Peace if possible. Truth at all costs. ~ Martin Luther

Focus on Election ’08

If you weren’t at First Assembly this morning, here’s a brief summary of my message. (I took a one week break from our current series preaching through Ephesians to address next week’s election.)
 
A Christian Voter’s Guide
In just 9 days Americans will be voting to elect a new President. Whatever the outcome is, this WILL be a historic election.
Our world has seen unprecedented upheaval over the past decade, and people everywhere are wondering what the next decade holds in store. People are very anxious about the global economy; wars and rumors of wars; there also remains the very real and ever-present threat of terrorism; and many other domestic issues.
This morning I’d like to take a few minutes just to speak to you from God’s Word about your responsibility as a Christian at this election. Before I do that, our General Superintendent, Dr. George Wood, has prepared a short video message to all our Assemblies of God churches. We’re going to watch that together right now. [Watch the video here]
 
 
Romans 13 is the classic passage in all the Bible about how we are to relate to our local, state and federal government. Christians are blessed to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom…
  • Our citizenship is in heaven – Philippians 3:20
  • We have been conveyed into the kingdom of God’s dear Son – Colossians 1:13
  • As such, we are described as “sojourners and pilgrims” in this world – 1 Peter 2:11
When the forefathers were fighting the Revolutionary War to establish these United States of America, one of their catch-cries was “No king but King Jesus”. That was the heart of the founders of this nation. They wouldn’t bow to the English monarch, or any other man. They certainly gave their loyalty to this Union, but it was a secondary citizenship to their allegiance to God and His kingdom.

Listen, NO earthly kingdom is eternal. The great proclamation we read in Revelation 11:15, is that one day loud voices will call through the streets of heaven, reverberating out to the ends of the universe, “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

On that day, the world super power of the United States, along with the British Empire, and the massive Republic of China, and the European Economic Union, will ALL have passed into the annals of history as “yesterday’s ideas” – remembered alongside the Roman Empire, and the Persian Empire, and the Babylonian and the Alexandrian, and the Egyptian Empires, and every OTHER former kingdom. ALL finished. And the Lord Jesus shall reign over HIS one eternal Kingdom that encompasses and supersedes all.

That is our future, Christian. Don’t build your stock in this world. Heaven is our home.

BUT, having said that, for this short period of time while we live on earth, we DO have a DUAL citizenship. Our hearts may be in heaven already, but we do live out our lives on the earth – part of earthly societies, and under the government of men. And the Bible is very clear that we are to recognize that, and see the responsibilities of this DUAL citizenship.
We are to be very good citizens here. Christians ought to be the BEST citizens that America has! The truest of patriots.
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ began and thrived 2000 years ago during the time of the Roman Empire. Paul wrote to Christians in the worldwide capital city of Rome about their responsibility. Peter did also, to Christians dispersed in outlying areas of the Empire. Using Paul’s comments here in Romans 13:1-7 as our starting point, let’s review a couple of the basic directives we have as Christians concerning human governments.
 
1. Governments are Appointed BY God

Which government is Paul talking about? The term he uses is “higher powers” / “higher authorities”. It surely encompasses Federal, State, City governments. Includes police and courts of law.

We are to be “subject”. In willing submission.

God may give a leader to lead in His purposes, according to His Word. He may give a leader as judgment, to bring the nation to her knees in prayer. But He WILL appoint the leader.

2. Governments are Accountable TO God

Paul gives us here the reason that God establishes human government. And this reveals what God expects of those he sets in these positions – to execute justice. It would be good for our leaders to read these verses from time to time. (See v4-5).

We are to submit to our rulers recognizing that their power is delegated by the Lord. HE is our ultimate King. That means that we obey our earthly authorities “as unto the Lord”.

And here is where there is a caveat to our obedience. No earthly authority is a law unto themselves. They are accountable to God – and every one will stand before Him. Each one is being, and will be, evaluated by God.

The Bible clearly teaches us that if earthly rulers contradict God’s law, we are to obey the higher law of God. Acts 4:18-20. (It’s not a question of disobeying man, but rather of obeying God.)

We have brothers and sisters around the world this morning who are in prisons, persecuted and tortured for sharing their faith in Jesus. Many of them could avoid that treatment if only they would promise to keep their faith to themselves. The authorities wouldn’t bother them for being a Christian if they never told anybody else. But they see this as the command of their Lord Jesus – to “go into all the world and preach the good news”. So who are they to obey? God or men? They will not stop, and they’re suffering for it. (What would they think of us, with all our freedoms, when we DON’T share our faith?)

So, there is a time for civil disobedience. A time to obey God rather than men. HOWEVER, we’d better be sure that we ARE acting because of obedience to God’s law, and not just for our own opinion’s sake!

Well, all that being said, what are we instructed to do at this election. What would God have Christians to do.

A) VOTE!
Let’s go back to that Romans 13:1 text again. That verse indicates that God is the source of political governments. He not only establishes the rulers … but also the way the government rules and operates. That means that the democratic system of government God placed in America. And since our system allots individual citizens to participate in choosing their leaders through, Christians not only have a national right to vote, they have a God given responsibility to be involved and vote in the system God ordained for this country.
We cannot continue to allow false ideologies to fill the vacuum created simply by our lack of voice and involvement.
Next week … VOTE!
 
B) VOTE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
As a Christian, all your rights and allegiances have been turned over to the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you sought Him about your vote? Have you consulted what He has said in His Word about the issues involved?
Don’t vote just because you’ve always voted for a particular party. You see, our ultimate allegiance should not be to any political party. It should belong to God. Don’t let some media outlet or movie producer or Hollywood actor or even friend or family member ultimately influence the way you vote. God and His word should have ultimate sway in that matter. You see, if He is Lord of all, doesn’t that mean God should be Lord when it comes to which lever we pull in a voting booth?
Don’t vote for your comfort. Go to the Word of God to vote on the issues that matter most to Him.
The problem we all face is trying to find out which candidate God would have us vote for. That’s why every believer ought to research the candidates. Study the debates. Read and look on line for voter guides, which indicate what their past actions were concerning issues that are important to God.
In the video we watched a moment ago, our Superintendent has made much of the issue of LIFE in this election. Protecting all life – particularly the most vulnerable – the unborn. I personally believe that has been the #1 issue for every election in America since Roe V Wade. 50 million lives lost. If we buried those children in 2 foot by 3 foot plots side by side that would need a cemetery over 100 square miles in size!
The problem is, many Christians have what has been called recently “foetus fatigue”. Many are tired of hearing about it. They think maybe there are other issues. But there IS no greater issue than this genocide.
In every election, the future of the nation hangs in the balance. Let’s let our faith in the Living God, who loves us without end and who leads us into all truth help shape that future. And may God bless America.
This week, join us in concerted prayer. And then, whoever IS elected (whether they were our choice or not), we will have the responsibility to honor them and continue to pray for them daily for the next four years.
 
Phil