A Sad Memorial Day!

Remembering-Our-Fallen-Soldiers-on-Memorial-Day-2Today is a sad Memorial Day!

It is sad because of the numbers of people who were willing to give their all for what they thought was the cause of freedom. It is sad because of the many who have been duped into believing what our government has chosen to feed us through popular media formats. It is sad that tens of thousands have had to die and are still dying in wars that we have no business being involved with. It is sad that our thanks seems far too little for those who died.

It is sad that our government continues to justify the killing and massacre of thousands of people on foreign soil. It is sad that our military must fight wars that they are not fully equipped to fight. It is sad that our military cannot remain at home to protect our own borders from those who seek this country nothing but harm. It is sad that soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors have had to die in vain so that our government can hand out gifts to people who hate America and all it stands for.

It is sad that old men will sit in their comfortable offices and dream of new battlefields for our children and grandchildren to fight on. It is sad that fighting against tyranny did not stop with the destruction of Nazi Germany. It is sad that we must be on guard against our own government whose leaders no longer pray for wisdom as past presidents have done. It is sad when many in our country have no shame in voting for a person who is a traitor to our military.

It is sad that this Memorial Day, we must remember with shame and disgrace that those who gave their all did so in the vain hope that America would always be the home of the free and the brave. It is sad that those who gave their all are buried with little fanfare while an ungrateful generation rushes by with the attitude that they are an entitled generation. It is sad that we cannot apologize to those who have died for allowing ourselves to be destroyed by enemies from within.

It is sad that freedom is never free. It is sad that freedom has been given away so easily by those who have forgotten the ultimate sacrifice. It is sad that many never cared in the first place. It is sad that many hate the very God who has allowed us to exist this far. It is sad that wickedness is accepted now so easily. It is sad that homosexuality is openly embraced, even by people claiming to be true Christians.

It is sad that our freedoms do not extend to the 60+ million human babies who were murdered and whose blood cries silently from their trashcans across this once great land. Currently about 1% of the population serve in the military compared to around 12% during World War II. It is sad that low side to high side, that means that through abortion, doctors who swore the Hippocratic Oath not to harm or kill have killed between 600,000 to 7.2 million future soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and coasties just since 1973! What a sad Memorial Day. The TOTAL number of US population killed since 1775 is just 1.38 million! The TOTAL number of military killed since 1973 is just 7,624.

Yes, today is Memorial Day again, but it is a sad one for far too many reasons. May God grant forgiveness because we certainly do not deserve mercy today.

memorial-day

The Pilgrim’s Journey

The Pilgrim’s Journey  9781601783875

A review by Stuart Brogden

I first heard of Jeremy Walker a few years ago when I happened upon a most wonderful book he co-authored with Rob Ventura – A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ. That book confirmed in my desire to serve the Lord’s people as a pastor and also put the fear of that responsibility in me. This new book by Walker, Passing Through, is subtitled Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness and has vignettes from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress throughout as our author makes compelling case that our Creator sees us as aliens, sojourners – pilgrims. I confess reading this book convicted me on several points and I think any honest Christian will be able to admit the same as we all tend to seek comfort in this world, though it is not our home, living in practical forgetfulness of where our citizenship lies.

This book is divided into 12 chapters, each of which provides Scriptural Framework and Specific Counsels for the topic. I grew a little weary of this format by the end of the book, but thank the Lord for it – it is a wonderful exposition of many truths and useful counsel and encouragements we each have need of. He starts off (page 1) asking “Who are you? What are you?” and tells us on the next page that we “need, therefore, to consider our identity and our activity in the light of Scripture.” If you are in a solid church, you will be reminded of the dangers of worldliness. But if your church is shallow, it may look more like the world than one of God’s outposts in this hostile arena. He concludes chapter 2 –Strangers and Pilgrims, with this: “We like to speak of death as “going home,” and so it is to every child of God, but why do we then live as if we are already home? Such confusion betrays us.” (page 36)

