Saturday, October 30, 2021

Jesus' Justice

Jesus' Justice

How the "Social Justice" Movement is a Blasphemous Affront to the Majesty, Dignity, and Power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So many of the discussions that we hear today about “Social Justice” are missing the centerpiece of everything: Jesus’ justice. This is not a trivial observation. Those who try to define justice apart from the One who is holy, righteous, and just may as well try to build a sky-scraper without a blueprint or engineer. History reveals that when mere mortals contrive their own definitions and standards of justice, grave atrocities often result, and it may be that such troubling history is about to repeat itself. Many today are proceeding as the torch-bearers of a new pathway to justice, fully arrayed with an army of academics, conference speakers, and New York Times best sellers. They are also armed with a unique, Social Justice dialect in which they dispense broad accusations of "white supremacy" and “systemic white racism” against modern society and even the church of Jesus Christ. Because of this movement’s enormity and repeated accusations, it would be highly dangerous to imagine that this ideology will go away anytime soon. For this reason, this book compares and contrasts the standards of Social Justice ideology (SJI) with that of Jesus and His holy justice. By this comparison, we will discover that the modern ideology of Social Justice blasphemously contradicts the Lord's justice by heralding the wisdom of man above God (chapter 1); by seeking to remedy past injustices with present day injustices (chapter 2); by seeing oppression (whether real or perceived) as establishing personal merit and innocence (chapter 3); by promoting faulty views of God’s creation of the human race and therefore advancing an abundance of ignorance and racial bigotry (chapter 4); by advancing its own doctrinal creed and religious system of atonement that supplies no real solutions or true hope (chapter 5); by fostering bigotry, hatred, and resentment against others on the basis of their epidermis (chapter 6); by mutilating history to such an extent that the triumphs of the Gospel, both past and present, are grotesquely obscured (chapter 7); by replicating a racial bigotry that is comparable to some of the worst expressions of bigotry from the past (chapter 8); and by falling short of any comprehensive understanding of universal sin, systemic evil, and God’s sovereign providence over all (chapter 9).

By this comparison, we will discover the bankruptcy and dangerous nature of this man-made philosophy which has become a religion for many.  This comparison will also reveal what Scripture describes as the greatest contest in human history in which “the nations rage against the Lord and His Anointed” King (Psalm 2). And who is this Anointed King? He is Jesus Christ, the exalted  Redeemer (Psalm 110:1) and “King of Righteousness” (Psalm 110:4) who will someday judge the living and the dead in His perfect and holy justice (Psalm 110:5-6). 

In the end, without a serious consideration of Jesus and His justice, nothing else really matters.

"Over the past decade or so, lots of half-baked, highly controversial notions about justice and social equity have been proposed, Tweeted, sloganized, mindlessly embraced, and endlessly echoed by evangelical thought leaders. Michael Beasley takes time to consider the biblical definition of justice with meticulous care in this extremely helpful and eminently readable work. If you are confused by all the current rhetoric about 'social justice,' woke ideology, and the drift of the broad evangelical movement, you must read Jesus' Justice." 

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-935358-19-0
Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-935358-20-6
& Kindle

Release date: TBA

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Serving an Extraordinary God in Exraordinary Circumstances

Update - 5/8/20: I am very pleased to announce that our corporate worship services will resume on 5/10/20.
"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD." Psalm 122:1
Update - 4/4/20: Until further notice, our corporate worship services at Peace Baptist Church will be temporarily suspended. Until the day that we will be joined together again I would encourage our PBC brethren to invest time on the Lord's day to to that of prayer and family devotions. While this is no substitute to the corporate assembly, it will be the best use of our time during this unusual season of life. Devotional videos will be posted each week for the edification of our flock, and I would encourage you to use these videos as an aid to your own times of family devotion. Further updates will be posted on this page in the weeks to come - Pastor Michael J Beasley.  


As a result of the president's coronavirus guidelines, most churches are temporarily suspending their worship services. This is quite new to all of us. It is especially new to me over the span of my own pastoral ministry. These matters should not be taken lightly and so I wanted to share a few relevant thoughts on the subject:
1. Some have asserted that a temporary cessation of church meetings is a violation of Hebrews 10:24-25, but this is a misapplication of the text. Clearly, the author of Hebrews was dealing with a persecuted church. Assembling in the name of Christ was potentially dangerous, not because of some unseen contagion, but because of the growing persecution of Christ's disciples.

2. Others have suggested that Romans 13:1-7 relates to this situation, rather than Hebrews 10:24-25, in view of its call to submit to governing authorities. I agree on the applicability of this text, even though there is no specific "law" established regarding the president's "15 day guideline."

3. While Romans 13:1-7 gives us an important reminder regarding our need to honor those who serve in governing authority, there are also important considerations to observe regarding our neighbors. I invite the reader to consider the texts of Romans 13:8-10 and Philippians 2:3. In Romans 13:8-10, Paul heralds the supremacy of the law of love, reminding us that "love does no wrong to a neighbor," and in Phil. 2:3 he says, "...with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself." Why might these texts apply to our present situation? I believe that these texts apply seeing that this particular coronavirus appears to be uniquely pernicious because those who carry it may not know that they are infected at all – for several days. This, it is believed, accounts for what is a much higher transmission rate than other known viruses. Because of this, the risks posed by this particular contagion bring to mind that there is more to consider than just submission to governing authority: there is the consideration of our neighbor and his/her well-being. Overall, a person who feels quite healthy at present may inadvertently infect others unintentionally. Though unintentional, it would still result in a measure of harm done to another, and for some it may result in their death. This consideration extends not just to the frail and elderly, but also to children.
Whatever purpose God is serving in these recent events, we can be sure that His Providence is always good, because He is good. And though these special circumstances of late seem quite strange, we can be sure that God’s calling for His church remains intact. Special circumstances cannot overrule the normative government established by God’s word: We are commanded to partake in the corporate fellowship of the saints, as far as we are able, but there will be times when we are prevented from doing so. Such special circumstances do not eliminate God's commands. John, exiled on the island of Patmos, was for a time prevented from assembling with the corporate body of Christ. The Apostle Paul, while imprisoned, asked for prayer for his deliverance (Phil 1:19) while longing to be rejoined with the brethren (Phil 1:26). In submission to God's Providence, the Apostle utilized his special circumstances in order to advance the Gospel (Phil 1:12-14) and fellowship with those who visited him in jail. My last absence from church occurred because I was in a hospital bed recovering from lung surgery. Brethren visited me, and I had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with others, but (trust me when I say it) I do not advocate this as normative for God's people. Once I was released from the hospital, I was very thankful to return to the assembly of all the saints. Within God’s providence, extraordinary events may prevent us from pursuing that which is the normative calling of God’s people – that’s why we call such events “extraordinary.”

