When Grace Is Not So Amazing

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When Grace Is Not So Amazing

James R. Aist

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise!

“Grace” can be defined as receiving something good that we haven’t earned. It can be given by one person to another, and it can be given by God to anyone. Most notably, it is by the grace of God that sinners are saved from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:8), which is the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). And this is what is so amazing about grace: that the penalty for our sins was paid by God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may not perish (i.e., go to hell), but have everlasting life with God in heaven. For our part, God only requires that we believe in the One He sent, Jesus Christ, in order to receive this amazing grace (John 6:28-29). This is the real and complete Gospel of Jesus Christ in a nutshell, as summarized beautifully in John 3:16.

Sadly, false teachings and damning heresies concerning grace have crept into the Christian church. Something that is absolutely essential to the Gospel – the grave consequenses of sin – is being increasingly ignored or even denied in some of today’s Christian witness concerning grace. Many contemporary teachers and preachers are leaving sin out of their message of grace, yet calling it the Gospel. What they fail to understand is that where there is no sin, there is no need for grace. In such a scenario, grace would be neither amazing nor necessary.

At this point, I believe it would be helpful for me to provide some prominent and current examples of the kinds of “gospel compromises” I have in mind:

Abortion. Abortion clinics are being dedicated to God by clergy who claim that Jesus approves of them, whereas the Bible clearly teaches otherwise (click HERE);

Fornication. Unmarried couples living together are being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, whereas the Bible clearly teaches that they are not qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13);

Foul language. Cursing, swearing and profanity are being practiced increasingly by some Christians, sometimes even by pastors, whereas the Bible instructs us to refrain from such misuses of the gift of language (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 12:35-37; Ephesians 5:4; James 3:10);

Homosexuality. Openly and actively homosexual people are not only being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, but they are conducting homosexual “weddings”, against all that the Bible says about the sanctity of biblical marriage and the sinfulness of homosexual sexual relations (click HERE).

Of course the grace of God is available for all kinds of sin, but God will not be mocked! When evil is called good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), the grace of God does not flow, and sin remains. Moreover, if we cherish sin in our heart, God will not hear us when we call out to Him (Psalm 66:18), and that is not a good place to be in! The true Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise! And if you are wondering if obedience really fits in here, remember that Samuel said to Saul, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, a listening ear than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).” And .Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The grace of God does not make obedience optional!

So, here is the fatal flaw in such perversions of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: all have sinned and come short of the righteousness that God requires (Romans 3:23). Mankind has a “sin problem” that must be dealt with effectively before the grace of God that brings eternal life is even available. The grace of God (manifested by forgiveness) comes into play only after we have confessed our sins (i.e., we have agreed with God that what we did is a sin) and repented of that sin (i.e., solemnly resolved to not repeat it). God has offered us no other way to restore a right relationship with Himself. And when we confess our sins and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrightneousness (1 John 1:9); faithful, because He promised to forgive, and just, because Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Those who preach and teach a gospel that ignores or denies the sin problem (or specific sins) are not presenting the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a perverted counterfeit of it (2 Corinthians 11:4). The sad result is Christian churches that are becoming more like the secular world instead of more like Jesus.

The true Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with the bad news of our sinfulness and ends with the good news of God’s forgiveness of our sins. What many don’t realize is that it is the grace of God that brings both the bad news and the good news. The following phrases in the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace, state this truth wonderfully, “’twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.” Moreover, Jesus gave us an example of God’s grace bringing first the bad news and then the good news to the woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The bad news was that she had 5 ex-husbands and was currently shacking up with another man out of wedlock. Once He got her attention with those Words of Wisdom concerning her sinful ways, He was able to then move on effectively to the good news that He had for her, and many were saved because of her testimony.

Before I close, I would like to share with you a vision God gave me that reveals His heart toward people who are among the “down and out” of our society. I was sitting in my car one day, waiting for my wife to finish having her hair “done.” Along came what appeared to be a homeless man. His clothing was dirty and tattered, his head was down and he had a slow, plodding gait, as one defeated by life. As I watched him pass in front of me, suddenly his form became somewhat transparent and another man’s form was superimposed upon his. This other man was clean, well-dressed and walked with his head held high. After they had taken a few steps in unison, the image of the second man disappeared, and then I saw just the homeless man as he walked out of sight. For just a few moments, God had given me a glimpse of who He saw walking in front of me: not a disheveled, defeated and hopeless man, but a happy, successful man full of hope, the kind of man God wanted him to be! Then I received the interpretetion (i.e., the message) of the vision: There, but for the grace of God, go I!

