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Should a Christian Attend an LGBTQ Wedding?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 7, 2024 12:01 am

Should a Christian Attend an LGBTQ Wedding?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 7, 2024 12:01 am

Should Christians attend an LGBTQ wedding? Today, hear a discussion that Steven Lawson and Burk Parsons shared with Chris Larson on how Christians are to stand firm in the truth while loving their neighbors in a confused world.

Get 'The Intimate Marriage' Teaching Series with R.C. Sproul and the Book 'A Field Guide on Gender and Sexuality' for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/3394/donate

Meet Today's Teachers:

Steven Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries in Dallas. He is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow, professor of preaching and dean of D.Min. studies at The Master’s Seminary, and teacher for the Institute for Expository Preaching. He is author of many books, including The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Knox: Fearless Faith, and The Moment of Truth.

Burk Parsons is senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, FL, chief editorial officer for Ligonier Ministries, editor of Tabletalk magazine, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is author of Why Do We Have Creeds?, editor of Assured by God and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, and cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.

Meet the Host:

Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Renewing Your Mind is a donor-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Explore all of our podcasts: https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts

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Speaking the truth, whether it's about God's wrath, whether it's the gospel, whether it's about eternal damnation, or whether it's about marriage being strictly between one man and one woman, we have to speak the truth because we love, because we are truly compassionate, even when it means we are rejected. Scripture calls Christians to speak the truth in love. We're also commanded to love our neighbors. What does it look like to obey those commands when your neighbor says they're transgender and they invite you to their wedding?

What should it look like if that neighbor is a family member? Thanks for joining us today on Renewing Your Mind as we discuss these questions and more. One resource that has just been released by Ligonier Ministries that answers these questions and many more that we won't have time to address today is our field guide on gender and sexuality. And we'll send you two copies when you make a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org.

But be quick as this offer ends today. Recently, Ligonier's president and CEO, Chris Larson, moderated a conversation with two of our teaching fellows, Stephen Lawson and Burke Parsons, to address these timely questions. Here's that discussion now. The culture at large has careened quickly away from any semblance of biblical morality. But what has been surprising is that there's been confusion even within the church about where we should stand on a host of contemporary issues. And I think we've all felt the ground shift beneath our feet over the past several years in particular.

And the pace of change does not seem like it is slowing down at all. And so Ligonier is seeking to encourage the church around the world to be able to stand firm in convictions on God's word. This was Dr. Sproul's heartbeat and his commitment for this ministry. And so we're hoping over the next few minutes to be able to look at this pressing question that many Christians are facing. And so we'll get into some of the larger issues and the pastoral issues around it. But we'll just go right out of the gate with this question. Should a Christian attend an LGBTQ wedding?

Well, Chris, I'll hop in here first and let Burke come in second. I think it really begins with really an understanding of what is marriage and who invented marriage. Because marriage is not the product of any society or any culture. It really comes from the infinite genius of God and really the love of God for the good of his creatures. In fact, God is the one who in the Garden of Eden really performed the first wedding ceremony as he brought Eve to Adam. And God is the one who has set this all up. And therefore, God is the one who knows what marriage is to be. And God said that it is to be one man joined to one woman. And there is no other combination that really is under the design of God or the blessing of God. And so it's never one man with another man. It's never one woman with another woman.

That has not come from God. It's one man for one woman. And so for there to be a wedding ceremony in which there are two men being joined together or two women or involving a transgender situation, that is not God's will. And to attend that wedding, it's not like you're attending a baseball game. It's not like you're attending a football game. It's not like you're going to a concert or to a movie. You actually are participating by being a witness.

And so your very presence there speaks volumes of your endorsement and your support, even your celebration of what is taking place. And there is no way that a Christian can celebrate a homosexual wedding. It is a despicable sin against God. And there is no way that any Christian can endorse or support two women being joined together. Those sins are singled out in the Scripture with clarity, and there's no misunderstanding. And so should a Christian attend a homosexual wedding or a transgender wedding?

The answer is absolutely not. There is no way that a Christian with a clear conscience can attend once you understand what marriage is and what a wedding is. And this is so basic in Scripture teaching. I mean, it's right there in Genesis chapter 2 at the very outset of Scripture, the very foundation of all that will be revealed in redemptive history.