I will highlight chapter 7 – Respect the Authorities, as I see all too often Christians demanding the church do “this” or other Christians do “that” in response to cultural or political events. Also, the proper respect for authorities – each in its own arena of influence – is something we all need to understand better. “The church, by divine design, is a spiritual force, a gospel organism. Her involvement in and impact upon the world socially, politically, and economically may not be insignificant, but it will be substantially incidental. The church does not exist to have a political life or role.” (page 125) The scriptural framework consists of understanding proper subjection to governing authorities (citing Romans 13:1-7), parental authority (Exodus 20:12) as earthly authorities that He established and which answer to Him – not us or the church. And while Walker agrees that role of governments is to do good as God’s ministers, he admits that they often don’t; and their failure to be good does not give us excuse to rebel. When we must disobey earthly authorities (when they command us to sin or forbid from obeying our God), we must be respectful as were Daniel and his colleagues and the disciples written about in Acts 5 were. “There language is polite and eminently respectful. Their recognition of the king’s authority is sincere and humble. Their refusal to obey is absolute. Their faithfulness to God is complete.” (page 131)

 

We are commanded to pray for our government (1 Tim 2) – who among us lives in such a hateful environment for Christians as did Paul when he penned God’s instructions on this topic? We are to live in such a way so that evil men would see the way we live, rather than speak evil of us they would glorify God (1 Pet 2). We will find ourselves disinterested and unable to have this focus if we don’t have our identity and activity lined up with Scripture. As to the proper focus of the church in the face of God-hating government, Walker brings us to Acts 4:24-31. The Jewish leaders are organized and determined to put an end to this Way that has popped up and is turning the world upside down. Peter and John were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus; But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They were respectful but uncompromising. What happened next is instructive and directly on topic with this chapter.

Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Notice this: they did not plot a protest or overthrow of the corrupt government of Israel. They praised God, thanked Him for being faithful, recognized He had appointed the evil men to rule over them, and prayed for the name of Jesus to be glorified through the service He had called them to. This is the proper posture for the church in the midst of political turmoil and persecution. “The church’s response to the assaults made on her is not a rallying cry to civic resistance or even civic engagement, but to get on their knees before the living Lord and to seek His face, crying for heavenly power to declare divine truth faithfully and fruitfully even in the face of opposition and persecution.” (page 136)

“The governing power of the saints is a heavenly one. The church takes her identity, her sense of privilege and priority, her direction for behavior, and her enduring hope from her heavenly King and the realities of citizenship in His kingdom. This conditions all our relationships with the authorities here. The men of the world set their minds on earthly things, but the citizens of Zion set their minds on heavenly things.” (page 137) Yet the saints say, Amen!

“Here is the key point: though the citizens of the two kingdoms necessarily mingle as they make their way through this world, God’s people cannot be finally identified with any nation, party, society, or institution in the earth. … It is only when the Christian understands himself to be unequivocally and distinctly a citizen of heaven that he knows how to relate to the kingdoms of the world.” (page 141)

If we want to live in accordance with God’s plan, we must have our identity and activity aligned with His Word. We must ever be growing in grace and knowledge, seeking to be renewed in our minds as we cooperate with His Spirit’s work to sanctify us and conform us to Christ. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good. We must embrace our identity as a pilgrim of God, an alien on planet earth. This is wonderful book to help us figure that out and live accordingly.

Can We Reason With a World that Hates Christ?

bible-open-to-psalm-118 Can we actually reason with a world that hates Jesus Christ? It’s a strange question, but one that I feel is very important. As Christians, we understand that, under the moral law of God, we stood as convicted criminals before Him. Every thought, word and deed in our lives was contaminated by our sin nature. That means that nothing about us was good in the eyes of God. In fact, on our very best day, where we did everything “right,” God saw us as rebel sinners who were only motivated by our most selfish desires. We were destined for the fires of Hell and rightfully so.

