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“Tempted and Tired”

“One time when I was much younger, I was flying to Denver on business, and a young woman in her twenties was sitting next to me. As we were flying, I noticed she was crying. I wondered if I should say anything or just respect her privacy. But after several minutes, I finally said, “Is there any way I can help you?”

“I don’t know,” she said, then looked away.

“Well, I’m involved in youth work, in Youth for Christ,” I said. “And I’d be happy to just talk to you if that would help.”

She began to open up then. She said she had been engaged to a young man, and she’d just learned that he had run off to marry another woman. “The worst part of it is I’m still a virgin,” she said. She went on to say that she had always believed that if you kept yourself pure, everything would turn out right. Now she had decided that since a “wild girl” had stolen her man, her remaining pure had been to no avail, and she was going to go to some ski lodge and make up for lost time.

“Do you think it’s worth giving up what you’ve always believed because of one painful experience?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, then sank into silence. Finally she continued, “Well, where are you staying tonight?”

I told her, and she said she was staying there, too. Then she suggested that maybe after we arrived we could “have a couple of drinks together an see how the evening turns out.” In effect, she was inviting me to help her initiate her new lifestyle.

“I don’t want you to be confused,” I said. “Let me show you my pictures.” I took out my wallet and showed her my family photos. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was putting myself in context. Looking at your wife and children really cools a potentially hot situation.

After I showed her the photos, I went on, “I sympathize with the pain you feel. If you need someone to tell you you’re pretty, let me tell you that you’re very pretty. If you need someone to tell you that you’re sexually attractive, let me tell you that you’re very attractive and desirable. But if you want me to say I’m willing to act on that desire, no, I’m not going to do it. You’re vulnerable right now; you’re in a difficult situation. Further, I’m married.

I’m also a Christian. And I’m not going to do it because it would mean taking advantage of you and violating my commitments and my faith.” Then I explained a bit of how my faith commitment guides my life.

She was silent for a few minutes, but then she said, “Well, if I thought that by waiting the rest of my life I could find another man who would turn down the offer I mad to you tonight, I’d stay a virgin till I found him.”

I replied, “There are more guys like me out there than you may think. I hope you don’t go through with your plan.”

When we got to Denver, I put the young woman in touch with some female YFC staff, and she stayed the night with them. They spent a few days with her and then sent her back home.

So far, thank God, I’ve never been given that kind of offer when I was vulnerable. But I have been tempted, and it’s always helped me to put both the woman and myself in context.”– Jay Kesler. From the files of Leadership.

We are, indeed, both tempted and tired in life. These are two different things, and we need to understand the distinction.

In Genesis 22:1, we are told that, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.” In other passages for example James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray this way “lead us not into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13) And we are commanded to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” We know that the KJV can be confusing. We need to clear up somewhat when we accurately distinguish between “temptation” and “trail.”

Let us see if we can properly understand what makes temptation different from trail, and maintain the right attitude toward both.

What is “temptation”?

adam-and-eve-60581
Adam and Eve

“Temptation” is an enticement or allurement into sin. One of the first temptations that Satan attempted is recorded at Genesis 3:1-6 which reads: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. ” Here in this passage, Satan deceived Eve, by twisting What God said, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”  For Satan Said, “You will not surely die.” So Satan deceived Adam and Eve. And this is how Adam and Eve were tempted.

Another way we maybe tempted by Satan is the use people or friends that we may have in the world. When one comes to Christ, we change our attitude. Our way of life, our way of thinking, places or things we used to go and do.  For Peter wrote: “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (2 Pet 2:18-19 NIV) New converts maybe tempted by their friends or others to offer a so-called better life, then the Christian walk. The depraved false teachers prey on new converts, who have not yet had a chance to developed spiritual resistance. Therefore Peter warns of those who prey on those that are new converts in the church.

