Peace or War?

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” But elsewhere in Matthew 10:34 Jesus said, “I came not to bring peace but a sword.” It is clear that society has gone to great lengths to hijack words like tolerance, bullying, and hate speech. They twist these words to silence anyone with a Biblical worldview. The question then becomes, “when should we, as Christians, speak up?” Last month, the Democratic National Convention boldly declared abortion, same sex marriage, and the removal of God as tenants of their platform; they drove an irreversible wedge between themselves and anyone claiming the Judeo-Christian belief in God. The cost has never been higher. The lines have been drawn, and the war on religious freedom is in full swing. Christians cannot sit idly by, they must face the facts and the issues are clear, it is time to speak.

Life
Parties and policies are ever changing, but the Word of God does not. Christians should seek to protect, promote, and preserve life at all costs. Life is the umbrella and make up of our great nation, and we should not play with it as though we were God. When faced with abortion and stem cell research Christians should be reminded of David’s words in Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book & planned before a single one of them began” According to the Declaration of Independence, “All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Life is the first God-given right of every human being. Unfortunately, our God-given right to life in America is undermined when 25% of pregnancies in the USA end in abortion. The combined atrocities surrounding the Holocaust, Ku Klux Klan, and acts of radical terrorism do not equal the 54,560,000 children that have been murdered through abortion in my lifetime. Ours is a government for the people and by the people. If abortion continues to be legal, it is our own fault.

Marriage
The family is the basic building block of society, and the first institution created by God. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” There is no such thing as same sex marriage, and Christians should fight for the true definition of marriage. Bishop E.W. Jackson said, “The moment you say “same-sex marriage” you have called God a liar.” We must remember that the creator of something has the right to define it. You can play all of the word games you like and even create a so-called union between two men, but you cannot call that “marriage.” Activists will often ask Christians, “How does our marriage hurt you?” The answer is that it destroys religious freedom and free speech rights. This year we have seen Obama-care attack the autonomy of Catholic churches by attempting to force them, in violation of Catholic teaching, to pay for contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs for church employees. Clearly, those that are hostile to our beliefs will attempt to force us to not only to accept gay marriage but to condone it as well.

Israel
Israel is facing its greatest crisis in its modern history. Many Americans don’t see the terror of the situation. Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” but many ask, “What does it matter to me?” The United Nations did not exist when God gave His promise to Israel. Genesis 12:3 says, “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt.” God curses every nation and world leader that has lifted their hand to hurt Israel. Radicals can’t be appeased or satisfied; they must be met with power & resolve. Our country has always stood at arms with Israel, until now, when our current leadership shows nothing but an antagonistic attitude towards our Israeli friends.

The free exercise of religion
President Reagan said, “The Government’s 1st duty is to protect the people not run their lives.” In 1954, Senator Lyndon Johnson led the U.S. Congress to amend IRS Code §501(c)(3). It would restrict the speech of non-profit tax-exempt entities, including churches. The restriction excessively unites government with religion, violates a church’s right to free exercise of religion, and violates a church’s right to free speech. Unfortunately, this amendment has silenced many churches. Pastors have self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government, and even foregoing the opportunities to praise moral government leaders. Ironically, the IRS has never punished a pastor for the content of his sermon. Yet groups like Freedom From Religion keep threatening churches. Where would we be today on certain matters if pastors and ministers were not speaking from the pulpit. Things like segregation? Child labor? Advancing Civil Rights? When speaking biblical truth, we do not need to be afraid or intimidated. Jeremiah says, “Now, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them.”

On October 7, 1801, The Danbury Baptists wrote newly elected President Thomas Jefferson a letter of congratulations. However, in that same letter, the Baptists also expressed a grave concern. In short, the Danbury Baptists felt the phrase the “free exercise of religion” in the Constitution suggested that the right of religious expression was government-given rather than God-given, and therefore the government might someday attempt to regulate religious expression. Jefferson understood and even shared their concern. As he explained, “It had become an universal and uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our governors…for instance, freedom of religion.” Thomas Jefferson believed, along with the other Founders, that the First Amendment only prevented the federal establishment of a national denomination. Jefferson wrote:

Gentlemen, Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions…The legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to the supreme will of the nation, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments to restore to man all his natural rights.

Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the author and source of our rights. Therefore, the government was to be prevented from interference with those rights.

The cost of Christian leadership, while still free, is worth the price of persecution
The demand for all Americans to bow to the self-proclaimed sovereignty of our president or any party leads to the remembrance of Shadrech, Meshack and Abednego. They would not bow to a king and we should not bow to any policy, party, president, or power other than Almighty God. It is not a hate crime when we are upholding God’s Word. We are not ashamed of our God, and we are not ashamed of our Bibles. Christians can speak up and remain active by:

Praying
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” The Divine tipping point is linked to the Christians kneeling point!

Participating
Bad politicians are elected by good people who choose not to vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t gripe. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” Now in America, for the godly to be in authority we have to vote for them. In Romans 13:1 God established the institution of government. So the question becomes, “should we stay out of it?” NO. God expects us to get involved, to be salt & light. Vote, run for office, and lead just like Christians have done since the settlement and founding of this nation.

Preaching
We are ambassadors for Christ, citizens of heaven, who reside temporarily in the land of liberty and the home of the free. For 58 years, the church has been muzzled. But I believe this year could be the season of great revival. This could be the day of the next great awakening. As pastors and Christians stand up for biblical applications in social life, as we kneel before the Lord our maker! Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!”

(sermon excerpt from message I preached at Mobberly on Oct 7, 2012)

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