Sharing the Truth in Love
About the Guest
The gospel of Jesus Christ is still The Good News, and we should share it as such. We must refrain from the common practice of watering it down so it becomes palatable to people-people still drowning in their sin. Dr. Russell Moore reminds Christians that the power of the gospel-the whole gospel-is salvation.
Russell MooreRussell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Prior to his election to this role in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics. A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him “vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate” whi...more
Dr. Russell Moore reminds Christians that the power of the gospel-the whole gospel-is salvation.
Sharing the Truth in Love
Bob: Is it hard for a person to maintain sexual purity and integrity in a sexually- saturated culture, like the one in which we live? Dr. Russell Moore says, “Of course, it is; but that doesn’t mean we change the standard.”
Russell: The gospel of Jesus Christ does not pretend that the path to sexual purity is easy. The gospel of Jesus Christ says that the entire life of the Christian is one of bearing a cross, which is why we need the entire body of Christ—every single one of us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Dr. Russell Moore today about living with integrity and representing God’s truth about sexuality in the midst of a sexually-confused culture. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I sometimes wonder if moms and dads, who are raising the next generation, right now, are going to be able to make a convincing case to their children about a biblical view of gender and sexuality when the culture is shouting so loudly against what mom and dad are trying to say. Who are the kids going to ultimately listen to?
Dennis: Well, I think it doesn’t mean that we, as parents, simply cave into the culture and say, “Why try?” because the culture is—well, it’s such a swift current. It’s such a powerful movement today to, truthfully, brainwash our kids. It is why parents, who are listening to this broadcast, need to make sure they are being intentional to present a biblical view of human sexuality of our morality before God and why abstinence is the preferred method of marriage preparation in a relationship.
Dennis: And how, after we are married, we need to honor our vows and stay faithful to one another in marriage. These are life-altering issues, Bob—that if we don’t train our children and if we don’t live them out—what’s going to become of the Christian community?
Bob: Yes, our friend, Dr. Russell Moore, was speaking recently to a group of pastors. We’ve already heard the first part of his message this week—that he shared with these pastors. The question was: “How do we live faithfully for Christ in a culture that increasingly ignores or disregards a biblical sexual ethic?” That’s becoming more and more of a reality for everybody in this country. We’ve got to figure out how we do that.
Dennis: And if we don’t live them out, then, we’re not going to be the salt and light in the culture that it desperately needs today because it doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Russell: In some Amish communities, there is the concept of rumspringa, which is the understanding that, in that community, children are raised up to live as Amish; but then, when they reach a certain age—in late adolescence—they are able to leave the community and to experience anything that they want to experience—to be able to live out anything that they think they might miss later on—and then, to decide at the end of all of that, whether they want to come back or whether they want to go out into the outside world. There was even an attempt, several years ago, to build a reality show around the idea of rumspringa with Amish kids—who are smoking cigarettes for the first time, and getting drunk for the first time, and having illicit sex for the first time.
You know, the problem is we have a sort of rumspringa in conservative evangelical circles too. We have, for a long time, assumed that there would come a certain point in the lifespan of the people in our own congregations in which they would walk away from the faith that has been given to them—they would give themselves over to the pursuit of whatever sort of pleasure and success they wished to seek. Then, after they get married—settle down / start having children—then, they come back into the church because they want to have a place with programs for their children. They’re now normal citizens—normal church members—and the process starts all over again.
The problem with that is that is not the church that Jesus said He would build.
The church that Jesus said He would build is a church that is a colony of the Kingdom of God that is different from the ambient culture around it and points the ambient culture to a day in which the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
We have lived with that expectation that, somehow, we are going to be able to simply call for mental assent to the facts of the gospel and then to have people—when they are ready to settle back down into our routines—that somehow, we will be able to prevail against the gates of hell with a church like that. That is not the promise that Jesus has given.
We also have for too long, in many of our congregations and in many of our circles, held to a discount-store prosperity gospel. I heard, several years ago, watching a program—I told a group the other day, “I don’t watch horror films.
The closest I come is watching prosperity gospel preachers on TV.” It gives me the same sort of adrenal rush. [Laughter] And on this program, that day, there was a prosperity gospel teacher sitting on a golden throne, literally, with all sorts of rhinestones and purplish hair. She said, on this occasion, “Even if the gospel of Jesus Christ were not true, I would still want to be a Christian because this is the best way to live.” You know, that’s an easy thing to say—from a golden throne on television. [Laughter] That’s a difficult thing to say in Sudan. That’s a difficult thing to say in China. That’s a difficult thing to say in Ephesus, in Rome, in Jerusalem, in Judea.
