This is a clip from my original video where I appeal to Lauren Daigle as a sister-in-Christ in three main areas. I wanted to just post the section where I take her up on her challenge to show her what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Lauren Daigle has recently sparked much controversy in the Christian world from going on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Then she has been interviewed by other prominent celebrities and seems to not be shining a light to the world as to what her music is truly about. In a particular interview she was asked if homosexuality is a sin. She said she did not know. She further more said if someone could show her what the Bible says about it to let her know.
I take Lauren up on that challenge and appeal to her hoping she is a sister-in-Christ from the Word of God.
(Photo: Mark Humphrey, AP)
I don’t ever like to read tabloid type celeb articles. However I did just read one. I was reading an article about the new Harley Quinn spin-off movie and at the end of the article it had the ‘Related Articles’ section. The top one did catch my attention called, “Celebs who don’t believe in monogamy.” The reason this caught my attention is it was not entitled, “Celebs who have been caught cheating.” That would probably have been a boring article since Hollywood seems to have it so common among the celebrity culture that cheating is just a part of the business. No, this article was referring to celebs who don’t believe in monogamy.
Reading this article stirred up my spirit as I know much of American culture is driven by celebrity fads and views. Some Christians may even be susceptible to having an unhealthy fascination with some celebs. So what do some of Hollywood’s truth proclaimers feel about monogamous relationships?
Scarlett Johansson doesn’t believe monogamy is ‘natural’
The article explains that after ending her second marriage, Scarlett gave an interview to Playboy and was quoted as saying, “I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work.” They go on to quote her saying marriage is a “beautiful responsibility, but it’s a responsibility.”
Akon thinks the more, the merrier
Popular song artist Akon told TMZ that, “if women were more accepting of a man being with multiple women, there would be ‘less domestic disputes’ in the world.” He is further quoted as saying, “men are ‘natural breeders.’” Also, “If you find that one woman that supplies everything that you desire in a woman, of course, that would be a motivation for you to stick with that one woman. But, I don’t know no one woman that can satisfy every man’s one need. It’s impossible.” This article claims Akon has been very open about his relationships with four women, “who he considers to be his wives.”
Sienna Miller said we’re all ‘animals’
The article explains how in 2005 Sienna Miller was engaged to British actor Jude Law. Then Jude publicly admitted to having an affair with the nanny of the kids. After their relationship ended Sienna was interviewed as saying, “People would say ‘Poor her.’ But it wasn’t the first time it’s happened to me- and it won’t be the last, I’m sure. Human nature is such that monogamy is a really hard thing to achieve.” She was later interviewed with Rolling Stone and said, “I don’t know, monogamy is a weird thing for me.” “It’s an overrated virtue, because, let’s face it, we’re (expletive) animals.”
Shailene Woodley blames it on genetics
I’m not familiar with this celeb, but she was pressed about being in a relationship with her co-star in White Bird. She denied it and went further to say in an interview, “I don’t even know if humans are genetically made to be with one person forever.”
Reality bites if you’re Ethan Hawke’s wife
This one is a dozy. The article says Ethan Hawke went through a divorce with Uma Thurman after he cheated on her with a much younger woman. Ethan was quoted as saying, “People have such a childish view of monogamy and fidelity. Our species is not monogamous.” The article says Ethan does not understand why people get frustrated over an unfaithful partner and blames it on, “human beings are sexual beings.” They say Ethan married his kids’ nanny after his divorce with Thurman was finalized and said in an interview, “My relationship with my present wife is thrilling to me and I’m committed to it. But neither she nor I know what shape the future will come in.”
Whoopi Goldberg is open to affairs
Whoopi was cited during an interview with CNN, “I suppose that, you know, you have to actually be in love with the person that you marry. You have to really be committed to them. And I’m just- I don’t have that commitment.” Her opinion on extramarital affairs was a little shocking to me as well. “Sometimes in a relationship, people can’t always get what they need, and if you have reputable people you can turn to in order to get what you need, I say go for it. It is a whole lot better than being frustrated and angry at the person you love.”
