true sexual morality

True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis (Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2004)

When Daniel R. Heimbach deemed in 20014 that culture was in sexual “crisis,” he had no idea…

But perhaps he did, because Heimbach anticipated “seismic shifts” in the sexual landscape, even including a subsection entitled “Something Enormous is Coming.”

Heimbach’s main thesis is that the ongoing sexual revolution — having actually picked up pace since the 60s and 70s — is the product of sexual paganism, the age-old counterfeit of biblical sexual morality. When the church understands this, according to Heimbach, it can more accurately and prophetically speak biblical truth to cultural power.

Some might think it radical to attribute contemporary debates about “gender dysphoria” and gender self-identification to the concerted efforts of pagan sex worship. Yet one must identify in current cultural trends the unyielding adherence to a sexual “freedom” that not only insists on its own rights, but also seeks to silence the only other sexual voice in the history of man: God’s.

Heimbach sounds the alarm for churches to be aware that those who advocate for the pagan sexuality are now speaking from platforms within the Christian church, bearing the ostensible authority of Scripture and the church and actually claiming for themselves the “Christian” viewpoint.

He rightly demonstrates that the danger posed by the new sexual paganism has been foreseen by such Christian thinkers as Abraham Kuyper, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Carl F.H. Henry.

But True Sexual Morality is not merely a polemic against the effects of sexual paganism, but is also a good summary of the biblical sexual ethic, and how the church should not permit the enjoyment of sexual relations within the proper confines of marriage to be co-opted by the world.

Heimbach then compares the biblical sexual ethic to the counterfeits put forward by the world:

  • Romantic Sexual Morality (sex as affection)
  • Playboy Sexual Morality (sex as pleasure)
  • Therapeutic Sexual Morality (sex as wholeness) and
  • Pagan Sexual Morality (sex as spiritual life).

Included in the book are various statements of biblical sexual morality, man & woman, gender, and other related matters.

True Sexual Morality is a good resource for the pastor, preacher, church leader, and anyone who desires an understanding of “What is Going On?” (the title of Chapter 16) and how to minister in the context of current issues.

10 Questions to Test Whether You Are a True Christian

May 27, 2016

Jesus warns the churches in Revelation about complacency, indifference, and presuming on the grace of God through false assurance. Those who consider themselves his people are called to “remember” — to think about things, and return to our “first love,” among other things. Here’s a good assessment tool from J.C. Ryle. Take a few minutes to ask yourselves Ryle’s questions. But don’t be discouraged: an accurate view of self allows us to properly thank God for the grace he has shown us thus far, and to know where we need more of God’s grace to walk faithfully with him.

discipling

Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2016)

The Christian life is the discipled life. … It is for for a people traveling together down the narrow path that leads to life. You must follow and you must lead. You must be loved and you must love. And we love others best by helping them to follow Jesus down the pathway of life.

Mark Dever provides a working definition of discipleship: “helping others to follow Jesus.”

Discipling is one of a series of books in the 9Marks series of practical resources for building healthy churches. This particular series addresses each of the Nine Marks of a Healthy Church individually. I’ve been waiting for some time for the last two, of which Discipling is one (we’re still waiting on Biblical Conversion).

According to Dever, “any claim to love for God that does not show itself in a love for neighbor is a love of a false god, another form of idolatry,” and that “discipling others … demonstrates this love God and others as well as anything.”

When Sound Doctrine & Furious Action Displease Christ

Lampstands, No. 3

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A congregation that is sound in doctrine and active in deeds may nonetheless displease Christ, and might be in danger of losing the privilege of representing Christ on earth.

Jesus warns just such a congregation in Revelation 2:1-7. The church at Ephesus had been so alert and orthodox doctrinally that it had exposed false teachers and dealt with them appropriately. And it had engaged in good deeds to the point of collective exhaustion, “not growing weary” when lesser congregations would have collapsed.

But Jesus still had stern words for the church. They had “abandoned the love they had at first.”

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Getting Back Into the Race: The Cure for Backsliding (Adelphi MD: Cruciform Press, 2011)

I’ve never much cared for the term “backsliding” in reference to the Christian life.

This probably stems from its use as a sort of quasi-excuse for a believer’s disobedience to the Lord’s commands to walk with him daily, as in “Oh, he’s just a backslidden Christian.”

I thank Joel Beeke for redeeming the term, and reminding me that the concept is clear in Scripture, with many translators using that exact term for the biblical concept of God’s people turning away from him in sin, lethargy, indifference, spiritual coldness, and outright rebellion.

Even professing Christians who remain long in such a condition can no longer claim an assurance of having been regenerated in the first place, but for those who profess Christ and for whom the hope of restoration is still applicable, the term fits.

Backslider.

Beeke defines what backsliding is, biblically speaking, then gives an excellent description of the backslider, useful for thorough and humbling self-examination. Some of the signs of backsliding or “falling into the spiritual rut” that Beeke identifies are 1) coldness in prayer, 2) indifference under the Word, 3) growing inner corruptions, 4) love of the world, 5) declining love for believers, and 6) man-centered hopes.

Rather than a “normal” condition for Christians to periodically fall into, Beeke demonstrates that backsliding is a terrible sin against God, and that the failure to recognize and appreciate its significance is also sinful.

But for the backsliding believer who doesn’t with to remain in that condition, there is great hope. God welcomes the returning backslider, providing the means for his restoration in “justifying”, “adopting”, and “sanctifying” grace.

Beeke gives an excellent treatment of the subject, clarifying for believers that many times if we aren’t already in a “spiritual rut” of backsliding, we are dangerously close, and should take heed to flee again to the grace of God for preventive measures.

One seeming omission is Beeke’s lack of reference to declining love for the lost as a sign of backsliding, as it is manifested in failure to evangelize and disciple others.

On the whole, however, Beeke’s treatment is excellent, and one that every Christian should review.

holiness

Holiness (Carlisle PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994)

When the Lord calls people to himself, he calls them to give whole life and pure life.

Joel Beeke maintains that when we consider what the Bible says about “holiness,” we can understand better what God requires by considering whole-ness and purity. That is, we are making progress in holiness when we set aside our whole lives to God, and when we are striving for purity in every aspect of them.

This is a good summary of holiness in the Christian life.

At any rate, it should be self-evident that no one has truly profited in the school of Christ, who does not gladly and joyfully await the day of death and of final resurrection, for that is the mark by which Paul identifies believing Christians (Titus 2:13). … How, tell me, can what Jesus Christ describes as a cause of rejoicing produce in us such sorrow and fear? If that is how we feel, why do we still boast of being his disciples?

John Calvin (Carlisle PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 104

Why a Public Square Needs the Religious Voice

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It is quite fashionable to argue that religious belief has no place in the public square, particularly when the public square houses city councils, school boards, and state houses debating ostensible LGBT(Q) anti-discrimination measures.

Actually, it is usually the unpopular religious belief, or the religious belief with which the public square happens to disagree at the time, that finds no chair at the table. If it serves the public mood or helps pass legislation, religious belief becomes a favored guest. Customarily, though, we are led to believe that society is done a great favor when the religious voice is excluded, when the “fact” realm is kept safe from the “value” realm, when the public square is “naked” and apparently unashamed.

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Safe Schools & Gender Common Sense

The Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung
April 8, 2016

This response to gender non-discrimination policies, which are typically showing up in school boards but are also in use by municipalities, applies to the discussion of gender nonconformity in Michigan, but is relevant to what many of us are thinking, and should be thinking, about such policies.

Setting our Sails by Gender Ideology

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One hallmark of open and free society is the ability to contribute to the marketplace of ideas, in open forum and reasonable discourse, without fear of reprisals, recriminations, or ridicule.

In certain categories of thought, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to get the proverbial word in, even edgewise.

Across the country school boards, city councils, and state houses are considering the best ways to protect from discrimination students and adults whose experience of gender does not readily coincide with their anatomy or with traditional expectations, those whose sexual identity is, in broad terms, “gender nonconforming.”

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