CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Are We Selling Out the Church of Jesus Christ?

Nov 22, 2011

There are millions of ways in which we can betray our Lord, shipwreck our faith, destroy the church, and bring disrepute to the gospel. Every day we crucify afresh our Lord by open disobedience and deliberate apostasy. And every day we make pathetic and cheap excuses for such activities.

But I here wish to focus on one prime example of how so many churches today seem to be selling out on Christ and the Bible. In the name of being “tolerant” and “accepting” and “relevant” and “real” many churches are abandoning the clear biblical teaching on the issue of homosexuality.

We have many Christian leaders who have capitulated to the radical homosexual agenda and have done all they can to appear to be welcoming and tolerant. They have basically renounced the biblical teaching on this topic, and have decided that they are somehow more compassionate and accepting than other Christians.

They think that by abandoning the clear word of Scripture and adopting the ethos of secular humanism they can make their churches more appealing and popular. Well they are right about that at least: abandon biblical standards of morality and holiness, and drag everyone down into the gutter of moral relativism, and you will be popular alright.

Indeed, I have often said that when the secular media comes out praising a church or a leader big time, then we know something is amiss. A good example of this has just occurred, and it should worry every biblical Christian. A piece in the weekend press absolutely slobbered over a church which has decided that it will ignore the biblical teaching on homosexuality.

And even more, the homosexual activists themselves are full of praise for this church and its pastor. The red flags should be waving all over the place when that takes place. When the radical homosexual lobby thinks you are a pretty neat bunch, then you know that something is really wrong.

The headline speaks about “preaching tolerance”. There we go again: one of the most abused and misused words in modern language. The Bible of course does not hold tolerance up as some supreme virtue. In fact it barely even mentions it. Yet this church seems to think it is the highest and most important calling of the Christian.

But of course it is not. Dorothy Sayers had it right when she said, “In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

Or as Spurgeon once rightly said, “There is toleration for everybody who conforms to the fashion of the day; but no toleration for anyone who believes that the laws of heaven should regulate life on earth.” In order to please men and establish large congregations, one church after another is replacing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the gospel of relativism, humanism and “inclusion”.

This pastor says it welcomes homosexuals into the church with arms wide open. “Real Christianity is accepting,” he said. Wait a minute, let’s unpack all this. What exactly is going on here? Of course we are to accept homosexuals and all other sinners into our churches. In fact, there are no other people in existence, except sinners.

Some have been saved by grace, while others have not yet been reconciled to God. So of course the church welcomes sinners. Of course the church opens its doors to one and all, even homosexuals. But of course that is not the end of the story. Not in the least.

We do not welcome sinners into our churches only to tell them they are fine as they are, just enjoy the show, and we’ll see you next week. We welcome sinners in order to tell them the good news. And that good news is that we are all sinful beings heading for a lost eternity. Unless we turn from our sins and repent, and receive what Christ has done for us at Calvary, we are still lost and outside of God’s Kingdom.

It is absolutely incomprehensible to me how anyone who is a senior pastor at an evangelical church can manage to so completely mangle this. It is really so very simple and straight forward. Anyone who has read the New Testament can understand this I would have thought.

Sure we are to reach out to everyone, homosexuals included. But we reach out to them not to tell them they are just fine as they are and they can go on living a sin-soaked life and remain in their darkness and bondage. We reach out to them in order to let them know that they can be gloriously liberated from their deadly addictions, cleansed from their sins, and made new through the shed blood of Christ.

Everywhere Jesus and the disciples went, they preached a message of repentance and turning from sin. That is the good news of the gospel: we do not have to remain trapped in our sin and dead-end lifestyles. Jesus came to set the captives free, not leave them wallowing in their sin and degradation, for now and all of eternity.

Yet this church seems to think the Jesus thing to do is just that: tell them homosexuality is just fine, and you can have a fun time hanging around in our church. What sort of church is this? What sort of gospel are they preaching? How do they seek to justify all this in the light of Scripture?

The pastor also said that he got emails from homosexuals who said they had “not been able to reconcile their faith and their sexuality”. Well of course they haven’t. Neither can an ongoing adulterer – or a thief, or a drunkard – reconcile his lifestyle with biblical Christianity.

Deliberate, unrepented-of sin and salvation are mutually incompatible. If you want to become a disciple of Jesus Christ you agree with God about your sin, you turn from it, repent of it, and ask for his forgiveness, and receive his empowerment to live a new and transformed life.

There is no such thing as a Christian who continues in known, unconfessed sin. We either agree with God about our sinful condition or we don’t. Either God calls the shots or we pretend that we can. Either the Bible is right in all that it affirms on this issue, or it is wrong, and we just make things up as we go along.

In the article we also read that the pastor said that because of his “inclusion” sermon, homosexuals “recommitted their lives to Christ as a result”. Well, given all that has been said so far, what are we to make of this? What exactly does “recommitment” mean?

How can a sinner who refuses to agree with God about his sinful condition recommit himself to God? It seems he never was committed to him in the first place. Either we agree with God and turn from our sin or we don’t. It appears this pastor is telling us that this is quite unnecessary. ‘Come as you are and stay as you are’ seems to be his message.

Are you a thief? No probs, come as you are to our church and we will welcome you with open arms – no questions asked (watch your wallets though, congregation). We won’t lay any heavies on you about theft being a sin and the need to change and get right with God. Are you an adulterer? Great, we welcome you too. No need to worry about your lifestyle. God loves you just as you are, and we sure won’t make any demands on you here. After all, we are an inclusive, welcoming and nonjudgmental church.

If this sounds a bit much, it is exactly what this church seems to be saying about homosexuality. It has absolutely missed the very message of the gospel, that God is in the business of transforming lives and setting people free from their sinful condition.

What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11? “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. 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.”

It does not get any clearer than this. Such people will not enter the Kingdom. There were all sorts of drunkards and swindlers and homosexuals who came to the church fellowship of Paul’s day. But they did not stay that way: “And that is what some of you were”. Past tense – pure and simple. They were these things, but by the grace of God they no longer are.

Of course the theological revisionists will try to weasel their way out of this passage, along with all the other clear biblical texts on homosexuality. But they are simply deceiving themselves big time, and are just playing cheap theological games.

Indeed, so poor are their attempts to twist and distort the clear teachings of Scripture that I wrote an entire book on this, with over 700 footnotes. The second half of the book is fully devoted to this deceptive theological revisionism. I deal with all their lousy and limp-wristed attempts at distorting what the Bible says on this topic. I certainly recommend that this pastor grabs this book and becomes a bit educated on this topic instead of simply going with the flow of the surrounding worldly culture.

Now is the pastor sincere? I am sure he is. Does he really believe all this? I am sure he does. But can you be sincere and also deceived and disobedient to Scripture? Yes you can be. That certainly seems to be the case here; well-meaning but – in this area at least – unbiblical and heterodox.

As I said, there are many who seem to be selling out the church of Jesus Christ all in the name of “compassion” and “tolerance”. But when such attitudes result in people remaining trapped in their sinful and deadly lifestyles, headed to a lost eternity, then there is nothing all that much Christlike about it.

www.heraldsun.com.au/news/sunday-heraldsun/preaching-tolerance-bayside/story-e6frf92o-1226197797936?sv=3c718ec1d4c1c6b513ffb9a7bc2166bd
www.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=9780646560953

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14 Responses to Are We Selling Out the Church of Jesus Christ?

  • By choosing to remain silent on an issue of absolute moral law, this pastor has no argument against the next minority group that appeals for tolerance and acceptance within his fellowship.
    ….
    I attended this church some years back and developed a genuine affection for the pastor and his wife. I am deeply saddened by the turn of events that have taken place and continue to pray for the situation. The ‘ground breaking’ sermon can be viewed on Youtube for anyone that is interested.

    “Unless we turn from our sins and repent, and receive what Christ has done for us at Calvary, we are still lost and outside of God’s Kingdom.”

    Never a truer word was spoken.
    Peter Jackel

  • Thanks Peter

    Sadly many churches today refuse to even talk about such things as sin, holiness, divine wrath, and future punishment. The gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced with man-made gospels. This is a tragic situation which will destroy the churches. We must all get on our knees and repent of this and ask God for his mercy and to break through with real heaven-sent revival.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    Again an excellent expose of what is happening to what used to be the Bible-believing church. It is not surprising when a liberal church comes out in support of homosexuality, but when this comes from a leading charismatic church, it is alarming.

