Like so many I was stunned and saddened by the election results on Tuesday night. And I am terribly sad not because my choice for office lost but because of the awful repercussion the re-election of such a liberal administration will bring to our land. Actions have consequences; elections have consequences.
Insightful analysis is made by Dr Al Mohler here; let me share a few excerpts with you (emphasis added).
Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns. The election of President Obama returns a radically pro-abortion President to the White House, soon after he had endorsed same-sex marriage. President Obama is likely to have the opportunity to appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are almost sure to agree with his constitutional philosophy. …
Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action.
Christians must now pray for our President, he also reminds us, citing 1 Timothy 2:1-2. You can read all of Dr Mohler’s thoughts here. (Some have labeled the election in even stronger spiritual terms, such as Tom Chantry at his blog).
Wednesday night at our church prayer meeting, I wanted to address these concerns, and move beyond political language and context. So I shared two verses from the Bible, from Isaiah 3:10-11. This was the text chosen by the puritan Thomas Watson for his farewell sermon, when hundreds of “non-conformist” pastors were ejected from their churches in 1662. This passage of Scripture gives clear words of encouragement for the righteous, and, words of woe for the wicked.
“10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.”
Those who are walking uprightly, by the mercy and grace of the Lord, have much for which to be thankful! And horrible circumstances around us cannot change that. Our God also gave us Romans 8:28 in the New Testament, to emphasize His sovereignty and His good designs for His people in all circumstances. Yet, evidently, believers must be told these things. Repeatedly.
This text from Isaiah 3 also puts forward a warning to the wicked, to those who do not walk rightly with their God – such as those who destroy life in the womb, and who boldly promote immorality as marriage, etc. Things will not go well for you, says the Lord. There will be an accounting.
The New Testament text to keep in mind here, for Americans and people everywhere, is from Galatians 6:7-10 —
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
UPDATE: Further post-election help for Christians (“Dear Post-Election Self, Reading this letter, you know which man will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years….”) can be found from Colin Hanson here.
Just some thoughts I wanted to share from some things I have been reading on the sovereignty of God, I have found them to be very comforting.
God has ordained Obama for our Good, I know that sounds strange, but that is indeed what Scripture teaches. GOD ORDAINS RULERS, As we turn to the Scriptures to determine their teaching on the sovereignty of God over the nations, there are several specific truths that stand out. First, God in His sovereignty has established government for the good of all people believer as well as unbeliever.
Paul said, “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…. For [the ruler] is God’s servant to do you good” (Romans 13:1,4). Admittedly the statement, “the ruler is God’s servant to do us good,” seems difficult to accept when we see some of our brothers and sisters in Christ persecuted and perhaps killed because of their Christian commitment. We should remember again that God in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty and for reasons known only to Himself, allows rulers to act contrary to His revealed will. But the evil actions of those rulers against God’s children are never beyond the bounds of His sovereign will. And we should remember that God works in history from an eternal perspective, whereas we tend to view the outworking of history from a temporal perspective. Because God has ordained rulers for our good, and because He sovereignly rules over their actions, we should pray that they will rule for our good. Paul urges that prayers be made “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (i Timothy 2:2). Prayer is the most tangible expression of trust in God. If we would trust God for our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries, we must be diligent in prayer for their rulers. If we would trust God when decisions of government in our own country go against our best interests, we must pray for His working in the hearts of those officials and legislators who make those decisions. The truth that the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord is meant to be a stimulus to prayer, not a stimulus to a fatalistic attitude.
It is a truth supported by the whole tenor of Scripture. God will allow people, whether strong-willed tyrants or weak-kneed politicians, to do only what ultimately results in His glory. How sin and evil ultimately redound to God’s glory is a mystery, but it is a truth affirmed throughout Scripture.
As we look at the condition of the world today, so utterly hostile to the gospel, we must also look at the sovereignty of God and at His promises. He has promised to redeem people from every nation, and He has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. We must, then, trust God by praying. Some will go to those nations as God opens doors, but all of us must pray. We must learn to trust God, not only in the adverse circumstances of our individual lives, but also in the adverse circumstances of the church as a whole. We must learn to trust God for the spread of the gospel, even in those areas where it is severely restricted. God is sovereign over the nations. He is sovereign over the officials of our own government in all their actions as they affect us, directly or indirectly. He is sovereign over the officials of government in lands where our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer for their faith in Him. And He is sovereign over the nations where every attempt is made to stamp out true Christianity. In all of these areas, we can and must trust God.
“We can never understand the providence of God over our world, unless we regard it as a complicated machine having ten thousand parts, directed in all its operations to one glorious end-the display of the manifold wisdom of God in the salvation of the Church,” i.e., the “called out” ones. Everything else down here is subordinated to this central purpose. It was the apprehension of this basic truth that the Apostle, moved by the Holy Spirit, was led to write, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10).
“To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will… The Sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite.” To put it now in its strongest form, we insist that God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases; that whatever takes place in time is but the outworking of that which He decreed in eternity. In proof of this assertion we appeal to the following Scripture: “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115:3). “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:27). “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). The above declarations are so plain and positive that any comments of ours upon them would simply be darkening counsel by words without knowledge. Such express statements as those just quoted are so sweeping and so dogmatic that all controversy concerning the subject of which they treat ought for ever to be at an end.”
who is regulating affairs on this earth today? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13). Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilisation is a demonstrated failure; instead of the world having been made “safe for democracy,” we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world. Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife everywhere, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesmen are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).
Do these things look as though God had full control? The person of faith knows, the person who trust in the word of God knows that there is no “catastrophe” God does not oversee and work out for his glory and our ultimate good.
“The craving today is for something light and spicy, and few have patience, still less desire, to examine carefully that which would make a demand both upon their hearts and their mental powers.”
Thanks for stopping by my blog. There is nothing strange in what you share about the sovereignty of God — it is the theme of all my own doctrine and practice. You present it quite well.
I particularly liked your statement above, “Prayer is the most tangible expression of trust in God.”
Hi Dave, If you don’t mind me being honest, I left a comment on your blog because I was a little angry. Pre and post election statements from prominent leaders in the Christian Evangelical media have left me perplexed, dismayed at times, if not all the time. It was Dr Al Mohler’s statement “Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns” that more or less prompted me to try and share something that sounded Biblical instead of fatalistic.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t share Dr Mohler’s concerns and I do appreciate his insight, but upon reading more of Dr Mohler’s statements it seems to me that like many others the focus and discussion seems to be on the “social and political” issues that are temporary, there is little talk of the eternal and the Gospel of Christ, which is the only solution. The Christian Evangelical political activism of the last few years has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind, and sometime it’s hard for me to put into words how I feel so as not be misunderstood. I believe this statement to be true, “America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and it’s solution is the Gospel, not partisan politics.” But in the landscape of leading Christian Evangelical media, we seem to hear more discussion about whats wrong with politics and our “supposed” responsibility to fix it by voting for a certain candidate rather than what the real issue is.
“Throughout Protestant history, those segments of the visible church that have turned their attention to social and political issues have also compromised sound doctrine and quickly declined in influence.” J. MacArthur. Is this not what we are seeing today? “contemporary evangelicals have become enamored with temporal issues at the expense of eternal values.” “emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones.” J. MacArthur. Judgement does indeed begin with the house of God, as Christians It’s time to dig below the surface, we need a spiritual awakening, a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.
Is the election of 2012 a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns? Does this statement imply that it would have been somehow better if a Mormon president was elected and passed laws in favor of Biblical values? would more sinners have repented and turned to Christ because the Republican party won favor in the eyes of the American people? I simply can’t see how the spiritual condition of America, even the moral condition of America, could be or would be any different if Romney had won. As Christians having faith we deal with the unseen, the success or failure of any one political party is not a measuring rod for the moral or spiritual condition of a nation. In other words, it is possible to be very moral and unsaved. This country could pass all the right laws concerning moral issues and vote all the morally right people into office and be on its way to judgement and condemnation.
How is it that as Christians we can say we must vote on crucial moral issues thinking this will effect real change and in the same breath acknowledge that a change in the political landscape of our time can never hold back the tide of human sin? if the heart is left unchanged what is the point? why are we surprised that the unsaved act like the unsaved?
First, there must be unity, as Christians our distinctiveness has been lost and our identity obscured. I cant think of a more divisive subject that will distort and cripple our uniqueness in Christ other than politics.
The life of Christ and the apostles bears this out, they were not involved in the political landscape of their time.
“The need of union is felt now by every right-minded Christian. The power of evil is felt by all. But this state of things produces difficulties and dangers of a peculiar kind to the saints, and leads to the inquiry, where the path of the saint is, and where true union is to be found. Is the path of the saints To turn from the light afforded them to follow the intelligence of those who do not see?
It will be at once admitted, that God Himself and his word must be the spring and center of unity, and that He alone can be in power or title. Any center of unity outside God must be so far a denial of His Godhead and glory: an independent center of influence and power, and God is one-the just, true, and only center of all true unity. Whatever is not dependent on this is rebellion. But this so simple, and, to the Christian, necessary truth, clears our way at once concerning all things. Man’s fall is the reverse of this. And now as to the principle in general. God is working in the midst of evil to produce a unity of which He is the center and the spring; and which owns dependently His authority. He does not do it yet by the judicial clearing away of the wicked; He cannot unite with the wicked, or have a union which serves them. How can it be then, this union? He separates the called from the evil. ” Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” As it is written, ” I will dwell in them and walk in them,” here we have it distinctly set forth. This was God’s way of gathering. It was by saying, Come out from among them. He could not have gathered true unity around Him otherwise. Since evil exists, is our natural condition, there cannot be union of which the holy God is the center and power but by separation from it. Separation is the first element of unity and union.
We find then most distinctly, that as the unity of Israel of old was founded on deliverance, and calling from the midst of, and maintained separation amongst the heathens which surrounded them, so the church’s unity was based on the power of the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, separating a peculiar people out of the world to Christ, and dwelling amongst them; God Himself thus dwelling and walking amongst them. For there is one body, and one Spirit, as we are called in one hope of our calling. Indeed, the very name of Holy Spirit implies it, for holiness is separation from evil.
I believe these fundamental principles are deeply needed in this day, for the saint who seeks to walk truly and thoroughly with God. Latitudinarian unity has an amiable form in general, is in a measure respectable in the religious world, tries nobody’s conscience, and allows of everybody’s will. It is the more difficult to be decided about, because it is often connected with a true desire of good, and is associated with amiable nature. And it seems rigid, and narrow. But the saint, when he has the light of God, must walk clearly in that. God will vindicate His ways in due time. Love to every saint is a clear duty; walking in their ways is not. And he that gathers not with Christ scatters.” – JND.
Second, There must be trust in the Sovereignty of God, few Christians would dispute this, few there are that actually understand this as to express it in their lives with complete trust which is manifest in their actions. What can appear to be passive response to the unbelieving can indeed be faith in action. I think of the time that Christ stood before Pilate, “Thine own nation and the chief priest have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” Jesus answered “my kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
I think of the economic and legal oppression that the Romans applied to the Jews of Jesus’ day, the exorbitant tax rates, government sanctioned abuse by the tax collectors, the social system that was built on slavery. Jesus nor the apostles attempted to change these harsh realities. As Jesus stood before Pilate and answered mostly nothing, appearing to be passive to his onlookers, Pilate boasted, “knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” Jesus answered “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above,” Faith in action. That simple statement from Christ has been read a thousand times by countless Christians, I wonder how many truly understand the significance, the unlimited power and wisdom that is behind that statement.
third, we must preach the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation.
“in the truest sense, the moral, social, and political state of a people is irrelevant to advance of the Gospel. Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world.” – J. MacArthur.
“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.” – John Seel.
The Evangelical Pulpit – American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core.
John, Thanks again for writing — appreciate your thoughts, and have no real argument with them.
I hope you noticed in my original post, I moved from the political/moral observations to eternal matters by looking to Isaiah 3; so I’m (mostly) with you and your concerns. Eternal matters must be the primary focus of the church, and of God’s people. The morality of America will only really change with men and women coming to faith in Christ, and not with a new administration or new Supreme Court or new laws. (I hope people on the right learned that during & after the Reagan administration, for instance).
However, we cannot ignore our temporal responsibilities — and we have been given many in our country. We have to wage the good fight, and do justice, love kindness (and walk humbly with our God). To exclusively focus on eternal matters would be to disobey much of God’s revealed Word.
Our hope must not be in princes, but in the Prince of Peace (the ‘government’ will be upon His shoulders! says Isaiah). I hope and pray that American Christians get motivated afresh to do evangelism, to support missions — and boldly live for Christ.
Hi Dave, Thank you for responding, as I also appreciate your thoughts as I try to sort through this subject, I have been diligent to try and get my answers from scripture. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one and your input has incited my thinking. I understand why you said you are “mostly” with me about my concerns, but may I please ask a sincere question? I completely agree with you when you say,
“we cannot ignore our temporal responsibilities — and we have been given many in our country. We have to wage the good fight, and do justice, love kindness (and walk humbly with our God).”
do you think that Christ and his apostles somehow fell short of fulfilling their temporal responsibilities because they did not engage the political establishment of their time? or did they not do justice by not trying to eliminate the harsh realities of the Roman government? did they not love kindness because they did not try to abolish slavery? these are the types of questions I am struggling with and as of yet found good answers. Has it been taught in Scripture that Christianity interferes with the arrangements of divine providence?
I am having a hard time reconciling the teachings in Scripture that the Christian is dead to the world; not merely to certain gross things in the world, specially bad parts of the world, but to the world, in all its aspects, with our being in the world. as we are called out from the world are we not sent into it as Jesus was? him being our perfect example of what it is to walk in the world?
as I read these things in Scripture I feel that I am loose to the world more than ever, and I feel I belong only to another world, and I bless God for it.
as if my part is to go in the strait and narrow path, representing Christ, to follow the word, and to let all move around me under God’s hand. And I feel that when I can walk as Jesus walked then I can truly “wage the good fight, and do justice, love kindness (and walk humbly with our God).”