Browsed by
Category: Theology

The Deity of Christ

The Deity of Christ

One of the most dangerous positions in theology today is to deny the Deity of Christ. This is one of the leading dangers to the Church. The Deity of Christ is undeniable according to Scripture. It is plainly evident from the pages of Scripture. This post will examine only one of those passages.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1-18 English Standard Version

John opens his Gospel with a proclamation that Jesus is God. The Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God. And who is that Word? Jesus Christ.

The Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ is that person. Christ is God. There is no denying it.

We must stand against any teacher who tries to claim that Jesus is not God. Some say that the Word was just an idea of God’s. But that goes against the very fabric and context of the passage.

No, Jesus is God. Period. We need to stand firm on that truth.

Answering Will Willimon

Answering Will Willimon

An article was recently published at Religion News with the contents of an interview with Retired United Methodist Bishop, Will Willimon. The article was intended to give some sort of understanding to liberals for what transpired at the General Conference in February. It was a list of reasons as to why the UMC will never unite. But I would contest it is people like Will Willimon that are actually holding the church back.

The bishops labored for two years and came up with these three plans and backed the One Church Plan (which would allow local congregations to decide about LGBTQ ordination and marriage) and pushed that. But the General Conference seems united: We don’t trust bishops.

– Will Willimon

The first problem is that Willimon puts too much emphasis on the Bishops of the United Methodist Church. The Bishops Council, as a whole, is completely out of touch with the majority of the members of the denomination. It is no wonder why they were so surprised when the One Church Plan did not even make it out of legislative committee.

If that unity is disrupted, that puts us back to where we’ve always been: That’s a gathering by Christ of all kinds of people that make up the church.

– Will Willimon

The major mistake Bishop Willimon makes in this statement is that he mistakes what it means for Christ to gather up all kinds of people. Christ does not gather up all kinds of people in the sense he is trying to express and the progressive branch of the church is trying to express. Christ only gathers up the elect. People who are saved, repentant, and seeking to follow Him by making Him Lord of their life.

My message to students is, “If you ever wonder why God calls people like you in the ministry, look at the General Conference. God has called you to save us, redeem us, lead us. Now step up and lead.”

– Will Willimon

This quote is dangerous. Only one can save. Only one can redeem. There is no salvation in any but Christ. There is no redemption in anyone but Christ. There is no direction in anything but the Word of God. That is the problem. A departure from the Word of God.

In a separate article actually penned by Willimon we see something much more diabolical and a man in need of spiritual renewal.

At some point I shifted my own prayers to, “Lord, please melt the hardened hearts and smite everyone who intends to vote against the One Church Plan.”

– Will Willimon

That is right. A retired bishop actually prayed that God would smite those who opposed the one church plan. He prayed that God would smite me. How does this fit in with loving your neighbor? How does this create unity? How does this show the love of Christ?

Will Willimon should be stripped of any and all privileges the church gives him until he repents and he has also shown he is not fit to teach in seminary as well.

Can We Know What The Bible Means?

Can We Know What The Bible Means?

The question of whether we can know what the Bible means or not is not a new one. The question has come up often when controversy arises. But the answer is simple, yes, we can know what the Bible means. How? We must follow sound principles of Biblical Interpretation.

First, let’s look at how not to interpret Scripture. We don’t go through Scripture acting as if it were written today to today’s audience. We don’t go through Scripture looking for buzzwords and then take things out of context to twist meanings.

So how do we know what Scripture means?

Here are some basic steps.

  1. Observe the passage in our own language. Who is the passage written to? Where was it written? Etc.
  2. Observe the passage in the original language. Are there any nuances of Greek or Hebrew words that might not be conveyed in the English text?
  3. Study the historical and cultural contexts of the day. The purpose of this is that we want to know what a particular passage would mean to the original audience.
  4. Determine the plain meaning of the passage in its original context.

This is not difficult in many cases in Scripture. Yes, there are some passages that are more difficult than others but this is the exception and not the rule. It is not arrogant to say that we can understand the original meaning of the text, nor is it impossible. If it were impossible, what would the point be?

People who say that we cannot know the original meaning with 100% certainty usually say so because the plain meaning and interpretation of Scripture does not mesh with something they want to happen in their life or in society. In other words, they don’t want to see the light.

Another thing to note, and this is important, is that any given passage only has one correct interpretation. Let me say that again, there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture. There can be any number of applications for a passage, but only one correct meaning.

Let me close with an example.

On September 2nd, 1776, General George Washington wrote a letter to the Continental Congress. That letter was written in a different time and culture to a different recipient. Yet, we can interpret that letter with 100% clarity. The army was demoralized and, in Washington’s opinion, underpaid. He recommended the possibility of land being added as an incentive for enlistments.

There is no question to the meaning of this letter from Washington. In the same way, we can look at the books of the Bible, many of which are letters themselves, and interpret the text with 100% clarity.