And so, Chris, I'm thankful for the question. I'm sorry that the question even has to be raised, but we need to speak the truth in love. And, of course, we say this in love because we want God's best for those who are being married. And it's not God's best for two men or two women to be joined together. It's just a violation of God's design. It's crystal clear. And so there's no way that a Christian has any business attending, much less bringing a gift as well.

And so I'll just bat lead off here and would love to hear from Burke as well. Well, I completely agree with you, Dr. Lawson, and I'm grateful for your clarity because this answer to this question is not a difficult answer. And it's not an answer that really requires a lot of qualification or nuance.

It is a very straightforward question. And the Bible, through its teaching and the principles it sets forth, as we rightly deduce what God has given us in His Word by the teaching, the ethics, and the principles, is very clear. We as Christians are not to participate in or attend as witnesses or celebrants in any way of that which is deemed sinful. And we can talk about this more about other situations and circumstances, but the answer is very plain in Scripture, that Christians are not to take part in such an abomination.

The Bible speaks about marriage very plainly. The culture, however, wants to find every different way it can to contort and twist Scripture by doing exegetical gymnastics to make Scripture conform to their perspective, their ideology, or their own idea of who their God is. But we see plainly throughout the entirety of Scripture, both in Old and New Testaments, that Christians are not to take part in the unfruitful works of darkness. But the way it frames that, especially in Ephesians 5, is really beautiful because Ephesians 5 begins by telling us to be imitators of God. And in being imitators of God, Paul instructs the Ephesians and us to walk in love, that we are to walk in love just as Christ Jesus walked in love and gave Himself up for us.

And Paul, in giving to us these instructions about how to walk in love, he tells us throughout Ephesians 5 that we are to have no part in sexual immorality. In fact, later on in Ephesians 5 and verse 10, he says that we are to try to discern the will of the Lord. We are tried to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. And so Paul recognizes that as we strive to apply Christian ethics and principles to all of life, that we will need to discern. And discerning means to make judgments. As Christians, we are called to be discerning.

We are called to be critical. That doesn't mean to have a critical mindset, but we are to make decisions critically based on the unchanging and authoritative Word of God. We as Christians are to seek out the Word of God and to dig into the Word of God so that we might make decisions that please the Lord. We also need to turn to the wisdom of our forefathers and older brothers and fathers and sisters and mothers in the faith, and we need to seek their counsel as to what they have said. And thankfully, the church in many ways over the past two decades, throughout the world, not just here in the States, but throughout the UK, throughout Africa, throughout Europe, and throughout Central and South Americas, they've had to deal with this question for at least the last two decades. And thankfully, Bible-believing Christians have answered this largely unanimously with one voice, that no, Christians cannot attend weddings that are LGBTQ, whether transgender or homosexual, because Christians cannot partake in the unfruitful works of darkness. You know, a lot of times people want to say, well, what if as a Christian we have made it clear to the wedding party, to the bride or groom or whatever, whether it's a loved one, a friend, whether it's a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, whoever it is, that what if we as Christians make it known to them that we are disapproving of this, that we do not agree with this, that we believe that this is wrong, that this is against God and against his natural order. Some suggest that then we can attend the wedding as long as we've made ourselves known and made the Bible's teaching and the gospel clear. But Paul writes in Ephesians 5-11, just after he says, try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord, he says, take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness. And the language of taking no part is well translated, have no fellowship. Take no fellowship, have no part whatsoever. And so it's secondary whether we're there to approve or celebrate or bear witness to, although all those things are true in one sense, because we can't avoid those things in our presence at such an event.

Because like you said, Steve, this is not a birthday party. This is not a graduation ceremony. This is a wedding instituted by God, whether it's called a wedding, whether it's called a quote unquote marriage or whether it's called a union is all secondary. We are not to have any fellowship whatsoever with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather Paul says, we are to expose them. And expose means to rebuke them. We cannot stand by idly as bystanders and as witnesses to that which is pure evil and heinous sin in the eyes of God. And yes, it is heinous sin because the Lord tells us in Romans 1 that this sin is sin that is contrary to nature.

And there are many other sins and other marriages that we can discuss that we ought not attend either, that we ought not take part in, that we ought not be privy to in any way as bystanders, approvers or celebrants or any such thing. But we are not to take part in that which is part of the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather we are to expose them. So hopeful to hear you both explain this, understanding the character of our holy God and how that is supposed to affect us as God's children and how we live out a holy life.

Certainly falling short of God's holiness every day and word, thought and deed and needing the righteousness of Christ, all of us. But the Lord has transferred his people from the kingdom of darkness, as you're saying, to the kingdom of light, to the kingdom of his beloved son. And it's come at great cost for Christ to bring his people to himself. And he did that out of love. And he did that by giving himself out of his eternal love for his people. And his people now are to reflect that same love and trying to convey the truth to others. And so it sounds like it's really out of a heart of love for the lost that we are seeking to stand firm.

Is that correct? You know, it is, Chris. And what really strikes me as I listen to Dr. Parsons give really an excellent answer in his handling of Ephesians 5, which I'm so glad for him to bring that into our discussion. What really strikes me as I listen to Dr. Parsons is what a total contradiction a person would be to say they do not approve of a homosexual marriage or wedding and then to show up and then to be there.

And it's in total juxtaposition. You are sending such mixed signals to everyone else who's there and everyone else who knows your stance and where you stand and what you believe. And then for you to be there is a puzzle to your Christian witness and to how other people, you know, are sizing up your walk with the Lord. And the conclusion really to me is not one of compassion that I would assume that you have lack of convictions, that you have lack of commitment to the truth of the Word of God. And our priority is to God first. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

All these other things will be added unto you. The Lordship of Christ really takes the priority in our life. And out of our love for God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we are to love our neighbor as ourself. But even the love that we have for other people is really just the overflow from our heart that's to be enlarged for God and to have really a supernatural love for God and for Christ and His Kingdom. But then to show up and to be at such a ceremony really to me is a violation of your witness as I love God more than anything or anyone else. And so, I think of Galatians 1, and Paul, as he's talking about the gospel, says that he must please God and seek God's approval first and foremost and not seek the approval of men.

And I think sometimes people, as they really struggle with this, I think one main reason is that they are seeking the approval of men and approval of family, approval of a loved one, rather than first and foremost the approval of God. So, Chris, I just wanted to be able to add that as I was listening to Dr. Parsons. I'm so appreciative of what he had to say, and it has really provoked further thought in my mind that I think is right on target. I think exactly what you said is very helpful for people to consider, Dr. Lawson, because the reality of it is that love is what defines us as Christians. God is love. It is one of His attributes, and it is to be an attribute that predominates our lives, our character, our interactions with the world, both with Christians as we are called to love one another as Jesus loved us.

And that is our greatest apologetic before the watching world, because that's how the world knows that we are His disciples. And we're also called, as you said, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we are to have a sacrificial love for our neighbor and to care for them. The love that we are to have for the world, for the unbeliever, for sinners of all sorts, for homosexuals, for transgender persons who identify as such, we are to have such a love for them, that it's a love beyond what anyone else has shown them. The love that we are to have for them is to be a love that's different than the world's love and a love that's going to look a lot different than the world's love.

You know, over the years, as I have in the past served in the food industry and even working out at the gym this morning, I had a conversation with a man who identifies as a homosexual, and I've talked with him over the years. And we have a wonderful dialogue going on, and he is united to a man, and we've had numerous conversations about the gospel and about truth. It's been amazing to me how when we are clear with homosexual unbelievers or those who identify as transgender, that when we are clear about our views, when we are consistent in what we say, and we explain to them that we are people under authority, that we have an authority that we adhere to and submit to that is an unchanging authority that we believe is given to us by God himself, and that that authority and that standard is infallible and errant and clear, when they hear our explanation, they may not like it. They may disagree with us, but many times over the years, I have found that they more respect us because of our consistency in adhering to our unchanging authority because, as you said, of our foremost love for God, because it's our love for God that is the first greatest commandment. And what flows from that, as Jesus said, is our love for our neighbor as ourselves. And it's out of our love for God that we can love our neighbor as ourselves in a way that the world really cannot even love one another. You know, as a pastor, I've gotten questions about this for far more than two decades now from members of our church and elsewhere, where they've struggled with this and they've tried to understand what they should do. But what they've struggled with is how to convey to their loved one, to their family member, to their friend, how they can love them and yet disapprove, disagree, and even condemn their sin. Because as Christians, we are called to be the most gracious people that the world knows. I would even say that we're called in some ways to be some of the most repentant people the world knows.

