Relationship and Truth

Relationships must be based on Truth. Amos 3:3 says “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” How can we be agreed if we do not have the same beliefs? How can we say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God if our theology is different? We say, “Well they believe in Jesus as we do.” But it is not the same Jesus. Their prophet Isa (Jesus) did not die on a cross. The do not believe that anyone could die for someone else’s sins. They do not believe that he rose from the dead (Since He didn’t die).
Paul himself warned in Gal. 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” A different gospel is different theology. A different gospel leads to damnation. How will we know if it is a different gospel apart from accurate theology?
Everyone has a relationship to God. Even Satan. He has a personal relationship to God. He has a mysterious relationship to God. It is personal, but it is in total rebellion to God.
Mormons also believe that they have a relationship with Jesus. The former leader of their church said that anyone who believes in Jesus is a Christian. Well that would include Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses to name a few. Again Satan would qualify because he also believes in Jesus.
So at what point does theology matter? At what point is truth compromised to make the gospel more palatable to Jews and Moslems in God’s “wider mercies”?
Bad theology is where Islam and Mormonism came from. Muhammad believed that he had a personal relationship with Gabriel who led him to write the Koran. Muhammad’s exposure to “Christianity” was with heretics who did not have proper theology. So today we have Islam threatening us.
Joseph Smith had a personal “mysterious” relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son in a personal mystical experience, but he had no theological way to determine if this “mysterious relationship” was true or not. Are Mormons saved? Are Moslems saved?
Again the Scripture says: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17. It comes by hearing, not by feeling. We are not saved by a subjective emotional feeling about God. Jesus said in John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Only accurate study of God’s word can give us the basis for a right relationship with him.
Where did we get this notion of, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”? It sounds like saying, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Coach and Trainer?” Yet that is how many portray it today. Jesus just wants to improve your life. Jesus just “wants to make your life easier” (Osteen, Your Best Life Now p.38). Where did Jesus ever say, “Come have a personal relationship with me”?
He said in John 14:15, “If you love me Keep my commandments.” How will we know what those commandments are apart from the study of doctrine, which is theology? But as Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:3  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” That is the age in which we live, one that doesn’t want objective doctrine and theology, one that just wants subjective emotions. Many people will feel good all the way to hell believing that they have a relationship with God, when in truth, they don’t.
Jesus condemned the Pharisees regarding honoring His command to honor parents. He said, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Matthew 15:6. Our desire to make Christianity a warm fuzzy cannot take the place of theology. Our own personal desires can not take the place of God’s word.
We in America suffer from a narcissistic approach to God with our idea that “it’s all about me!” and MY personal relationship to Christ. Where did we get that idea? From bad theology.


Darwin Day

Charles Darwin was no scientist. He was a disgruntled minister who was mad at God. He tried to devlop a theory to explain how man got here apart from God; not becaiue of eveidence, but in spite of the lack of it. His “discoveries” have made sceince what it is today even though none of his proof has ever been found.
Charles Lyell was no geologist, but all geology today is based on his unproven threory of uniformitarianism. Despite the fact that all evidence points to the contrary, these men have risen above challenge and above question. That reminds me ofthe story of The Emporers New Clothes. Anyone who disagrees with either of them is considered unfit for his job.

The Real Reason For Evolution

Huxley, Aldous, “Confession of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspective on the News, vol. 3 (June 1966), p. 19. From an article by Helming, “An Interview with God.” “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption…. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do…. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from an certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom..(emphasis mine)” Morris, Henry. That Their Words May Be Used Against Them. San Diego: Institute for Creation Research, 1997. 447.

p 10 “My guess is that the popular theory of evolution appeals precisely as an alternative to the Christian view of man, which not only demands faith but imposes moral obligations. People who adopt Evolutionism are not driven to it by consideration of the evidence; they like it without respect to the evidence, because they are passionate creatures, and it offers no moral impediment to their passions.” (emphasis mine)
Sobran, Joseph, “The Averted Gaze, Liberalism and Fetal Pain,” Human Life Review (Spring, 1984), pp. 1-14.
And the quote I was most looking for is: Watson, D. M. S., “Adaptation,” Nature, vol. 124 (August 10, 1929), pp. 231-234. p. 233 “If so, it will present a parallel to the theory of evolution itself, a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” (emphasis mine).

