and sins. I try to be ruthless with myself, digging deeply to jot down people I owe amends to, which includes God. As I write out my list, I am constantly offering prayers to Him for what I know to be failings in my walk with Him. Over the years, my list of people has grown shorter just because I practice self-control more in my personal and thought life. Yeah, sometimes the people who are on my list have no idea that I owe them amends because the sins I’ve committed against them were inside my own head. Yes, I still list them because whether they know it or not, God knows it and that’s the real point of this exercise.

My goal is to be done by Palm Sunday, the list written out, sometimes my apologies made, occasionally my amends underway. It’s not always as clean as that because life is messy, but I try to be at peace with God by the time I approach the Lord’s Supper table. In this, I fulfill Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 5:23-24 – “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24, NIV).

There are some people who will always be on my list because reconciliation is impossible with them. It may be that they wouldn’t accept my overtures or it could be that they have done something for which there can be no reconciliation. This doesn’t mean that I don’t take the Lord’s Supper or that I feel like I am taking it unworthily. Ultimately, Christian salvation is the sole work of Jesus Christ and not at all dependent upon me or my efforts.

There are things in life that we can’t fix. Very likely, if I’d had a wonderfully spotless life, I wouldn’t be a writer. The point of the process is to bring me to self-awareness and forgiveness … both my forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of me. There are relationships that can’t or shouldn’t be mended. There are people I have forgiven for things they’ve done to me who I have no intentions of reconciling with because it wouldn’t be healthy for me to do so. There are sins in my life that were a part of my life the first time I worked through this process and will still be struggles I have when I stand before the Bema Seat. The point of the exercise is not to become sinless, incredibly self-aware or to feel like I’m worthy of God’s grace because those things are impossible goals. The point is to stand before God, knowing what I have always known … that my salvation relies wholly on Him and none of it on me.

For me, the best part of Easter is right after I’ve taken the Lord’s Supper on Good Friday, when I know that … at least for a short period … I have laid the burden of my ongoing sins at His feet, secure in the hope that I have perhaps moved a little closer to where my Savior wants me to be as a believer. Once again I feel the way I felt the day I accepted Christ, awed and humbled by His grace and mercy to me who does not deserve it.

Posted April 10, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court | Kelsey Harkness   1 comment

The ongoing battle between gay rights and religious liberty escalated Thursday as husband-and-wife bakers in Oregon appealed their case after being ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Image result for image of a wedding cakeEvery time we tried to make a constitutional argument it was stomped on, because it was administrative law.

“Everything up to this point has been administrative hearings,” Aaron Klein, co-owner with his wife Melissa of the since-closed bakery, told The Daily Signal afterward.

“Every time we tried to make a constitutional argument it was stomped on, because it was administrative law,” he said. “But now we’re finally in a courtroom where the Constitution and due process can be argued on a level we haven’t seen before. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome.”

In court, an attorney for the Kleins again argued that designing and baking a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate the bakers’ Christian faith.

Both the Kleins and the same-sex couple who filed the original complaint against them were present inside the courtroom.

Afterward, while speaking to reporters, Melissa Klein had an emotional response.

“We lost everything,” she said. “I loved my shop, and losing it has been so hard for me and my family.”

In an exclusive telephone interview with The Daily Signal later, she added:

“That was a part of our life, and it was something that we thought was going to be passed down to our kids. It’s something that I miss every day still. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over it because it was our second home.”

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from both sides, with questions focused on issues such as:

  • Does Oregon have a “compelling reason” to grant the Kleins a religious exemption from the state’s antidiscrimination law?
  • Does a cake count as artistic expression protected by the First Amendment, and how do you differentiate between what constitutes art and what doesn’t?
  • What was the particular message involved in designing and making a cake for a same-sex wedding, and how is it understood by an observer?
  • To what extent may an artist be compelled to do something?

The Kleins used to run Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a family bakery they owned and operated in Gresham, Oregon. But after the Kleins declined in 2013 to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding, citing their religious beliefs, they faced protests that eventually led them to shut down their bakery.

In July 2015, an administrative judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins had discriminated against a lesbian couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, on the basis of their sexual orientation. The judge ordered the Kleins to pay the $135,000 for physical, emotional, and mental damages.