The world ought to know us as people who love the Lord, trust the Lord, and also are ready and willing to ask forgiveness and repent of our sins. And sometimes that's the sin of Pharisaism. Sometimes that's the sin of having a judgmental spirit. Sometimes it's the sin of being hypocritical. But we as Christians are to be clear and consistent.

And when we are, the world hears our answers and they understand that we have an authority that we adhere to. And many of them respect that. Now, when they don't respect that, when they disagree to such a degree that they say, well, I can't have any part with you. I have to cut myself off from you.

Because so many times they reason, well, if you don't accept me as I am, if you don't accept my lifestyle, if you don't accept my identifying myself as this, that, or whatever, and if you're not willing to use my language according to my definitions of those words, then I'm cutting you off. And that's sad. And it breaks our hearts. But Jesus said that this would happen. Jesus said that we'd be cut off even from family. Jesus said that the world would call us Pharisaical and judgmental and unkind and unloving. But the truth is that speaking the truth is the most loving thing that Jesus ever did. And speaking the truth, whether it's about God's wrath, whether it's the gospel, whether it's about eternal damnation, or whether it's about marriage being strictly between one man and one woman, we have to speak the truth because we love, because we are truly compassionate, even when it means we are rejected.

Just as I was listening to Dr. Parsons, it just triggers more thoughts, and I really appreciate everything that he has had to say. And an additional thought along this line is 1 Corinthians 6 and Revelation 22 is very clear that no homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven. And to come to a wedding where there are two men or two women who are being joined together, and it's really not a marriage.

By God's definition, it's just a union or two people coming together, but it's not a marriage at all. By our being there, I think in some ways we are contributing to them continuing to go down this path towards eternal destruction, and that we should be doing everything we possibly can to share the gospel with them and to extend the love of God that is in Christ for sinners and the free offer of the gospel to them. We should visit with them before their wedding and to present the gospel to them and call them to repent and to confess their sin and to turn around and go in a totally different direction and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive his forgiveness of sin. But after we would share that and then to come to the wedding, send such a total mixed signal that it really weakens the gospel witness that we would have given, it gives the indication to me that what I shared in the gospel was really not as serious as I first made it out to be. That my eternal destiny is at stake and my standing before God is at stake and that I would be truly already condemned before God, according to John 3.19. For me to have shared that message, both the good news and the bad news that's contained in the gospel, but then come to the wedding, to me, it really waters down the testimony that I was trying to give to them. And I think that this is a factor that really needs to be carefully, carefully considered because it is. It does become a contradiction of what I have shared about the gospel and the call to repent.

But then I come and stand there giving some sense that it really wasn't as imperative as I had originally indicated it is. I think the question that is often raised, Dr. Lawson, is a question of the person, the Christian attending the wedding or the union or whatever it might be termed, that in attending they're not necessarily giving approval, that they're not necessarily celebrating, they're not necessarily endorsing. And I think this is a very important point that we need to discuss for a moment because the reality of it is, whether or not the person has a sense of approval or feeling based on his or her Christian convictions, and it's not just Christian convictions, it's quite frankly Muslim convictions, Jewish convictions. This is not just a Christian issue.

This is an issue for people who have principles and ethics that affect decisions like this. But for the Christian in particular, whether or not you approve of it or celebrate it or endorse it is secondary because you are at an event that has the very nature and purpose of endorsing, approving, and celebrating the union. So whether the person individually feels this way or has a sentiment or his conscience is one way or the other is secondary.

I'm not saying it's irrelevant, but it's secondary. The point is that you are taking part in the event that is celebratory. You are at the event that is approving.

You are at that occasion that is endorsing. And I think this is an important point that a lot of people say, well, we can have scruples about this and this is sort of a conscience issue. And they look at passages like Romans 14 or in 1 Corinthians 10 and they say, well, this is a conscience issue.

