Category Archives: Christianity

Why “Relevant” Christianity Is An Oxymoron


The older I get, the more I seem to hear about Christianity’s need for “relevance.” How Christians are to go about this is widely speculated. The consensus seems to be that we need to progress as a people and reach out to the world. Again, this avoids specifics- that’s where it gets sticky and very uncomfortable. How far should we go to be relevant?

Many Pastors face pressure from their congregations to be, “modern,” “contemporary,” or to “get with the times.” The reasoning is simple: if Christianity does not aim to engage the culture it’s in, then it will die off. Sometimes, the wrong sacrifices are made on the path to relevancy (i.e. No talking about sin, cursing in the pulpit, etc), others, strive to adapt but not change according to the culture around them (e.g. Use modern instruments, Pastor wears jeans, updated Bible translation, etc). Being relevant is more about style than stature- about embracing the good and throwing away the bad.

There’s discussion about whether to modernize the old hymns, or avoid them and write new songs- whether to have fancy stage productions, or stick with simple aesthetics. Pastors discuss whether expository (verse-by-verse) or topical preaching makes a bigger impact on people. Are people more suited to hearing talks instead of sermons- do people really need to hear about the wrath of God? After all, they feel guilty already? Most of the conversations turn into nonsense eventually. It’s all in the name of, “reaching” people, but how are we supposed to reach them?

With all the back and forth going on, the desire for Christianity to be relevant is nothing new; in fact, this desire is good in many ways. Francis Schaeffer is a prime example of someone who was both an intellectual and a Christian, who desired to use his intelligence to speak to the culture of his day about a variety of Biblical issues. I am not arguing against a Christian using his or her gifts in a way that can speak to people on their level. However, I suggest that the desire beneath this desire be examined: that we turn this whole idea of relevancy upside down. I want to challenge this idea of Christianity needing to be relevant, and ask whether Christianity is already relevant to begin with: the answer according to the Bible, is yes.

Relevant Christianity is an oxymoron because Christianity, like its Author, is timeless (Acts 4:14-15, John 17). Christianity does not need to be relevant, because it has always been relevant (Rom. 1:15-17, 1 Pet. 1:20-21) . Cultures have evolved, but the gospel has always stayed the same, it’s never lost its potency. Christians don’t need to try and be relevant, they already are- they were born in the same generations as everyone else (Eph. 2:1-10, John 3:1-17). They speak the same language(s) of the people around them (Acts 22:1-2). They live and breathe the same air, wear the same clothes, and eat the same food as unbelievers (Acts 14). They go to the same schools, drive the same streets, and have human parents (Rom. 5:12-22). Adapting is not the issue, being different (lights) in the world (darkness) is the issue (Matt. 5:13-16). The issue here is not whether you’re relevant, but whether your life is different- that you wear your faith publicly (Jude 1:1-4). The answer is not a relevant Christianity, but to be relevant by living as Christians. The Christian life is relevant, because it is God working out His grace in you right now (1 Cor. 15). Just be who you are in Christ, obeying God’s word, and that is enough to reach people (1 Pet. 3:13-17, 2 Tim. 1:8-10).

Now, I understand that this sounds too black and white. There are grey issues, but the issues that are grey are usually issues involving struggles with sin. In the end, it doesn’t matter how hard the Church tries to be relevant, God is eternal and He lives inside of you. Do you believe God can use you? Just be who you are, and trust in God to attract people. You’re relevant, so stop trying to be something you already are- remember you’re a Christian who has eternal life. Culture will change, but God’s word remains forever.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16, ESV)

Until next time,
Austin

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Homosexuals Do Not Exist (Part Three): Why Homosexual Marriage Is Good for the Church.


The Shots Heard Around The World:

A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those who like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition
Playing God
Ahh nah, here we go
America the brave
Still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all His children
And somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written
3,500 hundred years ago
I don’t know.

– “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Feat. Mary Lambert)

Did you hear the gun shots last night? 34 of them, to be exact. They fired from our television screens, into the hearts of conservatives and Christians across the country. The 56th Annual Grammy Awards dared to accomplish what no other awards show has ever attempted before: a simultaneous wedding ceremony, of 34 gay and straight couples, on live television. The tune setting the tone for the brief ceremony, was “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The song was penned with a message against hatred of others based on looks, sexual preference, race, or other differences. Instead of destroying liberty, the song calls us to stand on human rights (however you define them). In the middle of the song, Queen Latifah stepped forward on the stage and led the ceremony. The room was electrified with excitement, and tears were shed by not a few faces. The gay rights movement had taken one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. The counter gospel had just been proclaimed to the tv world. Wait, the counter what? Hold onto that thought. I have some ground to cover, so stay with me.

