July 13, 2014


Trinity Church


Pastor Joe Getts

July 13, 2014


We are a Christian congregation that believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We believe that God has given and inspired the Bible for us to use as our guide for Christian doctrine and living. Therefore, when we have questions, our first point of reference is His Word – The Holy Bible that He has given to us.


1). I have a friend that keeps talking to me about liberation theology and something called the social gospel. I can’t figure out what they are talking about. Would you explain that?  


“Liberation Theology” which promotes a concept called the “social gospel” has only been around in its current form for about the last 90 years or so. It has been seen off and on in Christian history since the third or fourth century – about the time the Roman Church was birthed by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The movement’s most recent popularity is generally credited to a Roman Catholic El Salvadorian Bishop named Oscar Romero who was murdered while offering Catholic Mass in March of 1980.

From a Protestant perspective, liberation theology is generally thought of as an unorthodox interpretation of the New Testament Biblical text so as to benefit in some exclusive way a specific people group or groups, or some political agenda that appears to be supporting a specific collection of people.

The major problem with liberation theology is that it is not focused on Jesus Christ, but rather on fairness, equality or even preferential treatment in some cases for various minorities and people groups. A moral reading of the Gospels never finds Jesus endorsing any political agenda or a specific people group or groups. Instead Jesus always focused on the spiritual condition of people as individuals and their relationship with God.

Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) In this passage the Lord Jesus actually offers the opposite set of priorities than these social Gospel trends in liberation theology do. This does not mean that we should not help the poor. Nor does it say or imply that we should single out specific identifiable people groups for Scriptural scrutiny and criticism. It does tell us that if Jesus Christ is the theme and focus of our mortal lives, and we are striving to live with His reflection in everything we do and say, the rest of those social and cultural issues will become aligned the way He desires them to be in our lives. Then we won’t have to worry whether or not things in the tangible world around us are being cared for properly. We can trust in the sovereignty of God.       

The Apostle Paul saw the potential of such developing “gospels” as he preached the true Gospel of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection as the redemptive atonement for our sinful estate. He writes to the four churches in Galatia saying, I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, many so called “Christian” protestant denominations both mainline and evangelical, have recently bought into this format of reading and interpreting the New Testament. It is often done in the name of “cultural relevancy” for

the Church and/or equality for all people. It is a “different gospel” than Paul or any of the other apostles preached.

Regarding people groups and their treatment, Paul said to the Church at Rome; “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him.”(Romans 10:12) and to the churches in Galatia; “There is neither Jew nor Greek (racial groups), there is neither slave nor free man (status grouping of people groups), there is neither male nor female (gender grouping of people for preferential treatment); for you are all one in Christ Jesus.(Galatians 3:28).


2). Please explain and expound upon why the reality of sin is so important to our faith and God's plan for our salvation. And why is it so avoided in  "culturally relevant" minded churches?


Sin is the only thing that separates all of mankind from a complete and wholesome relationship with God. We see how sin entered the human experience in Genesis 3:1-6 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed , has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden '?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die!  "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate ; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

God who is perfect and holy loves His creation (us) so much that He provided a way for us to be reunited into a right relationship with Him. This was done when His only Son Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. When God raised Jesus from the dead three days later He conquered death itself! We now have the hope of eternal life with Him because we have accepted this great gift of His love for us.

The problem of sin is the same one that it was when Adam and Eve first sinned. It is spurred by pride. People do not like to hear that they are sinners that need to be reunited with God because of the sin they chose to commit. But it is true and every one of us needs to be confronted with this spiritual reality. We are born into a sinful life because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve.

There are many churches and denominations trying to find a culturally relevant, socially acceptable way to try and say “something like this” without making people feel uncomfortable about being a sinner. It is an attempt at letting them keep their dignity and self pride and still have some kind of “Christian experience”. It is a quite different version of the gospel message.

Very simply, under the scrutiny of well defined Biblically based Christian theology, it doesn’t work that way at all. That type of feel-good “Christianity” does not give an honest and adequate presentation of the Gospel. That doesn’t mean that Christians can’t or shouldn’t feel good.

But in an honest and Biblical presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called to humble ourselves, confess our sins to God, repent (turn completely away) from them and accept God’s unconditional love expressed through Jesus Christ. Confessing that we are a sinner is not a fun or easy thing for anyone to do.