There are so many things that are part of the world, that are not from God. Some examples that we can use is choice of music we choose to listen to, Movies that are rated “R,” gambling (to the point that we waste all are money), things we say when we curse, and dirty jokes. For John the writer of The Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation wrote at 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

The Devil is the ultimate source of all temptation. He is called “the tempter.” When Jesus was in the Desert for the 40 days and 40 nights to fast in the desert, Satan had come to Jesus as recorded at Matthew 4:3, “The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

(1 Th 3:5 NIV)  For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

Copyright  © 2000, Revised 10/2015

Letting Go Of The Past – Part One

So you’ve done something wrong. You’ve made a mistake. A really big one and your feeling guilty, afraid if the consequences, shocked by your behavior.

Fortunately, the Bible has an answer for everything. Very early in the scriptural record, the Bible tells of God’s covenant, or agreement, with the people. His protection and care are promise in return for the people’s exclusive loyalty and obedience to His commandments. Through God’s grace this covenant was renewed over and over, even when the people failed to keep up their end of the agreement.

We will be considering Philippians 3:12-14. Do we let go of the past, or does it haunt us in the future? We hear a lot of “get over it,” but do we truly get over the hurt, and pain? This will be our main focus. One of our remarkable things God created is the ability to conceptualize time–past, present, and future.

The apostle Paul had a remarkably practical attitude about time. He wrote “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” His attitude was balanced. Paul did not naively sweep his past mistakes under the rug. Nor did he sacrifice his services to Christ to unproductive remorse and guilt. Let us consider four ways our thinking about the past can hurt us if we are not careful.

The Past Isn’t What
It Used To Be

It is foolish to mourn for the “good old days.” (KJV) The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote in chapter 7, verse 10: “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.”  Our remembrance of the “old days” is rarely the whole truth about what events of the past were really like. It would be a shame to long for the past in such a morbid way that we miss the good of the present. For the Christian, today is a day to be grateful for–and the best is always yet to be!

The Mistake of The Past 
Cannot Be Undone

“If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” (Ecclesiastes 11:3) The past is one thing that we must accept “as is.” It is something that we cannot change. There are a lot of mistakes that we all have made, choices that I made that I cannot change. And of course many of us regret those choices. It could be said that we have to reconsider our life choices.  But there is hope! Look what the Psalmist wrote:

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (Psalms 32:1-11, NIV)

God Forgave Us! And we need to remember that. Perhaps we should be reminded that to be forgiven our repentance must be genuine. It must be through. Repenting of part of our sin while denying the rest is not sufficient.

“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The LORD has established his throne in heaven and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.”-Psalms 103

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has the removed our transgressions from us.” It is awesome to know that our God forgives us when we sin. That he can forget about it and not remember what it was.  His love is shown by his forgiveness toward us covered by his son’s blood, Even though we may feel guilty and shameful by his forgiveness he does not remember our transgressions. He actually forgets it.

Even the smallest to the biggest transgression, he forgives. For if we sin we can come to him and repent; He never remembers it at all. In fact, he forgets it. What we did in the past is wiped out and forgotten, literally!

A healthy sense of shame for past errors will not paralyze us with regret, but rather will spur us to greater service in the present. The Apostle Paul is the perfect example: “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”-1 Corinthians 15:9-10.

Yesterday’s Work Will Not 
Suffice For Tomorrow

Congregationally and individually, there is a tendency for us to peak out and then loosen our efforts. We cannot afford to rest on our “laurels,” or try to be saved by yesterday’s obedience. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”-Hebrews 6:10-12.

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”-Eph. 5:15-16. We need to “redeem the time.”[1] We need to press on. Not looking back but following after Christ. For the KJV says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

The Christian Cannot Grow 
Without Changing

We can be too comfortable with being too “conservative” for our own good. (Luke 12:50; John 12:27, NIV) Jesus knew what his fate was. The horror and the pain, and maybe the darkness. It is human nature to sense what would happen. He asked the father to save him, like Jesus he would save the world from sin. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV) To live is to change, and to reach will be to have changed often. Without changing there is no grow to become more mature in Christ Jesus. Being like-minded with Him, Jesus.

Conclusion

We simply cannot change our past. Through faith in Jesus and His Father, we can “press on.” (Phil. 3:12) As long as life lasts, it is always possible for us to make choices that result in the end being better then the beginning. -Eccl. 7:8, Ruth 3:10. May we have the courage for the better, whenever necessary, and to make each day a day of growth.

All Scriptures take from the New International Version of the Bible, unless otherwise indicated. Materials used from www.brassacks.org for sermon helps. These outlines are provided for use. Copyright © 2000, revised 10/2015 by RCYM. All Rights Reserved.
[1] Eph. 5:15-16, KJV

False Prophets

What does the Bible say about false prophets? That is going to be our main subject. Many people prophesy that God has told them something that is going to happen. For example the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc. They claim that Christ would come back. But never Happened! In spite of many people saying things would happen they are still false prophets. That’s what this study is about. Enjoy!

A Tree and Its Fruit

When Jesus was giving his Sermon on the Mount one of these was one of his subjects above. If you have your Bible turn with me to Matthew chapter 7, Verses 15 to 23. It reads: “”Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Jesus Here states, “WATCH OUT FOR FALSE PROPHETS!” Why would Jesus make a statement like this? Because he knew that they would “come to you in sheep’s clothing” and new that “they are ferocious wolves. Studying verse 15 we cross-reference we find Jeremiah 23:16 which reads: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” I don’t mean that every prophet that prophesying comes from God but False Prophets we have to watch out for. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So we need to test these spirits! “Christians who are well acquainted with the Scriptures, may, in humble dependence on Divine teaching, discern those who set forth doctrines according to the apostles, and those who contradict them. The sum of revealed religion is in the doctrine concerning Christ, his person and office. The false teachers speak of the world according to its maxims and tastes, so as not to offend carnal men. The world approved them, they made rapid progress, and had many followers such as themselves; the world will love its own, and its own will love it. The true doctrine as to the Savior’s person, as leading men from the world to God, is a mark of the spirit of truth in opposition to the spirit of error. The more pure and holy any doctrine is, the more likely to be of God; nor can we by any other rules try the spirits whether they are of God or not. And what wonder is it, that people of a worldly spirit should cleave to those who are like themselves, and suit their schemes and discourses to their corrupt taste?”-Matthew Henry. One of the signs of the end of the age was to be as Jesus stated in Matthew 24:24: “For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect…if that were possible.” Benny Hinn claims that God has revealed prophecies to him. But every time has so called given messages from God have proven to not of happened. One he made was about homosexuals. That they would all disappear. That it would be by fire. That it would happen in 1996. Well that has passed. Sign of a false Prophet! I’m not Judging, but Scripture is. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them…bringing swift destruction on themselves.” “Though persecution was never pleasant and always feared, a greater antagonist was the false prophet or false teacher. Peter initiates an entire section of his second epistle with a warning about such teachers. Peter describes them as “denying the Lord who bought them.” These are not people who were once saved and then forfeited their salvation but individuals who had never experienced regeneration by faith in Christ. They are characterized by stealth and by destruction, as in the heresies which they engender. The term “heresy” means a faction. False doctrine inevitably breeds factions, disrupting the unity and peace of the churches”-The Believers Study Bible.

To be doers of the word,
not hearers only

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it he will be blessed in what he does.”

In closing Jesus stated that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) The Jewish people back in Old Testament times cried out to God saying: “Israel cries out to me, ‘O our God, we acknowledge you!’ But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him.”-Hosea 8:2_3. For the Apostle Paul writes: “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”-Romans 2:13 So “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”_1 John 3:18. By the actions we do that will show that We love our God and Savior Jesus Christ. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.”-John 13:13. What is your decision today. Are you going to be one of those who call on Jesus name and do the will of the Father or be like the false prophets? It’s Your Choice!

Unpublished Copyright © 1997  All Rights Reserved.