The counter-gospel (or false gospel as the Bible calls it), is a gospel that promises the same results as the real gospel, but re-writes it to match man’s sinful desires. What happened last night was not in the name of God’s definition of love, but mans. Yet, this event was also a great moment for God’s glory. How? By inviting us to rethink why we are against homosexual marriage to begin with.

The Apostle Paul faced different circumstances than our own, but similar false (or counter) gospels in his lifetime (see Galatians 1). Paul considered the gospel something more than words, it was life (Rom. 1:16-17), it was reality (Eph. 1:3-7), it was historical (1 Cor. 15:3), and it was eternal (Rom. 3:23-27). Many today call what they believe, “my truth,” but, truth is, we don’t need your truth, we need the truth. Therefore, you may wonder why I said homosexual marriage is good for the Church, if homosexual marriage is built on a lie. How is this good for the Church? I thought homosexuality was evil? Aren’t we as Christians supposed to strongly oppose gay marriage?

Think about part two in this series: The point I made was that homosexuals are not a different race or breed of humanity, they are human beings. Many Christians speak of homosexuals as if they are a separate category of people, which is why we forget that they are people, not a different race of sinners. Likewise, the gay community does distinguish itself from the rest of society, wanting open arms from everyone. However, not all gays and lesbians think alike, but many of their voices are heard. The gay community does not think of itself as a community of sinners, but a band of brothers and sisters. Either way, both groups separate the gay community from society in some way or another.

What’s the Design?

The question underneath the question of why homosexuality (and gay marriage) is wrong, is what was man created for? I have previously established that how you define humanity determines your view of sexuality. This is essential to getting our thinking right on the subject. Please read part two if you want to know exactly what I mean by saying that.

There’s an article published online by Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus of the University of Ohio, who writes: “A growing consensus about sexual orientation is that it [is] primarily genetically determined, so gays and lesbians may not have any choice in the matter. There are two alternative theological positions that follow from the conservative Christian position: (1) If homosexuals are inherently evil, then that means that God created them such; or (2) more orthodox and acceptable is the view that all humans are created in the image of God and all that God creates is good. Therefore, if God creates gays and lesbians the way there are, then God must intend that they are an integral part of the human community.” (http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/sodom.htm)

So, if you look closely, Macklemore and Lewis seem to agree with Professor Grier’s analysis: Homosexuality is a genetic condition. Either God makes evil people, including homosexuals, the way they are, to be instruments of judgement. Or, He makes everyone good and homosexuals are a part of that goodness. The similarity with both groups is that God created homosexuals to be homosexuals. That doesn’t sound right, does it?

If you look for the theme of homosexuality in the Bible, you won’t find anything remotely close to this message. Homosexuality is a result of man steadily moving away from God towards idolatry and creating warped uses of His design (Rom. 1:20-28). That’s the problem: you can’t read societies definition of homosexuality into scripture and expect it to match. A lion and a tiger may conceive a liger, but it won’t reproduce the same breed of either. Don’t expect the Bible’s view to be societies, and vice versa. Mixing the two negates the purposes of both. The Bible never calls anyone a, “homosexual” in a way similar to race or sexual orientation, but it does call everyone sinners (Rom. 3:23, 1 Tim. 1:15-16) (the King James Version does use the word, “homosexual,” but not in speaking of anyone in particular).

Man, according to the Bible, flourishes, and exists at his happiest and best potential when He is under the authority of God (Psa. 119:103, Psa. 23, Eccles. 7:29). To worship God, means not only to praise Him, but to order ones life in a way that glorifies Him, giving Him recognition for everything. In other words, living the design of the Designer. This design includes heterosexual marriage (Gen. 1:27, 2:24), working the earths resources, and raising a family. Reproductive biology and romantic affection are tied together in true science (1 Cor. 7), but society says that they can be mutually exclusive. The shoe doesn’t need to fit for it to be a good purchase. So, according to society, if biology will not allow two men to conceive, they can still have a genuine and loving relationship. Yet, the Bible says God is love, and apart from Christ, no one can know what love is (1 Jn. 4:8). Marriage on earth is the outward symbol for how Christ loves the Church, and the Bible uses the language of bride and bridegroom (Matt. 3, Jn. 1), not bride and bride or bridegroom and bridegroom (Eph. 5).