Dear reader, please know that what I have supplied in this article is a frail man's best effort to comprehend and apply the Scriptures amidst a rather perplexing time. I have no desire to vilify those who may take a differing view. Above all other considerations, let us remember that, though our times are extraordinary, we serve an extraordinary God of infinite magnitude.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Isaac Watts: Trinitarian or Unitarian?

I was recently made aware of various questions and concerns regarding Isaac Watts’ views of the Trinity. The charge that is most commonly circulated is that Watts, the man who is often called the “father of English hymnody,” is said to have abandoned an orthodox view of the Trinity for that of Unitarianism towards the end of his life. When I first heard this charge, I began researching the matter for myself. It didn’t take long to realize that this entire matter would require a significant amount of time to evaluate. Thankfully, I came across an excellent article (and video, below) produced by Dr. Scott Aniol which surveys the matter very well:

Dr. Aniol serves as the Associate Professor and Chair of Worship Ministry at Southwestern Seminary, and has written extensively on the subject of worship and church hymnody. I believe that his summary of Watts is sound, reasonable, and effectively vindicates Watts in the end. In view of his careful treatment of this matter, I would like to offer some additional observations and warnings:

1. The Dangers of Celebritism, Past and Present: In 2015 I wrote a book entitled, My Banner is Christ, in which I address the grave dangers of “celebritism.” It should be noted that celebritism is merely an invented word that I use to describe the toxic realities of Evangelical-celebrity worship. Not only must we avoid the sin of exalting Evangelical leaders in the present day, but we must shun such celebritism with respect to the renowned saints of yesteryear. The sin of exalting the creature above the Creator is the same whether that creature is in glory, or still here on earth. I must confess that, when I first heard about the controversy regarding Watt’s view of the Trinity, I was filled with incredulity over the matter. This was primarily so because of my familiarity with the excellencies of Watts’ hymns, but there was also a tinge of personal deference towards Watts which made me want to disbelieve the matter immediately. Yet such personal deference must never stand in the way of the pursuit of objective truth. In view of this, I found Aniol’s mention of Douglas Bond’s cursory treatment of the controversy surrounding Watts quite interesting. Whatever can be said about the thoughts and intentions of Bond in the matter, he did his readers no favors by saying so little. We are called to exalt Christ, not mere men. If our careful examination of the celebrated saints of yesteryear leaves us with disappointment and disgust, then so be it. In the case of Watts, a deeper investigation by Bond would have issued a more cogent vindication of this father of English hymnody. In any circumstance, we should apply diligence when exploring the details of church history as best as possible, even if our discoveries are discouraging. Such experiences should remind us of our own creaturely frailty and, therefore, our great need to be watchful and vigilant guardians of our own life and doctrine.

2. The Dangers of Unjust Deconstructionism: As the reader already knows, the Internet can oftentimes be as helpful as it is dangerous. As it relates to the subject of history, some of the more dangerous elements of online media have recently surged via the Social Justice movement, replete with its Critical Theory deconstructionism of the past. Today, historic memorials are being toppled, and once respected theologians are readily vilified as madmen by a generation that has been led to believe that “the system” is out to get them, however one defines “the system.” This procedure is typically carried out without the requisite aid of historical context. The regular production of such “history” has effectively dulled the senses of many, such that any dark discovery from the past (whether real or imagined) is now the new, expected, daily norm. Within such a pessimistic environment as this, it becomes much more difficult to offer careful and nuanced analyses of history without sounding like an advocate of archaic thinking; especially when your presentation of history doesn’t square with what is deemed as vogue at the time. As this relates to Watts, I would suggest that a more careful analysis of the world in which he lived would help us understand his struggles over the use of creeds in explaining the Trinity (to which Aniol alluded). In Watts’ day, there were some who placed a stilted emphasis on historic creeds, thereby adding fodder to non-conformists who were concerned about retaining fidelity to Scripture. These pendulum swings have existed throughout church history, and they offer an important context to our comprehension of the various contests that arise in the church, past and present. In the end, neither celebritism nor unjust deconstructionism will help us in our pursuit of history. Instead, we are to seek out what facts are available to us objectively, without the intent of buttressing or demonizing those whom we evaluate, all the while heralding the authority and glory of Christ above all that is evaluated.

3. Church History is Fallible History: If you want infallible history, read your Bible. Everything else is subject to serious scrutiny with varying degrees of uncertainty. We often speak with such certitude about the saints of yesteryear, and yet this often belies the extent of our actual knowledge. By contrast, even the people we know personally we can only know within the context of our human frailty and personal limitations. As for individuals from the past, whom we have never met, all we can say is that we know of them by means of various historic texts that are available. Moreover, not everyone’s recorded history is necessarily as robust as we would prefer. In all of this we are left with an important principle as it relates to assessing the lives of historic figures: First, we must remember that “…the Lord knows who are His…” (2 Timothy 2:9) in a manner that we cannot. We cannot claim to know people (spiritually or otherwise) to the degree that Lord knows them, and thus we should be guarded with humility when seeking to describe the spiritual condition of others. Second, we are enjoined not to “exceed that which is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) in Scripture, and such wisdom has its application in the use of extra-biblical history. We humans are often tempted to fill in the blanks of what is not plainly revealed (whether in Scripture or otherwise) because we don’t like having unanswered questions. Yet the plain reality of life is this: God knows all things, and we do not. Such an obvious confession isn’t always easy to make, especially when we pridefully think we are on the cusp of connecting the dots between two unknowns. Like many things in life, our observation of church history must never exceed the written record of it, remembering that such history is fallible and subject to scrutiny itself. Wherever we find uncertainty in life (whether in Scripture or otherwise), we can leave the matter in the hands of God who fully knows all things and will reveal all things in the end.

