Embrace the Gentiles, But Resist Sin!

overcoming-temptation2

Recently an article was endorsed online and many people from the fellowship of churches that I am ordained with (Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship) read it. The article endorsed supporting the acceptance of same-sex couples (who believe in Christianity) into full fellowship as brothers and sisters in the Church. I am aware that some people in our fellowship are struggling with the temptation of same-sex attractions; and I am also aware that these individuals are being daily bombarded from the world’s media that they should embrace these fleshly desires as something good. In light of the difficult temptation these individuals fight on a daily basis, and the effect compromised theological perspectives can have on weakening their resolve to continue fighting the good fight, I must address this issue.

First let me note that the article is a very big theological stretch. Unless a Christian is looking for a justification of same-sex relationships they would never come up with this theory from the Bible, nor would they give any thought to such a theory when they heard it presented. For that reason I don’t feel I need to write a long theological treatise against the article and perspective in question. I will just address the main theological fallacies of the article and let people choose what they want; either a justification for sin, or sound biblical doctrine.

In Romans 1:18 we read, “God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Simply put, this verse is saying that people refuse to submit to truth because they have unrighteous desires which they would rather submit to. This reveals why such false teachings are dangerous to the spiritual health of believers. When sin can be justified theologically, it weakens our resolve to continue to resist the fleshly desires that daily assail us. In light of this biblical truth, the reader can see why I will not take a lot of time dissecting and opposing the error of the article in question; if a person is determined to find a way to justify their sin, they will; and if they are determined to follow Christ, simply pointing out the error of the article, even without a long drawn out treatise, will suffice to relieve them of the added temptation this article and its error has brought upon them. Those who want truth, even if they must deny their sinful desires, will see past the deception with a few simple words of explanation.

I will share the article link below, but here I will give you the basic argument of the author as I understand it. He freely admits two important things. Firstly he admits that he has been on a long journey about how to bring practicing homosexuals into the Body of Christ as full members. This tells us what he has been looking for, and by suppressing the truth, he has cleverly discovered. Secondly he admits that the New Testament is very clear about the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. He does not try to proclaim that the New Testament was only talking about homosexuality in the context of pagan rituals or pedophilia as clever deceivers in our day have done. He freely admits that the New Testament forbids acts of homosexuality. So he shares both his desire (inclusion of practicing homosexuals into the Church) and his obstacle to fulfilling that desire (the Bible forbids it).

The author should have submitted to the clear teaching of Scripture and denied his unbiblical desire, but in his unrighteousness, however sincere his wicked heart may be, he found a clever way around the truth of the Bible. His argument goes something like this: Even though the New Testament Apostles forbid homosexual behavior in the inspired Scriptures, the subjective experience of modern homosexuals who claim that God has forgiven them and accepted them as Christians without changing their homosexual desires, proves that God now accepts homosexuals and their behavior in our day; and since God accepts them as Christians, so should we. Just reading the summary of his argument should be enough for anyone to see the error in it, but I will continue.

The author justifies his conclusion by appealing to the great shift that took place between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Simply put, he claims that things that were forbidden for God’s people in the Old Testament were allowed for God’s people in the New Testament. In the Old Testament God forbid Israel to eat unclean foods, work on Sabbath and for the men to remain uncircumcised. He makes sure to quote some verses to show that things like circumcision were expected to last forever, and that even Isaiah thought people after Christ would practice the Sabbath. He then shows that even the Apostles were surprised that God’s Spirit came upon uncircumcised men. But, after they saw the clear evidence of God’s Spirit at work, they “stepped out in faith” and accepted the Gentiles as members of God’s people without requiring them to be circumcised, eat only clean food or keep Sabbath.

He then goes on and tells us that our modern day parallels the experience of the Apostles. We look around and see God’s Spirit accepting homosexuals as Christians without changing their same-sex attractions. In light of that fact, we too should step out in faith and accept that God is doing something new in our day. The subjective testimony of homosexuals, though it is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, should be enough for us to realize that God no longer forbids homosexual behavior but now accepts it as long as it is done in the confines of a long-term committed relationship.