Paul said to the Romans “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) This transformation is not a culturally relevant Gospel but rather a relevant lifestyle that will change the culture. If we are to show the Gospel message to people who don’t know Jesus Christ personally, we have to be honest about sin and what it truly is and how it destroys our lives.

It is only then that we can be changed by the love of God through Christ Jesus giving His life for us. The genuine cognitive acceptance of that core fact will indeed start to transform that person into a real child of God through Jesus Christ.           


3). Will faithful Christians (who believe Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sins), be on earth during the Tribulation? 


This is a very narrow question because it ignores three other Biblical implied possibilities regarding the end times of our planet in prophecy. First of all the prophetic writings of the Bible never frame or name a specific time frame as the “Tribulation” or the “Great Tribulation”. That is all conjecture taught by Bible teachers we refer to as Dispensational Theologians. The lenses they look through as they interpret Scripture are different than those of the other three schools of thought when it comes to eschatology (the study of last days).

In the last two decades a book and a series of movies titled “Left Behind” have once again ignited interest in a doctrine that was initially established only about 200 years ago by a man named John Nelson Darby in the early 19th century. This doctrine was perpetuated in the late 19th century by C.I. Scofield who wrote a study Bible outline describing in great detail a highly skeptical version of dispensationalism including a rapture of the Church prior to a seven year time of Great Tribulation on the earth which is controlled by the “anti-christ” before Jesus comes back to destroy all evil and reign on the earth for precisely 1000 years (a millennium).

Sadly, this dispensationalism version of end times is all a very inaccurate reading of such texts – obviously done from a non 1st century Greek text. This doctrine has recently been perpetuated by J. Vernon McGee, John Hagee and a host of other well meaning mis-taught “Baptist styled” Christian Bible teachers. Remember, no one goes to hell because they believed in the wrong school of eschatology.      .     

The “trigger” verse for such dispensational beliefs and doctrines comes out of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica and nowhere else in the New Testament; For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

The words “caught up” is where the word  “rapture” gets developed out of thin air in this doctrine. The word “rapture” never appears in the Bible anywhere. In the Greek transcript text these two words are the word “harpidzo”. We transliterate that word into the English word “harpoon” which we see most commonly used to describe the whaling experience.

In the Greek the word “harpidzo” was a “story word” in the first century Roman culture. It described a process by which the rulers of a walled city would sit at the gates of that city in judgment. When they would see a visiting dignitary approaching their city from a far off, they would go out to meet him and his entourage to see what the nature of his visit was. Then they would walk back into the city with the visiting dignitary and make sure he found his way through their city around and that he made all the connections he was coming there to establish. It had nothing to do with a secret extraction or removal of the city’s population.

There are basically four schools of thought regarding eschatology that have been taught during the history of the Christian Church. They are in a nutshell description:        


Amillennialism – This doctrine says that the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ is a spiritual experience and we can and are living in it now under the rule and authority of God in our lives. His Kingdom will someday be established literally on a new heaven and earth at the end of all things. 

Postmillennialism – This doctrine promotes an idealism that Christianity will grow in size and popularity to assume the political domination of this world’s power so Christ can return to rule and reign over all the world. It is sometimes referred to as “Dominionalism” or “Kingdom Now”.


Premillennialism – This doctrine sees literally that Jesus Christ cannot reign over this earth until He literally returns to conquer the growing evil of this World and then establishes His earthy Kingdom. Most premillennialists believe that the return of Jesus Christ will be a two stage return – first a rapture of the Church and then at a later point the battle of Armageddon, when Jesus conquers all earthly evil. 


Noneschatalogical – This doctrine says there is no “end” of the world as we know it. Jesus Christ‘s return is experienced personally by an individual at their mortal death. This position is sometime referred to as Non-Apocalyptic Eschatology.          


In reality none of these eschatology outlines are 100% correct. A couple of them are almost incorrect. The reason for this is found in the first chapter of Acts; “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:6-11)

This text tells us two things: 1). We do not need to understand when and how all of those things will take place. Our real commission from Jesus Christ is to spread His Gospel, not define eschatology. 2). We need to stop staring up into heaven looking for the return of Jesus Christ and start really truly doing what He. He will return at just the right time and the precise way He should.


