The ‘Begats’, Jesus, and John Mayer

What if I told you that even most of those who read their bible daily are probably skipping the most important part of the word?  What if I told you that it was important enough to begin both the Old and New Testaments? What if I told you it was a crucial element in keeping your youth group kid from becoming the college student/atheist that I spoke with today?

Why aren’t we reading it? Honestly? It’s “boring”.  I’ve heard pastors joke about it, and unashamedly skip it. I’ve heard people actually tell students to “skip over” that section. I can almost hear the groans as I hit you with one word…….


I believe with all my heart that the two MOST important phrases in all of scripture are “begat” and “for you”.

Why begat?

First of all, God felt it important enough to include it in the canon of scripture. Not only include it, but place it in prominent places, in great depth. It is, along with all scripture, theopneustos (literally, God-breathed).

Secondly, because it sets the events of the bible in history! I can’t stress that enough. This isn’t allegory. It isn’t mythology.  It actually happened.

It not only reveals to us that God entered into His creation, but did so in time and history!  Unbelievable!

Thirdly, because it provides a proper presentation (and ready defense) of the gospel we are commanded to proclaim.

And finally, it shows God’s great love in covenant as He chose a people for Himself, based upon His grace alone.

Am I stretching here? Let’s take a look:

1. We have substantial genealogies from the very first book of the bible (Gen 5; Adam to Noah)

2. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people are defined by the genealogies of real, historical people. (i.e. When God sends Moses to speak to  His people, He is told to speak of ‘The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’.  It is noteworthy that this is not the same name which Moses was to use of God to Pharaoh.)

3. Genealogies are used even in very routine interactions in scripture, to show God’s sovereign choices of real people (who really lived, in real points in history). An example would be God enabling and choosing the craftsmen for the tabernacle in Exodus 31.  In the midst of some of the greatest foreshadow and symbolism in all of scripture (the tabernacle), we have God enabling and selecting (by name) real, living, known men.

1The LORD said to Moses, 2“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. 6And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: – Exodus 31:1-6

4. Apart from genealogy, scripture also lists specific, historical people groups and historical figures to explicitly show these events as historical and not allegorical or symbolic:

a. The land promised to Israel was filled with real, historical people: Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

b. The most significant events in the Bible (Entering the promised land, destruction of the temple, etc) and in the New Testament (The birth of Christ, the death of John the Baptist, The crucifixion, The journeys and trials of Paul, the early church, etc.) are all set in historical context by listing the names of historical kings and rulers.

So, how do the begats help keep my kid from becoming the college atheist I spoke to today?  In two very significant ways:

1. It presents the gospel as a historic event.  It forces me to present the actual good news  of the gospel.  The reason it is called the evangel (from which pastors are called evangelists) is that the biblical greek is εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) or good news.  This thing happened. It really, actually happened. In history.  So it guards me from allegorizing the gospel, or making it something I do. I can’t “live the gospel” or “be the gospel” or “do the gospel” anymore than I can live, or be, or do the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves during the civil war.  My only option, and the only mission given to us by God, is to proclaim this news!

2. It guards us from subjective experiences.  Your testimony is not the gospel. How you feel about Jesus isn’t the gospel.  If you share your testimony or feelings with the college atheist I just met, the response?  His testimony and feeling.  Jesus gives you purpose? Cool, Habitat for Humanity gives him purpose.  Jesus makes you feel joy?  Sweet. Playing music connects him to the universe and brings him joy. Congratulations, you’ve just put the God of the universe on the same subjective plane as John Mayer.  Ugh.   By presenting the gospel in it’s proper context, an objective event, which took place in history, we present good news which is outside of what we “feel” or our “experiences”.  So you get a warm fuzzy (entirely subjective) when you pray. You feel like the Holy Spirit is giving you a subjective, personal confirmation/revelation that you “feel in your heart.”  Interesting, so did this guy:

