What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What the Bible Says, Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
Temple Baptist Church - 9-16-2018James 3:1-10Introduction: A. Division, the Pastor's nightmare! Did you know that the greatest problem that a pastor has in his work is division? Division can be accomplished in more than one way, but the simplest of these ways is that of an unbridled tongue.James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.B. We once said, “Keep your words short and sweet for you never know which ones you will eat.” Speaking without thinking, in times of reaction, or in times of anger can do untold damage. Once words are turned loose, there is neither stopping nor gathering them back up again. Psalms 64:3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:Illustration: There was once a young man who spoke evil words against another man in the neighborhood. Eventually, the young man realized his error and, with a repentant heart, approached his former enemy. He asked, “What can I do to make up for the damage that I have caused through my talking about you to others?” The neighbor who was hurt in the incident said, “Young man, get you a feather pillow and get into the back of my truck.” The young man did not understand the reasoning behind such a request but, willing to make things right, obeyed. The neighbor then said, “Cut the pillow open with your knife and, as I drive across town, scatter the feathers on the way.” The young man agreed, again not understanding. When they had driven across town and all of the feathers were scattered, the young man asked, “What good did scattering the feathers across town do?” The neighbor then said, “Go back the way that you came and gather up all of the feathers that you scattered.” The young man cried, “That is impossible!” The neighbor replied, “I forgive you but neither can you go back and gather up all of the words that you have scattered about me!”C. How true! The tongue can be destructive and become an enemy of the church.Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.D. The tongue must be guarded, even in times of hurt and anger because words spoken cannot be taken back. My wife's life verse is Proverbs 21:23 and it is a good one.Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.Psalms 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.Psalms 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.Psalms 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:E. The tongue shows where the condition of the heart.Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.F. If the shoe fits this morning, then put it on. Clean it up and let it shine for Christ instead of wading it through the mud.TONGUES THAT WILL DESTROY THE WORK OF THE LORD!1. A Divisive Tongue - Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Discord – to play a wrong note. To be out of step. To walk contrary to something.)2. A Disgruntled Tongue - Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Why did they not do something about it except murmur? It was THEIR widows! Some people always go around griping about what they do not like or disagree with but, normally, not to the pastor. They look for a listening ear. It is a tongue that does not like; a tongue that does not agree; a tongue that likes to stay hidden from view; a devilish tongue is a disgruntled tongue.)3. A Gossiping Tongue - Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. (Did you know that gossip can be very easily stopped?) Here are some questions that will stop the gossiping tongue”a. What is your reason for telling me?b. Where did you get your information?c. Have you gone to those directly involved?d. Have you personally checked out all the facts?e. Can I quote you if I check this out?f. Let us go to the pastor and you can tell him.4. A Backbiting Tongue - Psalms 15:1-3 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,Psalms 101:5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.1 Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.5. A Prating Tongue - 3 John 9-10 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (Not gossipers!)6. A Deceitful Tongue - Psalms 50:19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.Psalms 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.Psalms 52:4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O[thou deceitful tongue.7. A Murmuring Tongue – Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.Exodus 16:8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what arewe? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.1 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:8. A Discouraging Tongue - Deuteronomy 1:28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.9. A Lying Tongue - Psalms 109:2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.Psalms 120:2-3 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. 3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?Proverbs 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Dear Friends,As our country grapples with yet another senseless, brutal, and evil act of violence, this time perpetrated against Jews worshipping in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the media is predictably churning out an avalanche of breathless accounts of who is to blame. Our collective energy as a nation would be much more valuably spent in reflection and prayer.In the aftermath of such horrendous violence being perpetrated by one human being against fellow human beings, many rightly ask: how could someone do this? Only God knows the full answer to this question, but we can be certain of one thing: the attacker lacked empathy for his fellow man. Therefore, it is critical that our society spend more time pondering the concept of empathy, and increasingly put it into practice in our daily lives.Empathy is the mental practice of putting oneself in the shoes of another in order to better understand what life must be like for that person. This practice seems relatively straightforward, but for most of us, it is difficult to do, because we human beings have a fallen natural tendency for selfishness