Heavenly Joy

When does all of heaven rejoice?

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7

Notice that it does not speak of rejoicing in heaven over someone who ‘accepts Jesus’, ‘invites Jesus into their heart, or ‘gives their heart to Jesus’. That should be significant  to all that of us who share Jesus with a lost world.

I’ll leave it to you to figure it out. When you think you’ve got it, p,ease feel free to comment!

ALL Lives Matter!

America is burning and the fires have many names I won’t discuss. We all can probably name them and each one of us probably has a ‘hot button’ or two; I know I have. What I will say is that ALL lives matter, black ones, white ones and every color in between. Soldiers serving our country and police serving our citizens (even the ones who want to kill them). Unborn babies matter, as do the mothers who don’t want them and the abortionists who carry out their murders. Self-serving politicians who care more about their careers and/or legacies than our country. ALL lives matter! Skin color just seems to be the #1 issue at the moment.

ALL lives matter because, as human beings, we were created as ‘image bearers’ of God (Genesis 1:26-31). At the same time, we are greatly flawed human beings; image bearers of God yet tragically flawed – by SIN. We have ALL sinned ‘in Adam’ (Romans 5:12), and we are ALL sinners in our conduct (Romans 3:23). In other words, we ALL sin because we’re sinners, and we’re ALL sinners because we sin.

My friends, SIN is still the problem and Jesus Christ is STILL the answer. It’s really that simple, although many will disagree. I’m talking about the Christ who died for our SIN (1 Cor 15:1-5), not for the many other reasons we like to talk about, like ‘our best lives now’.

Fellow believers, I guarantee you that those who perpetrate evil (of any kind) won’t address the sin problem – they love their sin (John 3:19). Sadly, there are a whole lot of professing Christians and alleged evangelical churches, who have the answer but won’t talk about sin.

What can we do about it? That’s easy. It’s up to us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’ – the gospel that has the subject of sin at the center and Jesus Christ as the only answer. Brothers and sisters, what an opportunity we have to do just that! America is burning and people are screaming for answers!

I’ll say it again. SIN is the problem and Jesus Christ is the answer!

Do we want racial reconciliation? Christ is the answer!

Do we want an honest government that cares for the Constitution and the people it serves? Christ is the answer!

Do we want stop all the crime and violence? Christ is the answer!

Do we want to see mothers stop killing their babies and abortion doctors put out of business? Christ is the answer!

Yes, America might be burning and yes, everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong. Most of the opinions miss the point and fail to get to the ‘root cause’. It’s time for us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’.

Are you with me?

“And such WERE some of you.”

Christianity Today magazine, in its now standard FOX News style (we report, you decide) recently published an article called What It’s Like to Be Gay at Wheaton College. When I received CT’s email alert the title caught my attention so I read the article. Needless to say, CT lived up to its reputation of not taking a stand about anything in the article. I came away from my reading angry again at CT for not providing any sort of Biblical perspective on various issues to which the article pointed. I was deeply saddened that Wheaton College seems to be on ‘the downgrade’, as Spurgeon would undoubtedly claim.

Wheaton College is not alone in treating homosexual tendencies differently than other ‘tendencies’ that some people seem plagued with. If someone ‘comes out’ as homosexual in a public Christian setting like the young man who authored the CT article, he is applauded for his/her courage and other Christians line up to offer their love and support, whatever that means. Apparently it doesn’t mean offering Christ as being able to conquer any and all sins, whether actual behavior or just a tendency toward that which God calls sin.

The apostle Paul would I think disagree vehemently with the approach many Christians and Christian institutions are taking in not addressing homosexual tendencies as ‘sin’. For that I call them hypocrites. Hear Paul:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11) (Emphasis mine)

In the above passage, Paul, in speaking to believers in Corinth, lists nine sorts of people whose lives are marked by patterns sinful behavior. He numbers them among the ‘unrighteous’ who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. I submit to you that for every pattern of behavior Paul names, there is also a ‘tendency’ toward the behavior that by nature is also sinful!

Would Wheaton College or other students offer the same love and affirmation it affords the homosexual who ‘bravely comes out’ to the sexually immoral (in other ways), idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers?

The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t put homosexuals in a separate category, so why do we? Paul didn’t ‘affirm’ one type of lost sinner and condemn the rest. He said they were all headed for a fiery eternity. Then he added “and such WERE some of you”. He also told us how it is that some of them WERE in the list.

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11)

There were among the believers in Corinth those who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers who had repented and believed the gospel and were now firmly in the Savior’s grasp and bound for Glory.

