The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Right Response to Suffering

1 Peter 4:12-19 – “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, 1 Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” 

Everyone is going to suffer at some point in this life. Suffering takes many forms; physical, psychological, spiritual. Suffering is relative to the individual. What is "suffering" for one person may not be "suffering" for someone else. Suffering is personal. Suffering will be present in life at some point. This is God's sovereign determination; to allow suffering in life at certain times. God does not always heal or deliver. Suffering serves God's purposes. God can bring good even from times of suffering. We might not always know what God's purpose or plan is when we suffering, we might not see how He can bring "good" from suffering. But we can be sure that even when we or others suffer, God is still on the throne, God still has a righteous plan, and He is working redemptively even during times of suffering.

It's important to trust God even when we suffer. And it's important that what we do suffer is for the right reasons and not because of personal sin. When we suffer as a consequence of our sinful choices, we suffer unnecessarily. The consequence of sin is just and it does have disciplinary value. Suffering as a consequence of sin is something we bring on ourselves and we have no basis to question why it occurs. But even when suffer for righteousness sake, we need to trust in the Lord and His mercy and motive. We need to respond to suffering in a righteous God glorifying way. It is A Right Response to Suffering that we will consider in this study.

First, a right response to suffering doesn't think suffering is strange. Peter states, "“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; . . ." Peter speaks to these "beloved" brethren and encourages them that the "fiery trial" or incident of suffering should not be thought of as "strange." "Strange" (Greek xenidzo) means an unexpected house guest, to be shocked or surprised by the arrival of someone unexpected, to be surprised by an uninvited person at your door. In other words, in this fallen sinful world we should expect the uninvited intrusions of suffering. This is par for the course in this fallen world. Fiery trials will intrude in our life. You can count on it!

This implies we should live with a readiness for suffering. It doesn't mean we live with a fearful paranoia of  a "What's going to happen next?" mentality. It doesn't mean we should diminish joy thinking if something good happens to us then it's only a matter of time before something bad will also happen to us. It simply means we should walk with a healthy awareness and expectation that this life is characterized by times of trials and when trials do come, we need to be ready to respond in the right way. It simply means to be aware of the reality in which we live and to walk aware of your surroundings.

Paul exhorted his readers to "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise" (Eph. 5:15). The word "circumspectly" (Greek akribos) means carefully, perfectly, diligently. The idea is to walk with our head on a swivel and awareness of our surroundings. When we walk through the dark alleys of life  we need to be aware that lurking in the dark doorways are elements that want to rob and harm us.  A fool walks through life unaware of the dangers around him. That is because a fool walks without God (e.g. Psalm 14). But the Christian's comfort is that as we walk through the dark alleyways of life we belong to the Father in heaven and He watches over His children, Jesus is with us, and the Holy Spirit our Body Guard leads us, has our back, and even if a punch is landed or an injury incurred, the Spirit has the balm needed to bring healing.

Second, a right response to suffering is joyful because trials are an opportunity to know Christ in a deeper way. Peter continues, " but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." Joy isn't happiness that depends on the happenings of life. Joy is a deep settled assurance that no matter what befalls us, God is in control and He can bring good from suffering. Suffering is an opportunity for us to "partake" in (Greek koinoneo) or communicate with, commune with, share in, partner with Jesus. Suffering helps us to understand and know Jesus better and on a deeper level of spirituality. When we suffer it causes us to get our priorities in order and look forward all the more for the coming of Jesus. And when Jesus does return, those who have suffered will have all the more reason to rejoice. Come Lord Jesus!

Third, a right response to suffering understands there is blessing in suffering. " If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified." There is a blessing ("blessed" - Greek makarios) or a supreme blessing, to be fortunate, to be well off, a benefit when we are "reproached" (Greek oneidizo) or railed at, chided, taunted, reviled, because of Jesus. When people clench their teeth and act in hateful ways toward us because of our relationship with Jesus, there is a blessing at hand. And that blessing will be that "the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." When we suffer the Holy Spirit is with us and empowers us by coming "upon" us. Suffering is often the circumstance in which the Holy Spirit comes upon people in His Pentecostal power (compare John 14:15-18; and Acts 1:4-5, 8 and Acts 2 ff.). We see this throughout the Book of Acts (e.g. Acts 4, 7, 8, 12, 14, 16, etc.). When we suffer we need the Holy Spirit's comfort and support. He is our Comforter. Suffering presents the perfect circumstance for the Holy Spirit to reveal His reality and power. Others may blaspheme God, but we who know Him and experience His tangible presence in suffering will glorify Him. Hallelujah!!!

Fourth, a right suffering is not the consequence of sin. Peter states, " But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters." When we sin and suffer the consequences that is not righteous suffering. Those who break God's law in principle or otherwise will receive just consequence in their life. That is nothing for anyone to take credit for. In the world today people choose to live contrary to God's righteous ways and suffer as a result. That is nothing to be proud of. For that people should be ashamed.

Fifth, a right response to suffering seeks to glorify God. " Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." When we do suffer for doing good or according to God's will our ambition and aim should be to be used in such a situation for the glory of God. We shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves but should be selfless and seek to proclaim and live in God's faithfulness and truth. When we suffer we shouldn't seek the sympathy of others by subtle insinuations that in some way God has let us down. No, instead we should seek the strength of God to endure as we draw close to Him. When we suffer we need to turn toward God not away from God, for it is in His arms that we will find what is needed to weather storms of suffering. And living that truth brings glory to God.

Sixth, a right response to suffering understands that Christians are held to a higher standard. Peter states, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, 1 Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Christians know the truth of the gospel, know Who Jesus is, have access to God's word and revelation truth. Therefore Christians will be judged as to how they lived and applied all God's grace and resource.

What does Peter mean when he is inspired to say, "If the righteous are scarcely saved. . . ." I think it refers to Christians growing in their walk with the Lord being more aware of just how much their salvation depends on the grace of God. The closer we come to Jesus in our walk the more clearly we will be aware of our sin. As we walk and come closer to the Lord we have Isaiah 6 experiences where in the presence of God we cry out like Isaiah, "Woe is me for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). These are experiences where in HIs presence we become more acutely aware of our sinful thoughts, words and deeds. In such humbling times all we can do is fall before God in humble repentance and worship Him for is grace and love toward us. If you haven't experienced this as a Christian, trust me, if you continue with Him you will.

When you come close to God and His Holy presence, you can't help but be more aware of your utter sinfulness and ungodliness even with God's grace and the Holy Spirit helping you. This is not a fault of God but a fault of ours. We fail to avail ourselves of God's gracious provisions. But thankfully God is patient, longsuffering, merciful, gracious and loving toward us. From this humble perspective all the Christian can do is bow before Almighty God and be aware that we are "scarcely saved." We are "scarcely saved" not because God's grace is limited, (far from it!), but because we humans are so weak, limited, flawed, and spiritually dull that the only way we could ever be saved is by His grace and mercy. If that is the case with Christians, "Where will the ungodly and sinner appear?" how much harder will it be for those who suffer on their own? It is impossible to be saved apart for the gospel of God's grace.

Seventh, a right response to suffering commits itself to God and understands that sometimes it is God's will that we suffer. " Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”  We may not always understand God's plan or purpose in suffering, but we should always commit ourselves to the Lord. No matter what we should entrust our life and everything else to the Lord's will. We need to walk by faith and not be overwhelmed by the sight of suffering in our life (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:7).

The following poem by an unknown author puts suffering in perspective:

 

            One day as I was fast asleep

            I had this stirring dream;

            I was caught up to be with God.

            With angels it did seem.

 

            And while up there, I met God’s saints

            From many parts of the earth.

            Now some were great and famous men.

            And some of humble birth.

 

            I talked to one great saint of God,

            The first one I had met.

            He told me how he died for Christ.

            His words I can’t forget.

 

            He lived, he said, in Bible days

            And died at Nero’s stake.

            “It was a joy to give my all

            And burn for Jesus’ sake.”

 

            “I was so glad to die for Christ.”

            With humble words he said.

            But as I listened to it all.

            I bowed my guilty head.

 

            Another man then gently spoke,

            “Here is my story, friend.

            “Twas cannibals that took my life,

            Because I would not bend.

 

            “I tried to tell those heathen souls

            Of Christ who came to die.

            They ate my flesh and drank my blood

            But sent my soul on high

 

            “Of course up here are millions more

            With stories rare and true.

            But friend, before I tell you more,

            Let’s hear your story too.”

 

            I am ashamed of how I’ve failed,

            I’ve known no sacrifice.

            I am ashamed of how I’ve failed,

            I’ve paid such little price.

 

            I’ve never even given funds

            To send the gospel out,

            I’ve lived a life of luxury

            And never done without.

 

            Those costly cars, those extra clothes

            Seem needless now and vain;

            The very thought of how I’ve lived

            Now fills my heart with pain.

 

            Just then it seemed that Jesus said,

            “Take up My cross today;

            I’ll give to you another chance

            To work and give and pray.”

 

            My guilty heart began to burn,

            My nervous body shake.

            Then I awoke with tear-filled eyes

            With new resolves to make.

 

            I told the Lord from that day forth

            My best, my all I’d give

            To win the lost in every place,

            For this alone I live.

            I told the Lord that from then on

            I would not waste a dime;

            That I would give myself to prayer

            And really use my time.

 

            That I would seek with all my heart

            That power from above

            To help me tell a heathen world

            Of Jesus grace and love.[1]

 

Suffering is a God ordained part of this life. God can use suffering instrumentally in our life and the lives of others. We need the right perspective on suffering so we can have a right response to suffering. How we respond to suffering determines whether we will enter heaven empty handed or with a love offering for our Lord. Are you suffering? Are you a chronic complainer about difficulties in life? Has your response to suffering brought a reproach to God? Or have you drawn closer to Jesus in your suffering and brought Him glory. A right response to suffering will help you answer those questions.



