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 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

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?

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

We are just days away from the Special General Conference for the United Methodist Church on whether the church will follow Scripture or follow culture. Yes, that is the real choice. Is the United Methodist Church going to follow God or man? That is what is at stake.

I read an article yesterday entitled “I Am Not Leaving”. The article is a heartfelt call for unity and to continue to work of Christ despite differences in the Denomination. On the surface, this even sounds biblical. But is it really? Should we stay in a church no matter what they teach, preach, or believe? The answer is no.

I have already written about this previously. We should not have unity simply for the sake of unity. Paul makes this clear:


As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.

Titus 3:10 ESV

Paul is clear, have nothing more to do with them. To get the further context of this passage we need to look in chapter two. The context is important so we know that this is not just having nothing to do with someone causing a disturbance. This has to do with doctrine.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:1 ESV

Church is about teaching sound doctrine to the saints so that they can carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Doctrine does matter despite what some who call for unity try to claim. The Scripture must be faithfully and accurately proclaimed. Sound doctrine is of utmost importance for the spiritual health of the believer.

If the church adopts LGBTQ culture then believers must leave. They must exit. They must take a stand for the Word of God and not the words of men.

Sin Exposed By The Light

An article was posted today as part of the marketing blitz by the powers that be in the United Methodist Church trying to make LGBTQ people who have left the church victims. The premise of the article is that the teachings of the church, more specifically the teaching of Scripture, is hurtful to LGBTQ members and it is causing them to leave the church.

The Bible has a different perspective on why people who are LGBTQ are leaving the church:


And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

John 3:19-20 ESV

People who live in active sin do not want to be around the truth of Scripture. It exposes them for what they are, sinners. This, of course, is true of everyone. We are all sinners. The difference between those called by God and those who are not is this, those called want to be in the light and to be rid of their sin.

Unfortunately, and sadly, the LGBTQ community does not want to be rid of their sin. Instead, they want us to be forced to accept it as normal. They want it to be seen as a good thing. However, Romans 1:26-28 tells us that it is not a good thing. It is unnatural, debase, evil.

We need to pray for these people that they will want to come to the light, but we should not dim the light for sin to abound.

Is Baptism Part of Salvation?

I have heard it argued that people take the third chapter of John’s Gospel, the story with Nicodemus, and use it as a claim for baptism being necessary for salvation. The claim is that water birth in the chapter is actually baptism. However, a simple and logical look at the passage will show us that this is not the case at all. Let’s take a look at John 3:1-6


Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.


John 3:1–6, ESV

Verse 1: We are introduced to Nicodemus and that sets the stage for the conversation he is about to have with Christ.

Verse 2: Nicodemus is searching for truth and tells Christ he knows that He is of God.

Verse 3: Jesus said you cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless you are born again.

Now, we need to stop for a minute because this is key. Born again. Born a second time in some way. Nicodemus understood that Christ meant a second birth but he does not understand how this is possible which brings us forward.

Verse 4: Nicodemus, confused by the born again, asks if we are somehow to reenter the womb.

Verse 5: Jesus answers saying that you must be born of water and spirit.

Now, the spirit is the second birth, the water is clearly the first birth. That is the logical progression Jesus is following. Yes, Nicodemus, you were born the first time of water (womb) but this new birth, the born again, is a spiritual, not physical, birth.

Verse 6 further confirms this interpretation by saying flesh is born of flesh and spirit is born of spirit. Water is interchanged with flesh but spirit remains. Why? Because water is talking about physical birth, not baptism.

That is the full context and proper interpretation of this passage. It has nothing to do with baptism and baptism certainly is not required for salvation.

A Response To: “Be Careful Using The Bible”

An article titled “Be Careful Using The Bible” was published this week on the United Methodist news site. The article is troublesome as it shows a clear lack of exegetical and hermeneutical understanding that is so rampant in liberal circles. Moreover, it shows how an improper understanding of the Bible and improper Biblical interpretation can lead to justifying sinful actions.

The article was written by Rev. James R. McCormick who is a retired United Methodist pastor from Cumming, Georgia. His abuse of Scripture in the commentary is deplorable and this article is a response to the misuse and apparent misunderstanding of Scripture.

The premise of the article is this:


In studying the Bible, it is necessary to realize that often God is cited as supporting whatever values are normative at that time in history. Those are “timely” standards — standards valued for a time — but not necessarily “timeless” standards that are applicable for all time and all circumstances.

This, of course, is true for some things found in Scripture such as the civil laws given to Israel to govern Israel. That was for a specific time and specific people. However, this principle is not true for the moral standards that we find in Scripture. Moral standards are timeless.

We see the error of this thinking in the examples that are given. The first being Abraham and Hagar.


Remember that the Bible affirms Abraham having sexual relations with Hagar, Sarah’s maid, in order to produce his first son, Ishmael. Only later did Sarah produce Isaac, through whom Jews trace their ancestry.

I must ask Rev. McCormick, where in Scripture does it affirm Abraham having relations with Hagar? Where does it state that this is ok? It does not say anything of the sort. This was Sarah’s idea, not the Lord’s plan. In fact, we see in Scripture the opposite of affirmation for this act, we see the consequences of the sin as it tears the family apart and causes division. In no way was this a moral standard for that time to take multiple wives. In fact, this actually affirms the moral standard we see throughout Scripture that marriage is for one man and one woman.

Rev. McCormick tries the same tactic with the 1,000 wives of Solomon. Again I must ask, where is this affirmed in Scripture? Where is this sanctioned? It is not.

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Does Inerrancy Matter?

This is a question that comes up over and over again. The simple answer is, yes, inerrancy matters. But why? This post will not go into the intricate details of inerrancy. This is not the proper format for such an undertaking. The purpose here is to look at some logic regarding the truth of Scripture and the issue of inerrancy.

The Bible is to be the guiding light for Christians. The Bible gives us the truth on every facet of life that you can imagine. Now, it doesn’t give us guidance on whether or not we should wear a purple shirt or a green shirt today, that is not what we mean when we say every facet of life. But what we mean is that every situation you encounter has principles in Scripture that will help you work out a right attitude and response to that situation. And this is where inerrancy comes into play.

First, we need to define inerrancy as it relates to Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines inerrancy as follows:

Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching…

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy 1980

Scripture is without any error in everything that it teaches. That means it is without fault in its historical statements, theological statements, scientific statements, and any other statement the Bible makes. This, of course, refers to the original manuscripts and not any specific translation of Scripture.

So what? Why does this matter? Let’s think about it this way, if you can take any part of the Bible, let’s say Genesis, and says that it contains error, then you call the rest of Scripture into question. Scripture builds on itself. Yes, it is a collection of 66 different works but those works (books) give one unifying message and they stand on each other.

If you can call into question the account in Genesis, you can call into question the accounts of Jesus Christ. At that point, you call into question the exclusivity of Salvation for Christians and Christians alone. After that, you can throw out any part of the Bible that does not agree with modern thought.

It is a dangerous slope. You either take all of Scripture or you throw it all out. Inerrancy is one of the most fundamental beliefs that impact the Gospel today.

How To Study The Bible

I am often asked, how do you study the Bible? How do you know that your interpretation is correct? Are there rules to follow? Are there tools to use? Where do I begin? All of these are very good questions, and all of these questions have good answers that follow them. This post is not meant to be an exhaustive look at how to conduct Bible Study. This is simply a brief overview of the topic.

The Bible was written in three primary languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. It was also written to various people groups in various cultures spanning over 1,000 years and none of those were cultures and people that are still present today. This is known as the gap of Biblical Interpretation. In order to arrive at a proper interpretation, we must close this gap and find the original meaning of any passage in Scripture that we wish to study. So how do we accomplish this?

First, you must become familiar with your passage in your native tongue. To do this, you must read the passage in several English translations. Preferably, a few translations that are essentially literal and one that is dynamic equivalent. Dynamic equivalent translations, such as the New International Version, do not necessarily follow the literal translation of a passage and add in commentary-like supplements in phrasing and word usage to help the reader understand the meaning. Essentially literal translations are just that, translations that are as literal as possible compared to the original. Translations that I recommend are the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, and the, Christian Standard Bible.

The second step is to look at the original languages. You need to find words, using a concordance and lexicon combination or Bible software such as Logos Bible Software, that are key to the passage. Then you need to look up the corresponding Greek or Hebrew word to find out what the author meant by using that particular word.

The third step is to understand any historical and cultural contexts that may be applicable when looking at interpreting a passage. Where was this written? When was this written? To whom was this written? Were there any significant events going on at that time that might be alluded to in the passage? Were there any geographical features that need to be taken into account? These types of questions help give insight to things that are not plain in the text itself.

When you look at these steps, the next thing to do is to figure out, what did this mean to the original audience? How would they have understood this passage?

When following these rules, you are well on your way to framing proper interpretations of Scripture. We can know what Scripture says with confidence. Remember, there is only one possible interpretation but an unlimited number of possible applications.

Christ Did Not Die For All Sins: A Look At Limited Atonement

One of the things we hear most in Christianity is the idea that Christ died for every sin that was ever committed. But is that accurate? Did Christ truly die for all sins or did he only die for the sins of those who would believe in Him?

The question comes down to what you believe about the atonement. Was the atonement limited or was it universal? Limited Atonement, of course, is one of the five points of a theological viewpoint called Calvinism. Some people refer to this doctrine as definite atonement since limited can be misleading.

The controversy comes when people misunderstand definite atonement. They tend to believe that this means Christ’s sacrifice was not good enough to save everyone. On the contrary, it was sufficient for all, but not meant for all.

You run into a major problem if Christ died for the sin of every man. Some will not be saved, we know this from many passages of Scripture. If some are not saved then Christ’s atonement was not good enough. Some of Christ’s atonement was wasted. He was powerless over them. You also run into the issue of double jeopardy which causes God to be unjust.

People try to overcome this last point by saying, but salvation is a gift that must be accepted. That is not how justice works. Imagine this, you are convicted of a crime and are ordered to pay a penalty. If the penalty is paid for you, it does not matter if you wanted to accept it or not. The price has been paid. You are free to go. You would not be punished for a crime that has already had the punishment fulfilled.

So the plain fact is that Christ did not die for every sin that has ever been committed. No, He died only for the sins of those who would believe in Him.