Does God Really Hate Gays?

Does God really hate gays? I have heard this so often recently. On April 3, 2005 an Albuquerque, NM television station ran a news story about the Westboro Baptist Church (not SBC) from Kansas coming to NM to protest gays on a local college campus.

Being a Baptist preacher myself, I watched with great interest. I wondered what slant the station would take and what approach the church would take. I noticed a Bible verse on one of the placards taken from film footage of the church protesting somewhere else.

They posted the reference to Romans 9:13 “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Not only does this have nothing to do with homosexuality, it is a poor “hermeneutical principle” that is, a poor method to interpret scripture. That verse has to do with God’s sovereignty in divine election (another topic perhaps), not homosexuality.

While the Bible does say that homosexuality is an abomination (“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Leviticus 20:13 KJV), it does not say that he hates them. He does hate what they do because it is a perversion of His plan.

God also hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 reads: “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel.” (NIV) Using the same logic that the gay-haters use,  we could say that we should protest divorced people and carry cards that say “God Hates Divorcees!” We could shut down judges who sign divorce papers. We could picket Singles Bars and shut down all web dating sites that allow ads for divorced people to meet others.God hates divorce, but He does not hate divorced people.

What else does God hate? Proverbs 6:16-19 lists: “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Basically He hates all the things that make for a good soap opera). We can see that God hates these things as much as He hates homosexuality. So why not protest lying, cheating and arrogance? Why not protest against dissension? Why not protest soap operas?


In fact God hates all sin. He hates it so much that He was willing to allow His own Son to take our punishment upon Himself. First Peter 2:24 states: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

A person can be healed from any sin by recognizing it as such, turning way from it and recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. All of us have sinned. All of us deserve the same penalty, not just any one particular group.

Christians ought not see the gays as enemies but as people to be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.

God Made Me This Way!

Several years ago as I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, which is almost enough time to write a short novel, I glanced at some of the fine “literature” on the rack. I noticed a large photograph of the remains of two humans. They were lying in the same grave in a position that made them seem to be hugging each other. The headline boldly declared, “Our First Two Ancestors Were Gay!” I turned to the woman behind the cash register and said, “If that is true, where did we come from.” She laughed.


Ever since the debate over homosexuality “came out of the closet” as I remember back in the seventies, I have heard these two forms of rationale: 1) It is a product of genetic evolution (“I was born this way.”) or 2) God made me this way.


First consider the evolutionary perspective. We can now explain all human behavior from a genetic point of view. We can blame alcoholism, drug addiction and even credit card abuse on a gene that has evolved over millions of years to protect the species from extinction. In 1983 when I was a science teacher, I picked up a copy of “Science Digest” I believe it was. Two articles in it got my attention. One was about the “evolution” of whales and the other about the gene for adultery. The article proposed to answer the question why so many men were adulterous. The argument went something like this: Take two sets of primate ancestors. One of the males is monogamous and faithful to his mate for life. The other is “adulterous” and did not mate for life. Instead he passed on his adulterous genes to as many females as possible. There were more adulterous offspring than monogamous offspring. So logically our species inherited more adulterous genes than monogamous genes. See how easy that is? That’s called “circular reasoning.” It never proved the existence or the function of such a gene.


Now apply this evolutionary rationale to homosexuality: Homosexuality is a sex-linked characteristic. A young man or woman grows up and discovers that he or she has that gene; they are attracted to the same sex, so they “mate” with that person. How do they pass on their genes? They cannot, therefore, they will die and that “genetic” mutation will be weeded out by natural selection. There is no way that homosexuality can be passed on genetically. If evolution were true, there would be no homosexuals alive today. That homosexual mutation would not be beneficial. That mutation does not make the species more fit, but rather less fit, for survival.


In fact if homosexuals were allowed to marry, but not adopt children, homosexuality would die out. The only way they can pass it on to the next generation is to inculcate that in their thinking to accept homosexuality as a normal mutation in the evolutionary process. As for marriage, I do not understand what their reasoning for marriage is. If they want to live together and have sex, what do they need a piece of paper for? Heterosexual couples live together and have sex all the time without the benefit of a contract.


