Thursday, May 10, 2012

Homosexual Marriage?

The following is an excerpt from a conversation online about President Obama's announcement that he favors homosexual marriage.  This was my response to someone who thought the church didn't need to concern herself with politics  in this or any regard:

I can't speak for anyone else on this, only for myself. I don't believe that teaching God's word in defining what He has designed for marriage is at odds with addressing the brokenness of homosexuals. EVERYONE needs Jesus; period. There is no freedom from sin without Jesus. But if we do not hold to Scripture on the truth that homosexual BEHAVIOR is a sin, like adultery, pre-marital sex, bestiality, and any other sexual immorality, we are not doing them any favors either. Does an adulterer like to be told that his actions are sinful? Probably not. Are there mitigating circumstances in his or her life that have added to their sinful behavior? Probably.

Our calling as ministers of the Word of God is to lead people to holiness and godliness, which starts with addressing the truth that these terms (holiness and godliness) do not address ANYONE without Jesus. We still have to teach people to fight the good fight of the faith; and, by the Holy Spirit's power, to stop sinning. Yes, we need to help the homosexual offender overcome his or her sin; but we cannot ignore the fact that it IS a SIN to be OVERCOME.

When you establish a "help-group" for overcoming homosexual behavior and get picketed, the politics of it will come to your door. The problem is that soon, we will not be able to indicate that this is anything more than an alternate lifestyle for the misunderstood. Then you won't be able to have counseling for those struggling in this area. That is why every step in politics that moves homosexuality closer to the mainstream of life is a challenge we MUST take SERIOUSLY. When it is normalized, how will we "help" anyone overcome it?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Grace - "Charis"

The Greek term, "charis" (pronounced "khar'-ece"), is translated "grace" in most of it's uses in the New Testament, but it is also translated "favor" at different times.  It can refer to your gratitude for God's work in your life, His graciousness, His favor on us, and His power at work in us.

So when we talk about God's Amazing "Grace", what are we really talking about?  Is it just one idea, or is it a combination of thoughts and ideas rolled into one "gift"?

Are you thankful for God's "grace"?  If so, what do you mean by that?  We talk about His "unmerited favor" which forgives our sins by Jesus' blood.  That is most definitely something worth praising the Lord for, isn't it?  We derserved death because of our sins, but by God's "grace", we have been forgiven.  Is that the end of God's grace at work in us?

When you consider the meaning of the word, "charis", I believe we will find that the intent of the word is more than a one-time event that is God's grace in our lives.  The meaning of "grace" is more than "forgiveness".  That short term in Greek means "gratitude;" "graciousness;" and "God's favor in action."  So, ignoring for a second how Webster's Dictionary defines "grace", let's get a working definition of the Greek term:  "charis".

Using all the information we have on the use of this word, it seems a good definition of "charis" would be:
          "The active favor of God at work in your life bringing gratitude to your heart."
Using this definition, read some of the scriptures that speak of the "grace" of God in the New Testament:
Acts 15:11
Acts 15:40
Acts 20:32
Rom. 1:5
Acts 7:10 - Translated "favor"; still "charis" in Greek.  (KJV)
Luke 2:52 - Again, translated, "favor".  (KJV)
John 1:17
So what?  Why does this matter?  If grace is God's favor in action in your life, and Paul and Peter often bestowed grace and peace to their readers in their Epistles, then grace is something that increases and grows.  It can be among us in differing levels of power or saturation.  Acts 4:33 says, "great grace was upon them all." 
When Paul and Peter prayed that grace would increase, they were praying for an expanding work of God in the hearts of His people to give them deeper gratitude and that God would accomplish more in them and through them for His glory.  In other words, they were praying for a supernatural impact from the grace of God that constantly grows in us as His Name is spread.