Systematic Theology Essay 2

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Systematic Theology, Theology

“Will homosexuals be found in the kingdom of God?” At first I thought this question was very political and didn’t have much to do with my faith, but a second look at the question and I saw that it wasn’t about sexual orientation or homosexual behavior. The heart of the question revolves around the kingdom of God and what will be found in this kingdom. In both the beginnings and ending of the Bible and everywhere throughout God is constantly talking about His kingdom.

Revelation 1:4-6, “John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Exodus 19:3-6 “Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’”

Mark 1:14-15 “after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’”

But what makes up this kingdom? What sets people apart to be part of God’s kingdom? Malachi 3:1-4, prophesying about Christ’s coming, says, “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.” And Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-20, “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. 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. 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. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” And in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks about the righteous receiving an inheritance and a kingdom while everyone else will be cast out.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. ‘Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ‘Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ‘Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ ‘They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’”

This picture of a separation between God’s kingdom and the rest of the world is echoed many times in Jesus’ parables, for instance Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” And Matthew 13:40-43, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him here.” And Matthew 22:11-14, “’But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. ‘Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ‘For many are invited, but few are chosen.’”
To be part of God’s kingdom, we must be righteous and put others above ourselves out of genuine love. Romans 12:9-10, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” However, we know that (Romans 3:23) “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” which would separate us from God’s kingdom forever if it weren’t for Romans 3:24, “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

From the same book, in Romans 14:12-18 we see more at work than just salvation. “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” This again gives us the idea that we need to love others and that we need to stand in God’s righteousness to be found in His kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul is addressing an issue in the church between believers and confronting them about the lawsuits they have with one another. He says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” And he expresses this same idea in other books as well, for example in Ephesians 5:1-11 after talking about how we should conduct ourselves and how we are to live as children of light he writes, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, bur now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” And in Galatians 5:16-25 after talking about how believers should treat one another Paul writes, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

If we go back to 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 we see that Paul urges us to honor God with our bodies, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” If we are to consider ourselves part of God’s kingdom, although we were brought here by His grace, we must make our faith in Him evident by our works (James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”) and how we live our lives on a day to day basis. We cannot consider ourselves having a part in His kingdom if we continue to hold in part our old ways and refuse Him as He sanctifies us. In 1 Peter 1:13-15 Peter tells us, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

In Romans 10:5-7, Paul is talking to the Romans about the law and grace, “Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is to bring Christ down) ‘or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” He goes on, in verses 8-13 to say how it is by faith that we are saved. It is a delicate balance; we need to have faith and be holy, to make our faith evident by works and our works authenticated by faith. We already know in our hearts what we’ve done wrong and who we once were before we met Christ, Paul does a very good job of listing all the characteristics of sinful nature and of those outside of the kingdom of God. I want you to read this carefully when I say this, because it may come across as offensive or judgmental and I don’t mean it that way. Scripture is clear that the sexually immoral, prostitutes, and homosexuals will not be in the kingdom of God, but that homosexuals and sexually immoral people can still be saved by faith and the people are loved by God just as much as anyone else (Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”)

Just because a person has homosexual attraction or has been in or is in a homosexual relationship does not mean that they cannot be saved, however to be saved they must be born again and (as seen in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”) transformed by the renewing of their minds just like everyone else. No different than a thief or swindler or anyone else, to be in the kingdom of God there must be a change in their life that brings them closer to the image of Christ and their faith must be evident by works. Politics has nothing to do with this, and I’m not saying this to be judgmental against homosexuals, this is simply what I found in the above scriptures. What I cannot find in Scripture is that God hates homosexuals, what I can find is God hates sin and homosexuality is sinful by nature because it is not Christ’s nature and to be like Christ is our goal. (Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”)

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