Yet, in His mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live the life of perfection we could never achieve. Everything He ever did was in complete obedience to God, with no motivation other than glorifying the Father. Then Jesus willing allowed Himself to be placed on the cross so that the righteous wrath of God could be poured on Him in our place. He readily took the punishment we deserved and became the substitutionary sacrifice in our place. Then Christ rose Himself from the grave three days later, proving His power over death. Through the preaching of the gospel, God miraculously and mercifully granted us repentance and faith in Christ. He redeemed us through the shed blood of His Son and adopted us as His children.

Before God redeemed us and made us into new creations, such concepts were completely foreign to us. Sin, judgment, hell, sacrifice and redemption were concepts we may have heard of at some point; however, our minds were hardwired, due to our sinful nature, to see ourselves as good. If we even believed we were capable of being bad, then we believed we could do enough good to make up for it. The idea that Someone had to be punished in our place was ludicrous to us. Yet, God broke through that sin hardened heart with the gospel message which caused us to be broken over our sin and saved us from His wrath.

The reason I write this is that I need to establish a foundation for the rest of the article. It was only through the precious message of the gospel that Christians now understand the evil that resides in their hearts. Prior to that, sin was a foreign concept that could either be rationalized away or personally atoned for. The world is made up of billions of sinners whose hearts are hardened against God and His commandments. While they have knowledge of His existence according to Romans 1, they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. The law of God is written on men’s hearts, but they reject the authority God has over them, making themselves gods over their own lives. Consequently, the rampant sin we see in our world – sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion, hatred, lust, covetousness – is the byproduct of a world governed by sin.

I now come back to my original question. Can the church reason with a world that hates Jesus Christ? Today, we see a lot of churches and Christian groups lobbying and protesting against the widespread debauchery of our day. Many are willing to link arms with co-belligerents (be they political, secular or religious) in an effort to bring “morality” back into the world. Often times, such groups will state that arguments of a philosophical or sociological nature are the means by which to achieve moral victory because the world rejects the Bible. The claim is that, because the world doesn’t understand the scriptures, it rejects them. Therefore, we cannot use the Bible as our source material. We must, they say, speak to them on their level and prove to them, without God’s word, that God’s morality is superior. In the end, if we can legislate a Christian worldview into existence, the world will be in a much better place.

Such an argument, on its surface can seem to have merit. After all, as stated above, mankind is utterly sinful and rebellious against God. Since that is the case, by bringing the Bible into the discussion seems to guarantee that they will reject what we have to say. However, that argument assumes that the purpose of the church is to somehow redeem culture. In other words, the job of Christians is to make the world a more moral and pleasant place to live. That by changing the standards of the laws and morality to a Christian worldview, life will be better. But is that really the mission of the church? I would argue that it is not.

When a person is redeemed in Christ, he is to live his life in such a way as to glorify the One who purchased him. A Christian does not exist to make the world a better place to live, but to serve as a beacon, a sign post pointing to Jesus Christ, the Savior. By living a life of obedience to God, and acknowledging Him in all that one does, the Christian testifies to the world that his allegiance is not to the fallen, sinful system of mankind, but to the One who will one day judge all men. Thus, his job is not to necessarily fix a broken system. Short of all mankind being saved in Christ, no system established in this world will ever be fixed. It will always be tainted by the sinfulness of the human heart.

The Christian’s calling then is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One who came to save sinners. Any attempt to cure societal ills (which is not the specific calling of the Christian) by arguing with worldly philosophies, allows people to believe that they, not God, are the chief authority in this world. We are allowing them to deny the power and lordship of Christ. They will continue to operate in the delusion that they are the ones who decide right and wrong, good and evil. Thus, without the Bible and the power of the gospel, the unregenerate world will continue to operate in its sin tainted worldview. Any changes that occur, moral or immoral, will still result in billions of souls condemned to hell, despising the God whom they have denied and rejected.

