Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

God Made Them … Non-Binary?

I went to bed last night listening to Michael Medved’s discussion of the CBS program Gender: The Space Between.

A female caller wanted to know why conservatives just don’t allow people to be themselves. The woman identified herself as a conservative, heterosexual who was engaged to be married to a man.

Medved asked her if she believed that the natural order, by God’s design, was a man and a woman united in holy matrimony for the purpose of having offspring.

“Yes,” she replied, “but …”

Though in agreement that the family unit was the building block of human society, the caller felt that conservatives should not insert themselves into how other people live their lives.

“Attitudes are changing,” she said, “though it does seem that it has happened all of a sudden.”

Medved asked, “So homosexuals are allowed to insert themselves and overturn what is normal?”

Another caller was a man who had a unique problem. His sister told him that she wanted to become his gay brother, and that he needs to tell his children that auntie is now their uncle.

The sister grew up heterosexual. She had boyfriends. In fact, her sexual preference is men, but she feels like she is a male due to the fact that a blood test revealed she has testosterone.

A woman’s ovaries produce small levels of the male hormone, but this does not mean she is a man. Some girls, like this man’s sister, grow up as a tomboy which can often be attributed to the child’s environment. In fact, homosexuality is a symptomatic behavior of inhibited psycho-social development. Treatment, or counseling is what we should be discussing.

The CBS program introduced viewers to the concept of non-binary individuals. Non-binary means that one is neither male nor female — a psychological problem to be sure.

Binary is a word that is commonly used in math and science. In the gay lexicon it refers to people whose sexual identity is separate from their gender identity.

In other words, as one gay activist noted, some girls are born with a penis. A non-binary female explained it this way:

[Sexuality] really doesn’t have anything to do with gender at all. But there is a huge thing with like ‘Well, what, if you don’t identify as a female, then are you gay? Do you not like boys, do you like girls?’ And that’s just a whole other thing. A lot of people are really concerned with what genitalia you have, that’s what they want to know. So there have been instances with relationships that could have worked out perfectly fine if you weren’t non-binary, and after that person found out that you were, everything changed.

Viewers were led to believe that gender identity is not necessarily what is printed on an individual’s birth certificate:

There are dozens of genders, outside of just man or woman, that people can identify with.

What does the Bible say?

He created them male and female … (Genesis 5:2).

I believe that the source of all confusion and deception is Satanic. As it was in the Garden so it is today. What is so troublesome to me is that the daughters of Eve are as susceptible — just like the woman who called Michael Medved.

Not all women, to be sure, but I often hear female callers on talk radio — women who identify themselves as conservative, or Christian — who are permissive of a behavior that is hated by God. Their lack of discernment defies spiritual intuition. It’s as if their emotions and feelings inhibit the voice of the Spirit.

Then I hear the women of daytime television exhorting the sisterhood to deny their husbands conjugal rights if the men harbor incorrect thoughts. People often ask why Adam ate of the fruit. Well, he didn’t want to be denied the fruit of his wife.

Face it men, women decide who reproduce. I was taking a stroll along the beach as two women approached from the opposite direction. One of the women stopped and made eye contact, but her friend tugged on her arm and said, “No, he voted for Trump.”

I didn’t know I had the look.

Medved closed out the segment by asking, “Is this a trend?”

We have noted in recent posts how the Walt Disney Company has not only submitted to, but is creatively promoting the gay agenda. In 1998, Disney CEO Michael Eisner told homosexual activist Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, that 40% of Disney employees were gay. (By the way, the goal of the Human Rights Campaign is to create a genderless society.)

Though only three percent of the population, homosexuals are prominent in those industries that influence social and cultural trends. The agenda is promoted through movies, music, television and the creative arts. Strategic placement has allowed a very few to effectively change attitudes and perceptions — to redefine how people relate on the most intimate level. It totally overthrows thousands of years of human social development.

Is it a trend? In the sense that man’s nature inherently trends towards total depravity I would have to say yes. God has taken His foot off the brake, and in the style of Thelma and Louise, man is heading over the cliff … into the abyss.

Notes:

There are three stages to man’s ultimate destruction: idolatry, unnatural behavior and, finally, total depravity. This was the condition of the antediluvians — those people who lived in the age between the Garden and the Flood. Mankind is at stage two, and entering the final stage before judgment. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, described the fallen condition of man prior to Noah’s Ark:

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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 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.

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

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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:21-32).

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Discipleship 101

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What does it mean to make a disciple? You can almost hear the exasperation in the tone of Paul’s admonition to the assembly at Corinth:

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able (1 Corinthians 3:2).

About 40% of pastors leave the pulpit after five years. The reasons are varied. Depression and discouragement take a heavy toll, and the congregation is partly to blame. Over the years I have referenced the surveys on religion and Christianity as compiled by Barna Group Research. For example, 59% of young adults (18-29) have a Christian background, but what does that mean in practice? Are they “born again” followers of Jesus Christ? Barna asked a similar group: Who are Sodom and Gomorrah?