When we speak of God’s grace to someone, let’s be sure not to water it down by compromising what it really is. When sin is at issue, tell them that God’s grace brings first the conviction of sin, and then, following confession and repentance, the forgiveness of sin. Anything less than that is not really God’s grace, and it is not amazing at all. So let us always be obedient to this instruction from the Apostle Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

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

 

 

 

What Is Jesus Waiting For?

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What Is Jesus Waiting For?

 James R. Aist

“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were since the beginning of the creation.” – 2 Peter 3:4

Jesus promised that, one day, He would return, do away with evil deeds, punish evildoers forever, and establish His righteous and everlasting Kingdom on earth (Revelation 21:1-8). But, it’s been more than 2,000 years since He ascended into heaven, and still, He hasn’t come again as He promised. So, you may ask, as many others have (e.g., 2 Peter 3:3-4), “What in the world is He waiting for?” In this article I will try to shed some light on the answer to that question. As you read further, please bear in mind that the Bible mentions many things that will happen before the Second Coming, but most of these things do not relate directly to the purpose, or the “end game,” of His waiting. So, please bear in mind that here, I am focusing specifically on what it is that God is accomplishing by having Jesus wait.

To do that, I want to begin at the beginning. The evil that we witness or experience today has its origins in the original sin of Adam, which is commonly referred to as The Fall of Man (Genesis 3). As a result of The Fall, mankind has been separated from God, born with a sinful nature and living in a cursed creation ever since. At some level, all of the evil in the present world can be traced back, directly or indirectly, to this entry of sin into the world. This means that mankind, not God, is the root cause of evil in this fallen world, so, let’s be careful to not blame God for it. God will eradicate evil and restore righteousness to the earth some day.

But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Why does God continue to allow evil to continue when He has been planning to end it all along? My response to that question would be that He will end it when the time comes. So now we have arrived at the topic of this article: What is Jesus waiting for, anyway? I believe the Bible provides an answer, and I will try to explain it, but I can’t promise that it will satisfy you.

About the Second Coming, Peter wrote, “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). In context (2 Peter 1 and 3), “any”, “all” and “us”, refer specifically to born-again believers (2 Peter 1:1), the elect of God (2 Peter 1:10), so that a fuller exposition of the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 would be, “…He does not want any (of His elect) to perish, but all (of His elect) to come to repentance.” Peter is saying that Jesus will not come again until all of His elect have repented and have been saved.

And Paul struck a similar note when he wrote, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26a). The phrase “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” is rendered a little differently in the various English translations, but I believe that the New Living Translation captures most clearly the full intent and meaning of the phrase thusly: …”until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.” Thus, when the full number of Gentiles has been saved, then the partial hardening of Israel will be lifted, all Israel will be saved and end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming.

Taken together, then, these two verses tell us that what Jesus is waiting for is the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect. And, from God’s perspective, this is, indeed, a very good reason for Jesus to wait, don’t you think?

There are a couple of related and supporting verses that also  should be noted here. One is Matthew 24:14, where Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” How does this relate to the topic at hand? Here’s how: It is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world that will result in the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect, so that end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming. The other verse is Romans 8:19-21, where Paul wrote, “The eager expectation of the creation waits for the appearance of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The “appearance of the sons of God” will not be completed until the salvation of all God’s elect is accomplished, because these are “the sons of God”. Thus, the creation also is eagerly waiting for the same thing that Jesus is waiting for. Following that, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth”, and “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.”

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

 

Why Is There a “T” in “LGBT”

Why Is There a “T” in “LGBT”

James R. Aist

Introduction

The acronym “LGBT” was invented by the homosexual movement to refer to people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. The combined LGB (homosexual) sub-group comprises only about 2-4% of the general population, and so, by itself, would not seem large enough to garner sufficient sympathy for their agenda. Leaders of the homosexual movement continue to stress that “homosexual” and “transgender” are really quite different in nature. So, why, then, is “transgender” included in the homosexual movement? This seems to be an enigma. Is there an explanation for this association that goes deeper than a mere desire to involve a slightly larger number of “oppressed” people in the homosexual movement in order to achieve the goals of their agenda?

Scientific revelation

In the process of researching transgender issues (click HERE), I discovered a direct, more fundamental association between “homosexual” and “transgender” than the mere desire to gain strength through numbers. Scientific studies (see References 1 & 2, below) have found that 73%-81% of male-to-female transgendered “females” are still sexually attracted to females! So, by definition, to the extent that these transgendered “females” have actually become female, they have also become virtual lesbians. This is a direct link of “transgender” to “homosexual”, and it would seem to provide a more fundamental connection of “transgender” to the homosexual movement than a mere desire to involve a larger number of “oppressed” people in the homosexual movement.

Moral implication

Here is an often overlooked ramification of Deuteronomy 22:5 with 1 Corinthians 1:6-9 (click HERE) to the practice of gender transformation and subsequent sexual relations. “Do not be deceived; God will not be mocked” (Galatians 6:7): if a male-to-female transgender person has sex with a man, he is committing a homosexual sin, because he is, in reality, still a man. Likewise, if a female-to-male transgender person has sex with a female, she is committing a homosexual sin, because she is, in reality, still a woman. In other words, such transgender sex becomes homosexual sin, thus providing another direct link between “transgender” and “homosexual”. And, as with any kind of sin, sexual or otherwise, the only effective way for such a person to be reconciled to God and spend eternity in heaven with Him is to confess the sins, repent of them and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We have God’s word on it!

References

  1. Auer, M., et al., 2014. Transgender Transitioning and Change of Self-Reported Sexual Orientation. PloS One. (click HERE)
  2. Author unspecified. 2016. Transgender sexuality, References 7 and 8. Wikipedia.    (click HERE)

(To read more of my articles on HOMOSEXUALITY and TRANSGENDERISM, click HERE)

God Does Not Make Anyone Homosexual!

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God Does Not Make Anyone Homosexual!

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 Tim. 4:3-4).

Introduction

In a separate article (click HERE), I have gone into considerable detail to show that “born gay” is a monumental myth being perpetrated by gay activists in a vain attempt to validate and legitimize homosexuality. Many so-called “gay Christians” claim further that homosexual people are not only born gay, but that God created them that way (with same-sex attractions). The implication is that, since God made them “that way”, both their homosexuality and their practice of homosexuality should be fully accepted and celebrated by Christians and the Christian church as a “gift from God.” So, let’s take a closer look at the Scriptures and see if we can discern the truth: are same-sex attractions from God, and, if not, where do they come from?

Same-sex Attractions Are Not from God

The claim that same-sex attractions are a gift from God is diametrically opposed to the biblical witness; there are scriptural proofs that God is not the source of the same-sex attractions and desires that homosexual people experience. Firstly, the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior, in any context, as sin (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). Now, if God himself were to instill same-sex attractions and desires into homosexual people, then, by doing so, He would be tempting them to sin sexually. However, the Bible also states, emphatically, that God does not tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13-14). The necessary conclusion is that the God of the Bible would not create anyone homosexual, because to do so would violate His very nature and character, which is to hate sin. And secondly, after God had created Adam and Eve as heterosexual people, the Bible says that “God saw all that he made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “All that He had made” could not have included homosexuality, because the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior as evil, not as good. And that — the creation of Adam and Eve –- was “…the last of the work of creation that God was doing” (Genesis 2:2). It follows, then, that God not only would not, but He also did not, create anyone homosexual. What kind of a “god” would create human beings that he purposely made to be an abomination to himself?! Homosexuality must have first appeared at some later time, after God had finished creating. That is what the Bible teaches us about the matter. It is up to us to honor God by believing His Word.

Since God made us male and female in the beginning and told us to multiply and fill the earth, it would be both contradictory and counterproductive to, then, make some of us homosexual. The God of the Bible does not act at cross purposes with Himself! But we know of someone who does act at cross purposes with God, don’t we.

Where, Then, Do Same-sex Attractions Come From?

The Bible says that sin entered the world through the “original sin” of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-19) after the last of the work of creation that God was doing (Genesis 2:2), and that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Thus, same-sex sexual attraction (i.e., homosexuality) is a result of sin entering the world through the disobedience of Adam, just as are all other temptations to sin. Moreover, the root source of the original temptation to sin was none other than Satan (i.e., “the serpent”) himself: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:1-6). Thus did temptation to sin enter the world.

Implications for Today

Since Satan, not God, is behind the same-sex urges that homosexual people experience, it follows that such urges do not constitute a valid argument that God approves of either same-sex attractions or their volitional consequences, namely, homosexual acts. In fact, it is slander of the worst kind to accuse the God of the Bible of making anyone homosexual! God’s moral laws were given to communicate the sinfulness of our urges (e.g., lying, stealing, vengeance, adultery, fornication, and homosexual sex) that are opposed to His will. And, as born-again Christians comprising the true Christian church, we are called to love homosexual people enough to be witnesses to these truths (Matthew 5:13-16), so that the Holy Spirit can use our witness to help convict them of their homosexual sins and lead them to repentance and salvation. “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). And neither are we willing that any should perish.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY by Professor Aist, click HERE)