and snap judgments. Just like everything else in life that is difficult yet worthwhile, we must work at practicing empathy. When we witness behavior from a person that we consider offensive, we must refrain from stereotyping the person based on their outward appearance. Similarly, we must refrain from making rash generalizations about groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, political views, etc. Instead, we must seek to better understand other people and avoid instant judgments of character.When thinking about the actions and motivations of others, we must take into account a whole host of information before we can come to any fair conclusions. For the person in question, we must ask ourselves: What is the broader culture like where this person came from and how were they influenced by it? How was this person raised by their parents? Were they mistreated or abused as a child? What beliefs were taught to them growing up? And on and on. Obviously, we can’t know the answers to many of these questions without either research or first-hand knowledge. But we must make the effort so that we can better understand the reasons behind particular actions or words, and thereby have a better capacity for true empathy.Jesus displayed empathy all over Scripture. When coming open Matthew, a tax collector who was widely reviled, Jesus did not judge him by his place in society or apparent misdeeds of extortion. He saw the goodness in Matthew and his need for salvation, and invited him to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9). Similarly, rather than condemning the woman caught in adultery, Jesus rebuked those who were condemning her and invited her to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). All over Scripture, Jesus is said to have spent time in the company of sinners, which the Pharisees reviled Him for. Jesus displays a crucial trait here: His first instinct is mercy rather than condemnation, which shows that He empathizes with those He meets and responds to them with love.We are called to do likewise. The more we make empathy our first reaction, the better chance we have of making it a habit rather than falling into the bad habit of snap judgments. When we fail to empathize with others, and instead burrow down the rabbit hole of stereotypes and prejudice based on outward appearances, the more we are prone to hate and dehumanize other people. The more we see others with empathetic eyes, as Christ did, the more we will grow in love and the more our world will flourish in peace and unity.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesWe Must Turn to God to Find Healing, Unity and Restoration – Tony PerkinsHHS should put a stop to ObamaCare's hidden abortion surcharge – Marjorie Dannenfelser and Tony PerkinsTrump transgender policy is simple and scientific: 'Sex' means biological sex – Peter SpriggWhy Evangelicals Will Vote (It's Not What You Think) – Tony PerkinsThe Attack on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – David ClossonPastor Brunson's Release: A View From the Courtroom – Travis WeberPastor Andrew Brunson's release illustrates power and potential of Trump's foreign policy – Tony PerkinsPray Tell: Atheist Sues to Lead Legislative Prayer – Alexandra McPheeAla. Supreme Court Justice: Roe Cuts Off the Unborn’s Full Right to Life – Alexandra McPheeThe Gosnell Story: America Deserves to Know – Alyssa GrasinskiHow Shall We Engage Politically? A Response to Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung – David ClossonChristianity’s Blessings to Society – Travis WeberPro-Life Law Upheld By Another Federal Court: Dare We Say “Momentum”? – Cathy RuseOur Moralized Social Tyranny and What Conservatives Can Do About It – Caleb SutherlinOur Gifts Received through Child Loss – Katy DowneyAtlanta’s Kelvin Cochran Settles the Score – Alexandra McPhee Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareSchool Bans Christmas Songs That Mention Jesus – ToddStarnes.com'Gosnell' Filmmakers: Theaters Dropping Movie, Preventing People From Buying Tickets – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostBakers Fined $135K Over Wedding Cake Appeal to Supreme Court – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalJack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop Asks Court to Halt New Civil Rights Prosecution – Kevin Daley, The Daily CallerABC, NBC, CBS Ignore GOP Candidates Allegedly Assaulted by Left-Wing ‘Protesters’ – Kristine Marsh, NewsBustersAtheists Put an End to Police Prayer Vigils, but Fail to Stop 'Pastors on Patrol' – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostSchool Bans Christian Athletes From Meeting on Campus – Jeremiah Poff, ToddStarnes.comFaith-Based Adoption Agencies Are Under Siege in the US – Emily Jones, CBN NewsLawsuit challenges tax perks available to America's pastors – Kelsey Dallas, Deseret NewsPensacola cross: Does Kavanaugh’s rise change the stakes? – Alabama.comInternational Religious FreedomChina Must End Its Campaign of Religious Persecution – Sen. Chuck Grassley, PoliticoThe Secret and Surprising Ways Christians Worship in North Korea – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USAAsia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row – BBC NewsOxford Students Vote to Ban Christian Group Over LGBT Claims of 'Threat to Physical, Mental Safety' – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostTurkey Arrests Another Pastor Just Days after Pastor Brunson is Released – Kayla Koslosky, ChristianHeadlines.comBig Victory for Medical Conscience in Norway – Wesley J. Smith, National ReviewImprisoned Iranian Pastor Got Help From Unlikely Source to Spread Gospel – Mark Ellis, The Christian PostAmerican missionary shot and killed in ‘targeted’ attack weeks after moving family to Cameroon – Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox NewsOver 20 Chinese Christians Arrested for Sharing Gospel, Holding Public Worship Service – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionAlabama top court judge urges Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – Gualberto Garcia Jones, LifeSiteNewsNearly 60% of Millennials