Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Four

Part Four: A Biblical Worldview/Epistemology of Marriage

There is no institution on earth that reflects the quintessence of God’s relationship with mankind more than marriage. The creation of man and woman is the full expression of the image of God. Genesis 1:27-28 reads,

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”

It is in the creation of male and female that we find the image of God complete. I have always found God’s first words to a human to be very interesting. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”

Immediately, God begins His relationship with mankind in terms of sexuality. How else could Adam and Eve “be fruitful?” Of course, sex is enjoyable — it is a gift from God! We, humans, have corrupted its purpose — being fruitful — placing the emphasis on the pleasure. Now, pleasure is all we seek!

Genesis 2:21-25 gives us more insight into God’s created order with the institution of marriage.

“So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

The term, “one flesh”, is significant. Only a man and a woman are able to come together as “one flesh”.  Marriage, then, is the context God created for fruitfulness and sexual fulfillment. There is so much more to say, but let’s move on.

Marriage, one man and one woman, is the manifestation of the Church’s relationship with Christ.

Ephesians 5:22-33 and 6:1-4 is a classic Scripture on how the home — marriage and family — is intertwined in our relationship with God, as the church. I have often wondered, is the Apostle Paul using marriage and the family to illustrate our relationship with God, or is he using our relationship with God to illustrate marriage and the family?

When we examine these verses closely, we can easily see that each Christian home is a living lab in which God’s redemptive plan is lived out in the world.

  • The Husband/Father is the Christ model of sacrifice. Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:4
  • The Wife/Mother is the model of our submission to Christ. Ephesians 5:22-24
  • Children are the model of our obedience to Christ. Ephesians 6:1-3

To cap off this whole discussion on a biblical view or epistemology of marriage, let’s take a look at the end of the Bible and the end of all time. God’s created image of marriage climbs to the most amazing height as our Lord, Jesus Christ, refers to himself as the bridegroom and his Church as his bride.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)

From the inception of time throughout the scripture to the end of the earth, male and female — created in the image of God, expressed through the institution of marriage and the family — is the epitome of mankind’s relationship with God. Marriage is holy. Marriage is honorable. Marriage is the foundation of society on earth. It defines us here and now, and defines our future role as Christ’s bride.

Any attempt on our part as mere humans to re-define this most sacred institution, can only result in dire consequences.

We’ll address this in my next post.

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Three

Part Three: What is Epistemology and Why Should I Care?

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. His blog post on epistemology is excellent. For the purpose of this post, I borrowed greatly from Dr. Lisle. I highly recommend that you subscribe to his blog at www.jasonlisle.com.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology helps us answer the question: how we know what we know.  When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?” The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her original source or epistemology.

Everyone has an epistemology because everyone have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs. However, not all reasons are good reasons. If the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.

Epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to what is real — to truth.

I believe it is safe to assume that most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology.  According to Dr. Lisle, when we think about what we believe we know, we need to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. How do I ultimately know anything?
  2. What are the standards by which truth is determined?
  3. Are these standards biblical?

Before we continue with this discussion, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why should I be concerned with epistemology?  It is enough that I do know things?”

Our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong.  In other words, if our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know!

Biblical Epistemology/Worldview

Only a Biblical worldview makes it possible for us to answer our questions and have genuine knowledge.  This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

A Biblical worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge. As I stated in the last post, human beings are made in the image of God.

Now, as Christians, let’s consider these additional facts.

God’s mind is perfect by His nature.  At salvation, God gave us — Christians — the ability to pattern our thoughts after His.  For our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful.

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 — please take the time to read these verses yourself — we read that God has given Christians two amazing gifts to enable us to discern the spiritual truth in all situations.

First, God has given us His secret wisdom. Vs. 9-10

However, as it is written: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Secondly, we have the mind of Christ. Vs. 16

“‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Friends, as with any issue or situation, the “gay” issues we face today can only be righty discerned by Christians accessing the secret wisdom of God through our right mind — the mind of Christ. This is accomplished by way of the only reliable record we have, the Bible.

The Failure of Secular Epistemologies

Dr. Lisle writes in his blog, “Non-Biblical worldviews makes knowledge impossible.”

That doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t know anything.  Clearly they can.  But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. When you ask a non-Christian why they know what they know, it ultimately leads back to themselves as the basis of their knowledge.

Rationality

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a rational person and an irrational one? A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs.  An irrational person does not.

A Biblicalworldview allows us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs. Apart from the Bible, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.

Folks, it would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold.  One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.

Epistemology is important because we live in a post-Christian America. More than ever, it is essential that, as Christians, we ask ourselves these three question about what we, think we know. Then, we ask others.

  1. “How do we know what we know?”
  2. “What are the standards by which truth is determined?”
  3. “Are these standards biblical?”

In my next post, I am going to present a biblical epistemology/worldview of marriage.

