Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Election 2016...What Should We Do?

So.....what should we do?  We have an election coming up where there is not a candidate worthy of our vote, not a candidate worthy of the office, not a candidate worthy to be the leader of our land, not a candidate worthy of our trust, and certainly not a candidate that inspires us to be the best we can be for the glory of God and the good of our country.

We have two major parties and a very minor party who through their vetting process have presented us with unqualified people from which to choose for our next President; but at the same time the vetting process was participated in by fellow citizens who voted on who they wanted to represent them and their interests in this election cycle.  We can certainly throw rocks at the political parties involved, but we need to save the biggest rocks for the American citizenry.

The root issue at play here is not the political parties or the political system, it is not the moral fiber or lack thereof in the candidates themselves, as the root issue is the lack of moral fiber in our citizenry; and that is reflected in the candidates that have been chosen.  It is our citizenry who condone abortion, it is our citizenry who condone sexual immorality, it is our citizenry who either have class envy or an elitist mentality, it is our citizenry of every color that are guilty of racism, it is our citizenry who despise and reject authority, it is our citizenry who are guilty of the idolatry of greed, it is our citizenry who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and pleasure, it is our citizenry who call good evil and evil good. If the citizenry of our country did not condone all of these things, then none of them would be pervasive in our land; but, alas, they are the status quo.  Just as Paul tells Timothy that people will not put up with sound doctrine, but collect for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, so the citizenry of our country are collecting for themselves leaders in accordance with their own desires.

Is it any wonder then that we have candidates who reflect who we have become as a nation?  When we look at them...Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson...we are looking at ourselves as a nation.  Pretty ugly and disgusting isn't it?

So.....what should we do?  We are not voting for a party, we are not voting for Supreme Court nominees, we are voting for a person and what that person stands for...all of what that person stands for...who that person is.  When they take office they will lead in accordance with who they are, regardless of the party they are affiliated with, regardless of the platform their party supposedly stands for.  When the election is over and they are not pandering for votes, they will decide and direct in accordance with what they believe, because you cannot separate a person's behavior from what they believe...as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.

There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils, in this case three.  There is only the reality of evil and where it will lead us as a nation when it has secured its victory in the election.  We have watched it do just that over the last eight years.

Yes, we are not voting for Pastor-in-Chief, and we need to participate in the democratic process; but in considering this particular election we need to have a greater allegiance than an allegiance to a particular party or particular philosophy, we need to have a greater allegiance than to our flag and our country, we need to have an allegiance to the Supreme moral authority and support Him and what He stands for.  Patriotism does not equate with righteousness, loyalty to a political party or philosophy will not stand the test of serving the Lord and bearing spiritual fruit, but will be but wood, hay, and stubble, and burned before the judgment seat of Christ.  We will not be advancing the cause of Christ or righteousness in our vote, and let's not be mistaken about that.

So....what should we do?  My answer is.....vote, but write in a person who is worthy of our vote, a person worthy of the office, a person worthy to be our leader, a person worthy of our trust, a person who inspires us to be the best we can be for the glory of God and the good of our country.  Don't be sucked in by the fear-mongering, don't be intimidated by the guilt-trippers, don't be misled by the supposed evangelical prophets who have misplaced priorities and have sold out for a mess of pottage. Don't participate in the promotion of more and greater evil, instead have your vote count for something good.

I realize that many who read this might disagree, and maybe disagree heartily.  That's okay, such is the religion of politics.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Value and Necessity of Reminding

In Titus 2:15-3:1a, Paul lays out for us several responsibilities for the Pastor in regards to his preaching.  All of the verbs here are present imperatives, which mean they are ongoing commands, not just for Titus but for everyone who occupies the pulpit.

If you have studied what are called the Pastoral epistles of Paul, and followed his ministry through the book of Acts, most of what is listed here should not come as a big surprise, in fact, the commands are the usual suspects when it comes to preaching the word of God.  We understand that we are to be continually speaking the word, and with the word to be continually exhorting and reproving.  We understand that when we speak the word we are speaking it under His authority, and therefore with His authority.  We also know of the importance of never letting anyone disregard or blow us off as we deliver His word.  However, have you ever thought about how a part of our responsibility as a pastor is to be continually reminding our people about what the word says?

