by Jeremiah Johnson
Another election year is upon us, and with it, renewed hopes of favorable political change. While you don’t have to look hard to find cynicism about government and the electoral process, people of all political stripes greet this political season with heightened interest and great expectations.
That includes the church, as more and more Christians look to social and political activism as the primary means for influencing society and “redeeming the culture.”
But are those legitimate priorities for believers? Have we been saved and sanctified to become culture warriors and moral lobbyists? Or have we been set aside for a higher purpose?
In his book Why Government Can’t Save You, John MacArthur explains how the American church is particularly prone to political activism.
Over the past several centuries, people have mistakenly linked democracy and political freedom to Christianity. That’s why many contemporary evangelicals believe the American Revolution was completely justified, both politically and scripturally. They follow the argumentation of the Declaration of Independence, which declares that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are divinely endowed rights. Therefore those believers say such rights are part of a Christian worldview, worth attaining and defending at all costs, including military insurrection at times. But such a position is contrary to the clear teachings and commands of Romans 13:1-7. So the United States was actually born out of a violation of New Testament principles, and any blessings that God has bestowed on America have come in spite of that disobedience by the Founding Fathers.
Also, many present-day Christian activists seem to be unaware of how much their methodology parallels that of liberal Christians at the turn of the twentieth century. Like those misguided idealists, contemporary evangelicals became enamored of temporal issues at the expense of eternal values. Evangelical activists, in essence, are simply preaching a politically conservative version of the old social gospel, emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones. In that framework the government becomes more and more the earthly ally (if he can persuade it to support his special agenda) or enemy (if it stays opposed or unresponsive to his agenda) of the Christian. But the ideal human government can ultimately do nothing to advance God’s kingdom, and the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God’s Word.  John MacArthur, Why Government Can’t Save You (Nashville: Word, 2000), 6-7.
Part of the fallout from the emphasis on political activism in the church is the denigration of God’s sovereignty. If we truly believe the Lord is the Author of history and that He is orchestrating all things according to His will, do we really need to throw so much of our time, energy, and resources into supporting candidates and ballot measures? Or is it that He has temporarily lost control, and we need to gain it back for Him?
As John MacArthur explains, that’s simply not the work we’ve been set aside for:
We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle against worldly ideologies and dogmas that are arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV).
As Paul’s words declare, we must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. We can do that partly by desiring the improvement of society’s moral standards and partly by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, unchastity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in all our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God’s methods and maintain scriptural priorities.
God simply is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or the appearance of “rightness” over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.  Why Government Can’t Save You, 12-13
We have been set apart in this world to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), not political movers and shakers. Investing our efforts into political battles turns our mission field into the enemy. We are not at war with the culture—we’re at war with the sin that undergirds and drives it. And the goal of that battle is not gaining political influence, but rescuing souls from eternal damnation.
Christians need to get comfortable with the idea that God does not intend for our earthly lives to be comfortable. This world is not our home, and we shouldn’t waste time striving to make it more accommodating to our standards and morality. Nor should we be surprised or shocked by how this sin-ruined world operates, or how its citizens behave. In fairness, how else should we expect unrepentant sinners to act?
The solution to the world’s rampant depravity is not political change. No election ever brought about true repentance and faith; no legislation ever transformed an eternal soul. And all the efforts believers put into forced morality and behavior modification don’t help matters—at best, they’re training new Pharisees.
There is hope for this doomed world. And while the church plays a key part in bringing that hope to lost and desperate sinners, it has nothing to do with forced morality, behavior modification, or political advocacy.
Next time we’ll consider what hope this world has, and what part you and I play in bringing it to them.
#2 Posted by
Anne | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
As Christians, we are to be "salt and light" to the world as God's word tells us. We have obviously not done so and instead have become increasingly tolerant of the evil around us. Christians still do have a voice in the United States. It is up to each citizen to vote their conscience and to support others who have the same values. This does not necessarily mean political activism. All that is needed for evil to flourish, is for good people to do nothing!
#47 Posted by
Jack Varble | Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at
That last statement is not Christian at all. Evil will never flourish, because God is on the throne! You have no innate power over the evil in this world. That's God's place, and be careful not to take on His job.
