Eric Davis

What Canada’s Bill C-4 Can & Can’t Do

Attempts by men and nations to prevent God’s sovereign purposes, not the least of which are conversion, are so pathetically impotent that God laughs at them. No nation ever has, and no nation ever will, hinder God from accomplishing his sovereign purposes.

Much attention has been given to Canada’s recently passed, “Bill C-4.”  Reportedly, some 4000 pastors expressed their willingness to protest the bill from pulpits last Sunday. If you are not familiar, among other things, it criminalizes “conversion therapy” of people in homosexuality and transgenderism. I spoke with a long-time Canadian citizen last week who said that the Bill is intended to forbid things like actual physical harm, torture, kidnapping, and assault on children under the guise of “conversion therapy.” Obviously forbidding those things is necessary.
However, the wording of the Bill is not only ominously broad, but seems to target God’s definition of gender and sexuality. For example, the Bill’s Preamble declares that it is a “myth” to believe that “heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.” Thus, according to Canadian law, God’s good and loving design for marriage sexuality, and gender (Gen 1:26-27, 2:24), is a myth. The Bill goes on to define conversion therapy as, “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
With the passing of Bill C-4, Canada has criminalized the evangelism, counseling, and shepherding of people in homosexuality and transgenderism. According to the Bill, it is a criminal offense, punishable with up to five years in prison, to be used of God in bringing the incredibly loving news of Christ crucified in our place and risen from the dead to such individuals. Let’s be clear what Canada has done. In passing this Bill, Canada announced, and sanctioned, its hatred for people involved in homosexuality and transgenderism. Conversion to faith in Jesus Christ meets the greatest need of the human race; it is the zenith of God’s love extended to a person. So, to forbid this from individuals is to hate them.
Before getting into what the Bill can and cannot do, let’s consider the unspeakable deluge of God’s love in conversion; how loving God’s conversion is. In converting the sinner, God sets his unshakable love on us though we had not loved him (Rom 5:8). Then, God imputes all of our sin to the perfect, sinless, glorious Person of Christ in his death at the cross (1 Pet 2:24). He also imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to us, the sinners, though we have only lived in sin (2 Cor 5:21). As if that was not enough, we are then made spiritually alive by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), thereby having the power to be transformed out of previously enslaving sins (Rom 6:6-7). What a blessing that is! To finally have the ruthless shackles of sin shattered from our souls; to be rescued from Satan’s brutal lordship over us; to be converted from our sprint into hell’s ruin! There is nothing better than being converted to Christ! Nothing better, absolutely nothing! What a blessed God he is to love us enough and care about us enough to convert us to faith in Jesus Christ! Glory to God for his grace and mercy and kindness in conversion. But there is more: consequent of conversion to Christ, we are at peace with God (Rom 5:1). We thereupon have hope; real hope that hinges, not on us, but on the Person and finished work of Christ (Rom 8:25). Instead of a terrifying doom and inescapable finality, death becomes a door to greater blessing whereafter we will live in the bliss, joy, peace, and happiness forever with Christ and God’s glorified people (2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:21, 23; 1 Thess 4:16-17; 1 John 3:1-2; Rev 21:3-4). And this whole package of salvation; this consequence of conversion; all of this is permanent, irreversible (though we will still sin), and instantly gifted to us simply on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9). Blessed be God for his love of conversion. This conversion cannot be accomplished through any kind of physical force or coercion. It is only by the power of God (1 Cor 1:30-31).
Now, as we think about this, it behooves us to consider, what can and can this Bill actually do?
What Bill C-4 Can Do
This Bill can effectually bring about the imprisonment of anyone (Christian or not) who would counsel, speak, teach, preach, or communicate, in such a way as to encourage those in homosexuality and transgenderism to embrace heterosexuality and/or their actual gender. The wording of the Bill is general enough to open the door for that. So, Christians, and others, will almost certainly face imprisonment at some point.
Consequently, the Bill can, in effect, separate parents from their kids, husbands from wives, pastors and teachers from churches, counselors from hurting people, and friends from one another. In doing so, the Bill can cause tremendous and unnecessary hurt and suffering.
The Bill can, and has, declared its hatred for God and his word. Canada’s government has, in effect, slapped God in the face and trampled underfoot the Person and work of Christ by criminalizing Christian conversion.
The Bill can, and will, store up God’s wrath for the governing officials responsible for the Bill, should they refuse to repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness. Canada’s governing officials responsible for this are under God’s judgment and will stand before him one day for a reckoning (Rev 20:11-15).
What Bill C-4 Cannot Do
As much harm as this Bill can do, there are things that it cannot do.
This Bill, and any like it, cannot and will not stop a single individual in homosexuality and transgenderism in Canada from converting to faith in Jesus Christ. Not one person, not a single one, will be stopped from repenting of sin and embracing Christ as Lord and Savior. How do we know that?
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Diagnosing the Spiritual Diotrephes – Part 1

