What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Apologetics, Contemporary Culture, Featured

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

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The topic of homosexuality has reached an epidemic level in many Christian circles. We are seeing many people cave on this issue and give it up as if the Bible isn’t clear on this issue. In fact, it could be said that the issue of homosexuality among Christians is an issue because of how we view the Bible. The question around this debate is this, “Is the Bible clear on what it teaches about homosexuality? Or is it not?” Christians have long held to the authority, inspiration, inerrancy, sufficiency, and clarity of the Scriptures. The debate on this issue relates to the sufficiency of Scripture, which relates to the question of, “Do we have to practice what the Bible teaches?”, and, “Does it mean what it says about homosexuality?” In other words, “Is the Bible to be believed when it says homosexuality is wrong?” or, “Can we just make up our own interpretation of the relevant text and revise it to fit our own opinion?” This is what many people are doing. It’s also why a book like Kevin DeYoung’s new book What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? is so needed.

As readers of Servants of Grace know this issue is one I’ve addressed quite a bit over the years. It’s an issue I’m very familiar with as there is a large gay community in Seattle where I was born and raised. Even here in the Boise, Idaho, while not as pronounced (it seems to me) as Seattle, there is still a gay community presence here. When I write on this issue I get all sorts of questions and push back about it—more so than any other issue I write on. People genuinely want to know what the Bible teaches on this issue. This is why Kevin DeYoung wrote this book – to clear away this confusion. In part one, he sets forth the biblical teaching on marriage, as between one man and one woman. In part two ­DeYoung answers objections to the biblical teaching, he presented in part one. Here he tackles head on the revisionists who say that the Bible isn’t clear on homosexuality, “I don’t practice that type of homosexuality”, gluttony, divorce, the church is supposed to be a place for sinners, Christians are on the wrong side of history, your position on homosexuality isn’t fair, and the God of the Bible is “only” a God of love.

The book concludes with a call to faithfulness to the Word of God. DeYoung here says, “Faithfulness is ours to choose; the shape of that faithfulness is God’s to determine. In our time, faithfulness means a patiently winsome and carefully reasoned restating of the formerly obvious: homosexual behavior is a sin” (129). DeYoung also rightly notes throughout his book that we need to bring people to Jesus and Jesus will save them and through the Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin and transformation in this, and every area of their lives.

DeYoung helpful notes, “We must not be naïve. The legitimization of same-sex marriage will mean the de-legitimization of those who dare to disagree. The sexual revolution has been no great respecter of civil and religious liberties. Sadly, we may discover that there is nothing quite so intolerant as intolerance” (142). In the second appendix, he helps pastors and ministry leaders to speak winsomely by noting three building blocks for helping people struggling with same-sex attraction. First, biblically faithful, pastorally sensitive, and culturally relevant. Appendix three gives ten commitments every Christian should commit to all of which are helpful. The book also has an annotated bibliography of helpful books for further study on this issue.

The issue of homosexuality is one that isn’t going away anytime soon. This issue will continue to grow only worse as time goes on. Here soon Christians in America may be forced to not speak on this issue. We must count the cost and refuse to be silent no matter the verdict of the Supreme Court here soon. The authority of the Bible is worth standing upon. God uses His Word to pierce the hearts of hardened sinners and point them towards His finished saving work in the gospel. God is still in the business of removing spiritual blinders. He is in the business of removing people’s objections through the clear and faithful teaching of His Word. This is what DeYoung does so well. DeYoung’s book is a needed book for our times that we’re living in. Many people will say that the teaching in this book isn’t fair. They will object to DeYoung’s answers to objections to the traditional understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman for the rest of their lives. They will state that to be tolerant is to be accepting of other people’s positions, even as they are intolerant of our position and try to silence us.

Mention the word “tolerance” and you are likely to get some interesting responses. Most of those responses will focus on how people have the “rights” to think, believe, or act however they choose. In this view, tolerance is all about my rights and thinking on a given topic. At first, that may sound pleasant or even socially acceptable, but, in fact, it is rotten to the core. When people who view tolerance this way apply what they think too real life, the result is to exclude those who believe in absolute truth and absolute morals.

The argument goes, “Faith is private so keep it to yourself”. That sounds good at first glance. Let’s all keep quiet about what we believe. After all, isn’t faith a personal issue? The truth though is no one is quiet about what they believe. Is Oprah quiet about what she believes? Is Ellen DeGeneres quiet about what she believes? It seems like our liberal media can use its bully pulpit to proclaim that everyone has a right to think how they want, but when Christians make exclusive claims about God, the Bible, or Jesus according to the foundations of biblical Christianity, they are immediately discounted and treated as second class citizens. Yet the “enlightened” ones want us to believe everything they say without question and just soak in their magnificentness. The truth of the matter is not only does the liberal media not believe that faith is “private”, they are among the loudest in our culture in regards to proclaiming what they believe.

This is why the language of tolerance isn’t really tolerant, or as D.A. Carson said, “the intolerance of tolerance” in his book by the same title. Tolerance is intolerant because those who advocate for tolerance suggest they are the gatekeepers of truth. Whenever anyone says anything intolerant or if a Christian such as myself speaks or writes about gay marriage or other issues, they are shouted down, told they are wrong and immediately labeled a “bigot”, “misguided” or any number of unsavory labels. Is tolerance really tolerant? If you believe tolerance is tolerant then you are living in a world where truth must be abandoned because your truth is inconsistent. If we apply the standards of truth to the worldview of tolerance, it crumbles like shifting sand. The truth is that the new tolerance is another word for the spirit of this age which longs for teachers who will tickle people’s ears but never give them the truth from the Word of God. This is what DeYoung does so well in his book What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? he keeps bringing the reader back time and time again to the Scriptures where the reader will be confronted with the truth from the Scriptures.

Dear Christian, make no mistake. We are living in days that are challenging, but rest assured that, we also live in a day of great harvest. Stand firm on the authority of the Word of God and declare the message of the gospel. Jesus is alive, the tomb is empty, and He is ruling and reigning as His people’s High Priest. The Holy Spirit is still in the business of opening people’s eyes to the truth about Jesus, of convicting His people of their sin, and pointing them towards the truth of Jesus. The gospel is still the power of God! Preach the gospel all the more in a culture that says tolerance is a virtue and yet rejects its own conviction through its own inconsistency. Shout all the more from the rooftops and declare the sufficiency of Jesus to a culture that would rather celebrate its own pride and self-sufficiency.

I highly recommend What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? It is a book that every Christian must read to understand this issue. This book is a primer on God’s view of homosexuality from Scripture. This alone is no small feat as I’ve outlined in this review. Added to this, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, making this an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our times. This book is well-researched, accessible, and saturated in the gospel. As J.D. Greear said in his endorsement, “This is now the book on this subject for our generation.” Dr. Moore is right, “Every Christian should read this book.” This book will help every Christian to answer the challenge of homosexuality in the church and outside the Church with the Word of God. I highly recommend this book and believe it is DeYoung’s best work to date. 

Buy the book at Amazon or from WTS books.

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Yawning At Tigers You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Christian Living, Featured

Yawning At Tigers You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying

downloadArguably one of the most neglected doctrines in the Christian theology today is the doctrine of God. The Bible, unlike many Christian books, is not silent on the topic of God. Instead, the Bible opens with God speaking the world into existence in order for man and woman to live in it. God not only created the world for man and woman, but He continues to sustain the world, He created. One day He will bring the whole world into perfect order whereby it will no longer feel the effects of man’s sin. Equally important to what we’ve considered so far is understanding the character and attributes of God. For example by understanding the statement in Hebrews 13:5 that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us—we come to understand that the faithfulness of God is tied to the character and attributes of God.

When one considers the Old Testament what we usually think of are the Psalms. The Psalms are awesome. They reveal the character and attributes of God like few books do. Yet there is also Moses at the burning bush and Isaiah completely undone when the Lord calls him to be a prophet in Isaiah 6. Enter Drew Dyck’s new book Yawning At Tigers You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, a book that seeks to serve as both a corrective and instruction on the majesty of God.

Drew’s book has two parts. The overarching goal he says is to “invite readers to encounter the blazing holiness of God” (3). In evangelicalism today as has been noted by many, many people there is a tendency to overemphasize the love of God to the neglect of the holiness of God. As many theologians have noted the holiness of God is the multifaceted jewel that explains who God is and what He is like. This is important since Drew writes to help us understand this concept. In part one in six chapters, he gives readers a view of God’s holiness that aligns with the biblical record. In part two in six chapters, he seeks to elaborate on the attributes of God. Many Christians today don’t have a robust understanding of the doctrine of God. In fact, I’d say that this book is a basic introduction to the doctrine of God. And it is also one of the most helpful introductions to the doctrine of God I’ve ever read, I might add.

When Isaiah saw the glory of God he was undone. When men in the Bible see the glory of God not even in His fullness they are undone. The same is true today. We have the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. If we are to understand who Jesus is and what He is like—it will come as we understand the critical doctrine of God. After all, a sound doctrine of God leads to a right understanding the Bible. It is critical to understand who God is and what He is like since the Bible spends so much time elaborating on this concept. As you read Drew’s book you’ll find an author who cares about you. You’ll find an engaging writer in Drew, a conversation partner, if you will who, will guide you through what he is saying in easy to understand language, helpful illustrations, and faithful explanation of the biblical text.

You and I live in a culture where a neglect of the doctrine of God is by and large the norm today. We live in a Christian culture obsessed with arguments for God’s existence and proofs that He is real. Yet, the Bible does none of this. The Bible presumes that God is and moves to explain who and what He is like. What we need to understand is the truth Drew writes about namely the God of the Bible who is mysterious, yet powerfully present, dangerous yet accessible. The God of the Bible is a God who beckons His people to know and worship Him. Yawning at Tigers will rip off the domesticated uninterested and far view of God that many North American evangelicals have. In its place will come a vision of God that accords with His Word—a God of splendor, might, power, all-knowing, all-seeing—a God worth knowing, worshipping, and serving.

Whether you’re a new Christian or a seasoned scholar of God’s Word, I highly recommend you read Drew’s book. This book will help you to consider perhaps for the first time how the doctrine of God relates to your life. In a culture that is massively confused about who God is and what He is like this excellent book takes us near to the throne of God. After all, it is there that God’s people have been summoned by Christ Himself (Hebrews 4:16). So, I encourage you today to pick up Drew’s book. You’ll find that this book will help you to see, know, and enjoy God more. And in the end, what more could you ask from a Christian book than to challenge you, and help you grow in your walk with God? This is exactly what Drew’s book does so well. So go pick it up, read it, and enjoy it as I did.

Buy the book at Amazon.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Becoming Worldly Saints Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life by Michael Wittmer

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Christian Living, Featured

Becoming Worldly Saints Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life by Michael Wittmer

Becoming Worldly SaintsOne of the greatest charges of the world, today is that Christians are either hypocrites or Bible-thumpers. By this, what the world means is that we are so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. One of the other more recent objections to Christianity is Christians don’t enjoy their life. In recent days in Christian literature we’ve seen an increase in conversation about how Christians are to be more radical in their lives. Radical in their giving and living. Balancing this out has been a discussion on the ordinary nature of the Christian life namely church attendance, Bible reading, etc. What has been needed is a book that helps Christians understand how to be heavenly minded for the purpose of earthly good. While Joe Rigney’s book The Things of the Earth helped us understand this both from a theoretical and practical perspective—Dr. Michael Wittmer’s new book Becoming Worldly Saints Can You Serve Jesus And Still Enjoy Your Life? will help readers to love God and enjoy the life that they’ve been given by God.

One of the most dangerous ideas out there is that the Christian life is only one of growing in Christ. Yes growing in Christ vitally crucially important. So is being a member of a church under godly qualified male leadership. As is regular Bible reading and sitting under the preached Word of God. All of this is important and yet so is enjoying the life God has given us. Creation, Calvin says is the theater of God’s glory. We weren’t created primarily to only work but to image God in all of life—including everything we do outside of our vocations. We live in a culture that promotes workaholicism that tells us to find our identity and worth in what we do rather than who we are. It’s who we are that God is concerned with. Yes, He is also interested in what we do. He is changing us from the inside out. His person and character are to define our person and life. Often times this is missed. All of this is important since in Becoming Worldly Saints Dr. Wittmer gives readers an integrated vision for living life under God that shows how they can be heavenly minded in a way that leads to being of earthly good, which will empower believers to live out the abundant life that God has for them now in Christ

The book follows the creation, fall, redemption, restoration storyline of the Bible with a different spin. He writes not to outline only the biblical storyline but to see how our story fits into that Greater story. While much has been written in recent days about biblical theology, what is often missed in such books is a practical approach to how the storyline of Scripture affects our lives now and in the future. Mike writes in an engaging fashion to help readers understand the life God has for them. As he does this he helps set our eyes and hearts on heaven so that we can be earthly good.

The reason many people struggle with living consistent lives that glorify God is they view the Christian life in the wrong way. They primarily think their Christian life is all about how they do life at church with other Christians. That is part of the Christian life to be sure but not the whole story. We gather together with God’s people to scatter to our various vocations where God has placed His people to be His witnesses. All work has value because God gives it to man. He gives work to man, not so that will be their identity but so, they will glorify God and be His light in a dark land. This is why I enjoyed Becoming Worldly Saints. No, Dr. Wittmer isn’t calling us to be worldly in the sense of becoming like the world. Instead, He’s calling us to be in the world but not of the world. He’s calling us to fill the vision of our hearts and minds with heaven for the purpose of being of earthly good in our witness, in our vocations, and all of life.

Whether you’re struggling in your Christian life or things seem to be going well in your Christian life—this is a book I highly recommend to every Christian. If you’re tired of calls for the “ordinary” and “radical” Christian living and want something more sustainable I recommend you read this book. We need to be told that the call of discipleship is radical for sure. We need also to be told about the “ordinary” ministry of daily life. Most of all, we need our vision filled with heaven. We need to regain a vision of God’s majesty. Such a vision will help us to focus our lives on Christ so that we can be His ambassadors and shine brightly for Him. This is what Dr. Wittmer’s book does. Reading this book will help you to fill your gaze with heaven with the end result that you’ll desire naturally to be His light in a dark world.

Buy the book at Amazon.

I received this book for free from Zondervan Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Importance of Reading In The Christian Life

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

The Importance of Reading In The Christian Life

bible-199x3001Lots of people ask me on a regular basis how I read so much. My answer is that the only way I can keep up with my reading habits is to discipline myself to read. I typically read two books or more a week. Lately, that number has been significantly down as I’ve been busy with the many ministry activities. I notice the less time I have to read that the more I feel overwhelmed. Self-feeding is a very important aspect of ministry. It’s one of the reasons Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:13, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” Notice what Paul says here. He says bring me my “cloak” and his “books, and the parchments”. We don’t know what books the Apostle Paul was talking about here, but the parchments were the Scriptures. Paul wanted godly books to read and his Bible. This shows that the Apostle Paul, a man who wrote thirteen books in the New Testament, who likely had what we would consider today multiple Master’s Degrees and likely two Ph.D.’s still saw his need to read godly material and to read and study the Scriptures.

Jesus calls us to love Him with all of our hearts, minds and strength (Matthew 22:37-40, Luke 10:27). We read Matthew 22:37-40 and Luke 10:27 and rightly note that we are to love God with all of our heart and strength, but often miss that Jesus also commands us to love Him with our minds. Loving God leads to loving Him with the mind that He has given us. This doesn’t mean that we need to be a know-it-alls. None of us will ever know everything. We are to grow in what we know and to build our knowledge base as Christians. After all how else are we to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-5), and to give an answer for the reason for our hope with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)?

Reading has always been an important part of my life. As a young teenager, I came back from my church’s high school youth camp going into my sophomore year with a burning desire to grow in my understanding of doctrine and theology. One time I read the New Testament in a month. I didn’t skim the New Testament either, I read, and read the New Testament devouring it and hungering for the Word of God. I typically suggest people don’t read that much of the biblical text at a time but instead read the Bible slowly and digest it. Sometimes though just reading the Bible in large swaths can be helpful though for the purpose of getting an overview of the whole so when we read the smaller chunks, we keep the larger story of Jesus in mind in our reading.

Paul knew his need for continued growth. After all he was busy investing in the lives of the saints. He wrote his letters to Timothy and Titus about how to minister and set things in order in the church. He wanted to advise his young protégées on how ministry life would be a life that was hard and one where they would experience great difficulty and persecution. The same is true today. Every Christian is a priest unto God (1 Peter 2:9) but God calls men to be Pastors and elders (1 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-8). Every Christian is to love Jesus with all of their heart, mind, and strength. Yet, God calls some men to give their lives to the specific task of preaching and teaching (Acts 5; Acts 20; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). These men are to preach and teach the Word of God in the power of the Spirit. They are to give themselves over to the task of preaching and teaching the whole Word of God. They are to serve as an example to the flock and the people are to follow them as they follow and model Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Also, older men are to instruct younger men and older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2).

Reading is a vital ministry. This is why reading not only godly books is important but also regularly reading your Bible. Making time to regularly read and delight in the Bible is one of the chief ways Christians grow. I’m equally convinced following Paul’s example asking for his “books and the parchments” in 2 Timothy 4:13 that you and I need to also read godly books.

You may not have a writing ministry or a writing gift and that is okay. There are plenty of reviews and resources today along with book recommendations that will help you find good books. There are thousands if not more books published each year. While you may not read 50 or 100 or more books in a year, I encourage you to make reading a priority in your life. Resolve to not only love God and your neighbor, but to love God with the mind He gave you. Exercise the life of the mind in your loving of God. The results of regularly reading the bible and godly books are many. For example, when you have that opportunity to speak/write/minister to someone you’ll have a growing knowledge base to speak into the lives of others. The Holy Spirit will use what you’re learning and how you are growing to impact the lives of others.

So are you ready to begin the discipline of reading? I encourage you to start small. Resolve to read ten books a year. Focus primarily on reading your Bible and pick a few books. Try reading from godly authors like John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Tim Keller, or if you really want to be stretched try reading anything by John Owen. Don’t let another year go by where you say you’re going to read quality godly material. Instead, resolve now to do as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:13 and read your Bible and godly books that will help you grow. Doing so will help you to increase not only your knowledge base but your love of Jesus. It will also help you to honor God by utilizing the mind He gave you and the Spirit He has sent to enable you to fulfill His command to love Him with all of your heart, mind and strength.

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