Therefore, the duty of the Christian is to always – not sometimes, but always – preach the gospel in any discussion we have with those in the world. If we are discussing homosexual marriage, the gospel teaches that sex was created by God for a man and a woman in the confines of a lifelong, monogamous marriage (which reflects Christ and the church). Any other act of sexual intimacy is a sin and rebellion against God and will result in the judgment of God. Thus, we stand against it and we proclaim that good news that Christ came to save homosexuals. If the issue at hand is abortion, the gospel says that all life is created in the image of God and that abortion is the murder of life created by God. Thus we stand against it and we proclaim that Jesus Christ came to save women who want to murder children and the abortionists who commit the detestable act. If the matter is a tyrannical government, the gospel teaches that God appoints leaders over people for the good of the people, that those under the government are to obey the leaders, and that God will hold those in account who abuse its citizens for their personal gain. Then we preach the good news that Jesus Christ can save even tyrannical leaders if they will but repent and trust in Christ alone.

Christians, we cannot reason with the unregenerate, Christ hating world on their terms. They have no reasoning outside of God and we only will feed their insatiable appetite for sin. We must always preach the gospel, regardless of whether the world agrees with it or not. The gospel is the power of God to salvation. Only the gospel can change sin hardened heart. Only the gospel can bring a dead man to new life. Let us be less about the winning of culture and be more about the winning of souls condemned to Hell. If we commit to be obedient in this calling, then the Lord will save whom He will save. And if scores of untold souls are saved, then the consequence may just be a society that desires to live morally because it loves the Lord who established true morality to begin with.

Is it Time for Christians to Abandon the Republican Party?

Following the re-election of Barack Obama, many people have speculated as to what the Republican Party did wrong and what needs to change for them to win in the next election. While many people, including those of us who are Christians, would point to the fact that nominating a moderate candidate, one who did not hold to consitutional and yes, even biblical principles, when it comes to issues of life and marraige, would account for the loss, many are arguing just the opposite. In the last few weeks, some startling claims have been made by those with whom we Christians have been enamored. In fact, those claims are leveled specifically at those of us who hold to a truly biblical mindset, and they are holding us at fault. As those of the “conservative” political movement seek to distance themselves from biblical Christianity, the question becomes, should Christians continue to blindly support the Republican Party, or is it time to abandon this sinking ship altogether?

If you think I am being a bit melodramatic, let me cite a few examples. On November 21, 2012, Ann Coulter wrote an opininion piece in the Daily Caller in which she blasted those of a conservative mindset for blaming the loss of the election on Mitt Romney not being conservative enough. Among the comments she made, she took the stance that those who hold to the “insane postition” of rape not being an exception for abortion were “moron showoffs.” Likewise, everyone’s favorite liberal media personality turned “conservative,” Bernie Goldberg made similar statements in his November 18, 2012 article. He makes the statement that Republicans “…need to make clear that they are not the party of religious zealots who take their marching orders from the Bible.” Additionally, on a recent appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s program, he said that Republicans need to “stop this Bible-based gay bashing.”

These two political spokepersons hold the attention of quite a few people. They did not get to their current state of popularity simply by chance. They have found that there are many folks who are willing to listen to their political advise and have used that voice to influence many a mind. So much so that Arizona Senator John McCain openly stated on Fox News that Republicans need to have a “bigger tent” regarding various political views and should “leave the issue alone,” when it comes to abortion. Now, it is well known that Senator McCain is a moderate politician, but his willingness to make these statements openly is indicative of the change we are seeing within the Republican party.

The reason I am writing this article is to once again challenge our readers, as we have done on more than one occasion here, to stop viewing the political process as the means by which we are to “save” this country. There have been many Christians who have sounded the trumpet warning the church that an alliance to a specific political party was unwise, especially as more and more compromises were made. Yet, those of us who have made such proclamations have been met with intense opposition, insisting that such alliance were absolutely necessary. We have heard such claims as “You might as well vote for the other guy,” “You’re throwing your vote away,” “If you don’t vote for ‘our guy’ you are paving the way for evil to flourish,” “Don’t you want to guarantee you religious liberties?” and so forth. Each argument was designed to justify the continued support of the Republican party in what is believed to be the only “valid option” in a two party system.

