7 Truths to Puncture a Man-Centered Church
This is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible for faithful ministers laboring in obscurity and anonymity. God does not reward based upon comparisons with other ministers. He does not reward according to talents, gifts, or results. He rewards each pastor “according to his own labor.” God is looking at the hours, the diligence, and the faithfulness of daily unseen and often unappreciated labor, and is piling up heavenly rewards for His laboring servants.
As we need the wisdom of the elderly in the body of Christ, we also need the wisdom of the past. Newer isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s worse; sometimes it’s wrong. As the church, we are a people with a past. The Holy Spirit is not a gift unique to the church in the twenty-first century. We ignore or disdain the past to our detriment.
Gender, Work, and an Immigrant Family’s Perspective
So can we take off our blinders that keep us from seeing people who are different from us? Can we stop making our experience the norm by which others must follow? Can we stop making assumptions about a person’s choice to work and choice of work when we know absolutely nothing about the back story? Not every woman who works is doing it because she feels entitled to have it all. Not every two-income household is motivated by materialism. Most of the world works because they need to eat.
I Would Say This Verse Pretty Much Covers All Your Bases
Because I have all of God’s abundant grace at all times I will also have all sufficiency for all things at all times. God himself will give me empowering grace to obey him, love him, trust him, and thank him at all times. This covers everything! Canker sores and cancer, back aches and bronchitis, child birth and child death, retirement and bankruptcy. God’s grace is deeper than the deepest pit and higher than highest mountain. All thing and all times really does mean all things and all times. I don’t have to worry about coming to the end of God’s grace.
‘Family Values’ and the Way We Never Were
Skirmishes over the family are not the product of blind cultural or historical trends, but instead we must recognize that the family is under assault in every generation, albeit sometimes in craftily veiled ways. And the antidote to our myopic vision of the family, whether myopically nostalgic or myopically apathetic, is not only to focus on the family, but to focus on what’s beyond the family: on the mystery of the kingdom of Christ.
Heidelberg 123: The Second Petition—Your Kingdom Come
When we pray for the advent of the Kingdom of God we are praying that the Holy Spirit would use his appointed weapons, the Word and church discipline to conquer spiritual enemies. Our Lord never promised a glorious millennium on the earth but he is nevertheless crushing his enemies under his feet (1Cor 15:27). Just as the cross was a paradoxical way to defeat his enemies so to the suffering of the church is a paradoxical, unexpected way to defeat the Evil One and his minions but that is how he has promised to operate, through the foolishness of the gospel (1 Cor 1:21–25).
Stripping Down the Gospel: We Must Believe More Than the ABCs
We live in an increasingly pluralistic and pagan age, and so our culture is becoming more like the culture of the ancient Roman Empire. Fifty years ago, we may have been able to rely on a cultural consensus and collective understanding that was generally monotheistic and Judeo-Christian. Today, that’s simply not the case. Unbelievers’ understanding of the nature of truth, the existence and nature of God, the historicity of the Gospels, etc. is all really shaky and unknown. We need to take more time to understand people and their understandings and to carefully explain what it is we believe and why we believe it.
Encounters With Grace
We’ll know we have encountered God’s grace when we see it. We will feel the conviction of the Spirit and will be prompted to repent. We’ll find a growing distaste for sin. We’ll desire change and feel dissatisfied with where we are. The more we encounter God’s grace the more we’ll want to honor him. The more we’ll want to be like Christ.
Christians believe that our primary purpose in life, our main reason for existing, is that we might glorify and enjoy God. From the Westminster Larger Catechism:
Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.
But how can we believe that God exists? What reason do we have for believing in God in the first place? Well, the very next question in the Westminster Larger Catechism addresses that. God does not call us to believe in Him without reason, after all –
Q. 2. How does it appear that there is a God?
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.
So, we have two parts to this:
1. Everyone alive has “the very light of nature” inside them, testifying to the reality of God and also lives in the midst of “the works of God,” which also declare God’s existence. Thus, everyone has an internal and external witness.
2. However, people do not come to faith in God due to these two witnesses, which everyone has. Rather, it is only the word and the Spirit which reveal God in a way that actually causes people to know Him.