[1] Pilgrim Gospel Messenger, as quoted in Paul Lee Tans, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Pub., P.O. Box 753, 1979) p. 1376

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Handling Unexpected Difficulties

1 Peter 4:7-12 – “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  12 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

Trials and difficulties are an inevitable part of Life. They can take the form of corporate social or individual personal settings. Trials can be global or national wars, political revolutions, social chaos and rioting, or economic collapses. Or  trials can be more personal, a relational conflict, family breakup, loss of personal income, a terminal illness. How can we handle such circumstances in life?

What compounds and increases the difficulty to handle such situations is that these trials usually come in unexpected ways. Unexpected disasters, both natural and human made. Unexpected losses. Unexpected illnesses. Unexpected changes for the worse. Unexpected negative actions and reactions of others. A day can start fine and suddenly turn to the worst day in your life.

Peter tells these pilgrims, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." He warns these "beloved" brethren and encourages them that the "fiery trial" or incident of suffering they were experiencing should not be thought of as "strange." "Strange" (Greek xenidzo) means an unexpected house guest, to be shocked or surprised by the arrival of someone unexpected, to be surprised by an uninvited person at your door. In this fallen sinful world we should expect the uninvited intrusions of suffering. Hardship will come knocking on your door like an unwanted salesman or nuisance neighbor. Hardship comes like a home invasion. This is par for the course in this fallen world. Fiery trials will intrude into our life. You can count on it! How can we handle such unexpected visits of trial?  

The apostle Peter wrote his first epistle to pilgrims who had been displaced from their homes and jobs and communities by persecution. While Christians probably saw the writing on the wall of oncoming persecution, when it finally did hit them, there was a suddenness to the reality of it. Even though the persecuted Christians of Peter's day felt the tide turning against them, there was a certain sudden reality and finality to that persecution. Seeing something coming and then being hit by it does not discount the sudden impact of it. Like a cresting wave that suddenly smashes us down or an oncoming car coming your way, there is a sense of slow motion and then an explosion of sensory overload. How should we, how can we handle that?

Though Peter had such circumstances in mind when inspired to write his epistle, he knew that these people were not exempt from personal "normal" trials too. Personal trials don't take off and stop because of societal difficulties. Quite the contrary, the enemy likes to pile on. So, the persecuted may still experience a terminal illness. And terminal illness, even though it brings with it the awareness of an impending end to life, when that end comes, it is sudden and a shock to our system; death always is. How should we respond in such situations?

Regardless of the difficulty we encounter how should we respond? There are a number of things Peter mentions as helpful in the context of sudden suffering. These should be mentioned before we get  to the most important response to suffering. There is something that "above all" we should do when difficulties hit us. These are wise words from the inspired fisherman. And we live in times where we see the writing on the wall. The tide is turning against us in many ways. Or we may, unbeknownst to us, be about to face a sudden unexpected personal difficulty. These things will come. What is Peter inspired to instruct us in this regard?

First, remember our present state of suffering is not eternal but temporary. Peter states, "But the end of all things is at hand." God has revealed His prophetic plan in His word. There is an end to this fallen world as we know it. It will be a glorious end with a glorious transformation by God (cf. Revelation 19-22). It's easier to endure pain when you know it's not permanent. I can endure the dentist or go through surgery if I keep in mind it will all be over soon. We can persevere through suffering if we just keep in mind that "the end of all things is at hand." Jesus is coming back! Paul referred to the return of Jesus as the Christians' "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). It's blessed because it helps us endure to the end. Jesus is coming back and He is going to bring eternal order to this temporal mess the devil and his minions of lost rebellious humanity have concocted.

Second, pray seriously and watchfully in light of the temporariness of our suffering state. Peter continues, "therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers." Prayer is a declaration of dependence on God. We can't weather the storms of trial in our own strength. We need to tap into God's power by way of prayer. Prayer brings the peace of God that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). When we keep our mind on God in prayer it settles and strengthens us (Isaiah 26:3; Phil. 4:8-9).

The term "serious" comes from the Greek word sophreneo which means to be of sound mind, sane, be in your right mind, to exercise self control, curb your passions. An example of sophreneo might be not getting carried away with various conspiracy theories floating around the Internet. Some go so far as to claim the earth isn't round but flat. Others are related to so many topics space does not allow to list them all here. The people who hold to such theories are very passionate about them. Peter's words don't instruct us to not investigate truth. They tell us to investigate truth in a sober self controlled way. There may be an element of truth in some of the "conspiracy" theories in the world today. But not all are true. Heresy is half truths. Cults lure people in with the hook of a half truth and then carve them up with boldface lies. Some conspiracy theories are simply a means by people to manipulate and influence others in a direction they prefer. Some of these theories are meant to divert our attention from the real issues and problems. Some are disinformation. Some are genuine exposes on real clandestine cutthroat activities. As we wade through the proliferation of information we need to do so with prayer, God's word in hand, levelheadedness, and the discernment provided by the Holy Spirit.

"Watchful" (Greek  nepho) means to abstain from wine, sober, discretion, watchfulness. The context would direct us to see this word in light of Peter's previously mentioned indulging in "lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3). In light of the closeness of "the end of all things" we need to be on high alert. We can't afford to allow our senses to be diminished in any way by mood and mind altering worldly stuff like alcohol, drugs, rampant materialism, and the religion of recreation. We shouldn't allow any temporal diversion in this world to keep us from focusing in on eternal priorities related to heaven and eternity. We are in a dangerous time and need to be on the top of our game spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Third, be hospitable; use your resources (e.g. homes) to facilitate fellowship. Peter states, " Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." "Hospitable" (Greek philoxenos) means fond of guests, given to hospitality, inviting people into your home. Christians need mutual support. The Comforter comforts through other Christians. Therefore we should be open and eager to have people to our homes. We should hold our possessions and resources with open handed extensions of an open heart. Christians should facilitate spending time with each other. We should seek to build relationships with other Christians. We shouldn't settle for spending an hour in church and then run out without spending time with other Christians and getting to know them. Peter points these persecuted pilgrim Christians to friendship and relationship as a network of encouragement and resource of help and support during difficult times. The Holy Spirit comforts through others and He may just want to comfort someone through you! Christian, in light of the times in which we live we need to open our homes, open our cubboards and even bank accounts to help others. We need to spend time with one another.

And we should open our homes and be in fellowship "without grumbling" (Greek goggysmos). This means not grudging, not murmuring, not having a secret debate, or secret displeasure about interacting with people or having them in our homes. We should count it a blessed privilege to be used by God to interact with others by using our homes or getting together with them in some way. Don't grumble when people come to fellowship empty handed. Don't grumble when they track dirt into your home. Don't grumble when people are unappreciative or inconsiderate. Just cover it all with "a fervent love for one another." Be gracious. And for those who do come empty handed, or track dirt into homes, or aren't appreciative or considerate, repent! Show your love for those who host get-togethers and fellowship by being considerate of their generosity. Both hosts and guests should show their love for each other.

Fourth, use your spiritual gifts during times of suffering. Peter writes, " As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." By God's grace we have received spiritual gifts to be used corporately in the body of Christ to strengthen the church. Our spiritual gifting is aimed at uniting and strengthening the members of the church. We each have a responsibility to discover and use our spiritual gifts for the benefit of others (cf. Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12 and 14; Ephesians 4). Spiritual gifts are given for the profit of all not the preoccupation with self. This implies unity, working together, being other oriented, and leaning on each other in the church. This is essential to persevere through trials.

Fifth, rely on and share God's word. Peter says, " If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God." "Oracles" (Greek logion) means an utterance of God, a divine oracle, words from God. We need to speak as God directs us to speak. The best way to assure we speak in line with what God would have us speak is to speak words from God's word or words that can be backed up by God's word. We should speak as the Spirit leads us. But the Spirit will provide a verification of what we speak in His word. Speak God's word!

Sixth, minister in the ability God provides. Peter comments, " If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, . . ." The word "ability" (Greek ischys from is ) means force, forcefulness, ability, might, power, strength. In other words, don't live and serve in your own strength but in the strength provided by the Lord. This would encompass the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Acts 1:8 and Acts 2ff.). Do what God enables you to do. God's callings have His enablings. If you have it in your head to do something, make sure it is God who is directing you to do it. If the ability is not there, it's not likely God has called you to do it. But if you step out in faith to do the uncomfortable, and God empowers you to do it, you will be blessed and He will be glorified.

Seventh, live to glorify God. Peter states, " that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." In all we do we should purpose to bring God glory. We should aim at giving credit and praise to God. Our response to difficulty should point to the faithfulness of God. Complaining or grumbling accuses God of not being faithful. But God gets the glory when His fingerprints are on what is done. Something done in mere human effort only yields limited temporary benefit and diverts glory from God to people. But something done that could clearly only have been done with God's intervention, yields eternal lasting fruit and benefit, and gives glory to God.

Eighth,  the most important response to suffering is LOVE. Finally Peter states, " And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” The most important thing to do in response to suffering is “have a fervent love for one another.” The word fervent” means a love that doesn’t give up, a love that is alive with hope! (Greek ektenes  to have an intent without ceasing, fervent.) [1] This love results in prayer for others, hospitality toward others, serving others in God’s grace, being guided by God’s word and all of this aimed at bringing glory to God. When we love it will  glorify God.

So as we live through our days and prepare for the inevitable often sudden difficulties let us purpose in our heart to have a loving God glorifying response ready. When there is a natural or human disaster in the public square we should pray and look for ways to minister the love of Christ to others, especially Christians. When a sudden personal trial comes our way or to a loved one close to us, we should pray and look for ways to love in Christ. When the terminal illness threatens, comfort and assure in love. When the means of income is lost, love in word and deed (cf. 1 John 3:16-18). When the fires of relational conflict rear their angry head, quench it with love. With an arm around the shoulder, hold people close in love. Love with a listening ear. Love with holy words of hope (e.g. Romans 15:13). Love with a helping hand. In whatever difficult circumstances we find ourselves, sudden or not, find a way to love in Christ. Love people into the Kingdom. Love people to Jesus. That will glorify God. That will get us through.

 

 



[1]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“If a man dies, will he live again?”

In the book of Job the question is asked, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14). Asking the question is easy, but the difficult part is finding someone to answer the question with authority and experience. Death is the great equalizer. Everyone dies: men and women, rich, poor, educated and uneducated, everyone.

People often fear death. “The ancient philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) recognized that the fear of death was present in everybody and therefore he sought a way to remove that fear. Epicurus taught that humanity not need fear death because human beings are nothing more than a composition of atoms which at death simply disperse and that is the end of things. Epicurus didn’t believe there were any gods to fear or anything to face once a person breathed their last. His teaching of maximum pleasure in this life with minimum pain and suffering dictated that everything ends when death occurred.” The Epicureans believed, “When the dust has soaked up a person’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection.” Maybe that’s the way you look at death. There’s an alternative for you to consider. 

Despite this and other philosophies that deny death, there is still great fear and uncertainty about death. Again in Job is says death is the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). In the movie the Bucket List, a movie about coming to grips with death, one of the dying characters state, “WE all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall. Yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That’s why we fear death.”

There is One Person who has gone to that wall, passed to the others side and has returned to tell us what to expect. That Person is Jesus Christ. No credible scholar doubts that Jesus was an actual historical figure. Scholars also accept Jesus performed miracles. There is universal agreement Jesus was crucified and died. But it is the resurrection that makes Jesus the expert Who can answer our question about death and if there is an afterlife.

 Jesus tells us three things about life after death:

 
1.      Jesus tells us there is life (eternal life) after death.

2.      Jesus tells us that when a person dies there are two possible eternal destinies a person can experience; one negative; one positive; one to be avoided at all costs; one to be sought at all cost.

3.      Jesus tells us there is a way to assure and ensure that we experience a positive eternal destiny.

 
First, that Jesus taught there was existence after death is seen in the following verses. The Sadducees denied the resurrection but Jesus said to them:


Mark 12:26-27 - But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

Jesus states those died in the past still have an existence.

Jesus comforted His disciples with the words:

 John 14:1-4 -  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Secondly, Jesus taught there were two eternal destinies. Jesus said:

 Jesus, in His account of a beggar named Lazarus and the rich man who died stated:

Luke 16:22-23 -  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

He speaks again of two eternal destines when He states:

Matthew 25:46 - And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

John 5:25-29 - Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In Hebrews it states:

Hebrews 9:27 - And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

So it’s pretty clear from the expert on life after death that there is life after death and that that existence poses two possible destinies; one very bad; one very good.

Finally, is it possible to determine our eternal destiny? Is it possible to avoid hell and secure heaven? The answer to this question is a clear YES! In John chapter 3 Jesus had a very down to earth conversation with a religious Pharisee named Nichodemas. You might think a religious man like Nicodemus would have a confident understanding about the afterlife but he did not. This shows us being religious does not secure heaven in the afterlife.

What did Jesus say was necessary to secure heaven in the afterlife? Listen to what Jesus said to this religious man:

 John 3:1-18 -  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The person who turns from their sins to God (repents) and receives Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, the afterlife will consist of an eternity spent with God.

But for those who reject this good news of the Gospel, their destiny will be spent in an eternity separated from God’s presence.

Jesus said:

Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

One commentator states:

 
“G. B. Hardy, a Canadian Scientist, once said, "I have only two questions to ask. One, has anyone ever defeated death? Two, did he make a way for me to do it also?" The answer to both of Hardy’s questions is “yes.” One Person has both defeated death and provided a way for everyone who puts their trust in Him to overcome it as well. Epicurus may have believed that everyone fears death, but the truth is no one who trusts in Christ needs to be afraid. Rejoicing in this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’" (1 Corinthians 15:54–55).[1]

 “If a man die, will he live again?” Our answer is “Yes.” But the next answer is even more important and challenging – “Where will you spend your afterlife?”

 

 



[1] www.gotquestions.org – “Is There an Afterlife?”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Political Christian

We are living in a very chaotic and divisive political season. The present presidential election is among the most contentious in recent memory. Proponents of opposing views treat each other as at best ignorant and at worst traitors. The two sides in the political debate do indeed represent diametrically opposed world views. It's tradition versus progressivism. It's capitalism versus socialism. It's old versus young. It's seeing the constitution as a set of founding principles that spans historical context or seeing the constitution as a document that needs to be fluidly "interpreted" to fit modern historical contexts. Many are viewing this election cycle as truth versus lies. On top of this consider that the two presidential candidates are flawed in numerous ways and each candidate's supporters are hell bent on their winning this election.

 

What's a Christian to do in such a volatile political climate? Should we just turn away shaking our heads in consternation and retreat into isolation? Should we adopt an attitude of futility thinking it doesn't matter who is elected because nothing is going to change? Should we look at the political world from a prophetic perspective hoping for the world to blow up so as to facilitate the sooner return of Jesus? All of these stances are possibilities for the Christian to take. But if the Christian is going to be scripturally sound I think it best to take a deep breath, pray, and then do what we can do in the governmental system God has sovereignly birthed us in or brought us to. What do the scriptures say about the Christian's role in politics?

 

The apostle Peter wrote his first epistle to Christians who were persecuted pilgrims displaced from their homes and lands by a government that persecuted them. Peter's words in this letter to the persecuted is very pertinent for us today. Christians are more and more marginalized in the media and social discourse of our day. If you are paying attention and observing how Christians are verbally attacked and ridiculed, you probably are  beginning to wonder how long before verbal attacks get physical. The political climate of our day is like a weather front of dark storm clouds persecution forming on the horizon.  Political dialogue is the arena we are called to take a stand in. Politics plays a big role in challenging people to take a stand and express their viewpoints.

 

I don't believe Christians have the option to simple stay out of this fray. I think part of the reason we are seeing such immoral and sinful degeneracy in our land is because we as Christians have adopted a political pacifist stance of noninvolvement. We are reaping what we have sowed. I'm not blaming all our nation's problems on Christian political inactivity. But I do think we need to prayerfully reflect on our personal responsibility that what we see in our world today has happened on our watch. We need to seek the Lord for direction in the political arena. I don't think we should become obsessed with politics. But I also don't think we should ignore politics. We have to find a scriptural balance. That's where Peter's inspired words come in.

 

As I mentioned Peter wrote to Christians who were severely persecuted by the government under which they lived. They weren't blessed with a democracy. There Caesar was deified. They were under considerably worse political conditions than we are today. With this in mind, what was Peter inspired by God to tell them about how to relate to their government? Let's see.

 

1 Peter 2:13a – “Therefore submit yourselves. . . .

 

In this verse the "Therefore" links what Peter has said previously about how living hope. Living hope is faith for the future that endures and lives on. It begins when we are born again and it is cultivated as we grow in God's word and our relationship with Jesus (1 Peter 1 - 2:12). What follows is a consideration by Peter of practical life settings in which we live out living hope. Being a good citizen is the first life environment considered by Peter for instruction. This tells us Peter gave politics or citizenship a priority of importance for the believer. He speaks about citizenship, work relations, and marriage, but he speaks first about how these Christians were to live in their political environment. Maybe this was because this area of life was the most dangerous and life threatening for them.

 

What did Peter tell these pilgrims? Did he tell them to rebel? Did he tell them to demonstrate? Did he tell them to take up arms and fight? What did Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tell these persecuted pilgrims to do?

 

The general attitude for those living out living hope in the world is cooperation/submission. The first thing Peter advises us to do in living out living hope in all these areas of life is to "submit yourselves." The phrase "submit yourselves" (Greek hypotasso ) means to subordinate yourself, to obey, be under obedience, put under, be subject to, submit yourself to.  The grammar used by Peter here (huptagete - Aorist/Passive/Imperative) conveys the idea of a necessary or mandatory action. Peter is speaking of an imperative; a necessity; a required mindset and action to do. It's important that as Christians living out living hope we make it a priority to cooperate with authority by submitting to it.

 

Satan rebels. Saints submit. Satan rebelled against God and His rule. Saints are followers of Jesus and yield their lives to Him. They yield and submit to God because they have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Jesus in effect bought us with His blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Job said it well, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). Like Job, who suffered greatly,  we are to rest in the LORD and trust His plans even if His plans involve suffering and loss. God knows best. He oversees the universe and He alone knows what is best. We need to submit to Him and His will by faith.

 

When we look at history we see there is indeed a time to resist and even rebel against injustice. But whenever we consider such resistance and rebellion we must do so with great care because Satan is always seeking to lure people into rebellion. Our sinful nature is at heart rebellious. In circumstances where rebellion and resistance seem warranted we need to proceed prayerfully and make every effort to walk in the Spirit and make sure we are submitting to God's will. Otherwise we will become pawns of the devil and do much harm.

 

This cooperative and submissive attitude is explained by Peter to apply to politics, the work place, the family unit, and in the church. As we move on in the letter we see this applies even in circumstances involving persecution. Cooperation and submission is an important part of living out living hope. It doesn't mean we live as Millard or Mildred Milquetoasts. But sometimes it takes more faith and courage to cooperate and submit. In the end our objective is to glorify God. And a spirit of cooperation and submission is a powerful tool to see this happen.

 

1 Peter 2:13-17 – “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 

 

Cooperation and submission is the attitude and rule of thumb for the Christian to follow. Our inclination and objective is to cooperate with and submit ourselves "to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, . . . " "Every ordinance" (Greek ktisis ) means creation of, building of, ordinance of "of man" (Greek anthropinos ) or common to man, human origins, after the manner of men. This would include man made laws of government and government systems. The bottom line is  Christians are to make every effort to live as law-abiding citizens.

 

Those sent by the king or government authorities as extensions of authority are to be submitted too. The purpose of government according to Peter here is that they are ordained, "as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good." Governments are meant to keep the order and peace of society. They punish evildoers and praise those who do good. One commentary states:

 

            Although believers are citizens of heaven, they should obey civil laws while on earth.        They should "submit" themselves (hupotagete, subordinate, be in subjection, as in 3:22) to every "ordinance" (ktisei, institution) of man for the Lord's sake, and should honor the          king as being "supreme" (huperechonti, prime authority, having superiority) in his earthly        realm. Christians should obey their earthly king, Peter said, as long as it did not require             disobeying their heavenly King. Sometimes Christians have to choose between the two     loyalties (see Acts 4:19,20), but Peter made it clear that Christians should be on the side          of law and order.[1]


Why should we submit to secular or worldly authorities? What is the motive and purpose for such submission to government? Why is it important to cooperate and submit to authority? Peter states, " For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”  Let's consider the reasons for Christians to cooperate and submit to governmental authorities.