Again, I want to express my thanks to Dr. Jason Lisle for his work on epistemology.

I sincerely hope this series is a blessing to you. I would love to know what you believe the Bible says. Got any stories or reports? Please share.

~Pastor Gary

Homosexual Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Two

This blog series is a Christian response to “gay” marriage and the same-sex issues we are facing. I hope this isn’t only a one-way conversation. In a real sense, this issue needs to be a discussion, not a proclamation from me, or anyone else. On some level, all of us are dealing with this issue — nationally, locally or personally.  You may be dealing with this issue at home within your family. You, yourself, may be struggling with same-sex tendencies.

Also, I realize that many people passionately oppose a biblical worldview. Several of those opposed have made their way into our Reach America web orbit. For those of you who choose to disagree, I ask that you listen. You are welcome to respond in the blog section of our website.

Let’s talk ground rules: This discussion needs to take place in the context of the essence of God’s nature and his message to us all, as described in the Bible, God’s Word, not our personal experience or current perceived reality.

The essence of God’s nature and message

First — God is love and God loves all people — regardless of their personal issues. The most quoted verse in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Love so much exemplifies the awesome nature of God that the Apostle John wraps up the essence of God in three short words, “God is love”. (1 John 4:8b)

This amazing three-word declaration is written in the context of John’s admonition to those who claim to know God — “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

Secondly — every person is a creation of God, made in his image. In Genesis 1:26-27, Moses writes, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Thirdly — God’s will is that none perish, but all people come to salvation in Christ. The Apostle Peter is clear in 2 Peter 3:9 when he says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [Italics mine]

Let me make three more biblical points as we lay out the ground rules of our discussion.

Ground rule #1: This discussion will take place within the context of the Word of God. We will agree with the Apostle Paul and his position concerning God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Also, we will agree with the writer of Hebrews, placing our lives under the authority of God’s Word for life guidance. Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Ground Rule #2: Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth. As we stated earlier, the Apostle John acknowledged that the essence of God’s nature is love. (1 John 4:8) If we are to be consistent in our biblical discussion, we must also believe the Apostle John’s description of the essence of the nature of Jesus Christ. John, who actually walked with Jesus for three years and was known as the “beloved” disciple, quotes Jesus. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, Italics mine)

If we agree with John when he states that God is love, we must also agree with John that Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth.

Ground Rule #3: We all must treat one another with the love of Christ, respecting one another. When we speak, we must do so full of grace and seasoned with salt, as Paul directs in Colossians 4:6. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I am looking forward to sharing with you as we begin this discussion.

FYI: unless you have been previously approved, your comment will be screened before it is posted.

God Bless!

Pastor Gary

Homosexual Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part One

In all probability, you have never seen a title to a series quite like that. However, I believe it is time to make the effort to deliver a biblical/Christian response and action plan to an issue that just doesn’t seem to be going away – “gay marriage”.

I have a prediction that may be a little depressing to those of us who embrace a biblical worldview and who genuinely care for all people, including those who claim to be “gay.” In America, “gay marriage”, one day, will be the law of the land.

Folks, it is time that we face reality — we live in a Post-Christian America. The signature issue that defines this reality is the over-whelming acceptance of both the “gay” lifestyle and “gay marriage”.

Let me explain why I place “gay” in quotations. It is because there is no evidence — biblically or scientifically — that “gay” is a physical condition which can be described as normal. There is no evidence that leads us to conclude that people can be born “gay”. There is no logical foundation on which to build an argument concluding that homosexual love is equal to natural love between a man and a woman.

With that said, I fully recognize that — to those who are genuinely struggling with “gay” tendencies — same-sex attraction is real. For these folks, “gay” is not something they woke up one day and proclaimed, “I think I will be gay today.”

For the individual who earnestly believes he or she is “gay”, this is a serious spiritual and psychological condition that is beyond simply making a choice.

For me, this issue is somewhat personal. Although I have never struggled with same-sex attraction, I do understand its spiritual roots. Let’s just say that I know what it is like to grow up sexually confused. As a child of nine, I was sexually abused by a neighbor next door for a period of six months. (FYI: I am currently writing a book on my abuse and my healing.)

In a recent Facebook conversation, I posted this paragraph about my real concern over the “gay” issues.

Thank God I had a stable Christian home, along with a church and an American culture that, at that time, reflected a biblical world view on “gay” issues. I am fearful that today — when the world is confusing enough for youth — we have made it more complicated for them. Government, on every level, is validating this dysfunctional and frankly perverse lifestyle. Now more pastors and churches are falling in line. I fear for our youth. Where will they hear the truth if not from their parents and pastors – those who have been given charge over them? If pastors are silent or, God forbid, if they endorse or permit this, where will the children go for truth and for healing? God help us and God help the children.

As we begin this series, I felt we needed to separate the issues from the people who need ministry and healing.

I want to leave you with a thought.

Could the issues surrounding same-sex attraction actually be an opportunity for Christians and the church to show incredible love?

If You Want To Change the World . . .

Doing my Government and Politics class yesterday, I ran across the following:

If you want to change the world around you, state and local governments are the place to start.

I don’t agree. I think my Government class is skipping a whole lot of more important places. I believe they are skipping to the branches of the trees and ignoring the roots.

I believe that the world around us begins and ends with people. I’m not talking groups of people but individuals. If you want to change the world around you, individual people are the place to start! And individuals start with oneself. So, if you want to change the world around you, start on yourself.

What do you think? Do we start at individuals? Or, do we start at government? I’d love to hear what you have to say, below.

Click HERE to learn about a conference all about changing ourselves to help reach America for Christ!

The Wrong View of God

Samwise Gamgee is just about the best Hobbit that ever did live. He has always been our family’s favorite person on the Lord of the Ring series (I speak only from the Peter Jackson movies). Frodo, on the other hand, is not our favorite Hobbit.

All Frodo ever did to Sam is under-appreciate him and betray him. Then,to make our dislike for Frodo deeper, when everyone is sad about Frodo’s “death”, nobody even thinks about Sam. Poor Sam who endured so much but never got anything back.

One of the saddest parts in the Lord of the Ring series is when Frodo splits up with Sam, after thinking Sam has lied to him, eaten up the rest of their food and wishes to take the Ring from him. But, the whole time, we know Sam is innocent.

Soon after this, Frodo is led, by Gollum, into Shelob’s lair. Shortly after, Frodo is left by Gollum and chased by Shelob, a gigantic spider. He escapes (whether that is good or bad, I still haven’t decided) and one of the first things he says is, “oh Sam!”

Just like a person, eh? When they get in trouble the first thing they do is regret what they shouldn’t have done! When people in the real world (sorry, Middle Earth is not real) get in trouble they usually say, “oh God, help me!”

But, what happens when they get out of the trouble? They do what Frodo did, again!

For most people, God is a good Person to get you out of trouble. He is there just to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. For them God is some sort of “cosmic bellhop” Who is supposed to rescue them when they need it.

Is this the way God is?

Optimism for Our Future

 

There was once a mother and a father very concerned about their two children. They were both 7 and one was very pessimistic and the other was very optimistic. To prove the extremity of these two children to their friends, they got a video camera and taped them opening their Christmas presents.

They gave the pessimistic kid a bunch of great toys. Trains, cars etc.; all well-made toys. The boy opened each one, looked at it for a little bit then put it down, saying, “that will break soon.”

They gave the optimistic kid a huge box of manure. The boy opened it with a smile on his face and when he saw the manure he started digging through it with his hands. The parents finally stopped him and asked him what he was doing.

The boy looked up and said, “well, with all this manure there’s gotta be a pony somewhere!”

Turns out, this kid has the right attitude.

Nowadays, many of the Christians I know realize and are fine with Christians changing America back for Christ, but they won’t have much to do with it.

Recently, I sent an article I had written to all my Christian friends. This article asked soul-searching questions. I didn’t get a single response whereas I usually get some responses when they are on topics like theology or science but not when the article asks deep, demanding questions of the readers.

This is what will change America. Asking “soul-searching” questions of people, getting answers and having these people really evaluate what their answer was.

However, people believe that they can’t make a difference, as they are only one person, or a minority. Fortunately, this is not true and need only list one person who changed the world they lived in. Here is how this person changed history and how we ought to do it if we ever hope to change our lives to change America.

This person did God’s work

This person’s sole purpose was to do what God asked

This person developed leaders

Have any guesses who this person may be? I figured you knew!

Anyway, Jesus Christ only did God’s work and that included doing whatever God told Him to do. In John 5:19 it says:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

Christ’s whole mission was to do exactly what God wanted Him to do. Remember in Luke 2:49 it tells of how Jesus, “must be about My Father’s business?” Even at a young age, Jesus knew what His goal and mission was but He didn’t know everything about it, as it says in John 5:19.

When Christ walked this earth, He lived with the Father living through Him (except at the cross where God could not dwell in a sinful body and He had to leave Jesus).

After Christ’s ascension, we are told to let Christ live through us, to do what He wants to do, to let ourselves do nothing but if it is the will of the Son, and thus the will of the Father.

This can’t be done by just doing what Christ says, it needs to be a killing of the self and allowing Christ to live through you and only Him. You not only have to surrender your life to Christ, you have to allow Him to take control of it.

We often think that if we just surrender our life to Christ, we will be saved and go on our merry way, but the world around us is fighting a horrible battle. People are dying and going to Hell and the only way to change the way America is going is to change oneself.

This is how a minority can change America for the better .  . . if we have changed lives and allow Christ to live through our lives as His instrument. Christ is the only One who can change America, but He works through us, if we are willing.

