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God and Lying

In a recent, “Answers to Your Questions” section of the Time of Grace Magazine (Spring 2012, p6-7), Pastor Jeske of Time of Grace addresses the question, “Does God condone lies?”

Inclusive of Jeske’s response was a reference to the Israelite midwives who saved the baby boys he had ordered to be murdered (see Exodus 1:15-21).  Jeske states that the Jewish midwives had “lied about why they hadn’t been able to kill” the boys (Exodus 1:18-20).

However, the text doesn’t explicitly indicate that the women had lied at all.  Here’s what the text actually says, along with Pharaoh’s question following his command to kill the male born babies”

“So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?’  And the midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them’” (Exodus 1:18-19, NKJ).

The presumption that the midwives were lying in their answer to Pharaoh has no immediate merit from the text.  And the text itself does not indicate that they had in fact lied.  Therefore, the reference to the lying of the midwives in the Exodus text has little to do with the question of lying.

Of importance in addressing the question of lying, however, is the reference that “the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive” (Exodus 1:17).  Because they feared God, the midwives did not murder those whom Pharaoh ordered to murder.  They were willing to risk “their own lives to save those babies” (7).

In fearing God as they had, the midwives would not have needed to lie to Pharaoh.  And because they feared God, God blessed them (“dealt well with them,” Exodus 1:20), and not because they saved the lives of the baby boys, as Jeske seems to suggest (see below).

Also inclusive of Jeske’s response to the question about whether God condones lies was a reference to the same Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was involved in a plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

The questioner noted that Bonhoeffer had lied to the SS about knowing the location of certain Jews, though he had known.  The questioner also noted that “Bonhoeffer later remarked that it would have been immoral and evil for him to have told the ‘truth’ in that situation.”  The questioner then puts forth the question, “Under certain circumstances, does God condone lies?” (6)

In response to this question, Jeske begins rightly by giving references to Holy Scripture (i.e. Exodus 20:16; Colossians 3:9; Proverbs 12:22).  He gives examples of even David and Abraham who had lied.

Jeske, then, however, gives the irrelevant example of the midwives (see above) and references Bonhoeffer, praising both.  “I commend the midwives and Bonhoeffer.  They were confronted with moral dilemmas and chose to save lives rather than collaborate in murder.”  Jeske continues and writes, “I’m sure their lies were understood and overlooked by God because their actions brought about a greater good” (7).

I won’t argue that a moral dilemma had not confronted both the midwives and Bonhoeffer.  They had “choices” to make.  As God-fearers, the midwives did as they were given to do, to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  Also, Bonhoeffer did well in saving those Jews.

Jeske suggests that God understands and overlooks lies on the basis of the greater good that results on account of those lies.  Where are the Bible passages to support such a view?  They are in fact non-existent.

Answering the question about lying on the basis of any “greater benefits” that may follow weakens God’s command against lying and deceiving.   What Jeske is doing is replacing God’s law with human opinion.  Instead of speaking truthfully about God’s prohibition of lying, Jeske is opening the door for human explanations and excuses to support the act of lying as dependent on the circumstance, contrary to God’s Word.  By doing this, Jeske also closes the door to the sweet Gospel, which is reserved for those who have no excuses for their sin, but who only seek the mercy of our gracious God.

In this article, Jeske minimizes sin.  And in minimizing sin, Jeske minimizes the need for forgiveness.  In saying that God understands and overlooks the sin of lying, Jeske almost suggests that God accepts lying, dependent on the results.  Yet the Word of the Lord indicates that God does not accept lying at all.  Lying is sin.  Rather than make explanations or excuses for the sin of lying or any sin, repentance is in order.

Rather than say what is not truthful about how God sees sin, Christians are to confess Christ.  This means speaking the truth about what God says concerning the Law and sin.  It also means speaking the truth about what God says concerning God’s unmerited Grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Because Jeske fails to clearly articulate the Law in answering the question about lying, so he also fails to even speak at all about the forgiveness of sins, the very forgiveness needed by all.

“Under certain circumstances, does God condone lies?” The Biblical answer is a sound, “NO.”  Lies are sin.  One could also ask a related question, “Under certain circumstances, does God condone sin?”  Again, the Biblical answer is a sound, “NO.”

As much as we might want to be out from under the unconditional law of God, which allows for no explanations or excuses, we cannot.  As long as we continue attempting explanations and excuses for our behaviors and actions, even if we should be seeking the “greater good,” we are avoiding the weight of God’s law and His Holy Word.  And in such a state, we don’t have God’s forgiveness, for we only demonstrate an unrepentant heart.

A repentant heart, on the other hand, is one that accepts God’s Holy Law full force, and, having nowhere at all to turn, seeks only God’s mercy in Christ Jesus.  And there, in Christ, the repentant sinner walks by faith, wholly certain of having peace with God.

God does not condone lies, even under certain circumstances.  But God does indeed forgive sin, on account of Jesus Christ.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

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Are all Lutherans the same?

 

 

No.  Not all Lutherans are the same for not all Lutherans teach or practice according to what God says in His Holy Word, the Bible.

The three largest Lutheran Church bodies in North America are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA, www.elca.org), the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS, www.lcms.org), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (WELS, www.wels.net).  Visit their respective Question/Answer pages and you will find a great deal of difference between ELCA and the other two.

ELCA fundamentally has a different understanding of the Gospel, Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Sacraments than do the others.  If the definitions or explanations given by ELCA sound similar, it is only because they use similar words, but with entirely different meanings (meanings and usage which are foreign to Holy Scripture).  In practice, these differences clearly show themselves (i.e. the ordination of unrepentant homosexuals and of women, contrary to the Lord’s mandate; the toleration and acceptance of behavior contrary to God’s will; fellowship with “Christian” church bodies that teach doctrines contrary to God’s Word [open communion];  worship nonChristians [i.e. Jews, muslims, etc.], and not least of all, preaching which is devoid of the vicarious satisfaction of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life through faith in Jesus [the preaching that unrepentant (nonbelieving) sinners are saved is ever increasing].

By far, the doctrine and practices of the ELCA are quite distinct from LCMS and WELS.  However, between the latter two, noticeable differences do exist.

LCMS permits women to vote in congregational assemblies.  WELS does not.  LCMS permits its young people (and even encourages in some cases) to join boy/girl scouts.  WELS encourages it young people to participate in a WELS group somewhat similar to the scouts.  LCMS has military chaplains.  WELS has civilian chaplains, but no military chaplains.  Also, LCMS and the WELS have a different teaching of The Office of the Ministry and its relation to the priesthood of all believers (however, in practice, differences are not so readily recognizable due to the fact that the LCMS seminaries and colleges in the Concordia University system of the LCMS do not consistently teach similarly, nor are pastors and laypeople always so clear on the distinctives).

LCMS and WELS both accept the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) to be God’s Word (and without error) and the only “rule and norm for faith and life.”  Both also subscribe unconditionally to the Lutheran Confessions.  The ELCA does not accept either the Bible or the Lutherans Confessions as the LCMS and WELS do (if the ELCA does in word, then certainly not in practice).

Both LCMS and WELS also clearly teach Christ and Him crucified as the only means of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 4:5).  The ELCA is not clear on the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ and fails to distinguish between what is sin before God and what is not.

There will be exceptions to the above comparisons.  ELCA pastors and congregations who seek to be more faithful to the Bible than their church body as a whole do exist.  In the same way, LCMS and WELS pastors and congregations exist who do not teach and practice according Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions (i.e. using worship practices and innovations that are foreign to biblical doctrine).

Simply because someone says that they are a member of an ELCA, LCMS, WELS, or other Lutheran Congregation does not immediately mean that they are genuinely Lutheran.  Nor does the word Lutheran attached to the name of a church body immediately indicate that the church body is genuinely Lutheran.  Only by discerning according to Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions is one able to make such a judgment.

“Rainbow Rave” at UWP

Exponent Online » Features Lead Story » Rainbow Rave.

For clarification, the gay Lutheran pastor who spoke at the recent Rainbow Rave conference on Nov 6, Javen Swanson, does not represent all Lutherans, nor the Biblical Christian faith.  The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and other smaller Lutheran bodies still believe that the very written words of the Bible still do indeed apply today, for they are God’s Word and remain forever (Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25), and testify of Christ and his Word and work for our salvation (Luke 24:44, 46-47).

The two parts of Swanson’s session on “Christianity and Homosexuality,” which he called, “deconstructive” and “constructive” work, greatly misrepresent the Biblical text (i.e. Genesis 18:16-19:29).  The account of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about hospitality.  It’s about God’s judgment upon a sinful rebellious people, whom, by the way, God would have spared if even 10 righteous had been found in the city (Genesis 18:32).  Romans 1:26-27 could be used as a “proof text” which speaks of homosexuality as sin, but one should also read the entire chapter, esp. verses 18-32.  It’s not just homosexuality which God condemns, but all and every sin. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  And yet, only those who are called sinners does God forgive, save, and give eternal life (Luke 15; John 3:16; 6:47; 20:31; 1 Timothy 1:15).

If Swanson were to truly present what the Bible says according to that what is written, he would discover a text which throughout does rightly speak against sin, but a text which also clearly reveals Jesus to be the Savior from sin, by means of his death on the cross (John 6:47; 20:31).

If the Bible doesn’t say what it means and doesn’t mean what it says, then why is Swanson so concerned about making it say what it doesn’t?


The South Wisconsin District & Rev. Mark Jeske of Time of Grace

In the South Wisconsin District (SWD) of the LCMS, I’ve observed disturbing changes within this district (and within the LCMS as a whole), changes which further move us away from our foundational moorings.

For the past several years, I’ve noticed a growing number of conferences and retreats where Rev. Mark Jeske of Time of Grace ministries located in Milwaukee, airing on the net (http://www.timeofgrace.org/index.php), on the radio, and on TV, is one of the speakers.  The SWD endorses him, as his ‘ministry’ is also now an Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the LCMS

(http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=15614), airing even on the LCMS’ radio station from St. Louis, KFUO.

What’s interesting, as others have noted (i.e. http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=6919), is that Jeske is:

1)      of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

2)      not an LCMS pastor

3)      Promotes the unscriptural ‘principles’ and doctrine of the church growth movement (CGM) (For further study on these, see http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/huebelcgm.pdf as a starter)

LCMS and WELS are not in fellowship.  Joint ministries here are in the least confusing to members and nonmembers of both church bodies.  Joint ministries here are also conflicting, esp. because the Church Growth Movement so advocated by Jeske is in conflict with our doctrine, and also the official teaching of WELS.

A genuine concern for doctrine asks the question ‘why’?  Since CGM teaches what is contrary to Scripture, why is such teaching given air on the LCMS station KFUO, advocated by at least one district (the SWD), and even now an RSO of the LCMS?

The answer may be because the LCMS as a whole has forgotten the concern of God’s people—faithfulness to the His Word, rather than seeking after acceptance by the world and its ways.  But faithfulness calls for obedience to the Lord’s Word and avoidance of those who teach otherwise:

Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18)

May the Lord keep the LCMS and her members watchful, observant, and bold in the face of false doctrine and opposition, even with those within her own body!

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