For most years of my life in pastoral ministry, to varying degrees, I have actively been involved in leading music before God’s people. It is a most serious task which must uphold and buttress the ministry of the word and prayer when the saints assemble for worship. As I contemplate these priorities, I often find that there are songs in our hymnal that are worthy of enthusiastic promotion, while others are used minimally or not at all. There are also hymns that are generally sound, but might require a simple redaction or modification. Some hymn stories, regarding the hymn and the hymn writer, may be encouraging and uplifting for the flock; whereas others are best left alone. And as for Harry Emmerson Fosdick’s hymn, God of Grace and God of Glory (The Christian Life Hymnal, #337), I refuse to sing it in view his horrific mockery of Scripture and the glorious Godhead. These are the choices that fallible men must make when sorting through a fallible hymnal, written by fallible people. There will always be choices to make regarding a hymnody which exalts the Lord most, seeing that it is our calling to give Him those gifts of praise (Hebrews 13:15) which honor and magnify our great God.

Friday, September 21, 2018

If the Lord Wills, We Shall Live


It has been some time since I last posted anything here at, but in view of recent issues regarding my physical health it seems like a good time to end such silence. This year has posed no shortage of challenges to me, beginning with the discovery of a bulging disc in my lower back, a cancerous tumor in my right middle lobe, and (most recently) the revelation that I have several broken bones in my right jaw (more on that at the end). Though the first and last items on this hit list of maladies have been the most painful, I will first give attention to that which is the most serious: cancer. In short, I will share the events surrounding my cancer surgery, dealing with the facts of my condition as well as the lessons I continue to learn as a result of this trial:

The Facts of my Condition: In late June of this year, while getting ready for work, I had an episode whereby I completely lost the feel and function of my left arm. This only lasted for about 15 seconds, but it seemed to be reason enough to be seen by a medical professional at a local ER. The medical personnel who saw me classified this as a small stroke, or a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This launched an investigation into the source of this TIA, one of which was the possibility of cancer. In the process of this examination, a chest X-Ray revealed that I had a spot on my right lung. As a result, I was hospitalized for further tests. Over the course of my hospital stay, the preliminary concerns over the TIA faded while concerns over the mass in my lung became more prominent. Following this brief stay in the hospital and, after a month of coordinating efforts between the VA Medical Administration and Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, I was able to receive counsel from a pulmonologist and a thoracic surgeon regarding a treatment plan. Upon their review of my CT & PET scan images, the consensus opinion was that the mass I had in my right lung would likely be cancerous. In view of this, I was then scheduled for a surgical procedure called a robotic lobectomy, in which my right middle lobe would be completely removed. Thus, on August 23rd of this year, this procedure was performed without a prior biopsy. The reason why no biopsy was performed is that even if the mass proved to be benign it would still need to be removed as a potential threat to my health. On the day of the surgery, immediate analysis of the removed tumor revealed that it was indeed cancerous, though a more detailed analysis would be required to discern its exact type of cancer, and whether or not it had spread to any neighboring lymph nodes. For this latter and most important detail, we had to wait for a week for test results. I was discharged from the hospital on Sunday afternoon, August 26th. On Friday, August 31st, I received a call from my thoracic surgeon in which he shared with me the final pathology report: the mass was a carcinoid cancerous tumor with no evidence of any spread to the neighboring lymph nodes (11 lymph nodes in total were tested). In short, this is the best possible outcome for a cancer surgery such that no chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be sought. The only follow up that I anticipate having will be periodic chest x-rays. These are the facts of my condition and I am deeply thankful for God’s kind and generous providence in it all.

The Lessons I Continue to Learn: Beyond the facts of these events are the more important lessons that I have learned, and continue to learn, as I consider the circumstances of the last few months:

God’s Merciful Providence: I am especially struck by the timing and circumstances of these aforementioned events, especially since I had no significant symptoms that would give me a clear pre-indication of cancer. Despite my painful struggles with my bulging disc at the time, I felt as though I was in very good health. The TIA I experienced, though alarming and unpleasant as it was, became the very means by which this silent threat was discovered. It was no accident that brought about this discovery, it was God’s kind and merciful providence for which I am deeply grateful.

The Blessings and Dangers of Modern Technology: As one who isn’t always a fan of modern technology, I must say that I am thankful for the surgical advances which made my lobectomy minimally invasive. It is quite remarkable to consider that my surgery was on August 23rd; I was discharged on August 26th; I preached the next Sunday (September 2nd); and I was able to bow hunt in my hang-on tree stand on the opening day of deer hunting season (September 8th). Though I am still healing and recovering, I must say that things have moved faster than I originally expected. Had this procedure been performed without the use of robotic technology, my recovery would have been much, much slower. But with this acclaim of medical technology comes a needful confession: there is a great danger that often comes with the use of, and reliance upon, modern technology. Simply put, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of modern technology, but there is everything wrong with relying on it such that it becomes the basis of one’s hope and confidence in life. I mention this because too much of our society has bought into this latter deception whereby many think that their lives depend upon the know-how of the medical community rather than on Lord of life Himself. I must confess, I too have slipped into this deception at times. It is a rudimentary lesson that we abandon all too quickly, but the very life and breath that we have on a daily basis ultimately comes from God alone, or as Paul declared to the Athenians: “[God is not…] served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things” Acts 17:25. Thus, God is not sustained by anyone or anything since he is the One who sustains His creation, including every member of the human race. Without His sustaining providence, none of us would have life or breath for one more second. This then leads me to the important lesson of James 4:13-16.

