Biblical Counter Arguments

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

 As the world continues to press on us LGBTQ+ Pride month, I will continue to press back with biblical counter arguments. Last week’s article can be found at redeemerVA.org on our church blog. Last week I outlined a basic Christian sexual ethic and position against homosexual and transgender lifestyles. This week I want to provide further resources that I hope will be helpful in speaking to your children, friends, and co-workers about these issues.

I would remind you to start where I left off last week – with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should not expect people to follow in the ways of Jesus if they do not love Jesus. Begin by introducing people to who Jesus is. You’re wrong to assume that people know who Jesus is or what He taught about anything. Introduce people to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, but in doing this, don’t skip the hard news about sin and God’s holiness. Tell people your testimony. Tell people how you were once lost in sin and death, until Jesus forgave your sins and gave you new life. Speak of the joy of living according to God’s will!

That said, there is a great divide between the deeply humanistic thinking of so many people today, and the will of God. How are we to bridge this gap in discussion and debate? Below are a few resources I hope will be helpful. First:
 
We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking truth to a culture redefining sex, marriage, and the very meaning of right and wrong by R. Albert Mohler
 
I highly recommend this short and very practical book. The first chapters address how as an American culture we have moved so rapidly from a generally Christian sexual ethic to where we are today. This historical overview is not only vital to understand, but will cause you to stop and consider what ground you may have given up in your own life. He then moves into defining Christian ethics, the place and role of religious liberty, and the role of the local church in our present struggle. The book ends with an extended question and answer section. Mohler directly answers many of the most common and thorny questions related to the LGBTQ+ movement in America.
 
The Gender Spectrum by Sue Bohlin

Raising Gender Healthy Kids by Sue Bohlin
 
I recommend this series of blog posts by Sue Bohlin, writer for Probe Ministries. In this series of posts Sue specifically relates the conversation to raising gender healthy children. It is vital that we not hide from these issues as we raise our kids. Our children are being bombarded by LGBTQ+ propaganda from every side. We need to understand basics of how to affirm our children in the gender God gave them, and help them grow up into the men and women God would have them to be. I hope these resources are helpful.
 
May Jesus give us wisdom, courage, and grace,
Pastor Vic

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1 Corinthians 6:9-11

We are now in the midst of June. Not long ago June began to be recognized as gay pride month, but has now been expanded to pride month for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, queer, + (+ being any other sexual combination that can be imagined in the future). This group, which loves to paint itself as an oppressed minority, now sits in a place of unprecedented power. They have used the force of shame and unrelenting power politics to come into a place of controlling the national conversation on sexual ethics. In a short period of time, these sexual acts have moved from being understood as sinful, to being passionately advocated for across every spectrum of our country.

It is very important in our thinking to separate allowance and advocacy. In America we are thankful for the freedom of personal expression and freedom of religious practice. However, with the issue of LGBTQ+ practice, we have a collision of sexual practice and Christian belief. We have two camps that oppose each other. A position of allowance says that each has the right to do as they please, peaceably. For the most part, Christians can, and have been, tolerant of a serious change in sexual ethics in this country. However, though the LGBTQ+ community constantly preaches tolerance, this is not what they practice. The leaders of the LGBTQ+ community demand advocacy. It is not enough for them to be free to act as they choose, they demand that Christians everywhere support and affirm what they are doing as right before God. They demand that we advocate their position.

From this position, leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement have made advocacy for this new sexual ethic the official position of the US federal government. The LGBTQ flag is flown publicly around the world at our embassies under the US flag. Every federal agency has special programs within each agency to advocate the moral goodness of LGBTQ+ sexual choices. Across the country in every state that receives federal funding, for any law enforcement, school, child protective service, or any other partially federally funded initiative, there is attached to it a mandatory and forceful block of re-education. Every employee or person in contact with that department will feel the direct pressure. This re-education is not for freedom of practice, but forced support and affirmation of every possible LGBTQ+ sexual act or expression.

The power of the federal government and public shaming has now also influenced nearly every private business as well. If a private company does not in some way publicly support and affirm all LGBTQ+ sexual expression, without reservation, that company is openly attacked and shamed until they are brought into submission. Due to this aggressive, offensive campaign, only the most openly Christian companies have withstood this pressure. It is now the exception to find a business that does not somehow acknowledge and celebrate LGBTQ+ pride month.

As Christians, we cannot support or advocate actions that God has clearly forbidden as sinful. The Bible is not unclear on sexual morality, and we must have the courage to live out God’s will. From the first pages of Genesis, to the words of the Old Testament prophets, to the teaching of Jesus, to the letters of Paul, to the final pages of Revelation – the Bible clearly sets forward mandatory boundaries for our sexual expression. This is a Christian sexual ethic. Despite what is being shouted from every corner in our day, what you do sexually IS a moral act and DOES have consequences in your relationship to God and others. There is only one God-ordained, or God blessed, sexual expression – which is sex between a biological man and a biological woman inside of marriage. In our day, even this needs to be further clarified. The Bible uses the word “fornication” to condemn sex between people before marriage. The Bible uses the word “adultery” to condemn sex between people that are married, but not to each other. The Bible clearly condemns sex between two people of the same sex (homosexuality), and the Bible clearly establishes gender as a fixed object (established by God). This is a biblical sexual ethic.

