Dr. Dan Corse - Rolla, Missouri 

Looking Unto Jesus Ministries 

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  1. EMBRACING THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
  2. WANTED: REVIVAL NOT OF THE COOKIE-CUTTER VARIETY
  3. THE VISION OF AMERICA
  4. AN AMERICAN HISTORY MOMENT: THE HAYSTACK PRAYER MEETING
  5. THE NECESSITY OF A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
  6. THE DISINTEGRATION OF OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
  7. WANT A GODLY GOVERNMENT? ELECT GODLY LEADERS!
  8. SIGNS OF THE TIMES
  9. WHAT NOW AMERICA?
10. ISN'T IT A PITY?
11. THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF A JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ETHIC
12. THE MORAL HIGH GROUND
13. AN AMERICAN HISTORY MOMENT: THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ON AMERICA
14. AN AMERICAN HISTORY MOMENT: THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF LIBERTY
15. THE TIME OF REVIVAL AND AWAKENING IS UPON US!

16. WHICH "J" DO YOU WANT TO BE LIKE, JESUS OR JONAH?

17. PROGRESSIVISM, A THREAT TO THE VISION OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS

18. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, HAVE WE UTTERED WHAT WE DID NOT UNDERSTAND?

19. AMERICA'S CHRISTIAN HISTORY: THE CANE RIDGE REVIVAL

20. EMBRACING THE THREE R'S OF REVIVAL AND AWAKENING

21. GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION!

22. HEEDING HIS VOICE AND TURNING IN THESE PERILOUS TIMES

23. TO REPENT OR NOT TO REPENT, THAT IS THE QUESTION!
24. MAINTAINING A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL DIET!

1. EMBRACING THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”


   When discussions of religious freedom ensue people often correctly refer to the 1st Amendment. Then they often incorrectly refer to the how the 1st Amendment speaks of the separation of church and state. Looking at the 1st Amendment, we see that it actually says nothing about the separation of church and state. What it does say is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” known as “the Establishment Clause” and that “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” known as “the Free Exercise Clause.”

   Why did the Framers of the Constitution include “the Establishment Clause” and “the Free Exercise Clause”? In England, Massachusetts and Virginia prior to the penning of the U.S. Constitution many had experienced a lack of religious freedom. How so? In those places the citizens were made to be members of and financially support national or state churches even though their theological views did not agree with the views of those churches. So, the Framers included “the Establishment Clause” to keep the federal government from establishing a single national denomination, as was true in England, where the Church of England was that denomination. Moving to the “Free Exercise Clause,” the Framers included it to prevent the federal government from interfering with the peoples’ religious expressions and declarations. Thus, we see that both clauses restricted the actions of the federal government while not restricting the actions of the citizens.

   Understanding the inclusion and purpose of the two clauses, we might now wonder, “Where did the idea that the 1st Amendment speaks of separation of church and state originate?” In October of 1801 the Danbury Baptist Association (Connecticut) sent a letter to President Thomas Jefferson. In that letter they declared their concerns related to religious protection and the federal government. In January of 1802 Jefferson responded, assuring them there was a “wall of separation” that would prevent the federal government from interfering with their religious expressions. Jefferson’s letter assured the Danbury Baptist Association that the “wall of separation” was there to provide them protection from the federal government interfering with their public or private expressions of faith.

   Thus, we see that the idea of separation of church and state originated with Jefferson’s response to the Danbury Baptists. And we understand too that the idea was declared to alleviate their concerns related to the federal government intruding on their religious liberties. For 150 years Supreme Court decisions supported the idea that a wall of separation prevented the federal government from interfering with religious expression, with an exception being when those practices “break out into overt acts against peace and good order” (Reynolds v. United States, 1878). Further court decisions defined what were considered “overt acts against peace and good order”: incest, polygamy, human sacrifice, etc. Yet, the federal government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices like the use of scriptures or public prayer.

   However, in 1947 the Supreme Court in Everson v. the Board of Education reversed the application of the idea of “separation” as introduced by Jefferson. For the first time “separation” was used to empower the federal government to remove public religious expressions. Unlike past decisions, which limited government interference, the decision of Everson v. the Board of Education used the 1st Amendment to limit religious expression. Sadly, later Supreme Court decisions further eroded our religious rights: Engel v. Vitale (1962), Abington v. Schempp (1963) and Stone v. Graham (1980). Where the 1st Amendment was once used to protect citizens from the federal government intruding into our religious practices, it is now used to prohibit the very religious practices, expressions and activities that the Framers of the Constitution encouraged under the 1st Amendment.

   Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s continual intruding into our religious rights, various groups and individuals call for further restrictions. Atheists demand the phrase “in God we trust” removed from money, etc. Demands are made to remove crosses from military graves and public arenas. Further demands are made to remove nativity scenes from public arenas. With so much erosion occurring to religious rights based on court decisions, there now exists multitudes that are largely unaware that such has happened. That ignorance is enhanced by revisionist views of our nation’s history, views that present a distorted reality of that history and provide further impetus for those bent on further secularizing our society. So much so that we now hear cries for privatization related to religion.

   As Christians, privatization demands that our biblical views and practices are to remain private, not to be expressed in the public arena or related to government activities. Privatization enhances secularism in that the transformation of our society from one closely identified with religious values and institutions toward one embracing nonreligious or irreligious values is what secularization is all about. As Christians, the issue of privatization centers clearly on the topic of the Lordship of Christ. Will we choose to follow Christ’s words or the contradictory words of others? Christ stated in Matthew 5:13 (NKJ), “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” He adds in Matthew 5:14 (NKJ), “Ye are the light of the word. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As Christians, wisdom dictates that we embrace the words of Christ over those that contradict His words. We are to be salt and light, both publicly and privately. That remains true even in light of court decisions that have disintegrated our religious rights, revisionist historians who offer distorted views of our country’s history and cries for the further secularization of our nation.

2. WANTED: REVIVAL NOT OF THE COOKIE CUTTER VARIETY

   Back in the days when school nurses were allowed to freely dispense aspirin there was a nurse noted for providing aspirin to all her students, regardless of the uniqueness of their symptoms or injuries. If a student had a cough, an injury that required stitches, a sprain, a fever, whatever, Mrs. Aspirin (the students’ nickname for her) always tendered the same treatment followed by the same instructions, “Take this aspirin and go back to class.” Obviously, Mrs. Aspirin’s medical assessments and treatment plans were less than credible, even indicative of medical incompetency. We recognize that is true because we understand that a cookie cutter approach to medical issues is less than credible, the incompetent approach.

   Yet, when it comes to the topic of Christians seeking and experiencing revival and growth we are sometimes like Mrs. Aspirin in that we offer each person or church the same spiritual assessment and treatment plan. However, that is not what Jesus did in Revelation 2:1-3:22. In His letters to the seven churches Jesus dealt with each of the churches according to their uniqueness, offering them varying commendations, criticisms, instructions and promises. For example, He commended the church in Ephesus for rejecting evil, their perseverance and patience. However, He criticized them by noting that their love for Him was no longer fervent. He instructed them to overcome, promising them by doing so they would “eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). With the church in Sardis He commended some for keeping the faith, criticized it for being a dead church, and gave instructions to repent and strengthen what remained, promising the faithful that they would “be clothed in white garments” and not have their names blotted out of “the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5).

   Clearly, Jesus in recognizing the uniqueness of the seven churches understood the need to offer each church commendations, criticisms, instructions and promises that specifically focused on the characteristics of that church alone. He understood that churches, as do individual Christians, have varying strengths and weaknesses, necessitating assessments and treatments specific to each church or individual that they may experience needed revival and growth. He understood that revival and growth should not be of the cookie cutter sort.

   Cookie cutters are great for producing a stack of cookies that all look the same, but when it comes to revival and growth they are inappropriate tools. They are inappropriate in that Christ’s vision for each Christian or church is not exactly the same. That is not to say that individuals and churches will not have similarities. For example, spreading the gospel and growth in grace should be a focus of all Christians and churches. Yet, in terms of individual Christians and churches it is obvious that the unique gifting God brings to each of them is associated with God’s specific vision for them. Likewise, when the focus is on revival or growth, it is necessary that each individual or church is considered in light of its own uniqueness.

   Related to uniqueness and weaknesses, some individuals and churches embrace the errant view that the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are no longer for today. Some are quite weak in their focus on Christ. Others appropriately focus on the importance of God’s word but then embrace legalism, that which generally occurs when rules are the habitual focus. Some offer an unscriptural view of God’s love that generally forgets the truth of 1 Corinthians 13:6, that love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” Others have no understanding of the concept of justification, the fact that Christ becoming sin for us made it possible for we who embrace Him as Savior to receive His righteousness, His right standing or relationship with the Father (2 Cor. 5:21). That being so, they continually live under condemnation, believing God views them as worms and creations worthy of His continual wrath rather than His forgiveness and continual love. Some emphasize grace in a manner that seems to forget the truth of Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.” Some have conformed to ungodly ideologies, philosophies and manners of thinking rather than conforming to the truth of God’s word.

   Just like individuals and churches are unique in their weaknesses, so are they unique in their strengths. Some rightly focus on the necessity of the lost coming to know Christ as Savior. Others appropriately focus on the necessity of Christian growth and maturity. Still others correctly identify and emphasize the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. Others rightly encourage we believers to lay aside the weights and sins that so easily ensnare us, running with endurance the race before us, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

   Clearly, it is apparent that individual Christians and churches have unique strengths and weaknesses. That being so, it is imperative as we prepare for revival and growth that we encourage individuals and churches to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to them their unique strengths, thus allowing for whatever growth is needed related to those areas. And it is necessary that we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us our weaknesses, including those areas where we continually stumble, that we might experience the grace to overcome them. What is not needed is a cookie cutter approach to revival and growth, one that finds us trying to all fit into the same mold, even when that mold due to its inflexibility proves to be more of a hindrance than a help.

   God understands our uniqueness as individuals and churches. That should not be surprising being that uniqueness is in so many ways attributable to Him. Rather than focusing on comparing ourselves and our churches to others, which is not wise (2 Cor. 10:12), let’s focus on allowing God to show us what we need to know as individuals and individual churches preparing for and participating in revival. Let’s focus on revival not of the cookie cutter variety.

3. THE VISION OF AMERICA

The reason for our nation’s exceptionalism, which does not mean this nation is or was ever without flaws, some of them glaring, was understood by Alexis de Tocqueville. Visiting our nation in 1832, the French sociologist, political thinker, and historian concluded in his classic work, Democracy in America:


     “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there… in her        fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there… in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was        not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the  

     secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ceases to be good, she will cease to be

     great.”


It is imperative that we remember the “pulpits aflame with righteousness” that Alexis de Tocqueville credited with being “the secret of our genius and power” were found in churches. Those were Christian churches, not mosques, as the often historically inaccurate President Obama tries to convince us by lecturing us that Islam has always been interwoven into the fiber of our nation. In truth, President Obama would better serve historical accuracy by discovering or remembering that it was only about a quarter of a century earlier that Thomas Jefferson was navigating a war with the Muslims in the form of the Tripoli pirates and the Muslim powers supporting them. When de Tocqueville visited America Islam was not interwoven into our nation’s fiber. Nor, factually, though those brandishing the creed of political correctness often seek to convince us otherwise, is Islam interwoven into our fiber now, with perhaps five to seven million adherents in the United States from a total population of around 318 million in 2014.


What was interwoven into our fiber when de Tocqueville visited America? Interwoven into our fiber was a Christian worldview, a worldview that provided for our nation’s vision and stoked the flames of its perpetuation. This Christian worldview provided our populace with the framework through which they saw the world. It consisted of many factors: a belief in a powerful, loving, and just God existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the moral absolutes found in the Bible; a creationist perspective; the traditional view of family; mankind’s fall and redemption; and divine law. This worldview pervaded our culture, from law to economics, from science to philosophy, and from psychology to sociology.


Integral to this Christian worldview, Alexis de Tocqueville understood and noted this principle, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Faith, from the Christian perspective, is alien to the definition placed upon it by nonbelievers, skeptics, atheists and the like, who view it as blindly believing, irrational emotionalism, or embracing a “fairytale.” Rather, faith, from the Christian perspective, is a divinely implanted principle. Note, it is not humanly manufactured, but is divinely implanted. Choosing to not believe the words of the gospel, the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, is what keeps God from implanting this principle, not “fairytale,” within us. Implanted within us, this principle is marked by our having confidence, trust, and reliance in God and all that He says. Implanted within us, this principle produces in us a hunger for morality, the same morality upon which liberty is truly established.


Related to our nation and the liberty experienced by its citizens, de Tocqueville also noted, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Has our nation ceased to be great? With various polls telling us that the vast majority of Americans believe our nation is headed in the wrong direction, clearly, in many ways, the answer is “Yes.” How did this come about? Our nation ceased to be great when it allowed the Christian worldview that provided for and perpetuated its vision to be replaced by an inferior worldview. This largely happened in the past century, when a secularist worldview (secularism) began holding sway in our nation. Like the Christian worldview, secularism is a pervasive view. Secularism is marked by a naturalistic view of reality, where spiritual realities are discredited and scientific method is the only way of knowing anything; a belief in evolution; a non-traditional view of family; moral relativity, where human beings, not God’s moral absolutes as recorded in the Bible, determine standards and values; and politics are viewed in light of liberalism and progressivism, with a secular world government the ultimate goal. Clearly, secularism is the antithesis of the Christian worldview that in so many ways contributed to the exceptionalism of our nation.


Additionally, the goals of secularism have been greatly enhanced by the removal of the influence of the Christian worldview from the public forum. This was largely facilitated by Supreme Court decisions like Everson v. the Board of Education in 1947; Engel v. Vitale in 1962; Abington v. Schempp in 1963; and Stone v. Graham in 1980. With secularism holding sway and SCOTUS decisions that have removed the influence of the Christian worldview from the public forum, the moral reality of our nation has become much like that described in Judges 21:25, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Of course, this is fully understandable, as Alexis de Tocqueville warned us, without faith there will be no morality or liberty. Living now in a culture where faith has been largely removed from the public forum, morality has in many ways eroded, and our liberties, especially those related to matters of the faith, have eroded.


Adrift on a sea of secularism, what are we as Christians to do? Are we to toss up our hands and yield to the howling winds of discouragement and despair? Are we to seek erroneously from the Bible prophetic reasons for why there is no hope, giving impetus to lethargy and inactivity? Never! Like Esther, we must recognize that God has placed us here “for such a time as this” (Judges 4:14, NKJV). The power of the God we know as Savior and serve has not waned. His ability to transform our culture, as was true when he “turned the world upside down” by the early Church, is still available to us (Acts 17:6, NKJV). We must place our focus squarely upon God and through prayer seek the revival and awakening that has transformed our nation in the past, as was true with the Great Awakening; the Second Great Awakening; the Prayer Revival; the Holiness Revival; Azusa Street; the Healing Revival and the Charismatic Renewal. Revival occurs when we Christians are awakened from the vestiges of lethargy and spiritual dullness that are hindering our spiritual effectiveness. Awakening occurs when the lost come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Buoyed by Revival and Awakening, our nation will find itself empowered to cast off the bondages of secularism and again embrace a Christian worldview, that which provided for and perpetuated our nation’s vision, that which undergirded the faith of our people, resulting in morality and liberty.

4. An American History Moment: 

    The Haystack Prayer Meeting

Arriving at Cape Henry (Virginia), the colonists from England erected a cross and gave thanks to God on April 29, 1607. Their Pastor, the Reverend Robert Hunt, offered a prayer to God on their behalf. His prayer spoke of their covenant with God and focused upon their sharing the gospel with the natives, raising up godly descendants and this new world, like England at that time, becoming an “Evangelist to the World.”


Also related to prayer and evangelism, another event in American History is of utmost significance. That event is the Haystack Prayer Meeting, which took place at Williams College in Massachusetts. It was on Saturday afternoon in August, 1806, that five Williams College students (Samuel J. Mills, James Richards, Francis L. Robbins, Harvey Loomis, and Byram Green) met and discussed William Carey’s small booklet, An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. Amidst their discussions, specifically focused upon the needs of China, a thunderstorm arose, causing the five to seek shelter. They found that shelter in the lee of a haystack, where they continued in discussions and prayer.


Samuel Mills, the leader of the group, insisted that the gospel, the good news of salvation via faith in Christ, must be taken to Asia. The others, with the exception of Harvey Loomis, agreed and were inspired by Mills’ passion. Loomis fervently objected. Undaunted by his objections, Mills insisted that they continue in prayer. Concluding their prayers with the singing of a hymn, Mills looked at the others and cried above the fury of the storm, “We can do this, if we will.” It was at that very moment the Holy Spirit wrought great change in the hearts of all five, including Loomis, resulting in their consecrating themselves in full devotion to the Great Commission and the task of taking the gospel to all nations.


Inspired by that change, they proposed to the General Association of Massachusetts the formation of the first American “missions” agency. Their request was granted in 1810 with the creation of “The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,” Adoniram Judson being one of the first five men sent by the American Board to Calcutta, India. The influence of the Haystack Prayer Movement spread, most notably among college students, resulting in “missions” societies springing up on campuses across the United States, societies following in Mills’ footsteps. Mills’ inspiration was also integral in the creation of “The United Foreign Missionary Society,” the “American Baptist Missionary Union,” and the “American Bible Society.”


Later, a monument was erected where the Haystack Prayer Meeting took place in August, 1806. The monument serves as a reminder not only of God’s intervention via the Haystack five but also in the life of Luther Wishard 80 years later. It was Wishard who was inspired by the Haystack Prayer Movement, resulting in the mobilization of 100,000 college students through the “Student Volunteer Movement.”


Remembering the prayers of Reverend Robert Hunt and the Haystack five, it is obvious that based on their prayers and the prayers of countless others our nation joined the ranks of England as it was in the time of Hunt, one noted for its evangelistic fervor. Looking at the current spiritual condition of our nation, we might be tempted to apathetically conclude such days will be no more. Yet, we should never yield to such temptations. Like Samuel Mills in the face of Harvey Loomis’ objections, we must dedicate ourselves to prayer and trust God to bring revival and awakening to America again. Like Mills, we must cry above the fury of the spiritual storms arrayed against our nation, “With God’s help we can do this, if we will”

5. THE NECESSITY OF A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW

Vying for our support are numerous perspectives that speak to us about the nature of the world in which we live. These perspectives or manners of thinking vary dependent on their source of origin. If we are to discover the value, if any, of these varying perspectives, we must sift through the information they contain and determine what about each one, if anything, is commendable. And we need to determine what is worthy of rejection. Yet, if we are to discover their value or lack thereof we cannot sift through them haphazardly, aimlessly assessing them according to whims or ever-changing standards. What is needed for their appropriate consideration is a fixed standard by which to evaluate them. For Christians that fixed standard is the Bible. The view we develop and embrace from the Bible is known as a biblical or Christian worldview, which is a platform of ideas and beliefs through which we as Christians interpret or make sense of the world and interact with it.


Related to a biblical world view, we might think that the vast majority of Christians embrace such a view. Sadly, however, in thinking so we would be quite wrong. George Barna, who through the Barna Research Group has researched cultural trends in Christianity since 1984, discovered that only 9% of those Christians who identify themselves as “born again” embrace a biblical or Christian worldview. That being true, we can understand why so many Christians embrace ideologies and manners of thinking that to varying degrees are in obvious contradiction to the Bible (i.e. abortion, same sex marriage, Bruce Jenner’s gender dysphoria, etc.).


Recognizing that the vast majority of Christians do not embrace a biblical worldview, we can understand why the effectiveness of the body of Christ has been greatly diminished. We can understand that to the degree our worldview is in direct contradiction to the Bible our effectiveness as salt and light is negated. We can understand that when our worldview is in direct contradiction to the Bible Jesus’ role as Lord has been thwarted. We can understand that by not embracing a biblical worldview we are conforming to or patterning ourselves after perspectives offered by the world rather than those given by God, something Romans 12:2 clearly admonishes us not to do.


Having discussed some of the weaknesses of not embracing a biblical worldview, let’s now determine to what degree we do or do not embrace that view. We can do so by answering the same questions George Barna used in his survey:


  • Do absolute moral truths exist?
  • Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
  • Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
  • Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
  • Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
  • Is Satan real?
  • Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
  • Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?


To the degree we answered “yes” to the previous questions we embrace a biblical worldview. To the degree we answered “no” we do not embrace a biblical worldview. Armed with that information, we are now positioned to seek God in prayer and then answer and act upon the following questions:


  • What unbiblical ideologies and manners of thinking that I currently embrace must I reject?
  • What aspects of a biblical worldview that I am not currently embracing do I need to?


Seeking God in prayer, answering and acting upon the previous questions, we do not want to get impatient. We need to recognize that our microwave culture often influences us to demand things quickly, even immediately. Christian growth is not that way. Christian growth is a process described well by Proverbs 4:18 (NKJ), “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” Ultimately, that perfect day will occur when we see Jesus face to face, as 1 John 3:3 (NKJ) assures us, “but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Meanwhile, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1, NKJ). Meanwhile, may our understanding the necessity to the cause of Christ of our embracing a biblical or Christian worldview increase.

6. THE DISINTEGRATION OF OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”


When discussions of religious freedom ensue people often correctly refer to the 1st Amendment. Then they often incorrectly refer to the how the 1st Amendment speaks of the separation of church and state. Looking at the 1st Amendment, we see that it actually says nothing about the separation of church and state. What it does say is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” known as “the Establishment Clause” and that “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” known as “the Free Exercise Clause.”


Why did the Framers of the Constitution include “the Establishment Clause” and “the Free Exercise Clause”? In England, Massachusetts and Virginia prior to the penning of the U.S. Constitution many had experienced a lack of religious freedom. How so? In those places the citizens were made to be members of national or state churches, ones they were required to be a part of and financially support even though their theological views did not agree with the views of those churches. So, the Framers included “the Establishment Clause” to keep the federal government from establishing a single national denomination, as was true in England, where the Church of England was that denomination. Moving to the “Free Exercise Clause,” the Framers included it to prevent the federal government from interfering with the peoples’ religious expressions and declarations. Thus, we see that both clauses restricted the actions of the federal government while not restricting the actions of the citizens.


Understanding the inclusion and purpose of the two clauses, we might now wonder, “Where did the idea that the 1st Amendment speaks of separation of church and state originate?” In October of 1801 the Danbury Baptist Association (Connecticut) sent a letter to President Thomas Jefferson. In that letter they declared their concerns related to religious protection and the federal government. In January of 1802 Jefferson responded, assuring them there was a “wall of separation” that would prevent the federal government from interfering with their religious expressions. Jefferson’s letter assured the Danbury Baptist Association that the “wall of separation” was there to provide them protection from the federal government interfering with their public or private expressions of faith.


Thus, we see that the idea of separation of church and state originated with Jefferson’s response to the Danbury Baptists. And we understand too that the idea was declared to alleviate their concerns related to the federal government intruding on their religious liberties. For 150 years Supreme Court decisions supported the idea that a wall of separation prevented the federal government from interfering with religious expression, with an exception being when those practices “break out into overt acts against peace and good order” (Reynolds v. United States, 1878). Further court decisions defined what were considered “overt acts against peace and good order”: incest, polygamy, human sacrifice, etc. Yet, the federal government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices like the use of scriptures or public prayer.


However, in 1947 the Supreme Court reversed the application of the idea of “separation” as introduced by Jefferson with Everson v. the Board of Education. For the first time the idea of “separation” was used to empower the federal government to remove public religious expressions. Unlike past decisions, which limited government interference, the decision of Everson v. the Board of Education used the 1st Amendment to limit religious expression. Sadly, later Supreme Court decisions have further eroded our religious rights: Engel v. Vitale (1962), Abington v. Schempp (1963) and Stone v. Graham (1980). Where the 1st Amendment was once used to protect citizens from the federal government intruding into their religious practices, it is now used to prohibit the very religious practices, expressions and activities that the Framers of the Constitution encouraged under the 1st Amendment.


Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s continual intruding into our religious rights, various groups and individuals call for further restrictions. Atheists demand the phrase “in God we trust” removed from money, etc. Demands are made to remove crosses from military graves and public arenas. Further demands are made to remove nativity scenes from public arenas. With so much erosion occurring to religious rights based on court decisions, there now exists multitudes that are largely unaware such has happened. That ignorance is enhanced by revisionist views of our nation’s history, views that present a distorted reality of that history and provide further impetus for those bent on further secularizing our society. So much so that we now hear cries for privatization related to religion.


