Friday, March 30, 2007

We Love Gay People!

Startled? Confused? Wondering if the headline is a mistake?
Let’s put this in perspective. Fact: Homosexuality is a sin against God. Fact: So is lying, cheating, laziness, lust, and more!
While homosexuality is a terribly wicked act, so is every other sin we commit against a holy God. But why does the church tend
to point out homosexuality as the “untouchable” sin?
Perhaps it’s because up to this point in history, the church has been full of liars, cheaters, adulterers, murderers, etc. But since
homosexuality has remained “taboo” in the church, it is the only sin that liars, cheaters, adulterers, and murderers can point to
and still feel “holier than thou!” “At least I don’t do that!” If homosexuals came into the church, we would lose our moral superiority.
We might just be grouped in the same category as “wretched sinners.”
Perhaps we should reconsider Romans 3. Verse 10 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks
for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” That verse describes
you, me, liars, homosexuals - all sinners!
The Pharisees didn’t see things that way. They believed they were better than the average sinner. Of course, Jesus called their
bluff when he gave them permission to “cast the first stone” at the woman caught in adultery.
Speaking of stones, there are a lot of them being thrown in the name of Christ these days. Anti-gay rallies featuring signs saying
“God hates fags” are commonplace. Sadly, many churches encourage their members to participate. It sure feels good to point
out how terrible someone else is!
But what if we decided to display the love of Christ instead? It was the radical love of Jesus that compelled Him to minister to
taxpayers, prostitutes, Samaritans, and drunkards. And by the way, He helped them transform their sinful actions into God-honoring
lifestyles. Jesus knew that the only way they would change is through His unsurpassing love - the same love that saved
you and me “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8). Maybe we just don’t want these people to change. After all, that would
take away our “holier than thou” crutch.
But what if we took all our “hate” energy and poured it into ministries for homosexuals? What if we abandoned anti-gay rallies and
replaced them with “God loves you” rallies? Perhaps then the homosexual community would be able to see past our arrogance
to the powerful love of Christ and the cross.
Bottom line: Homosexuality is a terrible sin. Gay people are wicked sinners. We do not endorse the lifestyle. Nor do we support
gay marriage or gay adoption. We do, however, follow Christ’s example in loving sinners and calling them to repentance.
Of course, once they repent and place their faith in Christ for salvation, we help them resist temptation and discipline them when
they consistently rebel without remorse. That’s how we should treat every sinner in the church!

Written by:

Pastor Scott Atteberry
Wyatt Baptist Church

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mt Soledad Memorial Cross

More coming soon . . .

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

John MacArthur Answers:

No. Let's examine what the Scriptures teach on this issue:
First, it is quite clear from such passages as Acts 15 and Romans 4 that no external act is necessary for salvation. Salvation is by divine grace through faith alone (Romans 3:22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30; 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9, etc.).
If baptism were necessary for salvation, we would expect to find it stressed whenever the gospel is presented in Scripture. That is not the case, however. Peter mentioned baptism in his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). However, in his sermon from Solomon's portico in the Temple (Acts 3:12-26), Peter makes no reference to baptism, but links forgiveness of sin to repentance (3:19). If baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sin, why didn't Peter say so in Acts 3?
Paul never made baptism any part of his gospel presentations. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul gives a concise summary of the gospel message he preached. There is no mention of baptism. In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul states that "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel," thus clearly differentiating the gospel from baptism. That is difficult to understand if baptism is necessary for salvation. If baptism were part of the gospel itself, necessary for salvation, what good would it have done Paul to preach the gospel, but not baptize? No one would have been saved. Paul clearly understood baptism to be separate from the gospel, and hence in no way efficacious for salvation.
Perhaps the most convincing refutation of the view that baptism is necessary for salvation are those who were saved apart from baptism. We have no record of the apostles' being baptized, yet Jesus pronounced them clean of their sins (John 15:3--note that the Word of God, not baptism, is what cleansed them). The penitent woman (Luke 7:37-50), the paralytic man (Matthew 9:2), and the publican (Luke 18:13-14) also experienced forgiveness of sins apart from baptism.
The Bible also gives us an example of people who were saved before being baptized. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and those with him were converted through Peter's message. That they were saved before being baptized is evident from their reception of the Holy Spirit (v. 44) and the gifts of the Spirit (v. 46) before their baptism. Indeed, it is the fact that they had received the Holy Spirit (and hence were saved) that led Peter to baptize them (cf. v. 47).
One of the basic principles of biblical interpretation is the analogia scriptura, the analogy of Scripture. In other words, we must compare Scripture with Scripture in order to understand its full and proper sense. And since the Bible doesn't contradict itself, any interpretation of a specific passage that contradicts the general teaching of the Bible is to be rejected. Since the general teaching of the Bible is, as we have seen, that baptism and other forms of ritual are not necessary for salvation, no individual passage could teach otherwise. Thus we must look for interpretations of those passages that will be in harmony with the general teaching of Scripture. With that in mind, let's look briefly at some passages that appear to teach that baptism is required for salvation.
In Acts 2:38, Peter appears to link forgiveness of sins to baptism. But there are at least two plausible interpretations of this verse that do not connect forgiveness of sin with baptism. It is possible to translate the Greek preposition eis "because of," or "on the basis of," instead of "for." It is used in that sense in Matthew 3:11; 12:41; and Luke 11:32. It is also possible to take the clause "and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" as parenthetical. Support for that interpretation comes from that fact that "repent" and "your" are plural, while "be baptized" is singular, thus setting it off from the rest of the sentence. If that interpretation is correct, the verse would read "Repent (and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of your sins." Forgiveness is thus connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 24:47; John 3:18; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 5:26).
Mark 16:16, a verse often quoted to prove baptism is necessary for salvation, is actually a proof of the opposite. Notice that the basis for condemnation in that verse is not the failure to be baptized, but only the failure to believe. Baptism is mentioned in the first part of the verse because it was the outward symbol that always accompanied the inward belief. I might also mention that many textual scholars think it unlikely that vv. 9-20 are an authentic part of Mark's gospel. We can't discuss here all the textual evidence that has caused many New Testament scholars to reject the passage. But you can find a thorough discussion in Bruce Metzger, et al., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pp. 122-128, and William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Mark, pp. 682-687.
Water baptism does not seem to be what Peter has in view in 1 Peter 3:21. The English word "baptism" is simply a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means "to immerse." Baptizo does not always refer to water baptism in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; 7:4; 10:38-39; Luke 3:16; 11:38; 12:50; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 12:13). Peter is not talking about immersion in water, as the phrase "not the removal of dirt from the flesh" indicates. He is referring to immersion in Christ's death and resurrection through "an appeal to God for a good conscience," or repentance.
I also do not believe water baptism is in view in Romans 6 or Galatians 3. I see in those passages a reference to the baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). For a detailed exposition of those passages, I refer you to my commentaries on Galatians and Romans, or the tapes of my sermons on Galatians 3 and Romans 6.
In Acts 22:16, Paul recounts the words of Ananias to him following his experience on the Damascus road: "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." It is best to connect the phrase "wash away your sins" with "calling on His name." If we connect it with "be baptized," the Greek participle epikalesamenos ("calling") would have no antecedent. Paul's sins were washed away not by baptism, but by calling on His name.
Baptism is certainly important, and required of every believer. However, the New Testament does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OK, So Dads Make a Difference. This is News?

I thought I'd share an good post from Al Molher's Blog

Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California is out with a big news flash -- dads matter in the lives of their children. Sandra Stokley reports on the formation of "DADS," a group dedicated to encouraging men to be more involved in the lives of their children.
The news story is nicely done, featuring the work of Robert Garcia, a father of three who is highly involved with his kids. From the story:
Garcia faces a 90-minute daily commute from Glen Avon to his job as a quality engineer in Costa Mesa. He also drives his three children to school every morning and walks them to class.
He makes it a point to be home at least three nights during the workweek to sit down to dinner with his wife and children. Family dinners on weekends are a given.
He taps into his vacation days so he can chaperone school field trips. He recently took a vacation day so he and his wife could take birthday cupcakes to his son's classroom at Pedley Elementary School.
And even on business trips, he fields calls from his children when they need help on their math and science projects.
For men willing to face the challenges that might block a healthy relationship, the rewards are enormous, Garcia said.
Robert Garcia is clearly a dad who loves his wife and children and is dedicated to being a father --not just a "male parent." His commitment to his own family is admirable and his leadership in forming the DADS group is to be appreciated.
In January, Garcia took over as president of DADS -- Dedicated, Assuring, Devoted Special -- a Jurupa-area group that promotes greater involvement by fathers in their children's lives.
Garcia and DADS members say the premise of the group is simple: fatherly involvement engenders personal fulfillment and pays big dividends for society as well.
"My research shows that if fathers get involved with their kids, they (the children) score higher on tests and stay out of trouble," he said.
Since its incorporation last June, DADS has sponsored three events that organizers hope will act as a springboard to help fathers bond with their children.
"The reality is that fathers are role models for their sons and daughters," said local businessman Tim Adams, who is one of the group's founders. "And you really see a difference in the attitude of kids whose fathers are involved in their lives."
The importance of fathers to the family dynamic has been documented in numerous studies, said W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and author of "Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands."
"There is a real connection between fatherless households and delinquent and criminal activity on the part of adolescent males and young men," Wilcox said in a telephone interview.
Fathers provide a template for their sons on how to handle difficult situations, conflict and frustration and how to interact with women, Wilcox said.
Daughters with involved and affectionate fathers are more apt to postpone sexual activity, Wilcox said.
Children in general benefit from seeing a father and mother treat each other with affection and respect, Wilcox said.
"It's important in different ways for both boys and girls to have a father in the house who is modeling certain types of behavior," Wilcox said.
The research is clear -- fathers play a vital role in the formation of their children. The presence or absence of fathers, and the relative quality of the dads' engagement with their children, makes a huge difference in the lives of both boys and girls. Professor Bradley Wilcox's research is very revealing. Boys need to see dad as a role model for the man they should become. Girls also need dad, and it shows. Just look at the research.
The fact that The Press-Enterprise saw this as a news story worthy of coverage is very revealing in itself. We should appreciate the story. At the same time, it is sobering to reflect on the health of a society in which such a development ranks as news. Here's the scoop -- dads matter. Somebody call a press conference.