John 3:16

“Whoever Believes in Him Shall Not Perish”

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”-John 3:16. What did Jesus mean when he made this statement? Of course it shouldn’t, for Christ died for all of use, and Scripture Confirms this as we study John 3:16.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8 NIV) Even when we were sinners, Christ came to earth and died for all of us. We might come to know his wondrous righteousness. That “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) The Believer’s Study Bible makes this comment: “We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. The word “workmanship” (poiema, Gk.) carries the idea of a “work of art.” The English word “poem” is derived from this Greek word.” And also States: “Grace (charis, Gk.) refers to the beneficial actions of God in which He reveals Himself, His gifts, and to some, His life — all bestowals which grow out of His love rather than any worth or merit of man. In its biblical usage, the term refers to God’s goodness manifested to undeserving man.”

Salvation is the general term used to describe all that God does for the believing sinner solely on the basis of the atoning work of Christ. The work of salvation is essentially threefold: (1) The past tense, in which at the moment of faith, God justifies the believer, i.e., declares him to be perfectly righteous before a Holy God, thus freeing him forever from the legal penalty of sin. This is justification, which transpires at the moment of conversion/regeneration. (2) The present tense, which suggests that at the moment of justification the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, affording him the power to resist the still-present Adamic nature, thus potentially freeing him from the power of sin. This is called sanctification, which is movement toward Christlikeness. (3) The future tense, which looks to the time when the believer receives his glorified body at Christ’s appearing. Then he will be forever freed from the very presence of sin, his salvation thus totally consummated. This is called glorification, and is the perfect realization of Christlikeness as glorified humanity. (Compare Eph. 2:4)

Another Scripture that is so powerful is that of 1 John 4:9 that reads: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” As we see so far God desires all of us to have eternal life through his Son, not just a certain group of people. Though God knows who is going to be saved or not.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) We didn’t love God first, He (God) loved us first and sent his Son to us as a atoning sacrifice like a burnt offering. To even think of his greatness, we can’t. He has done so much for us. To imagine the pain that he went through. More pain then we can imagine.

“”Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”” (Gen 22:12 NIV) ” God tested Abraham in the command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. God in His omniscience had always known the heart of Abraham, but here He gave Abraham an opportunity to demonstrate his faith. Abraham himself had his faith exercised (James 2:21-23) and developed while learning a new lesson — that God would provide (vv. 8, 13). Almost certainly the event on Mount Moriah is typological. Abraham, advancing up the slope, very possibly where Solomon’s temple later stood, felt something of the agony of the Heavenly Father sacrificing His only Son, Jesus. At the summit of Moriah, the type changes, and Isaac is a type of all lost and condemned men, for whom a substitute ram, typical of Christ, was sacrificed.” (Compare Isa 9:6; John 1:15)

“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV) “John is conveying the fact that God chose to reveal Himself physically in Christ. “The only begotten Son” (monogenes, Gk.) means “one of a kind,” “unique,” “without precedent.” Some manuscripts read “the only begotten God” (NU God). The sense is the same regardless of the correct reading. “Bosom” denotes the closest possible relationship between the Father and the Son. The abrupt statement about a “begotten Son” or “God” is seen by some as an intimation of the virgin birth. The Logos, who is the Son, “has declared” God. He is indeed the interpreter, the exegete (exegesato, Gk.), leading out and explaining God to man.” (Compare John 1:36; John 6:29)

Again the Scriptures clearly state: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”” (John 6:40) It is “that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.” A pastor said to me once that to believe in a doctrine, you must have enough scriptures to support it. Jesus again states: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;” (John 11:25; Compare John 11:26)

The last Scripture reference is that of Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Verses 32-39. All things whatever, in heaven and earth, are not so great a display of God’s free love, as the gift of his coequal Son to be the atonement on the cross for the sin of man; and all the rest follows upon union with him, and interest in him. All things, all which can be the causes or means of any real good to the faithful Christian. He that has prepared a crown and a kingdom for us, will give us what we need in the way to it. Men may justify themselves, though the accusations are in full force against them; but if God justifies, that answers all. Christ thus secures us. By the merit of his death he paid our debt.

