Sunday, August 3, 2008

Unpopular but Biblical

This is from Paul Burrell at Shepherd's Hill. A touchy subject but again a very important one. We are to love the sinner but NOT his sinful actions. We need wisdom to call sin as it is and not attack the person. It can be done in love.

Unconditional Love?

I appreciate the new readers who have written to us. When I write the message each week and see the counter go up, I know that it’s being read but don’t know if it makes any impact on lives. When I get an actual person stating that it affected them I feel encouraged. After all, no one would keep planting seeds if they didn’t see any plants coming up. They would change what they were doing after establishing that the effort was unfruitful and plant different seed or in another place. Each week we get emails from all over the world and I am amazed at how God’s Word is moving.

I have been carefully listening to a lot of news and trying to understand what is happening to our world. It seems that there is no good news at times and I know that it is just human nature to spread the bad and hide the good. Shocking news stories always get ratings so there is more of that told than the plain stories of neighbors helping neighbors.

This week in my quest to understand what our country is doing politically I was listening to National Public Radio. I have to say that looking at its title, one out of three is really bad as they are radio, but they are neither national nor public. They are an international news oriented radio station. They are not run in the best interest of the public but rather to change how the public thinks and to make them be more like the rest of the world. We are constantly compared to other nations in a negative light and our society is always looked at as being behind the times of what more liberal countries are doing. I don’t understand having a radio station that is publicly funded and yet pushing the agenda of liberals who are in the minority.

Anyway, I digress. A “human interest” story came on this morning as I traveled to a meeting I had in Birmingham. I listened as a man told about coming out of the closet and how his father had just brushed it off in saying that he was proud that his son was honest and didn’t hide things. This man’s mother did have a problem with this “lifestyle” (that makes it sound less like an abomination doesn’t it?) but on her deathbed she told him that she loved him un-conditionally. The man ended in tears and said that it was the greatest gift that she could have given him.

It seems to be a trend in churches to begin to preach something that isn’t complete truth and then the devil lays hold of our approach and catches us in a trap. Let me explain. It wasn’t long ago that sin was called sin from the pulpit. A new doctrine began to be preached that said that God had unconditional love for all and He just wanted to be regarded as your “religion” and then you would go to heaven. We have over eighty percent of the people in this country who claim to be Christian. That number doesn’t match the immorality and decadence of sinful agendas which are being elected in the name of financial help. In other words, people are voting for politicians who stand for un-godly morals but try and say that they have a better financial plan than their opponents. They are choosing immorality over morality because they think it will make them better off in the long run.

This story that I shared above gave way to some scripture that gets ignored and others which are misinterpreted. Let’s look at something today that the liberal denominations present as scriptural basis for their actions.

First, there is Luke 6:37. Jesus says that we shouldn’t judge or condemn so that we wouldn’t be likewise. I can see where one could misread this if it were the only scripture in the Bible that was read. Never, I repeat, never make a doctrine out of one verse without seeing if it agrees with all of scripture. If no one was to ever say anyone was in sin why did all the Apostles do it for the rest of the Bible? John the Baptist lost his head for standing up for righteousness and Jesus said that there was none greater born of women (Matt 11:11). Paul was thrown in prison for casting a demon out of a woman (Acts 16:16). In our times he would have had a hefty lawsuit for ruining the business of a fortune teller or even implying that the woman had a demon. So we cannot look to that verse as meaning we should never say anything was sin.

In John 7:24 Jesus said that we are not to judge according to appearance but rather to judge righteous judgment. If Luke 6:37 meant that we should never judge and then Jesus tells us to judge righteously it would mean that there is a contradiction here. Of course, we know that there is no contradiction in the Word of God as it is perfect. What happens is, we as imperfect people don’t understand it sometimes and make mistakes.

Look again at another passage. In 1st John 4:16 we see that God is love. It is a line that could pass through most of the world as being wonderful and true. It leaves one feeling that God is love and only love. We might try and throw away the rest of the Bible and hold to this one verse. God is love! Shout it from the mountaintops because God is love!

Well, He is love but He is also Holy. He is also righteous. He is also never changing. He is the same God that judged the sin of Achan in Joshua chapter 7. He opened up the ground and swallowed up the rebellious in Numbers 16:31-32. And, yes, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality (Genesis chapter 19). If we read that God is love and only think about this facet of the diamond then we fail to see God for who He is.

The man who cried on the radio this morning told about unconditional love. It is a term that has been used with the kind of love that Christians are supposed to have. But is it? Are we supposed to have unconditional love for people and just accept them? There are many passages to pick from but I will show one for church discipline.

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells how sin should be handled. In verse fifteen He says that if one sins (trespasses) against you that you should go and speak to him privately. Then if he will not listen you are to take one or two others. If that doesn’t work you are to bring it before the church. If he will not hear the church then he is to be regarded as a non-believer (heathen).

This certainly does not go along with the way some interpret “judge not” does it? And unconditional love? By the world’s definition of it we should just overlook a trespass. Well, we are to love our enemy (Matt 5:44). Loving them also includes caring about whether they go to Hell or not. If we ignore sin and tell someone that God loves them even if they continue in it we love them right into Hell.

When I was young I had a tendency to think that I knew more than many. I dealt with electricity and lethal voltages and figured that I had never had a problem so I must be handling it safely. I found out that screwdrivers could disintegrate right in your hand! After that if someone told me that a circuit was hot and that I needed to either wear my gloves or kill the circuit I listened. If we’d just realize that the warning of sin is to keep you us from suffering we would gladly hear the message!

This unconditional love that is preached comes from several passages that people latch onto. Another is in Romans 5:8. While we were still in sin Christ died for us. He loved us even though we were in sin. Before there was anything good in us He died for us. In a sense, that is unconditional love. But read also John 14:21. Those who love Jesus keep His commands and are loved by God because of it. Look at Matthew 10:32-33. If we confess that Jesus is Lord then He will confess us before God. But if we deny Jesus before men then He denies us before the Father. We believe that Jesus confessing us before the Father means that He will stand and defend us no matter what accusation satan brings against us. If that is the definition of “confess” then we must stand up for Jesus and defend our belief before men no matter what accusation men bring before us. We wouldn’t dare to think that Jesus would half-heartedly defend. Neither should we stand for Jesus only on convenience nor when there is no real challenge to our faith. It also means that if we don’t stand for Jesus and what He is then He will not stand for us.

The unconditional love that was preached years ago now bring stories like the man I mentioned above who came out of the closet. Satan now brings it back on us since we brought it up first. It’s a path we should have never started down since we didn’t look to where it would lead us. If we fight an enemy and leave an opening he will fire a shot in it. This new “anything goes” doctrine of open doors and open minds is beginning to backfire on the church. While it may sound nice to say that a loving God would never send someone to hell we fail to see that He has made a way so that no one has to go. The Gospel is for everyone! God does have unconditional love for everyone. But He showed that love toward man when He sent His son to die in his place. We are misinterpreting unconditional love to mean that God doesn’t care if we sin because it won’t separate us from Him. If it doesn’t matter then why did Christ die a cruel death on a cross?

I often use marriage as an example of our covenant with God. If I said that my wife would love me no matter what I do I would be correct to some degree. But if I never came home or did an unthinkable crime then the love might be there but the relationship wouldn’t be. If I left her for another woman I doubt that she would feel the same way.

What am I trying to say? Do we suppose that we can live a sinful life and at the Day of Judgment we stand before Him and remind Him that He loves unconditionally? Do you think He will just wink at us and realize that He didn’t have to send His Son to die for us after all and invite us into Heaven? There is no way that will happen.

You see, God does love us unconditionally. He loved us first and showed us by giving up His son. The question is, do we love Jesus? The unconditional love that we need to focus on is ours. We must love God unconditionally or we will never see Heaven. Jesus is the way to Heaven. He is the only way. That is the condition that God requires. God didn’t create Hell for us but for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). It’s our choice if we go there. His love cannot override your will. It’s just like the warnings I received about the high voltage. I could choose to heed the warning and realize that the messenger cared about me or I could be arrogant and decide that they were trying to keep me from having fun and that there was another way to do the job. You are loved today! God said it with His action of sacrificing His Son, Jesus. He doesn’t want you to go to hell.

2nd Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Receive Him Today!

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