Posted in theology

Did Jesus struggle with his gender and his sexuality? Was he tempted to same-sex attraction?

By Elizabeth Prata

This article from Ed Shaw at The Gospel Coalition Australia is causing a stir. It claims that Jesus “struggled” with sexuality, His gender, and temptation to same-sex sin.

Shaw said in his interview:

TGCA: Tell us about your plans for the youth night on Friday night? Do you see youth as a particularly vulnerable age for confusion on matters of sexuality?

Shaw: I’m wanting the young people who come to this event to know that Jesus is the one person that they can fully trust with their sexualities, identities and gender because he is both their Creator God and a human being who knows what it is like to grapple with a sexuality, identity and gender.

Jesus struggled with same-sex temptations? Thoughts? Lusts? No.

Their basis for saying this, wrongly, comes from a misunderstanding (or a deliberate twisting) of the verses in Hebrews that say Jesus was tempted in every way.

For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).

Nor we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).

The homosexual lobby is separating the temptation from the sin itself and claiming that the temptation itself isn’t a sin, just the act is sin, so it is OK that Jesus ‘struggled’ with it. And the temptation not being a sin, it isn’t necessary to repent from. That’s a generalization but it’s essentially the issue that is leading to this problem and confusion.

Dr. Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Seminary and their undergraduate institution, Boyce College, and author of the book, What is the Meaning of Sex as well as the forthcoming book, Transforming Homosexuality: Living Faithfully with Same Sex Attraction, was interviewed at BiblicalCounseling.com, to discuss the question, Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?

His partial response (and the interview is good to read the transcript of  or listen to) –

The issue is – and this is one of the things that distinguishes Jesus’ experience from ours – is that Jesus was sinless; that’s what Hebrews 4:15 says, He was “…without sin.” This doesn’t characterize our experience because the Bible says that we have been brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. We have a sinful nature. James 1 teaches us that oftentimes our temptations emerge from within and that we have temptations that emerge from our own evil desires. James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (emphasis added). We face temptations arising from our own lusts which Jesus never faced. So, what does that mean? It means that sometimes there are dispositions, attractions, desires, which emerge from our own heart that are themselves sinful because we are sinners by nature. Jesus never faced those kinds of temptations so we find ourselves having to repent of our own desires that sometimes come quite naturally to us as sinners.

Associate Pastor of Faith Ref. Presbyterian Church Steven Wedgeworth wrote on Twitter, explaining the issue this way

Whatever the pastoral intent, the argument invokes Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 in order to claim that Jesus “struggled with” sin and that He was may have “struggled with His sexuality.” This is not an ordinary vanilla way of reading those passages.

The classic definition of Christ’s sinlessness is that He was free from original sin and all of its affects on His will. He suffered from certain effects of internal sin (decay, certain kinds of sickness), but he did not have total depravity as we do.

Jesus did not have disordered desires. He did not have concupiscence (still a relevant term!). He did not consider that sinning might be the right course of action. He didn’t go back and forth about whether to do it. He was perfect and always lived to do the Father’s will.

When it comes to temptation, Jesus was subject to external temptations. But He did not possess internal ones, for those would require a will disposed towards the sin. See the attached Owen quote for one explanation.

Now, what is it to be tempted? It is to have that proposed to a man’s consideration which, if he close withal, it is evil, it is sin unto him. This is sin’s trade: Epithumei—’It lusteth.’ It is raising up in the heart, and proposing unto the mind and affections, that which is evil; trying, as it were, whether the soul will close with its suggestions, or how far it will carry them on, though it do not wholly prevail (p. 194). ~John Owen

So we can’t say that Jesus “grappled with” or “struggled with” sexual temptations. He always had appropriately ordered desires and affections. He was always chaste.
Also, we shouldn’t press “tempted in every respect” to mean that Jesus experienced every possible temptation. This gets ridiculous fast. Was he tempted to mass murder? To enslave children? No.

And terms like “wrestle with,” “struggle with,” “grapple with” are too imprecise for these kinds of conversations. The speaker *may* have some nuance in his mind, but most people just hear those words as saying “an internal battle.” Indeed, they are metaphors involving violence.

I don’t know what sort of connection TGC Australia has with the main TGC, but you would think they would be very upset with that statement from the editors and would look into the matter with some urgency.

We can and should want to have the most-charitable dispositions towards Christians trying to battle against all kinds of sexual temptations. However, we can’t rewrite our systematic theologies to make this an easier task.

I found those explanations to be most helpful. But before we get too far into definitions, explanations and John Owen and the Greek words, here is the simplest and in my opinion the best way to look at it-

Matthew 4. He was led by the Spirit, and He was tempted by the devil. Now you say, “Wait a minute. If God tempts no man” – as we noted, James chapter 1 – “then how in the world can the Holy Spirit drive the Son of God into a conflict with the devil?” Oh because, you see, from God’s viewpoint it was a test to prove His righteousness. It was only a temptation from Satan’s viewpoint. ~John MacArthur, The Crisis of Temptation part 1

See end for a post script.