For the apostle Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Another case of man’s ingratitude for God’s mercies is the fact that a mistaken sense of security developed from the observation that Christ’s return had not yet taken place (vv. 3, 4). The long-suffering of God is not due to slowness or failure but to the love of God. He is not willing that any should perish but desires that all should come to repentance.

Unpublished Copyright © 1997, revised 11/99

All Rights Reserved.

Edited By Mike Arbuckle

When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.

Is the icon suggesting that a gay “wedding” is being sanctified by Christ himself? The idea seems shocking. But the full answer comes from other early Christian sources about the two men featured in the icon, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who were Christian martyrs. These two officers in the Roman army incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian when they were exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple. Both were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged. Sergius survived torture but was later beheaded. Legend says that Bacchus appeared to the dying Sergius as an angel, telling him to be brave because they would soon be reunited in heaven.

While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early Christian church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly intimate. Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch (AD 512 – 518) explained that, “we should not separate in speech they [Sergius and Bacchus] who were joined in life”. This is not a case of simple “adelphopoiia.” In the definitive 10th century account of their lives, St. Sergius is openly celebrated as the “sweet companion and lover” of St. Bacchus. Sergius and Bacchus’s close relationship has led many modern scholars to believe they were lovers. But the most compelling evidence for this view is that the oldest text of their martyrology, written in New Testament Greek describes them as “erastai,” or “lovers”. In other words, they were a male homosexual couple. Their orientation and relationship was not only acknowledged, but it was fully accepted and celebrated by the early Christian church, which was far more tolerant than it is today.

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12thand/ early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.

Same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe list in great detail some same gender ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents. One Greek 13th century rite, “Order for Solemn Same-Sex Union”, invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, and called on God to “vouchsafe unto these, Thy servants [N and N], the grace to love one another and to abide without hate and not be the cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God, and all Thy saints”. The ceremony concludes: “And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded”.

Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic “Office of the Same Sex Union”, uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands. After kissing the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the 18th century.

The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books, “Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, homophobic writings didn’t appear in Western Europe until the late 14th century. Even then, church-consecrated same sex unions continued to take place.

At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope’s parish church) in 1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy, “taking communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together” according to a contemporary report. Another woman to woman union is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century.

Prof. Boswell’s academic study is so well researched and documented that it poses fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians about their own modern attitudes towards homosexuality.

For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be cowardly and deceptive. The evidence convincingly shows that what the modern church claims has always been its unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is, in fact, nothing of the sort.

It proves that for the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom, from Ireland to Istanbul and even in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given love and committment to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honored and blessed, through the Eucharist in the name of, and in the presence of, Jesus Christ.

from: http://anthropologist.livejournal.com/1314574.html

HIV/AIDS: Is it God’s Judgment?

Is HIV or AIDS God’s Judgment? Is HIV punishment or judgment from God? NO. Some people would answer yes and this comes from the Right-wing Christians.  If this were the case then God would not have sent his Son. Not only that but “His Only begotten” (John 3:16). there are three issues that HIV/AIDS is a punishment: 1) Homosexuality is sinful; 2) that God causes suffering; and 3) that God punishes with diseases. This all comes about from homophobia.  The Bible says, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8) So why would he cause this and make it a punishment?

Are Homosexual Acts Sinful? There is much debate about the passages that refer to homosexuality.  Some are convinced that in whole or in part the Bible condemns homosexuality. For example, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, it condemns rape, not homosexuality. Rape is a violent act and is different to a loving same-sex relationship.  In the passage, verse 8, Lot offered his daughters instead of offering the visitors.  If homosexuality were the issue, he wouldn’t have offered his daughters to the town people.  The custom back then, was to take the visitors outside of the city gates and to violently rape them. It is clear that the town didn’t welcome outsiders. In Ezekiel 16:49-50 says, “Lo, this hath been the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, Arrogancy, fulness of bread, and quiet ease, Have been to her and to her daughters, And the hand of the afflicted and needy She hath not strengthened.  50And they are haughty and do abomination before Me, And I turn them aside when I have seen. “ Sodom and Gomorrah was not destroyed because of homosexuality, but because “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (V. 49) (New International Version)

God’s word and the Christian faith are about forgiveness and healing. As mentioned above, John 3:16 teaches about WHOSOEVER believes in Christ will have eternal life. Gays and lesbians the “who” believe in Christ are part of the “whosoevers”, as stated in John.

Does God Cause Suffering? All religions have at one time addressed the issue with suffering. Does God cause suffering? Why do people suffer? In the world today human suffering is caused by hunger, disease, property, oppression, and injustice. What a loving God really cause suffering?  To try to keep this short, we need to go back to our first parent’s Adam and Eve.  If they had listened to God’s and kept his rules they would have remained perfect and happy. This was the purpose for God. Genesis 1:27-29; 5:15.

Because of free will, Adam and Eve chose to step out the boundaries of his laws in Genesis chapter 3. Because they rejected his rulership and acted on their own they did not remain his children. (Compare Deuteronomy 32:5) Just Adam was once perfect, in order to restore salvation another one needed to come in perfect form, and that was Jesus Christ.

The answer to this question does God cause suffering, the answer is no. If anyone tells you otherwise they are lying. If anything man has caused the suffering of man by its crimes, polluting the world, fighting wars. (Galatians 6:7)

 

 

Is Sin Punished with Disease?

Going back to the above paragraph, we need to examine the first human parents. They caused human suffering by disobeying God. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:1-6) Because everyone was born into sin, Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as tsin came into the world through one man, and udeath through sin, and vso death spread to all men because wall sinned[1]” So again the answer to the question, is no.

 

What is the Responsibility of People of faith?

The Apostle Paul urged Christians to “So then, gas we have opportunity, let us hdo good to everyone, and especially to those who are iof the household of faith. [2]” (Galatians 6:10)

People of faith are to help the sick whatever they need. It could be cleaning their house, cooking a meal. It could even be encouragement to one in the congregation.

 

The Future

What does the future hold for those that have HIV/AIDS? The time will come where no one will say, “I am sick.” (Isaiah 33:24) Best part is that the Lord’s Prayer will come true as recorded in the book of Matthew, ““Our Father in heaven, hhallowed be iyour name.1 10 jYour kingdom come, kyour will be done, 2 lon earth as it is in heaven.[3]” It is not God’s will for humans to be plagued with illness. God will answer his faithful servants.  When he does in his own time, he will bring the end to HIV/AIDS that plague all of mankind.

 

 

 

 

 

 


t Gen. 2:17; 3:6; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22; [ver. 15–17; ch. 6:9; Ps. 51:5]

u ch. 6:23; James 1:15

v [ver. 14, 21; 1 Cor. 15:22]

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ro 5:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ga 6:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

1 Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence

j [ch. 3:2; 4:17]

k ch. 26:42; Luke 22:42; Acts 21:14; [ch. 12:50; Heb. 13:21]

[3] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 6:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Whats New

photodune-711147-dictionary-series-christianity-sUPDATE July 2014: We have updated our site that will allow you to post articles on social media websites and also create PDF files of the articles so that you can save them for personal use or share with friends. Some of the new things that you will find:

 

When you view an article, it will show the scripture that is quoted in the book.

The church Directory also is working. Please email us with the contact information and we will post it. It will post by State and people can do searches by that as well. MORE updates are coming. The Owner of the site, is finishing up with school and will be posting more articles and cleaning things up.

 

New articles coming:

Soul Ties (What does it mean?)
HIV/AIDS: Is it God’s Judgment?

Homosexuality: The New Testament Coming Soon
Christmas: The Real Meaning
Biologist’s View on Homosexuality
Teen Suicide Coming Soon
Church and State: What does it Mean for us? August 1, 2015
Gay Marriage or Civil Unions? August 1, 2015