What if Satan wants to destroy the Church more than the country?
In the book of Revelation the Church is not called to react to the End or the antichrist by moralistic, militaristic, or political means. The Church is called to return to Messiah Jesus, remembering that those who continue faithful to the End will receive the “crown of life.” The way of resistance of evil, is the way of Christ. That is, loving Christ Jesus, and loving others. Taking up our crosses and following Jesus and loving others, even when it hurts, is a sure sign that we don’t and won’t have the “mark of the beast.”
What if the clearest mark of the beast is the mark of hatred and hostility? Many have thought it stood for Nero (the numerical value of 666), and perhaps it did in a way. He was, as history showed, marked by the beast. He was, as history showed, like his father the devil. He was proud and unloving, destructive and devilish.
Is not the mark of the Messiah, the mark of beatific love?1 Do not His followers, follow Him? If Jesus is love, should not His followers be loving?!2
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (Corinthians 13:4-7).
And would it not make sense that the converse also follows? If the mark of the Messiah is true sacrificial love, is not the mark of the antichrist hatred? And what if the serpent of old, the father of lies, the great deceiver, is adept at what he does? And what if he wants to destroy and divide even what Messiah Jesus died to bring together? And what if he even uses the means of media and the marketplace and various views on certain medical opinions regarding COVID-19? What if?…
And what if the worst thing that can happen to Christians is not that they’d lose earthly freedom(s), but that they’d lose heavenly crowns? not that their earthly country would be divided, but that their heavenly one would be? not that they’d have to wear a mask, but that they’d have a mask put over their eyes? What if Satan’s not primarily trying to destroy a country, but what if he desires to destroy Christians and Christian witness? What if Satan doesn’t want the nation to descend into debauchery, but wants Christians to be desensitized to their hatred and fear?
Revelation also talks a lot about Babylon. Babylon was what a lot of people cared about and had their hopes fixed on. However, Christians, are marked by and are members of a different city. Christians have their hope wrapped up in a city, but it’s a different city, a city that comes down from heaven, a city that couldn’t be built here. It’s beyond and better than here.
Christians live, labor, and love in Babylon, but they’re waiting for something better. They’re waiting for Jerusalem to come down.
Christian brothers and sisters, are you showing the mark of your Savior? The characteristics of Christ? The mark of your true city? Or, are you too wrapped up here? Are you betting on Babylon3 or are you “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”?!
We, as Christians, are sojourners here in Babylon. Our time is short. Let’s be a blessing as Scripture exhorts us (Jeremiah 29:7). But, let’s remember, any castle we build with our hoarded cash, will soon wash away with the tide of time. Let’s not lay up hoards here or place our hope here. But in heaven.
1 Ephesians 1:13 tells us that all who are in Messiah Jesus have been sealed (or marked?!) with the promised Holy Spirit. Notice also that it is the Holy Spirit in Jesus followers who produces the fruits of the Spirit, one of those fruits being love.
2 God alone provides access to the Garden of Eden and the pathway there is through the Golgotha of sacrificial love.
3 If politics has you overly down, perhaps it’s because you placed your hope in a ship that must inevitably sink.
Morality and Politics in America
John Adams said a long time ago, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And the conservative Edmund Burke said, “What is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” Here are some similar insights Alexis de Tocqueville shared in his book, Democracy in America*:
“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
“Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”
“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
“When a nation[‘s] well of public virtue has run dry: in such a place one no longer finds citizens but only subjects.”
“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”
“A nation cannot long remain strong when every man belonging to it is individually weak.”
“What one must fear, moreover, is not so much the sight of the immorality of the great as that of immorality leading to greatness.”
“So religion, which among the Americans never directly takes part in the government of society, must be considered as the ﬁrst of their political institutions; for if it does not give them the taste for liberty, it singularly facilitates their use of it.”
“Religion is much more necessary in the republic.”
“In order that society should exist, and a fortiori, that a society should prosper, it is required that all the minds of the citizens should be rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas.”**
“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot… How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? and what can be done with a people which is its own master, if it be not submissive to the Divinity?”
No matter who ultimately gets elected, if what Adams and Tocqueville said were right, and I think they were, it’s only a matter of time before a pretty significant downfall of America. Many moral dominos have fallen, and I don’t so much mean abortion and gender confusion. I mean the more common and prevalent lack of virtue, which has precipitated more visible concerns. Now the only truth that is readily accepted is that there is no truth, only what is right for the autonomous self. Those were dominos. Those have been falling.
America needs: revival. Not of the Republican Party, but of people set on fire for the true Savior. Revival is what would make people “moral and religious,” as Adams spoke of and which our Nation rests or topples on.
Whatever happens, Christians trust the One who has the government on His shoulders. The One who is “called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The One of whom it can be said: “Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Whatever happens, Christians can trust that God is very adept at using a remnant for His good purposes to highlight His glory and goodness. Perhaps America won’t be saved, but perhaps millions of Americans will be?!
*As an aside, I think it is interesting to note what Tocqueville said about wealth in America remembering that Scripture says, that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Many have “noted the American obsession with work and the restless quest for the “almighty dollar” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America). Tocqueville also said, “The love of wealth is . . . to be traced, either as a principal or an accessory motive, at the bottom of all that the Americans do” (Ibid.). As well as, “One must go to America to understand what power material well-being exerts on political actions and even on opinions themselves, which ought to be subject only to reason” (Ibid.).
**Such as the reality of objective truth actually existing.
A few helpful resources before you vote…
Here are some resources and quotes I’ve found helpful in thinking about this years election…
I highly suggest that you check out Jonathan Leeman’s article: “What Makes a Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting.” And I found Justin Taylor’s article “The Case Against Pro-Lifers Voting for Joe Biden” helpful too. Taylor quotes John Piper: “No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office.”
I recently read David Platt’s helpful book, Before You Vote: Seven Questions Every Christian Should Ask. You should buy it right now on Kindle. Here are a bunch of quotes from that book:
“This world is not a democracy. This world is a monarchy, and God is the King.”
“In the end, what’s most important, and what I am definitively advocating for based on God’s Word, is the realization that how we use our vote is a matter of faithfulness before God. For our vote is a unique privilege and responsibility that God has entrusted to us by his grace, and God calls us to use every means of grace he grants us to love him above all and love our neighbors as ourselves.”
“Even if we lose every freedom and protection we have as followers of Jesus in the United States, and even if our government were to become a completely totalitarian regime, we could still live an abundant life as long as we didn’t look to political leaders, platforms, or policies for our ultimate security and satisfaction. We can still have hope, peace, joy, and confidence regardless of what happens in our government, as long as… we look to Jesus alone for these things, and all of our hope hinges on him.”
“We are not worried or panicked about elections, no matter how important they may seem… Instead, we seek the kingdom of Jesus and his sinless righteousness with true peace and total confidence in his supreme reign. After all, we know that throughout history, leaders have risen and fallen. Presidents have come and gone. Through it all, one King alone has remained constant, and he is not up for election. Regardless of what president is chosen in our country, Jesus will be in control of it all.”
“According to God,… my concern in voting should not just be for me and my children but also for others and their children.”
“A clear takeaway from the book of Jonah is that we are to work for the spread of God’s love in all nations more than we are to seek safety, security, prosperity, and comfort in our own nation.”
“By God’s grace, we have been given so much as citizens of the United States of America. For all that God has granted us, we should be deeply grateful. At the same time, we follow a King who commands us to lay down our rights and use the grace he has given to love our neighbors as ourselves. This, after all, is the essence of the gospel that has saved us.”
As Christians, Jesus is emphatically our Leader and Lord and His Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom made up of people from Sierra and Senegal, Armenia and America, China and Czechia, Portugal and Pakistan, Mexico and Mali (and many many more). America is not and never will be Israel. And the paradigms and parallels that we try to place on America that are meant for God’s people will never work because they are not theologically accurate.
Christians belong to an entirely different kingdom. Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world. The paradigms that people have that have Americans or Christian Americans as the promised people is gravely wrong. God’s promise to bless the nations is not a promise to America, it is a promise fulfilled in The Son of Abraham, Jesus. All the nations of the earth are blessed in and through Him.
Christian citizenship and allegiance first belongs to our Lord Jesus’ Kingdom, and only secondarily to any merely earthly kingdom. Our hope also needs to visibly be in the Lord Jesus, the supreme Lord of the universe that actually suffered as a servant for His subjects, and not in any earthly power. We work for change and we work with sacrificial love, but we do not have our hope wrapped up here.
As Christians, it is also important to remember, we work primarily at the heart level as Jesus did, and as surgeons do, not mainly on the symptoms level. Our overarching desire is to change the cause, pull the root. We believe primarily in transformation from the inside out and not mainly in the mere reformation of society. We don’t want to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic, we want as many passengers rescued as possible. We don’t mainly want to save America, we mainly want Americans saved. So, even while we work for progress on the policies we believe in, our hope is not in them. We know, as it says in the book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven; it is not constructed here (21:2).
The Christian hero and hope is a seemingly powerless middle-eastern refugee carpenter with olive skin that was crucified as a criminal and rejected outcast. That’s who Christians identify themselves with and place all of their hope in. Not in the seemingly powerful people, politicians, or political parties who have technology and Ph.D.’s, money and influence, beauty and charisma.
Further, we should not even lead people to believe that our hope is in people or any earthly power. “The hope within us” that is supposed to be communicated and seen is that Christ is Lord (1 Peter 3:15). It may not always look like He is in the world around us, but the reality is that He is. Jesus rose from the dead and demonstrated in space and time that He is Lord and He is coming back soon. It is also important to remember that when we tell people about our hope in Messiah Jesus, that we do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
When the onlooking world sees Christians, they should see we have hope that transcends this world. “Christ in us”—not a mere person, policy, or political party—is the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The exiles spoken of in Hebrews made it clear (11:14) that “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (11:16). May that be clear for us too! May we make it abundantly clear that we are looking for and longing for the country the Lord has prepared for us (v. 14).
It’s very interesting and perplexing to me that as a society we want and we are begging for and demanding what is good. We are acknowledging that things are very wrong in society. That seems to be the case no matter where you are politically, whatever side you find yourself on.
We acknowledge there’s a problem, but as Plato pointed out a very long time ago, good people make for a good society. That seems to make clear sense. Yet, society seems soiled. Thus, we have found the problem, and it’s me.
When someone is sick there’s a medical analysis. This entails five different elements:
- The Ideal (of what’s healthy)
- Observation (of symptoms/signs)
- Diagnosis (or analysis of disease/disorder)
- Prognosis (or prediction of cure/remedy)
- Prescription (or instruction for treatment/action for a cure)
I believe that society is in need of an analysis. What are we observing? What’s the problem? Can it be fixed? If so, how?
We are observing a lot of problems or symptoms: violence, racism, inability to patiently discuss important issues, pride, etc. What is the disease? The disease seems to be a problem with people. Many people lack goodness. What’s the cure? We must be good. What then is the solution? We must learn to be good. That is the prescription. That is the treatment.
This seems very shallow and very simple. But it is not. Stick with me.
If we want a good society, we must have good people. Yet, I’m not sure we even have an understanding of what “good” or healthy even is. Do we even have a starting place for what constitutes good or healthy? If not, how could we possibly arrive at a prognosis or prescription let alone be in a place to give a diagnosis?!
The English writer and philosopher, G.K. Chesterton, once said, “What is wrong is that we don’t ask what is right.” We have no way by which to measure what is wrong and what is right. That is an obvious problem. You can’t build much with a standard that’s not standard.
If good individuals make for a good society, as seems to make sense. Perhaps the first and foundational prescription is to return to the conviction that there is such a thing as “good.” And not merely what is good for the subjective individual, but a good beyond and above us that corrects us.
In any field of work you have to have a standard, a means to measure; a way to know what is healthy and what is not. We have an idea of when one is overweight because we understand that there is a range of healthy weight. How can we prescribe a cure when there is no standard for what is good or healthy? And how can there be hope when there is no standard of healthy?
We, as a society, for the most part, don’t have a clear way to say what is good. And we don’t have a pathway to make good people. If anything, we have many conflicting things shaping people. Porn is prevalent and it makes objects of people and materialism is too and it plays down the importance of people in place of the value of objects. Ours is a conflicted society.
I believe the disorder in society comes from a plague more destructive than any pandemic, and that plague is sin. Its signs are everywhere. In my heart and actions, and yours too.
The diagnosis is deadly if not dealt with. The plague exponentially increases if not dealt with. It wreaks havoc on the scale of the Tsar Bomb. It leaves devastating effects on generations. It leaves gaping holes in individuals and is the downfall of society if not dealt with.
The prognosis, however, thankfully reveals that progress is possible. But it will be slow and painful. And it entails admitting there’s a problem; a problem, a plague, not just out there in the world, out there in others, but in me.
When someone observes a ghastly problem and knows the cure we inherently know the right thing to do in that case. It is to cure. Humans often fumble around talking about problems and we hustle around trying to cure. But all the while only grasping at what it meant to be truly healthy. We half see and so we get the diagnosis, prognosis, and prescription wrong. We always have.
I believe, however, that hope is not lost. I believe Messiah Jesus, the Healthy One, has brought the cure. He who did not have the plague took our problems, our sin, upon Himself on the cross. He showed us the cure, it is Himself. It is love. Death is the only answer. Death to self. We must die to self, we must love.
We must turn from our prideful and sinful ways and trust in Jesus our loving cure. Jesus gives us 1) the ideal of healthy, 2) the observation about what’s wrong, 3) the diagnosis, 4) the prognosis, and 5) the prescription. Without the provision of those five elements the only prognosis is death.
Better News Than Politics
How does the good news of Jesus speak to politics?
First, I think it’s important that we see and agree that the good news that Jesus brings is better news than politics has ever or could ever bring. Let’s look at a simple outline of some forms of government that God’s people have been under in the Bible:
- Government by God (in Eden)
- Oppression and Slavery (in Egypt)
- Tribal Leadership
- Roman Rule
Out of the six forms of government only one was perfect: Government by God. And even that got messed up because of human sin. Representative democracy as good as it is, is not perfect and never will be. It has worked well. But it is important that we realize that it will never be perfect.
Jesus brings better news than politics can ever bring. Jesus gets us back to perfect government by God. And He does so by giving His very own life. Jesus will make things forever right (Rev. 21).
Let’s not put our hope in any political promise. Let’s hope in Jesus and in His Kingdom. Jesus is the true King and Savior.
Second, the gospel tells us our ultimate citizenship is somewhere else. As Christians, we live knowing that we don’t have a permanent home here. We’re looking for the forever and perfect home that is to come (Heb.13:14 cf. 10:34; 11:10, 16; 2 Cor. 5:4), a home prepared for us by Jesus Himself (Jn. 14:2).
A Pre-Civil War “Conversation” on Slavery
In writing this I read and analyzed two pre-Civil War articles. The first article we will look at argues in favor of the continuation of slavery. The second article is written in response to the first and argues for immediate abolition. After looking at both articles we will look at the differences between the two articles.
My thesis is that some, like Buck, advocated for the continuance of slavery mainly based upon the belief that slavery was permitted because it was similar to the slavery permitted in the Old Testament. Others, however, like Pendleton, argued against slavery because they believed it was inherently dissimilar to Old Testament slavery.
In Favor of the Continuation of Slavery
Since “the subject is one of great moment in its moral, social and political bearings” Buck decided to write on the subject. “So that… [people] may be prepared to act conscientiously and intelligently, and have no occasion to repent of their action when it is too late to undo it.” So, it was “under… these considerations [that Buck] consented to prepare a series of articles.”
Buck says, “God approves of that system of things which, under the circumstances, is best calculated to promote the holiness and happiness of men; and that what God approves is morally right.” Buck then talks about the “nature and design of Human Governments.” He says, “In searching the divine record, therefore, we shall find that form of government which, under the circumstances, was best calculated to promote the moral and social happiness of the people, was sanctioned and approved by God.”
The first form of government was the patriarchal, which Buck gives a brief analysis of. Next he lays out what he sees as being established through his belief that God has a good purpose for human governments. First, he says, “God has beneficent and gracious designs to be accomplished in behalf of the human family.” Second, God is happy to use human and governmental instruments. Third, it is in accord with God’s infinite wisdom “to promote his beneficent and gracious designs in behalf of our lapsed and degenerate world.” Fourth, a very powerful and enlightened leader is best suited to bring about the good that God intends for humanity.
Is abortion morally justifiable?
Here are a few things I left out of the video…
Thinking and talking about abortion is very difficult but also important. I, therefore, ask that you consider what I say before discounting it. I have strived to consider the subject with compassion and candor. So, out front, I want to say two things: First, I believe abortion is clearly wrong and cannot be morally justified in any circumstance. Second, and very important, there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for those who have had an abortion.
