Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!
     On this date in 1517 Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of the church, officially starting the Reformation.  There have always been people who were justified by faith and strived to live righteously, but, at the time of Luther much of Europe was engulfed in Catholicism.  Luther realized that many of the church's teachings and practices were unbiblical.  The Church sold indulgences and believed in consubstantiation, but Luther saw that men are justified by faith alone not by sprinkling or some rite.  He had 95 points that he believed the Church needed to examine so they could reform to be more in line with the Scriptures.
     Martin Luther was a good guy, but he was imperfect. The problem is that some of his followers became Lutherans and followed his teaching and practices rather than standing on Sola Scriptura and continuing to reform their society.  As a result, many of the Lutherans today have sadly regressed to almost a modified Catholicism.  Some people, however, did continue to apply God's Word and reform thier Churches, families, and states. 
     Many of those in America tried to build a nation and culture based on the Scriptures, which was radically different from thier mother countries.  They preached sermons on just about any current issue of their day, including polotics.  About 3 days ago I got a 2 volume set of Political Sermons of the American Founding Era.  In it there was a sermon preached by Charles Chauncy on May 27, 1747, here is a short quote from that sermon -
     "The advice which Jethro gave Moses is here proper, 'Thou shalt provid out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.'  These are the men, men of understanding, courage and resolution; men of integrity, fidelity and honesty; men of piety and substantial religion; men of a noble generosity, setting them above the temptations, which those of narrow mindes and selfish views, are easily drawn away by and enticed: These, I say, are the proper men to fill the various posts in the state.  And it would be injustice to the public, for the persons concerned in the disposal of them, to neglect these, and bestow them on those of contrary character."
     We are not Catholics, but, nor are we perfect in all of our beliefs and practices.  Let us study the Scriptures so that we can apply God's Word to every asspect of our lives.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reviled and Persecuted
     Since I opened the topic of persecution in my last post, I decided that I would share some other ideas on this topic.  I would like to note first, that I am not qualified to write on this issue by experience or by much reading or studying.  Nevertheless, I have a few basic observations which a person could make just by reading the Bible.  
     2 Timothy 3:12 reads, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."  Often when we here the word persecution we immediately think of imprisonment, torture, and death either by the government or an anti-Christian group.  Stephen, Paul, and many other Christians from the New Testament to the present time have suffered in these ways.  Persecution can be much broader than this, because, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  The devil will persecute anyone who wants to live a godly, Christ-like life.  We here in America do not suffer in the same way as Christians in China, but, the devil is out to persecute us in other ways.
     In Matthew Jesus taught his disciples that they were blessed when they were reviled, persecuted, and spoken evil of.  In Luke when Jesus was speaking of the same subject, He did not refer to any bodily damage, but said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake."  As far as I know D. L. Moody never was tortured for his Christianity, and yet I am sure that there were many men who hated and avoided him.  Even so, we may or may not suffer physical persecution, but if we will live godly we shall have men speak evil of us and dislike us. 
     We should not let the danger of persecution turn us from living boldly for God, anymore than a soldier would avoid conflict because of danger.  Though all who live righteously do suffer let us particularly remember them which suffer adversity and are in bonds. 
     "O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me."  Psalm 7:1

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Nation, Prayer, and Persecution
     "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." - 1 Timothy 2:1-2
     As we consider our nation, our churches, and even our own lives and our families, it is evident that we need to pray.  If we do not have God's help we are in trouble!  Most of us are familiar with a number of statements the Bible has about praying, such as, 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  Psalm 122:6 says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."  I think that we can apply this very specifically to Jerusalem, but can also derive a principle that we should pray for the peace of our own country.  We also have numerous examples of people in the Bible who were praying for their country.  Some of the prophets, such as Daniel, and the Psalmist made prayers for their nation.
      Now, I've heard some people talking about praying that persecution will come to our country so that the church would be strengthened.  I've heard from multiple sources that some of the Christians in China are praying that we will be persecuted for our Christianity in America.  They also don't want us to pray that their persecution will stop.  I think that these Christians are some of the most sincere and dedicated believers.  However, it is a sin for anyone to persecute Christians! Shall we pray for evil that good may come?  God FORBID!!!
     Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  If we find ourselves in divers temptations we should count it all joy, and yet, when we are persecuted in one city we ought to flee to another.  David in Psalm 7:9 prayed, "Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just..."  I believe that we should not pray for persecution, but rather, that God would spare us and deliver others.  Nevertheless, if we have prayed wrongfully God can still answer rightfully. 
     When we pray for our country, let us recognize that God hears prayer and that His hand is not shortened, but that His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Let us be humble and confess our own sinfulness and beseech God for His mercy.  We need God to send out laborers into his harvest and revive us again and I think that we need far more than a revival of just renewed dedication and sincerity but we also need a vast reformation of our culture even within many of our churches. 
                                                   But aren't we nearing the end of time? 
     "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."  2 Peter 3:9

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Should We Then Vote? - Part III

