When “All” Is Not “All” At All!

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When “All” Is Not “All” At All!

James R. Aist

“The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness. But He is patient with us, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Unfortunately, within evangelical Christianity, there have spring up over the years, several teachings that seem to be biblical and sound right and true at first glance, but, upon closer study and more thorough examination, are found to not really be biblical teachings at all. One such example is found in 2 Peter 3:9. Many have erroneously interpreted this verse to be saying that God does not want “any human beings” to perish but, rather, that He wants “all human beings” to come to repentance (and be saved). While these may be outcomes that God would prefer, that is not at all what this verse is saying, and here’s why:

  1. Any correct reading of this verse must provide an explanation of why Jesus has not already come again, as He promised He would (2 Peter 3:3-4);
  2. 2 Peter 1:1 makes it clear that this letter was written to all and only to Christian believers. 1 Peter 1:2 reinforces this identification of Peter’s audience as “the elect” of God;
  3. Throughout 2 Peter, Peter refers to his audience as “us”, “we”, “you” and “brothers” and consistently speaks of their heavenly inheritance;
  4. By contrast, unbelievers are referred to as “they” and “them” throughout, emphasizing their eternal punishment in hell;
  5. So, we can see that when 2 Peter 3:9 speaks of “us”, he is referring to only God’s elect, not all of mankind;
  6. Thus, a more explicit and scripturally harmonious rendering of this verse would read something like this, “But He is patient with us believers, because He does not want any of us to perish, but all of us to come to repentance.”
  7. Further confirmation for this rendering can be gleaned from 2 Peter 3:15, where Peter makes reference to Paul’s explanation of why the Lord is tarrying; namely, so that all of God’s elect, in particular, the Gentiles, will be included before Jesus comes again (Romans 11:25, and click HERE). That is what Peter means here, in verse 15, when he writes, “…the patience of our Lord means salvation.”

One could also point out that if it is not God’s will that “any human beings” perish but, rather, that “all human beings” come to repentance (and be saved), then He is not doing a very good job of saving sinners, because, as Jesus said, the majority of people do not take the narrow path that leads to life, preferring, instead to take the broad path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Finally, if you want to make a biblical case for God bringing “all human beings” to repentance and salvation, then you will have to look elsewhere. Such a doctrine is a heresy called “Universalism”, and that is not a biblical doctrine.

For a more comprehensive treatment of 2 Peter 3:9 “rightly divided”, click HERE.

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)

Why Do Christians Do Good Works?

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Why Do Christians Do Good Works?

James R. Aist

Why do we do good works after we are saved? There is a correct answer to this question, and there is an answer that is unequivocally incorrect. It is important for us to know the incorrect answer, so that we can avoid falling into a dangerous heresy.

Let’s consider the correct answer. God created us to reflect and magnify His own glory (Isaiah 43:7 and 21; Ephesians 1:12). All of our good works – e.g., acts of praise, worship, obedience, generosity, compassion, mercy, sharing the Gospel of Christ, making disciples – have one thing in common: they all ultimately reflect and magnify God’s glory. The Bible says that God has prepared – in advance – work for each one of us to do, and that, in doing these things, we are fulfilling the purpose for which God created us (Ephesians 2:10).

But, it is all too easy for us to fall into the mindset that, in doing good works, we are repaying Jesus for what he did for us. After all, shouldn’t our gratitude for Jesus saving us motivate us to do good works in response? That seems logical, doesn’t it? But, that cannot be the reason we do good works, and here’s why: we are saved by grace… it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). And, if it is a gift of God, then there is nothing for us to repay; gifts are free. In the same way that we cannot do good works to earn salvation (Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9), so also we cannot do good works to repay Jesus for the gift of salvation after we receive it; both would be a form of the “salvation by works” heresy. When Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, our debt was canceled, not mortgaged! No, we do good works because that is what God saved us to do: the work that he prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10).

If there is a debt, it is only a debt of gratitude, not of good works.

(To read more of my articles on Biblical Teachings, click HERE.)

Responding to the Gay Agenda

Responding to the Gay Agenda

James R. Aist

 “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

Introduction

Before I delve into the substance of this article, I want to make it very clear that I explicitly differentiate between people who have same-sex attractions but do not act on them, people who have same-sex attractions and practice homosexuality, and the “gay agenda” per se. Those are three completely different things, as just because someone is a homosexual person doesn’t necessarily mean that they push the “gay agenda”, and just because someone is pushing the “gay agenda” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a homosexual person. Thus, when I speak against the “gay agenda”, I am not speaking against any individual as a homosexual person, but against a social movement with which they may have only a fringe association.