Angelina Jolie doesn’t think fidelity is ‘essential’
Angelina was asked about her split with Brad Pitt and was quoted via ABC News as saying, “I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship. It’s worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards” She made a comment post-divorce with Brad Pitt, “Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together. We make sure that we never restrict each other.”
Tom Ford: Monogamy is ‘artificial’
I don’t know Tom Ford. Apparently he is a famous fashion designer. This article quoted him as saying, “I think that monogamy is artificial. I do not think it’s something that comes naturally to us.”
Cameron Diaz isn’t sure anyone is naturally monogamous
They quote her back in 2014 saying to InStyle, “I don’t know if anyone is really naturally monogamous. We all have the same instincts as animals. But we live in a society where it’s been ingrained in us to do these things.” They do say that she has apparently tried to change her ways on this with her current husband.
Kristen Bell called monogamy ‘difficult’
Kristen Bell was quoted in an interview with Men’s Journal, “I’m quite positive we are not meant to be monogamous. It’s difficult, and it requires a lot of attention, vulnerability, and openness.” Then they have another quote from Bell, “He’s [her husband] very open about what he needs to stay satisfied in our relationship because if one partner isn’t satisfied, you just kiss it goodbye; somebody’s going to stray.”
Hugh Grant doesn’t think humans are meant to be with one person
Actor Hugh Grant is quoted on the Howard Stern radio show as saying, “Do I think human beings are meant to be in 40-year-long monogamous, faithful, relationships? No, no, no. Whoever said they were? Only the Bible or something.”
We can summarize all of these quotes into two main categories. One category is that monogamy is not natural. The other is that monogamy is too restrictive to meet all of your needs. These celebs and many others I am sure express what is on the hearts and minds of many other people who have been victim of, or been perpetrator in a failed monogamous relationship.
Why do these celebs feel this way about monogamy? Why were some of these celebs who were victims of being cheated on accepting of it as just a natural way of life sometimes? Ethan Hawke openly admits that he loves his present wife but has no idea what the future may hold? What he means in plain speak is he may find some other woman later on that meets his needs more than his present wife, and he is just fine with this thought (so is his present wife apparently). How can Hugh Grant mock the concept of two people being in a, ’40-year-long monogamous, faithful relationship’? He even pointed out that idea must only be in, “only the Bible or something.”
My view is that these sampling of celebs are probably an accurate sample of the way of our American culture views family and faithful marriages. Unfortunately this has for years been an influence on many Christians as well. The divorce rates among Christians prove this.
Taking the first broad category that monogamy is not natural. These lead some of these celebs to conclude it is incredibly difficult to maintain a successful monogamous relationship. What is ironic is that they are correct in part, but they probably do not know why they are correct.
God designed marriage to be a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 1:26-28 & Genesis 2:20-25). Also God’s plan was that these marriage relationships last for life. We know this as Jesus said that God never intended for divorce to happen. However He allowed it because of the wickedness in men’s hearts and as a form of protection for the woman from being scorned as not fit for marriage again (see Matthew 5:31-32 & Mark 2:2-12).
So from the perspective of what should be the natural form of a relationship? It should be monogamous. However, why did these celebrities express it is not natural. What they mean by saying this is that to stay committed in a monogamous relationship does not seem or feel natural. God intends for marriages to be monogamous for life, yet it is hard. Why? What these celebrities do not know, and unfortunately it seems the vast majority of all other people in America, is that marriage does not feel natural to stay committed for life because of sin.
God’s design was monogamy, yet sin we see interrupts all facets of ourselves, and our lives. This without doubt especially includes our relationships. When Adam and Eve sinned against God’s one command in Genesis 3, we see in the following chapters that their offspring are no doubt born into this sinful world as sinners by nature. We see monogamy for a bit until one of Cain’s (the first murderer, and that of his own brother) descendants decides to break rank and take two wives (see Genesis 4:19).
As even the Bible progresses on we see some faithful patriarchs have only one wife (Job, Moses, Abraham, & Isaac for examples), yet we see some other heroes of the Bible even fall into this monogamy-is-not-for-me trap. Jacob, King David, and King Solomon to name some of the big ones. Yet even these men who God used in His bringing about the unfolding of His plan of salvation had issues (major at times) in the family. Sometimes the Bible explicitly shows us the reasons they had problems was because they chose to take many wives.
The point here is to say that these celebrities are somewhat right when they claim monogamy does not seem natural and is very difficult. But a thinking person should stop and ask themselves, “Why is it this way? Why are we not naturally disposed to stay in faithfully committed monogamous relationships?” This should lead us to conclude, there must be a problem with us!
Should we as people just accept it that this is the way it is? When we do this the unfortunate reality is that we have just given ourselves an excuse to try and avoid the fact that God intended for our relationships to be monogamous for life. The reason it does not seem natural to us is because sin has entered into our lives and our relationships. This is why Jesus went beyond the letter of the Law and focused on the heart of the Law. In one example Jesus said you may not have physically committed adultery, but have you lusted in your heart after another woman other than your wife? (Matthew 5:27-28).
Jesus was trying to make the case that sin starts in the heart. It is this sin and sinful worldly culture we live in that constantly is driving and pushing us to go astray from our most dearly beloveds. This does not mean we have an excuse and can have the attitudes of these celebrities. Rather, we must recognize this reality of sin and recognize it will always be a battle for us in our marriages in one form or another.
If you are a Christian through personal faith in Jesus the Christ as your Lord and Savior, this is amazing! Yet I want to make this point clear that we need to be honest and recognize we have a problem in our own camp. The divorce rates for Christians (although many of these identifying as Christian may not actually be a Christian) is as bad as or worse at times than those outside the Church! Why is this? Many reasons we could cite but the bottom line source would be sin.
We still wrestle with sin our flesh and we Christians need to take note that this is the culture of America we have pounding at our minds. These are the actors we watch and get our entertainment from. We would be naïve to think we are above the influences of their personal views. Why? Because their views bleed into the Hollywood culture, which bleeds into the art produced. This carries over into the fashion, the ideals, the shows, and the trends that we and our children have thrown at us.
This leads into the second broad category I want to briefly mention. A few of these celebrities, ironically mostly the men, had the view that monogamy was too restrictive. One woman cannot possibly meet all of a man’s needs for life can they? One man cannot possibly keep the one woman content her life can he? Do we really expect people remain committed for over 40 years? What if I meet that someone in twenty years who clearly should have been my special someone all along?
Again my Christians, these are honest questions. The problem still is sin. Why is the heart of a person prone to stray and look elsewhere? We each have personalities and sin gets customized to our own personalities and weaknesses. Some people it is a struggle with pornography. Others it is that co-worker that you think gets you better than your spouse. Still others it may not be so much physical temptations for others as it is more emotionally you are now bored or frustrated with the same person for all this time.
When we experience these temptations we must recognize them as sin and they come from our sinful flesh and culture waging war against God’s standards and divine intention for our relationships. I think sometimes we feel that there is legitimacy to our questions about should I leave this person I’m with because we may think that since we are Christians we wouldn’t be thinking this way unless something was legitimately wrong.
We also can let the culture influence us to buy into the notion that we deserve to be happy. We are not recognizing that sin is at work pulling at our physical and emotional weaknesses. We then begin to see our minds change about the person we have loved all this time. We then begin to rationalize our possibly idea of leaving this person. We then mentally list all the reasons why we should leave because they did something to us or we deserve something better.
What is ironic is that if we would strive to put away the sinful temptations and seek to live in our relationships the way God intends, we would be the most fulfilled. I love what David wrote in Psalm 37:4-5. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (NKJV)”
David is plainly saying that if we would instead focus on delighting ourselves in God, then God would so incline our hearts that our hearts would be in tune with God. In tune with God to the degree that we would want what He wants. Then God would give us what we want. It’s an ironic formula for a satisfied happy life.
Let us get back to the Word of God to see God’s views for our marriages. Let us be ever reminded and convicted that God intends for our marriages to be for life and be faithful. Yes there will be hardship and times of temptations. No, this does not mean you are not strong enough. It means we are still battling with sin in our flesh and society.
Yet, we must recognize that we cannot give into the society’s views, as expressed by these celebrities, that our marriages are throw-away’s. We can keep them until they expire or just go stale and stink. Also we cannot be lured into thinking we can have them until the newer upgrade comes along that really gets us or really looks more like what we need.
May we guard ourselves from the views of our secular culture on our marriages and seek to see them how God sees them and designed them. One man, one woman, faithfully for life so help us God.
You can find the original article of these celebs quotes here
Featured image was by Getty Images from the original article website.
The recent election of President-elect Donald Trump has caused a whirlwind of controversy leading up to, and still after the election. Specifically within the Church controversy abounded among Church leaders over whether a Christian could or should support Trump or Clinton.
The election is over, Trump wins. Is it the end? What does the Church do in response to Trump winning? In short, nothing different than what we should have been doing already.
The business of the Church should not be disrupted or fundamentally changed after a transfer of governmental power.
The reaction of Christians should not lead to a disruption in their devotion to service of the Lord. Some Church leaders would give us doomsday or complicated solutions as to where we go from here, but in reality there should be no true response of change from the Church. The Church should go on unaffected in her devotion to Christ.
In part one of this post I examined one verse of Scripture, Matthew 16:18, where Jesus gave us two clear promises that we should hold onto to guard our minds concerning the election results. See part one of this answer here. Those two promises from Matthew 16:18 should help us with our mental response to the election.
In this part two we are going to look at if there is anything the Church should ‘do,’ what is it? Part one was how do we ‘mentally’ respond, and this post is how do we respond with actions.
In the days of the New Testament being written, the Christians lived under the Roman Empire. This was not a democracy by any stretch that we are accustomed to in the West. The Emperor ruled, think the Emperor from Star Wars type ruled. If the Emperor was neutral towards Christians then Christians could go their way in peace. If the Emperor was positive towards Christians, then there were times in Church history Christians were boosted by the government. However, if the Emperor was negative towards Christians, then the Church would come under extreme persecution (Emperor Nero days). I share this to say that when we look at the passages that talk about submitting to governmental institutions, remember these Christians experienced periods of the worst times of government hostility against the Church. So we in the West currently should have no excuses to obey God’s Word concerning government.
1 Peter 2:12-15
Peter writing to a persecuted Christian Church that had been scattered across lands due to the persecution, says in verse twelve that Christians are to keep their behavior excellent among the Gentiles (non-Christians). Why? So that the non-Christian world we live in will have no excuse to blame Christians for wrong doing and therefore blaspheme against God even more. Christians should live in such a way before the lost that our actions will glorify God, and hopefully cause them to turn to God.
This is the context leading up to verses thirteen through fifteen. Peter then gives us a case in which we can show excellent behavior in a lost world. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution [governments],…” (1 Peter 2:13a NASB).
Peter says a way the Church should respond to situations in the world, is by submission. Not protesting for violent change, but submission. He goes on to say whether it’s to a king or the king’s governors. It is God’s will that we do right by obeying the authorities in government over us and be model citizens (vs.15).
Does this mean Christians agree with everything their government does? Of course not. Does it also mean that if the government tries to force Christians to do things that are fully against God’s commands that we still obey government? Absolutely not (see Acts 5:27-29). What it means is that so far as the government is not forcing us to blaspheme God, then we obey the commands of the government. This is an act of obedience to God.
The Church Responds to the Election by Submission to Governmental Authorities
Whether you supported President-Elect Trump or not, the duty of a Christian is to show actions of submission by obedience to the government God has given over us.
There really is no complicated answer to the question of how does the Church respond to the election. The answer is simple. We Christians who make up the body of Christ should continue in faithfulness and obedience to the Lord. It matters not what government we are under, the principles from God’s Word are the same. We remember the promises from Jesus in Matthew 16:18 that no government can truly eradicate the Church, the Church will always exist because Jesus said so. We also remember that we are called to live as model citizens of the government God has set over us. This brings glory to God and is a tool for evangelizing the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.