As Christians, privatization demands that our biblical views and practices are to remain private, not to be expressed in the public arena or related to government activities. Privatization enhances secularism in that the transformation of our society from one closely identified with religious values and institutions toward one embracing nonreligious or irreligious values is what secularization is all about. As Christians, the issue of privatization centers clearly on the topic of the Lordship of Christ. Will we choose to follow Christ’s words or the contradictory words of others? Christ stated in Matthew 5:13 (NKJ), “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” He adds in Matthew 5:14 (NKJ), “Ye are the light of the word. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As Christians, wisdom dictates that we follow the words of Christ over those that contradict His words. We are to be salt and light, both publicly and privately. That still remains true in light of court decisions that have disintegrated our religious rights, revisionist historians who offer distorted views of our country’s history and cries for the further secularization of our nation.

7. WANT A GODLY GOVERNMENT?

ELECT GODLY LEADERS!

Romans 13:1-4 (NKJ) – 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.


As evidenced by the passage above, governing authorities and the governments they represent are ordained by God. Yet, that is not to say that all governing authorities or the governments they represent are equally godly in their beliefs and practices. Governing authorities like those generally found in totalitarian governments are quite ungodly in their views and practices. The same can be said of monarchies when the kings, queens or emirates who lead them espouse and participate in unrighteous practices. Oligarchies too can be ungodly, as evidenced by the Sanhedrin in scripture. Theocracies founded upon biblical premises are loathsome when their leaders embrace and participate in ungodly practices, even more so when they are founded upon unbiblical perspectives, evidenced by caliphates in the Middle East.


The Founders of this nation were mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of government and their governing authorities. Fresh in their minds was the suppression of “Divine Right” monarchists who demanded recognition as God’s representatives on earth yet embraced ungodly practices, not recognizing the inalienable rights given by God to all men. In England they were forced to be a part of and support the Church of England, whether they wanted to be a part of it or not. In response some became “Puritans,” those who wanted to purify the Church of England from what they viewed as ungodly beliefs and practices. Others, like the “Pilgrims,” became “separatists.” Believing that the Church of England was beyond purification, separatists desired to separate from it. The Founders also remembered persecutions in Spain via the Inquisition and France as experienced by the Huguenots, attributable to the practices of ungodly leaders, both civil and religious.


Far from being oblivious to them, the Founders were cognizant of many of the ungodly practices of governing authorities. In avoiding those ungodly practices our Founders’ deliberations related to the creation a new nation rested upon a platform of Judeo-Christian ethics: common decency; respect for the dignity of human life; a national work ethic; the right to a God-centered education; our personal accountability to God; the traditional monogamous family; etc. Those deliberations also involved counsel from a number of Christian thinkers. Those most quoted by the Founders were Baron de Montesquieu, Sir William Blackstone and John Locke. It was Montesquieu who, recognizing mankind’s imperfections, advocated for a form of government where there was a “separation of powers.” He spoke of the need for a system of “checks and balances,” one where the government was divided into three branches, the Legislative, the Judicial and the Executive, evidenced and reflected by God’s three roles as noted in Isaiah 33:22. Sir William Blackstone, noted for his Commentaries on the Laws of England, held that laws which contradict the will of God as revealed in scripture are without force or effect, invalid. John Locke, famous for his Two Treatises of Government and On Civil Government, spoke of the importance of the laws of governments conforming to the “Law of Nature,” which is the will of God.


On the pathway to creating a new nation, the Founders had created a governing document known as “The Articles of Confederation.” However, with the Revolutionary War over, it became glaringly evident, especially in light of Congress’ inability to help Massachusetts quell Shay’s Rebellion in 1786, that “The Articles” as written were inadequate in achieving the Founders’ goals for the nation. Thus, empowered by the counsel of godly men like Montesquieu, Blackstone and Locke, a call to revise “The Articles” arose. Meetings for that purpose ensued inside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence had earlier been signed. Those meetings we know today as the “Constitutional Convention.” After much deliberation presided over by George Washington, including a call by Benjamin Franklin for a time of prayer and fasting when the Federalists and Anti-Federalists reached an impasse, the delegates created an entirely new document, which we know today as the U.S. Constitution. In that endeavor they were greatly aided by James Madison, who had providentially received a crate of books on various governmental systems years earlier from Thomas Jefferson. Madison’s significant involvement earned him the title “Father of the Constitution.”


The Constitution created at Philadelphia allowed for a constitutional republic, one in which power is exercised by elected representatives. Our representatives do not possess sovereign power but are subject to the Constitution itself, resulting in the power of our government resting on laws, not men. However, that being so does not diminish the necessity of our scrutinizing the character of those who seek to represent us. In fact, it should magnify the issue, as only representatives of godly character will seek to prioritize the law above their personal ambitions or agendas, something our current President has been often guilty of doing, the Judicial branch on more than one occasion finding it necessary to reign in his Executive overreach.


Related to the character of elected representatives, Declaration signer Samuel Adams stated:


     He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. There is seldom an          instance of a man guilty of betraying his country who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private                          connections…The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.


Another signer of the Declaration, John Witherspoon, also speaking of the character of our elected officials, warned:

     

     Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. It       is reasonable to expect wisdom from the ignorant? fidelity [faithfulness] from the profligate [unfaithful]? assiduity [diligence] and         application to public business from men of a dissipated [careless] life? Is it reasonable to commit the management of public                 revenue to one who hath wasted his own patrimony [inheritance]? Those, therefore, who pay no regard to religion and sobriety in         the persons whom they send to the legislature of any state are guilty of the greatest absurdity and will soon pay for their folly.


As citizens and in light of understanding the importance of the character of those we elect, we will soon have the privilege of voting for those who will lead our nation, states, cities, municipalities, etc. As Christians, contrary to the desires of those who demand that we only reflect our faith in private arenas, Christ’s admonition that we be “salt and light” extends to the sphere of voting. Not voting should not exist as an option either as not voting means shirking our responsibility to be that “salt and light” in the political forum. Being that “salt and light,” we must reflect godly wisdom in who we vote for and how we arrived at that decision. That demands moving beyond superficial reasons for voting, like gender or race, to those based on substantive and godly deliberation. Substantive and godly deliberation requires keeping our focus upon the morality and wisdom outlined in God’s word, the Bible, and includes: familiarizing ourselves with the candidates relevant experience; considering the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in light of the requirements of the offices sought; understanding the ideologies embraced by the candidates; comparing those ideologies with the Judeo-Christian ethics this nation was founded upon for the purpose of embracing or rejecting the candidates; and then voting.


Throughout the voting process and mindful of the fact that governments and governing authorities are ordained by God, we should ever be thankful for the blessed opportunity we have of not living under totalitarian rule or a caliphate but as citizens in a constitutional republic. As those citizens we must never take lightly the awesome responsibility we have in electing those who will represent us. Likewise, we must never forget the truth of Proverbs 14:34 (NKJ), “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” Knowing that truth, we must ever remember that the existence of a godly government requires our voting for and electing godly leaders.


Quotes of Samuel Adams and John Witherspoon taken from: The Founders’ Bible (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012), p. 989.

8. SIGNS OF THE TIMES


2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJ) – 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 

Riding an unbridled horse can be a rather dangerous proposition. Why? Because the bridle is what gives the rider control. Take away that control and the rider is left to the mercy of the horse, which can, based on the temperament of the horse and the nature of the atmosphere in which one is riding, be quite a perilous situation. Yet those who know nothing about horses are often unaware of the importance of a bridle. 

Likewise, many, perhaps most, in our modern culture are unaware that where morality is concerned we are in so many ways riding without a bridle. How so? Years ago, a biblical worldview permeated the culture in which we live. By that view we analyzed, interacted with, and navigated our culture. Tragically, that worldview in the last century was largely discarded for a secular one. By doing so, where morality is concerned, we threw away the bridle. 

How by adopting a secular worldview did we throw away the bridle? Where a biblical worldview has God at the center a secular worldview has man at the center. Where a biblical worldview embraces God’s absolute morality a secular worldview embraces moral relativity. Moral relativity states there is no absolute morality. By embracing a secular worldview and the moral relativity that accompanies it, where morality is concerned, we threw away the bridle. 

What has been the effect of throwing away our moral bridle? We now live in a culture where those who still embrace a biblical worldview are often subject to the ridicule and hatred of those embracing a secular worldview. Hated why? Because embracing a biblical worldview represents the necessity of a bridle. And, for those who detest moral restraints and are choosing to run counter to a biblical worldview, such restraints will not be tolerated. We now live in a culture where moral relativity frees us to navigate moral pathways in any manner we deem fit. In this culture sin has become in many ways an antiquated and despised word. Despised why? Because if one recognizes sin he or she quite logically will recognize the need for the bridle that moral relativity does not, cannot, and never will provide. 

Living in a bridle-less culture, the Bible is no longer viewed as our moral compass. Living in this bridle-less culture, the Bible is denigrated as nothing more than the words of man, when, in reality, it is inspired word of God., Too often, even among those who consider themselves Christians, when questions of morality arise, the Bible does not serve as the final arbiter. Too often, such questions are decided by the prevailing secularist ideologies abounding in our culture. To not embrace those ideologies is to risk being relegated to cultural insignificance, or, worse still, cultural ostracism. Confronted with such a risk, sadly, even among those who consider themselves Christians, the fear of being viewed insignificant or ostracized is deceiving. That being so, it is easier to embrace a form of godliness and condone one’s rejection of biblical principles with words like “legalism” or “legalistic” or “I don’t want to be unloving.” 

Standing for biblically-supportable morality is not legalistic nor is it unloving. In fact, related to being unloving, quite the opposite is true, as 1 Cor. 13:6 (NKJ) tells us love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” Truth, Jesus informed us, is what God’s word is (John 17:17). So, speaking God’s truth, rather than being unloving, is fully loving. It is caring enough to warn the rider of the danger of not putting on the bridle before heading off on the ride. Of course, seeking to warn riders of such dangers in these perilous times is not always appreciated. Why? As noted related to these perilous times, some will be unholy, headstrong, haughty, and despisers of good. 

Speaking of the days in which we live, perilous times, what exactly does perilous refer to? Perilous speaks of times that are “harsh, savage, difficult, dangerous, painful, fierce, grievous, hard to deal with. The word describes a society that is barren of virtue and abounding with vices” (“Word Wealth” from the New Spirit Filled Life Bible). 

Living in such times, what are we who desire to fully embrace a biblical worldview to do? Are we to throw up our hands and succumb to discouragement and despair? Confronted with such times, we should always remember that God’s grace is sufficient for the challenges at hand. He will not allow us to be tried beyond what we are able to bear (1 Cor. 10:13). We must remember, too, to encourage one another. We must remember to exhort one another. 

And what about those who are unbridled and seem to possess no desire to be otherwise? Should we conclude that they are hopeless and leave them to the demise associated with being unbridled? Doing so, how could we with a straight-face say we love them? Obviously, we couldn’t. So what then? We must pray for them, asking God to open their eyes to the reality of the spiritual darkness that envelops them (2 Tim. 2:25-26). We must wisely speak the truth to them in love (Eph. 4:15). We must remember that in many ways they are unaware that they are unbridled, and, even where they are aware and are openly rebellious, we must remember that where we are unable to penetrate that rebellion with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). 

Yes, we are living in perilous times. Such times present us with numerous opportunities to grow weary, to faint, to quote the cliché, “throw in the towel.” Yet, such times also present us, the Church, the body of Christ, with magnificent opportunities. In such darkness how brilliant our lights can be. How necessary it is that we stay focused upon Christ and find the grace to insure that our lights remain shining. Living in such times, we must not lose heart. We must remember that these afflictions, which are momentary, are working in us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18, NKJ). 

9. WHAT NOW AMERICA?

It is 5 a.m. November 27, 2015, Black Friday, the day millions of shoppers have awaited. Thanksgiving is behind us. I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a few miles from Cape Henry, where the first Virginians landed and erected a cross, which, if it happened today, would be viewed by some as a controversial action. It was at Cape Henry that Reverend Robert Hunt offered the following prayer on April 29, 1607:

 

     "We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to             raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of             Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the           World. May all who see this Cross, remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit join us in this             Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled."

 

Reflecting upon Reverend Hunt’s prayer and our very recent celebration of Thanksgiving, it is clear that God in so many ways answered his prayer and, yes, there was and is much for which we can and should be thankful. Yet most of us, as many polls reflect, know there is something wrong with this nation. We know that our republic in so many ways is headed in the wrong direction.

