A while back I read a post on Albert Molher’s Blog responding to an interview former president Jimmy Carter gave to Beliefnet.com and while I agree with what Albert Molher said and I do respect Jimmy Carter as a man I do feel two points from the interview needed to be addresses. Since the burden is mine and I cannot shake it even after a month I feel it needs to be said, so as Neal Boortz would say, “Somebody’s Got to Say It” so I guess this time it falls to me.
Jimmy Carter: (Q from Beliefnet) Do you believe that grace ultimately applies to people who don’t presently believe in Jesus?
Yes, I do. I remember two things. One is that in John 3:16, which is probably the best known verse in the Bible – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”… And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faiths – what about those that don’t publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
This is the danger of taking a verse out of context; let’s look at the following verses:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. –John 3:16-19
Jesus plainly says that if we do not believe Jesus are condemned already. I am not judging just stating the fact. That is all I can do is be a witness. If there is condemnation, if there is conviction, then that is the Holy Spirit doing that not me, as I said on time when I was preaching at the Circle of Love: “I am a better friend to you if I tell you the truth rather and risk hurting your feelings rather than letting you go to Hell?” The truth needs to be told unvarnished and in love.
There is a limit to the grace of God: The point where you reject His Son. I think of the rich young ruler in Mark chapter 10. Jesus beholding him loved him but he still walked away, and if he never came back he walked into a sinner’s hell.
Jimmy Carter: And I know from experience the intensity of feeling about women leadership. Our pastor’s wife in our little tiny church is also a pastor. She’s an ordained minister. My wife is an ordained deacon. So, I feel like women are on an equal basis with men.
Paul said to the Galatians, “There is no distinction between Jews or Greeks. There is no distinction between slaves or masters. There is no distinction between men and women,” very clearly.
One day I am going to do a sermon on the most misquoted verses in the Bible and this has to be one of the most misquoted verses: 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. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. –Galatians 3:25-29
There is a frequent misquoting of verse 28 to excuse a multitude of things but in context it speaks of salvation not service. I believe from 1 Timothy chapter three we can come to a reasonable conclusion that the pastors and deacons should be male, husband of one wife, etc. We cannot change the Bible just because it does not happen to form to our likes or preferences. There are passages from the Bible I wish were not there but that does not change the fact they are and as a Christian I have to ask myself: “Is the Bible true or not?” and if it is I need to follow it. This is not a buffet style religion where I can take what I want and leave the rest behind.
I just guess I am kind of particular about the Bible, it is precious and important to me and I do not like to see it undermined in any way. I know I do not have the audience of an Albert Molher and I do recommend reading his post, as well as the full context of Jimmy Carters so you can see where I am coming from. As I said, I like the man and respect the work he has done, especially with Habitat for Humanity. But we cannot water down the Bible or the gospel message it is too important. There are too many lives at stake.