Yes, Joseph Smith, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The “Mormons”).  As a matter of fact, I once had a chance to watch LDS missionaries witnessing of their faith to a friend of mine. They asked him to read the Book of Mormon, and then pray that he would feel a “burning in the bosom”, and a peace, which would confirm that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

The problem here is that once you get out of the objective word of God into your subjective “feelings” or “experiences” you are in treacherous waters:

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” -Proverbs 28:26

So where do we go? Scripture:

Do you know what the book of Luke is about?  Luke (who was not an Apostle, but a disciple of Paul) wrote the book of Luke to “Theophilus” (who most scholars believe was an influential Roman official) after speaking with various eyewitnesses and reported the events which had taken place when Jesus was alive.  Luke was a highly educated man and his finished work is a tremendous work of historical research.  Luke talked to real people, who knew a real Jesus.  This isn’t subjective “feeling”, this is eyewitness testimony:

[Dedication to Theophilus]
[1:1] Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, [2] just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, [3] it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, [4] that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
(Luke 1:1-4 ESV)

We are exhorted to look to the scriptures, not our subjective feelings, to hear from God:

[Paul and Silas in Berea]
[10] The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. [11] Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

(Acts 17:10-11 ESV)

And we are most definitely presented the gospel as an objective, historical event to be proclaimed as FIRST importance.

[The Resurrection of Christ]
[15:1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
[3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV)

So, as you see The Holy Spirit’s primary method of inwardly confirming and testifying to truth is the illumination of public revelation that God has provided. A Christian would encourage a person to investigate the various things that point to the trustworthiness of Christ, and to pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate such (Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”), while a subjective witness (used in a non-scriptural witnessing method, by the college atheist, or by a Mormon would be based upon feelings or personal revelation).  While Mormons emphasize subjective truth (truth discerned by mere feelings), it is important for Christians to help explain the nature of objective truth (something that often challenges our feelings).  The gospel isn’t “God has a wonderful plan for your life”. The bible never uses this language, and the apostles never preached it.  God has a wonderful plan for your life? Great, so does the Peace Corps. Are you seeing it yet?

As we close out on the value of the ‘begats”, it’s important to point out that time and space on a blog doesn’t allow the deep dive into the full beauty of the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1, but it is in itself a hidden treasure of the grace of God. Truly beautiful.

I’ll close with the Apostle’s Creed.  After reading this blog, see if you can spot the historical marker:

(Note: “catholic” in the creed means “universal” and not Catholic as in Roman Catholic)

Did you see it?  It’s not subjective. It happened, in history. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, a real man, who existed in real, objective history (He was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judea from AD 26-36, serving under the Emperor Tiberius).

So, next time you’re reading the ‘begats’ let them remind you that when you are witnessing, you are called to “keep it real”.. literally. Present the historical, objective gospel (which is the only gospel we’ve been authorized to share)!


Post Chik-fil-A: A call to Repentance (There is no “us” and “them”)


I’ve noticed lately that in the conversation regarding “same-sex marriage” and homosexuality in general, that there has been much heat and very little light.  The recent Chik-fil-A discussion has shown me that most folks aren’t particularly interested in honest dialogue, but in scoring points for their side, even (and often) at the cost of truthfulness.   Being “pro-family” isn’t the gospel. Being “anti-gay marriage” isn’t the gospel. And some of the activities I’ve seen have drawn lines political lines in the sand which have made it extremely difficult to accomplish our mission of  gospel proclamation.

With that, I’m going to write what I know may be a dangerous blog post. It may hurt me professionally, may cost me some friends on both sides of the fence, and will almost certainly be taken out of context.  Why risk it?  Because I see the biblical position on this issue horribly misrepresented, and am saddened to hear many Christian youth woefully unprepared to even engage the subject.  I write as a Christian, to other Christians here.  I am writing to an audience who believes in objective, external truth as revealed in the bible.  If you do not hold the bible as authoritative and inerrant, or if you are a relativist, even the most accurate exegesis of scripture will conflict with your worldview.  If, after I present the biblical position you find you disagree with what I’ve written, ask yourself honestly if the disagreement is with what is in the text, or is it simply not what you want to believe.