Let’s look at these . . .
Universal Internal and External Witness
Brad Lomenick is a leadership consultant, speaker, founder of BLINC and author of The Catalyst Leader and H3 Leadership and former president of Catalyst. He understands trends and is engaged with top level leaders.
We recently spoke with Lomenick about the major changes in leadership culture and how the church should leverage these trends for greater impact.
LISTEN NOW! Or check out the highlights below.
Here are the three leadership trends your church should know about:
1. The Influence of Social Media
“We’ve seen more speeding up in the leadership landscape and systemic change. Change is happening more quickly than ever before partly because of technology. A blogger or somebody on Social Media can have equally as much, if not more, influence today than somebody who has spent 25 years building a foundation and a platform and a voice.
That 23-year-old who’s blogging or on Social Media can have just as much if not more influence as the 25 year run of the 45-year-old.
That’s a game changer
I don’t think it’s good or bad, I think it’s neutral, but it’s the new essence of leadership.
If you’re influencing people, you’re leading them. We have to realize that the game has changed in terms of the channels and the medium through which we have influence on people and culture. The Social Media technology space is obviously a huge one.”
2. Vulnerability in Leadership
“Authenticity and this idea of vulnerability and transparency is a huge part of the new reality of leadership. You know the old days of ‘never let them see you sweat’ and ‘fake it till you make it’ and ‘hide behind the façade’ are gone.
The leaders today who have the most influence are the ones who are the most authentic. The ones who are willing to show up with the real them. Leading from their true self and not afraid of that, but willing to walk in and be transparent and be honest and vulnerable and be authentic with their team and the people around them.”
3. The Rise of the Free Agents
“The stats today are pretty staggering in terms of the number of people who are basically working in a project basis for many organizations. And this is true for 20-somethings even more than it is for older leaders. The average 20-something today is going to have between 14-16 different projects or seasons of careers they walk through over the next 40 years.
Two generations ago, the average person was in one job or one company for 40 years whether they liked it or not, or whether it was the right fit for them. This is a major shift that we’re going to have to deal with as leaders. How do we motivate people who aren’t necessarily on our team? How do we deal with the realities of project mentality?”
The post Brad Lomenick: 3 Leadership Trends Your Church Needs to Know About appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
The Tentacles of a Dilemma
When did God know you would be his adopted son or daughter? Peter says that our election is “according to the foreknowledge of God.” In this lab, John Piper asks what it means for God to foreknow us, and then explores the relationship between our election and God’s foreknowledge.
“I can be a good person without God.”
Anyone of us can be good without God. All we need is a very low standard of goodness. There are 46 dictionary definitions of “good” from which to choose. The word “good” in God’s Book, however, means moral perfection, in thought, word and in deed. That’s the high standard of goodness that we be will judged by on Judgment Day (whether you believe in God or not).
This video, excerpted from J. Warner Wallace’s presentation of the evidence for God (from his book, God’s Crime Scene), summarizes the case for Gods existence from consciousness. How does non-material consciousness emerge in a purely material universe? Is “mind” nothing more than “brain”? For a robust review of the collective case for God’s existence from eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe, please refer to God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Homicide Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)
To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.
By now many of you have no doubt seen the viral video “I’m a Christian, but…” (click the image above to view it). Not only has the video been making the rounds, but the hashtag #IAmAChristianBut is ubiquitous on social media right now.
After you watch the video, it’s obvious that this is a propaganda piece for a version of Christianity that is Christian in name only–a progressivist vision of the faith that has more to do with maintaining street-cred with Christianity’s cultured despisers than with the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It is what the apostle Paul called a “form of godliness” while “denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). It is gutless–literally, a hollowing out of everything essential to the faith.
Far from being Christocentric, this display is Christo-absent. Not one of these “Christians” even mentions Jesus. Their definition of the faith displays no connection even implicitly to the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Even disinterested observers can tell that this is more than a glaring oversight. It is an attempt to label love for worldliness as love for Christ. It undermines any credible claim that these testimonials can be in any sense authentically Christian.