Who is the Designer?

The Bible and society clash on this issue. Society teaches that man holds the keys to his destiny- he’s the captain of his ship, the key to fulfilling his dreams. Therefore, defining sexuality flows from what man thinks is right. In this worldview, sexuality is not necessarily tied to biology (scientifically it is), its main purpose is love. Biological predispositions to the same-sex, according to the song by Macklemore and Lewis, is given to us by god, but which god? Let’s ask them.

“No law’s gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up.”

So, whatever god we believe in, there’s only one who made us? That’s confusing and intolerant of other religions that believe in more than one god (hint hint, Mormons). They don’t even know the answer to which deity determines what is sexually correct. The god they speak of doesn’t exist, he’s made up. Now time for the good news:

The gospel says that we are sinners who are rebels of God, and need to be reconciled to Him, by forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Homosexuality is just like any other sin, but it’s expression is emotionally deeper and more outwardly expressed than other sins. The counter-gospel of today wants us to rewrite sin and say that homosexuality is God’s design. But, as Christians we are not against people, which is the message us Christians seem to imply when we speak against gay marriage. We are against sin, and only God can open their eyes to true satisfaction and love (2 Cor. 4). I believe we can be more passionate in speaking out against gay marriage by speaking to someone who is, “gay” and telling them about Jesus. Yet, another reason why I believe the term, “homosexual” is camouflage for a deeper word: sinner. Tomorrow, I will answer more questions about identity and sinfulness. Now, for the summary:

The reason why I believe that homosexual marriage is a good thing for the Church, is that it awakens us to reality. Scripture doesn’t tells us to try and change society, or to put Christian morals on non-Christians. Should we be grateful that our country was founded on Christian values? Absolutely, but that’s not our mission as Christians, to defend the constitution at the cost of paying full attention to God’s word.

The Bible says that we need to live godly and quiet lives at the present time (1 Thess. 1), to “honor the emperor [or president] (1 Pet. 2),” pay taxes, obey the government, respect the authorities (Rom. 13, Matt. 22), and use the freedoms we have here to share the gospel (Matt. 28:18). Rick Warren told Mark Driscoll at the Resurgence conference, “our job is not to win America; our job is to win Americans.” This event at the Grammy’s was a wake up call to us Christians to stop politicizing our beliefs, and to start living them. Therefore, share the gospel, tell people about Jesus, and don’t dance around homosexuality as a movement, go to people as they are: sinners in need of the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ.

Until next time,
Austin Thompson

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Homosexuals Do Not Exist: Recapping The First Two Posts.


This was intended to be a five-part series, but the more I’ve tried to make it only five posts, the easier it has become for people to misunderstand my intentions or the content of the posts. So, consider this a review of parts one and two, arecourse to make it easier for everyone, and an introduction to part three.

Writing this series has been challenging- finding what to say is not the issue, but making the argument simple is. The difficult task I face in writing a series like this, is having a simple argument without sacrificing content. This is not meant to stir your intellect only, but to challenge you on what you believe.

So, over the next three days I want to make the direction of the series clearer and much more simple. I am a Christian, I believe the Bible is without error and without fallacies. I believe there is salvation only in Jesus Christ. I believe all of us are sinners in need of the Savior. I am tired of the church saying homosexuality is a sin but not understanding everything the Bible has to say about homosexuality. I also want the world to know what Christians believe when they confess the Bible is true. I want them to understand that the cultures definition of love is much different than the Bible’s definition. We all need to challenge ourselves on this issue, because there are real people involved here, not simply an ideology.

The overarching theme is that I believe homosexuals do not exist, and neither does the Bible. I believe homosexuality does exist, and those whom we call homosexual, gay, lesbian, or any other name do participate in homosexuality. In the first post I dealt with arguments some may have in response to saying homosexuals do not exist, but homosexuality does- including, how, you can’t live without seeing or hearing about this thing called the gay community. If you want to go back and review, feel free.