#50 Posted by
Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin) | Thursday, January 21, 2016 at
I believe Anne is paraphrasing this famous quote: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. The idea is that "good" people's goodness doesn't make a difference if they're not willing to stand up in opposition to evil. It's not an ideal call to action for the church since, as you pointed out, it doesn't account for the Lord's sovereignty--particularly with how He restrains evil and punishes the wicked. But let's agree to give Anne the benefit of the doubt that she acknowledges and understands God's sovereignty.
Moreover, let's be honest: evil does flourish in this world, and will continue to up until the Lord returns in judgement. The world is poisoned by sin, and not one inch of the creation or anything therein has escaped its corrupting influence. The evidence of flourishing evil is undeniable. But we who know and love the Lord can take comfort in the fact that God is indeed still on His throne, and that nothing happens outside of His control. For now, He is allowing evil to thrive while He continues to rescue sinners from the penalty of their sins. In spite of the rampant wickedness around us, we ought to rejoice in what He's accomplishing in the midst of it, and look forward to the day He brings an end to this world's corrupt system and finally purges the stain of sin.
#3 Posted by
Terry | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Great article! It seems to me that alot of this political focus is coming from the ever growing numbers of professing Christians with a post millennial view of the Scriptures and/or those who equate the US as God's 2nd chosen nation citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 who wrongly equate Christianity with Patriotism.
If Jesus said HIS Kingdom is not of this world and few would find The Gate that leads to eternal life I would like to know, when exactly did 'Go and make disciples OF CHRIST' that calls people out of this world change to, 'Go and make disciples of GODS LAW' to establish His Kingdom here on earth?
Isn't that Islam's ideology to establish law and order to take over this world for their Allah?
#17 Posted by
Clovis Gentilhomme | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Good thoughts, Terry!
#22 Posted by
Misty Groves | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
I agree with Clovis... You have shared some good thoughts. I have heard from those who seem to suggest that the U.S. is God's 2nd chosen nation. I'll refrain from sharing the title here, but there is a book that was written by a Messianic Jew and the book seems to suggest the same thing about America with 9/11 being the/a warning. It was suggested to me by a person who professes Christianity. So I read it and it is very sensational. But that's about it... "Sensational" prophecies and mysteries with parallels supposedly between the Israel of the Old Testament and America today. It's the kind of stuff that keeps people emotional and anxious when Jesus told us to be anxious for nothing. Personally, I prefer to live with the kind of peace that comes from above.
I used to have a Twitter. I don't like debating politics, but the one thing I strongly advocated against (before I deleted my account) was abortion. I am strongly against the practice, as well as against my tax dollars going to support it. I didn't seek out people to argue with on Twitter per se, but I would comment here and there from time to time until one person said that people like me should mind my own business. And I thought: there is an essence of truth to that. One the one hand, John the Baptist was beheaded b/c he was bold enough to speak out against Herod's sinful marriage. He didn't necessarily mind his own business with respect to the sins of the government of his time. On the other hand, with respect to my tax dollars going to support things like abortion, perhaps I should just "render to Washington" that which belongs to Washington? In my heart, I know that God is in control and I just want to be found as being obedient. We should not slander or speak evil of our leaders (or anyone, for that matter). Social media is just too toxic these days. Honestly, I really should just listen to 1 Thessalonians 4 and live quietly and mind my own business. We can be obedient to that and still carry out our commission. We don't necessarily need a large megaphone, like, social media sites. We can be content with where God has placed us and carry out our commission within our own spheres of influence.
#4 Posted by
LMack | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
#5 Posted by
LMack | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
I just want to say Thank You ....much needed information at this time and I'm grateful for this message.
#6 Posted by
Robert Matos | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Very convicting. Thank you Lord for using this article to bring me to a point of conviction and repentance on this issue.
#7 Posted by
mick | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Thanks for another timely message.
Mathew 5:13-16 was referenced again, stating "We have been set apart in this world to be salt and light." Considering first message in series, "The Pathology of a Doomed Culture", wouldn't entire verse be applicable when it says..." but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."
Doesn't Rev 2:4 say "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent." .... and
2 Chron 7: 13"If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
#8 Posted by
Merabi | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
#9 Posted by
Charles Chrisman | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Speaking as one who was involved in the "Christianized" politics of the early 90's, having served as a member of a N. Californian Republican Central Committee and subsequently left it and the Republican Party more than 20 years ago because of the unprincipled (in a biblical sense) actions of fellow believers within that committee, people with whom I attended the same gathering, I came to the conclusion that the government of humans by humans is both necessary and impossible. Politics teaches compromise and must have compromise to work. It is an attempt at controlling outcomes aimed at pleasing the most, or perhaps, the most powerful among us and cannot long coexist with the the first and greatest commandment, to love God with all of your being.
