Friday, July 06, 2007

Does Homosexuality Send Someone to Hell?

This is a serious question. No one wants to go to Hell--atheists deny the existence of Hell, quite simply because they don't want to go there; however, all people who go there will be there quite simply because they aren't willing to abandon their sins to escape the Wrath of God. In short, they expect God to bow to them. It doesn't work that way.

The Bible says that "all liars shall have their part in the Lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8) That's not a place I want to go, and yet I have to admit, I am a liar: I have told lies, that makes me eligible to go to Hell. Have you ever told a lie?

Revelation 21:8 doesn't just mention liars: it mentions "the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars..." Do you fit into any of those categories?

Who are the fearful? Well, remember, the Bible was not written in English, but in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Translation from one language to another is limited by the meanings in the words of the latter. The word translated "fearful" here specifically denotes someone who, when faced with calamity, refuses to trust the promises that God has made him. Specifically, I believe that this refers to those who deny God's provision for their souls in Jesus Christ. They live their lives in fear of their Lord, rather than in obedience to His Word, because they don't trust His promises. They call themselves Christians, but are actually "workers of iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23), "wicked and slothful servant[s]" (Matthew 25:14-30), who will join the rest in the Lake of Fire.

Who are the unbelieving? Quite simply those who reject the Gospel. They don't even pretend to be Christians, they don't humble themselves when presented with God's High and Holy Law, they just reject it. They, too, will received Eternal Justice on Judgment Day.

Who are the abominable? Now this is where most conservatives would take the time to point out homosexuality. Now, they are right in one thing: homosexuality is an abomination to God (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), but they are wrong in another, or, rather, incomplete: There are many things that are mentioned in Scripture as "an abomination"--just look at the entire chapter of Leviticus 18. Then go over to Proverbs 6:16-19. Read everywhere that the Bible speaks of idolatry. Or how about Proverbs 12:22? Why aren't these also included? We'll attempt to answer that later in the post.

Who are the murderers? One would think that would be obvious, but listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire." First John 3:15 reiterates: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and we know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

Who are the whoremongers? The Greek word translated "whoremongers" is pronounced "porneo," from which we get the word pornography, and it simply denotes any sexual relationship not in line with Genesis 2:24: "For this cause shall a man ... cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh." Notice, it does not say "spouse" or "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" but "wife." Those who disobey this priniciple, be they gay or straight, will have their part in the Lake of Fire.

Who are the sorcerers? Well, the Greek word translated "sorcerers" is pronounced "Pharmacaea" and simply means drug abuse. Why would God send drug abusers to Hell? Because they refuse His help. They put getting high above serving the God who gives them every breath that they take. By the way, getting high and getting drunk are one and the same. We just use different means (snorting/shooting/smoking versus drinking).

Who are the idolaters? Most people think of idolatry as bowing down before "false idols." I don't know where the term "false idols" came from, because, by definition, an idol is a false god. The term could even be contradictory to the meaning intended by the speaker: 1) Does this mean that there are "true idols" that we should bow down to? 2)Does this mean that these are not really idols? But enough of my diatribe on grammar, we're talking about going to Hell! Are you an idolater? Have you made a god to suit yourself, or do you worship the God who is? One can make an idol in his own mind (Ezekiel 14:3-4), a god who doesn't condemn him for his sins, but does condemn those who rebuke him for his sins.

Who are the liars? Everyone that has told a lie is a liar. Even if they are just historical liars, they are still liars nonetheless. And "all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone."

Now, I said I would address this issue later, and now is later: Why don't conservatives focus on these other sins? Why, it's for the same reason that liberals decry any mention of sin--they are guilty of them and don't want to face the fact that they deserve to go to Hell.

The Bible says that almost every man will proclaim his own goodness (Proverbs 20:6). I have dished out the Good Person Test to at least 1000 people. Very rarely will anyone admit that his is a bad person, and only some Christians see themselves as truly evil people. Yet, this is what the Bible teaches, that "there is none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:10). No one likes to admit that he himself deserves to go to Hell, and yet that is the hard truth of Christianity.

Jesus Himself said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Then He said this: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes to the Father except through Me." Therefore, if you are not a sinner, then you cannot enter Heaven.

But, wait a minute--Heaven isn't for sinners, is it? Well, not really. Jesus also said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5). But you have to be a sinner to repent. Doesn't matter what the sin is, you have to have done something that displeases God, and I'm sure that if you are honest with yourself, you will see that you have done something, whether it be lying, stealing, looking with lust (Jesus called that adultery of the heart in Matthew 5:27-30), hating someone, etc.

But if you are too proud to admit to your sins, just remember one thing: the first thing on the list of abominations in Proverbs 6:16-19 is a proud look. A prideful person has made an idol--himself--putting his own judgment of himself above that of God. The Bible repeats, "Everyone who is proud of heart is an abomination unto the Lord" (Proverbs 16:5). Don't be a fool--repent of your sins today, no matter what they are.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Repent or Die

In this relativistic world, where everything is up to personal interpretation, there is a universal truth: Ten out of ten people die. No matter if you are rich or poor, wise or foolish, you are going to die. King Solomon said, Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all. So I said in my heart, “ As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart, “ This also is vanity.” For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!

Solomon understood that one day, everything that we strive for will be unkindly taken from our hands by the merciless and unbreakable jaws of death. What is it you strive for? Isn’t there something more important?

Jesus said, “I tell you, that every idle word that a man shall speak, he will give an account thereof on the Day of Judgment.” After we die, we have to face the God who gives us every breath that we take, to give an account for how we have used those breaths. How will you fare?

Have you ever told a lie? The Bible says, “..and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.”

Have you ever stolen anything (even if it was small)? The Bible declares that thieves are not allowed into Heaven.

Have you ever looked with lust? Jesus said that if you look with lust, you commit adultery in your heart, a violation of the Seventh Commandment for which God prescribed the death penalty.

Have you ever hated anyone? Jesus said that if you so much as insult someone, you will receive the same punishment as a murderer.

You see, if we trivialize God’s commandments, He could trivialize our breath. That would be a big deal for us, so we need to make God’s commandments a big deal. As such, there is not one of us who deserves to go to Heaven, for all of us have lies, stolen, lusted, and hated.

But we know that God is a loving God, as well as a just God. So, do you know what Just thing God did so that we would not have to go to Hell? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever will trust in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” If Jesus had not come down from Heaven and suffered and died for our sins, there would be no way for God to forgive us. But there’s more:

God is not going to merely give a blanket pardon to everybody. Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Jesus also said that on Judgment Day, many people would come to Him saying, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophecy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many wonderful works [in Your Name]?” and He said, “I will tell them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me, ye workers of iniquity’”! God makes no exceptions for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or Jews. If we do not forsake our sins, God will not forgive us. God will not allow sin into Heaven.

So repent, and trust Jesus today. You trusted in someone’s car to get you here, or you would not have ridden in it (whether it was your car, a friend’s car, a rental car, or a Metrolink car). Trust Jesus the same way. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then you are My disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If you have repented of your sins, then you will get you instructions from Heaven rather than continuing to get instructions from yourself. So read your Bible daily, and obey what you read. God will never fail to keep all of His promises.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Science and the Bible

I get so tired of hearing people say that science has disproved the Bible. In what way? Why, the millions of years, they say. The Bible doesn't allow enough time for all the fossils to have formed.

Actually, it does (because it has a different, more reasonable mechanism for forming them), but that's another sermon. Here's the real kicker: why would anyone ever trust scientists over the Bible? The Bible has always been ahead of science:

1) The Bible is the only ancient text that teaches that the earth is round (Isaiah 40:22).

2) The Bible is the only ancient text that teaches that the earth hangs on nothing in outer space (Job 26:7).