The Lessons of James 4:13-16: Earlier this year I had the great privilege of completing a preaching series on the book of James. For myself and our flock it proved to be a rich epistle with an abundance of needed wisdom. One such element of wisdom that we focused on deals with mankind’s natural proclivity to presume upon God: James 4:13–16: 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. What James teaches in this passage is both powerful and piercing. By it he reveals something very important about our fallen human nature: we all are deeply prone to presume that we will have our lives tomorrow at all. James calls such presumption arrogant boasting which is, in fact, evil. That is a strong indictment, but it is a necessary one. This very text is one that I have been thinking about for many years. In fact, I wrote an article based upon James 4:13-16 for the Winston Salem Journal in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami which instantly swept away an estimated 228,000 souls in one day. That tragedy gripped a watching world, and shockingly fleshed out the reality of James’ grave warning to us all: none of us can know if we will be alive tomorrow, or if we will be alive in the next hour. Yet with all this writing, contemplation, and preaching on James 4:13-16, nothing accelerated my tutelage on this important subject than when I was given a diagnosis of cancer. Suddenly, James’ wisdom came closer to my soul in a way that transcended all my previous studies and consideration. I found myself cherishing my family devotions with my children far more; contemplating my blessings in Christ more readily; and considering the sweetness of being with Christ in His eternal kingdom. It is certainly not the case that these things were absent prior to my diagnosis; it is just that the diagnosis intensified my appreciation of that which matters most. All of this came to me quite profoundly because I had grown a little in my small grasp of just how impotent I am at securing my tomorrow. I still remain a fledgling student of James’ wisdom, but these recent events have opened my eyes a little more to the evil of presuming upon God for the future. Each day in which I have life and breath is a gift from Him, and I pray daily for grace to be a better steward of such life for His ultimate glory.

Since the surgery, it seems that I have been under a post-surgical rock of sorts. My online activity has been uniquely thin. I am behind on responding to some messages and queries, but I hope to get caught up shortly. This is partly due to the complications I experienced just after the surgery. Strangely, the pain from the surgery was quickly eclipsed by the trauma I experienced in my right jaw. The pain has been so intense that it has often been difficult to concentrate. On the afternoon of my surgery, just after I awoke from sedation, I noticed that something was amiss with my right jaw. In particular, I had deep impressions in my gum on the inside of my right jaw. These impressions felt like cut marks that went back towards my throat. Also, I had a small lesion and blister in the same location. Filled with pain killers at the time, I sensed nothing else significant and assumed that it was the odd aftermath of what proved to be a difficult intubation process (I was told that it took a full hour to intubate me). I generally ignored the sensation in my mouth until the pain killers wore off. Then, upon visual inspection, I noticed that I had multiple lesions as well as a lengthy blister in my mouth which yielded crippling pain. I couldn’t eat solid food very easily and resorted to a liquid diet for some time. I finally visited my dentist who was “stumped” by what he saw, thus he referred me to an oral surgeon who, after obtaining a panoramic x-ray of my mouth, informed me that I had broken bones in my right jaw. This accounts for the painful infection that kept getting worse over time. Hopefully, the bones will “exfoliate” (or pass through the gum tissue inside my mouth). Yes, you read that right: It is my sincere hope that over the next several weeks, I will be spitting out pieces of my jaw bone (if you have the stomach for it, here is an example of such an exfoliation process). If such exfoliation does not take place, I will have to undergo oral surgery to have the necrotic fragments removed; and this will not be a cheap procedure. And so we continue to pray, taking one day at a time.

As a pastor I have overseen over 40 funerals in the last 25 years. One thing that I encounter at these somber events is this: the stark reminder that we mortals avoid the subject of our mortality until it is staring us in the face. When we do contemplate our mortality, suddenly all of the superficial things in this life vanish like a vapor. I am persuaded that this is why the wisdom of James 4:13-16 is so important. We need to forsake all that is superficial and cling to that which is truly important: the risen Christ and His true wisdom. Overall, I am reminded that though my outer man is decaying (and I can affirm that it is readily decaying), the inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). And while I cannot know the future, including the time, place, and circumstances of my departure from this world, one thing is for certain: I will not add a single cubit to my lifespan by being anxious about the cares of this life (Matthew 6:27). In the end, with all that has gone on before, during, and after the surgery, I continue to look to the Lord’s kindness and tender mercies in everything. I remain mindful that my condition and suffering could be far worse than it is. Ultimately, I am especially thankful that, today, I have the life, breath, and vitality with which to serve my Lord and Master, and this is a privilege for which I am deeply grateful.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

In Memory of Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia

I know precious little about the now deceased Antonin Gregory Scalia, but it was quite apparent that during his life he held fast to the dignity of human life, the importance of the institution of marriage, as well as the value of the rule of law. Upon learning of his death, I was left to wonder if our Lord is now handing our nation over to the lawless zealots who hated him, and others, for such convictions. The sad thought of his passing also brought to mind the fact that I recently quoted him in my book, My Banner is Christ, in view of his piercing and poignant comments made in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013. I quoted Scalia in view of his expressed concerns over the manner in which the supporters of traditional marriage are rabidly vilified by many in our “progressive” society. In particular, his use of the Latin expression hostis humani generis, in reference to such vilification, brought to mind and memory a similar expression used by Tacitus when describing Nero’s intense prosecution and persecution of Christians in the 1st century. It is for this reason that I quoted Scalia’s judicial concerns in order to remind Christ’s body that the church has weathered very intense storms in the past, and may have to face similar trials in the future. Yet, believers must remember that God’s Supreme Court of Justice will prevail over the opinions of men. It is for this reason that believers must fear God rather than men, especially when faced by a society that is descending into the depths of unbridled lawlessness and wickedness. In view of this, I wanted to offer, for free, the very chapter in which I quote this former member of the Supreme Court. I believe that his concerns from the past issue a prescient warning for us in the days to come.

Dear brethren – if God is giving this nation over to greater lawlessness and darkness, then it behooves us to reverence Christ above all rather than the mere mortals of this passing life:





Like Vanity Fair, the world in which we live continues to proffer its ungodly wares, yet we must be committed to buying truth alone. It is a great challenge to discern and tease out those influences that appear to be helpful, but instead incline us to stray from God’s pathway with remarkable stealth. Whether by the printed page, video stream, or any other means, we are surrounded by countless counselors who seek to advise and direct. Whatever they have to say, we must always remember that Scripture alone must chart the course of our lives. As we press on in the Lord’s prescribed pathway, we may find ourselves losing the preferments and honours of mere men, or we may even face persecution, but such matters must never deter the soldier of Christ. Flavel well understood such trials himself:
“…there is no temptation in the world that hath overthrown so many, as that which hath been backed and edged with fear: the love of preferments and honours hath slain its thousands, but fear of sufferings its ten thousands.”[1]
In the end, our subjection and servitude in the fear of Christ must never be supplanted by our regard for mere men. As the men of this world proceed from bad to worse,[2] we must remember that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.[3] I find these reminders to be remarkably needful and helpful, especially since our nation has recently entered into a new phase of enmity with God and His word. On June 26th 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its ruling that “same sex marriage” cannot be prohibited by any state in the Union. By this single act, a slim majority of unelected judges had thereby created an impotent mandate opposing God and the first of all His institutions – the institution of marriage. While believers rightly mourned this irreverent act of rebellion against the Creator, our nation’s president, who repeatedly identifies himself as a Christian, proudly celebrated the court’s decision by having the White House lit up like a LGBT flag. What this portends for the future no one can say for sure, but it does appear that things are proceeding from bad to worse[4] based upon the trajectory of recent history. Exactly two years prior to this judgment by America’s highest court, another significant ruling was made against the institution of marriage. On June 26th 2013, the Supreme Court ruled against The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law which simply asserted that marriage was the union between one man and one woman.[5] Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a response against the majority ruling in which he rebuked the “high-handed” attitude of those who so eagerly undermined the institution of marriage:
“To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to ‘dis-parage,’ ‘injure,’ ‘degrade,’ ‘demean,’ and ‘humiliate’ our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostis humani generis, enemies of the human race.”[6]
Scalia’s observations are quite interesting, if not ironic, especially when we consider his use of the expression, hostis humani generis – enemies of the human race. Though he may not have intended the association, Scalia’s use of this Latin expression brings to mind a similar expression used by Tacitus when describing Nero’s persecution of the Christian community in the 1st century:
"But neither human resources, nor imperial munificence, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated sinister suspicions that the fire had been instigated. To suppress this rumour, Nero fabricated scapegoats – and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judaea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capital. First, Nero had self-acknowledged Christians arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers of others were condemned - not so much for incendiarism as for their hatred of humanity (odio humani generis).[7] Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals' skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight."[8]
Tacitus’ description of these early Christians reveals how they were poorly viewed within the Greco-Roman world as the haters of humanity. The most likely explanation for this label is that the Christian community resisted, for conscience’ sake, the hedonistic and idolatrous culture of the Greco-Roman world replete with its sacrifices to the gods and licentious living often associated with such worship.[9] Such opposition to idolatry was seen as an act of hostility against others, especially since the superstitious and pagan world believed that sacrifices to the gods were necessary for the greater good of the broader community.[10] Such opposition to pagan worship made the disciples the perceived enemies of the state. Though this reputation was remarkably unfair, it did point to the integrity of many believers who heralded a clear and strong Gospel witness in view of their unwillingness to compromise on the priority of exalting Christ and His authority. I would suggest that these historic points of interest offer a preview of what may come in the future. Apart from God’s merciful and gracious intervention in America’s apparent moral and spiritual suicide, further darkness will prevail in this land. Because of this, we must look to our Father with filial fear, lest we shrink back from the violent storms of this world, as Flavel said:
“It cannot be said of any man, as it is said of Leviathan, Job xli. 33 that he is made without fear; those that have most fortitude are not without some fears; and when the church is in the storms of persecution, and almost covered with the waves, the stoutest passengers in it may suffer as much from the boisterous passion within, as from the storm without; and all for want of thoroughly believing, or not seasonably remembering that, the Lord high Admiral of all the ocean, and Commander of all the winds, is on board the ship, to steer and preserve it in the storm.”[11]
It is for this reason that believers must be resolved to stand firm in the strength of the Lord’s might in order to fight the good fight of faith. Rather than shrinking back from the intense front lines of spiritual battle, in the fear of man, the church must press on with Christ’s banner (Solus Christus) on the basis of His authority alone (Sola Scriptura). The wicked choices recently made by our nation, though sad, should be seen as an opportunity to magnify Christ’s radiant glory amidst such a world of darkness. Moreover, the subject of marriage must not be avoided as if it were some ancillary point of doctrine with respect to the Gospel. Doing so would forsake many rich opportunities to magnify Christ, seeing that the Scriptures repeatedly associate the institution of marriage with the Lord’s redemption of His people. Should anyone doubt this statement, they must consult the prophets Hosea (Hosea 2:19), Isaiah (Isaiah 62:4-5), and Jeremiah (31:31-34); King Solomon (Song of Solomon 8:6); and the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:22-33). Moreover, John the Baptist’s confession of humility, as mentioned in the introduction, also happens to be rooted in the metaphor of holy matrimony:
John 3:29–30: 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. And so this joy of mine has been made full. 30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Moreover, it is the true church’s ultimate longing to be joined with her Bridegroom in His eternal kingdom (Revelation 19:7-10). In all of this it is quite clear that, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the doctrine of marriage is no ancillary subject with respect to the Gospel. If we follow the teachings of the Scriptures, while heralding Christ and His authority alone, then it is impossible to avoid this relationship between marriage and the Gospel. It is in this sense that our nation’s recent debates over homosexuality should be seen as an opportunity for the Gospel rather than as a reason to hide. In view of the church’s current circumstances, she will most likely face further hostility in the future, but we must not be surprised by this.[12] We must seek to be at peace with all men,[13] but never at the expense of the truth,[14] remembering that we as servants are not above our persecuted and crucified Lord and Master:
John 15:19–20: 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
The church in America has reached a new crossroads such that she must stand for truth while resisting compromise before a watching world. The lines of separation continue to be made all the more clear in our society, but this offers us an even greater opportunity to make it clear that we are citizens of heaven and soldiers of the cross.
Yet we must consider another landmark event related to the homosexual debate. This one has nothing to do with the Supreme Court, but has everything to do with the question of the church’s Gospel witness within a nation that is going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. The event in question took place just months before DOMA’s undoing. President Barak Obama had just won his second term of office, and plans were being made for his upcoming presidential inauguration to be held on January 20th, 2013. As planning was underway, it was announced that the much celebrated pastor, Louie Giglio, had been invited to offer the benediction at the event. With the choice of Giglio, the White House had allied itself with a remarkably prominent Evangelical leader. His popularity among today’s youth is self-evident, as seen through his multiple books and DVDs which have sold in the millions; his annual and highly attended Passion Conference; and his recording label, Sixstepsrecords, which is distributed by Capitol Christian Music Group. The magnitude of Giglio’s cultural prominence made certain that many would be carefully watching his every move in association with the presidential inauguration: both friend and foe. All proceeded according to plan until an older sermon of Giglio’s was discovered in which he called homosexuality a sin. With the full force of the internet at their disposal, those who made this find broadcasted their rage immediately, charging that such a view was incompatible for anyone who would be tasked to pray at the inaugural celebration. Amidst a time when the debate over homosexuality was swelling, this event seemed to capture the attention of the nation and well beyond. Giglio’s past comments on homosexuality, delivered some fifteen years prior, were stirring important conversations about what the Bible actually says about marriage and sexuality. All of this seemed to produce the perfect storm of opportunity for Giglio to stand forth and state, boldly, what the Bible teaches on the subject of homosexuality, universal sin, and ultimately the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, what the waiting world received was something remarkably inferior. Shortly after the commotion over Giglio was stirred, he announced his decision to resign: a choice that was encouraged by the White House,[15] but ultimately made by Giglio himself. He then published a letter to his church (Passion City Church) which was made available on the church’s website and, as a result, the letter was more widely distributed to the public. In his letter, Giglio mentioned that, despite some ideological differences, he had fashioned a friendship with President Obama around the common goals of ending human trafficking. However, Giglio stated that he felt the necessity to withdraw his acceptance of the president’s invitation to pray at the inauguration, and the reason he supplied for this choice was quite striking:
"Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation.”
Nowhere in Giglio’s resignation letter does he state or clarify what he actually believes it is that the Bible teaches on the subject of homosexuality. His silence on this matter, though largely unnoticed, was remarkably loud. For the benefit of those who had stirred this discussion, as well as those who follow his ministry, such a response would have provided a rich opportunity to address the realities of human sin, corruption, condemnation, and mankind’s universal need for Christ. To date, Giglio has offered no statement of support, renunciation, or clarification regarding his one controversial message on homosexuality from the past.[16] His eagerness to avoid controversy was readily admitted in his resignation letter, where he said:
“I’m confident that anyone who knows me or has listened to the multitude of messages I have given in the last decade would most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people—any people. Rather, I am constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them as I point them to Jesus.”
Giglio’s thoughts regarding how others should perceive him are clearly a core concern of his, but should this really be the focus of a messenger of God? After all, the Apostles were riddled with faulty accusations throughout their respective ministries here on earth, but this never led them to flee from public contests. Even Christ Himself was accused of being a glutton and drunkard,[17] deceiver,[18] liar,[19] demoniac,[20] Sabbath breaker,[21] immoralist,[22] heretic,[23] and riot-maker;[24] yet our Savior unflinchingly declared truth to those who blasphemed Him. Exactly where in Scripture are believers enjoined to focus on the public’s perception of them above the priority of proclaiming the truth? While the thought of pointing others to Jesus, as Giglio mentions, is commendable, we must wonder if this includes the avoidance of opposing people – any people, as he said. The dramatic reality all believers must face is that God’s word is inherently divisive[25] in a Christ-hating world. Though this truth may seem harsh, we do ourselves and others no favors by pretending it is not real. Just the mere mention of biblical truth within this enmity-filled world is enough to provoke an abundance of hostility. Though we earnestly seek the reconciliation of the lost through the message of the Gospel,[26] we must also understand that the very Gospel which has the power to reconcile sinners to God is the same Gospel which divides, convicts, and cuts like a two edged sword.[27] Thus, to some, the knowledge of Christ is a sweet aroma. To others it is the stench of death:
2 Corinthians 2:14–17: 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
While we must guard against the introduction of any offense due to our own sin or foolishness, we must never seek to nullify the inherent offense of the Gospel. In the end, we cannot interfere with the manner in which the Spirit wields His own Sword,[28] for we have no governance over how men will respond to the truth when it is proclaimed. In his letter, Giglio rightly spoke of our nation’s need for grace and mercy, however, one must wonder how he thought this should be achieved: “Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever we need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need." Giglio’s expressed concern over America’s deep divide and simultaneous need for grace and mercy raises further questions about his choice to resign and remain silent. Though conflict-avoidance may seem to issue such grace and mercy to this world, I must argue that it does not. As the pillar and support of the truth, the central means by which the church is to minister the love, grace, and mercy of Christ to this lost and dying world is by proclaiming God’s word abroad. And while the subject of homosexuality is not the heart of the Gospel message by itself, it is directly connected to it as is any sin.[29] For this reason, the avoidance of this divisive subject is not the solution. If we faithfully and lovingly proclaim the truth of God’s word, resulting in deep division and pain,[30] then we must accept this as a part of the Spirit’s promised ministry of convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.[31]
I would submit to the reader that Giglio’s reason for his withdrawal is deeply troubling. Before a watching world this highly celebrated pastor not only refrained from stating the Bible’s clear teaching on homosexuality, but he also withdrew from any further debate or discourse on the subject altogether. Those who shouted loudly in support of the gay agenda successfully silenced a highly visible pastor on an issue that, in fact, should be discussed for the sake of heralding Christ in the Gospel. What became a victory for the homosexual community turned into a moment of shame for the church. Giglio’s withdrawal from this controversy is also remarkable in view of a key statement he made in his Passion 2013 message, Resurrecting These Bones,
“No one does great things without going through fire.”
His above statement is quite true, yet, we must wonder about the example he has set before a watching world. Those who follow this popular pastor may very well deduce from his example that it is best to avoid controversy, especially if the controversy in question is not of one’s own choosing - as Giglio said. Yet, is this the example of the Apostles in the Scriptures? Is it not the case that the Apostle Paul was dragged into a great number of fights which were not of his choosing, and yet he embraced these conflicts as God’s providential opportunities to proclaim the Gospel – both by word and deed? Paul rightly understood that the external conflicts which he experienced in this world only served the greater purpose of magnifying the name of Jesus in the message of Christ and Him crucified. Not counting his life as dear to himself, his principal priority was not self-preservation. Contrarily, if his priority had been that of self-preservation, or conflict avoidance, he would not have been able to finish the course of his ministry. As we observed the Apostle’s words earlier: “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”[32] A simple reading of the book of Acts should remind us all that the sparks of conflict often spread the flames of the Gospel whenever the Savior’s Lordship is magnified over all aspects of life. In fact, it was precisely when Paul suffered as a prisoner in Philippi, singing praises to God from that musty cell of his, that his true emancipation in Christ was made evident to the Philippian jailer. The Philippian jailer knew that, though he was free, he was a slave to sin; and that though Paul was a prisoner, he was the true freedman of Christ (1 Cor. 7:22). When the watching world sees a Christian standing unflinchingly in the face of ungodly opposition, they are beholding a power that is truly supernatural. But when they see men fleeing contests in order to avoid unwanted controversy, or to appease men, they are seeing what all men do by their common, fallen nature. Flavel helps us on this very point:
“…it is impossible to serve God without distractions, till we can serve him without the slavish fear of enemies.”[33]
The example set by those who serve in leadership, for better or worse, is of critical importance. Pastors will either be the fearful slaves of men, or the slaves of Christ – the choice is simple, but quite grave. They will either preach the whole counsel of God for the glory of the Master (Acts 20:27), or cherry pick messages which satisfy the expectations of this world. Should a pastor find himself among that latter category, he will have the shameful bloodguilt of men on his hands. All believers must face down the common temptation of thinking that by gaining some measure of leverage with the world, the church can minister more effectively; instead, the ultimate result is that the fulcrum of worldly evil eventually brings Christ’s body down.
As we think further about the growing conflict over the subject of homosexuality in our nation, the church should consider what her approach to this ought to be. The culture in which we live will most certainly demand that we address this subject as time continues. Homosexual sin, like any other sin, is an opportunity to explain a universal truth about all mankind:
John 8:34: Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”
This is the subject of slavery that should capture our attention the most, especially when we consider mankind’s greatest need. As the Savior teaches, all are slaves of sin, because all men sin. The good news of the Gospel is that though the natural man is a slave of sin, he can be emancipated by the One who has all power over sin and death:[34]
John 8:36: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
One of Satan’s great tactics is to have men believe that they are truly free when, in reality, they are not. Much of what is so offensive about the Gospel is that its message is just the opposite of Satan’s deception. Thus, the Gospel stands as an offense to the earthly and carnal desires of lost men, but if we love the lost truly, we should share the truth with them for the glory of Christ no matter what the results may be. Shrinking back from this priority is not an option for the disciples of Christ. Imagine if one were to redact the book of Acts such that every contest which Paul faced, not of his choosing, ended with his preemptive flight from such controversies. Such an approach to conflict would have resulted in the stifling of his preaching and exemplification of the grace of God[35] in the presence of men. Of course, he would have been spared from the “beatings, imprisonments, and tumults” (2 Corinthians 6:5), the very afflictions which gave his physical appearance the mutilating brand-marks of Jesus. (Gal 6:17). Yet, neither would he have carried the fragrant aroma of Christ as one who could say: “…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9). In all of this, I am greatly concerned that the modern culture of Christendom is more caught up with mere form and fashion than it is with the brutal realities of a life that is fully dedicated to the Gospel ministry. It would appear that men today are more preoccupied with cool appearances, hipster haircuts, and whatever else is deemed as trendy within this world. As Spurgeon once said, “…we need soldiers, not fops,[36] earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers.”[37] Simply put, any shepherd who wishes to emulate the Good Shepherd in this harsh battle of life must remember that it is not an option to flee at the sight of encroaching wolves. The habit of hirelings has no place in public ministry:
John 10:12–13: 12 “He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them.13 “He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep.”
The watching world does not need more silence from the church, instead it needs brethren to speak the truth in love, even though that truth may be hated with satanic fervor. As already noted, the debate over homosexuality is not a distraction from the Gospel. The relevancy of the doctrine of marriage and the doctrine of universal sin points to the Lord’s plan of redemption. There is, however, another point of connection between the homosexual debate and the Bible. In God’s divine providence it is profoundly ironic that the homosexual community’s banner of choice is, of all things, the rainbow.[38] I call this ironic in view of God’s purpose for the rainbow, as juxtaposed to the homosexual community’s maligned use of it. When we consider the rainbow’s origin, we find a remarkable message of God’s judgment and mercy with respect to mankind. Having destroyed the world of wickedness in a deluge, God gave Noah the promise that He would never again destroy all flesh by means of a flood. Therefore God revealed to Noah “the bow [h&Q#c#t] that is in the cloud” (i.e., rainbow) as His symbol to all of mankind that He would refrain from giving humanity what it otherwise deserves, thereby supplying a measure of mercy to the sons of men while they live on the earth. The Hebrew word h&Q#c#t is normally used in reference to a bow used in hunting or warfare. Those who have ever drawn a recurve bow know that it takes an abundance of strength to draw and sustain a bow’s tension. Releasing the bow is the easy part, but keeping it drawn and restrained for long periods of time requires significant force. I would suggest to the reader that this very concept represents two important truths: 1. God is mercifully withholding the wrath that we deserve due to indwelling sin; and 2. One day, His bow of wrath will be released in the judgment of men. It is this very picture of God’s temporal mercy upon the sons of men that is similarly unveiled in the New Testament: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36). This text in John 3 unpacks some of the inherent symbolism of God’s h&Q#c#t (bow) of judgment and mercy: His mercy is now active such that men “live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28), enjoying “rains and fruitful seasons” here on the earth (Acts 14:17). Yet, John 3:36 tells us that God’s wrath “abides” on all those who do not obey the Son. That word “abides” (menei) is a present active indicative verb, indicating a present and ongoing reality in God’s relation with this world. John 3:36 is a picture of presently restrained wrath denoting an active tension of God’s present mercy which will someday give way to the release of His just and eternal wrath upon all those who resist Him. In the days of Noah, the world of sinful men was destroyed by water, but in His final judgment the present heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire such that even the elements will be consumed with intense heat.[39] In all of this, the rainbow is both awesomely beautiful, yet haunting in light of its implied message. Overall, the rainbow is not just a fearful warning to the homosexual community, it is a fearful declaration to all men in light of God’s promised future wrath. It is a reminder that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23); and that the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23); therefore, apart from Christ, all men are counted as God’s enemies (Romans 5:8) and must plead for mercy and grace which is fully revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. Like the discussion of marriage, it is impossible to discuss the sin of homosexuality without discussing the Gospel and our universal need for Christ.
If possible, as far as it depends upon us, we are to be at peace with all men,[40] yet without a shred of compromise over truth. Any peace that is achieved at the expense of heralding God’s truth and glory is no peace at all. Much precious blood has been spilled throughout history by saints who refused to shrink back from upholding God’s word in a fallen world, and for this reason we can echo the truth that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.[41] It would be a dangerous presumption to conclude that the persecutions of yesteryear could never revisit the church again. Flavel warned his readers of such a dangerous presumption, especially in view of those brethren throughout history who suffered and died in the defense of God’s truth:
“We are conscious to ourselves how far short we come in holiness, innocency, and spiritual excellency of those excellent persons who have suffered these things; and therefore have no ground to expect more favour from providence than they found…If we think these evils shall not come in our days, it is like many of them thought so too; and yet they did, and we may find it quite otherwise (Lam. iv. 12)…the same race and kind of men that committed these outrages upon our brethren, are still in being…their rage and malice is not abated in the least degree, but is as fierce and cruel as ever it was…”[42]
The Lord promises His people many things in His word, one of which is the promise given by the Apostle Paul: all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.[43] When affliction arises, we may be tempted to flee in the face of opposition, but we must resist this in reverence for Christ. John Bunyan did not write The Pilgrim’s Progress in the quietude and comfort of his pastor’s study; instead, he wrote it while serving time in jail. His “crime” was quite simple: as a non-conformist minister, he refused to stop preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for this he was imprisoned twice for a total of thirteen years. Had Bunyan wished to avoid this conflict, all that was required was his silence, but this was an idolatrous sacrifice that he refused to offer up to his earthly overlords. Instead, Bunyan retained his witness for Christ and the Gospel by refusing to seek the approval and praise of the men of this world. Understanding the corruption of seeking worldly praise and affirmation, Bunyan created the obsequious character, Mr. By-ends, who was from the land of Fair-speech. His love for worldly praise belied his professed love for Christ. Christian asked Mr. By-ends who his relatives were in the town of Fair-speech, and this was his response:
“Almost the whole town; and in particular my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, my Lord Fair-speech, from whose ancestors that town first took its name; also, Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Any-thing; and the parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, was my mother’s own brother, by father’s side…’Tis true, we somewhat differ in religion from those of the stricter sort, yet but in two small points: First, we never strive against wind and tide. Secondly, we are always most zealous when religion goes in his silver slippers; we love much to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines and the people applaud him.”[44]
When we honestly and openly admit our imperfection and frailty as mere men, we must admit that the hypocrisy of Mr. By-ends and his kin is much closer to us all than we might wish to believe. Only by God’s grace we can resist such compromise by living as lights in this dark world.