Christians are not against sex – they are for Christian marriage. Christians are not closed-minded for maintaining virginity until marriage – they advocate this as a virtue. Christians are not afraid of (phobic of) homosexuals – they condemn their actions as morally wrong. Christians are not hateful for recognizing the birth gender of a person – they are helping that person understand and accept who God made them to be. As followers of Christ, we cannot and must not give up ground on sexual ethics. We have no right to declare as good what God has declared evil. However, I do not expect the tide of LGBTQ+ pressure to change anytime soon. In fact, I believe the opposite. I believe that most of us will have to pay a personal price to maintain our biblical Christian morality. It almost certainly will mean losing friends, could mean losing customers, and may mean losing a long-time job.

I write these words with all seriousness and sobriety. Everyone of us needs to clarify in our minds, and in your personal situation, lines that you know you cannot cross without personally entering into affirming and advocating what is sinful. This should include, at a minimum, not signing a statement pushed on you at the end of a re-training session that you will affirm and support all things LGBTQ+. It should include not wearing on your person, or on your work uniform, some advocacy for LGBTQ+ sexuality. It must include continuing to uphold a Christian sexual morality even if a close friend, family member, or child chooses to enter into LGBTQ+ sexuality or gender transformation.

It’s important to consider the example of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts. He was a Roman citizen, and as such, often asserted His rights (Acts 16:37-38, 22:25-29, 23:26-27). Because of this, he was freed from prison and persecution on a number of occasions. We have a constitutional right to the free practice of our Christian faith. I urge you to draw your boundary lines, pray for wisdom, pray for courage, pray for Christian love and grace, and then stand without compromise for what God has declared to be morally right and good. When it comes down to it, assert your right to practice the most long-standing religion in this country – biblical Christianity.

I began this article with clarifying our position and pressing for you to hold that position, but we must end with the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance and faith. If there is no recognition of sin, then there is no humility, and there is no need for a Savior. With no preaching of sin we end up exactly where we find ourselves today – passionately and proudly advocating for the affirmation of sin. Jesus taught that God hates pride and that our sexual sins will keep us from ever entering the kingdom of God. It is never unloving to tell someone the truth, when you are telling them the truth for the purpose of their redemption. Awareness of sin always comes before salvation, but our co-workers, neighbors, and family members will never be aware of their sin if we affirm them in it.

Jesus, the apostles, and Paul went from town to town proclaiming sin and the open door of forgiveness by grace through Jesus Christ. The reaction was always the same. Some openly hated and mocked them. Some plotted against them murder and prison. Some didn’t care and just walked away. Some came back again to consider what they had to say. But everywhere they went – SOME BELIEVED.

This month as we are surrounded by a rising storm of ungodliness, set your foot upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 7:24-27). Consider Him who endured such persecution from evil men and stand firm (Hebrews 12:1-4)!

Let us live as a holy people set apart from the world,

Pastor Vic

Men’s Ministry

Exciting things are happening at Redeemer! God has led Redeemer to launch two new ministries—a men’s mentoring ministry and a missions ministry.  

Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another (Pro 27:17)

The purpose of the men’s ministry is to come along side men and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. God has placed men in a leadership role within their families and the Church. Our hope is to counter the current cultural philosophies of secular humanism through biblical teaching, fellowship and leadership in the home, church, and community. We need to reach out to unsaved men, as well, and build relationships with the intention of sharing the Gospel. To accomplish this goal, we are planning the first annual men’s event, Legacy, Sunday July 18, at 6:30pm.  We will gather men for a time of worship and teaching.  Paul Sok will be our speaker and Coleson Herron will be our worship leader. We are going to provide an opportunity for men to register for the event to get a good head count. This will be a great time of fellowship.

In addition, we are currently working to establish a men’s mentoring ministry to encourage Christian men who desire to have a deeper walk with Christ through the mentoring of other spiritually mature men. More information to come on this aspect of the ministry.

Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Our mission’s ministry has several opportunities coming up to fulfill the Great Commission.

Hope of Appalachia Virginia, led by Mike and Lisa Dodson, is a ministry to the rural areas of southeastern Kentucky.  They work with local schools in poor areas to perform evangelism and discipleship activities.  We are working to partner with Mike and Lisa to conduct a trip this fall or in the spring of 2022.

Josiah Luttrull, IMB Missionary to Rwanda, and his family are stationed in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa and minister to the student community and rural areas outside Kigali.  Their primary mission is to preach the Gospel, teach, and disciple the people of Kigali.  We are planning a trip in September to work alongside Josiah to evangelize, teach, and build relationships. Pray that God will open the hearts and minds of those we will be teaching.

IMB missionaries, Nathan and Tessa Baker, are located in Madagascar.  We are hoping to partner with them in the future to reach an engaged, but unreached people group in the region of Sihanaka. Missionaries in that region, Olivia and Narindra, are working with the Malagasy Biblical Baptist Church.  Unfortunately, we currently are not able to travel to Madagascar due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Please pray for God’s direction as we move forward with the ministries.   

 In His Service,

Rodney Swann

Jesus, Lord and Savior

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-17

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord … The Apostles’ Creed

 All true Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. As with Simon Peter, this reality is revealed to each Christian as a work of the Lord in their heart. To this revelation of the true nature of Jesus, we respond in faith. We don’t believe in an empty name. We don’t believe in one who can merely help us live better and more fulfilled lives. We don’t follow a wise teacher named Jesus. We believe that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited Savior (“the Christ”) and “the Son of the living God.” During His ministry on earth Jesus claimed to be the “only begotten” (John 3:16) Son of God, to be one with God the Father (John 10:30), and the only way of salvation from judgement to come (John 14:6). Those who crucified Jesus long ago understood that He made these claims, and they hated Him for it. They rejected Jesus’ teaching, prophetic fulfillment, and miracles. They did not believe.

 Today, many would say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but cannot define what is behind that wonderful name. Also, there are those who know what the Bible teaches about the person and work of Jesus Christ, but choose to reject and redefine Jesus. They want a Jesus that affirms them, not the biblical Jesus who preached a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. If we are to believe in Jesus, we must believe at least three basic things.

 First, Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that God exists eternally as one God in three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three divine persons – one God. Jesus is God the Son. He is eternally existing as God. Jesus participated in the creation of the world and will one day judge the world in holiness. In the midst of these things, He was born of virgin. God with us – Emanuel.

 Second, Jesus was born to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus was not born into the world to inspire us. Jesus was not born into the world to be a political leader. Jesus was born to live a sinless life and to be the atoning sacrifice for sin, that His elect people might be saved. Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world! He was born at the proper time to fulfill all prophecy spoken of Him from ages past.

 Third, Jesus is Lord. For many ages this is what Christians have proclaimed at baptism. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord. When we believe in Jesus Christ and follow after Him in discipleship, we submit to His Lordship. This means that we submit to His authority in all things. The ways of Jesus are not suggestions and are not meant to be therapeutic. Jesus’ teaching and commands are not open for cultural re-interpretation. Those who believe in Jesus and submit to His Lordship are radically changed to walk in a way that is counter to this world. By a changed heart and a renewed mind, we are not conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2). There always has been, and always will be, a significant difference between the words, actions, and ways of those who follow Jesus Christ and those who follow after this world.

On a final note, please take very seriously the beautiful and precious name of Jesus. It is the intentional name given by the angel Gabriel (Matthew 1:21). Always speak highly of our Lord Jesus. Sing His precious name in worship. Use His precious name in prayer, but hear the will of the Lord in Exodus 20:7. Never use the precious name of Jesus as a curse word. Never use the Lord’s name in vain.

I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Pastor Vic

Divorce

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30    
       

I would like to speak to a common and understandable struggle that came from last Sunday’s sermon on divorce. If two people are in a long-term miserable marriage, why should they stay married? The unhappiness of this couple’s relationship affects the family, children, and everyone related to them. The blame for this prison of dysfunction is often laid on Jesus. It’s often said, “If they only had the freedom to divorce, they could be happy.”
           
This reasoning makes two wrong assumptions. First, it assumes the problem is with the relationship and not the individuals. If the two people could separate, they would leave their misery behind. Second, that the will of God in marriage is not universally good. Instead, marriage is only good when you have a match of two good people. Let’s examine both of these wrong assumptions.
           
First, a miserable marriage comes from one, or both, spouses living in a constant pattern of sin. The problem is not with the “relationship,” the problem is with the individuals. If they divorce without justification from their present situation, they would simply take their sin with them into loneliness or their next marriage. This is the basic reason why people that divorce, without biblical justification, have a high rate of divorcing again and again. Their personal sin problems compound, instead of resolve. However, EVERY marriage is made up of two sinners. It’s a false notion that good marriages come from “two happy people” married to each other. I have met countless couples that were miserable together, but from an outside perspective, had no reason for unhappiness. 
          
This goes to the second argument: “That the will of God in marriage is not universally good.” The will of God in marriage IS universally good, because it is used by God to help sanctify (make more godly and drive out sin) two sinners in a marriage relationship. Selfishness destroys relationships. The primary way, designed by God, to truly drive out selfishness is marriage and family. The long-term nature of biblical marriage and children, acted upon by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, will radically change you

The answer to a miserable and failed marriage is not divorce. This excludes the justified reasons for divorce spoken about Sunday, but speaks to the reality that most failed marriages result from anger, harsh words, selfish spending, relational withdrawal, an unwillingness to serve a spouse in need, inflexibility, selfish personal career choices, and so on. All of these reasons are sinful. The answer to our sin is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
           
The main point I want to make here is that the answer to our miserable relationships, destroyed by sin and selfishness, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are in a struggling marriage, do not focus on escaping the marriage. Instead, examine yourself and look to Jesus. Jesus came to save sinners. The Holy Spirit has been sent to accomplish the radical transformation of selfish sinners into servant-hearted people that bless those around them. If you know people who are in a terrible marriage, please do not center your conversations with them around nursing their selfishness or encouraging them to run away from their sins. Point them to Jesus and the gospel of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith. When you see others in a low and beat-down place, don’t encourage them to run further into the darkness; point them to Jesus who can make all things new. Jesus can, and will, give them rest for their souls.          

Speak the gospel truth, for the truth alone can set you free. 

May our marriages be strengthened by the Holy Spirit this week,
Pastor Vic

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord; who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he arose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

              The Apostles’ Creed is the most ancient and widely accepted summary statement of the Christian faith. It’s almost 2000 years old and records for us the basic teachings of the Bible. As Jude 3 states, “The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” We walk in ancient paths and believe eternal things. Yet our belief in Jesus does not grow old because His living reality does not change. He is the beginning and the end of all things (Revelation 1:8), and His years will have no end (Hebrews 1:10-12).

              We believe what the Apostles believed. We don’t believe in our personal emotional experiences, we believe in actual historical realities that were witnessed first-hand by the apostles. They spread out after the ascension of Jesus and became witnesses to all the world, that Christ was indeed crucified, dead, and buried – but on the third day raised from the dead. Albert Mohler is right in saying, “All Christians believe more than is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but none can believe less.”

This creed is a basic confession of what the Bible teaches about the person of God and His saving work. It’s the basics of what every true Christian believes. In these beliefs all Christians must stand firm and stand together. I am going to work through each line of this Creed over the coming months in our newsletter helping you have a better grasp of basic Christian doctrine.

              “I believe in God …” Do you believe in God? It’s the first question we must all ask ourselves. The actual answer to this question will completely redirect your life. It’s a question that can be pushed to the back of your mind, but never pushed out. It’s a question you will have to face, in this life or the next. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6, “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists …” The starting point of Christianity is the belief in a real, actual, self-existing, non-created God. This God is self-revealing, meaning He makes Himself known to us according to His will and His purposes. If God did not choose to reveal Himself, He would not be known by us. The Bible is revelation from God. If you want to know who God is and know His will for your life today, read the Bible. In the Bible we learn who we are in light of who God is. We begin to understand ourselves in relationship to the Almighty power of God.

              “The Father Almighty …” Jesus taught the apostles to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9). This is an amazingly personal way to address God. It demonstrates His personal love for us and that our relationship with God is not through a religious system, but according to the nearness of what father/child relationship should be. Through the love, goodness, patience, and gentleness of the self-sacrificing Christian God, we learn what fatherhood should be. Our human relationships are modeled after God’s love for us, not the other way around. However, the love of God as a Father includes absolute, almighty, authority. This absolute authority would be terrifying, as it is in false religions, if it were not paired with God’s goodness. But Fatherly love paired with absolute authority produces security and direction for our lives.

              Do you believe these things? I urge you to consider who God is and how He has revealed Himself in the Bible. If you would like to read more about these things, get a copy of “The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits” by Albert Mohler.

May God the Father Almighty strengthen our faith today,

Pastor Vic

Fishers of Men

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:18-19

In this passage (Matthew 4:18-22) Jesus calls out three of His nearest disciples: Peter, James, and John. He calls them away from their life work of fishing, and instead calls them to be “fishers of men.” Jesus calls them to take up a new work and direct their energies toward a different end. He calls for them to leave behind business as usual. I’m not a great fisherman by any stretch, but I’ve done enough to understand why Jesus compares the seeking of lost souls to fishing. 

First, fishing requires patience and dedication. Catching good fish isn’t easy. It takes time. Often, it involves waking up early or staying up late into the night. It’s not about what time is convenient for the fisherman, but what time the fish are active. Sometimes your line gets stuck in the tree. Sometimes it gets stuck on the bottom. Many times you’ll do everything you know how to do, stay out for hours and hours, and come home with nothing.

Second, fishing requires skill and lures. There’s a fishing store I go past every summer on the way to the beach. It’s a huge place with every lure imaginable. There are salt water lures, fresh water lures, trolling lures, and deep water lures. They’re all employed in different ways for different fish in different places, but the fisherman must have the knowledge and skill to select and use the right lure. Some fly fishermen will make their own lures out of available material appropriate to the situation.

