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Scriptures to Vote by: Voting Christian in a Secular World

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Compiled by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div

Note: This collection of scriptures was first published during the 1992 presidential election.  A few additions have been made.  If only these warnings from Scripture had been more heeded back then, and since, by Christians of all types who decided to vote their own preference instead of God’s!  Think, in particular, what better appointments would have been made to the Supreme Court, had truly Christian presidents and other leaders been elected.

As another crucial election approaches, it is important to emphasize the need for Christians to vote according to their Christian convictions.

Some Christians think it is somehow “unspiritual” to participate in molding and influencing our nation through politics.  Others have bought the secular line that Christians should keep their religion separate from their politics.

However, it is not only the right but the solemn responsibility of all Christians to exploit every means to influence the world, including electing men of truth, justice, and character to their government, calling all their leaders to accountability, and punishing those who violate the public trust.

Now I cannot tell anyone else for whom to vote [though perhaps I ought to have done so, in retrospect], but I would like to offer a selection of scriptures we should all ponder before we vote.  These scriptures speak for themselves [or so I had hoped].

Seek the Nation’s Welfare

“Seek the peace of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in its peace shall ye have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7).

“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23).

“I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Seek Freedom of Worship

“Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat the LORD. . . but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (Exodus 8:29).

“For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9).

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Colossians 4:3).

The World is Ignorant of God’s Truth

“The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Choose God, Not Self-Interest

“No man can serve two masters . . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon (i.e., money)” (Matthew 6:24).

“If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served . . . or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

“See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil. . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).

“Seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Luke 12:29-31).

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).

Declare a Public Testimony

“Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:18).

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

“For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28).

“For a long time, then, they abode there, speaking boldly in the Lord, who gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).

“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word . . . And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29, 31).

“And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region” (Acts 13:49).

Do Not Aid Sinners in Their Cause

“Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them who hate the Lord? Therefore, there is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 19:2).

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:10-11).

“Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

“He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23).

Stand Against Evil

“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

“Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).

“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13).

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15).

Beware of Deceivers

“Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6, see also 4:14).

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22).

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Distrust Human Counsel

“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

“My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the lord, who take counsel, but not of me; and who cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin” (Isaiah 30:1).

“We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold, trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:15).

“They say still unto those who despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you” (Jeremiah 23:17, see also Ezekiel 13:10, 16).

Seek God for Guidance

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16).

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

©2015 Paul A. Hughes

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Written by biblequestion

June 27, 2015 at 6:14 PM

‘Christian’ Tattoos: Does Jesus Approve?

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Yahweh-Approved Tattoos

Fair Use of an Image Displayed on a Public Street for Reporting Purposes Claimed

Condensed and adapted from God’s Laws:  Sin, Law, Grace, and Obligation in Pauline Theology by Paul A. Hughes (2014), available in paperback from Amazon and other online retailers, and in eBook format from Apple iBooks and other eBook publishers.

Don’t make up your mind till you have
considered these Biblical principles . . .
and oh, prayed about it—seriously!

Finding the line between God’s eternal moral law and prevailing culture is one of the stickiest problems with which people of faith must deal.  Much pressure is naturally exerted upon contemplating God’s law by the sheer weight of historic as well as contemporary culture.

When evangelizing, Paul preached from synagogue to synagogue.  Wherever there was a synagogue, there was also a Judaic subculture.  His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of original Creation and Scripture, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly traditional societies.  The prohibitions against women speaking in church (as in the synagogue, 1 Cor. 14:34 f., 1 Tim. 2:11 f.), praying with their hair uncovered (1 Cor. 11:5, 13), and adorning themselves ostentatiously (1 Tim. 2:9 f.) appear to be calculated to uphold the highest standards of respectability and even gender roles, and humility as becomes a saint, within the local society as well as the synagogue.  Add to this Paul’s opinion, appealing to Natural Law as well as culture, that men should wear their hair short and women long (1 Cor. 11:14 f.).  The Apostle favored neither Libertinism nor license, which in the name of grace flouted not only Biblical morality but the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered (see Rom. 6:1 f., 1 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 5:13).  Rather, he upheld what he deemed to be conservative, ratifying moral ideals and traditions among the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  Theologically, Paul regarded the original order of Creation to be supportive of natural and traditional gender roles, e.g., “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13).