As I summarize his conclusion and how he arrives at that conclusion I am terrified by the spiritual blindness that God has given this man over to. We live in spiritually dangerous times! Such unscrupulous twisting of Christian teaching should need no commentary; it is self-condemned! The fact that it must be refuted at all is a warning to us about the dangerous spiritual environment we are living in. Church, get on your knees and stop playing games with the holy things of God or He will hand you over to blasphemous nonsense as He has done with this man!

Romans 1:21

For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.

I do not want to interfere with God’s holy and righteous judgment on people’s wicked hearts, so I am going to say even less than I intended to. If you are able to read the summary of the author’s argument without seeing clearly why it is unchristian, you are in great danger! If you have social, political or fleshly reasons for accepting the theory summarized above, you better be careful that you do not provoke God to handing you over to your desires! You should fear God and tremble at the wickedness of your heart! Repent of you compromises with the world and your lukewarm life! Loving the world makes you an enemy of God and your lukewarmness will cause Jesus to vomit you out of His mouth!

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned — those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

Ezekiel 14:3-8

Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and have put sinful stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore, speak to them and tell them: This is what the Lord God says: When anyone from the house of Israel sets up idols in his heart, puts a sinful stumbling block before his face, and then comes to the prophet, I, Yahweh, will answer him appropriately. I will answer him according to his many idols, so that I may take hold of the house of Israel by their hearts. They are all estranged from Me because of their idols. Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: Repent and turn away from your idols; turn your faces away from all your detestable things. For when anyone from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who reside in Israel separates himself from Me, setting up idols in his heart and putting a sinful stumbling block before his face, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me, I, Yahweh, will answer him Myself. I will turn against that one and make him a sign and a proverb; I will cut him off from among My people. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.

Though this guy’s argument is wicked and foolish on many points I will just point out the most obvious. That will be enough for those who have been confused by this article but are truly intent on following God instead of their sinful desires. If I were to address every erroneous aspect of this article it would only postpone the downfall of those with idolatrous desires in their hearts. They would eventually find a way around the clear teaching of Scripture. Like the author himself, their hunger to please the world and themselves would urge them on to search and search until they could find a heresy that would suit the idols in their hearts. If God wants them to be deluded, I trust that His judgment is righteous, and I have no desire to stand in His way. I only offer one point of clarification for the sake of true believers who have been confused by the teaching of this article.

The author’s most blaring error is that he compares us with the Apostles, and the inauguration of the New Covenant with our day. The coming of the New Covenant was anticipated for centuries in Israel. And it was anticipated for eternity in the heart of God. God created the world for the sake of revealing His immeasurable grace and glorifying His eternal Son. The centerpiece of all of human history is the coming of Jesus Christ to die on a cross for sinners and to be raised to the right hand of God to rule over all created things forever and ever! This was the eternal purpose of God in creation!

To compare anything with the fulfillment of this magnificent and eternal purpose of God is sheer blasphemy! It was a time when God shook the heavens and the earth! It was a divine revolution! The Old Covenant was an earthly covenant; for this reason those under it celebrated the Sabbath as a way to remember the creation of the world in seven days and to celebrate the Creator of that creation. An earthly people was chosen and given earthly rules like, “Do not eat pork,” and “Circumcise your sons.” This was done as a type and shadow of the heavenly things to come. But with the resurrection of Christ the new creation was inaugurated! We no longer celebrate Sabbath because we celebrate the Lord’s Day! It is the celebration of new creation, not the old. When the Jews celebrated the Sabbath they remembered God as the Creator; when we celebrated the Lord’s Day we celebrate the Creator of the new creation and the Redeemer of the old! The circumcision was meant to be a sign in a person’s perishing flesh. It was a physical sign that would only last as long as one was alive. But through the cross of Christ we have died to the world and everything in it, and through His resurrection we now live a heavenly life of obedience to our Redeemer. Now that we are seated in heavenly places with the glorified Son of God we no longer submit to the prohibition to eat pork or shell fish; how could we who have died to this world and been risen with Christ submit to old world prohibitions? But we do put to death the unclean works of the flesh like sexual immorality and perversion, and embrace the heavenly purity and self-control of God’s Spirit! Those who are in Christ are a new creation!

The first part of his most obvious error is that he imagines that the revolutionary changes that happened to the first and earthly covenant at the inauguration of the final and heavenly covenant are comparable to the changes we see happening in the godless society around us. He compares the prophesied acceptance of the Gentiles into the chosen people of God with the unheard of acceptance of practicing homosexuals into the holy Bride and Body of Jesus Christ! This is not ignorance; this is willful blindness.

The first part of his most obvious error is blasphemous, and the second part of it is utter arrogance. The author compares the modern day church with the Apostles of the Lamb. He says that we are to accept practicing homosexuals into fellowship because God’s Spirit is obviously at work in their lives. He compares this to the Apostle Peter’s acceptance of Cornelius household in Acts 10 and 11. He says that though the Old Testament forbid uncircumcised men from being members of God’s people, Peter no longer accepted that prohibition as valid when he saw the uncircumcised Gentiles filled with the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the author proclaims, we also should ignore what the Apostles wrote about homosexuality if we believe we discern the Spirit of God working in the lives of practicing homosexuals. We should assume that since we discern that the Spirit lives in them, then their sinful behavior must now be acceptable to God. What a presumptuous conclusion!

Luke 24:44-49

Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.”

John 16:12-13

I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

Acts 15:28-29

For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision — and ours — to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things.

Farewell.

Ephesians 3:1-6

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — you have heard, haven’t you, about the administration of God’s grace that He gave to me for you? The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. By reading this you are able to understand my insight about the mystery of the Messiah. This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: The Gentiles are co- heirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

God chose the Apostles and gave them divine revelation as to how to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures in light of the eternal purpose that God had now fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus opened their minds to understand. They did not look around at their society, read their Bible and come up with their best guess about what God was doing in their day, ditch the Old Testament and write a new one! And not only did Jesus open their minds, but then He told them He was going to send them the Spirit of truth to help them understand the things that their prejudiced hearts were still unable to receive.

Until the episode with Cornelius God had been working primarily among Jews. But when God expanded His kingdom to the Gentiles the time came for the fulfillment of what God had promised His Apostles in John 16:12-13. The Lord gave Peter a vision and clear guidance by His Holy Spirit to accept the Gentiles into full fellowship. And the Holy Spirit led the Apostles and elders to accept them (Acts 15:28). This was not some whim of history, it was the eternal purpose of God as revealed in Ephesians 3:1-6. The Apostles did not just discern God’s Spirit at work and so receive the Gentiles into fellowship; by God’s Spirit, and through divine revelation, they came to understand God’s eternal purpose to unite Jew and Gentile into one Body. To compare the apostolic revelation of the eternal purpose of God with our presumptuous conclusion that God’s Spirit is welcoming people into the Church who are living in open rebellion to God is the rankest spiritual pride imaginable.

If you are a born again Christian then God has changed your hard rebellious heart to a soft and submissive heart. This doesn’t mean that all your desires are changed overnight, or even over a lifetime. But it does mean that you will desire above all things to resist evil, even the evil you find within you, and submit to God. God will not only give you a heart that desires to live in obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ, but will also give you the power to do so. Living in victory does not mean that we are not tempted, but that we do not obey temptation. People, like the author of this article, are not your allies in your walk with Christ. As Satan comes as an angel of light, so do teachers sent by the devil. On the surface it seems he is trying to help you to have an easier time dealing with temptation. But he is actually telling you to give in wholeheartedly to temptation. He is one of the false teachers Jesus warned us about, flee from such men (Matthew 7). Jesus said that the road that leads to life is hard and few find it. The false teachers of our day will tell you the road is wide and easy, and that if it seems difficult something must be wrong. Don’t listen to them, but continue to fight the good fight of faith!

Philippians 2:12-13

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Here is the link to the article in question: Embracing the Gentiles by Daniel Kirk

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