The second argument: “God Made Homosexuals.” The obvious basis for this is a belief in a god. Next, homosexuals exist; therefore a god must have made them. But this is not the God of the Bible (Wait a minute. Don’t get defensive on me here, just follow the line of reasoning.). I am not arguing for or against whether the God of the Bible exists, just what does the God of the Bible say about homosexuality?


In the Old Testament, (Ian McKellan notwithstanding), Leviticus 18:22 says: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (KJV).I think that is a pretty clear indication of what the God of the Bible thinks about homosexuality.


The New Testament also is clear. First Corinthians 6: 9-10 says: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (KJV). Now I know that includes a lot more than homosexuals, but still it is clear how the God of the Bible feels about homosexuality.


Over ten years ago I sat in my office with a young man about fifteen years of age. He was a self-proclaimed homosexual. In other words, it was not other people just making fun of him and calling him names. He admitted that it was true. He was the first one that I heard in person give me the “God made me this way” excuse. Showing him the passage from Leviticus, I asked, “Do you know what an abomination is?” He said, “It means something that makes God sick to his stomach.” “So why would God make you homosexual if homosexuality makes God sick to his stomach?” He sat there stunned.


To say that God made homosexuals the way they are would be to say that God made fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunks, kidnappers and murderers that way as well. All of these behaviors offend God.


I am not asking you to accept what the Bible says about these things because you probably won’t. My goal here is not even to get people to accept the God of the Bible. My goal here is to get people stop saying the God of the Bible made them homosexual. It is simply not true. Perhaps they may believe another god made them that way, but not the God of the Bible. That other god is a false god, an idol.


In the beginning God made “mankind” male and female. He made the woman to correspond to the man. The Hebrew word is “neged,” which means “a counterpart, or mate, to stand boldly out opposite.” That is the archaic meaning of “meet” in the King James Version of Genesis 2:18 “Fitting, proper” (American heritage Dictionary). What this means is that their genitalia corresponded. The male genitalia fits female genitalia. It is the proper way.


Consider an electrical circuit. One part is the “female” part and the other is the “male” part as every electrician will tell you. That is why you don’t have prongs sticking out of the wall. If you tried to plug in the male plug on an extension cord to a “male” socket, you would get no electric flow. The two would not fit. The same if you try to plug the female end of the cord in to the “female socket.” The plug is “meet” for the socket. They correspond electrically as male and female humans do to each other.


One cannot biblically say, “God made me this way.” Notice what Apostle Paul goes on to say after speaking about abominations. First Corinthians 6:11 says: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Notice that the Spirit of God can transform such people. The Corinthians were some of those kinds of people mentioned, but they were changed. They ceased to be such people. God wants all to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Anyone who wants to change can.

Show Genuine Appreciation

Galatians 6: 6 “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”

Ministers often quote this verse during budget preparation time of year. We understand the admonition to mean that the good things are that church members tithe and support the budget so the preacher gets paid. While it is true that the worker is worthy of his wages, this verse specifically never mentions money. It says all good things. It speaks of an even greater price, the price of appreciation.

Every October churches are encouraged to recognize and celebrate Minster Appreciation Month. Churches often take up special offering for the ministers; maybe give him new books or a new suit or two. The church as a hole can participate in such acts of appreciation, but what can you do as an individual? What can you do year round instead of just in October?

Besides your current pastor, think of all those who have made a spiritual impact on your life. It may have been a pastor. It may have been a Sunday School or Discipleship teacher. It may have been a Youth Minister or Music Minister. It may have been a deacon or a fellow believer in Christ. How long has it been since you expressed genuine appreciation to that person. I don’t mean buying a new suit. I mean heartfelt words of encouragement and appreciation whether written or spoken.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “Every minister, lecturer and public speaker knows the discouragement of pouring himself or herself out to an audience and not receiving a single ripple of appreciative comment. What applies to professionals applies doubly to workers in offices shops and factories and our families and friends. In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.” (How to Win Friends and Influence People, p. 31)

Salary is a poor substitute for genuine appreciation. Carnegie continues, “Remember we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it.” (Ibid. p. 249). If you want your pastor or minister (even spouse) to bend over backwards and do a tremendous job, remember to demonstrate genuine appreciation.

