Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/Jesus

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 Jesus’ Inclusiveness

Carol Brooks

If you think Jesus simply accepted people just as they were without qualification or exception - you would be very wrong.


My stance on homosexuality and other religions has led various people (who are apparently in great need of a dictionary) to call IPS a 'hate' site ....

Inclusive Church
Believes the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life,

A Dictatorial Church For A Select Few?
Having to believe in exactly what the church tells you to believe is a well know trademark of many of the cults, not the traditional church

Prejudice, Bigotry and Racism in The Church
ANY CHURCH that discriminates against people OR keeps silent in the face of prejudice and bigotry is only pretending to be following the Lord Jesus.

An Inclusive Church That is Scripturally Faithful
 Inclusive Church tends to cite Jesus as the lodestar for their policy, but...

Jesus’ Inclusivism
Jesus was radically and unconventionally inclusive, however, If you think He simply accepted people just as they were, you would be very wrong. Here are some of those who were excluded by Jesus or warned that they could be.

The crux of the matter regarding this article -  Jesus said He had come to call not the righteous, but sinners. Which begs the question - call them to what?

The Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of the Early Church
They did exactly what Jesus did

Is Homosexuality a Sin?
 An unbiased examination of what the Biblical texts actually say about homosexual behavior leads to only one conclusion

How Should Christians Treat Homosexuals?
Having said that, the disgraceful way many Christians treats gays and lesbians is not at all in line with how Jesus Himself treated all sinners. On the other hand...

Want to Exclude Gays? Fine! But Do Not Forget The Others That Also Have to Be Excluded
if we are to shun or exclude gay people aren't we forgetting one of the biggest problems in the church today?

A Hate Site?
My stance on homosexuality and other religions has led various people to call IPS a 'hate' site which is quite ridiculous in more ways than one. I have friends who are gay or belong other religious groups and whom I care about. However, the people I 'dislike intensely' are those who, seemingly oblivious to the existence of dictionaries, inaccurately and ignorantly throw the word 'hate' around.

They are apparently completely oblivious to the fact that there is a world of difference between being opposed to a practice and 'hating' those who indulge in it.

And here is another word bandied about by people who are in desperate need of a good dictionary.

Christians are often accused of being "homophobic" when they state their belief that homosexuality is wrong. The suffix phobia always means as "irrational fear of" thus a "phobic" is a person who has a "phobia" - a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous. 

Thus the term 'homophobic' cannot possibly be applied to anyone who opposes homosexuality on moral grounds.

Besides which, the term "homophobic" is usually used in a derogatory fashion. So, how is it acceptable for you to call me a less than polite name, but it's not okay for to me to think homosexuality is morally wrong. How is your attitude more 'tolerant' than mine?

In any case, I'm not the one that said homosexuality was wrong.  God did! If you disagree - take it up with Him.

When it come to non-criminal issues, adults have to make their own decisions and choose their own lifestyle. However remember that no one has the freedom to escape from the consequences of wrong choices.

I have absolutely no idea where the church gets the idea that they have the right to impose their beliefs on a non-Christian world. The ONLY thing we can do is give non-Christians the Gospel message i.e. the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and live eternally in the Father's kingdom (See A Note on The Church's Primary Role in the World?) If they believe and embrace this salvation offered us by the Father, then they are required to follow Scripture's teachings on all issues. If they do not, then they have to follow their own path and accept the consequences (that they should be warned about). In other words, Christians should hold very tightly to their own convictions but never seek to control or manipulate others to comply with those standards.

 (See The Message of The BibleSalvation   and   What and Where is Heaven?)


Inclusive Church
Inclusive Church is a network of Evangelical Christians (churches, groups and individuals)...

    ...who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. [01]

It was founded in 2003 by Giles Fraser in response to an incident in the Church of England

    The Rev’d Dr Jeffrey John had been nominated as Bishop of Reading; this was withdrawn when it became publicly known that Jeffrey John was in a long-term same-sex relationship. The unease felt by so many led to the creation of an online petition, asking individuals and churches to support what became known as the Inclusive Church Vision Statement.

