When reading Scripture, if we do not see Jesus, then we are reading incorrectly. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day diligently studied Scripture yet did not recognize the embodied Word that spoke to them. They searched for God in His Word, yet God stood right before them unrecognized.
You search the Scriptures
because you think that in them you have eternal life;
and it is they that bear witness about me,
yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:39-40 ESV
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day held the Scriptures in high esteem. They believed them to be the actual Word of God, spoken into our dark and sinful world. They read the Bible, studied it, applied it, and obeyed it. Everything seemed correct.
Then came Jesus.
Jesus spoke into the world of these studious Jews and shook them to the core. In the midst of their in-depth studying, they missed the forest for the trees. They passionately searched the Bible because they thought that it would lead them to eternal life, to salvation. However, Jesus makes a bold claim. He says that all of Scripture is about Him; therefore, they should come to Him for eternal life.
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By Mark Tooley — 1 year ago
After 2023, there is no clear path for United Methodist congregations to exit the denomination without losing their property. The 2024 General Conference could approve another exit pathway but it unlikely to do so. Paragraph 2553 was ratified by the 2019 Special General Conference by less than 52 percent, with traditionalists supporting and liberals opposing. Traditionalists are not expected to have a majority in 2024.
United Methodist exits are accelerating, as at least 260 of 779 churches in the North Carolina Conference, or one third, have voted to disaffiliate or plan to next year, according to The Carolina Journal. United Methodist churches, whose property is owned by the denomination through the local “conference,” can vote to exit the liberalizing denomination, with their property and a one-time payment, before the end of 2023.
Meanwhile, 118 churches, or 28 percent of the total, have notified the Peninsula-Delaware Conference that they plan to exit, the conference’s trustees announced. This number shocked conference officials, as the churches organized within only a few weeks when notified that Bishop Latrelle Easterling was going to impose a 50% real estate value surcharge on exit costs after the arbitrary deadline. The exiting churches contribute $1.4 million to the conference’s budget, which was $4.8 million in 2021. It’s believed another 75-100 churches would like to leave but failed to meet the deadline. Possibly some will litigate.
Additionally, Dallas-area St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Plano, with 6500 members, has voted to exit United Methodism. Its pastor is Arthur Jones, son of Houston Bishop Scott Jones, and nephew of former Duke Divinity School dean Greg Jones. “The historical Methodist theology and our focus on Jesus is what we aim to protect,” the church explained about its exit.
The church’s website notes that the church’s now deceased former longtime pastor had started considering disaffiliation years ago and asked church leaders to “monitor the inevitable fragmenting of the United Methodist Church.” That pastor died in July but had left a recording urging disaffiliation.
At least 500 UMC churches in the state of Texas, including four of the top six by membership, have exited or plan to, according to The Dallas Morning News. St. Andrew is the state’s seventh-largest United Methodist church.
By Kendall Lankford — 4 days ago
Like the Prodigal’s father, our Father felt great compassion on us, and with our True older Brother, welcomed us back into the home at His own expense (Luke 15:20). And that expense would cost our compassionate Father the ultimate expense, the life of His one and only Son in crucifixion (Romans 5:6-8) in order to make us alive together with Him in His resurrection (Ephesians 2:4-5) and to bring us back to the Father we had sinned against totally clean; wholly forgiven (1 Peter 3:18).
One of the questions I have often been asked as a pastor is why God allowed sin and misery into the world. If He is all-knowing and all-wise and even has the ability and power to do all He pleases, then why did it please Him to create a world that would nose-dive so fantastically into the turmoil and futility we experience because of sin? Couldn’t He have done it differently? Wasn’t there a better way?
These are essential questions that require careful answers. Thankfully, many careful answers have been given throughout church history, which we should borrow from when answering this question. For instance, many have said that God created the world, knowing full well what would happen in it because the story of sin and redemption manifested His glory more excellently than a world without a fall. Think about it this way, in a world without sin, human beings and all of creation could never get to know God in all of His fullness. While sin would not be present on a sterilized earth, there would be aspects of God that we could never understand, such as His mercy, justice, grace, forgiveness, and compassion. Without sin, there is no reason for God to be merciful. Without rebellion, there is no need for grace. This means, at least in part, that God allowed the world to fall into sin and misery so that He could showcase the fullness of His being to lost and lonely sinners, which brings Him unimaginable glory.
