Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.The names have not been changed to protect the guilty. Enter two friends, Dwayne and Curt. While God’s Word has much to say about friendship and love, it says that a true friend speaks the truth “in love” (Ephesians 4:15). The apostle Paul “withstood to the face” his friend, Peter, when he acted in a deceptive manner (Galatians 2:11). We’re told “to provoke one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). The word “provoke” is the Greek word that actually is translated “contention” in Acts 15:39. There, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over John Mark going with them in missionary work. The result was the formation of two teams. Certainly, there will be disagreements between well-intentioned believers who love God and His Word. Sometimes those differences bring divisions.
Over some months, I have had some disagreements with Dwayne and Curt. These differences concerned the Bible and behavior, and had nothing to do with personality or preferences. Through communication over the internet, I learned that Curt is an open homosexual who co-leads a study group in his church. I also learned that Dwayne is a pastor of a Baptist church and that He describes himself as a “grace-monger.”
To be sure, God’s grace is powerful. Without it, mankind would be hopelessly lost. Any trial, testing, or temptation can be overcome by relying upon the grace of our God. His grace sustains us in every difficult situation we face.
For by grace are ye saved through faith… (Ephesians 2:8)Over the past two years, I have been immensely perplexed and deeply incensed by the actions of these men who attended the same Christian high school and college, and claim to be Christian and to believe the Bible.
DWAYNE & 20/20
A 20/20 broadcast last spring claimed to reveal many negatives among “IFB” (Independent Fundamental Baptist) churches and made these churches appear to be a vast cult across America. Three quick thoughts are in order about that program:
1. Concerning any accusations, we must remember two adages:
"There are two sides to every story" and "It takes two to tango."
2. Regardless of the facts in that situation, it must be understood that all pastors and congregations are different. It is simply impossible to broad brush all IFB churches as connected, since there are many different Baptist churches and groupings of Baptist churches.
3. Though 20/20 presented some lies based upon the testimonials of disgruntled individuals, it did raise some serious questions that each of us must consider:
a. Is my pastor preaching opinion and preference, or the Word of God? (2 Timothy 4:2)
b. Is he speaking the truth in love? (Ephesians 4:15)
c. Does my pastor consider himself to be above the laws of man or God? (1 Timothy 3:2-5)
In the broadcast, the major accusation against the pastor in question was that he knowingly harbored a convicted rapist in his church. The purpose of this post is not to delve into whether or not this man is guilty of the accusations. Neither is it to defend IFB churches. This is about truth and grace. Dwayne shared on Facebook a link to the 20/20 broadcast, further promoting a one-sided view that the pastor was guilty. This was done without any acknowledgement that there might be another side to the story.
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, to him it is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13In response to Dwayne’s post, I placed a link on his wall that contains the pastor’s response to the accusations. Regardless, the presumption by Dwayne and others on his wall was that the pastor was guilty. Rather than correcting or removing his initial post in order to defray the debate, Dwayne, who refers to himself as a “grace monger,” removed responses that disagreed with his viewpoint. While Dwayne certainly has every right to control what is on his wall, his claim to be a “grace monger” rings hollow. Where was grace from him to be shown to this pastor?
Another example of Dwayne’s “grace mongering” is a response he made to a note on Facebook. In 2009, I posted “An Open Letter to Christian Educators,” which began like this:
As an evangelist and a former elementary school teacher, I am growing more and more burdened as I hear about young people from Christian homes who reject the beliefs they were taught. Just recently, I discovered that the class president of my graduating class from an independent Baptist church and school now lives with his “married partner,” David! Clearly, there seems to be a greater increase in our day of young people from Christian homes and schools who either reject Christianity or end up living “worldly” lives. I am sure that many of us ask ourselves, “Why?”
This note was written for the purpose of provoking among Bible believers a sense of urgent need for a creation conference. In drive-by style, Dwayne responded defensively of Curt (the class president) and asked me if I had received permission from him to post it.
QUESTION: Is it not a contradiction to claim belief in the Bible, yet to defend an open homosexual but condemn as guilty a pastor who is accused of harboring a rapist?
Is it me, or is there something wrong here? Let me clarify. On the one hand, Dwayne was defensive of an openly sodomite individual who also is “in the ministry,” while on the other hand, he assumed the guilt of an accused pastor. Where is grace from one who claims to be a “grace-monger”?
…scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:3-11)The actions of these two men in many ways represent my generation of “modern Christianity,” a society in which evil is called good and good is called evil (Isaiah 5:20). Actually, neither Dwayne nor Curt believes God’s grace, since it teaches some things that contradict the world views of both men. A prevailing view today is that grace is a license to enjoy any music, any marital arrangement, or use money for any type of enjoyment. In other words, an “I’m ok, you’re ok” idea seeks to rule the day. Let me expand that belief:
“I’m ok, you’re ok…until you say I’m not ok. Then you’re not ok.”Actually, none of us are “ok.”
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
God’s grace teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12). “Deny” means to refuse to accept something. None of us are perfect. ALL of us have broken God’s laws. Though all of us have purposefully “missed the mark” of God’s standard of absolute perfection, we still must refuse to accept or affirm un-Godliness and worldly lusts. Should I give in to pressure to accept that which is contrary to God’s grace—contrary to His design—simply because my friends accept or promote it? No. I refuse to accept homosexuality, not because of personal opinion or how I grew up, but because it is contrary to the revealed design of the Creator of marriage and sexuality. It also is unrighteous to affirm (“have pleasure in”) this lifestyle (Romans 1:32). I cannot affirm the lifestyle of Curt, a sodomite whoremonger, nor can I accept the un-Biblical “grace” of Dwayne, the “grace monger.” While both men are religious and claim to believe the Bible and to follow Jesus, their words and lives do not match up Biblically with the grace of God that teaches us to deny un-Godliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and Godly.
Are you a Dwayne or a Curt? If so, you can come to the God of all grace—the Designer of everything Who also has an awesome design for every area of our lives! Don’t fall for lies that can come even from friends! Come to the loving, living LORD Jesus Christ Who calls us to a life of true grace that teaches us how to live today!