    The response was immense and soon the Petition reached nearly 10,000 signatories. Subsequently a small group of supporters met to consider this overwhelming response, and concluded that Inclusive Church was here to stay. [02] 

Inclusive Church claims a national directory of over 400 churches that have registered with them as 'inclusive'. They work with

    The Association of Black Clergy, Women and the Church, the Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Changing Attitude, Affirming Catholicism, the Society of Catholic Priests, Accepting Evangelicals, Courage, Modern Church, Progressive Christianity Network and Integrity (US). [03]

    Note: Other than St David's Episcopal Church in Cullowhee, NC. I have no idea how many churches in the US are officially affiliated with the organization. However, I do know that there are quite a few that think along the same lines.

In reading about the organization, two statements in particular caught my eye. The first on a blog titled What does it mean to be an Inclusive Church? by Kieran Bohan, a former Roman Catholic seminarian who describes himself as "a 40-something gay Christian seeking ways to live authentically". The second is on the Inclusive Church website (Emphasis added in both quotes).

    1.) We long for the day when churches throw open their doors and go out to risk being changed. We long for the day when our churches will be hubs of welcome, support and care for our communities, rather than holy huddles for a select few, and only as long as you believe in exactly what they tell you to believe! [04]

    2.) We believe in inclusive Church - a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is Scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ." [05]

Point 1 - A Dictatorial Church For A Select Few?
In regards to the first point, having to believe in exactly what the church tells you to believe is a well know trademark of many of the cults, some of which even prohibit reading literature published outside the organization.

Traditional churches preach only the doctrines they believe to be Scriptural, although admittedly many of those doctrines are the result of extremely bad analysis and understanding of the text, wrenching verses out of context, and even manipulation in some cases. However, I do not know of any who pressure or force their congregants to believe a certain way.  See Context is CRUCIAL

The Purpose of the Church
Also, Inclusive Church's statement that they "long for the day when our churches will be hubs of welcome, support and care for our communities, rather than holy huddles for a select few" shows an astonishing (but very common) misunderstanding of the church's reason to be. There is not a single example in the NT that shows the church existed to tell unbelievers the good news, get people to convert, or support the community at large.

According to the Scriptures edification is the primary objective of the gathering of believers. The English word "edify", translated from the Greek oikodome, means to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement. In other words, it is the "building up" of a person. You cannot possibly build up a person who hasn't even dug the foundation.

    What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification (Gr. oikodom) . (1 Corinthians 14:26 NASB)

    And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up (Gr. oikodom) of the body of Christ; ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12 NASB)

    And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB)

In other words, contrary to what Kieran Bohan wrote, the church's primary function is to support and edify a select few - believers.

See The Church... Then and Now - Chapter III - Why Christians Assemble Together

And yes, whether they need food, clothes, shelter etc the church must always do its best to help people - all people. Any Christian who does not concern himself over the injustice in the world and who does nothing to alleviate suffering should not call themselves Christians.

However, at the same time we should pay attention to the fact that when the prophets railed against injustice, bribery, the neglect of widows and orphans etc, they were not addressing the citizens of Assyria and Babylon but the people of God in Israel and Judah.

Prejudice, Bigotry and Racism in The Church
The Bible speaks clearly and loudly against prejudice

    (1) My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.  (2)  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,  (3)  and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,"  (4)  have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?  (5)  Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  (6)  But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?  (7)  Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?  (8)  If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  (9)  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:1-9 NASB)

    For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29 NASB)

Seeming to have never read these passages in the New Testament, the church's long history of discrimination against people of a different race and color began a very long time ago. Even Martin Luther was known for his vitriolic polemics against those he considered to be 'enemies' of the faith - the Jews. See Martin Luther The founding faculty members of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary served as chaplains in the Confederate army but were at the same time, slave owners. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who is the church's most senior bishop, said there was "no doubt" that the Church of England was still "deeply institutionally racist".

And very little seems to have changed. Although the United States has come a long way since the days of slavery, racism and discrimination are still very prevalent. A church that claims to follow Jesus should be loudly and thunderously blasting every single instance of racism they come across. Instead, what have they done? The answer being absolutely NOTHING. And Trump's presidency has only exacerbated the problem. See Footnote

ANY organization that discriminates against people of the basis of their finances, gender, race or color, etc. is to be shunned. ANY CHURCH that discriminates against people OR keeps silent in the face of prejudice and bigotry is only pretending to be following the Lord Jesus.