If Not Scripture…Then What?

If Not Scripture…Then What?


People question the Inerrancy of Scripture and say that Scripture is not our final authority because much of it is not relevant today. We hear things like “Come on, it is 2019!” First, that is an absurd argument. The year may be 2019 but the Bible is still relevant. The Bible is still in force. Sin has not changed. Salvation has not changed.

But if we are not to look at the Scripture as our final authority, I must ask, what should we look at? What has more authority than Scripture for the Christian? Is it science which often changes and/or contradicts itself? Is it culture which changes as quickly as the wind? Is it reason that can explain and justify anything? Is it politics? What should we look to?

Do you see the absurdity of this? The only thing that we should be anchored in as Christians is the Word of God. After all, He made all that exists so I believe He is the most authoritative source on any given subject.

You would not go up to the maker of a machine and say, “What you use this for is not what this is meant for.” That would be absurd. But that is exactly what we do when we tell God that the Bible is no longer applicable today because it is outdated.

No, the Bible is God’s truth. The truth. We don’t get to make our own truth. The Bible Stands. I am reminded of the lyrics of that great song by the same name and I will leave you with them.

The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
’Mid the raging storms of time;
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.

Refrain:
The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.

The Bible stands like a mountain tow’ring
Far above the works of men;
Its truth by none ever was refuted,
And destroy it they never can.

The Bible stands and it will forever,
When the world has passed away;
By inspiration it has been given,
All its precepts I will obey.

The Bible stands every test we give it,
For its Author is divine;
By grace alone I expect to live it,
And to prove and to make it mine.

Haldor Lillenas “The Bible Stands” 1917 Public Domain

Preaching In The Wake of GC2019

Preaching In The Wake of GC2019

There have been a lot of things said about the United Methodist General Conference over the last couple of days. As you know by now, the Traditional Plan has been passed and, barring a Judicial Strikedown, will become church policy in January. For conservatives, like myself, this is a victory.

But how do we encourage members going forward? What will we preach on this weekend? Here is how I plan to preach this weekend.

I plan to preach the Word of God. I plan to be faithful to the text. I plan to decry false teachings. I plan to preach that we are to love LGBT people but not accept their sin. After all, that is loving.

In no way do we fear LGBT. In no way do we wish to push them out of the church. But in no way will we affirm sin either. It is loving to tell them the truth. It is loving to tell them what the Scriptures teach. It is loving to care about where they will spend eternity.

Friends, we must stay true to Scripture. Much Scripture was taken out of context. For example, Jesus did not say to not judge. That is taken out of context. Read the rest of the passage.

Jesus did not accept everyone as they are. No, He said to go and sin no more.

However, we are to do this with patience. After all, we cannot change anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can change others.

So that is how I plan to preach this week. Stand firm in the truth of Scripture and not the words of men. Preach the Gospel. Rebuke sin. Keep the faith.

People Are Broken

People Are Broken

I recently read an article that suggests that humanity is not broken. That we are perfect just the way we are. I am sorry but that is not what Scripture tells us. In fact, it tells us just the opposite.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 ESV

We are not perfect. We are sinners. To suggest that we are perfect you must live blind to the things that go on in this world. Sin is abundant. We are a broken people.

This is what happens when we have a low-view of Scripture. When we don’t believe that Scripture is the Word of God. Everything becomes distorted. Lines are no longer visible. Everything is ok.

But we know that the Bible is the Word of God because of 2 Timothy 3:16. It does not say some Scripture is God’s, it says all Scripture. And that includes the passages that say we are not perfect just the way we are. We are broken.

The article was in direct relation to LGBTQ. In fact, the quote from the article says:

Because the truth is simple: We’re all divinely created. We’re perfect just the way we are. Me. You. Your annoying [edit] neighbor. All of us. We’re valuable.

God doesn’t love us in spite of who we are. He loves us BECAUSE of who we are. Gaiety & all.

There is, of course, some truth in this statement. Yes, we are all divinely created, all of us, and we are all valuable. That is not under dispute. But we are not perfect. And it certainly is not true that God loves us because of who we are. We are sinners. God only loves us because of who HE is.

Traditionalists Do Not Hate LGBT

Traditionalists Do Not Hate LGBT

Yesterday’s vote to not pass the One Church Plan out of legislative committee was a definite victory for advocates of the Traditional plan. In the aftermath, attacks from LGBT supporters have been nonstop talking about the hate of the Traditionalists toward LGBT. This could not be further from the truth.

Traditionalists do not hate LGBT. We love our LGBT friends but that doesn’t mean we let our friends continue in sin. Think of it this way. If you stopped someone from rushing off a 1,000-foot cliff does that mean you hate them? Of course not. But that is exactly the logic that LGBT is using to say traditionalists hate them.

Traditionalists hold Scripture in the highest authority. Scripture tells us that LGBT behavior is sinful and, as the UMC Book of Discipline states, it is not compatible with the Christian life.