Yet, the sampling of articles listed above indicates that such loyalty is not reciprocative. In fact, the Republican party is little more than a political entity looking to obtain, and maintain, power. If the party heads sense that the political winds have changed in our country, and that holding to conservative (and especially biblical) principles will prevent them from getting power, they will change their stance post haste. We are seeing that effect now, and Christians are squarely in the crosshairs of those who are faulting Republican failures on holding to these moral issues. They are demonstrating that if Christians are seen as a liability, then the Church’s vote will no longer be courted.

This should be a wake up call to the Church. It should cause us to realize that this nation cannot, and will not be won through politics. As I have argued before, I am not saying that Christians should not vote. I believe we have the unique opportunity to be a part of the governmental process in our country. As such, Christians should vote responsibly and be well informed on the issues. That being said, we should no longer align ourselves with a specific party, especially one that has demonstrated it sees us as the problem. We have given ourselves to this political machine for years, yet precious little has been accomplished. And along the way, we stopped being about the work of the kingdom of God and became serfs in the kingdom of politics.

Christians need to re-evaluate their stance in politics and this recent election is the proof we never should have needed. I pray that Christians wake up to this now and start changing their attitude about who their allegiance belongs to.

Obama Was Re-elected??

Yesterday, November 6, 2012, was election day in America. Two major party candidates, incumbent President, Barack Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney, waited for the results as the American people cast their votes. In the end, President Obama retained his office for another four years. Today, a great many Christians, greatly dismayed by the election results, are asking themselves, “Now what?”

From the moment I saw the results come in, I observed just about every possible response on social media. Some expressed outrage, others denied Mr. Obama would ever be their president, some half-jokingly talked of joining Texas in a secession from the Union. Yet, some remembered the scriptures and God’s sovereignty, “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…” (Daniel 2:20-21a).” There are no powers and authorities in this world that God has not established. Some He sets up for a blessing, some He establishes in judgment. But all are set in power for God’s glory alone.

The reason I write this is to encourage and remind the brethren that our hope is not in the governments and powers of this world, but in the King is the true power and authority over all things. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world,” (John 18:36). Jesus established at that time that we are not to seek deliverance in worldly authority, but in Him alone. Therefore, our joy is not contingent on which candidate is elected, it is in the One who rules over us eternally. We do not find peace in presidents, congressman and governors, but in the One who willingly allowed those earthly authorities to crucify Him on our behalf.

Knowing this, we can read and submit to Romans 13: 1-7, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” We submit, not because we believe in all the party platforms of the person in authority. We submit, because we honor the Lord who saved us and placed that person in power.

Now before everyone thinks I am suggesting that means we should just bow before every unjust ruling the government enforces, I am not advocating some sort of weak kneed, wishy-washy pacivity. Remember that when commanded by the Sanhedrin to cease preaching the name of Christ, Peter and John said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19-20). When it came to obeying the commands of God, specifically in this case, the preaching of the gospel, the apostles understood, their obedience to the Lord superseded man’s authority. No earthly authority can command us to disobey the express commands of our Lord and Savior. If and when we are commanded to cease serving and obeying the Lord, then we may stand in opposition to earthly authorities.

This also does not mean that we stand idly by while we watch the authorities God has established abuse their power by promoting immoral and sinful laws. When we see the propagation of laws allowing for the wanton murder of children through abortion, or when we see the religious institution of marriage profaned through promotion of state recognized homosexual unions, we should stand up proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord…” in opposition to them. We should call our representatives and demand they honor the commands of God. We should file suit when unjust laws are passed. We should work within the God ordained governmental system to bring righteous laws into place. However, our hope is NOT in the establishment of those laws, it is in the One who established the system itself. We honor Him when we work peaceably within the system, rather than in rebelliousness or talk of secession.

