Thursday, May 31, 2012

Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation - And My Take On It. (Which could be considered my Correction of it.)

A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation
Preamble (Somewhat condensed)
Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.     (Clark: (Underlining mine) Who is committed to that? I have not heard that from any of the Calvinistic Baptists that I know of. Am I committed not to deny I believe this and help others see the beauty of the doctrines of Grace? Certainly I’m committed to that. But not in order to change a denomination. Just to make the wonderful grace of Jesus known!)
     While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. ...For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status ... The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard... but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this long- standing arrangement. (Clark: (underlining mine) Who are these New Calvinists? Approximately 70% or more of Southern Baptist individuals, schools, and agencies are made up of non-Calvinistic Baptists. We know this. We still cooperate and support these same institutions.)
We propose that what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation can rightly be called “Traditional” Southern Baptist soteriology (Clark: I stand aghast at that proposal! Aghast I tell you!), which should be understood in distinction to “Calvinist” soteriology. ...the clear trajectory of the BF&M since 1925 is away from Calvinism (Clark: The 2000 BF&M put the brakes on that a bit). ... Without ascribing to Calvinism, Southern Baptists have reached around the world with the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (Clark: Yes, and some of them have been calvinistic Baptists.) ... While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family,(Clark: Well, thanks for that.) we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life... (Clark: OK, I’m OK with that.)
    ...We believe that most Southern Baptists, ...will find the following statement consistent with what the Bible teaches and what Southern Baptists have generally believed about the nature of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Clark: Some Southern Baptists have “generally believed” this, but since the beginning of the convention there have been those who disagreed. Are they not traditional Baptists as well?)                                                      
(Clark: Also, while I embrace the Doctrines of Grace which were embraced by Spurgeon, Broadus, Manly, B.H. Carroll and others, I’m NOT a Calvinist. I reject infant baptism, pure covenantal theology, and double predestination. Just FYI.)
Articles of Affirmation and Denial Article One: The Gospel
We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.                                                                                                    We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.                                       Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9                                                                   
Clark: Agree! But recognize that God’s desire is not the same as His secret decreed will. Unless one recognizes that the “will” of God in scripture refers to 2 or 3 different things, this will be misunderstood. For instance, the 10 Commandments is a pretty good statement on the Will of God. This is how he desires people to act. Do all obey? Of course not. Also, it was God’s will that Jesus be crucified. Was he? You betcha! This was decreed by God to happen. See Psalm 22 and Isa 53.
Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man
We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.                                                                                                                                                            We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6; Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15
Clark: YES, to the Fall and the inherited fallen nature that humanity is born into. YES, to the fact that every person sins. But if everyone is bent towards sin, and everyone will sin, and does in fact sin, how can one claim that free will is not incapacitated in some way? If Free will is intact, why hasn’t there been another sinless person? Because, even though we still bear the image of God, we are totally depraved! That doesn’t mean as bad as we could possibly be, it simply means that every aspect of humanity, Will included, has been tainted by the Fall.                                                                                                                            
Rom. 7:14-15, 24 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ... Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?                                                                                                                 Rom 5:12  Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—    Humans are born dead! How can that not affect the human condition concerning spiritual things?
Article Three: The Atonement of Christ We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.                                                                                                                                           We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved. Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; John 12:32, 14:6; Acts 10:39-43; Acts 16:30-32; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-20; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:12-15, 24-28; 10:1-18; I John 1:7; 2:2
Clark: I Absolutely Agree to the penal substitution of Christ. I agree that a person must respond in repentance and faith. But think about this quote from above: “We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will.Does this mean that all persons on earth since the time of Christ had an opportunity to believe the gospel? Seriously? The Africans who never heard? The Native Americans that never had any access to the gospel prior to the 1500s? It seems to me there are many from whom God withheld the message of the Atonement of Christ. I don’t know why that is, but I accept it as part of God’s sovereign will.
Further, think about the possible outcome of leaving it all up to people to choose. Knowing that men's hearts are deceitfully wicked, if left to "Chance" No-one would be saved. God would have sent His Only Begotten for NO-One! That is unacceptable theology. Especially in light of scriptures telling us that we were chosen before the foundations of the world.
I do agree that Jesus’ death was sufficient for all.
Article Four: The Grace of God
We affirm that grace is God's generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.   
We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.                                                                                                                
Ezra 9:8; Proverbs 3:34; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 19:16-30, 23:37; Luke 10:1-12; Acts 15:11; 20:24; Romans 3:24, 27-28; 5:6, 8, 15-21; Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:2-9; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 4:16; 9:28; 1 John 4:19
