The Counterfeit Gospel
Friday, November 17, 2006
What is the mission of the Church?
Three short months ago, I stood in a parking lot at NC State and prepared to say goodbye to my son. This was a crucial moment, a chance to wrap up years of experience in a few pithy sentences. What was the most important thing I wanted him to know? Would my words make a difference in his newly independent life?

Two thousand years ago, Jesus stood on a mountain in Galilee and prepared to say goodbye to his followers. He would, in just a few minutes, be leaving them for a very long time. What was the most important instruction He could give them? These friends were going to build His Church on the foundation he laid. His last words to them would confirm the church's primary mission. We all know those parting words as The Great Commission: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." [Matt.28:20]

What He chose as His parting words affirms a saving gospel, not the social "gospel" a counterfeit "Christianity" is promoting to a world eager to reject a redeeming Savior. Proponents of social ministry misuse Christ's words in His parable of the nations where He blesses the "sheep" nations and curses the "goat"nations: "For I was hungered and you gave me meat... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." [Matthew 25: 41-36]. In context, this dialogue takes place after Jesus returns with His saints to reign in His kingdom on Earth. The nations have been brought before His throne and He is judging them according to their treatment of His brethren, the nation of Israel [Matthew 10:6, John 1:11]. For as God vowed in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse."

Nowhere does Jesus command His followers to dedicate their lives to providing for the physical needs of the less fortunate. Instead, when John the Baptist questioned why he should believe that Jesus was the Messaiah, Jesus provided proof: "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Not one word about how many hungry families He served at the soup kitchen or the amount of clothing He donated to the local thrift shop. But He did command his disciples to follow his example and: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons.[Matt. 10:8]" So why isn't the Church following that command?

Genuine charity is a natural response in a life guided by the Holy Spirit. We Christians should absolutely care for the truly needy, but our charity must be accompanied by the saving gospel. Feeding the hungry belly, while starving the soul, is cruel and selfish.

As the holidays draw near, if you have a chance to serve in a soup kitchen or to open your home to the less fortunate, please do so. But make sure you share the true gospel: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35"
posted by K. Geffert | 7:55 PM | 16 comments links to this post
A Bible in the backpack is NOT contraband!
Monday, August 28, 2006
This is back-to-school week for area schools. During the children's sermon last Sunday, the visiting pastor held up a Bible and said, "This book is banned from school." His point was to teach the children that when circumstances prevent them from carrying their Bible, they can still carry the Word of God in their heart. However well intentioned, I believe it was a mistake to promulgate the myth that the Bible is illegal in school. A generation of children, not to mention their parents, have fallen for the lie that Christian literature and all forms of religious expression, when initiated by the student, are prohibited in the classroom.

For more than 35 years, the Supreme Court has held the position that students do not leave their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, has argued and won cases before the Supreme Court protecting students' rights. His website ( includes many excellent resources on the issue of student education rights. For instance, did you know that "teachers and administrators cannot justifiably stop students from discussing their religious beliefs in school so long as the students are not disrupting school order and discipline?" School officials are not allowed to interfere with students who share religious materials with other students outside of the classroom. It's okay to pass out tracts between classes, during lunch, at recess and on the school bus! Schools cannot discriminate against student religious activity or speech.(See the ACLJ's Federal Constitutional Rights of Students)

This also means that students have the right to write and share essays and poems with religious themes,without restriction, when students are free to choose their own topic. Under the Department of Education's own guidelines teachers cannot prevent students from reading their work on Jesus or expressing their Christian faith in front of the class.

Even the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), which fights all sorts of religious Christian expression and symbols on public property, admits that students' rights to religious expression are protected.

This year, make a point to encourage your child or grandchild to carry their Bible to school for free-reading time. Better yet, suggest they choose Biblically-themed books for their "your choice" book reports. And if the teacher vetoes their work, you now have the information to set the teacher straight.
posted by K. Geffert | 9:18 PM | 7 comments links to this post
"Judge Not" - A Dangrous Myth
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Calling sin a sin: does a Christian have the right to judge another?

The golden rule has changed. It used to be "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It is now "Judge not, that you be not judged." The new golden rule is the golden sword drawn to ward off those who dare to declare that someone else's belief, actions or lifestyle is morally amiss.

"Judge-not" is the most misunderstood and misused principle in Christian doctrine. When coupled with the numchucks of "intolerance", the bearer wields a formidable weapon that can do more than just silence dissenters--it can pulverize the solid-rock foundation of the Church into sand. It is an especially heinous weapon when wielded by those who call themselves Christians in order to protect themselves from the condemnation of the Church. When Christians claim we should not pass judgement on another believer's actions or lifestyle, they have it dead wrong. Discerning judgement is not only one of the underpinnings of Christianity, Jesus requires it of us.

In the same context in which Jesus admonished His followers against hypocrisy (the true meaning of "judge not" in Matt. 7:1), he also tells us to make judgements concerning the morality of others: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs...Watch out for false prophets." Paul commands the church to make discerning judgements about morality within the Christian body: " must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you."

