“But someone will say, ‘you have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18) and, “For as the body apart from the spiritis dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

Monday, June 29, 2015

How to defend Biblical Marriage--by Jim Denison

Dr. Jim Denison
June 29, 2015

Last week we witnessed two monumental Supreme Court decisions.  On Thursday, the court effectively removed the last legal obstacle to ObamaCare.  On Friday, the court essentially legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.

Left open in the Friday ruling are major religious liberty questions.  Let's assume for the moment that pastors and churches are not forced to conduct gay weddings, something they are required to do in many countries which have legalized such marriages.  But we don't yet know the implications for church and religious organizations with regard to spousal benefits, employment, and non-profit status.  It's conceivable that my statements upholding biblical marriage could be construed as "hate speech."  We just don't know the larger implications of this decision.

Here's what Christians do know.

First, we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  If the survivors of the Charleston tragedy could forgive the alleged murderer and testify to the grace of Jesus, can't all Christians follow their example?  Our witness is never so strong as when it is tested.  Suffering reveals the reality of our faith to a watching world.

These days present a historic opportunity for American Christians to show our culture and the world that we are people of character and grace.  Our witness on this issue is especially significant with younger adults.  Seventy percent of non-Christians ages 16 to 29 say Christians are "insensitive to others."  Let's show the LGBT community and the rest of our culture what we're for, not just what we're against.  Let's show our world that we can disagree without demeaning, that we can be biblical without being bombastic, that we can care for people without endorsing behavior that hurts them and others.  "I love you" and "I accept everything you do" are not synonymous.

Second, we are called to speak unchanging truth to a changing world.  For decades, our culture has defined truth as opinion.  The court's ruling on same-sex marriage is the latest example of moral relativism.  If there is no objective definition of marriage, the justices did not "redefine" it—they merely conformed law to popular opinion.  But human nature does not change.  God's word is just as relevant as when it was first revealed.

God wants to redeem our cultural darkness with a clear and compelling display of the abundant life only he can provide.  As babies are given gender neutral names and dressed in gender neutral clothes until they decide whether to be male or female, we'll witness the destruction that results as the world goes deeper into deception.  As more and more couples choose same-sex marriage, we'll see the damaging results for themselves, their children and families, and our society.

But like the father who welcomed his prodigal son home, our Father welcomes all who return to his truth and love. We have all wandered greatly but have been invited back graciously. Let's join him.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Cross

What does the Cross mean to you? For some, it represents a horrendous and brutal death that one Jesus of Nazareth suffered a couple of thousand of years ago because Jewish leaders believed their positions of power were threatened. These leaders forced the hand of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea to crucify Jesus. To others, while this explanation is true, there is even a far deeper and more astounding reason. Jesus was actually paying the sin debt of humanity to God the Father, who requires a perfect blood sacrifice for sin. And for those who believe this is true, and believe that God the Father accepted Jesus' atonement for sin, see the Cross as a symbol of eternal salvation: that Jesus died once and for all. The New Living Translation states (1 Peter 3-18)  "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit." A parallel to this is found in the Book of Hebrews, 9:28. The English Standard Version writes: "so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." I urge all to consider the love of God in his reaching out to all of us. While using the term "sin" is not fashionable, and tolerance for all types of behavior is accepted, we need to rethink the absolute commands of God. God's ways are NOT our ways. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

Confess and turn from your sins. Turn to the living God. If you accept Jesus in what he did for you personally on the Cross, you will have hope, peace, and eternal salvation.