Saturday, July 06, 2013

Redemption -What Does it Really Mean?

Here is a classic example of what I have pointed out in many posts of which I receive comments and e-mails both supportive and strongly otherwise. This couple is firmly entrenched in this fallen culture and are both embraced by and to that same fallen culture. In fact, by implication they consider their way of life a walk of “holiness” just because they are heterosexual.
I watched this clever video where a couple spoke of their gut wrenching confusion when their 12 year old son told them he was gay. They were professing believers and they made many mistakes but eventually their son spiraled downward into hard drugs because he believed God hated him. He overdosed and died. But the parents seemed to now wish they had embraced his same sex attractions.

Oh the blindness of the church which has become so American it cannot understand just how blind we all have become. The issue they share about having a gay son or daughter while being a professing believer is an extremely complex one. Not as to what God’s Word teaches, but as to how we should react and how the gospel itself applies itself to that situation. The western church is filled with all kinds of sin and hedonistic practices. In fact it is a microcosm of the fallen culture which includes self affirmation, self pleasure, self actualization, profound hedonism, and even heterosexual adultery both in practice and in the mind.
Thursday the 4th of July was revered and celebrated as believers by the literal millions show their love and allegiance to what God hates. Most call it patriotism but God calls it idolatry. That is one well spring of all kinds of elicit attractions that may not be sexual but are every bit as diabolical and sinful. And that is the foundation of my ongoing journey to seek Christ in all His ways and fullness without presenting a Christ who is at odds with His own words. And it also identifies my supposition that the gay issue is an ongoing deception that lends affirmation to a heterosexual community of faith which continues to live as if God was a capitalist American but decidedly not gay.
I was moved by this couple’s story. But the obvious unspoken answer to their family dilemma was that their love for their son has somehow become the exegetical prism through which they see and know God. And although I abhor the ranting and chanting evangelical hordes which demand condemnation and even legislation to flex their doctrinal muscles abut same sex attractions, I cannot reconcile a condoning of behavior which embraces and manifests those attractions. I do not have all the answers.
But one thing I do know for a metaphysical certainty. If the Starbucks and the snowboarding and the expensive vacation crowd can claim to be following Jesus, and if that same crowd can be saved by grace through faith alone, then so can a gay believer who is blind to his sin. Seeing an expansive view of Christ’s redemption in that way does not condone sin. God forbid. But it covers sin through His shed blood. And perhaps the greatest sin of all and which results in all kinds of viciousness is the sin of self righteousness.
So when the evangelical pastor stands behind the pulpit and lambasts the degenerate culture as evidenced by the growing gay thing, and when the pew dwellers nod and say amen and even applaud his bold stand for Biblical morality, I believe that climate is fertile ground for an incredible harvest of self righteousness. And I also believe that the evangelical community does not have a clue, nor do they desire one, about what self righteousness is and how it permeates the soul and renders our faith as little more than a string of moral pontifications.
And just to throw out some red meat for the voracious appetites of the evangelical masses, and just to shield myself from those who would throw stones my way labeled compromise, I still believe that acting on same sex attractions is sinful. Almost as sinful as my own self righteousness. It’s that last bit of red meat, my own, which drives me to so often be a doctrinal vegan.
Here is a man, a professing believer, who strives to be a financial success and in so doing spends very little time with his children and his wife. In fact, he begins a relationship with his secretary and his marriage begins to deteriorate. Within months they speak of divorce. It happens. And the next year this man marries his secretary and begins a new life. He is still financially successful and he sees his children infrequently. But this man does not believe God hates him. He is not depressed, and his sin is not continually trumpeted from evangelical pulpits. In fact he and his new wife join a large evangelical church and are welcomed into the fold. No questions asked.
This man experiences no struggles and he is affirmed by his new church family. In fact, when the preacher comes down hard on homosexual marriage and the liberal mindset this man and his wife nod and smile in approval. You think my story is some kind of fairy tale? Not only do I know personally people in this kind of narrative, but I know preachers who fit this mold. Here is man who is a pawn broker. He charges 25% PER MONTH interest for pawned items which are usually desperate and poor people. He believes he provides a service and he is willfully blind to the Biblical teaching on usury. But he a church member in good standing and his third wife sings in the choir. He does not feel condemned by God nor does he sense God hates him. You see, his sin is not an abomination.
Prov.6: 16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Where oh where are the gays in this list? The depth of self righteousness is astonishing. All sin is an abomination before God. But if serves our self righteous purpose to call the sin of same sex relationships an abomination. Please provide me with all the New Testament verses about the sin of homosexual behavior and I will provide you with the verses about greed and heterosexual sin. Sin is sin and the cross is the cross and the gospel is the gospel and Jesus is the Redeemer for whosoever will. And no amount of conservative legislation or evangelical condemnation can ever minimize the fact that Jesus loves sinners and died for us all. But that does not seem to dissuade many people from trying.
And so on and on it goes. That which is casually called “Christianity” continues to be an innocuous segment of a fallen culture. And within a house with no mirrors there is a moral telescope. As long as you are not gay you are walking in holiness. But the larger question is why is there this obsession with the gay issue when the New Testament is literally filled with admonitions about money and greed? Why can the church submit and gladly participate in a sin which is so clear but get hypertension about all things gay?
The answer is simple. It is self righteousness plain and simple. Self righteousness is basically exalting man over God. It is speaking for God things that He never said while changing or even ignoring things He did say. In fact it is a form of unbelief even while still using His name. The church has never had a prayerful conversation about these issues, in fact what the modern church has is a monologue which tickles the ears and soothes the conscience. And reclining in a place of moral hubris, the church looks down on the cultural serfs and passes judgment. It is a great show and creates an atmosphere of self affirmation but it is void of the messy and bloody business of redemption. And you cannot be on the Lord’s “team” without a proper uniform.
I Pet.5… Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The church no longer desires a conversation, a seeking on the subject of the redemption of Christ. We have our statements of faith and do not need any challenges. Even if we establish the exclusivity of Christ the church still has little appetite for a deep and prayerful exploration of God’s eternal Word as it pertains to the gospel and its implication and application to all sorts of sinners. We are “literalists” and we are bound to what we have been told we believe. It is such a comfortable place.
Humility? Tears? Fastings often? All night prayer vigils? Seasons of repentance? Who are we kidding? No one and surely not God. We have become an unwieldy monolith which has lost its heart and goes to bed each night exhausted by the energy it takes to run the race laid out for us by the fallen culture. When was the last time just the thought of eternity stopped us in our tracks and shook our very being as we considered the plight of the lost? It seems everything has been distilled down into cute little doctrines which are presented as orthodox and conservative credentials rather than life changing truths which impact us every single day.
Moral politics is such an easy game. It soothes the conscience and affirms the flesh. It disembowels the gospel and makes earthly issues the cause of Christ. And this kind of earthly alliances with the heathen has made the church a collection of people who meet periodically in buildings paid for with bank loans and with many care takers. But as far as power that can be compared with the Book of Acts let us not lie. We are religious zombies who find much pleasure in this world while doing our religious duty once or twice a week. Is it that bad, you ask? Have you ever heard of the word apostasy?
But if you dislike that word you can just believe this post is about homosexuality.
That should help.
(Part two of this post will be a genuine conversation and exploration of Christ and His redemption.)


Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, I think I'm starting to see the point you're making. It seems the gay issue is like the 'stellar sin' that we hold up and say 'I don't do that so I'm fine'. It's like the scapegoat of all sin - thrown out there to distract others from noticing our greed, envy, pride, hate etc.

Rick Frueh said...

Exactly. Thank you.

Cherie c. said...

During the holidays of 1997, my in-laws were told the news of my brother-in-law being gay by a friend of theirs. It was a family uproar. I just stood by in shock. They didn't know already? I knew years before but never said anything.

Well, when my in-laws went overseas to see their daughter they left my brother-in-law to care for the pets. He had plans to go to see his friend. He came by my home to ask my husband to take care of the pets for the weekend. My husband refused to come out of the den. I was very upset about this. It was very hard to see this happen to someone in a so called close family, be rejected. One is only in the fold if you, now this is an exact quote, it's been said to me many times because I do not do as they tell me to do; you must "conform" to what the family says you are, who your kids are, etc. My brother-in-law didn't know I knew and seemed somewhat relieved and surprised about it. I said to him, given how your family feels about me, I'm not much of an ally. I told him I knew before I married his brother. He was surprised at that. I was surprised he was surprised, LOL. So needless to say I took care of the pets that weekend. But one thing I need to note. Fast forward to 2011, and now my husband has "come to terms" with his brother's life style, and now tells me that because of my faith, I would want my bother-in-law tried and sentenced to death. Um, no. I asked him why would I want that? He said because his sin is greater than other sins. I, yes Pastor Rick, with respect, told him no sin was any worse or better than any other. As Jesus told a Pharisee, "break one commandment, and you break them all". (not quoted exactly).