And indeed, the substance of their testimony is this. “We are Christian, but are not like those other Christians who actually follow Christ’s teachings.” Nevermind the fact that Jesus taught that sex outside marriage is sin (Mark 7:21). Nevermind that Jesus defined marriage as fundamentally heterosexual in nature—the permanent union of one man and one woman until death parts them (Matthew 19:4-6). Nevermind that Jesus defines discipleship as being willing to follow Jesus even if it costs you your life (Matthew 16:24). These “Christians” have a version of Christianity that dispenses with all of that rubbish that Jesus taught.
The apostle John once warned against those who call themselves Christian but who don’t actually follow Jesus:
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” –1 John 2:4-6
In other words, the mark of authentic Christianity in a person’s life is the willingness to follow everything that Jesus calls us to. This obedience isn’t the cause of our salvation; it is the fruit of our salvation. It is the proof that our hearts truly have been renewed by the Holy Spirit when we love what Jesus loves—including his commands which are countercultural. Jesus himself said it this way:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” –John 14:21-24
The testimonials in this video are not demonstrating this kind of love. They demonstrate a love for the world and its values not a love for Christ and his Kingdom (1 John 2:15-17). And that is the problem.
Contrary to what this video indicates, Christianity is not a choose-your-own-adventure story in which you get to define the terms of your relationship to God. God has defined the terms of our redemption, and they are irreducibly Christocentric. God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf in order that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus taught us that we receive this salvation by repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ to save us (Mark 1:15). That conversion issues forth in a life devoted to God and His purposes. To miss these truths is to miss Christianity altogether. And that omission is what is on display in this video.
I would say to every person in this video and to all who are sympathetic to what they are teaching. You really can be a Christian. You can know Christ and the power of his resurrection life. You can be saved and be made a part of his family. But you will have to come on his terms—by repentance and faith. And you will have to take up your cross and follow him. If you try to save your life—including your sexual freedom—you will lose your life for eternity. But if you are willing to lose your life—and all that entails—you will save it for eternity (Matthew 16:25-26).
That is real Christianity, and I hope you will join us.
Growing up as a kid in rural eastern Kentucky, I dreamed of one day becoming a University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball player. Even though that dream never came true due to lack of skill, I was good enough to make my high school basketball team.
Every year students in my school would tryout for the basketball team. During the week of tryouts, players displayed their skills to the coaches. The coaches would choose players based on performance and skill. Some would make the team; others would not.
While God does choose his children, it isn’t based on our performance or skill. The children of God don’t have to attend tryouts to be adopted into his family. Paul illustrates beautifully in his letters that unconditional election is the foundation of the New Testament’s presentation of salvation.
His Choice and Our Responsibility
Unconditional election means that God chooses some people to be on his team. God graciously elected sinners in Christ before the foundation of the world to be his people. In Romans, Paul teaches us that Adam’s transgression devastated the entire world (Romans 5:12).
He laments that “there is none good, no not one” (Romans 3:10) and that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Due to mankind’s total depravity, Paul emphasizes that humans are able to respond to God’s work of salvation only because God chose some to be saved in love (Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:4–5, 11).
This interpretation is often criticized. Some argue that election shuts out the need for personal responsibility. Paul anticipates these criticisms. He continues by saying that God’s choice to save some is just (Romans 9:14–15). God has the right as the Creator to choose some to receive his saving mercy and to choose others to receive his judgment (Romans 9:19–29).
Therefore, God can grant mercy to some and withhold it from others if he desires (Romans 9:6–15). God giving his saving mercy to some, and judgment to others, is solely based on his will, not human effort. Since he is God, he has the right to do whatever he pleases.
Angry About Election
Many respond with anger the first time they hear about unconditional election. They complain that this doctrine makes God unjust and unloving. What makes us respond this way?
Maybe we believe that God owes us something. If so, this response exposes a great deal of pride. Too often we want a God created into our image. The only thing God owes any human being is his unrelenting wrath due to our sin and radical rebellion against him and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Unconditional election reminds Christians that we are naturally children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1–3). But God, by his sovereign grace, freely chose to redeem some from his wrath. This divine act of grace should move Christians to worship our great God with humble and thankful postures (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 1:4–5).
Critics ask, “Why evangelize if unconditional election is true?” My response would be the opposite: “Why evangelize if unconditional election is untrue?” If total depravity is correct, then no one is able to respond to the gospel and every evangelistic effort is destined to fail. Everyone is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1–10). Unconditional election should give us confidence that God will certainly save “all” of those who believe through the foolishness of gospel proclamation (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21).
Election and Doubt
Christians often have doubts about their faith. If we’re honest, many of us have doubted whether God loves us. Unconditional election can help doubting Christians conquer their doubt. Paul states that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). And he asserts that God predestined us in love unto adoption (Ephesians 1:5).
When Christians doubt God’s love for us, or when we doubt whether we are genuinely saved, we ought to remind ourselves of at least two things:
- God chose us in Christ to be his people. So everyone who lives in faithful (not perfect) obedience to Jesus is elect and saved because one’s faith-filled obedience to Jesus proves that one is in Christ.
- God’s love for us is displayed by means of his choice of us in Christ to be his people and by means of the sacrifice of his Son to redeem us as his people, so that we would be saved from his future wrath (Ephesians 1:4–7; Romans 5:6–10). Therefore, when doubt comes, Christians should fight against it with what the New Testament teaches about unconditional election.
The Goal of Unconditional Election
Unlike my high school coaches, God didn’t make this choice based on our skills or any of our foreseen works. He exclusively chose to save some sinners for his glory because he wanted to do so. Unconditional election belongs to God.
Our response to this truth should not be to produce division, to split churches, or to beat up or bully people with a big-God theology. Instead, God has given us this doctrine to move us to worship (Ephesians 1:3–14; 1 Peter 1:1–6) and to faithful Christian obedience.
May God open our eyes to see unconditional election so that we would offer to him God-centered, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-filled worship now and forever.
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00:10:03 Ryan LeStrange – Don’t Move Beyond The Expiration Date
00:19:08 Bill Johnson – Exposed to the Anointing
00:37:29 Jim Bakker – Major Events Happen in the Month of Elul
00:51:24 Buzz Feed’s – I’m Christian, but I’m Not…
01:05:40 Sermon Review: How To Dream Big by Micah Caronna
Well, not so much support for Kim Davis as disdain for the government responsible for locking her up.
Libertarian atheist Stephen Molyneux has never been shy when it comes to criticizing Christianity, but he does admire people who remain true to their convictions. His personal beliefs and anti-Christian worldview aside, I can appreciate his position on this issue, and I think some of the points he makes are more insightful than many I have heard from Christians. Take a look:
After languishing in jail for six days for upholding the laws of Kentucky which she was elected to do, and for resisting judicial tyranny, and for standing strong for Christian conscience, Kim Davis has been freed from jail. This is wonderful news indeed.
But nothing is certain about the future. The same judge says he will jail her again if need be, while Davis is standing steadfast on defending the laws of the state of Kentucky and her God. So this story is not over by any means yet. Here is how one news report covers her release:
The Kentucky county clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples was released Tuesday after five days behind bars, emerging to a tumultuous hero’s welcome from thousands of supporters waving large white crosses.
“I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people,” Kim Davis told the crowd after stepping outside, her arms raised like a victorious boxer, to the blaring “Rocky”-sequel theme song “Eye of the Tiger.” Her lawyer refused to say whether she would defy the courts again.
“Kim cannot and will not violate her conscience,” said Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, the Christian law firm representing Davis. As for whether she will issue licenses, Staver said only: “You’ll find out in the near future.”
The Rowan County clerk whose defiance has made her a hero to the religious right walked free after the federal judge who ordered her locked up lifted the contempt ruling against her, saying he was satisfied that her deputies were fulfilling their obligation to grant licenses to same-sex couples in her absence.
But U.S. District Judge David Bunning also warned Davis not to interfere again, or else she could wind up back in jail. Davis, 49, has refused to resign her $80,000-a-year job. As an elected official, she can lose her post only if she is defeated for re-election or is impeached by the state General Assembly. The latter is unlikely, given the legislature’s conservative slant.
As the surprise news of her impending release spread, a crowd of dozens of supporters who had gathered on the jailhouse lawn for a previously scheduled rally swelled to thousands. They broke into “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America” and waved signs, flags and crosses.
Cries of thanks to Jesus echoed through the crowd as Davis emerged next to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and her husband, Joe, who was in overalls and a straw hat. Huckabee and fellow GOP White House candidate Sen. Ted Cruz visited her at the jail just after the decision came down.
“If somebody has to go to jail, I’m willing to go in her place,” said Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and Arkansas governor. He added: “She has shown more courage than any politician I know.”
Mat Staver of the Liberty Council said this:
In ordering Kim’s release, the judge set conditions: “Defendant Davis shall be released from the custody of the U.S. Marshal forthwith. Defendant Davis shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples. If Defendant Davis should interfere in any way with their issuance, that will be considered a violation of this Order and appropriate sanctions will be considered.”
As I told Fox News, “Kim Davis will not change her conscience and she won’t change her mind on this issue. She thought about this for a long time and prayed about it. Unless her name and her authority is taken off the licenses, she will not allow those licenses to issue in her name or her authority that authorizes a marriage which is contrary to God’s definition of marriage.”
-The legal issues are not resolved.
The Court Order did not resolve the underlying issue. The issue is that Kim Davis has asked for a very simple accommodation. Remove her name and her authority from the marriage certificates, which is what we have asked for from the very beginning. We believe the court could act on that. We believe the governor could act on that. And we believe the Kentucky assembly could act on that request as well. We will continue to assist Kim and pursue the multiple appeals she has filed.
-Today, Kim Davis joined us in a rally on her behalf!
This afternoon, Kim joined former Arkansas Governor, presidential candidate, and Liberty Counsel’s friend Mike Huckabee and me in an “I’m with Kim” rally outside the Carter County Detention Center where Kim Davis was held. This rally coincided with Liberty Counsel’s planned prayer event.
We are pleased that Kim Davis has been released. She can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions. She is now free to return to her family, her coworkers, and the office where she has faithfully served for the past 27 years.
And Brian Brown of the National Organisation for Marriage made these comments:
While we are thrilled that Kim is out of jail and back home with her family, it’s too soon to know if the case is resolved because the rogue federal judge who ordered her to jail in the first instance has told her she cannot interfere with deputy clerks who are issuing same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses in her name. This is wrong! The state of Kentucky has an obligation to provide clerks like her the ability to not be personally complicit in the lie of same-sex ‘marriage’ which violates her religious beliefs.
As Kim has asked since the beginning, and we have echoed, the state should take her name and reference to her position off the marriage license forms. Gov. Steve Beshear claims he can’t do that, but the state has already changed the forms at the request of gay activists, changing the terms ”Bride” and ”Groom” to ”Party 1” and ”Party 2.” Surely, if the license forms can be changed to accommodate the wishes of gay activists, they can be changed to accommodate clerks with religious objections to being personally connected to the lie that is same-sex marriage.
We don’t know what Kim will decide to do if the license forms are not changed, but NOM will stand with her to defend her religious liberty rights, as well as those of every other American who believes in marriage.
I am writing this from the stage of a huge rally at the Carter County Detention Center where hundreds of people joined to celebrate the good news that Kim is out of jail and to demand that people of faith be protected from gay activists and the judges that seem all too willing to do their bidding.
I reminded the gathered crowd that during the American founding, it was proposed that our national motto be, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Throughout our history when unjust laws are promulgated by legislatures or courts, we have an obligation to resist. This was the case with slavery. It was the case with segregation. And it is the case with same-sex ‘marriage.’ My friends, same-sex ‘marriage’ is not the supreme law of the land, it is the supreme lie of the land. I urge you to stand for truth. Do not comply with unjust authority. Stand up to tyranny and don’t be shamed. We are united today in a just cause. Let us be a bold symbol and a bold light in a time of darkness.
