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Friday, February 26, 2016

Counting Heads

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Some years back I followed a discussion on the internet that was addressing the modern success of churches.  As I remember it was Baptist people discussing the issue.  The interaction began with a premise of not counting the people who attend our church but counting the people who don't attend.

I admit I was skeptical of the underlying premise.  In either scenario the success of the church would be determined by counting heads.  I realize that pastoring a small church places me at a disadvantage to question such reasoning.  Certainly my motivation is subject to being called into question.   I can live with that, and I understand it.  But God is my witness.

I understand the tendency to fall back to counting heads.  I do it!   Numbers are an easy way to quantify what is happening.  The problem is that numbers really tell us very little.  It is one of the least important things to consider.  It is a lazy way to make an assessment.  We have had slightly larger numbers before and things were not well.  We have had slightly smaller numbers before and things were not well.

When the focus becomes numbers and how many attend or don't attend becomes the standard by which one judges the success of their church priorities can tend to become skewed.  It is dangerous when we begin to ask ourselves what we can do to increase the numbers.  And it is a much different question than, What can we do to get the gospel to the lost?

The first question is not, in my estimation, a valid or wise question.  To ask this question introduces the tendency to pragmatism.  If it increases numbers it is good, if it does not or decreases numbers it is bad.  Trading principle for pragmatism in spiritual pursuits can be adorned in such a way that no objections can be raised.  "Don't you care for the lost?"  "Don't you care about young people?"  "Don't you want to reach the modern generation?"

I remember one of the participants indicating we should focus on two things, What is God blessing, and what are we good at doing?

What does this blessing look like?  The word blessing can often be a synonym for success.  How do we determine that?  By counting heads?  How do we determine what we are good at doing?  Do the results determine what we are good at doing?  How do we judge the results?  By counting?

There was some discussion of our "percentages rising".  The implication seemed to be if our percentages are rising then God is blessing and we have found what we are good at doing.  And, conversely if our percentages are not rising then God is not blessing and we are not good at what we are doing.

At one point it was mentioned in relation to a new ministry that the kids loved it.  Obviously that is not necessarily a bad thing.  But it it not necessarily a good thing either.  If the world loves what we are doing in church are we doing what God wants us to do in church?  Goats don't have as discerning an appetite as sheep do!

This really strikes at the heart of one of my core ministry principles.  We are not to be making huge efforts to get the lost to church but rather making tremendous effort to get the church to the lost.  The commission is not to bring them to church, it is to go reach them where they are.  Don't get me wrong I'm not against lost people coming to church.  But we hazard the risk of running aground if we cater the ministry to natural men who receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness unto him.  Remember, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.


A Fragil Assessment

Some of history's most inspired ministries were not successful based on a head count.

Noah preached for at least 120 years only to win his family.

Isaiah was told before he got started that he would not have much fruit.  He prophesied anyway, because that is what he was called to do.

Jeremiah did not have many converts.  The nation did not repent.  Jeremiah himself was abused, he was the weeping prophet.  Was Jeremiah a success?

The Holy Ghost in the inspired record rarely referenced number of congregants or visitors or any kind of head count at all related to churches in the New Testament.  The almost universal silence on this issue seems to speak volumes.  After you get past Acts nine there is hardly anything said about numbers in the early churches.  We simply do not know the size of the congregations.  We have reason to believe that Ephesus may have been a larger congregation because they had a plurality of elders, but even then we can't know for sure.  The seven churches of Asia in Revelations have nothing said about their size.  Many different issues are addressed but not the size of the congregations.  In all my reading of Baptist history I have encountered very little emphasis on the size of the congregations.  That is up until recently.  Issac Backus' book on the history of the colonies with special reference to the sect called Baptist actually referenced the size of many of the congregations.  Most of them were small.  The largest was, I believe, about 125.  I'm guessing in the early churches and the churches of history they had an idea of the size of congregations they attended but little is made of it.  There is more attention given to doctrinal soundness, relationship issues, practical living, and being a witness.


A FRANK ASSESSMENT

Rather than concentrate on numbers maybe our focus should be on other areas.


How spiritual is my church?
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.


How holy is my church?
1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.


How faithfully do the members attend services?
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
If we want to use numbers as a measurement let us compare our Sunday morning attendance with our Wednesday evening attendance.


How much brotherly love is being practiced?
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:


How much ministry is being done?
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
If we want to use numbers a better gauge might be what percentage of our people are active in taking the gospel to the lost?  Do our people only know how to invite people to church or do they know how to bring people to Jesus?

How much giving is being done?
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.


In my estimation these are a lot better questions and tell us more about a church than Sunday morning attendance figures.  It is not about counting people but cultivating them for Christ's sake.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Counting heads, as a rule, is probably better left in the arena of cattle than congregants in a Baptist churches.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hard Truths

Galatians 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

The gospel is good news.  The good news grows out of some very hard truths.

C. H. Spurgeon said, "If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth."


Salvation always has been and always will be on the Lord’s terms.  We don’t get to heaven by believing what we want to, that is a sure fire way to get to hell.  We must believe and accept what God says in his word.  Admittedly there are some hard truths to digest for the natural man.

Paul alludes to these hard truths by referencing the offence of the cross!  The cross has become a mere symbol of Christianity.  Everyone wants a cross hanging around their neck, affixed to the walls of their homes, afforded a prominent location in the sanctuary, and in general displayed as some kind of religious trinket.  Many people express devotion to the cross without even understanding the substance of the cross.  About the most people can tell you is that Jesus died on a cross.  Maybe that he died for sinners on the cross.  But yet even as they speak the words they fail to appreciate the gravity of them.  The substance has become as clich├ęd as the object!  A good part of the religious world even likes their crosses with Jesus still hanging on them!

Then of course, our evangelistic zeal languishes because we are loath to present disagreeable truth.  We love the lost but not to the degree that we are willing to speak disagreeable words to them, even if those disagreeable words are what they most need to hear.

Ignoring them does not change reality.  If the doctor diagnoses you with cancer how would you feel if he came to you in your dying breath and said I knew this would happen, but it is so disagreeable to tell people they have cancer.  It surely is!  But part of a doctor’s responsibility is to tell us disagreeable truth.  If a doctor were to conduct himself in such a manner we would think him to be among the cruelest of humans.  When it comes to our health we want to know the truth no matter how disagreeable.  When it comes to our health doctors have an obligation to tell us the truth no matter how disagreeable.  However when it comes to spiritual health people bristle at the messenger and consequently often times the messengers temper the message.

The cross, even though it is good news, requires us to proclaim and embrace some hard truths!

1 Cor. 1:18 – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I want to consider some of the hard truths that pave the road of good news to the cross.

Man Is Completely Ruined

Man in his natural state has nothing good in himself.

Nearly everyone believes that everybody has a little good in them.  They have a light within.  They have a spark of goodness.  They are not all that bad.  We had a President once that made reference to our better angels.  Makes for a good speech but lousy theology!  I am convinced people love to believe this about others because it would by default make it true of them also.  The problem is the Bible teaches no such thing!  It is agreeable but it is wrong.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

Jesus said, "Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat."

The disagreeable truth is that there is nothing good in the natural man.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Psalm 14:2-3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Man Can Do Nothing About It

Man convinces himself he can do something to gain favor with God.  I'll get baptized.  I'll do better.  I'll go to bible study.  I'll quit cussing, drinking, and using tobacco.  I'll get married.  I'll give to charity.  I'll confess my sins.  I'll believe in Jesus.

The way this "believing in Jesus" is so often presented is that people end up trusting their believing rather than Jesus and that will not save.  All the believing in the world will not save.  Jesus saves! We believe lots of things.  There is nothing remarkable about believing.  It is trusting the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that saves.  Men are saved because of what they believe, or better yet, in whom they believe!

The disagreeable truth is that there is nothing a man can do to gain favor with God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.


Man Must Repent

To hear many today you would think the bible teaches that nothing has to change for a man to be right with God.  It is the whole "come as you are" mentality.  Why does this even have to be said?  I think often times what is meant is stay as your are.  Jesus said, "Repent and believe the gospel."  Repenting is not come as you are but come repenting!  I'm constantly seeing things like, "You are important to God for who you are."  This reeks of arrogance!  I don't think people consider how some of the pithy sayings diminish the infinite grace and mercy of God.  He didn't save important people.  He saved sinners, rebels, and transgressors.  So much gospel preaching has become man centered instead of God centered!  Because we want them to come as they are instead of commanding all men everywhere to repent we have had to accommodate people with contemporary worship and seeker friendly services.  Often what we are trying to do is contrary to what God is trying to do.

Psalm 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Then of course you have the whole self-esteem, self-love, self-image cult.  A doctrine in which we are encouraged to love who we are, have a positive self-image, and maintain a high level of self-esteem.  This is not a message that is compatible with repentance. When the bible calls people to repentance it is premised on the reality that we are not right.  That we need to be changed. Repentance implies change.  Self-love implies everything is OK.  It is agreeable but wrong!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

All have come short!  You might love yourself but you have come short.  You might have a healthy self-esteem but you have come short.

People have been conditioned to revolt against anything or anyone that would demand change, even God.  Modern ministry has mutated away from sinners needing to repent to we need to change the way we minister to them.  The problem is that the bible teaches no such thing.  It is agreeable but wrong!

The disagreeable truth is that men everywhere must repent!

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 
Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.


Man Arrives At The Cross

Having negotiated the stepping stones of disagreeable truth we arrive at the foot of the cross.

We arrive there as humbled sinners.  We do not come saying, "I'm not that bad."  We arrive acknowledging we are completely ruined sinners.

We arrive there as helpless sinners.  We do not come saying, "I can do something."  We arrive acknowledging that we are needy sinners.

We arrive there as repenting sinners.  We do not come saying, "I'm OK."  We arrive acknowledging we need to be changed.

When our humbled hearts look up we see the glories of redemptive love!

We see a sin-bearer!
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

We see a sacrifice!
Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

We see a substitute!
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We see a Savior!
Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.


Embracing the hard truths leads to the good news of the gospel! The cross ceases to be a piece of art, or jewelry, or a religious symbol and becomes, because of what took place there, "the power of God unto salvation."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Candidate For A Miracle

Luke 13:10-13 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

I don’t know that you have ever thought about it but no one really wants to be a candidate for a miracle!  If you need a miracle then that usually means something is very wrong.  However, that being said I would be surprised if most of us did not need a miracle of some kind in our lives.  It could be the restoration of a broken relationship, the healing of an infirmity, or the provision for a great need.

We think about miracles in the context of deliverance but we don’t always get the miracle in that context.  Sometimes our miracle is in the form of sustaining grace.  We want deliverance but should learn to be satisfied with grace, recognizing that deliverance is always a possibility.

This passage focuses our attention on deliverance and a woman who was a candidate for a miracle.  This woman does not appear to have been seeking a miracle of deliverance.  Although she was not seeking a miracle of deliverance she was a candidate for one and in the end she received one.

VS: 10 - THE PRIORITY OF JESUS

Jesus was in the Synagogue.  Jesus regularly attended Synagogue.  We might well take him as our pattern for church attendance!  Jesus understood this was a place for ministering the word.  Jesus understood this was a place that people would come to be ministered to from the word.  I don’t think you would ever hear Jesus say, I don’t have to go to Synagogue to worship the Father.
In fact it says that he was in “one” of the Synagogues.  Most towns and village in Israel had a Synagogue.  So wherever Jesus found himself on the Sabbath he could be found in the Synagogue.

Jesus was teaching.  It is important to remember this was Jesus’ main priority during his life.  Teaching and preaching truth. He went to the Synagogue faithfully because it provided him a platform for teaching the word of God.  The miracles of Jesus were not an end in themselves but rather were the means to an end.

John 10:25   Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
John 10:37-38   If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
John 5:36   But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
John 3:2   The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
John 14:11   Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

The miracles of Jesus was for the purpose of validating his claims. This is the very reason why everyone does not receive a miracle of deliverance.  The Lord’s purpose is not to do miracles but to teach. The same holds true today.  When miracles serve that end then they occur, when they don’t then they don’t occur.


VS: 11 - THE PRESENCE OF A WOMAN

And, behold, there was a woman.  A woman was there.  The  impression is that the woman was not drawling attention to herself.  She was not clamoring for the Lord’s attention.  She was just there.The impression I am left with is that she was there because, like Jesus, that is where she was on the Sabbath.  As we will see she could certainly use a miracle but she doesn’t seem to have come seeking one.  Could it be that she had learned what the Apostle Paul was to learn some years later; in whatever state she was to be content?  Though she may not have been seeking a miracle she was certainly a candidate for one!

Do you need a miracle today?  It might do us well to just do what we are supposed to do, be where we are supposed to be, act like we are supposed to act, serve like we are supposed to serve, trust like we are supposed to trust and leave the miracle of deliverance to God.  It is always a good thing and a miracle of sorts itself to, in the midst of our need, be where we need to be!

We have unfortunately developed into a culture that focuses on what it believes it needs rather than being what we need to be.  In fact we often excuse ourselves of being what we need to be because of some need going unattended to in our lives.  Here is an unnamed woman whose memory should be pressed upon our conscience.

The woman had a spirit of infirmity.  This woman had the breath of feebleness!  In verse 16 Jesus describes the woman as having been bound by Satan.  In the most literal sense this would indicate devil possession being the occasion of the feebleness.  The overall impression does not convince me of this conclusion.  In a broader sense it could have reference to the fact that the devil had used this infirmity to hinder the woman.  That Satan had actually been the perpetrator of this infirmity.  Much like we see in the account of Job and all the havoc the devil created in his life with God’s permission.  It was a trying condition.

The woman had been so troubled for 18 years.  This was not a short lived affliction.  Remember trouble can be bad not just because of their intensity but because of their longevity.  Small problems that won’t go away can become a heavy burden.  This was a big deal.  How long have you been troubled?  Three, seven, twelve, eighteen years?  Remember the man at the pool of Bethesda?  He had suffered with his infirmity for 38 years!  If our troubles are long standing we should rejoice that at least we have been standing in grace!  We must always remember that God allows suffering to continue for some greater good!  To complain too loudly or too often is to express impatience with God.

The woman was bowed together.  The woman was stooped altogether, she was completely overcome.  This woman bore the physical characteristics of a hard life.  Many a year of suffering had elapsed in this woman’s life.  I couldn’t help but think how many people though not bowed down physically are certainly bowed down emotionally and spiritually.  On the inside they feel the daily burden of their struggle.  On the inside they feel the daily pain of their disappointment.  On the inside they feel the daily challenge of their problem.  On the inside they feel the daily lashing of their temptation.  They are, on the inside, bowed together!  Only occasionally do their troubles seep through to the outside.  The rest of the time they bear it silently before God and possibly a select few confidants.

The woman could in no wise lift herself up.  She was helpless.To be helpless is not to be hopeless.  The devil wants to convince us that the two are undeniable linked.  But remember he is a liar and the father of it!

Not only was her problem serious, not only was it long standing, but she could not overcome it in her own strength.  This woman had it bad on all accounts.  She had an intense problem.  She had a long-standing problem.  She had a problem which rendered her helpless.  She needed a miracle worker!  Thank God there was one available.  She was, and had been, a candidate for a miracle of deliverance!

VS: 12-13b - THE PERCEPTION OF JESUS

Jesus saw her.  Let me just say this.  Jesus sees you!  It does not seem that this woman came to be seen, but nonetheless she was seen.  Jesus knows your burden, trial, affliction, disappointment. Jesus knows how long you have suffered under you heavy weight.  Jesus knows there is nothing you can do about it.  We should take comfort in the fact that he knows!  He watching!  He cares!

1 Peter 5:7   Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Jesus called her.

Jesus called her!  She didn’t call Jesus, Jesus called her.  Just because he did not call with deliverance to day does not mean he will not call with deliverance tomorrow.  Deliverance is distributed according to his divine wisdom!  Do we really want it any other way!

Jesus is calling you in your adversity and trial.  He may be calling you to say, “My grace is sufficient”.  Even in death he does not leave us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me" is the encouragement of scripture.

Jesus spoke to her.  Jesus speaks to us today through his word. When we find ourselves in need of a miracle what we really need at a more fundamental level is a word from Jesus.  That word can be found in the Holy Bible!

Psalms 119:67   Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
Psalms 119:71   It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalms 119:75   I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Psalms 119:107   I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.

Jesus touched her.  He laid his hands on her.  Imagine if you will if the woman had allowed her need to keep her from being where she needed to be she would not have been touched by Jesus.  Her needs therefore were met in part because she was where she needed to be. She was doing what she needed to do.

Jesus delivered her.  And immediately she was made straight.
She woke up that morning a bent over cripple.  She went to bed that night having spent the day standing erect!  What a difference a day can make when the miracle worker gets involved.  The miracle worker does not need hours, day, weeks, or months much less years.  He speaks, he touches and it is done!  He can do in an instant what you cannot do for yourself.  He can provide for that need.  He can heal that body.  He can change that heart.  Eighteen years of suffering does not necessarily require eighteen years of rehabilitation.

VS: 13c - THE PRAISE OF THE WOMAN

The woman glorified God!  Is not this the ultimate goal of Jesus' teaching and his miracles?  To glorify God.  Great deliverances bring forth great praise.  It should matter not whether the deliverance comes in the trial or from the trial.  The rest of her life was spent telling people about the time she went to the Synagogue and Jesus was there!

When we find ourselves bowed down let us remember there is a miracle worker who can deliver and will provide grace!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Politics: It Matters

Proverbs 29:4 The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you” – Pericles

Politics is not the most important issue but it is an important issue.  This is especially true in a nation where our forefathers have acknowledged that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.  We have choices to make.  We vote.  We vote for representatives, we vote, at times, for ballot initiatives, we have the freedom of speech to discuss and debate policy and to search out forums to make our voice heard and exert our influence.  We have the right to peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances.

Information is power!  There are people who vote that have no idea how government works, principles of economics, and no understanding of current issues.  I fully realize that it is impossible for most to stay abreast of every single policy decision.  The difficulty should not turn us away from making an effort to understand and educate ourselves.

A Presidential election is less than a year away.  The decisions are not waiting to be made this summer.  The process of choosing a President has begun.  Presidential elections by their very nature garner more attention.  Some people probably think that is the only vote we ever have?

It doesn’t matter who gets elected!  Of course it does.  It especially matter when it comes to the President because he has the opportunity to use the “bully pulpit” to set tone and drive agendas in everything from spending to national security to race relations to military preparedness, to social issues like abortion and gay marriage.  Just since I have been voting for President at least two men have been elected who have had a huge impact on the American experience.  Ronald Reagan changed the course of this nation.  Barack Obama has changed the course of this nation.  If Mitt Romney had won would we have abandoned our support for Israel, negotiated a deal with a nation that is sworn to the destruction of Israel and the United States, had a President that supported gay marriage and thought Jenner was courageous, and supported abortion, and traded one traitor for four terrorist, etc. . . .  It most assuredly does matter!