Under Oregon law, it is illegal for businesses to refuse service based on a customer’s sexual orientation, as well as race, gender, and other characteristics.

The Kleins maintained that they did not discriminate, but only declined to make the cake because of their religious beliefs about marriage. Designing and baking a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, they said, would violate their Christian faith.

The Kleins appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals on the basis of their constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process.

The three appeals judges also pursued these lines of questioning:

  • Was the award of damages—the $135,000 the Kleins were ordered to pay—out of line with other cases before the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries?
  • Was it reasonable for that state agency to extend the damages through more than two years after the alleged discrimination actually occurred?
  • Did Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian prejudge the case and in doing so strip the Kleins of their right to due process?
  • How is sexual orientation different from race as a personal characteristic?

Each side had equal time to make their case and the Kleins, as plaintiffs, got an additional five minutes for a rebuttal. The oral arguments were live-streamed, and may be watched in full here.

“The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs,” Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom group that represents the Kleins, said in a press statement, adding:

The administrative judge who issued the final ruling also is employed by the state agency.

“In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins’ rights to free speech and religious liberty.”

But Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, whose lawyers represent the Bowman-Cryers,  said:

“The facts of this case clearly demonstrate that the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against a same-sex couple when they refused service based on sexual orientation.”

Since the case began in 2013, the Kleins have argued the cards were stacked against them.

Lawyers for the Bureau of Labor and Industries pursued the charges against the Kleins on behalf of the lesbian couple, who went on to marry.

Avakian, the agency official, made multiple public comments criticizing them before any rulings, the Kleins said.

The administrative judge who issued the final ruling also is employed by the state agency.

Besides ordering the Kleins to pay $135,000, Avakian ordered the former bakery owners to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.

Both parties have said the case has taken a heavy toll on their families. Aaron and Melissa Klein, who have five children, say they continue to face hurtful attacks from liberal activists.

According to an article the Bowman-Cryers wrote for The Advocate, a publication focused on LGBT issues, they are foster parents for two “high-needs” girls.

“Part of the reason we decided to get married in the first place was to provide stability for our daughters,” they wrote, adding:

Before we became engaged, we became foster parents for two very high-needs girls after their mother, a close friend of ours, died suddenly. Lizzy, now 9, has cerebral palsy, autism, and a chromosomal disorder that causes developmental delays. Anastasia, now 7, has Asperger’s and stopped speaking when her mother died.

While the case wound its way through the courts, we won full adoptive custody of Lizzy and Anastasia, and they are the light of our lives.

The appeals judges are not expected to rule for several months. If they rule against the Kleins, the couple’s next step would be appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Republished from the Daily Signal.

Source: Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court | Kelsey Harkness

 

I would point out that even if the Kleins win their case in court, they have still lost as this has taken their businesses and more of less bankrupted them. I would also point out because the article does — this lesbian couple were repeat customers. Melissa Klein had served them before when the service was not a wedding cake. Lela

God’s Wisdom   Leave a comment

If you just read the first part of 1Corinthians, you could come away with the impression that Paul said the gospel really is foolish and weak. Not at all! This is only the way the world perceives the gospel. In chapter 2, Paul revealed that weakness and simplicity are not the end of the story but the beginning. It is through the weakness of proclaiming the gospel that the wisdom and power of God are made manifest. The world regards God’s wisdom as foolish because it is incapable of comprehending or accepting its truths. God’s wisdom is a mystery which the unsaved cannot grasp, and no one would have known apart from divine revelation. Through His Spirit, God has revealed Himself to people. The Spirit who searches the depths of God has been given in a special way to the apostles. Through those inspired men, divine thoughts had been translated into divine words. Those who possess the Spirit by faith in Christ can appraise the spiritual truths of Scripture. Those who are unsaved, and thus without the Spirit, cannot. No wonder they think God’s wisdom is foolish. They cannot understand it—or God. But we who have the Scriptures and the Spirit have the mind of Christ.

