Book review by way of BEAMS article Nov 2011
By What Authority?
We have been studying Matthew 21 and 22 over these past weeks of September and October and in doing so, have seen the growing opposition to Christ and His authority. That opposition turned Him over to Caesar and condemned Him to death on the cross. We can’t help but put ourselves in their shoes and ask not if but how are we opposing Christ today!? As post resurrection Christians, we thank God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son for the forgiveness of our opposition. Praise God for His love and forgiveness. We thank God who grants us the ability through the Spirit to walk with Christ and place ourselves under His Authority.
Placing ourselves under the authority of Christ has everything to do with our lives now. We can’t, not ask the tough questions. How do we view God’s Word? How we see the authority of Christ through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and Christ’s institution of the Pastoral Office? How do we live as redeemed people of God that still struggle with temptation and sin and the desire to live under our own authority? How do we find JOY in being God’s people who live under His care and direction? Where do we turn for comfort and life and forgiveness when we stray?
I would like to challenge all of you (challenge I gave the congregation on Sunday October 9) to read Bearing Their Burden – Speaking the Truth in Love to People Burdened by Homosexuality. I am thankful God has raised up Pastor Eckstein to be honest, open and caring and most importantly Christ focused. As he reaches out to God’s people, he calls us to live under God’s authority which is given to us in Scripture.
He describes how we can quickly get off track if we do not look at or treat Scripture properly. He details concepts like literal vs. literalistic, prescriptive vs. descriptive, ministerial vs. magisterial and scripture interpreting scripture. Here are some of my notes with page references.
literal vs. literalistic
o The Bible is made up of many different kinds of literature like historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, legal material, genealogies, parables, apocalyptic and more. (127). It’s important that we treat each portion appropriately.
o Literal historical events like Creation in six days and Virgin Birth of Christ
o Not literalistic but figurative wording like rivers "clapping their hands" (129)
ministerial vs. magisterial use of reason (129)
o Ministerial: "I’m not able to understand or comprehend this particular truth that God is teaching me in His Scriptures, but I believe that His Word is truth." Example: believing in the virgin birth of Christ.
o Magisterial: "What God is saying to me in this text of Scripture makes no sense to my reason or experience, and so I refuse to take this portion of Scripture seriously!" Example: modern science insists a virgin birth is impossible.
scripture interpreting scripture (131)
o some passages are difficult to understand in isolation to the rest
o different accounts but not contradictions
o use of both Old and New Testaments and appropriate context for passages
o what Christ did or did not say and why/why not he said it (using Moses and the Prophets)
prescriptive vs. descriptive (133)
o prescriptive: texts given for the benefit only of Israelites OR for us as well
o descriptive: "texts describe events in history as teaching tools but not as laws for us to obey" or describing evil behavior we are to avoid with all our might! (135)
He also does a great job of explaining concepts like law, gospel, Christian living, Lord’s Supper, Lutheran Confessions, Baptism, Confession & Absolution/Forgiveness, Creation, God’s order (for men and women), the Pastoral Office and all the while weaving throughout, living God-pleasing-lives as heterosexuals and homosexuals.
He calls heterosexuals to place themselves before God too! He calls for repentance for sins of commission and omission when relating to homosexuals (223ff).
o We must repent of the times we have regarded homosexual desire or behavior as the WORST of all sins – or at least as being WORSE than our heterosexual lust and behavior.
o We must repent of the time we have made fun of or mocked those who are burdened by homosexual desire and behavior.
o We must repent if we have ever physically threatened or harmed a person simply because he or she is burdened by homosexual desire.
o We must repent of the times we have thought or said that AIDS is God’s specific judgment on those who practice homosexual behavior.
o We must repent of the times we have failed to confront others who are caught in the sin of homosexuality. We must repent of the times we have failed to show such people what Scripture clearly teaches about the sin of homosexual desire and behavior.
o We must repent of the times we have clearly and correctly used Scripture to condemn the sin of homosexual desire and behavior, but then have FAILED to clearly and lovingly proclaim the forgiveness of sins and new life in Jesus’ Name.
o We must repent of the times we have remained silent and failed to speak in defense of those who were being made fun of or mocked simply because they had the burden of homosexual desire or behavior.
o We must repent of the times we have failed to defend and protect from physical harm those who are burdened by homosexual desire or behavior.
o We must repent of the times we have failed to reach out in love and compassion to those with AIDS who have engaged in homosexual behavior.
"Simply put, we are guilty of many sins of commission and omission regarding those who bear the burden of homosexual desire and temptation. If you are guilty of any of these sins (and we all are, in one way or another), then you need to know that you are completely forgiven and holy in God’s sight through Jesus Who died in your place of damnation and conquered death for you by His resurrection." (228)
What can we do as we strive to walk with Christ and strive to walk with homosexuals? We can acknowledge their pain! (229ff).
Those who bear the burden of homosexual desire did NOT choose to have this desire!
Some who bear the burden of homosexual desire and behavior experienced a very negative or distant relationship with the opposite sex parent.
Some who bear the burden of homosexual desire and behavior have often been made fun of and mocked because they share some aspects of demeanor in common with the opposite sex.
Some who bear the burden of homosexual desire and behavior have been sexually abused.
Some who bear the burden of homosexual desire and behavior have been spiritually damaged by false teaching about Christian sanctification (living the Christian life).
We can meet homosexuals where they are at by giving them what they are missing – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (233ff)
Some people are non-Christians who know nothing or very little about the Christian faith.
Some people who were raised as Christians and once believed in Christ have fallen into unbelief and now are very skeptical about the teachings of the Christian faith.
Some people who are currently involved in homosexual behavior say that they believe in Christ and that they agree with every teaching of the Christian faith. They even stress that they submit to the authority of Christ. Unfortunately, they believe Christians have misinterpreted prohibitions against homosexual behavior.
Some people who practice homosexual behavior are involved in liberal Christianity. God’s Word for them contains teachings and it is not the inspired and inerrant Word of God.
Some people who are burdened by homosexual desire agree with Holy Scripture that all forms of homosexual behavior are sinful. They have heard the law and are convicted of their sin but some have never heard the true Gospel: "In Jesus’ Name I say to you: ‘Your sins are forgiven! You are holy and innocent in God’s sight. God loves you here and now! He will help you to resist your homosexual desires and live a pure life. If you do fall back into homosexual behavior during a moment of weakness, then you will fall into Christ’s loving arms! He will pick you up and help you to live as His dearly loved and forgiven child!"
Don’t we all need that Gospel?!!!!
What does this look like as we live under Christ? We become a mixed body made up of many different people (sinner-saints) that lean on each other and Christ in all seasons and aspects of our lives. We become a supportive body that walks together with each other in Christ’s love for us. We become a stronger body that reaches out in loving correction to welcome and restore lost sheep (ourselves and others).
ESV Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers,1 if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
If you have questions about the relevancy of God’s Word for you, let us get together and call upon the Spirit for His guidance and direction. If you struggle with a temptation or sin that is really putting you in opposition to Christ, let us get together in confession and absolution as we kneel before the cross and the empty tomb in God’s love and forgiveness and encouragement. As we repent of our opposition to Christ in any aspect of our lives, God in His love and forgiveness turns our opposition to submission. Let us in the Spirit of God and by His grace and power, place ourselves under
Christ and His authority. Jesus says, "Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Many, many prayers for God’s people in Christ,