Thursday, March 27, 2014

World Vision, Gay Marriage and the Bible

World Vision U.S. president Rich Stearns recently announced that the organization had changed its policy and would employ Christian gays who are legally married. Citing a desire to defer to “the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues”, Stearns said that the change should be seen as "symbolic not of compromise but of unity." He said that the policy was in line with the organization’s stand against sex outside of marriage.

Criticism was immediate and intense, and many people dropped their child sponsorships. Within two days, the policy was reversed by World Vision’s board, and a letter was released stating that the decision was a mistake and apologizing for the apparent departure from the Biblical standard of marriage being between a man and a woman. Hopefully, that decision was based on a desire to follow Scripture and not on the loss of financial support.

The controversy has highlighted a troubling trend in the debate on homosexuality. It used to be that most Christians had a common stand against homosexual behavior and especially against gay marriage. Now, many who claim to be Bible-believing Christians are adopting an acceptance of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle, even using the Bible to support their view.

To be clear, God does not condemn anyone to eternal punishment for homosexual behavior, nor should Christians. That judgment is based solely on whether or not a person has accepted Christ as Savior. However, continued, willful practice of what the Bible says is sin (which includes far more than just homosexuality) does raise questions about whether a person is truly born again. If a person is genuinely saved and still continues to sin, at the very least he denies himself of rewards in heaven and the joy and peace of a close walk with the Lord here on earth.

Following the policy reversal, Stearns stated, "We did inadequate consultation with our supporters. If I could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders." All Stearns and the World Vision board needed to do was consult God’s Word. There is no Scriptural basis for gay marriage or the gay lifestyle. The issue boils down to Scriptural inspiration and authority, not denominational differences or personal preferences.

Following are excerpts from the commentary Moral Madness* by David Virkler in which he outlines what Scripture teaches on the subject of homosexuality and marriage.


The precedent for marriage is set in Genesis 1:27 when God created a man and a woman. The term “help meet” in Gen. 2:18 in the old King James Version (KJV) does not mean “help mate.” “Meet” means “appropriate.” At the least, gay marriage is inappropriate from the beginning.

Some denominational leaders have twisted Bible verses and taken others out of context to defend their position on homosexuality and gay marriage. However, when studying a Bible theme, especially one as intense and crucial as homosexuality, we must consider all the mentions in the Bible. This includes first mention, further mention, full mention and the final mention.

First Mention
In Gen. 18:20, God says He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because “...their sin is very grave…” This sin is described in Gen. 19:4 & 5. Some try to say that was a sin of inhospitality, but it is clearly homosexuality. The word “know” means sexual contact. In fact, we get the term “sodomy” from the name of the city. It should be noted that after Gen. 18, all references to Sodom in the Old Testament (25) and the New Testament (9) are negative. Of the five references to “sodomite(s)” in the Old Testament, all are also negative.

Further Mention
Leviticus 18:22 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” God’s view of homosexuality is very clear.

Leviticus 20:13 – Homosexuality was “an abomination” punishable by death.

Deuteronomy 23:17 – Homosexuality is specifically forbidden. The Hebrew word translated as “perverted” in newer versions of the Bible means “one practicing sodomy.”

Judges 19:22, 23 – Male townspeople lusted for a male stranger who had been shown hospitality. (Note the similarities to Gen. 19.) They are called “sons of Belial” in the KJV, which means men of extreme worthlessness or ungodliness. The New King James Version translates the word “perverted.”

1 Kings 15:12, 22:46 – Male prostitutes were removed as part of spiritual reformation indicating that their lifestyle was sinful.

Follow-up Mention
In Romans 1:24-32, Paul describes a moral decay that begins with a denial of God’s truth followed by, in order, adultery (vs. 24), homosexuality (vs. 26 & 27) and, finally, lunacy (28).

Because people rejected God’s truth, He “gave them up” to vile passions. The extent of the degeneracy includes lesbians. “…even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” (vs. 26). The NIV translates this as “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” Paul’s phrasing seems to indicate that this was extreme even in a pagan culture.

