Gospel Meditations for Voters

I wrote the following article for TCBC’s bulletins this Sunday. I thought it might be helpful for other churches, as well. It’s written with the feel of the Gospel Meditations books (which you can obtain here). Feel free to download and duplicate the PDF, but please don’t alter it in any way. Grace!

Gospel Meditations for Voters PDF

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Election day is upon us. I hope you will vote. (I already did, taking my wife on a coffee-and-ballots date last week.) It’s proper for Christian citizens to exercise the rights of citizenship (as Paul in did in Acts 16:37-39; 21:39; 22:25-29; and 25:10-11). So vote! And vote in a Christian manner. What should you be thinking when you pull the curtain on your booth?

1. Christians should vote with thanksgiving.

Think of how few people throughout human history have had the right to influence their government with their vote. We’re not under the boot of a dictator. We’re not inheriting a king who has inherited his throne. We’re not in the middle of civil war. We’re voting. What a great blessing God has given us to live in such a country at such a time! As you vote, offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the Giver of this gift (James 1:17).

2. Christians should vote for righteousness.

Scripture doesn’t contain the names of candidates or parties. But it does tell us what our leaders are supposed to do:

  • Protect the innocent and punish the guilty (1 Peter 2:14; Romans 13:3-4)
  • Lead in a way that shows the fear of God, guards the peace of citizens, and allows the advance of the gospel (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  • Pursue righteousness, not wickedness (Proverbs 14:34)

Christians should pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1) and submit to our leaders (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). In America, we should also help choose our leaders. As we do, we should prioritize issues on which the Bible speaks with clarity (such as the sanctity of life and marriage).

3. Christians should vote in faith.

Tensions are high. People will stay up late to see which states go “blue” or “red” and who gets 270 electoral votes. As Christians, we must watch in faith, without anxiety, knowing that whoever rules in Washington, there is a Greater who rules in heaven. The future of our country will be affected by this election, but not the future of the church or of God’s Kingdom. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, “There is a Higher Throne.” So vote. Then rest in the sovereignty and goodness of the only perfect Ruler. He ordains our leaders (Romans 13:1). He controls our leaders (Proverbs 21:1). And He will one day replace our leaders (Revelation 11:15). Hallelujah! “Come, Lord Jesus.”

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MacArthur Calls Out the Democratic Party

John MacArthur doesn’t confuse Christianity with a political agenda. He’s a pastor, not a lobbyist. But there are times when Christian leaders rightly uncork on political leaders’ immorality in a John-the-Baptist-to-Herod-the-Tetrarch kind of way (Matthew 14:4). MacArthur recently gave a stern rebuke to the Democratic party, which he says is “making a platform out of what God hates.” He ties the party’s platform to Romans 1 sins and says it is a failure of Romans 13 responsibilities. You can read about his comments in this blog post. At the very least, take 5 minutes to give the MP3 links a listen.

What I’m Reading: Rules for Radicals

Rules for RadicalsOn the advice of my friend Craig, I’ve picked up Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. What a fascinating and frightening book! It’s interesting enough to me that I’m going to be making a series of posts here summarizing and critiquing (and if you’d like, discussing) each chapter. Thus, I’ll not get into many specifics in this introductory post. I will, however, make a couple quick observations:

1. It’s a great read. Alinsky (1909-1972) is a tremendous communicator—witty, profound, and intelligent. All of which makes what he’s pushing (the fruits of which are evident all around you) all the more dangerous. You’ll like him. And you’ll fear him. But you won’t be sorry that you read him.

2. The comment I wrote at the end of the Preface: “Dude is shrewd.” With notable exceptions and contradictions, the thing he’s after is power—not justice, not reform, not an ideology. Frankly, he’s less noble than that, it seems. He’s a self-professed pragmatist. He tells radicals how to get power, and they have.

3. It will surprise you. I was bracing for inflammatory rhetoric that might incite riots. That’s exactly what it’s not. He argues against violence—not because it’s immoral, but because it’s ineffective. Again, he’s shrewd.

4. It’s not really about politics. It’s about truth (or the denial of truth; it’s a postmodernist’s dream), about God (or, you know, whatever), and about the meaning of life. Thus, I encourage you to read it not as a Republican or Democrat, not as a Capitalist or Communist, and not with an eye on our President (though I admit that that’s fascinating to do). Read it as a Christian with an eye on your neighbors. What Alinsky expresses is essentially the worldview of most of the people we’re trying to reach with the gospel.

If you’ve not read the book, hurry up and get a copy, and we’ll read it together. (Hurry. I’ll probably start posts on Friday.)

