Archive for September, 2009
How should Christians view sex?
Any conversations about sex have to take into consideration the cultural influences of the sexual revolution of the 60’s and its impact on present views on sex in our society. Along with the present reality of rampant sexual sin now being reaped as a result of the seeds of the sexual revolution, there is also the reality of distorted sex as a result of being used, abused and misused sexually. What will the church say to these?
The sexual revolution also provided false pictures of sexuality (see Hollywood) which promote what I would call frustrated sex – it’s not all that. But there are also other forms of frustrated sex. What of those who cannot enjoy sex because of physical limitations or medical conditions? What will the church say to these?
Like most things, the church has tended to respond with either legalism or license. Augustine’s pre-conversion immoral life led him to adopt a strong stance against sex which influenced the Catholic church to adopt a celibate priesthood. The church has generally followed this pattern of legalism by telling teenagers and singles that “True Love Waits” – the Christian version of “Just Say No!”
Ironically it has become popular today to talk about sex in church and invite congregants to enjoy sex often-perhaps a “40 Days of Sex” Campaign is lurking in our evangelical future? So, how is the church to view sex?
The Corinthians’ Response: Legalism
The Corinthians opted for the legalistic approach- “It is right for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul responds by urging them to remain in whatever condition they were called to Christ because of a present distress unknown to us (7:17, 25-27). If at all possible, though, Paul urged a celibate life which allowed for undistracted devotion to Christ (7:7-8, 32-35). However, Paul recognized that not everyone has the gift of celibacy (7:7). Those who don’t have the gift of celibacy have been granted another gift – marriage and the joy of sex within marriage.
The Biblical Picture
Sex is a gift given by God by which we may know Him more intimately and glorify Him more fully. Here is my fourfold argument:
1. We glorify God when we fulfill our God-given roles which include maleness/femaleness (Gen. 1:27). We were not created to be alone (Gen. 2:18); we were created to reflect the tri-une fellowship of the living God in our own relationships. God’s answer to the “badness” of being alone was marriage (Gen. 2:18-25). Here we see that sexual attraction is good and God-glorifying but only within the marriage covenant.
2. We cannot talk about sex without talking about marriage (Gen. 2:24-25). In marriage there is intimacy: real, physical, interpersonal knowledge between husband and wife. Sex is a one-flesh, no-shame union in which husband & wife know one another intimately (Gen. 4:1).
3. But we cannot talk about marriage without talking about the God who reveals Himself as the ever-faithful husband of His bride. The Lord betrothed Himself to Israel (Ezekiel 16:8-14). Yet, Israel was continually adulterous, so in 722 BC, the Lord judged Israel for her adultery and removed her from the North (Hosea 1:2-2:13). The Lord was patient with Judah, but eventually in 586 BC the Lord judged her for adultery and removed her from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:15, 30).
Even so, God proved to be the ever-faithful husband who wins back His bride (Hosea 2:14-18) through a new covenant by which He would be intimately known (Ezekiel 16:59-63). The New Testament reveals that Jesus is the one who mediates this new covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12). As our faithful husband, Jesus is preparing us (Eph. 5:25ff) for His wedding day, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9). It is by faith that we are betrothed to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2).
4. Conclusion for Marrieds: So, sex is a divine gift by which we may know God more intimately and glorify Him more fully – because our faithfulness as husband and wife in the earthly marriage covenant and our delighting in one another as husband and wife point to the intimate knowledge between God and His bride and the joys of covenant faithfulness-both His and ours. We bring God great glory when we are fully satisfied with Him in this covenant relationship.
So, let the married persons delight in the covenant of marriage and delight in one another as a reflection of God’s covenant love for and delight in His bride.
5. Conclusion for Singles: The faithfulness of a single, celibate Christian man or woman points to the church patiently awaiting the return of the bridegroom for His bride on the wedding day.
So, let the singles wait on the Lord and serve Him now with undistracted devotion until our bridegroom returns or until Christ provides a temporary spouse on this earth in which you can reflect His covenant love and faithfulness.
Such delighting in God for the single and the married, frees us from the bondage of sexual temptation and sin (2 Peter 1:3-4).
