In reading Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian, I started to realize that the core motivation behind my penchant to gauge my walk with Christ based on my perception of the righteousness of others is based in nothing more than the graceless, moralistic legalism that my heart desires. I want to know that my hard work for Jesus is valued and that my ability to keep myself from sinning is something that’s of value to God and that he will be pleased with me when he sees me standing upright on my best day, free from the sins that kept me bound and separated from Him for so long. That view, however, completely misses the point of the gospel.

The gospel says that I am wholly broken, unable to help myself. It is not my own ability that keeps me from sinning, but it is God’s work on my behalf that has redeemed me. My self-righteous attempt to justify myself by judging others and their walk with God based on my own standard of holiness is not bringing God glory, but it is sullying the name of Christ by implying that my ability to save myself is the real source of my salvation and that Jesus’ death on the cross is nothing more than a bus pass to the outskirts of glory but that my own works are the real binding factor that keeps me in God’s good graces. That view is sickening to God and it should be sickening to me. Who am I to stand before the king of all creation and tell him that my worth and my actions are of value to him? Who am I to judge another man’s servant? My value before God is imputed to me by God through His sovereign choice to save me from damnation. I am no better than anyone else and I deserve an eternity in Hell far more than others who trip through life only to pass through death’s door without acknowledging the God who created them.

My righteousness is worthless if it weren’t based on Jesus’ active obedience. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, I am seen as perfect before God. The passive obedience of Jesus death on the cross merely paid for my sins – cleared my record of wrongs, but Jesus’ active obedience brought me into the throne room of God and placed on me the glory that He deserved. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

“I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on.

Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an advocate, mediator, and friend. But what we need most is a substitute – someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get wore. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.

Again, think of it this way: sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification. It’s going back to the certainty of our objectively secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. Or, as Martin Luther so aptly put it in his Lectures on Romans, “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual progress, in other words, requires a daily going backwards.”

~ Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
~ Psalm 19:14

God not only cares about what we do and say, but our thoughts as well. Think about the 10 Commandments. Everyone knows the big ones – Don’t kill, Don’t commit adultery, Honor your mother and father, Don’t lie. But that last one is different – it’s not about DOING but THINKING! Remember, coveting is not an action, but an attitude of ungratefulness and a desire for what God has given to someone else. Not a godly desire for a better witness, but an un-godly desire for things and relationships. This is a transgression of the first commandment as you are placing something other that God as the central object of your desire, but my main point here is that this is not an outward action, but a meditation of the heart. I’ve heard over and over that God won’t condemn people for the sins they commit in their mind because “no one is hurt” by it, but this shows us that God is not only aware of it but that He judges it as well.

“Well”, some will say, “that’s the God of the OLD Testament! Jesus would never condemn me for my thought life!”. Oh really? I’m skipping the theological issues of thinking that the Trinity is at odds with itself, and let’s just look at that statement. Jesus spoke on the subject of personal, mental holiness quite a bit. Two of His statements in the beatitudes make this point clear:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. ~ Matthew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45

One of the most terrifying and comforting things in the Bible is a statement from God through Jeremiah where God declares that despite the fact that people thought they were getting away with doing whatever they wanted, that He would stand as a witness against them:

“…they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.”
~ Jeremiah 29:23

Who can hide from God’s sight? No one! God knows the thoughts of all mankind (Psalm 139:9,23; Isaiah 66:18; Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Luke 11:17) and knowing that he judges our thought life as well, shouldn’t we turn to Him to help us control them? It’s for that reason that I pray the quote from Psalm 19:14 nightly – because it is God who controls all things, and it is He who, through the power of His Holy Spirit, leads me to action in the daily struggle with my sins, that I ask that He keep my mind clear and that He make me a strong witness for Himself in this world. Therefore I pray that God keep my words (the revealed intention of my heart) and that which I meditate on, acceptable before Him, and I pray that you would do the same.

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Spirit is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Spirit, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, ‘Amen.’

We must learn that forgiveness of sins, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are freely granted to us at the preaching of faith, in spite of our sinfulness. We are not to waste time thinking how unworthy we are of the blessings of God. We are to know that it pleased God to freely give us His unspeakable gifts. If He offers His gifts free of charge, why not take them? Why worry about our lack of worthiness? Why not accept gifts with joy and thanksgiving?

~ Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

HT: Of First Importance

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Translating that which was first in French, then translated into the King’s English into regular English so y’all can follow along. Buckle up, good theology ahead!

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 5: “The Arguments Usually Alleged in Support of Free Will Refuted.”

Section 1: To those who support free will through attack of spurious scriptural references, Calvin offers the following responses. Pelagius’ view in his attack against Augustine was that sin is necessary or voluntary. If sin is necessary, then it is no longer sin, and if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Both of which negate the need for Jesus to take our place if we can sidestep the issue of sin. Both of these views have already been refuted in previous chapters.

Section 2: If good and evil actions are not from free choice, then the punishment and reward is removed. Jerome, quoting the Pelagians, states, “If grace acts in us, grace, and not we who do the work, will be crowned, (Hieron. in Ep. ad Ctesiphont. et Dialog. 1)”. Punishment, however, is applied to the one who acts, not on the one who led or caused the action. Soldiers who, under direct orders, commit horrific acts, are still guilty of those acts despite being ordered to commit them. Regarding rewards, it would be absurd to refuse to acknowledge that it is God who acts in us to bring us to do good works, but God chooses to reward us for our actions when we adhere to His calling or command. Augustine defined this clearly when he said, “God crowns not our merits but his own gifts; and the name of reward is given not to what is due to our merits, but to the recompense of grace previously bestowed?” and “You are nothing in yourself, sin is yours, merit God’s. Punishment is your due; and when the reward shall come, God shall crown his own gifts, not your merits,” (Ep. 52). If this is not enough, merely turn to scripture: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” ~ Romans 8:30, and “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:8. Everything is denied to free will – If we act on our own free will and do good, it is God who deserves the glory for acting in us to produce those good works, and if we do evil, then we are punished, for our actions, but those actions are allowed to take place by God who then uses them for our good and His glory.

Section 3: They then will respond that if we do not possess the power to choose to do good or evil, then all who exist are either good or bad. By that they mean that if we cannot choose our actions, and therefore are living our lives are we are led or allowed by God, then we are either all good people who are allowed to act in sin or we are all bad people who God allows to act righteously. This is absolutely true – and this is the backbone of election! It is not that we are all good people, as the Pelagians would say, but that we are all bad people who need God to act on our behalf to save us from the consequences of our own sin. Paul clearly states it in Romans 3:23-25, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Quoting Calvin, “Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgment, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases.” It is only attributed to the Lord’s good pleasure that people are saved from their sin, and that they are held firm in their faith.

Section 4: They still refute it, stating that calls for obedience and faith are worthless if we do not possess the power to obey on our own. When Augustine heard this, he wrote the book “De Correptione et Gratia” where he soundly refuted all of their complaints. The heart of his rebuttal to these claims is in this statement: “O, man! Learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power; and learn in prayer, whence it is that you may receive the power.” Augustine is just repeating what is found clearly in scripture. Jesus Himself said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Paul continues in Romans 9:16 where, regarding God’s sovereign choice to save whomever He desires to save, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Paul, knowing this to be true, does not stop compelling them to act in faith and follow the commands of God. Why is this? Paul explains, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:7, showing that God honors the action by enabling growth. God allows us to act on our own in faith, not for His pleasure, though it is by His good pleasure that we are enabled to so act, so that we can grow in Him in faith and increase our endurance.

Section 5: So, what purpose then is there for the exhortation to act in faith? The wicked despise the laws of God and as often as they hear the call of God to repent and trust in Him and refuse, this refusal will act as a testimony against them at the coming judgment. They were afforded the opportunity to repent by their own actions and desires and, without God enabling them, the refused the offer, spitting in the face of their Creator who offered them freedom. The chief use of these exhortations, however are for the believers whom God enables and drives to action by His Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 11:19-20 clearly states it, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

Why then, are they so implored to action, when they cannot but act at the pace that the Spirit sets for them? God chooses to use these exhortations to teach us of how we should act so that we understand our need for grace and so that we, instead of running off trying to act on our own, trust in God to bring us to action on His own schedule. Calvin continues, “God works in his elect in two ways: inwardly, by his Spirit; outwardly, by his Word. By his Spirit illuminating their minds, and training their hearts to the practice of righteousness, he makes them new creatures, while, by his Word, he stimulates them to long and seek for this renovation. In both, he exerts the might of his hand in proportion to the measure in which he dispenses them.” Jesus declares this to be true when he says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” ~ John 6:44-45. He clearly states that it is by God’s hand alone that sinners are called to Himself for salvation, but He also states that all are to hear the word of God proclaimed. Paul concludes in 2 Corinthians 2:16, that “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” but to both it is to be proclaimed.