No, this is not a conscience issue. Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 10, these passages are not dealing with things that are sinful in themselves. Paul is dealing very particularly there with things that were deemed sinful and it could be deemed sinful, whether you partook or not partook. But a gay marriage, quote unquote, is itself sinful. To be a part of that ceremony or that union or whatever it is, it is de facto approving, endorsing. Many times at weddings that I've performed over the years, and I'm sure we have performed hundreds and hundreds of weddings in our lifetimes, many times, if not most times, I make it abundantly clear to the wedding party before the wedding and even at the wedding that this is a covenant-making ceremony, that all those who are here are witnesses of this covenant-making ceremony. I also make it clear that I will never do a private wedding because weddings are meant to be public events where there are witnesses, covenant witnesses, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and witnesses from the community that are giving testimony that this institution ordained by God, that the covenant vows have been exchanged before man and God, and the witnesses are there to hold these two accountable to their union. Now, that certainly may not all take place in a LGBTQ union or quote unquote marriage ceremony, but that is marriage as God has defined it.

God invented it. The world might steal the language and try to misappropriate it and contort it, but it is all an outright lie. Marriage belongs to God. He gets to define it, not us. We understand that the Lord calls us to speak the truth and love, and earlier it was mentioned that taking a stand for the truth and speaking with compassion, speaking with clarity, speaking with conviction can also be understood as condemnation. And so I wanted to look just briefly to be able to have you help us to think through Jesus' own words in John 3.17 where He says He didn't come to condemn.

What is He saying there? Well, Chris, I'm so glad that you brought up that passage because it has often been really taken out of context. What it is saying is that God sent His Son into this world to be a Savior for those who would repent of their sins and turn to Christ and to believe Him. That the chief purpose of Christ coming into the world was not to condemn the world, but to save the world, really from the wrath of God. But the fact is, as you continue to read that passage, when you come to verses 18 and 19, especially verse 19, it says that the world is condemned already.

That the one who is outside of Christ is actually already under the judgment of God because they have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And because Adam's original sin has already been imputed to their account. And the rest of the Bible confirms this. In Romans 1, verse 18, Paul writes that the wrath of God is revealed.

That's a present tense verb. Is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. And so, in reality, those who are without Christ are not waiting until the last day at the final judgment in order to be condemned.

That will just simply be a formality. They are already condemned right now, this very moment, by being outside of Christ and continuing in their sin and continuing in their unbelief. So, Christ came into this world to rescue people who are already condemned because of their sin. And we know that we have inherited a sin nature at the moment of conception while yet in our mother's womb. And David said in the Psalms that he came forth from his mother's womb speaking lies. And we all, like sheep, have gone astray.

Each one of us has turned to his own way. That's just the fact of theology and sound doctrine and the truth of Scripture. And we're not the ones in reality who condemn. This is actually the condemnation of God.

He is the judge, and he is the one who has the gavel in his hand. And that gavel has already come down hard upon those who are not believers, repentant believers in Jesus Christ. So, what's been entrusted to us is very simply the message. And we can't alter the message. We can't weaken the message.

We can't add to the message. And the message is that God has sent his Son into this world to save and to rescue, to deliver those who are already condemned. And if they will repent and turn around and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will be fully and freely forgiven. But it is our task to simply bring the message.

A stewardship has been entrusted to us. And the fact is, all mankind outside of Christ is already condemned. And so, they must take this up with God. And so, but God is offering and extending his grace, his mercy, his forgiveness. He did so even to the chief of sinners, to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, who was arresting the Christians and would bring them back to Jerusalem to be stoned to death. Yet God had abundant mercy and grace to bestow upon the Apostle Paul. And he will extend this same grace and mercy to those who are entangled and corrupted by this sin of homosexuality and lesbianism and transgenderism. God is a God of forgiveness. But it necessitates that the sinner repent of his sin, confess his sin, and turn around to Christ, who has extended open arms. And Jesus says, Him who comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out.