Personal Response

The first thing you may want to do is to familiarize yourself with the details of the “gay agenda” (click HERE). Then think carefully about the components of it and ask yourself if the society envisioned by the homosexual apologists is the kind of society you want for yourself, for your children and for your grandchildren. Do you want your children and grandchildren to be indoctrinated and recruited into an abnormal, unnatural, immoral lifestyle that is inherently harmful to their health and will not produce grandchildren and great grandchildren for you to enjoy and love? Do you want our churches to be infiltrated by their heretical and damning theology and filthy morals? Do you want to be punished legally for merely disagreeing with them? In thinking about this, also bear in mind that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality, will, someday, have to answer to God for it.

I am not suggesting that all born-again Christians should devote a large percentage of their “free” time to opposing the homosexual movement. For the whole faithful Christian church to do so would be a serious distraction from our primary marching orders to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-20). But I do hope that we will all take appropriate measures to protect our loved ones from this insidious ideology and its immoral and dangerous lifestyle, insofar as this is possible. And I hope that we will all be diligent to consider this important social issue in choosing political candidates for which to vote. In God we trust, but we cannot afford to ignore the role of elected governmental officials. Above all, let us be quick to treat homosexual people with respect and dignity and to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. When the opportunity arises, show a willingness to pursue a genuine, non-sexual, personal relationship with a homosexual person of the same gender, sharing activities of common interest, such as golfing, reading, hiking or cooking, being careful to avoid giving the impression that you accept, endorse and/or want to facilitate the practice of homosexuality. And may we not let our hearts become darkened with hatred towards homosexual people, just because we hate their homosexual lifestyle. As the Apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).

Parents of Children Who Say They Are Gay

Christian parents who find themselves in this situation should be aware of the following encouraging facts: 1) the vast majority of teens up to 16 years of age who have identified themselves as homosexual will self-identify as heterosexual by the age of 17; 2) God is still in the transformation business, and that includes transforming homosexuals into heterosexuals; and 3) Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at success rates of around 25%-30%, which is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for treatment of psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism. I highly recommend the following article on how to respond when your child says he’s gay (click HERE).

Pastoral Response

And now, a note to born-again Christian pastors. Thank you for your willingness to be a pastor, perhaps the most difficult job there is! To those of you who are regularly preaching and teaching against sin and calling your flock to repentance, I commend you. To those of you who are not presently doing so, I have to ask “Why not?” One of the greatest deficiencies in the world of evangelical Christianity today is the dearth of preaching and teaching against sin and the calling of sinners to repentance. If your flock is ignorant about sin — all kinds of sin – and the need for repentance, then they are prime targets for the lies and myths of the homosexual apologists. They are going to be listening to someone’s version of the Gospel and of biblical righteousness, and if they are not hearing the truth from you, then they will hear false teachings from unbelieving liberals who can’t wait to win them over to their way of thinking. Don’t be afraid of the outcome if you provide this kind of preaching and teaching for your flock. Just be faithful to the word of God, leaving nothing out, and let God take care of the outcome. Jesus said “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), not “you will build my church.” Be faithful in this way, and God will be faithful to you!

Church Response

Welcome homosexual people to fellowship with your congregation, but be very careful how you show them the “love of Christ.” If you welcome them into church membership and/or give them leadership positions of any kind while they are still living a homosexual lifestyle, you will be, in effect, affirming and endorsing their lifestyle and helping them along a path that can only result in their spending their eternity in hell. (1 Corinthians 6:9). How is that showing them the “love of Christ”, who died to save them from their sins, not to save them and their sins? Moreover, in approving of their homosexual sins in such a way, you will be exposing yourself to God’s condemnation (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). The ultimate expression of the love of Christ to homosexual people is to share the good news of salvation with them and lead them to repent and leave the homosexual lifestyle. They cannot have it both ways.