God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. Sometimes that plan includes my wife going through horrible seizures, confusion, lack of mobility, and struggles with changes in medication. Sometimes that plan includes a lack of available finances so that we have to trust that God will help us to meet our needs despite everything that shows us that we should search out help elsewhere. Sometimes that plan means that we lose family and friends to cancer, or people we know turn on us for no reason at all. Sometimes it means that people we trust implicitly turn out to be pathological liars who only sought their own pleasure by contorting our lives around their deception. Sometimes it means that our best laid plans, no matter how well thought out or deeply conceived, will be shut down and abandoned.

God is the author of everything in our lives. We not only acknowledge this fact but we seek to live it out. At times that means that we lose friends and alienate ourselves from family members. It prompts uncomfortable conversations when opinions are raised against the solid Word of God and we are under pressure from family to relent to the opinion of those who we know to love us, or stand firm for the God who died to save us. Ultimately, trusting in Christ without living out what you say you believe only degrades the image of Christians and, by association, Jesus Himself, to the onlooking world.

My heart is bent toward legalism in everything I do. I want rules and regulations, not a God who says, “you’re forgiven” and leaves it at that. I search the scriptures for something that will give me a guiding principle, some sort of path to perfection, but it’s not there. That means that I struggle with the concept of understanding who I am as a Christian man on a daily basis. I want to serve this God who saved me but at some point my heart always brings the cart of my works, which were meant to be in gratitude for what He has done on my behalf, before the horse of His salvation and I end up trying to wrestle control of my life from God.

What does that mean for me now? I will, to the best of my ability, trust in God to direct my life and what I do by His own wisdom and plan for what He wants me to do. I acknowledge that I will fail on the way but I know that He is the one who is ultimately in control and I hope that I will remember to release control of the reigns when I find myself trying to grab them again and live my life for God according to my plan and not His. I will seek to stop making pronouncements for grand plans and ideas that I think will lead me to some next great plateau. I do plan to finish reading Calvin’s Institutes but that will come when God leads me back into it. I will finish reading all the books I’ve set before myself, but not to put them under my belt or to become a more respectable Christian, and instead so that I will be more able to appreciate the glory of God in as many facets of His character and nature as I can perceive and understand. In the end, I will trust in God to lead me and to control my life. Why? Because I know that He loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.

Who is responsible for my salvation? God CALLED Abraham to himself just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. Both were dead in their transgressions and sin before Him and God was under no obligation to save any of them. All of mankind stands condemned before our holy and perfect Creator and God is not obligated to save any of us. WE acted in rebellion against HIM. If my daughter steals my car and drives it off a cliff, totaling it, but she herself is saved. Am I obligated to forgive her? Is there some law on the books that requires me to forgive her for this transgression of my trust? In the same way, God is not obligated to forgive anyone. He has, by His own choice and on His own terms, chosen certain people before time began to save them by sending His own Son to suffer and die in their place. Jesus willingly substituted Himself for these undeserving haters of God and God the Father accepted His sacrifice on our behalf. If God, in His mercy, has done all this work for you, then does the work necessary to bring you to true repentance and trust in Himself, imparting to you faith and love beyond measure, are you then capable of rejecting His good mercy and act of grace on your behalf? What kind of a harsh and uncaring God would allow that to happen to those whom He has forgiven for all of their sins? You are not capable of out sinning God’s grace, and you are not able to thwart the plans of a perfect, holy, and uncontrollable God who has purposed to save you from yourself to Himself.

People often talk about the streets of gold in heaven or the mansions or even seeing Jesus face to face as what they can’t wait for in Heaven. For me, it’s simpler than that. I want to be stripped of my desire to sin. I want to know that I am no longer capable of causing harm to the name of Christ through my actions, intentions, words, and thoughts. I want to know that I cannot cause harm to the God who saved me – who, upon each and every sin that I now commit, while wholly understanding what Christ had to endure to purchase my salvation, He is made to experience more pain and more suffering in my place because of my own short-term desire for satisfaction. I want to be rid of the “me” that Jesus died to redeem, and finally be able to sit back and revel in the work that He has done on my behalf. I don’t want riches, or crowns, or honor – I want peace. Peace from my self, and peace to finally be able to thank the God who saved me with a clean heart and a clear mind.

