Thursday, 17 July 2014

Does the Bible Condone Premarital Sex? - by Bob Russell

Occasionally church leaders email me, asking for my opinion on various personal or church problems. This spring, I received a note from a church leader in another city. The location isn’t important, because the situation he outlined is common across the nation.
He wrote of how a number of members ages 25 to 35 had reached the conclusion that premarital sex is “OK.” Some even play on the praise team, teach in the children’s program, or film videos for weekly announcements.

“The problem is that some of them will tell me that they cannot find anything in scripture that says that what they are doing, having sex with someone, is wrong,” he said. “I have taught on the subject, but they do not see a direct statement against premarital sex.”

Dealing with sin.

He asked for other scriptures he can use, as well as about the church’s stance.
Should it allow them to continue leading ministries or bring them before the congregation and—as the Bible says—have nothing to do with them in hopes it will help them see their sin and return to Christ?
“I know that Satan wants to get in and cause problems in the church, but I also know the need to accept them and love them,” he concluded. “But we also have to deal with sin, or Satan wins.”

In my response, I pointed out that the Bible repeatedly instructs God’s people to “flee fornication.” For 2,000 years, the word translated “fornication” in Scripture has been understood to include the prohibition of sex prior to marriage. Webster’s dictionary definition is clear: “consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other.”

A privileged experience.

God designed the physical union of a man and a woman as a privileged experience within the bounds of marriage. The Lord intended marriage as a secure environment for raising children and a uniquely meaningful union that symbolizes God’s committed relationship to us (Ephesians 5:32).

If there was nothing wrong with premarital sex, then why was Joseph determined to divorce Mary when he discovered she was expecting a child prior to marriage?
If there is nothing wrong with premarital sex, then one could conclude there is nothing wrong with having children out of wedlock.

Read the full write up here.

Every Church leader needs to take a decision and stand on premarital sex and be ready to encourage the up coming generation to live a holy life. We have to show them by our exemplary lives that it is possible to obey the Lord. Church discipline must be practiced in cases of flagrant known sins, especially where it involves leaders. Except we do this, the next generation may come to the point whereby sex before marriage will be accepted as a way of life for Church members.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The burden of knowledge

The burden of knowledge
I had wanted to title this piece “The perils of knowledge”. But because I do not want many to misunderstand the title at first glance, taken out of context, I have decided to title it “The burden of knowledge”. I strongly encourage people to pursue God and strive to know Him personally. However, when God begins to open Himself to us and starts to give us the revelation of His ways, we have to be careful the way we deal with the “ignorant” men around us who presumably do not know what we know. If we are not aware of the burden we have to bear because of what we now know, we can destroy those around us and even destroy ourselves. 1 Cor. 8:11 says that our knowledge can destroy a weak brother if we are not careful.
We are all familiar with the passage, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” Hos.4:6, however, not many are aware of this other side of knowledge, that it can hinder you; can limit you and puff you up and even kill you. The Bible says that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor.8:1) and makes you feel important and can set you up in a position where God Himself will work to resist you. Doesn’t that catch your attention? It indeed catches mine.

This is why I am sharing these 5 burdens of knowledge:
1. Exercise of knowledge must have some controls. Knowledge lifts you from where you are to a different mental estate. Knowledge expands your understanding and capacity to reason. Knowledge makes you different. What you know can make you think differently, analyze issues differently, respond to situations differently and even live differently. In fact knowledge can change you.
Having said that, it is important to note that even though the knowledge you just gained has changed you, your environment and the people around you have not changed with you. Why? It is simple; they do not know what you know. It will take you time to let them know what you know, let them understand what you mean, and bring them to the level where you are, precept upon precept, line upon line, a little here, a little there until they come to the same plane where you are. Hence, in manifesting your knowledge, you must control yourself depending on the gap between you and your environment and also depending on the gap between you and the people around you. Control does not mean that you compromise your core or the content of what you know, it all means that you exercise patience and wisdom in manifesting your knowledge and the revelation of God that you have. Even in the Scriptures, God’s dealing with us is in progressive revelation. We can deal with our fellow humans the way God deals with us. Knowledge on its own is not tangible. What people can touch is how you go about your knowledge; the things you do with what you know and how you manifest what you know. For knowledge to be profitable, we must add self-control to it. 2 Pet.1:6.