It’s too early to pay attention!  Football season is almost over.  What football fan sits out the first half or three-quarters of the season saying it’s too early to pay attention?  Or who only watches the last quarter of a football game claiming through the first three quarters it’s too early to pay attention?  Football does not matter!  Politics do!  Who wins the super bowl tomorrow will not change one thing about your life.  Who wins the White House and Congress this year will change many things about your life for the better or the worse!  It will affect your paycheck, it will affect what you pay for energy, it will affect how your kids are educated, it will affect your safety, it will affect your civil rights, it will affect your health care, and it will affect the social issues of the day!

I’m just going to preach the gospel!  Well, I’m not; I’m going to devote my whole effort to politics????  (sarcasm)  It is not an either or proposition.  Gospel preaching, yea, kingdom work is our priority.  We kid ourselves if we think the earthly kingdom we live in has no bearing on the spiritual kingdom we labor in.  The Lord Jesus said in Mark 12:17, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.”  I’m just going to preach the gospel except when I’m hunting or fishing, or pursing some recreation, or watching TV, or reading a book.  I’m not against any of these things per say.  But don’t say to me, I’m just going to preach the gospel as a way to disengage from the political realities of the day.  Politics is more important than hunting, fishing, pursuing some recreation, watching TV, or reading a book.

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber” – Plato

Politics is the second most important thing we can be engaged in.  Spiritual work is eternal work that fact alone makes it the most important.  Politics is shaping government for future generations this fact alone makes it worthy of our attention.  To disengage is to abandon the future of the country and the liberties of our children and grandchildren to the ungodly!

The Sovereignty of God Does Not Relieve Man of Responsibility

We readily embrace this reality when it comes to evangelism.   We reject the idea that God’s sovereignty relieves us of the responsibility of preaching the gospel to sinners.   Likewise we should reject the idea that God’s sovereignty relives us of the responsibility of being informed about the political realities of our day.

There can be little doubt that God is sovereign in respect to the rulers and nations of this world.

Psalm 75:7 - But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Daniel 2:21 - And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
Daniel 4:17 - This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.


There are biblical examples of men who took responsibility and acted politically.

2 Kings 11:1-16 - Jehoiada and Jehosheba
1 Kings 19:15-17 - Elijah sent to anoint kings over Syria and Israel.

The Judges of Israel - They did not just accept the status-quo of the oppressive kings under whom they found themselves in servitude.

Suffice it to say that the bible is full of examples of people who took an active role in the political process of their day.  Some speaking boldly to the issues of the day.  Others taking active steps to alter the politics of their day.  The bottom line is we have a responsibility to do the right thing, even in politics, and eschew the idea that politics is not something with which we need to concern ourselves.

Politics Matters

The Bible tells us so!

Proverbs 16:10-15  It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
Proverbs 31:4 - It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Proverbs 14:35 - The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.
Proverbs 19:12 - The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.
Proverbs 20:2,8,26 – One who judges based on a personal sense of right and wrong.
Proverbs 25:5 - Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
Proverbs 29:4 - The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
Proverbs 29:14 - The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
Proverbs 28:16 - The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
Ecclesiastes 8:4 - Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?

Experience tells us so!

FDR left an impression on this country with his New Deal.
LBJ left an impression on this country with his war on poverty.
Nixon left an impression on this country with Watergate and the withdrawal from Viet Nam.
Regan left an impression on this country with his domestic economic policy and his aggressive foreign policy.
Obama is leaving an impression on this country through healthcare advancing a liberal social agenda and an abandonment of historical allies in favor of declared enemies.

Leaders Matter

Exodus 18:21 - Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
Acts 6:3 - Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Nehemiah 7:2 - That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.

While I am not a huge fan of Charles Finney from the 19th century I think he is right on here:

“The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics. No, I do not believe in that. But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson, or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave, or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. . . . Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take.”

God have mercy on the United States of America!