Now we do speak wisdom among the maturebut not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishingInstead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mindimagined,  are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1Corinthians 2:6-9

Image result for image of wisdomAt verse 6, Paul changed from the first person singular (“I”) to the first person plural (“we”). Verses 1-6 spoke of Paul’s mind set, message, and methods when he first came to Corinth with the gospel. In verse 6, Paul spoke for more than just himself. I understand the “we” to refer principally to the apostles. As further developments in this letter and 2 Corinthians will show, the real struggle was not with Corinthian cliques, each of which had chosen to follow a different apostle, but with those in Corinth who had turned from the apostles to other teachers, of which some will prove to be “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

What was the Corinthians’ beef with Paul that they chose to follow other leadership? It is Paul’s “simplistic” devotion to Christ crucified. Paul has chosen to be a one-note Sally and continue to stress that which was offensive to both Jews and Gentiles. Consequently, for a Corinthian Christian to identify with the apostle Paul was to embrace that which is foolish and weak to the unbelieving mind of his era. To identify with Paul and his preaching was to become a fool in the eyes of the world. Fools were without status. So some were tempted to identify with new leaders whose methods and message were far more acceptable. Associating with them gave one a much higher status.

They weren’t unlike Christians today.

Paul didn’t deny that his message and methods were foolish. In fact, he emphasized that is was. But in moving to the first person plural (“we”), Paul linked himself, his message, and his methods with all of the other apostles. Paul’s message and methods were no different from those of his fellow apostles. He spoke with and for all the apostles as he admonished the Corinthians.

At verse 6, Paul made another shift in his emphasis. Up to this point, Paul had granted the fact that his gospel was foolish and weak. Now he began to clarify and expand his instruction. The apostolic gospel is foolish and weak to unbelievers, but it is neither foolish nor weak in the sight of God. Neither should it be regarded as foolish nor weak in the sight of the saints. In verse 6, Paul insisted that the apostles did speak wisdom. This wisdom is not for all, however. There were two groups from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld. The first group is those who was immature (verse 6). In chapter 3, verse 1, Paul plainly told the Corinthians they were “men of flesh,” “babes in Christ,” and in verse 3, he contended that they still remained in the same condition. Did the Corinthians chafe because Paul’s message was too simple? The problem was not with Paul or his colleagues; the problem was with the Corinthians. They could handle a more indepth gospel.

Image result for image of god's wisdomThe second group from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld is unbelievers (2:6). Paul said the wisdom the apostles preach is not of “this age.” Consequently, the rulers of “this age” are not able to grasp it. Even those who are the wisest and most powerful people of this age are unable to grasp it. This is evident at the cross of Calvary. There, at the cross, the rulers of this age rejected Jesus as the Messiah as God’s means of salvation. God’s “wisdom”was never more clearly manifested to men than in the person of Jesus Christ, but the best of this age were not able to see it. It is obvious that they did not receive this “Wisdom” because they crucified Him.

Paul’s words here help us to distinguish between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom was revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming, but the world rejected Him and the wisdom He manifested. The wisdom of God is “eternal wisdom,” a wisdom established in eternity past yet to be fully implemented when Christ’s kingdom is established on the earth. The wisdom of this world is “empirical wisdom,” based upon that which can be seen and heard and touched. The wisdom of God cannot seen by the naked eye, heard with the ears, fathomed by the natural mind. It surpasses even man’s imagination. It is other worldly. This should not come as a surprise to the Christian. The prophet Isaiah indicated as much in the citation which Paul included in verse 9.

God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.  1Corinthians 2:10-13

Paul has just shown us why God’s wisdom, which the apostles proclaimed, is rejected by the great but unbelieving men of this age. Men of this age are limited to temporal, human wisdom. They cannot grasp God’s eternal wisdom. They cannot see, hear, or comprehend the things of God. How then can mere mortals ever know God’s wisdom?

In verses 10-13, Paul expounded the doctrines of inspiration and revelation whereby God has made His wisdom known through the apostles who have inscripturated the “depths of God.” 

