Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Politics and the Pulpit

I have been very disturbed over the past many months with the number of pastors who have come out in support of, endorsed, or campaigned for people running for President of our country.  Even if we had two people of reputable character running for president, which we don't, I would not feel any differently.  One of the things that has bothered me deeply, is that when endorsing the candidate they have chosen, pastors and religious leaders act like or make statements to the effect that their particular choice of candidate will deliver our country.  No man or woman, not the Republican, not the Democrat, not the Libertarian, not the Green Party candidate can deliver our country from the morass of problems that beset us, for there is One and only One deliverer, and that is the Lord. 

The root issue in our country is that we have lost our moral moorings.  In other words, the root issue in our country is a spiritual one which is manifesting itself through the different crises we are seeing and experiencing.  The enmity and hatred behind the racial clashes is a spiritual issue.  The sexual assault on college campuses, which has been called an epidemic, is a spiritual issue.  The sexualization of our culture is a spiritual issue.  The degradation of women is a spiritual issue.  The glorification of violence is a spiritual issue. Pornography of every type is a spiritual issue. Drug use and abuse is a spiritual issue. Public anarchy and its manifestation in rebellion against law and order is a spiritual issue.  Heavy handedness by law enforcement is a spiritual issue. Moral relativism is a spiritual issue.  Islamic assault against us is a spiritual issue.  Class envy is a spiritual issue.  Abortion is a spiritual issue.  Human trafficking is a spiritual issue.  Greed and avarice are spiritual issues.  Immorality is a spiritual issue.  These issues are the root causes of the problems that beset our country, and why would anyone think that our political system or a person can solve the basic issues of the human soul, especially those who should know better....pastors and religious leaders, those who are charged with knowing the word of God.

Neither politics nor politicians have the power to deliver anyone.  They cannot empower anyone as they have no inherent power to give. They cannot change the heart. They cannot enlighten the mind nor give eyes to see or ears to hear. They cannot provide forgiveness nor promote mercy or compassion.  They cannot prevent bribes.  They cannot bridle the tongue, season our words with salt, and bring words of peace and healing. Nothing they can do, nothing that can be passed through the system will have any affect on the heart of man.  The best that politics and politicians can do is put a Band-Aid on the symptoms, but they cannot provide a cure for the root problem. Therefore, they cannot fix the mess we are in and there comes a point where the Band-Aids just aren't big enough to cover the wound anymore.  Ultimately, all politicians and elected officials can do is stir the pot; and why certain pastors and evangelical leaders continue to put their faith in a man or woman to right the wrongs and lead us to the Promised Land, and encourage us to jump on their bandwagon and do the same, is past credulity. Honestly, they should all know better; but the very fact that they are putting their faith in man shouts loudly about why the church in our country is in the condition that it is in, and why it has become contaminated salt that has lost its saltiness, and now is only good for the manure pile.

As pastors, our job is not to be political commentators or cultural watchdogs, but it is to be heralds of the Lord God, Himself, by preaching and teaching His unchanging and unerring Word.  There is only one Promised Land for the people to be led to, and that is the coming new heavens and new earth.  There is only one kingdom worth promoting and that is the kingdom of heaven; and there is only one King to pledge allegiance to and endorse, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the Lord that removes kings and establishes kings (Daniel 2:21).  It is the Lord that determines the times and boundaries of the nations (Acts 17:26).  There is only One who delivers all men from their spiritual bondage, and it is Jesus Christ.  It is Him and His kingdom we should serve, not the leaders and kingdoms of this world.

Maybe, just maybe, if the pastors and religious leaders would work just as hard and be just as vocal in preaching repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ, the issues troubling our country would be resolved and lessened.  But, that is not as popular nor as easy, and will be met with greater resistance, because of the hardness of the human heart towards the things of God. 

Ultimately, we as pastors need to remember that we are but aliens and sojourners in this world and our time upon this planet is so very brief, and that it is our duty and our charge to lead people up to Christ, not down to the politicians of this world.  It is time for the church in our land to repent of our worldliness and dependency on human solutions to spiritual problems, and it needs to begin with us, the pastors and shepherds of the flock of God.  Let us lead forward in repentance and ask God to have mercy on us and on our nation.  Please, Lord, make it so.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Simple Outline of Romans 6-8

In chapters six through eight of Romans the main theme is that of sanctification, the being set apart from sin and set apart to God.  Sanctification, both as a position (being set apart as holy to the Lord) and a process (growth in personal holiness before the Lord), is not a doctrine that is espoused in the church much anymore; but its neglect is to the ruin and harm of the church, as Hebrews 12:14 tells us without sanctification, no one will see the Lord.  So sanctification is obviously a crucial issue for us all, and describes what is to be going on in the life of someone who has been saved.  So this is an important doctrine,a foundational truth of the gospel, and it is important that we understand it.

 There is a flow of thought in these chapters that I would like to give a simple outline so as to  give a handle on what is going on in these crucial chapters.

6:1-10  What God has done for us in Christ
                  The power of sin has been broken, and we are no longer its slaves.

6:11-23 Our response to God's breaking the power of sin
                  We present ourselves as slaves to God, as instruments of righteousness.

7:1-13    Our new relationship to the Law
                  The Law fulfilled its purpose, and is holy, righteous and good.

7:14-25   The presence and pull of sin is still there, and will remain
                  Although sin's power is broken, we must still do battle with it.

8:1-27     The presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
                  The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of someone who is truly in Christ.
8:28-39   The purpose and predominance of God
                  The plan and purpose of God is predetermined, cannot be hindered,
                  is carried out in Christ, and we cannot be separated from Him.

What we can see in this outline is that our sanctification begins with God breaking the power of sin, His giving us power over sin through the Holy Spirit, and His purpose for us being impossible to not be carried out.

Obviously, there is much more going on in these chapters, but this will give us a framework from which to view and understand this most important section of what many consider the constitution of our faith.

Thinking of What is Ahead

The completeness of Christ's victory over sin and death
has become ours, and we see it now only dimly; but
when He comes and we are united with our incorruptible
and immortal bodies, then we shall know fully!