Scandalous Good News – by Andrew Comiskey

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Scandalous Good News by Andrew Comiskey

A Forward by Stephen Black:  Stephen Black-40yrI am always on the hunt to find messages that will really prophetically rivet my soul to its core. I have recently been touched by two messages that seem to be bookends to what is relevant in our day. I am always looking for messages that will speak in context to the ministry we provide at First Stone Ministries; as we want to be a source of life-giving ministry and hope to the relationally and sexually wounded. Last year, in 2015, Christopher West’s offering at the National Restored Hope Network (RHN) conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was profoundly prophetic. He gave a message called, “Theology of the Body, Sexual Redemption and the New Evangelization.” As West was delivering this message to several hundred people at the RHN conference, another delivery took place in our nation. The Supreme court ruled that homosexual marriage should be made legal in our country. Truly the extremes of life and death, light and darkness were revealed to the discerning.

This year, at the 2016 National RHN Conference outside of Chicago, Andrew Comiskey gave a very timely message that serves as a prophetic warning to the Church. I believe this warning is especially needed for evangelicals that are more susceptible to the growing deception toward embracing “gay Christianity.” Evangelicals are more likely than ever before to embrace the mixture of the cheap-grace messaging, adding the validation of same-sex sexual orientation and then pouring in a once prayed, always saved message. The outcome of this mixture has caused many to embrace “gay Christianity.” Andrew Comiskey gives a warning as he shares his own story of how this “gay Christian” messaging infiltrated his own home through the “Spiritual Friendship” movement with the so-called celibate gays, who are calling for the Church to embrace “gay Christianity” as a dangerously deceptive and corrupting option. Below is the video and the text to Andrew’s address at the Restored Hope Network Conference in June of 2016 outside of Chicago. Please listen to this message today!

 

Scandalous Good News – by Andrew Comiskey (text below transposed from audio/video)
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We at RHN represent one thing: how Jesus Christ transforms persons impacted by same-sex attraction (and other gender-related disorders). Yet applying the good news of His crucifixion and resurrection to what has affliction us has become a scandal in our culture today. We whom HE has charged to bear witness of His glorious cross and thus share in that invitation of HIS cross. As we testify to the exchange of the stronghold of ‘gay’ desires and gay selves for Christ-likeness, we incur disgrace from the world and worldly Christians. ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ (1 Cor. 1:18).

How many of us now face closed doors due to the word of our testimony? How many of us have encountered the dreadful blend of unbelief and false mercy in Christ’s members who in turn have made us unwanted members? In my wonderful church, in my parish, I prayed and worked a long time to get a Living Waters group started there. It is just one of the many beautiful streams that were being released in the community. I worked hard for it; I had a wonderful pastor who persevered with me and finally gave the go ahead.

In the first year were amazing, protected, signs and wonders. All manner of persons with sexual brokenness were coming and receiving help in the house of God. Towards the end of that year, I felt like the Holy Spirit said, “Well, hang on because the glory days are going to change.” Sure enough, as soon as we had finished this wonderful cycle, the priest came to me and said, “I think we need to talk.” This began a series of meetings in which he beautifully advocated for me and for our work from all kinds of people who had come out of the woodwork in the church as having discovered what we were doing as we gathered in our brokenness and exchanged our sins and our wounds for the healing work of Jesus.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about what happened to me as I walked through a kind of a gauntlet that I think represents what we are facing in our churches as we seek to offer the good news of healing. ‘For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is up to such a task?’ (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

Only the person founded on Christ Crucified—more alive than ever to His transforming love and not surprised at all by the scandalous good news we bear. Our word for scandal is from the Greek word ‘scandalon’ or stumbling block; this is the word St. Peter uses when he describes how Jesus has become the ‘scandalon’ for those who do not believe Him, but for us, who do believe Jesus, rejected stone has become everything (1 Peter 2.)

The servant is not greater than the Master. St. Peter encourages us in 1st Peter 4:12-14: ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trail you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.’

Let’s look at this: v. 12: ‘Don’t be surprised…’ Frankly, I was surprised when a group of people from my church rose up and tried to snuff out the work of my hands. I was surprised. I was scandalized. I resorted to worldly thinking that I’m a nice person. This is volunteer service. No one is getting rich on this. I’m just offering myself to broken people out of the mercy that I have received, but I was responding like a sentimentalist. We have to think deeper people. It’s not well, I’m nice; you be nice, too. That is not how it works, today, when it comes to the reality of the redemption of gender and sexual brokenness.

The issue is not about being nice. It is fundamentally about how we understand and convey God’s will for humankind. Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote this, “A church that does not have the courage to publically highlight how she understands humanity – made in God’s image as male and female – is no longer the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” It may help to review some of the changes in values and thought that has occurred in Western culture in the last century. At the risk – and I do risk this – of oversimplifying a complex shift, we might describe this as the rise of a kind of secular individualism which emphasizes, as you might expect, the needs of the individual, especially persons who have been perceived as having been diminished by Judeo-Christian values.

The church, of course, on the other hand, emphasizes community life which is ordered and sustained by reliance upon God. Valuing the whole, the community, has special relevance for sexuality and gender as both involve the creation and the rearing of new members of the community. The church understands the human person as created by God and necessarily subject to self-evident truths in order to flourish. These truths include clarity of gender identity, integrity of sexual boundaries, and championing the new life that results from sexual love.

‘Individualism’ challenges the Church on the basis that she hinders human freedom. Such values are framed as ‘discriminating’ against individuals based on diverse gender identities and sexual practices. The individualist may believe sincerely that anyone who employs ‘faith’ to limit sexual and gender freedoms is oppressing good people.

Empowering the individualist’s vision is the deceptive pairing of sexual civil rights with ethnic ones. Ethnicity is in truth an unchanging, beautiful and God-ordained reality that cannot even be compared to sexual disorder. Tell that to Obama who sincerely believes that he has furthered the legacy of Martin Luther King by making ‘gay the new black’ and now has taken it a step further by insisting that gender identification be a matter of choice, not one’s biological birthright. We now live in a state of such confusion in which persons who stand for gender clarity as a human good and a condition of human flourishing are considered on par with ethnic bigots, small–minded haters who oppress individuals with bad outdated religion.

Every one of us at Restored Hope Network live under that judgment now. Let’s just get it straight. No matter how sweet you are; no matter how kind you are; no matter how low key you are; you are now seen by the eyes of the powers in our culture, that prevail as one on par with, maybe even less than, an ethnic bigot. And in truth, where we as Christians have been heavy-handed in upholding an ideal without offering mercy to a person, where we have failed to bear with a broken person in order to help him or her realize the freedom intrinsic in her daughterhood, his son-ship—then we need to be judged.

Nevertheless, in light of all the refinement we need to become better healing operatives for those that we are championing, we must hold fast to what is actual and good and true for all persons. That good is founded upon our faith in the Creator who made us all in HIs image as male or female and who has become our Redeemer.

God has a vested interest in confirming the clarity of our gendered personhood and the integrity of our sexual boundaries. He pre-ordained the children who will be conceived from our redemption and the spiritual children who will flourish because of it. And He knows the dark shadow that has been cast over our culture by a well-intentioned but misdirected individualism that fails to recognize the Creator—His vision for humanity, His grief over our disordered state, and His joy in our redemption. In refusing the Creator, individualism refuses what actually dignifies the creature.

It is up to us my friends to ensure that we stay aligned with the dignity our Creator and Redeemer ascribes to His creatures. Our critics may be right in pointing out how the Church has often focused on divine ideals without dealing with the reality of people. In this way, we must make every effort to champion real human freedom by walking with persons into the greater good that God has in store for them.

For that call, however clear, and however compassionate, we are, we will be scandalized. We shall be framed as a stumbling block to human freedom. This is the painful trial that St. Peter wrote about. We should not be surprised. The creature, does seek to prevail over the Creator today in the gender and sexual realm and will stop at nothing to stop those who have the audacity to lead others into sexual purity and wholeness.

This involves the sowing in of popular myths that have now become strongholds of a kind of truth – they are utterly without truth, but are now framed as THE truth that we will come up against as we seek to impart this integrity and healing. ‘To suit their desires, men will gather round a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’ (2 Tim. 4: 3-4)

A series of charges came upon me in my church and elicited a series of meetings to address certain “scandals”.

1. The first meeting was about the scandalizing of the therapeutic community: the assault on ‘reparative therapy’ in particular. At my first meeting, I had to sit through a short video which was a warning from a poorly educated and very ill-advised therapist who knows nothing about gender development, let alone redemption, but who used it as a launching point to shut us down. ‘You are not one of those ‘change’ groups?’ What? First of all, we are not a therapy group, but a Christian discipleship group. Yet, we will stand with, fight for and be grateful for the real insights that we can glean from those who in the last 80 years have charted the development of persons and who have sought in a variety of ways to help individuals sort out the devices of heart that seek to repair what is missing or lost in our fallen lives and how that reparative drive can express itself in distorted sexual and emotional desires. Yes, I will stand with those insights, and I will not concede them to you in your misbegotten idea of reparative therapy! Secondly, I said, “we are ALL about change! If you as a Christian therapist have the audacity to challenge a group of Christians who meet in humility around the cross of Jesus Christ and condemn us because we are offering change, then you know nothing of why Jesus entered into the human realm! He came to reorder fallen humanity according to His good will and purposes, and we are absolutely seeking for that in our group.” That ended that meeting.

2. The second meeting involved the scandalizing of the spiritual community: the assault on a prayerful reliance upon the Holy Spirit to impart truth and grace where it is most needed in the lives of fractured souls. Leanne Payne writes, “The primary need of every lonely suffering soul is to be ushered into familiar communion with God through His healing presence.” Thus our task as a minister is to quiet the soul and ask for the Holy Spirit to come, come Holy Spirit, You Who searches out the deep things of the heart, we give You room to move on behalf of this one who does not know how to begin to cognitively figure out his or her life.

Now this exquisite spiritual discipline is reduced to ‘praying away the gay.’ We’ve all heard that! Snide snarky truth bearers! In truth, no-one is claiming that prayer removes same sex attraction. Rather, we are relying upon the Real Presence of God, to continually to meet us in the core ‘gaps’ of our lives where there was trauma and where there was a lack of love and where we can see vulnerability to false solutions to secure the love we need. Learning to ‘practice His Presence’ and listen for the healing Word is how our entire being is turned toward the Lord in our deepest areas of need, how He becomes everything to us. These rich disciplines are now reduced to ‘Praying away the gay…’ When someone accused us of this, honestly I felt a deep grief over a mocking spirit, this mockery of the Holy Spirit’s power to heal foundational wounds. It is a spirit of mockery! We must be on the alert for these lies now sown into the popular mindset. That are used by men and women who used to be our brothers and sisters. We must be prepared to give an answer. God gave me the presence of mind to give one. I was able to proceed.

3. Next, out of the scandalizing of the therapeutic community and the spiritual community, comes the rise of the ‘gay Christian’. Here I am not referring to the obviously deceived who now claim freedom to have ‘gay’ lovers, spouses, etc. Honestly, that is a big, “duh!” Like really! No subtlety, no nuances, we just now that is wrong. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! “You are deceived man! Doesn’t fly! No biblical basis for this whatsoever!” But what we are up against today, is far more deceptive and subtle than this, these are much bigger strongholds that are polluting the wells, that might otherwise be ours in the body of Christ. I am referring now to those who on biblical grounds refuse to act out homosexually but who embracing the ‘gay self’ and who claim that their wholeness is tied up in integrating their ‘gay selves.’ Eve Tushnet, the writer of “Gay and Catholic” who writes extensively for the movement, that most summarizes the gay Christian celibate movement, called ‘spiritual friendship’ wrote in her book, after 10 years of being a Catholic Christian, “I seem to become more lesbian with time.” I seem to become more lesbian over time? Hmmm, this is the fruit of your sanctification, you seem to be becoming more lesbian with time?! And Wesley Hill, the founder of the spiritual friendship movement, has evolved from viewing his same-sex attraction as broken into what he now embraces as his way of experiencing reality. In his latest book, he now describes his ‘gay self’ winsomely without any openness to God transforming him. In its subtlety, with its nod to biblical orthodoxy, the ‘abstaining gay Christian’ is actually more dangerous than the ‘practicing one.’ It appeals to evangelical Christian leaders who do not want to be accused of advocating ‘reparative therapy’ and ‘praying away the gay’; it is seen as the middle ground, a resting place from the culture wars where downtrodden gay-identified Christians, can be just that, as long as they don’t do the dirty deed.

I want to tell you how subtle this is. I have four children – three sons. Of my two eldest sons, one went to Wheaton with Wesley Hill and the other went to the Episcopal Seminary where Wesley Hill is a professor. So they both know Wesley and have had experiences with him in Christian settings. My one son, who is a pastor, a lovely guy, he did a year-long internship with us at Desert Stream, but has no SSA, but certainly has fallenness, but also received a lot of healing, and certainly grown up around Desert Streams, and been surrounded by many who have been in route becoming men and women of God, open horizons for Jesus to do His will and work in their lives. He began to be kind of strange around me. I asked, my son, “Nick, what’s going on? What’s the problem?” He asked me, “Dad have you read Wesley Hill’s book, you know his first book (Washed and Waiting)? I said, “Yes.” He said, “You know dad, you know… a lot of people aren’t like you. A lot of people, don’t really, you know sorta come out of this – (homosexuality – being gay).” I said, “wait a minute! Nick, what?! What’s going on?” And he referred me back to Wesley Hill’s book (Washed and Waiting). Reading that book was enough for him to be so exposed, so onboard with the opening of new horizons in Christ Jesus for people to become so on board with an idea that persons with sexual and relational brokenness don’t really find freedom, and it had the effect of closing the horizons of freedom for people. My other son, who is not so impressionable, spoke with his pastor, a big evangelical pastor in town about Desert Stream Ministries. He mentioned, that he wasn’t in the ministry but wanted his pastor to know about the ministry. The pastor, who had been exposed to “spiritual friendship” and Wesley Hill, said to him, “well it sounds like you are dealing with those very few people who experience the miracle. The miracle of change. We really don’t expect that miracle here.” You see, it is a way of thinking. Yes, there are some people who get it, but most us don’t, most of us just sluff around. God doesn’t really help. But were trying to be so cool. Trying to be on board with the culture. We are not going to ask too much of these poor people. These are my two sons who were exposed to this subtle ideology and were confused by that book. ‘Spiritual Friendship’ refuses the transforming power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the level where it is intended. In encouraging a generation to refuse the call of the Gospel at the level of our sexual desires and for advocating that persons identify with their same-sex attraction, the ‘Spiritual Friendship’ movement resists the Gospel, and quietly divides and deflects the bright witness of the Church for all persons impacted by same-sex attraction. All of us!

We are scandalized now at nearly every turn for advocating the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Our good news has become the bad news in nearly every sector of society. Should we despair? St. Peter calls us to ‘Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.’ (1 Peter 4:13) We are right where Jesus wants us. He calls us to come where HE is, in the burn, in the fire of suffering. At every turn, even in my own household, we are challenged for the hope we uphold. Such suffering is intended to refine us, to make us more like Jesus. How can this be so? I offer a couple of suggestions:

1. Burning off every presumptive attitude, like ‘My life should be easier’, ‘People should understand me’, ‘You should respect me’! Lay it down, people. We are called to offer truths that people no longer believe, or have even heard. Stay humble, stay child-like, always ready to give an answer to the hope you have, to clarify the hope, where some of the myths have been woven into people’s thinking, but I would also urge you not to belaboring the issue where there is no openness to the hope. Discerning—wise as serpents. For those whose ears are closed, shake off the dust. One of the great Catholic reformers in the 1960s open the doors and windows to the Church, in the power of the Holy Spirit, who died young as a result of his efforts said this, at the end: ‘We have worked hard, we have served, and loved people. We have not stopped to gather stones the stones which were thrown against us from one side or the other, to throw them back.’

2. I think these challenges can burning off our need to be right; some of us who are a little narcissistic need to be right, because I am right. We must remember the much deeper level that we are standing for the true dignity of other people. This trial is reducing us to love. We stand for the truth of human dignity for the redemption of persons. We need to express love of the dignity SO please, let us not return the hatred we incur and are accused of with hatred. I remember when I was going through this with my boys. I was having a family meal, and honestly, I just blew up, I just got ignited, and I blew up! I said my truth in the most terrible way possible. My one son who is very cool and objective said, “dad, when you speak like that, neither we or anyone is going to listen to you. He was right!

When we are persecuted for being bitter, ranting fools, we deserve it. Stay cool. Remember, we are doing this for persons so they can be set free for the truth of their humanity. All for love! At the end, we shall be judged by how much we loved, for the truth that we have held of what actually dignifies humanity. At the end of these talks, these difficult talks, my pastor said, “You know, in the midst of this trial, I like that way you have responded, (by the work of the Holy Spirit two or three people from Living Waters came to my pastor and explained what the Living Waters did for them. I didn’t press them, they just did it on their own, kind of a divine encounter). My pastor assured me that I had done no harm, but had helped people. So proceed! Proceed!

3. Remember, we are holding out for the dignity of our fellows, not their desecration. We hold fast to the true value of the individual, made in His image, endowed with the glory of God in his or her gendered humanity, a beloved object of His mercy amid the brokenness of that image. We are the ones who are truly for the individual! Jesus came to teach each one of us in the specifics of our blind and broken states and made a way for our eyes to be open—to Himself, to the beauty we could not see in ourselves, and to the beautiful community around us that helped us realize His will for our gendered humanity. This is our call: not to win a culture war–it is to make a way for individuals to find their way home to the Father’s house. We thus do everything in our power to equip the Church to be the community that is clear and compassionate, a Light that shatters the darkness shrouding our sexual humanity today.

In closing –
The darkness is increasing in the culture and is certainly not getting better for us. It will get worse. Our call to impart sexual integrity and gender clarity are increasingly never more scandalous, so we hide ourselves in the God who is scandalized on the cross. St. Peter says that ‘we can rejoice now in our participation in Christ’s suffering, so that we may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.’ (1st Peter 4: He refers here to the glory of the soon-coming King—a time we wait for as we suffer now, united with the Crucified. Pain today, glory tomorrow. We wait in hope, and we endure hardship in the present, aware that suffering is temporary and is required of serious Christians.

Then St. Peter takes it deeper in verse 14: ‘If you are insulted for Jesus’ sake, you are blessed by the Spirit of glory that rests upon you now.’ Peter does not only leave us with a future hope. He actually invokes a truth of the Cross that St. John the Apostle centered upon in his gospel. The shame (this is the key) the shame of Christ Crucified is also and at the same time the glory of God in Jesus Christ! Only the gospel of John majors on this theme of fusing shame and glory. Only John sees that when God is high and lifted up on a Cross is His glory most marvelously revealed. Peter is not dividing them up saying that the glory is only after the crucifixion. He was saying that the glory IS the crucifixion. This is why St. John could say to the Johannine Community that had been kicked out of the temple, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They that had been pounded from normal and respectable society because of their standing firm in the stumbling block. This is why he could say your shame is their glory. The Glory is resting upon you right now. The Spirit of the living God is resting upon you in you being hounded. One greater has come to you, take hold of it. This is the power of St. John’s preaching of the cross. This is its power! We had to take hold of this. The shame is the glory! The rejection IS the qualification. Suffering is the mark of favor. Woe to you when everyone who only speaks good things. Isn’t he so nice? Isn’t she so nice!? The shame of the Cross is the glory of the Cross. And the Spirit of Glory rests upon us mostly deeply, when we are least understood. When we don’t get the high five! Instead, we get the scorn. This is the occasion for God’s Glory to rest upon us. The glory of Jesus Christ fully raised from the dead shines upon us as we hold fast to the whole truth of Jesus’ transforming power for persons impacted by same-sex attraction. Like Paul said, I have preached to you the Whole Good News, the Whole Message, the full truth, I have held nothing back! In truth, the insults we incur—the unbelief, the smug ‘we know better now’, the compromises everywhere, the church doors that close, the friends who become enemies, family members who become strangers—rejoice, the Spirit of glory is resting upon you! The shame of the cross is the glory of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord! St. John and St. Peter fuse the shame of the cross with its glory, and the persecuted, insulted early community of Christ glows in the glorious shame of that Cross. So must we, as we hold out the Whole Truth for persons impacted by same-sex attraction.

Some of you are in this burn, you are in it! You’re in this, whether in a hand-full of relationships, or with a specific person, one important relationship, some in small ministries, some large ministries, pastors. You’re in this! Some of you in Churches, but some of you wish you weren’t. You are saying, “I don’t wanna to tell the whole truth – too many e-mails and to many people who leave. Too many people leave! I don’t want to take the heat of this! I’m going to only tell a little bit of the truth!” This is the place where you say, “Am I going to stand in that place with Christ crucified?” Am I going to be hounded from my place of worship? Maybe. The good news is that The Holy Spirit is all over that and all over you. And… now, I want to pray for you today, for those of you in that place that are feeling the burn. Say to God, I need more of You to stand in the burn, to pray that you be ignited by the burn, to burn brightly for Christ today, for the saving of many. Instead of being deadened by our insulted minority status, let us understand this as the earmark of our anointing, of our humble, high calling. Pray for strength and infilling! Rejoice in doing the really hard right thing. Embrace the cross; despise the shame. It really is hard, but the Lord will sustain.

Closed with prayer and ministry time

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Who Will You Deny? Yourself or The Lord? – by John Wesley

John WesleyJohn Wesley lived in the 1700’s, and was perhaps England’s most famous evangelist and preacher. His writings, preaching, and life ministry have made a tremendous impact on the Church as a whole. This article was taken from “The Complete Works of John Wesley,” published by Baker Book House. As our brother John urged, read this message with a prayerful, open heart.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

Denying ourselves and taking up our cross isn’t a little side issue – it is absolutely necessary to becoming or continuing to be a disciple of Jesus. If we don’t practice self-denial, we aren’t His disciples. It’s useless to try to follow the One who was crucified without taking up our own cross daily. Unless we deny ourselves, it will be impossible not to deny the Lord. But so many who have written about self-denial (some of them large volumes) don’t seem to have an understanding of the subject. Either they couldn’t explain it to others, or they didn’t know how far to take it, or they didn’t sense the absolute necessity of it. Others speak of it in such a dark, mystical way, that the average man can’t understand what it’s supposed to mean.

Still others speak very clearly on the necessity of self-denial, but they never get down to any specifics about what to do. And if some of them do get specific, they only talk about those things that hardly affect anyone, since they almost never occur in common life. They speak of things like enduring imprisonment or tortures, giving up houses or lands, husbands or wives, children, or even life itself. But most of us aren’t likely to be called to endure things like these for the Gospel, unless God permits times of public persecution to return.

 An Uphill Climb

 What does it mean for a man to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily”? This is something which is so,so important to understand, because many powerful enemies oppose this Christian doctrine stronger than they oppose any other aspect of our spiritual lives. All of our natural feelings rise up against any kind of self-denial, and we immediately look for reasons to excuse ourselves from it. Those who love the world hate the very sound of it. And the great enemy of our souls, knowing full-well its importance, tries to roll every stone against it.

But this isn’t all. Even people who have pretty much shaken off the yoke of the devil, and who’ve sensed the work of God in their hearts, don’t seem to know much about this central doctrine of Christianity. Some are as deeply and totally ignorant about it as if there wasn’t one word about it in the Bible. But self-denial is something that their Master insists on.

Others are even further off, having accepted a strong prejudice against it. They’ve gotten this idea from shallow “Christians” who like the easy things of life, and who don’t want anything of godliness except the power.

It’s not enough for a minister of the Gospel to not oppose the doctrine of self-denial. If he wants to be pure from the blood of all men, he must speak of it often, showing the necessity of it in the clearest and strongest way. Can you see how you’re in constant danger of being fooled, cheated, or ridiculed out of this important command of Jesus, either by false teachers or false believers?

In the meantime, a good understanding of what self-denial really means is badly needed. And once you know what it means, you need to learn to practice it as a way of life.

All of the things that hold us back from being right with God or growing in the Lord can be boiled down to this: either we won’t deny ourselves or we won’t take up our cross. Let deep prayer go before, accompany, and follow what you are now about to read, that it may be written in your heart by the finger of God, never to be erased.

I’ll try to show, First, what it means for a man to deny himself and take up his cross; and, Secondly, show that if anyone isn’t fully Christ’s disciple, it’s always because he won’t obey this command of Jesus.

 I. Self-Denial

What is self-denial? How do we deny ourselves? Why do we have to? Self-denial is simply denying or refusing to follow our own will, from a conviction that the will of God is the only right way.

The first reason that God should be totally in charge of our lives, instead of us, is because He made us. “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 100:3) It’s only a natural result of the relationship between man and his Creator. If God’s way is the right way in everything, big and small, it follows that we shouldn’t go our own way in anything. Self-denial holds true for the angels of God in heaven as well as with man, innocent and holy, as he came out of the hands of his Creator.

The second reason that God should be totally in charge of our lives is because of the condition that all men are in since the fall. Our own will leans toward indulging our natural desires. But it’s God’s plan and desire that we resist and overcome that temptation, not at some times or in some things only, but in all times and in all things.

Let me illustrate this. The will of God is like a road leading straight to God. The will of man, which once ran parallel with it, is now another road, which runs in the opposite way. It leads away from God. If we walk on one, we have to leave the other. We can’t walk on both at the same time. It’s impossible for a man to follow his own will and follow the will of God. You have to choose one or the other – either denying God’s will to follow your own, or denying yourself to follow the will of God.

Without a doubt, it’s more pleasing, for a while, to follow our own will and desires. But by following our desires in anything, we strengthen the rebellion of our heart. So, by eating the food we enjoy, we often increase a bodily disease. It satisfies our taste, but it makes us sicker; it brings pleasure, but it also brings death.

On the whole, then, to deny ourselves, is to give up our own will, no matter how much we may want our own way, whenever it doesn’t fall in line with the will of God. It’s to deny ourselves any pleasure which doesn’t come from, or lead to, God.

Taking Up Your Cross

In our daily lives what does it mean to take up your cross? We need to find out, because everyone that wants to follow Christ must not only deny himself, but take up his cross as well. Taking up our cross means doing anything that goes against what we would choose to do. So taking up our cross is a little harder than denying ourselves. It rises a little higher, and is more difficult to flesh and blood. Even though it may sometimes be hard to give up our own pleasure, it’s easier to do that than to take up hardship and endure pain.

Now, in running “the race that is set before us” according to the will of God, many times there’s a cross lying in the way. That cross is something which will not only bring no pleasure, but something that is a burden or a pain. Picking up our cross is not just denying ourselves something that is pleasurable, it is allowing something that is unpleasurable to enter into our lives. What do we do when we are faced with this? The choice is plain: either we take up our cross, or we turn aside from the way of God.

In order to bring our lives back in line with what the Lord originally intended us to be, it’s often necessary to pluck out, so to speak, an eye, or to cut off a right hand. We’re so attached to some habits of sin that we can never be separated from them without intense pain. The Lord then purifies the soul like a refiner’s fire, to burn up all the impurity. It’s painful all right, and it must be, because the soul cannot pass through the fire without pain.

The Good Doctor

If God puts us through any kind of pain, it’s only in order to heal us. Jesus is our Great Physician and He cuts away what is infected or rotting, in order to preserve the healthy part. And if we would freely choose the loss of a limb, instead of letting our whole body perish, how much more should we choose, figuratively, to cut off a right hand, rather than to have our whole soul cast into hell!

When our Lord said to the rich young man, “go and sell al that you possess, and give it to the poor”(knowing this was the only way to heal his greed), the very thought of it gave that young man so much pain that “he went away grieved.” (Mark 10:21-22) He chose to part with his hope of heaven, rather than part with his possessions on earth. This was a pain he would not agree to endure. A cross he would not take up. And in one way or another every follower of Christ will surely have to take up his cross daily.

Taking up our cross doesn’t mean literally tearing our own flesh, wearing uncomfortable clothes, purposely exposing ourselves to extreme heat or cold, or anything else that would hurt our bodily health. It means embracing the will of God, even though it may be totally different from what we want. It means choosing the good, though it may be bitter medicine. It means freely accepting hardships, trials, and temporary pain of whatever kind, as we walk on the path of eternal life.

II. Self-Indulgence

Secondly I want to show that it’s always because of lack of self-denial, or taking up his cross, that someone doesn’t completely follow Christ and is not fully His disciple. Let me show you what I mean with a few examples:

Five Kinds Of People

  1. The first kind of man hears the word which is able to save his soul. He likes what he hears, acknowledges the truth, and his heart is touched, yet he remains dead in sin, senseless and unawakened. Why is this? Because he won’t part with the sin he loves, though he now knows it is utterly hated by the Lord. He came to hear, full of lust and unholy desire, and he leaves the same way because he will not deny himself these things. This man doesn’t wake up, even though the trumpet is blown.
  2. The second kind of person begins to wake up, and his eyes even open a little. He’s convicted by the Spirit of God and receives the truth. But soon the conviction wears off and his eyes are closed again. Why does he again sink into the sleep of death? Because he continues to yield to the sin he loves. He drinks again of the pleasing poison. Although he begins to wake up, he has no deep conviction. Therefore it’s impossible that any lasting work can be done in his life because he will not deny himself.
  3. The third type of man has really woken up. The things God has shown him don’t fade away. The impressions are deep and lasting. And yet, he never feels at peace with God, although he really desires it. Now, why is this? It’s because he doesn’t bring forth fruit in keeping with his repentance. He doesn’t “cease to do evil” and “learn to do good” according to the grace he has received.
    These people don’t completely let go of their sinful habits, or they continue to avoid doing the good they know they should do, because it’s something they don’t want to do. That is, they never come to a point of saving faith, because they won’t deny themselves, or take up their cross. 
  4. The fourth person is someone who has tasted the heavenly gift and the powers of the age to come. The peace which passes all understanding ruled his heart and mind; and the love of God was poured out in his heart by the Holy Spirit – yet now he is weak. He again loves the things of the world and desires them more than the things that are not seen. The eye of his understanding is closed again, so that he can’t see Him who is unseen. His love has grown cold, and the peace of God no longer rules in his heart. And no wonder, for he has again given a place to the devil, and grieved the Holy Spirit of God. He has turned again to some pleasing sin, if not in some outward act, yet in his heart. He has given a place to pride, or anger, or lust, to self-will, or stubbornness.
    Maybe he didn’t stir up the gift of God which was in him – he gave way to spiritual laziness and wouldn’t be bothered with the pains to “pray at all times…on the alert with all perseverance.” (Eph 6:18). That is, he made shipwreck of his faith, for lack of self-denial and taking up his cross daily. 
  5. The fifth kind of man hasn’t made a total ship-wreck of his faith. He still has a measure of the Spirit of adoption, which continues to witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. However, he’s not “going on to perfection.” He isn’t, as he once was, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, as the deer pants after the water brook. Instead he’s tired and worn out in his mind, wavering between life and death.
    And why is he this way? Because he has forgotten the Word of God. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.” (James 2:21-22) That is, he isn’t diligent in working the works of God. He doesn’t continue in prayer, either personal or group prayer, in communicating with Jesus, meditating on the Word of God, fasting, and in staying in fellowship. And why doesn’t he continue in prayer? Because in times of dryness it’s a pain and bother to him.
    Or he isn’t zealous in helping others. He doesn’t fervently serve the Lord by doing good to men, in every way he can, to their souls as well as their bodies. He doesn’t continue to yield to God at all opportunities, because he’d rather go to sleep, or it’s just too cold outside, or dark, or rainy. Why can’t he feed the hungry or clothe the naked? Because he might have to do it at the expense of his own clothes, or use cheaper and less pleasing food. Besides, visiting the sick or those in prison is surrounded with all kinds of uncomfortable circumstances. And so are most works of spiritual mercy, like correction, for example.
    He won’t help his brother by correcting him because shame, sometimes fear, comes between. He may have to expose himself to ridicule or worse inconveniences. When he considers these and other things, he leaves out one or more, if not all, works of mercy and love. Therefore, his faith is not being perfected, and he can’t mature in his faith, because he won’t deny himself, and take up his cross daily. Tired of carrying his cross, he stops diligently pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 Conclusion

We can see that it’s always because a man will not deny himself or take up his cross that he doesn’t completely follow his Lord. It’s for this reason that he’s not fully a disciple of Christ. This is the real reason why so many people who were once burning and shining lights have now lost both their light and heat. They didn’t value self-denial according to its high importance, or take any pains in practicing it.

Lastly, see that you apply this, every one of you, to your own soul. Meditate on it when you’re in secret. Consider it in your heart! Take care not only to understand it thoroughly, but to remember it to your life’s end! Cry to the Strong for strength, that as soon as you understand, you will practice it! Don’t put it off, but practice it on every one of the thousand occasions which occur in all circumstances of life! Practice it daily, without intermission, from the hour you first set your hand to the plow, and enduring to the end, until your spirit returns to God!

Many Will Fall Away From the Faith in the Last Days

Do Not Marvel, Nor Be Dismayed Brothers and Sisters!  Jesus Warned Us, and So Did the Apostle Paul.  Many will fall away from the faith in the last days.

Apostacy

Jesus reminded us and said:  Be careful that no one misleads you, deceiving you and leading you into error.  (Especially the idea of gay Christianity).  For many will come in, they will look just like sheep.  They will come-in on the strength of My name, appropriating the name which belongs to Me, saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.  They know I AM the Christ, yet they will mislead many. It is their desire to deceive. It will be during the time you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. You will see nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places, some that are in strange places. All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs of the anguish for the beginning of tribulation. They will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  Some will actually think they are doing service to God in jailing you, torturing you and killing you, in my name. Many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert God, Whom they ought to trust and obey and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. They will call evil good and good evil.  Many false teachers will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.  They will teach doctrines according to the love of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. The love of many, a great body of people will grow cold, the hearts will be weight down with sin, and be hardened because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, BUT REMEMBER:  he who endures to the end will be saved.  (From Matt 24).