How can men really know a God Who cannot be seen and whose provisions are beyond human thought? The answer: through the Holy Spirit, who has imparted the knowledge of God to and through the apostles in the New Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of God.” Just as man’s human spirit knows the deep thoughts of the man, so the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, knows the intimate things of God. When the Lord Jesus was on Earth, He spoke many things to His disciples which they did not understand or even remember. Jesus told them that after His departure, He would send His Spirit. The Holy Spirit would not only call the things He had spoken to their remembrance, He would also enable them to understand them so that they could record them for others. In addition, the Spirit would reveal things to come, things of the coming age (see John 14:25-26; John 16:12-15)

Image result for image of god's wisdomPaul had already spoken of the wisdom of God as a mystery (1 Corinthians 2:7). A mystery is something God reveals concerning the future, which is not fully grasped before its fulfillment because it is beyond human comprehension. The apostles played a unique role as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). After God has completed a work that was formerly a mystery, He fully disclosed that mystery through one of His apostles. Paul was surely one of the great “mystery apostles” in that it was his privilege to speak of several mysteries. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul spoke of the privilege God had given him as an apostle to reveal some of these mysteries (Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:1-13; 5:32).

In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Paul described the fulfillment of our Lord’s promise to His disciples (remember that Paul was divinely added as the twelfth apostle). Man, Paul said, could never know God on his own, but God has chosen to make Himself known through His Word and through His Spirit. His Spirit was given to the apostles in a special way so that the things of God might be inscripturated, divinely inspired and recorded as a part of the Bible. The apostles have been given the Spirit in this unique way so they “might know the things freely given to us by God” and might communicate them to us. The Spirit superintended this process by “combining spiritual thoughts (“the depths of God,” verse 10) with spiritual words” (the words of Holy Scripture).

Here is a very crucial difference between the true apostles and false apostles. The apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did! False apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did not! God can be known intimately because He has chosen to disclose His innermost thoughts and being to men by means of His Spirit working through the apostles, resulting in the New Testament Scriptures. To reject the apostles and their teaching as the “wisdom of God” is to reject God, for they are the only ones through whom God has chosen to disclose Himself. Is the gospel simplistic? It is because God’s way of salvation is simplistic—one way (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6). To reject the apostles’ teaching is to reject the God Who disclosed Himself to men through them.

The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?  But we have the mind of Christ. 1Corinthians 2:14-16

God has disclosed Himself to men through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit knows the intimate things of God and, by inspiring the apostles, has translated spiritual thoughts about God into spiritual words—the New Testament. Yet the unbeliever seems blinded to the truth contained in God’s Word. How can some find a rich source of revelation in the Bible which enables them to know God more intimately, while others find the Scriptures a senseless mixture of writings which cannot even be understood? Why are some drawn to the Scriptures and others repulsed by them?

The difference is the presence or the absence of the Holy Spirit. We see in verses 10-13 that Paul spoke of the Spirit’s work in conveying God’s thoughts to men by inspiring the apostles to convey spiritual thoughts through spiritual words, that which comes down to us as the New Testament. Now, in verses 14-16, Paul wrote of the work of the Spirit, enabling men and women to understand the Scriptures and know the mind of God.

Previously, Paul had divided mankind into two groups:

  1. those who trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for their eternal salvation, and
  2. those who do not, who cannot understand the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

True wisdom cannot be grasped by those who are unsaved, by those who do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them illuminating the truth of the Scriptures so they can know the deep things of God. True wisdom speaks of things which pertain to a future age and of things which no man has ever seen, or heard, or is even able to imagine. The only way this kind of wisdom can be known is for men to trust in Jesus Christ so that their spiritual eyes may be opened to see the wonders of the wisdom of God and the world to come.

The Christian is called “spiritual” (verse 15) by Paul. Most often, we understand the term “spiritual” to refer to those who are mature, who manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Paul seemed to use it to refer to those who possess the Spirit, who live in the realm of the Holy Spirit because they have trusted in Jesus Christ. The one who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to grasp and to appraise both temporal and eternal matters. Paul said the Christian who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to “appraise all things” earthly and eternal, things pertaining to this age and the next.

While the Christian—“he who is spiritual”is able to appraise all things and thus to understand the beliefs and the behavior of the unsaved, the unsaved (“natural”) man is unable to understand the Christian (“he who is spiritual”). No wonder Christians are misunderstood and even persecuted. No wonder they are considered foolish and weak. This is the best the unaided mind of the natural man can do.

Paul closed this section of the letter with the words of Isaiah 40:13: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). These words sum up the difference between the non-Christian and the Christian. God has revealed Himself to all men in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures (verses 10-13). The Scriptures make no sense to the unbeliever. This is because it is impossible for the unbeliever to grasp the things of God apart from the Spirit of God. Who can know the mind of the Lord? No one can, apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in revealing the Word of God through the apostles and in illuminating the Scriptures to the individual believer.

