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Spiritual Roses Aren’t Difficult In True Light, Living Water and Biblical Soil


By Carman Bradley

What is true Light? The Light and the Law are inseparable revelations from God:

I [Jesus Christ] am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  (John 8:12)

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s One and Only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been through God.  (John 3:18-21)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.  This is why it is said:  ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’  (Ephesians 5:6-14)

Liberal Christians, certainly pro-gay Christians, appear to wish for a revised worldview in which a rewritten Gospel of Jesus Christ amputates the content of the Law along with its convicting intent, particularly as it applies to human sexuality.  To evangelical eyes the pro-gay theological goal is to alter the Gospel to ensure that Christ’s Light casts no sinful shadows.  Terms like obedience, sin, hell, judgment, guilt and condemnation are expunged under the new theological mantra of an all-inclusive unconditional loving God, an “anything goes” God.  A god so indifferent that, as Aldous Huxley declares: “He has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat.”  This new age mantra has also been labeled the doctrine of cheap grace.

It is true that God is for us.  What is more, He is for us even though our very nature is against Him.  Moreover, he is not for us merely in a general attitude, but He has effectively acted towards us.  The measure of His “unconditional love” can be summed up in the name of His Son.  Jesus Christ is the grace of God towards us.  In contrast to pro-gay theology, the Christian worldview leaves the authority of the Law intact and records that Jesus is the empowering source of the grace to overcome the unrighteousness, transgression, judgment and condemnation instructed by the Law.  Although Jesus alters the application of so-called “cultural” laws ending hypocritical legalism regarding food, drink, festivals and Sabbath activities, there is no evidence to substantiate a change in application of the traditional morality provisions, directed at keeping a righteous heart.  Jesus declares:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)

Love is at the core of this Law.  And the Law is fundamentally an expression of the perfect character and will of God.  It would be impossible for the Law to cease to be the ideal of human morality.  Rightly understood the Law has always demanded a heart conformed to God.  The regenerate (or saved) are commanded to follow the Law and are, to a large extent, enabled to fulfill the Law, by gracious guidance from the Holy Spirit and by a motive of obedience anchored in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.  The Christian is under the obligation to claim Christ as his first love and then to love his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:37-39).  The Law is meant to define the unrighteous dark shadows of life with the Light of Jesus Christ to show the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6).  The perfect obedience of Christ to the Law of God is not simply an example, but the basis of the redemption of His people, who otherwise lay condemned by the Law:

But when the time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.(Galatians 4:4-5)

God’s grace received by the saved Christian does not mean the weak and careless forgiveness of sins, for our pardon was bought by the judgment, condemnation and execution of His One and Only Son.  It is the righteousness of the Law which illuminates and convicts us of sin.  This sin separates us from a Holy God and points us toward God’s only solution for forgiveness and restoration - Jesus Christ.  If we allow the Law to be arbitrarily erased, for self-serving purposes, we construct our own false reality.  We think we live in the Light but we are actually in its shadow, making Christ’s sacrifice in vain.  The Law and Jesus Christ are paired and matched revelations.  Much like male and female, the designed purpose of one cannot be fulfilled without the other.  Male and female are necessary to give us our first fleshly birth.  The Law (inanimate basis for conviction of sin) and Jesus Christ are needed to bring about the second spiritual birth (the infilling by the Holy Spirit).  To erase the Law is to reimage Jesus Christ.  And to wilfully reimage divine revelation to suit human political exigencies is hugely wrong.  Under the subject title Homosexuality, the NIV Study Bible lists Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 1:8 as references reaffirming Old Testament LawPaul writes of the Law in his first letter to the church at Corinth:

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (6:9-10)

The fact that the homosexual is listed here is a key barrier to revisionism; however, the targeting of the homosexual needs to be placed in the context that all (you and me), if we are not born again of the Spirit through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, will not inherit the kingdom of God (John 3:3-8).  The Law brings the condemnation, but God has the same solution for the homosexual as He has for you and me.  Paul states in the next verse of his letter:

And that is what you were.  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. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Proponents of cheap grace emphasize God’s willingness to forgive, often citing the adulterous woman (John 8:10-11): “‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she added.  ‘Then neither do I condemn you?’ Jesus declared.”  However, Christ’s grace does not erase the Law, He concludes His conversation with the woman by saying: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”   To the blind man that Jesus healed, He said, “See you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).  Although, all judgment (separating the redeemed from the lost) has been given to Christ (John 5:22), the Law also remains a key revelation of our perfectly righteous and holy God.

Another barrier to liberal revisionism, regarding same-sex marriage, is the Law found in Matthew 19:4-6.  Jesus gives the following context and purpose for marriage:

Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So that they are no longer two but one.

Humanity seeks a life philosophy for happiness and freedom. The Christian worldview for maximizing one’s peace is a perfect combination - the Law and the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ.  The liberal pro-gay theological worldview is to amputate the Law and demote Jesus Christ to the equivalent of a historic sage like Mahatma Gandhi.  The free sex advocate, Aldous Huxley, erases God to gain his freedom.  Pro-gay theology cannot erase God; therefore the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be reframed to adopt what is in reality a false freedom.  Rudolf Bultmann offers an insightful articulation of the need for the Law as God has revealed it:

Genuine freedom is not subjective arbitrariness.  It is freedom in obedience.  The freedom of subjective arbitrariness is a delusion, for it delivers man up to his drives, to do in any moment what lust and passion dictate.  This hollow freedom is in reality dependence on lust and passion of the moment.  Genuine freedom is freedom from the motivation of the moment; it is freedom which withstands the clamor and pressure of momentary motivations.  It is possible only when conduct is determined by a motive which transcends the present moment, that is, by law.  Freedom is obedience to a law of which the validity is recognized and accepted, which man recognizes as the law of his own being.  This can only be a law which has its origin and reason in the beyond.  We may call it the law of spirit or, in Christian language, the law of God.[i]

A lesson taken from Don Juan, illustrates why erasing God’s Law (moral code) is not a good idea.  The Devil asks, “What is the use of knowing [a moral philosophy]?”  To this question Don Juan responds:

Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest advantage instead of yielding in the direction of least resistance.  Does a ship sail to its destination no better than a log drifts nowhither?  The philosopher is Nature’s pilot.  And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.[ii]

Bultmann writes that until one has appropriated the grace of God manifested in Christ’s work, he is “alienated from life, enslaved under hostile powers and in bondage to death.”[iii]

If God is absent in your Christian life and the gates of heaven appear boarded up, if spiritual roses are difficult where you are, it is most likely not a “Job scenario,” but a problem at your end of the relationship.  God’s gracious offer of peace and salvation requires one to have a receiving heart and true faith.  You can accept God’s silence and frame your response, as if under some wild (uncalled-for) test as described in the Book of Job - the obedient righteous sufferer - and choose the status quo, enduring patiently another year, another decade, a life time.  You can accept the silence as if worshipping a God who is unknowable, wholly mystery, in a world which is godforsaken, with a Law which is unrevealed and choose to follow a social gospel, doing your ethical best to improve God's creation in His absence.  But neither approach will bring the desired spiritual roses.  If God eludes churches upholding liberal theologies, it is because God is not “there” to be received. 

Liberal theology is not obedience to God at all, but simply a deified humanity - anything goes.  The God of liberal theology “has become nothing more than the faint and disappearing smile of the cosmic Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.”  What voice was the UCC listening to when the denomination decided to:

1960 - advocate abortion

1962 - sanction divorce and remarriage

1965 - condone pre-marital sex

1968 - issue a New Creed which does not name Jesus as God’s Son, Savior or Lord

1980 - issue a sex report approving of infidelity: “it [fidelity] includes openness to secondary relationships of emotional intimacy and potential genital expression but with commitment to the primary marriage.” 

1984 - declare God indifferent to sexual orientations

1988 - allow unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus Christ to join and be ordained

1992 - declare the Bible errant in a report “The Authority and Interpretation of Scripture”

1997 - adopt a policy to lobby teacher’s unions to promote homosexual affirming programs in public schools

2000 - adopt a resolution to affirm civil recognition of same-sex unions

2003 - amend the resolution from 2000 to redefine marriage inclusive of homosexual couples.

And in 2005, Rev. Dr. Jim Sinclair, General Secretary, declared, “Marriage will be enhanced, not diminished, religious freedom will be protected, not threatened, and Canadian society will be strengthened, not weakened, as a result of this [same-sex marriage] legislation.”

God will not be mocked.  He wants a vibrant relationship with the members of His flock (John 10:27-29) and with Christian denominations.  But only the person who sees himself as a sinner can know God’s true measure of grace and we know ourselves as sinners only in so far as we recognize God’s Law.  Salvation is a gift of grace.  Prayer is a gift of grace.  The peace of God is a gift of grace (Philippians 4:7).  True freedom is a gift of grace.  Faith is a gift of grace.  Everything you need is covered in the gracious gift of Jesus Christ.  As long as you, your congregation and your denomination remain blinded from recognizing the Law, it will remain difficult to grow spiritual roses.  If you are weary, the authentic Jesus Christ has rest for your soul (Matthew 11:25-30); however, you will have to truly acknowledge the Law and fully submit to His divine lordship.  You will need to be re-potted to where spiritual roses aren’t difficult.  Seek the true light for growing roses; flee a church that denies that Christ is the only light.  Seek the living water, which Jesus declared before the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 1-26); flee a church that denies this living water is the perfect sustaining truth.  Seek to find good nourishing soil; flee a church that picks and amends scripture as if it is not the truth, not God inspired.

The key to a green thumb, in the parable of the sower:

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

Are you hearing the Word in the United Church of Canada?


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org



[i] Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958), p.40.

[ii] Cited by Howard Bloom, Global Brain (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000), from Don Juan, George Bernard Shaw.

[iii]Rudolf Bultmann, Rudolf Bultmann: Interpreting Faith for the Modern Era, (Collection of Essays), Ed. Roger Johnson, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), p. 186.