Point 2 - An Inclusive Church That is Scripturally Faithful?
However, Inclusive Church tends to cite Jesus as the lodestar for their policy

    What is the good news that Jesus came to preach? The parables give us a clue. In the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and the more famous account of the Prodigal Son which follows them, Jesus speaks of 'great rejoicing' when what has been lost is finally found. So too, we are each lost in our own way, yet God seeks us out, and rejoices over each and every single one of us. No exceptions. Exclusion is a human trait, not a divine one! [06]

St. Brelades Church says the following,

    It all starts with the Gospel. It all starts with Jesus. That story - the woman at the well - is only one of dozens in the Gospels which bring outsiders in, which are ways in which the marginalised, the excluded, the oppressed, the unloved, the unwanted are brought into the Reign of God. Zaccheus the tax collector. Mary Magdalene. The rough fishermen. Matthew, another tax collector. Roman centurions. Slaves and servants. The sick. People with demons. Jeffrey John's recent book, the Meaning of the Miracles,  goes through all the miracles one by one and shows how each one, each one, is designed to bring in those who are outside; to make manifest an inclusive gospel.  [07]

There is absolutely no question that considering the time and the society that He lived in Jesus was radically inclusive. However, to use Him as an example of absolute inclusivity is an extremely shallow reading of the Gospels and/or a classic example of putting forth only the texts that appear to support your point of view while ignoring anything that contradicts what you wish to believe.

If, as Inclusive Church says they actually wish to be Scripturally faithful then the whole of Scripture has to be taken into account which in this case, means taking an in-depth and more honest look at Jesus' actions.

Jesus' Radically Unconventional Inclusive Approach
Ignoring texts as basic the one in which the Father promised Abraham that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3. Also See Psalms 22:27, Isaiah 56:3-8 etc), the first-century Jews took their status as God's chosen people to mean that they alone would always be exclusively favored.

The Pharisees were separatists who looked down upon the majority of the Jews as unspiritual sinners. The Essenes of Qumran took exclusion to another level altogether emphasizing virtual separation from all who were not part of their monastic community.

In contrast, Jesus was unconventional to say the least from the very beginning of His ministry. He began by selecting His followers instead of letting them come to Him which is what the Rabbinic teachers did. What's more, He picked out uneducated fishermen not exactly what anyone (then or now) would consider ideal material to lead what would become a global movement.

And that was only the beginning.

During the course of His time on earth, Jesus reached out, not to the religious elite, wealthy or powerful, but to the commoners – even those who were regarded as sinners or ritually unclean . This was both unprecedented and in the culture He lived in, unacceptable.

Tax collectors and Sinners
In Jesus' time even ordinary Jewish citizens would have had no wish to associate with tax collectors. The Romans imposed several extremely high taxes on the Jews which were collected by a independent contractors - usually Jews who worked with Rome and often used unsavory methods to become wealthy at the expense of their countrymen - collecting more than they were required to and keeping the extra for themselves. Thus they were a despised bunch treated as sinners and political traitors - religiously excommunicated and socially rejected. Yet, as Mark relates, immediately or soon after Jesus called the tax collector Levi (Matthew) to follow Him , He was seen

    ... reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (Mark 2:14-15 NASB)

Sadly, leprosy seemed to be rather common in days gone by. As far back as in Moses' time, God gave the Israelites very specific instructions on how to deal with it. Anyone who had a skin blemish (swelling, scab or "bright spot") on his skin was required to go to the priest who determined the nature of the skin lesions according to very stringent criteria. (See Leviticus 13) If the person was diagnosed with leprosy he was considered unclean ...

    "... his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' "He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46 NASB)

If a leper came close to people, had to warn them by yelling, "Unclean! Unclean!"

Once again, Mark tells us that not only did the leper break every rule by presenting himself to Jesus who was known as a holy man, but Jesus himself utterly broke social and religious convention by touching the leper which, as we know from some of His other healing, was not a requirement.