In contrast to the unbeliever, who is oblivious to the mind of God, the Christian can say confidently, “We have the mind of Christ.” The “we” may refer either to the apostles, who alone can speak the “mind of Christ,” or more generally, of all the saints who possess the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. It is through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit that the “mind of Christ” is conveyed to the saints. The Christian has both the Word of God and the witness of His Spirit, the Author of that Word. What more can one ask for than this?

This final statement sums up the vast difference of opinion which exists between Christians and unbelievers over “wisdom.” The unbeliever is incapable of understanding God’s wisdom and so is confined to a very limited, distorted temporal wisdom. The Christian has the means for knowing the mind of God and thus has access to the wisdom of God. The Christian should not be surprised by the reaction of the unbeliever to the preaching of the gospel. Christians should not forsake the vast wisdom God has made available to us in order to pursue the wisdom which the world seeks.

Men can come to know God in only one way—through His Word and through His Spirit. There are many different beliefs about God, but there is only one true God. This is the God Who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. All views of God which originate with men, rather than with God, are false. All views of God which come from some other source than the Bible are false. It does not matter how you would like to think of God. Paul’s words inform us that the way we think about God is certain to be wrong, for true wisdom comes from above, not from below. True wisdom flows from God to men, not from men God-ward. The Bible reveals to us a God that we would not have imagined, a God whom we would not have wanted, a God whom we would not have received. Apart from the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we could never have come to know God.

Posted March 5, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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This is Love   Leave a comment

When Jesus was asked to love the world composed of individuals, He carried His own cross the Calvary. For those of you who think God is a cosmic meanie who delights in abusing mere mortals, just take a pause and consider that for a moment. Jesus was God Incarnate – God in the flesh — and He chose to go to the cross for your sake, even if you hate Him.

In 1945 Roddie Edmonds, a 26-year-old US Army Master Sergeant, was the highest-ranking soldier among the 1292 American POWs in the camp. Circumstances had made him their commander, responsible for their well-being. He’d been in the camp for a month when the German commandant ordered all Jewish American soldiers to line up outside the barracks the next morning.

Edmonds told his men “We’re not doing that. We’re all falling out.”

Image result for image of grocery checkout hellThe commandant knew all 1300 men could not be Jews. He knew there were about 200. When he ordered Edmonds to identify them, Edmonds, an evangelical Christian, insisted they were all Jews. The commandant put a pistol to his head and again demanded that he identify the Jews.

 

Somehow, when most men couldn’t think, Edmonds rattled off his name, rank and serial number. He then reminded the commandant that if he shot Edmonds, he’d have to shoot the entire 1300 and that would assure that the commandant would be tried for war crimes since everybody knew it is was just a matter of time before the Americans won the war. The commandant walked away. Months later, Edmons and his men were rescued.

We’d all like to think we would show the same resolve as Edmonds did in similar circumstances. I suspect I’d wet my pants. Would I have started identifying the Jews? I don’t know. Survival is a pretty high ideal of mine. With a gun to my head, I’m not sure if I could have thought so clearly.

Pastor Chris Edmonds, who only recently learned of his father’s bravery, points out that none of the men under Edmonds’ command pointed out the Jews. “They all stood together.” Chris Edmonds adds that his father’s story “is a clarion call to love one another regardless of our choices or faith. He stood against oppression. He stood for decency. He stood for humanity. This thing we call life – it’s about all of us, not one of us.”

Jesus gave up His human life for all of us, though we still come to Him as individuals. In the Western world, we think of love as a personal relationship with another person, but that “love” appears dependent upon what the other person does for us. The Greeks had a whole vocabulary for “love” that included mere lust, friendship love and agape love, which is the big expansive love for our fellow human beings that can express itself as caring for the well-being of another group of people without thought for our own well-being. It’s more than a personal love. Edmonds showed that love in practice.

That day in 1945, Edmonds’ decision was to love the men under his command with his own life. He didn’t choose to be an individual that day, but to live or die as a member of his troop. Maybe the commandant was actually bluffing that day, but I suspect the authority of agape love somehow overwhelmed his own authority. He couldn’t pull the trigger because he too recognized the love that Edmonds was representing.

Agape love doesn’t just happen on the battlefield. Christians are called to express it in every circumstance. Yeah, the world is full of jerks, but that doesn’t mean we have to become jerks ourselves. Brad absolutely hates to go through the checkout line at the market because there’s always someone there doing something stupid. They can’t figure out how to scan one item or they are in the “less than 15” line with 30 items or they can’t find their POS card. He gets himself all worked up inside his head and he carries that anger with him after he leaves the store. He tends not to say anything aloud. That would be me, but I’m irritated far less often … not that it makes a bit of difference to our relationship with Jesus, our fellow shoppers or with ourselves. The thing about sin is that it occurs within us before it leaks out to the surface. It’s our thoughts and actions that cast a shadow on our day, not the actions of the other shopper. Oh, yeah, we justify our irritation. We were right and they were wrong.

And yet, as we drive away, we may be tense and fuming, causing damage to our own bodies. We blame the world for not yielding up the perfect set of circumstances. We comfort ourselves that the other shopper was at fault, not our weakness of character. We tell ourselves that people like Roddie Edmonds are special and that the range of human choices is different for us than for them.

People like Edmonds will seem rare until more of us honor our mutual interdependence as we encounter the small things in life. When faced with a big challenge our self-serving behavior may kick in because our muscles to practice agape are flabby. There’s no reason to hate ourselves for that. We just need to learn to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. When we give into the anger that the world seems to bring about, then we only hurt ourselves and our witness as Christians.

Take a moment. Take a deep breath. Resolve to do better next time. Remember, we’re all in this world together … and God no doubt had a reason for doing it that way.

Posted January 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Examined living

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Impossible Compromise   2 comments

I recently had a conversation with someone who wanted me to compromise some deeply held beliefs. “Why,” she asked, “can’t you compromise? Just don’t emphasize this or that and you will have peace with those around you. What’s the problem? Surely God values peace and love so much that he would never force  you to hold beliefs that put you at odds with the world.”

Image result for image of christian compromiseSo, here on January 1 seems as good a time as any to explain (not for the first time) why Christians cannot compromise with the world.

Compromise is an amicable agreement between parties in controversy. They agree to settle their differences by mutual concession to something that one or both parties considers harmful or depreciative.

Generally, compromise requires conceding a conviction — a fixed or strong belief — for the purpose of achieving unity – a state of being in harmony so that we can continue forward in singleness of purpose or action..

My friend correctly understands that the United States Constitution is “a bundle of compromises”. On that auspicious foundation, she believes I should compromise my Christian beliefs for the unity of the nation. She holds human society higher than faith and she’s right. Compromise in man’s relationships with each other is a necessary means of living together in an imperfect society. Concessions are made every day by all of us, and we are admonished in the word of God to make them. The Scripture instructs us in Romans 12:18:

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

Image result for image of christian compromiseThat means giving in to get along. So, if we can do that in civil society, why can’t we do that in the churches? While compromise is a necessary evil that we all must live with while we live among people, there is one person in the universe with whom we cannot compromise. God Almighty will not compromise with you or with anyone else. Real compromise is always at the expense of something one desires to do, or what one believes. In the case of Christians, there is the matter of convictions, which are fixed or strong beliefs. We are being asked to give up convictions and to compromise for the sake of unity;

 

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not much into compromise. It pays to look at what He actually said and did rather than base what we believe on wishful thinking. Jesus made some very hard and firm statements. Doctrine divides and it should because Jesus said:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34.

This is not an out-of-context comment. Jesus was totally uncompromising with those of His time. It was His way or no way. What a narrow-minded bigot! How could anyone say:

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6.

Jesus is God. His doctrine is divisive. He was uncompromising and the Jews and Romans crucified Him for it. What He taught was unpopular. Doctrine divides! It did in Jesus’ day and it does now. So should doctrine give way to believers all getting together under the banner of “love” or to get alone with the world? Let’s see what the Scripture says:

“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” Luke 4:32

Christ’s doctrine astonished those of His day, not only because it was delivered in power, but because it was radically different than the “status quo” of the religious world.