He goes on to describe “men, leaving the natural use of the woman… men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their of error which was due” (vs. 27). This may be disease or death. (“Penalty” is also translated as “wages, hire, reward” as in Romans 3:23 – “the wages of sin is death.”)

Verse 28 says that those who reject God’s truth have degenerate minds incapable of comprehending truth and are given to every form of listed perversity (vs. 29-31). Tragically, all those who practice these perversions are “deserving of death” and so are those who approve of them (vs. 32). People who think well of those who are so involved are under the same judgment!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 details a list of “unrighteous” who will not inherit the kingdom of God. This includes homosexuals. The term “sodomite” in the Greek literally means “men in bed” or “men in coitus.” Verse 11 indicates that this lifestyle was in the past for some of the Corinthians. Paul says, “...such were some of you,” meaning that you can’t inherit the Kingdom if you are unrighteous.

The word translated “homosexuals” in verse 10 in the NKJV is from a Greek word meaning “soft.” Other versions translate this as “effeminate.” This refers to one who is sensual and given to things of the flesh and evidently includes homosexuality.

Paul again speaks of homosexuality in 1 Timothy 1:9-11, where he says that the Law was given for those who are against sound doctrine, including homosexuals (sodomites). This is the same word as in 1 Cor. 6:9.

Peter also spoke of homosexuality in his second epistle (2 Peter 2:6-10). He wrote of God’s punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. He describes them as “ungodly” (vs. 6), “filthy… wicked” (vs. 7) and “unlawful” (vs. 8). He goes on to say that the Lord reserves punishment especially for those who “walk according to the lust of uncleanness.” He also describes them as being unafraid to speak against the government (vs. 9 & 10).

In a similar passage, Jude 7 also speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of punishment for forsaking God’s truth. He speaks of their “fornication” (“sexual immorality” in newer translations), which may also be homosexuality, and that they went after “strange flesh.” For this, they suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Final Mention
Revelation 21 – This passage lists those who are excluded from Heaven including those who are “abominable” (vs. 8) and “…an abomination” (vs. 27), a clear reference to Lev. 18:22.

Rev. 22:15 – Outside of the heavenly city are “dogs”—the name for male prostitutes (see Deuteronomy 23:17 & 18).

Christ’s Words
Jesus was not silent on the subject as some claim. He spoke about sodomy in reference to relative judgments regarding a city’s acceptance of revealed truth (Matthew 11:21-24, Mark 6:11 and Luke 10:12-14). He said that if His preaching in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, it would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. In other words, Sodom needed repentance and was destroyed because it lacked it. The need for repentance indicates there is sin. Sodomy (homosexuality) obviously needs to be repented of. If not, one falls under God’s judgment.

Christ also spoke of God’s plan for marriage in the matter of the question over divorce. Matthew and Mark both record Jesus’ answer to the issues of whether a man could divorce his wife for most any cause. Christ quoted from Genesis and said, “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.” (Mark 10:6, 7) That is about as clear as it can be. God’s precedent for marriage is one man and one woman, and Jesus reiterated that.

Marriage as an Illustration of Salvation
In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul uses the marriage relationship between husband and wife as an illustration of the relationship between Christ, the bridegroom, and His redeemed Church, the bride. He very definitely speaks of a relationship between a man and a woman. If ever there was gross spiritual subversion of this illustration of Christ and His bride, same-sex marriage is it.


* The full 11-page article Moral Madness: A Biblical Response to Gay Marriage outlines the issues involved, its legal and social impact, what the Bible says, and how Christians should react and respond. It is available for a tax-deductible gift of any size to the ministry of Dedication Evangelism. Click here for a full list of all our print and audio resource materials and information on how to order Moral Madness. (Click here to read the full article at our website.)

Gayle Virkler

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"God's Not Dead"

The blog entry just previous to this one was about the new film, "God’s Not Dead". After researching and writing about it, I felt the need to go and view it personally. So several days ago my whole family and I ventured to theater to see if this rare type of movie was what we were hoping it would be.

Taking a family of five to see a film today is an expensive proposition – at least for us. But, miraculously, we received an unexpected gift in the mail, cash no less, that paid for the evening down to the penny – including the delicious but highly overpriced popcorn and soda.

