|Volume 18 Number 10 October 2016||
Even a guy like me, who only listens to the news when he is driving in the car and it happens to be on the radio or when he is visiting a place that has it on television, has been blown away by all this transgender bathroom discussion. The thrust of this article is not about identifying an alleged chemical imbalance in the brain that causes a person of one gender to dress and act like a person of another gender. It is not about God’s teaching against men dressing like women (Deuteronomy 22:5; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, where at least part of the lesson in verse 14 is that men are not to appear as women in any given culture). It is not to “demonize” nor make “monsters” out of people of one gender who dress and act like people of another gender. It is not about policy that gives sexual predators and pedophiles the “green light” to prowl the bathroom of their choice.
Rather, this article is about another glaring example of this world’s attempt to rid life of any objective standard by retraining society to think that there is neither difference nor consequences in rejecting what the Bible teaches! How ridiculous can policymakers be to think it is perfectly fine for guys to intermingle with girls in the bathroom or even as some propose, in school locker rooms? Truly, this is a modern illustration of what Paul said about the Gentiles: “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22)!
What can faithful Christians do in a cultural environment such as this? First, know what the Bible teaches concerning God, human nature and sin. Our faith is built on our knowledge of God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Second, continue to live as God instructs, not as the world does (Romans 12:1-2). Flush ungodly political correctness down the toilet – of any appropriate bathroom! Third, not only be ready to answer those who ask why you are different from this world (1 Peter 3:15), but also take every opportunity to verbally teach others what the Bible says, because it contains all the answers we need to please God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). Fourth, realize that “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). There is “no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). God’s people have had to live among the foolish from shortly after the beginning of time. Let us be courageous and stand up for God, “knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58)!
Ephesians 2:8 is a favorite passage of mine. It tells me that I do not have to earn a salvation that is beyond my ability to earn. God’s grace saves me. Grace is not giving something for nothing; it is giving something unearned. Naaman did not earn his cure, but if he had ignored Elisha’s commands, he would have died a leper. In the same way, we must obey the teachings of Jesus to be saved since He is the “way, truth, and life” (John 14:6).
Most agree that faith is essential to salvation (Hebrews 11:6), but faith does not happen without human participation (Romans 10:17). That does not mean that we have earned salvation, but rather, we are saved because of God’s plan of grace. Most agree that one must obey the Gospel of Christ or a person will not be saved (Romans 10:18-21). Jesus said that repentance is essential to avoid perishing (Luke 13:3-5). Further, Jesus Himself made it clear that souls will be rejected who do not confess His name before men (Matthew 10:32-33). All of these are necessary acts of faith that do not negate God’s grace, but they place us in line with His grace.
The same Bible that tells us to hear God’s Word so that we can build our faith and to repent of our sinful lives and confess His name also says that baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21). There are no instances of salvation in Acts about which we can read that do not include baptism. Each mention of baptism precedes salvation or the remission of sins.
If we are saved by faith only, no act by the individual, then why does it take work (hearing) to develop faith? If faith only means that we need to do nothing, then why does Romans 10:13 say we must call upon the name of the Lord? Further, how do we define “calling on the name of the Lord,” and from where do we draw this definition? If we let the Bible define its own terms, then Acts 22:16 defines “calling on His name” pretty well. “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (NKJV).
Following a plan does not mean we earn salvation; no man can do that. What it means is that Jesus reserves the right to determine who is saved. He has given us a plan to follow so that the decision is not arbitrary. What we need to do is to find where He draws the line and go that far at least. I submit that He requires that our faith lead us to hear His word, believe it, repent of our sins, confess His name and have our sins washed away in baptism. Why come up short on this?
[Editor’s Note: True, one must believe and be baptized to be saved, as Jesus Christ summarized the divine redemptive plan in Mark 16:16. That, though, is the beginning place for Christian living and Christian service. Each child of God ought to practice the Christianity about which we can read in the New Testament, and remain faithful, despite perhaps one’s faithfulness could result in persecution or even death (Revelation 2:10). Not they who start the Christian race but those who complete the Christian race are the victors (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]