As I write, please hear my heart. I hate no one.  I look down on no one.  I know my own sinful heart and work to remove the beam from my own eye as I attempt to faithfully and accurately present the truth of scripture.  You aren’t going to find anything hateful as I address this issue. My goal is to speak as clearly and as accurately as possible on this sensitive and emotional issue.  The church has often interacted with an inexcusable lack of respect and civility with the homosexual community, and for that, I truly apologize.  It is my earnest desire to address this issue with love, grace, civility and truthfulness.  There is no “us” and “them”.  We are one, united under a command to repent and believe.  The call to repentance for some will be from pride, and for confusing our political agendas with our mission to preach the gospel of repentance to all men.  For others, it will be a call to repent of the sin of homosexuality after a clear presentation of God’s word in this blog.   And so… my prayer.


My prayer is that the light of God’s word would illuminate this subject. I pray that Christians would obey the clear commands in scripture to be both well studied in the word, and to love neighbor as self.  I pray that the Lord would use my very limited abilities to lay out a simple presentation for youth who are unprepared to engage this subject biblically.  I pray that I never allow my pride to ignore the plank in my own eye, or to see my sins as less offensive to God than those of other men; Even if theirs are sins which are less acceptable in the church.  I pray for those who struggle with homosexuality. If you gain nothing else from this blog, get this… there is grace for you.


The following are texts which explicitly prohibit homosexuality.  There are other passages of scripture (such as the account of Lot in Gen19) which are often debated (i.e. the sin in Gen19 is rape and not homosexuality). However, for our purposes, we will deal with texts which explicitly speak of the act of homosexuality being a sin:

“Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” – Leviticus 18:22


“‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. – Leviticus 20:13


Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. 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 Corinthians 6:9-11


 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” – 1 Timothy 1: 9-11

As you can see, both the old and new testaments explicitly teach against homosexuality, labeling it “detestable”, “contrary to sound doctrine”, and that those practicing homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Faced with such direct teaching, those who would maintain the supremacy of the bible and yet defend homosexuality must build their case either outside of scripture, or by denying that these passages apply to them.

Often, a simple appeal to emotion is used, but to put it bluntly, our emotion is to be submitted to the authority and teaching of scripture, not the other way around.

I’d like you to ask yourself this honest question; Do you believe we are to obey every aspect of OT law? Wearing only single fiber clothing?  Not cutting the edges of our beards? Not eating pork? Probably not.  Most of us would agree that not all aspects of the law are binding in that regard. But why not?  Conversely, who of us would say that all of the law is to be discarded; Love your neighbor as yourself, do not steal, do not lie? I can’t imagine anyone is ready to throw all of the law out either.  So, then, how do we determine which laws we follow and which we are no longer bound to?  And why are we no longer bound to it?  In short, how would you respond to the objection below?

Common objections by category:

Format:  I’ve organized my thoughts in a way that I believe will help identify, understand, and respond to the most common objections to the historic view that homosexuality is condemned in scripture.  First, I’ve posted my purpose, my prayer, and scriptures which specifically prohibits homosexual behavior.  I will now work through common objections. These objections typically state the condemnation of homosexuality was only for a particular people, a particular place, or a particular period and are no longer binding.  I’ll address each individually and finish with a discussion of the law, it’s permanence, and a promise.


The argument here is typically that the law was only for “them”, and not for us as New Testament/Christian believers.  We clearly see that the law is not a single, monolithic, body. Rather, it is broken into the three categories above.  What did Jesus himself teach regarding the law?

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

As you can see, the law will remain.  Unless you believe that we are to adhere to every aspect of OT Law, we must take a closer look at what  Jesus expressly overturned under His new covenant, what He leaves unchanged, and what He raises the bar on:

1. Ceremonial Law: These laws are no longer applicable, as they have been fulfilled in Christ. Examples of these are:

a. Food (Mark 7:19)

b. Unclean People (The leper in Mark 1:41)

c. A bleeding woman (Mark 5:27)

d. A dead child (Mark 5:41)

And finally,  Jesus ends the ceremonial law once and for all by doing what no earthly priest could ever do; He sat down, at the right hand of the father.  In language that no Old Testament Jew could ever miss, Jesus, the spotless lamb, is sacrificed once and for all.  The foreshadows are gone, the types and shadows are complete. Jesus has fulfilled the ceremonial law.

