|Volume 17 Number 8 August 2015||
To Our Friends and
Neighbors in Branson
Blaine Orr and Tim Kidwell, elders
We love homosexuals. You read it correctly. The church of Christ in downtown Branson loves not only homosexuals, but also fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, sodomites, thieves, the covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners. We love all unrighteous people. Why? Because we have also been guilty of unrighteousness: “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But because God first loved the world, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19), He, by His grace, has taught us how to become righteous (Titus 2:11-14). For this we should be eternally grateful and desire to share this soul saving information with others (Romans 1:16).
The issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage is a moral issue. God’s laws concerning morals are everlasting. Moral laws never change. It has always been wrong to kill, steal, commit adultery, practice homosexuality, etc. From the beginning of time marriage has always been one man and one woman for life: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; 1:27-28; Romans 7:2-3).
Homosexuality is not a civil issue. Comparing it to the treatment of different races is like comparing apples to oranges. They are not the same thing. People have no decision over their race, but they do have the ability to abstain from or to commit sexual acts. Individuals can cease practicing homosexuality. Because God condemns homosexual acts, it is a sin and those who practice — or condone those who practice — such things will not go to heaven:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness ... Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie ... For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Leviticus 20:13)
God does not condemn what man cannot control. The practice of homosexuality is not genetic. It is a learned behavior. No reputable scientific study has drawn any other conclusion. We know that this message is not popular in today’s changing culture, but God has not changed: “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Therefore, we have no choice but to speak what God has spoken, regardless of what man may deem right or lawful: “Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29).
It is not unloving, mean spirited, prejudiced, hateful or unrighteous judgment to oppose sin. To speak where God has spoken is not passing wrongful human judgment (Matthew 7:1). To speak where God has spoken is to use righteous judgment: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). We are only repeating what THE JUDGE (James 4:12) has already proclaimed: “There is one Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy.”
We do not expect people who respect man’s wisdom over God’s wisdom to agree with our stance (Isaiah 55:8; 1 Corinthians 1:25; 3:9). We do expect to be judged and, if possible, punished/persecuted by those who disagree with our sharing of God’s judgment (John 15:20). Nevertheless, we refuse to be silent concerning issues that will affect a person’s soul.
Those who practice homosexuality have souls. Those who condone the practice of homosexuality have souls. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, because we strive to have the mind of Christ and to be imitators of Him (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 2:5), we also do not want those who practice homosexuality or those who condone its practice to be lost.
We, the church of Christ in downtown Branson, refuse to be numbered with the silent majority. God is not silent. Therefore, neither will we be! Because God desires the repentance of those who practice unrighteousness, we are willing to be accused of hate speech by those who hate God’s speech (John 17:17).
Are you living the life of the unrighteous? We love you, but our love for you is not capable of making you righteous. Only your obedience to God’s teaching can save you: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). And it is because of God’s love for all people that no matter what transgressions any of us may have committed, the blood of Jesus can wash those sins away, if only we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:27; Revelation 2:10).
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? … And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Come to Jesus. He will save you!
Elders for the Branson church of Christ, Blaine Orr and Tim Kidwell, 307 7th Street, Branson, MO 65616; 417-334-3866.
A bulletin crossed my desk years ago. It contained this clip ~ “Twenty four years in the First Grade. That is how long it would take to pass if public schools met only as often as Sunday School, and if no Bible classes were missed!”
The Word of God, according to a 2012 survey (Rankin), revealed that only 19% of “churchgoers” read the Bible daily. As many as 25% stated they read the Bible a few times each week. A staggering 14% indicated they read the Bible once a week. Then 22% confessed to reading the Word of God “once a month or a few times each month.”
Several months ago, brother Jack Wall, brother Dale Vann and I had a long discussion about our Bible class curriculum. So much of “our literature” has to be proofed to make sure it is scriptural, and so much of the instruction has to be “weeded out,” and then the price of ready-made material is atrocious. We decided to write our own material. In asking around, I contacted Gary Summers, who responded by saying, “We’ve done that!”
The elders looked over that material, ordered it, and we are now implementing Bible material that covers the Bible in 5½ years! This means our very young kids could cover the Old and New Testaments twice before High School graduation.
The late brother Eldred Stevens once observed that if a person spent 20 minutes a day on any given subject for a period of 20 years, that at that time, he would be considered an “authority” in that field. The Bible furnishes us completely unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the Bible is the Truth that can set us free (John 8:32; 17:17), and the Word of the Lord is pure and righteous (Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5-6). Let us never forget the value of God’s Word and that His Word will be the final standard of judgment for all mankind (John 12:48). By the way, the Supreme Court is not the final authority! That august body will one day stand before the real Supreme Court!
Every parent and grandparent should think seriously about our opening statement! How do your children (grandchildren) do in attending Bible classes? If they only make it to about half of those classes, that would mean it would require 48 years to finish the First Grade! What if public schools met only as often as our Bible classes? Do you realize that the majority of youth in this nation would not live long enough to enter Junior High School? Let’s get serious about studying the Bible!
[Editor’s Note: Stop and think seriously about it. Parents (grandparents, too), do you clearly understand that the best of Bible classes faithfully attended at every opportunity cannot substitute for the responsibility of the home’s guardians and guides to immerse their offspring in God’s Word and the Christian way of life? The sentiment of Deuteronomy 6:5-9 is no less essential today to produce mature children of God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. ’And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates’” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 NKJV). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]