I have been through many election cycles now, going through the hope, the anticipation, the struggle and ultimate disappointment in the outcome, whether it be "the chosen" candidate or the dreaded one who is elected. Our hope is not now and never has been in men.
I came across a couple of interesting verses in Ps 112 that seem to apply to your article, Jeremiah.
"For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord."
Do we experience pain as a result of this corrupt process? Yes, and worse at times. But there are two things at least that may be said of pain, all pain: it is the result of sin in general and it shows us our insufficiency without God, our absolute need of Him in all circumstances of life here. Pain is bad news, but it can lead us to all of His good, regardless of what human government can do to us.
#10 Posted by
Matt Gutting | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
This article is very refreshing. Especially this election season, I see the hope of many professing Christ placing an over-balanced depth of hope in candidates. True hope ONLY belongs to God. And He alone will give it generously, with power and without end. 1Peter 1:3-6
#11 Posted by
Linda | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
I think this needs to be reposted in September, October, and again after the November election.
#12 Posted by
cgshanks | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Paul appealed to Caesar, I appeal to Christians to be Christians in America and beyond where God has placed Us. All the World with Gospel and Responsible citizens.Mat_22:21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
#13 Posted by
Morgunn | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
An absolute submission to governing authority is something that John MacArthur has brought up from time to time in his sermons. This view comes from, as stated in the article, Romans 13: 1-7. Throughout all of his sermons, this is the single issue I have not been able to fully understand.
Starting with Romans 13: 1-2. Let us take a drastic example of the Nazi party. I can acknowledge that in all of the destruction and genocide the Nazis wrought upon the world, there may have been some purpose ordained by God which put them in power at that time. However, Romans 13: 2 states that whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. Are we to understand from this that it was against scripture for us to take up arms and fight against the spread of fascism and its injustice?
One could make the argument that Romans 13: 1-7 pertains exclusively to citizens of their home nation, and not citizens of another nation at war. To that end, let us look at Romans 13: 3-4. This paints an idealistic and unrealistic view of the nature of government. It suggests that a government always acts morally, its laws are based on moral principles, and all citizens should always follow the laws of the governing authority with no regard given to what is morally right in the eyes of the Lord. Going back to the example of the Nazis, If your government demands that you provide information as to the whereabouts of Jews in your community hiding from the "authority," and you refuse knowing that to do so would condemn those same Jews to a concentration camp, you have just violated the commandment of this scripture to submit to authority. At this point, I think it would be prudent to quote our Declaration of Independence.
" Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes ... But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. "
I understand that what is most important is our personal salvation, and government cannot provide that. However, when a system becomes so depraved, so sinful, that it can only function to do the will of Satan, how can we as Christians be complicit with such a system? How can we blindly follow the law of man when that law contradicts what God has told us is morally right?
I seek clarification on these issues. I do not wish to question scripture, for it is sovereign. But in this case, I do not understand what we are to do.
#15 Posted by
Robert Matos | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
This article does not suggest what you are implying.
Rom 13:1-7 means what it says and says what it means aside from what your interpretation of it is.
The issue at hand is The Lord's sovereignty and it is a matter of faith.
As to what to do in this case, ask the Lord to show you and he will.
#16 Posted by
Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin) | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Thank you for commenting on the blog! I think you're right that the call to submission is for citizens of it's own country. No person is called to submit to a foreign government. That just wouldn't make sense and would obliterate any concept of biblical authority.
However, where I see a weakness in what you write is where you say that Romans 13 "paints an idealistic and unrealistic view of the nature of government." I don't think it does. First of all, Paul is writing to citizens of a very corrupt and sinful government. He is giving them specific instructions on how to live their lives. It would be superfluous to write to them with instructions that they couldn't apply.
Also, both Paul and Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, commanded submission to an abusive, oppressive, and corrupt government—Rome. In fact, both Paul and Peter were put to death by the very government they submitted to. Peter specifically encouraged believers to submit to those in authority even if that government was unjust toward them (see 1 Peter 2-3).