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16

Jesus stated flatly that the doctrine he preached was from above, as in heaven or God. There was no room to compromise in what Jesus says. He was not interested in “getting along” with His religious contemporaries. He was interested only in pleasing his Father.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to give attention to doctrine. Yes, that boring and sometimes divisive item was an absolute essential for Timothy in his ministry.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.John 7:17

It is clear that in order to do God’s will, it is essential to learn sound doctrine.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17

These elders were honored because they labored in the Word and doctrine. I am sure they would be labeled Bible-believing independent Baptists today. They refused to compromise in this most important arena and Paul praised them for it.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

One of the purposes of God inspiring the Scriptures was to profit us with His doctrine. It is PROFITABLE!

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2

The word of God is to be preached and doctrine is its cornerstone.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. 2 Timothy 4:3

Does that sound familiar to you? We live in that prophesied time. Men will not endure sound doctrine. They collect instructors … self-help gurus, televangelists, philosophers … Dr. Phil … Oprah Winfrey …Joel Osteen …. These teachers frequently instruct their followers to disregard doctrine. They encourage their followers to emphasize the things they have in common.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9

Sound doctrine is necessary to exhort or teach.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. Titus 2:1

Last, but not least, there should be doctrine, and it should be “sound”. Sound as in: “free from defect, decay or damage; deserving confidence, trustworthy.”

A unity based on compromising strong belief is a shallow, fragile and ungodly unity. Believers (if they are really true believers at all) are selling God out (compromise) for the sake of an unscriptural unity.

Their unscriptural doctrines and false gospel will not bring them safely home to God, but will lead them. Revelation, chapter 17 discloses a city harboring a religious system that deceives the whole world! The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:17,18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” John the human author of the book of Revelation says in Revelation 18:4,5 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

John the human author of the book of Revelation says in Revelation 18:4,5 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

This present day church is pictured for us in Revelation 3:14:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

What is he saying? He is standing at the door of His Church that has become apostate (much like so many churches today) and He’s asking if there is anyone there who desires truth, holiness and godliness. If you will open the door He will come and fellowship with you in spite of the wickedness of the remainder of His saints.

Compromise is the great wickedness of the present day church. It’s not that I’m better than anyone else. All Christians are simply sinners saved by the grace of God, with a great desire to lead God’s people out of the apostasy of today’s wicked times into a sweeter fellowship with Christ, based on obedience to the truths revealed in His Holy Word. As a Christian, I am not called to compromise on God’s truth, even when it is inconvenient. There are other Christians who feel the same way I do, though we would rejoice to have others join  us.

Posted January 1, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Bar Churches for Alcoholics   Leave a comment

Brad wrote this post 2 1/2 years ago and I think it deserves a boost.

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/bar-churches-for-alcoholics/

 

Brad, my husband, asked to post on my blog. Since he has something worthwhile to say and he managed to organize it into sentences, I agreed. Lela

 

 

It’s rare that Lela allows me to grab the microphone from her. She worries about having a Taylor Swift-Kanya West moment without Beyonce around to protect her, but if I give her convincing material, she agrees to post it. Brad

 

A while back, we (Lela and I) watched a PBS special on “welcoming and affirming” evangelical churches across America. I don’t know how big this movement really is. I don’t know many evangelicals who agree with it and this is PBS, which has strong anti-Christian political biases. If we don’t have a lot of these churches cropping up in the oh-so-very libertarian state of Alaska, I tend to think the story focused on the three churches in America that are actually doing this, but I could be wrong. Lela says the Internet might beg otherwise, but then maybe the churches that are not “welcoming and affirming” just aren’t advertising that … sort of like our church fails to publicize that we don’t serve alcohol during the service.

The basic story on Erbe’s program was about how loving these “welcoming and affirming” churches were, how God would not judge people for loving someone/anyone and that the church is completely wrong about what the Bible says about homosexuality. The destruction of Sodom had nothing to do with the men of Sodom wanting to have sex with the angels God sent to Lot (Genesis 19). God was angry for the city’s lack of hospitality. Pay no attention to Lot’s offering his virgin daughters to these men and them rejecting the girls because they’d rather have the unwilling angels. No, that’s not evidence of mass homosexuality and the desire for gang rape! That’s just not being friendly.

