PART 2 TESTIMONY
Part 2 – Testimony - Exchanging our former sexual identity for our new identity in Christ
Does Being Active in Church Activities Mean We Are Growing Spiritually?
So, here we are attending to all that our church has to offer. Our schedule is full, but something is amiss. A battle is going on inside of us. We have begun to gain some knowledge about our Christian faith. Depending on where we are going to church will determine the various doctrinal teachings that will be brought forth.
Over time, we might have learned about what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross in that He paid the debt we owed to God the Father for our sin and subsequently forgave it (canceled and removed the debt from the record). Maybe we have learned about the different gifts of the Holy Spirit, about eternal rewards, about eternal security, about the office leadership gifts, about the seven days of creation, about the Mosaic Law, and much more. But again, something is amiss. What could this be?
Let’s begin by taking a look at one of the comments that we highlighted in the introduction section of this study, which was taken from the article pertaining to one of the former church members. Here is the comment again. “I can’t worship at a church, knowing that I am not fully accepted and considered equal to all those around me.”6
This begs the question, what does it mean to be considered equal or accepted in God’s assembly?
I assume that the person who said this was referring to how he perceived other believers were treating him concerning his sexual inclinations or propensities. But before we attempt to answer this question, let’s begin by answering this one.
What does it actually mean to be considered equal or accepted according to the world’s perspective?
I think that this can be answered by taking a closer look at the following verse taken from the book of Romans.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The words be not conformed according to Koine Greek means that we as believers are not to put on the form, fashion, or appearance of. Of what, of the world? The words to this world can mean a few things, to the standards of the world, to the customs of this life, to the sentiments and morals of men, or the prevailing habits, style, and manners of the world. With that said, let’s attempt to answer the antithesis question.
But what does it actually mean to be considered equal or accepted scripturally?
Let’s start out by going to the book of 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
One of the things to be considered equal means is that at salvation, we have become a new creature (a new creation) just like any other person who has become saved.
Please go to the book just before this one, 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 12:11, 18
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
Another thing of what it means to be equal is that God the Holy Spirit has given to each of us at least one spiritual gift as it has pleased Him. In other words, God chooses for each of us the spiritual endowment that He decides to bless us with. The purpose of the exercise of such use is to edify the body of Christ. While the gifts may differ, each of us is given at least one of them.
The book of Romans is where we will go next.
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Something else that has happened to each believer at salvation is they have received the indwelling Spirit into their life. At this time, he/she was baptized by Him into Christ, being identified with Him in His death and burial (as He died to sin on the cross, so he/she likewise has died to sin in the sense of being separated from its power). And as He rose from the dead, likewise he/she has become a new creation who can walk in newness of life in the power of His resurrection.
Where we will go next is the book of Galatians. There is a particular word found there that connotes equality or acceptance among believers.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are told that there are no longer any national distinctions between Jew or Greek, there are no longer any class distinctions between a slave or freeman, and lastly, there are no longer any gender distinctions between male or female, for all of us are one in Christ. Some might interpret this as saying that there being no gender distinctions between male and female has to do with a person’s allowance for choosing someone to have a sexual relationship, whether of the same gender or not.
However, this is not what these verses are about. If you read them in context, the emphasis is on the fact that no matter what ethnicity you are, no matter whether you happen to be a slave or free, no matter whether you are a man or woman, the same grace of adoption or hope of salvation applies to all and that is by faith in Christ Jesus. This is further illustrated by the use of the words one in Christ Jesus.
What does it mean to be one in Christ Jesus?
These words mean to be equally accepted through the Lord Jesus Christ, to be on the same level, and to be entitled to the same privileges in your Christian profession.7 These words also mean that they are one and the same man or woman in Christ Jesus.8 This is another way of saying that no person has any advantage or disadvantage in the Kingdom of God, nor any special privilege for salvation.
To further exemplify this idea of oneness, equality, or acceptance, please go to the book of Ephesians.
