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Discussion Forum : Devotional Thoughts : Politics, Activism, and the Gospel by John MacArthur

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 Politics, Activism, and the Gospel by John MacArthur


[b]Politics, Activism, and the Gospel[/b]

(By John MacArthur, October 19th, 2008)

With the nation focused on the November elections, we thought a post on politics might be appropriate. The point of this article is not that we should abstain from any participation in the political process, but rather that we must keep our priorities straight as Christians. After all, the gospel, not politics, is the only true solution to our nations moral crisis.

We cant protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

We must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise Gods standards of righteousness. We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of societys moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use Gods methods and maintain scriptural priorities.

God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into Christian nations. To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a facade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ] (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people--no matter how beneficial it seems--is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist--if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture--neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Author John Seel pens words that apply in principle to Christians everywhere and summarize well the believers perspective on political involvement:
A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity..

American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)
By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of mans wisdom, but with the spiritual power of Gods Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of Christian morality in society is not our calling--and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2008/10/27 10:28Profile









 Re: Politics, Activism, and the Gospel by John MacArthur

Excellent post. I could not agree more with the sentiments of John McCarthur.May God bless his message............Frank

 2008/10/27 13:17
ChrisJD
Member



Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2899
Philadelphia PA

 Re: Politics, Activism, and the Gospel by John MacArthur

Quote:
We cant protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, [b]and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture[/b].

(emphasis added)





'September 11, 1777

- The Continental Congress recommended and approved that the Committee of Commerce "import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere," because of the great shortage of Bibles created by the Revolutionary War's interruption of trade with England.'


the qoute above was taken from a pamplet titled [i] FASTFACTS Americas's Christian Heritage[/i] from Coral Ridge Ministries.


_________________
Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2008/10/27 17:59Profile
ChrisJD
Member



Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2899
Philadelphia PA

 Re: Politics, Activism, and the Gospel by John MacArthur

Quote:
We cant protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, [b]and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture[/b].

(emphasis added)








"U.S. Supreme Court
Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)
Stone v. Graham

No. 80-321

Decided November 17, 1980

449 U.S. 39


ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE

SUPREME COURT OF KENTUCKY

Syllabus

Held: A Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments, purchased with private contributions, on the wall of each public school classroom in the State has no secular legislative purpose, and therefore is unconstitutional as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. While the state legislature required the notation in small print at the bottom of each display that

"[t]he secular application of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen in its adoption as the fundamental legal code of Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States,"

such an "avowed" secular purpose is not sufficient to avoid conflict with the First Amendment. The preeminent purpose of posting the Ten Commandments, which do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, is plainly religious in nature, and the posting serves no constitutional educational function. Cf. Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U. S. 203. That the posted copies are financed by voluntary private contributions is immaterial, for the mere posting under the auspices of the legislature provides the official support of the state government that the Establishment Clause prohibits. Nor is it significant that the Ten Commandments are merely posted, rather than read aloud, for it is no defense to urge that the religious practices may be relatively minor encroachments on the First Amendment"



the following was taken from


[url=http://supreme.justia.com/us/449/39/case.html]http://supreme.justia.com/us/449/39/case.html[/url]


_________________
Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2008/10/27 19:28Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4635
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of mans wisdom, but with the spiritual power of Gods Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of Christian morality in society is not our calling--and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.



Although I greatly admire John MaCarthur and believe in repentance preaching and do, we have to be careful that we realize that the enemy has taken hold of society in a greater way than ever before because so-called Christians stood by and did nothing. a fool can see you can't evangelize the world through politics, but we are also called to be salt and light in this world. We are responsible for the influence that God affords us in this life. To say that I am a preacher therefor I have nothing to say in a political process is to shirk my reponsibility to take a stand when afforded opportunity.

As the enemy succeeds in stripping away every vestage of God, filling our classrooms with lies that impress upon young minds with brainwash tactics deceptions unthwarted, shall we sit by and say nothing? Until the average child on the streets has no concept that every vice under heaven is wrong because they believed the devilish teachers they trusted? So that we as preachers and teachers spend the whole of our ministry trying to undo a twisted mass of folly and damnable doctrines?

Every inch of ground we surrender to the enemy puts another impressionable mind in danger of [i]ultimate[/i] damnation. The reason is is that they are being brainwashed to counter every negative feeling- every pricking of conscience- every idea that some thing that is sin is not really sin- until their conscience is utterly seared and the whole world has lost even the kindest affection for their neighbor. When iniquity is allowed to abound- when we change the definition of good and evil- civil governments no longer function as the ministers of God for good - but as agents of satan for perdition.

God will call us to account for every opportunity we had to stay the hand of our enemy when afforded opportunity.


_________________
Robert Wurtz II

 2008/10/27 19:38Profile









 Re:

Hi Robert...could you be more precise as to what exactly you disagree with what was written? You gave us a quote but then did not address the quote. If I read you right, and perhaps I do not, you are saying that John said we should do nothing. I did not read that in the piece. Far from doing nothing, he claims we should evangelize the country. I have often heard this critisism, that "when good men do nothing, evil triumphs." Yet no where did John say that we should do nothing, unless preaching the Gospel for all its worth is considered doing nothing. I know for a fact you do not mean that Robert...........brother Frank

 2008/10/27 21:57
Compton
Member



Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2731


 Re:

Is this article written by the same man that appears on Larry King and confronts the mayor of San Francisco for supporting gay marriage?

I think this issue of 'political involvement' needs some clarification. Some seem to be saying that the Christian can't discuss anything in public except the plan of salvation.

The original idea of separation of church and state was actually a biblical one. It is rooted in the idea that the secular sphere of government should mind it's place, recognizing that there is a higher divine sphere that no secular government should presume to usurp.

Yet, of course it does usurp. The modern socialist state is claiming every sphere of life under it's authority. Now, every-time we see the state forcing a young foster child to become adopted by Homosexual men, or the state becoming "family planners" we are intimidated to say nothing because we accept the states claim of authority on these issues.

Even our own children are becoming "political issues". I suppose we'll have to shrug our shoulders there too, saying we aren't 'called to politics'.

My point here is that it isn't the church who is intruding where it ought not, but the state.

In light of this trend, and not with indifference to it, I think MacAuthor was simply reminding us that we must not lose our public witness for Christ by becoming absorbed into angry hateful partisanships, but to abide in prayerful love for our world. In short, he was reminding us that the Church is called to affirm the Word of God in word and deed; not with political power that comes from biting and devouring, but with spiritual power that comes from godliness.

On these things we can readily and most heartily agree...but I hardly think he means that Christians have to be absolutely silent on the moral, social, and even political issues of our day.

Maybe we can call in and ask him during his next appearance on Larry King live.

MC

(Edit: I want to add that I think John MacAuthor is one of the most honorable and courageous public men of God in our nation today. His intelligent,respectful, unapologetic stance for God's word in the face of ridicule is an example for Christian men.)


_________________
Mike Compton

 2008/10/27 23:15Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4635
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Specifically I was referring earlier to:

Quote:
Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of Christian morality in society is not our calling--and has no eternal value



This attitude prevailed at a critical time in our nations history and because good men did nothing the Devil seized the strategic opportunity and the cup of iniquity in our lands has filled at unprecedented speed.

[color=000066]When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2)[/color]

The suffering that is caused when wicked men rip the moral fabric of society is lamentable and horrific. It is obvious that morality can never be legislated, but have we no responsibility to stand in the gap to preserve what basic civilized boundaries are left? Or shall we surrender the whole market place of influence and policy making to the wicked?

Judges matter. Legislators matter. Mayors and presidents matter. School board officials matter. The devil will take every square inch we give him because he knows what is at stake. If he can influence a judge to unloose the restraining influence of law or a school board can uproot the restraining influence of God's Divine order in society [i]he will[/i]. Has he not already taken all we have given him? He has done what he does and he will continue to do it so long as we are content leave the position filling and the policy making to [i]him[/i].


_________________
Robert Wurtz II

 2008/10/28 0:00Profile









 Re:

Compton writes ...."but I hardly think he means that Christians have to be absolutely silent on the moral, social, and even political issues of our day."

Who does think that Compton? I hear that all the time, yet I have never hear anyone actually advocate that. It seems like it is a "straw man," argument.

This may come as a surprise to many, but there are more than two ways to look at any issue. One does not have to be a Democrat if one raises questions about Republicans. If one raises doubts about Capitilism, that does not mean the one raising questions about that particular worldy system is a socialist. I think that MacArthur is writing, not in a vacuum, but in the context and reality of what actually goes on in American society.

You can stand for truth, in love, without being involved in politics. Jesus spoke the truth and "feared no one." MacArthur and others have spoken on this issue because countless millions of professing Christians, actually put their faith and their trust in the system to change things. Should you use a vote that you may have to influence society for good, of course, that would seem like common sense. MacArthur writes ...."God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into Christian nations. To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a facade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world."

Everyday I hear Christians talk about a "culture war." They listen to guys like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly who doesnt even know that the Book of Revelation is in the New Testement. Again MacArthur says....

"When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that cultureneighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord."

You have to be living in a bubble not to recognize what MacArthur is saying here in this quote. There is so much hostility , from Christians towards "Liberals, soclialists, Democrats," any number of groups. One of the reasons that Obama is probably going to win is because the country is exhausted with partisan politics and the politis of wedge issues, designed to divide society for the sake of gaining or hanging on to power. And a large part of the "Christian community," have been right there with the politicians. Much of the unsaved , unchurched world now just see the Christian community as a mouthpiece for the Republican party. There should be three groups of people in this country. Republicans, Democrats and Christians. We should always speak the truth in love, no matter the cost. They should come to us. We should be an example of how to live with honor and dignity and respect. If any Christian happens to be a politician, he should run the most positive campaign, he should be a shining example, people should be able to look at them and say "see, that is the way one should conduct themselves."

Brother snd sisters, we have been called, not to be a sub-culture, but to be a counter culture. Christianity should trancsend bitter partisan politics. Christianity should transcend racism. Christinaity should transcend class warfare. The world, and the countries in which we live, should look to us as a city set on a hill. In the darkness of this world, we should be the light. Here is a newsflash :) This is gonna be a shocker now :) THE WORLD IS WICKED. It has always been wicked. It is what it is by the very nature of its emnity towards God. It cannot be otherwise. If the world in which we live, or the country in which we live is more wicked than it was, then this is not a reflection of the world, this is a reflection of the state of the Church. This is exactly what Paul Washer was preaching on. No where in the New Testement is the world condemned. In fact Jesus said that He has come to seek and to save the lost. Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

"2Ch 7:14 if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'

If the state of the country is very bad right now, then let us look to ourselves. Do not blame the wicked world, for they are acting according to their nature and only the Holy Spirit can convict them. How will He convict them? Does our righteousness bring conviction? Or are we so like the world we constantly seek to condemn that the Holy Spirit cannot use us?....brother Frank



 2008/10/28 0:23
Compton
Member



Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2731


 Re:

Quote:
Compton writes ...."but I hardly think he means that Christians have to be absolutely silent on the moral, social, and even political issues of our day."

Who does think that Compton? I hear that all the time, yet I have never hear anyone actually advocate that.



I think that was worth clarifying.

For what it's worth, I do understand and appreciate your other points brother. You express some good and helpful thoughts.

Blessings,

MC


_________________
Mike Compton

 2008/10/28 0:50Profile





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