You get my point?

Someone in the Erbe broadcast said “it was all in the interpretation” whether you think the Bible condemns or accepts homosexual sex. Which got me thinking about Bill Clinton’s “it depends on what your definition of is is.”

Clinton, who claims to be a Southern Baptist, wanted the world in general to pass over his sin of lying by stressing the tense of the word. He was not currently having sex with Monica Lewinsky, so he didn’t lie to the press when asked if he was having sex with Monica Lewinski. Of course, he had had sex with Monica Lewinski – in the past. His rhetorical game worked. He got away with it as far as the press and his supporters are concerned.

Of course, he had a much deeper problem with the catholic (small c intentional) evangelical church of which he claims to be a member. Christians still see him as a sinner and, worse, we see him as an unrepentant sinner. You see, we’re all sinners. You, me, Bill Clinton, and Pope Francis – we’re all sinners. Yes, the pope is a sinner! And so am I!

My particularly favorite sin is alcoholism. I come by that naturally. My father, most of his brothers, his father and his grandfather were alcoholics. Irish Catholic, don’t you know? It’s what we do. On my mother’s side, every one of her husbands, several of her brothers, her father and grandfather were all alcoholics. I’ve personally had trouble controlling my drinking since I was 16. And, I’m an ass when I drink. I do stupid, dangerous, unloving and unChristlike things when I drink, which is why I usually don’t.

When I don’t, I am repentant for my sin. I just wrote that above paragraph. That is repentance. I admitted my sin, I called it what it was, I acknowledged its wrongness. And then, more important than anything else in repentance, I try not to do it anymore. I didn’t say I have never done it since salvation. I said I try not to do it anymore.

That’s my sin and repentance as opposed to Bill Clinton who justified his adultery and his lying about it and is probably doing both again and will justify both again if need be. Until he comes before God and then his excuses won’t do him any good.

What separates me from Bill is my dependence on God. I’m not superman. I am a sinner, but I don’t rely on rhetorical tricks to justify my mistakes. Instead, I continually turn to the “I Am” Who tells me there is “no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the Spirit. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1. My sin has been set aside and God will not hold it against me … not because of anything that I have done, but because Jesus died on the cross for all of us who accept Him as Savior and Lord.

We all like the idea of a Savior, but most of us don’t like the idea of a Lord. That means submitting to an Authority greater than ourselves and most humans don’t like that idea. I don’t like that idea. And when I dislike it the most is when I’m drinking. One is the symptom of the other, though I’m not sure in what order. When I am embracing my sin is when I am relying on the “I is” … me, fleshly man with feet of clay. I will justify my behavior – I come from a long line of folk who like to drink and Christian morality gets in the way of my good time – but it doesn’t change that I am violating a covenant I made with God. Jesus saved my soul, and I (in continuation of Romans 8) acknowledge my debt to Him by living according to the Spirit and not the flesh.

Which is why I wouldn’t and couldn’t be a member of a “welcoming and affirming” church. It’s not that I think God hates homosexuals. I think He feels about gays the same way He felt about me when I was drinking. Drinking wine is not a sin. No, it is not! Jesus turned water into wine and it was GOOD! The best wine at the wedding!

Drinking wine the way I drink wine is a sin! It was destructive to my body, mind and relationships. God still loved me enough to die for me on the cross and eventually I accepted that love, but in order for me to fully live in that love, I had to give up my favorite sin, because the way I drink doesn’t show God in a good light and is destructive of His temple in my body.

Sadly … when I was drinking, I didn’t know that. I couldn’t see the harm it was doing to me and I definitely wouldn’t to acknowledge the harm it was doing to my relationship with Jesus. And, I think that may be the sad plight of the “welcoming and affirming” movement. They think the problem is that the church is against them when the real problem is that God loves them so much that He wants them to give up something that He knows is harming them … and they can’t see that.

Thank God, literally, for putting Lela and other Christian friends in my life to point me away from sin, even when I didn’t want to give it up.

Thank God we don’t hold church in bars!

Which is kind of what I think a “welcoming and affirming” church is. If an alcoholic’s utopia is church held in a bar and the drinks are free, wouldn’t a homosexual’s utopia be a welcoming and affirming church that denies key portions of Scripture?

Posted December 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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