In summary:

1. Lifestyles of sin have at their root, sinful tendencies.

2. In Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, sinful behavior and tendencies can be overcome, if we recognize sin for what it is, repent of it and believe in Christ.

3. If we don’t call every sin ‘sin’ and treat those who struggle with sin equal love, concern, as well as Biblical counsel and guidance, we are 1) hypocrites and 2) we do great harm to those who need guidance and deliverance, NOT affirmation.

What ABOUT Jesus Christ?

If we say ‘evangelism’ is “…to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him”, what about Jesus Christ are we to share? After all, there is much to share, is there not?

I’m glad you asked – it’s a great question! Given everything we are told in the Bible about Jesus, from Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment, from Jesus’ birth to his ascension, from the stories of his life, from his parables and teachings, from miracles he performed, what’s the most important fact about Jesus we need to share with others? In terms of evangelism, is there something more important than everything else we know about Jesus that we need to proclaim? I believe there is, and we are given a clue even before Jesus was born!

There’s a short passage in the 1st Chapter in Matthew in which we are told that Jesus’ earthly father Joseph was pondering the fact that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant with a child not his and the cultural/social implications thereof:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:18-21)

Our ‘evangelistic’ hint is this: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Emphasis mine). Those few words, spoken by an ‘angel of the lord’ to a troubled Joseph, defined Jesus’ mission before he was born. So given that salvation from sin was Jesus’ mission for coming to Earth; shouldn’t the issue of ‘sin’ be central to our evangelism?

I hope that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question to you. It should be. If you are not yet convinced, let me tell you what the Apostle Paul said was of utmost importance in evangelism – how Paul defined the gospel.

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:1-4 (Emphasis mine)

So What?

By now you might be asking that question. Maybe you are familiar with methods for sharing Christ that seem to be more about what Jesus offers in terms of abundant living, special purposes, or wonderful plans for your life. Perhaps you have never even sin talked about much from the pulpit in the church you attend. Well, regardless of what you might not have heard in your own Christian circle, the fact remains that Christ came to die for our sins. While there are great and wonderful promises for the child of God, they are all secondary to dealing with the issues of sin, repentance, and belief in Christ as our substitute on Calvary.

The purpose of this post is NOT to tell you to beat anyone over the head with a 25 pound Schofield reference Bible and scream “Repent or perish!” While “repent or perish” is an accurate statement, the purpose of this post is to remind us that in our ‘evangelistic’ encounters we need to take the ‘discussion’ to the issue of our sin. How that happens is up for grabs and subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we share Christ!

We just need to remember that we need to take the conversation to the “bad news” of sin that the “good news” of the gospel addresses.

Homosexuality from God’s Perspective

“What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality” by Kevin DeYoung

On Tuesday afternoon, CNN ran an article on its Belief Blog by Catholic priest (sort of) Daniel Helminiak entitled “My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality.”  The article is amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space. A quick trip through the piece will show you what I mean. Helminiak’s writing will be in bold and then my response will follow.

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

These two paragraphs perfectly depict how many see any Christian opposition to homosexuality or gay marriage. We are undercover (or not!) theocrats trying to impose our personal preferences on the rest of the country. But the charge of legislating our morality is not as simple as it sounds. For starters, the government legislates plenty of morality already—morality about killing, stealing, polluting and a thousand other things we’ve decided are bad for society or just plain wrong. Moreover, the arguments being made in favor of gay marriage are fundamentally about morality. That’s why you hear words like justice, love, and equality. Most gay marriage advocates are making their case based on moral categories, if not religious and biblical.

What’s more, the pro-gay marriage side would like to see the state reject a conjugal view of marriage in favor of a new, heretofore unknown, definition of marriage. And in insisting upon the state’s involvement, they want this new definition to be imposed on all. We may not all have to like gay marriage, but the government will tell us what marriage means whether we like it or not.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

Here we have an example of progressive prejudice, the kind that assumes we have little to learn from the benighted masses who lived long ago. Whether they thought the world was flat has nothing to do with whether ancient people can teach us anything about sexuality. Such a tidbit is thrown in, it seems to me, as a rhetorical cue that these people were as dumb as doorknobs and can’t be trusted. More importantly, Helminiak distances himself from an orthodox understanding of biblical inspiration. Instead of approaching the Scriptures as the word of God, his first step is to position the Bible as a book by ancient people who don’t know all the things we know.

Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

There is really only one argument in the foregoing paragraphs: the sin of Sodom was about social injustice not about sexual immorality. No doubt, there were many other sins involved, as Helminiak rightly observes. But there is no reason to think homosexuality per se wasn’t also to blame for Sodom’s judgment. For example, Jude 7 states that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” Even the NRSV, translation of choice for the mainline (and the version Helminiak seems to be using), says “pursued unnatural lust.” Clearly, the sins of Sodom lived in infamy not simply because of violent aggression or the lack of hospitality, but because men pursued sex with other men.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: “Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another.”

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul’s writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay “unnatural” hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

This line of reasoning is also common among revisionists. There is little to say in its favor, however, and Helminiak’s argument—that para physin “carries no ethical condemnation”–is particularly weak.

1) He makes the rudimentary error of forgetting that words have a semantic range of meaning. Just because Paul used “against nature” or “dishonorable” in non-ethical settings (sort of), doesn’t mean those words and phrases cannot carry ethical weight in another context. It’s like suggesting that if FDR once said “this soup is terrible” and later said “what the Nazis are doing is terrible” that he couldn’t possibly mean anything more than “what the Nazis did was kind of strange and not my personal preference.”

2) The context in Romans 1 tells us how to understand para physin. Paul has already explained how the unrighteous suppress the truth about God seen in nature and how they exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of created things. In both cases Paul contends that people believe a lie which prevents them from seeing things as they really are (1:25). Then in the very next verse he singles out homosexuality as “contrary to nature.” He is not thinking merely of things that are unusual, but of acts that violate the divine design and the ways things ought to be. For Paul, the biological complementarity of the male-female union is the obvious order of things. A male-male or female-female sexual pairing violates the anatomical and procreative design inherent in the one flesh union of a man and a woman. That Jewish writers of the period used comparable expressions to describe same-sex intercourse only confirms that this is what Paul meant by the construction.

3) Even more obviously, we know Paul considered same-sex intercourse an ethical violation, and not simply something uncommon, because of what he says in the very next sentence. Helminiak conveniently cuts off Paul’s thought halfway through verse 27. Notice what Paul goes on to say: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (NRSV). When you read the whole verse, Helminiak’s “non-ethical” argument becomes implausible. Paul thought homosexuality not just unusual, but wrong, a sinful error deserving of a “due penalty.”

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: “God gave them up … to impurity.”

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

Helminiak’s argument seems to be: Paul said homosexuality was an impurity; Jesus set people free from the purity requirements of the Jewish law; therefore, homosexuality is not wrong. This reasoning is so specious that it’s hard to know where to begin. Jesus did recalibrate the purity laws, but Mark 7:19 makes clear that the episode in question was about declaring all foods clean. Jesus was not saying for a second that anything previously called “unclean” or “impure” was now no big deal. Helminiak again connects words in a facile manner, suggesting that because Jesus fulfilled certain aspects of the ceremonial code, now anything described with the language of impurity cannot be condemned. Nine times in his epistles Paul references “impurity” and it is always in the context of vice and immorality (Rom. 1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 2:3; 4:7). Besides all this, Jesus explicitly lists “sexual immorality” (in the passage Helminiak quotes) as one of the things that defiles a person. The Greek word is porneia which refers to “unlawful sexual intercourse” (BDAG), especially, for the Jew, anything condemned by the Law of Moses.

It is simply not true that Paul, or Jesus for that matter, never considered homosexuality an ethical matter. To cite just one more example: in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 Paul uses a rare Greek word, arsenokoites, which is a compound from two words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Paul thought the prohibition against homosexuality in the Old Testament was still relevant and the sin was still serious.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

These are wild assertions without any corroborating evidence. Whatever one thinks of Leviticus 18 and 20 for today, it’s obvious that the Torah considered homosexual activity an abomination. It’s absurd to think that any ancient Israelite would have any celebrated David or Jonathan or Ruth or Naomi or Daniel if they were homosexual. It is the worst kind of special pleading and reader response to conclude against all exegetical, theological, and historical evidence that any of these Old Testament heroes were gay.

Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that the centurion’s servant was his lover. The leading New Testament lexicon (BDAG) gives three definitions of pais: a young person, one’s own offspring, one who is in total obedience to another. If the word somehow means “male lover” in the Gospels, we need evidence greater than Helminiak’s bald assertion.

Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The link between sex and procreation did not have to be articulated by Paul because it was already assumed. God’s design from the beginning had been one man and one woman coming together as one flesh. This design is reaffirmed throughout Scripture, not least of all by Jesus (Matt. 19:4-6) and by Paul (Eph. 5:31). An important aspect of this union is the potential blessing of children. The prophet Malachi made clear that procreation is one of the aims of marriage when he said about a husband and wife, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring” (Mal. 2:15).

None of this proves the case against gay marriage as a government injunction (though that case can be made as well). What careful attention to the Bible does show is that the revisionists do not have a Scriptural leg to stand on. From the first chapter of the Bible to the Law of Moses to the New Testament, there is no hint that homosexuality is acceptable behavior for God’s people and every indication that it is a serious sin.

This is why I appreciate the candor of honest pro-gay advocates like Luke Timothy Johnson:

The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality-namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.

Of course, I disagree with Johnson’s approach to the authority of Scripture and his liberal deference to experience. But I commend him for acknowledging what should be plain: the Bible really really calls homosexuality a sin. A sin that can be forgiven in Christ like a million other sins, and a sin that can be fought against by the power of the Holy Spirit, but still a sin. That’s what the Bible says. And as the CNN article demonstrates, it takes a lot of contorted creativity to make it say something else.

About the Author: Kevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, right across the street from Michigan State University.  DeYoung has been the pastor there since 2004.  He was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  He roots for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. He is married to Trisha, lives in Lansing and has five young children, and, for some reason, a bunny. He is the author of numerous excellent books including: Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church; What is the Mission of the Church? (co-authored with Greg Gilbert); Why We Love the Church and Why We Are Not Emergent (both co-authored with Ted Kluck); and The Good News We Almost Forgot and the forthcoming The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness.

The article above is adapted from Kevin DeYoung’s blog on The Gospel Coalition’s website:  “DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed” – May 16, 2012 blog entry at http://thegospelcoaliton.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

Riots in the Street: a Biblical Perspective

by Jordan Standridge, Source: The Cripplegate

In April of 1992, a jury found two white police officers “not guilty” for their conduct in the arrest of Rodney King a year earlier. The verdict sparked week-long riots in Los Angeles; at least 63 people were killed, 12,000 arrested, and one billion dollars of damage was done.

On May 3 (a Sunday), 1,000 US Marines and 600 soldiers were deployed to the streets of Los Angeles to supplement 6,500 National Guard troops already there.

It was the first Sunday since the riots had begun, and Grace Church (where John MacArthur was in his 23rd year as pastor) is only a few miles away from where the King beating took place. Already five people had been murdered in rioting only blocks from the church, and there were questions as to weather or not it would even be safe for the church to meet that day.

The church did meet, and MacArthur paused his normal sermon series, instead preaching a message titled:  The Los Angeles Riots: A Biblical Perspective

He began by saying:

The problem in our city is not lack of opportunity or lack of education. The problem in our city is not too much possessions, materialism. Those are only symptoms of a problem. The problem in our city is the problem of the wretchedness of the human heart. And nobody escapes that. It knows no race. It knows no color. It knows no location. It is pervasive. Sin is the degenerative and damning power in the human stream that pollutes every man and every woman and every part of life.

He went on to explain why pastors were in many cases part of the problem, not the solution:

We live in a city with churches on every street corner. But most of them don’t make any difference, any impact in their community at all. And as long as these people keep meeting, these reverends with no churches and these churches with no gospel, and as long as politicians and policemen and whoever else meet, presidents and congresses and councils, and try to solve the problem of man educationally or economically, they will never succeed. It cannot be solved there. It is not an environmental problem, it is a nature problem. It doesn’t come from the outside in, it comes from the inside out.

The main point of his message was essentially that the human heart is source of evil and rebellion, but God mitigates against this depravity through common grace. He establishes government to be an authority, and he establishes family to teach the importance of respecting authority.

But Los Angeles as a whole had experienced a culture of corruption in authority, and a culture that systematically dismantled the family, and thus any concept of respect for authority.

This resulted in the riots. But he went even more specific than citing a breakdown in civil authority and family discipline. He went on to identify 13 different causes that combined to make Los Angeles a city engulfed by violence. Last week someone encouraged me to listen to this message, and I did (you can too, here). Today I want to repost his 13 reasons—13 conditions in society that lead to racial riots:

  1. THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY OF LIVING FOR PLEASURE

He described Los Angeles as a society into cheap thrills, wanting mindless kicks. The entertainment culture created a people that don’t think deeply about issues because they are simply into fun, feelings, and pleasure. People that only live for highs and who take pleasure into wickedness. He pointed to 2 Peter 2:13 which says, “They count it pleasure to riot” and showed how that was what was happening in that day.