Matters of Conscience

Paul writes on questions of ritual observances and matters of conscience, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) and “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (14:22).  If Christians’ bodies are “the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own,” and “ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f., also 7:23), it stands to reason that while we are free moral agents before God, we are not free to unilaterally overstep God’s Moral/Natural Law at will.

This principle applies to a multitude of cultural moral questions, in a world that is increasingly godless, profane, and sexualized.  Questions of speech, entertainment, attire, and relationships are all in play.  A case in point is the phenomenon of the so-called “Christian tattoo,” or at least Christians with tattoos.  At the moment, tattoos are, especially among young people, increasingly popular.  A tattoo parlor in a small town near Houston, Texas, advertises, “Yahweh-Approved Tattoos.”  But does Yahweh approve?  Proponents say that the prohibition against tattoos in the Old Testament is invalid because we are no longer under Moses’ Law but under grace.  There they have a point.  They go on to say that the prohibition in Leviticus 19:27 was not about tattoos—rather due to the association of tattoos with some now-forgotten Pagan ritual practice.  Perhaps, but they would do well to wonder further what that Pagan practice might have been, why Hebrews were not to associate themselves with it, and why the commandment focused on tattoos and not other behaviors.  The reasons might still apply today, for all they know.  One might well consider that sincere believers should, in the absence of knowledge, prefer to err on the conservative side.  Paul’s views regarding the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, meant for God’s glory, and no longer “owned” by the believer, spring immediately to mind.

Proponents argue that “old” tattoos from their former reprobate lives become a curiosity to acquaintances, affording opportunities to witness by demonstrating the lifestyle from which they have been redeemed.  Fair enough, if so used and effective toward that purpose.  The metaphor that the “marks of sin” are hard to remove is not lost.  Associated with this idea of “evangelistic tattoos” is that of the aforementioned “Christian tattoos,” by which advocates, often citing out-of-context New-Testament support (e.g., Jn. 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:22, 3:2; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 19:16), profess to be setting God’s mark upon themselves, sporting their personal testimony, and even making their bodies into “a living billboard for the Lord” (my term).  Meanwhile, they categorically deny any connotation relative to the Mark of the Beast.

Many pertinent principles may be applied from Paul’s several discussions of meat offered to idols (see Chapter 2).  Tattoos, if associated in any observer’s mind with evil, could be equated with participating in evil; and while “all things,” according to Paul, are “lawful,” in such case would hardly “edify” (1 Cor. 10:20 ff.).  A believer who judges a brother on the sheer basis of a tattoo is wrong, and vice versa (Rom. 14:3 ff., 10 ff.).  Yet to Paul the onus of responsibility falls on the one who takes license, in this case to display a tattoo that offends a brother (Rom. 14:15, 20); or worse, tempts a brother to violate his own conscience by getting a tattoo himself (Rom. 14:20, 23; 1 Cor. 8:7 ff.).  It would be more pleasing to God, as well as to men, in Paul’s mind, for a believer to forgo the “liberty” of obtaining a “lawful” tattoo, in order to “make peace” and edify (Rom. 14:18 ff.).  This is the Law of Christ in action.  “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal. 5:13 f.).

Know What the Lord’s Will Is

It is thus incumbent upon the believer, first, to learn sound doctrine, being thoroughly trained and informed in the elements of the Faith. Jesus’ mission both prior and subsequent to his atoning sacrifice was to deliver his Gospel to the Apostles so that they could in turn convey it to others to follow.  Aquila and Priscilla deemed it important to correct deficiencies in Apollos’ doctrine.  “I would not have you ignorant, brethren,” Paul so often began his instruction.  According to Paul, Christian leaders are gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach sound doctrine, so that believers might “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:12 ff.).  It is not just “unity of faith,” but unity which is only possible in the context of the Faith, that is, sound doctrine.  Truly, we find to this day, as in Paul’s, that where there is unsound doctrine, there is no unity, but division!