That's what Paul says right there in the very first word of verse one of chapter three...be continually reminding them.  It is the last of the commands, and magnifies and reinforces all the others.  When you remind someone, what you are doing is bringing to their remembrance something that they already knew.  It is not giving them new knowledge, but is the re-giving them of something already taught.  It is the re-telling of Biblical truth.  It is the re-explaining of Biblical principles.  Reminding is for remembering and therefore reinforcing.  What are we to remind them of?  What the Scriptures say, and what they already know to do in light of what the Scriptures say.  We are commanded to remind, so it must be important.

The Lord is big on reminders, from Genesis all the way through the rest of the Bible.  We have memorials and altars.  We have covenant reminders.  We have feasts that were to be held every year, and rituals to be continually followed (Hebrews 10:1-3).  In the New Testament we have the Lord's Supper, which is to remind us of His death and our covenant with Him.  In baptism we are visibly reminded or our union with Christ and our new identity in Him.  So why is reminding so important, and why does He remind us so often?  So we won't forget or be neglectful.

There are three primary words in the New Testament that are translated remind:

The first is hupomimnesko, and it just simply means to remind, to bring to remembrance.  We see this word use in II Timothy 2:4-14, II Peter 1:12-13, and the purpose of being reminded here is to remind them about the things concerning salvation and sanctification.  In II Peter 3:1 it is so that they would be stirred up to remember the Scriptures.  In Jude 1:5 it is used so as to remind them about the judgment of God upon those who do not truly believe.  In Titus 3:1-2 it is used to remind them how they are to be behaving as Christians.

The second is anamimnesko, which means to remind again, to re-remind, if you will.  It is used in
I Corinthians 4:17 it is used to remind them of Paul's example, his teaching and its uniformity.  In II Timothy 1:6 it is used so as to strengthen and encourage Timothy.

The third is epanamimnesko, which means to strongly or greatly remind, so as to never forget.  Paul uses this word in Romans 15:15-16 to tell them that he has written this great epistle to them so that they will never forget the gospel.  In other words this epistle was written so that the gospel would be forever etched in their minds.

Additionally, in Philippians 3:1 we see Paul telling the Philippians that to write the same things again is a safeguard for them.  So we see that reminding is also for our protection.

So we see here in these verses some of what reminding is intended to accomplish.

You see, going to church, studying the Bible, and listening to sermons is not always about hearing or learning something new, but many times it is to be reminded of what we already know. We are never too old in Christ or too old in years to learn something new, and we will never reach a place where we have heard it all or know it all.  However, we will never reach a point or ever reach an age where we won't need to be reminded. You see, so much of our Christian life is about being reminded.  We, being the weak frail creatures that the Scriptures tell us that we are, need to be reminded. We need to be reminded so we won't forget.  We need to be reminded so our faith will be reinforced and strengthened.  We need to be reminded so as to be refreshed when we grow weary.  We need to be reminded to be reproved for not doing what we know to do.  We need to be reminded so as to be revitalized so we will fight the good fight and press on in our faith.  We need to be reminded so we can be restored when we have been wounded or brought low.  We need to be reminded so as to be renewed to a greater state of Christlikeness.  Sometimes we just simply need to be reminded that we need to be reminded; and, if you think about it, many times we are the most blessed by hearing a truth that we already hold dear.

So, fellow pastors, let us not forsake, neglect, or forget our responsibility to remind our people about what the Bible says.  Let us not be afraid to remind, for we are in the reminding business.  Those of us who preach should love to tell the story, again and again.  Indeed, that is our charge.

And how is the best way to do this, so that it doesn't grow stale from the repetition?  Preach through the Bible verse by verse, book by book.  This is one of the beauties and benefits of  sequential expository preaching.  This way you will present the same truths and cover the same themes, but in different contexts and from different angles; and, in doing so, the gospel will be kept fresh, both for you and for your people.