Monday, April 12, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: The Need for Vigilant and Faithful Churches

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 33 Num. 23
“The Need for Vigilant and Faithful Churches”
First Published: June 1, 2000

I trust that you were able to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday with your family and gain some refreshment. Summer is already here in Jackson, so Anne and the kiddoes and I fled to the pool early and often!

Thanks to so many who have expressed their appreciation for the message on Romans 1:26-27 which dealt with, in part, the issue of homosexuality. It is not an easy subject to address in our times. However, it is important. Our young people are bombarded from their earliest years with politically correct propaganda and are indoctrinated into the regnant philosophy of “toleration” that declares that anyone who takes issue with the project for the normalization of homosexual behavior in our society is a homophobic bigot indulging in hate speech. Such has been the fate of “Dr. Laura.”

My goals were (1) to set the passage in context (Paul’s main point is not to single out homosexuality as the worst sin in the world, but rather to show that homosexuality is yet another evidence of the degeneration of an idolatrous society and of the pervasiveness of depravity). (2) To illustrate the Bible’s uniform condemnation of homosexual cravings and behavior (Paul, following Moses and Jesus, condemns homosexual desires and acts comprehensively). And, (3) to emphasize the hope and power of Paul’s gospel (Paul knew from experience that the gospel is mighty enough to transform even the most radical sinner). The Christian’s message to the homosexual is, thus, one of truth, love and hope.

It was ironic that, just a few days after I mentioned the mainline churches’ deterioration on this issue, the Family Research Council in Washington circulated this report: “The top court in the Presbyterian Church (USA) has endorsed so-called holy unions for same-sex couples. This action could set the stage for a major confrontation when the 2.5 million-member denomination holds its General Assembly in June. The church court sought to limit the range of its ruling by saying that local congregations that continue the practice of sanctioning same-sex unions should be careful to emphasize that these unions are not marriages. Conservatives in the denomination are expected to carry the case for the defense of marriage to the floor of the General Assembly next month.” This discussion in the PC(USA) is symptomatic, and evidences one reason why there is a PCA and why First Presbyterian is PCA. Let’s do pray for the evangelicals within the PC(USA) who are trying to hold on against the torrent of unbiblical thought that pervades the bureaucracy.

On Sunday evenings, we have been working through Genesis and the life of Joseph. The last couple of lessons have dealt with the reunion and reconciliation of the brothers, and the resettlement of Jacob in Egypt. The whole story has been a sweet reminder of providence to me. One of the keys to healthy Christian living is to trust in both the goodness and sovereignty of God, even in the face of dark circumstances. Cindy Mercer shared a Calvin quote with me the other day that catches this point perfectly: "It is essentially necessary, if we would fortify our minds against temptation, to have suitably exalted views of the power and mercy of God, since nothing will more effectually preserve us in a straight and undeviating course, than a firm persuasion that all events are in the hand of God, and that he is as merciful as he is mighty. The man who disciplines himself to the contemplation of these two attributes, which ought never to be dissociated in our minds from the idea of God, is certain to stand erect and immovable under the fiercest assaults of temptation; while, on the other hand, by losing sight of the all-sufficiency of God, (which we are too apt to do,) we lay ourselves open to be overwhelmed in the first encounter." Precisely! Thanks, Cindy.

Your friend,
Ligon Duncan

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