Clark: Once again, I almost agree with the whole statement, but not quite. My only difficulty with this statement is in the phrase, “We deny that grace ... cannot be resisted.Along with the general call there must be a call that “effects” and enables the change in the person who is dead in trespasses and sins. (Rom 8:28-30) When that effectual call occurs God’s grace will not be resisted.   
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.   
John 6:44-45: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.... Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me."                                                                                                                                                  John 6:65: "[N]o one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner
We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.                    
We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel. Luke 15:24; John 3:3; 7:37-39; 10:10; 16:7-14; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:4-11; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 6:15; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18
Clark: I used to believe this way. And still agree with the fist part, but not the denial. I have come to see that Biblically there is a regeneration, the dead person quickened so that they might express faith and repentance and be saved.           
Tts 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;                                                                                                                                                          Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.                  
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure.                                                                
The Lost cannot please God:  Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.                                                                                  
Without Faith one cannot please God.  Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him:                                                      So how can the lost please God when they are in the flesh, unless there is an enabling by God when He gives them the ability to believe? I would call that regeneration. Not salvation. That comes after the person freely believes and repents of sin. 1Co 2:14  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Article Six: The Election to Salvation
We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God's eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.                                                                                                 We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation. Genesis 1:26-28; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:6; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 24:31; 25:34; John 6:70; 15:16; Romans 8:29- 30, 33;9:6-8; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:11-22; 3:1-11; 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10
Clark: I Agree in part. Here the writers are arguing with those who believe in double predestination. That before time God chose some to be saved and some to be damned. Let me ask you this: Did God know before time who would be saved and who would be damned? If Yes, then, could anything change what God already knew would happen? No.                                              So here is what happened. Omniscient God knew that Adam would sin. That death would be passed on to all humanity. Then God purposed to save some. None deserved it. All are without excuse, but He made a way to save some of those who were in Christ’s own words, “condemned already.” (Jn 3:17)     
Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Romans 8:29-30: For whom (the individuals He knew personally) He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.                       
Ephesians 1:5: He predestined us (not some) to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God
We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.            We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in ChristGenesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17
Clark: I agree 100%. BUT, unless God enables a person to have faith in Christ, no-one will be saved.                                            Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.                                                                                                                                                                            However you parse the above verse, faith is at least part of the Gift of God. Along with grace, it stands over against works. Again, the lost, carnal, natural man cannot please God, understand the things of God, or express faith in God. God has to give him faith, that he then freely places in Christ.
Article Eight: The Free Will of Man
We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.                                                                                                                      We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel. Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17
Clark: Now this one is just unfortunate! The ability to choose between two options is fine as long as neither option requires FAITH or REPENTANCE! Which shirt to put on, which way to turn the car, what to eat for dinner: All fall within the realm of human choice.                                                                                                                                                                          Romans 8 clearly teaches that all who are called are justified. (The called were already predestined) There must be a difference between the call of the evangelist and the Call of the Spirit of God. God is the caller, the church merely echoes that call.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.                                                                                    Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Article Nine: The Security of the Believer
We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.                                                                                                                                      We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy. John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25
Clark: I agree 100%. But, of course, I would add, that salvation is all of God and all of Grace and since we didn’t bring ourselves into His Kingdom neither can we take ourselves out. But then I’d probably be just wishing for a fight! ;-)
Article Ten: The Great Commission
We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God's means of bringing any person to salvation.                                                                                                                                                                 We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 11:30; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:42-43; Romans 1:16, 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:7-9; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Clark: and finally, I agree with this 100% as well. In fact, I support Southern Baptist Missionaries knowing that many would probably sign this document and disagree with me. But I trust they preach Jesus and Him crucified for our sins. And that salvation comes only by Grace through Faith.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Idolatry, Sex, Homosexuality, and Depraved minds

