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ABOUT EBENEZER LUTHERAN CHURCH
I have been able to learn very little about Ebenezer Lutheran Church from the internet. They are located at 1431 St. Clair Avenue. I have not been able to find out who their pastor is, or if they have a website.
Since I know nothing about this church, let me just say that I hope that they are faithfully preaching as Paul commanded his protege Timothy:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (II Timothy 4:1-4)
Be prepared to preach always that Jesus is the only way to God, and that all must repent of their sins (Luke 13:3, II Corinthians 7:10) and believe in Him (Romans 10:9). Those who do not repent are not saved, regardless of whether or not they have been baptized (Mark 16:16).
The question above is one that many people are thinking about these days, but few are brave enough to ask. There are many couples who are living together out of wedlock who might want to try going to a more conservative church who are intimidated because they are not exactly sure what the “rules” are. They are not sure if they would even be welcome at a “Bible-believing” church.
I am writing this article to clear up some of the misunderstandings that commonly come up, and to clarify what the Bible teaches about this issue. I am a hard-core, Bible-thumping conservative. I believe that the Bible is the truly inspired Word of God and needs to be obeyed. As such, I have strong beliefs on issues of right and wrong as they relate to sexual morality. However, as a Christian, I also have a strong desire for all people to learn about the love of Christ. That includes people who live together out of wedlock. God loves you and wants you to become a true worshipper of Him.
First of all, find a good Bible-believing church and start attending it regularly. Seek out people who are willing to talk to you about the Bible, and read it for yourself if you can. Learn about what God expects of you. You do not need to be a perfect person in order to come to church and ask questions. No one is perfect. Don’t worry about being seen as a “sinner.” Yes, you are a sinner, but so is everyone else at church. We have all done things that are wrong for selfish/immoral reasons. No one has a right to look down at you as being inferior to them. That is wrong. We are all in the same boat, helplessly drowning in our sins without Christ’s help.
Second of all, repent and believe in the good news. You (and all people, whether they are living together out of wedlock or not) have to admit that you are a sinner in order for your relationship with God to be restored. You must believe in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to save you; not your own good works.
Thirdly, start living like a Christian. This will require you to alter your relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend. This may require you to break up with or marry them, depending on your situation. God has intended for sexual relationships to be loving and permanent, which is why you must either desist from from having sex, or take marriage vows. It is not OK to give someone part of your heart; you must give them all of it. Likewise, God Himself demands the same commitment from you. You must give Him all your heart, not just a little bit of it. You can’t be a partial Christian. Either you’re a Christian or you’re not.
Many people want to become regular church members without allowing God to change their lives. They want God to come to them on their own terms, rather than approach Him on His. If this is the way you are, then you do not really want to be cleansed of your sins. Your reason for going to church is to make yourself look good, but you have no intention of changing on the inside. A Bible believing church will love you enough that they will not accept this hypocrisy. They will allow you to “come as you are” and visit and ask questions regardless of your life style. But they will not allow you to act as a Christian without repenting of your sins and changing what you are doing. You will not be allowed to be baptized or partake of communion while you are still engaged in an out-of-wedlock sexual relationship. A Bible-believing church cannot endorse that kind of fake love.
If you are someone living in my part of Wisconsin who is living in this kind of relationship, I want to say very clearly, that I would love to see you at my Church. I would like to get to know you and tell you about the great love that God has for you. But I also need to be up front and honest and tell you that becoming a Christian will require you to change. God has a better plan for you than the one that you have for yourself. It is a plan that will require you to make sacrifices at times and do things you don’t want to do, but in the end you will be rewarded when God conforms you to his image so that you “will shine like the brightness of the heavens … like the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9 NIV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. (II Corinthians 2:10-11)
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:1-12)
I was raised by devout parents who were/are characterized by a deep devotion to the Bible. We were taught to learn it and obey it. As a result my childhood was much different from most kids. Here are some things that I got used to as “normal” in my home:
I thought it was normal for adults to treat other people with respect. My parents very, very, rarely every shouted and screamed. There was a time when I thought that shouting and screaming was something that was pretty much done only by kids.
I thought that it was normal for a man to love one woman throughout his entire life. I thought it was normal for him to remain totally committed to his wife no matter her age, never even pretending to pursue other women.
I thought it was normal to apologize to someone and feel guilty when you said something rude to them. Rudeness was never something to brag about to other people.
I thought it was normal to turn one’s eyes away from media that contained pictures of scantily clad women. Even after my sex drive started kicking in I was trained to believe that real men keep their testosterone under control: they do not let it control them.
I thought it was normal for a teenage boy to protect his virginity as passionately as a teenage girl protected hers.
Of course, now that I am an adult and have been out in the culture I know the truth. I know:
It is normal for adults to treat each other with disrespect, even when it’s their life partner. It is normal for adults to throw temper tantrums.
I now know that it’s normal for a man to pursue more than one woman at a time, and some men consider it cute and harmless to flirt with their best friend’s wife.
I now know that it’s normal for males to scour the internet looking for pornography, and to turn their eyes towards such pictures instead of away from them, without being embarrassed. It’s normal for them to pretend as if they own every woman’s body.
I now know that it is normal to trade barbs with your boss or coworkers without every apologizing for it. It is normal to slander people behind their back. It is normal to consider any insult excusable if the recipient has done the same.
I know that it is normal for teenage boys to pursue sex with every girl that will let them get close enough, regardless of the emotional damage he knows he will cause her.
Now that I have grown up and seen a little bit of the world for myself I realize that my parents were right to raise me the way they did. They protected me from a lot of evil in the world and showed me what was possibly by God’s grace. There are many boys growing up in the world today who think it’s impossible to love just one woman, to treat all people with respect, to keep one’s sex drive under control. But the Bible, and the example of the way my parents lived taught me otherwise. I know, that by God’s grace, it is possible to live a life of true love towards all. Of course we cannot do it on our own. We are naturally rude, selfish, wicked creatures, but those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb can be changed by God’s power, so that we can accomplish what was once impossible for us.
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:36-37 NIV)
God was remained completely in control when Jesus died on the cross. Even though Satan was allowed to kill Jesus, it was only in the manner in which God fore-ordained for the purpose that God fore-ordained. Satan was never allowed free rein to do what he wanted. He was not even able to break a single one of Jesus’ bones because God did not permit it.
Nearly fourteen hundred years earlier God had sent a sign to the world concerning the Messiah’s bones. Jesus, the “lamb of God: was pictured prophetically in the passover lamb that was eaten yearly by the Jews under the Mosaic law:
“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.” (Exodus 12:46-47).
but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. (Numbers 9:11-12)
Jesus Christ is our Passover lamb. The blood that he spilled on Calvary protects us from God’s vengeance on sin, just as the Israelites who spread the blood of the passover lamb on their doorposts were protected from the angel of vengeance 3,400 years ago. In the rituals of this passover lamb we see the prophecy that Christ’s bones would not be broken when He would come to atone for the sin of the world. This may seem like a minor detail. And yet, it is very important. The fact that it was predicted over a thousand years in advance emphasizes the fact that God was completely in control of every detail of Christ’s death. This should be encouraging to all of us when we go through trials and difficulties, because God is still in control over what happens to us as well. Even the slightest detail is part of His divine plan. Therefore, we need not worry and panic about the future. Our job is to believe and trust Him.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. (John 19:31-35 NIV)
In this passage John reminds us that he was a first person witness to the events that he writes about in the book of John. He knows that they are true since He saw them with his own eyes. He feels responsible to record his experiences for others so that they may believe too.
There were many other witnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus besides John. For instance, there were over 500 people who saw Jesus alive after His ressurrection. Many of them lived for decades aftewards, and gladly told the story to whomever wanted to speak with them about it (I Corinthians 15:6).
Today, God has preserved the testimony of eyewitnesses of Jesus life in four gospels. Two of them were written by eyewitnesses, the other two by men who were very close friends of other eyewitnesses, and were therefore able to gather the data together and write about it. All four gospels tell the same story of a man who came from heaven to die on the cross for our sins, and then rose again. Today many critics try to undermine the unity and veracity of these stories with unfounded theories. Do not listen to the critics. If you want to learn the truth, humbly ask God to open your eyes, and read all four gospels yourself beginning to end.
Stop reading the criticism about the gospels and read them for yourself. REMEMBER, IF YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO READ THE PRIMARY DOCUMENTS. Reading only secondary material doesn’t make you wise, it makes you arrogant and narrowsighted. Give John the dignity of reading his account for yourself.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27 NIV)
It is very important for Christians to do their best to take care of their families. Jesus illustrated this point by telling John to look out for his mother while He was dying on the cross. This is a lesson that some Christians easily forget. Many Christians, in their rush to emulate Jesus, get so involved in ministry that they forget to make provision for their family. They use their service to God as an excuse to ignore their family, and yet, ignoring one’s dependants is one of the greatest disservices that you can do to the faith.
The Apostle Paul was very clear that individuals were not supposed to use the excuse of ministry for not helping family members whom they are capable of helping:
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Timothy 5:8)
Paul’s words here may seem harsh, but they are justified. True Christianity is all about love. Any Christian who wants to serve the Lord must live a life of true love towards others. How then, is it justifiable for us to put effort into spreading the message of Christ to strangers, while at the same time behaving in an unloving, uncaring way towards our closest family members? The answer is that it’s not justifiable. Take care of your responsibilities first, before you go into Christian ministry. After all, your family life is part of your ministry, perhaps the most important part. Do not separate your lives into two halves: your ministry half and your unimportant-daily-responsibilities half. True Christians must remember that their daily responsibilities are part of their ministry too. A life time of ministry is never an excuse for neglecting your family.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull(which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (John 19:16-18 NIV)
Jesus was crucified (a painful form of execution reserved for criminals) between two other convicts.In order to pay for our sins He had to suffer the indignity of being killed as a criminal. This was predicted 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7-9 NIV)
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:13-16)
In this passage we continue to see the chief priests carrying on their charade of pretending to be patriots of the Roman Empire. Their statement that “we have no king but Caesar,” may have been an accurate assessment of the political realities of the day, but the implication that they wanted not king but Caesar was a complete lie. They did not care for Caesar at all. They hated Caesar. But they hated Jesus more. They would rather have Caesar for a king than have Jesus for a king.
The simple fact of the matter is that the chief priests had much deeper loyalties than their loyalty to Caesar. Their greatest loyalty, ultimately, was to themselves. It was true that Caesar sat on the throne of the Roman empire, But he did not sit on the throne of their hearts. Their greatest motivation in life was not to make the emperor happy, it was to make themselves happy. Their number one desire was lust of power. They had hijacked the Mosaic Law in order to exalt their position among their fellow Jews. They were not interested in serving any other king than themselves.
What about you? Who is the king of your heart? Is it yourself, or is it Jesus. Do not delude yourself. If you do not serve Jesus as Lord than you are serving your own selfish lusts as Lord. You might be religious, but you cannot dethrone your selfish desires through religious ritual. The only way to become a good person is to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and change you inside out with the power of God. You cannot change yourself.
If you do not make Jesus King of your life, you will continue to be your own king, and that is a very, very, sad thing.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. (John 18:37-40 NIV)
Jesus is truth (John 14:6). Jesus essentially tells Pilate as much when He says to him “everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.”
Pilate’s answer is predictably cynical. He implies that there is no truth, by asking what it is. He had no doubt lost faith in truth as a result of his many years in politics. He realized that people are usually lying when they lay claim to high ideals. He knew that people are just out to get themselves rich.
But Jesus is different. Jesus really is the truth. He selflessly sacrificed Himself for others so that they could know the one true God. If you are looking for the truth you will not find it, unless you look to Jesus.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way youanswer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (John 18:19-23 NIV)
Jesus was not like a politician or cult leader. Politicians and cult leaders say one thing in public, but then say contradictory things to their most loyal group of supporters in private. But Jesus spoke the truth in the open meeting places with lots of witnesses. You didn’t have to be part of Jesus’ inner group to know what His message.
One of the problems with cult leaders is that they are not transparent about their teachings. They will only tell you some of their doctrine in public. The rest they will not tell you until after you “earn” their trust. THIS IS A TRAP! They are not waiting until they know you are trustworthy; they are waiting until they know that you are gullible! They are waiting for you to get used to them, stop thinking critically, and drop your defenses.
But the TRUTH of the gospel requires you to think critically. Therefore God’s true messengers will be transparent about their beliefs, even if what they teach is unpopular.