Let’s finish with a verse from Apostle John,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever, (1 John 2:15-17).

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the original PS compared
Ed Shaw’s PS at the end of his article at TGC AU, both the original and edited, side by side. 
My article here was to present proper interpretation of Heb 2:18 & 4:15,
as Shaw’s PS recommended.
Posted in cross, theology

The cross is the greatest spectacle there ever was or will be

By Elizabeth Prata

Tony Reinke’s last chapters of Competing Spectacles so moved me I designed this picture to stare at and better ponder its truths. The mental picture of it was so vivid before my eyes I had to draw it out.

Initially I drew just the wavy line and the cross. The cross is lifted up, the sole item on the bloody landscape. To view it, all eyes must look UP. The cross of Christ is the only thing has any meaning in the world. When I was an unsaved person I rejected this notion immediately. As a saved person, by the grace of God, I am humbled to kneel and stare at this wonderful, terrible cross.

The line represents not only the hill, for the Son of Man must be lifted up, and it was a hill He died on and a hill he will return to.

The line is also the dividing line of all human history. The above and below, the hell and the heaven, the line that divides before Christ’s birth and after Christ’s incarnation and is both the starting point and the ending point of all that is and all that will be.

“Christ’s victory is the spectacle that holds the attention of the universe.” ~Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles

Christ’s glory is the spectacle of all spectacles, and its power is most clearly seen in how it equips and motivates and animates our faithful obedience in all other areas of life.

Christ was not merely made a spectacle on the cross, the cross became a shorthand reference for everything glorious about Christ- His work as creator and sustainer of all things, his incarnation, his life, his words, his obedience, his miracles, his shunning, his beatings, his crucifixion, his wrath bearing, his resurrection from the grave, his heavenly ascension, his kingly coronation, and his eternal priesthood- all of his glory subsumed into his heavenly spectacle. ~Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles

To be able to love Jesus and not hate Him any longer is the joy of my life.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Posted in assurance, theology

“All you need to do to get to heaven is to die”

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m listening through RC Sproul’s current Daily Video series on the topic of Assurance. In his lecture on “Four Kinds of People”, Sproul made the point that most people think all they need to do to go to heaven is to die.

That statement is boiled down from all the false notions of how the unsaved/falsely saved people comprehend heaven.

They believe, he said, that if one has lived a good life, then they will go to heaven. This false notion is affirmed by the silent removal of all mention of sin at their funeral. Listening to eulogies, one can easily believe the person lived a perfect and good life.

So, when you die, you go to heaven.

Anyone who has lived on earth for any period of time knows that there are benchmarks to achieve when you’re progressing along in any sphere, whether it’s hobbies, employment, education, or life in general. Even a kindergartener moving to first grade knows that you have to pass tests and acquire enough knowledge. There are standards to attain. You need to attain educational standards before entering the next grade level. Colleges have standards for entry. You can’t drive a car unless you pass a test. The Army has standards for enrollment. Your employment depends on achieving a standard, whether it’s anything from a rigorous medical certificate to passing a drug test. Acting requires auditions. Sports requires tryouts.

On this earth, a person practically can’t do anything anywhere without achieving an externally set series of standards.

Except heaven?

Because we all go there? So anyone can get in, anytime, for any reason? There’s no standard for entry?

It makes no logical sense.

Just like everywhere else on earth, where man has set a standard, of course there is a standard for entry into heaven. God made it. And since God made this entry requirement, it is perfect and good.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

To enter heaven, you must do the will of God.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”. (Matthew 7:21).

So, what is the will of God?

God … desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15).

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

God’s will is for people to repent of their sins and believe on His Son, the resurrected Christ.

Jesus is the standard, the one and only standard for entry to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

It is true that all people die. But life does not end there. There is a test. Will you pass?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The test is to determine whether, at death, if Christ is in you.

When we die, there is a Judgment Day. (Hebrews 9:27). The one and only test will be whether Jesus knows us. Is Christ in you? If yes, you look forward to that glorious Day. If no, then you will come face to face with the Judge who will declare that you failed to meet the test, having failed to repent and believe in Him. He will cast you into hell to be punished for your sins, forever.

This is a pass-fail test. If you meet the standard, you’re in. If not, you will be barred from entry. There is no re-do. There is no auditing the class. There is no re-take. There is no bell curve. You won’t be graded on a scale. There is one and only one benchmark to meet, and it must be completed in this life before the last breath exits your lungs.

Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus.

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Posted in theology

“I know…”

By Elizabeth Prata

Jesus is omniscient. We read this in the Bible and we accept it. But accepting it and understanding it at the deepest level are sometimes two different things. In listening to Pastor Eric Spuur of Mt. Angel Bible Church go through Revelation (series begins here, and is also here on iTunes), he emphasized the following point.