The Apostle Paul reminded us that the Holy Spirit distinctly and expressly declares clearly that in the last days some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, they will forbid people to marry and teach perversion of marriage and teach them to abstain from certain kinds of foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving.  They will be teachers who will lead people astray according to doctrines of the flesh. Paul warned that if anyone teaches otherwise and his teaching does not assent to the sound and wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching and doctrines which assert godliness and holiness of piety toward God, FLEE!  These teachers are puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit, they are woefully ignorant. They are teachers who have morbid fondness for controversy and disputes and strife about words, which produce envy and jealousy, quarrels and dissension, abuse and insults and slander, and base suspicions, protracted wrangling and wearing discussion and perpetual friction among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth.  These are teachers who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source for their profit [a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood]. From such withdraw!  Paul warned  IF we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us.  Paul re-warned Timothy to tell the believers to understand clearly that in the last days will come perilous times of great stress, trouble and tribulation. Paul made it very clear to Timothy and to the Romans that there will be many people who will be lovers of self, utterly self-centered, sensual, and sexually perverse, lovers of money and aroused by greed, and the desire for wealth, they would be filled with pride, arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive, blasphemous, scoffing, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  They will be without natural affection, callous and inhuman in their behaviors, relentless slanderers, false accusers, troublemakers, gossips, intemperate and loose in all morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of all good.  They will be treacherous, betrayers, rash, and inflated with self-conceit. They will be lovers of all kinds of sensual pleasures and vain amusements!  They will be lovers of entertainment rather than sincere lovers of God.   (From Paul’s Letters to Timothy and to the Romans).

The Gospel According To Jesus Christ; and the “Gay Christian?”

A Message to Pastoral Care Leaders Processing The Gospel and “Gay Christianity.”

by Stephen Black, Executive Director, First Stone Ministries

The Gospel according to Jesus Christ is the same message for a gay-identified person, an idolater, an adulterer, a fornicator, a pornographer, a liar, a thief, a gossip, a slanderer or a murderer.  The message of good news–redemption into a love relationship with God–is the same for all sinners.[1]  Many “Christian” leaders [see note 40 ] communicate a message that is not Biblical, but instead is deceptive and eternally dangerous. It is certainly not a message of love to lead a person into a false hope.  Unfortunately, this misleading message of “gay Christianity” is spread by perhaps well-meaning but Biblically-illiterate leaders who present a message based not on the truth of the Bible, but on a man-made theology. Other leaders purposefully and deceptively spread this message, which is a much graver offense.  Deception–which leads people astray–is not love; it’s evil.[2]  I share this concern with the same grief-filled compassion as expressed by the Apostle Paul to the Romans in Romans 9:1-3[3] when he wrote “with a great heavy heart and many tears.” Sincerely I write this article after much heart-ache and many tears. Paul reminded us that many will fall away from the faith in the last days.[4] This perversion of The Gospel is an example of the message of ease, love of pleasure and living unrepentantly with which many will go astray.[5]  This article is equipped with many end-notes of Biblical references to back up the emphatic statements and is a Bible study with over 150 verses.  Please read the Scripture references with this article and let God’s word be your guide. 

 

GOOD NEWS or BAD?
The Gospel
is Good News from Creator God, the Father in Heaven revealed to us through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is an amazing message of love given to fallen humanity.[6]  By truly believing in and being in Christ, believers’ relationship with Holy God is restored to the way it was before “the fall.”  The Good News is that God the Father has made a way for all mankind to be restored to His original divine intent of an intimate loving relationship that is greater than any we will experience in this fallen world.  His desire is for this relationship to be forever with Him.[7] Many proclaim a message that totally contradicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ: that you can be a practicing sexually-immoral person or a practicing homosexual and go to heaven. The Bible speaks directly to this, with uncompromised clarity.[8]  The truth expressed in Ephesians 5:5 is clear: you can know with certainty that no one who practices sexual immorality will go to heaven. Interestingly, the Bible often follows these types of passages with the reminder that we should NOT be deceived by people giving us empty promises or words that contradict the truth.[9] Jesus came to save us from and out of our sins, not leave us in them.[10]  A person who struggles with and against sin differs from a person who embraces and freely practices sin. The Good News is Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose victoriously over death, hell and the devil.  When Christ rose from the dead, He gave us the promise of the Holy Spirit of Grace,[11] assuring us that the Holy Spirit would come and live in those truly born of God unto eternal life.  The Holy Spirit of Grace empowers true believers to live holy repentant lives in a devout relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord. However, the Spirit does not live in people who are hostile towards God and disobedient, walking in and embracing and practicing sexual immorality.[12]  The Bible tells us He–the Holy Spirit–is given to those who obey God.[13]  The Bible also tells us that all sexual immorality grieves God. Holy God revealed in the person of the Holy Spirit will neverabide with, or approve of any immoral behavior.[14] God opposes the proud and gives His grace, the Spirit of Grace, to those who humble themselves and see their need for Christ.[15] Anyone who says otherwise is not teaching the Whole Gospel of Jesus Christ[16] and would be giving bad news instead of the good news.

 

The Son of God’s Beginning Message: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand,” Should also be Our First Message
God’s message, revealed to us in human form[17] through His Son, Jesus the Holy One, is very simple: turn from your ways and turn to Me.[18] Biblically we know that turning or repenting is the evidence of true faith and a belief in God that ultimately produces obedience to God in a loving relationship.  Through repentance, we replace our belief systems, our worldly thoughts, the flesh and the devil’s ways, and our minds are renewed by God’s word and by His Spirit.  This “believing” in the mind and heart turns the behavior away from the way of the flesh to the way of the Holy Spirit.[19]  This is what it means to BELIEVE in Christ for salvation. Believing and repentance may unfold differently in each person, depending on his or her history, but God’s grace is truly amazing as it will produce a life becoming more and more like Christ.[20]  His grace always convicts the real believer of sin, and reminds the believer of the righteousness of God and the judgment to come.[21] If this heart-change does not happen, self-examination is in order to see whether or not you are truly born again.[22] True faith in God is believing the Word of God and believing in Jesus Christ; such beliefs will result in a changed and righteous life.[23] Paul’s letter to Timothy makes it clear that the Gospel Message must be based upon the sound words of the Lord Jesus Christ, which conforms the soul to godliness.[24] The goal of this message is to mature the hearer into having pure love, an undefiled clear conscience and a sincere and devoted faith.[25] I rely on Jesus’ words for leadership and filter all teachings through His words. Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to life and FEW find it. Broad is the way of destruction and MANY will go on its path.”[26] I also rely on Jesus’ statistics.  In the parable of the sower, Jesus’ statistic is only 25% would actually bear good fruit after hearing the word of God.[27]  Shouldn’t we teach the same narrow way that leads to eternal life? If anyone–and I mean anyone–teaches otherwise, they are NOT teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We should never teach people that they are justified to live in sin and an unrepentant life, a belief that is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet, many leaders today teach contradictions. John, Jesus’ beloved disciple,[28] warns of this danger in his epistle, 1 John. “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light,as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned,we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” “Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He (Jesus) walked.” (1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 2:4-6).  John also reminds us of the importance of obedience in his Gospel, in the very words of Jesus: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light (Jesus) has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light (Jesus), for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil (practices) hates the Light (hates Jesus), and does not come to the Light (Jesus) for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light (Jesus), so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” “He who believes in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:17-21 v. 36)

 

Follow Me to the End
My story of true conversion began in February 1983. After praying with people that were completely surrendered to Christ, I was confronted with the Word of God in many ways, two of which I’ll share here.

First, Jesus spoke to me in the power of His Spirit.[29]  I didn’t understand what was happening to me; my heart was pounding and I felt very strange. I heard in my mind a voice I know now as the Holy Spirit, telling me that if I did not surrender to Christ, I was going to die.  The fear of the Lord gripped my heart. I knew in my soul that I did not know Jesus Christ like these people. They spoke in terms of a relationship with God that I thought was crazy.  They told me that Jesus was answering their prayers, speaking to their hearts, that He was consistently known and felt in their home.  I had never experienced Christ in that way, but I wanted to.  They prayed with me to receive Jesus Christ as Lord.

Later that evening in the car going home, my friend who had been with me and witnessed my surrender to Christ,  asked me; “Does this mean you will stop being gay?”  I told her I didn’t know for sure, that I wanted to follow whatever Jesus had for me.  At home that night I got out the big table-Bible, our only family Bible.  Holding it my lap, I prayed and asked God to show me in His Word whether homosexuality was a sin. After all, the gay Catholic priest from my parent’s parish had told me God loved me just the way I was as a gay man; and he stated all the more reason to visit him at mass.  God heard my prayer for truth and revealed it to me through His Word found in the Holy Scriptures.

Secondly, Jesus spoke to me through the Bible.  As I opened the Bible, it fell directly upon Leviticus with the heading, “Laws on Sexual Immorality.”  There it was right before my eyes: chapter 18, verse 22.[30]  It was undeniable that God detests homosexual behavior.  Initially, I was angry. I could clearly see that I was worthy of death.  However, I also understood now that Jesus Christ paid for all my sins in His death on the cross and that He loved me.  He saved me from destruction and death.[31]

In the summer of 1983, we began to hear of a strange disease being reported by the news in Oklahoma City hospitals.  At that time, the doctors were calling it G.R.I.D.[32]Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (syndrome)–or G.R.I.D.s.  Many of my friends, people who had seemed so vibrant and healthy, were now dying. In fact, more than half the people I knew in the Oklahoma City gay community died within the next few years.  In the midst of this tragedy, the fear of God instructed me and gave me life. God spared me and revealed His mercy.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.[33] Anyone claiming to declare the Gospel, but excluding the fear of the Lord–the very beginning of wisdom–is immediately suspect to me.  I look first to see if a messenger/teacher knows and demonstrates the fear of God, as this is how the Gospel was presented to me by the Holy Spirit. Does the messenger teach that God is holy? Does the teacher instruct that we must turn to God in intimate relationship to become holy because God commands it? These questions must be answered with an emphatic “Yes!” We must respect the word of God.[34]  Yes, we must know the kindness, but we also must know the severity of God, for no immoral person or idolater will be in Heaven.[35]

Many times I have been asked if I ever considered returning to the gay lifestyle.  I decided in 1983 that I would rather live celibately than return to a life that clearly is not God’s divine intent.  However, I am married now with three adult children, and grandchildren. I truly believe God’s word concerning homosexuality. I know He is holy, and I tremble when I think of the fate of people who choose to continue to live in immorality.  The Scripture is very clear. No one who practices sexual immorality will go to Heaven.[36] Yet, false teachers, under the guise of hope and kindness, persist in spreading a message that is contrary to God’s Word. Therefore I embrace the words of Jesus Christ for clarity: “And many  false (pastors) teachers will arise, and lead many astray (they will tell you can be a gay Christian), and because lawlessness (the practice of sin) will be increased,the love (real love) of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Matt. 24:11-14.

Will you endure to the end with me and the many others who will never go back to sexual immorality? We must endure to the end in a love relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the pearl of great price.  Even if we live to be 100, this life is a mere vapor.[37] I will never be sorry I embraced Christ, His word and repentance from all immorality.  Even if I am wrong, even if there is a remote possibility that a Christian could be gay, I have merely denied myself in pursuit of obedience. But, if the gay Christian or teacher of gay Christianity is wrong, the consequence may be eternal death. That’s not a gamble I am willing to take. Are you?  Even if you struggle with homosexual temptation to the end, if you deny the fleshly desires out of love for Christ, isn’t eternal life better than hell? Isn’t loving Christ instead of the world or our pleasure the better choice?

 

Assurance of Salvation and Answers to Prayer
You can have assurance of salvation.  The Bible is clear we can have security IN Christ.  If you repent of your sins and put your faith completely in Jesus Christ for your salvation and you continue in this faith in Him, you WILL have eternal life.[38]  The promise is found in 1 John 5:13-15: “…to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”  Unfortunately there are doctrines and traditions of men and churches that communicate a relationship with Christ by praying a prayer, or being a member, or being present in an organization.  Jesus never taught praying prayers to receive Him as Savior; He taught discipleship and Lordship.[39] Although we should pray to receive Christ, it is not merely praying a prayer that gives us an assurance of salvation.  A devoted relationship, a sincere faith in Christ resulting in righteous repentant living and becoming His disciple are the Biblical truths for an assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation to a sexually immoral person may begin by praying a prayer, but if not accompanied with a sincere faith producing the fruit of repentance, giving an assurance of eternal life would be a very dangerous teaching in leading people into a false hope.  Would you like to be prepared on judgment day to give an account of leading people into a false hope of salvation based upon the traditions and doctrines of men?  Would you like to give an answer to God for giving a message that actually sent people to hell?

 

What Will Be The Message? A Biblical Message or Man’s Theologies?
Several church leaders[40] embrace the emergent message of gay Christianity and present a gay Gospel.  Their teachings are not based upon the sound doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or New Testament Biblical instruction. They choose to embrace a false social gospel of a more palatable feel-good-God, a man-made theology, yet they do ‘good things’ under the banner of Christianity.  Unfortunately, rather than embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel of self-denial that produces a Spirit-filled life that really does do good,[41] they are embracing a man-made theology promoting gay Christianity. Which gospel message will you embrace?  Will you follow a Biblical message that allows the human heart and soul to be transformed by the Word of God or a man-made theology that allows men to live in self-centeredness and indulgence?[42] Shall we teach people that just praying a prayer and being a part of a community saves them eternally? Or shall we teach a true belief, that accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and following Him in discipleship will result in a life of righteousness? Which Gospel will you teach or follow?[43] The true gospel of Jesus Christ, which leads to life, or a gay gospel according to man’s words, which leads to death? “There is a way that seems right to man, but the end leads to death.”[44]

 

___________________________________

More Recommended Reading on this topic:

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics by Dr. Robert Gagnon

Watch Dr. Robert Gagnon’s teaching on: “What Does the Bible Teach on Homosexuality?” by Pure Passion TV

Dr. Robert Gagnon’s Online Library of Articles <– Excellent Resource

Mastering Life Ministries Online Library of Articles and Video’s by Pure Passion TV <– Excellent Resource

Online Article in Facebook: “Gay & Christian? Yes and No! b”y Dr. David Kyle Foster

The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction by Joe Dallas & Nancy Heche

The Gay Gospel? How Pro-gay Advocates Misread the Bible by Joe Dallas

Read Joe Dallas’ Online Article: Responding to Pro-Gay Theology

The Whole Gospel for Gays, by Andy Comiskey

My Written Testimony: He Sent His Word To Heal Us

Video Interview on Overcoming Homosexuality and Childhood Sexual Abuse by Pure Passion TV

End-notes:  (Please read the following scriptures in context of this article:)


[1]1 Cor. 6:9-11, 1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, 2 Cor. 4:3, Romans 1:16-17, 2 Cor. 11:3-5, Gal. 1:6-9

[2]Jude 1:2-4

[3]Romans 9:1-3

[4]2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Tim. 3:1-5

[5]Matt. 24:4-13

[6]Acts 2:4-41

[7]John 3:16-21

[8]1 Cor. 6:9-11, Eph. 5:1-17, Gal. 5:19-21

[9]Eph. 5:6-9, 1 Cor. 6:9, Gal. 6:6-8, 1 Cor. 15:33-34, Romans 16:17-19, 1 Thess. 2:3-4, 1 John 3:6-8

[10]Matt. 1:21, John 3:16-21

[11]John 14:26, John 20:22

[12]James 4:4

[13]Acts 5:32

[14]Eph. 4:29-31

[15]James 4:6-10

[16]The Whole Gospel for Gays, by Andy Comiskey

[17]John 1:1, 14

[18]Mark 1:14-16, Isa. 45:21-23

[19]Gal. 5:16-24, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Cor. 10:3-5

[20]Romans 8:29

[21]John 16:7-9

[22]2 Cor. 13:5  _ & “Born Again? Examine Yourself”

[23]Romans 10:8-11, Romans 10:17

[24]1 Tim. 6:3-5

[25] 1 Tim. 1:5-6

[26]Matt. 7:13-14

[27]Mark 4:1-20

[28]John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20

[29]1 Cor. 2:9-15

[30]Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13

[31]Psalms 107:20, Psa. 30:1-5 & Psa. 40:1-5, Eph. 1:7-14, Romans 5:1-10

[32]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay-related_immune_deficiency

[33]Job 28:28,Psalm 19:9, Psa. 34:11, Psa. 111:10, Prov. 1:7, Prov. 8:13, Prov. 9:10, Prov. 14;27, Prov. 15:33, Prov. 16:6, Prov. 19:23, Prov. 22:4, Luke 12:4-5

[34]Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible dedicated to the importance of the Word of God is in our lives.

[35]Romans 11:21-23

[36]Eph. 5:5;  Rev. 21:8; Rev. 22:14-15

[37]James 4:14

[38]Col 1:21-23

[39]Matt. 16:24-27

[40] – i.e. Adam Hamilton, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Jay Bakker, Ray Boltz, Andrew Marin, Troy Perry, Mel White, Tony & Peggy Campolo, Reba Rambo-McGuire, Gene Robinson, Alan Chambers, Justin Lee & Neill Spurgin (Neill Spurgin Coffman)

[41]Gal. 5:19-24

[42]1 Tim. 1:5-7; 2 Tim. 2:14-19; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:2-4

[43]Matt. 16:24-27

[44]Prov. 14:11-13, Prov. 16:24-26

The Whole Gospel for Gays by Andy Comiskey

Introduction ~by Stephen Black

A perfect title by Andy Comiskey with Desert Stream Ministries: “The Whole Gospel for Gays,” for God forbid that anyone would give anything less to someone, gay or otherwise, than the WHOLE Gospel.  When we sincerely care about people and knowing the holiness of God, His severity and His mercy, true believers are compelled to give the WHOLE Gospel. I am incredibly grateful that I received THE WHOLE GOSPEL in 1983 that transformed my life by those who were not afraid to give me the whole counsel of God’s word.  It was a message of hope (and still is) that called for my immediate repentance to surrender my life to Christ. I am sincerely grateful to men like Andy Comiskey and Robert Gagnon who are willing to tell the truth.  Love is holy and transforming, not merely a human orientation that allows for people to remain in their brokenness.

Unfortunately there are those who think themselves wiser than the word of God. The Apostle Paul reminded the Romans, Galatians and Ephesians about his own revelation of Jesus Christ that compelled the Apostle by the love of God to preach the truth, knowing the severity and the mercy of God; that he would be held accountable to God for his message. (Romans 5, Romans 11:16-24, Galatians 1:6-10)  I am also compel to preach the whole Gospel with the bright light of eternity break forth on the horizon. The longer I live this life, the closer I am to eternity; each of us grow closer day by day; therefore we must preach the whole Gospel to everyone! When shall we give an account to the Creator concerning our life, our very existence?  It could be tomorrow.

I have become increasingly concerned and alarmed by the emergent movement of a social gospel that removes repentance from the WHOLE Gospel message. Yet repentance is absolutely necessary in a saving faith. The fruit of a sincere faith in Christ and His perfect substitutionary atonement, His death on the cross and resurrection will always produce a repentant life. Yet the “new social emergent gospel” presents the nicer, kinder, more palatable Jesus, the social club of gatherers, rather than true devoted followers, disciples, true believers in Jesus Christ.  The whole Gospel requires believers to live a disciplined life of self-denial.

Unfortunately there is a “new message” of simple belief in historical facts with no repentance, however there is nothing new about it.  It is simply an old lie from the very beginning. There is a reason Christians are to be called “believers”.  Christians are actually mandated to believe God, believe HIM, believe the Holy Scriptures as inspired, infallible and the inerrant Truth.  It is a belief that is synonymous with obedience to Christ and HIS words. However there are those who have crept in to malign at different levels, they attack fundamental truths, especially about what God’s word teaches concerning morality and human sexuality.  I am very grateful for Andy Comiskey and Robert Gagnon for addressing this issue head on, especially the “Love Is An Orientation” crowd, although they are sincere with human compassion, yet they are marching to the muddying-up of the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Presenting the Whole Gospel for Gays is biblical mercy, compassion and biblical love!   Please read the following wonderful article by my friend Andy Comiskey.

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The Whole Gospel for Gays ~by Andy Comiskey

Part 1 of 4

What is the good news for the homosexual in the American Church today? In our efforts to reach the lost, have we have lost the liberating power of the Gospel?

I do not mean a simple triumphalism in which saying ‘yes’ to Christ means instant reorientation. I mean the power of Christ Crucified to assume the weight of wounding, sin and shame that resides at the heart of every gay man or lesbian, and the power of Christ Resurrected to restore the integrity of His child’s image-bearing humanity. Over time. In fear and trembling. From glory to glory.

To be sure, that power can only be described as strength in weakness: God’s weakness on the cross, our weakness in surrender to His vulnerability. But it is the truest expression of power and wisdom: Paul describes the cross as the weakness of God that surpasses human strength, the foolishness of God that surpasses our wisdom. (1 Cor. 1:24, 25)

My closest friends and I who have submitted our homosexuality to Christ can attest to the simple message of the cross: die and you will live. The cross demands a death—the surrender of our identities–in order for a new life to be raised up. We have found that yielding our gay agenda has been the threshold for the boldest and most creative expressions of restoration we have yet experienced.

Strangely, the power of the cross to break the husk of the ‘gay self’ and to reclaim the treasure of one’s true humanity is rarely if ever heard in the American Church today. What we do hear is a banal message of compassion which rightly upholds the dignity of the struggler but fails to tell of their need for radical restoration. Like all people.

In an effort to repair decades of insensitivity toward those inclined to their gender, this new, cool Gospel is limited to anemic pronouncements of God’s love divorced from the truth of Scripture and the Christian tradition. In practice, God is rendered passive, unable to offer real transformation to the sexually broken.

What a gutless Gospel, a message devoid of the cross and thus of Jesus Christ altogether. In the forthcoming weeks, I will highlight examples of this ‘watering’ down of the Gospel in order to reach gays. I will include critiques of writings by Adam Hamilton, pastor of the largest church in Kansas City (and the largest Methodist church in the USA), Andrew Marin and his book ‘Love is an Orientation’, as well as other churchmen who represent the ‘love means never having to admit you are a sinner’ approach to homosexuals.