At any rate, the film was very good and far better than I had anticipated. Occasionally Christian films can be lacking in the area of acting. Not so with “God’s Not Dead”. It was well done, intense and powerful. And, most importantly, really showed what spiritual warfare is truly like and what can and should be done by believers when they encounter it. Again, I was thrilled with the production and can’t wait to share it with others when the DVD comes out.

At the very end, there was a moment when everyone in the theater was encouraged to send a text saying "God’s Not Dead" to their entire cell phone contacts list. Our family did just that and the response was quite overwhelming. It went to Christians and non-believers alike reminding us of how many people in our lives we can impact if we care to and dare to. But as we get closer the resurrection season, this subject will again become more front and center. And hopefully the reality the cross of Christ and His gift of salvation will be something that will be shared willingly and faithfully by those who know the living God and who serve the living Savior.

“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“ (Acts 2:21)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is He Or Isn’t He? He Can’t Be Both!

It hits the theaters on March 21st and will no doubt draw both praise and intense fire depending on one’s personal perspective and belief system.  It is the movie, “God’s Not Dead”. Almost anyone from the aging baby-boom generation will recall this same basic phrase, minus the word "not",  as a calling card for a spiritually struggling culture.

The official home page reveals the plot, trailer, cast, locations, endorsements and, of course, the entire social media spectrum including  Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and a blog. But rather me trying to explain or interpret what the film offers and is all about, this is the official synopsis:

“Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.”

This movie has a rating of PG - a tag that makes its way onto only a select few productions today. Considering the content here, maybe these two letters could have a second meaning - the other standing for simply ‘Proving God’. But again, it should be quite interesting as to how the film fairs in the attendance realm and in the sphere of public opinion.

It might be time well spent by Christians who can possibly attend to do so and help support something that they hardly ever have any opportunity to. That is, to watch, share and promote something on a large scale that actually reveals sound biblical truth, portrays Christians in some positive light and even places the God of the Bible into His proper place and perspective.

And when the "lights, camera and action" conclude, we pray that this project will have empowered many to begin sharing their faith and become living examples of their living God’s will for them seen in 1 Peter 3:14-15. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”

"God’s Not Dead" is playing across the land just weeks before the season arrives that celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is the time of year, more than any other, when Christians feel that their God is truly alive. And if there is one related hymn that describes this belief, and the theme of this new film, it would be these true and timeless words:

I serve a risen Savior, he's in the world today;
I know that he is living whatever men may say;
I see his hand of mercy; I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him, he's always near.

 He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask my how I know he lives?
He lives within my heart.

The writer of this hymn certainly had no doubts about his God being fully alive and well, nor did the author of the gospel account when He recorded the words of his living God, personal Savior and precious Lord! "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Suing Your Parents? WWJD?

She lives just a few miles for us and has made national news with her amazing demands. Her name is Rachel Canning, a high school senior residing North Jersey. Her father was the former Police Chief in Lincoln Park - a small town that is in walking distance of where I sit here in Towaco.

But back in November the high school senior moved from her home after refusing to obey her parents' so-called "abusive" rules. The Morris Catholic High School cheerleader then brought a law suit against her mom and dad that would require them to fund her remaining year in private school and then tuition for college to follow. There was even a demand for $650 a week for expenses to live elsewhere. She claimed that her parents had kicked her out of the house and had the nerve to refuse to fund her coming college education.

The defense attorney for the parents stated, "To be clear, my clients never abandoned nor abused their child, and they have asked her to come home." The father claimed Rachel literally ran away from home because she did not want to follow house rules or even do simple chores. He said, "I know Rachel is a good kid, but an incredibly rebellious teen, and she's getting some terrible information."

Judge Peter Bogaard seemingly agreed and noted that Rachel Canning's behavior over the past year had been in question with one or two school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheer-leading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry.

The judge, upon hearing all the facts involved in the case, recently ruled in favor of the parents and denied the daughter's numerous requests. He must also have realized the huge potential consequences had he ruled in reverse. That would have severely hand-cuffed many moms and dads. It would have given them little recourse with kids who decide to reject authority while demanding their negative lifestyles be sanctioned and financially supported while under their parent's roof .