As we enter this New Year, take some time now to express genuine, heartfelt appreciation. October is usually the month we observe Minister Appreciation Month. Why not make it something we do year round? Treat a spiritual leader to lunch and tell him or her what an impact he or she has made in your life. Remember, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” Proverbs 25:11. Repeat as necessary.


A few years ago I served as volunteer chaplain at our local hospital. During my week to serve, I sat beside the bed of an older woman in intensive care. I talked to her adult daughter about her mother’s condition. Then the topic turned to a spiritual nature. Asked if she were sure where she would spend eternity, the daughter reassured me that they were members of the only church mentioned by name in the Bible, the Church of Christ, and therefore heaven was sure.

I winked as I asked facetiously, “What about John the BAPTIST?” Without blinking she responded, “That was BEFORE Jesus established the church!” She went on to assure me that the only church mentioned in the Bible was the Church of Christ. The ICU of the hospital is no place to argue about theology, so I let it drop.

So what makes the Church of Christ the only ones who are going to heaven? They claim to be unique, closely following the Scriptures. Have you ever noticed how the names of the Churches of Christ always reflect a location? It is just me or have you ever noticed a “Calvary Church of Christ” or a “Grace Church of Christ”? (No comment about grace in the Church of Christ here.)

Asking around, I discovered that it goes back to the Bible again. There was no “Calvary Church” of any kind in the New Testament. (Come to think of it, there were no church buildings of any kind in the New Testament.) When referred to, it is always the church at some location, I was told, so all churches must take their name from some location.

So here is what I learned about the Church of Christ. It is the only church referred to in the New Testament. They are always referred to by location such as the Brownfield Church of Christ, or the Anna Street Church of Christ in Amarillo. Where I live in Lovington, New Mexico, it is the Third and Central Church of Christ, because that is where it is located. In Hobbs, New Mexico, it is Jefferson Street Church of Christ or Taylor Street Church of Christ based on their location. It does make it easier to find those with a street in their name.

Here is what the Bible actually teaches though. First the term “church of God” is used eight times. In fact, “churches of Christ” is used only once in the New Testament in Romans 16:16. So the term “Church of God” is more biblical than “Church of Christ.” Then there are the churches of people such as the churches of the Gentiles, Romans 16:4; the churches of the saints, 1 Cor. 14:33; the church of the Laodiceans, Col. 4:16; the church of the Thessalonians, 1 Thes. 1:1.

Other names for the church are: church of the living God, 1 Tim. 3:15; church of the firstborn, Hebrews 12:23. In addition, Christians were once called “Followers of the Way,” Acts 24:14. If you notice, some of these names are the names of modern day denominations and cults (The Way International, founded by Victor Paul Wierwille, for example. See for resources).

So what’s in a name? It seems that each group has some distinctive to separate them from other groups. We all want to be “the only ones” who have the truth. Yes, Christians are exclusivistic. A boss of mine years ago asked me to read a creed he had written. He called it “A Godian’s Creed.” He said we would no longer be called “Christ”-ians, but “God”-ians because we all believe in God. He believed that it would reduce religious friction in the world.

He made a big mistake. He asked what I thought of it. (Never ask a preacher what he thinks if you don’t want to hear it! By the way, I was only a seminary student then.) I explained to him that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. He then called me a “narrow-minded bigot.” I said, “Wait a minute. It was Jesus who said, ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through Me,’ not me. If anyone is a ‘narrow-minded bigot,’ it is Jesus.”

So which church or religion saves? Actually none of them. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Notice that eternal life comes through a relationship to a Person, Jesus Christ, not through a relationship to an organization, a church or religion. If you are clinging to church membership to get you in the door, you will be left out in the cold (in the heat actually!) No church by any name will ever be able to save: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Are Christians “the only ones” going to heaven? There is only one way and it is an exclusive way. If this is not true, then Jesus is a liar.