The basis for discerning judgement is the Word of God. If God has declared something a sin, we are not passing judgment, it is the Word of God that judges. If we find that a brother in Christ is sinning, we should reach out, according to Paul in Galations, to "restore him gently." Jesus gave an example of this with His story of the shepherd going after the lost sheep that was restored to the fold. But in the same context (Matt 18:15-17), Jesus also said that if the rebelling brother refuses to repent, then let him go--he is no longer to be considered a Christian.

Last week, during the attempt to vote on a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, a caller to Janet Parshall's America radio talk show identified himself as "gay and Christian." The conversation centered on how God defined marriage and Janet handled it superbly (you rock, Janet!). However, I would like to address the "gay Christian" oxymoron. Don't get me wrong--I have no problem with a non-Christian who chooses to be gay. I cannot judge them because I have no right to. But I have every right to discern the wrongness of a Christian who practices the gay lifestyle. God has unambiguously declared sex outside of marriage to be a sin (perhaps the reason for the push to legalize same-sex marriage?). If you practice sin--any sin--without regret, refusing to change your behavior, then by Jesus' own words, you are a pagan--not a Christian. Paul says you are to be expelled from the church body. Therefore, you can't define yourself as both "gay" and "Christian."

Jesus praised the church in Ephesus for not tolerating wicked men within their midst. You can do no less. God, in His Word, commands us to practice discerning judgement. This is in no small way for the protection of the Church, for as Jesus explained, a little yeast permeates the whole loaf. The message is clear: When confronted with sin within the Christian body, you are to measure your response to it by God's word. You must judge!

P.S. If there are people out there who identify themselves as "adulturous-and-Christian and proud of it," or "thieving Christian and proud of it," I apologise for the oversight. I would have been happy to include them also in my example of an oxymoron.
posted by K. Geffert | 2:51 PM | 25 comments links to this post
Animal rights and wrongs
Friday, March 17, 2006
Putting animals in their place

Recently, an animal rights activist stunned members of the U.S. Senate when he called for the murder of those conducting medical research. The member of the Animal Liberation Front said killing medical researchers is "morally justified" to save laboratory animals, which are treated like slaves and concentration camp victims.

Most animal-righters regard humans as lower than animals. The PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website states it is acceptable to use "defective" or dying humans in scientific tests as opposed to testing things on healthy animals.

The Bible is clear that man is made in God's image and is granted dominion (control) over Earth and the animals. And because the Earth is God's, our control is limited to the role of good stewardship: managing, but not exploiting, another's property. Man is of a higher order than animals. Jesus said, "You are of more value than many sparrows "[Luke 12:7]. He demonstrated this when He expelled demons from the men they possessed and sent them into a herd of swine. Since the act caused the pigs to leap to their deaths, I wonder if PETA would have screamed for the murder of Jesus. Oh, wait--that already happened.

As Christians, we must make decisions regarding the care of Earth and its environment out of concern for God's property [1 Corinthians 10:26], but also with the understanding that Creation was given to us to meet our needs [Genesis 1:26—28]. Elevating animals to a degree above mankind is a satanic perversion of the truth: "They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God." [Romans 1:25 (Contemporary English Version)]
posted by K. Geffert | 9:33 PM | 46 comments links to this post
"I love you, so go to hell!"
Thursday, February 23, 2006
How can a loving God send a good, decent person to hell?

This question is based on a premise that must be addressed before it can be answered:
  • In order for a person to be called good, there must be a moral law by which good and evil are measured.
But you can't stop there:
  • If there is a moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver
  • If there is a moral lawgiver, then that lawgiver gets to define the rules for morality.
Our ability to assess our own or another's morality is perverted, for our hearts are deceitfully wicked [Jer 17:9, Ezekiel 33:13, Isaiah 64:6]. We have to defer to the lawgiver. If God is the lawgiver, then what are the rules He established for defining who is good and who is evil? In Matthew 7:22-24, Jesus explains that a relationship with God is necessary to be called good: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The rules for a relationship with God are simple:

1. Admit that you are guilty of sin and deserve to die [John 3:16]
2. Accept that Jesus paid your sin debt by dying in your place[Hebrews 2:9]
3. Abandon your old, sinful life. [ 2 Timothy 2:19]
4. Allow His Word to guide your new life [Romans 8:1]

How can a loving God send anyone to hell? You can look at it this way: If you do not want a relationship with God while you are on earth, it would be cruel and unloving for God to insist you spend eternity in His presence. But in deference to your will and honoring your wishes, He gives you what you desire: eternal separation from Him--in hell [2 Peter 3:9, Matt 25:41].

Now that's an act of love!

posted by K. Geffert | 6:11 PM | 40 comments links to this post
The Peacemaker and The Warmonger
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The myth of peace on Earth

The President has been derided for being both too religious and not religious enough, even, unbelievably, when it comes to the conflict in Iraq. War is an action of government, not of private citizens. And as head of state, the President has the right to declare war (with the approval of Congress) without regard to his personal belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I find it ironic that those who insist there must be a separation of church and state, also find it convenient to accuse the President of not exercising his personal Christian beliefs in the conduct of government!