So do not get distracted and too caught up in the political tides changing, keep the focus on doing what is right by seek the salvation of the lost and the glory of God in this country by being a model citizen and ambassador for Christ. Remember, we are technically foreigners in this world regardless of where you hold your country citizenship. In God’s eyes, our citizenship is in Heaven. We are humble ambassadors in this world until He calls us home.
Donald Trump has just been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Church leaders from all denominations called throughout this election cycle for Christians to either deny support of Trump, support Trump, or deny support to both as unqualified. There will no doubt now be many articles and posts (such as mine…) predicting, bemoaning, or guiding the Church as to what she should do now. What should the Church do now that Trump is President-elect? Nothing…… absolutely nothing.
I mean nothing in the sense of our reaction to this election result as to the business of the Church or our devotion as a Christian. I would have said the same thing if it her Hilary Clinton had won the election. I’m going to divide this topic into two posts. This post I want to focus on how we should ‘think’ about this election result as it concerns the Church and her business. So first of all, what should my mental reaction be as a Christian over Trump being president-elect?
1. Jesus Builds the Church, not Politics
Jesus gave a clear promise to Simon Peter that carries throughout all time in Matthew 16:18. Jesus says to Peter that he would be one of the key pillars, and his confession of Jesus as Savior would be the foundation upon which Jesus builds His Church. Jesus promised that it would be Himself who builds the Church, not a government that gets its policies right or a candidate that happens to be Christian.
So it matters not what political party is in charge, or whether or not you supported the candidate, Jesus has promised none of these things affect the building and lasting of His Church. Why?
Because the Church is not (and should not be) a political movement. The Church is rooted in the confession of Jesus as the Christ, Savior from sins.
The Church is built upon the Gospel of Jesus, not politics.
2. Jesus promised the Church would be eternal
Jesus said something else monumental in this verse. After Jesus says to Peter that upon this rock He would build His [Jesus’] Church, Jesus says, “and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (NASB). Hades here does not mean the lake of fire and brimstone what we think of as Hell. Jesus promised in this phrase that not even death itself, or the nether world (Hades) could overpower the Church. We think of death as final, and that once someone has died, then everything has come to end for them. Jesus was saying that the Church will never die!
So for our reflection on the results of the election and whether or not you wanted Trump or Clinton to win, it does not matter as far as the life of the Church is concerned.
The Church does not exist or continue to exist because of a particular government or set of policies. The Church exists because Jesus Christ said it would always exist, and He will be the One who sees to it for all eternity!
I want to encourage Christians who are either excited or disappointed over Tuesday’s election results to guard your mind by remembering those two promises Jesus made in Matthew 16:18. Remember that Trump nor Clinton have anything to do with the building up and life of the Church. The Church’s life is all in the hands of Jesus Christ, and He already told us it will be eternal.
So Christians, we forge on no matter what in our devotion to the Lord and service through His Church to reach the lost with the Gospel. Politics changes nothing for our mindset and devotion.
We can have our political opinions and we certainly have a right in this country to cast our votes and line up on various political sides. However, politics of the day must never overshadow the business of the Church. We must remember the Church is Jesus’ Church, not the government’s. Governments rise and fall, and political parties come and go, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church it builds remains eternal.
I was recently asked about a potential contradiction between two accounts of the same story in the Bible. While Peter commands we always be ready to give a defense for our hope in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15), one of the ways we stay prepared is be prepared to address claims of Biblical contradictions. So let us take a look at one about who truly purchased the Field of Blood where Judas Iscariot committed suicide.
Matthew’s account of the suicide of Judas in Matthew 27:1-10 seems to contradict Luke’s account in Acts 1:18-19 in one specific area, who purchased the Potter’s Field or Field of Blood?
I believe the surface level contradiction can be resolved when one looks just slightly below the surface by focusing on the point the author was making by including this story. Matthew’s account explains in more detail the steps leading up to Judas’ suicide, but Matthew’s focus of the story is I think secondary on Judas and primarily on the wicked response of the chief Priests.