We believe that these 5 truths are biblical and therefore true. We believe that they magnify God’s precious grace and give unspeakable joy to sinners who have despaired of saving themselves.
In January of 2008, I posted on the doctrines of Grace at High Pointe and the controversy surrounding these doctrines among Southern Baptists.
On Fridays, my prayer list is focused on the needs of family and friends. As I was praying this morning, I was overwhelmed by God’s grace in several prayers that have been answered in the manner in which I had been asking the Father. It is utterly humbling to see God at work in the lives of His children!
It is also humbling to see how God has answered other prayers in a different manner. This summer we fought together as a congregation for several members who were battling cancer. The Lord answered our prayers for complete and total healing by ending their suffering on this earth and bringing them into His presence.
I must also confess that on this list there are several prayer requests I am still bringing before the Lord, and they remain unanswered-prayers for physical healing, marital restorations, immediate financial needs. Nevertheless, as I reflect on God’s past faithfulness I know that He will continue to be faithful in all things, and I am reminded that the very existence of prayer is a privilege of the gospel restoration we have received through Christ.
A Biblical Theology of Prayer
A biblical theology of prayer reminds us that we were created to be in the presence of the Father (Gen. 1-2); however, because of Adam’s rebellion, humans were cast out from the presence of God (Gen. 3). Adam, who once enjoyed full and free relations with the Father, was the disobedient son who refused the Father. Thus, sin disrupted the fellowship between the Father and His children. Yet, there was the promise that a child would come who would conquer evil (Gen. 3:15), giving hope that God would once again enjoy fellowship with His children. The Bible reveals that this faithful Son, this last Adam is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who comes from the Father’s presence into our world (see John’s gospel) in order to vanquish evil by His own death and lead us back into the Father’s presence (Hebrews 2:9-18). So, by His death, He gained access to the Father’s presence for us once again (Hebrews 4:14-15; 7:26-28; 9:11-14, 23-28). Therefore, through Jesus we may now approach the presence of God with boldness, as little children (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-25). Through Christ, we have come into the presence of God once again (Hebrews 12:18-25)!
What is Prayer?
So prayer is a privilege of the gospel. Prayer is talking to the Father through the mediation of the Son in the power of the Spirit. Prayer is taking part NOW in the future full and free relations we will enjoy in the presence of our heavenly Father (Revelation 21:1-7).
What is the Purpose of Prayer?
The purpose of prayer is to join the Father in accomplishing all His holy will here on earth as it is being done in heaven (Luke 11:1-2; Matthew 6:9-10). In the mystery of His sovereign will, our Father invites us to take part in His work through prayer. In other words, God has ordained that prayer is one of the means by which He accomplishes His will. Therefore, we are to pray according to the will of God (Matthew 6:10; James 4:2-3, 13-17), and ultimately, it is God’s will to sum up 0r unite all things under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-12).
How then Should We Pray?
Thus, we offer prayer in the name of Christ, whose person and work is the basis of prayer, believing God to be faithful to accomplish all His holy will through Christ. And we pray in the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit so that even when we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit prays through us (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 6:17-18).
We pray as the Lord Jesus taught us to pray (Luke 11:1; Matthew 6:5-15) – that God’s name would be hallowed, that He would expand His kingdom, that His will would be embraced. As we pray, we are reminded of our utter helplessness and total dependence on the Father for our daily bread, forgiveness of sin and protection from evil.
Prayer is a wonderful gospel privilege! Let us run to the Father through the door of the Son and in the power of the Spirit, and let us fellowship with Him fully and freely in prayer.
If God is only interested in your soul, then it doesn’t matter what you do with your body. At least this was the philosophy of the day in first century Corinth. Since they believed only the spiritual was important, they said, “I am free to do what I want with my body” (1 Corinthians 6:12-13b). In other words, the Corinthians thought that what one did with his/her body was irrelevant to God. Now, to be sure, this mindset is still around today, for when we do not take care of our bodies we are essentially saying the same thing.
Paul corrects the Corinthian misunderstanding by reminding them that, the body is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body (6:13c-14). God is interested in the body and the proof is in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). Paul notes that in the same way God raised Christ (bodily), He will also raise us up (bodily-1 Corinthians 6:14). So then, how should we think of our bodies in relation to Christ, our resurrection and sexual immorality? Paul proposes a two-pronged argument, each with implications.