First it is God's will for us to live submissively and cooperatively with human authorities. "For this is the will of God." If you want to live in the will of God then cooperate and submit to the authority in which God has sovereignly placed you. The sinful nature is by nature rebellious. The sinful nature wants to rebel just like Satan rebelled against God. By cooperating and submitting instead of rebelling against government authorities we learn humility and grow in Christ-likeness. God uses cooperation with and submission to authority as a means or instrument to humble us and purify us of pride. There are times when resistance, opposition and even rebellion are called for, but if at all possible we are to work for righteous change within the human government system and its ordinances as much as possible. For instance, it is hypocritical and I think sinful for Christians to complain and criticize our government if they haven't at least cooperated with our democracy and voted. Historians look back on the Christian vote or lack thereof and see evidence that had Christians voted in greater proportions, our nation might have looked significantly better than it does today.

Second, cooperation and submission to human authority is God's means to silence ignorant and foolish people. Peter says, " that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. . . " "Doing good" (Greek agathopoieo) means to be a well-doer, do good, to do something that profits or benefits others, to help someone, to do someone a favor, to do well, do right, to act correctly, to act within the law. Working within the government system we are to actively do good and work to benefit others. This is the political action we are to involve ourselves with when we live out living hope. We can do good verbally by being informed and voicing righteous views in political debate. We can do good physically by contributing to those in need and actually getting out there and doing some good.

When we do good as law abiding citizens looking to help others it will "put to silence" (Greek phimoo ) or muzzle, put to silence, make speechless, cause to be still, still, close the mouth of, reduce to silence, keep in check, tie shut "the ignorance" (Greek agnosia ) or ignorance, lack of knowledge, lack of spiritual knowledge "of foolish men" (Greek aphron ) or men who are mindless, stupid, ignorant, egotistic, morally unbelieving, unwise, without reason, without reflection or intelligence, who act rashly. There's a lot of ignorance and a lot of foolishness in the social debate of our day. The best defense against political foes is a life lived righteously in living hope. A fool is someone who fails to factor God in to their life equation or world view (e.g. Psalm 14 and 53). We need to reasonably and effectively introduce God and His word into the political conversation. It only seems awkward now because Christians have been delinquent in their prayers, study, and readiness to give a reason for the hope that is in us.

There will always be those who accuse Christians of being bigoted, haters, intolerant, unloving, partial and prejudiced. Christians should not expect a fair playing field. The media for instance has preconceived assumptions about Christians and does not treat them fairly. The best defense and response to unjust accusations is a life that lives righteously in living hope. When we live in love and stand for justice, and live righteously before our God then those who are basically fair minded will be swayed and the false accusations will abate. That is not always the case as we well know. We as Christians can't expect to be treated fairly in a fallen media or governmental world. But when we stand we must be willing to stand within the system and serve faithfully even when unjustly accused. We need to believe and obey God's word in this regard and trust that God will work things out for His purposes and glory. God has our back. His eternal agenda may require we experience injustices and persecutions at times. His eternal plans and the saving of souls takes priority over our individual "rights," even the inalienable rights ordained by God for each person.  

Third, cooperate and submit to human authority freely and not only by compulsion. Peter states, " as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God." Even though we cooperate and submit to human authority we are in reality free people in the Lord. We should not use our "freedom" in Christ to hide or "cloak" (Greek epkalumma - veil, cover ) "vice" (Greek kakias - evil, spite, wickedness (cf. 1 Peter 2:1). We aren't free to disregard or rebel against human authority but we are free to cooperate and submit to it. Corrupt Christians are blasphemous to God's reputation. We need to act righteously holding to God's standards in private as well as public domains. And our motive for this is not merely to be patriotic to human governments but because we are "bondservants of God" (Greek douloi theou - willing servants of God, servants of God by choice in love ). The apostles often referred to themselves as bondservants or servants of God (e.g. Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1). Everyone is a servant of someone; either to God or to sin (cf. 2 Peter 2:19). We belong to God in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). When we take in and obey the words of God it gives us the proper perspective on this freedom (e.g. John 8:31-32).

 

Fourth, use your spirit of cooperation and submission to " Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”  "Honor" (Greek timao) means to value someone, to respect people, to fix a value on people, to honor. We are to honor "all people." In our day and age the attitude is that honor and respect has to be earned. But here Peter is inspired to tell us to begin with or from the start accept it as a given from God that all people are to be honored and respected. We honor people because they are created by God in His image and as such are valuable (e.g. Genesis 1:26).

 

"Love" (Greek agapao) means to welcome, entertain, be fond of, to love dearly. This is the term used to refer to God's love for us. He loved us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He sent His only Son Jesus to redeem us from sin (John 3:16). This is a love that takes the initiative. It is a  love that is freely offered not earned by others. We are to love God supremely and love others sacrificially (cf. Matthew 22:34-40). It is a love that continues to give even when not appreciated. This "love" is how we are to treat those of the "brotherhood" (Greek adelphotes) or brotherhood, Christian fraternity, brethren, family of brothers, family of God. It is a tremendous testimony to the world of the power of the gospel when those who would normally be in opposition to one another or prejudiced against each other in the world are changed and transformed in Christ and united in the church. Love is God's instrument for such an impressive reconciling work.

 

"Fear" (Greek phobeo - Present/Middle/Imperative) can mean always fear, be afraid, or terrified, but when used in relation to "God" it means  always revere, always respect, always worship. When we live our living hope and it comes to being cooperative and submissive to human authority we do that not merely to please people or submit in fear of legal consequences but we do that as an act of reverence, respect and worship toward God. When we as citizens of the United States are given the opportunity to vote we should do so for a candidate that best fits God's scripture parameters of righteousness. And as in this present election cycle, that means we may have to vote for the lesser of two evils. But we need to vote. When we do that, even when candidates are less or even far less than righteous (they are human and therefore imperfect) we honor God.

 

We are to "honor the king" or our political leaders. It's easy to point out the flaws and sins of political figures. But in doing so we should always maintain a healthy respect for them. They are meant to be God's instruments to maintain order and peace. Granted, politicians and government leaders frequently if not always in some way fall short of God's standards. When they do we should voice our concerns in the legal system of government. If there are injustices we need to work within the parameters of that government as much as possible. And if as a last resort we do indeed need to oppose unjust governments and unjust political leaders we do so maintaining respect and not with malice or viciousness.

           

These verses in 1 Peter tell us to cooperate with government officials. This is not the only place where support is encouraged for government. Peter here tells us to submit and obey our government officials. Paul also encourages us to cooperate with government officials (Romans 13:1-7). Paul states that God has allowed governments to come into power and that therefore we are to work with such governments. Governments are put in place to serve the Lord and assert God’s will on earth. This support we offer includes paying taxes.

 

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he states that we should make praying for our government a priority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).  The peaceful and orderly environment brought about by government provides opportunity to share the gospel. The Christian's responsibility to government is to recognize God’s ordained leadership, pay taxes and pray for those government leaders.

 

Governments need God. The United States is a country founded by Christians and based on Christian principles from the Bible. The secular world has tried to cut this truth out of our history but we ought not allow them to do so. If our Christian foundation is cut out and discarded our country will inevitably fall. Government without God is hopeless.

The United States was founded by men whose hope was in God. They knew how essential God was to the survival and success of the nation. Read some of the following quotes about our Christian foundation and its essential place in our government:

  • “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to the future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service” – Benjamin Franklin, The Constitutional Convention, June 28th, 1787.  [2]

  • “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson  [3]

·         “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency . . . . We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” – George Washington, Inaugural speech to Congress, April 30th, 1789[4]

·         “Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]. Any attempt to level and discard all religion would have been viewed with universal indignation.” – House Judiciary Committee report, March 27th, 1854[5]

·         “It is the duty of nations as well as men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgression in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the LORD.” – Abraham Lincoln [6]

·         The Church must take right ground in regard to politics . . . .The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them . . . God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God.” – Charles Finney [7]

·         “The Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation . . . . Deeply held convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation . . . . Biblical teaching inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.” – United States Congress Public Law 97-280 96 STAT. 1211, October 4th, 1982 [8]

When governments and God’s word come into conflict the believer must follow God’s word. God’s word takes precedence over human law. This is exemplified in the book of Acts where the apostles stood up to religious leaders and stated, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:19-20). And, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). This latter portion of scripture refers to religious traditionalists but the principle is nonetheless applicable.

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” Christians are pilgrims of God just passing through this world and on our way through we ought to remind our government leaders that their only hope is the living hope God provides in Christ. We are directed by God to cooperate and submit to governments, human laws, and political leaders as much as possible, but when human law and government supports injustice and unrighteousness and sin the Christian living out living hope must stand up and oppose it. We begin by working within the system and law as much as possible. But there may come a time when Christians must become agents of change and opposition. At what point do we resist the government? The answer to that question is a matter of walking in the Spirit and following our conscience. If we do oppose or feel rebellion is the righteous way then physical opposition must begin with peaceful demonstration. The physical, violent, military opposition toward an unjust government and its unjust leaders exemplified by our founding fathers is one I hope we never have to encounter again. It is the product of much prayer and soul searching in the presence of God. And we need to be on our knees praying, "God help us. God lead us. May all we ever do be according to Your will and glorifying to Your name." But until that time, pray, study up and get out and vote!   

 



[1] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Hebrews-Jude.
[2] Taken from Parker Hudson’s book , The President, (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books, 1995) p. 15.
[3] Parker Hudson, Ibid., p. 43
[4] Parker Hudson, Ibid., p. 137
[5] Parker Hudson, Ibid., p. 351
[6] Parker Hudson, Ibid., p. 162
[7] Parker Hudson, Ibid., p. 435
[8] Parker Hudson, Ibid., 331