4). I recently read an article in the Dayton Daily News how the Presbyterians are re-considering the issue of homosexual marriage. The article also stated that the United Church of Christ (our congregational affiliation) was actually condoning and performing homosexual marriages in many of their churches. Is this legal? Is this something you would do, and how do you feel about all of that?   


First of all, I am not licensed and ordained minister with or by the United Church of Christ. I am licensed and ordained by an evangelical Christian denomination. My license and ordination is valid in the State of Ohio. This congregation here at Trinity Church hired me to be their pastor with that being one of their primary motivations. I do not have the same priorities, values and theological aspirations as do the vast majority of the leadership and pastors within the United Church of Christ. Neither I nor this congregation at Trinity Church is hesitant of making that fact known to anyone who asks.  

Therefore the answer to the question is; No, I would not conduct a homosexual marriage ceremony for two very specific reasons; 1). It is still illegal to conduct a marriage ceremony without the participants first obtaining a marriage license prior to that ceremony. The state of Ohio still does not issue marriage licenses for same sex marriages. 2). In a careful examination of the entire Bible one does not see anywhere in the text where same sex marriages are defined and/or condoned. Homosexuality is clearly

defined as a sinful relationship in both Testaments of the Bible. Marriage throughout the Bible is always defined exclusively as the union of a man and woman and never anything else. So in good conscience, I cannot participate in such an event, and would not do so if asked. As long as there are laws which allow the freedom of religious practice here in America, I cannot be forced to do that.

Please understand that my posture is not one of condemnation toward the homosexual community. It is never our right to condemn anyone. Only God truly knows the heart of any person – be they a practicing heterosexual or homosexual. I personally believe that it is totally within the realm of possibility to be both a Christian and a homosexual. 

I personally see no difference in the categorization of sin between the heterosexual adulterer and the practicing homosexual. Both may still be Christians. They are just simply defined as living in a sinful condition or circumstance. Sin is sin – no matter if you steal a piece of candy from a grocery store or have sexual relationships outside of your marriage vows with someone of the opposite sex or the same sex for that matter. Each situation is equally wrong in God’s eyes. We are all sinners and we all need to repent regularly of our sins, no matter what our preferential sin is.

I am also certainly not saying that I am a better person than a practicing homosexual. What I am saying by the previous statements is that I refuse to openly condone or encourage anyone else to participate in any kind of sinful act, be that lying, thievery, adultery, murder or sins of a sexual format and nature.

In addition, let me encourage you to be praying for Churches and denominations like the Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ, that as these discussions are taking place with their leadership and pastors that Biblical principals will be adhered to and God’s plan for them will be accomplished.  


5). Recently, I've been reading Genesis, and most recently about Isaac and his two sons Esau and Jacob. Esau and Jacob were different in many ways, and didn't particularly love each other as brothers. Jacob

was jealous of Esau, talked him out of his birthright, and tricked his blind father Isaac into giving him, Jacob, his blessings. My question is; why is this particular story in the Bible and what is the real significance of this story? We see families all the time who do not get along and who take advantage of each other.


Most historians and theologians perceive that this relationship between Jacob and Esau was the original split between the Arab nations which later adopted the religion of Islam and the Jewish Israelite nation and their religion which later spawned the Christian faith. The story is a real psychological, spiritual and theological “gem stone” with many facets and points to be learned from. There are far too many of them to be explained in the limited space of this written answer.

The obvious themes show us that we should not act impulsively and irrationally like Esau did in selling his inheritance for a bowl of soup. As the text goes on in the following chapters, it also teaches us that intentional deception has a big price to pay. Jacob himself gets tricked on many occasions including a wedding night fiasco. However, it is still interesting to see how God blessed Jacob and allowed him to keep the birthright which he illegitimately obtained.

Ultimately we see one of the key events in Jacob’s life being experienced in Genesis 28. Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants."Your descendants will also

be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."

If Jacob had not gone through what he endured and experienced with his brother Esau and the rest of his family, he may have never arrived at the place where his conversion to the awesome love of our God was initiated there in Genesis 28:21 when he said “the LORD will be my God. Jacob is an example to many of us who have gone through a lot of tough experiences just so that one day we would finally wake up to the reality that the Lord really is our very own God and that we can depend on Him for not only salvation through Jesus Christ, but also for all of our needs. 

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