Answer: They were a married couple.

This is what pastors are facing as confirmed by research. The median profile of the average church-goer is someone who warms a pew, does not read their Bible and believes whatever the pastor says is true.

Barna’s assessment: Two-thirds of the nation’s adult population firmly embraces the idea that their most important purpose is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30). However, a deeper look at people’s full array of spiritual beliefs and behavior calls into question the sincerity of their commitment. [Source]

In practice, then, people’s social lives are more important than their spiritual lives. Simply examine how tethered (or in bondage) people are to their gadgets. I see them swaying down the street, eyes fixed on their phone, and thumbs going a mile a minute as they furiously send out their 200th text of the day — and it’s not even 11 a.m. Okay, so I exaggerate, but only slightly.

How many hours a day are you connected to your cell phone, television, music and social media? Do you give at least 10% (90 minutes) of your day to the One who gives you breath? For most people the answer is no. Let’s break it down. People spend more time on Facebook than with God’s book.

Now you may be thinking, “That doesn’t describe me.” Let me ask you, what percent of “Christians” do you think are true disciples of Christ? As was noted in the comment board of I am Elijah only 9% of Christians have a Biblical worldview. If there are 100 members in your congregation only 9 have a true Biblical perspective. That’s astounding.

How many in your “church” are still drinking milk? Someone might say, “Well, the Methodist church I attend is really on fire for the Lord.” Ask yourself: ‘What does my “church” believe?’ Presbyterians and Lutherans are split into conservative and liberal camps with regards to Bible truths. This is the fruit of Reformation. But getting back to the Methodists (since I spent my childhood in that congregation) the hot topic of the day — gay marriage — will cause a permanent break in the assembly.

As of this writing, the United Methodist Church upholds the Biblical definition of marriage as opposed to these churches: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). However, liberalism is making inroads and it is only a matter of time before the assembly breaks apart.

I recently engaged in a terse discussion with a UMC pastor who celebrated the redefinition of marriage. He posted this at his website:

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, clergy are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings or bless same-sex unions. Since I am not allowed to publicly pray for blessing, I wrote this lament many months ago. I offer it here, because I know some of my UMC clergy colleagues are going to be asked to officiate. Perhaps they will choose to officiate and risk retribution, or perhaps they will make referrals. Or perhaps they will find other creative ways to resist injustice.

My response:

Forgive me, but I am not clear. Is the injustice that your colleagues ‘are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings’, or is the injustice that they must perform a ceremony that violates their conscience? It seems, to me, the latter would be the greater offense.

His reply:

I agree it would be an offense to be forced to perform a ceremony. But since we have the power to decline officiating for any reason, or no reason, I don’t see the relevance.

I have declined to officiate weddings because couples couldn’t be bothered with premarital counseling, or had no affiliation with a faith community, or because I had a schedule conflict. Imaginary scenarios set in dystopian futures are interesting philosophical questions, but a lament deals with a real situation.

Dystopian? Clever. That suggests I foresee an apocalyptic degradation of society because gays are allowed to marry. Well, yes. Liberalism has perfected the art of immersing controversial issues in a pot of cold water then turning up the heat. Society awakens one day and exclaims, “What happened!?” Except in the proverbial scenario the frog never wakes up. It is only a matter of time before a minister is sued — like the wedding florist — for not participating in a gay ceremony. (The pastor would not allow me to post this because he closed the comment board.)

This man should not be a minister of Jesus Christ, but the governing board has no power to remove him; and his congregants love him as reflected in this reply:

I lament with you that you are not allowed to officiate at the weddings of all who would ask. I rejoice that all who choose to marry their loved ones may now do so. Your reflections are heartwarming and hope-filled. We are blessed beyond measure to have you as our pastor.

Has the great falling away begun (2 Thessalonians 2:3)?

It really is a war of attrition. For every 7,000 churches that close, only 4,000 open. Responding to an altar call and reciting a simple prayer does not a disciple make. To whatever you devote your time and resources becomes your god.

Be a true disciple of Christ. Open your Bible and discover His truth. It will make the pastor’s job easier — he might even stay — or you might discover that it’s time to find another “church”.

Matthew 16:24

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Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

A Thousand Years

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There is an old adage: Don’t know if you are Pre, Mid or Post? Then you must be Catholic.

The chart that you see above is what the church believed from Augustine to Calvin, and for 200 years after the Reformation. The Amillennial timeline is church doctrine that has been upheld by Catholics and orthodox Protestants — excluding fundamental evangelicals — for over 2,000 years.

Augustine, who is recognized as the most brilliant theologian after the Apostle Paul, validated the earlier writings of Origen that the Bible uniformly teaches Amillennialsim. Subsequently, the Roman church decided it was not safe to teach Premillennialsim.

What we are talking about is a method of interpretation called hermeneutics. How do you read and understand the Bible? 

Let’s break it down. If we read the Book of Revelation with a literal (or linear) filter it is hard not to see that John is speaking of a visible, earthly Millennial reign of Christ. The Bible, however, is written as poetry, history and prophesy. The Rabbin, in the manner of the Pharisees, would read the Jewish scriptures with a strictly literal interpretation. That is one reason why the Jews rejected Christ because they were looking for a Messiah who would literally restore the kingdom, and physically sit on the throne of David.

The literal (linear) method of interpretation is recommended when studying the legal and historical books of the Old Testament. This method, however, does not work when we try to understand the poetic and prophetic books including Revelation. The Apocalypse was written as a progressive parallel of the church age sandwiched between the two Advents of Christ which is depicted as the Millennial reign — Jesus is reigning even now. He is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

Premillinnialism presumes that the church will be raptured prior to Christ’s return after which our Lord will reign for a literal 1,000 years upon the earth.

Because neither Jesus nor the Apostles taught this, the church (for 1800 years) interpreted a thousand years to be symbolic of the completeness, or fulfillment of time. This would be in keeping with the Jewish tradition of attaching symbolic relevance to numeric prophesy. The prophetic books are allegoric, metaphoric, symbolic and figurative — not to be understood in a linear way.

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This is what happened in the 19th century. The literal church expected Christ to return in AD 1000. He didn’t. By the 1800’s there was a great falling away as people lost faith in the fundamentalists preachers who stood on street corners holding signs that read, The End is Near.

This gave rise to varied cult-like groups such as the Millerites, Russellites and Jehovah’s Witnessess who were deeply engaged in date-setting the imminent return of Christ. People would sell all of their assets in anticipation of the long-awaited day of the Lord. When Christ still didn’t return it was suggested that He came spiritually.

Jesus told John that the Revelation must soon take place for the end is near (Revelation 1:1-2). The end was near for 1800 years, and the church was going through a mid-life crisis. This was not a problem for the orthodoxy who rested upon the words of Peter:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’ (2 Peter 3:3-4).

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:8-10).

The literal church will use this passage to support their Millennial interpretation. It cannot be done. This is the eisegesis (imposed meaning) that Dispensationalists apply to Scripture in order to make their theology. as they often say, fit the prophetic timeline. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, applies exegesis to determine the contextual meaning of Scripture. What Peter does confirm are the words of Christ that there will be an appointed last day when this age will end. The day of the Lord has been postponed for over 2,000 years even as we patiently await His glorious return.

Enter John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren. Darby was the father of modern-day Dispensationalism. In the early part of the 19th century he devised a system of literal interpretation that is known also as Rapture Theology. It revived the long-dormant belief in Premillennialism with an emphasis on the rapture and a carnal fulfillment of the Millennial kingdom.

Darbyism, as we have noted before, was codified in the Scofield Reference Bible (1909) which became the training tool of the Dallas Theological Seminary. Alumni of DTS include David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Ryrie, and J. Vernon McGee (who was an orthodox, Amillennial Presbyterian until he went through the DTS program.)

When Lindsey made his 1970 prediction of Christ’s return by 1988 he said, “If I’m wrong, I guess I’ll be a bum.” Why is this man still preaching and teaching? This is what Dispensationalism has wrought, but no more so than the pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio, John Hagee.

Hagee’s brand of Christianity is Dispensationalism on steroids. Israel, by this standard, has always been the prophetic center of God’s plan of redemption. The church is just a footnote to be removed so that God can fulfill His promises to Abraham in an earthly, carnal kingdom. This was a false doctrine of the early church that was emphatically denounced on two accounts:

Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) — it was spiritual, not physical; and Paul declared that the promises of God were made to Abraham and his seed who is Christ (Galatians 3:16). John, and Origen, condemned the chiliastic view of an earthly kingdom since Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel and Abraham.

Hagee believes in a two-fold plan of redemption — Jesus for the Gentiles, Moses for the Jews. In his own words:

The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses. I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption. The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not … I’m not trying to convert the Jewish people to the Christian faith … (it) is a waste of time … The Jewish person who has his roots in Judaism is not going to convert to Christianity. There is no form of Christian evangelism that has failed so miserably as evangelizing the Jewish people. They have a faith structure. (Everyone else) needs to believe in Jesus, but not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced by Christianity. [1]

Hagee’s brand of Dispensationalism is called Christian Zionism. It virulently derides Historic Christianity (pejoratively branded Replacement Theology) as anti-Semitic; the evil force behind the Crusades, Inquisition and Holocaust. 

In his book, In Defense of Israel, Hagee claims that Christ did not come to be the Jewish Messiah (p. 137). This is counter to everything taught in Scripture, but to be expected from a man who thinks like a Pharisee — linear, literal and lawful.

If the Jews knew what awaited them in the carnal kingdom to come — two-thirds of them will be killed — then they might reconsider their rejection of Messiah. No, the eternal kingdom has always been viewed by the Orthodoxy as the new heaven and new earth as described in Revelation 21. The Millennial age — where a day is like a thousand years — precedes the Second Advent of Christ. “Oh,” say the Dispy’s, “you’re spiritualizing the text.” Well, yes. And so did Jesus, Matthew, Peter, James and John who were all Jewish by the way.

Let me explain the millennium another way. Suppose I ask a woman to marry me and she says, “No! Not in a thousand years.” If I take her literally all I have to do is wait, and in 3016 she’ll say “yes”? If a thousand years is like a day then her answer tomorrow would still be “no”. It’s a figure of speech, and we do well to understand the Bible in the context of Jewish idioms and symbolism.

None of this matters if you are not right with God in Christ Jesus. We must have a discerning spirit to expose deception and false doctrine

Notes:

1. Julia Duin, San Antonio Fundamentalist Battles Anti-Semitism, The Houston Chronicle, 30 April 1988.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

To’aiva: A Rabbi Speaks

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From the writings of Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel (with comments following):

The Torah clearly states its views about the act of homosexuality. The act of homosexuality, i.e. two men having sexual relations, is prohibited (Leviticus 18:22). The act is twice called a To’aiva — an abomination …

If not for the fact that homosexuality is prevalent in Western Society today, there would be little controversy about this Torah sin. It is clearly forbidden and never condoned anywhere in the Torah.

Usually, the Rabbis do not explain the meaning of Torah words. And the meaning of abomination seems reasonably clear — it is abhorrent to God. But in this case, the Talmud does offer a specific explanation. Based on a play on the Hebrew words, the Talmud says that in the act of homosexuality, the person is straying.

The commentaries on the Talmud say that by abandoning heterosexual sexual relations, the person is straying from one of his prime goals in life — to procreate and populate the earth (Genesis 1:28). (See also  Romans 1:26). We will amplify this theme below, but this explanation does not seem to be the abhorrence that the word TO’AIVA implies in the simple meaning. The classic explanation of why homosexuality is prohibited in the Torah is because of straying, i.e. failure to populate the earth. The Chinuch explains that any ‘wasting of seed’ on homosexual relations is preventing procreation and inhabiting the earth, the prime directive of man. This prime directive is echoed by Isaiah 45:18 in describing the purpose of Creation — to be inhabited. This explanation does not point to the unholiness of the homosexual relationship, but, rather, the violation of man’s purpose on earth.

CHINUCH, MITZVAH 209

At the root of the precept lies the reason that the Eternal Lord blessed is He, desires the settlement of the world He created. Therefore, He commanded us that human seed should not be destroyed by carnal relations with males. For this is indeed destruction, since there can be no fruitful benefit of offspring from it, nor the fulfillment of the religious duty of conjugal rights (due one’s wife).

Messiah Gate Says:

To’aiva is not exclusive to the homosexual act. G-d took the life of Onan when he did not fulfill his conjugal obligations towards his deceased brother’s wife:

Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also (Genesis 38:8-10). 

G-d created sex between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and bonding. The most natural form of birth control is the fear of pregnancy. The Pill radically altered — even overturned — the fundamental precepts of Biblical morality. Abortion and gay marriage have further eroded what G-d intended.

I have engaged in a lengthy debate at a gay Christian website regarding arsenokoitais (ἀρσενοκοίταις) as it is referenced in Paul’s epistles, e.g. 1 Timothy 1:10.

Arsen (men, man, male) and koitas (beds, from which we get the word coitus) is understood by gay Christians to be a condemnation of prostitution, pedophilia (pederasty) and idolatry — not homosexuality.

The moderator refutes all of the relevant Biblical text (both Torah and B’rit Chadasha) by reinterpreting Scripture contrary to the ancient Judeo-Christian tradition.

Following is a summary of my rebuttals:

… men with men (arsenes en arsesin) committing indecent acts (Romans 1:27) … 

Paul is quite clear in this passage. Subterfuge is not good hermeneutics. Otherwise I could use 1 Timothy 5:23 to justify getting drunk every night.

(Moderator called me anti-gay.)

With regards to Romans, I have read all of the contrarian viewpoints and they are not dissimilar from the faulty exegesis that asserts G-d destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their inhospitality.

(Moderator asked me to provide Scriptural support that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for homosexuality and not inhospitality.)

Look, we can’t interpret the Bible from the bias of contemporary mores thousand of years removed from the original text. You can’t defend any type of behavior by asserting that the Bible doesn’t say what it clearly meant to the ancient people to whom it was written.

This is evident in the Halacha (Oral and Written Law) which has preserved the Rabbinic interpretation of Torah that this particular act is to’aiva — an abomination.