consider abortion a sin: new poll – James Risdon, LifeSiteNewsAbortion has been decriminalised in Queensland – SBS NewsNIH Spends $13.5 Million on Aborted Baby Parts to Transplant Their Brain Tissue Into Mice – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsIs It Possible to Be an Anti-Abortion Democrat? One Woman Tried to Find Out – Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times65-year-old pro-lifer in hospital after being punched outside Florida Planned Parenthood – Calvin Freiburger, LifeNewsAbortion pills now available by mail in US -- but FDA is investigating – Jessica Ravitz, CNNWatching ‘Gosnell’ Shattered My Agnosticism On Abortion – Adam Mill, The FederalistAdoptionAfter two generations of adoption, family finds incredible way to give back – Anna Reynolds, Live ActionWhy adoption isn’t Plan A or B – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionParents told they cannot do foster care due to Christian beliefs – The BridgeheadBioethicsThe Dangerous Effects of Surrogacy: A Review of A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India – K. Blaine, Public Discourse FamilyMarriageLove Has A Source – Fr. Billy Swan, Word on FireHow All Relationships Prepare Us For Marriage – Verily Premarital Cohabitation Is Still Associated With Greater Odds of Divorce – Scott Stanley, Family StudiesDear Husband, Having Kids Together Has Only Made Me Love You More – Celeste, HerViewFromHomeWhy Does Graduate School Kill So Many Marriages? – Kathryn R. Wedemeyer-Strombel, The Chronicle of Higher EducationDoes Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness? – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family StudiesParentingYour Kids Are Not Projects or Burdens. They Are Gifts. – Cameron Cole, The Gospel CoalitionGetting Your Kids to Really Listen – Justin Coulson, Family StudiesWhy it’s important to teach modern kids to “mind their manners” – Calah Alexander, AleteiaHelping Low-Income Fathers Form Loving Relationships With Their Children – Natasha J. Cabrera, Family StudiesSilicon Valley Execs Get Your Kids Hooked On Their Gadgets, But Not Their Kids – Jessica Burke, The FederalistEconomics/EducationThe Family Geography of the American Dream: New Neighborhood Data on Single Parenthood, Prisons, and Poverty – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesFrom the Great Recession to the Great Divide: Business and Economics in the Last Decade – Kelly Hanlon, Public DiscourseTax-Cut Repeal Could Cost Americans $27K in Pay Over 10 Years, Study Says – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalWhy America desperately needs another baby boom – Steven W. Mosher, New York PostHow Public Schools Indoctrinate Kids Without Almost Anyone Noticing – Auguste Meyrat, The FederalistFaith/Character/CultureThe Joy We Know Only in Suffering – Marshall Segal, Desiring GodWhere Is God? The Problem of Divine Hiddenness – Matt Nelson, Word on FireWhat Makes a Woman Strong – Kathleen Nielson, Desiring GodRage Makes You Stupid – Kevin D. Williamson, National ReviewHuman Dignity Is Not a Political Platform – Tina Boesch, The Gospel CoalitionAre Siblings More Important Than Parents? – Ben Healy, The AtlanticHuman SexualityThe Future of American Sexuality and Family: Five Key Trends – Mark Regnerus, Public DiscourseSatisfied in the Arms of Another – Christopher Asmus, Desiring GodVideo: Understanding Sexual Exploitation – What Drives Our Objectification Culture? – Lisa L. Thompson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationTransing California Foster Children & Why Doctors Like Us Opposed It – Andre Van Mol, Public DiscourseThe new taboo: More people regret sex change and want to ‘detransition’, surgeon says – Joe Shute, The TelegraphDid Transgenderism End Political Correctness? – Jacob Airey, The Daily WireOn Sex, the Trump Administration Returns to Reality and the Law – Ben Shapiro, National ReviewTeacher Faces Punishment Over Objections to Girls Taking Showers With Boys – ToddStarnes.comTrump’s Proposed Rollback of Transgender Policy Is Good News for Many Who Are Suffering – Walt Heyer, The Daily SignalPornographyHow Pornography Prevents Intimacy in Your Marriage – Jonathan Daugherty, Focus on the FamilyPorn problem is so serious that British MPs want to address it with public health campaign – James Risdon, LifeSiteNewsBeating the Odds: 10 indicators your marriage will survive porn addiction – Rob Jackson, Focus on the FamilyNepal Bans Pornography to Stem High Rate of Sexual Assault – National Catholic Register
A perennial question for the church is the issue of political engagement. From broader questions such as the Bible’s teaching on the role and purpose of government to specific issues such as abortion, marriage, and racial equality, theologians have grappled with these questions and offered various models for faithful witness in the public square.Without doubt, we live in a time of acute political polarization. As evidenced recently in the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, civil discourse has reached a disheartening low. For Christians frustrated by the overall negative tone of politics and extreme partisanship, walking away from politics might be tempting.However, for Christians called to be salt and light in the world, abdicating their political responsibilities is not an option consistent with Scripture. The gospel is a holistic message with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians should engage the political process and how we should think about our two-party system and voting.So, what are the principles Christian ought to consider as they seek to live out their allegiance to Christ alongside their civic duties? Some Suggestions Recently, the question of how Bible-believing, gospel-loving Christians should exercise their political responsibilities has been raised by well-known pastors including Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung. In thought-provoking articles, both lay out their concerns with the current divisive and coarse nature of American politics and offer guidance for how believers ought to approach their engagement. Whereas Keller mainly considers