    And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and *said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (Mark 1:40-42 NASB)

After which Jesus instructed the healed leper to follow the requirements of the law because only the priest had the authority to determine that he was now clean. Thus He could be restored to the community from which he had been excluded.

    and He *said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." (Mark 1:44 NASB)

Then there were the women 

Although they were not outcasts from society, women were often treated as second class citizens. As said by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts

    Some ancient rabbis even refused to teach women. One said, "Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman . . . . Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity" (Mishnah, Sotah, 3.4). Another rabbi discouraged men from even speaking with women, "Who speaks much with a woman draws down misfortune on himself, neglects the words of the law, and finally earns hell" (Mishnah, Aboth, 1.5). [08]

I guess they weren't reading the Old Testament as well as they should have been. The historical data in the narratives of pre-monarchical Israel reveal a rather important level of influence of women on the historical unfolding of Israel, as well as indications of special care from the heart of God for His daughters. See Women in the Heart of God  www.inplainsite.org/html/god_and_women.html

Once again Jesus, flouting the social conventions of the day, treated women as God intended them to be treated (See Article Linked Above). He regularly interacted with women speaking and even teaching them. He commended Martha's sister Mary saying she had chosen "the better part" (Luke 10:37-42) when she sat at His feet and listened to Him rather than attending to the duties of a hostess. Jesus' ministry was also supported in part by women, among many others  -Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna. (Luke 8:3)

The two verses immediately prior to this tell us that as Jesus traveled from village to village preaching the kingdom of God, He was accompanied by the disciples and "some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses including Mary (Magdalene,) from whom He had cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2 NASB). It was to this very woman that Jesus first showed Himself after the resurrection - a powerfully symbolic action. An Interesting Aside - How Could Mary Magdalene Not Have Recognized Jesus?

These stories in the Gospels have obviously caused many to conclude that Jesus was all inclusive and welcomed all people. This is absolutely not the case. Yes, Jesus was radically inclusive, but we also have to consider how very exclusive He was as well.

Note: Some two decades later, Paul made the point that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, or gender, are invited to be baptized, become members of the body of Christ and citizens of His Kingdom.

    For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 NASB)

In other words, no human distinction would exclude people from the church if they put their faith in Christ and, when they did, they would receive the Spirit and become equal members of the body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Unqualified Acceptance?
If you think Jesus simply accepted people just as they were, you would be very wrong.
If you read the accounts of His dealing with the tax collectors and the lepers with a discerning eye you will see that Jesus' inclusion of these groups of people ostracized by society was not as Dr. Mark Roberts puts it, the "Come as you are and stay as you are " variety. [09] Much to the contrary, He first changed whatever wasn't right with them be it an unsavory occupation, deathly illness or possession.

    The Tax Collectors: Matthew, the tax collector didn't continue in his despised occupation but became one of Jesus' entourage - later writing the Gospel that bears his name.

    Lepers Although I rather imagine he did, we do not know whether or not the leper followed Jesus but after being healed he was instructed to show himself to the priest after which he would have been included in the society that had previously shunned him.

    The Demon Possessed: As far as Mary Magdalene was concerned, Jesus did not include her among His followers until after she was freed from demonic possession.

The People Jesus Excluded.
Jesus made it very clear that not everyone would gain entrance to the Kingdom. As He said,

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Matthew 7:13-14 NASB)

Here are some of those who were excluded by Jesus or warned that they could be.

Those Who Did Not Prioritize The Kingdom
You had to have your priorities straight. Christ did not include those who were unwilling to put the kingdom first in their lives.

    a) Mark told the story of Jesus' interaction with a wealthy man who asked how he might "inherit eternal life" (Mark 10:17). In reply, Jesus reminded him of six of the Ten Commandments, which the man claimed to have kept since his youth. He then told the wealthy man to give away that which he loved more than the promise of eternal life, i.e. his money and possessions.

    Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:21-23 NASB)

    b) On one occasion, when a man whom Jesus had called to follow Him asked permission to go and bury his father first, Jesus responded by saying, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60 NASB)

    c) Another said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." Jesus' response? "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:61-62)

Self Righteous Hypocrites
Matthew 23:15-39 is Jesus' thunderous criticism of the religious elite in which He accused them of not only failing to enter the kingdom themselves but keeping others out as well. He called them hypocrites (several times), blind guides, murders, serpents, brood of vipers, fools and other less than complimentary names.

    But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matt 23:13-15).

After telling the chief priests and the elders the parable of the two sons, Jesus asked them which of the sons they thought did the will of their father, to which they correctly answered "the first"

    "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' "And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. "The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go. "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They *said, "The first."