Jesus knows. He is fully aware of all that occurs in His church. See how many times it is written-

To Ephesus
“I know your works…” (Revelation 2:2)

To Smyrna
“I know your tribulation…” (Revelation 2:9)

To Pergamum
I know where you dwell…” (Revelation 2:13)

To Thyatira
“I know your works…” (Revelation 2:19)

To Sardis-
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:1b)

To Philadelphia
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:8)

To Laodicea
“I know your works…” (Revelation 3:15)

‘I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’…’I know’… it hammers you as your mind becomes aware of how many times Jesus declares this truth.

We live on earth where no one is omniscient, so of course we get comfy in the notion that this head that we carry around atop our necks is self-contained. It isn’t. Jesus knows the hearts and minds of men and He knows the thoughts and intentions of it to the nth degree.

In an article called Seventeen Minutes, we learn it’s the daily thoughts that count. As you read this, (and the impact is heightened if someone reads it aloud to you) you’ll no doubt see some of your own thoughts in there. I did. They’re ordinary thoughts. Normal, right?

They are also sin.

They are thoughts that Jesus knows.

There isn’t anything that Jesus doesn’t know, which when we understand to the deepest level, slays us to the marrow, making us cringe. As the unsaved Tribulation folks discover, it makes them cry out to the mountains and the rocks to crush them so they will not have to face Him.

Our lot is infinitely better, for we can cry out not in fear, but to our Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15). Yes, Jesus knows our thoughts and deeds and works. But He loves us despite the sin crushing force of ordinary thoughts in our mind and heart. He took that wrath that was due us and loves His own to the nth degree.

Will we ever understand grace as we should? Likely not here on earth. It surely is grace to be able to serve a God who knows, knows us through and through, yet stands in heaven as our Father, loving us anyway.

wickedness in heart verse

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 24, His omniscience

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry &attributes. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer.

Now we look at His attributes. Today- omniscience.

thirty days of Jesus day 24

CARM.org: Definition of omniscience

GotQuestions: What does it mean that Jesus is omniscient?

CARM.org: If Jesus is God, then why did He not know the time of His return?

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 23, Compassionate Healer

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and now Healer.

thirty days of Jesus day 23 clean
Photo by Karen Maes @karen1974 at Unsplash

Further Reading

Bible verses & short Exposition of Jesus as Healer

Sermon: Does God Still Heal?

Joni Earickson Tada: A Deeper Healing

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 22, Intercessor

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd and now intercessor.

thirty days of Jesus day 22

GotQuestions: What is the purpose of Jesus interceding for us in heaven?

Compelling Truth: What does it mean that Jesus intercedes for us?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 21, Shepherd

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, and now shepherd.

thirty days of Jesus day 21

Ligonier: In the bosom of the Shepherd, Isaiah 40:11 devotional

Spurgeon’s Devotional on Isaiah 40:11

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 20, Jesus as Teacher

By Elizabeth Prata

thirty days of Jesus day 20

How can we know God unless He reveals Himself to us? The creation confirms His existence, but what does the creature know of His attributes, Person, or Power? Unless He teaches us about Himself, we will not know. God sent His Son Jesus to earth as a born-babe, to live the full life of sinlessness under the Law, and to teach us about Himself. He was prophesied to die as the atoning sacrifice, and then rise again to receive His people through His work on the cross. Grace abounds.

We are in the section of these verses throughout the series where we examine His works and ministry. Yesterday, we saw the He first emptied Himself. This is the kenosis, and it’s explained on Day 19.

Today we see Jesus as Teacher. I mentioned earlier that Jesus’ first recorded words in His incarnation was when He was in the temple as a boy. His desperate parents sought him for three days, and upon discovering him there, He said, “Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus had been

sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:46-47).

The following is from the Christian Courier.

Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, conceded that Jesus of Nazareth was “a teacher” from God, as documented by the “signs” which he did (John 3:2). A wealthy young ruler approached the Lord asking, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Even Jesus’ enemies addressed him as “Teacher” (Matthew 22:16, 24), though their use of the expression was not always genuine. The Lord is addressed as “Teacher” twenty-nine times in the Gospels. The noun (teacher) and verb (teach) combined are used of Jesus some ninety times.

Christ’s teaching was informative, logical, buttressed by Old Testament evidence, well-illustrated, documented by divine power, original, and uniquely authoritative (Matthew 7:28). When officers once were sent to arrest him, they returned to their superiors empty-handed, exclaiming: “Never man so spoke” (John 7:46). The Lord’s various methods of teaching beg for careful study. Source-

Jackson, Wayne. “Jesus: The Master Teacher.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: December 16, 2017. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1497-jesus-the-master-teacher

Go to the link for more.

GTY Sermon: Jesus Teaches the Teacher

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself