Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Open Letter to Cal Thomas

Evangelicals are desperate, Cal? Please. We of biblical faith are admonished to speak up and stand up for those who have no voice. It’s called social justice. And the greatest victims of injustice are the millions of children murdered before they were born. So, yes, we support Rick Santorum, especially on this issue.

As far as Jesus’ teachings, your column underscores what someone once said: that “a text taken out of context becomes a pretext for a proof text.” You criticize followers of Christ for being a part of the political process, when it is we, His people, who can be thanked for, among other things, the First Amendment. Look up John Leland, Baptist preacher from Virginia, and take note of his influence on James Madison’s final version of the guarantee of religious liberty. Were we invisible, who would have stepped forward on behalf of liberty? The ACLU?

When you consider the full counsel of scripture, not just a few selected verses from the Sermon on the Mount, which was, in reality, an admonition to the self-serving, self-righteous Pharisees, you’ll realize that over and over again Christ’s followers are told to be salt and light in the world. It is we Christians who have “flavored” society for good, standing for the rights of others and sharing what we have through soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, homeless shelters, and so on. In just that regard alone, we have more than earned the right to be heard.

Furthermore, Paul tells us to be model citizens, which, one could infer, means participating in the full political process. And you twist his words in saying that we walk by faith, not by sight. This in no way means that Christians are to be invisible, but rather that we understand that we can trust God and take Him at His word, even when we can’t trace His hand. Paul underscores this point in declaring that Abraham “believed” God (i.e. walked by faith, not sight) in departing his home and traveling to a place he had never been before simply because God told him to.

Finally, Jesus’ teaching on private prayer is, again, a response to the showiness of the Pharisees, not a proscription against public prayer. The Pharisees wanted to impress others with their rigid adherence to the Torah and the 640 laws they built around it, but Jesus called them hypocrites, vipers, and poisonous. However, the early church often prayed corporately, and, at times, publically. Take a look at Acts 4, for just one example of corporate prayer. Even Jesus tells us to pray with one another.

My admonition to you is to stick to what you understand, and leave it to us who adhere to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to flesh out our faith as we feel led.

Let us pray. Tebow, if you feel so led.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Like A Mighty Army

2Chronicles 20 gives the account of a time in the life of King Jehoshaphat when the nation of Judah was threatened by the forces of Moab and Ammon. This was a vast army, according to the report given to Jehoshaphat, and the threat first struck fear in the heart of the king, then drove him to action.

Whether we like it or not, we’re in a struggle ourselves, not against Moabites or Ammonites, but against spiritual forces of darkness in high places. There is much we can learn from how God’s people responded to this threat.

The first thing we note is PREPARATION. As soon as the king got word of the attack, he prepared by declaring a fast and inquiring of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that we also need to prepare. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul exhorts us to put on the whole armor of Christ: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and the shoes of the gospel. Then he reminds us that we are to take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Thus armed, we are ready to meet the foe. Paul reminds us, in 2Corinthians 10:4, that our weapons are not worldly but mighty. Our only weapons are the Word and prayer, but what else could we possibly need?

After the preparation the king called the people together for PRAYER. And his prayer is an earnest plea to God for guidance, wisdom, and strength. Note the honesty of the king as he pours out his heart. He prays, “we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." When we come honestly and earnestly before the throne of grace, God hears and answers.

After the prayer came the PROCLAMATION. God spoke to the king and the people through the prophet. His words were, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” He goes on to declare, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."

Emboldened by this promise from God, the people began to PRAISE. Moreover, obeying God’s command, they went out to meet the foe with such confidence of victory that they put the choir in the front of the army, singing and shouting,
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever."

When they arrived at the battlefield, they found that the Moabites and the Ammonites had destroyed one another because of the Lord’s hand. God’s people were victorious because of their prayer and their praise.

At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God.
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided. All one body, we.
One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.