  1. THE TERRIBLE REALITY OF SELFISHNESS

Racism, stealing, and pride are all manifestations of selfishness. When athletes claim that they are “the greatest,” and people think that kind of declaration is noble, then it reflects how selfish society has become. This selfishness causes people to adopt a mindset that “I matter above everyone else.” This is why the Bible says that God hates pride (Prov 8:13).

When people become consumed with themselves, everyone else becomes a means of self-gratification. Only humble people can love, only humble people can truly care. So in a world consumed by pride (like the one James was writing to), the people need to be asked this question:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? What is it that causes riots and quarrels and fights and wars? Is not the source your pleasure that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have, so you commit murders. James 4:1-2

  1. THE EVIL OF MATERIALISM

We live in a society where things are more important than people, and so then it is only a matter of time before people become a means to an end. For someone to be able to go into a store, shoot someone just to steal a CD player, they must have a materialistic mindset.

  1. THE TRAGEDY OF AMORALITY

MacArthur said that the sexual revolution has caused more deaths than any other revolution in world history. People like Hugh Hefner have advocated sexually deviant lifestyles, which has caused people to accept pornography, violently sexual music, and nasty sexual conversation. We have a culture of people who have substituted their life for their glands, and when people live only for their next sex thrill. They become accustomed to sexual immorality which prepares them to become accustomed to violence.

  1. THE DANGER OF ANGER

The Bible forbids anger, and MacArthur pointed out that anger used to be considered a sin. Society used to find self-control socially valuable, and kids used to get spanked for not exercising it. But now people feel that they have the right to say whatever they want, whenever they want. They feel they should be allowed to vent their venom, hostility and anger.

But the truth, MacArthur reminded people, is that neither police nor citizens have a right to be angry (Eph 4:31, James 1:20, Ecc 7:9). Matthew 5:43 teaches that anger should always be replaced by prayer.

  1. THE DEADLINESS OF VENGEANCE

MacArthur said that:

The child of anger and hate is vengeance. A man strikes a policeman, a policeman strikes back. Then society strikes back. The police have to strike back. And pretty soon you have war. You can’t stop it. There is no place for vengeance, no matter what is done. It is a sin and it is a dominating sin and again it’s that same mentality. “I am the king of my universe, I have a right to anger, I have a right to hate, I have a right to pleasure, I have a right to fulfillment, and I have a right to possessions. And if you get in my way, I am going to give it to you.

MacArthur called everyone who was wronged in the riots to pray that God will forgive the transgressors through Jesus Christ.

  1. THE ABSENCE OF FORGIVENESS

We live in a world where if someone builds a fence six inches into their neighbor’s yard, the neighbor is as likely to kill them for it as they are to forgive them. MacArthur pointed out that this is so unlike Christ, who forgave the unforgivable.

  1. THE DIVISIVENESS OF PREJUDICE

Underneath these other causes is often the disease of prejudice, which God hates. But while God hates it, our society is loaded with it. Our society has essentially fabricated the concept of race, and then uses that to divide and sow hatred. This prejudice will rip, tear and shred families, neighborhoods, cities, nations. (Here is link to similar teaching by Pastor Anyabwile).

  1. THE LOSS OF RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY

MacArthur said that the amount of chaos seen in a riot can only be the result of a concerted effort to destroy a people’s confidence in law enforcement and the entire concept of law and order. The result of that effort will always be death and destruction [at this point—Sunday—the death toll of the riots had already passed 50]. He went on to say that causing people to disrespect those that bear the sword is a deadly sin, and when it becomes accepted in a culture, riots are not far behind. By the way, efforts to sow distrust in police ironically lead to the loss of freedom in the form of curfews and the military deployed in the streets [that Sunday was the first day that the Marines had been deployed in Los Angeles]. MacArthur called it a small taste of a society under police control (1 Peter 2:13-14).

10. THE DISASTER OF CIVIL REBELLION

If pride leads to murder, then disrespect leads to rebellion. MacArthur pointed out a causal connection: if you destroy respect, you encourage rebellion.

11. THE DECLINE IN SWIFT AND SEVERE PUNISHMENT

The loss of fear of punishment for wrongdoing is inextricably linked to our society’s disconnect between a crime and a punishment for that crime. The California culture had embraced slow justice, and thus slow punishment. In that world, the fear of punishment does not restrain crime or cause fear of evil [it had been over a year from the beating of Rodney King to the conclusion of the trial for the police involved].