2. Civil: Jesus ultimately ended the separation of Jew and Gentile as he tore the temple veil. The NT sends the adoption theme to all men everywhere, Samaritan, and gentile alike.  These laws still teach us through principle, but are no longer binding.

3. Moral: Jesus not only holds this in place, but raises the bar to show the ultimate standard of these laws:

           “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

            “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

            “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

            “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

            “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

            “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.        

(Matthew 5:21-48 ESV)

To speak specifically to the fact that the moral law contained within the holiness code was not simply for national/ethnic Israel, consider the following:

Leviticus 18:24-30 teaches that divine judgment had come upon the nations who previously dwelled in the land.  These were nations that did not have the law of God given in the Decalogue (Ten Commandments). Clearly, the prohibition of homosexuality wasn’t only a Jewish matter, it was something that transcended ethnic boundaries.

Therefore, to attempt to lump “the law” into one basket, and then claim that we are inconsistent if we don’t follow all cleanliness or civil laws (such as those in the figure below), is inaccurate.   It is a fundamental misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of the law.  We do not follow (and are not bound by) the ceremonial laws, since Christ has fulfilled them completely.  We are also not bound by the civil laws, though we do gain value in understanding their underlying principles.

Summary:  The ceremonial code has been fulfilled in Christ, the civil code is an example in principle, and the moral code is applicable to all men.


To believe that the moral law is applicable only to a certain locale is an absurdly weak argument.  Would he say that it would be acceptable (for anyone, Jew or Gentile) to sell one’s daughter into harlotry while residing in Los Angeles? Practice incest in Canada? Obviously not. These actions are abhorrent to God regardless of their location. So much so, in fact that Leviticus teaches us that these practices are so horrid that they defile the land itself (Lev 19:29, 20:19-22).  Clearly, the Levitical prohibitions on homosexuality are not limited to either the land, or to those who lived in the land.  They also pre-date the giving of the ceremonial or civil laws, as shown by those engaging in this practice before Israel entered into the land being held accountable and punished for their behaviors.

Summary: The moral code is applicale in all places. 


Frequently, those who advocate the bible’s acceptance of homosexuality will argue their position by pointing out things that are contained in the book of Leviticus which are no longer practiced, or simply ignored, by those who profess to follow the God of the Bible.  From this, it is often deduced that the book of Leviticus is no longer applicable to our contemporary situation.  Those who advocate the compatibility of homosexualty and Christianity readily turn to Leviticus and then challenge their challengers with a  “what about this passage” approach to obedience.

A few examples of this approach would be illustrative at this point. Scanzoni and Mollenkott have accused those who oppose their por-homo position with script inconsistency:

“Consistency and fairness would seem to dictate that if the Holiness Code is to be invoked against 20th century homosexual,  it should likewise be invoked against such common practices as eating rare steak, wearing mixed fabrics, (etc.)”

As pointed out previously, this is a clear confusion of the categories of the law.  If you do not understand that the eating of steak (which was a ceremonial law and fulfilled in Christ), or the wearing of mixed fabrics (civil law which was for national Israel), you can easily be tripped up by the seeming “inconsistency” of the modern church.  The problem with this argument is that even if (and we have clearly pointed out that they are not) all these laws were valid, and being violated, it would not make a valid defense for biblical support of homosexuality.  In short, the argument looks like this:

1. You say homosexuality is prohibited in the bible.

2. So is (insert other law here), which you violate.

3. Therefore, Levitical laws are no longer binding.

You see the problem, right?

1. The same Levitical laws prohibit laws which nobody would throw out (incest, bestiality, stealing, lying, etc.)

2. At best, for the pro-homosexual argument, we have a common hypocrisy, which does not negate the validity of the law itself.

