Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Not long ago a friend was attacking what I consider to be a caricature of “Lordship salvation” (a term which seems to foster much confusion and consternation). He wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek: “if you get GRACE because ya ‘live fer Jesus,’ then...what yer gittin...ISN'T GRACE!!! 

Below is my response. 

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As for "Lordship salvation:" I'm not exactly sure what you envision when you say this. I'm guessing you equate "Lordship" with "legalism." But I want to focus on the word salvation. What does the concept of salvation entail? 

I understand that to be saved is to be regenerated, to be born again, to be a new creation. Such terminology connotes change (as does the term conversion.) 

And so I ask: Changed how? (Notice, I am speaking of God's activity—not man's.) God CHANGES us (when He regenerates us) how? 

The change God brings is not physical or biological. It is spiritual. The Bible is clear: God changes the heart. 

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezek. 36:25-27). 

We are not speaking of changing ourselves. Rather, the God of promise pledges to make these changes for us—regeneration is what God does to us. 

Thus, salvation isn’t a matter of me changing my behavior. It’s a matter of God changing my heart which inevitably results in a change of behavior—the byproduct of a changed mind. 

Think on it: How can the regenerated, new heart of flesh have no impact or influence on the mind and behavior? How can one logically say, “I feel towards God and I think and I reason and I behave just as I always have. I have been born again!”  

So, the question is this: Can God convert me but not change me? If words mean anything, I don’t see how.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Phil vs. The GLAADiators, pt. 2

And now for a little cultural commentary on the “Duck Dynasty” dust up. 

To begin, I would like to consider the persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ face in other cultures. Antichrists all over the Islamic world and in places such as North Korea are imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering literally thousands of Christians every year.  

Yet we hear relatively little of these travesties in the news or in the pews. 

But when the enemies of our Lord dare to fire a beloved Christian reality TV star…there’s hell to pay. The antichrists have gone too far this time!  

(Hopefully A&E will learn what many churches already know: One simply does not come between American Christians and their entertainment.) 

But let’s be clear here. There’s far more to this than depriving us of our good times. The matters at hand have much deeper significance than the Robertsons and must see TV. So we are quite justified in thinking and writing of these things. 

First, if we have eyes to see, this incident offers us a revelation of sorts: GLAADiators will never be content with simply having “gay marriage.”  

So-called “equal protection under the law” is of little consequence so long as Bible-believing Christians are free to voice God’s displeasure. Mark my words, GLAADiators will neither sleep nor slumber until biblical sexual morality is merely a vestige of the past.  

And contrary to what we’ve been told, GLAADiators are not desirous of tolerance. To tolerate a GLAADiator is to offend him and/or her. They demand affirmation and approval. To GLAADiators, anything short of unqualified approbation is simply unacceptable. Even the slightest hint of disapproval is hastily labeled: “Hate speech.”   

This mislabeling brings us to the vital issue of freedom of thought and expression—a  cultural, not a constitutional matter at this point.
 
This isn’t a First Amendment issue because the First Amendment has to do with "Congress shall make no law . . ." Rather, this has to do with free expression in the public square. There are more ways than one to stifle debate and public discourse. In other words, all societies inevitably "censor" speech. That is, there are some things that just can't be said... 

The question is, is Christian moral teaching—as it pertains to sex outside of natural marriage—being successfully caricatured as "hate speech" and thereby deemed "intolerable" by the culture at large.  

Are Christians free to speak biblically about homosexuality without being bullied and ostracized; without fear of losing their livelihood, etc.? The answer is all too clear, isn’t it? 

So while we may not be talking about the First Amendment, we are indeed talking about free speech (the true freedom to speak biblically and publicly without fear of reprisals). There was a day in America when Christians spoke without threats of molestation. That time is now behind us. 

But I trust that that time is also before us for the promise of God is this: The future is Christ’s, not antichrists’. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Phil vs. The GLAADiators

In my previous article I mused: “I can’t help but wonder when the LGBT troops will join the fracas because transracial Santa—despite the queer hat and suit—isn’t quite gay enough.”
 
As it turns out it wasn’t a long wait at all. The LGBT militants are out in full force attacking Santa’s not so jolly lookalike, Phil Robertson.
 
LGBT and their leftist storm-troopers are in quite a dither because Robertson had the audacity to say,
 
Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.
 
Thus far we’ve not had any of the aforementioned “drunkards” stumble forward or “swindlers” swing into action; but the “homosexual offenders” have come out with a vengeance. Predictably the ever shrill gay activist group, GLAAD, is decrying Robertson’s remarks as “vile.”
 
However, Phil’s “vile” remarks are merely a paraphrase of the Apostle Paul’s teaching found in 1Corinthinans 6:9.
 
And that’s the problem.
 
Much to GLAAD’s chagrin, Christians believe the Bible is true, that it is the word of God. Consequently, Christians believe morality is defined and imposed by God, not GLAAD. This belief makes GLAAD most unhappy, unhappy, unhappy.
 
To be sure GLAAD is partially correct—there is vileness here. But it’s not in the Duck Commander’s words. No, the vileness is in the raging lusts which fuel homosexual behavior.
 
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (emphasis mine, Romans 1:26-27).
 
It has been said that truth is hate speech to those who hate truth. Surely this is correct. As the thought police grow increasingly bold and draconian, public discourse withers in the shadows of liberty’s fading sun.
 
You see, dear reader, there is one thing the “tolerance” crowd cannot tolerate: Freedom of thought and expression. It cannot tolerate such freedom because it cannot tolerate opposition. But oppose we must!
 
So don’t give in. Stand your ground. Speak your mind. And keep reading and thinking.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Unreason For The Season

          “The White Witch? Who is she?” 

“Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) 

Alas, it seems Christmas is assaulted in realms both real and imaginary. 

Oddly enough, in our bizarre world, Christmas is besieged on all sides. Secularists hate the true meaning of Xmas and traditionalists bemoan its loss. Christians fear the holiday is too pagan and atheists aver it isn’t pagan enough. 

And this year, the Christmas card has been upstaged by the race card. Rabid race baiters are tearing into Megyn Kelley like Tiny Tim on a Christmas ham. Why?  

Well, she apparently had the poor taste to claim that St. Nick is not only jolly, but also White. (Call me cynical, but I suspect the vitriol has less to do with Santa’s lack of color than Megyn’s. But…I digress.) 

I can’t help but wonder when the LGBT troops will join the fracas because transracial Santa—despite the queer hat and suit—isn’t quite gay enough.  

Or who knows when militant feminists will finally have had their fill of male-Santa? Break that glass ceiling, Mother Christmas! 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” It’s a race-less, genderless creature that will late at night slip unnoticed into your home and leave behind some environmentally-friendly fun (unless, of course, you’re a Jehovah’s Witness). HO! HO! HO! 

The fact is our world is much weirder than Narnia. Ours is a mad world. 

Not long ago it was a different kind of mad. There’s a popular story of a peculiar incident in World War I.  

. . . on Christmas Eve of that first year of battle [1914] one of the most unusual events in military history took place on the western front. . . . the British began to hear a few German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up along the German line as soldiers joined in harmonizing. The words were these: “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” British troops immediately recognized the melody as “Silent Night, Holy Night” and began singing in English. 

That night, enemy soldiers sat around a campfire. They exchanged small gifts—chocolate bars, buttons, badges, and small tins of processed beef. Men, who only hours earlier had been shooting to kill, were now sharing Christmas festivities and showing each other family snapshots.

As quickly as the truce came, it went. But for a precious moment, Christmas magic interrupted the madness. How I wish it could interrupt it again. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Mockery of God

The other day I came across this sentiment (said to no one in particular): “We are to expose false teachers, not mock and scoff at them. . . . You may get away with putting them down with your little Christian friends but in the end you will give an account for how you treated every person.” 

I'm sure there are times when lines have been crossed. However, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines can be seen in several places in scripture. 

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah MOCKED them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy [“busy” means “relieving himself”], or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (emphasis mine, 1Kings 18:27). 

Isaiah is extremely caustic and mocking when he speaks of idolaters (e.g. 44:12-17).  

The Apostle Paul (1Cor. 11:5; 12:11) mocks false teachers in the Corinthian church and refers to them as “super apostles.” (Eminent or super “apostles” is dripping with sarcasm!) 

Even Jesus mocks false teachers with incredible irony and wit: 

Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. . . . Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt 15:14; 23:24). 

Thus, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines is not ungodly per se. Perhaps we should ask: What is the purpose, intention, motive or merit of the specific mockery in question. Does it instruct or does it merely wound? 

Even so, one should follow one’s conscience in such things. If one feels personally convicted, one should not engage in mocking false teachers and/or doctrines. At the same time, such a one need not issue a blanket condemnation of all others who think differently. 

We should not elevate our scruples above the standards of scripture.