He can’t have actual, biblically defined shepherds in his life. Biblical shepherding would mean his idols would be exposed and eradicated; it would mean crucifying his lust for recognition. And that’s not something he’s prepared to do. So, he can tolerate superficial shepherding, just as long as so-called shepherds keep a safe distance from him. Diotrephes is fine with distance-shepherding, which is no shepherding. That way, leadership pose less of a threat to his self-exalting endeavors. This is how Diotrephes operates. He is unteachable to godly people in his life who challenge his pride.

If you have been in church long enough, you’ve probably seen him. Or maybe you have been him. He’s not always easily recognizable at first. But eventually, he will irresistibly make himself known. The apostle John dealt with him at one point:
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church (3 John 9-10).
Diotrephes. He was one of the guys who made it into the Bible because of sinful pride.
Diotrephes is a dangerous guy. He’s a hazard to himself. He’s a danger to new disciples. He’s a threat to the unity and purity of the church. So, how can we recognize him? Here are a few things that help us diagnose a spiritual Diotrephes. As we consider these things, it behooves not-yet-perfected believers to beware of a little bit of Diotrephes in ourselves.
1. He lusts for recognition.
The inerrant Scripture tells a dark picture of him: “I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first…” (3 John 9). There is one word in Greek, which is translated “loves to be first.” It’s a compound word, that means “loves first.” And it’s not a good desire to want to excel at something.
Instead, it’s a devastating diagnose of pride’s plaguing of the soul. Here is the idea of the word: to have great affection for prominence. A craving for notoriety. Ambition for approval. Lust for recognition. Infatuation for importance. An adoration for appreciation. A passion for pre-eminence. To worship others’ applause. A devotion to superiority.
This is a catastrophic trait in a man. He lusts for recognition and has a sick infatuation with personal praise. It would be better to have anything said about you than, “he loves to be first.” The sin of Diotrephes was the same as Satan. “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God’” (Isa. 14:13).
The spiritual Diotrephes lusts for recognition.
2. He thinks he is superior to other believers.
Next, Scripture says he “loves to be first among them” (3 John 9). Diotrephes might plug into a church. But he’s after an “among them.” He wants people near him; around him so that he can be first among them; so that he can be above others. He sees himself as above other believers.
If he wants to be with other believers, typically it is so that he can gratify his craving for significance. He wants to be around people, but not because he cares for them. Instead, he craves a following. He lusts for a following around whom he can pose as lord and king.
Paul said that this is also one characteristic of a wolf: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30). One of the chief marks of a wolf is that he wants to draw away people after himself. Here is the sinister intersection between Diotrephes and wolves. A spiritual Diotrephes sees himself as superior to other believers
3. He uses the church and ministry to gain recognition for himself.
Diotrephes gets involved in churches. He professes to have a high, correct, and biblical view of the church.
But there is a dark reality behind it all. Here’s what can happen. At first, he seems like someone who sincerely wants to plug in and become a healthy functioning member of the body of Christ. He will enter a church and hang there for a bit. People might not notice that he’s a Diotrephes. Some might be impressed and mesmerized by how much he serves. But underneath it all, he has a burning passion for recognition. Because he is not crucifying his heart’s infatuation for importance, it will continue to grow.
Now, in a healthy, biblical church, it takes much time and testing before someone can become a leader. Sound New Testament churches understand that true, tested, and affirmed biblical character is shown, not in months, but years.
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