Keep the lamp burning in the church

They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken him. —2 Chronicles 13:11

God holds the pastor and members of the local church responsible for presenting Christ to the world. The church serves as a conscience for the world to help it know whether its ways are right or out of the will of God. In the Old Testament, the priest was responsible to lead the nation of Israel in the ways of God. When Israel pleased God, the lamp would burn bright in the temple because the priest had fulfilled his job of serving God in the temple and leading the people to live by His commandments. During these times, God’s blessing would be upon the nation. However, when the priest failed in his responsibility, the light in the temple would burn low, and eventually go out. God would withdraw His blessings, and Israel would experience the consequences of disobedience and sin.

Today’s church is in a battle to maintain the orthodox views of the Christian faith. The early church battled over the humanity and divinity of Christ. In this age, we find ourselves in a battle over the maleness of a man and the femaleness of women. A pertinent question of our day is, “Does God approve of men and women having conjugal same-sex relationships?” Did God make man to be homosexual and woman to be lesbian?

The universal church has become divided. Many brothers and sisters from other denominations, and some within our denomination, have embraced the gay rights agenda and are teaching that God accepts the sexual orientation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. Although Wikipedia is not always a reliable source, its definition of homosexuality accurately describes the behavior as a “romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual activity between members of the same sex or gender.” As an orientation, homosexuality refers to “an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectionate, or romantic attractions primarily or exclusively to people of the same sex; it also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.”

The gay rights movement is strong, aggressive and determined to implant its beliefs into the moral fiber of the great institutions of society—most recently by attacking traditional marriage. Consequently, our American society is fast approaching a day when moral relativism will become the norm—there will be no moral absolutes. What will the righteous do if the foundations are destroyed? What will the Christian do if the norms of society become immoral? The light is burning out in our churches when homosexuality is regarded as a norm in the American way of life. The Holy Bible has established moral standards. Who is man to change what God has said is right, wrong, light, darkness, moral, immoral, godly and ungodly? Darkness and sin will prevail when the immorality of society replaces God’s morals.

We are living in times when defending what is morally right will cause you to face persecution. I have observed people who oppose the immoral acts of homosexuality, the gay rights movement and same-sex marriage being persecuted and forced to retract their statements or lose their jobs. God will have to stop this movement—man cannot stop it without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church and the Christian are to be a light in a dark world. The lamp is a biblical symbol of God’s ability to illuminate the marvelous blessings of life that Christ gives to those who trust Him for salvation. Only the church can witness a godly lifestyle to a dark world. The church must oppose the evil of darkness so that those who are lost in this darkness might see and escape.

Thankfully, many in the church have done just that. A case in point is the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to delay voting on a policy that would have lifted the organization’s ban on homosexual Scout leaders. When executive board members arrived in Irving for a meeting to consider lifting the ban, they were greeted by hundreds of people—many of them believers—holding a prayer vigil and calling them to uphold biblical morality. And in the days leading up to the meeting, Christians in the media urged the Scouts to persevere in their stance against homosexuality. These courageous believers clearly influenced the board not to change its policy.

The apostle Paul would have applauded such public advocacy of righteousness. When he lists the sins that lead to eternal condemnation, he includes two references to homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he writes, “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, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Paul states in verse 11 that some homosexuals changed their sinful ways and were washed by the blood of Jesus (forgiven for their sins), sanctified (set apart for the purpose that they were made). This sanctification will enable homosexuals to embrace their designed genders as male or female.

The pastor and congregation must keep the lamp burning in the church so that all sin will be revealed and those who are lost can know Christ as Savior. In the New Testament church the lamp has been replaced by the Spirit of God that lives within each believer. It’s the Holy Spirit who burns within our hearts and compels men and women to repent of their sins and know Christ as their personal Savior. Let us unite in prayer that the Holy Spirit will move on the hearts of men and women everywhere that they will see the error of the homosexual lifestyle and be washed in the blood of Jesus, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God. Amen.

Pastor, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church
Terry Turner
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