This is the argument of a child;  We’re not supposed to hit people. Dad hit someone. Therefore, hitting is OK.   Homosexuality is prohibited, so is cutting your hair. You cut your hair, so both are OK.  Even if both laws were equally applicable (which they are not), a shared hypocrisy would not validate a clear violation of those laws.

Summary: The moral code is applicable in all periods.


The non-binding laws were exclusively ‘ceremonial’. They regulated the Israelite sacrificial system and matters such as ceremonial cleanliness.  Although they hold forth moral duties, they were typical of Christ’s sacrifice and since he has fulfilled all they typified, they are abrogated and non-binding to those who follow Christ.  These laws regarding ritual purity and separation differ from the civil law in that they were not for a well-ordered society, rather they were necessary solely because of a Holy God dwelling in the tabernacle and among the people.  For that reason, they dealt with food (Lev 11), childbirth (Lev 12), disease, infection (Lev 13-14), and bodily discharges (Lev 15).  We also see ceremonial laws as having to judicial penalty. They simply made the guilty party “unclean” (often until the end of the day).  These were not universally binding. For example, unclean animals or dead animals (both “unclean” could be sold to travellers or foreigners.)

Laws concerning everyday civil matters in the Israelite community are binding in their underlying principles, as we have discussed.

The only laws that are, without exception, ever-binding are the moral code.

Summary: The moral code is applicable for all time.


I have laid out, as clearly as possible, the orthodox biblical position on homosexuality.  It’s clearly not politically correct, and may even ben wrongly branded as “hate speech” in some countries.  For that I make no apology.  However, I will interact with those struggling in this sin with dignity and with love as they are also made in the image of God.  If you are struggling with homosexuality, you are no more a sinner than I am as I struggle with my sins.  But a sinner you are, and repent you must.  But know that you are never, ever beyond grace:

            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 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)


The word is clear, the sin is evident, and the grace is sufficient for those who would repent, in faith believing.

As always, I’m always here to answer e-mails.

Next week: Examples of actual arguments you may encounter, and how to respond to them biblically.


Note: While not directly quoted or footnoted, this blog contains material from Dr. James White’s “The Same Sex Controversy”, which I recommend:

After Chik-fil-A: Now What?

Timing is often interesting.  In the middle of writing a multi-part blog series on how the church should engage and respond to the homosexual community, well… Chik-fil-A happened.

I get it. I’m glad we live in a country where we can voice our opinions. I applaud those who stood up for free speech on August 1st.  But.. now what?  The sheer number of people who responded was staggering, and the reasons were varied.  That’s what concerns me; That while it is wonderful that people from many viewpoints  responded, my fear is that we will lose our focus on why and how we are to respond as the body of Christ.   As the church, we are always dangerously succeptible to mission creep. We can do a lot of worthwhile things, which are helpful, but are not missional.  If it sounds like I’m not interested in the social or political aspects of this issue, you may be close.  I’m only secondarily interested in them. My primary focus is on the gospel.  As the church, we have 1 enemy, and it’s not the media, or an administration, or even an agenda.  It’s the enemy.  And I’m called to take the gospel of truth and grace to all men, maintaining both the truth and the grace. It means that I don’t bow to societal or political pressure, nor do I build walls that will keep me from sharing the gospel to those on the other side of the issue:

So, now that we’ve turned up the heat, and the spotlight is on.. what now? What do we do, post Chik-fil-A?

If we simply drew a line in the sand of us and them, I’m afraid we’ve done very little to further the cause of the gospel.  So you don’t support gay marriage?  Message received. But that’s not the gospel.  What are we doing, in this situation, with both sides squaring off across the symbolic line in the sand that Chik-fil-A has become to reach those on the other side with the gospel?

Homosexuals, Publicans, Tax Collectors, Pharisees, Prostitutes; Sinners all. All audiences for the gospel of grace.  What does scripture say about homosexuality?  It’s a hammer, for sure:

9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

But wait; even in the depth of this depravity… the gospel:

11 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.