Paul further urged believers to “be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).  The good steward of Christ’s grace needs to know the Lord’s will for him or herself, by a thorough understanding of the Word of God and also by personal revelation.  Though “we walk by faith,” seemingly blind much of the time, God’s Word provides principles by which to live, beyond specific commands and prohibitions; and moreover, the Spirit-filled believer, if to such one may lay claim, is equipped and ready to hear the voice of the Spirit whenever He chooses to speak.  Dare we make life decisions on our own, without thoroughly consulting the Lord?  Paul entreated, “Be careful [worried] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php. 4:6).  The Apostle James warned those who made their own plans without consulting the Lord, when they ought to be saying, “If the Lord wills” (Jas. 4:15).  The Apostle John reminded the church, “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn. 5:14 f.).

Do we not know what to pray?  Most who purport to be Christians pray that their own will be done and neglect to ask God his.  “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f.).  Paul said that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit . . .” (Rom. 8:26 f.).  So second, we need to pray in the Spirit.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”

How long are we to pray, and how hard, before making a decision?  Paul conceived that believers ought to “pray without ceasing” (Rom. 1:9; 1 Th. 2:13, 5:17; 2 Tim. 1:3), just as he “spoke in tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18, paraphrased).  Even Paul did not claim to receive a definitive answer to his prayers in every case.  He still had to “walk by faith, not by sight,” too.  Yet in matters of conscience, he enjoined his fellow believer to “be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) in order to be “happy” that he “condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (v. 22).  Only once the life choice in question has passed the final test of the Law of Christ can the believer truly consider himself to have been “fully persuaded” and stand not only uncondemned but “happy” in it.

The Law of Faith and Law of Christ

Paul rejected the works of the Law, yet concluded that God’s law is still not so simple as “Moses out, grace in.”  He was not a Libertarian.  Those freed from bondage to the “Letter of the Law” are not so free as to “continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1).  Paul took pains to stake out the moral middle ground between Legalism and Libertinism, in which God’s interests are served.  Christians may not live altogether without law, for God’s laws are built into Creation, and lawlessness is utter rebellion.  Sound doctrine, derived from the Gospel, dictates that Christians reject both the extremes of dogmatic Legalism and libertarian self-actualization in order to live by a higher law, the Law of Faith.

The Law of Faith says that we are saved by faith alone, by God’s grace, not because we have the ability to earn salvation, or to pay the price (other than by our own eternal damnation).  Since we are saved by faith, moreover, we should then act in accordance to what we have believed:  to wit, that Christ’s blood frees us from bondage to sin and the consequences of the Law of Sin and Death.  We who have received forgiveness of sin should forsake those sins for which we have been forgiven, rather than pile up more and expect the Lord to cover them like the proverbial “blank check.”  Such a mindset is akin to throwing excrement on Christ and his Cross.  Jesus declined to condemn the woman caught in adultery, yet commanded, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11, see also 5:14).

The Law of Faith further presupposes the Law of Christ.  The Law of Christ says that since Christ loved us enough to die in our place, we are therefore obligated to return love to him by acting in love toward all others for whom Christ also died.  We have been redeemed from sin, bought and paid for, hence are Christ’s servants, not free to do as we please without our Master’s permission.  We are thereafter acting as Christ’s emissaries in Christ’s interests and, since all who believe have entered “into Christ,” also for the interests of the entire Body of Christ, in which we share.  The Apostle James is fully in agreement with Paul and with Christ when he writes, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (2:18).  Those redeemed are to go on to do good works toward others, to serve Christ by edifying his Body, and to share the Gospel wherever possible, in word and in deed.

Consequently, the believer does not ultimately live under the laws of Men, even the letter of Moses’ Law, but according to the Law of Faith.  The Law of Faith upholds Gods’ Moral/Natural Law (which embodies all that is morally right and according to God’s purpose in Creation), and is expressed to the World through the Law of Christ.

In America today, it appears that a dogmatic interpretation and application of absolute laws is unacceptable to modern, relativistic sensibilities.  It is indeed a mistake to attempt to translate law directly to modern society in terms of the “do’s and don’ts” and “thou shalt nots” of Moses’ Law, however those ordinances are framed.  Simple, unassuming people may find comfort in “pat” answers to eternal questions, and in turn be highly offended when their orderly little world is questioned.  Others have found profound truth in Scripture, and the power of God through the Holy Spirit, no longer finding cause to question.  Questioning claims of truth seems to be the hallmark of the younger generations, however, as “everything that can be shaken is being shaken.”  Youthful exuberance and willfulness chafe at restrictions.

But God’s eternal laws cannot be shaken without dire consequence.  God’s laws coalesce toward God’s Plan for Creation, ultimately to be fulfilled in and by Christ.  God’s laws and goodness are displayed for all to see in the things that He has made, so that all Men “are without excuse.”  Christ is “the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Ps. 118:22, Mt. 21:42, 44).

What Does God Require?

So how does the Christian fulfill God’s laws without simply becoming legalistic?  God’s laws are rightfully expressed through the combination of the Law of Faith and the Law of Christ, as described above.  There remain, first and foremost, moral absolutes—adultery and murder are always sins against God’s eternal moral law.  The repentant believer acquiesces to such clear-cut, eternal laws, in humility before God, or else he does not believe the revelation of the Gospel, nor the evidence displayed in the created order:  in short, he remains an infidel and a rebel.  Second, there is the sovereign will of Christ as is conveyed through God’s Word and the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  The servant listens for his Master’s voice, heeds, and obeys.  Spirit-filled believers seek the will of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and are able to hear the Master’s voice when He speaks, thus highlighting the indispensable nature of Pentecostal Spirit Baptism.

A third classification of obedience to and discernment of God’s law, at which point the Law of Christ comes especially into play, is that which involves “matters of conscience”:  those things which are neither clear-cut and subject to eternal principles, nor a revelation of the Lord’s specific and particular will for a time, a place, and a person or persons—but in the absence of a set of Ordinances such as Moses’, a matter apparently left to the discretion of the individual believer.  Paul describes, himself, various instances in which even he, an apostle, having been granted various endowments of revelation, yet renders his own judgment (“to the rest speak I, not the Lord”) based on his best understanding of the will and purpose of the Lord.  In this realm of activity we as believers exercise the prerogative afforded by God, who would have all Men to freely choose to serve him or not, to decide for ourselves, according to knowledge of his Word and of his nature, what is good and appropriate to do.  Paul in essence walks us through the process, outlining the problem, describing the opposing interests, and presenting alternative solutions, in his several passages on eating meat sacrificed to idols.  Yet too many Christians, even leaders and teachers, become heedlessly obtuse when Paul’s own clear-cut example is brought up; they demand a law, chapter and verse, clearly stated, to which we are bound, in the absence of which they assert personal sovereignty and claim license to please themselves.

In this utter willfulness they overlook and defy the very Law of Christ by which they are called to conduct themselves in just such contingencies in the absence of clear-cut law.  The Law of Christ, Paul points out, compels the servant of God to sacrifice self-interest, and even his or her much-vaunted “rights,” in favor of sparing the sensibilities of a brother and keeping the peace.  Any other choice is carnal and defamatory to the Cross by which he or she purports to be saved.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

 

Written by biblequestion

July 18, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Posted in Paganism, Society

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Rush Limbaugh — Christian Enough?

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I have listened to Rush off and on since 1992.  He is almost prescient in his ability to “read between the lines” of political speech and motives.  (He had Bill Clinton pegged long before people realized his lack of character, and likewise Obama.)  He is a cultural Conservative and cultural Christian by heritage and deeply heartfelt values, attributes he shares with his hero, Ronald Reagan.  His values come from that heritage, not the desire to be famous or make a lot of money (for that, he could have gone the Bill Maher route and been much more popular).  The fact that he has been able to do both is what has made him prosper.

His forte is speaking out what fellow Conservatives already think, hence the common greeting that evolved, “Dittos.”

Yes, to newbies Rush comes off as pompous, but that is part of his schtick that frequent listeners understand.  He is the consummate gentleman to any reasonable individual who calls or meets him.  Many if not most of his notorious statements are what he calls “media tweaks,” which he knows will cause hysteria among the PC media.  He gets a kick out of thereby leading them by the nose, fully anticipating their reaction.

Is he born again?  I am not sure the mainline Protestant church heritage from which he comes even believes in that experience.  Salvation is by grace, not of works (Ephesians 2:9f.).  If one defines being a Christian by being active in church, guided by the Holy Spirit, showing spiritual fruit, etc., perhaps not.

Is he a friend to Christians and Christianity?  By intent, definitely.  By speech and actions, overwhelming, but admittedly not always.

One of the things that both Conservatives and Christians must learn, or relearn, today, is that the enemy of our enemy is our friend.  Another is that we ought not “bite and devour one another,” for envy, or any other petty, self-serving reason (Galatians 5:15).

©2012 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 14, 2012 at 6:57 PM

God’s Troublemakers

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Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:25

Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:25

For many years, we have been told that good Christians are gentle, docile, and quiet, never disturbing or putting anyone to any trouble.  They live peacefully in modest homes, work regular jobs, raise families, and go to church.  Christians must certainly never complain, oppose authority, resist oppression, or use power to force reforms.  Judging from the Bible, however, the pundits would have a hard time proving these assertions.  In Scripture, most of the great men and women of God were troublemakers.

Joseph annoyed his brothers to the point that they sold him into slavery.  Accused of sexually assaulting his master’s wife, he was thrown into prison.  Later, he held his younger brother hostage.

Moses was a terrible troublemaker.  He challenged an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew, and killed him.  Later, he was asked accusingly, “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14).  Pharaoh increased his oppression of the Hebrews, and their leaders blamed Moses.  “May the LORD look upon you and judge you!  You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (5:21).  When the Egyptian army attacked them at the Red Sea, they cried, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (14:10).

David was a rebel and outlaw for many years, even working for his people’s sworn enemies.  He violated another man’s wife, then had him killed to cover it up.  God would not allow David to build his temple.

Elijah met King Ahab at Mount Carmel.  As soon as Ahab saw him, he asked, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17).  Elijah proposed a contest with the 450 prophets of Ba’al.  He won, and had all the false prophets slaughtered.

In fact, God’s prophets regularly made themselves a nuisance.  Ahab said of Micaiah, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me” (1 Kings 22:8).  Zechariah was stoned to death, Jeremiah languished in prison:  carnal leaders generally did not like what the prophets had to say, and persecuted and killed them for it.

Now the reader should not imagine that troublemaking was limited to the Old Testament.  Jesus threatened the religious leaders of Judea by exposing their hypocrisy and gaining the allegiance of the people; thus they arranged to have him executed.  Likewise, John the Baptist angered Herod’s wife, who had him beheaded.

The apostles were arrested in the temple for preaching, but thereafter defied the Sanhedrin’s orders to cease and desist.  Peter was imprisoned for preaching; after he escaped, his guards were executed for negligence.  Stephen was stoned to death, and John’s brother James executed by Herod.  Paul with his companions were flogged at Philippi, stoned at Lystra, threatened by assassins; Paul caused riots in Ephesus and Jerusalem, and was otherwise beaten, threatened, and endangered (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

For two millennia since then, Christian activists and agitators have caused no end of trouble for those in power and those who benefit from the status quo.

Jesus said that the Gospel would divide families; Christians would be hated, persecuted, and killed.  He “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).  The Lord has chosen that through those who are troublemakers in the eyes of the world He would accomplish his work.

Of course, not all trouble is ordained by God, and if not, should be discouraged.  Ungodly trouble brings disrepute upon the Church.  But in the present emergency, with the world growing worse and the end times approaching, we desperately need the kind of troublemakers we read about in Scripture.

When godly troublemakers act, we can expect many in the Church to denounce them as such.  If they bring hardship and persecution upon us, many will ask, as they questioned Moses, “Who put you in charge of us?  You have made us look bad in the eyes of the world!  It is your fault that we suffer!”  It will require great courage and self-sacrifice to stand in the face of bitter criticism, even that of our own brethren.  But if in obedience to God, how can we withhold?

© 2002 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

June 1, 2011 at 1:16 AM