When one considers that Matthew’s Gospel treatise is primarily focusing on how Jesus was the long awaited, prophet-fulfilling Messiah of Israel, it also is clear that he issues an indictment on how the Jewish religious leaders had high jacked the Messianic Jewish religion from the Old Testament and turned the people away from the truth of God and God Himself. Even if they did so unwittingly.
Matthew, even in this account of Judas’ suicide, gives us more historical point-by-point details as to how the chief priests were conducting themselves wickedly. Matthew notes that Judas went and hung himself, then the chief priests took the thirty pieces of silver and went and purchased a field. I believe Matthew’s account would be the literal historically accurate one.
So who purchased the field directly? The chief priests did. Matthew focuses on how they were even being wickedly pious with the money Judas threw back at them (i.e. They said it would not be lawful to put it back in the treasury of the Temple…as if they were being holy).
The difference between Matthew’s account and Luke’s in Acts is answered by saying that in Mathew’s account he shows us the chief priests, and not Judas, directly purchased the field. They literally directly used the money to acquire the field.
Then in Luke’s account his focus is not on the chief priests as they are not even mentioned here. Rather Luke’s focus is on the Apostles’ recounting how they were minus one Apostle, Judas. So he notes that Judas was gone, because he acquired this field with blood money and hung himself.
I believe Luke’s version is showing us that while in Matthew’s version the chief priests directly purchased the field, Luke puts the focus on that it was Judas’ wickedness that indirectly purchased the field.
The difference I think we could say another way is when we think of a direct cause of something versus an indirect cause of something. The direct cause is what primarily and even literally at that moment caused something to happen. The indirect cause is the more higher level or secondary overarching reason why something happened.
Example I think of like this is the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus. The debate is did God divinely turn Pharaoh’s heart to wickedness. No, I think is the answer. God was the indirect cause of Pharaoh’s hardening of the heart. Meaning that God knew when he performed these certain plagues it would lead to a certain outcome, Pharaoh’s hardening (he was already a wicked guy that thought he was divine).
God is indirectly hardening his already evil heart through other direct means (the specific plagues). This is why in Exodus you see the language interchange between, “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” and “Pharaoh hardened his heart.”
Matthew says it was the chief priests who specifically purchased the field. While Luke says it was Judas’ wicked acts that lead to this field being acquired with blood money.
So who then purchased the Field of Blood (or Potters Field) you may ask? Answer, depends on the sense in which you ask the question. Do you wish to know who literally bought the field with money? This was the chief priests who conducted themselves wickedly as Matthew catalogs in his Gospel. Do you wish to know how it was though the field came to be purchased? This was due to Judas Iscariot’s wickedness and betrayal of Christ as Luke catalogs in his treatise.
This is not a contradiction, it is rather two witnesses of the same event focusing on two different subjects and their actions which both lead to the same outcome (the purchase of the Field). Judas is the purchaser of the field as Luke shows us in Acts, but Judas bought it with his wickedness. So Luke shows us the action that lead to the Field being purchased, which was Judas’ remorse and throwing the money back at the chief priests. Then Matthew shows us the literal transaction of the Field which was the chief priests using Judas’ blood money to purchase it.
In closing let me add one final thought to this answer. You could say both Judas and the chief priests purchased the field and be right in both senses. How? Because the money can both be said to be Judas’ and the chief priests. The money was given to Judas for his services in leading Jesus to be arrested. So it was payoff that belonged to Judas. Yet Judas gave it back to the chief priests in remorse, so then it also belonged to the chief priests.
This is not a contradiction, it is a two angles of the same story being given by two different writers of Scripture that had two different focuses in how they shared the story. Both are true, and both have different lessons to show from the one story.
Hope this helps.
The presidential election season here in the United States of America has sparked a few thoughts in my mind I have been wanting to write about. One of which is a question that popped in my mind while reading a story about the immigration debate between the two main candidates. As an American citizen, and a Christian, I asked myself, “which one comes first?” Am I an American Christian or am I a Christian American? This question may seem silly at first, but the underlying point is real and important to all of us Christians across the globe.