how Christians fit into the two-party system, DeYoung offers practical suggestions for engaging in the political process.Much of their advice is helpful. For example, in his article, Keller rightfully argues “to not be political is to be political.” By this he means that those who avoid political discussions tacitly endorse the status quo. Keller’s example of 19th century churches who were silent on slavery is a sobering illustration. By refraining from becoming “too political” these churches were in fact supporting a sinister institution. Likewise, DeYoung encourages pastors to engage in the political process by praying for leaders and preaching to controversial issues as they arise in the course of expositional preaching. DeYoung incisively echoes James Davidson Hunter by reminding Christians that faithful presence within the culture should be the overarching goal of cultural engagement and that electoral politics is just one of many ways to express neighborly love.However, despite Keller and DeYoung’s contributions to the question of Christian civic responsibility, the utility and real-world application of their advice is limited due to an underlying political theology that hasn’t fully accounted for the realities of the political system within which we have to work. Although their warning to not equate the church’s mission with the platform of a political party represents faithful Christian convictions, they don’t follow through with a remedy for our current situation. Christians are left asking: Well, then, how should I engage politically?Following ThroughAnswering this question requires an understanding of government’s God-ordained authority, the structure of a representative democracy, and a theologically informed view of voting.In his article, DeYoung expresses discomfort with hosting voter drives and providing voter guides because it communicates that participation in the political process is “what Christians should do.” Although DeYoung agrees that “voting is a good thing” he does not think it is the church’s role to go beyond praying for candidates or preaching on issues. This is rooted in an admirable desire to preserve the church’s mission. However, despite these noble intentions, does this approach fall short in what full-orbed Christian discipleship requires?In representative democracies like the United States, the locus of power is the citizenry; government derives its authority from the people. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist Paper 22, the consent of the people is the “pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” This principle is foundational and provides American citizens with an incredible privilege and responsibility. Unlike billions of people around the world, Americans control their political future.For Christian citizens, the implications of America’s form of government are even more significant when considered alongside Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 about the purpose of government. According to Paul, government is ordained by God to promote good and restrain evil. To this effect, government wields the sword to punish wrongdoers. Thus, the administration of justice is the state’s responsibility; the government, not individual citizens, is tasked with the actual exercise of the sword.From these considerations a truth with massive implications for Christian political engagement emerges: suffrage as an exercise in delegating God-ordained authority. Because power resides with the people in a representative democracy, when Christians vote, they are handing their sword to someone else to wield. That’s what voting essentially is; the delegation of authority. Seen from this perspective, voting assumes enormous responsibility and implies that failure to vote is failure to exercise God-given authority.Voting Is Part of ItThus, returning to DeYoung’s article, it is simply not enough for pastors to hope their congregations are informed about candidates and issues. If the act of voting is the act of delegating the exercise of the sword, pastors should communicate to their members “This is what Christians should do.” Given the unavoidable role of politics and the real-world impact that the state’s decisions have on people’s lives, downplaying the role of voting amounts to a failure in Christian discipleship and a neglect to offer neighborly love.On this issue of neighbor love, DeYoung writes, “Political engagement is only one way of loving our neighbor and trying to be a faithful presence in the culture.” Although true, DeYoung minimizes the significance of government and politics. Obviously, neighborly love must be embodied in all aspects of life. However, can Christians really care for their neighbors without substantively engaging the arena that most profoundly shapes basic rights and freedoms? Further, given the United States’ outsized influence in the world, how can American Christians love the people of the nations without having a vested interest in how their own government approaches the issue of religious liberty and human rights? Through the power of the vote, American Christians can determine who will represent their country abroad and what values will be exported around the world: whether abortion education programs funded by American taxpayers or values congruent with the Bible’s teaching on the dignity of human life. Will America’s ambassadors be stalwart defenders of those engaged in religious expression (such as overseas missionaries) and vigorously advocate for their rights, or will they abandon them? Again, American Christians through the exercise of the franchise have a direct say in all of these issues. Because of these considerations, pastors would do well to educate and equip their members to think biblically about political issues, candidates, and party platforms. It is not enough to espouse concern for human dignity but not support policies and candidates who will fight to overturn profound moral wrongs. In a Genesis 3 world plagued by sin, Christians are called to drive back the corroding effects of the fall wherever they exist. This must include the realms of law