This is not just LGBT. This is any sin. We are called in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 to preach the word and to reprove (correct false teaching) and rebuke sin. That is what the traditional crowd is working towards. It has nothing to do with hate. If anything, it shows our love for LGBT by wanting them to come to a place where they are free from sin.

Do No Harm

Do No Harm

As the General Conference is now underway for the United Methodist Church, we are seeing lots of activity and pleas for each of the four major plans that have been put forward by the Commission on the Way Forward. In many of the petitions that have to do with including LGBTQ persons in ministry and marriage, we have often heard the motto “Do no harm.” But let’s think for a minute about what that actually means.

The LGBTQ supporters use the motto of doing no harm as a way to say you must include us. You must let us live our lifestyle. You must accept us. However, I would argue that is actually doing harm if that were to happen.

If you allow someone to continue in open sin. If you accept their sin and endorse it you are doing harm. You are doing harm to the person engaged in the sin by not telling the truth of Scripture. You are endangering their soul. You are doing harm to yourself by endorsing and therefore being implicit in their sin.

Not allowing LGBTQ marriage or ordained ministers is not doing harm. It is sticking with the truth of Scripture. It is following the words of Christ and the Word of God.

The example of Jesus has been referred to a lot in this debate. “Jesus accepts everyone” is what they say. Jesus was kind and loving to sinners, that is true. But he did not ignore their sin. He tackled it head on.  Look at the woman at the well in John 4.

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

John 4:16-18 ESV

Jesus called her sin out for what it was. He did not condone it. He did not allow it. He told her she must change and follow Him.

Calling sin what it is and not accepting it as something ok to do is how we do not do harm. We must do it in love but we must not compromise either.

What Is Total Depravity?

What Is Total Depravity?

What is meant by the phrase Total Depravity? This is a question that has been discussed for centuries and the answer from Scripture is clear. Man in his fallen state has no ability to respond to God and His will for salvation.

At first glance, people think this diminishes free will but it does not. It is not a question of the will, it is a question of ability. In our depraved and sinful state, we do not have the ability to seek after God. Paul makes this quite clear:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12 ESV

Nobody does good. Nobody is righteous. Nobody seeks after God. That is a pretty clear statement. It is an absolute statement. And notice something, the text says as it is written. Why does it say this? Because this is not just the words of Paul. This is an Old Testament quote from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53.

So the idea of Total, or Radical, depravity is not a new one. It is clearly shown in Scripture. In fact, there are many more verses that speak to the depravity of man that we will not go into here.

But this should help us understand the plight of the unsaved. This should give us compassion and patience with them. We need to preach the Gospel with passion. But we should not get discouraged if there is not a response. We should not get frustrated if there is no response. We should continue to preach and to pray that the Holy Spirit will ignite the fire of the effectual call within that individual.

Discrimination vs. Exclusion

Discrimination vs. Exclusion

The debate over LGBTQ and their position in the United Methodist Church is heating up as we are only two days away from GC2019. And what we are hearing is goes along these lines… “We need to eliminate the discriminatory language from church policy.” But is it really discriminatory to say that LGBTQ lifestyles are not compatible with Christianity? Of course not.

First, what does discriminatory even mean? What is the actual definition? Here is the definition according to Dictionary.com

Making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Dictionary.com

I want to highlight one word, unfair. It is not just making a distinction. It is an unfair distinction. It has the connotation of being unjust. This is different than exclusion.

The Bible does not discriminate. It excludes. Immediately when I say this, people will start to complain and say that God loves everyone. That is true in one sense, and in another, it is not true at all. God loves everyone in a general sense. But he does not love everyone as his own child. How do we know this? Paul makes this clear in Romans 9:13.

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Romans 9:13 ESV

God loves his elect. Those who will believe on the name of Christ. He does not love everyone equally. His Word makes clear that we are to turn from our sin once we are saved. Does that mean we will no longer sin? No. But does it mean it is ok to keep living in sin because we are forgiven and under grace? Paul addresses this as well.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:1-2 ESV

We are to put sin away and follow Christ. So what does this mean for LGBTQ? Paul addresses this as well. He addresses that LGBTQ is not who anyone is, it is sin.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 1:26-28 ESV

To do what ought not to be done. It is wrong. It is dishonorable and unnatural. It is debased.

Now, I want to take a moment to be fair here to the LGBTQ community. Romans does not stop there and so often we focus only on LGBTQ. But Paul lists a whole lot of sins in that passage in the following verses.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:29-32 ESV

There is a whole host of sins that need to be dealt with. And any of these sins that are in a person’s life without repentance disqualifies them from ministry. And allowing those, in this case, LGBTQ, to serve in positions of ordained ministry is not grace, it is equally sin.

So the Bible is exclusionary, not discriminatory. It is God’s justice. Who are we to question the justice of God?