Her case of course caused national and international outrage. Even some homosexuals thought the jailing was ridiculous. For example, Madonna’s homosexual brother Christopher Ciccone posted this message on Facebook a few days ago:
Since when are we the arbiter of other peoples faith?…..can you honestly say that you know how much a person is allowed to have??..if i’m not mistaken, it’s in the constitution…..something about religious freedom or something……selective shaming and bullying corrupts a democracy….freedom of press, speech and religion give it strength. Not to mention reason and the god given compassion we as humans have a right and responsibility to practice. Once again, the gay community feels the need to be sore winners. Is it so difficult to allow this women her religion?…or must we destroy her in order for here to betray her faith. No matter how we judge its truth. The rights we have all fought for, mean nothing, if we deny her hers.
He gets it. But many do not. As mentioned, this may well just be a temporary bit of freedom for Davis. She refuses to back down, as do the militants and their coercive statist allies. This is simply one small skirmish in a much bigger war. The homosexual assault on faith, family and freedom is one of the gravest threats we face today.
Writing just before her release, Matt Barber rightly said “Needed: A Million More Like Kim Davis”. He wrote:
Anti-Christian persecution is the civil rights cause of our time. The cultural Marxists in power have seceded from our constitutional republican form of government, with its Judeo-Christian moorings, and have supplanted, in its place, a secular-socialist oligarchy. Like Union troops hunkered at Fort Sumter, faithful Christians are now exiles in our own land. Anti-Christian “progressives” have demanded unconditional surrender, and federal Judge David Bunning has fired the first mortar.
Even as I write, a kind, soft-spoken and well respected civil servant of 27 years sits languishing, like some violent criminal, in a Kentucky prison. She is confined, indefinitely and without benefit of a trial, to a tiny cell. She is a political prisoner in a spiritual war.
It sure is a spiritual war. And heaps of prayer went into this appalling case of a travesty of justice. It is of course terrific that Kim is now free – at least for a while. But the bigger war still rages all around us, and I predict that things will get much worse before they get better.
But in the meantime, thank God for Kim Davis.
America’s Deepest Heresy
The perennial question of if and when a Christian should disobey an unjust law and engage in civil disobedience has certainly come to the fore in the case of American prisoner of conscience Kim Davis. She has just been released from a Kentucky jail after spending nearly a week there, because she chose to put the law of God and Christian conscience over unjust human laws.
There has been much discussion in Christian circles about this case, and I have sadly read a lot of foolishness concerning it. Some misguided believers have insisted that she was wrong to take such a stance, and that she had an obligation to do as she was told and not resist. These folks really seem to think that human law is somehow absolute and inviolate.
But Christians throughout history have almost never held to that view. Most believers have recognised that while we are to obey the state for the most part, when human law clashes with God’s law, then we must make a choice. Civil disobedience may then be required, but we must be willing to face the consequences as well. I discuss this in more detail here: billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/02/christians-and-civil-disobedience/
And as I discuss here, we have all sorts of examples in the Bible and in church history of such resistance to the state and civil disobedience: billmuehlenberg.com/2015/09/06/criminalising-christianity-and-resisting-unjust-laws/
As mentioned, a passage like Romans 13:1-7 tells us to submit to government authorities. But this is not an absolute, and there are times when we must refuse to submit. As R. C. Sproul says about this passage:
“We are always and everywhere to obey the authorities over us – boss, police, governor, whatever that authority may be – unless that authority commands us to do something that God forbids, or forbids us from doing something that God commands. Sometimes we are to disobey. If the civil magistrate calls us to sin, we must say no.”
He goes on to say that “the principle is easy; the application is difficult.” I deal with its application in the first article I link to above. But as hard as it may be to undertake, there are times when we must resist, and we must disobey. For those believers who insist that we must always obey human law no matter what, I must simply remind them of the rich Christian heritage of resistance to unjust laws.
Those involved in the Nuremberg Trials insisted that the Germans were not duty-bound to obey Nazi law (“just following orders”), but that there was “a law above the law” which took priority. Exactly so. Ultimately it is God we must obey when human laws come into obvious conflict with divine laws.
This has always been the position of almost all Christians for the past 2000 years, as the following quotes clearly demonstrate. I include a few non-Christians in the mix, but most of these come from Christians. They make it pretty clear that some laws are unjust, and some laws must be disobeyed:
“An unjust law is no law at all.” -Augustine
Unjust laws “are acts of violence rather than laws” and “such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which a man should even yield his right.” -Thomas Aquinas
“We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it.” -John Calvin
“For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them.” -John Calvin
“True it is, God has commanded kings to be obeyed; but likewise true it is, that in things which they commit against His glory, He has commanded no obedience, but rather, He has approved, yea, and greatly rewarded, such as have opposed themselves to their ungodly commandments and blind rage.” -John Knox
“… whenever the Legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence.” -John Locke
“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” -John Hancock
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” -Thomas Jefferson
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” -Thomas Jefferson
“Disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God.” -Benjamin Franklin
“I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.… The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right. … Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” -Henry David Thoreau
“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.” -Mahatma Gandhi
“It is because men are sinners that justice can be achieved only by a certain degree of coercion on the one hand, and by resistance to coercion and tyranny on the other hand.” -Reinhold Niebuhr
“For to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person and to facilitate the fulfillment of his duties, should be the essential office of every public authority. This means that, if any government does not acknowledge the rights of man or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its orders completely lack juridical force” -Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terries (Peace on Earth)
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” -Rosa Parks
“One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all’.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“God has ordained the state as a delegated authority; it is not autonomous. The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny.” -Francis Schaeffer
“The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.” -Francis Schaeffer
“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the living God.” -Francis Schaeffer
As these and other quotes which could have been provided here make clear, most Christians have never held to the view that human laws are always absolute and inviolate. They have rightly recognised that sometimes certain laws are unjust and conflict with divine law. Then they must be disobeyed.
As stated, generally speaking the believer is commanded to obey the state. But the state is meant to be doing its biblical, delegated duty in upholding true justice and righteousness. The “one in authority is God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4). When it refuses to do its divinely appointed duty, then believers may be forced to resist government authorities.
On November 1, 2014, I wrote a blog post about ten ways churches drive away first-time guests. You can read the article here. Those top ten ways came from an informal Twitter poll. I was surprised by the number of responses we received for both the poll and the blog post.
Of course, there were many more responses than the original ten. I have saved the other responses for nearly a year. The ten items I list below actually represent the second ten most frequent responses. From my perspective, these second-tier responses are somewhat of a surprise. They might be, nevertheless, helpful to you and your church. Each of the ten items has a representative comment.
- The congregation was old. “When I looked at the age of those attending, I knew there wouldn’t be anything there for my children.”
- There was clutter everywhere. “The church building looked like a Goodwill store for Bibles, books, umbrellas, and clothes. I did not want to return.”
- People were gathered in cliques talking to each other. “I could tell before the service that I didn’t belong to their club.”
- People got the aisle seats first. “I had to climb over eight people to get a seat. They seemed disgusted I was there.”
- There was inadequate signage for people with small children. “From the parking lot to the front door to the preschool area, I had no idea where to go. It was frustrating.”
- There was no worship guide or bulletin. “I saved the bulletins from the churches I visited. If a church did not have one, I forgot all about it.”
- The check in process for children was slow and disorganized. “My kids were screaming the whole time; I’m not going back.”
- There were memorial plaques everywhere. “They were on the pews, the tables, the organ, the piano, and the windows. It was creepy. I felt like I was in a funeral home.”
- The service did not start on time. “My family rushed to get there on time, but the service started over ten minutes late. No one seemed to know what they were doing.”
- People were saving seats. “They might as well had a sign that said, ‘You are not welcome near me.’”
Keep in mind, these comments are second-tier responses. But they represent many people. They just might represent guests who won’t return to your church.
Let me hear from you.
The post Ten More Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
In five minutes, Voddie Baucham exposes the pornographic nature of our culture and provides men and women with a key tool necessary to fight addiction.
Today’s Kindle deals include The Shape of Preaching by Dennis Cahill ($2.99); Real: Owning Your Christian Faith by Dan Darling ($2.99); Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear ($1.99); The Doctrines that Divide by Erwin Lutzer ($1.99); Contending with Christianity’s Critics by William Lane Craig ($2.99); The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy ($2.99).
What a great email exchange this is between William Lane Craig and one of his former students. Here’s my favorite line: “Jesus is a tremendously attractive person in the wisdom of his teaching, in his character, and in the authenticity of his life.” Indeed, he is!
I found this an illuminating look at the conflict between the liberal and conservative wings within the Roman Catholic Church. It tells of a “growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives, exposing what is fast emerging as a culture war over Francis’s papacy and the powerful hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church.”
Sharon Dickens offers a helpful look at self-harm, what drives people to it, and how you may be able to help them overcome it.
Like Ray Ortlund, “I am grateful for so many who are located elsewhere within the Body of Christ. … Many disparate believers, in many ways, have helped me toward the Lord. How could I be ungrateful?”
Today in History. Queen Elizabeth passes Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch in the history of Great Britian, marking 63 years and 218 days on the throne. God save the queen! *
I think you’ll enjoy this short time-lapse showing the incredible transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
I have been a bit lax in book reviewing lately. Here, from two trusted reviewers, are reviews of a couple of new books: God Made All of Me by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb (reviewed by Aaron Armstrong) and A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame (reviewed by David Steele).
Speaking of being lax with book reviews, you may appreciate learning how this writer discovered that making time for books made a big difference in his life. “Reading books again has given me more time to reflect, to think, and has increased both my focus and the creative mental space to solve work problems. My stress levels are much lower, and energy levels up.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
7 Truths to Puncture a Man-Centered Church – “God hates man-centered churches. When preachers’ names are on Christians’ minds and mouths more than God’s, it contradicts everything that He’s about.”
Known by God Before You Were Born – “When did God know you would be his adopted son or daughter? Peter says that our election is ‘according to the foreknowledge of God.’ In this lab, John Piper asks what it means for God to foreknow us, and then explores the relationship between our election and God’s foreknowledge.”
Gideon: From Coward to Conqueror – “We generally associate Gideon’s name with his military victories. But when we first meet the Old Testament hero in the book of Judges, he’s hiding out in the wilderness, attempting to eek out a life while avoiding the notice of Israel’s enemies. Even after the Angel of the Lord told him that he would deliver Israel from the Midianites, he was filled with cowardly doubts.”
For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God – “In John 3:1-21 our Lord spoke the words of God to ‘a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.’ In this passage our Lord clears the table and tells it like it is. He tells Nicodemus in v3, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Of course, Nicodemus doesn’t ‘get it at first and asks, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ in v4 and, ‘How can these things be?’ in v9. In between those two perplexed questions, our Lord, the Λόγος or logos or Word, the living Christian proclamation as a whole of the New Testament proclaimed τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ Θεοῦ or “the words of God” to Nicodemus in a way that he had never heard before.
Recruiting Violation – “Current American culture is saturated with reports of significant recruiting violations occurring across the collegiate sports world. A new scandal appears to break as soon as the litany of investigations into another scandal comes to an end. Throughout such an investigative process, institutions are monitored extensively in order to discover if any illegal or inconsistent activity occurred. Virtually every time such an investigation is conducted, the program in question is found to have violated protocol. From time to time, however, investigations prove that slander and false accusations are all that truly exists.”
Ken Fryer – The Duties of an Elder Part 3 “Living in Humility and Submission to Authority” (Titus 3:1-15)
The Dangers, Results, and History of Decisional Regeneration
Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily – Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Violence in Nigeria Prevents Children from Returning to School
Iraqi Prime Minister Appoints Committee Addressing Christian Persecution
Faster, Cheaper, Easier: Pope Changes Policies for Marriage Annulment
Disney Star Dean Jones Remembered for Faith, Films
China Locks Away Christian Lawyer in ‘Secretive Detention’
TV Adventure Star Talks About Importance of His Faith
Kim Davis Remains Firm in Convictions, Receives Outpouring of Support
Germany: Hundreds of Muslim Refugees Converting to Christianity
Pro-Lifers Reflect on Influence of Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos
Missouri Students Protest over Boy Allowed in Girls Locker Room
Darwinism Versus the Octopus: An Evolutionary Dilemma
Sacred Versus Secular: A False Distinction
Margaret Sanger: Busted
‘In this World You Will Have Trouble’ — Welcome to Rowan County
Comic Rebukes Comedian for Bashing Bible
Our Time is Short
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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