The previous posts introduced why I think this way, and why, if you disagree with the Bible on what defines humanity, sexuality, and identity, you will disagree with my final analysis, too. If anything I’ve said comes across as pure opinion, then I apologize. Although my analysis of the culture and politics is my opinion, my conclusions regarding the truth is from the Bible. Jesus said to God the Father, “You word is truth (John 17:3).” Therefore, let’s have a quick review and then deal with the topic of identity.

Since I’ve begun writing on homosexuality, some people became confused about what I’m trying to say. In a short summary, let me explain what I’ve laid out on the blog so far:

1) Christians need to think about homosexuality in a deeper way. Do we use the term, “homosexual” as a word to describe what a person desires/does, or is it a word that signifies an identity, that can’t be undone?

Is homosexuality a human condition or natural consequence?

2) Both Christians and Non-Christians separate homosexuals (aka gay and lesbian) from the rest of the world. Some Christians say that they are marked in a way that makes them less likely to receive the gospel. However, the Bible doesn’t say that someone who commits homosexuality is a different kind of sinner. Yet, as Christians in America we distinguish them, speaking about them as if we agree with everyone else that they are born that way, but still disagree with the lifestyle.

In other words, we’re all people.

3) Underneath the question of identity is, what does it mean to be human? Society and the Bible have differing views. If man determines what it means to be human, then sexuality is not a matter of what appears natural (relations leading to procreation…meaning heterosexuality), but of what feels natural to us.

The Bible says what is natural was created by a supernatural God. He determined the course for humanity, and humanity wanted something different. God ordained this to happen, to set the course for salvation in Jesus. By returning to our Creator, we can flourish and enjoy truth by worshiping Him, not our ideas of truth.

There are still three days left of posts to be uploaded. I encourage you to read them and not assume anything until the last page. Now that we’ve worked our way to the purpose of humanity, we must ask what is the identity of humanity apart from God.

Until next time,

Austin Thompson

Homosexuals Do Not Exist (Part Two): You’re Only Human.


Let me begin with a quote from a song by Billy Joel. This song was written some time after Billy had failed an attempt at suicide. After getting what he calls a, “second wind,” he wrote down his reasons for continuing to live. In the song he talks about humanity, here are the lyrics:

You’re having a hard time and lately you don’t feel so good
You’re getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood
It’s alright, it’s alright
Sometimes that’s what it takes
You’re only human, you’re allowed to make your share of mistakes
You better believe there will be times in your life
When you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool
So take it from me you’ll learn more from your accidents
Than anything that you could ever learn at school – Billy Joel, You’re Only Human (Second Wind)

People on both sides of the spectrum, what we call liberal and conservative, might throw stones at this post and say that I’m insane. “Homosexuals do exist!”, they might say. Just turn on the news, read the paper, go on the internet, or walk out in public, fact is they’re everywhere! Really? I must have been living in the jungle or never owned a television, or gone outside. You and I both know that people of the same sex date, some marry, and others want their freedom to be accepted. But, here’s the truth we often avoid altogether: they’re people. Is it possible that gays, lesbians, and others have been categorized to the point where we treat them as a different class of human beings? Perhaps they themselves also think that way (as we’ll see in part 3).

What if they’re just people who walk like humans and talk like humans, but go by a term we (or they) made up for them. What if it’s just a term that we call them? Think about it: When you walk around and see two women holding hands, you don’t make a distinction of species- apart from some external differences, they’re people like everyone else. Distinctions of class, possibly. Either way, you can’t deny they are people. So, where do these distinctions come from? Do they come from our own thinking? Possibly. We have names for business products, government policies, political parties, food groups, restaurants, ethnicities, languages, and now, sexuality. It’s our way of identifying things. Do distinctions of sexuality come from God? Many would say yes, especially Christians. But, does the Bible use the term, “homosexual,” like we use it? Wait, I’m speeding through this too quickly: let’s get to the core and work our way out from there.

Our words have value, and how we define things matters, because it affects the way we see them and what relates to them. The choice of our words is even more valuable, but words aren’t people. We can’t invent a new term every time we feel like it. That’s what we need to deal with when it comes to this issue: every person is a person. We all have things in common that bind us together, before we make distinctions that possibly blur them. So, the next question we need to ask is: what does it mean to be human? Answers will vary. I’d like to look through the eyes of American Society and the Bible once again. Society and the Bible don’t disagree on every point, but how their points are shaped is certainly different.