I feel the way about my brother-in-law the way I feel about my former best friend. She has lived, in sin, with her boyfriend for about 25 years now. Fornication I believe they call it. That is why she is no longer my friend. She must not like my faith, because her sin is as bad as my brother-in-law's and when I asked her when she would consider making a change, she just walked out of my life. No difference. My father-in-law was a self-righteous catholic. He used to brag about "telling Jewish people what they did to Christ". Telling others that they needed to be like him and go to the catholic church. He told me once that he didn't read the Bible because it was only for a priest to read and interpret to church goers. He said he got all his information about God from the Encyclopedia. Yes, he did. I turned to my older son Jeff who was three at the time, and said, time to go home.

He used to call me Pro Test Tant. Yup! He used to say I was protesting against the catholic church. I used to laugh. Then I felt sorry for him. Needless to say, my father-in-law died in his sins and he was not homosexual.

My brother-in-law is now on a trek to death via alcoholism. So which of his sins is greater, being gay, or suicide?

Pastor Rick, this post woke me up to my complacency of the situation. Since I don't condemn my brother-in-law, I don't pray for him either. How wrong is that? I just realized now, this very minute as I write this comment that he needs my prayers as well as my compassion. God forgive me for not praying for him. God forgive me for not telling him about the Lord either. Shame on me.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

The Endearing Bruise

No sinner will ever come to Christ without first feeling the pain of sin, nor will any saint be sanctified without continual bruising. Therefore, Christians should bear up under suffering with gratitude for the gracious work God is doing, and not hastily judge ourselves or others when suffering comes.

This bruising is required before conversion, that so the Spirit may make way for itself into the heart by leveling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature. We love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers at home, till God bruiseth us by one cross or other, and then we bethink ourselves, and come home to ourselves with the prodigal (Luke xv. 17.)

A marvelous hard thing it is to bring a dull and a shifting heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like malefactors, until they be beaten from all shifts, never cry for the mercy of the Judge. Again, this bruising maketh us set a high price upon Christ. The gospel is the gospel indeed then; then the fig-leaves of morality will do us no good. And it maketh us more thankful, and from thankfulness more fruitful in our lives; for what maketh many so cold and barren, but that bruising for sin never endeared God’s grace unto them? Likewise, this dealing of God doth establish us the more in his ways, having had knocks and bruisings in our own ways. This is the cause oft of relapses and apostasies, because men never smarted for sin at the first; they were not long enough under the lash of the law. Hence this inferior work of the Spirit in bringing down high thoughts, 2 Cor. x. 5, is necessary before conversion. And, for the most part, the Holy Spirit, to further the work of conviction, joineth, some affliction, which, sanctified, hath a healing and purging power.

Nay, after conversion we need bruising, that reeds may know; themselves to be reeds, and not oaks; even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. And that weaker Christians may not be too much discouraged when they see stronger shaken and bruised. Thus Peter was bruised where he wept bitterly, Matt. xxvi. 75. This reed, till he met with this bruise, had more wind in him than pith. ‘Though all forsake thee, I will not,’ &c., Matt. xxvi. 35. The people of God cannot be without these examples; The heroical deeds of those great worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do. Thus David was bruised, Ps. xxxii. 3–5, until he came to a free confession, without guile of spirit; nay, his sorrows did rise in his own feeling unto the exquisite pain of breaking of bones, Ps. li. 8. Thus Hezekiah complains that God had ‘broken his bones’ as a lion, Isa. xxxviii. 13. Thus the chosen vessel St Paul needed the messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he should be lifted up above measure, 2 Cor. xii. 7.

Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God doth exercise us with bruising upon bruising; there must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who ‘was bruised for us,’ Isa. liii. 5, that we may know how much we are bound unto him. Profane spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken-hearted Christians for desperate persons, whenas God is about a gracious good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and untractable are our hearts.

—Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, Works (Banner of Truth, 2001),

Anonymous said...

Any sin that is preventing someone from having a living relationship with Lord Jesus Christ needs to be highlighted in our teaching and preaching. We mustn't go "soft" on speaking up about sinful behavior.

It's important nonetheless to remember that fallen man has a history as a stone thrower and today many claiming falsely to be Christian are throwing stones at homosexuals and lesbians.

Just as Jesus came to the rescue of the woman caught in the act of adultery, we ought to offer compassionate love to those whom society are treating unjustly and with disdain. Let's however not forget that Jesus' final words to her were...sin no more.

Let's encourage homosexuals and lesbians to learn about Jesus of Nazareth, for the Savior can set them free from being enslaved to their ungodly way of thinking and living.

Let all sinners come to Christ Jesus and learn from Him to prize purity, for blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Josef Sefton

Anonymous said...

I believe if christians can't see how unbiblical it is to put various sins in first, second, third order, in order of small, moderate, strong sin, they'll never be able to teach, preach with the Spirit's guidance. How can the Holy Spirit live in a vessel that becomes a sin chart?

Because homosexuality does cause a heterosexual to feel disgust at the thought of something unnatural occuring, it also causes disgust to God when we treat them like dogs. There are a lot of carnal things christians do every day that, in heaven, heavenly angels find human beings disgusting. The Lord can't live with sin. There is sin everywhere in this world and the only reason we can have fellowship with Him is ONLY because of the sacrifice and death and burlal and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, God the Father would NOT be able to even glimpse at any of us.


How can the Holy Spirit work in the church, when the church has taken a variety of sins and turned them into some idealistic/romantic/evil/empire/crusading unforgiveable sin?

It'slike they wish to become this sect of holy pure warriors against the actual homosexuals.

We've heard about how God loves the divorcee, but not divorce. Why can't the same God love the homosexual, yet not the homosexual lifestyle.

There is a "spirit" that has overtaken the minds of some christians today. It makes the christian feel self-important, better than others, flaunting their lack of homosexual sin, celebrating their heterosexuality, in fact not only celebrating but raising their daughters and sons to look like the world. If a christian who hates homosexuals encourages his daughters to go out and model and beachcomb and dress provocatively, that is sin to God.

Cherie c. said...

Only on the part of the daughter.

Cal said...

We're all beggars, the difference is that some of us know where to find Bread and are instructed to tell others.

Lamar said...

To enter another view on the subject matter which I trust is Biblical to the core and not just motivated by emotion or carnal desires, I give this message.
No homosexuality is NOT being singled out by the Church as the worse sin of the ages. Yes, it is being singled out by those involved in the sin as acceptable behavior and those who oppose it or say it is sin should stop and accept it and be more kind toward themin their practices. Now, as an example, can you see the wineo, the drunkard, the prostitute, the pedophile, the incesteous person, the multiple wive promoters, saying the same things? I mean if we all just whip out our words of self-pity and want everyone to think we are just fine as we live in and wallow around in our sins we identify ourselves really as outside of the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. I can't find one place a person stays "blind" to their sins if they are a Christian in the word of God. they get found out and disciplined or rebuked for engaging in it. Or at lest, we are commanded to address a sin of a fellow believer if we see one fall into its traps, regardless of the type or action it may be; including homosexuality! Today, we have a very BIG push by people to make this particular SIN as acceptable behavior and one we all can live with - just be kind and shut up about it and perhaps help a little but it is o.k. stuff. Not so, no more than we would do the same for a rapist or a bank robber! Deliverance is the objective. So, when a person denies they have a sinful action going on it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt they have not understood the Gospel nor the teachings of Christ or his work. We are ALL SIN, not just acting out sin in certain ways, we ARE SIN. IT is at the root of our very natture. And to deny homosexuality is a sin and living in sin if being engaged in it, is absolutely going against revealled revelation of the word of God on the issue. Sure we care for any sinner, sure we witness to all sinners, sure we are to discipline sinners in the Church, sure we are to love the sinner so much we will seek to see him or her saved by grace to live in holiness before the Lord walking in the Spirit and if a slip comes up to help one to over come. But to deny, to act like it is all o.k., and is not a disciplinary action in the body of Christ is folly and absolutely against the word of Jesus and the Holy Spirit instructions through the Apostles!