The Savior had made His point. But what the priests did not realize is that the parable was directed at them..

    ...Jesus *said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. (Matthew 21:31-32 NASB)

The result of all the confrontation was that the religious elite strenuously opposed Jesus every way they could, eventually accusing Him of crimes He did not commit then turning him over to the Romans to be crucified. However, it should be noted that Jesus did not cut off relationship with all of these leaders.

    In fact on more than one occasion he ate in the home of a Pharisee (Luke 7:36; 14:1). The Gospel of John records a conversation between Jesus and a leading Pharisee named Nicodemus. In this context Jesus explained that in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be "born from above" (John 3:3; or as the Greek is traditionally rendered, "born again"). In other words, Nicodemus the Pharisee could be included in God's kingdom, but only if he was reborn by the power of God, only if he believed in Jesus, the only Son of God (3:16). By implication, if Nicodemus rejected Jesus as God's Son, then he would not be included in the eternal life of the kingdom. [ibid.]

But here is where we come to the crux of the matter regarding this article

As mentioned earlier, soon after Jesus called the tax collector Levi (Matthew) to follow Him He was seen to be dining with many tax collectors and sinners who were following Him (Mark 2:14-15). This obviously provoked a reaction from the religious elite who demanded to know what He was doing.

    When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?" And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:16-17 NASB)

This was not a surprising question considering that the Pharisees separated themselves from everything and everyone they thought was unholy. In spite of observing Yom Kippur for generations the thought that sinners could be redeemed somehow never crossed their minds.

Jesus on the other hand had a completely different mindset. As He told the Pharisees, those who are whole do not need a physician. and that He had come to call not the righteous, but sinners. Which begs the question - call them to what? The answer is sprinkled throughout the Scriptures beginning with Abraham. As God told Abraham before he left Ur,

    And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3 NASB)

Abraham became the Father of a new nation that had a very particular role to play. Not only was the Messiah to be born of Abraham's descendants but, as a nation, they were the keepers of God's law with the responsibility to preserve it for posterity. However, the covenant was not without conditions the terms of which were sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. For example, note the following verses from Exodus and Leviticus. In fact, much of Leviticus 26 is devoted to the terrors that would come upon the people were they to disobey God's commandments).

    'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'.... and all the people answer together and say, 'All that Jehovah hath spoken we do;' (Exodus 19:5-6, 8)

    I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. 'But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you... (Leviticus 26:15-16 NASB)

In the New Testament repentance is preached from John the Baptist on.

  • John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  (Mark 1:4 NASB)
  • "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  (Luke 15:7 NASB)
  • and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  (Luke 24:47 NASB)
  • "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  (Acts 5:31 NASB)
  • solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Acts 20:21 NASB)
  • The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9 NASB)

What you believe about Biblical repentance is, quite literally, a matter of life or death. Much of the modern church preaches a  watered down message of "just "believe and be saved" in spite of the fact that on innumerable occasions, the Scriptures record God as warning that He will only have mercy on those whose repentance is real, but will destroy those who do not repent and turn from their sin. Scripture presents Repentance and Faith not as the same thing, but literally as two sides of the same coin. Quite simply, you can't believe without truly repenting.

See Repentance - The Missing Message

The Adulterous Woman
John relates that a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus by the religious leaders who reminded Him that according to Mosaic Law she should be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10). (The fact that they did not bring the guilty man before Jesus makes one wonder whether the man was one of their own and the leaders were using the woman as a pawn in their battle with Jesus). 

Jesus' response was to completely ignore them. Instead He stooped down and wrote in the sand. No one can know what it was He wrote but, in view of His very next words, some speculate that He listed their sins.

    But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7 NASB)

The accusers gradually melted away leaving the woman alone with Jesus. Straightening up, Jesus said to her,

    "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more." (John 8:10-11).

Jesus forgave the woman but to be noted is that He didn't condone her adultery and give her leave to keep on committing adultery.

The Divine Commission
After His resurrection, Jesus' final instruction to His disciples was to go and

    ... make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)

Jesus did not send out the disciples with the good news that all people are included in the kingdom of God. Although His invitation is to all, it isn't "absolute" in the sense that everyone is invited to join him without qualification or condition. In other words, although the Kingdom was (and is) open to everyone, entrance is on the Savior's terms. As He had said earlier,

    "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus offers rest to those who take his yoke and learn from him. But by implication, those who do not learn from Him will not receive rest for their souls. Although there is no question that Jesus reached out to sinners, he didn't include them in the kingdom of God as they were. Rather, he offered forgiveness and new life.