First, our bodies are members of Christ (6:15-18). Since God is interested in the body (for He will raise it up in the Last Day), and since our bodies are members of Christ, we can’t simply rip away our limbs which are attached to Christ and attach them to a prostitute (6:15)! For if we unite our members to a prostitute, we become one body with her (6:16). However, if we are joined to the Lord we are one spirit with Him (6:17). May this never be (6:15)! Therefore, when confronted with temptation toward sexual immorality, we are to flee, for sex is not some mere physical act; it unites whole persons intimately as one (6:18)! You cannot be joined to Christ and to a prostitute, so flee sexual immorality! Run like Joseph (Genesis 39)!
Second, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit from God (6:19-20). We don’t even belong to ourselves, for we have been bought with a price-the precious blood of Christ (6:20). We belong to God, and God has placed His Spirit within us. To sin with the body is to desecrate the temple of God, which we are (6:19). Therefore, we are to glorify God in our bodies (6:20)!
But how do we glorify God in our bodies? If the danger of neglecting the body is addressed in the command to glorify God in your body, we must also be careful of the danger to glorify the body instead of God. We exercise to stay or get fit so that others would like our bodies; too many women (and some men) dress immodestly so as to draw attention to their bodies; others glorify their bodies through tattoos or piercings. The point is that in our culture the other extreme is to glorify the body, not God! But the Bible commands us to glorify God, not the body-to glorify God IN our bodies! We do so by displaying that Christ is master over our bodies, not sexual immorality, not food, not external adornments, etc. As Paul says, “‘all things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Who or what is your master? Is it Christ? If not, cling to Christ by faith, and let go of those things which enslave you.
Lord willing, we will return to our exposition of 1 Corinthians at High Pointe this Sunday morning beginning at chapter 7. In particular we will be going back to a theology of the body and sexuality. Below I have provided a list of some of the resources that I am working through this week in preparation. I’ll post more resources as I work through them.
Sex for Christians
by Lewis Smedes
(I’m presently reading)
The Gospel Coalition has a new website – be sure to check it out!
They also have a new blog!
Now that I have finished the preaching series on the church, I thought I would put all the previous posts I wrote in one convenient location.
Book Recommendation: Deep Church by Jim Belcher
On this day eighteen years ago, Jeanine delivered our first daughter, Alexandra Dell Sanchez, in Gainesville, Florida. On that day I became a dad, and Jeanine and I began the journey of parenthood. Alex professed faith in Christ when she was only nine years old. Then, at ten years of age, Jeanine reminded me that we only had eight years left to make a strong influence on her life with the gospel. It seems like that was only yesterday, but here we are celebrating a milestone that our culture considers adulthood.
I thank God for the gift of Alex. She has been and continues to be a blessing – a perfect child-no, for she has two sinful parents. But a blessing she is. She can run our household in our absence; she cares for us and is compassionate to others. Just last night Jeanine, Alex and I sat on our bed after she came home from her small group and just enjoyed sharing stories together and laughing out loud.
So, here are some words that I shared with her at her blessing dinner, and I want so share them once more publicly.
Things which I continually pray for Alexandra:
1. That her leadership skills would be Godward, not selfish.
2. That her righteousness would be guided by biblical wisdom and tempered by love and forgiveness.
3. That she would continually praise God with her voice and her life.
4. That she would grow in her capacity to love unconditionally and serve others in a manner that exemplifies Christ.
How I pray God would bless Alex:
1. May the Lord cause you to be a godly woman who loves Christ above all else – a daughter of Sarah: a woman who fears God, clothes herself with submission and fears no man.
2. May the Lord grant you health and strength to serve Him with all your heart!
3. May the Lord grant you a man of God for a husband who will love Christ above all else and thus, be able to love you as Christ loves the church.
4. May the Lord grant you children who will honor and obey their parents and glorify God.
5. May the Lord grant your husband the means by which you may stay at home and raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
6. May the Lord grant you and your husband with the grace to offer up your children to the service of the gospel even if it costs their very lives.
7. May the Lord grant you and your husband a great love for Christ’s church and may you be a great influence and blessing to the families in your midst.
What I ask of God at this time:
1. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to aid you in your service of Christ during this new stage in your life.
2. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to aid you in your desire for a godly husband.
3. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to offer you up to the service of the gospel should you and your husband give yourselves in such a manner that it costs you your life.
2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV) I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
By the middle ages, the Roman church had redefined the creedal confession of “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” in an institutional manner to refer to itself as the one (and only true church). The Roman church’s holiness was obtained through the sacraments, and it was THE Catholic church because of its physical existence everywhere. Much of this definition revolved around the church’s apostolicity which was traced to Peter as the one to whom the keys of the kingdom of God were given. As such, the Roman church which traced its apostolic succession to Peter was the only true church.
The Reformers did not challenge the creedal confession as it was originally defined; they sought to clarify these Nicene attributes of the church by proposing several marks of a true church: the right preaching and hearing of the gospel (which they thought the Roman church had lost), the right observation and practice of the sacraments and the practice of church discipline. These marks, the Reformers proposed, identified a true church, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
The term catholic throws off many Protestants, but it is especially irritating to former Catholics. Nevertheless, this is what the church has confessed historically. The question for us is, what does it mean for the church to be catholic. One passage that is most helpful is Hebrews 12:18-24.
Having argued for the superiority of Christ and of the new covenant which Christ inaugurated, the writer/preacher reminds the suffering Hebrews (and us) that through Christ, we have come to Mount Zion! We have come into the presence of the unapproachable God in Mount Zion through Jesus, our mediator (12:24). Under the Old Covenant, the God of Mount Sinai was terrifying, and the mediator, Moses, was terrified, for God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:18-21)! Under the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ our mediator, the unapproachable God is now approachable (Hebrews 10:19-23).
So, by faith in Christ we have come to what cannot be touched (Heb. 12:18), to a heavenly reality: Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is, of course, what the Bible tells us. Through Christ, we who were formerly dead in our trespasses and sins and hostile to God and who should be terrified of God’s impending judgment, have been made alive together with Christ and raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Consequently, we are a holy (separate) people, and we should pursue holiness (separation from this world-Hebrews 12:14-17, 25) by seeking the things above where Christ is and where our life is hidden with Him (Colossians 3:1-4). Here is the church’s holiness!
Having come to Mount Zion, we have become fellow members of the heavenly assembly/ekklesia. And here is the catholicity or universality of the church. This festal assembly in heaven is composed of countless angels (Hebrews 12:22), redeemed men/women/children who have already died and been counted righteous (Hebrews 12:23), and all redeemed men/women/children from all places, peoples and times who are registered in heaven (Hebrews 12:23). In others words, the heavenly assembly is THE true, catholic/universal church, and each true local assembly is a genuine manifestation of the true church. The reality is in heaven; the copy is here on earth.
This means that:
1. The true, catholic church is NOT American or British or German or Western or Eastern . . . (1 Cor. 1:1-2).
2. The true, catholic church is NOT white or black or Hispanic or Asian . . . (Galatians 3:23-26).
3. The true, catholic church is NOT Baptist or Presbyterian or Methodist, etc. . . . (Ephesians 4:1-6).
4. Finally, Focus on the Family, FCA, YMCA, Political Action Committees are NOT true, catholic churches. They may be helpful parachurch organizations, but they are NOT the church.
A true, catholic church is one that is founded/formed by the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and lives its life in light of that gospel gathering people from every tribe, tongue, nation and family. Consequently, as true manifestations of the heavenly assembly, . . .
1. A true, catholic church will cooperate with other manifestations of the true, catholic church in mission.
2. A true, catholic church will fellowship with other manifestations of the true, catholic church.
3. A true, catholic church will encourage and pray for other manifestations of the true, catholic church.
We are marching to Zion (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16; Revelation 5, 7, 21-22). Therefore, let us look to the heavenly city and lay down anything that drags us down on the journey (Hebrews 12:1-2). And, so long as we are on this journey, let us assemble together to encourage one another to press on and not fall away (Hebrews 3:12-14; 10:23-25).