Society’s Argument: You’re human, what they call homosapiens. You’re basically a smarter animal. You make mistakes; you fall in love. You grow up, get a job and save up money for retirement. You try to afford the best kind of life for your children. Some people are evil, and we just can’t explain it. Humanity is good, and there is a goodness that we need to bring out in each other. The best thing we can do is learn to be at peace with one other, and ourselves. The idea of an afterlife is at best a fantasy, at most a destination that any person of faith will be allowed into (even Atheists). Heaven exists, we’re just not sure if there’s a god or a spiritual being, or none at all. Sex is good, and therefore should not be restricted to monogamy. The grave is all there is waiting for us, make the most of your life here. Mess up, have stories to tell, live while you’re young so you won’t have regrets later in life. Your destiny is in your hands. Become who you want to be, don’t let anyone define it for you.

The Biblical Argument: Human beings are not animals. Though we share many things in common, we are made in the image of God. In His image, we represent Him in some sense on this earth. We rule over animals and all creation- they are not our equals, but we have the same Creator. Mankind was created to flourish and exist under the authority of God: that means have babies, enjoy God, enjoy the earth, and build onto it. Work was created by God before sin entered the world, to use the earth in a way that pleases Him. Sex was created by God to be enjoyed by a man and woman, with the result being children and eventually a community. Since sin entered the world, we idolize our jobs, our sexuality (thinking any sex is good), our children, and worship anything but Him.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

The first people decided that they wanted to be like God even more, which was a lie from Satan (they were made in His image). They already had a knowledge of good and evil, but they went even farther and learned this knowledge by experience, Sin, and therefore mistakes, death, pain, and division entered the world. There is no good in us according to the Bible (Rom. 3), however, our conscience and God’s law are written on our hearts (Rom. 2) to protects us from being as evil as we could be (2 Thess. 2-3). You know not to do something even before someone tells you not to do it.

There is still a resemblance of what we were before the fall, but our potential apart from Christ is to sin even more. God alone is good, and calls us back to Himself in Jesus Christ. The only person who has a right to make distinctions among humanity is God. There is one God, and He did not make mankind according to social status or race, but in His Image. Sin brought about the division of mankind and separation from God.

How you view humanity is directly tied to how you view homosexuality. If your view of humanity is similar to the consensus, or divided opinions of society, then humanity can determine what is good for itself. It’s own observations, experiences, and consensus overrules anything we perceive as natural; nature bends to our wills. Nature is simply that which we call normal, as it relates to us and our own experiences. Homosexuality may not compliment procreation, but romantic love and procreation are two separate things in this worldview. They don’t have as close of a relationship as in the Christian worldview.

The Christian worldview says that homosexuality does not compliment sexuality as it was intended to be- in fact, it is against nature. Procreation was meant to be the result of those desires (with marriage preceding the sexual relationship). One says sexual experience was designed to be between one man and one woman, because it was designed that way- the other says, homosexuals are born with these impulses, and therefore “designed” by nature to fulfill them in a loving relationship with another of the same sex.

With differing views of humanity established, what do we therefore mean when we call someone a homosexual (if you’re religious), or gay, or lesbian? Are we using these words to describe the affections, actions, and wants of others? That, what they want is just different than what you want. Or is it deeper than that, relating to the way they are genetically designed?

Is homosexuality simply meant to be a term to express the one-sex only part of the desire? Maybe we don’t even know, or don’t even care- we just want people to do their thing, and we’ll do our thing. Go smoke your dope, marry someone of the same sex, buy enough guns for the apocalypse, and some pornography while you’re at it. Just leave me alone to do as I please, right? This is all wrong. This is not a liberty issue, a political issue, or a religious-political issue. The question is whether these words are terms for behavior, genetics, or words for identities. That is what makes the difference. The question behind the question is, where does my identity come from?

That’s what I want to uncover over the next few days: let’s stop assuming we know what we’re talking about because it’s what we think, and start saying what we think because it’s what we know. Specifically, I’m addressing Christians. Why do we have our pet passages to explain homosexuality is a sin, but never read the Bible enough to see that those called homosexuals are people too? Also, are we absolutely sure that the way we view homosexuality is entirely aligned with what the Bible says? Let’s not just look at what is a sin, but why it is sin. Also, let’s be careful not to describe sin the same way unbelievers describe it, the language doesn’t always correlate. If homosexuality is explained in the Bible in a way that’s different than the culture, but we speak against it using the word, not the way the Bible does, but the way unbelievers do, then people will assume that we think homosexuality is just as natural as society believes it is, but we still disagree with it. Let’s get our terms right.

Until tomorrow,
Austin Thompson

Homosexuals Do Not Exist (Part One): Identity or Attribute? The Philosophical Foundation.


I’m sure you’re wondering why I picked a title like this one. You might find it both shocking and ambiguous. If the title is what drove you to read this, then thank you for taking time to come to my page. I hope this serves you and others reading this.

The subject of homosexuality has weighed heavily on my heart the last month. With all the political, theological, and televised discussion about it, I’ve seen Christians give poor theology and unbelievers misrepresent Christians. The Phil Robertson controversy only brought about what had been bubbling underneath the surface; what everyone’s thoughts already were on the subject. So, let me be honest with you: I don’t think the church in America has a fully-Biblical understanding of homosexuality and I also think society has misrepresented Christians. I’m no expert by worldly standards; I don’t have a degree, I’m not a Pastor, and politics isn’t my forte. Any authority I claim to have comes from the word of God, and any cultural sources that I cite are in the authors/speakers own words. What I do have is a burden for the Church to read the Bible and use it on its own terms, and also for the unbeliever to know what Christians are about. So, please know that I wrote none of this out of a personal agenda for self-glory- my agenda is to get all of us thinking. Bear with me for a moment and ask yourself whether you agree with the title. What’s your interpretation of, “Homosexuals do not exist”?

You could see the title being for or against homosexuality; options also include confusing, or just plain crazy. Whatever the case, I ask that you read this series in its entirety. I ask for Christians to have open hearts and minds, and for those of you who are prepared to judge before the evidence is presented: chill. I’d like to take a minute and play with your perceptions of what you think these posts might be about. These four points are not meant to be straw-men stereotypes of different beliefs, but summaries of the beliefs of different people I’ve encountered over the years.

First, in regards to being for homosexuality, the title could imply that.

You could say that I’m here to bring down distinctions of sexuality; forget making distinctions, and love whoever you want. I’m just progressing what began with the Civil Rights movement and has now eclipsed in the next stage of humanity: the Gay rights movement. Blacks were discriminated, and gays today are discriminated against, too. Stop focusing on the colors (distinctions) of the rainbow (humanity) and start appreciating it for what it is. Homosexuals do not exist, but people do, and titles only divide us. We should all be united and pursue world peace. Michael Jackson and friends sang that, “we are the world.” Is that what I’m saying?

Second, you could see this post as against homosexuality.

The historical position of Christianity is that any kind of sexual activity apart from marriage is sin. Marriage is only between one man and one woman. Procreation and marital union align with God’s design for sexuality. However, some Christians aren’t satisfied with this position only being held in the realm of the local church- they also want society to embrace it. Some politicize it: The legalization of gay marriage in our country should make our blood boil, right? This is a Christian nation!

Maybe even thrown in some angry fundamentalism: Homosexuals do not exist, they’re just a bunch of reprobate sinners! It’s all about what Romans one says, that God let mankind seal their fate by choosing to sin. God gave them over to their sin, but not me! I’m a blood-bought believer, who is free from that lifestyle. My sin is already dealt with, but theirs, oh, just wait and see! We all know that God’s wrath is on them more than drunks or adulterers. They’re marked like Cain, and cursed by God. It’s too difficult to evangelize to them; after all, they’re already lost, right?

Third, you might find this title confusing.

Why would I say homosexuals don’t exist when everyone already believes they do? It seems like saying homosexuals don’t exist would deny what nature and nurture (to some) teach us. Isn’t it obvious that they don’t call themselves homosexuals (possibly a term for disrespect), but gay, lesbian, or even bi, and all the things the LBGT stand for? Isn’t this post therefore redundant, irrelevant, ill-informed, or just plain stupid? This leaves you with more questions than answers.

Fourth, I’m crazy (see point three).