 

How so? Our schools, rather than teaching students to think critically and preparing them for meaningful employment, too often demand they march lockstep in a godless environment where a politically correct concoction of revisionist history, Darwinian science and moral relativity demand allegiance. Related to the godlessness of our schools, so many of us, brainwashed by revisionist historians and secularists, are unaware of the Founders intent related to the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion, Quick to tout the revisionist version of the separation of church and state, many of us are oblivious to what President Thomas Jefferson actually meant when he spoke of a “wall of separation.”

 

Writing to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802 regarding their concerns about governmental intrusions into their practice of the Christian faith, President Jefferson assured them that there was a “wall of separation between Church and State,” thus preventing the government’s intrusion into that practice. That was how the 1st Amendment was interpreted by the Supreme Court for nearly 150 years. But with Everson vs. the Board of Education in 1947 SCOTUS chose another interpretation, one that began curtailing religious freedoms. Further SCOTUS decisions have continued eroding that freedom until we have what we have today, schools void of God. If you were educated during times of revisionist history you at this time may actually be denying, perhaps vehemently, what I have said about the 1st Amendment. To that I would politely ask you to think critically and research the topic for yourself. Yet godless schools are not America’s only challenge.

 

How so? Many Christians, and, tragically, some churches, rather than actually defining sin (if they still mention sin at all) from a biblical perspective, instead offer perspectives which seem to have come from the Seminary of Moral Relativity. Where true we have ignored or were unaware of the admonition of Romans 12:2, which counsels us against being conformed to ideologies and manners of thinking contrary to those found in the Bible. Sin is not defined by mankind; sin is defined by God, as found in His word, the Bible.

 

At this point you might be inclined to think that my concerns related to America are motivated by self-righteousness. If so, you are mistaken. I, like Paul, looking at my past could conclude that I am the “chief of sinners.” That being so I am so very thankful for the forgiveness of God. My righteousness or right standing with God is in no way attributable to me. It is attributable to my blessed Savior, Jesus Christ, who became sin that I (and all who embrace Christ as Savior) might “become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). That being so, it is my desire, one for which I covet your prayers, to fully depart from sin, recognizing too that our departing from sin is made possible “by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” which “made us free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Finally, achieving and maintaining that freedom requires a commitment to following the leading of the Holy Spirit and the truth found in God’s word.

 

During those times when I have chosen to follow the “no thank you Jesus, but I (not You) will be Lord of my life mentality” I have experienced the horrific consequences of choosing so. Like those of us who discard the directions when assembling our Black Friday purchases, resulting in many non-functional and non-usable items, so do we make our lives in many ways non-functional or non-productive by choosing to ignore the directions God gives us in the Bible. Aware of the horrific consequences of an “I’ll do it my way (not God’s way) attitude,” my concerns for America are based on my love for this country, its people and disturbing trends already evident in this nation. But enough of me, my shortcomings, and my reasons for concern, for godless schools, a lack of biblically defining sin and an “I’ll do things my way” attitude are not America’s only challenges.

 

How so? Looking at how we have chosen to vote in the past, it is obvious that we have often forgotten or were unaware of the truth declared in the words of a noted American, Noah Webster:

 

     "If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted… if a republican              government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and            elect bad men to make and administer laws."


Clearly, Webster understood that who we elect and appoint to positions of authority are of the utmost importance. The coming year will be one in which we elect new leaders, including a President. Rather than following the misguided view that the character of those we elect is unimportant, let’s remember the truth of Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Though knowing the character of those we elect is imperative, it does not mean we should not vet them related to other skills as well. Speaking to my fellow Christians, those seeking office who espouse and embrace biblically non-supportable views and ideologies should not receive our votes. (Nor should we choose to not vote due to the imperfections of all candidates.) I would not hire a pedophile to babysit my grandchildren because he or she possessed great knowledge about child development. Though my comparison may be extreme, its extremity is to make a point: Who we choose as leaders affects the moral fiber of our nation, which, ultimately, affects the strength of our nation. Yet, our shortcomings in voting, godlessness in our schools and a lack of biblically defining sin are not America’s biggest challenge.

 

“How so? Though many of us recognize that our nation is in many ways headed in the wrong direction, some of us have forgotten or are unaware where change is most needed. Change is most needed in the body of Christ, with us. The words of 1 Peter 4:17 hold true, “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the house of God.” Such judgment is not about feigning humility or embracing a sin-consciousness that has us obsessing over sins that God has already forgiven. It is about taking an honest look at ourselves and with God’s help identifying where each of us needs to change. For in many ways we Christians are the ones who have tolerated, ignored or supported the factors that have led to where we are today, factors far more numerous than those I have listed today. Thus, it is time for us to recognize and yield to the truth found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

Considering 2 Chronicles 7:14, it is time for us to fully humble ourselves before God, recognizing His, not our lordship. Then He will lift us up. It is time to pray for this nation as we have never prayed before, not in fear, but in faith. It is time to seek His face, ever being transformed into His image in our words and deeds (2 Cor. 3:18). It is time to turn with God’s help from our ways where they are ungodly and sinful. Doing that, we know that God will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. Or we can to choose to ignore God’s directions, doing things as we have done them before, complicit sentinels observing the demise of America. The choice is ours, what now America?

10. ISN'T IT A PITY?

I have not forgotten how to laugh. Just put me somewhere with my grandkids and laughter will soon be heard. I have not lost my joy. Just point me in the direction of my Savior Jesus Christ and joy will bubble up within me. I have not forgotten how to care. Just put me with a group of elderly people who face nagging doubts about their value and my care for them will motivate me to insure them of their value. I have not forgotten how to love. Just point me in the direction of my wife who loves me warts and all or hurting humanity and I will surely remember how to love. And I have not forgotten how to grieve. Yet, today on the 24th anniversary of my father’s death I grieve not for him, as he I am assured is in a much better place. I grieve for our nation. 


Why do I grieve for our nation? I grieve for our nation because I love this nation and see it in so many ways running headlong in the wrong direction. I grieve for our nation as I watch some Republican candidates habitually trashing each other, reminding me again why the ends don’t justify the means. I grieve for our nation because I see Democratic candidates still not recognizing the most fundamental right of the unborn, the right to life. Thinking of the unborn, my thoughts turn to my two grandsons, both the products of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Joy now wells up within me and I again express great gratitude to God for the fact their mothers did not abort them but instead gave them up for adoption, allowing them to become treasured members of our family.


As Christians, there are times when we look at the world about us and cannot help but be grieved. Yet grieving in itself should not be the end. Grieving should be a catalyst that spurs us to the feet of our beloved Father, crying out to Him in the midst of our pain. And in the midst of that pain He will encourage us. He will console us. He will reinvigorate us. He will compel us to look beyond the pain and to love in word and deed damaged humanity, the same damaged humanity that sometimes has purposely caused our pain. Doing so, should we not remember that Jesus set our example when He spoke these words to His and our Father related to the damaged humanity that was causing His pain, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, NKJ)?


As members of damaged humanity may we never forget that but for the grace of God all of us, to speak colloquially, “Would be in a heap of hurt.” Yet, as members of damaged humanity who have been spiritually regenerated, made new creations in Christ, let us not be content to continue to act and respond as damaged humanity. Instead, let us more and more act as the new creations He had made us, in doing so progressively revealing by our words and deeds the image of our Savior. In doing so some will oppose us for any number of reasons, some of those reasons understandable and some of them detestable. Yet, we are to forgive even when no forgiveness is requested, by doing so surely not saying that everything done to us was acceptable behavior but by our choice declaring we will not be bound by the siren cry of unforgiveness, the cry that if heeded will bind us to a lifetime lived as tortured souls.


Related to things that cause us to grieve George Harrison asked, “Isn’t it a pity, now, isn’t it a shame how we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain?” The nature of that question reveals to me a sensitivity in its asker often forgotten or neglected by mankind. We must not forget or neglect that sensitivity. As Christians we must ask ourselves such questions that we do not become numb and apathetic to the pain about us. We must ask ourselves such questions that we do not blindly going about causing pain to those we encounter. We must ask ourselves such questions that we never forget the right of the unborn to life or the right of the elderly to rightfully envision their value. Such questions do not diminish us when they cause us to recognize areas where we are needlessly causing pain. They serve as roadmaps to a better us. They make us realize that we too have reason to ask for forgiveness from others and God. If we do not ask such questions isn’t it a pity?


11. THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ETHIC

Our nation was established by the Founding Fathers upon a recognized and “common understanding of law, government, social order, and morality.” This understanding sprang from what we know today as the “Judeo-Christian Ethic, which is a system of moral and social values that find their origin in the Old and New Testaments” of the Bible. The creation of such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, to name a few, were directly affected by this Judeo-Christian Ethic.


Following are “Seven Principles” that greatly influenced the successful development of our nation and that find their origins in and reflect the Judeo-Christian Ethic:


Principle #1 – “The Dignity of Human Life”


Exodus 20:13 (NKJ) – You shall not murder.

Matthew 22:39 (NKJ) – You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

“The Scriptures emphatically teach the great importance of the respect and preservation of human life. In the Declaration of Independence our nation’s Founding Fathers wrote that everyone has ‘unalienable rights,’ and that among these rights are ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

If people and nations do not grant ultimate respect and protection to both the born and the unborn, all other professed morals and values are meaningless. The dignity of human life is not just a principle of the Bible – it is the first principle of any civilized society.”


Principle #2 – “The Traditional Monogamous Family”


Genesis 2:24 (NKJ) – Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

“Our society has been based upon the belief that the biblical view of traditional marriage and family is the backbone of healthy social order. Since the joining together of Adam and Eve, marriage has been recognized as a holy union between one man and one woman, and out of that union comes children – born into a home with a father and a mother to love them, nurture them, and teach them how to become healthy, productive, and responsible citizens.

The plan of God, nature, and common sense is a man and a woman producing children within the institution of marriage. When that plan is lost, ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ become meaningless, and a nation and its people will follow the road to ruin. World history has proven it over and over again. Preserving the traditional family is vital to the future of any great nation.”


Principle #3 – “A National Work Ethic”


2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJ) – For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.


“Ingrained deep within the American spirit is the willingness and the desire to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This independent spirit has no desire to simply exist on handouts from government or to depend on the generosity of others. It is the same independent spirit that has allowed America to create the greatest and strongest economy in the history of the world.


The powers of the world look at our nation and ask where the spirit of honest labor came from and where the work ethic originated. It came from the men and the women who lived before us. Those generations were raised to believe in the third principle of honest work, which is found throughout the word of God.”


Principle #4 – “The Right to A God-Centered Education”


Ephesians 6:4 (NKJ) – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.


“We see in Proverbs 1:7 that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ How can one understand the creation without first knowing its creator? The answer is one cannot.


Our Forefathers certainly understood this. For example, did you know that most of America’s oldest universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were founded by Christian preachers or churches? Harvard University, founded in 1636, adopted ‘Rules and Precepts’ which stated: ‘Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of this life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.’ Harvard’s original seal has upon it these words: ‘Truth for Christ and the Church.’


The early children’s textbook The New England Primer taught the ABC’s by having children memorize: ‘A – In Adam’s fall, we sinned all. B – Heaven to find, the Bible mind.’ Today’s youth are tomorrow’s America. There is truth in the statement attributed to George Washington: ‘Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle…It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.’”


Principle #5 – “The Abrahamic Covenant”


Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJ) – 1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


Galatians 3:7 (NKJ) – Therefore know only those who are faith are sons of Abraham.


“A covenant is a decision involving two individuals or groups stating that they will keep a promise or fulfill an agreement between them. The book of Genesis records the story of God making a covenant with Abraham. The basis of that covenant was that if Abraham would follow God, obeying His laws and commandments, God would bless Abraham with generations of children that would outnumber the stars in the heavens (Gen. 15:5). Abraham believed god, obeyed His Word, and God rewarded him with many descendants, a nation of people now known as Israel.


This principle of the Abrahamic covenant states that if a person or a nation obeys God, observing the moral truths found in the Bible, that person or nation will be blessed. If they disobey, they will bring punishment upon themselves. For most of our nation’s history, Americans have accepted the belief that good deeds produce good results and that people who were ‘God-fearing’ in language and lifestyle would be blessed by Him. That belief has been proven to be true time and again. The writer of Proverbs tells is plainly, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people’ (14:34).”


Principle #6 – “Common Decency”


Matthew 22:39 (NKJ) – You shall love your neighbor as yourself.


“Simply put, this is the belief that a decent nation is made up of decent people. That nation, when faced with any trying or difficult situation, will do the decent, right, and honest thing. And for the most part, that has been the record of our national history. For example, Americans have given their lives in wars on foreign soil so that others might experience freedom. Americans have worked to feed the world’s poor, to clothe the naked, and to give aid to the hurting. Americans have opened their arms to many of the world’s oppressed and given them safe haven.


Engraved on a bronze plaque on the base of the Statue of Liberty are these words from the poem ‘The New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift up my lamp beside the golden door!’ A world-renowned symbol of freedom, this statue stands to remind us that America has indeed been, and continues to be today, a nation of common decency.”


Principle #7 – “Our Personal Accountability to God”


Hebrews 9:27 (NKJ) – And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.


“Perhaps the greatest restraint against acts of evil toward others is the knowledge that every person and nation will one day give an account for their actions to Almighty God. Certainly the Bible tells us that we are responsible for our actions and we must be accountable for what we do or don’t do. It also teaches that there is a penalty for doing wrong and a blessing when we do what is right, noble, and just.


The great American statesman Daniel Webster was once asked, ‘What is the most sobering thought that ever entered your mind?’ He quickly responded, ‘My personal accountability to God.’ Webster knew that he would one day stand before God in eternity and give an account for his actions. The same applies to every man, woman, and nation.”


  • taken from The American Patriot’s Bible

12. THE MORAL HIGH GROUND

Varying and differing ideologies seeking to have us believe they embrace the moral high ground is not something new. During the days of Christ the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians all desired recognition for embracing the moral high-ground. Yet, Christ called the Pharisees, sticklers for the law, “hypocrites” and noted their penchant for telling others how to live but not living that way themselves. The Sadducees, those who did not believe in a resurrection nor angels, basically in many ways the materialists and rationalists of the NT, Christ on more than one occasion debunked. The Herodians, those who sought to use the political power connected with their allegiance to the Herod’s, Christ chided. In fact, Christ, speaking to His followers, told them to avoid the leaven or teachings of all three groups. Obviously, when considered in light of God’s ways and thinking, none of them held the moral high ground.


Today, many groups would have us believe they embrace the moral high ground. Some of the groups are political in nature. Some are Christian denominations, including para or quasi church organizations. Some are those who would have us believe that they alone embrace God’s will for this hour, that they alone are the chosen to represent God during this age. Tragically, so often, the groups, rather than having us focus upon Christ and truth as revealed in His word, the Bible, instead would have us focus on their organizational perspectives, those perspectives often reflecting views that are in varying degrees contrary to God’s perspectives as revealed in the Bible.


An obvious example of seeking to claim the moral high ground yet embracing a perspective diametrically opposed to God’s word exists related to some politicians and political organizations and the topic of marriage. Sadly, even some who speak of themselves as Christians are deceived or rebel related to this matter. Yet, the Bible in Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 19:4-6 (Christ speaking); 1 Corinthians 7:1-4; Ephesians 5:22-31; 1 Peter 3:1-7; and elsewhere speaks of marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman. However, some political organizations and the politicians who represent them, while embracing same the concept of sex marriages in obvious opposition to God’s word, would have us believe they embrace the moral high ground. Clearly, related to this topic, they do not. Yet, that does not stop those organizations and their representatives from trying to convince Christians and others that the Biblical example of marriage as between a man and a woman is antiquated, not suitable as the expert on the topic during these so-called progressive times.


Hillary Clinton, in seeking to be the Democrats’ candidate for President, recently spoke of how Christians should discard their views related to the biblical concept of marriage as only between a man and a woman. (She said the same thing about Christians and their opposition to abortion.) Others point to the existence of love in same sex relationships as evidence of the validity of those relationships. Doing so, they either forget or are unaware that Solomon loved the wives that God told him not to marry (1 Kings 11:1-4). Nor does God place His seal of approval on an adulterous relationship when there is love present in that relationship. Clearly, when political organizations, politicians or those embracing the views of those organizations or individuals seek to have us reject the clear teachings of the Bible in favor of their views, views supposedly representing the moral high ground, which in fact they are not, we as Christians should reject their views.


Rejecting views that are in contradiction to the Bible exists as an integral part of embracing a Christian worldview. What is a Christian or biblical worldview? A biblical worldview refers to a platform of ideas and beliefs through which we as Christians interpret the world and interact with it. In practice, to embrace a Christian worldview is to embrace the kingship or lordship of Jesus in our lives. Why is embracing a biblical worldview important? For those of us who truly desire to embrace the moral high ground it is necessary that we understand what that ground looks like. The Bible provides us with the parameters and descriptions of the moral high ground. The Bible provides us the framework for a Christian worldview. Understanding that worldview, we as Christians are then empowered to recognize the moral high ground and, in doing so, embrace it.

13. An American History Moment:

      The Influence of Christianity On America

We live in an age rampant with the false assertions of revisionist historians related to the influence of Christianity on our nation’s founding. Thus, it is imperative that we, rather than being misinformed by revisionist historians, consider the words of those who accurately wrote of Christianity’s influence on our nation. Among those we should consider is Noah Webster (1758-1843), who has been called “The Father of American Scholarship and Education.” In his History of the United States, which was published in 1832, he stated regarding Christianity’s influence on America:


     Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion.


     It is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican 

     principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.


     The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and                      benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine                        Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.


     The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.... All          the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustices, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their            despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. 


- Quotes taken from The American Patriot’s Bible, Dr. Richard G. Lee, General Editor


14. An American History Moment:
      The General Principles of Liberty

We've been hoodwinked! We've been bamboozled? By whom? By the revisionist historians and secularists who have diminished or negated the vast importance that Christianity played in the founding of the United States. Rather than apathetically resigning ourselves to their hoodwinking and bamboozling let us continue to educate ourselves to the truth. How can we do so? We can do so by actually considering the words of our Founders related to Christianity's integral role in the founding of our nation. Today, let us consider the words of John Adams (2nd President of the United States) to Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the United States and author of the "Declaration of Independence").


"In a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813, John Adams wrote:


     'The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of

     young gentleman could unite.... And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all

     these sects were united: And the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and 

     which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence.           


     Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as

     the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty, are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial,   

     mundane system.'" - from The American Patriot's Bible, Dr. Richard G. Lee, General Editor       


In light of Christianity's influence on our nation's founding Founder John Adams' words to Founder Thomas Jefferson are powerful words indeed. What a blessing it is to know that God had a plan for America. However, God is not finished with our nation. We are now at a crossroads. Some among us wail that there is no hope for America, that our sins are too great and that our nation is headed down a path to ruin from which there is no turning back. Rather than resigning ourselves to such a view, let us consider the nature of our loving God. Though He is a holy God, He is also a forgiving God. That remembered, may we turn our faces to Him, repenting for the sins of our nation, and beseeching His blessings upon us that we may experience a new beginning for our nation, one like that of the Founding Fathers, one in which God's hand upon our nation is sought, noted and honored."

15. THE TIME OF REVIVAL AND AWAKENING IS UPON US!

Ezra/Nehemiah was a time of revival for the Jews who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. We have entered a time of revival and awakening in the United States. As was true with both Ezra and Nehemiah, there are and will be voices that seek to draw our attention off of God. If we allow our attention to be drawn from God to circumstances, it will produce in us doubt and weaken our effectiveness for the cause of Christ. There will be voices that will seek to cause us to yield to fear. If we do so, it will produce doubt in us and weaken our effectiveness for the cause of Christ. There will be seeming Goliath's in the land, ranting and raving that we are but deceived and puny foes, seeking to convince us to yield to discouragement and despair. If we do so, it will produce in us doubt and weaken our effectiveness for the cause of Christ.

There are battles to fight, but they are battles to be won with spiritual weapons, like prayer, praise, and standing on God’s promises to us in the Bible, including the authority He has given us over our spiritual enemies through the name of Jesus (2 Cor. 10:3-5; James 4:7; Luke 10:19; Mark 16:17). As we go to battle, we must always remember that as those in Christ we partake of the covenant that Christ has with the Father. That being so, we are co-laborers with Him and His unlimited resources are available to us. As those circumcised in our hearts (Rom. 2:29), we must remember that, as we stand for righteous causes, God is on our side, as He was on David’s side when he faced the uncircumcised Goliath. As we go into battle, we must not walk according to the flesh, considering things with our physical eyes, but must rely on the vision given to us by our spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith (2 Cor. 5:7). We must remind ourselves, like Elisha did his servant, that those who are for us are more than those who are against us (2 Kings 6:6-17).


The cause of Christ is a just cause. The cause of those who stand against Christ and His word, the Bible, is not a just cause. God's power, strength, and wisdom are available to those who fight for just causes. That being so, let us lay aside any weights and sins that ensnare or hinder us, looking unto Jesus, knowing that the victory is not based on human ability or prowess, but on God's power, ability, and wisdom working in us, through us, and for us (Heb. 12:1-2; 1 Sam. 17:47; Rev. 12:11). Now is not the time for timidity! Now is not the time for fear! Now is not the time for discouragement! Now is the time to stand, and, having done all God has instructed us by His word and Spirit to do (Eph. 6:10-13), STAND!

16. WHICH "J" DO YOU WANT TO BE LIKE, JESUS OR JONAH?

Ezekiel 33: 11 (NKJ) - “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”


From a biblical perspective, there are obvious consequences to our behaviors, both as nations and as individuals. Proverbs 14:34 reminds us that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. Galatians 6:7-9 reminds us not to be deceived, as God is not mocked; if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption; if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap everlasting life. Knowing that there are consequences to our behavior, we should follow God’s advice in Deuteronomy 30:19 and choose the ways of life. Yet, tragically, many nations and individuals, for a variety of misguided reasons, have and continue to choose the ways of death (sin), thereby experiencing the horrific consequences of sin.


Cognizant of the consequences of our choices, let us now consider the story of Jonah as recorded in the Bible. Jonah, we recall, was a prophet. In that capacity God told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and warn them of their impending destruction due to their ungodly choices and behaviors. Jonah, based on his understanding of God’s forgiving nature, chose not to go to Nineveh, but to flee from God’s presence. Why? Because Jonah did not want to see Nineveh repent and God’s judgment avoided. Jonah wanted those in Nineveh destroyed.


Running from God’s presence, Jonah boarded a ship headed to Tarshish. However, this voyage, due to the rebellious Jonah’s presence on board, was really bound for trouble. God sent a great wind which threatened to destroy the ship. The fearful crew cast lots to determine who was responsible for the storm. The lot fell on Jonah, who admitted it was his rebellion against God in not going to Nineveh that was the problem. Querying Jonah about how they may escape destruction, he told them that if they threw him into the sea the storm would cease. They did, and it did.


Though the ordeal for those on the ship had ended, the same surely could not be said for Jonah. Swallowed by a great fish that God had prepared for just this purpose, he spent three days and nights in its belly. While there, the rebellious Jonah finally repented, whereupon God had the fish vomit him on dry land. On dry land, one might think that God had new plans for Jonah, but such was not the case, as God still intended for Jonah to go to Nineveh. We might want to imagine Jonah singing on the way, “Nineveh, here I come, right to the place where I should have gone, oh, me, on my, why was I so dumb?” But Jonah, though he had repented of not going to Nineveh, was still was in no mood for the possibility of the Nivevites’ repentance, whereupon God would spare them from destruction.


Arriving at Nineveh, Jonah preached God’s message to the city. Horror of horrors to Jonah, they repented. The exceedingly displeased Jonah got angry. Then, he left the city and made himself a shelter where he could observe the city to determine what would happen next. While there, God prepared a plant to shade Jonah from the sun, which greatly pleased him. God next prepared a worm which damaged the plant so it withered. With the sun beating down upon his head, Jonah grew miserable and faint, so much so that he desired his own death to escape this ordeal.


At that point, God asked Jonah if it was right to be angry about the plant. Jonah responded by asking if it was right to be angry to the point of death? God then turned the focus of the conversation to where it needed to be, upon the people of Nineveh. In His queries of Jonah, God made it clear that it was right for Him to pity Nineveh, and, based upon their repentance, to spare them from destruction, which, based upon their repentance, He did.


Now, let us turn from the story of Jonah to the United States of today. Due to a multitude of ungodly and misguided choices and practices that have occurred, we should recognize that undesirable consequences are looming upon our horizon, both as a nation and as individuals, some of which are already painfully evident and whose pejorative consequences we are already experiencing. In this atmosphere, sadly, there are those, like Jonah, who appear more motivated to see God bring horrific judgment upon our nation and its people than they desire to see repentance, and, based upon that repentance, to experience God sparing such judgment. That is not to say that judgment for our ungodly choices and behaviors is never called for, but embracing a desire for judgment alone is to forget the full nature of the God we serve. Like Ezekiel 33:11 reminds us, God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. His primary desire is that we from turn from wickedness, staying His judgment, and live.


Jesus’ shed blood reflects God’s desire for mankind, that we might know His forgiveness and cleansing from our sins. That is not to say that we should ever embrace the unscriptural attitude that our sinning does not matter to God. Our sinning most certainly does matter to Him. Sin is the very thing that put us in bondage and necessitated the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He might die and set us from the ravages of our slavery to it. However, let us also remember that God’s great desire, when we are found in such ravages, is that we might repent, in that repenting turning from our wicked ways and living. Looking at the spiritual condition of our nation, it is obvious that revival and awakening are sorely needed. Praying for such revival and awakening, may our desire be like that of Jesus, who longs that we might repent, in doing so finding forgiveness for and freedom from sin, resulting in the full restoration of His blessings upon our nation and its people. Let us not be like Jonah, who desired only to see God’s judgment upon those participating in the ways of sin but not to see their repentance and God sparing such judgment.

17. PROGRESSIVISM, A THREAT TO THE VISION OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS

Proverbs 22:28 (NKJ) – Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.


The Founding Fathers envisioned a nation where government was well-defined and played a limited role in the lives of its citizens. They saw government protecting the natural rights of its citizens like those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence–life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–through limited, decentralized powers. The Constitution they penned in 1787 allowed for changes to it though a formalized, amendment process and formed a republic where there was a separation of powers between three branches of government, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries our nation witnessed the rise of an ongoing threat to the Founders’ vision for our nation, Progressivism. By envisioning a more expansive role of government, viewing the Constitution as a living and evolving document, and relying on the rule of administrative “experts” to implement their expanded role of government, Progressivism has and continues to exist as a serious threat to the vision of the Founders for our nation.


Progressives declared that the old ideas of the Founding Fathers related to government needed to be discarded in favor of new ones. Instead of the limited, decentralized powers embraced by the Founders, leaving citizens for the most part to rule themselves, Progressives envisioned an expanded government, one that would take a more active role in the lives of its citizens. They continue to believe that it is the role of government to provide for the self-fulfillment of all its citizens. This is accomplished by regulating the economy and redistributing wealth, doing whatever is necessary to ensure that all citizens possess the same means for self-fulfillment. To create an environment where all possess the same advantages, it is necessary that government must interfere with the very natural rights that the Founders sought to secure. Observing the ever-burgeoning size and intrusive nature of our government, it is obvious that many of the Progressive views related to expanded government have and continue to be implemented in our nation. To the degree that is so is equivalent to the ongoing threat they pose to the vision of the Founding Fathers for our nation.


Related to the Constitution, Progressives viewed and continue to view it as a living and evolving document. Essentially, what that in practice means is that the Constitution has a relevant meaning beyond the original text. It is an evolving document, which, based on the contemporaneous views of society, changes over time. This view, by infringing upon the rights of states to appropriately develop and enforce laws and not wholly relying on the amendment process to make changes to the Constitution, is in direct contradiction to that of the Founders. Furthermore, it has allowed activist judges to more easily inject their personal biases and values into constitutional interpretation, resulting in decisions like Roe v. Wade (1973), legalizing abortion throughout the nation and removing the authority of states to establish laws in such matters, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2016), which changed the definition of marriage, authority not granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution as penned by the Founders. To the degree that Progressive views of the Constitution have and continue to be implemented is the level of ongoing threat they represent to the vision of the Founding Fathers for our nation.


Expanding the role of government, Progressives and those influenced by their thinking have and continue to rely on administrative “experts.” In this atmosphere power is transferred from the representative, constitutional institutions–the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches –to agencies and their bureaucrats who wield increasing power, so much so that many now refer to these executive agencies, executive departments, and independent regulatory commissions as the “fourth branch” of government. This “fourth branch” or resulting administrative state is not consistent with the Founders’ view related to the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution. Article 1, section 1 of the Constitution states that all legislative powers shall be vested in Congress. However, the presence of an administrative state in our nation means that Congress’ legislative powers have been transferred to government agencies, agencies consisting of unelected “experts” who are unaccountable to those governed, which is contrary to the republican principles upon which our Constitution is founded. To the degree that an administrative “fourth branch” of government exists is the degree to which its presence represents a threat to the Founders’ vision for our nation.


For many of us who read poll after poll in which the majority of those responding believe that our nation is headed in the wrong direction, we are not content to just agree with the results of those polls. We also desire to understand why it is so, and, where possible, to reverse the trend. Clearly, when it comes to the vision of the Founding Fathers for our nation, Progressivism has and continues to be a threat. With its reliance on ever bigger and more intrusive government, a Constitutional perspective that is subject to the whims and personal ideologies of those interpreting it, and a management state constituting a Constitutionally non-supportable and unaccountable “fourth branch” of government, Progressivism is one of many significant reasons for the trend. Modern American Liberalism, which added to Progressive thinking Darwinism and a deep faith in faith in science, constitutes a related part of the problem as well. Desiring to and moving further and further away from the vision of our Founding Fathers, Progressives and Liberals are guilty of that which Proverbs 22:28 admonishes us not to do, removing the landmarks which our Founding Fathers set.

18. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, HAVE WE UTTERED WHAT WE DID NOT UNDERSTAND?

19. AMERICA'S CHRISTIAN HISTORY: THE CANE RIDGE REVIVAL

Fed a steady diet of secularized and revisionist history in our nation’s public schools, many have scarcely or never heard of the “Second Great Awakening.” Yet, those familiar with America’s Christian history are familiar with it and the significant impact it had. Its emphasis on personal salvation resulted in thousands of conversions. The social reforms associated with it, which many believe had a greater impact on secular society than any other, focused on abolitionist causes and prison reform, as well as the political rights of women. “Sunday Schools,” where children were taught, in addition to scripture, reading, writing, and arithmetic, were promoted. Charles Finney, perhaps the most famous minister associated with the Awakening, exhorted Christians to take consistent ground in the government arena by supporting honest men and reminded them that God was not oblivious to what they did related to politics, the same being true for us today.  

 

Remembering the significant impact of the Second Great Awakening, let us now turn to its origins. Many historians view Logan County, Kentucky, as the starting point. It was there that Methodist and Presbyterian ministers joined efforts in 1799. Associated with their efforts were revival meetings where visitors would camp out for two or three nights. One of the landmark events associated with the Awakening took place in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in August of 1801.    

 

Led by Barton W. Stone, pastor at Cane Ridge Presbyterian Church, the Cane Ridge Revival began with a call for a “sacramental communion.” The spiritually hungry of all ages, rich and poor, male and female, black and white, and of every denomination, responded in eager anticipation. Their numbers were estimated from 10,000 to 25,000. What they experienced was perhaps the world’s most famous camp meeting, which lasted a week. The preaching, provided by ministers of varying denominations, was simple, but persuasive; multitudes came to a saving knowledge of Christ. Associated with the meeting were varied spiritual manifestations such as glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and the faintings (identified more often today as being slain in the Spirit) observed by Jonathan Edwards during the First Great Awakening.

 

Based on those manifestations and other factors, the Cane Ridge Revival, is not without its detractors. Responding to the detractors, let it be said that, tragically, we can surely allow our unspiritual and unscriptural attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to sully the waters of revival and awakening. First, we can do so by allowing our flesh and emotions to diminish God’s intent, like the Hebrews did in the wilderness, resulting in Psalms 78:41 (NKJ) noting of them, “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” Secondly, we can do so when we do not insure that in our meetings “all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). Last, we can also do so by embracing the view that the gifts of the Spirit, healing, and so many spiritual manifestations associated with the early Church ceased with the twelve apostles and/or the completion of the Bible, a view commonly known as cessationism.

 

Cessationists often support their view with but one passage of scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NKJ), “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” “That which is perfect,” in the estimation of so many cessationists, is the competed Bible. However, if the “prophesy” of verse 9 ceased with the completion of the Bible, then, following that line of reasoning, so too would “knowledge” have ceased. Not even cessationists assert that knowledge has ceased, which makes untenable, based on this passage, the assertion that prophesy (including the gifts of the Spirit, healing, etc.) has ceased. Furthermore, the view that “that which is perfect has come” is a reference to the completed Bible is not supported by the context of the passage or scripture elsewhere. Biblically speaking, it would be more reasonable to conclude that “that which is perfect has come” is a reference to the second coming of Christ, which, currently, is a topic for which time and space do not allow.

 

Cessationists also like to point to the dearth of the manifestation of spiritual gifts and healings as further proof for their perspective. Looking at church history, it can easily be deduced that such manifestations have diminished. However, that being so is more a matter of those topics not being focused upon and/or understood in Christendom, let alone being taught about by many or most ministers. Cessationists can admit that where the gospel is not accurately taught, the understanding about and experience of salvation will diminish. What they don’t seem to recognize is that the same is true related to an absence of systematic teaching on the topics of the gifts of the Spirit and healing. Additionally, works like Quenching the Spirit, by William DeArteaga, and The Glossolalia Phenomenon, edited by Wade H. Horton, provide concrete evidence that manifestations like the gifts of the Spirit and healing endured long beyond the death of twelve apostles or the completion of the Bible, manifestations which continue today.

 

Related to revival and awakening, manifestations of the Holy Spirit should not serve as our primary focus. The primary focus of revival and awakening, like that of our day to day walk of faith, must be Christ. However, in focusing upon Christ, never should we seek to limit or hinder what God desires to do by embracing unspiritual or unscriptural attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, done when we “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19, NKJ). The purpose of revival is to restore Christians to spiritual vigor and vitality; the object of awakening is to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Christ. Our submission to God must include our acting as co-laborers with Him, yielding to His plans and purposes, including our embracing manifestations of His choosing. Those in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, like we today, lived in an era when godlessness and lawlessness were rampant, a time when the importance of spiritual matters was diminished or non-existent. Like those in Cane Ridge, may we seek God for revival and awakening in this hour. Doing so in a manner initiated and ordained by God, may we continue and build upon the legacies of revivals and awakenings of the past, including the Cane Ridge Ridge Revival.

20. EMBRACING THE THREE R'S OF REVIVAL AND AWAKENING

Let us not live under the delusion that the United States is or ever was a perfect nation. Our history is strewn with too many ill-conceived and misdirected actions to do so (i.e. slavery, our treatment of the indigenous peoples, and, more recently, our embracing of secularism and the false revisionist history accompanying it). Neither let us embrace the view that the United States is not nor has it ever been an exceptional nation. Yet, in noting and defining our exceptionalism, as the historian and social commentator, Alexis de Tocqueville, first did in the 19th century, it is imperative that we identify its actual roots. De Tocqueville, in seeking to discover its origins, found it not in our impressive governing document, the Constitution, or our political thinkers, though our nation’s origins was blessed with an impressive array of such people (i.e. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, etc.). Like Alexis de Tocqueville, may we discover the true origins of our nation’s exceptionalism, which he found in our churches.    

 

In our churches? Come now, that cannot be true! After all, hasn’t the mind-numbing drone of secularists and revisionists brainwashed us into the mistaken notion that a biblical/Christian worldview was not integral to the founding and development of our nation? Lest we still are not convinced, they need only toss the word “deist” about related to our Founding Fathers, especially two of them, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, correct? Of course, in doing so, they ignore the fact that the vast majority of our Founders embraced a biblical/Christian worldview. And they neglect to inform us that the impersonal God of the deists, who created this world as a watchmaker would a watch, wound it up, and now takes a “hands off” approach to it, is not the God of Jefferson and Franklin. They are ignorant of the fact, or purposely choose to convince us otherwise, that Jefferson, though his views were in many ways unorthodox, considered himself a Christian. And Benjamin Franklin, faced with an impasse at the Constitutional Convention, called for a day of prayer and fasting to move past the challenge. Doing so, he stated how he had come to understand during his long life that God intervenes in the affairs of men (hardly a purely deistic view). It was this same Franklin, who, with age, more and more rejected the deistic leanings of his youth (perhaps somewhat related to his friendship with George Whitefield, the great Christian evangelist associated with the First Great Awakening) and helped found the University of Pennsylvania as a Christian college. Such facts don’t fit well with the secularist/revisionist narrative, do they?  

 

Oh, and lest we might actually believe Alexis de Tocqueville’s assertions about the origins of American exceptionalism being found in our churches, we need only that the secularists/revisionists remind us of the First Amendment and the Separation of Church and State, right?  Looking at the First Amendment related to religion, we find two clauses: the “Establishment Clause,” which was placed there to prohibit the state/government from establishing state/government run churches, as had been the case in Europe, Massachusetts, and Virginia, and the “Free Exercise Clause,” which was included to block any state/government attempt to infringe upon our free exercise of religion, both publicly and privately. As for the Separation of Church and State, that idea is not actually in the Constitution. It was, however, expressed in a letter written by President Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists, related to their concerns that the state/government might infringe upon their religious freedoms. Therein, Jefferson allayed their fears by informing them that "a wall of separation" existed that would prevent the state/government from thwarting their rights. Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s rulings agreed with Jefferson’s assertion for almost 150 years, until Everson v. Board of Education in 1947, which found SCOTUS using the separation idea in a previously unheard of way, to restrict the public religious freedoms of the American people.

 

So, what about the churches that de Tocqueville spoke of? What kind of churches were they? They were Christian churches, which was indicative of the worldview that was integral to our nation’s founding and development. Looking at the history of Revivals and Awakenings impacting our nation (i.e. the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, the Prayer Revival, the Holiness Revival, etc.), those also involved Christian denominations (Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc.). Looking at quotes from our Presidents, it is obvious too that they envisioned the United States a Christian nation. It was not until 2009, that President Obama, in Turkey, suggested an alternate view of the United States. Of course, that should not really be surprising as his upbringing was not Christian. His mother was an atheist, his biological father a Muslim who later embraced atheism, and his stepfather a Muslim. It also bears noting that he was educated in our public schools after they had undergone secularization and the onset of revisionist history, which has removed or ignores the fact that a biblical/Christian worldview was integral to the founding and development of this nation.  

 

Understanding that our nation’s exceptionalism was and is connected to our Christian churches and realizing that our nation has become highly secularized, where do we go from here? Though religious pluralists assert that all religions are equally valid pathways to God, such is not the case. The words of Jesus Himself in John 14:6 (NKJ) assure us otherwise, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Luke fully supports this fact in Acts 4:12 (NKJ), stating of the name of Jesus, “Nor is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we are saved.” So, in determining where we as a nation go from here, we must cast off the unscriptural views of those who, unlike most of our Founding Fathers, would have us believe all religions are valid pathways to God. Jesus, unlike the spiritually deceived religious pluralists would have us believe, is the only means of salvation. John 10:9 (NKJ) assures us of this, “If anyone enters by Me (Jesus), he will be saved.” What is true for the individual is also true for our nation; Jesus is the only answer.

 

And, unlike secularists assert, man should never be at the center of things. That lofty position should be reserved for God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) alone. Mankind elevated to that position has resulted in our nation adopting a relativistic moral outlook that is characterized by the song title, “Anything Goes!” Such an attitude has opened the door to scripturally blatant sin and practices and blinds its possessors to the truth of Proverbs 14:34 (NKJ), “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

 

As Proverbs 14:34 relates, our nation’s true exalting or exceptionalism is maintained when we seek right standing or relationship (righteousness) with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Unlike religious pluralists would have us believe, not any old concept of God will do. Ultimately too, it will require our understanding and walking in "The Three R’s of Revival and Awakening: Refocusing, Reforming, and Restoring.” Refocusing occurs when we lay aside “every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us” and “run with endurance the race that is before us, looking (without distraction) unto Jesus,” engaging in sincere communication with God or prayer (Heb. 12:1-2, NKJ). Reforming happens when we reject ungodly ideologies and manners of thinking and replace them with scripturally accurate ones, what Romans 12:2 (NKJ) calls not being “conformed to the world,” but being “transformed by the renewing of” our “mind,” which is fully dependent upon the power of the word of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives. Finally, Restoring ensues as our words and actions reveal that the image of God is being reestablished in our lives individually, as the body of Christ, and, as a result, in our nation (2 Cor. 3:18).

Related to the issue of exceptionalism and our nation, all-encompassing questions loom before us. Will we continue down the spiritually blinding road of secularism and revisionist history? Or will we again embrace the biblical/Christian worldview embraced by vast majority of our Founding Fathers that our churches may return to their former vitality and vigor? For the sake of our citizens, and, ultimately, the nation, let us throw off the spiritually-dulling cloak of secularism and revisionist history. Enlisting God’s help, let us do so with candor, sincerity, pureness of heart, so their false and unscriptural narratives no longer find quarter in our nation. Let us do so by embracing the Three R’s of Revival and Awakening: Refocusing, Reforming, and Restoring.  

21. GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION!

James 1:27 (NKJ) – Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

 

The word “religion,” in much of Christendom today, is perceived quite unfavorably. In view of the plethora of man-made dogmas and practices that have tarnished Christianity for many, that is understandable. However, looking at religion from the perspective of James 1:27 or as the belief in and worship of God, it is not. Religion should not always be viewed pejoratively. Unscriptural religious beliefs and practices, which rob Christianity of its vitality and diminish the grandeur of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, should be.      

 

Continuing our discussion of religion in a positive light, let us consider the movie, “Sergeant York,” memorable for both historical and spiritual reasons. It is the story of Alvin C. York, the most decorated hero of World War I, a man whose life, prior to his conversion to Christianity, is well-described by an interchange between he and Pastor Rosier Pile:

 

Pastor Pile: See that rock, Alvin? You've been plowin' around that rock a heap o' years.
Alvin: Sure have!
Pastor Pile: Did you ever think when you start plowin' yer furrows crooked, it's mighty hard to get 'em straight again?
Alvin: I never thought on it much.
Pastor Pile: It's that-a-way, I reckon, with other things 'sides plowin'. Satan's got ya by the shirt tail, Alvin!

 

That exchange can also serve as a metaphor for much of the Western world in the last century. During that time, multitudes of us, in Europe and the United States, ceased from maintaining our undivided focus upon the Rock, Christ, and the essential and living relationship that all must have with Him. Instead, we have largely donned the crooked-furrow strategy evidenced by our embracing of secularism. As a result, Satan, tragically, has us by the shirt tail.

 

Fundamentally, secularism espouses that we do not need God. It rejects or disregards religious faith and worship, as demonstrated by its primary goal, the total elimination of all religious elements from our culture. Morally speaking, secularism, also known as secular humanism, contends that there are no objective or absolute truths delineating right and wrong, making it incompatible with the biblical worldview that was integral to the founding and development of our Western culture. By embracing secularism, we have endorsed worldly and unspiritual attitudes and practices, resulting, culturally, in a greatly diminished spiritual influence and significance.

So, anthropologically speaking, here we are, much conditioned by the godless ideology that is secularism. As a result, we often blindly plow all around God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and our way of life is essentially void of that which is indispensable, a vibrant dependency on Christ, as evidenced by a living and developing walk of faith with Him. Oh, there are still vestiges of the biblical worldview that was essential to our Western civilization’s creation and progression. Yet, sadly, tragically, those traces, too often, are more about form than function. That being so, religion, as evidenced by much of modern Christianity in the Western world, does not concern itself with remaining unsullied from the ideological pollution that is in the world. Rather, it too often seeks to emulate the world, the very thing whose influence it should be rejecting, escaping, and turning upside down (Acts 17:6).

 

Observing the somber state of Christianity in much of the Western world, what is the solution to that being so? The solution is revival and awakening. Revival, as we use the term, refers to that which occurs when Christians, who, for whatever reasons, had become spiritually lethargic, apathetic, or cold, are restored to a place of divinely wrought vitality and health. Awakening indicates that which transpires when those who are alienated from God, the lost, are drawn by the Holy Spirit to a place of repentance, followed by their embracing by faith the salvation made possible by the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ.

 

Okay, so we see that revival and awakening is the solution to the dismal nature of Christianity that exists in a substantial portion of the Western world. Yet, is there more that needs to be said and desired? Yes, most definitely, there is. Studying the history of revivals and awakenings, we discover common threads running through them. Those threads we identify as the Three R’s: Refocusing; Reforming; and Restoring. Refocusing signifies our turning away from sin, placing our undivided focus upon God, and praying. Reforming takes place as we alter or discard teachings and practices that create or enhance spiritual stagnation, replacing them with scripturally-derived instruction and habits and seeing our growth in them as a normal part of Christian maturation. Restoring speaks of the process of Christ’s image being reconstructed in mankind as men and women, first made spiritually new creations by faith in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), are then transformed from one degree of glory or splendor to another (2 Cor. 3:18).  

 

So, concluding that our Western world is in dire need of revival and awakening based upon the Three R’s, let us return to the movie, “Sgt. York.” Specifically, let us focus upon the scene recording Alvin York’s conversion to Christianity. As a repentant Alvin York moves to the alter of the church, Pastor Pile leads the congregation, jubilant over Alvin’s decision, in the song, “Give Me That Old Time Religion.”  From that song, several points relevant to revival and awakening can be made. Old time religion was good for our fathers, which should remind us that our return to a godly heritage and scriptural traditions will serve as a boon to us individually, and, thus, to our culture (Prov. 14:34). Though it does not make us love everything that others do (1 Cor. 13:6), it should be marked by our love for others (John 13:25). It was good for Paul and Silas, which emphasizes the need for the power and vitality present in early Christianity that is often absent today (1 Cor. 4:20). It can take us all to heaven should point out to us that the gospel is the power of God and the only means unto salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). It was good for the prophet Daniel should prompt us to consider the many desirable traits that he possessed, attributes that are much needed today. Among those are wisdom, sincerity, vibrant faith, endurance, and a non-compromising attitude. Finally, we recall that it was tried in the fiery furnace, which is contrary to what modern Christianity often seeks to assure us, that our walks of faith are about all our hunkies always being dory. Rather, from the fires of tribulations and trials that we all experience, our faith is purified and should “be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7, NKJ). Recognizing the validity of these things and continuing to trust God for the revival and awakening so desperately needed, let us not be averse to “old time religion.”       

22. HEEDING HIS VOICE AND TURNING IN THESE PERILOUS TIMES

2 Timothy 2:1-5 (NKJ) – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

 

Some heard His voice beckoning to us to be more than we have been and turned. Some have not yet heard His voice. Some, hearing it, have not yielded to Him. Yet, our responses, whether obedient or not, will not silence His voice. The voice of a merciful and loving God cries out to us. He calls to those of us in need of repentance, wooing us to turn away from lifestyles void of Him and the truth of His word. His voice draws us to a place where fellowship with Him wafts with the sweet-smelling fragrance of holiness. In such a place, it is not about what we have done, but about the fact that we are forgiven and can enjoy unfettered fellowship with Him, based on the fact that He has made us righteous (2 Cor. 5:21), in right standing or relationship with Him. During these perilous times and as the time of His return grows nearer, it is imperative that those of us who have not yet heard and heeded His voice do so and turn to Him.  

 

How do we know that these are perilous times? We know that these are perilous times because the characteristics of such times are clearly chronicled in His word. How does He, in His word, describe them?

 

He tells us that in these times we will be lovers of ourselves. How can we continually place our choices above the desire of the innocent unborn to live and say we are not lovers of selves? In all honesty, we cannot. How can so many of us be so callous to others and not be lovers of selves? Again, we cannot.

 

He tells us that we will be lovers of money. Though money itself is neither good nor bad, the love of it is to place it on the throne that should be reserved solely for God (1 Tim. 6:10). Look around us, can we not see that our culture too often is enamored with money? And let us not forget, taking the money of others under the guise of some self-aggrandizing ideology does not make us less lovers of money.  

 

He tells us that we will be boasters. Observing mankind, can we not see that we so often thumb our nose at God, thereby declaring that we know better than He? As boasters, we engage in any number of ungodly behaviors, yet too often claim them to be righteous, and add that where His word declares them to be sin, we, in so many words, know better than He.

 

He tells us that we will be proud. As proud people, we over-estimate our own merits and treat others with contempt. Looking at the vitriol in our world, it is easy to see that in any number of ways we have become proud people.

 

He tells us that we will be blasphemous people. As blasphemers, we are slanderous, reproachful of and railing at others, especially those with whom we disagree. Observing our culture, slander is ever-present, such as is too often enhanced and enabled by those who should, and often do, know better.

 

He tells us that we will be without self-control, intemperate. Such is easily observable in the hostilities which permeate our culture. Our ranting and railing at each other fills the airwaves.

 

He tells us that we will be brutal, savage. Such is revealed by the violence of our words and actions that abound and reflect the darkness of our hearts.  

 

He tells us that there are among us those who are opposed to goodness and good men. Such is revealed by the those who march in the streets, exalting behaviors that are sin and opposing those who expose them as such. 

 

He tells us there will be traitors among us, those who do not flinch at betraying others. Our world reeks with such, with those to whom allegiances and agreements mean little or nothing.

 

He tells us that the headstrong will be among us, those who rashly and recklessly drive toward a world void of good, of godliness, of things holy. Such so often call that which is evil good and that which is good evil (Is. 5:20).  

 

He tells us that the haughty will be among us, insolent men and women who are puffed up with pride. Peering into a world that too often marches to the tune, “I Know More Than God,” His love still cries to them, love recognizing that should they not change directions, destruction awaits them (Heb. 9:27).

 

He tells us that men and women will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Perusing our technologically advanced but often morally bankrupt world, the sounds of our pleasure-seeking activities clang loudly while the voice of the God speaking through the Church is too often unheard.

 

He tells us that men and women will have a form or semblance of godliness, but their conduct will belie its power and the genuineness of their profession. They may proclaim their godliness in whispers or shouts, but this is certain, what they proclaim is a sham, a pretense, a walk with Christ that is in name only. Their ungodly actions speak much more loudly than their words.   

 

Finally, He tells us to turn away from those who exhibit the characteristics and engage in the behaviors that He just identified. Our turning from such people is not to say that we should ever cease to pray for or love such people. However, the love that does not rejoice at iniquity but rejoices at the truth (1 Cor. 13:6) never is that which seeks to enable, justify, or excuse sin, our own, or that of others. And, lest we be tempted to habitually place ourselves with such people, His wisdom declares, “Be not deceived: Evil company corrupts good morals” (2 Cor. 15:33, NKJ). Yes, His voice is calling. If we are tempted to procrastinate, let us not do so, for “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time to heed His voice and turn in these perilous times.    

23. TO REPENT OR NOT TO REPENT, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Repentance is a word that garners a myriad of reactions among Christians. However, many, by their reactions, seem unaware of what repentance really is, when it is appropriate, or how the lack of accurate teaching about it has negatively affected the body of Christ. Recognizing that to be true, we shall, in this study: 1. Determine what repentance is; 2. When repentance is appropriate; and 3. How the absence of accurate teaching about repentance has been detrimental to the overall health of the body of Christ.

 

Let us begin by determining what repentance is. Thayer’s Lexicon of New Testament Words tells us that repentance means “a change of mind.” However, much more is said about the word, for Thayer’s adds, “especially a change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds.” So, related to repentance, we see that it is a change of mind, based on a recognition of the sinful or ungodly nature of our behaviors or views, followed by our embarking in a new direction marked by holy behaviors and thinking.

 

Understanding what repentance is, when is it appropriate? Repentance is appropriate any time we recognize the sinful or ungodly nature of a behavior that we are engaging in or a view that we embrace. Let’s look at a specific example revealing when and how it is appropriate. In the United States, abortion has been legal since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade determined, based on the “Due Process Clause” of the 14th Amendment, that it should be. Cognizant of this and recognizing that Christians can be conformed to ungodly ideologies (Rom. 12:2), it is not surprising that some Christians support legalized abortion, often doing so under the supposedly less innocuous term, “pro-choice.”

 

Continuing with our example, let’s say that a pro-abortion or pro-choice Christian is one who is not merely content to know Christ as Savior, but desires to “grow in grace,” to be transformed to His image in views, words, and deeds (2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 3:18). Reading Proverbs 6:16-17 (NKJ), our hypothetical Christian sees that God hates “hands that shed innocent blood.” Obviously, related to abortion, he or she can easily recognize that abortion is the shedding of innocent blood, as unborn children have done nothing deserving of death. Reading Jeremiah 1:5, where God spoke of forming Jeremiah in the womb of his mother, our hypothetical Christian, should be further convinced that legalized abortion is not a godly choice. Thus, based on a change of mind about legalized abortion, he or she will be empowered to embark on a new course of direction, evidenced by his or her no longer supporting pro-abortion or pro-choice causes and political candidates.

 

Though we chose to use the topic of abortion in our illustration, we could have used any number of examples, related to: greed, lawlessness, LGBTQ issues, hatred, selfish ambition, wrath, envy, etc. The point is that repentance involves the recognition of the sinfulness or ungodly nature of a behavior that we are engaged in or a view that we support followed by a change of action. Repentance is an integral part of our coming to know Christ as Savior, but it does not become irrelevant after we have done so, as evidenced by 2 Corinthians 7:9 and 2 Timothy 2:25, verses written to Christians. Repentance is necessary whenever God reveals to us that some action we engage in or view we hold is contrary to His will. When He does so, it is vital to our walks with Christ that we embark upon a course away from those actions or views. Doing so is mandatory to healthy growth in grace. Additionally, it should also be noted that repentance leads to the complete forgiveness of our sins, meaning we should not to continue to focus upon what God has forgiven and remitted, which can lead to and encourage unhealthy condemnation and sin consciousness.  

 

Understanding that repentance is an integral aspect of Christian maturation, let us now consider how a lack of accurate teaching on the topic has been detrimental to the health of the body of Christ, the Church. 1 John 4:8 (NKJ) informs us that “God is love; John 3:16 reminds us that God so loved the world that He sent His Son to save it. Based on these and other verses, we should never doubt God’s love for mankind. Yet, that does not relieve us of the need, as Christians, to focus on the entire breadth of topics in scripture. Yes, our God most certainly is love. Yet 1 Corinthians 13:6 reminds us that God who is love does not rejoice at iniquity, but rejoices at the truth. John 17:17 further informs us that God’s word is truth. Looking at the truth that is God’s word, we discover that God, in addition to being love, is also just and desires that we walk in holiness. Jesus also commanded us to be salt and light in this world.

 

Tragically, many, who have not focused on God’s complete nature and distorted the topic of grace, have relieved us of the need to engage in a lifestyle of repentance. Such a lifestyle is not about continually fixating upon sin. Rather it is about laying aside the weights and sins that entangle us, fixing our attention, without distraction, upon Christ (Heb. 12:1-2), and running our race with endurance. Laying aside weights and sins first requires our recognizing them for what they are, resulting in a change of mind, and followed by a change of action, demonstrated by our leaving them behind. Healthy growth in grace is integrally associated with repentance, as growth in understanding, a change of mind, empowers us to recognize our sinful and ungodly behaviors. Then, God’s grace empowers us to lay them aside, a change of direction and actions.

 

Repentance is not a word that we Christians should view with disdain or as irrelevant. It was pertinent before we came to know Christ as Savior, as it is afterwards. It is a change of mind, based on our understanding that some behavior or view is ungodly or sinful, that is followed by a change of direction or action away from those behaviors or views. It is an integral aspect of our being conformed to the image of Christ in words, views, and deeds. It is imperative that we accurately understand and teach about repentance, as the failure to do so has and will continue to result in spiritual weakness and atrophy throughout the body of Christ. Finally, when confronted with the sinfulness or ungodly nature of our behaviors or attitudes, we will consistently face the question, “To repent or not to repent?” Let us always do as Christ would have us to do, “Repent!”  

24. MAINTAINING A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL DIET!

Ephesians 4:15 (NKJ) – But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head – Christ…

 

John 17:17 (NKJ) – Sanctify them by Your word, Your word is truth.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJ) – All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  

 

What if you went to a doctor and he/she prescribed a diet missing many ingredients necessary for a healthy life? Provided there was no sane medical reason to negate those ingredients from your diet, would you view such advice as sound? No, you would not! Even if the doctor waxed eloquent in his/her reasoning, provided there was no solid medical reason for his/her judgment, you should not follow it, as it is defective.

 

Continuing this line of reasoning, let us now turn to the body of Christ, the Church. Specifically, let us focus on how unhealthy spiritual diets are consistently encouraged throughout the Church. When I speak of the Church I am not speaking of only Baptists or Non-denominationalists or Lutherans or Methodists or Catholics or Inter-denominationalists or any other segment of the body of the Church. None of those segments alone are equivalent to the entire body of Christ, as the Church is comprised of all who are in union with Christ, of all who are experiencing a saving relationship with Christ, of all who have undergone spiritual regeneration in Christ.

 

Having identified those that the Church is comprised of, let us now turn to how unhealthy spiritual diets are consistently encouraged throughout it. Looking at the various segments which represent themselves as the body of Christ, it is quite apparent that the messages presented in those groups tend to pursue objectives in many ways unique to each association. That is not necessarily to say that those messages, individually considered, are scripturally unsound. For example, some groups tend to consistently proclaim the need to be born again, which is a wholly scriptural and imperative view. Other groups may emphasize more the need to walk in love, which is also important. Others focus more on the topics of faith and healing, including the necessity of the Holy Spirit in our walks with Christ, which is also paramount. Still others focus on grace, another vital teaching. Time does not allow us to fully consider the uniqueness of the messages proclaimed by each group or segment in the body of Christ. Again, that is not to say that the diversity of messages means that those messages are unscriptural, though it can and sometimes does mean that. However, even if the messages are scripturally solid, the uniqueness of the messages in the various segments of the body of Christ, accentuating some things and not emphasizing or ignoring others, amounts to prescribing a spiritually unhealthy diet.

 

Related to healthy spiritual diets for newborn Christians, 1 Peter 2:2 (NKJ) states, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Associated with milk, Hebrews 6:1-2 identifies that baby Christians should receive the following elementary teachings: 1. The foundation of repentance from dead works; 2. Faith toward God; 3. Baptisms; 4. The laying on of hands; 5. The resurrection of the dead; and 6. Eternal judgment. Looking at the body of Christ, it is apparent that some segments of the Church may emphasize one or more of these topics, but very few provide adequate teaching in all of them. The fact that is so results in Christians who are not grounded in foundational truths, and, related to various false teachings (i.e. judgment is not eternal, but temporary; there is no hell; there is no life after death; annihilationism; etc.), are often “children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:14, NKJ).

 

Though milk is essential for new believers, let us not forget that God does not want us to stop there either, but to proceed to solid food. Pertinent to those who do not do so, Hebrews 5:13 (NKJ) reminds us, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil.” The fact that many modern Christians embrace unscriptural and ungodly views on sin, lawlessness, abortion, LGBTQ issues, conformity to the world, etc. is directly linked to the fact that many of them lack discernment and are unskilled even in foundational teachings, much less teachings that equate to solid food.

 

Undoubtedly, the spiritual health of the individual members of the body of Christ correlates to the quality and variety of the spiritual food they receive. True, some segments of the body of Christ do a better job than others in providing quality food. However, related to variety, too often groups focus too much on some types of spiritual food while not concentrating enough on or ignoring others. That being so, Christians who are part of those segments may be well-versed on some biblical subjects, but completely ignorant of others. Obviously, the fact that the body of Christ is a living being made up of all who are in union with Christ means that the individual parts of that body will be in different phases of spiritual development. However, that does not excuse the individual segments of the Church from providing teaching that emphasizes both quality and variety. Of course, neither does it relieve us as individual Christians of the need to participate in personal biblical study that is based on scriptural accuracy and topical diversity.    

 

We recognize that some segments of the body of Christ do a more effective job of providing diverse and excellent teaching than others. That knowledge is imperative as we prayerfully consider which local body God would have us be a part. However, the recognition that no group is perfect does not negate us of the necessity for local and ongoing fellowship. If tempted to go that route, let us remember the words of Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJ), “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” Continued and ongoing fellowship in a local body is a must, as it is in such bodies that we more fully experience the truth of Ephesians 4:16 (NKJ), “from whom the whole body, joined together and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth in the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Finally, let us always remember that optimal spiritual health requires our correctly feeding on all of God’s word, not part of it. Doing so is how we maintain spiritually healthy diets.