And we see exactly the same way of thinking in the early church.

The Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of the Early Church
In the New Testament, the disciples were commanded to tarry at Jerusalem for "what the Father had promised" (Acts 1:4) which they did. They did not have long to wait. The coming of the Holy Spirit occurred on the next Jewish holiday when Jews from different parts of the country came to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot or the completion of the harvest season.  It was one of three major feast that required all able-bodied Jewish men to travel to Jerusalem (the other two being Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, or "booths" as it is sometimes called). [See The Seven Feasts of Israel]

    Thus "devout men from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5) had congregated in Jerusalem ... "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." (Acts 2:9-11 NASB)

However, it would be well to note that although everyone present heard the disciples (transformed from timid, fearful men into bold preachers of the word) speaking of the mighty deeds of God in their own tongues, Peter's invitation was quite specific.

    Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)

And only "those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41 NASB)

Were Joel's Prophecies Fulfilled On Pentecost?
While what occurred on the day of Pentecost was awesome in itself, a simple reading of the prophecy makes it quite clear that almost none of Joel's words came to pass that day. www.inplainsite.org/html/revival_or_apostasy.html#REVorAPOS-Joel

The church in Corinth seemed to be an enthusiastic congregation not lacking in any gift and awaiting eagerly the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:7) However, they also seemed to be a rather immature, quarrelsome, and competitive bunch. which was one of the two primary reasons Paul wrote this Epistle. The second reason was the Corinthians were ignoring some serious moral problems that had arisen in the church. The following is excerpted or derived from Hampton Keathley IV's Introduction and Outline of I Corinthians.

    Paul had heard that the Corinthian believers had divided into groups (or fan clubs if you will) and were holding up various leaders as being superior to the others. 

    Others were abusing the Lord's Supper not even waiting until all were together to partake but "pigging out" and even getting drunk. Paul had to remind them of the significance of the Lord's Supper, and that whoever ate the bread or drank the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner was guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27). He then instructed them wait for one another when they came together to eat. (1 Corinthians 11:33)

    Another area of concern was their misuse of and emphasis on certain spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Apparently those that were able to speak in tongues felt more spiritual than those that could not. Paul showed through an analogy with the human body that just as all organs are necessary and have to work in tandem for the body to function efficiently (12:17) - the spiritual gifts large and small together contributed to the health of the body of Christ.  [11]

However, while Paul was urging them to be united, he was also very concerned about the immorality that was being ignored - a man was having sexual relations with his step-mother.

    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. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NASB)

In no uncertain terms, Paul told them that they had to exclude the sinner from their community. There was no need to take this particular man through the steps of reconciliation because he was clearly not a true believer. Paul referred to him a as a "so-called brother" and a "wicked man. And there was always the hope that this drastic step would bring the sinner to his senses and cause him to repent and return to the fold. See What does it mean when Jesus said "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them"?

Paul had told the Corinthians in a previous letter not to associate with immoral people (1 Corinthians 5:9) that the Corinthians may have taken to mean that they should cut off relationship with the immoral people of this world. Paul here clarifies his instructions

    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 5:10-13 NASB)

In other words, if someone in the church continues to sin and does not repent, they were to exclude that person and not even eat with them. Although living in this world makes it impossible to completely avoid immoral people, the Bible very clearly states that we have to scrupulously avoid so called Christians who are guilty of the same behavior.

All of the above gives rise to two questions

    A. Is Homosexuality a Sin? and

    B. How Should Christians Be Inclusive of Gays and Lesbians?

Is Homosexuality a Sin?
Those that use Jesus' radical inclusiveness to include gays and lesbians in the church are making one monumental mistake - i.e. that homosexuality is not a sin that has to be repented of in order to be saved and admitted into God's kingdom.

An unbiased examination of what the Biblical texts actually say about homosexual behavior leads to only one conclusion- homosexual activity is sinful, no matter what the context.

Whenever the Bible speaks positively about human sexuality it is always in the context of male-female sexuality. Whenever the Bible speaks negatively about same-sex practice it always shows such practice to be wrong. This topic is far too long and involved to go into here however, there is an entire section in homosexuality on this site. Especially see the two articles below on THIS Page Scroll down slightly)

    Homosexuality And The Bible: centuries the answer to that question seemed obvious, but in the last few decades pro- homosexual commentators have tried to reinterpret the relevant biblical passages.

     Homosexuality and the Book of Romans: In spite of the fact that no New Testament passage speaks more extensively about homosexuality than does Romans 1, it is not the chapter's predominant theme. However, the subject was very much front and center in Paul's Epistle.

How Should Christians Treat Homosexuals?

Having said that, the disgraceful way many Christians treats gays and lesbians is not at all in line with how Jesus Himself treated all sinners.

On the other hand, to say that, on the basis of Jesus' practice, the church should include all people just as they are is to read the Scriptures with a very biased eye.

Let me one again stress that Jesus reached out to people that at the time were considered the lowest of the low. However He didn't unquestioningly accept them but instead called for them to repent, turn their lives around and follow Him.

There is no question that we cannot single out gay people and violently oppose and/or shun them, Scripture makes it clear that homosexuality is wrong, but then again it is far from the only type of behavior that will keep the offender out of the kingdom. 

    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, (1 Corinthians 6:9 NASB)

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissension, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)

    Please note: Idolaters are not just people who worship graven images, but those who put other things before the Lord - greed and idolatry are the same thing according to Colossians3:5 that reads "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry."

Want to Exclude Gays? Fine! But Do Not Forget The Others That Also Have to Be Excluded
Many Christians believe they should not allow 'those type of people' anywhere near our churches.

However, if we are to shun or exclude gay people then we also have to exclude heterosexual sinners (See list in Corinthians  and Galatians above). If we excluded the people that the New Testament says will not enter the Kingdom, there would be very few sitting in our pews and largely empty pulpits. For example, in an article entitled Pornography in the Church: A New Epidemic reflects the massive scale of a usually well hidden problem

    Shocking statistics released by Net Accountability reveal that 50 percent of evangelical pastors viewed pornography last year. A study by Internet Filter Review revealed that 53 percent of Promise Keeper men viewed pornography the week before the survey, and 17 percent of women admitted to struggling with pornography addiction. Focus on the Family recently reported that one in seven calls to their pastoral care line concern Internet pornography. [12]

Mike Genung who struggled with sex addiction for 20 years before God set Him free in 1999 is the director of blazinggrace.org, a ministry to the sexually broken. He writes on Crosswalk.com

    Wanting to prove the numbers wrong, in the spring of 2004 I approached the leadership of our church and asked if we could survey the men on the topic of pornography. Our numbers will be different; "half" can't be true here, I thought. Of those who responded, 25 percent had looked at porn within the past 30 days, 44 percent within six months, and 61 percent within the year. The real statistic is probably higher; I heard later that a number of men didn't fill out the survey "because they were afraid of how it would be used." [13]

What we cannot do is affirm the sexual/lifestyle choices made by gays. Associating with a gay or lesbian, inviting them to your church, or even being friends with them does NOT mean you endorse or even accept their lifestyle and this should be made clear in the kindest possible terms. We have to extend the same offer Jesus made to the people of His day with the same caveats. They have to repent and change before they are completely accepted into His kingdom.

And yes, at some point a person who will not repent of persistent sin (ALL persistent sin) will have to be excluded from the community which is exactly what Paul instructed the Corinthians to do. But let us not rush to do so with homosexuals when we virtually never do it with any other type of sin.

Let us remain true to our convictions, but not let these convictions keep us from reaching out to people and showing them what the love of Christ means and what His offer to all humanity means.

 See The Message of The BibleSalvation   and   What and Where is Heaven?

Footnote I - Prejudice, Bigotry and Racism in The Church
Unfortunately the church has had a long history of discrimination against people of a different race and color. For example,

Martin Luther was known for his vitriolic polemics against those he considered to be 'enemies' of the faith - the Jews. In 1543 he wrote "On The Jews and Their Lies" in which he expressed very antagonistic, virulent and hateful views towards them - for some 200 pages. For instance, Luther said the Jews were,

 boastful, arrogant rascals who to the present day can do no more that boast of their race and lineage, praise only themselves, and disdain all the world in their synagogues, prayers and doctrines... a defiled bride, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut, with whom God ever had to wrangle, scuffle and fight. If He chastised and stuck them with his word through his prophets, they contradicted him, killed his prophets, or, like a mad dog, bit the stick with which they were struck".... [14]  More About Martin Luther

Southern Baptist. James Petigru Boyce and John A. Broadus, the founding faculty members of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, were also slave owners who served as chaplains in the Confederate army. In 1857, the former's fellow Princetonian Basil Manly, Jr. drew up the Abstract of Principles, that every Southern professor, upon election to the faculty has signed. However, Manly was a slave owner and pro-slavery lobbyist who used the Bible to justify slavery. Details in The Encyclopedia Of Alabama

    These prejudices persisted in the pulpits of prominent Southern Baptist churches well into the twentieth century. W. A. Criswell two-term elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for five decades was a fiery and outspoken segregationist. "He attacked preachers who supported integration and particularly railed against both the National Council of Churches and the NAACP, calling them "good-for-nothing fellows who are trying to upset all of the things that we love as good old Southern people and as good old Southern Baptists.” [15]

    "Even a decade after his views on race and the biblical support for segregation supposedly changed, Criswell continued to conjure up the spirits of white supremacy and implicitly endorsed the resulting racialized social arrangements". [16] Note: This article is well worth reading.

The Methodist Church. Although founder John Wesley was appalled by slavery, and ardently opposed it, the Methodist Church South was created after a 1844 schism in the church over the issue of slavery.

The Church of England has decided to apologize for racism experienced by "countless black, Asian and minority ethnic people" over the past 70 years. The churches General Synod (legislative body" "voted on Tuesday to issue an official apology and commission an outside expert to prepare a report on racism, race and ethnicity in the church. Speaking at the synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is the church's most senior bishop, said there was "no doubt" that the Church of England was still "deeply institutionally racist". [17]

The Modern World
The following is a quote from Sojourner's Magazine (Emphasis Added)

    ... although the majority of black Americans (84 percent) think president Trump is racist, when Trump called Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists "very fine people...” or when he referred to "sh**hole countries" or called immigrants "rapists..." or praises confederate generals, or uses rhetoric to disparage Muslims, the white church did what it always has done in the face of racism — nothing. Rather than immediate and bold denunciations from the white church, there's been either silence or even strong displays of support for the president. [18]

Note: It took him 48 hours to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists after violent clashes left one woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia. And that came only after a storm of criticism even from prominent people in his own party. [PLACE IN TEXT]

End Notes
[01] Inclusive Church. http://www.inclusive-church.org/links

[02] Inclusive Church. About Us. https://www.inclusive-church.org/about-us

[03] St Brelade's Parish Churc. Island of Jersey; Growth & Development. http://www.stbreladeschurch.com/inclusive-church.html

[04] What does it mean to be an Inclusive Church? http://abravefaith.com/2013/09/22/inclusive-church/

[05] http://www.inclusive-church.org.uk

[06] What does it mean to be an Inclusive Church? http://abravefaith.com/2013/09/22/inclusive-church/

[07] http://www.stbreladeschurch.com/inclusive-church.html

[08] Dr. Mark D. Roberts. The Inclusiveness of Jesus. http://markdroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/christianinclusiveness.htm#sep1504

[09] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] Hampton Keathley IV. I Corinthians: Introduction and Outline https://bible.org/article/i-corinthians-introduction-and-outline

[12] Mike McCormick. Pornography in the Church: A New Epidemic. Global Christian Center.

[13] Mike Genung. How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church?

[14] Martin Luther On The Jews and Their Lies. The book can be read online here -

[15] Richmond Free Press. Pastor whitewashes history of Southern Baptist denomination.

[16] Curtis W. Freeman Never Had I Been So Blind: W. A. Criswell's "Change" on Racial Segregation.

[17] https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/11/uk/church-of-england-racism-apology-gbr-intl/index.html

[18] Stephen Mattson. The White Church Has Been A Steady Oppressor https://sojo.net/articles/white-church-has-been-steady-oppressor



Index To Articles On ‘Jesus’

Artwork provided courtesy of James "theo" Theopistos.