I’ve read quite a few comments on Facebook today stating that because of this vote in NC regarding gay marriage, that “God wins”. That’s true, but totally unrelated. Had the amendment not passed, God would win. If our next president was gay, God would win. If the entire country were to become the most god-hating, wicked, immoral nation on the planet – God would still win. Remember when Joshua met with the commander of the army of the Lord (many ppl believe this is a Christophany)? What did he say when Joshua asked him if he was for Israel or their adversaries? “NO.” What? That doesn’t make sense – what do you mean “no”. He then clarified the answer by saying that He’s for the Lord. (Joshua 5:13-15) God is not “FOR US” but for Himself. He is “for” those who are in His adopted family – purchased through the blood of Christ, but that’s because those who are in His family share His interests and seek to glorify His name.

The beginning of the Bible opens with God creating and proclaiming what is good, and man chooses to rebel against his Creator and plunge the rest of humanity into the effects of the fall. Death, disease, hatred, malice, immorality, pain, fear, all of these things come from the fall – all of them can be attributed to the sin of the first family – and even in this – God wins. 1400 years later, the entire earth has become wicked and hostile toward not only God but to themselves. God chooses one man named Noah and his small family to build a boat so that He can judge the whole of the earth. Noah and his family build that boat, God populates it with the creatures He chooses to save, and he then brings the flood which wipes out all the land-based animals on the planet. The ensuing flood and geologic changes transform the entire landscape, creating mountain ranges, burying vast mats of vegetation which then become our coal seams. At the end of the flood, vast inland seas are created and when those inland seas finally burst their temporary constraints they create deep and wide valleys and canyons. Days turn into months, months turn into years and the water finally subsides enough for those that God has spared to walk on dry land. Even in all that destruction, God wins.

The Israelites are God’s chosen people – born through adversity from a man of deep pagan roots. God spoke to Abraham and he trusted in God, leaving his former life and following after Him in the wilderness. His son Isaac had two twin boys, one was named Jacob (meaning “he cheats”) who later was named Israel. He had 12 boys who were the heads of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. They, through sin and deceit sold one of their brothers into slavery and God orchestrated his path until he was the prime minister of all of Egypt. His position allowed the infant nation of Israel to find a home in a safe place. That safety only lasted for a short time and they were made to be slaves in Egypt. God raised up Moses to bring them out – provided 10 plagues on Egypt to make the Israelites (now nearing 2 million people) abhorrent to the people of Egypt and they cast them out. Through another miracle at the Red Sea God delivered them finally from the reach of the Pharaoh. God wins.

That nation, now delivered into the wilderness to learn about the proper worship of their God who had delivered them from that bondage in Egypt, saw the physical manifestation of God’s glory day and night in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At times they heard directly from God whose first premise was that they will not worship anyone or anything other than Himself and that they would not fall into idolatry. Sure enough, in the first two years with God actively interacting with them directly they not only built idols of gold to worship, but openly rejected Him, and his ability to deliver them from their enemies into the land He had promised to them, and wanted to return to Egypt, even into slavery, because they didn’t trust the God who could split the sea and who has proven His power over all of life and nature before them. All but two of those people died in the wilderness, never setting foot in the promised land. Even Moses, whom God had chosen to lead and instruct them sinned against God and was not able to enter into the land. God still wins.

The people then moved into the land, destroying the wicked nations that were occupying it. God fought for them and led them in battle, wiping out the inhabitants and setting their borders. He provided for them a fertile land that was prepared for them – a nation that they needed to merely occupy. Sure enough, one generation after Joshua and they fall into idolatry. God still wins. God allowed nations to remove them from the land and place them under slavery again, then provided deliverance for them time after time, giving them judges to rule over the people and to bring them back to worship Him. Every time a judge would die the people would rebel. God still wins.

Finally they ask for a king to be like the other nations. God allows them to have the finest looking and most worldly qualified king they could want. He rebels against God and ultimately runs a failed administration. God provides for them the man who He desires to be king – He trains him in the wilderness, sets him in power. The people flourish under him and under his son, Solomon, who was born through sin, deceit, and murder, but Solomon can’t honor God consistently and breaks God’s laws time and time again. Immediately after Solomon’s death the nation of Israel splits in two. God still wins.