What matters to me is how I go about disagreeing with these colleagues in Christ. Each of them is a human being deeply loved by Christ and called according to His service. I would like to exhibit toward them what Richard Mouw defines as ‘convicted civility’—clarifying one’s convictions in a spirit of respect and humility toward those who believe differently.

That means countering one plank of Hamilton’s or Marin’s system of beliefs as expressed in their writings; it is not a character assassination (vilifying their motives or their humanity).

To me, ‘humanity’ is precisely what is at stake in this whole question of the Gospel we present to gays. Do we see them through the eyes of their Creator and Redeemer, or through the social construct they have created?

That makes all the difference. We can suffer long with homosexuals while we walk together the long road from Egypt to the Father’s house. But we must not blunt or soften Christ’s call to walk that road. We run the risk of losing precisely what Christ died for—the reclaiming of our true humanity from the grip of sin and deception.

Such a loss of vision has deeper implications. Losing sight of how God defines our humanity and its reclamation means that we have also lost our grip on the whole Gospel. That was precisely Paul’s concern for the Corinthians; in justifying sexual immorality, they ran the risk of losing Christ Crucified and Resurrected. So Paul declared to them once more the whole Gospel, and its implications for their humanity, sexual and otherwise.

We are in similar trouble today. The American Church has so perfected its ‘seeker-friendly’ rap that it has lost the language of repentance—the call and will to die—in order to live for the only One worthy of our devotion. Instead we swath our spirituality in the language of pop psychology and gauge our well-being by whether or not we feel good.

Kierkegaard said it best in regards to the Church of his day: ‘It is all love and love…because God is Love and Love—nothing at all about rigorousness must be heard; it must all be the free language and nature of love…God’s love easily becomes a fabulous and childish conception, the figure of Christ too mild and sickly sweet for it to be true that Christ was and is an offense…’

The cross is offensive. It calls us to die to what seems like ‘life’ to us, in order to call us into a life of love that is defined by Him. Maybe Christ has another agenda: not our feeling good but our genuine good, based on His eternal purposes for our humanity.

He wants to save us! Our God has the power to save lives! That is the message not being heard by gays in the Church today. What they hear is that God will help preserve one’s good ‘gay’ life. What a lie. What a cowardly church!

How grateful I am for the amazing men and women who told me the whole truth: they embraced me while they mirrored gently the truth of my sin. That hurt, but it resonated with the ‘sin-sickness’ already destroying me. Their whole Gospel broke the ground for mercy to mature in me.

My first son recently married an amazing woman, next year my second son weds an equally fine bride. I am currently reaping what God sowed in me when he called me to stop pursuing men sexually and to fall down before Himself. What I lost is nothing in contrast to the life He has given me. And through me, to an amazing wife and a host of sons and daughters.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12: 24.

Part 2 of 4

Demoralizing the Gospel: My Take on Adam Hamilton’s ‘When Christians Get it Wrong’

Morality is a bad word these days. It connotes finger-pointing fundamentalists who lurk in church corners, ready to skewer the disobedient. After all, morality involves ascribing good or evil to particular actions.

That can be a bitter pill for sexual sinners to swallow. The New Testament regards sexual activity outside of marriage as grounds for jeopardizing one’s entrance into God’s Kingdom.

Christian morality does not stop there; it understands that the way of life and action of Jesus Christ is the highest expression of morality. Jesus Himself said in the Sermon on the Mount that He came to fulfill the moral law, that unless His followers were more righteous than the most scrupulous moralists, they would not make it to heaven. (Matt. 5:17-20)

But wasn’t Jesus’ morality summed up in one word: love? Aren’t moral judgments at odds with the God-man who took up the case of the immoral, who claimed that the prostitutes would enter heaven before the Pharisees? (Matt. 21:31)

The answer is simple. Holy love is transformational; God inspires the sinner to fulfill the moral law by persuading him/her that His love is better than one’s old life. Jesus manifested that love in the vast amounts of energy He spent drawing the immoral to Himself. He offered Himself as the target for their turning; in His very being, He fulfilled the Law and the deep longing of wayward hearts.

Robert Gagnon says it best in his masterpiece The Bible and Homosexual Practice: ‘Jesus balanced the Father’s ethical demands with God’s self-sacrificing outreach to transform sinners… His ministry proves that the Church can practice radical love without sacrificing God’s demand for righteous conduct.’

Why then do powerful, decent and otherwise loving men like Adam Hamilton demoralize the Gospel, as he does in his book When Christians Get It Wrong? The pastor of the largest evangelical church in Kansas City, and the largest Methodist Church in the USA, guts the Gospel of its truth by insisting that Jesus simply loves ‘His gay children’; He requires of them no repentance, and thus no transformation unto righteousness.

Hamilton preaches a love designed for a generation that is particularly allergic to any notion that homosexuality is sin. He dedicated his book to ‘John’, a twenty-something heterosexual so influenced by a gay-affirming culture that he defines himself significantly by his defense of homosexual practice. Hamilton quotes John as saying: ‘I fully support those who chose [homosexuality] as their lifestyle…it has become something that is accepted…I don’t see anything wrong with it.’

Neither does Hamilton, if his chapter on homosexuality is an accurate indication. To support his demoralized love, Hamilton mimics the rationale employed by mainline Protestant denominations of the last 40 years to support homosexual practice. Love conquers all, including the Bible’s sexual morality.

(To be fair, Hamilton stops short of blessing same-sex unions. To be true, however, he lays the groundwork for doing just that by removing any biblical objection to homosexual practice. He rightfully prophesies that in 10 years the evangelical world will be as divided as the Protestant denominations in regards to homosexuality, a divide widened by Hamilton’s own demoralized Gospel.)

More specifically, Hamilton claims that Jesus puts people over rules and that Scripture offers us many examples of ‘progressive revelation’. Citing outdated dietary and ceremonial laws, as well as changing ethical ones, like women’s ordination and outlawing slavery, Hamilton challenges the notion that the Scripture has anything binding to say about homosexuality.

Agreed, many Old Testament laws concerning ritual and diet lose force in the New, and God’s image in both women and the enslaved has been progressively liberated from cultural ties that have bound them, ties that the Apostle Paul was slow to disrupt in lieu of other priorities.

But Scripture from start to finish upholds God’s image in humanity as the duality of male and female, a fullness manifest from Genesis One’s Adam and Eve to Christ the Bridegroom returning for His bride at the end of Revelation.

The truth of Scripture and Church tradition points only to marital union as blessed; any other sexual configuration is a violation of God’s will for humanity. Gagnon again: ‘The scriptural witness for heterosexual monogamy and against same-sex practice is strong, pervasive, absolute, and counter-cultural.’

Where Hamilton and I agree is that Jesus’ love applies pointedly to those with same-sex attraction. Where we disagree mightily is in demoralizing that love in order to make the truth of the Gospel acceptable to them and their ‘John-like’ friends.

I want ‘John’ and his friends, whether inclined toward the same or opposite gender, to know the transformational truth of love: how Jesus sets people free from violating themselves and others through sexual immorality. I would cite John 4—Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman–as one such biblical, transformational model.

Paradoxically, that very passage from which we derived the essence of ‘Living Waters’, our main healing course, is the same one Hamilton cites as his approach to gays!

In the passage, Hamilton sees only a loving encounter between a shameful woman and Christ, who poses no challenge to her immorality whatsoever. I see the stern and splendid and altogether compassionate advance of God’s Kingdom; grace and truth converge in Christ as He extends ‘living water’ to the Samaritan then exposes the folly of her multiple partnerships. In truth, it is only after Jesus reveals her immoral state that she proclaims Him as Lord.

Holy love transforms; worldly love caters to the consumer, and allows him or her to conform spirituality to whatever (s)he wants it to be. ‘John’ may prefer Hamilton’s demoralized love, but it cannot transform him; demoralized love fails to call one to anything higher than his own self-interests.

The US Catholic Catechism for Adults says it best: “Love alone, set adrift from moral direction, can easily descend into sentimentality that puts us at the mercy of our feelings… In our permissive culture, love is sometimes so romanticized that it is separated from sacrifice. Because of this, tough moral choices cannot be faced. The absence of sacrificial love dooms the possibility of an authentic moral life.’ And I would add, an authentic Christian life.

One more agreement with Hamilton: he is absolutely right in claiming that young adults today will tend to use a negative view of homosexuality as one reason why they reject orthodox Christianity. But rather than conform the message of the Gospel to the cultural flow, let us go against the current and offer them transformation, something worth dying for.

Christine is a good friend of mine, a pre-Christian seeking the truth. We speak of Jesus often; she said to me yesterday that she would never oppose gay marriage because people should be able to do what they want.

I looked her straight in the eyes and told her the whole painful, shameful, marvelous story of how God loved me so much that He called me to repent of my homosexual identity and practice then follow Him on an adventure of healing in order to discover who He really is and who I really am as a beautiful, broken part of God’s heterosexual creation. (Whew!)

‘Surrender to His love, Christine, that’s all He asks. He accepts our weakness, our fears, and our questions, but He refuses to give us duo passports. You either follow Jesus and serve God’s Kingdom, or you are under the mastery of the Kingdom of this world.’ For the first time in one of our conversations, her eyes widened and filled with tears. She heard the whole message.

Adam Hamilton, you are a good man. Just stick to the whole Gospel. In demoralizing it in When Christians Get it Wrong, you get it wrong and sadly extend your error to a generation that deserves better.

Part 3 of 4

The Gospel Abridged: A review of Andrew Marin’s ‘Love is an Orientation’

This is the third article I have written in a four-part effort to present a whole gospel to gays, and to point out a couple of trends that distort that gospel. One such lop-sided approach is described in ‘Love is an Orientation’ by Andrew Marin.

The book interested me for several reasons. First, it is published by IVP, a solidly evangelical press that happens to be my publisher. Second, ‘Love is an Orientation’ has been very popular among progressive evangelical pastors. Some asked my opinion on it; I write this review to respond to their request.

The book’s theme corresponds with what I observe to be the lopsided approach of many churches to gays: embrace them with a broad message of ‘love’ but provide no clear track for their restoration once inside the church.

The deficit? Evangelism with no discipleship—new life without the cost, a personal resurrection requiring no crucifixion. On such uneven ground, some evangelical churches I know have begun to shift the boundary lines of truth concerning (homo)sexuality. Unwittingly, Marin’s book may encourage that shift, especially with Christians seeking to resolve the tension they feel between gay loved ones and their ‘old ideas’ of sexual morality.

Andrew Marin is a young evangelical who has sought to build a bridge between Christians and the GLBT (gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender) community. His love for that community is more apparent than his love of truth, which skews the good news he offers them. Embrace his heart for the lost while walking carefully: the bridge he builds to unite the church with the gay community is missing some significant planks.

Too bad. His heart at times shines through the pages. He is an evangelist with a background in sociology. His expressed purpose is to ‘elevate the conversation’ with the gay community by ‘humbly learning and listening’ to them.

All good. No evangelical I relate to would deny that a heavy-handed approach to a community that exists in reaction to (its perception of) the church won’t work. Marin wisely suggests that sensitive and patient relating is key to making Him known.

The question is: how do we become the new body that Jesus employs to replace the gay identity and community? Making that transition is tough for all concerned, especially for a gay person baptized and confirmed as a member of a queer nation. How do we lovingly help him or her shed the gay self for the truth?

That has been our challenge from day one at Desert Stream–providing a bridge for the men and women of West Hollywood to the Vineyard Westside. Though the church was just a few miles away, for many it seemed like a bridge too far.