It is not difficult to find arguments within Reformed Judaism to support your position. However, orthodox Rabbin hold to ancient tradition. 

Ben Witherington wrote:

The word [arsenokoites] literally and graphically refers to a male copulator (cf. Sib. Or. 2:73; Greek Anthology 9.686), a man who has intercourse with another man. It is true that this term can refer to a pederast (an older man who has sex with a younger man or a youth), but the term is not a technical term for a pederast; rather, it includes consenting adult males who have sexual relationships in this manner, as well as any other form of male-to-male intercourse.

Andreas Kostenberger wrote:

In light of the discussion of teaching in the Old Testament and the book of Romans above, it appears very unlikely that what is universally condemned in the Hebrew scriptures might, in New Testament times as well as ours, be acceptable. Arsenokoitas most likely refers to the general practice of homosexuality.

It appears like that the term arsenokoitas, which does not seem to appear in the extant literature prior to the present reference, was coined by Paul or someone else in Hellenistic Judaism from the Levitical prohibition against males “lying or sleeping with males” (Lev. 18:22). This suggests that the term is broad and general in nature and encompasses homosexuality as a whole rather than merely specific aberrant subsets of homosexual behavior. This is important since some want to make arsenokoitas refer specifically to pederasty.

The argument that Paul’s use of arsenokoitas refers to pederasty falls short on six counts:

a) There was a clear and unambiguous word for pederasty (which Paul did not use), the term paiderastes.

b) The attempt to limit Paul’s condemnation to pederasty is contradicted by Paul’s reference to the male partners’ mutual desire for one another in Romans 1:27.

c) In the same passage in Romans 1:26, Paul also condemns lesbian sex, which did not involve children, so that an appeal to pederasty does not adequately account for the prohibition of same-sex relations in this passage.

d) Even if (for argument’s sake) Paul were to censure only pederasty in the passages under consideration, this would still not mean that, as a Scripture-abiding Jew, he would have approved of homosexuality as such. Quite the contrary. In contrast to the surrounding Greco-Roman world (which generally accepted homosexual acts), Hellenistic (Greco)-Jewish texts universally condemn homosexuality and treat it (together with idolatry) as the most egregious example of Gentile moral depravity.

e) Not only is Paul’s view of homosexuality as contrary to nature in keeping with the foundational creation narrative in Genesis 1 and 2, but it is also illumined by prevailing views of homosexuality in contemporary Greco-Roman culture.

f) Ancient sources do not support the idea that homosexuality was defined exclusively in terms of homosexual acts but not orientation. Paul refers to both. Some scholars erect a false dichotomy between the two, and then use the false dichotomy to reason that the concept of  ‘homosexuality’ has changed.

Final Word

Arsenokoitais is not a reference to prostitution, idolatry nor pederasty, but (as the Talmud concurs) male-to-male sexual intercourse. How curious that the teachings of Augustine, Luther and the Rabbin are irrelevant in this age of enlightenment — or deception?

Christians who have preserved (in their hearts) the original context of the eternal Word of G-d are a minority in this fallen world. Those in-name-only need to stop imitating an ostrich and prepare for the persecution. The UMC minister who chastised me for predicting a dystopian future because of his gay advocacy should read the headlines. The future is now.

The Master’s Seminary posted an article about the Bible and homosexuality on its website, and within hours received a cease and desist order to take down the post. A lamenting judge told his pastor that, by law, he now has to marry homosexual couples. Said the judge, “I cannot.” Maybe there’s room for him in the jail cell of the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The world will be given over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28), but G-d is unchanging and He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7).

Credits:

Homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism, article by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel.

“Arsenokoitais” (ἀρσενοκοίταις) in 1 Timothy 1:10 (et. al.), article by John Piippo.

Witherington, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Volume 1: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, 198).

Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (with David Jones)..

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Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Offensive for Christ

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What does it mean to be salt and light?

… for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:6-13).

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person  (Colossians 4:6).

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

We understand that salt is used as a preservative, or flavoring. The lesson is that we are to preserve the Word of God in our hearts, and share it with an unbelieving world. To season our speech with salt is to make the Gospel message more palatable. Bible commentators suggest that we can present an offensive message without being offensive, but how is that possible? When salt is poured into an open wound it stings:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing … For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness … (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Certainly, we don’t want to be offensive nor alienate our worldly friends and family. So we live our lives almost embarrassed, or ashamed of the Gospel. And who wants to be outcast as strange and foolish? Who among us will stand up and be offensive for Christ?

Red Letter Christians are probably offended at the suggestion. Jesus, they will say, was all about love and forgiveness. Oh, so Jesus Christ never offended anyone?

When His disciples had been upbraided by the Pharisees for not washing their hands before eating, Jesus confronted the lawyers for elevating their religious traditions above the commandments of God. He said to the assembled crowd that what defiles a man is not unclean hands but an unclean heart.

Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:12)

If the Pharisees were offended how much more the merchants whose tables were overturned by an irate Christ. The Son of God offended the world system — religious and civil. Can we do no less?

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:24).

This is not the Jesus worshipped by flower-power hippies who have hanging in their VW van a poster of Jesus smoking pot nor liberals who co-opt Christ to promote a social gospel that is lean on theology but heavy on environmentalism, abortion rights, gay marriage, drug decriminalization and feminist radicalism.

I have long-wondered why our nation is so morally bankrupt. If 80% of the populace identify themselves as Christian then how has the nation become so degraded? How do we elect leaders that swear an oath upon the Bible, but don’t believe what it says?

Liberalism.

Government and education long ago were compromised, and now the covenant body of Christ is being sub-divided by false teachers who, like Thomas Jefferson, excise all but the red letters of Holy Scripture.

Red Letter Christians (RLC) are essentially anti-Marcion. Whereas Marcion, branded a heretic, rejected the canon of Scripture (with the exception of the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s letters) the RLC adopts a theology that cedes authority only to the words of Christ.

For some time I have researched “Christian” websites that are anti-Pauline in doctrine. At the core of these ministries is an agenda that promotes freedom of choice and gay marriage. Their theology is based on Matthew 22:36-40 (love is the greatest commandment); and Matthew 25:31-46 (the parable of the sheep and goats as suggestive of a works-based salvation — feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the sick.) The faith-based teachings found in the Pauline epistles are only subordinate text. It is evident that Paul is rejected solely on the basis that his teachings are at odds with contemporary society. So we have the right to make the Bible conform to our inclinations?

John Gerstner (Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary) classified the liberal gospel as a gospel of self-esteem. Doing good works makes us feel good, and it softens the ugly truth that there is no good dwelling in us. Like the observant Muslim who thinks he has to do good works to please God, but on the Day of Judgement Christ will say, Depart from me; I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).

Tony Campolo, activist leader of RLC, wrote:

The primary focus of we Red Letter Christians is on what Jesus had to say about the poor. We realize that the only description that He gave of Judgment Day (Matthew 25) was through a parable in which people were evaluated as to whether or not they fed those who were hungry, naked, sick and imprisoned. Because Evangelicals have been steeped in the theology of the Pauline Epistles before they scrutinize the teachings of Jesus in the red letters of the Bible, they have read Jesus through the eyes of Paul.

While he doesn’t deny that evangelicals are very generous towards the poor it does make you wonder what is his real agenda. Campolo insists that RLC is a non-partisan effort to wrestle Christianity from conservative evangelicals who, he says, have hijacked the faith in alliance with Republican politicos who are anti-gay and anti-feminist.

His Christian agenda sounds like the reading of the Democrat platform at the party’s presidential convention. The Gospel is somewhere hidden in a mishmash of environmental activism and wage inequality. When asked his party affiliation, Campolo will typically answer, “That is not the issue.”

So he rails about conservative Christians, but refuses to identify himself as a liberal Christian. Like Hillary Clinton, he is more comfortable with the term progressive as if that can hide a leopard’s spots. Curious how liberals define (or, in the case of marriage, redefine) certain absolutes. Abortion, for example, is not infanticide but free choice.

What liberals have to do is re-interpret Scripture that both Jews and Christians have understood for thousands of years. Progressives (oh, they are so enlightened) will say that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their inhospitality; Leviticus 18:22 suggests that it is unclean for a man to lie in a woman’s bed, and not prohibitive of gay sex; and Paul’s indictment of homosexuality was only a judgement against prostitution.

In any case, they will say, it doesn’t matter what Paul wrote because he doesn’t speak with the authority of Christ.

There is a deception in the church that is blinding the eyes and clouding the minds of those who have not a discerning spirit. The disparagement of Paul within the church is troublesome. Is it Satanic? To diminish Paul’s credentials would be to undermine two-thirds of Christian canon.

We have to be able to answer this question: By what authority did Paul speak?

Peter wrote:

… and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Of course, there are some within the church who doubt the authorship of 2 Peter so this passage would be inadmissible. Very well, then, may I present the testimony of Luke — acceptable even to Marcion:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake (Acts 9:10-16).

Paul was anointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul, himself, testified to the assembly at Galatia:

Paulus an Apostle, not by the children of men, neither by a son of man, but by Yeshua The Messiah and God his Father, he who raised him from among the dead …(Galatians 1:1). — Aramaic Bible

With what, then,  are we left? Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master …

… and …

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is light, though, within the RLC. An article, posted on their website, disagreed with Campolo’s interpretation of marriage. The silence of Scripture — that is, Jesus did not specifically condemn homosexuality — is not an affirmation of an act that is clearly condemned in both Jewish and Christian canon. The article honestly cited the Bible’s clarity on marriage, and that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is the Biblical norm.

We’ve only peeled a few layers off this theological onion. Liberals within the church dispute essential Christian doctrine regarding the deity of Christ, resurrection, faith and salvation. They teach that confession and repentance are unnecessary in this age of grace. Feed the poor and you’ll be okay. Everything else is religion. Jesus, they will say, had no problem with sinners, but with religious people.

How should we respond? Meekness does not mean that we dim our light or lose our savor. In this ongoing spiritual battle we must courageously decide to be offensive for Christ — in the world and from the pew. Let your light be a blinding light, and your words like a two-edged sword.

Remember: Christian love is corrective — not permissive.

Reference:

The Liberal View of Justification, article by John Gerstner.

Red Letter Christianity: A New Name for Progressive Evangelicals, article by Tony Campolo.

When Red Is Blue: Why I am not a Red-Letter Christian, article by Stan Guthrie.

The Problem with Being a Red Letter Christian, article by Ian Paul.

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Holy Chaos

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For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

This topic won’t go away. The seed of this rebellion has not fully germinated — much like the issue of abortion. Make no mistake … we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the Evil One has scored another victory.

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, elected in 2003 as the first openly gay (non-celibate) bishop in the Anglican Church, since retired, is quoted:

We don’t need to win the argument, but simply change minds. This is going to end with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the church. Let me tell you a little secret: the conservatives know it, too … there is no stopping it.

Throughout his tenure Robinson used the pulpit to promote the homosexual agenda including same-sex marriage. He praised gay advocates for creating enormous confusion and holy chaos within the church.

This is evil speaking. Pure evil.

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them (Romans 16:17).

I feel like Abraham pleading for Sodom:

“Lord, if there be one righteous man left will You spare the nation?” (Genesis 18:32)

Is there a remnant in the Episcopal church worth saving, or will they be spewed out as the church at Laodicea? (Revelation 3:16)

My soul is afflicted and deeply wounded. Where are the God-fearing men and women?

Where is the “church”?

We are ruled over by those who violate both legal contract (Constitution), and moral covenant (Bible). More sinister are the pulpit liberals who throw away the epistles, charge Paul to be a heretic (for his condemnation of immorality); and who justify their acceptance of transgression because Jesus, they say, was silent on this issue. Shall we discard the moral law? Yeshua came to fulfill, not throw away, Moses and the prophets. When asked about moral issues, Jesus would typically respond, What is written in the Law? (Luke 10:6)

So, no, Jesus did not itemize every jot and tittle of the Law. Nor should He. Making rules based on our fallen sense of justice and fairness is to live outside the will of God, and in disobedience.

If it was sin in the Torah it is sin in the B’rit Chadashah. Nothing is changed. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever  (Hebrews 13:8).

Faithful Christians — distinguished from those who are Christian in name only — are further marginalized and set apart from secular society. We who walk in the light are called hateful and phobic.

We are chastised to love and not judge as if those who recite these commands have any contextual or spiritual understanding of God’s word.

We live in an age where the truth has become a lie, and the “church” apostate. Reformers did not break enough from Rome to rebirth that which was anointed in Jerusalem; and Protestantism has wreaked further division through the establishment of denominated assemblies. Know this — the judgement of God will fall hardest upon the ecclesia.

There is no unity when the papacy has usurped the authority of Christ, and priests commit heinous sexual crimes while the Protestant assembly is fragmented by doctrinal and theological disagreement.

So the church across the street celebrates gay marriage … the one on the corner denies the divinity of Christ … and the parish across town says none of it matters — just count a few beads, recite a few “Hail, Mary’s” and all will be fine. Oh, my brothers and sisters, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth come Judgement Day (Matthew 13:42).

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:23)

Answering an altar call and mumbling a two-sentence recitation does not make you a Christian. Jesus said to follow His commandments and abide in Him:  John 14:15, 14:21, 14:23.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3). 

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned (John 15:6).

If we could ask Jesus for a definition of marriage He would point to Adam and Eve. As for Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality, well, the apostle was speaking on behalf of our Lord.

When Jesus says, “Truly, truly,” we best take heed:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me (John 13:20).

To the red-letter Christians and Hebrew Roots disciples who frenetically disparage and reject Paul, I ask this question: By whom was he sent?

Of Paul, Jesus said, … he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel … (Acts 9:15).

If you reject Paul … you reject the Son of God (Luke 10:16).

Paul was unmistakably clear. It is dishonest to ignore his writings simply because they offend contemporary mores. But, if you are one who is willing to throw out one-third of the New Testament then may I leave you with the following quote by a church father who is revered by both Catholics and Protestants — St. Augustine:

Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife. Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed. For they are joined one to another side by side, who walk together, and look together whither they walk. Then follows the connection of fellowship in children, which is the one alone worthy fruitTherefore the good of marriage in every nation and for all mankind lies in the purpose of procreation and in chaste fidelity; but for the people of God, it lies also in the holiness of the sacrament. [1]

Marriage is the Holy union of man and wife for the purpose of having children, and as a testimony of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church. That a court of judges can overthrow the foundation of human society — that which was established by Eternal God — should be a clarion call for the truly born again.

The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me (Luke 10:16).

Notes:

1. On the Good of Marriage (De bono coniugali), St. Augustine, 401 A.D.

Credits:

Scripture — New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995. “Used by permission.”

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Hope

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[Editor’s Note: If you received the email version of our last post you probably missed Joey and Rory singing Leave it There since videos do not appear in the electronic post. However, you can watch it on our blog.]

For my mother whose middle name was Hope. She passed away last Christmas almost four years to the day of my father’s passing. I miss them very much.

When I was taken to the emergency room I had hope. When I lost a job I had hope. When I was on the verge of homelessness I had hope. When my bank account was bankrupt I had hope. When I couldn’t pay my rent I had hope. When I was housebound four years because of acute panic disorder I still had hope.

Hope (in God) kept me alive and preserved my soul.

Christians know all about faith and love, but there are three fruits of the Spirit that remain (1 Corinthians 13:13), and hope seems to be an afterthought in today’s church. We know that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but did you know that Paul told the Romans that we are saved by hope? We’ll address that later.

Readers of Messiah Gate know that I occasionally engage [in] lengthy discourse over the more complex issues of theology, but that makes me somewhat like the Pharisees who knew the letter of the Law, but not its practice. John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers (Matthew 3:7)  — echoed by Jesus (Matthew 12:34) who also condemned them as hypocrites (Matthew 23:13).

Joel Osteen has been, at times, a target of my criticism as I have suggested that watching his sermons is like eating a candy bar — empty calories with a sugar rush. He tickles my ears (2 Timothy 4:3).

But when my days were darkest I found myself listening to him because his words made me feel good. TBN recently broadcast Night of Hope in Jerusalem with the Osteens which originally aired in 2011. To be expected there were the circuit preachers bellowing their motivational mantra sounding much like the used-car salesmen who pitch their inventory on late-night television:

I declare your suffering has ended … I proclaim your deliverance from poverty … I declare that your storehouse will be filled … I proclaim this day of healing … You will get that job … You will prevail … You will overcome … and so on.

Yes, Osteen is light on theology so what is it about his message that inspires so many people?

May I suggest that it is a message of hope. That’s what Joel Osteen preaches — hope. Now, I still have theological differences with him, but I can’t deny that my hope meter charts full, and my spirit is lifted, when I watch him.

The Night of Hope in Jerusalem was near the anniversary of the death of Osteen’s father. Osteen buried his head in his hands and sobbed as he reminisced about his dad, John — how his father encouraged him to pastor the congregation even though Joel had no training in seminary, or confidence that he could assume such a role. At that moment you could sense an outpouring of love and hope, and the very real presence of the Holy Spirit.

It was an awesome night … Jesus was preached … and our God was glorified.

I’m sure that I am wrong about some things as well, but my hope is that one day we will sit together at the feet of the Master who will teach us the great and hidden truths of His heavenly kingdom.

Now, what about Paul’s statement that we are saved by hope? Your King James Bible reads:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it  (Romans 8:24-25).

The translation does not convey all that Paul is saying. The Aramaic version is worded … Because we live in that hope … or the English Standard Version that reads … For in this hope we were saved

So, if we compare Paul’s writings we learn that we are saved through faith, and in hope. But for what are we hopeful? Paul reveals that in the previous verse:

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us (Romans 8:23).

The apostle was not immune to suffering as he wrote to the assembly at Corinth:

[Of the apostles] Are they servants of Christ? — I speak as if insane — I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure  (2 Corinthians 11:3-27). 

Might the circuit preachers declare Paul’s deliverance from all of these hardships? Our Lord said that, in this life, we will suffer:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Ellicott summarizes:

Because hope in the future is of the very essence of the Christian’s life. It was [in] hope that he was saved. Hope, at the time when he first believed, made him realise (sp) his salvation, though it is still in the future. This is, indeed, implied in the very nature of hope. Its proper object is that which is future and unseen. [1]

Benson wrote that our hope is in a salvation not fully possessed. [2]

And Barnes surmises:

[As to saved by hope] perhaps the word “saved” may mean here simply, we are kept, preserved, sustained in our trials, by hope. Our trials are so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. [3]

Consider, finally, that the underpinning of hope is love, of course, but also patience.

This message is not heard but from a few pulpits. Maybe that is why people listen to Joel Osteen. Certainly, my own testimony confirms that in my darkest days, hope — I’m speaking from the Spirit — was the sustaining power in my life.

To Him be the glory.

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Baby David and Mom

Notes:

1. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers VIII, by Ellicott, Charles J., Cassell and Company, 1905.

2. Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Benson, Joseph, 1811–18, 5 vols.

3. Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes, 1834.

Mom’s Poetry

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