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore...
Rom 1:24 God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those contrary to nature; 27 and the men also gave up natural relations with women, were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, not only do them but they give approval to those who practice them. 

Think about the Biblical History of the World: In the history of the earth you have God creating Adam and revealing Himself to him. Then you have Adam rejecting God’s rule, then you have God punishing Adam, sending him from the Garden.
Then you see God reveal himself to Abram and the people of Israel. Then they reject God’s leadership, and God punished them, and sent them out of Judah to Babylon.
Do you see a pattern developing?
Paul opens Romans with the same steps but reversed. Look at verse 18. He starts this verse with God’s wrath. God reveals His wrath because men suppress the Truth of God. Men suppress the truth of God that He made very plain to them.
You see how that’s the same as with Adam and Abraham but reversed? First God made himself plain to people. People eventually decide to reject God’s rule and Suppress the truth of God. Then God revealed His wrath.
The 3 key words here are Plain, Suppress, and Wrath. God makes himself Plain. Men Suppress the Truth. God reveals His Wrath. 
            I want to say up front that I may say something you don't like; I might be misunderstood, or if you just don’t like what I have to say. But I certainly don’t want to people to be mad at me for being unloving and ungracious. More than anything I am aware of this: I am a sinner. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a sinner who still needs to repent. I am a wicked sinner, who has been declared righteous. And I am a sinner that God is working on to make better, to be like His perfect Holy Son.I’m not mad at sinners. I AM a sinner. I pity sinners. I hurt for those who are caught in addiction to sin. I only want to help sinners find forgiveness, love, and peace with God. I’m just a beggar showing other beggars where to find food.
     Some people say Christians shouldn't call themselves sinners. Nonsense. I'll stop calling myself a sinner when I stop sinning. So should you, but not until then.
     The passage above has three natural dividers: Vs 24, 26, and 28 all have the phrase “God gave them up” or “God gave them over.”
Now some take this to mean God Gave Up on them. Sort of like, "Go your own way if you insist, I can’t help you." But that’s not what this means. To ‘give over’ is similar to giving control to another. It’s like a police officer, turning you over to the jailer. It implies a certain punishment. 
     It’s even more like a Judge turning you over to a Warden. When you were in the hands of the judge there was still some hope for leniency. Once you’re in the hands of the Warden. There is no hope.
Vs. 21-23 Is the introduction to this downward spiral of sin. It’s the on-ramp to the highway to Hell. You might look at this as a spiral or three circles, descending to complete, utter wickedness.

     In Seminary I had to read and study Dante’s Inferno. If you never read this consider yourself lucky. But it’s the story of a soul’s journey thru Hell. Now Dante wrote this to encourage people to recognize and reject sin. Then they were to read Purgatorio and Paradisio and find their way to God. But in Dante’s view of Hell, he had 9 levels or circles of Hell. Each level was worse than before. He places famous historical people there and they want him to know how horrible it is. But at the gate of Hell there’s a sign. You know what the sign says? It’s ALMOST as if Dante got the idea from the dismal nature of Romans  1. The Sign at the door of Hell says, “Abandon Hope – all ye who enter here.”
It’s a horrible thing to live without Hope. But when God gives you over to the dominion of another, Hope is lost!
1    This onramp to the downward spiral says that Humanity knows there is a God. Back in vs 19-20 we see there is an internal witness for God as well as an external – all that is made. But within people is a conscience, an awareness of a higher being. Someone that will be answered to. But man SUPPRESSES the truth He doesn’t want to deal with God. And trades God for created things. He’d rather worship animals or even other people than worship God. Why is that? Why are there atheists in the World today?
     I think its more an issue that they don’t like the idea of God. 
They don’t like his Sovereignty. You see a Sovereign God makes the rules. Its His Universe, not ours. We are His creation, He knows what is better for us than we do!
They don’t like His Holiness! They don’t like God's holy standard for their behavior. They want to be left alone!
They don’t like His omniscience. They don’t like that there’s a God that knows everything they do and will judge them.
And They Don’t Like His Immutability! What’s That? It’s the fact that God Never Changes. He will never stop being large and in charge! He will always be a Holy Sovereign God!

2      So, V 24: God gives them over.(read) The key ideas here are lust and dishonor. They got onto this hi-way thru idolatry and the first circle is sexual sin. They gave into their physical lusts and dishonored themselves. Now you know that God created us with passions, right? Its perfectly normal for adults to feel desire, fall in love and get married. And it’s in Marriage that God gave us permission to invest those passions with our husband or wife. Gen 2:22-24.
     But accompanying ancient idolatry was often prostitution and adultery. That’s how the god’s would be pleased, with sex. These of course were the god’s invented by man. You might call them the gods made in man's image. So man invented them and then invented what they wanted. And apparently Men were in control ‘cause one of them said, “I know what makes the gods happy! Sex!” And sex became a part of idolatry. These are sinful uses for "natural" passions that God gave us. These passions are damaged by the fall, to be sure, but still hetero-sexual. But it doesn’t stop there.

3      V 26: The key idea here is vile affections. God is giving them over to not just MIS-USE the passions he gave us, which should be used in a Holy way. Now He gives them over to exchange the passions he gave them for Unholy Passions. That is passion toward persons of the same gender. Women with women, Men with men, doing things – the KJV calls unseemly. The ESV says Shameful acts. But it’s more than that. It’s shameful, indecent, beyond the dishonor of adultery, it’s anti- holy.
Gen 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God took from man, He made a woman, and brought 
her to the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: 
she shall be called Woman, for she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man 
leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh...      
Now I don’t like to focus here, but our society is embracing this evil and calling it good. 
Christians get criticized for getting hung up on this one sin, homosexuality. But this is one area that the world is pushing back so strongly on. They pretty much agree that adultery is "cheating." Prostitution is considered unseemly and a form of slavery by many people in the world. But on homosexuality they say, "Gay is OK."
Don’t be deceived. Scripture is clear. One must be totally dishonest with the texts to deny that Homosexual behavior is clearly condemned. Yes many other sins are condemned, too, but Gay behavior is clearly sin.
BUT, ListenGay People are not our enemies! Sometimes The church IS Homophobic! We act like they are the scourge of the earth. They are just sinners like us. It’s interesting to watch someone who really doesn’t like gay people, suddenly get to know one. 
What? You’re gay? But you’re so nice! How can that be?” Love the sinner! 

4      But Then, God gives them over to a Depraved Mind.(v28)
See all these sins listed here? See how they have taken a turn from the sexual “feel good” sins toward those of Malice and Hurt and Pain.God has so surrendered humanity to its own torment they invent new ways of being evil and they become heartless and ruthless. Wicked to the core.
But I want to show you the GREAT IRONY of God’s Wrath here.
God gave us over to exactly what we wanted
We wanted to turn our backs on God and not be controlled by God and God let us go one step at a time. First to Mis-use the passions He gave us. 
Then He gives us over to vile, unnatural passions. 
Then to a depraved mind. At this point the mind is so warped it cannot see any of the light of God. 

Let me show you what that looks like, because it happened before. Before God raised up Noah to build an ark to escape the flood He says this: 
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and 
every intention of thoughts of his heart was only evil continually
Today we call these Sociopaths! No moral compass. They rejoice in sin. They look at the evil that men do and are pleased with it.
Now who are all these people? Are these people at the final judgment. Are these people in other countries? Are these the people at the flood? WHO IS HE TALKING ABOUT NOW?
1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? 
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 
nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, 
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Earlier, I said that each of these steps involved the loss of Hope. And it does. 
The further into rebellion against God we go the less hope there is. 
We are very much like that spider dangling by the tiniest thread over the furnace of Hell. 
As we try to climb up the thread stretches in the heat and we are still inches from the flames. 
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus- Jesus is our Only HOPE!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Before the Throne of God

Here's a great hymn, recently re-released by folks like Sonicflood and Shane and Shane, But I was reminded of it in a blog by my friend Kendall Holley over at BroadAcres Baptist in Shreveport.

Just wanted to share it today. This is what hymn writing should look like!

Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands, My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb, My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM, The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood, My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Words: Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Foreward: I TRULY HOPE I don't offend you, but I might make you think. And of course you can point out any errors I may have made, logically or otherwise. And perhaps you have already dealt with this in your life or church. I'd love to hear from you.

(or What's Appropriate in Christian Worship nationalistically speaking.)

Been reading the book of Exodus lately and God is extremely "PICKY" about worship. Yes, his laws were very precise about a lot of things, but with things pertaining to the tabernacle, sacrifices, and anything "Worship Related" He is moreso.
For instance, Israelites were to leave some of the grain in their fields, at the corners, for the jobless and homeless to come a collect some. This was ancient welfare. I don't think God said How Much, just, "at the corners." But in the tabernacle all the furniture is to be made according to exacting standards, as well as the buiding/tent itself. Incredible precision was demanded!

I think there is something important here. God is flexible about how we do a lot of things, but when it comes to honoring Him He wants us to do it with precision, His Way!
One reason was so that worship wasn't something done flippantly or without care. And another reason is worship, in the Old Testament, was symbolic of things to come. God wanted them to be accurate signs of truth to come. After all we know that the blood of bulls and goats couldn't Really do away with sin. But it pointed to a day when God's own lamb, Jesus, would make the perfect bloody sacrifice and deal with sin once, for all.

So what about New Testament worship? Gee, we're not under the law anymore, Toto. There is freedom. We see glimpses in the Bible of songs sung praising God, reading of scripture, and expounding on the scriptures (preaching). Maybe a little recitation of early creeds as a teaching device, and of course, eating together and observing the Lord's Supper as a body.
But outside of that, where's the boundaries? What KIND of music. Ancient hymns? Psalms Only? Gregorian chants? Classic Hymns? Gospel songs of America ca. 1900? Or any kind of music that comes down the pike so long as the words honor the Lord and are biblical?
(Well...  I'll let you decide all that cause I can't find a lot of scriptural help to determine what all is appropriate.) 
How about Interpretive dance? Or the use of visual arts (paintings, engravings, etc.) Once again there isn't much in the New Testament about this. I for one am not a "fan" of Interpretive Dance in church, or of skits, though I've seen those be effective for communicating some biblical idea. But when we get to visual arts, suddenly I begin to remember some Old Testament charges that seem to influence our New testament choices.

"Thou shalt not make unto me any graven image." 
Well, paintings aren't exactly "graven" images. And flags aren't images at all, usually. But think of the idea behind the command. God doesn't want His people worshiping anyone but Him; not something "like Him", not a reasonable facsimile, not an artist's concept of Him: JUST HIM!
We don't know what he looks like so any painting of him is questionable. 

The same goes for Jesus. And to put a picture of Jesus up in the sanctuary of a church building, is at best borderline idolatry, and at worst idolatry plain and simple.
Are there some wonderful paintings of Jesus as a good shepherd, knocking on the door, overturning the money-changers tables? Sure. Great art. No problem. But, we could easily start to worship the one that we fabricate in our minds, based on the art, rather than worship the God of scripture and limit our imaginations to what God's word says and the Spirit's enlightening in our hearts and minds.

Now, I'm back to flags. We have a few banners in our church with portions of scripture or Bible based language on them.  They serve as reminders for certain themes at certain times of the year, like Easter and Christmas.
But the US Flag is a banner of sorts, with nothing Biblical on it. It represents our country. Our Country is great! I'm Proud to be a U. S. citizen and an American, too. I think our Constitution proscribes the greatest government ever formed in the history of humanity! I wish it was honored and obeyed more. I wish other countries enjoyed the freedoms we have.
    BUT THE USA is NOT the Kingdom of God! The USA will cease to exist. There will be no red, white, and blue banners with stars and stripes in heaven. Just as there'll be no red flags with cycles and hammers. No Texas flag, for crying out loud. (Arguably the best and finest of all flags.)

When and if we put the flags near the podium on memorial day or July 4th, lets make sure we don't "over-honor" the flags or the country. I reserve my "honor" for the founders, for the service people who put their lives on the line to defend our homeland, and for people like first responders and teachers who serve the countries best interest day in and day out. There is a place to honor those that currently serve in leadership in our nation and states.
But they aren't to be worshiped. 
In Catholic churches you'll see a statue of Mary. We Baptists love to point out that Mary is not to be worshiped. And that's true. (Thou shalt not make unto me any graven image.) But then we put a picture of some guy in robes with long hair carrying a lamb, call him Jesus, and nail him to the wall; Or we put the US Flag up front and honor it it an undue manner.
The Catholics reply, "we don't worship Mary, we venerate her." Baptists reply, "we don't worship the flag, we honor what it stands for." Really? All of it? To some Indians it stands for the Trail of Tears. To some Japanese it stands for bombs so deadly they are still felt today. The list could go on and certainly, many things the US has done can be defended in light of her fight for self existence etc. etc. I'm not debating these various points of history! 
I'm just saying, WHY put this banner at the front of the church? It could be a stumbling-block to people who need Jesus. It could be a distraction to those who need to focus on the Christ of Scripture. The gospel itself is both the Power of God and a stumbling block to the proud and willful. We don't need to add NEW Stumbling Blocks.

There's a banner I am comfortable with, that can stay at the front all year long regardless of season, regardless of what country or nation the church building is in. 
Its the banner of the cross. A rugged cross. An empty cross. A bloodstained cross.
The cross isn't a typical banner but its Biblical.
The cross isn't an image but it reminds us of the finished work of Christ.
The cross isn't to be worshiped, and I don't think its likely to be worshiped, but it points us to Jesus. There is no one else who was crucified who has stayed in the consciousness of men and women throughout the ages, but Jesus. The empty Cross suggests the Risen, Victorious Savior!

Having said that, I'll most likely move the flags toward the front of the sanctuary near Memorial Day, and perhaps leave them there Through July. But I'll remind people they are just reminders of how grateful we should be:
for a country built on freedom, and 
for the people who have served to defend this freedom. And, 
how this freedom has been a tool of God to help bring the gospel to the world.
Even though it has often been a tool in the hands of fallen man for other, less noble, purposes, and sometimes outright atrocities.

Brothers and Sisters, we need to make the message clear and plain. Jesus is ALL the world to me. The Grace of God is Amazing. Our God is an Awesome God!
We are not Republicans or Democrats first, second or third, we are children of the Most high, Heirs with Christ, a peculiar nation, a people made holy by the blood of the lamb. 
We belong to Jesus FOREVER! A nation, country, or ethnicity is temporary and will cease.

Thanks for letting me ramble....
Clark D