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
There used to be those, albeit unbelieving Gentiles, who were far off from being unacquainted with God, but who were made near as they were brought into favor with Him through the blood of Christ. Because of this, God the Father has brought about a peace, or a union, between Jew and Gentile, and between those who have responded to the invitation of salvation in His Son in making them one new people forming one church. This is another description of oneness in that it refers to the reconciliation of both Jews and Gentiles, who were at one time separated, but are now made one in Christ worshiping the same God, having the same Savior, depending on the same atonement, and belonging to the same redeemed family.
These are just some of the areas where Christians are one, equal, or accepted with one another in Christ. But did you know that there are other areas in which we are not equal or accepted in Christ? If you noticed, I didn’t use the word one because this word pertains to salvation.
What are those areas where we are not equal or accepted?
Let’s begin in the book of Ephesians.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
God the Father has called some Christians, but not all, to an office gift, to a leadership position in the church.
There is something else of which believers are not equal. Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Some believers will receive more eternal rewards in the eternal state than others.
And what is reflective of the accumulation of eternal rewards is what we will look at next. This is found in the book of Philippians.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
And here is where there is much disparity from one Christian to another, which is as to our walk with God. Each one of us is told to work out or to put into practice what the Holy Spirit has provided for us at salvation, i.e., we are dead to sin’s power and are made alive to operate in newness of life. And because of such, we are to carry out our identification with Christ to its ultimate conclusion, Christ-likeness. The salvation spoken here refers to sanctification, victory over [sin,] and the living of a life pleasing to the Lord Jesus.9 And this can only happen when God the Holy Spirit is enabling us by His divine power operating in our hearts as we subject ourselves to His ministry.
This begs the question, how are we able to operate in the Spirit’s power and not be under the influence of sin? While I have not provided you with the answer to this question, what I can tell you is that once we know what the believer’s responsibilities in this area are, the realization of these spiritual realities in our lives will be dependent on the choices each of us makes in our free will.
As for the comment made by one of the members of the Christian church, “I can’t worship at a church knowing that I am not fully accepted and considered equal to all those around me,”10 there is a clear misunderstanding by this person as to what it means to be accepted, equal, or one in the body of Christ. So, here is a summary of what these words mean.
- Oneness means that no matter who you are, whether of a certain ethnicity, gender, or class, each has the same opportunity for salvation. Once we are saved (by repentance to God the Father and belief in Christ), we are accepted by God the Father.
- As far as being accepted by other believers, their acceptance of us should be based on God’s acceptance of them at salvation.
- In terms of the idea of being equal to all those believers around us, we are equal in the sense that each of us has the indwelling Spirit, who has provided us with additional benefits, one of which is that He has given to each of us at least one spiritual gift.
- And as for having equal opportunity, all of us have equal opportunity to grow spiritually, exercise our gifts, and receive eternal rewards.
- There are, however, areas where there is no equality. Not every believer receives a calling to leadership. Spiritual growth varies from believer to believer, and as such, so will eternal rewards.
- And the acceptance of one another means that if a fellow believer is living in an area of weakness, we don’t simply condone it, but we choose to help them in learning how to be an overcomer in that particular area.
With what was just said, let’s proceed in taking a look at the second comment that was made by someone in the same church, which was, “I was surrounded by people that might love me as a person but do not accept me as being gay; instead tolerate me.”11 Obviously, it’s evident that this Christian was upset because his fellow believers did not accept him as being gay.
What this says to me is that this Christian is unaware of who he is in Christ and what God has done for him at salvation. If he knew about who he is in Christ and what God had done for him, he would have a different view of himself and others. And this would have a direct impact on what he would be thinking, what he would be saying, and what actions he would choose to be engaged in.
I will close this chapter by asking this question to this believer or to any believer who is expressing this sentiment.
Do you know how God sees you and who you are in Christ?
New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island Sunday & Thursday Worship - Domingo & Jueves 7:00PM
6Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy.
7Barnes’ Notes. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006. 01 January 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
8The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006. 03 January 2019
9Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. 06 January 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
10Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy.
11Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy.