And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 05 October 15, 2006
In this issue:
I was recently asked to comment on “should the church be involved in political matters? Should the church tell people from the pulpit how to vote in matters concerning laws of the state? Should the church tell the members to vote yes on the abortion matter in the state?” What does Scripture say?
First, one must understand what the church is and is not. The church is not an ecclesiastical organization that pronounces edicts to its laity. The church of Christ is composed of saved people (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:22-23; Heb. 12:22-23). The Lord has arranged these saved people into local churches, organized and functioning in worship and work according to God’s revealed pattern (Acts 14:22-23; 20:17, 28; 1 Pet. 5:2). According to the Scriptures, the church does not tell anybody anything “from the pulpit.” The gospel preacher does not speak “for the church” – he preaches the word of God to the church as well as to the lost (2 Tim. 4:2-4; 1 Tim. 4:6; Rom. 1:15-16; 10:14-15).
It is clear Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (Jno. 18:36). It is also clear that God ordained civil government for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of criminals (Rom. 13:1-6). Some governments allow its citizens to participate in its political decisions (for example, the representative republic of the U. S.); others do not (for example, a ruling monarchy). To whatever degree each Christian chooses to participate in or abstain from politics is entirely their choice and right as a citizen of society, depending on the form of government under which they live. Of course, such participation must always honor God and man (1 Pet. 2:17).
May we preach God’s word on topics that find application in the political arena? Absolutely. Otherwise, we must immediately stop preaching on all Bible subjects that find their way into politics. For example, we would have to cease teaching God’s word on such topics as paying taxes (Matt. 22:15-22), capital punishment (Acts 25:11), protecting the innocent from oppression (Jas. 5:1-6; 1 Tim. 2:1-2), and even the sin of same-sex marriage (1 Cor. 6:9-10). (And, that would mean no more bulletin articles like this one!) Preaching the whole counsel of God means we speak God’s word on “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3; Acts 20:27, 20).
In countries where citizens are allowed to vote, Christians should support candidates who promote godliness and virtue (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2). As for abortion, it is the taking of innocent life; it is sin (Rom. 13:9). How can a Christian support such unholy conduct and vote for those who do without involving themselves in sin (Eph. 5:11)? Remember, we will give an account for our conduct while on earth (2 Cor. 5:10). That includes whether we stand up for the will of God by our politics. Individually, we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). Let each Christian be an influence for good in this dark world of sin (1 Pet. 2:11-12).
That’s what the stranger told me. This was her judgment of me after I had asked her a few questions about a situation in her life. She had asked me to perform a wedding ceremony. So I asked whether this was her first marriage, and she said “no.” I related what the Bible teaches about proper divorce and remarriage and then asked whether her life met this scriptural criterion (Matt. 19:9). Replying “no,” I offered to have further study with her on the Bible teaching about this subject. She declined, saying that the Bible had nothing to do with the decision she was making. Restating my interest in discussing God’s word with her about it, I also told her she would have to find someone else to perform her wedding since my faith would not allow me to do so. She said “thank you” and hung up the phone. She called back two hours later to say that I was being “very judgmental.” God will judge.
Is it ever right to judge the life of another person? Many say “absolutely not,” but the Bible answers the question with a qualified “yes” (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12-13).
To judge means to “separate, select, choose, to determine” (Vine), and carries with it the idea of investigation (ISBE, III:1777). Thus, proper “judging” is “an examination leading to a determination, which enables one to separate right from wrong, truth from error” (emp. jrp). Jesus said that men should uprightly about Him: “judge righteous judgment” (Jno. 7:24).
To Judge Righteous Judgment We Must:
1. Use the proper standard. The standard must be the word of Christ (Jno. 12:48). Only truth–God-inspired Scripture–is the approved measuring stick for righteous judgment. God judges according to truth, and we can be assured that He will accept nothing less from our judgments (Rom. 2:2).
2. Use the proper evidence. That is, we must avoid drawing a conclusion upon the basis of hearsay, opinion, gossip or circumstantial evidence (cf. Jn.7:50-51). Facts must be our only interest as we render judgments from time to time in our lives. To use less than the facts is foolish indeed, and it will lead to making false judgments (Prov.18:13).
3. Use the proper motives. Godly motives must be to determine truth, to urge obedience to the truth of God, to reprove and rebuke sin to try to save souls (1 Ths. 5:21-22; 2 Tim. 4:2; Jas. 5:19-20; Jude 20-23). One way we fall into unrighteous judging is through hypocrisy. We condemn ourselves when we condemn a person while we are doing the same sort of thing ourselves (Matt. 7:1-5). Unrighteous judgments also grow out of a self-righteous exaltation of self that minimizes and accuses others (Lk. 18:9-12). Still another way evil motives lead to impure judgments is by holding evil thoughts toward the thing or person coming under judgment (Jas. 2:1-4). The bottom line here is that making proper judgments requires us to practice what we preach (Rom. 2:17-24).
We Must Not Judge:
1. The hearts and motives of others (1 Cor. 2:11). Since it is impossible to know another man’s heart without him telling us, judging his heart is not within our sphere of capability or our realm of responsibility. We happily leave that task to God (Acts 1:24; Eccl. 12:14).
2. The personal liberties of others (Rom. 14:1-5, 10, 13). This involves areas that are morally indifferent, since liberties are “lawful” (1 Cor. 10:23). Like eating or abstaining from meat, both courses of conduct are allowed by God and ought not to be condemned by men (Rom. 14:3-5; 1 Tim. 4:3-5). In such areas we are taught to forego our liberty so we do not cause one who is weak in conscience to stumble (1 Cor. 10:28-33; 8:4-13).
3. The law of God (Jas. 4:11-12). When we mistreat others we violate the law of God and judge it to be an unnecessary standard for us to follow. We elevate ourselves above God by following our dictates instead of God’s stated will. We must yield to God’s law over us as supreme lest we become judges of God’s law.
We are taught that we must judge the doctrines and actions of men to know whether they are true (1Jno. 4:1-6; Rev. 2:2). Jesus said “by their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:15-20).
We must judge righteous judgment to avoid sin, to help save others and to remain faithful to Christ.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:14-19
1. We deposit valuables
into the trusted care of others so they will not be exposed to danger of
loss ($, safe deposit box, securities, etc.).
I. COMMIT YOUR SOUL TO GOD, 1 Pet. 4:19.
A. By Becoming a
Christian, Acts 3:19; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Phil. 3:5-8; Mk. 8:34-38.
II. COMMIT OUR CHILDREN TO THE LORD, 1 Sam. 1:11; Jgs. 13:8.
A. Bring Little Ones to Jesus, Matt. 19:13-15 (Deut. 4:9-10; 11:18-21; Eph. 6:4; Tit. 2:4).
III. COMMIT THE FUTURE TO THE LORD, Matt. 6:33-34.
A. Faith in God’s
Committed Control of all Things, cf. Jas. 4:13-15.
1 Pet. 5:10: The God of all grace will keep (guard for himself) your soul unto (until) “that Day” (of reward), 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:8.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
1. Common failure when studying & teaching Bible is not
getting & giving all the available information on the subject. Examples:
Nature of saving faith; God’s power to save & man’s ability to fall away.
Where The Worm Does Not Die
“Keep worms in your office” is the advice California’s Integrated Waste Management Board gives on its official web site. Some Californians are heeding the advice. “Next to a copy machine on the 10th floor of Los Angeles’ public works building sits a plastic bin filled with worms wriggling in rotting lettuce. Public servants walk by without even glancing at the box or the note above it: ‘Quiet please. Worms at work.’” (“California Public Agencies Use In-Office Worms to Eat Garbage,” 12Oct06, foxnews.com) Compost, California style!
Jesus described hell as the place of punishment where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:44-48). J. W. McGarvey comments:
“The image of the worm is taken from #Isa 66:24, and refers to those worms which feed upon the carcasses of men. The fire and worm can hardly be taken literally, for the two figures are incompatible—worms do not frequent fires. The two figures depict hell as a state of decay which is never completed and of burning which does not consume.” (The Fourfold Gospel, 433)
Hell is real; real people, real pain and real punishment. The “worms at work” in California’s office building will eventually run out of rotting lettuce (unless the supply is replenished). However, when it comes to eternal punishment, the devil and his angels “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10; Matt. 25:41, 46). It is not merely the fire that lasts forever; so does the personal torment of the wicked.
And that brings us back to the worms. By using this figure, Jesus assures us an eternal, enduring punishment is prepared for “whosoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble” (Mk. 9:42; that’s personal judgment, not national judgment; Matt. 25:41). If Jesus is describing total annihilation (the complete consumption) of the wicked, then why depict one method of annihilation as worse than another (Mk. 9:42)? The truth is, eternal “tribulation and anguish” is stored up for “every soul of man who does evil” (Rom. 2:9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/16/2006
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA