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In the lead-up to next month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, more than 300 churches are planning to show a pre-recorded campaign video featuring Vice President Kamala Harris in their morning worship service. In the video—which will be shown in predominantly African American churches—Harris encourages congregants to vote for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s former governor, who is in a tight and closely-watched race with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.In the video, Harris says, “In 2020, more Virginians voted than ever before. And because you did, you helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House. This year, I know that you will send Terry McAuliffe back to Richmond.” The vice president concludes her message by outlining why she believes congregants should vote for McAuliffe and asking them to vote after church.Although CNN reported on the campaign advertisement this past weekend, coverage of churches’ plans to show the video was relatively sparse. But besides some social media discussion that questioned the propriety of playing campaign videos during a church service, the story appears to have faded from the news. However, the incident raises some important questions regarding churches and campaigns that Christians and especially pastors should consider. First, Harris’ campaign video likely runs afoul of the Johnson Amendment to the IRS code. According to IRS regulations, churches are not allowed to engage in direct political campaign activity. Under the section “Charities, Churches and Politics” on their website, the IRS explains: Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”To be clear, FRC is on record opposing the Johnson Amendment’s application to a pastor’s sermons because no government entity has the right to censor speech, whether in or out of the pulpit. That is almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment, but the IRS has not brought an enforcement action against a church sufficient to produce a successful constitutional challenge in court. However, it is ironic that after months of issuing dire warnings about “Christian Nationalism” and the dangers of conflating religion and politics, the left is now actively engaging in the very campaign tactics they decry when practiced by those on the right. In fact, it is the height of hypocrisy to fuss about the “separation of church and state” and say conservative pastors should not engage the political process when they promote a campaign-style video designed to drum up support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in churches.But the controversy over the Harris video raises important questions: to what extent and in what ways is it appropriate for churches to engage in politics? How should pastors guide their congregations through elections? Before answering these questions, it is helpful to recall some truths about the church. Theologian Gregg Allison defines the church as the “people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.” While the universal church consists of every Christian since Pentecost, local churches, led by elders and deacons, “possess and pursue purity and unity, exercise church disciple, develop strong connections with other churches, and celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” In other words, a local church is a congregation of believers who have covenanted together and are committed to the regular means of grace, including the regular preaching and teaching of Scripture, observance of the ordinances, and fellowship.In terms of purpose, the church exists to fulfill several important spiritual purposes. Theologian Wayne Grudem breaks down these purposes in terms of ministry to God, ministry to believers, and ministry to the world. First, when it comes to God, the church’s purpose is to worship him. Second, the church has an obligation to nurture the faith of its members and build them up in maturity (Col. 1:28). This primarily occurs through the regular preaching and teaching of the Bible. Third, churches are called to evangelize the lost and engage in mercy ministry (such as helping the poor and needy).Although most people (including many Christians) are not accustomed to thinking deeply about the church, it is crucial for Christians to think biblically about the church. To this end, Scripture employs several helpful metaphors and images to describe the church. The church is a “family” (1 Tim. 5:1-2, Eph. 3:14), branches on a vine (John 15:5), an olive tree (Rom. 11:17-24), and a building (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul refers to the church as the “bride of Christ” (Eph. 5:32, 2 Cor. 11:2). The “body of Christ” is another familiar metaphor that Paul uses to express the close relationship between believers in the church and their relationship with Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 2:19). Paul, while addressing the Ephesian elders, cautioned, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). For Paul, the church is the most significant reality on earth because Jesus purchased it with His own blood. Accordingly, those tasked with its leadership must recognize the weighty responsibility entrusted to them.In short, because the church is the blood-bought bride of God tasked with the responsibility of bearing witness to the saving news of the gospel, I believe churches should carefully scrutinize how much time is spent on topics outside the worship of God and the equipping of the saints through the word of God. Of course, this does not mean that churches or church leaders should withdraw from politics. Far from it. While “politics” carries with it a certain image, the word, properly understood, actually gets at how groups of humans organize their affairs. In this sense, politics is intimately connected to community—how we relate to other people—and is inextricable from the concept of loving one’s neighbor, which Christians are called to do. Further, politics implicates issues of moral importance to all Christians.As I’ve explained in “Biblical Principles for Political Engagement,” voting is a matter of stewardship, and Christians should seek to vote in a way that honors God and advances the wellbeing of their neighbor. For pastors, there is additional responsibility. I believe churches ought to actively ensure that their members are educated on the issues. Pastors should preach expositionally through books of the Bible, ensuring they preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. Preaching through Scripture will have the effect of informing the conscience of congregations and help church members think faithfully about a host of public policy issues. Moreover, I think it is appropriate for churches to encourage good voting stewardship by conducting voter registration drives and distributing voter guides among their members. Of course, wisdom and discernment are needed when it comes to how pastors think about politics and disciple their people. Conservative pastors should be aware of the potential for hypocrisy when liberals criticize them for engaging in politics while playing campaign-style videos in their own churches. Yet regardless of their individual judgments, pastors should be free to speak. The First Amendment protects speech, and the Johnson Amendment and IRS guidance have historically had a chilling and stifling effect on pastors’ speech. At the end of the day, even though churches should have greater freedom and flexibility constitutionally, they should carefully and prayerfully consider how to steward their freedom well. Christians should engage politically, but that engagement must be done biblically, which is why churches (and particularly pastors) need to be wise and discerning, especially during election season.
6 Magnitude Quake Hits Under Mediterranean Rattling Israeli Coast An earthquake underneath the eastern Mediterranean Sea close to the Isle of Crete on Tuesday morning (19th) was felt in parts ... Read MoreThe post News Digest — 10/19/21 appeared first on The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Sources told Morning Star News that police in northern India arrested two Christians on false charges last month and beat them in custody while reviling them for their faith.
Sources told Morning Star News that police in northern India arrested two Christians on false charges last month and beat them in custody while reviling them for their faith.
Temple Baptist Church - 10-17-2021John 14:1-6 Introduction: My message this morning will be simple in content and yet profound in practical application. There will be no great “depths of theology,” but rather a simple, down-to-earth message geared to help each of us. A. I believe that all of God's people, at one time or another-in one way or the other, have troubled hearts. 1. Moses, a man who spoke to God face to face, was troubled. Numbers 11:11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 2. David, a man after God's own heart, was troubled. 1 Samuel 27:1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. 3. John the Baptist, the greatest preacher born of woman, was troubled. Luke 7:19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 4. Paul, the greatest missionary who ever lived, was troubled. 2 Corinthians 7:5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 5. The list could go on but I think we all get the message. There are times when each of us has a troubled heart. B. One of the signs of the last days (I know that this verse is speaking of the Tribulation Period, and I am simply making application) is “Men's hearts failing them for fear.” With great knowledge comes great fear. With our ability to see or hear the news in a moment's time lends to more and more worries. When I was a boy, people did not know what was going on around the world like they do now. C. The number one killer in America today is stress related problems. God's people are not exempt, and I know of even preachers who have taken their own lives when their fears were not handled properly. People are different and their areas of concern are often diverse. D. Some people are strong in certain areas while having weakness in others. We can have great faith in one area of live and then have a trembling soul in another. This makes it easy for us to indict others when they become troubled or worried while we worry about our problems in other areas. 1. Fearful Concerning Our Health2. Fearful Concerning Our Finances3. Fearful Concerning Our Families4. Fearful Concerning Our Future5. Fearful Concerning Our Foes6. Fearful Concerning Our Failures E. The key to peace of heart could be summed up in one word: TRUST! Trust is a big word! Troubled and fearful are the exact opposites of trust. God's Word says much about trust and we will tie those verses to those concerning fears. F. Fear is a hard taskmaster that can both control and ruin the lives of God's people. Even those who have placed into the Lord's hands the safe keeping of their souls have concerns and fears. Fear and faith are polar opposites and cannot cohabitate. Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable-and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God. G. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was troubled about “many things.” Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. H. Some people worry about not having anything to worry about while others live in a more peaceful existence. One of the main culprits in this area of worry and distress is found in Psalms 25:17, which reads, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.” (Notice that the troubles were enlarged in the heart. Not that the problems were enlarged for they remained constant but they became enlarged when the heart became troubled and fearful. The more you worry about something the worse it seems to get.) J. God's Word commands us not to worry - Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 1. There Is The Certainty Of Troubled Hearts – “be troubled” - 2 Corinthians 7:5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. (Notice I said, “The certainty of troubled hearts.” Everyone is plagued with this problem. Even God's men are troubled in heart at times.) 2. There Is The Choice Of Troubled Hearts – “Let not” - John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (It is simply up to us when and how much we worry! We can either have a trusting heart or a troubled one.) 3. There Is The Cause Of Troubled Hearts – “if it were not so” (Troubled hearts are a result of unbelief and mistrust.) Mark 4:35-38 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? a. They Relied Upon Their Own Strength – “so that it was now full.” (They rowed and bailed until all hope was gone before awaking the Lord.) b. They Failed To Realize Who Was With Them – “Master” (Dear Lord, you got us into trouble again!) 1) The Realization Of His Omnipresence2) The Realization Of His Omniscience3) The Realization Of His Omnipotence c. They Forgot Who They Were – “carest thou not” (You had better believe that He cares! Oh, yes He cares!) d. They Forgot His Promise – “Let us pass over unto the other side.” 4. There Is The Cure Of Troubled Hearts – “ye believe in God, believe also in me” a. Trust In The Lord - Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Psalms 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.Psalms 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. b. Rest In The Lord - Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. c. Commit Unto The Lord - Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Job 23:10-11 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
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