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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 5:17’

I was not a little intrigued to read an article by Jonathan Elliott entitled “I’m gay, liberal, open-minded – and a convert to Christianity.”

Within Mr. Elliott’s circle of friends, claiming to be a Christian seriously raises eyebrows: “My conversion has made me the token ‘church guy’ in my friend group. I can’t tell you the number of awkward conversations I’ve had over the last several weeks about Charleston, the Duggars and the scariness of the uber-awful Quiverfull cult. Whenever something even vaguely religious enters the news cycle, my friends inevitably find ways to lean on me as the church expert, from the sudden disappearance of 7th Heaven in the wake of Stephen Collins’s sexual misconduct, to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and whether anyone would want pizza at a gay wedding anyway.”

Okay, so Mr. Elliott is not a conservative. I get it. Many think that we Bible-believing Christians deem that only those with conservative views and vote Republican can be Christians, and perhaps some conservative Christians do think that. A liberal can be a Christian. A person with a socialistic view of government and economics can be a Christian.

But is Mr. Elliott really a Christian? A Christian is one who has turned from his sin and turned to God through faith in Jesus Christ, looking to the work of Christ on the cross as satisfying divine justice due the repenter’s sin. The apostle Paul speaks of Jesus as the One “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, “For our sake he [God the Father] made him [God the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus himself commanded, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

By biblical standards, Mr. Elliott cannot be considered to have converted to Christianity. He may have converted to a church that does not believe the gospel, and his church doesn’t, but he is no true follower of Christ. Mr. Elliott writes, “I’m still the person I was before I became a Christian, and a baptism isn’t a brainwashing. This change in my life didn’t turn me into a raging nutball – at least, I’m no more of one than I ever was.” The Scriptures, though, declare, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

For Mr. Elliott, a diabetes diagnosis led to a good deal of introspection, and his therapy sessions for coping with his disease were “rooted in a belief in a higher power.” He spent two years checking out some twenty congregations of differing denominations and settled on one which displayed “the openness, diversity and the clear sense of tradition I sought. It was also strongly inclusive of the LGBTQ community, and welcomed both women and men as clergy members.” Mr. Elliott found a church that basically reflected his beliefs. Sin and righteousness and repentance and faith in Jesus had nothing to do with it.

And that is sad. I’m sad for Mr. Elliott because he has accepted with satisfaction and a bit of self-congratulation a false gospel instead of the true one. He has deluded himself into believing that he is at peace with God when nothing could be further from the truth. His “conversion” was to reinforce his beliefs with a dose of God mixed in. God is little more that a “higher power” in whom one believes.

And yet Mr. Elliott is not alone. Millions are like him. Conservative folks may respond with, “That’s right! Those progressives never really come to the truth.” Sorry to burst one’s bubble, but many conservatives never really come to the truth, either, at least not about Christ. They confuse conservative values with Christian discipleship. They are for the display of the Ten Commandments and against same-sex marriage. They are dismayed over the removal of God from the public square and yearn for an America long gone, but they have not recognized themselves as condemned sinners who have violated God’s righteousness and stand in dire need of a Savior and redemption. I fear that hundreds of thousands of conservative Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists and others are no closer to the kingdom of God than Jonathan Elliott. They may hold traditional moral values and may even follow them scrupulously, but they have never truly repented of their sin and fled to Christ for forgiveness and his righteousness. There is no real love for the Lord in their hearts.

May God be pleased to grant both them and Mr. Elliott repentance and faith.

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John Lennon’s 1971 mega-hit “Imagine” enjoys international acclaim as people sing the hymn-like call for a perfect world. Believe it and it will be. “Imagine there’s no Heaven / It’s easy if you try / No Hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people / Livin’ for today.”

Many today live according to Lennon’s dream. Western culture has managed to rid itself of the old restraints that have supposedly kept us from experiencing a utopian society. Let us imagine what we want reality to be, and it will be! And “livin’ for today”? Yep—we’ve got that down.

We have a culture that is trying to reconstruct humanity along the lines of imagination. Imagine a world where there are no consequences for promiscuous sex. We’ve made abortion safe (so we’re told), legal, and not-so-rare. And those unborn babies? They wouldn’t want to be where they’re not wanted, right? They don’t have a say in the matter, but we can imagine, can’t we?

Yes—let’s live as though reality will follow our imagination. Same-sex marriage? Why not? We can imagine that homosexual couples will as able to rear psychologically-healthy children as heterosexual couples, right? We can imagine.

And what’s with this business about our sexual identity being determined by our physiology? If Bruce Jenner imagines he is a woman, then who are we to say otherwise. Mom, what if your little boy thinks he’s a girl? And you’ve always wanted a little girl. . . . A bit of makeup and surgery and drugs and . . . voila!

If we all would only imagine, what a wonderful world this would be! “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people / Sharin’ all the world.” The reason for so much suffering, we are told, is that the few have almost everything and the most have almost nothing. What’s the solution? Increase taxes on the wealthy. They must “pay their fair share.” Now everyone will have plenty, right? After all, poor people with more money will now create jobs for others, won’t they? Hey, we can imagine.

The problem with utopian dreamers is that reality simply refuses to follow dreams. God has established certain laws that will not heed the futile dreams of depraved minds. That is really the issue, isn’t it? Who is sovereign?

The Scriptures reveal and history affirms that God made man and woman–two sexes. People may be confused about that, but confusion does not create a new reality. Some people are confused about aspects of math, but that doesn’t change the reality of numbers.

But humans will not have this God reign over them, and that is the bottom line. We would be the director of our movie, the captain of our fate. And nothing has really changed throughout all history.

The serpent tempted Eve with what is the bottom line for all sin: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). “You will be like God”—that’s what people want. Humans want to be in charge, to call the shots, to decide what “is” is, to make their own utopias.

The reality is that when humans call the shots, their innate depravity permeates everything. People are naturally greedy, and everyone’s greed mutually conflicts. When people want to be sovereign, others disagree with their view of sovereignty, and fights and wars ensue. When people choose to change their sexual orientation, their confused mentality conflicts with biological and psychological reality. Attempts at human-envisioned utopias give way to hell on earth.

There is only one answer, and that answer is submission to the divine Creator, the One who knows the way to joy and happiness and fulfillment better than we ever will. Moses clearly laid out the alternatives: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). And the apostle John points us directly to Jesus Christ: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

The reality is that we all need a radical makeover, much more radical that what Bruce Jenner envisions, one that cannot be produced with psychology, surgery, or drugs. We need new hearts; we need Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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