[1] Flavel, A Practical Treatise of Fear, 277.
[2] 2 Timothy 3:13.
[3] 2 Timothy 3:12.
[4] 2 Timothy 3:13.
[5] DOMA was originally passed on September 21st 1996.
[6] National Journal: Scalia: 'High-Handed' Kennedy Has Declared Us 'Enemies of the Human Race',
[7] Scalia’s reference to hostes humani generis, though strikingly similar in meaning, is probably rooted in maritime history, rather than being a quote from the ancient Roman historian.
[8] Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1993), 365, italics mine.
[9] Minucius Felis: "You apprehensive and anxiety-ridden Christians abstain from innocent pleasures. You don't watch the public spectacles, you don't take part in the processions, you absent yourselves from the public banquets, you shrink away from sacred games, sacrificial meat, and altar libations. That's how frightened you are of the gods whose existence you deny!" Minucius Felix, Octavius 8.4, 5; 9.2, 4-7; 10.2, 5; 12:5.
[10] “…The existence of the gods depends to an appreciable extent on man's devotion to them. Varro puts this quite simply when he writes: ‘I am afraid that some gods may perish simply from neglect.’" Robert Maxwell Ogilvie, The Romans and Their Gods (New York: WW Norton & Company, 1969), 42.
[11] Flavel, A Practical Treatise on Fear, p. 242.
[12] 1 John 3:13: Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.
[13] Romans 12:17-18.
[14] Matthew 10:34-37.
[15]“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural,” said Addie Whisenant, the spokeswoman for the committee. “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.” NY Times Minister Backs Out of Speech at Inaugural, Jan 10th -
[16] Prior to the writing of this book, I sought to gain clarification on his views regarding homosexuality by phone and private letter. To date, I have received no response from him, or any other leader from the church.
[17] Matthew 11:19a.