When we are calling people to a Christian sexual ethic—if we have spent all of our time preaching a gospel that fulfills all the expectations that you already have of what it means to live your normal life / your best life now, with heaven at the end of it—then, of course, it seems nonsensical to say to those that God has called to singleness that the path toward chastity is hard, and difficult, and rigorous.
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not pretend that the path to sexual purity is easy. The gospel of Jesus Christ says that the entire life of the Christian is one of bearing a cross—
—which is why we need the entire body of Christ—every single one of us—vulnerable at different points, and vulnerable in different places, and vulnerable in different ways—but all of us need the body of Christ so that the stronger bear up the weaker.
And all of us need a gospel—not an almost gospel—but a whole gospel that speaks to us truthfully of God’s justice and truthfully of God’s justification—to realize and to recognize that this sexual union, that God has created, we do not pretend as though this is something easily managed by will power alone.
There are all sorts of human civilizations that have died out over the history of the world for all sorts of reasons, but there is never any human civilization that has ever ceased to exist because people forgot to have sex.
There is a drive that is present within the human being, that God has designed toward that one flesh union, because in that union—He is showcasing / He is picturing—He is demonstrating the union of Christ and His church. That mystery that Paul is talking about in Ephesians, Chapter 5, is then revealed when—you have a man who is giving himself to this woman / when you have a woman who is giving herself to this man—and the two become one flesh. That is not just a relationship—it’s a gospel tract. It’s an invitational hymn. It is pointing us to something so wild and mysterious—that it is the relationship between Christ and the church.
So, if we are going to be faithful Christians / if we are going to be people who are on mission, we cannot preach a different gospel than the gospel that Jesus has given to us—even simply by neglecting to speak to issues around us when those issues become difficult. If we don’t do that—if we tell the culture around us what we think they want to hear or if we practice the sort of selective universalism that tells them what they want to hear only as it relates to sexuality—we will not breed evangelism.
We will breed cynicism from a group of people who will say, “If we cannot trust you to tell us the truth about your gospel, then, how can we trust you to tell us how to be resurrected from the dead?”
We fight against deception, but the devil doesn’t work only with deception. The Scripture says that the devil has two powers. One of them is to deceive, and the other is to accuse. No one is more pro-choice on the way into the abortion clinic than the devil, and no one is more pro-life on the way out of the abortion clinic than the devil. The powers of darkness wish to deceive us; and then, they wish to stand and say: “We know who you are. We know what you have done.”
The mission that we have been given is a mission of good news. It is not a gospel of repentance alone.
It is a message that frees people from the power of accusation through the blood of Jesus Christ. If all you and I are doing is standing and speaking a word—including a truthful word about sexual immorality and sexual impurity—the world doesn’t need us for that. The devil is able to do that on his own. We have not been called simply to condemn. We have been called to reconcile.
One of the pressing problems, including in the area of sexuality around us, is the power that the devil has over consciences—in the area of accusation / blackmail of the heart. There was a late-night television host, several years ago, who went out to his car.
He found a document there from a husband of a woman, with whom he had an extramarital affair, extorting him for money or else he was going to reveal it. That blackmail only had power because it was true. If the package in the car had said, “I’m going to tell everyone you’re an Islamic jihadist,” it wouldn’t have bothered him. If the package in the car had said, “I’m going to tell everyone you are stealing money from your network,” it wouldn’t have bothered him. What bothered him is the fact that the blackmail was true.
You and I are living in a world full of sexual brokenness—in which the devil is saying to people, all around us: “I know who you are. I know what you’ve done,”—and in which there are so many people in our communities and, perhaps, even in our own pews—who, like our first father and like our first mother, are hiding from the voice of God because of a word of accusation.
The power that we have is a mission that comes to seek and to save that which was lost. It is not enough to speak truthfully and to speak prophetically, including about issues of sexual morality. If we do not speak those words in continuity with our mission—which means, ultimately, to see people reconciled to God and reconciled with one another—we are unfaithful to the mission that has been given to us.
The Scripture does not only warn us to flee immorality—and it does. The Scripture also says, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.” That doesn’t mean we don’t fight—doesn’t mean we don’t struggle—doesn’t mean that we don’t debate.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t seek to persuade, but it means that we are not quarrelsome for the sake of arguments. We are seeking to speak, as ambassadors of reconciliation, to see people saved.
If the call to repentance does not end with the invitation that is grounded in the bloody cross and the empty tomb of Jesus, we are speaking a different word than the Word that we have been given. And the fact that we must speak to those—including those who are sexually-broken in the world around us and in our own congregations—we do so, not only for their sakes, but also for ours.