And so, he extends this open invitation to sinners who are already condemned. I'm glad that you brought up this question, Chris. It reminds me of a time about 30 years ago, I was teaching a Bible study in Sarasota on Siesta Key Beach. And it was a Bible study for any of the college students or upper high schoolers that were able to come out.

We had it every Saturday night. I remember I was teaching through James, and a couple of guys came up to us at the beach and asked us what we were doing. We said, well, we're having a Bible study. And it was very clear they were immediately wanting to give us their views on Christianity and God. And they were self-proclaimed atheists.

And one of the ladies that were there, I recall her speaking up very quickly. She was a pastor's daughter and a very intelligent and thoughtful young lady, very loving. She said to them, well, God said, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but of everlasting life. To which that self-proclaimed atheist said, well, what about the very next verse? John 3.17.

It was clear that he knew the Bible, at least portions of it. And he quoted John 3.17, which you've just stated. And at the time, he challenged us.

He said, well, what do you do with that verse, where Jesus says, I did not come into the world to condemn the world? He was challenging us because he wanted to point out a whole, he thought, in our theology and in our understanding of the Christian faith and the gospel. And we explained to him that Jesus is saying that, as Dr. Lawson said, his primary purpose in his coming is to save the world. And to make that even more clear, as he makes it clear throughout his ministry, that in his first coming, his primary work was to seek and to save the lost. His primary work was to save. His ultimate work in coming in his life and in his sacrificial death was to save the world.

At his second coming, he's coming to judge the living and the dead. And that is something that he states there in that same passage, as Dr. Lawson pointed out, and throughout his ministry, that Christ comes in his first coming primarily to save. And the reason this is so significant is because of everything that's going on there in that section of John, from John chapter 2, where Jesus comes and clears out the outer courtyard of the Gentiles, where the Jews had made the decision after hundreds of years of having sold and bought and changed money for the animals for sacrifice there in the Kidron Valley, but had recently moved it into the outer court of the Gentiles. And so the outer court of the Gentiles, which was intended to be a place for the nations, for Gentiles, the world, to come and to pray and to worship God in quietness and solemnity and peace, now the Jews had choked them out, made no room for them, and took that which was to be a house of prayer for the nations and turned it into a busy, noisy place of commerce and changing money. Jesus cleansing the temple showed Christ's love and compassion and God's heart for the nations, for his elect throughout every tribe, tongue, and nation. And so in John chapter 3, when Nicodemus comes to him by night, Nicodemus very likely, though we don't know for certain, but very likely perhaps shared Jesus's conviction and knew that Jesus was right to cleanse the temple. And it was very likely that Nicodemus came thinking that this man might have some answers. And so he asks him questions and they have this exchange about the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus makes a plane. It's only if you're born from above. One of the points of Jesus saying you must be born from above in order to enter the kingdom of heaven is that it's not based on your Judaism. It's not based on your ancestry.

It's not based on your ethnicity. It is based on being born from God, being regenerated or made alive by the Holy Spirit. That's the only way anyone enters the kingdom of God. And you being born from above, you who are being born again, are the passive agents. God the Holy Spirit is the active agent in the hearts of those who belong to him. And so as the conversation unfolds and we see this summary statement in John 16 and following, it is made clear. Nicodemus and any Jew who thinks that God's love is more strictly or narrowly upon the Jews, they need to understand that God so loved the world.

He loves the nations. His love is not only upon the Jews. As God made clear throughout the Old Testament and even more abundantly clear throughout the New Testament. And part of the problem is that Jews in the first century, they were looking forward for their Messiah to come in order to judge the nations and overturn the nations and to make Israel the greatest nation on earth. And so that's what we see throughout John's gospel.

They're constantly trying to make Jesus king. And he is constantly resisting that because he knew that what they wanted was a political leader to overthrow the nations, to conquer the nations, to wipe them out and to judge the nations. And so Jesus in John 3 17, right from the outset, we see here in this summary statement, that he did not come to judge the nations. That's not his primary purpose in his first coming. God loves the world. He didn't come primarily to condemn in his first coming, though he will in his second. And every knee shall bow. And Jesus said this, as you pointed out, Chris, because he loves sinners, because he loves the world, because one of the most loving things that Jesus did was preach about hell and the judgment to come because he wanted people to repent and believe.