3) The Bible is the only ancient text that teaches that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11).

4) The Bible was the first text on medical cleanliness that is mandated today (all throughout Leviticus).

When did science discover these things? Thousands of years and many unnecessary deaths later. So, how long are you going to wait for science to tell you to get right with God? The Bible is already doing it.

Revelation 21:8 warns, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." First Corinthians 6:9 warns us, "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." First John 3:15 says, "He that hates his brother is a murderer, and we know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

Jesus Himself said, "Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire....Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-30)

You say, "But who is not guilty of these things?"

My Friend, now you have begun to understand the necessity of Jesus of Nazareth and all that He claimed to be. He must be God in the flesh, because, as He said, "There is none good, but One, [and]that is God." (Matthew 19:17) That is why He had to die--for our sins, that Justice might be served and yet mercy extended to the wicked rebels in dire straits. You and I have been offered the awesome gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Will we pass it by?

"But," you say,"I like my religion, my church, my life. I'm happy the way I am."

But, my friend, God is not happy with you, and that is a much bigger issue right now.

"I'll wait until I'm on my death bed."

My friend, you may not get a death bed.

Do you realize what you are saying? God is offering you reconciliation, but instead you say to Him, "God, I know that I have greatly offended You, even though with each breath I breathe out, You send another back to give me life. But I want to live my life that You gave me in my lusts. I will use up all the time I have here to serve myself, and I will give You nothing in return for Your gracious pardon at the end of my life. Just wait for me there, I'll repent before I die. But I just don't want to live in righteousness."

My friend, if you offered your enemy reconciliation, and he instead said to you, "When I get old and decrepit and useless, I'll apologize for the irreparable harm that I have caused you. In the meantime I will continue to do the things that I know displease you and will offend you up to that point. But don't worry, I'll be quite sincere when I apologize at that point." You would be outraged. You think that God feels any other way?

My friend, God may lose patience with you tonight. Don't put it off any longer. Get right with God today. Repent, and put your trust in the only provision He has made for you to be saved: Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Biblical Case Against Unconditional Election

There have been statements made that those who do not accept the teaching of unconditional election despise it because they would like to get credit for their own salvation. While that may seem like a plausible statement, it is untrue for those who believe the Biblical Gospel.

The Biblical Gospel is that “Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Those supporting this doctrine have claimed that the word world does not mean world at all times. But Jesus used it four times in two sentences. I think that the rules of grammar (which were created by the Inventor of Languages Himself) state that unless you do some serious modification, words that are repeated in a sentence must have the same meaning throughout the sentence.

Furthermore, Jesus gave us a parable of election in Matthew 22. It sounds nothing like Reformed Theology:

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

“Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

“Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

What distinguished the few that were chosen from the many that were not? The chosen obeyed the King! They willed to do as He commanded. They were counted worthy, not because of their history, not because of their status, but because of their obedience on these two things: Come to the feast and wear a wedding garment. That’s it. The King’s prize list rejected the King’s wishes.
Christians are called to do two things: Repent and believe the Gospel. They are rewarded for keeping these two commands. Obviously, these are not works of the Law, for by them no man can be justified. However, Paul says that God will take vengeance on those who “obey not the Gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8); therefore, obedience in this matter does not constitute works, because this commandment is not of the Law but of Grace. Since we cannot keep the Law, God offers a pardon through His Grace and commands us to take it, else we die. Those who obey the Gospel (repent and trust) are rewarded as the chosen of God. It would seem that Reformed Theologians have it all wrong.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is often quoted by those who hold the Reformed position as being a Calvinist. But listen to what else he said in one of his sermons: “As it is my wish [and] your wish…so it is God’s wish that all men should be saved…He is no less benevolent than we are.”