Jesus builds His church by redeeming sinners for Himself. If we do not speak a word that, ultimately, calls people to reconciliation—which means that we say, not only what Jesus said, but we say it how Jesus said it—“Woman where is your husband?” He doesn’t leave her in the deception of thinking that she can move from husband to husband, from man to man, with no accountability; but He also doesn’t stand and speak a word of accusation and condemnation. He identifies the problem, and then, He invites her to living water.
The church of the next generation must do that. We cannot simply call for repentance. We must say, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
We must say so clearly, and we must say so explicitly. But we must also speak just as clearly: “And such were some of you…but you were washed. You were sanctified. You were redeemed.”
We will find that, if we speak with conviction and if we speak with kindness—if we love and really love the people around us—which means that we don’t see them as super- villains, who are in a lair somewhere conspiring against us, but as people made in the image of God—people for whom Christ died—if we speak with conviction and if we speak with kindness, we’re going to find that we will make everyone mad.
If you speak with conviction and call to repentance, you will make people mad who don’t want to repent.
If you speak with kindness and with love, and if you live among those with whom you disagree, you will receive the anger of those who will say, “He eats with tax collectors and sinners;” and you are in very good company.
The call that we have is to love people enough to speak truthfully. That means to say to those who are part of the body of Christ: “You were bought with a price. How can you join Christ to an electronic prostitute?” That means saying to the body of Christ: “You are a chosen people—a royal priesthood. Your marriage is an icon of the union of Christ and His church. Your marriage is not your business alone. It is the business of the entire people of God.”
We will love. We will admonish. We will minister. When a marriage is being ripped apart, we will discipline. And we will be the people, who will say to those on the outside: “This is the message that has been given to us. The message that has been given to us is that God delights in the sexual union, but that sexual union is one that is found only in the life-long union of one man to one woman in fidelity, in chastity, in love.”
That’s going to seem strange. That’s going to seem freakish. And sometimes, that’s going to seem subversive. And the message that we ought to have is to say, “We understand that.
It seems strange to us too, but we believe even stranger things than that.” May we be faithful to be on mission with a whole gospel. Amen.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening, again, to Dr. Russell Moore—Part Two of a message on how we represent biblical truth in a culture that increasingly is going to think, “You’re weird,” or, “You’re subversive,”—like Dr. Moore was just saying. I don’t know if you’ve felt that yet from neighbors, or friends, or family members, who just think you are out of touch or you’ve lost your mind; but if you haven’t felt it yet, it’s coming to a theater near you eventually.
Dennis: It will. It will. And you need to know what you are going to do and whether you are going to back away or whether you are going to stand firm—and maybe not with the same exclamation point as Martin Luther, who nailed his convictions on a door in Germany; but you need to be ready to stand for what you believe and not back away.
Instead of being silent, speak up and say: “You know, there really is an authority in life. All of us are basing our lives on some voice. We believe the voice of Scripture / the voice of God, which is clear—spoken in the Bible—is the only worldview that makes sense.”
Dennis: “This other worldview talks about satisfying your desires. Let’s just talk about where that’s going to take the country.”
Bob: “It’s going to bring destruction”; absolutely.
Dennis: Or, “It’s going to take a family, and it’s not going to work.”
Bob: Standing for truth, without being self-righteous, I think is the—that’s the issue of the day for us.
Dennis: And I’ll tell you that’s a great statement, Bob.
We need to always check our spirit for pride, for arrogance, for somehow feeling better than others. We are all broken sinners in need of forgiveness. We can’t point our fingers at people as though some sin was nastier than other sins. Instead, we need to compassionately reach out to people, with the love of Christ, and give them the truth—because here is the thing—I think our national shame today—our national need for forgiveness has never been greater. What’s going to offer the relief from that shame and the need for forgiveness if it’s not the gospel?
Bob: Right. You are going to be speaking, next month, at the event that Dr. Moore is hosting in Nashville. This is the national conference for the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The focus is on The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage. If folks would like more information about that event—about the folks who are speaking and how they can attend the event in Nashville on October 27th-29th, go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
Click the link at the top of the page that says, “GO DEEPER.” There is information about the national conference available on our website—again, FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me also mention that today is the last day for our listeners to take advantage of the special offer that we have for those who would like to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. When you register for yourself, your spouse comes free. So, it’s a buy one/get one free opportunity. And it expires this weekend.
So, if you want to take advantage of this opportunity, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. You can find out dates and locations. You can register online. And again, if we hear from you, before the end of the weekend, you will qualify for this special offer we’re making to listeners. Again, the website— FamilyLifeToday.com—or if you have any questions or if you’d like to register by phone, call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And we hope you have a great week. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this week. I hope you can join us back on Monday, especially if you are a stepmom; or if you know somebody who is—encourage them to tune in. We’re going to talk to three stepmoms about the things they’ve learned and the things that smart stepmoms do. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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