When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26).
Again, here's a response to a question asked by "Jay" under the post, "Must a gay man go straight?" I thought it best to put the response here on the main page as a post.
Jay asked: "I do know other men and women who struggle with homosexual temptation, who not only reject copulation but also gay identity and culture, but who do not have any heterosexual desires. Are they saved?"
Sorry for the lack of response. The post took all my time for the blog yesterday so I'm playing catch-up.
First, I'm doubtful these men and women you know who struggle with homosexual temptation actually reject gay identity and culture as clearly and with the finality you indicate. If we live in a culture that hates sexuality as God made it; if we pursue androgyny in the pulpit in the way we preach (see the category of Baylyblog titled "gelded discourse"), in our appearance--hair length and style, for instance; if our men are physically vain (whether macho buff or femmie bling and piercings or a sweet combination of both); it's likely no Christian tempted by homosexuality has really turned away from androgyny to Biblical manhood and womanhood. Made an effort, sure, but today within the Church there are precious few heterosexuals who pursue Biblical manhood or womanhood.
So being "straight" in our sexuality as the Bible presents manhood and womanhood is exceedingly rare, today. Men are narcissists and refuse to man up, taking responsibility for themselves or others...
Under another post, a longtime reader named Jay asks a question that seems worth answering on the main page.
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Answering a question like this by writing rather than in person is very difficult, pastorally. How can I show you I love you and am very concerned that you know the mercy of God for your particular set of temptations, especially in a time and place when any condemnation of sodomy is seen as at least shrill, and likely smug, insensitive, and grounded in self-righteousness, to boot?
Still, I will work to answer you because you say others are unwilling to do so, and because you are a precious soul belonging to the Lord of us all Who bought us each with His Own Blood and has called us to be holy as He is holy. If you want, I can put you in touch with those struggling with your particular set of temptations who are a part of our church here in Bloomington and you may ask them if what I write here is from love or censoriousness? You may ask whether you’d find our church to be loving of all regardless of their particular besetting sin, or loving only of those with more acceptable besetting sins?
So on to the difficult work others have avoided.
You wrote, “I would not consider myself heterosexual at all. Is being straight a requirement?”
Let’s clarify the question. The opposite of straight is gay, so another way of asking the question would be, “My psychological and emotional identity and inclinations are completely homosexual, so can I be give in to them as long as I don’t go all the way?” Or another way of saying it would be, “May I give myself to gayness rather than straightness in everything but physical intercourse, and will this please God?”
This article by Dad (Joe Bayly) was published in his monthly column, "Out of My Mind," which ran for twenty-five years in Eternity magazine. Originally published in December 1966, the article was titled, "Is There a Parallel Between Infant Baptism and Early Decisions for Jesus?"
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Have you ever considered the possibility of a parallel between infant baptism or "confirmation," on the one hand, and early "decisions for Christ" on the other?
Most of us evangelicals fear an act of religious formality early in life that may be trusted in the absence of conversion. “Of course I’m a Christian—I was confirmed at the age of twelve” rings an alarm in our minds. But “Of course I’m a Christian—I raised my hand in a children’s meeting” doesn’t set off the same alarm.
Some parents and teachers go even further, trying to convince the doubting teen-ager that he’s really a Christian, because “you asked Jesus to come into your heart in the primary department.” Assurance comes from the adult who remembers an act, rather than from the Spirit who may—or may not—indwell the life.
Some noticed my comment under another post, that I do not think men should place their children, wives, or themselves under the care of Lutheran pastors and churches, today. Why not?
Principally because modern Lutherans administer, teach, and write about the Sacraments in a way that leads tender souls to trust in the ritual and the elements rather than Jesus Christ. Here's the opening paragraph from a Concordia Publishing House pamplet distributed at no cost in the foyers of Missiouri Synod Lutheran churches around the country. Titled "What About Holy Baptism," it opens with this paragraph:
Suppose for a moment that there was a doctor who had such incredible talent that he could prevent people from dying, and bring those who had died back to life, never to die again. Just imagine how people would do whatever they could to be treated by this doctor! Now consider that in Holy Baptism, God actually does give us the gift of eternal life! Let's learn more about this marvelous blessing. (The pamplet goes on to make statements about the connection between "the Word" and the water, and once or twice faith is mentioned, but the first paragraph is an accurate representation of the whole.)
This is sacramentalism and it destroys souls. Yet sacramentalism is foundational to much of Christendom today. It permeates Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Episcopalianism, and Roman Catholicism, and it is connived at by many Reformed and Presbyterian denominations and pastors. In fact if we're honest we'll admit that the sacramental error is cheek-by-jowl next to every Biblical practice of infant baptism, bedeviling paedobaptist churches just as the sacramentalism of decisional regeneration bedevils credobaptist churches.