It's true love. And as has been observed in other contexts in our crazy world that we're in right now is that they equate Christian love as more like sentimentality. So how should I respond? Not if, but when somebody calls me judgmental or bigoted. How should Christians stand firm and how should we even lovingly interact with those who are caught in these transgressions, the homosexuality and transgenderism? Well, Chris, even when we are condemned by those who would oppose us for our stance, we are nevertheless to love them in return. And we are to be long suffering and to be patient with them and pray that God would grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. But we are not to respond in like measure. We are in essence to turn the other cheek and to persevere in our loving response to them. And certainly part of that is to continue to preach the gospel and to share the gospel with them. I think also that we just need to understand on the front end that this is going to come. We should not be surprised, as 1 Peter 4 says, when this fiery trial comes.

It's to be expected in this world. Jesus said that, you know, the slave is not greater than his master, and if they hated me, they will hate you. And look at the 12 disciples. Look at the early church. They suffered greatly for their faith because they were going in the opposite direction as the world was going. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3-12, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Jesus said when he gave the beatitudes, the eighth and final beatitude is the crescendo of living out the first seven beatitudes.

Poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, be merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker. The result of that is we will be persecuted, we will be insulted, and we will suffer for our faith. And so how do we respond? I think we just need to know on the front end that there will be this pushback and blowback and that it will mean loss of friendships and loss of relationships at time, loss of family, unity at time. But Jesus did say in Matthew 10, I've come not to bring peace but a sword and to divide a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against a mother-in-law.

And a man's enemies will be those of his own family. We have to have a realistic view or understanding that we live in this fallen world and that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare, and that's why we have to have on the full armor of God as we stand on the front lines of spiritual warfare and to hold forth the truth and to speak it in love, of course, but not to be shaken and not to be surprised or caught off guard, though admittedly there are times when it takes us back. And look at Christ himself. He was crucified at a relatively young age.

After only a little over three years of public ministry, they put the only perfect man who ever lived and walked on this earth. They put him to death on a Roman cross as public execution, and so we cannot expect an easier road. So I think that's how we respond, number one, to be loving in response, to not return evil for evil, and at the same time not be caught off guard and to be very aware that Jesus said this would come and Paul said this would come and Peter said this would come.

I mean, Hebrews chapter 11 concludes where they persecuted the prophets who were before us, and some were saunon, too, and some were stoned to death. And so there could be such persecution coming for us, and none of us want it, but if we're called upon to hold our ground, then we must be willing to suffer unjustly and to pay a price. But we cannot yield our convictions, and neither must we weaken in our love for an unbelieving world. We've been warned. We have been warned. Indeed we have. That's well said, Dr. Lawson. I'm very grateful. It got me thinking about our response, Chris, as you asked, you know, what is our response to be?

And it's really very simple. As Dr. Lawson just laid out, it's like we would with any sin, whether it's a daughter wanting to go and have an abortion or a granddaughter. We must disapprove of it, and we must not participate in the evil deeds of darkness. Whatever the sin is, we must in love say why it is wrong and express our love for the person and not participate in the evil deeds of darkness, no matter what it is.

People have used numerous analogies, and they all apply, quite frankly. It was out of love, and love can never be separated from truth. And that's a problem both in the world and sadly in the church today where they're separating those. Jesus came full of grace and truth. We as Christians are to be people of grace and truth, who speak grace and truth.

And while we can distinguish them in one sense, they can never really be separated. Grace and truth, love and truth always go together. The problem is that love has been redefined. And sadly, many people, even in the church, even some pastors, their definition of love is more akin to the Beatles than to the Bibles. They have this notion of love, love, love. Everything is just love. Love's in the air.

It's like this. There are just love globules everywhere floating about. No, love is a very special thing. And love is, again, something that God has defined. Love is something that God has given us as human beings that is special, that is beautiful, that is glorious.

It reflects his character. And in our loving him and our loving one another, that love must reflect who he is and what he has given to us as we strive to imitate his love. And that means it is a love overflowing with kindness, a love that is flowing with truth, love that is flowing with discernment and care. Love does not go along with that which is wrong, or love does not give the impression that what is wrong is right. Love does not go along with a son or a daughter saying, well, as long as you feel that way, that's all that matters because I love you.

