Here are some more of your questions from Sunday. Sorry I am delayed in responding. I have had a lot to do and may not get to all your questions.
Question #4: “Lutheran, and Luther’s catechism.”
Answer: Luther was right to point people back to the Bible, “Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone” and he preached “Scripture alone.” What he meant was that Catholics had added human Tradition with a capital “T” to the Bible, meaning Catholic teaching had equal authority to Scripture. But human authority does not equal the authority of Scripture. And Scripture teaches the Gospel is about grace, faith, and Christ’s sufficient work on our behalf to be saved.
A Catechism is a way to summarize theology in a systematic way that is easy for people to remember. It is like AWANA or Sunday school curriculum, which points you to the Word. But the Word of God is the authority, not the catechism or AWANA or curriculum.
Question #5: “So once we confess our belief in Christianity, what is our responsibility with respect to works?”
Answer: Confess belief / faith in Christ and now He is your Lord. Even in Galatians 1:10 Paul uses the words “servant of Christ” by which he literally means Paul thought of himself as a “slave” (doulos) of Christ. And throughout Paul’s writings he points us to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. So we are called to follow Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:18-20) in how we live. But this is not what achieves salvation for us, rather it is an outworking of salvation, evidence of God’s grace changing us to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.
Question #6: “What is the correct biblical stance on homosexuality? It feels like a .1% piece of Christianity is preventing an extraordinary amount of people from opening their hearts to the other 99.9%…. it feels like one way or another we could be doing better in our response to this topic as Christians.”
Answer: To get straight to the point from the biblical standpoint – homosexuality and homosexual behavior (in fact any sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman) is incompatible with God’s plan for family and a healthy society. Jesus condemns adultery, lust, and “pornia” in Matthew 5:27-32 and Matthew 19:4-6 (and other texts). Pornia is translated “sexual immorality” and in Greek this means any sex outside of man-woman marriage. When Jesus spoke on this issue, acceptable sexual practice was clearly understood within Judaism at that time. When Jesus spoke against pornia He was affirming God’s law in the Old Testament (i.e., God’s morals on this subject – see Leviticus 18 on sexual laws). And more specifically Jesus affirmed marriage was God’s idea and is between a man and a woman by quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Matthew 19:4-6.
The capstone on homosexual behavior is when Paul explicitly states (for Gentiles like you and me who might not understand God’s moral standard concerning sex) that God’s wrath is upon those who practice homosexual sin and 32 other sins that are evidence people have turned from God (see Romans 1:18-32). To be even more clear, Paul explicitly states that anyone who practices homosexuality will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Keep in mind heterosexual sex outside man-woman marriage is condemned in those passages plus in Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thess. 4:3-8, 1 Cor. 5, and Revelation 21:8. In fact, Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Thess. 4:8 specifically say if you reject this you are not rejecting man but God. Notice also all the other sins condemned here as well (the greedy, swindler, drunkard, liar, etc.) The big idea of these passages is that if this is your lifestyle, stop (e.g., if greed defines who your are, you are not being transformed by the gospel, so stop being greedy or a swindler or a liar or a sexually immoral person, etc.) If it is your lifestyle, it will be judged by God. If it is your lifestyle, it is evidence you have not been changed by Jesus.
So specifically, the lifestyle of homosexuality is incompatible with trusting in Jesus as Lord. However, there is grace for all sins. But don’t use grace as a cover for evil (Gal. 5:13-26). And God is the One who defines what is good and what is evil.
Question # 7: “I have a Jewish friend. She wonders why we follow some OT laws (moral) but not others. How can we say that some OT laws are binding and some are not?”
Answer: Jesus is the fulfillment of the law (Matt. 5:17-20) and we are called to follow Jesus interpretation / application of the law, which is found throughout the Gospels (Matthew 28:18-20). And finally, Acts 15 records the Jerusalem Council (51 AD) in which this was specifically discussed. A conclusion was made on the subject of what ceremonial / kosher laws to follow (just four: warning about blood, warning about eating strangled animals, no sexual immorality, and don’t eat meat sacrificed to animals – see Acts 15:28-29). Notice the moral laws in general were not covered (except sexual immorality), because Jesus had already pointed everyone to His teachings on the moral laws (Matt. 28:18-20), so Acts 15 was talking primarily about health issues (which was the purpose of much of the OT ceremonial and kosher laws).
More to come.