I doubt that many Christian churches with openly, practicing and proud of it homosexuals are fully aware of the facts and biblical truths, and the magnitude of the issues, involved in dealing with this situation. So, in a nutshell, please allow me to shed some light on these things for you: 1) The claim that homosexuals are “born gay” has been proven conclusively to be a hoax (click HERE); 2) It is slander to accuse God of making anyone homosexual, because the Bible clearly says that the practice of homosexuality is sin and that God does not tempt anyone to sin (click HERE); 3) The claim that the Bible does not condemn the practice of homosexuality is a recent, modern heresy called “gay theology” (click HERE); 4) The claim that God’s grace covers the sins of unrepentant homosexuality is a recent, modern heresy called the “gay gospel” (click HERE); 5) If a church singles out the sins of homosexuality as being morally acceptable, then it relinquishes all biblical grounds for claiming that any other sin is morally unacceptable (e.g., the other sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, those being idolatry, adultery, thievery, greed, drunkenness, slander and swindling); 6) the biblical response for a church with an openly, practicing and proud of it homosexual (or any other sinner) who refuses to repent is not to welcome them into membership and promote them to positions of leadership; rather, the biblical response is to be found in 1 Corinthians 5:11-12, where the Apostle Paul says “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?”; and 7) If your church does not deal with such a situation properly, then it loses it’s moral compass and it’s moral authority, and it ceases to function as a faithful Christian church.

Final Thoughts

We born-again Christians need not panic or despair when we see the homosexual movement advancing. Jesus told us that things in this world would get much worse before His next coming, that we are not to become alarmed (Matthew 24), and that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). We may not like the moral degeneration that is going on in the world around us, but we can know that none of it is a surprise to God, that God is still sovereign and in control, and that in due course of time, God will bring righteousness and justice to the world and create a dwelling place for His elect that is free from evildoers altogether (Revelation 22:14-15). Our job is to remain faithful to His Word and to His instructions (Matthew 28:18-20) until the end, however and whenever that end comes for each of us. This is where we can find peace and joy in the midst of escalating spiritual darkness until that time. And remember “…Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)

The “Gay Gospel”

Reverend Melvin MillerThe “Gay Gospel”

James R. Aist

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The word “gospel” means “good news”. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best good news ever for mankind, and it is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is the only real Gospel, and for it to be real and effective in a person’s life, there must be repentance from sins (1 John 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:19). The “gay gospel” holds that one can be a Christian, never turn away from the sin of homosexual behavior, and still enjoy eternity in heaven with Jesus. Now any gospel that is not faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is the gospel of “a different Jesus”. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about a “different gospel” and a “different Jesus”: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). This is how we can know that Satan is using the “gay gospel” to get Christians who are homosexual to continue to practice homosexuality, feel good about it, and end up in hell, rather than repent of it.

This “gay gospel” is not only a “different gospel”: it is also a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that homosexual behavior is sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-16). Jesus did not come to save us and our sins, but to save us from our sins. Now, consider these additional Bible passages concerning the requirement for repentance:

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” — Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36).

“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2);

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31);

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6);

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6);

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Does any of that give the impression that anyone can deliberately keep on sinning until they die and still inherit eternal life? Quite the contrary! What it does say is that no one who goes on sinning deliberately has either seen Jesus or known Jesus (i.e., they are not really true believers) and that they can expect only judgment and the fury of a consuming fire when they die (that doesn’t sound like heaven to me!).

And here’s the clincher: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Here, Paul declares, point blank, that people who are living a homosexual lifestyle will not go to heaven. God has not given a special dispensation (to keep on sinning) to homosexual people because they have sexual attractions for members of their own gender or because they don’t want to repent! We are all – regardless of the nature of our sins — subject to the requirement for repentance of sins in order to receive the Good News (salvation)! So here we are, faced with a choice: Do we believe the doctrine of God, or do we believe the doctrine of men? Let’s go with God on this one.

There is only one, true Gospel of Jesus Christ! So if you are a homosexual Christian who is trusting in the “gay gospel” to get you to heaven, you may want to re-think that. I certainly hope you will. Remember the words of Jesus: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Finally, I would guess that very few Christians are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!

Do It Yourself

Here’s how to do a study of the Hebrew and Greek root words used in the Bible to express God’s views on homosexuality, without being a Hebrew or Greek scholar yourself: 1) find online and open “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” at “Bible Study Tools” (click HERE); 2) follow the instructions given in the introductory pane; 3) check the “Strong’s Numbers” box at the top right of your reading pane to view the Hebrew and Greek lexicons using Strong’s Concordance numbers; 4) enter, in turn, the following Bible verses — Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10 — and click on the respective highlighted words (hyperlinks) to access the appropriate lexicon and read the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words given in English. You can toggle between the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard (NAS) version. You will find, as expected, that wherever homosexual behavior is mentioned, it is consistently condemned as sin, abomination, per-version, etc. And understand that later English versions of the Bible, such as the NIV and MEV, consulted the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than relying solely on the KJV. The claim of gay activists – that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior – is nothing but pure fantasy and wishful thinking, as you can see for yourself.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)