If you’ve read the book, do you agree with me so far?

Breaking News: Pirates and Nationals Get Bailout

My sources tell me that after the President’s first pitch at the All-Star game Tuesday night, he had a couple quick conversations with the powers that be at MLB. The result? The federal government now owns and is running the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals.

For God and Country? God, Government, and the Godly

This is part 2 of a 2-part series I wrote for the OBF Visitor on what I believe to be an unhealthy preoccupation with politics among American Christians, the first of which may be found here. It was originally published in January of 2009.

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People have a seemingly insatiable desire to criticize government. Certainly there have been times and nations in which the King or Queen was loved and revered, but for the most part people love to hate government and complain about it loudly. The knee-jerk reaction of the governed is to say “Phooey on government!”

While I doubt that the Caesars spent much time polling, I don’t imagine that Caesar Tiberius’ approval rating in Palestine during the time of Christ was very high. The Jews of Jesus’ day loathed their Roman rulers and longed to cast off their authority. They assumed that the promised Messiah would deliver Israel from Roman oppression, not from personal sin, and Jesus’ failure to meet their expectations is one reason why “he came to his own, his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). The Lord Jesus spoke out loudly against hypocritical religious leaders, but he said very little about political governors, even when given the opportunity. In the final days of Christ’s earthly ministry, against the tumultuous backdrop of Roman oppression and Jewish frustration, the Pharisees and Herodians baited Christ with a question about God, government, and citizens. They asked him whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes, assuming they had him in a no-win situation (Matt 22:17). Should he answer “no” he would offend the Romans; should he answer “yes” he would offend the Jews. Instead, his deft answer embarrassed and silenced his questioners and provided instructions for Christian citizens today. Pointing out the image of Caesar borne by the coins of the day (and implicitly, the image of God borne by all people of all times), Jesus asserted that we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

What does that mean exactly? How do the three parties Jesus discussed—God, government (Caesar), and citizens—relate to one another? Specifically, how does God relate to government, and how does the Christian relate to government? The Bible provides clear answers to these questions. First, what is the relationship between God and Government? Continue reading

For God and Country? Politics and the Gospel

This is part 1 of a 2-part series I wrote for the OBF Visitor on what I believe to be an unhealthy preoccupation with politics among American Christians. It was originally published on December 1, 2008.

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America has elected a new president, and the “religious right” is reeling. In the last decade, political liberals have gained the House, the Senate, and now the White House. After thirty years of intense political activism, American Christians have very little to show for their efforts. Abortion is still legal. Though there have been small restrictions for which we can be thankful, even those baby steps may be erased by a new administration. Evolution is accepted as an undeniable truth. Pornography rages. The homosexual agenda is gaining steam.

Sure, one could make the argument that if Christians had not flexed their political muscle, things would be even worse, but I wonder if that’s true. I wonder if the energies and confidence of American Christians have been misplaced for the last generation. I wonder if the “thud” we heard on November 4, 2008 wasn’t the final fall of the evangelical political machine. Frankly, I wonder if that would be such a bad thing. I believe there are a number of lessons to be learned for Christians in the wake of the 2008 election.

First, we must recognize that the Church of Jesus Christ will be fine, regardless of who is in office—or what that “office” is.
To hear some Christian leaders leading up to the election (or the two that preceded it), one might have thought that the one loophole in Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18 is the election of a liberal to the United States presidency—that the gates of hell just might prevail against Christ’s church if a Democrat were to win the highest office! Of course I’m jesting, but I have heard a number of doomsayers suggest that the ability of Christ’s church to minister will be severely hindered by a liberal government.

Such fears have no biblical or historical grounds. The church has thrived in a variety of political systems, from republics and monarchies to empires and dictatorships. For example, the vitality of the church in Nero’s Roman Empire or in modern Communist China makes the “free” church of America look positively impotent. The gospel, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:9, is “not bound.” That’s not to say that I’m yearning for persecution; Christians who do so are naïve and should pay attention to 1 Timothy 2:1–2. Is it not true though, that the power of the gospel and the purity of the church have shone most brightly in times of political opposition, not times of freedom? American Christians may have cause for concern about their country, but the church of Jesus Christ will be just fine.

Second, we must recognize that “saving America” is not high on God’s agenda. Continue reading

The Value of Human Life Is Plunging

Cal Thomas on a recession of more consequence than the economy’s:

“It ought to disturb all of us that the value of human life continues to decline nearly as fast as the stock market.”

Read the full, efficient “On Faith” article here.