Thursday, November 01, 2007

God Hates Fags

What a sad, horribly sad, focus for a group that claims to gather in the name of Jesus!

On the opening page of their web site, the Westboro Baptist Church has the following graphic:

with the title for the page: "Warning Page."

The picture serves as a link to their home page, which is entitled, "God Hates Fags."

St. John instructs the Church that "God is Love."

Why then would this group seek "God Hates" as their primary focus?

Good question. Perhaps the answer is found in their understanding of salvation and their interpretation of John 3:16. They say:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

They quote the Lord Jesus as saying that the Son was given because God LOVED the WORLD, and then twist His gracious words to say that He did not die for that same world in love for the world.

"Jesus Christ Died Only for Those Who Believe." This is not what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures do teach, however, that not everyone for whom Jesus died will receive the benefits of His sacrificial death that He offered in love for all. The very next verses of Holy Scripture say that those who deny and therefore do not believe God's love come to earth in the body of Jesus stand condemned by their own refusal to believe what God has demonstrated in unmistakable means. The gift is a real gift. He has been given for all. But most will never receive Jesus as God's gift, but will seek to substitute their own version and understanding of Jesus, whose name means, "The Lord saves."

The problem for the poor people of Westboro Baptist Church is that they do not know the God of love. Since they do not know Him, they cannot serve Him with a witness to His love. Their gospel is not "good news" but "bad news" for all. Their message to the world is "God Hates." Their answer to God's hatred is that people had better choose to be the kind of people that God is capable of loving.

The God who reveals Himself through the Holy Scriptures declares Himself to be the God who has loved the world from eternity, loving the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son on behalf of this lost world. This God does not declare that people must give up their sinfulness and become holy in order to receive His love. Rather, this God pours out His love freely through the preaching of Christ crucified, and applies this love to sinners in the waters of Baptism and in the bread and wine of His Holy Communion. This love is Jesus and the holiness of God. Those who receive Jesus through these ordained means of salvation are declared to be righteous and holy for Jesus' sake. As they live in this declaration of the righteousness and holiness of Jesus, they discover that God truly has made them to be His holy children once again. Far from being a choice on their part, this is the power of the Gospel at work in them.

Sadly, Westboro Baptist Church is not alone in missing this all important understanding. If only all the churches that claim to be in Christ would administer the pure Word and Sacraments for the benefit of all. If only all the churches would lead people to Jesus, who comes to us freely and graciously in the means of grace. Then people would not look to means of their own imaginations and would be guarded by the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, guarded and kept safe in Christ Jesus.

God has provided the means by which we may know Him as our God of love. If we want to find the answers to our shortcomings, they are supplied for us in His means of grace. Through these means God gives us Jesus, and in Him all of God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen.” (2 Cor. 1:20)

As our Lord Jesus assures us in John 3:17,

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Is this not the message that God would have us proclaim? Is this not what people at funerals need to hear?

Repentance is not a turning from what is wrong to what is right. Repentance is the change of heart and mind and soul that the Holy Spirit works in the sinner through the means of grace, so that rather than seeking to be right in one’s own understanding and by one’s own efforts, the person trusts that God is right and that His righteousness is what is needed, the righteousness that Christ purchased for us with His own holy life, and pours out freely in Baptism and in the Cup of the New Testament in His blood.

We all become excited when we receive news of a great bargain, but what bargain can compare to what God offers freely through His means of grace, even Jesus Christ? And who can do better for oneself, than what God has already accomplished from eternity for us all?


Ron the ranch hand said...

Repentance is worked in us by the Holy Spirit. I do believe that it is necessary for salvation - though to reiterate it is from the Holy Spirit, just as faith is a necessary work of the Holy Spirit.

Someone that continues to live in a sinful lifestyle shows that they are unrepentant, and I believe this is a sign that they are indeed not saved, though we can not judge the state of their salvation. We should judge their behavior though and bring it to them with the love of Christ that they are living in sin. In this case we should exercise the Keys to as a means Jesus gave us to help them. This again should be done with love and not the ridiculous rhetoric of the Westboro folks.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Ron, thanks for the comments.

You seem to be indicating that repentance cannot come without the preaching of the Law, and this is most certainly true. Yet, as you also seem to indicate, the type of “preaching” that often takes place is not in accord with God’s intention for the Law, but rather spews forth from a self-righteous desire to condemn others. This is the sad case with the Westboro folk.

Something worthy of remembrance is that true repentance is not measured by the cessation of living in a sinful lifestyle, but by the change that the Holy Spirit works through the Gospel, the change that make continuing in such a lifestyle no longer possible. It is not really a choice made by the person, but rather, it is a new life given from God.

You make a wonderful tie to this with your mention of the office of the keys. Fear of condemnation does not change people, but motivates them to seek to avoid getting caught. Such fear moves people to seek to find the minimum standard by which they can avoid condemnation. It also motivates looking toward others with judgmental attitudes.

The Gospel, on the other hand, administered through the Office of the Keys in connection with the pure means of grace, is the way of love, which transforms our fear of judgment into the holy fear of God that the Scriptures teach. This is the holy fear that love produces. It says, “My loving Father is holy and has declared me to be holy through the merits of Christ. I don’t ever want to lose this and I don’t want others to be without it.” This is the true motivation for proclaiming the Law/Gospel message.

Thanks again for sharing your insights.