The only time Scripture permits disobedience is when God has issued a command or prohibition, and government forbids obedience (e.g. preaching) or commands submission (e.g. mark of the beast). No Christian should ever "blindly follow the law of man." Every act of obedience should be carried out with eyes wide open. Christians are not robots, programmed to obey the government by God without the ability to think. No, all of Scripture must come to bear on our obedience to the government.
Honestly, I think examples like the one you provided is unhelpful to the issue. You never decide the "rule" based on the most difficult cases. We must understand the principles as they are laid out in Scripture—which are very clear—and then we can have interesting ethical discussions about extreme cases.
I find it interesting that despite the extreme persecution the early church experienced (which was far more intense than what our founders experienced), overthrowing Rome (or even Jewish leadership) was never one of the options purposed or attempted. The Declaration of Independance was not written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit as a guide to how Christians should respond to abusive governments. Scripture was. There's nothing wrong with being patriotic, but we must remember our true allegiance lies, and what He has told us about submission.
Grace and peace!
#27 Posted by
Gus | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
Morgunn in your Nazi Germany argument I think you have confused the role of the government and the individual. In Matthew 5:38-39 Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek but was Jesus abolishing the law of Moses when he said that? Of course not he made that clear earlier in Matthew 5:17. In Leviticus 24:17-22 where we get the law for an eye for an eye, the law is not given to individuals but given as instructions for the government of Israel. This law was not a guide for individual vengeance but given to rulers to punish evil, in a fair and just manner. This law means the punishment should fit the crime. Do not be overly merciful and do not be overly abusive in handing out punishment. In the time of Jesus the Jews didn't love their neighbor and sought personal vengeance. People have confused this all the time.
So going back to Nazi Germany and your assertion if it was right for "us" the Allies to fight against Germany. The answers is yes because war wasn't declared by a Christian or the Church against Germany. War was declared by the governments. Even if for instance the governments of the Allies were completely filled with true believers as well as the soldiers they had the right to go to war to punish that evil. Just like God used Israel to punish and destroy the evil pagan nations in the Land.
I think a good analogy would be this. Say I am a judge and a criminal comes and shots me. I survive the incident and this criminal comes into my court. As a Christian judge I bring this criminal in my chambers and I preach the gospel to him in love. Say during this exchange the criminal comes to Faith and we have a time of prayer and fellowship we embrace and head out to the court room for sentencing. What am I to do as a Christian judge? I forgave him for what he did to me and more importantly God forgave him for all his sins. Do I forgive him and let him go or do I give him a punishment fitting the crime. The clear answer is I must give him a sentence fitting to attempted murder because as a representative of the government and the law I must execute justice as long as it doesn't conflict with Scripture. I must do as an agent of the government what Romans 13 states.
The role of government is different from the believer. I could say more but Gabriel Powell in his response was spot on everything else so I don't need to address those issues.
#14 Posted by
Nita | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
#18 Posted by
Mark | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
A very timely article as the bride of my youth and I were just discussing the actions of the founding fathers and Romans 13. Now we don't need to email Pastor MacArthur, thanks! The religious political right has overlooked the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming lives for decades now. The most persuasive Christian politician cannot do anything more than influence the lost to be good modern day Pharisee sans the Lord's sovereign will in salvation. Thanks so much for these articles, they inspire and remind us of where we need to be looking when on the net.
#20 Posted by
Arrow | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
Thank you Morgunn! My first thought when reading your response was of the Ten Boom family resisiting a national regime in collusion with Nazi Germany by hiding Jews and providing Jews ways of escape to safe havens. I am pretty sure the Ten Boom family were careful to obey all national and local laws and ordinances as required in Romans 13:1-7 with the exception of those laws and ordinances requiring a citizen report and surrender a Jew to Nazi sympathizers.
#48 Posted by
Jack Varble | Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at
And, if caught doing so, would submit to the punishment brought to them by the government. Just as Peter and John faced the Sanhedrin, they were told to do something against God's will, they refused and were willing to be imprisoned for it.
#19 Posted by
Keith Krohn | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
I have never really been interested in politics as this world is passing away and only Christ will change anything significantly by His earthly rule. I also agree that we should obey and be respectful to government officials; however, it has been increasingly difficult to respect our government in recent years when they have become more debased and sinful: promoting sexual sin and abortion as "rights", turning a lazy (if not blind) eye to Islamic terrorism within United States borders and minimizing how Islam influences that, giving special protections that promote sin and suppress God's truth, criminalizing Christian obedience, etc. It is more evident than ever who is the Prince of this world as Romans 1 plays out. Love of sin and hatred of God have become inseparable with the Democratic party. Christ may return very soon. But until then, what is the difference between obeying God/exposing the deeds of darkness and acts of civil disobedience? Is it the godliness of one's motives? Love for the Lord? A desire for God's honor? Thank you.
#31 Posted by
cgshanks | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
"Politics" go out the window when tyrants torture maim and kill you, Your wife and your family and the "neighbors " God commands you to love. As well as the well being and income of the seniors, crippled and elderly. Killing the unborn with tax money from Christians. (I am talking about America)
Pro 31:8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Pro 31:9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
In the last 7 years I appreciate John Calvin "When God wants to punish a nation He gives them wicked leaders" Do we or should we care enough to pray and then do service to improve the Evil.
Do we Separate and Worship more or try to show we are "cool" too. There are places in the World that have No Gospel,Bible, Or even a written language. Why are there less missionaries today then ever. Lots of Christian cruises (cost thousands) not many going to the mission field. Thank God for GTY it is a desert out there.
#36 Posted by
Misty Groves | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
#19 Keith Krohn,
I like Cg's reply to your post. Do you think it is possible for us to expose the deeds of darkness and still be in obedience to Romans 13? For example, John the Baptist was beheaded b/c he exposed the sin of Herod, but John the Baptist did not lead a rebellion against his government.
Peter, John, and Paul had to appear before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4 and Acts 23) b/c they refused to obey their governing leaders. Their disobedience was civil; they didn't encourage rebellion. Rather, they simply refused to stop preaching about Jesus and that was an act of disobedience. In Acts 23:5, Paul tells us not to speak evil about the ruler of our people; that command comes from Exodus 22:28. So we already know how God feels about that. How many times were Jesus and the Apostles accused of leading a rebellion when they weren't? Their activity was from God and so the Jewish and Roman leaders of their time couldn't them, as Gamaliel wisely says in Acts 5:38-39.
In Acts 5:37, Gamaliel mentions a Judas who led a revolt against Rome during census/tax time. The rebellion was crushed and his followers were scattered.
So these are just a few examples that I can think of as I, myself, ponder our current state of affairs.
#44 Posted by
Dan Bruce | Monday, January 11, 2016 at
It is good to remember that refusing the obey the instruction of the Sanhedrin was an act done in a religious context, since the Sanhedrin was a religious authority, not a governmental authority. Rome was the government. Not obeying the Sanhedrin was not the same as not obeying Rome.
#46 Posted by
Misty Groves | Monday, January 11, 2016 at
#44 Dan Bruce,
Yes, Rome was the "government" of their time like Washington is our government today; however, the Jews (exclusively) also had The Sanhedrin which exercised authority in legislation and justice, and The Sanhedrin had religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction over the Jewish people. It had the authority to stone Stephen, which happened in Acts 7, before Paul's appearance there in Acts 23. So that is what I had in mind when I said Peter, John and Paul (and Stephen) refused to obey their governing leaders by refusing to stop preaching about Jesus.
On a side note, I think The Sanhedrin is simliar to Shariah courts for Muslims. It has been reported that in some non-Muslim countries, Shariah courts are allowed jurisdiction over Muslim matters.
#21 Posted by
Wani M. | Friday, January 8, 2016 at
I read a news article a few months ago with the heading "Fear and Voting on the Christian Right." As a believer, it seemed odd to me that Christian and "Fear" would be included in the same sentence/title when it comes to how we respond or react to politics or any earthly matter. I think we tend to lose sight of the fact that God is still in control, and that His hand is in everything. We read in the His Word how He uses kings and nations, people from all walks of life, to carry out His will and purpose. It concerns me when I see and hear fellow Christians reacting the way the world does (feeling the need to stockpile weapons out of fear; reacting angrily if their political party doesn't succeed), somehow believing that America, with the right political candidate, will be "great" again. This belief seems to carry over into the idea that our nation will be part of the new heaven and earth. Our focus should be on glorifying God and going out into the world and bringing lost souls to Christ. We can't allow ourselves to be distracted and lulled to sleep by the comforts of this world and it's temporal pleasures. Thank you for such and insightful article! God Bless You.