So if our hope is not within the system, but in the Lord, what do we do? In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, we read, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” In other words, we need to be in continual prayer for those in authority over us, that they would come to repentance and faith in Christ, that God would grant them wisdom in their decisions and that they would honor God in their deeds. Also, we need to be about the preaching of the gospel to all we meet. Our hope for a country that is righteous and honoring to God is not in elected officials, but in the hearts that are changed through the power of the gospel. Only God can regenerate a sin hardened heart. Only by someone being made a new creation, with a heart inclined to obey God, will men and women desire to live in a culture that is free from immorality and decadence. While we do not preach the gospel to make culture better, but to save souls, a by product of regenerated hearts is a culture that begins to honor the Lord.

My encouragement to those who read this is to remember that our hope is not in who did or did not get elected last night. Our hope is in the sovereign Lord who saved us. Seek to honor and obey Him above all.

It’s Not About the Government, It’s About the Gospel

Yes, this is going to be another article about how Christians should view their involvement in politics. But please, bear with me through this as I attempt to make a few points that I hope may cause you to stop and think a little harder on the issue. I will start off by saying I am not looking to cause you to think about who you should vote for, whether or not you can vote for a person in a theological cult, or whether you should even bother voting at all. It is my sincere hope that by the end of this article, you will have a slightly different perspective on this matter altogether.

The first point I want to make is this: I do not believe Christians are called to “rescue America.” Now before you drag me out into the square and put me in front of a firing squad, I want you to consider some things. In Romans chapter 13, Paul calls Christians to “…be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,” (Romans 13:1 ESV). Note that Paul does not say that Christians are to rescue Rome by appointing Senators and getting laws passed that are in keeping with the Scriptures. He does not call for Christians to appeal to Caesar to make laws more favorable to religious liberties. Rather he calls Christians to obedience to the governing authorities appointed over them. Also note that Paul does not make a distinction as to whether the government is conservative or liberal, honest or corrupt. He only states that the governments have been established by God who is the one true authority.

And before you tell me that means all governments must therefore submit to biblical principles, I must remind you that it was God who raised up Pharaoh in Egypt for the express purpose of oppressing the Jews so that He would be glorified when He delivered them from Pharaoh’s hand. God raises up good and bad governments for His express purposes. Christians are not called to overturn bad governments, but to obey them. We are called to do this so, “…that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:15, 16 ESV). In other words, when the world sees us obedient to government, it is a testimony to our faith in God. Our obedience indicates our willingness to be obedient to the ultimate authority, God alone.

Now, there are several of you right now who are probably pretty irritated with me. “So you’re saying that we should let the the wicked, sinful government roll right over us, is that it??” Not in the least. I do believe that we are given liberty to stand up for ourselves within the government, which is my second point. In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas are wrongly arrested and beaten by the magistrates in Phillipi. When they were to be released the next day, Paul announces that he and Silas are Roman citizens and called upon the magistrates to be held accountable for their actions. Additionally, Paul appeals to have his case heard by Caesar in Acts 25 after false charges are brought against him.

I believe this is clearly a biblical principle which demonstrates that Christians can, and should, work within the legal confines of the government for the express purpose of defending one’s self against unjust government intrusion and false arrests. However, what I do not believe is that is sets a precedent that Christians are called to rescue a broken system and set it right by forcing it to comply to biblical principles. In both cases, Paul legally defended himself against injustice. What he did not do was call upon the Christians to organize the ousting of unjust magistrates or make mass appeals to Caesar to change the judicial system so that false charges could not be made. What I mean is that Christians have the liberty to act within the laws of government to defend themselves against injustice and persecution. But we are not necessarily called to rescue an unjust system. Does that mean I am advocating we should never, ever fight to establish godly laws. No, not at all! But I am saying that the proper biblical, perspective must be maintained. Government is established by God for our benefit, to protect its citizens and punish evildoers. It is not the means by which God will establish His kingdom. That being the case, Christians should not be seeking to win government to God as the sole means of establishing God’s rule on Earth. In fact, there is really but one means by which God has commanded that His kingdom would be established, which brings me to third and final point.