No, that's not love. That's a lie. That is disingenuous, and it is deceitful. And it actually leads, sadly, to further sin.

This is what Dr. Lawson was getting at earlier. We must be consistent in our love and in our speaking of the truth and love to one another in the church and even to our neighbors and to the unbelieving lost. We must be the most loving people that unbelievers know. And it's true as we look at Jesus' life and his love, he did eat and drink with sinners, and he loved sinners. But because he loved them, he called them to repent and believe. He didn't go with them in their sin. He didn't approve of their sin or give them even the impression of approving their sin. He wasn't simply an innocent bystander saying, well, I disapprove silently, or I disapprove in one way, but I'm going to go with you in your sin. No, we as Christians must be a people who are consistently loving and thus consistently truthful because if we are not clear in our discernment between right and wrong, and as Spurgeon pointed out, our discernment between right and almost right, we ourselves can very easily fall into sin. There are certain things in the Christian life that are a matter of conscience.

We all know that. Certain matters where we have tremendous freedom. We are never free to in any way take part in or fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This must be the clear message of Christians throughout the world. And it's come at great cost for them.

Great cost both overseas and even in our own United States as cake bakers of wedding cakes and wedding photographers have lost tremendous amounts of business and money, have been sued. Cases have gone to the Supreme Court because they have said, along with our forefathers and along with historic Christianity, along with all of those in the first century and throughout the first few centuries of the church that were persecuted and killed because they would not take part in the unfruitful deeds of darkness of pagan rituals or idolatry or of John the Baptist who would not countenance an illegitimate wedding and who was eventually beheaded for it. We as Christians must stand with historic Christianity and say, we love you. We love you, our unbelieving neighbors. We love you, our unbelieving fathers, sons, sisters, brothers, grandchildren.

We love you. And because we love you with all our hearts, we cannot go with you. We must stand with that which is right and expose and rebuke that which is an abomination and sinful in the eyes of God. Whether it is an unbiblical divorce and thus remarriage, which we must avoid, whether it is a marriage where it is not based on biblical grounds, whether it's a Christian marrying a non-Christian and so on, we cannot take part in that which God's word has clearly forbidden.

No, we need to take these things seriously. There is a reason why God hates divorce. There is a reason why God gave marriage as a gift to man and woman because it is not good that man be alone. And marriage and the union between a man and a woman is something that the church has always held to dogmatically. And yes, the world doesn't like us when we are dogmatic. The world hates us when we have to exercise discernment and right judgment.

The world hates us, as Dr. Lawson said, and will hate us, as Jesus promised they would hate us, when they think we are judgmental, when they think we are being pharisaical, when they think we are being fundamentalistic, when they think we are being unkind. But the truth is that our words and the truth that we speak, from the gospel to the unfolding ethics and principles of the Bible applied in the Christian life, it is not hate speech as the world would have it. It is love speech.

And that's true love. That's true compassion because it is willing to be rejected and disliked and even hated by the world for speaking the truth in love and out of love. And ultimately, as Paul reminds us, whether we eat or drink, whether we attend this ceremony or that, we must do it all for the glory of God. That was Stephen Lawson and Burke Parsons talking with Ligonier Ministries President and CEO Chris Larson about a pressing issue and an issue that Christians must speak about with clarity and biblical conviction. This is the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind and I'm glad you've joined us today. I do want to remind you that today is the final day to request our Field Guide on Gender and Sexuality. It addresses questions discussed today and many others. It was designed to help you speak with clarity in your own conversations and to aid you in discipling the next generation. So when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343, we'll send you two copies, one for you and one for a friend or perhaps a child or grandchild.

Plus, you'll have lifetime digital access to R.C. Sproul's practical series, The Intimate Marriage. Visit renewingyourmind.org or click the link in the podcast show notes. Be quick as this offer ends at midnight. As we speak the truth in love, we must be able to defend our faith. Beginning Monday, R.C. Sproul will help equip us for apologetics. So be sure to join us then here on Renewing Your Mind. www.renew.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-12 02:10:42 / 2024-06-12 02:29:08 / 18

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