Daily Devotional for Thursday December 20, 2012

Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church have Nothing to do with the Christian Faith

(Matthew 7:16)

***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, after the recent tragedy in Connecticut and other similar events, even after an individual passes away, I hear people saying such things as "Heaven has gained another angel," or he/she has become an angel. Personally, I don't believe that is the truth. If a person has accepted Jesus Christ as the Savior, then he/she is a Child of God, not an angel. However, I believe that an unbeliever immediately goes to Hell when they die. I realize that people have good intentions by saying the dead are now angels but I wondering if there is a scripture verse that shows we are not angels but children of God's. Please advise me if there is.

ANSWER: There is NOT and you are 100% correct. When we die, if we have accepted Jesus as your Savior by faith, our soul is immediately in Heaven. It does NOT transform into an "angel." Sadly, those who are not Biblically literate say such things to try and comfort those who are suffering the death of a loved one. Worse, I even hear pastors say such foolish things. Lying to someone does not help. The good news is all of those children are in Heaven like all babies and children who die are, because of God's grace (Eph 2:8,9) since they did not have the ability to mature to a place where they could understand their sin.

Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church, and GodHatesFags.com have NOTHING to do with the Christian faith! Sadly, they have decided to interject themselves into the funerals for many of the children killed last Friday in Newtown, CT. It is disgusting to see this group using these high profile occasions to get notoriety for their message of hate, which is exactly what they spew.

Years ago when I first heard about a website named godhatesfags.com, I thought it was a joke. In going through this disgusting website, I began checking out the "church" and "pastor" who put it together. It was disturbing to find out there really was a Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, though it is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination, and a Fred Phelps, the 78-year-old pastor who in 1947 went to Bob Jones University for a few semesters and then to the Prairie Bible Institute, but graduated from neither. He eventually received a law degree in 1962, though he would be disbarred in 1979.

This "church," while claiming to be Christians and speaking for God, is really nothing more than a hate group. Their main message is to attack the sin of homosexuality. While they quote the Bible and many of the things they say about this sin and God's judgment for sin are true, they do great damage to the cause of Christ and make it that much more difficult for those who are truly serving the Lord since they offer zero love, zero hope, and never preach the Gospel. Sadly, any time you go into the marketplace and speak out against the sin of homosexuality, non-believers will always label you as being part of Phelps and Westboro.

I had an interesting morning a few year ago when. I received a call from the producer of the Bubba the Love Sponge program around 7am. He told me hey were having Shirley Phelps, the daughter of Fred Phelps and the media "face" of this hate group, on their program and wanted to know if I would come on and debate her. I am always ready for those type of opportunities and agreed to appear on the program with her. Phelps and their group were in Jacksonville to picket the funeral of a soldier, which has been their primary way in the past few years of attracting publicity. They claim the war in Iraq is God's judgment on this nation for condoning the sin of homosexuality, which just goes to show you how confused their beliefs are.

Bubba offered Shirley and her group 30 minutes of airtime on his 1 rated program that airs in the Tampa and Jacksonville markets if she would agree not to picket the soldier's funeral, and she agreed. Knowing that commercials on his program go for apx $700/min, I thought it was a pretty generous offer. She also agreed to take a phone call from "a pastor who disagrees with her group" during her 30 minutes, which of course was me. Here is a link to the audio of our 20 minute chat, http://liveprayer.com/bubba2.cfm

In a situation like this, you really aren't debating the other person or trying to convince them of anything. Someone like Phelps has her talking points and has been totally brainwashed with her false beliefs and theology, so there is virtually nothing to be accomplished in trying to change what she believes. It is the listening audience that you are speaking to. It is their hearts and minds you are trying to influence. The ultimate goal was to help those listening understand that Phelps and her family did NOT represent Christianity. Despite the fact she can quote the Bible endlessly, she is not preaching the WHOLE Word of God and is no different than any other cult or false religion that tries to use the Bible to justify their beliefs.

The three main points I zeroed in on was the fact Phelps and the Westboro folks had no fruit, no love, and offered people no hope. The Bible states that you know a tree by the fruit it bears. A great way to judge the effectiveness of any work of God is by the fruit they produce. Phelps and her family produce ZERO fruit, a clear sign to anyone that they are not of God. This group also shows zero love. God is love. You can tell people the truth but still do it in love. The message of this group is totally void of any love. Lastly, they offer people no hope. You can call sin sin, but you have to offer the sinner hope. Jesus is the hope for even the most wretched person, but in the false theology of the Phelps, sinners are offered no hope.

I found it interesting that she immediately began to attack me personally, calling me a fool and other names, though admitting she didn't even know me or anything about my work for the Lord. During the course of our conversation, I also exposed the fact she believes people don't have the free will to accept or reject Christ, meaning we really aren't responsible for our salvation and some have no hope at all of being saved. What an incredible lie from hell that is. She also admitted to my amazement that we aren't supposed to preach the Gospel and lead lost souls to faith in Jesus Christ. I am sure this was lost on most of the listeners, but I found that belief the best case that these people are not of God and are false prophets in every sense of the word.

By the end of 20 minutes, it was evident Shirley was very frustrated with me and had enough. It was probably one of the few times in her life that she has had been in a media setting with someone who could expose her false theology and challenge her Biblically. In most of these cases she makes herself sound like a true spokesman of the Lord because she can quote some scripture, getting away with it because she is dealing with a secular press who is Biblically illiterate. I've got news for you, satan quoted scripture also, and like Shirley, out of context to suit his needs and agenda! In nearly 20 years of ministry, I have been in the presence of pure evil on too many occasions. I can honestly say that last June I spoke with a woman who was not some poor confused soul, but a true tool of satan and evil in every sense of the word.

I love you and care about you so much. The Phelps/Westboro hate mongers are a classic example of how you can be correct according to God's Word about a particular issue, but still not of God. The Mormon cult is in perfect alignment with the Bible on many issues, but is still a cult from the pits of hell since they propagate a false gospel and their final authority is not the Bible but the Book of Mormon and the writings of their cults founder Joey Smith. The Muslims are in line with God's Word on some issues, but not of God since their faith is in a false, non-existent god they call allah and they reject faith in Jesus Christ as the way to be saved. Other cults, false religions, and spiritual beliefs may believe in some things the Bible teaches, but that does not make them of God.

Pray for the Phelps family and those who sadly follow their hate-filled teachings. Pray that they will come to know the Lord and His grace, mercy, and hope. Pray that their influence will be limited so the damage they do is minimized. It is incumbent that we boldly call sin what it is, warn people of God's coming wrath, but make sure we also share His love and hope and that through faith in Jesus Christ men can escape the eternal horrors of hell and reside for all eternity in a mansion in Glory. My challenge for you today is to examine the fruit of your life often and allow the Lord to use you to bring His Truth, love, and hope to those you meet along your journey each day.

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller