Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Amidst the current mass-media storm involving religious freedom, many are charging Christians as the worst of cultural offenders because of their refusal to obey the one rule of our post-modern society: tolerance.
Here are some simple biblical truths that I think are helpful to return to in the midst of this cultural storm. For the Christian, I hope you find them encouraging. For those who reject Christ, I pray that God would use this to help you better understand Christianity, and most importantly, that you would come to a true knowledge of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
1) True Christianity teaches that God is King of the universe and Creator of the universe and is sovereign over it (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 47:7; Ps. 145:1; Rom. 14:17). Therefore all people are ultimately accountable to God (Acts 17:31).
2) True Christianity teaches that God’s Word is truth, because God is the one, who has established truth (Jn. 17:17). This truth is found in his special revelation to men, the Bible, which is breathed out by God and therefore without error (2 Tim. 3:16). By this Word we understand God’s sovereign rule as king, our need of redemption, and God’s provision in Christ as our Savior.
3) True Christianity teaches that since God, as sovereign ruler, has ultimate authority, he alone is the final arbiter of justice. Therefore, all creatures, Christians and non-Christians, have a moral obligation to obey his laws (Rom. 2:12-16), even if they contradict man’s laws (Acts 5:29)–in the example of a photographer opting out of shooting a “gay wedding,” they are choosing to honor the highest authority rather than compromise their conscience before God. The laws referenced here are the moral laws set out in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Ex. 20; Gal. 6:2). The national laws of the OT only applied to the nation of Israel, and the sacrificial laws of the OT are fulfilled in Christ.
4) True Christianity teaches that every person, male and female, of every race and nationality is an image bearer of God and is equal before God (Gen. 1:26-28). This means primarily that humans are made by God to take dominion over the earth reflecting the rule of God on the earth. Christians are therefore moral creatures, consciously knowing God’s moral law, in ways that animals do not (Rom. 1:18-23).
5) True Christianity teaches that every person without exception has sinned and broken God’s moral law (Rom. 3:23) and is therefore deserving of spiritual death in hell (Rom. 6:23). The moral law includes numerous sins including stealing, coveting, idolatry, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality among others (1 Tim. 1:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). They can be summed up in the love of God and the love of neighbor (Matt. 22:40). Homosexuality and other sexual orientations that are contrary to God’s law are therefore not on the same ground as race or sex (as created as good by God)—they in fact are a violation of God’s law.
6) True Christianity teaches that every person is in desperate need of rescue from God’s wrath. Every person is a wretched sinner, whose heart beats for the gratification of self, and there is no amount of “willing” or “running” a person could do in trying to obey the law that would change the fact that we are all law-breakers without exception (Rom. 9:16).
7) True Christianity teaches that Christ in his love and mercy has absorbed the penalty we deserved by dying for our sins on the cross (Rom. 5:6-11). His resurrection is proof that those who seek refuge in him will also escape the penalty of death (2 Cor. 4:13-15) and inherit his righteous deeds so they can stand before God (2 Cor. 5:21).
8) True Christianity teaches that every person must repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. Only Jesus Christ, the perfect law-keeper and atonement-maker, is a legitimate refuge from God’s wrath and punishment for sin (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12). Furthermore, the Christian life is one of continual repentance towards Christ and faith in Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 2:12-13). Therefore when a Christian calls for another’s repentance before God, it is not a hypocritical “we” verses “them” statement, but rather a call to walk the path of repentance that each of us is already on—and it’s a path of the most love and grace and mercy than one could possibly imagine.
9) True Christianity teaches Christians to not “hate” anyone, but rather teaches us to be compelled by the love of Jesus Christ to love God and neighbor (Lk. 10:25-37; Gal. 5:14). Jesus even loved and forgave those who killed him (Lk. 23:34). Following his example Christians strive to walk in a manner of love towards all (1 Jn. 4:7).
10) True Christianity teaches that the most loving thing a Christian can do for another person is to point them to the only hope they have, the only Savior of souls in the universe, Jesus Christ. Like a lone rescue boat in a vast ocean, he is the only hope for humanity (Acts 4:12). Therefore, calling someone to turn from their sin, whether it is drunkenness or thievery or homosexuality, and then pointing them towards Christ is not a “bigoted” action, but an act of love (Acts 3:19).
11) True Christianity teaches that darkness always attempts to overtake the light (Jn. 1:5), and Satan always attempts to distort truth (Jn. 8:44). Those that do not know Christ are blind to the moral implications of God’s law and remain in darkness under the control of Satan (2 Cor. 4:3-6). We all once resided in this darkness, but for the Christian, Christ has called us out of darkness into his light (Col. 1:13). Therefore the Christian’s battle is now not against the liberal media, or Muslims, or post-moderns, but against Satan and the principalities and forces of darkness who oppose the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 6:10-12).
12) True Christianity teaches that Christians will be persecuted and hated by these forces of darkness and by people under the spell of darkness (Mark 13:13). After all, if Christ was hated for announcing God’s kingdom rule in himself, why should we expect to be treated better for identifying with him (Jn. 15:20)?
13) True Christianity teaches that the most hardened sinner, specifically those who hate and abhor God and God’s laws, are not outside the reach of the grace of God (Matt. 9:12). Saul, a persecutor of the church and a murderer of Christians, was radically converted by an act of the grace and mercy of God, even while he was uttering threats against Christians (Acts 9).
14) True Christianity teaches that there is hope in Christ that He will one day return, judge everyone, set all wrongs right, and make all things new (1 Cor. 15). In the end, every person, Christ follower and Christ hater will bow before Jesus Christ in worship, some in eternal heaven, others in eternal hell (Philippians 2:10-11).
15) True Christianity teaches that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). If you are reading this and you hate the laws of God and have rejected Christ, it is not too late to turn to Christ in repentance and faith. If you do, you will find more rest for your soul than you could possibly imagine and pleasures in a deep, intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Pray that God would open your eyes to the darkness of your sin and the beauty and righteousness of Jesus Christ, who died for sinners like you and like me.
Grant Castleberry is the Executive Director of CBMW. He and his wife GraceAnna, and their three children, live in Louisville, KY. You can follow him on Twitter @grcastleberry.
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