It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is past us and we are already full-swing into another Christmas season. Christmas movies are on, presents are being purchased, trees and lights adorn the country. All of these things are fun, exciting, and part of the celebration of Christmas. But what exactly are we celebrating? John’s Gospel gives us the answer:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,John 1:14a (English Standard Version)
We are celebrating the fact that the God of the universe thought enough of His elect that He took on flesh to walk on this earth as one of us. He faced the same trials and temptations yet he remained sinless. He took our place on the cross and took our penalty for our sins in his death. He brought us salvation and redemption that we might have eternal life. There is no greater love.
We often hear that Jesus is the “Reason for the Season.” But do we really take this to heart? Do we really understand the magnitude of what happened on that first Christmas? Do we really think about Immanuel, God with us? Do we consider what Christ did for us on the cross? Does it make a change in our lives?
These are the things that we need to dwell on this Christmas season. And not just Christmas, we need to think about these things every day of the year. So let’s remember what we are celebrating. We are celebrating the Word becoming flesh to dwell among us.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Next month, the United Methodist Church will join several other mainline denominations in America to take up the task on what to do with the LGBTQ movement. Specifically, they will vote on whether or not to allow LGBT persons in the clergy. The problem is that this should not even be up for debate.
Scripture makes abundantly clear that the LGBT lifestyle is a sin. Romans 1:26-28 clearly tells us that this lifestyle is dishonorable, contrary to nature, and debased. It is not a lifestyle that is to be celebrated or elevated and it certainly has no place in the church.
Immediately this stance will raise accusations of bigotry and hatred but nothing could be further from the truth. While the church cannot and should not embrace the LGBT lifestyle, it should reach out to people who identify with that lifestyle with the love of Christ. The phrase love the sinner and hate the sin is more than appropriate in this instance. The church should reach out to the LGBT community with the truth of the Gospel.
What is that truth? We are all sinners, condemned to Hell. However, Christ came and died for our sins that we can be saved out of our sin and turn towards Christ to pursue a life of holiness. For the person who identifies as LGBT that means they can turn away from their sin just as any other person and the sin that they struggle with.
In other words, speaking out against the LGBT community lifestyle with the message of Christ is not a message of hate. It is a message of hope. The United Methodist Church needs to turn back to that message of hope without sacrificing the hatred of sin that we are called to have.
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel we see the final instructions given by Christ to His Disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
This command is pretty straightforward if read at face value with its plain meaning. They were to go and preach the Gospel to all people. But there have been questions regarding this passage and whether or not it would apply to all Christians or only to the Apostles themselves.
Since the beginning of the church, this passage has been understood to apply to all believers as a call for evangelism. But how can we know that is the case? The passage itself gives us that answer.
Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you – Matthew 28:20a (ESV)
The word for observe is the word tēreō and carries the sense of fulfillment. In other words, the disciples were to evangelize and charge others with fulfilling the commands of Christ, including the Great Commission.
False teachers abound in the church today. From “Prosperity Doctrine,” to the denial of Christ’s Deity, you do not have to search long or hard for these glaring errors. So how should we handle false teacher? Does Scripture give us any indication as to how we should proceed? The answer is an overwhelming YES! In fact, false teachers were a major problem in the New Testament as well and there is plenty of instruction on what we should do. Continue reading
Sin is a topic that is often discussed in theological circles, as it should be, but often we do not contemplate the weight of our sin. Romans 3:23 informs us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. But what does that mean? How bad is it to fall short of that glory?
We know that the shortcoming that is our sin causes us to deserve death (Romans 6:23). It is a judgment and a sentence that is reserved for the most heinous of crimes in human laws, but it is given to even the “smallest” of offenses in the Law of God. Continue reading