Over the next 330 or so years the nations struggle with God’s rule. There are wars and troubles, and times of great restoration, but ultimately God strips them off the land due to their repeated forays into idolatry and rejection. God still wins.

God restores them to the land and then after a 400 year silence His Son, Jesus, comes onto the scene. Jesus fulfills the law, never sinning even once. He teaches the people, heals nearly every sickness and disease in the whole region, and ultimately is killed because the people He came to save wanted a conquering king, not a humble servant. God still wins.

Jesus is resurrected, proving that everything He said was true – hundreds of followers become thousands. Thousands become hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of thousands become millions. There are deep persecutions laid upon the church. Nearly all of Jesus’ inner circle of followers is martyred in one way or another and many more follow. 300 years later the Roman emperor Constantine legalizes Christianity and that’s where the church begins to encounter even more trouble as the political battles for which is the “true” church begin to take place. God still wins.

1050 years later, God’s word is finally becoming translated into common languages so the people can break free from the oppression of the Roman Catholic church. The RCC responds by killing the translators and burning their manuscripts. God still wins. This continues until a German priest finally translates it into German and distributes it. The protestant reformation of the church begins and, along with it, the birth of thousands of Christian sects. Each one thinks it to be the “one true church” and many are good but even more are very, very bad. Numerous sects become whole religious institutions. Today we see that present in the main bodies of the church -Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. Due to issues associated with denominationalism numerous “non-denominational” churches erupt. Christian “nations” like France, England, and Germany become post-Christian and their influence wanes. America is born and now its Christian influence is waning. Other countries like China and India are beginning to eclipse the USA in their Christian influence – to the point where Christian missionaries from China are starting to hit the US borders. God still wins.

This up coming election has no influence on whether God wins or not. He is the alpha and the omega – he controls all of nature and all time. He controls nations and laws and weather and even our personal situations. God owns it all. God always wins.

An open letter to Christians who stand by gay marriage/civil partnerships, etc:

In your own words can you please explain to me why it’s important not to define marriage in the same way that the Bible states it – between one man and one woman? Also, does it matter what the Bible says on this subject and where do the limits begin for where the Bible becomes important? Basically, if the Bible is wrong in what it says about some things, who are we to determine if it is wrong in others? Who determines what is accurate in the Bible and what isn’t? Our desires? Our ‘hearts’? Our feelings? Does God have the right to tell us what is right or wrong about anything in our lives? I suppose if you don’t believe that He exists you can do whatever you want but for those who call themselves Christians and who say they believe in the Bible enough to surrender control of their lives over to Christ, at what point do you stop trusting in what He has said in scripture (where you get the information that led you to trust in Him to begin with) and say “no – I can’t believe in that”?

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about judging people. God does that – His law does that. We’re called to love everyone and we do. I do. But we are also called to be holy as God is holy. God’s view on homosexuality isn’t just an “old testament” view – read Romans 1:16-31, 1 Cor 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:8-11 . But God offers deliverance from it as He does from all sins: 1 Cor 6:9-10 doesn’t just end at the condemnation:”Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”, but the next verse shows that He forgives these things upon repentance of them and trust in Him for salvation: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Cor 6:12”.

The scripture that I see as to why this is an issue for us as Christians is Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” God will handle those who are sexually immoral before Him, but we are to hold marriage to be a high honor, holy and pure before God. Jesus used it as a symbol of Himself and the Church (universal church of Christ to include all Christians, not members of one specific church).

We’re called to love all but not support that which God despises. I don’t want to fall into the category at the end of Romans 1: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:31”.

We, as God’s creation, on God’s planet, breathing God’s air, eating God’s food, and enjoying God’s blessings are under every obligation to listen to what God says about what He wants us to do. God is absolutely sovereign in all of His decisions and plans. His law is perfect because HE is perfect and it is us, because of our sin nature, who are at odds with Him, not Him with us. In light of that, I love my homosexual friends but I’m not going to disobey the God who died in my place through supporting them in their sin. I don’t have different rules for individual sins, but the same rule for all. I’m not going to support people who go to NAMBLA parades, or stand up for the rights of a man to cheat on his wife. I will love them and be broken for their sin, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus, but I won’t support them in their sin.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

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