Understanding this, and while I am fully aware that there is more to say in matters of theodicy, we can be grateful to God for our sins. Because my sin put me in a position of need that only God could meet. My sin created a disease that only God could heal. And while we ought never to sin so that grace may abound, my sin introduced me to a savior who has offered me abounding grace that now causes me to hate my sin and pursue Him. Thus, even in the wretchedness of sin, even in our mortification of sin and hatred of sin, there are peculiar comforts and joys available to those who know the compassions of God.
And that is what I would like to talk about today. If you are new, we are in a little series on the attributes of God, talking about who God is, what He is like, and how we may know Him. Today, we look at His compassion towards sinners.
God Is Compassionate by Nature
God is compassionate by nature. He does not decide to become compassionate when a situation arises. He is compassionate as a fundamental quality of His being and person. For instance, Paul says that He is the “Father of compassion” and the “God of all comforts” (2 Corinthians 1:3). This requires that He doesn’t just possess these things as if they were commodities, but He is these things in all fullness and perfection. His compassions exist on a level of robust density and purity that they are beyond our ability to comprehend or even withstand without the aid of a mediator. For instance, when the God of perfect compassions passed in front of Moses, letting all His goodness be on display (Exodus 33:19; 34:6), he needed to be hidden in the face of a rock and covered with the Lord’s own hand in order to live and tell the tale. God is so unimaginably good that even His goodness threatens our unmediated flesh. He is merciful and gracious (Psalm 86:15), slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8), but His holiness and justice require that we repent and return to Him because He is compassionate (Psalm 116:5; 119:156; Joel 2:13)
God Is Compassionate to All People
While God’s most extraordinary and intimate affections are reserved for His children, the Lord is kind and compassionate to all people (Psalm 145:8-9). Think about it this way, everyone on earth has sinned and is in rebellion against God (Romans 3:23). And since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), God would be perfectly just and righteous to eliminate the entire human race without so much as batting an eyelash. So, the fact that billions of people loathe God every single day, either in heinous acts of rebellion or in failing to thank Him for every stolen breath of His mercy, has allowed them to live on in morbid ingratitude.
By Joe Carter — 2 years ago
The church must commit to speaking the truth of the gospel and how it applies to this issue. Specifically, we need to make it clear—especially to our neighbors in the pews beside us—that we cannot love our neighbor and tolerate unrepentant rebellion against God.
The U.S. House—including 47 House Republicans—voted to codify same-sex marriage into federal law, officially abandoning support for traditional marriage.
On Tuesday, the House voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), a bill that repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and provides statutory authority for same-sex marriages.
DOMA is a federal law that restricts federal marriage benefits and requires interstate marriage recognition only for opposite-sex marriages. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
However, the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor struck down one section of DOMA in 2013. Two years later, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges stripped away the remaining power of DOMA by requiring all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states.
RFMA replaces the provisions in DOMA and defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as any marriage that is valid under state law. The bill also requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
RFMA had been floating around Congress since 2009, but it gained more attention after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the high court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell.”
Of the 204 Republicans who voted on the bill, 47 (23 percent) voted in support. All 267 Democrats also supported the bill, including 11 who had voted for DOMA in 1996.
What It Means
There are four obvious takeaways from the vote on RFMA.
First, Christian politicians no longer look to the Christian view of marriage to compel them to support traditional marriage.
Perhaps in 2022 it’s naive to think they should, since, as one pastor famously said in 2017, we’re not electing them “to be a children’s Sunday School teacher.” Still, it’s shocking that an institution overwhelmingly composed of Christians would abandon even the pretense of supporting the Christian position. In the House, 88 percent of Representatives identify as Christian, and yet 63 percent voted to abandon the Christian view of marriage. (Whether you consider it a first, second, or third order doctrine, the orthodox Christian position on marriage is that we cannot endorse same-sex marriage.)
Second, Christian politicians may not be influenced by Scripture, but they are swayed by polling data.