Hope for the Homosexual

NOTE: This is the final post of a 5-part series by Andrew Courtis, Pastor of Hills Bible Church. In this serices, Andrew discussed some of the most contentious issues facing society. In response to these issues, he turns to the Scriptures to present the biblical perspective on each.


What should the Christian’s response be to such conclusions (a right understanding of marriage, gender, and homosexuality)? Sadly, many have responded with hate speech and a harsh condemnation to homosexuals. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ ought to recognize that homosexuals are indeed committing abominable sexual sin and therefore cannot inherit the kingdom of God (). However, there is hope for the homosexual. If they recognize their sin before their Creator, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ they will be cleansed from their sin and be forgiven. This is the power of the gospel and this is the hope for the homosexual. Back in Paul lists specific sins that make one unable to enter the kingdom of heaven. Then he says in , “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.” Something dramatically changed in the life of these individuals – they received forgiveness.

Why is forgiveness necessary and where can it be found? It is necessary because our Creator is Holy () and we are all sinful (). As the holy Creator, God will judge all sinners (). By His grace, God makes forgiveness available to all who will recognise they are sinners, repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. Salvation can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ () because He alone lived a life of perfection () and died as a substitute for His people by receiving the wrath of God on their behalf ().

Why do I believe there is hope for the homosexual? The answer is, because the Continue reading Hope for the Homosexual

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,

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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

11 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.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

Jesus is Sufficient

Copyright Aliclairemilroy 

I have been a Christian now for about 17 years. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. God has a funny way of humbling us and making us realize that we are not the centre of the universe, we are not what is most important. One of the greatest challenges any Christian faces is the life-long process of “denying ourselves‘ () and “walking in the Spirit” (), or in other words living our lives to please God and not primarily ourselves. We will never fully realize this  until we go to be with our Lord in heaven.

Jesus said “if you love me you will obey what I command” (). It’s pretty clear. If we say we love God, we will inevitably strive to obey Him, to allow His Spirit within to refine us so that, bit-by-bit, we reflect His character. This is to glorify God’s work in our lives as well being a beacon to the hope Jesus gives to us all. What a privilege… what a blessing… what a calling on our lives!

Why then do we often struggle so much to see this in our lives? Why do we find ourselves so enticed to feed our own self-absorbed desires rather than God’s? Why do we struggle so much at times to walk with God and follow His lead in our lives?

Here are three points that I believe can help us all to follow and enjoy God more in our lives: Continue reading Jesus is Sufficient

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Preach the Gospel – not Values

Creative Commons: Christian Values Candle Set

Many churches (and individuals) are teaching and preaching Christian values to a lost world. This message is calling for people to respect and embrace the standards of behaviour taught in the Scriptures. It must be noted that outward conformity to Christian values will extend certain benefits to an individual’s personal life and to those around them – however, this in and of itself it detrimental and damning to the hearer. Dr. R. Albert Mohler insightfully notes in a recent blog post,

“Hell will be filled with people who were avidly committed to Christian values. Christian values cannot save anyone and never will. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a Christian value, and a comfortability with Christian values can blind sinners to their need for the gospel.”

Here Mohler makes the important point that what is essential in our message to the unbelieving world is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the unmistakable teaching of Scripture that the practice of Christian values comes as the result of one hearing and heeding the gospel of Christ (see ). This is necessary because the gospel – not Christian values – contains “the power of God for salvation” (). This does not mean that the Christian isn’t concerned regarding societies abandonment of Christian values and nor should they be silent on such matters. As Mohler also says,

“We should not pray for Christian morality to disappear or for Christian values to evaporate. We should not pray to live in Sodom or in Vanity Fair. But a culture marked even by Christian values is in desperate need of evangelism, and that evangelism requires the knowledge that Christian values and the gospel of Jesus Christ are not the same thing.”

The point is, we as God’s people are to make the gospel known because only the gospel’s power can bring true and eternal change to a sinner’s plight. We are to preach the gospel!

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Farewell, Pastor Martin

Today is Pastor Martin Pakula’s final Sunday service as Interim Pastor of Hills Bible Church. Martin has been with us since June 2011, and has served the congregation at Hills faithfully week in and week out. It is a sad day, as we have grown in fellowship and friendship with Martin and Jennie. Martin’s clear and accurate expositional preaching has been provoking, challenging and encouraging. His drive for Hills to be a church focused on evangelism and outreach will be an enduring part of his legacy. He instigated scripture reading training, the Christmas gingerbread house event, the regular public and systematic reading of scripture in our services, and hospitality evangelism. We will also miss his regular blog contributions. Jennie has also been faithful member at Hills, serving on the music team, and playing a leading role at the women’s events.

Picture caption: A recent Ministry Leadership Team meeting. Left to right – Stu pretending to be Luke Hodge, Lindsay looks to be off fishing, and Martin in his Anglican garb on his way to deliver the Eucharist at St. Chuzzlewit’s. 

Martin, we have much to thank you for, not least for putting up with our Baptist sensibilities. We’re sorry you weren’t able to finish off the elements each Lord’s Supper, but it’s just not the way it’s done. In all seriousness, both you and Jennie will be sorely missed. May the Lord bless you and your family in the next chapter of your life and ministry.

Stranger Evangelism

Photo credit: Susan NYC, some rights reserved

I’m always amazed at the capacity we Christians have for justifying our own sinfulness and apathy.  I have done my fair share of stranger evangelism in the past.  It’s not easy, but almost always rewarding (and easier than you think it will be!).  Stranger evangelism is basically the idea of walking up to someone you don’t know and sharing the gospel with them.  This could take the form of door-knocking or walk up evangelism at University or the shopping centre, etc.  But it’s amazing how many reasons Christians can suddenly think of as to why we shouldn’t do it!

This week I was out at the University campus, not doing stranger evangelism, but inviting strangers to Continue reading Stranger Evangelism

Attitudes and hostility to Christian faith

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Check the detailed infographic above of Australian views. Australia is probably similar in religious attitudes to most European countries, and Canada.

There are similar figures available for Europe from the Eurobarometer and Gallup Polls – unfortunately these do not measure animosity/hostility as such, though this may overlap considerably with the percent of non-theists in their research results.

The USA is numerically very different, but George Barna Research recently reported that over the last decade, as a Continue reading Attitudes and hostility to Christian faith

Evangelism: Words vs Deeds

Let’s face it: we’re chicken.  No one likes being ostracised, ridiculed, or shown hostility.  So we often stay quiet and don’t evangelise our friends and family.  However, I must say that reactions of ostracism, ridicule and hostility are actually quite rare.  But we fear it nonetheless.

What I want to deal with here, though, is something I have come across in every church I have attended.  There is a rationalisation common amongst Christians that says if we live a good life before others, that will be enough.  Recently Duane Litfin wrote an excellent article on this topic in Christianity Today (“Works and Words: Why you can’t preach the Gospel with Deeds”).  He says: “How often do we hear these days, with passion and approval, the famous dictum attributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”?”

As someone who grew up in the Jewish religion, let me tell you that I would not be a Christian now if the Christians around me held to this view.  I grew up knowing nothing about Jesus whatsoever.  The actions of Christians around
me told me precisely nothing.  I could not know about my sin, and Jesus’ death paying the penalty for my sin in my place, by looking at the behaviour of Christians.  That notion is patently ridiculous.

I thank God for the godly Christians who told me about Jesus.  Their behaviour was indeed different and was one of the things that led me to ask them about their beliefs.  Behaviour is indeed important.  But it is no substitute whatsoever for preaching the gospel.  We have to use words.

To quote Litfin again: “The belief that we can “preach the gospel” with our actions alone represents muddled thinking. However important our actions may be (and they are very important indeed) … they are not “preaching the gospel.” … If the gospel is to be communicated at all, it must be put into words.”

An example from Litfin: “Imagine you have been assigned the task of communicating the following idea to a particular individual: Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great at the Macedonian court between 342 and ca. 339 B.C. Unfortunately, you discover that your pupil has no previous knowledge of either Aristotle or Alexander, what a tutor is, what Macedonia is, who Christ was, or consequently, what B.C. means. What’s worse, you do not have the verbal code available to you. Your pupil does not speak your language, and you do not speak his. All you have available are nonverbal channels of communication. How would you go about your task?

Your assignment would be impossible. You cannot communicate this type of content nonverbally. What facial expressions, or gestures, or eye behaviour, or actions could express information about Alexander or Macedonia or B.C.? The nonverbal code is incapable of bearing this kind of weight. You require a verbal code—that is, words and sentences and paragraphs—to convey your meaning. Without them, your task is undoable.”

I would love honesty from my fellow brothers and sisters.  Don’t say that you will just try and evangelise through your actions.  There is no such thing.  People are only saved through hearing and believing the message of the gospel, in words.  Admit that you are scared, and then we can do something about that and move forward!  I find evangelism scary.  But it is always such a blessing to share the good news of Jesus with others.  And when someone accepts the gospel and is saved – there is nothing better.

 


Posted May 30, 2012.

BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

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Our Pastor’s tenure with us is coming to a close. As we approach his last month, I’ve reflected upon his many contributions to the spiritual growth of our church. In my opinion, I believe his primary contribution has to do with his zeal for the gospel and challenging us to be more gospel-focused.

By this I mean, he has made it a high priority that we actively pursue and create opportunities to tell others about Jesus. He has taken the focus off us and redirected it to the proclamation of the good news about Jesus to those not now part of our church – to friends, working colleagues, neighbours, and family members who are outside the family of God.

Continue reading BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

Some more thoughts on Predestination


In a previous blog I wrote about “Predestination and Free Will”.  I believe that Christians who don’t accept the Bible’s teaching on predestination are forfeiting the great assurance and comfort that this doctrine affords. On the one hand, I think they may misunderstand God’s sovereignty, and on the other hand, human free will.  If God is sovereign, surely salvation is 100% all of God.  If we are utterly sinful, surely we will not use our free will to turn to God.

In our current series on Revelation there is a fascinating verse that speaks to this topic.  speaks about non-Christians, those who worship the beast, as those “whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”.

I hope you’ll excuse some technical discussion, but the verse has some complications in translation regarding the Greek.  A perusal of different English Continue reading Some more thoughts on Predestination

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.