Thursday, September 19, 2013

Popes Change, but God Does Not!

The world is abuzz today with Pope Francis' recent interview where he in essence says the Catholic Church needs to re-assess how it handles homosexuality and other issues. Needless to say, political and theological liberals are ebullient, while those of us who are biblical (and political) conservatives are not.

It all depends on precisely what Francis means. As a non-Catholic evangelical Protestant, of course I do not recognize his spiritual authority. But conservative Catholics and conservative Protestants are in agreement on many moral issues, and I would join those conservative Catholics in alarm if this signals a liberalizing of theology. Because in the end, it all boils down to the authority of God and His revealed, written Word—the Bible. And as we know, the authority of the Bible in relation to the authority of the church has always been a bone of contention since the Reformation.

God's Word says what means and means what it says. What the Bible calls sin and evil is—and remains—sin and evil. God does not change and His Word does not change, even though human spiritual leaders do change over time. Human spiritual leaders have no right whatsoever to alter the Word of God. Whoever does so will pay a very severe price in eternity.

If Francis means only that the truth must be communicated in love, and not in legalistic, heartless coldness, I would agree with him. After all, we are all sinners saved by grace—assuming we really ARE saved. But Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." Our obedience to His Word and moral behavior is a sign that we truly are His children, and confirms such to the world. We are Christ's ambassadors. If we try to justify sinful behavior and say that it doesn't matter, we have only become antinomian and are ultimately deniers of the Lord, because we make Him a liar. The same Jesus who forgave the woman in adultery also told her very clearly, "Go, and sin no more." The Lord did not excuse her sin, and commanded her to repent of it.

The Gospel holds out hope of salvation and deliverance from the power of sin. Note the Apostle Paul's words on that subject . . . Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Paul, in the authority of the Lord Himself and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, laid out quite a laundry list of sins, and then said, "such WERE some of you." Christ came to free us from the power of sin. Romans 6:2 - will we who died to sin still live in it? God forbid!

I hope Francis believes the above, and will uphold it. But if he means to sweep these sins under the rug and water down the truth of the Gospel, that cannot go unchallenged. And it won't. Time will tell.

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