You see, we are to stand in truth; we call out sin where it is sin. Unflinchingly and without fear of reprisal.  Yet, we do so in grace, understanding that the gospel is for “us” and “them”.

I’ll spend the next few posts (which I may finish and post all at once, since this has become such a timely issue) laying out what scripture says about homosexuality and how to respond to the most common attacks on the biblical position.  But to start, ask yourself 2 things:

1. Are my actions centered on the gospel, and it’s clear presentation?

2. Do I know the biblical position and how to respond to arguments against it?

As an example, what would your response to this be?

I’ll work through a biblical response this this (and others) going forward.  Please forward this to friends and family. I’ve been shocked at the inability of many (especially youth) to engage in this subject biblically.

Note:  Please keep that in mind as you read this series; I am a Christian and my goal here is to accurately represent the biblical position.  If you do not view scripture as authoritative, you will likely disagree with much of what I will be covering, regardless of my accuracy in providing the biblical view.  Please know, and I believe that my writing will make this clear, there is no “hate” whatever involved.


The Five Solas: Sola Scriptura

What are the Five Solas, and why would I spend time reading about them on your blog instead of playing Doodle Jump? Or Words with Friends? Or watching sneezing Pandas on YouTube?

The Five Solas (sola from the latin “alone”) are the bedrock of much of what you believe if you are an evangelical christian. (Great, a history lesson.. with latin no less.) OK, before you run off and start looking for “fail compilation” on YouTube, stick with me for a minute. You need to know these things for a few key reasons:

1. Only by knowing what you believe can you identify and defend against what you don’t.

2. Really smart people have defined these truths over the centuries. I get it, they dressed funny and they’re all dead now, but in spite of the fact that they didn’t have iPhones or access to google, they did the heavy biblical, linguistic, and theological lifting that most of us have no ability (or work ethic) to accomplish.

3. It gives us an early warning capability. There is truly nothing new under the sun; every “new wave” that hits the modern evangelical church is a simple twist on a centuries old heresy. If you don’t understand them, you’re easy prey to them. (Molinism anyone?)

4. We’re called to do so in scripture:

[15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

(2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

With that, the first Sola….. SOLA SCRIPTURA “Scripture Alone”

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is the belief that the Bible is the only inspired word of God and the sole guide to our faith. This means that everything that God has ordained for us to know is made clear in scripture alone.

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Let that scripture sink in. Understand that Sola Scriptura was written in response to the Roman Catholic church which believed that scripture alone was not the sole guide to faith, but also the extra-biblical (outside of the bible) traditions and rulings of the church. The scriptures make it clear that scripture is “God-breathed”. The greek here is fantastic… θεόπνευστος (theos/God pneuo/breathe). Literally, the scriptures were God-breathed. (Make you want to read your bible more?)

Not only is scripture God-breathed, but it is sufficient to equip the believer for every good work. It’s ALL you need! It’s the breath of God!

(This is NOT to mean “solo scriptura”. We believe the bible is sufficient in all areas of our faith, but there are other books which are helpful for subjects outside of our car repair, mathematics, world history, etc.)

Now, this was written to say that we have what we need in the Bible. Most of us agree 100% there. We don’t tolerate church leaders giving us “new” stuff outside of scripture. (Joseph Smith/Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, etc.)… but do we truly believe Sola Scriptura in practice, or do we allow people to take information, which is not θεόπνευστος (theopneustos/God Breathed) and put it on par with scripture?

In practice, we often unwittingly deny the sufficiency of scripture. How are some ways the modern church brings in extra-biblical sources and puts them on the level of scripture?

1. Vision Casting: If you haven’t been exposed to the seeker-sensitive movement, this is THE focus. The pastor has a vision for what God wants for the church, puts it into a plan, “casts” the vision before the church and that vision (since it’s “directly from God”) is now on par with scripture. (If you ever hear “without vision the people perish” and the speaker is talking about church planning.. run.) In fact, this plan often takes the place of the biblical mandate in many churches, and puts them in direct contradiction/competition with God’s stated plan for the church. (Preaching the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins, and making disciples is often pushed aside for “Meeting the needs of the community”.)

