Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Have you heard a someone quote “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) or “If any one of you is without sin, let him throw the first stone.” (John 8:7) to argue that we should not speak up against evils like abortion, pornography or homosexuality? Quoted out of context, these are the two favourite verses of those trying to change Christianity to fit in with Post-modernist culture. If you haven’t heard these quoted to advance Postmodernist ‘tolerance’ of evil, you will soon, and Biblical Christian leaders need to equip their followers to counter Post-modern interpretation of these verses.


Did Jesus mean these words as an absolute? Did he mean we should never ever judge or condemn anything or speak up against the sins of our society? How about reading a bit further in the same passage. Lets start with the Sermon on the Mount. In the same paragraph as the first quote we find another saying of Jesus: Mt 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Okay so now Jesus is calling some people ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’ and he is calling other things ‘pearls’. So now how are we supposed to tell what are the pearls and who are the pigs? We are supposed to use our judgment. In other words, use our minds educated by the scriptures to judge. So now Jesus cannot be asking us never to judge, because otherwise Jesus would be contradicting himself. Both of these statements by Jesus are proverbs. Proverbs are pity sayings containing a lot of wisdom. They are not on their own and outside of the context of the rest of scripture meant to be absolute laws for all time and every situation. Apparently contradictory proverbs like these two are often put together to help people avoid interpreting the other wrongly. Together they complement each other in wisdom to help us avoid extremes. The Bible is full of instructions for us to judge one thing or another such as: the case of in Church discipline (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). Jesus commends the Ephesian church for discerning false apostles (Revelation 2:2); Peter challenges the Pharisees to ‘judge for yourself’ (Acts 4:19). Looking at Matthew 7:1 in context around it and with other similar verses in scripture (e.g. Romans 2:1) Jesus is attacking the attitude of moral superiority, hypocrisy and pettiness by some religious people based on judging those they consider religiously worse than them – and their failure to repent of their own sins by focusing on the sins of others. But we cannot use this verse outside the context of the rest of scripture to silence protests against evil as the Postmodernists would like us to.


What about the quote “If any one of you is without sin, let him throw the first stone” (John 8:7)? If Matthew 7:1 is the favourite saying of the Postmoderns, probably John 8 is the favourite story of the Postmoderns. How do we respond? Firstly one should not derive absolutes out of stories. You find absolutes first in other places in the Bible and the stories should illustrate these. Secondly, we can’t extend ‘stoning’ as a metaphor meaning ‘speaking’ against evil. Thirdly, what is the context? The Jewish religious leaders catch a woman in adultery and take her to Jesus asking him if she should be stoned? Now like the time they asked him about whether he should pay taxes (Matthew 22:17), the Pharisees they are trying to trap Jesus into getting into trouble either with the religious Jews or the Roman authorities.
The point is that they are under Roman law, for which there is no capital offence for adultery and Jesus has no status as a civil magistrate. This is an illegal kangaroo court with no civil authority, into which certain Jewish fanatics are trying to involve Jesus. Only the Roman government had the right to execute a person (John 18:31). Jesus skilfully dodges their manipulative trap and teaches them a moral lesson at the same time. His response is similar when someone tries to get him to arbitrate an inheritance dispute (Luke 12:13). One could go into much more detail on the true meaning of this story, but the point here is that the Postmodernists completely misuse these scriptures to try to silence speaking up against evil.


On the same theme Postmoderns say that we should ‘not condemn’ to argue that we shouldn’t speak up against culturally accepted sins like fornication, pornography and homosexuality and abortion. Sounds a bit Biblical, but where exactly is that in the Bible? We could quote Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”. In context that means that God does not condemn us when we are ‘in Christ’, namely we have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. But earlier in Romans, the aPostle Paul has just condemned a long list of sinful behaviours (Romans 1:18-32). And his condemnation of this list of sins (and a following list of religious sins in Romans 2) is the first thing he explains when he introduces the gospel in Romans 1:17, before he explains salvation from God’s wrath (Romans 3:23). So essentially, condemning sin and the consequent wrath of God is essential to bringing people to true salvation.

Most Postmoderns hardly have an idea what sin is, let alone the fact that God is angry with sin and will punish people forever in hell unless they repent. It is not loving to leave out this essential truth of the gospel. So reaching Postmoderns with the true gospel includes teaching them the essential concept of sin and God’s condemnation of it. Postmodern Christians argue we should leave out this nasty stuff and just concentrate on building relationships. There is a place for relationships in evangelism, but if the truth about sin and God’s wrath against it is never explained then it is not true evangelism. Most so-called Postmodern outreach is nothing but relationship building and trying to market a good image of Christianity. It might build some relationships and do some good public relations, but doesn’t save people from God’s wrath and eternity in hell.

What is the favourite verse of Evangelical Christians? Probably John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But what does the next verse say? John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Okay so maybe are the Postmodernists right? Does this confirm we shouldn’t condemn? Lets read one more verse? John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. “ Ouch! Painful, politically incorrect stuff! How come John 3:18 isn’t quoted to non-Christians as much as John 3:16? Do we lack the guts to say it? Might it result in some anger and lead to some persecution? And maybe some more salvations too?


The great revival leaders of history, such as Charles Finney, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards regularly preached the Law and Wrath of God before they preached the Grace and Mercy of God – exactly as the apostle Paul does in the book of Romans. In fact, taking the Bible as a whole, God revealed the Law of Moses before he revealed grace in Christ. In Bible times and today, the righteous standards of God and his wrath against sin point to the redemption in Christ, which we cannot earn by our own efforts Gal 3:24 “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith”. But simply because we cannot achieve salvation or righteousness through law does not mean we dispense with law and God’s wrath against sin altogether. Explaining the anger of God against sin is the context in which we explain the grace of God which saves us from this. Now today, many postmodern Christians make jokes about Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’ http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/sinners.htm
and style him as some sort of fanatic. But the point is that Jonathan Edwards was a leader of the Great Awakening. Postmodern Christians have never had any revival or awakening anywhere in the world and never will because God doesn’t bless a false truncated distorted Postmodern gospel. The Postmodern gospel doesn’t condemn sin and so doesn’t convict of sin and doesn’t lead men to repentance.


What was the example of the apostles? Implicit in their arguing that Jesus was the Messiah was the allegation that the Jewish leaders had committed murder in executing Jesus and innocent man. That was why they were persecuted! Not just because they were some new Jewish sect. Peter repeatedly accuses those who killed Jesus: Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”; “Acts 3:15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. “This was not lost on the authorities Acts 5:28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the apostles did not preach a nice politically correct gospel and neither should we.

Condemning sin in society is also one of the ways we awake the social conscience to stop the murdering of unborn babies and the tearing apart of families as a result of sexual immorality. To fail to do so is not being ‘loving’ or ‘showing grace’. It is to abandon these victims to the forces of evil. Yes the apostles teaching was full of grace, but it was grace in the context of condemning sin. The two are not mutually exclusive. Grace without explaining God’s anger against sin is meaningless. The Cross of Christ perfectly unites the two concepts, in displaying both how much God hates sin what he suffered in our place and how much God loves sinners in being willing to give his son in our place. Preaching the cross includes condemning sin.


Ezekiel 3:18 says “When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.” God isn’t neutral in the matter. It is not optional for us to speak up against serious social evil. We must not be discouraged by the Postmodern political correctors who seek to silence the Christian voice against evil in society. We must continue to speak up for truth and righteousness and correct those Postmoderns who are trying to change the gospel and remove the bits that offend our culture.

If you are a pastor or home group leader, why not consider teaching on these often quoted scriptures, but this time tackle the challenge of postmodernism head-on and equip your people to stand for the truth. If you aren’t why not forward this email to your pastor or home group leader and encourage him to do so.