By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
I was drawn to your Web page by your listing in the recent voter’s pamphlet. I served as a senator in the student government at a local Community College. I recently also hosted (at my own expense and without help) a table at my college offering pamphlets encouraging people to read the Bible. So perhaps you and I have some things in common.
I’m wondering if, should you become Senator, you will implement the death penalty for homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-32), not being a Christian (Exodus 22:18, 22:20; Deuteronomy 12:30, 13:6-10, 13:12-16, 17:2-7, 17:12-13; 2 Kings 11:18; 2 Chronicles 15:13), not going to church on Sunday (Exodus 31:14), working on Sunday (Exodus 35:203), cussing (Leviticus 24:16; 1 Kings 21:13), and false prophecy (Deuteronomy 12:1-5, 18:20). There are many other people the Bible says Christians are obliged to kill, but this is enough for me to get an idea what sort of Christian you are. Of course one cannot pick and chose from the Bible only what one likes: on your Web page you talk about the error of reading only parts of the Bible, or the error of focusing on denominations rather than the Bible itself. Jesus said “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18,19) and “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). So it’s all or nothing – no buffet line religion allowed.
I look forward to your reply.
Thank you for your inquiry. Your questions and concerns about Christianity, how it has been understood, and how God desires it to be understood are important to examine.
In your letter, you referenced a number of Biblical texts which are given as capital offenses. You went on to make a statement about my character and my caliber as a Christian,
“There are many other people the Bible says Christians are obliged to kill, but this is enough for me to get an idea what sort of Christian you are.”
I would suggest that you read the preamble/introduction to my website article discussing the Bible and Sexuality. Your judgment and assertion that I am that “sort of Christian” is exactly opposite to the position I have taken regarding this issue. In the Bible & Sexuality article, I clearly described how Jesus had set the example of how we are to deal with people who are repentant sinners.
The question you ask is whether the Bible requires us to execute homosexuals, adulterers, idolators, etc. as agents of God who must follow the Law if we are to be authentic, whole-Bible Christians.
In short, the answer is no. We are now in a dispensation of grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus. But, the fact that forgiveness can be given when there is repentance in no way changed the cause and effect relationship God has prescribed for sin in His Law.
You quoted a portion of Matthew 5:18 18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The implication of your argument is that because not one jot or tiddle of the Law will pass away, that we as Christians are required to be God’s executioners of His Law. And further, since this portion of God’s nature and law seems very harsh and unloving, the Christian who doesn’t kill homosexuals is being hypocritical or a smorgasbord Christian. The implication here is that either the Law is wrong, Christians are hypocrites, that as Christians we cannot choose what we want to believe from the Bible, or that the entire Bible is a self-contradictory Book which cannot be believed and should therefore be disregarded as a false religion.
The scriptures you quoted and the short argument you presented appear to be arguing against a Bible and God which is capable of both Law and Grace. The Old Testament was a dispensation on the earth where “The Law” was fully executed. The exact balance between Law and Justice was met by offering sacrifices of animals as substitutionary death for the death that was required by the Law. You are right, the Law did not pass away, but mercy was brought in as a new Law, as a new operative principle of the Universe.
This is God’s universe, it isn’t ours. It is He who decides what is right and wrong, what is worthy of punishment and what is acceptable as a sacrifice. His will and Way are alone supreme. His desire is for obedience, not sacrifice. If obedience and repentance rise in the heart of the sinner, the sin is covered.
I do believe that if we as a society give comfort and approval to those who flagrantly violate God’s moral standards, we risk the retribution of God. I believe the economic difficulties, internal unrest, reduction in personal freedom of movement, etc, can be reflected back to our societal turn from a Biblical standard. I do not believe it is possible to reach the highest levels of human potential as a secular humanist nation/world. I believe it is necessary to embrace the heart of God’s moral standards to experience the fullness of relationship with God, His guidance individually, and His leading of the society.
I believe the cognitive dissonance you feel will disappear when you have a personal, submitted-to-His-Law relationship with the God of the Bible. When you have a personal experience of the Truth of His Law and experience of forgiveness for your inevitable shortcomings, I believe you will then understand the source of error in your judgment.
God, Most High God, the God of the Bible, the Father of Jesus the Messiah, IS ALL LOVE, ALL TRUTH, ALL JUSTICE, AND ALL LIFE. Jesus is the Word of Truth and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. But, El Elyon, God, Most High God is ALL TRUTH. It is just and right to punish the one who does wrong to another. It would not be loving to allow the wrongdoer to go unpunished and the victim not to be given justice. Therefore, God has standards and gradations of punishment to fit the wrong-doing. This sequence of legislated cause and effect is known as LAW. In this case, the sequence is legislated by God Himself.
