Q. Your response to the woman whose sister was gay but also a believer gave me pause…I guess I always have read 1 Cor 6:9-10 to mean that those who engage in such activities will not inherit the Kingdom of God. So I’m wondering how one who is living as a homosexual and is convicted but not repentant ,as she seems to be, would still be included in the Rapture of the Church? Doesn’t repentance mean literally, turning away from one’s sin and walking in a new way? Which leads me to now wonder if the Kingdom of God is different from the Kingdom of heaven. I’m having a very hard time reconciling your response to this woman’s question…and please understand, I’m not coming from the perspective that homosexual sin is greater or worse than any other sin. I hold fast to the fact that none of us is perfect and it’s only by His blood and His grace that any of us are saved..but I also believe I have some responsibilities in walking out my salvation with fear and trembling. I know salvation is not about works but shouldn’t our lives be expressed in Christian living that continues to look more like Christ and not like the rest of the world we’re living in? Would you please clarify?
A. Please forgive me in advance, because I’m probably not going to appear as diplomatic in answering your question as you have been in asking it. I’ve been asked about this several times and want to make certain that I’m absolutely clear, for you and for the others who’ve asked.
In 1 Cor. 6:9-10 the key phrase is “the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom”. Paul followed it with a partial list of behaviors that are exhibited by the unrighteous. The problem is that believers often exhibit this behavior too. You only have to read a little bit of the Sermon on the Mount to see that. How can this be? Because our righteousness is imputed to us by faith, in spite of our behavior. In God’s sight the old us has already gone and the new us has already come. (2 Cor 5:17) Accepting the Lord’s death as payment for our sins made us as righteous as God is (2 Cor. 5:21) We’re no longer part of the unrighteous who won’t inherit the Kingdom.
The writer said her sister is born again, and recognizes her behavior as sin. If so, that makes her repentant because to repent means to change your mind. It doesn’t mean to stop sinning. If it did then the Bible’s admonition to repent and be saved wouldn’t make sense because if we could stop sinning we wouldn’t need to be saved. Even Paul confessed that he couldn’t stop sinning, but was grateful that when He sinned, the Lord saw it as the sin nature living in him, and not he himself. (Romans 7:20)
And working (not walking) out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) means to come before the all powerful Creator of the Universe with absolutely nothing to your credit, and ask the one who has no reason at all to save you from your sins to do so anyway. Remember the word “therefore” in verse 12 ties it to verses 9-11 that preceded it. They talk about Jesus being the one before whom all will bow.
All through the New Testament we’re admonished to behave in a manner that pleases God as a way of saying thanks for our salvation, but nowhere are we threatened with the loss of it if we don’t. This woman is not living a victorious life on Earth and will miss out on blessings because of that, but the loss of her place in eternity is not one of them.
And if you’ve fallen for the heresy that some will be raptured only to spend 1000 years in the outer darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth, then you’ve been misled by some of the sloppiest scholarship I’ve ever seen.
If the writer’s sister is born again then she’s already guaranteed a place in the Kingdom (Ephes. 1:13-14) and she’ll be taken in the Rapture. When she gets there she will be in a new perfect body and all her sins will be part of the dark and distant past, just like yours and mine. Until then the only difference between us is that her sins are more obvious to us than ours are to her.