Maybe I’ve convinced myself they don’t exist, and also that Santa Clause is real and the tooth fairy is real. Maybe I’m just promoting an ideology or a new theory that’s supposed to change the way we think. I could also be a religious nut who wants to bother people with a post that means absolutely nothing, and will not accomplish anything important, but just divide people even more. I have three words to say to that: wait and see.

Are you ready to go on this journey with me?

Today’s post is meant to encourage you to start challenging yourself about what you believe about sexuality. Start asking the hard questions. I don’t want any of who read this series of posts to leave seeing your convictions in the same way.

I would like to leave you with a few questions for today:

What is love? What does it mean to love?
Why is homosexuality such an important issue? Is it?
How should a Christian respond to homosexuality? Even though not every Christian thinks the same way, what should their basis be?
Is homosexuality a lifestyle, an attribute, or an identity?

Until tomorrow,
Austin Thompson

“In The Name of Jesus.”


Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:1-6 ESV)

The depth of Peter’s statement will be neglected if we don’t pay close attention to it. It’s possible that because this verse is in the middle of a story, the reader will not look for any significant theology in it. However, we find several interesting points being made here:

1) The lame man, who couldn’t make a living, begging outside the temple.

2) His desire: financial. No doubt he wanted to be healed, but it’s unlikely he thought this was possible. He might have heard about Jesus, but it doesn’t appear that he sought him out or knew of the Apostles.

3) He did not think in terms of the supernatural. He wasn’t expecting Peter to heal him, he thought he was just an ordinary man. Peter was ordinary, but had the aid of an extraordinary God.

4) He was expecting something from them, but it was material, not immaterial. He was expecting alms, not healing. This appears to be the case, until the next verse.

5) It appears implied in context that the man got up at Peter’s request, with faith in the promise that he would walk because of Jesus. The text simply doesn’t say if he had faith or not at this moment. What it does say is that the man complied with Peter’s command, and he was healed. Then, he demonstrated thankfulness and praised God. It’s safe to say conversion happened, the bigger miracle is salvation, not physical healing.

Now for the amazing part of Peter’s statement:

“I have no silver or gold.”- Peter was not able to give him anything that would help his financial condition. It’s interesting how many of us feel the same way about ministering to others. We say we are lacking finances, or time, or anything to donate. Peter didn’t stop there; he wasn’t thinking materially. He was mindful of Christ, of eternal life, and had a healthy perspective on what matters when it comes to helping others.

“But what I have I give to you.” – He wasn’t saying that healing was less than money, he also wasn’t strictly talking about healing. The Holy Spirit was going to save him! It was not like he was saying, “I don’t have any money, but I know something that might also work.” He wasn’t giving him something less than money or possibly equal in value, he was giving him something greater. Do you understand this? You may not have time or money, but if and when you do encounter people, you have the gospel!

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”- The gospel is the point here, the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other name that saves us (Acts 4:20), no other name that we call Lord (Phil. 2:10), and no other name that secures us (see Jude). The name of Jesus, whom Peter calls here Jesus of Nazareth, is life changing. Jesus the human being, who is also God, is alive and at work in us!

Without Jesus Christ, none of what happened was possible. Do you realize the power of the God you have faith in? Do you know that the same Holy Spirit who lived in Peter lives in you also? Can you see why you need to share the gospel with others? This passage is not just about a physical healing, it’s about receiving the greatest healing: salvation in Jesus Christ.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7, 8, 10 ESV)

The Promises of God for 2014 (and Eternity).


It’s 2014! You’ve made your resolutions and so far they have been tested in little ways: resist sweets? Check. Go to the gym? Check. Read the Bible? Check. You keep your eye on the prize and hope to look back next year without regret. In my last post, I wrote how the greatest need of man is not to improve himself, but for himself to be saved by God. We are born enemies of God, think about that: you need God’s permission to even breathe, but He gave you breath so that you may know Him and live for Him.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5 ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

You need redemption in Jesus, and His power to live out that reality every day. You need salvation before resolutions, but that’s the exciting part: it introduces you into a new life that includes new resolutions, ones based on the work of Christ. These last three posts hopefully lay out three themes:

1) Revolving (life continues on, but why?)
2) Resolving (the resolution of life: to glorify God). And today’s
3) Reflecting (on the promises of God).