    Rob Buckingham of Bayside Church is one of my former Bible College students and both of us have shared radio careers. I have just sent an online email to him with this message:

    I wanted to ask: Did the Sunday Herald Sun of 17 Nov report you accurately in, “Preaching tolerance bayside”. If so, I am distressed about the message you are sending to the homosexual community, “Real Christianity is accepting”. The accurate message is, “Real Christianity is truthful”. Do you send the same message to thieves, adulterers, embezzlers and murderers?

    Shouldn’t the message be: “Real Christianity accepts you the way you are but God loves you too much to allow you to stay that way” I implore you to be accurate in your proclamation of God’s Word, ”The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13). Homosexuality is an immoral lifestyle from God’s perspective and your message that “real Christianity is accepting” does not cut it when it comes to biblical fidelity.

    Please do not proclaim that “real Christianity” (do you mean the Christianity of the triune God?) accepts sinners the way they are and does not change them. See I Cor. 6:9-11. Homosexuals who are left in their “accepting” sin of homosexuality, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Recently I have written to politicians about homosexual unions & homosexual marriages to include researched and biblical material. See my homepage: spencer.gear.dyndns.org/2011/11/09/homosexual-civil-unions-homosexual-marriages-mass-media-interaction-with-politicians/

    I look forward to hearing that the Herald Sun inaccurately reported your views and that you believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuals need to be changed by the living Christ.
    Spencer Gear

  • Rob Buckingham is right in saying that Christians are accepting – if he means people! Our message is “all may come, but prepare to conform to the will, nature and purposes of God!” Because God has a plan for our lives – to live in conformity with His Son – there are targets at which we must aim. But if we come expecting God to conform to our targets, we haven’t yet repented!
    Geoffrey Bullock

  • Thanks Spencer

    Great letter. As far as the sermon in question is concerned, I have written a detailed assessment of it here:

    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2011/11/23/real-acceptance/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Yes quite right Geoffrey.

    Whatever happened to sin, repentance, and a transformed life? But I guess to mention such biblical themes makes us unloving, judgmental and unChristlike.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “There is toleration for everybody who conforms to the fashion of the day; but no toleration for anyone who believes that the laws of heaven should regulate life on earth.” -CH Spurgeon

    Doug Holland

  • Thanks Doug

    Yes it is a terrific quote, which is why I featured it above along with the Sayers’ quote. Churches today need to understand what real tolerance means, not the modern PC version of it, as I discuss here:

    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/11/10/the-sin-of-tolerance/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    I located that message from Rob Buckingham on YouTube at: www.freedom2b.org/topic/1115

    Spencer Gear

  • When Rob did the original sermon, he also did several posts on his blog at www.baysidechurch.com.au/
    Search on the word ‘gay’ (that’s the word he uses).
    As well as his posts, a number of homosexuals ‘engaged’ in the discussion on the blog. Anthony Venn Brown noted on the Freedom2Be website that he had spoken to Rob about his message.
    The notion of ‘apologising for not being welcoming’ but NOT saying homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible, was part of the ‘100 Revs’ group – they ‘apologised’ and marched in the Sydney G&L Mardi Gras. But the whole thing was organised by those who supported homosexual relationships!
    It’s all part of the ‘process’ of ‘changing’ the church’s view on this issue.
    Jenny Stokes

  • Thanks Spencer

    Yes it is quite widely available, on various audio and video formats.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Jenny

    Yes you are absolutely right. That is why I began the second half of my new book with an ominous but quite accurate quote from former-homosexual Joe Dallas: “The debate over homosexuality and the Bible – specifically, whether or not the Bible condemns homosexual acts in all cases – will do no less than rip the body of Christ apart within the next decade. It will force believers to declare, in black and white terms, where they stand on issues of sexuality and biblical interpretation.”

    As to the 100 revs (or as they should more accurately be called, the 10 rebs), I discuss them here:

    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/03/02/marching-with-the-10-rebs/

    And here:

    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/02/29/when-foolishness-abounds/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The saddest thing about these churches is that they believe they’re “progressive” and “forward-thinking”. In their progressiveness they leave behind all Biblical truth, and in their forward-thinking they “outdated” everything Jesus taught us. Many years ago I heard this pastor preached, and I shook his hand after the service for a great sermon. Today he has “progressed” far ahead of Jesus. When I first heard “his church” advertised on the radio as a “fun, enjoyable” church, it sounded more like an entertainment centre than a place of worship, and in my heart I hear Bayside falling on the wayside with a loud “thud”.

    Eddie Sim

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