It is never, ever right to lead the souls under our care to believe that Baptism saves us...
I'm glad you asked! It's often the case in our culture that the more we talk about something, the less we understand it. Have you heard any songs about love on the radio recently? The Great Commission is talked about quite a lot today, but it is not well understand.
Here's a small teaser for the conference. Watch it, and then go register!
[From Tyree's video opposing sodomite marriage] I'm not political, I approach more from an angle of prayer. As much as people are going to voice their opinions and make those pushes in a negative direction, I feel like athletes, believers or people who are very strong toward marriage, especially in places of position need to really take this opportunity to voice it. Marriage is one of those things that is the backbone of society. So if you redefine it, it changes the way we educate our children, it changes the perception of what is good, what is right, what is just.
[Tyree twittered] People of faith ... direct some prayers my way. Got darts comin from every direction. Blessed are those persecuted for His name's sake.
The ethics professor at the Presbyterian Church in America's Covenant Theological Seminary told Christianity Today that he opposed sodomy laws. I wrote him a letter expressing my concern over his efforts to legalize sodomy and Covenant's president at the time, Bryan Chapell, wrote to reassure me that his professor was not going soft on homosexuality. Duly noted.
Now, the battle has moved on to sodomite marriage and "marriage equality" is all the rage...
Here's a letter written by father of three, Tom Ball, explaining why he planned to set fire to himself. The letter was received by the New Hampshire Sentinel this past Thursday morning, June 16th--one day after Mr. Ball burned himself to death in front of the Cheshire County Courthouse in Keene, New Hampshire.
Despair is evil and suicide more so, but it's worth reading Mr. Ball's very long letter to understand the policeman/judge/social worker troika feminists have so successfully employed to destroy millions of homes, robbing many more millions of children of their fathers. Likely every last one of us reading this apologia knows at least several fathers who have been arrested or had their children taken from their home without warrant. And Mr. Ball is right--it will only get worse.
Note particularly Mr. Ball's failed efforts to get official stats on domestic violence arrests; but also his stats on the percentage of domestic batteries and murders committed by men and women. Our good readers must be reminded again and again that domestic violence is an equal opportunity employer.
If you don't let the putrid pus of God-hatred perpetually oozing from the New York Times sidetrack you, here's an account of a godly man following in Augustine's footsteps, but with a slightly different prayer: "O Lord, give me chastity. Now!"
Until the late nineties, I read and preached from the New International Version. Since then I've exclusively used the New American Standard Bible Updated (1995) Edition. For many reasons that is the Bible I commend. Some in ClearNote Church of Bloomington use the English Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, or the New King James. I have no strong objection to these Bibles, but our standard here at ClearNote Church of Bloomington is the NASB Updated Edition. (Here's a longer explanation of why I prefer the NASB.)
Bible Design Blog is the place I turn for reviews of Bible printings and bindings. The details this blog provides are superb. Here's a review of an NASB printed by R. L. Allen and bound in crimson Highland goatskin.
Sitting in presbytery ordination exams, many times I've heard the question, "What is the proper mode of baptism?" The required answer, of course, is "sprinkling," and that's what most every candidate says. Then the candidate is asked this follow-up question: "Will you baptize by immersion if asked to do so?" Well-schooled candidates respond with this shibboleth, "Well, I suppose an unusual situation could arise in which I would be willing to do so, but sprinkling is the proper mode and I would only deviate from that mode for an extraordinary reason." Some overzealous men, though, win brownie points by responding, "No and never! Live presbyterian or die!"
Presbyterians and baptists bickering with each other like teenage girls--that's what this presbytery ritual is all about. Assuming raising Covenant children is not the only form of evangelism presbyterians are doing in our day, we can expect adult baptisms in our work and in most of those cases it's our practice to immerse...
Now since this charge is expressly given to the apostles along with the preaching of the word, it follows that none can lawfully administer baptism but those who are also the ministers of doctrine. When private persons, and even women, are permitted to baptize, nothing can be more at variance with the ordinance of Christ, nor is it any thing else than a mere profanation. - Calvin on Matthew 28:16-20
Increasingly, the session of ClearNote Church of Bloomington has been receiving applicants for membership who have been baptized by Cru girlfriends, their parents, a parachurch aquaintance, or almost anyone other than a church officer administering the Sacraments as a fulfillment of his office.
We've worked through this carefully, finally coming to the conclusion that baptisms done privately by friends and relatives are not true baptisms. There are many issues, here, and the arguments are long and involved, but at the end of it there was no doubt in our minds that the Sacraments are given by our Lord to the Church--not to individuals and families--and that to be a fulfillment of our Lord's commands, they must be administered by the officers our Lord has called and set apart to lead His Church.