Monday, September 29, 2014

The Whole Counsel

     While Dan and I were searching diligently for a new home for our little body of believers to worship in we were confronted with a couple of serious issues. Twice we came close to signing a lease, only to have the pastor/bishop/elder say to us "Well, there's one more small thing that you should know about us..." That one more "little thing" was the fact that they were ordaining those with "alternate" lifestyles, marrying same sex couples, & inviting those of the g/l community to become members in their congregations. For us, that was truly a deal-breaker. How could we, in good conscience, be linked even superficially with those who are diametrically opposed to what we teach & believe, as unpopular as our stand may be?
     Other churches we visited were preaching an old remake of a 60s heresy - the "greasy grace" gospel which promotes the idea that because of God's love for us we can never do anything that will make Him unhappy or cause Him to be displeased with us. They teach that His overwhelming grace excuses all of our sin, presumptuous or not. That's just NOT true. The enemy is merrily leading a whole bunch of sheep to the slaughter while their shepherds are blissfully ignorant or purposefully  manipulative!! Either way, the effect is the same.
     While these things may not sound so earth-shattering, the bottom line is that both types of teaching are in grave error. God does love all sinners & died for all of us. While no one sin is greater than another, except the grieving of the Holy Spirit, sin is still sin and the Bible makes it clear that we CAN in fact make God sad. We can separate ourselves from God by our unconfessed sin & there are things that we can do that will block our entrance into heaven, whether we want to believe it or not.
   Waging battle against these teachings is not new. Even if you disregard the Old Testament, believing that its focus on law & righteousness is irrelevant for today, both Jesus & the apostles firmly & continually addressed those who were living licentious lives, doing what they wanted & claiming the grace of God would excuse them & cover it all.  He also addresses those with "alternative" lifestyles in Romans 1. I don't know what Bible these shepherds are reading or if they belong to the "smorgasbord" group which takes to heart only those parts of the Bible that are convenient or seeker-friendly, but I do know its not their version of truth that sets anyone free. Although those who promote it would insist that I am "narrow-minded & intolerant" I would point them right back to the whole counsel of the Word. God's demands for holy living has never changed, as much as we'd like to invalidate it as old school, and standing for truth does not make a person a bigot or a hypocrite. I fully admit that I'm a sinner saved by grace, just like you are, & I'm in need of God's constant forgiveness, cleansing, & renewal. God's love will cover my sin, but I have a part to play as well. The Word of God proclaims God's judgment...whether we like it or not, & God's amazing love doesn't negate or diminish His admonitions to Be Holy, as He is Holy!!
     Make no mistake...God does care about how we live. While He cares about every person on this earth and sent His Son to die for all of us, making a way to redeem us from the consequences of our sin, we will be & are accountable for our life choices. I'm not advocating exclusion. We as believers should & must welcome EVERY person into our churches to hear the truth so that God can set them free from the enemy's delusions, but ordination, leadership & even membership must have different qualifications. As His watchmen, we must teach that God does punish disobedience & willful, presumptuous sin.  Just as every loving parent disciplines & corrects their children in order to mature them & help them become better people, so our God disciplines & corrects us in order to grow us up & align us more closely to His Image. If we're not being disciplined the Bible says we're not His Children! Ouch!! If we can live any way that we want, why is so much of the Bible commanding us to live righteously, to live as children of light? Why are we continually cautioned about rebellion, ignorance, & loose living? God does care. The fact that most of the church has become indistinguishable from the world is not enlightenment - it's frightening. If we truly believe the WHOLE counsel of God, we've got a lot of cleaning up to do - both inside & outside of our churches. And we'd better get busy doing it because time is short for Christ's return. The last thing I want to hear is "Depart from me, I never knew you". How about you?