If Christians are called to obey governments and to act within a certain context when it comes to injustice of laws, or the application thereof, then just what are we supposed to do about the mess our country is in? “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'” (Mark 16:15 ESV) That is our command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To preach the gospel. Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV) When the gospel is preached, people get saved. When people get saved, the Holy Spirit makes them a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). People who are new creations, who are led by the Spirit, who desire to obey the commands of God willingly because they love their Savior, do not have to be convinced to change laws and appoint representatives that are in line with biblical truths. They do so of their own accord.

Stop and think about this. Just how much time, energy and effort have Christians poured into the political system in the last several decades? Every election cycle, we are inundated with calls for churches to mobilize and get into the voting booth. Organizations pour countless man hours into tracking voting records, courting candidates and sending out mailers with recommendations on who to vote for. In the end, we end up with two candidates that just about everyone agrees are terrible, but nevertheless, we are encouraged, guilted and practically ordered to vote for the “lesser evil” because at least he’s not as bad as the other guy. And even when the “right guy” wins, or the right measure is voted into law, it doesn’t take long before all that hard work is reversed when the next guy takes office, or when the right lawsuit gets filed. For all our victories, we are left with very little to celebrate. I’m not advocating that Christians not vote, don’t get me wrong. I believe we are blessed with an amazing privilege to have a voice in our government, but like I said before, it has to be in the right context.

Imagine something different now. Imagine if every single, truly born again Christian got as excited and driven about the souls of those in Washington, in their legislatures, in their city councils, or even about their neighbors, as they do about who is going to get elected. Imagine if we spent nearly the amount of time praying, studying and sharing the gospel with them as we do watching news reports, complaining to our co-workers about candidates and attending political rallies. Just imagine if the souls of those who were going to Hell got us as incensed as the increase in our taxes, or the next failed social program being announced. What if, instead of calling our representatives to complain or demand action on an issue, we took the time to care about their eternal destiny and shared the gospel with them. If the amount of time, effort and energy we spent fighting political battles was spent in preaching the gospel to a lost and dying world, what might the end result look like? I’m not advocating that we preach the gospel to get a better country. I am saying that rather than caring more about rescuing the country, we should care more about rescuing souls. And if souls are rescued and captured for Jesus Christ, then all these other issues might not be as big a deal as there are now.

Christians, we are not a political party, though we may align ourselves with one when we get into the voting booth. We were once wretched, vile, God hating sinners who God condescended to save through the perfect life and sacrificial death of His Son. We were the ones who lied, cheated, stole, lusted, hated and blasphemed. We were the ones who deserved nothing but the fires of Hell. We deserved no good thing, especially not a good government and a free society. Yet, God, in His mercy, sent His Son to take on human flesh, to live a perfect life free from sin, to die a bloody death on the cross in our place, and to be risen again to give us a promise of eternal life. He did this so that our old man might be crucified and that we might be created as a new life. He granted that through repentance, the turning away from our sins, and through faith in the Savior alone we might be granted eternal life with Him. What on earth could possibly convince us that “rescuing America” has more value than that? What could possess us to believe that political maneuverings and machinations could do more for the lives of our countrymen than the preaching of the gospel? It simply boggles the mind that we could ever want to do more in the realm of politics than in the proclamation of the greatest news ever told.

Election time is coming and I encourage you to vote. It is your right as a citizen and a liberty as a Christian. But let’s keep it in perspective. Let’s stop pouring so much energy into a world system that can only produce temporal results and let us be driven to share the gospel which has eternal results.

Wake Up Church!

Have you been watching the news this week? If you have, like the rest of us, you are probably aghast at the sight of American embassies in the Middle East overrun by Muslims and our ambassadors being hurt or killed. And, like the rest of us, you may be wondering why on Earth our government isn’t doing something about it. You might be wondering how our government, or the media, or people in general, can be so blind to the fact that Islam is in fact a religion of subjugation and violence, and how they can pretend it is not what we see being played out in front of the cameras on the evening news. You might just see this as the reason you need to get far more politically involved than ever before, because, after all, if this administration cannot see the threat, then it is time for someone else to take the reigns, right? Yeah, I imagine a lot of people are thinking that right now.

But, if you are a Christian, I have to ask you a serious question, one that might make you a little uncomfortable. If you see Islam as a threat, if you see the danger that a satanic religion represents, if you see the harm it has caused to so many people, what are you doing about it? I’m not talking about taking up arms here. I’m not talking about some sort of militant activism either. And yes, I recognize there are hundreds, and thousands of muslims who have never so much as looked cross eyed at another person. I recognize there are many who would never even dream of committing acts of physical violence, so please do not misconstrue what I am saying here. I’m talking about what are you doing about the lost souls who bow to Mecca five times a day trying with all their might to please Allah. What are you doing to break them out of the works based, man centered religion that drives them to these acts. If you recognize that this religion, which is at the heart of so many problems in the Middle East, is truly a false and dangerous religion, what are you doing to change it?

Let me put it another way. When you go to church this week, why will you go? To be built up and strengthened so you may go forth and preach the gospel? Or will you go to be entertained and have your self esteem boosted? Will you walk out of church so in love with the Savior that you cannot help but to preach the gospel? Or will you walk out happy that God has made your life so comfortable? See, the point of church is not to make us feel better about ourselves and our lives. It is to make us love Jesus all the more and to drive us into the world, into spiritual battle, so that we might take the gospel to the ends of the earth. However, I fear that a great many people who attend church this Sunday might go there shaking their heads about the terrible things that have happened this week, but will come out feeling so nice and comfy about how much God has a wonderful plan for their lives. It will not even cross their minds that God has commanded them to preach the gospel, and that the answer to the violence in the Middle East is not in governments, political sanctions or military actions, it is in that very gospel they are commanded to preach!

The violence and tragedy in the Middle East this week needs to be a wake up call, not so much for the government, but for the church. For far too long, we have sat by and watched as church growth programs, self esteem seminars and entertainment industries have corrupted the church. We have been too satisfied to see the undershepherds who have been called to equip us for battle lay down that duty to entertain and amuse us. Yes, numbers in the churches grew, but those numbers represented nothing more than false converts because they never once heard the call to repent of their self centered sinfulness and cling to the cross seeking the mercy of the Savior. Church, we must repent of this! We have been commanded by our Savior to preach His gospel unto every nation! And can there be any further evidence that this world needs the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ than what we are seeing happen right now?

Those in the Middle East who have perpetrated these atrocities are sinners like you and me! They need Jesus Christ to wash away their sinfulness through His shed blood alone! They are trapped in a works righteous religion that calls them to appease their “god” through works, through man centered efforts, which will never atone for their sin. If we want see change in the Middle East, it can ONLY come through the gospel! It is the only thing which can change the heart of wicked and sinful man. No government plan, no sanction, no political overhaul can change man’s heart, only the power of the Holy Spirit can accomplish that. And God has ordained that it is through His gospel message that it will be accomplished.

Christians, wake up! When you go to church this Sunday, don’t be satisfied to sit back and be entertained. Weep over sin, starting first with your own. Glorify God that He sent His Son to die for sinners and to save them from the fires of Hell. And then be moved to preach the gospel in every way possible. Obviously, not all of us are called to be foreign missionaries, but maybe God has equipped you to support them. Maybe you can even start your own ministry here in America that will send missionaries over seas. You can even be a missionary here in your own hometown. Start preaching the gospel now, where you live. Share it with someone today. Let the turmoil in our world be the wake up call that makes you realize that God has called you to share the only thing that can change the hearts of men. The only thing that can bring them out of the treadmill of work righteousness. The only thing that can bring them from death to life. Preach the gospel today!