In His statements to the prophet Ezekiel, twice God said that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires that the wicked repent (18:21-23; 33:11). These statements are the basis for both Paul’s and Peter’s statements in the New Testament:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. –1 Timothy 2:1-4

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. –2 Peter 3:9

These are very clear statements of the Love and Character of God Himself, comments made by God Himself and then repeated by His Apostles. To deny these truths is to call God a liar. And that is what Reformed Theologians have done.

No matter the difficulty of reconciling these passages to others, we cannot let ourselves lose sight of what God Himself has said about Himself. We must interpret all Scripture in light of all Scripture. We cannot take single verses that appear to contradict these plain statements and create an opposing paradigm—no matter how many scholars support that paradigm.

Romans 9 is a chapter often cited in support of the doctrine of unconditional election, because of its statements about Esau and Pharaoh. However, nothing in God’s counsel here condemned either of these men to eternal damnation.

Concerning Esau, God only said that Esau would serve Jacob—nothing to do with his soul. That did not mean that Esau was condemned to do only the things which he did that cost him his birthright. The counsel of God would have stood one way or the other. This is just the way it played out. There were many other ways that it could have happened, but this is the way it did.

He had picked this man to be Pharaoh at this time in order to show His power over the Egyptian gods, of whom anyone holding the title of Pharaoh was one. Thus His hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was intended for the salvation of many Egyptian souls, which did happen (the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with the children of Israel). It did not mean that Pharaoh necessarily had to go to Hell. He still could have repented of his sins and humbled himself after such a disastrous defeat at the hands of a clearly Superior God.

Another argument is made that God’s glory is lessened if we have anything to do with our salvation. What!?!

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5)--Paul contrasts work with belief! Our repentance and faith are not works, in God’s economy. They are simply choices. We can continue to drown in perdition or we can allow the Savior to rescue us. There is no work involved in that.

No glory comes to the man who is saved by the lifeguard, only glory to the lifeguard for saving him. But there is blame placed on the man who doesn’t trust in the lifeguard to save him from sure death. That is the Biblical picture of salvation.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sex

Everybody seems to want it, and in their time, and in their way. They can't imagine why a loving God would withhold something so wonderful from them and confine it to an institution as undesirable as marriage!

"God gave me a sex drive, so He expects me to use it, right?" He also gave you food to eat, but calls gluttony a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20).

"Then why did He give us a sex drive if we weren't supposed to use it?" Now, first off, that is an unreasonable question. God does want you to use it, but only in love toward your spouse.

Sexual intercourse is supposed to be your gift to your spouse for committing the rest of his or her life to yours.

The Bible says that when God created man, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a suitable helper for him." And then He made woman from man. Then He gave them both a wonderful reminder of their co-dependence on each other: sex drive. Sexual desires remind us of Genesis 2. Or at least, they are supposed to.

As with everything else, sin has clouded our view of sex, so that, today, we tend to view sex as a rite of passage into adulthood. As if fornication, incest, and rape are evidences of maturity!?! Actually, those deeds are just more proof of the fact that we are all evil and deserve to go to Hell.

What is marriage really? Is it an enslavement of man and woman to an intolerable, unlovable mate who doesn't understand or care about their needs and just is so selfish and jealous and mean that no one should ever want to get married in life? The Bible paints a very different picture.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

Two different passages, two different emphases, but the exact same instructions. Peter and Paul tell the wives to submit to the husbands as the God-given heads. But then, in honor of Christ's admonition that the leader must be the servant of all (Matthew 23:11), they both command the husband to remember to exalt their wives. If each does this, then there will be far fewer divorces and much happier marriages.

Will there be misunderstandings, etc? Yes. You have two sinners in the same building. There will be conflict! But it can be minimalized if each remembers God's admonition to them specifically and why God created both of them in the first place. God created man in His image. God created woman for man. If men and women bear this in mind when dealing with each other, oh what joy marriage would become! Instead of two selfish pigs stuck in a relationship, there will be two loving adults united as one before God, living in harmony for all their days. That's God's design. Follow it if you want to be blessed.