and politics.Back to the BibleThus, in the quest for Christian faithfulness in political engagement, a robust understanding of the nature of government and the act of voting must be applied to the current reality of the two-party system. Addressing this issue is the primary goal of Keller’s New York Times article where he contends that Christians must participate in the political process without identifying the church with a specific political party. Because political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them without embracing all of their approved positions, Keller says Christians are pushed toward two equally unacceptable positions: withdrawal from the political process or full assimilation with a party.When it comes to specific issues, Keller writes, “Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family.” He concludes, “the historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.” Keller implies that because both major parties hold some views that are faithful with Scripture alongside others that are not, Christians have liberty when it comes to choosing a political party.This idea that historic Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments grounds the outworking of Keller’s political theology. Although not explicitly stated, he suggests that while Republicans may hold a more biblical view on issues related to abortion and marriage, Democrats are more faithful in their approach to racial justice and the poor. Implied in this analysis is that these issues carry similar moral freight and that consequently Christians should be leery of adopting either party’s “whole package.”Although Keller is right in cautioning against blind allegiance to a political party, his analysis of the issues and where the respective parties stand is inaccurate. Without doubt, the issues of abortion, marriage, racial equality, and poverty are crucial, and the Bible has implications for how Christians should evaluate them. Regarding abortion, the Bible is straightforward—life begins at conception and abortion is murder (Ps. 139:13-16, 22:10, Jer. 1:5, Gal. 1:15, Ex. 21:22). Likewise, on marriage; the Bible is clear and presents marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24, Mat. 19:5, Mark 10:6-9, Eph. 5:22-23). Moreover, Scripture is unambiguous regarding the moral status of homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Tim. 1:10-11, Lev. 18:22, 20:13, Gen. 19:1-5). On these issues the Bible is unmistakable; there is a clear “Thus saith the Lord.”As Keller acknowledges, in terms of biblical clarity and priority Christians have rightly seen abortion and marriage as first tier moral concerns; when it comes to voting, a candidate’s stance on them matters greatly. But what does the Bible teach about the other issues Keller identifies?Concerning racial equality, the Bible is clear that all are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Additionally, the good news of the gospel is for everyone; Christ died for all people, and in him believers from every tongue, nation, and tribe are reconciled to God and each other in “one new man” (Eph. 2:14-16). In terms of access to God, the Bible is unmistakable: distinctions based on gender and race are abolished in the new covenant (Gal. 3:28-29, Col. 3:11). Consequently, racism is sinful and must be repudiated by the church.Finally, God’s concern for the poor is a pervasive theme throughout the Bible. Exhortations to care for the poor abound (Prov. 3:27-28, 22:22-23, 31:8-9, Isa. 1:17, 10:1-3, Zech. 7:8-10) and Jesus himself displayed remarkable concern and compassion for the poor in his healing and teaching ministry (Mat. 11:4-6, 25:45, Luke 6:20-21, 14:14). Famously, Jesus’ half-brother, James, wrote that “pure and undefiled religion” includes care for orphans and widows (James 1:27).Consequently, the Bible speaks to the issues identified by Keller; committed Christians, therefore, must care about all of them. Faithfulness to God’s Word requires nothing less. However, the tension arises when it comes to application—when biblical imperative intersects with the realities of today’s politics. Therefore, the first step in Christian political engagement—identifying the issues that the Bible explicitly or implicitly speaks to—is the easy part. The challenging part of application requires discernment, prayer, and wisdom. No One Ever Said It Wasn’t MessyAt this point it should be stated clearly: neither political party is a Christian party in the sense that everything they advocate for lines up perfectly with the Bible. Evangelical Christians do not think everything the Republican party does is Christian—at least they shouldn’t. In fact, there are numerous policy issues the Bible does not clearly speak on. On tertiary issues like these Christians should debate charitably and extend liberty toward one another on points where they disagree.However, it is also true in recent years the two major U.S. political parties have clearly adopted positions on first tier moral issues on which the Bible does speak. “First tier” moral issues include questions where the Bible’s teaching is clear and where specific, positive action is prescribed. Concerning marriage, the Bible commends the union of man and woman as representative of the relationship between Christ and the church and prohibits encroachment by any means. Regarding life, every human being is an image bearer of God and possesses inherent dignity. Thus, the responsibility to preserve life is supreme. Therefore, life and human sexuality are first tier issues because of their biblical clarity and priority. Concerning these first tier moral issues of life and human sexuality, one of the major parties has embraced positions manifestly at odds with biblical morality. The result has been increased moral confusion in the culture and the undermining of human dignity.Thus, although neither political party perfectly represents evangelical Christians, party platforms do allow us to make considered judgments for who to support at election time. Political scientists have shown that politicians increasingly vote in line with their party’s platform—80 percent of the time over the last thirty years. Consequently, a party’s platform is a good indicator for how politicians from that party will vote. Thus, for Christians, in so far as a platform recommends policies informed by biblical morality it is easier to support that party.So, while it is clear Republicans have adopted positions more aligned with Scripture’s teaching on abortion and marriage, is it obvious (as Keller implies) that Democrats have the moral high ground on the other issues he raises? In short, no. In fact, neither party expressly takes an anti-biblical position on issues related to race and the poor—it is the remedies for these issues that are debated.Though it is popular to conceive of the Republican party as “anti-poor” and opposed to minorities, these conceptions are not as neatly supported as many in the media would have us believe. Earlier this year Republican lawmakers voted almost unanimously to advance legislation designed to reduce recidivism through vocational training and education courses. House Republicans (262 of them) joined 134 Democrats in advancing this legislation. According to the NAACP, African-Americans and Hispanics make up 32 percent of the general population but 56 percent of those incarcerated. Thus, efforts to reform the criminal justice system represent positive steps forward in addressing problems that disproportionately affect minority communities. Further, not only is the current unemployment rate of 3.7 percent the lowest since 1969, the African American unemployment rate hit an all-time low of 5.9 percent in May 2018; in September, black teen unemployment fell to 19.3 percent, another all-time low. While the factors contributing to this picture are many, the fact remains that under Republican national leadership, more minorities are getting jobs.On the issue of poverty, no doubt many individual Republicans and Democrats care for the poor (though many others might use the issue to their own political gain). It is simply misleading to conflate the parties’ different economic philosophies with moral indifference—a conflation which widely contributes to popular conceptions of all Republicans as “against the poor.” The fact that conservatives believe in the efficacy of limited government and free markets in addressing poverty does not indicate apathy toward marginalized communities. On the contrary, conservatives believe that the best conditions for economic flourishing are created when the government’s authority is decentralized. The Bible does not endorse a specific economic system—though it does favor some while disfavoring others; the commandment against stealing shows respect for private property as does the Old Testament’s regard for inheritances. At any rate, there is room for disagreement on how to address such issues biblically.Thus, by unfairly characterizing Republican views on racial justice and poverty, Keller creates a false dichotomy between the two parties. Whereas the Republican party platform is clearly on the side of biblical morality on abortion and marriage (in contrast to the Democrat platform), it is not at all clear that Democrat policy positions on racial justice or poverty are “more biblical” than those held by conservatives. At a minimum, they can be debated.Tying Up Loose Ends Further, while all of these issues are important, Christians should employ a form of moral triage as they consider their political engagement. As Andrew Walker points out, with abortion there is a “greater moral urgency to repeal morally unjust and codified laws than there is the priority to ameliorate social evils that exist because of social wickedness and criminal behavior.” In other words, the existence of a positive right to terminate the life of unborn children calls for immediate action. Christians concerned about the unborn—the most vulnerable class of people in our country—must leverage their influence, resources, and time to correct this wrong as soon as possible. As part of a holistic effort to create a culture of life, Christians must engage the political process to pass laws that protect life. Mapped out onto the political realities of a two-party system, the outworking of this moral calculus is clear.In short, if theologically conservative Christians appear aligned with the Republican Party, it is only because Democrats have forced them there by taking positions on moral issues that oppose the Bible’s explicit teaching. Thus, while Keller is right that Christians should not feel perfectly at home in either political party, is it fair to suggest that they should feel equally comfortable in both?In 2018 the answer would seem to be “no.”It should also be noted that the challenges facing American Christians regarding politics is not unique; brothers and sisters in other nations face the same tensions. This is because there is no “Christian” political party; no party aligns perfectly with the Bible. This is true even in countries where dozens of political parties participate in any one election. This means that there is never a perfect choice when it comes to political engagement; on this side of the Parousia, faithful Christians will always be choosing from less than ideal options. This is why wisdom, prayer, and counsel are indispensable when it comes to Christian political engagement.ConclusionFor the sake of Christian faithfulness, we need an informed Christian citizenry. It is not enough for pastors to acknowledge that various policy positions are profoundly evil yet withhold the requisite tools that empower concrete action. It is not enough to pray for candidates and speak on a handful of issues without equipping believers with everything they need to honor God in the voting booth.Over the last few years, many Christian leaders have lamented the current state of American politics. They have reiterated that Christians have no home in either major political party (a state of affairs to which we might ask whether Christian indifference and distaste for politics has contributed to in the first place) and that in secondary and tertiary issues Christian liberty should abound. While these calls are helpful, people in the pews are yearning for more direction. Of course, it would be pastoral malpractice to pronounce a “Thus saith the Lord” when there is no biblical warrant. However, in areas where pastors and Christian leaders can say more, they should. These areas include grappling with the reality of our two-party system and following our political theology to its logical end by voting.If political engagement is an aspect of Christian faithfulness, it is also a matter of discipleship. Thus, church members must be equipped to honor God in the political arena in a way that goes beyond merely describing current challenges. Applying a faithful political theology in our context requires a thorough understanding of biblical morality and an awareness of the positions of the political parties and candidates. As this dual knowledge is acquired, Christians will better understand the times and increasingly know what they ought to do in politics.David Closson serves as the Research Fellow for Religious Freedom and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council. He is also a Ph.D. student in Christian Ethics (Public Policy) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Your weekly Dose of SpurgeonThe PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 22, sermon number 1,300, "Life's need and maintenance." "Have you never, dear friends, had to know that you cannot keep alive your own soul by your own blunderings and failings, when you have resolved to be very wise and correct?" Did you ever get into a self-sufficient state and say, “Now, I shall never fall into that temptation again, for I am the burnt child that dreads the fire,” and yet into that very sin you have fallen. Have you not said, “Well, I understand that business; there is no need to wait upon God for direction in so simple a matter, for I am well up in every particular relating to it, and I can manage the affair very well?” And have you not acted as foolishly in the whole concern as the Israelites did in the affair of the Gibeonites, when they were deceived by the old shoes and clouted, and the mouldy bread, and asked no counsel of the Lord? I tell you our strength, whenever we have any, is our greatest weakness, and our fancied wisdom is our real folly. When we are weak we are strong. When in a sense of entire dependence upon God, we dare not trust ourselves, we are both wise and safe. Go, young man, even you who are a zealous Christian, go without your morning prayer into the house of business, and see what will befall you. Venture, my sister, down into your little family without having called upon God for guidance, and see what you will do. Go with a strong resolve that you will never be guilty of the weakness which dishonoured you a few days ago, and depend upon the strength of your own will, and the firmness of your own purpose, and see if you do not ere long discover to your shame how great your weakness is. Nay, try none of these experiments, but listen to the word which tells you "none can keep alive his own soul."And now, should any think that he can keep his own soul alive, let me ask him to look at the enemies which surround him. A sheep in the midst of wolves is safe compared with the Christian in the midst of ungodly men. The world waylays us, the devil assaults us, behind every bush there lurks a foe. A spark in mid ocean is not more beset, a worm is not more defenceless. If the sight of foes without be not enough to make us confess our danger, look at the foes within. There is enough within thy soul, O Christian, though thou be one of the best of saints, to destroy thee in an hour unless the grace of God guard thee and keep thy passions in check, and prevent thy stubborn will from asserting its own rebellious determinations. Oh, what a powder magazine the human heart is, even at the best; if some of us have not been blown up it has been rather because Providence has kept away the sparks than because of there being any lack of powder within. Oh, may God keep us, for if he leaves us we want no devil to destroy us, we shall prove devils to ourselves, we shall need no tempters except the dire lusting after evil which now conceals itself so craftily within our own bosom.
"And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." ~ Genesis 5:21-24There are two notable dispositions in the life of Enoch: before and after he begat Methuselah. The Bible teaches that he was sixty-five years old when his son was born, and after that he walked with God. Therefore the first disposition is that he did not walk with God in the first sixty-five years of his life; the second then being that he walked with God for the remaining three-hundred years before his death. The significance of his latter disposition will be dealt with in this article. In Genesis 5 the phrase "Enoch walked with God" is repeated twice. (This repetition, however, is not verbatim in the original language. The Hebrew text in the original MS includes the word â€˜with' in the first rendering of this phrase, possibly offering a clue as to the depth of this relationship he had with â€˜elohiym). This is significant in that it is unique throughout the entire Bible. The only other person who we know "walked with God" was Noah, and to him was this tribute ascribed to but once (Gen. 6:9). I'm not implying that repetition is indicative of a â€˜closer,' or â€˜better' walk, but just that it is noteworthy. It is because of this small but significant detail that I chose to write about Enoch as on of my favorite peoples from the history of the Old Testament. Part 1: Enoch the Prophet Before examining the latter disposition in Enoch's life, it will be important to note the meaning of his and his son's names. Enoch fittingly means â€˜dedicated', while Methuselah means â€˜his death shall bring'; or â€˜when he dies, judgment.' Of Methuselah's name, Matthew Henry writes, "it was fair warning to a careless world, a long time before the judgment came." We know that in the year that Methuselah died came the flood. It would be reasonable to assume that God foreknew he would be taking his dedicated servant Enoch early (Gen. 5:24), and left a prophetic message bound within the name of his progeny. This aptly illustrates a mere fragment of the boundless wisdom of God, and of His sovereignty. The prophetic naming of Enoch's son and the subsequent change in his disposition are not simply coincidental. It would appear that they are somehow linked in implication.So with this knowledge of the coming catastrophe through his son, what did Enoch do for three-hundred years? We can't look any further into Enoch without examining what is said of him in the New Testament epistles: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." ~ Jude 1:14, 15 From Jude we learn that Enoch was a genuine prophet of God. The Holy Spirit sealed this information about Enoch into the Word of God through the writer of this epistle and that is all we need to know. Jewish legends aside, it is clear that the early church had at least an oral tradition about the prophecy of Enoch, and that it was important enough to God to be included in His holy book. And what was the prophecy? In the context of these verses from Jude, we understand that he prophesied that Jesus, with a multitude of His saints, is coming and they will execute judgment upon all of the ungodly men of the world. In Enoch's day, only seven generations from Adam, he was proclaiming the coming of a Messiah and the judgment on the wicked. His prophecy applied both to the antediluvian society in which he lived, and to the ages to come. These prophecies set the tone for the three-hundred years of Enoch's walk with God. They may be exemplary of his preaching in an increasingly evil and God-hating world. One would have to be quite intimate with God to continue in this work. Perhaps this life was passed on to Methuselah. Perhaps he trained his son for those three-hundred before he was, as the epistle to the Hebrews expounds, translated. Part 2: Enoch Walked With God Hebrews 11:5 - "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." The first prophecy of the Bible is in Gen. 3:15. The seed of the woman, Christ Jesus, will crush the head of Satan. This speaks of the hope of the Savior to come and his breaking of the curse brought on by Adam. Enoch's prophecy concerning the Messiah, as recorded in Jude, fits as the Bible's second prophecy (it would have been uttered during the 300 years after the birth of Methuselah; a time when we have no other recorded prophecies). This speaks of the judgment of the coming Messiah on the ungodly. Enoch, a righteous man, would have to have known the prophecy of Gen. 3:15 through oral tradition. We can assume this because it was spoken by God to Adam and pertained directly to Adam's lineage. Enoch, being only the seventh generation from Adam, would indeed have clung to the very words of God as they had been passed down through his contemporaries and forefathers. Some time after the birth of Methuselah, Enoch began walking with God. Undoubtedly he, knowing this prophecy of the coming Savior, and having had received himself a prophecy of God of this Savior's coming judgment, began to draw nearer to God than any of his forefathers had. The book of Hebrews tells us two more things about Enoch that pertain to his relationship with God: 1. In the book of Hebrews we read, "By faith Enoch was translated..." By faith in what? I believe this is tells of his pure, unrelenting faith in God which included everything God had spoken to man at that time. He had faith in the three prophecies of the eternal God that had come down to man thus far: the coming savior (the Lord had spoken this to Adam), the prophecy that God had revealed to him of the judgment of the coming Savior and His saints, and the prophecy of the coming catastrophe spoken of through the name of his first son, Methuselah. 2. Also in the book of Hebrews we read, "...for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." We know from the verse in Hebrews that follows this that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Enoch's life was a living testimony of faith and that he diligently sought after God, the rewarder of faith. From this we can also ascertain that Enoch must have had thoughts which were in alignment with the moral nature of God. Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" It is absolutely clear that Enoch was a man who walked with God, and in so walking with God he was in complete agreement with whatever God had to say. Enoch was surely in agreement with God's coming judgment on the wicked world that he lived in. Conclusion The Bible says that Enoch was translated, or, taken up to be with God. Little is known about this man of God except from what a few verses in Genesis, Hebrews and James tell us. However Enoch's testimony, as extrapolated through diligently studying the Word of God, reveals a great deal about this man. "He walked with God," it says twice about Enoch. He prophesied. He listened. He had faith. Although not always, because it is clear that for the first sixty-five years of his life he walked apart from God. Then, after a revelation from God in the prophetic naming of Enoch's son, we can imagine that he seems to put the pieces together: The coming Savior who will crush the head of the serpent; the coming catastrophe that will follow Methuselah's death; the newly revealed prophecy of God of the coming judgment of this Savior along with ten thousand saints. "And Enoch walked with God: And he was not; for God took him." His faith is counted among the faith of those who we regard as the patriarchs. It is a faith worth examining, for we live in an era not unlike that of Enoch, just before the flood. The kingdom of God is at hand, and we could be taken up at any moment.Able to write to you by the grace of God,Aaron EveringhamRomans 12:1,2 Aaron Everingham and his wife Brittany live in Edmonton, Canada, and by the loving grace of God they were saved through the ministry of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in June of 2007. He is currently preparing for a life of serving the Lord as a pastor of a local New Testament Baptist Church. For more articles like this one please visit his blog at Aharown Qadowsh.
Powered by Ekklesia-Online