#23 Posted by
Eugene | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
I am African American and I have a friend who is a African American Christian. He stated a couple weeks ago that the Church needs to do more about the race problems in this country. (Social Justice). I told him that is not the role of the Church and we are not part of the Government agenda. I stated you are more concern about social issues and what this liberal govement administration says then what scriptures and Christ and says. It appears that these political leaders are divisive when it come to race problems in this country. We have to persuade men to repent...only the Scripture can deal with sin in the heart.
#24 Posted by
Rodney Penn | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
#25 Posted by
Jack Cox | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
This writer is correct about the church's role in politics. However, the point is that individual Christians have a responsibility to be knowledgable about government and support sensible actions by the state. We need strong secular leaders who understand domestic and international policy just like we want a knowledgable Doctor. As our friend John MacArthur warns remember we are electing a President not a Pastor. Unfortunately too many Christian leaders and writers have a limited view of the role of the Christian in the political world. Christians as citizens should vote, be active in politics, etc. However the church should not.
We need to speak out and be engaged with society. Watch this piece with John MacArthur.
#26 Posted by
Dan | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
Hello and thanks for your service in Christ... I just have a question with regards to how far we go with political involvement as Christians? Not to change the culture but could the motive be as some would say to delay decay or to politically preserve our freedoms to spread the Gospel on the street corners..And also to cast our vote against evil. Just wanted to get your thoughts and how we as followers of Christ should draw that balance or are we obligated to vote, is that a scriptural mandate or is it a personal thing..
For His Glory,
#28 Posted by
Lee | Saturday, January 9, 2016 at
But a vote cast for a candidate that represents biblical values is not the same as placing one's hope in anyone but Almighty God. Perchance He has raised up a candidate for such a time as this? The Israelites weren't to put their trust in horses, but they had horses.
I liked the comment that no election result ever resulted in revival. But it appears this election may determine whether churches remain open, money sent to worldwide missions flourishes, and freedoms are retained to proclaim biblical truths such as all have sinned and Jesus Christ is the only way - which can lead to revival!
Will John encourage all to participate in the election and vote their conscience? On Nov. 9, we'll praise God for the results, no matter what the outcome, as we accept His will and purpose for us in this country.
#29 Posted by
James Rizzuti | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
I see nothing wrong with standing for righteousness in the public square. Because we have allowed all of our governing entities to drift toward paganism, our social condition has worsened.
I hope that John and this blogger get that. There's plenty of Scripture to support it.
#30 Posted by
John DeCovich | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
I wonder if any really believe 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?
In Scripture 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?
Our part is to go in the strait and narrow path, representing Christ, to follow the word of God, and to let all move around us 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.
#33 Posted by
Terry | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
Bravo, John! Some are under the assumption that God's will is failing because those who profess Christ aren't doing their 'job'. True Christians are doing His will, and things are going exactly as planned by a Sovereign God. As we minister to those in a dark world and proclaim the good news to all, some are changed.
The sinful condition of this world and it's unwillingness to turn is not the fault of the Holy Spirit filled Bride of Christ. The world will always hate God and those who belong to Him.
#32 Posted by
Dan Bruce | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
As Christians, we should remember that our vote will NEVER bring about change in the spiritual condition of this nation. If politics and government could do that, Jesus and his disciples would have shown us the way to use them for that purpose, but they didn't. The only way we will bring about spiritual change in this nation and the world is the way Jesus commanded us, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20). The resurrected Jesus and his church already have been given all power on this planet. If instead we as followers of Jesus place our hope in secular politics and government as a means of bringing about righteousness in American society, we are guilty of ignoring the greatest power we have available to us to bring about God's will on Earth, that being the Gospel of Jesus, and we will fail if we don't use it.
#34 Posted by
Victor Falcon | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
Excellent discussions everyone! I am a born again Christian and Cuban American. All governments and their agents will on the day of Judgment will have to give account of their actions to the Lord(that is enough for me) none will escape punishment or reward. Also, as individuals(Christian or not) we must all come before the Lord and account for our obedience or disobedience, of course a different judgement. ...White throne vs the day of the Lord. Moreover, we as Christians need to reach the lost with the gospel, one soul at a time, then as a regenerated soul the Holy Spirit can work in that one to bring about change in ethics/morality as he too evangelizes and lives obedient to the Lord. No government policy can do that. But, we as bible guided Christians should never condone much less support , unethical and immoral policies whether from government or the Church. Remember, In end times prophecy, the harlot church will be in alliance with the ten Arab confederacy in the middle east and will have much "political and economical" power Rev 17:1-10 (John Woolvard, professor of prophecy, DTS). Thanks to John MacArthur for his dedicated service to the Lord. God bless you all!
#35 Posted by
Jack Cox | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
I am a Christian and attended Grace Church for 40 years and worked with John MacArthur on a variety of projects. My son John is a Pastor and a graduate of Masters Seminary. However I have spent my life in public affairs serving the the Chief of Staff to a United States Congressman and as a political journalist. I include these facts because most of the posts have nothing to do with politics. John MacArthur one time noted "When I want to get a surgeon I want the best surgeon and I don't care what his religion is." It would be great if more policy makers were believers but what we need are politicians who are principled and knowledgable in disciplines like law, economics, history, science, etc. Frankly there are many Christians who I would not want to see in elected office.
For example years ago, there was a Senator from Oregon by the name of Mark Hatfield, a strong believer, and Senator Barry Goldwater who was not a Christian. However politically Hatfield stood for some very liberal causes while Goldwater was the founder of the modern Conservative Movement. Ronald Reagan later got involved with those efforts.
You are all are writing about deeply theological themes. Thats fine but what we need right now is a President capable of leading the Free World. We need policy makers who will try to develop private sector approaches to poverty and health care. These approaches have little to nothing to do with whether they are a Christian or not. Jim Dobson, Jerry Farwell and Pat Robertson did not help by interjecting Christianity into politics. Remember this -- I dont care what the party view of a person who walks into our church to become saved and also I don't care what the theology of some one who votes ....all I want is 50% +1 vote in an election to win! They are mutually exclusive. You guys are all correct winning political elections won't save souls but have a strong national defense and economy can certainly save our nation from destruction now but people need the Lord long term. Two different debates.
#43 Posted by
Dan Bruce | Monday, January 11, 2016 at
As citizens of the United States, we participate in our political process by electing people who will faithfully execute and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is what our elected officials take an oath to do. As Christians, we should not look to politics or government to achieve the mandate given by God to the church (the body of believers) in the Scriptures. That mission is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus and equip the saints for ministry. Unfortunately, the church in America has been misled into believing that politics and government (legislation) are the way to achieve its Scriptural mandate. It's an illusion, as the past two-hundred years of American history give testimony. I think we know where the illusion comes from.
#37 Posted by
Janet | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
Jeremiah, thank you so much for this blog post and thank you to all those who commented and supplied clarification or who provided food for thought. I have been wrestling with this, especially when I (respectfully) contact my legislators or voice my opinion on social media. Thanks again and may God bless you all.
#38 Posted by
Sandy | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
So what do you think about Christian's voting? I think it is our responsibility to vote for the best candidate
that will bring back some form of law and order to our country.
#39 Posted by
paul s | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
How does blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: and 'rescue those being led away to death...' Ie abortion Prov. 24:11-22 fit into this? - or is the death spiritual?
#40 Posted by
David Carlos | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
Agree politics futile. It is amazing to watch a free people get tired of a conservative government, and elect a liberal, get then third of a liberal and elect a conservative..... Talk about wavering in your belief. It is easy to get caught up in it which is not healthy or edifying. But should we choose the lesser of 2 evils at the poll booth when it comes to candidates in this democracy we live in? Or is the whole system evil and we remain separate from it?
#41 Posted by
Scott Olsen | Sunday, January 10, 2016 at
Amazing article. Just goes to show how far off-base the church is in this country.
#42 Posted by
Jason Larose | Monday, January 11, 2016 at
I think the United States throw a wrench into the discussion that does make it a bit more unclear than it was for apostles in Rome. Built in throughout the governing system of this country is the thought that the people are responsible as citizens to participate in the governing process, and that we are obligated to hold the government accountable for it's actions. Submitting to our government, in part, requires us to direct it.
I keep waiting for the day that the world stops putting on the airs of "playing fair" and just tells Christians outright that they can no longer participate in the government process, instead of incorrectly citing "separation of church and state", turning every disagreement into a warning about a theocracy, and then just going around the democratic process when needed anyway.
It will undoubtedly be seen by many as the worst thing ever to happen to the church in the USA, but I think it would be a huge burden off our backs. Right now we are commanded to "play world" and then treated like we're disobedient when we aren't convincing enough. Better just to be treated as the foreigners we are so that the temptation to compromise isn't so strong.
#45 Posted by
David carlos | Monday, January 11, 2016 at
Brother John is right when he also said thant democracy is not a biblical form of government. Scottish professor Lynte said that "democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. As soon as a majority finds it can vote itself largess out of the public treachery, it collapses due to loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship...." You cannot force a free people to be wise. We can preach and preach, and they will turn to their folly.
Does this describe America? What, 20 trillion in dept now? Canada has elected a liberal leader in a land slide who is so in favour of abortion, he demands his entire cabinet be pro choice. His past experience included being a drama teacher, and smoking pot which he is crusading for to be legal in Canada. An absolute amature. This was a heartbreaker for those of us supporting the conservative government who was a Christian. But I learned that even he allowed abortion to happen in Canada virtually unchecked, and same sex marriage to flourish.
I really think the point is, do not put your trust in the political system of the world, but in Christ. Peering ahead into the future, we can see there is no hope in the political system. This is sad, but we can rejoice in the hope we have in Christ who returns with power and great glory on that blessed day.
#49 Posted by
Jason Hole | Thursday, January 21, 2016 at
Jeremiah is simply saying "the primary means for influencing society and redeeming the culture" is Christ not politics. This doesn't mean that politics can't be a secondary means of influencing the culture.
It's seems like people's reaction to this article is political apathy. Is that really what Jeremiah is saying? This is an extreme deduction that has dangerous implications. The spirit dwells within us and has a restraining effect on the world. Does that happen without actions? Probably. However, God expects actions in our walk too. Do we merely pray for the poor or clothe and feed them?
Joseph was one of the most powerful men in Egypt working directly under the Pharaoh affecting and influencing politics and economics to the betterment of his people. He was put there by God.
Jeremiah also brings up Romans 13 which in this country is hard to follow due to so many conflicting laws. Watch this video on a public news station about FEMA made "clergy response teams" and how they will use Romans 13 to confiscate guns from the American public in the event of a disaster. The law of the land is the 2nd amendment which we must obey. That law is there for the sole purpose of keeping a tyrannical government in check. I'm afraid that well meaning Christians will be fooled into giving up arms because they think bible tells them to. That is where this deduction in part is leading to. There is apathy coming out of this view and people will be hurt as a result of it. I don't want American Christians to regret their indifferent attitudes like the German Christians did!
Please give me feedback and correct me where needed!
#51 Posted by
Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin) | Thursday, January 21, 2016 at
I do agree with you that political involvement can be a secondary means for believers to influence the culture. But I would point out that the political influence we wield is meager and temporary compared to the spiritual influence God has set us aside for in this world.
To put it another way, I'm not arguing that believers should disengage from the political process altogether. I believe we ought to be aware of the issues at hand, and discerning when it comes time to vote. I just don't want to confuse temporal priorities for eternal ones.
As for your other point about Romans 13, I would suggest that submitting to the authority God has put over us should not be so difficult. We need to remember that God's greatest goal is not the protection of our civil rights, and that countless Christians before us lived--and even thrived--under much more hostile regimes and rulers.
Consider Peter's exhortation to believers in his first epistle: Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Peter wasn't referring to a benevolent king or government--he was writing about Nero, the Roman emperor who routinely tortured and burned Christians for his amusement. He waged a vicious war against the church, and Peter was writing to believers in outlying territories who had heard of the persecution, but were not yet experiencing it firsthand. In spite of he horrors headed their way, he reminded them that their submission to that hostile government was actually submission to the Lord.
Christians ought to be less concerned about how the government might infringe on our so-called rights, and more concerned about how to respond to its encroachment, intimidation, and hostility in ways that exemplify Christ and adorn the gospel.
#53 Posted by
Jason Hole | Thursday, January 21, 2016 at
I have found peace in submitting to the Lord in ways that I never could have imagined possible but this is a tough one for me. I've been very encouraged by GTY's ministry over the last ten years and appreciate yours and its commitment to excellence. I'll keep this matter in my prayers and do a more in depth study for wisdom. Maybe you could keep me in your prayers too! Prayer requests?