2. Knowledge needs to be balanced with other attributes, virtues and character in order to positively impart others around us. My emphasis is not on the earthly knowledge and wisdom which sometimes we may have to completely set aside if we must operate in faith; what I mean here is the spiritual knowledge which makes us claim to have known the Lord better than others. I mean the knowledge that changes the way people look at us and makes them to hold us at a high esteem spiritually. This knowledge must be balanced with other areas of our lives. The level of spiritual knowledge we claim we possess must produce virtue and godly character. If it does not produce righteousness, then there is a question mark on your spiritual knowledge regardless of what you say. It amazes me when men claim spiritual knowledge and still remain naughty, rebellious and immoral. These things do not add up.

3. Increase in knowledge must go with increase in humility if it is going to produce spiritual results. One of the reasons why knowledge can become a snare is that it can raise your shoulders up and make you become a Pharisee. The Pharisees are critics who do not offer alternative solutions. They do not believe that God can also use somebody else apart from themselves. They run others down and despise their level of knowledge but expect the same people to recognize and respect their own knowledge and insight. I do not want to be distracted here into discussing the Pharisees, but suffice it to say that the Pharisees burden others with their knowledge and keep them perpetually dependents and ignorant. No effort is made to liberate others from ignorance.
Spiritual knowledge must be dispensed with great humility if we expect it to change men. We encounter oppositions and the ego of men because the people feel our pride and “holier than thou” attitude as we share what we know. They hear our counsels and revelation but feel our pride and ego. They hear our words but see our high handedness. We must apply the things we learn from our Bible Studies with great humility especially when others are involved. You know, it is easier to pride ourselves around with claims of knowledge and demand respect and recognition than to humble ourselves and look for the best ways to impart the lives of others with what we know. For me, the content of the message is as important as the vehicle or means through which the message is delivered and the way it is delivered.

4. Responsibility must increase with Knowledge. We have seen it play out in relationships and in our attitudes and response to issues. For example, it is the person who knows that he has to pursue peace by all means possible that will humble himself, deny himself, and even often give up his right for the sake of peace. What he knows makes him to be the first to initiate peace moves in spite of his personal ego and the insensitivity of the other person involved. He accepts to be defrauded if it will bring peace because of his knowledge. Why? This is because that is the dictate of the Scriptures that he knows. It is the person that knows that bears the responsibility in making sure that the situation they are in produces spiritual result. Not the ignorant, even though at the end of the day, his ignorance does exonerate him before God.
The Scriptures you know places demand upon you to obey them and be different even when people around you think otherwise. This is one of the reasons the devil does not want God’s people to study the Bible. He lures them away from their Bibles with all kinds of human philosophies and empty fables. The reason is simple, when you know and do not obey, guilt can easily be stirred up in you quicker than somebody who is completely ignorant and does not care. Hence repentance is possible where there is knowledge.
Having said that, my challenge is that I see men that claim that they know, but at the same time they live in a blatant disregard to their claim and yet bear no guilt about it. This indeed is a paradox.

5. Knowledge raises expectations. When we claim that we know, we raise people’s expectations from us. It is not only that God looks upon us, depending on His investment in us, men around us also expect to see what we claim we know in our own personal lives. The tragedy of our time is that we have a generation that claim they know God and His word but fight anybody who places a demand upon their lives because of what they claim they know. At best they explain it away. For me, it is a high level of irresponsibility to make a claim and refuse people placing a demand upon such a claim. If we claim we know, we must bear the burden of that knowledge. Knowledge must bear responsibility.
We must pay attention to these issues because God has called us to impart lives and to equip them for Him. This must be our focus in all that we do in the Body of Christ.
At the end of the day, knowledge shall pass away. What shall remain as substance is how we treated and made allowance for other brethren; how we esteemed others above ourselves; how we humbled ourselves for Christ to be exalted; how we showed love to others, especially those who cannot pay us back. Love is what builds the body. 1 Cor. 8:1.

God bless you!