We all do wrong. The Bible says everyone is a sinner. But it also thankfully says that whosoever—liar, thief, cheat—goes to Jesus in faith and repentance can receive new life and be saved by the grace of God. All our sins can be washed away. First John 1:9 gives us all hope: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is vital that we all remember that there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for all!
And here are some statistics about abortion in America that I left out too…
- Since 1973, there have been 59,000,000 reported and legal abortions. That’s more than the total population of California and Virginia.
- There were 908,000 abortions in 2015.
- 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the time they are forty-five.
- Reasons why women have an abortion:
- 1% listed rape or incest
- 6% listed potential health problems
- 93% listed social reasons:
- Abortion brings several health risks:
- Breast cancer
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Bad effects on future pregnancies
- Becoming sterile
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mental health risks
Can we have hope in the midst of Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s) “reign”?
How can we as Christians have hope in the midst of the “reign” of political leaders that we dislike or disagree with? We can have hope when we…
understand who is the King
As Christians, the king or President is not our ultimate King, Jesus is. Peter and Paul both lived under Roman rule, which was not the best of situations. Actually, we are told they were both beheaded under Roman rule. There are many other things that we could look at that happened under Roman rule (e.g. slavery, infanticide, public crucifixion, pornography, bisexuality). However, those things were not Peter and Paul’s main concern. Their main concern was Jesus and His gospel and they could find joy in the midst of adversity in the eschatological hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.
Our hope is in no king here. Our hope is in the King that came and died. Our hope is in that King coming back and setting all things right. Until then, our job is to be faithful representatives of the King that came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Christ is ultimately King! Not Clinton. Not Trump. Read More…
Not all “facts” are created equal (and other proverbs for today)
A few important and relevant things I’ve found to be true through my short tenure on earth:
1. Statistics can be skewed (in all sorts of ways).
2. Money talks, and sometimes money makes people talk about facts that don’t actually exist.
3. “Sound bites” don’t equal sound knowledge.
4. Video doesn’t always equal validation.
5. One side sounds right until you hear the other (and a lot of times people don’t listen to or understand the other side).
6. People have agendas (and agendas come through more or less depending on the topic and the person).
7. Not everyone is a specialist (e.g. movie stars getting interviewed about their political opinion might be entertaining but it’s typically not educational).
8. “I read it on the internet” doesn’t equal truth (even if you see the same thing in a few places).
9. Science sold as fact is actually often still theory.
10. Dogmatic assertions should sometimes be doubted (or at least checked and not just by Google).
11. There is a difference between knowing something and wisdom (and the difference can be a matter of life of death).
12. Unless there is objective truth, the exhortation for people to be kind (e.g. planet care, respecting others, and not harming others) is subjective and relative to the whim of individuals (and thus doesn’t really need to be heeded).
13. The idea that there is objective truth is often unpopular but that doesn’t make it wrong.
14. People are often not familiar with what various fallacies are but that doesn’t mean that they are inept in their employment.
15. We can’t have a peaceful world where each person does what is right in their own eyes because people have conflicting desires that will lead to unpeaceful ends.
16. No political leader is the Promised One (no matter what they, the media, your friends, or your psyche says).
17. Money can’t buy happiness (but it can buy distraction); however, happiness can be quite cheap.
18. Video games, YouTube, and social media can keep us away from things that are much more rewarding and fun.
What ones do you like and not like? Why? And what would you add?
 That is, it ultimately does not matter morally if people “be kind and rewind,” recycle, or are racist if there is actually no objective right and wrong. However, if there is right and wrong, and it is right to recycle, then that means that there are some objective criteria of right and wrong not determined by me or you and that means that objective truth will have things about it that are not appealing to us but that does not change the truthfulness of the issues under question (whether murder, recycling, or a thousand other things). If not recycling is objectively wrong then so are many other things, some of which we would not like to be wrong (e.g. overeating moose tracks ice cream). We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t both have and not have morality. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s an impossibility.
 Thus, the answer for world peace is not accepting that everything is relative (“whatever’s right for you”) but by patiently and loving communicating truth so that people can be sympathetically aligned (though not anonymous).
 As in the Christ/Messiah of Scripture.
I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)