Don’t go around moping about what might happen against you (like the pessimistic kid in our story) and work on what might happen for you (like the optimistic kid). It won’t be pretty, fighting this fight, but are you willing?

“Pastor Gary, I do not see the reason for your optimism. Please Explain.”

Jose:  Pastor Gary, I do not see the reason for your optimism. Please explain, I could use some cheering up. (A beleaguered Christian in Socialistic UnGodly New York City).

Yesterday, I received the post above on Facebook. Jose was simply expressing what I believe all of us have felt or perhaps feeling, now.  He wanted to know why I am so optimistic about the future of America. The answer is simple — I believe that, in America, the people still are in control and I believe in the Christian youth of America.

My heart, spilled out before you…

Since this is a heart-spilling kind of post — I must begin by confessing to you that, at times, like Jose — I have been discouraged and I have wanted to give up.

After 37 years of working with teens, I have discovered that Christian teens have not given up on America. If you haven’t seen the video, The Thaw, by the Reach America teens, you are missing a blessing. When I see the fire in their eyes, it sets me on fire. You can see the video on the home page of this website. http://letsreachamerica.org/

Jose’s post gave me some insight. Christian adults have given up on America. This may explain why Christian adults are so unwilling to discuss strategies for reclaiming America. Do you agree?

Everyone wants to talk about how bad things are in America, but few want to do anything about it. All I hear from Christian adults is doom and gloom about how America is, well, doomed.

Like Jose, I think a lot of people are discouraged. When people hear or read about how excited I am about our future, they write me off. Am I right? I really want to hear from you on this.

I believe it is time we, Christian adults, had a public, national discussion on the future of America.

All of us have children and grandchildren. Some of us even have great-grandchildren. What does it say to them, when they hear that we are so quick to give up on the country where they will have to raise their children?

And for this discussion, please don’t say that you believe Jesus will come back before then. That very well may happen, but what if it doesn’t?

What do you think?

~Pastor Gary

In 10 Years America Can be a Different Place – Curious? Keep Reading

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was the greatest leadership training strategist that ever lived.

Think about it. He took 12 regular guys and not only impacted the world for their time — but we are still experiencing the impact of His ministry 2,000 year later!

Get this — Jesus got His guys trained in just three years! Surely, through the power of His Spirit working through us, He can reach just one country in 10 years!

The key is to embrace Jesus’ methodology of world impact — and to do it, together.

As the church in America, we have taken the eternal message of Christ and His love and packaged it into a modern, western, “education” methodology. Folks, it simply isn’t working.

I believe American Christians have developed a mentality that — “if we studied it, we did it.” In our lives, we have reduced Jesus to a doctrinal statement. He is not living and working through us. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with doctrine — I hope you got my point.)

Belief statements, alone, don’t change the world, changed people change the world.

What would happen in America if our churches trained Christian parents and youth leaders how to train children and teens in the way Jesus trained His disciples? Do you believe that in 10 years this country would be different?

This is the purpose of our upcoming conference, April 25-26, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I would love to meet you.

Together, let’s learn how Christ changes lives and impacts societies. Together, let’s experience how, through the power of Christ’s Spirit, God can bring this once great nation back to Him. TOGETHER, we can reach America!

Click here for more info and registration.

~Pastor Gary

Establishing the Right Foundation

Are the people you are leading, establishing the right foundation?

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Most Christians are being raised with the presumption that they are building a godly foundation. However, many of these Christians, while thinking their godly foundation is being developed, are actually building a different foundation off their own desires and wants.

Think about it; when you attend a Christian teaching lesson (like church, small group, etc.) how much of your time there is spent listening and considering what the teacher is thinking? How much time is spent thinking about your own desires? Are you being lead to believe that a godly foundation is being laid but instead your other thoughts are building a completely different foundation?

This is one of Satan’s subtle tactics. He knows that people have a tendency to not pay attention to the important things so he expands on that fact to lay a different foundation.

What kind of foundation is laid then, when the godly one is ignored? Sometimes these new foundations are based off of distracted thoughts; innocent but not focused on the information at hand. Other times, the foundations are based off of sin or immoral ideas. This is why most of the youth in America are not following the Lord Jesus Christ when they leave home.

So, how do we reach America and make sure the right foundations are being laid?

At Reach America, Christian teens are taught how to lead people. But, these teens could still be laying down the wrong foundation so, to counter this, the ministry teaches teens while having them walk with other teens.

These teens are led to walk with other Christians and help each other lay down the right foundation.

This year, Reach America is going to focus on teaching teens how to lead teens by walking with them through Christ. One could summarize this as, “Reach America teaches teens how to run a baton race but, instead of the focus being on passing the baton (or dying and leaving your legacy), they focus on the time when both of the runners are running with each other, because this wins the race!”