Third, is the thrill of the catch! After all the preparation and patience, there are few things as thrilling as pulling in a big fish. Getting a fish on the hook only begins the fight to get it in the boat! Pulling in a big fish that you know will result in a delicious meal is ultimately why people spend all the time and effort to go fishing.

It’s not an accident or coincidence that Jesus compared fishing to the labor of seeking after the souls of lost people. Seeking after the lost requires dedication and patience. It will require early mornings and late nights. Patience to care and listen to people’s struggles, dedication to continue intentionally engaging people with the gospel, and late nights counseling and answering tough questions. But all this is done from a motivation, not of duty, but of love for the lost.

Seeking lost souls is also a process that requires skill. Sincerity is vital, but not enough by itself. We need knowledge and skill to answer real and deeply meaningful questions about God. We need wisdom to discern right from wrong. We need clarity of speech to explain difficult spiritual realities with plain simplicity. 

Lastly, there is unmatched joy of being a part of seeing someone come to believe in Jesus as their Savior! There is absolutely nothing more thrilling than seeing the work of God upon someone’s heart to bring life out of death! There’s joy in seeing despair changed to hope, addiction broken, and the desires of the flesh transformed. This does not usually happen with just a few conversations. It can take years of engaging someone with Gospel conversations before the Lord opens their heart and by mercy causes them to be born again (1 Peter 1:3).

Have you obeyed the call of Jesus to be a fisher of men? Do you seek after the souls of lost people like a skilled and persevering fisherman? When was the last time you directly spoke with someone about the state of their soul? Have you ever experienced the immense joy of leading another person to salvation? Let’s take seriously the call of Jesus and make disciples of all nations. Let’s be fishers of men!

May Jesus burden us for lost souls,

Pastor Vic

Present Darkness

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12

Ephesians chapter six speaks of a standing against a “present darkness” and an “evil day.” Since the founding of this country, Christians have enjoyed a degree of religious freedom unprecedented in world history. I am alarmed that this long precedent is soon to change. It seems that the storm clouds have moved from the horizon to directly overhead. The country has progressively slid into a state of deep moral rebellion. We now live in a majority non-Christian country. The discussion has fundamentally changed. Talk is no longer about rebellious people doing sinful things, but sinful people holding the seats of power and attempting to force Christian people to give up their fundamental beliefs. I have long felt that the decisive strike against the church would come from the lesbian gay bi-sexual transgender queer (LGBTQ) community. This is fair to project because of biblical precedent. Homosexuality first comes on the scene in the Bible (Genesis 19) in a radically militant way. This community continues in its militancy today.

The LGBTQ community is not satisfied with being allowed to live as they choose in a free society. Their various passionate advocacy groups now see an open door of sympathy and opportunity in the Biden administration and the Democrat congressional majorities. They are pressing their case as far as they can. You should be aware of what is happening:

  1. The Equality Act: This act would add people identifying as LGBTQ to the Civil Rights Act as an additional protected class. This means that any person or organization that “discriminates” against an LGBTQ person would be open to criminal prosecution. This would mean that Christian churches, schools, camps, and hospitals would be forced to hire, accommodate, and not speak against homosexual or transgender issues in any way. This act has already passed the house with NO religious exemptions of any sort.
  2. Christian Colleges: An anti-religious exemption advocacy group filed a massive lawsuit last week against Christian Colleges and Universities nationwide. The suit is now being considered by the Biden controlled Department of Education. The purpose of the suit is to force the Department of Education to remove ALL federal funding from Colleges and Universities that do not fully approve of and promote LGBTQ lifestyles. These schools, as Christian schools, all have codes of conduct forbidding what the Bible forbids – homosexual and transgender sexual acts. If the lawsuit is successful all federal student aid and grants would be shut off. Certain business publications project that this could instantly close the doors of almost half the Christian Universities in the country that have become dependent on such funding.
  3. The US Military: The US military has fully reversed course on all things related to LGBTQ. In a powerful show of support to the transgender military community, transgender people were recently applauded and encouraged to become “more visible.” They have entered into a specially protected and promoted class. It is now being publicized as a recruiting tool that the military will pay for sex-reassignment surgery and subsequent hormone therapy to those who enlist.
  4. College Sports: Nationally the advancement of Oral Roberts University and Baylor University in the NCAA men’s college basketball national tournament has been passionately condemned by sports writers of major news outlets. They have been condemned because both Christian schools have codes of conduct that forbid homosexuality and transgender lifestyles on biblical grounds. The sports writers have begun publically campaigning to have all schools that hold anti-LGBTQ stances to be removed from NCAA sporting events. 

These things are happening now, and if the Equality Act is passed, and opposition to homosexuality and transgender issues becomes criminal, other effects similar to these will immediately follow. Almost certainly, colleges and universities that lose all federal funding and their sports programs for “discrimination” will also lose their accreditation. Then finally, it’s hard to believe that churches will continue to receive favorable tax status if it is considered a criminal place of “discrimination” for practicing biblical Christianity. If financial penalties are first used to starve out colleges and universities, they will be used against churches next.

Don’t be deceived, these measures of financial coercion and constant public shaming are being brought to bear in an attempt to force Christian people to abandon a biblical Christian sexual ethic. As Albert Mohler states, a great “sorting” is about to happen. The sorting will be between those who will hold to a biblical sexual ethic that is willing to name sexual sin, and those who fully place sexuality in the free expression category.

As a church I want to focus on a few issues. First, the very first freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights is the free practice of religion. Practice means that we get to act on our religion. We get to live out what we believe in the public square. You do not have freedom of religion if you are only allowed to act a certain way within the four walls of your church. This right was not created by the authors of the Bill of Rights, but recognized as a right from God. Human government does not have the authority to dictate moral mandates to God.

Second, know what the Bible teaches about sexual ethics. Learn clearly what the Bible says about how we should conduct ourselves sexually. This is not a small or secondary matter in the Bible. The idea that gender is assigned by God, and reserving sex for marriage between one man and one woman is basic to walking in obedience to God’s will.

Third, we must stand together as a church. We will greatly need each other in prayer, encouragement, wise counsel, and financial help in the coming days. These issues are not far off. They are in our face and in our midst. We cannot whisper in the corners about these things when they affect our families, our children, and our neighbors. We must help each other where help is needed and pray where prayer is needed. We must also be prepared to make sacrifices for obeying God. I am convinced that sooner than later someone in our church will lose their job because of an unwillingness to accept and participate in the LGBTQ militant agenda. We must stand together at that time and help.

Fourth, we must not fear. The true Christian church, those who believe in Jesus and follow His commands, will never fail. Persecution has come in various waves and forms throughout church history. Each time the church spreads and grows stronger, even through the fire of trial and hardship. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He will always provide for those that are not ashamed of His name.

Fifth, we must never stop preaching the gospel to a lost and dying world. We must love the lost and speak to them the commands of Christ with sincere hope that they will come to repentance and faith. We must truly welcome LGBTQ people into our congregation. We welcome them to hear the preaching of God’s word, not to approve of their sin. And when the Lord brings them to salvation, we must help them unwind the complicated consequences of such deception.

May Jesus strengthen us, make us wise, and fill us with the Holy Spirit to effectively live for Jesus in our time and seek the lost for Christ.

Stand firm in Jesus our Lord,

Pastor Vic

Easter

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24

Peter preached these words to the international crowd that was gathered by the will of God at the day of Pentecost. This was the day that God the Father chose to pour out His Holy Spirit on the newly formed church, and the day Peter first preached to the world with great boldness. He preached Christ crucified and raised from the dead. This was, and is now, the most amazing news anyone can proclaim. There was a man named Jesus, the very Son of God, miraculously born of a virgin. He lived a perfect, exemplary life, preached God’s truth with authority and power, and performed countless miracles and wondrous signs. But in the end, he threatened the Jewish religious establishment, and those religious enemies falsely accused Him and brought Him before a Roman court. In that court they stirred up the mob to press the Roman judge, Pontius Pilate, to crucify a man he declared to be innocent. The Scriptures tell us that Satan was directly involved with these events, pressing hard to destroy Jesus and His coming kingdom.

Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers between two criminals. He had a crown of thorns upon His precious head, and a sign nailed to his cross to undermine His claim to be a king. He was spat upon, mocked, and forsaken by His disciples who claimed they would stand with Him through anything. In His agony he was offered vinegar to quench His thirst. The sky grew dark. The veil of the temple, dividing the presence of God from those outside, was torn in two from top to bottom by God Himself. And Jesus, in His infinite mercy, called out that God might forgive those who had done this to Him, because they didn’t know what they were doing. Then He bowed His head and died.

The Jews that opposed Jesus thought they had won a great victory. Satan, our great adversary, thought he had won the defining victory, at long last. But in actuality, the real actions of evil men that were meant for evil accomplished the perfect will of God. From before the foundations of the world, God had a definite plan to glorify Himself through saving sinful men and women. Not by works, so that none of us can boast, but by the magnificent grace and mercy of God. Upon the cross, Jesus satisfied the justice of God so that we might be rightly and truly forgiven. But none of this means anything if Jesus had remained dead. It would be a wonderful story from history – not a transformational message for you and me 2000 years later.

It was not possible that the Creator and Author of Life remain dead. God raised up Jesus from the dead! The “pangs of death were loosed” from Him, never to die again. He is the “first born from the dead.” This is not figurative language. This is not symbolic language. This is a new reality. This is what Jesus offers to those who believe in Him – eternal life. A whole new existence comes to those who believe in this risen Jesus. He will give us His life. When we die, we will not cease to exist. On the last day, our bodies will be raised like His, and we will reign with Him forever in new life. This hope of eternal life changes everything. It changes our future and our present. By the grace of the risen Jesus, we are forgiven our sins and pass from death to eternal life.

This is what Easter is all about. Lift up your face. Look to the heavens. Look up from your struggles today, and seek the risen Savior. Join us Sunday for worship. Bring a friend who needs to hear this good news. Make much of Jesus. He has risen from the dead!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Vic

Murder

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement …” Matthew 5:21-22a

Over the past two weeks the nation has been saddened by news of two separate murderous shooting rampages. Sixteen people were murdered – six by the hand of a man claiming to be a Christian, ten by the hand of a man claiming to be Muslim. Both were evil in their actions. In our day and age it seems necessary to keep reminding ourselves of fundamental Christian truths. These two shooting sprees are examples of murder, or the unjustified killing of another person. The Lord God chose thousands of years ago to point out on Mount Sinai when writing ten moral commands into stone, with His own finger, that murder is wrong. Murder is one of the basic moral lines we must never cross. 

However, murder is also one of the first sins recorded in the Bible. Cain, out of the jealous hatred in his heart, murdered his brother Abel. Anger turned to hatred in Cain’s heart. Cain was warned by God to get his heart under control (Genesis 4:7), or it would destroy him. He did not, but instead gave vent to his hatred and satisfied it through killing his brother. As with all murder, there are terrible and painful consequences for all involved. For his evil, Cain faced the judgment of God.

When one person murders other people, we always ask the question of, “Why?” “Why” questions probe the heart of a person and are very difficult to answer in any situation. What is most helpful is not unraveling the heart of an evil person, but causing the evil of others to turn us toward self-examination. The Bible is clear that murder begins in the heart. Murderous actions flow from murderous thoughts. In Matthew 5:21, Jesus clearly speaks to the reality that murderous thoughts are also evil. It’s not morally permissible, or good, to ruminate in your mind in anger toward another person. This treadmill of mental anger can take you down the same path as Cain. No matter the ultimate motive, the two recent shootings began with a plan in the mind of the shooters.  

In our day, many people are angry about many different things. As Christians – followers of Jesus Christ – our lives must not be defined by anger. We must never approve of, or seek to accomplish, the will of Jesus by violent means. The righteous ends of God are also accomplished by righteous means. Murder is forbidden by God, therefore we must also forsake the roots of murder which are anger. Instead, let us pursue peace. Let us be peacemakers and find the blessing of God, instead of the judgment of God, upon our lives. Being a peacemaker does not mean that we compromise our moral standards in living for Jesus, but it does mean that we believe James 1:20, “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” We cannot accomplish righteous ends through anger and murderous violence. If we cannot see how God will bring good out of evil times, then we must wait and pray. We must work toward righteous ends through righteous means. 

Let us mourn the recent senseless deaths of fellow human beings, let us guard our own hearts against evil, and let us be aware of those around us that struggle with hearts full of anger and trouble. Do not shy away from speaking about the good ways of Jesus Christ in our troubled time. The salvation of Jesus is the hope of the world. Only Jesus can truly and fully calm the troubled soul. Only Jesus can change our hearts that we might love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal our land. Let’s pray toward that end and live as joyful followers of Jesus Christ this week. 

May Jesus grant us peace, 

Pastor Vic

Bold & Wise

“Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” Matthew 22:16b

              These words were spoken by the disciples of the Pharisees. The description of Jesus was spoken in flattery to draw him in, and yet it was also accurate in its own way. The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus spoke the truth, but they were wrangled by Him because Jesus certainly did not care about anyone’s opinion. Jesus did not speak to please people and become popular. In one sense, you could say that Jesus did not care what people thought. In this sense, he did not seek to please the unbelieving majority. Jesus came to speak the truth, and He did so with boldness and wisdom. However, in another sense, Jesus cared very much. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He loved those called by His name, and preached the truth of God so they might believe.

              However, this section in Matthew is interesting. Jesus speaks boldly and truthfully, but does not allow His opponents to control the narrative, or draw Him in. After giving a very wise response to a question about paying taxes, Jesus’ opponents come back at Him again. This time they frame up a ridiculous situation that has no possible right answer. Jesus’ response is terrific! He tells them they are wrong all the way around and don’t know what they are talking about, because they don’t know the Scriptures! He then goes on to school them in what to expect in the future. He does not hold back because of their high social standing or their distaste of His message.

              We should follow Jesus’ example in this passage in at least three ways. First, we should expect opposition as disciples of Jesus. As we live openly for Jesus, expect that certain people will plan how to oppose you. In the same way that you consider and plan how to speak with someone about the gospel, others are planning how they can trip you up and embarrass you as a Christian. Expect it. However, don’t be afraid! Remember Jesus’ wonderful promise from Luke 12:11-12, and know that as you diligently study the Scriptures the right words will be given to you by the Holy Spirit in the moment. We must resolve to be bold like Jesus before we enter these situations.

              Second, when a person asks the wrong question, whether from false motive or true, we should follow Jesus’s example to re-cast the question. The unbelieving world is lost in their soul and mind. They don’t know what to think about God and are deceived in their unbelief. When someone comes to you with a completely wrong question or assumption, don’t feel an obligation to address the wrong-headed idea. Instead, with appropriate boldness, re-cast the conversation to move it in a true and biblical direction. Often when speaking with non-Christians, they will want to talk about all kinds of distractions and intentionally move away from the main points of the gospel. There is a tug-of-war happening over who will control the direction of the conversation. Jesus was masterfully perfect at always having the conversation turn back toward Scripture truth.

              Third, Jesus tells these men they are wrong because they don’t understand the Scriptures. They had developed volumes of their own laws and traditions, but did not understand God’s word. What we need in every situation, is a clear word from the Lord. If you would be wise and know the true nature of things, be a constant student of the Bible. If you want to be able to give the right answer in the right moment, prompted by the Holy Spirit – be a constant student of the Bible. God’s word is truth and has a final authority that this world cannot answer. The wisdom of this world cannot confound the wisdom of God.

May you be bold and wise in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Vic

Gambling

“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

As a part of the rise of materialism, a diminishing work ethic, and the continued expansion of professional sports – gambling is significantly on the rise all across America. Gambling and speculation are counter to a Christian ethic for many reasons. In the Bible we constantly see work being tied to reward, and steady work blessed by the Lord leads to the meeting of needs. All along the way the working person is prayerful and dependent upon the Lord. Their efforts result in needs being met and giving thanks.

Work leads to prayerfulness. Work and dependence upon the Lord leads to thankfulness. Work and thankfulness lead to a contentment with what has come through work and God’s provision. Work and contentment lead to extra (“I don’t need to spend this on me.”), and some should be given to those in need. This is a basic Christian outlook on work and money.

The opposite of this is the rising acceptance of income through gambling and speculation. Gambling is based on the idea of chance, and that possibly through your own cleverness, you can beat the odds and win a large sum of money. This is a self-feeding cycle. If you win some money, then perhaps you can win more. This fire is fed by greed and a lust to get rich quick apart from work. It is based on a discontent with one’s present situation and a wrong-headed idea that the way to financial stability is through games of chance. The most serious deception is that none of it is actually based on chance. First, there is nothing left to chance under the sovereign hand of God. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs16:33). Second, the house always wins. These “games” are put together for the profit of the company that hosts them. Gambling is expanding rapidly throughout America because it is incredibly profitable for the house.

As Christians, we should hear the words of the apostle Paul stated above to the Thessalonian church. May we be content with simple lives, work with our hands (earn your own income through work God has gifted you to do), and by honest contentment live upright lives before a watching world. A part of this steady Christian living is saving and trying to make provision for the future. “Go to the ant, o sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, o sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11). The picture here is of the industry of the ant to gather in summer to have enough to make it through the winter.

We save for the future by work. As we earn, we pray for seasons of life where we do not have to spend all our income on the needs of the day. When there is extra, we set it aside for a difficult day that surely will come. I would like to speak here another word of warning. I argue that using your savings to enter into speculative stock trading is no different than gambling.

True investment of any sort is buying something, or a share of something, that has real inherent value. You purchase this item, or share, at the current actual value with good reason that over time the thing will increase in actual value. The thing can then be sold in the future for a profit during times of need. This is investment.

Speculation, is purchasing an item, or stock, that has little inherent value, but believing that through some chance or manipulation that item, or stock, will become very valuable over time. This is a game of “chance” played in the arena of the stock exchange, instead of on the casino floor. Again, the house wins every time. The companies that have created easy on-line platforms for this form of speculation even attempt to make trading stocks an exciting game similar to gambling. These sites profit tremendously off the cost of trading even if every person involved loses money.

Finally, it is disappointing to see state governments getting more and more involved in gambling. State governments known that gambling will produce tremendous tax revenues, resulting in new states permitting gambling every year. In this, the state is abusing the weak and vulnerable of society that do not have the self-control to stay away from these schemes. The state should be protecting the weak and vulnerable from economic predators, not encouraging them and profiting from their actions. Who would have thought just a few years ago that the two hottest new sources of state tax revenue would be gambling and selling marijuana?

I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ, stay away from casinos, gambling, and stock speculation. Work hard daily, give your work to the Lord in prayer, give thanks as your needs are met, be content with what the Lord has provided, give to the needy, and save for the future. Desire to live a righteous life, not to get rich. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

May the Lord bless the work of your hands,

Pastor Vic