October 14, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church


If you have made any attempt at preaching the gospel of salvation to a secular audience in recent times you have most likely come across the concept that Christianity is no longer relevant to life as we live it. The Christian is often asked to indicate to his listener(s) how the faith he professes is relevant in this modern day, and with good reason, for if the Christian's faith is not relevant he has no right to ask others to embrace it, and should be encouraged to reject it himself. The overall effect of this is to take your presentation of Jesus Christ as an offensive weapon, in which you are taking the gospel to the very stronghold of the enemy, and to put it on the defensive, in which we are allowing the enemy to counter the power of the gospel with his own arguments and react to his attack rather than pressing on with attacks of our own. In so doing we make the gospel seem less powerful than it is.


Most Christians will stumble over the issue of relevance for one of the following reasons:


1/ Their own faith is not relevant to them individually because they have never personally encountered the God who is the object of their faith.


2/ Their faith cannot be made to be relevant to others because its teachings are contradicted by everything that has been taught them by their society.


Both of these reasons have had the effect of reducing the impact of our faith upon this world that so desperately needs the salvation that faith in God offers. God, and faith in Him, have both been reduced to a secondary position in the very world which God in His power has created. There are primarily three methods by which God is being marginalized in our culture:


1/ Reinterpretation - God's teachings are accepted but are reinterpreted to support ideas contrary to all the God would have us believe. With the issue of homosexuality reinterpretation is very blatant. Explicit texts that condemn homosexual behaviour are interpreted to be either cultural (applying only to the original readers), or ambiguous (in one document researched ambiguity was presented in the following statement: "The true meaning is lost" (see Footnote i).


2/ Relativization - God Himself is accepted as possibly being real but is viewed as being no more real than the gods of other religions. Our culture is extensively relativistic, both spiritually and morally. All systems of faith are considered to be equal with no one allowed to claim superiority. One of the underlying principles of relativism is stated in the following manner: Since people and cultures disagree about morality, there are no objective moral values, no one system of faith can be seen has have the exclusive truth (see Footnote ii). The argument is presented in this way: Since there are so many systems of belief present in our society there can be none which is objective. Or similarly: Since our views differ neither can be considered objective. Relativism springs from the philosophy of Humanism, a system of though that believes that mankind has arrived at its current position through ages of evolution and that it is dependant upon mankind alone to strengthen and improve its position.


3/ Replacement - God's existence is denied and He is replaced with some other cause to accomplish what Christians attribute to Him. The theory of evolution not only denies God, its entire purpose is to define some "rational" explanation for the fact of our existence that does not have to take God into account. The theory of Evolution is believed throughout our world but not simply because it is a more believable theory of human origins than the theory of special creation (the belief which holds that mankind is created in the image of God has infinitely more believability than the belief which states that we are the descendants of single celled organisms, time, and chance). The reason for taking up a belief in evolution must therefore lie upon some other foundation, that other foundation being generally understood as the desire not to believe in a sovereign God.


Unknowingly many of us who believe in God have fallen for these lies and are hesitant to share what we know to be true because we have been told for so long that our faith is no more valid than the faith of the Hindu, Moslem, or evolutionist that we have begun to believe the lie. From our own point of view the power of God is ineffective in our modern world and it must fall to us to convince people that our faith makes sense on our own power. Since we believe in the God who created both us and the universe in which we live our faith must make sense, it is the only faith that can claim to be reasonable, but in relying upon our own power we are overlooking the actual power of God that, regardless of protest, is still great and very active within our world.


Micah 6:8 - He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


Deuteronomy 10:12-13 - And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?


Ecclesiastes 12:13 - Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.


Isaiah 58:6-11 - Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? The your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well- watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.


In what ways is our culture a Christian culture?

- Our social programs are designed so that the downtrodden and underprivileged may benefit from the wealth of the culture as a whole

- Christian morality is, for the most part, acknowledged as true morality

- Care for our children

- Prayer is an acceptable habit

- Acceptable conduct is generally based upon Christian morality

- Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are celebrated

- Sunday is primarily a family day of rest


What is a Christian culture?

- One in which the guiding principle of is to do all things in such a way so that God will be given honour

- A culture wherein Christ is imitated and His teachings are adhered to

- The Golden Rule is obeyed

- Good is encouraged and evil is hated

- Not influenced by alternate beliefs


In what ways is our culture not a Christian culture?

- Abortion. It is estimated that in 1998 over 100,000 children will be killed through abortion. Since 1970 over 1.7 million children have been killed through abortion

- Homosexuality is more and more becoming an accepted way of life, even within some mainline churches where practicing homosexuals have been ordained

- The teaching of God as found in the Bible and taught by the Holy Spirit is no longer the highest authority

- Personal belief systems tolerated and encouraged

- Immorality is accepted


What is the overall effectiveness of Christian faith in our culture?

- It instils a basic sense of peace within our culture

- It has a braking effect on our culture's downward slide into immorality


Is Christianity living up to its potential in our culture?


What is the role of Christianity in society?


How can we as individuals, and as a body, fulfill the role of Christianity in our society?


Last week we studied, in part, the ability of the homosexual side of society to force culture to change its standards of morality. Essentially a very vocal minority, because of the pressure it was able to bring to bear on government, forced the legal acceptance of a behaviour previously forbidden by our culture. If we, as members of a group of Christians compose a far greater percentage of our society, why are we so ineffective in maintaining pressure on the governments to support Christian morality? Recall the role of Satan in this world who, even though he is defeated, still fights to ruin all the lives he is able to.  We often make the mistake of thinking that we stand alone, that there are none who with us will stand up for truth. Christians are, however, members of the body of Christ. We do not form the Church on our own but together with every other Christian on Earth.


What can we do to increase our effect, both personally and corporately, upon our culture?

- Pray, we underestimate and often deny the power of prayer. The example of children asking God to heal their cat and her prayer that He would do so if it were His will give evidence of our attitude that we often do not expect our prayers to be answered and build into them the reason for their failure

- Speak in opposition to what is evil and in support of what is good. We need to speak out, for what we allow today our children will accept as normal. Everything, especially the little things, needs to be evaluated and praised or corrected

- Do what is right regardless of the circumstance. If God is leading you to do something then do it.


James 2:14-17 - What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.


Romans 8:26-27 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.


1 John 3:16-17 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.


Acts 16:16-25 - Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "in the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.


When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."


The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.


About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.


This past week the Pastor led our Sunday School class, not because he was supposed to, but because both of us had forgotten to contact the other and confirm what we thought was going to happen. The thing is that all week I felt that I was being pushed to prepare a lesson even though I believed that it was the Pastor's turn to teach. I ignored what I believe were promptings of the Holy Spirit to contact Pastor Bertrim because I wanted to hear the Pastor and learn from him. I wanted what I wanted more than I wanted what the Holy Spirit wanted and so I allowed my will to overwhelm His will.  We need to remember that sometimes God does not speak as a mighty thunder but as a "still, small voice."  It is imperative for our effectiveness as Christians for us to hear and obey both.




Footnote i: There are many places in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) that have been traditionally interpreted as condemning homosexuality.


- Romans 1:26 and 27 has St. Paul criticizing sexual activity which is against a person's nature or disposition. This passage has been variously interpreted to refer to all homosexual behavior, to orgiastic activity, to temple prostitution, or to heterosexuals who were engaging in same- sex exchanges. The meaning is unclear.


- I Corinthians 6:9 contains a lists of activities that will prevent people from inheriting the Kingdom of God. One was translated as referring to masturbation, and is now sometimes translated as "homosexual". The true meaning is lost.


- 1 Tim 1:9 is similar to I Corinthians.


- Jude 7 refers to the people of Sodom as "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh". The latter has been variously translated as women engaging in sexual intercourse with angels and as homosexuality. The exact meaning is lost.


We conclude that St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures seems to have condemned some homosexual activity, but it is unclear which ones. There is no mention of loving, committed gay and lesbian relations in the Christian Scriptures.

The Gay Dad

Update of January 12 , 1997


Comments on Footnote i: This man's comment that "There is no mention of loving, committed gay and lesbian relations in the Christian Scriptures" proves to be true the "traditional" interpretation of the Scriptures as condemning homosexuality. This absence is due to the reality that God finds homosexual behaviour abhorrent and does not condone it in any way. Regardless his interpretations, which are obviously biased and grossly distorted, homosexuality is uniformly condemned throughout the Bible. (Note that it is the practice of homosexuality that the Bible condemns not the person who through Jesus Christ has been enabled to abandon this behaviour.) It is true that, as a Christian, I also have preconceptions and biases when it comes to interpretation and that I tend to have a bias toward "traditional" Christianity. It is also true that each person who reads the Scripture brings to his or her reading their own biases through which what is read is understood. As a Christian, however, when I read in the Bible disapproval of a personal behaviour I generally try to modify my behaviour rather than the Bible. Open-mindedness is all well and good for otherwise we could not be corrected of error, but being open minded to the point that the Scripture says nothing definite is foolhardy.


Footnote ii: CRJ0161A.TXT, "Philosophical Problems With Moral Relativism" release A, August 31, 1994 R. Poll, Christian Research Institute.