Here in the USA I have seen this presidential election season cause division between individual Christians and even get into the churches and cause division. Social media pages of Christians are used frequently to espouse which candidate is God’s candidate. They range from cordial opinions to extreme aggressive divisive opinions.
Let’s cut through all of this noise. What says God’s Word about this? Whatever country you live in as a Christian, are you to primarily view yourself as a citizen of that particular nation, or should we put our emphasis elsewhere?
Paul wrote to the Gentile believers in Ephesus explaining to them how that in Christ, God has brought the Gentiles into the same country as the Jews who are in Christ. The Old Testament is about God dealing with the world through the nation of Israel (the Jews) as His chosen people. The Jews had many blessings and privileges given them from God. Then the New Testament picks up and shows us Jesus Christ comes to die for sins of not only Jews, but all people everywhere (Gentiles too).
The Gentile believers could fall into the trap of thinking they were second-class Christians since they were not originally Jews. The Jewish Christians could also fall into the trap of thinking they were the higher-rate class of Christians since they descended from the chosen race of God.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:19, “So then you [Gentile Christians] are no longer strangers and aliens (or foreigners), but you are fellow citizens with the saints [the already believing Jewish Christians], and are of God’s household,….”
Paul says even more directly in his letter to the predominantly Gentile Christian church at Phillip that, “For our [all Christians] citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20 NASB).
God’s Word through the Apostle Paul is that a Christian is not to be identified by which nation they are from. A believer in Christ is not to be focused on whether they are an American, or a German, or Frenchman, or an Asian, or a Hispanic, etc. A Christian is to first of all bear the reality in mind that we are citizens of no nation on this earth. When we are in Christ, we are all citizens of God’s Kingdom.
My identity in Christ is not because I’m an American. My identity in Christ crosses nation-state boundaries. My primary citizenship is in God’s Kingdom above.
Does this suggest that we should not care about our particular countries? Does this mean we can ignore the laws and values of our earthly countries we reside in? Of course not!
God’s Word says multiple times that we Christians are to set an example to the world by being model citizens of the countries we reside in (Romans 13 & 1 Peter 2:13-20). What I am saying is we cannot let the matters of our countries come before the reality of our citizenship being in God’s Kingdom for all eternity.
This means our focus is on eternal matters and not primarily on earthly, national matters. We don’t ignore these. Rather we don’t let them overshadow our call to see the Gospel of Christ spread across all nations. We view the matters of our countries through spiritual glasses now that we are citizens of Heaven first. We Christians cannot get wrapped up in our physical identity of a particular country. We Christians are instead to remember that we are all one nation in Christ.
Remember that we do not get into God’s Kingdom based upon what country we belonged to here on earth. Christians from all over the globe will be worshiping before God’s throne as the people of God (Revelation 7:9-10).
Whatever politics or governance is at play in your country, remember you are first and foremost a citizen of Heaven in Christ Jesus. So go and live like it.
Sunday, September 4th, 2016, Pope Francis held a Mass service where he publicly declared Mother Teresa a Saint, and canonized her. The ceremony was held with over 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Square. Without going into much of the history of Mother Teresa or Catholic Sainthood, you may not be aware of what this means. Furthermore I want to ask, ‘Is this idea of declaring people ‘Saints,’ and canonizing them even a Biblical teaching? What should a Christian make of all this?
Let me say at the start of this, I am not a Roman Catholic. I do not believe that the Roman Catholic system is a Biblical based church. I furthermore believe the whole premise upon which Roman Catholic doctrine stands is not Biblically defensible (concept of a Pope, Purgatory, Mass system to name a few). I do not wish to be personally offensive to any Roman Catholic. I only wish to draw attention this notion of canonizing Saints. My prayer is that it will spur some thought provoking consideration by Catholics, and to inform any non-Catholics who are not sure of this idea. Now that I have showed my cards, let me dive into just some shallow water of the Mother Teresa Sainthood story.
According to the official Roman Catholic website about this idea, canonizing Saints has been around since the 10th Century. The Vatican and Pope took over the canonizing of Saints because of too many myths and lies that began to circulate among the populous.
