Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sodom & Gomorrah, the Lutheran Church, and the Rapture

Sodom & Gomorrah, the Lutheran Church, and the Rapture
David Q. Santos
Modern Christianity often highlights God’s characteristic of love. This is without a doubt a key characteristic of the Biblical God and as the Apostle John notes, “8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).[1] The church (and the world) must not forget that God has a high standard; requiring nothing short of perfection. God is a righteous God who first gives mankind a specific responsibility; tests them against that responsibility; and when they fail judgment must then follow. The Moody Handbook of Theology notes, “there are three aspects normally seen in a dispensation: (1) testing; (2) failure; (3) judgment. In each dispensation God has put man under a test, man fails, and there is judgment.”[2]

This pattern of testing, failure, and judgment can be seen throughout the Bible. Adam was tested by only one commandment; not to eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When Adam failed he was cast out of the Garden of Eden. God deals with nations in a similar fashion. He tends to leave nations alone to sink into their depravity and wickedness until they must be judged. This is exactly what happened to the world before Noah’s flood. Genesis describes the world at that point through God’s eyes explaining that, “5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”[3] As God looked down upon the world in all of its wickedness He knew that it must be judged. Before that judgment He chose His representative to mankind, Noah, who was to become the remnant of mankind. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (1 Pet. 2:5) and given revelation of the coming world destruction. But Noah and his family were not the only people to be saved from this world wide destruction. The Old Testament character, Enoch, was also saved from destruction; but he was not part of the remnant that remained on the earth. He was taken to be with God (Gen. 5:24) before God’s judgment.
Sodom & Gomorrah

In similar fashion God also chose to judge the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Their wickedness is noted many times in both the Old and New Testaments. The book of Jude recognizes that their immorality had grown to the point that sexual immorality had become rampant. Jude 7 states: “7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”[4] Sodom and Gomorrah were to serve as an example for going after “strange flesh” which is an idiom for homosexual behavior. Wickedness will always manifest itself in the normalization of all kinds of immorality with its highest form becoming going after “strange flesh.” Peter explains further that while these cities were destroyed for their acceptance of immorality the only righteous man left had to be delivered from its boundaries before God could pour out fire and brimstone upon it.

2 Peter 2:6-9 says, "6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment."[5] Therefore, Lot, who was not perfect, was delivered by the work of angels from the city before its destruction. When looking at the historical accounts of Noah and of Lot it seems that God always delivers the righteous out of His wrath being poured out in judgment. God does directly judge nations that willfully turn away from Him and seek their own pleasures. One sign that a nation or group has turned away from God is the acceptance and even exaltation of a homosexual lifestyle. Homosexuality, and other sexual sins, is not any more condemning for a person than any other sin (1 Cor. 6:8-11). But within the judgment of nations it does appear that the embracing of what might be called today “alternative lifestyles” eventually causes a nation to fall.

The Church’s Responsibility

It would seem today that parts of the church have forgotten their first and primary role. That role is to be the Bride of Christ. The duty of a bride is to prepare herself and keep herself pure while waiting for her wedding day. The bride of Christ is to be purifying herself with the washing of the word so that, as Paul wrote, “27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).”[6] In Ephesians Paul connects the understanding of a husband making his wife pure by the washing of the word to the important concept of the church also being purified. If fact Paul exclaims that the church should be without a single blemish. This, of course, can only be accomplished by the washing or cleaning that comes from taking in the Word of God in its full counsel; accepting what it teaches and seeking to have its authoritative words change the church rather than man twisting its words to say what they want it to say.

The Lutheran Church (and others)

It would seem that some of “the church” has forgotten about the authority of Scripture. Rather than accepting its clear teachings on morality they feel that it is better to conform to the world. The power of Scripture is to change lives as it washes the believer, pointing out corruption of sin that it may then be removed. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, “12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).[7] Through the power of the Word of God the believer can be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)who is Jesus Christ, and to be obedient like children conforming to the “former lusts” (1 Pet. 1:14.)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recently voted to allow actively homosexual men and women to fill their pulpits where they are to be ministers of Jesus Christ, which is a clear departure from the Word of God. They argue that there are differing views of what Scripture has to say about this matter and vow to incorporate all of these views into their faith statement. Paul made a clear statement to Timothy and Titus that pastors are to be “husbands of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2; 12; Titus 1:6) and each man is to have his own wife and a woman her own husband (1 Cor. 7:2). This states that men are to be church leaders who have a wife (although they can also be unmarried cf. 1 Cor. 7:8-9).
The church has been instructed to abstain from sexual immorality (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Thess. 4:3).

As the church continues to embrace immorality, even to the point of allowing homosexuals to be the spiritual leaders of a congregation one must think of Paul’s end times prediction that there would be a falling away or departure from the faith (2 Thess. 2:3). It is easy to see the type of departure that Paul was writing and teaching about. As the church continues to imitate the world’s rush to reject absolute truth the Word of God is trampled by those that should be washing themselves and renewing their minds in the Word of God which is the only place one can find true, real, honest, and absolute truth; like it or not.

A church who rejects the truth of Scripture soon finds itself mired in the muck of the world, covered in its stench and mud with no clear way out. At the same time being arrogant; thinking that they are right with God because they have been baptized by water in their church. This is the same thinking that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had and yet Jesus warned them exclaiming, “27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).[8] It is a terrifying thing to realize that the church of today is adopting the thinking of the Pharisees. Some churches are like those whitewashed tombs; they look great on the outside but on the inside they are dead having a form of godliness (2 Tim. 3:5) but they are hollow in the inside, lacking the richness that comes from belief in Jesus Christ and the washing of the Word. Paul warned the church stating in Romans 11:20-21, “Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.”[9]

The world was destroyed in the time of Noah because of wickedness. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed for its wickedness; particularly its sexual immorality (Jude 7). And now that same wickedness continues to creep into the church; the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ who is to keeping itself pure and holy, without any blemish. It is this type of wickedness that brought about judgment in the past and it would be arrogant to think that the church is above judgment. In fact Paul declared that there would be judgment for arrogance. The church should expect this judgment to come soon because of the acceptance of homosexuality into its leadership. But just as in the days of Noah the righteous will be removed from the world and from the corrupt, immoral, depraved church that has turned away from the authority of Scripture. This brings about the realization that the “church” will go through the tribulation; but the true believers who are part of the true church will be raptured before judgment is poured out on all of those who have rejected Christ. The incorporation and acceptance of sexual immorality into part of the corporate church is a clear sign of the nearness of the rapture, tribulation, and the judgment that comes with it. The “falling away” is in full view, those faithful believers must find places of worship where they will be fed the Word of God that they might grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus while being washed and purified by the Word for that coming day when judgment begins.

Luke 17:25-3025 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.[10]

Maranatha!!! Our Lord Comes!!!

Further Reading:
[1] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982
[2]Enns, Paul P.: The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill. : Moody Press, 1997, c1989, S. 519
[3] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982
[4] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982
[5] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982
[6] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[7] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[8] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[9] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[10] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

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