But suppose it was granted by all that the President's actions were inseparable from his faith. Would he be violating the principles of Jesus' teachings if he was not a "peacemaker," but declared war on another nation? No, and the premise that Jesus was a pacifist, against all conflict, is in error.

  • Jesus never, ever, taught "peace on earth" apart from His Kingdom.
  • Jesus said that His peace is not the peace of the world [John 14:27]. It is peace between God and man [Romans 5:1].
  • Jesus said His message would be divisive--even inciting violence, but not unifying and peaceful [Matthew 10:33-35].
  • Jesus used illustrations of war when He taught His followers [Luke 14:31]
  • Jesus said there would be many more wars to come [Matthew 24 and others]
Finally, consider this: Jesus said there would be no real peace on earth until He returns to establish His kingdom and reign with His saints. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. But before He reigns, He will be a militarist king, leading the mightiest army ever, into a battle so devastating, that blood will flow like rivers and the earth as we know it will be destroyed [Revelation 19].

Jesus is the ultimate warmonger!

posted by K. Geffert | 7:51 PM | 16 comments links to this post
Christians and the Death Penalty: Are We Hypocrites?
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Lynn Holt, the senior partner in CBS' Monday night drama, Family Law, has been asked to fight for clemency on behalf of a young man who's been sentenced to death for killing high school students in a shooting rampage. The convicted murderer shows no remorse and relishes discussing the last desperate moments of his victims' short lives. Lynn believes his crimes are unforgivable but she doesn't believe he should be executed. She meets with her partners to announce the firm will take the case. They ask why. She responds:
"I was raised a Christian. I remember Jesus talking about forgiving your enemies and not judging others. I don't recall the part where he said we should gas people and inject them with poison. I could have just skimmed, but somehow I thought we were supposed to leave retribution to His Dad. So I get a little peeved when all the good Christians get together with the so-called liberal politicians I helped elect and suggest that we should butcher people. It makes me feel like one of us is a hypocrite."1

Her dialogue is met with guilty silence. Her partners, some of them self-described Christians, do not refute the implication that a Christian who believes in God's love for the unlovable while condoning the God-given right for a civil government to execute a guilty criminal, is a pious fraud.

I strongly disagree with Lynn's (mis)understanding of the scriptures. She probably did "just skim," for she has missed the whole point. While Jesus addressed the individual's attitude towards others, He never condemned capital punishment for the guilty--and He had ample opportunity. In fact, He willingly submitted to his own unjust execution. Later, the apostle Paul would say, "if I have committed a crime deserving of the death penalty then I will not fight it. But I have not and so I appeal to Caesar. (Acts 25: 11)" In Romans 13: 1-5, Paul states that government officials are ordained of God and empowered to execute the guilty: "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:4)"

The prerogative of capital punishment was established in Genesis 9:6, developed in the Mosaic law and reaffirmed in the New Testament. God is a perfectly holy God who demands perfect justice. Every human being--past, present, and future--has been sentenced to eternal death. There is no clemency; the sentence must be served. For the believing Christian, the penalty has already been paid in full and we are free because of God's grace and sacrificial love.

Officially, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (see refernces below) as well as other major denominations, affirm that Christ did not abolish the death sentence. Capital punishment is an act carried out by civil government, not by private citizens. It is motivated not by malice or hatred, but by justice. Church members are not obligated to support capital punishment, but those who do are not in violation of the spirit of Christ's teachings.

Lynn, like so many believers and nonbelievers alike, is confused about Jesus' command to "Judge not lest ye be judged." The world appeals to that statement by saying that nobody ever has the right to say that anything they do is wrong. For a judge in a courtroom to declare an accused person guilty of a crime is not judgmental. For a Christian to recognize sinful behavior in another Christian or non-Christian as sinful is not judgmental. When Jesus was confronted with the adulterous woman, He didn't say she wasn't guilty. He did not endorse or encourage Her sin, but gently corrected her and told her to sin no more.

As for Lynn's statement that Jesus said we are to forgive our enemies, we must remember that forgiveness is always conditioned upon repentance. Judges do not grant clemancy to the guilty, but may show mercy to the truly repentant. God is not obligated to forgive the unrepentant sinner. What Jesus said was that we are required to love (which, by the way is an action, not a feeling) our enemies, as God has love us. Once an enemy seeks forgiveness, they are not longer our enemy.

A final note: the dialogue in the February 19, 2001 episode of Family Law is pure fiction. The character and storyline were created by Hollywood script writers for our entertainment. But that script reflects a grievous misrepresentation of the teachings of Christ. Although I agree with the state's right to implement capital punishment, my point is to defend the integrity of scripture. The Bible exhorts us to be mature in our understanding and if Christians are going to make an impact in our culture, we have to come to the depth of understanding that provides maturity for leadership.

1. Episode 46. Clemency.

2. Catholic Encyclopedia: Capital Punishment.

3. LCMS FAQ-Death Penalty.

posted by K. Geffert | 10:07 AM | 26 comments links to this post
© Copyright 2006 Karen Geffert.