12. THE EFFECT OF DRUNKENNESS

MacArthur made the point that drugs and alcohol have wrecked families, and more than any other sin are responsible for the destruction of our nation’s cities.

13. WEAK, IMPOTENT, FOOLISH, SELFISH AND SINFUL LEADERSHIP

MacArthur closed by asking this question:

Where are the great leaders? Where are the godly leaders? Where are the virtuous leaders? Where are the great moral men and women? Where are they? Hosea said, “Like people, like priests,” because they’ll never be any better than their leaders. And now we see it. The sins of the fathers have reached the third, the fourth generation.

You look at the society, what do you see? Lust for pleasure, self and things, sexual perversion, anger, hate, vengeance, unforgiveness, prejudice, lack of respect for authority, civil rebellion, drunkenness, weak, foolish, evil leadership that’s more concerned about politics than it is about morality.

Finally MacArthur warned about looking for secular solutions to these problems. He warned:

Nobody can escape, I don’t care if you’re black or white, I don’t care if you’re yellow or brown, or whatever of those simple colors represent the races of our world, nobody can escape the devastating power of his own sin, the wretchedness of the heart… I’ll tell you this, they may put the lid on it this week, but it will go off again. There’s only one thing that’s going to change it and that is the saving power of Jesus Christ. And my final word to you is this, you have an obligation in this society, my friend, if you’re a Christian and so do I and it is this, you are to live a godly life free from all these sins I have mentioned. You are to live a godly life free from these things. Secondly, you are to preach the only message that can transform the human heart, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what this world must hear if anything is to change.

Megachurch Pastor John MacArthur: Denominations That Allow Gay ‘Marriage’ Are ‘Satan’s Church’

In the wake of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s recent decision to celebrate same-sex “marriages,” celebrity pastor John MacArthur of “Grace to You” has come out with some strong statements condemning “false churches” that abandon Biblical teachings against homosexual behavior.

“They have no allegiance to the Bible,” MacArthur told The Blaze online news service. “You go back to every one of those seminaries … for a century [they] have been deniers of biblical authority, they have no relationship to scripture, they are the apostate church, they are Satan’s church.”

While it seems clear MacArthur was implying that self-professed Christians who accept gay “marriage” are doing Satan’s work, not necessarily worshiping the devil, it is worth noting that the actual Satanic Temple of America has called same-sex “marriage” one of its “sacraments.”

MacArthur, who is Baptist, believes in the teachings of John Calvin regarding the inerrancy and literal truth of Scripture.  The PCUSA also has its roots in Calvinism, but in 1967 the church updated its precepts to distance itself from Calvin and adopted a more flexible view of Biblical truth.

During a 2001 debate over whether the denomination would permit the ordination of openly homosexual pastors, PCUSA officials said, “We acknowledge the role of scriptural authority in the Presbyterian Church, but Presbyterians generally do not believe in biblical inerrancy. Presbyterians do not insist that every detail of chronology or sequence or pre-scientific description in scripture be true in literal form. Our confessions do teach biblical infallibility. Infallibility affirms the entire truthfulness of scripture without depending on every exact detail.”

In his interview with The Blaze, MacArthur lamented the cultural decline of mainstream denominations like the PCUSA, and said their watered-down approach to theology is a major factor in the increasing secularization of America, which he argues was founded on “cultural Christianity.”

According to MacArthur, the historical “cultural Christianity” of Americans has long been a stabilizing force for society.  It didn’t mean that everyone belonged to the same church or worshiped exactly the same way, but it did mean that the culture as a whole had a shared set of values and generally believed they would have to answer to a higher power in the afterlife.

The founding fathers, MacArthur told The Blaze, “knew you couldn’t compel people to goodness” unless the majority of people believed in God.  But in our increasingly agnostic society, the very idea of “goodness” is open to debate.

“Cultural Christianity … is dying at a warp speed,” MacArthur said. “In the last election … the Democratic platform was pro-killing children and pro-homosexuality.  The young generation has bought into the corruption and lack of ethics morals by media entertainment [and] educators.”

MacArthur cited the unwillingness of mainstream pastors to speak out on controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion as the reason society has begun to embrace immorality as goodness.  He challenged church leaders to meditate on Romans 1, which reads in part:

For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

“Romans 1 describes exactly what is happening in America,” MacArthur told The Blaze. “It defines the wrath as God giving them over, giving them over, giving them over.”

To read the rest of The Blaze’s interview with John MacArthur, click here.

Online Source: LifeSite News