[18] John 7:12.
[19] Matthew 27:63.
[20] John 8:52.
[21] Luke 6:2.
[22] Luke 5:29-32, Matthew 11:19b.
[23] Matthew 26:65.
[24] Luke 23:14.
[25] Matthew 10:34-39.
[26] 2 Corinthians 5:20.
[27] Hebrews 4:12–13: 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
[28] Ephesians 6:17.
[29] 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 5:5-6, Romans 1:18-32, Revelation 22:14-17.
[30] 1 Corinthians 1:18-23.
[31] John 16:7-11.
[32] Acts 20:24.
[33] Flavel, A Practical Treatise of Fear, 271.
[34] 1 Corinthians 15:57.
[35] 1 Thessalonians 1:5-13.
[36] Fop: A man who is excessively concerned with his appearance.
[37] C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, (Grand Rapids: Zoncervan Publishing, 1996), 36.
[38] The establishment of the rainbow, as a symbol for the homosexual community, is normally attributed to Gilbert Baker – an artist from San Francisco – who first designed the flag in 1978. There is no apparent evidence that Baker was attempting to imitate the Bible’s description of the rainbow in Genesis 9. Instead, the homosexual community has used several colors (in recent history) in order to depict various aspects and perspectives of the gay community.
[39] 2 Peter 3:3-10.
[40] Romans 12:18: 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
[41] Normally attributed to Tertullian.
[42] Flavel, A Practical Treatise of Fear, p. 267.
[43] 2 Timothy 3:12.
[44] John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress.
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