Andrew Marin falters at helping the church become the new community. Instead he focuses on how to keep the conversation going with gay neighbors, yet remains cryptic about crucial points in that dialogue.

I became aware of Andrew a few years back when we were both slated to share on ministry to gays at a conference for urban youth. I wanted to find out where he was coming from, as his course description was vague. He wouldn’t tell me.

That lack of clarity pervades his book, which could be subtitled: ‘If gays ask, don’t tell.’ Marin advises Christians to stay away from pointed conversation with gays about sexuality and ethics as many will use such dialogue to write Christians off.

So Marin remains mysterious in his sexual morality; his book is confusing as to how he understands the transformation Jesus and His body bring to gays.

Gays seeking Jesus face some pretty big decisions about identity, community, etc. Marin advises that instead of sharing our views we simply ‘let it all be in the Lord’s hands and plans as He sees it to be good.’(p.113) Not helpful for the 18-year-old Bible college student about to jump ship and move in with a more ‘realized’ gay man, or the young woman bonding sexually with a fellow athlete, herself a proud member of the GLBT community. (We as a ministry have had to address both cases.)

In light of 30-years of beholding the increase of gay options for at-risk youth (never mind the intervention I have had to do with my own kids for related issues!), I asked myself: Can we do better than a Zen-like surrender of our loved ones to the apparently unknown God?

I say unknown, not because Marin does not manifest the deeply personal love Jesus imparts to His followers; he simply refuses to comment on whether or not Jesus cares about sexual immorality and/or the indignities it engenders on all involved.

How else can he say: ‘If a GLBT person has indicated that it is OK to be gay, the Christian community has to deeply trust and rely on the knowledge that we can never know the end to God’s best journey for someone else’s life.’ (pp. 110, 111)

That may involve turning from homosexuality; it may involve turning toward it. Marin’s gospel will not disclose. In his kingdom, the only solid line one dare not cross is to act as if one knows the way, sexually-speaking, and can help another to find it.

In line with his ‘who knows?’ approach to sexual decision-making, Marin shortchanges the scriptural references to homosexuality. His chapter on the topic does all a disservice. He misinterprets scripture to support his penchant for the GLBT community. He may win their hearts but seriously distorts the meaning of the texts.

Marin frames the 5 obvious references in Scripture that prohibit homosexual behavior as open doors for dialogue with the gay community. He does this by interpreting them in light of his call to build bridges, while stripping the texts of much if any ethical weight in regards to their clear prohibition of gay behavior.

The main sin he warns us of is our homophobia; clear the way, so that gays can ‘choose for God’, says Marin. He is silent as to whether these verses can or should have any authority in deterring those who have chosen Him from repenting of what Paul considers grounds for dismissal from God’s Kingdom.

Dr. Robert Gagnon said it well: ‘The Christian faith cannot be held hostage in its full proclamation of the Gospel because some interest group finds offensive part of that message.’ (For more on Gagnon’s take on Marin’s scriptural errors, click here)

The GLBT community is being held hostage by lies that only the truthful love of Jesus and His community can break. Marin genuinely cares for them; his book manifests that care.

My problem, however, is that he limits that love by so pandering to the GLBT community (in Marin’s own words: ‘I have never met a more loving community…’ Really!?) that he obscures the bridge between them and the church.

Marin the evangelist must meet Marin the pastor who actually walks out the process of integration with gays who surrender their lives to Christ there. He would have to answer the hard questions of morality and self-definition for former members of the GLBT tribe, as well as the joys of inclusion and the possibility of exclusion.

If Marin ever wants to hear real life horror stories of how difficult it is to integrate a group of politicized gay men and women into the local church, just give me a call. Docile seekers roar when they discover you have no intention to bless their same-sex unions.

Marin glorifies the gay kingdom; he romances the GLBT community by amplifying its ‘we-them’ defense—gay is glorious, compassionate and dimensional, straight is flat and provincial. Unwittingly, he perpetuates the divide between ‘gay and straight’.

That is a shame. Jesus and Paul would insist on both groups finding common ground in one body through the cross. Marin overlooks a real key in reaching the gay community: Christians reaching beneath the surface of their ‘straight’ selves, discovering the damage done then repenting unto the Crucified.

If we lived honestly (and many churches do) in this day of fractured families, multiple heterosexual partnerships, Internet porn, the ravages of abuse, and growing numbers of people with same-sex attraction, we would not throw stones at a particular community. We would make ample room next to us for whoever cries for mercy.

What Marin does is challenge us to make a bridge between the GLBT community and ours. I hear that challenge. His witness of love inspires me to take it.

Yet in a day when the world and the worldly church is only too quick to confirm young teens as gay, ordain gays as bishops, and bless homosexual ‘marriage’ as a triumph of justice, we evangelicals cannot afford to be cryptic like Marin about God’s clear message of grace and truth for same-sex strugglers. His bridge is too weak to undergird the pilgrims he invites into the community of faith. I thus cannot recommend this book.

Despite the deficiencies of Marin’s gospel, the man conveys a passionate, provocative heart for people who will perish without the love of Christ’s body. May God continue to grow him and all of us in truthful love.

‘If our Gospel be hidden, it is hid toward those who are perishing.’ (2 Cor 4:3)

Part 4 of 4

Towards a Whole Gospel for Gays: The Mercy that Disciplines

‘This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.’ (Phil. 1:9-11)

The other day, a good friend of mine attended a ministry fair at a large seeker-sensitive church in Kansas City. (He was representing an annual gathering for men seeking to overcome sexual addiction.) When one of the church elders saw that his mission statement included the words ‘biblical sexuality’, the elder asked him to pack up and exit the church on the grounds that such language would be offensive to gays.

Our challenge as churchmen is to abound in love for gays in an age only too eager to grant them what they demand, not what they need. Worldly love lacks both discernment and discipline; no-where is this more apparent than in the church’s witness to gay today.

Let us begin with what gays need. The answer transcends any cultural era and must be kept front and center. In spite of foolish reactions to those who still dare to think biblical morality is relevant to gays, we can never forget that the church has tended to smack same-sex strugglers with her truth, rather than to employ it as a guide to the holy love one needs.

We who have lived with the shame of same-sex attraction need love badly. One cannot readily grasp the accusatory power of the enemy toward us, and the self-hatred that ensues. In the darkness of the unexpressed, same-sex attraction leeches life; it sidetracks the pilgrim onto a compulsive quest for love in the mirror image of oneself.

Here the shaming power of others, especially Christians, can contribute to the ‘gay self’ and community. 33-years-ago as a just born Christian, girlish and arrogant in self-defense, I recall the scrutiny of a pastor whose eyes and words bore through my defense only to shame me further. His discernment over my sorry state was not married to mercy but judgment. I recalled in his glare the shame I endured from accusations over my queer state throughout my teen years.

I never returned to that church. It was worldly, no more an answer to my cry for help than bullies on the playground. Jesus said it best: ‘You have let go of the commands of God and are holding onto the traditions of men.’ (Mark 7:8)

I was reminded of this recently when a pastor leading a men’s support group noted how uncomfortable the ‘normal’ men were when a man joined who confessed to same-sex attraction and addiction. The men shamed him with disconcerting glances at each other, and an unwillingness to look the newcomer in the eyes. These guys could give grace only according to what they knew; the ‘otherness’ of their brother tempted them to wall him off as an exotic sinner in need of a grace they did not possess in their normal idolatry.

It became a holy juncture; the pastor deftly navigated the courageous brother’s disclosure until the others recognized his need was more like theirs than not. They needed mercy, one to another, as unexpressed conflicts came into the light. Worldly judgments burned off like embankments of fog. Same-sex affection and advocacy granted every member what each needed. And it freed the same-sex struggler to need men as friends, not lovers. Love heals.

I do not trivialize the depth of same-sex attraction. I live with it. 34 years later, I am still perplexed by profound needs that can surface in me, and tempt me to worship the old gods and their demands. But I know the God of Almighty Mercy; He has persuaded me through His people that His loving kindness is better than life in Egypt. That truth is the anchor of my soul, its foundation. Neither shame nor self-hatred nor unsatisfied yearnings can separate me from the Love that abounds.

This is my boast, my hope, that the body of Christ can offer the fullness of love that dares to discipline the same-sex struggler. I needed that discipline. As a young man without restraint in his sexuality, narcissistic and impulsive, I needed discipline. I thank God for the loving friends who spoke the truth that eluded my immature conscience.

I would bristle at their challenges to my fleshly actions and attitudes but took the knocks. Why? My counselors were sinners who included me in what became our quest for purity. Jesus loved us. We loved each other in truth. We embraced the Jesus of Rev. 3:19 who said: ‘Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.’

Such merciful discipline is the only antidote to the gay self and its demands upon the world and the church. Those demands are best summarized by the young angry man who upon returning home from University declared to his pastor: ‘The only problem with homosexuality is the one you have with it…’

In the last thirty years, gay insistence for unqualified acceptance has grown from a whisper to a howl. And the church has surrendered her truth to those demands. In essence, we have capitulated to the deception that gays make up a distinctive ethnic group. Here one is assumed to be natively ‘gay’, morally neutral, deserving all the rights and privileges due to members of an oppressed minority. The challenge of ‘biblical sexuality’ is framed as further oppression.

Instead of the love that discerns and disciplines, the church today embodies the weak love of a parent that gives the spoiled child another cookie to stop him from squalling. How else do you explain:

Evangelical pastors who refuse to declare their position on homosexuality on the ground that ‘God is not about positions but dialogue’? (I have heard this more times than I can count now…)

Evangelical pastors who refuse to allow congregants to testify of healing from homosexuality because it would be offensive to gays and their loved ones?

Evangelical pastors who refuse to take a stand on ‘gay marriage’ because they don’t want to give the impression that they are ‘anti-gay’? (Note the progression: the gay person wants something that is not even remotely his to claim; if we disagree, we are ‘anti’ his humanity. Why is upholding marriage anti-anyone? In truth, it is good for all, including the gay community, whose greed it restrains.)

Evangelical pastors who refuse to use the language of ‘biblical sexuality’ for fear of offending gays? A conservative national organization geared to justice related to sexuality recently banned such language from its mission statement in order to not offend the gay community.

Jesus said it best: ‘You have let go of the commands of God, and are holding onto the traditions of men.’ (Mark 7:8)

Paul’s warning to those deceived at Colossae should warn us as well: ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.’ (Col. 2: 8)

30 years ago, the main tradition of the church toward same-sex strugglers would have been fear and shame; today her tradition is a form of secular justice derived from the gay self and its community. Its thesis? ‘I, a gay man or lesbian, am intrinsically homosexual, and the only just thing you can do is confirm me in my gay self and its relationships. If you don’t, you contribute to my suffering …’

To accept that tradition, the church must forego her theological and anthropological traditions, which include: humans are made in God’s image as male and female, which points to virtuous heterosexual relating as the primary goal for every human being.

Barriers to such a virtuous duality abound, most involving perverse expressions of heterosexuality. Sin has skewed all of our self-offerings; those who attest to same-sex attraction bear witness of sin’s disorder in a way that can be understood alongside lust, fear of sex, or inordinate desire of any kind.

That same-sex attraction would become the basis for a self and a community which demands every right accorded to heterosexuals is an arbitrary construct that has no basis in a biblical understanding of human beings. The gay self and its community are alien to the witness of creation, to Scripture, and to historic church tradition.

From a genuinely Christian perspective, there is no such thing as a gay or lesbian person per se, only those bearers of God’s image who also bear certain wounds, needs, and longings, and who may sadly have been duped by a secular belief system that has confined them to a dead-end identity.

When that identity is conceived in same-sex unions, it gives birth to death, pure and simple. Robert Gagnon said it best: ‘Same-sex intercourse constitutes an inexcusable rebellion against the intentional design of the created order.’ His words are intended to discipline the unrestrained; they thus function as an arm of God’s severe mercy: ‘There can be no transformation while homosexuals live in a world of unreality, including false notions about Scripture’s view of homosexuality.’

We the church must resist the tradition of the gay self and its community. Otherwise we mute the truth – indeed the foundational truths that underlie the historic church – that could be their freedom. I encourage you to reclaim the reality that all are sexually broken and all are in need of the grace that abounds

It is up to us, the church, to ensure the clarity of our theological and anthropological traditions. They provide the track on which we can guide beautiful, broken ones toward a grace-filled transformation of life.

When God’s image in humanity is broken , we cry out for mercy. But when we the church concede the definition of that image to falsehood, there is no mercy. What is broken is framed as whole, perversion becomes a destiny, and redemption affronts one’s personal ‘right’. No truth that disciplines, no mercy that transforms.

We as the church can do better. Let me give you a fresh example. Last month, a team of 8 participated in our second annual Living Waters Training in Bahrain. Mid week at our host’s church service, we led 200 beautifully broken expressions of God’s image from Asia, Africa and the Arab world to the ‘living water’. The team shared their testimonies, a spectrum of sin and brokenness that included homosexual and heterosexual adultery, sexual addictions and abuse of all kinds, as well as more subtle crimes of the heart like self-hatred, rejection of one’s own gender, and religious arrogance.

The team included husband and wife, father and daughter, and father and son. Beyond the breach in our families and in our dignity, we shared the beauty of God’s grace and its transforming power in all of our lives.

When it came time to repent before the cross, most of the church came forward. The waters of mercy rose in that place like a flood. Mercy primed weary hearts that sobbed out years of shame and sorrow.

Jesus came to save sinful people like us. Let us not forsake the truth of that sin and brokenness for anyone’s agenda. The mercy is too good, its power to transform too real to squander by placating deceived ones. Extending the mercy that disciplines is our good news, the whole Gospel that Jesus has entrusted to us.

‘Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord Your God disciplines you.’ (Deut. 8:5)

‘For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.’ (Luke 19:10)

A Brother ~ My Brother! An Answer to Prayer!

Pastor Ken HutchersonFINALLY! A NATIONAL LEADER!  A Man of God, Ken Hutcherson, the senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington. Pastor Hutcherson is a beautiful black man in my view, for he is a courageous man of God, but not just because he is black, but that he has godly conviction as a black man.  This is God’s beauty – the feet of those who preach good news! No doubt Pastor Hutcherson will take a lot hits (verbal abuse) over speaking the truth with the “One New Now” interviews.  However I have no doubt that he will stand strong on the truth, boldly proclaiming, because Jesus Christ is his God and king. I am rejoicing today! FINALLY one my brothers in Christ who is boldly speaking the truth!  A godly black conservative leader who is not afraid of the back lash or the “black lash” of the politically correct leftist elite.  I am so grateful for Pastor Hutcherson’s interviews; this brought tears to my eyes as I read the articles and then again when I called Antioch Bible Church to express my gratefulness!   I am sure that Pastor Hutcherson is not the only leader who is speaking up, however he just happens to be one who is speaking up loud enough to be heard nationally.

(See links to the articles below).

My heart was sincerely grieved over hearing the election exiting statistical poll data; 95% of black America voting for Barack Hussein Obama for President, which includes the black church in America. It is conclusive that this was based upon the fact of Obama’s skin color.  Many Christians, white, black or otherwise voted for the “change” because they were frustrated with the war in Iraq and the economy; but they did not consider the actual facts of the stated Obama goals during the campaign that were actually anti-Christian.  I found that grievous, since church percentages should have been more politically conservative no matter what a persons race. The numbers of 52 to 48 percent should have been the norm in the Church as was the entire election.  I tried to remind people of the Obama campaign promises.  I was told not to worry Barack Obama will govern more from the center.  I didn’t believe it and said so, but I did hope so; unfortunately to no avail as Barack Obama became our 44th President.

Since the election and on the very day of the inauguration I have been praying for God to raise up black Christian leaders to speak the truth.  President Obama was clear at his inauguration that he wanted to “remake America” and on the same day he posted the Gay Agenda on the White House Web Site. (However recently the White House staff re-worked the web page “Support for the LGBT” and is now condensed with less details.  It is not quite as boldly pro-LGBT as it was.  However there is more to read on the White House by searching you can see for yourself.)  President Obama hasn’t changed his radically left desires to “remake America.”  His desire to remake America includes barbaric practices of partial-birth abortion, Hate Crimes Legislation, and a Presidential Proclamation making June 2009 LGBT Gay Pride Month for America.  I am in agreement with Pastor Hutcherson, I look for the moral compass of a leader when voting.  Clearly if a man or woman cannot see the barbarianism of partial-birth abortion, they should not be a leader.  If they cannot clearly see abortion as murder how can they have the clarity of character and conscience to lead our country? They can easily violate the other 10 Commandments of God if they are willing to promote partial-birth abortion. This CHANGE and “remaking America” direction also has built-in plans to stifle the voices of ex-gays.  This is especially exasperating for me as a man who left homosexuality 27 years ago.  This propagation of Hate Crimes legislation has what I believe the potential to lead to a culture war on traditional family value ministries and the church at large.

I have asked, “Where are my black brothers and black pastors who are equally appalled?”  Sincerely I prayed that T.D. Jakes would repent.  I have asked the Father, “please raise up godly black leaders!” You will not find many white leaders in the church asking out loud.  It’s too politically incorrect.  They would face condemnation of being racist, divisive and bigoted. I have asked where are the men who truly love God above the color of a man’s skin?  I thought we were so much further along in racial reconciliation in the church at large including the black church. I was naive. I was appalled at T.D. Jakes and other major leaders in the black church of America who were unwilling to stand ground on Biblical principles in their voting rather than glorying skin color and/or a man’s race. Please don’t misunderstand me here.  It is exciting that America has voted for a black man for President.  This does prove we have made strides in overcoming racism.  I can honestly relate to some of the prejudice.  I was called awful names growing up. (I apologize now for the words in this next sentence, but imagine hearing them almost every day for 2 years.) I had one bully who for 2 years in junior-high school screaming at me almost every day within the hearing of my peers “Black – you sissy faggot, you queer, your nothing but a nigger faggot.”  It was so painful, shameful and damaging to my identity.  It was also terrifying to be followed home and beat with the name calling.  Perhaps you can see, I am not insensitive.  I can truly relate to these terrible words. My heart has been broken. I love black people, especially my brothers in Christ, but most powerfully I am in love with my granddaughter who is half white and half black, a gift from God.  You see, I am not insensitive, I just desire truth and righteousness.

I am so grateful to God and I thank God for Pastor Hutcherson who is speaking the truth boldly in these articles to call for repentance of black leaders standing with our President when he is propagating anti-Christian policies. I am so thankful for the call to come back to character and godly living rather than merely standing with a person based upon skin color or because he is charismatic or loved by the media.  I have been so grieved over the racism I perceive in the black church of America who voted for Barack Obama, kicking Jesus’ teachings aside and the leaving the Scripture behind simply for the affirmation of having a black man in the White House.  Pastor Hutcherson set things clear in these interviews.  He is an answer to prayer.  If you feel the same way, I encourage you to write, call or email Antioch Bible Church and let Pastor Hutcherson know that you are standing with him, and then make sure you pray for him, his family and church.  I am sincerely praying for revival in America, and then doing something about it by speaking out; as is Pastor Hutcherson.  Will you join us by praying, and then influencing by talking to people about truth and The Gospel?

Ken Hutcherson preachingRead Pastor Hutcherson’s Interviews with Jim Brown at One News Now:

Pastor: Obama has no ‘black experience’ to speak of

‘No truth’ in Obama’s speech before homosexuals

Related Article: Obama hopes to persuade all Americans to accept homosexuality

Obama Says The “USA Isn’t A Christian Nation”

President Obama's Mixed Relgious IdeasPresident Obama recently went on a world apology tour (as David Limbaugh reported) accomplishing very little in strengthening the USA or world economy as was the intended promise from his multi-million dollar trip.  Yet, President Obama told the world, while in Turkey, that the “United States of America is not a Christian nation or a Jewish nation” and thank God he didn’t go on to say that the United States was a Muslim nation.  However, I must admit I am more suspicious than ever as President Obama went out of his way to break protocol and bow to the King of Saudi Arabia. The Muslim world loved President Obama’s bow of submission. He told the world that he considers the United States merely “a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”  I would like to ask President Obama where does he think the USA receives its’ bounded ideals and its’ set of values?

It doesn’t take much research into American history to understand that our ideals and values are founded in Judeo-Christian beliefs derived from the Holy Scriptures found in the Bible.  One merely need read over the Bill of Rights and Amendments to understand these documents are derived from biblical principles.  What about the foundations of law in the United States? One merely need to study our history to find out that our laws are taken from the Ten Commandments and from the Torah. William Blackstone is the founder of most of our common laws and he complied most of our laws from the Scriptures of the “Christian” Holy Bible. Historically the laws and founding documents of the United States of America are founded on Biblical principles and literal quotes from the Bible.  Can someone please help our President?  www.wallbuilders.comI wished David Barton with Wall Builders could take him on a tour of our Capitol and point out these historical facts with his wonderful insights as David has with thousands of others. (There are many more documents of historical facts to prove all what I am writing to be true).

The majority of American citizens consider themselves as Christian. I completely disagree with President Obama on most of his leadership.  No surprise here, as anyone who knows me, knows I don’t agree with much of this President’s direction for our country.  He has made it very difficult for me to respect the office, but respect I must as I am commanded by the Scriptures.  President Obama calls himself a Christian at least most of the time, and all the more reason I must pray for him.  However, I find myself actually partially agree with the President, as I do not believe the USA is a Christian nation in practice, I actually see our nation in a great need of revival.  I fear for our country. I would imagine that less than 25% of those polled above are actually devout.  However, one merely need read this wonderful book: “America’s God and Country – Encyclopedia of Quotations by William Fedrer and read David Barton’s Wall Builder site and you will know that we are in fact a nation built upon the Christian faith.  Would someone from the Obama Administration PLEASE help our President and instruct him to read this book of quotations?America's God and Country by William Federer

IS the United States of America a Christian nation?  No doubt what-so-ever that the United States of America is originally a nation designed to have Christian values, beliefs and a variety of Christian denominations for the free exercise of Christian practice — and therefore was intended to be a Christian nation. To deny this, is to deny well documented history, and ultimately make yourself out to be foolish.  Unfortunately, I fear with the great Billy Graham that there are many within the Church at large that actually need to be saved. Many will come to Jesus and say that He is their Lord, but He will deny them: Matthew 7:21-29. Therefore we need to be a devoted Christian people in love with the Savior, Jesus Christ as our Lord, in the Church first, and then perhaps we can once again be a Christian nation.

I close with this final quote: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind (Jesus Christ). It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” — United States Supreme Court 1892, in the case: Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States

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