Randy Alcorn literally wrote the book on grace and truth (ok, maybe not the book but a book). Jesus had the perfect balance of grace and truth. We do not, so it is a constant struggle to aim at that.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Randy is one of the most balanced writers I’ve seen. He shows it in Perspectives on Louie Giglio, the Homosexual Issue and What It Means to Be a Christ-Follower in This Culture. It is a thorough and excellent message about how Giglio is no longer welcome to give the inaugural prayer because of an 18 yr. old sermon he gave noting that homosexual behavior was a sin.
There are some great lessons here. No matter how hard you try to please the world, it won’t work. Of course many of them hate the message. They are spiritually dead and will always hate it. If they aren’t properly offended then you delivered the message wrong. But you honor God by speaking the truth in love.
As I listened to the message, I was struck by the gentleness and kindness of Louie Giglio’s words intended to invite in, not push away, those of homosexual orientation. He offered love and forgiveness for homosexual sin just as for heterosexual sin and every other sin. Giglio was careful to say that people with a homosexual orientation were loved and welcome in his church. Yes, the agenda of homosexual advocates was warned against, and that’s an appropriate warning. But there was no homophobia, no revulsion against homosexuals as individuals. Rather, Louie spoke with both grace and truth.
This 54-minute message is biblically clear yet careful and balanced, saying that homosexual behavior is one of many sins, and we should not hold it out as unacceptable while our personally preferred sins are ignored. It was a good sermon then, and in my opinion, still is.
If this message is “hate speech,” as it is called in some by some responders, then the Bible is hate speech, and no one can preach the whole Bible without being guilty of hate speech. Some people believe that and are honest enough to say it.
If Louie Giglio, despite his people-loving track record, is viewed as a bigot because he believes and teaches the Bible, then it’s guaranteed you and I will be seen as bigots. Unless, of course, we either outright deny the Scriptures or are so quiet about our belief in them that no one finds us out. (Imagine an ambassador who lives in fear of divulging his King’s policies.)
Many of the articles and comments concerning Louie Giglio reflected this perplexing idea that good Christians must NOT believe the Bible. And, indeed, many professing Christians agree with Jesus only when he speaks about love. When he takes moral stands and says there’s an eternal hell to punish sins, that’s a different story. They take a cut and paste approach to the Bible—when I like what it says I’ll quote it, when I don’t like it, I’ll ignore, reinterpret or deny it. That means the Bible is not my authority. Rather, this culture is my authority. I am my authority.
Once we deny parts of God’s truth, then we are no longer under Scripture’s authority. We are winging it. And if Christians try to be relevant and accepted by making up truth on the fly, then the Jesus we speak of will not be the Scripture-believing Jesus of the Bible who was full of both grace and truth. He will just be the “loving Jesus” remade in our culture’s image, in which we redefine love as tolerance.
Among the comments, I discovered some Christians who seem astonished that the world opposes many Christian beliefs. Of course we will be mocked and despised—the Bible promises us that. Jesus said “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). He said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Paul said, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter said, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
If we are not opposed for our allegiance to the gospel, isn’t it because we are not living and proclaiming the gospel?
. . .
I saw comments in which several people spoke up in Louie’s defense, but then said, essentially, “Someone shouldn’t be judged for what he’s believed and said nearly twenty years ago. He’s probably changed his mind and we should forgive him. Let’s give him a chance.
But of course, for Louie to change his position would require him to repent of what the Bible teaches. It’s one thing to say “I was wrong,” it’s another to say, “God was wrong.” To do this, he would not be a Christ-follower in the historic sense. (True Christ-followers don’t deny God’s Word, they lovingly affirm it.) It’s one thing, years later, to say you would phrase some things a bit differently; it’s another to deny what the Bible actually says.
Trying to fly under the radar of our culture on moral issues is no better than the always-in-your-face method. The grace-only approach, in the end, is as deficient as the truth-only approach. Jesus came full of both grace and truth (John 1:17). So should we.
I’m convinced that we need a good, simple set of pro-real marriage and pro-life apologetics to use as segues to the Gospel. I have come across more and more people who have bought Satan’s lie that you shouldn’t even consider Christianity because of the stances it takes on abortion and homosexuality. The goal, of course, is to get them to the word of God as quickly as possible, but you may need to do some prep work.
It concerns me when those who profess to be Christians simply redefine what it means to be a Christian to accommodate whatever the culture currently believes. They oppose Giglio, they suppose, because they are more loving, kind and relevant Christians.
. . .
Too many Christians labor to airbrush Jesus and the Bible, to make them as attractive as possible. In doing so we distort both the Living Word, Jesus, and the Written Word, the Bible. We redefine sin, and minimize it in a misguided attempt to win people by saying what they’d rather hear.
What bothered me most as I read dozens and dozens of comments was seeing professing Christians distance themselves from Louie Giglio. These new kind of “Christians” are a mirror image of this culture, craving popularity and acceptance. If that’s you, please understand—and I am trying to be honest, not cruel—that you bear no resemblance to what it has meant for two thousand years to be a true follower of Christ. Believe what you choose to, but please, in the interests of accuracy, stop calling yourself a Christian.
Preach it, Randy!
Our job is not to be God’s speechwriters and revise his words on his behalf, but to speak his words humbly. Our job is not to be God’s PR team, but to be his ambassadors, not making policy but simply representing what God has declared to be true.
This episode, I believe, points out the futility of trying to reach the world through being acceptable to the world. If you spent any time with the Giglios, you’d probably think that they are better, nicer and kinder than you are. So if Louie Giglio’s efforts against human slavery haven’t delivered him from moral outrage, your works and mine won’t deliver us. (We should do those works, of course, but out of love for God and people, not to be popular.)
Ask yourself whether you are living for the approval of this culture, or the Audience of One. Ask yourself, “In the end whose judgment seat will I stand before?” The homosexual advocate’s? The White House’s? The news media’s? The social media’s? The church’s? Or will we stand before God’s throne, where His “opinion” (truth), as expressed in Scripture, ultimately will be non-negotiable.
Christ’s followers are full of grace and truth. They are both loving and holy. Make no mistake—an unholy world will never be won to Christ by an unholy church.