This national news story has many implications. But the one term being tossed about throughout was "entitlement." It seems that many in the younger generation feel that it is their "birthright" to be handed anything and everything they desire. They do not feel responsible to contribute much of anything, obey proper authority or even conduct themselves in a fashion that is appropriate in the eyes of those who pay their bills.

What is the source of such bold and self-centered attitudes? It may partly come from living in an affluent culture where everything is achievable, attainable and expected – now! And perhaps this is simply the logical outcome of a society having ever-dwindling moral foundations and where spiritual principles have been placed on the back burner – if even on the stove at all?

But how utterly incredible to compare this growing "entitlement" mindset in the society to what was the extreme opposite seen in the Savior. His attitude and response to sin, despite being the Creator, was simply incredible. As God almighty, He is certainly worthy of being entitled to everything in the universe. After all, He literally made it all and controls it. And yet Christ took the approach of desiring nothing for Himself and sacrificing everything for others. This is graphically and best described in Philippians 2:5-8.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

These words confront us with the opposing attitude of the Lord who denied all that was rightfully due Him in order to give lost sinners all that was not due them! He was fully obedient to the Father. He came to fully serve those who had rebelled against Him, even to the extent of dying for them like a common criminal.

But the above passage reveals something more. It begins by stating, “Let this mind be in you...”. This mind was certainly not the mind of "entitlement". But this mind led to a cross and the forgiveness of sin – all sin!

If there is anything desperately needed in this floundering and mixed up culture, it is for people to attain "the mind of Christ." It is to possess and promote His attributes of love, humility, obedience and sacrifice. His was not a life of entitlement on any level. His was, in fact, one diametrically opposed to that. He was fully a servant, and by fully giving Himself for all, He entitled all who trust in Him to procure a new heart a new mind, salvation in this life and a heavenly home in the next.

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mathew 20:28)

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dayuma's Glorious Departure

It was an event that made world news. It horrified those who learned of it and has never been forgotten because of the 'seemingly' senseless brutality that took place. And yet it was something that would literally transform countless lives and have lasting results continuing on to this vary day.

It is the story that was portrayed in the book and movie, “Through Gates of Splendor”.  Jim Elliot was one of five missionaries whose ministry, Operation Auca  was to try and evangelize a primitive people in Ecuador. The Wheaton College graduate and the others flew into the hostile territory in attempts to make contact. On one fateful day they landed their small plane on a remote riverbed and made face to face contact with members of the tribe. Instead of the hoped for results, the men were horribly speared to death on January 8, 1956. News of the event stunned the world and saddened millions - especially Christians. But the killings would do far more than just that. The event would result that is a keen reminder of the words back in Genesis 50:20. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

The impact of the terrible event would soon kick off an explosion of mission interest and outreach. Instead of being a deterrent to such work, the opposite happened and many more enlisted to replace those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their Lord. One of these was Elizabeth Elliot. She was the widowed wife of slain missionary Jim Elliot. She and other missionaries began working among the Aucas who murdered her husband and continued the difficult evangelistic work there. Their reaction and efforts remain after the slayings remain to this day a supreme example of forgiveness and dedication to God even in the face of great personal suffering.

This second wave on evangelism would prove to be simply incredible as many in the Auca tribe, and even those involved in the actual murders, came to know Christ as their personal Savior. The first convert was a woman named Dayuma. Prior to the attack, she would help Elliot and the others with basic language skills for their intended goal. Later she would even travel to the U.S. and share her amazing testimony. And now this tribute to God’s amazing grace, and a testimony to His faithful servants, has gone home to her heavenly home and reward. She has now literally entered in through gates of splendor!

The marching orders that motivated these famous martyrs have been in force since their Lord first instituted them when He walked the earth. And it is significant that His last words in two of the gospel accounts refer to reaching out to the entire world with His message of redemption.

“And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
(Mark 16:15)

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Not all in the family of God will be called to go to distant lands and even lay down their lives to reach precious souls. But all of His people have been called to defend their faith and be faithful witnesses of His redeeming power and His matchless grace!  This is to be done without hesitation and 'always' with full preparation and conviction!

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15)

Bill Breckenridge