What does it mean to be a Saint in the Catholic church? First, the person has to already be deceased, and have been considered a very holy Catholic. Then an investigation into the person’s life, work, and doctrinal orthodoxy is conducted by local Bishops. Then a council of Theologians at the Vatican evaluate the Bishops findings for approval. Once approved, it goes to the Pope who declares the person, ‘venerable.’
After all of this, there must be evidence that this deceased Catholic ‘venerable’ has produced at least one miracle. This then leads to the Pope declaring the person to ‘beatification’ (or Blessed). Let me quote from the Catholic website how the next and final phase of ‘Canonization’ occurs. “Only after one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint (this includes martyrs as well). The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church. Canonization does not “make” a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done” (http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php).
Theologically and practically, here are the ramifications of this:
Canonization is held to confer a sevenfold honour: (1) the name is inscribed in the catalogue of saints, i.e. public recognition is enjoined; (2) the new saint is invoked in the public prayers of the Church; (3) churches may be dedicated to God in the saint’s memory; (4) the Mass and Office are publicly offered to God in the saint’s honour; (5) festival days are celebrated in the saint’s memory; (6) pictorial representations are made in which the saint is surrounded by a heavenly light of glory; (7) the saint’s relics are enclosed in precious vessels and publicly honoured.
Now, having laid this summary out of the canonization of someone to a saint, what is a Christian supposed to make of this? Should we rejoice along with this? No.
The idea of a Christian being able to invoke an already deceased Christian, no matter holy they lived, into their prayers and go to this deceased Christian for intercession is simply not Biblical. Furthermore there are no instances in the Bible of a Christian ever praying to or invoking the name of a previously deceased Christian. We do not see Stephen in Acts chapter seven praying to John the Baptist to help him during his stoning. We do not see Peter praying to Elijah to help him heal the crippled man at the Temple in Acts chapter three. There are many examples I could invoke, but what they have in common is that they called upon the name of Jesus.
The Biblical evidence to support that a Christian who lived an utmost holy life can perform miracles post-mortem is nowhere to be found. Likewise there is no Biblical evidence to support the idea that a living Christian invokes the name of a deceased Christian in their prayers.
So this idea of canonizing saints in the Church is not Biblical. It is extra-Biblical. This is where the Roman Catholic system begins to show its true colors. Most of major tenants of doctrine are just like this one we are discussing, extra-Biblical. The Roman Catholic system has other beliefs that allow for them to hold views that are outside of the contexts of Scripture. In short, they go to previous Church Council decisions for support, and the decrees of Popes.
Does the Bible not have the notion of ‘Saints’ within its verses? Of course it does. In the New American Standard Version of the Bible, the word ‘saints’ occurs in 61 verses in the New Testament. It is always used in reference to Christians. In fact 99.9% of the time, living Christians. There are 2 verses I found that refer to saints in heaven or future saints that are martyred.
What is the take away from this? If you are a true Christian, by being a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, congratulations you are a saint! Does this mean we are practically perfect and can perform miracles? No. The word means, ‘holy ones.’ If you are in Christ, then your position before God Almighty has went from sinner deserving death, to one of God’s holy ones (a saint). God, and God alone declares who are saints. Not a church or a person leading a church organization. God declares who are saints as those who are bought by the blood of His Son, Jesus the Christ.
 The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church. 2005 (F. L. Cross & E. A. Livingstone, Ed.) (3rd ed. rev.) (283). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
This is one of the most humbling testimonies I have ever heard. God is not just sovereign during the times of blessings, but also during the times of pain & suffering.
We many times moan and whinge when things do not go right. We grit our teeth at God when we see a maze before our eyes. Have you ever thought of the sovereignty of God? Have you ever understood the mind of God? May this testimony of John Farese be an encouragement. Crippled for most of his life but profoundly sober in his understanding of God’s sovereignty and scripture:
Would our understanding of God remain the same if He didnt lead us through hard times? God brings sufferings, persecutions, trials that our faith in Him may grow and be strong. Beloved of God:
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to…
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