2. Extra-biblical sources/Personal Experiences: Every few years, someone comes out with a “return from hell/heaven” type book and they sell like hotcakes. The problem? It’s not biblical. To say you believe that scripture is sufficient, and to then grab another source is absurd. If you won’t read your bible, but are willing to devour the testimony of a 4-year-old, you need to reconsider. We’ve reached such a state of post-modernity in our country that the one thing you cannot question is someone’s personal experience. So, we unwittingly take personal experience (feeling, “burdens on the heart”, visions, extra-biblical prophesies, “words from the Lord”) and make them equal to scripture. This is absolutely not sola scriptura.

3. Pragmatism: Pragmatism is, in a nutshell, a philosophy which assesses the truth of beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. In other words, if it works, it’s true. (The problem here should be glaringly obvious! We base truth upon scripture, not upon what the world views as “success”.)

How does this play out?

The Church Growth Movement (aka Seeker-Sensitive)

We’re called to preach a crucified savior, and to call sinners to repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins. The problem? Telling visitors that they stand as objects of wrath before a Holy God will not likely lead to the “success” of your church.  So what do we replace the offensive message of the gospel with?

The Church Growth Movement (aka Seeker-Sensitive)

Is growing the church bad? I mean, don’t we want more people? Church growth isn’t bad, it’s just not our mission! We are to focus on and preach the gospel, GOD grows His church! If our focus is growth and not gospel it leads to adoption of what works, not faithfulness to what we’re called to.

This is pragmatism. This is pragmatic to the core. It’s market driven. Find out what people want to hear and give it to them. Maybe season it with a “verse” here or there, but nothing offensive like sin, wrath, atonement.  How about better marriages? Better kids?  Happy communities?  And to grow you can’t ask people to repent of sins against a holy God… that won’t do at all. How about “make a decision” to become a “Christ follower”?  “Step into the great plan God has for you?”  That’ll sell.

The problem? In a pragmatic search for “success”, we’ve replaced the god-breathed scriptures with… what?

The Bible speaks very clearly to this in 2 Timothy 4:

[4:1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

(2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)


Ask yourself the next time you’re listening to a sermon; Are you hearing Scripture? Are you hearing the very breath of God, sufficient for every good work? Is the speaker fulfilling his obligation to preach the word of God? Is the focus on reading, understanding, and applying scripture in context, or are you having you ears scratched?

Here are a couple of ways to tell if you’re hearing the word:

1. Are you learning sections of scripture, in their original context or are you getting a single sentence, without context, sandwiched between cute stories or jokes?

2. Can you take your notes from the sermon (or series) and find it clearly laid out in the text of scripture, or does the message need single verses, plucked from context, to assemble a thought not found clearly taught in the bible? (Red flag:  “This word/verse speaks to…..”  you’re about to hear something from OUTSIDE the text added to it, and I can almost guarantee it will be “do this”/law).

How to test it?  Take the verse that is used, take notes on what is said.. now go BACK to the verse, read the chapter in CONTEXT and see if what was preached is found IN THE TEXT. Is it what the author wrote or would the sermon you were given be completely foreign to the author. Would you ever, from an actual reading of the TEXT, get out of it what was just preached to you?

3. Is the focus more on your felt needs (more money, better job, your goals, happiness) or on Christ? Is the problem you face being defined as a “best life now” or as a sinner under judgement and in need of a risen savior?

4. Is the hero in the story Jesus and his victory of sin, death, and the grave or is it you over the “giants” in your life?

5. Is there a presentation of sin, repentance, and forgiveness or is it a checklist for self-improvement?

Jesus said the scriptures were about HIM. We are called to teach about Him for the remission of sins. If you aren’t hearing scripture, and you aren’t hearing about Christ and his atoning work to call sinners to repentance, what are you trading it for?