Today, the culture has made acronyms for just about everything. YOLO (you only live once) is a key example, as it declares that your life will end shortly and you need to take risks. It assumes this world is all there is. That once your dead, life ceases permanently. Some philosophers used to say that life is really treasured when you experience the, “reality of final experience,” where you encounter your mortality and realize there is meaning in life. However, this is a godless worldview. Where does this meaning come from? How do we know that we only live once?

That’s the problem: we need a standard. You can only measure bad by knowing what is good. Humans cannot give ultimate standards because all of us are human (duh). There must be a reality above us that descends to us the standard of good and exists in a way that is higher than ours, a Person whose existence is greater and more meaningful (Creator of the world, of morality, of humanity, etc). God is the standard, therefore the, “final experience” can only come from encountering this God. He has made Himself known in the Bible: His word written through men to speak on our level. He is triune, perfect, and manifoldly beautiful. This God revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who took on a human existence and died in the place of sinful man so that they could be forgiven and reconciled to a sinless God (Jesus is also God and a member of the trinity). Everything was created, including you. In other words, God’s the most awesome, Divine Person (not human. Deity) who is bigger than us.

As Christians, we know this gospel. We know that the gospel should impact our lives right now. We have redemption right now. God is faithful right now, but to what end? Living for the moment doesn’t always work, because it can lead to us depending on how we feel right now. There needs to be an anchor to hold down the right perspective of what is really there. You’re not always assured of the gospel, often times we forget it.

There is much talk today about discovering, “God’s purpose for your life,” and living out “His favor” in your school and job. There’s so much more to life than what your career is supposed to be; life is about God’s plan for history which includes your career, family, church, etc. The pillars are missing to hold up our confidence. We need an eternal goal to reach for, so that we won’t let the present push us back and forth. We need an eternal perspective, or as John Piper writes, a proper view of “future grace.”

Why is this so important? Let’s take a look at the final two reasons why I believe people make resolutions:

3) (New Years is) not just a fresh start or a chance to look forward, it’s also a time to change your habits. Instilling new and exciting things into your daily routine. Improving your character, and making sure your life revolves around the right things. Becoming a better you. Progress.

4) Having an end game. It’s not just about what you did yesterday or what you will do tomorrow, but also how you want your life to end. What is the end for which man created the New Years list?

The two key words are character and continuance. Surely, God doesn’t want us to live our lives like a two-act story: Sinner born into sinful world -> Child of God in heaven, leaving the middle part up to us. This would mean that God doesn’t care about our present struggles with sin or what we do, like a train going to a set destination but what happens on the way is up to us. He’s working in us now, but not for the purpose of now. Gods purpose is for eternity.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, that everyone’s work will be tested at the judgement. The judgement will happen after we die, and God will determine whether what each Christian has done is eternal or temporary. Wood or straw, building material that lasts or is useless. It’s not a judgement that determines whether we are saved, but rather, what each Christians reward is. Every Christian will be allowed into heaven, but not every Christian will receive certain rewards in heaven. What you do matters, that’s the point. You can’t just say that it matters, you need to understand why.

God is not just going to save you and let you into some pearly gates (though they do exist). He’s making, “all things new (Rev. 21:5).” Our souls aren’t the only things that will be redeemed. He’s going to reshape the earth and the universe and take away sin, tears, death, and cast Satan into Hell. Hell will still exist, but for each believer, we will be allowed into a new heaven and earth, not some mystical place in the sky. So, imagine breathing, but on a new earth with clean air and no sin, with Jesus and fellow believers for eternity. Don’t you want to take others with you? God is calling so many people to Himself, won’t you be His instrument?

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17 ESV)

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:5-7 ESV)

Jonathan Edwards was an interesting man. He was a theologian and pastor during the great American revivals of the 18th century. His sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God,” is still read in schools today. It’s the sermon that sparked a great revival. What many people don’t know about Edwards, is that he was a man who took living for Christ passionately and seriously. Dead serious. He looked at his life and wrote out resolutions, things he knew he knew he needed to do, in order to obey God and enjoy Him. Yes, enjoy God.

Take a look at a few of his resolutions at the bottom of the page. The question I have for you is: will you resolve to live yourself completely on mission for Christ? Will you surrender your weakness and ask God to be your strength? Will you strive with all your might to love God and know His word this year, and every year?

Until next time, peace in Christ
Austin

Jonathan Edwards:

Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.

Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.

Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.

http://www.churchplantmedia.com/blog/post/70-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards

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