Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Metastasis of Antinomianism?

Beyonce Knowles and Houston pastor Rudy Rasmus
It seems like many of my posts have dealt with entertainers and their impact on our culture. I guess when they pop up in the news a lot, it can't be helped.

More specifically, I tend to post about entertainers—whether they be actors, musicians, comedians, etc—when said entertainer has made vocal profession of their Christian faith, and then publicly behave in ways that call that faith into question. I wish it wasn't necessary, but it is.

I want you to read  this article about Beyonce Knowles and her longtime pastor Rudy Rasmus. When you are finished reading it, I think you'll have a pretty clear idea about what disturbs me the most on things like this. And yes, it is related to the subject of growing antinomianism within evangelical Christianity.

You can go down the list of young entertainers who have made public professions of their faith in Christ in media interviews. You can start with Justin Bieber, and go down the list to Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and other notables. All have drawn headlines with behavior that is not in comportment with their profession of Christianity. In many cases, the behavior has brought significant shame and reproach on the Lord.

When I've seen these stories surface, my first questions to myself are, "Where are their pastors? Where is their spiritual accountability?" (Leave parents out of it for the time being) If people are professed Christians, typically you will (or should) find them in a local fellowship of some kind for teaching, edification, fellowship, worship, and yes, accountability.

The Beyonce article quotes Pastor Rudy at some length in defense of Beyonce. She apparently does a lot of humanitarian-related giving, especially with the Houston Food Bank and the church. Laudable and commendable. But given the often explicit nature of Beyonce's stage performances and lyrics, it calls her overall spiritual health and condition into question. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." This goes beyond the "red letter" Bible verses. Indeed, let this verse stand out loud, clear, and bold:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Pastor Rudy is quoted as saying that people need to remember that Beyonce is an entertainer who entertains. But how that ties to her spiritual life, "I don't know." Oh, really? That's pretty foundational Christian teaching. If pastors, elders, and teachers of local congregations are not holding their people—and by that I mean professed believers in their fellowships—accountable in their behavior, it is little wonder that there are going to be behavior issues. To be sure, we as individual believers are also responsible before God as to how we live. We are responsible to be obedient to Him ourselves without needing someone to tell us to do it. We need to be obedient to the Word of God. The Bible is God's revelation to fallen man, and His marching orders to His people.

We are NOT saved by keeping commandments. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. But if we are truly saved and have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we will want to be obedient to the Lord out of love for Him. We will recognize that we are His ambassadors representing Him before a fallen world. Yet, antinomianism seems to be the flavor of the day again. It's been an issue throughout church history, and it surfaces yet again. Antinomians believe that since we are saved by grace, love is all that matters and our behavior really doesn't matter that much, with the exception of "love."

American Christians seem to have forgotten what biblical love is and means. I'll repeat the Lord Jesus' words - "If you love Me, keep My commandments." If we do not keep the Lord's commandments, we are not loving Him. If we are behaving and speaking in a way that leads people to think that sin is okay, we are not loving others as well as not loving God. OUR BEHAVIOR AND OUR SPEECH MATTERS.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul rhetorically asked, "Shall we sin that grace may abound?" His divinely inspired answer to the rhetorical question: "God forbid!" Other translations of Scripture say "May it never be!"

The last thing I'll say on this today is in anticipation of those who will call me judgmental and unloving. They love to throw "Judge not lest ye be judged" at people who raise issues like this. They throw that out there and have no understanding whatsoever of what constitutes proper biblical judgment and when it is appropriate. Jesus also said to "judge with righteous judgment." In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul also dealt with the issue of "judgment." Specifically, judging those "outside the church" and judging those "in the church." I'll post the whole passage so the context will be clear — a professed believer living a sinful lifestyle:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). 

That's pretty plain, isn't it? Unbelievers will act like unbelievers, and our role toward them is to be ambassadors of God, faithful, loving witnesses to His truth, and faithful to share the Gospel, the hope of salvation. But God will deal with judging their hearts. But as to believers, we ARE to judge behavior when it flies in the face of what God has commanded in His Word. Sin among believers is to be confronted and dealt with. Church discipline is to be imposed—not for the sake of punishment, but rather to provoke repentance and restoration. 

That's the biblical truth. We are compelled to be obedient to it. When pastors, elders, and teachers fail in their duty to uphold this truth, we will be held accountable by God. 

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