But, God has made provision for the Letter of His Law to be tempered with His Grace and His LOVE. He tells us in the Bible that the Letter of the LAW kills, but the Spirit of the LAW gives LIFE. God highly esteems and honors LIFE. The LIGHT of His TRUTH still shines and TRUTH is still TRUTH. He cannot disregard His own Law; JUSTICE must still be served. It is the miraculous threading of the needle of His own Law that allowed God to provide for absolute Law and forgiveness by allowing the sacrifice of Jesus to be an acceptable payment for violation. God is fundamentally a God of love and relationship, and as such, He always prefers repentance and obedience over sacrifice and death. The Bible is clear and consistent throughout; He prefers Mercy to sacrifice.
Mercy and Grace are what His Son Jesus demonstrated throughout His LIFE on earth. And no one ever, before or since, could demonstrate more LOVE for every human being than Jesus did when He took the penalty for all of our sins upon Himself. He allowed the vilest attack upon His whole person in order to pay the penalty for the sins of us all.
You may be plagued by the fact that you are committing some sin that you know is prohibited and punishable by death. We are all sinners, you are not unique, we are all deserving of death. It is only by His grace that we are pardoned and the punishment is not executed.
If you repent of your sin, humbly accept His sacrifice, His payment for your sin, He will receive you as blameless and sinless in His sight. And, if you invite Him to come into the center of your being and be your Lord and Master, committed to following His Laws and Way, you will find the dearest friend and the most excellent Love of your life living in your heart and communing in great intimacy with you on a daily basis. I hope and pray you come to know Him in that wonderful way.
Now to explain the scripture your quoted: Let me give you the context of what was said and other related scriptures:
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
2 Corinthians 5:19 … God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Matthew 5: 17 “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. 18 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. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Do you see what the “good news” or “gospel” is? Jesus came to fulfill the law for you and me, because He knew none of us were able to “fulfill” it. He lived a perfect sinless life for you and me, so that He could be the perfect, spotless lamb of God, a sufficient sacrifice for our errors and sins. He came to fulfill the requirements of the LAW for you. That doesn’t mean that the LAW is no longer the standard. That is why he said that if we want a reward in His Kingdom, we must continue to teach the standard of excellence in the LAW. That is what we are doing on the website. We are teaching the standard because the standard has not changed. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that His standard is even higher than the Mosaic LAW.
He tells us later in Matthew 5:20-32 that anyone who is angry at a brother without cause is guilty of murder. He says anyone who lusts in his heart is guilty of sexual sin.
But, through His death and resurrection, He imparts to those who have faith in Him and His atoning sacrifice, the ability to become the Sons of God and overcome the sins of this world. It is a daily walk, and having others around you who have overcome those sins that challenge you can make that overcoming-life easier. That is why we placed information about where one can get that support at the end of the scriptures on the “Bible and Sexual Sin” webpage. Support, encouragement, and gentle nurturing are available to overcome any sin. One just needs to make a quality decision to follow Jesus, ask for His help, receive His baptism in the Holy Spirit to empower you to overcome and to allow others who have been there to help guide you on the way out of Egypt and into the promised land.
In the letters written by John, in 1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
As Paul says in Romans 3, the purpose of the LAW is to make us conscious of our sin and God’s standard of purity. He wants us to realize that we need the sacrifice of a Savior for our sins. He wants us to look through our veil of our pride and to see how we look in His eyes, so that we are willing to repent. He wants us to be willing to allow Him to impact our lives and change us from what we are to what He knows He created us to be, a courageous overcomer:
Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his JUSTICE, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – 26 he did it to demonstrate his JUSTICE at the present time, so as to be JUST and the one who JUSTIFIES those who have faith in Jesus.
The Gospel of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 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. 19 This is the verdict: LIGHT has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of LIGHT because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the LIGHT, and will not come into the LIGHT for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever LIVES by the TRUTH comes into the LIGHT, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
May God grant you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand so that you are able to turn toward Him and allow Him to heal you. God wants to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing. I invite you to let Him gather you.
I hope this explanation answers your questions and concerns. We serve a God of Law and grace. The Bible is a remarkable hologram of perspectives of the unspeakable, awesome, and matchless God of the Universe. I’m glad you are promoting the Bible. I hope this has added to your understanding of my perspective of the Bible.
Thank you for asking,