     In the previous blog post, I mentioned the passages in Exodus 18 and Deuteronomy 1 where God had the children of Israel vote for rulers, giving them qualifications which these men must meet to be voted for.  I'd like to talk about these more in depth, but first I want to briefly restate some of the thoughts that I have already expounded on:
     1. We should vote exclusively pro-life since it is our job as mankind to protect life and punish murderers through the government.
     2. We should vote only for men because God only allowed his people to choose men for their rulers.
     3. The rulers of the children of Israel had to be from their own tribe.  And, God told them when they chose a king that he had to be from their own country.  We should only vote for people in federal positions who are Americans.  (They have their birth certificates;)
     Exodus 18:21 says that these Israelite men who were to be chosen as rulers must be able.  Deuteronomy 1:13 states that they must be known among your tribes.  In other words, we must vote for men who are capable of being rulers and have demonstrated this in other ways.  Perhaps if a man has shown that he capable in his family and business, or other government positions he has held, we could say that he is able.
     Then in Exodus it says they must fear God.  Now, the Bible mentions people who had no fear of God, and people who greatly feared God, so, there could be different levels of fearing God.  They must have a fear of God, whatever the degree may happen to be.  Therefore, we certainly should not vote for an agnostic, atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim!  Furthermore, Deuteronomy says they must be wise and understanding. We know that the fear of God is wisdom and the fool says in his heart there is no God.  The fear of the Lord is to hate evil and to depart from evil is understanding.  We cannot vote for someone that God says is a fool!
     These men were to be men of truth.  It may be hard to find an honest politician (we need statesmen), but I believe we ought only to vote for someone who means what he says and keeps his word.
     Lastly, Exodus says they must hate covetousness.  We should not vote for someone who is out to get money for himself or who wants to get money from tax payers to satisfy others' covetousness.
     To summarize this, God has certain principles for who we should vote for.  First, we must vote for people who meet God's qualifications.  Once they have met that, we can discuss which one is the best or which one we like the most.  
     We should strive to vote for people who are qualified and find people to run if no one in a race is qualified.  Sometimes, we might get people who seemed good at first, but then turned out to be untruthful or covetous.  But, we should never vote for someone when we know it would be against God's principles.
     The Bible has many commands to government rulers.  The king was to write a copy of the law, not multiply wives, and Proverbs says he shouldn't drink.  These commands were given to the rulers, and every ruler aught to obey them.  We could debate whether or not we can vote for someone who disobeys these commands, but certainly they should meet the minimum qualifications if we are to vote for them. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Should We Then Vote? - Part II - Women

     There are qualification for church rulers.  A woman should want to marry a man who meets certain qualifications.  What qualifications are there for government rulers?  
     In Exodus 18 we read about when Jethro came to see Moses.  All the children of Israel were coming to Moses to inquire of God.  Jethro told him that God wanted him to set up rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens to judge all of the small matters, so that they would just bring the large matters to Moses.  In Deuteronomy 1 the Bible tells how Moses chose all of these rulers.  He held a political election and made rulers of those whom the children of Israel chose.
     There were certain qualifications that these men had to meet in order to be chosen as rulers.  Exodus says, "...thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness..."  Deuteronomy says, "...wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes..."  Later in 2 Samuel 23:3 God said, "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."
     Before we look at these qualifications in more depth, I would like to note a couple of things.  First, God never said a government official must be a christian, nor did He give us an extensive list of current issues that he must be right on.  But, rather, a few basic qualifications he must meet.  Second, whatever our current relationship to the law is supposed to be, God never changes and He has eternal principles which always apply.
     The first things mentioned in Exodus 18:21, are that they were supposed to be chosen out of all the people, (they were not supposed to be foreigners), and they were to be able men.  God chose to specify that these were to supposed to be men, not women.  This fits with the order of creation and the purposes for which men and women were created.  I think it's worth noting, that in the two other institutions God created, namely the church and the home, he chose men to be the leaders.  In today's political world we need men in government, who are not just males, but manly and bold. 
     When God set up the priesthood in Israel only men were allowed to be priests.  And when God set up a monarchy in Israel, He chose first Saul, then David, and when he was old God chose Solomon, not Bathsheba!  However, there is a big question, "What about Deborah?!"  To answer that, first, does one example in the book of Judges trump every other precept and principle in the Bible?  Second, the other judges in the book of Judges not only gave judgements but also were the chief executive and led the military.  Deborah, on the other hand, was a prophetess, a wife, and a mother and people would come to her under a tree to be judged.  When God wanted someone to lead the country and wage war, He chose Barak.  Barak appears to have been a coward though, and not a good leader, so the honor went to a woman, Jael. (Barak is the only one mentioned in the New Testament.)  Contrast that with the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, who was occupied keeping the home and her husband was sitting in the gates with the elders of the land.
     In Isaiah 3 when God was pronouncing woe upon the wicked, he said that women would rule over them.  The only female monarch Judah ever had was Athaliah.  And, the most prominent woman in Israeli politics was Jezebel!  Our country is under judgement of God, and we see ladies increasingly in government positions. 
     To sum this all up, God's plan is for men to lead in the government, and women are only government rulers in times of judgement.  I believe that God wants us to vote for able men as it says in Exodus, and even the example of Deborah fits with this idea.  This means I could not vote for McCain, no matter how good he or Sarah Palin were.  But, Obama got in!  What's worse than Obama getting in?  The church, as ambassadors for Christ, voting for people who do not fit God's qualifications is worse.  God's blessing makes a nation great, not another politician.