A Message to the Church in America

The Biblical book of Judges has much to speak into our culture today. Here are some thoughts the Lord impressed upon me as I studied this book.

Are We in the End Times? (Part 2)

By Heather Walton

This is the second article in a series about the End Times. I highly recommend reading this article first.

I enjoy studying prophesy because I love to see God’s plan unfold, and it’s exciting to think that Jesus Christ could come for the church in my lifetime, that I may not actually have to die in order to go to heaven. To think the God may have chosen me to live in this particular time in history is thrilling. In Acts 17:26, we learn that God determines when and where each of us fits into His eternal tapestry. I trust that He has placed me exactly in this time and place for a purpose, and I’ll consider it a bonus if I get to be one of the ones who gets to be taken to heaven while still alive.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV

I have long wondered if I might be part of the generation that gets to be on the earth when the Rapture takes place, but recent world events have brought me to a greater degree of anticipation. Signs of the times have been appearing a long time, and we have been in the “last days,” since Jesus ascended into heaven. But I’m specifically referring to the very last days, the end times.

In Matthew 24, we are told that many people will be taken by surprise, simply living life, marrying, eating, drinking, working, going on with business as usual. And suddenly two people will be working together or lying down together and one will suddenly be gone. Jesus says that the hour he comes will be unexpected, but, like in the Jewish wedding custom, we should be able to tell when the time is getting close for the groom, Jesus, to come get His bride, the church.

Many people are looking hard for certain signs that will only be fully revealed after the rapture takes place, such as the identity of the antichrist or the mark of the beast. While there are some people and things that strongly appear to have the potential to fulfill these prophesies, I don’t believe we will be able to know for sure before the one who holds the man of lawlessness back, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the world via the church’s disappearance from the earth in the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

The spirit of the antichrist has been at work since the Garden of Eden, when Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1)? There are some noteworthy elements of this question. First, he got her to question God. Second, he subtly twisted God’s words, so that there was an element of truth, yet it was mixed with a lie. A truth mixed with a lie is a lie, because partial truth is no truth at all. Third, he took his question to Eve, rather than Adam, probably in part because she hadn’t heard directly from God; this was a way to get her to question God, as well as her husband. Fourth, this question was designed to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness, and to make her feel oppressed.

Satan followed up with, “He knows if you eat of it, you won’t surely die, but you will become like Him, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4). In other words, Eve, honey, He’s holding out on you. He’s oppressing you. In fact, he’s lying to you. He wants to keep all the power for Himself. But you deserve better, don’t you? You know, I have a solution: if you eat this fruit, you won’t die; on the contrary, you’ll be like God, and you can get out from under His oppressive yoke and get what’s due you. Doesn’t that sound good? Come on, darling, just one bite and you can be your own god.

He appealed to her emotions, he lied to her, and he created discontent in her, in order to compel her to action. He created a false gospel that we see alive and well today; he tempted her to believe that she could solve her own problems, in her own power, that she didn’t need God, and that she would not only escape the consequences God had laid out, but would instead be rewarded for going against God’s design. Not all who buy into these humanistic lies are atheists, but they operate in various degrees of functional atheism, depending on human solutions and achievements to solve the world’s problems. This, I believe, is the spirit of the antichrist that is in the world.

The mark of the beast is symbolized by the number 666 (Revelation 13:18). Since perfection in Scripture is symbolized by the number seven, six falls just short of that. Notice that Satan’s lies in the garden were close to the truth, but had a subtle difference, one you would have to be very attentive to notice. The devil is clever, “masquerading as an angel of light” (2 Thessalonians 11:14), and his tactics have an appearance of godliness, yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The doctrine of humanism fits this description well.

While humanism fits the principles of the spirit of the antichrist and the mark of the beast, I also believe there will be a literal man who culminates history by embodying the spirit of the antichrist, being possessed by Satan himself (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18). I also believe that there will be a literal mark of the beast, which people will be required to have in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-18; Revelation 19:20). I believe the antichrist is alive today and ready to step onto the world stage, and the technology to implement the mark of the beast is in development. I don’t know exactly who the antichrist is, or what the mark will be, but I can see several players emerging and multiple technological possibilities.

The books of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 13:1-18) tell us of 10 kingdoms, with 3 dominant kingdoms, and 1 leader emerging. People have long thought these 10 kingdoms are 10 countries, but I would like to propose a different possibility. I believe these 10 kingdoms may be 10 global organizations, committed to bringing about a unified governing body that will solve the world’s problems. There are multiple global organizations working toward a common goal of ushering in world peace, ending hunger and poverty, bringing about health reforms, lowering the population, creating imposed equality, reversing climate change, and creating a united human community. While these may sound like excellent goals, they propose humanistic means to meet humanistic ends.

The United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development goals, the pope’s Human Fraternity initiative, the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” the World Health Organization’s Constitution, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s core beliefs, Babylon Health’s “accessible and affordable health care,” the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation and the World Trade Organization are among the global players with a humanistic agenda. Many, if not all, see needs for global unity and collaboration in order to usher in an era of peace, equity, and health for all people.

The current worldwide health crisis provides an opportunity to advance the agenda of these and other likeminded organizations. The World Economic Forum published an article this week that detailed how the COVID-19 crisis can facilitate a “global reset.”

“We set up a new world order after World War II. We’re now in a different world than we were then. We need to ask, what can we be doing differently? The World Economic Forum has a big responsibility in that as well – to be pushing the reset button and looking at how to create well-being for people and for the Earth.”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/

The global health situation has not actually changed the world, but has revealed what was already going on behind the scenes. Many refuse to see what’s taking place, or they see these initiatives as good. Again, there is an appearance of godliness. The problem is that humanistic solutions provide a false gospel, one that says we can save ourselves. They don’t require that we denounce faith in the god of our choice, even the true God, as long as that faith leaves room for us to also bow down to the gods of human achievement, personal entitlement, and political correctness, to name a few. The problem is that God refuses to share His glory with another. He is a jealous God, requiring our complete allegiance. Just as a loving parent doesn’t consider partial obedience to be true obedience, neither does our Creator consider partial allegiance to be acceptable worship.

Jesus said we are either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Those who are with Him, who truly follow Him, will spend eternity with Him, but those who deny Him or are lukewarm in their devotion will spend eternity separated from Him (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 10:33; John 3:16-18; Revelation 3:14-22). In light of this, we should examine ourselves. The time is short. Even if the rapture doesn’t take place anytime soon, though I believe it will, any of us could die at any time. That’s why those of us who know the Lord need to be intentional and passionate about sharing the Gospel and discipling others (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and who those who don’t yet know Him need to confess their sin, turn from their wicked ways (even though they may seem like “good” people), confess Jesus as Lord, and allow Him to guide their thoughts and decisions from now on (Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Acts 16:31; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:23; Romans 10:9-10).

Whether you’re reading this before or after the rapture of the church, it’s important to recognize that humanism doesn’t solve our problems because we don’t have the control we think we do. If there’s anything these times should teach us, it’s that we are not as powerful as we think we are. The only wise way to deal with this truth is to humbly accept it, and then to accept the grace God freely gives, to worship Him, and to serve others for their good and His glory.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17 ESV

Awakened from Slumber: Thoughts from a Privileged American

By Heather Walton

I grew up in a home that was as colorblind as realistically can be. I didn’t have much interaction with people of different backgrounds; however, I knew that racism and prejudice were unacceptable. I realize that we naturally have biases, and we need to acknowledge that, and at times even to fight against those preconceptions. I owe my mother a debt for her teaching and example. My children do as well, because I’ve been able to model this for them and I am thankful that her views have blessed two generations so far.

While this is a tremendous foundation, I have long tried to understand what I should be doing, beyond seeing everyone in the human race as equal and deserving of respect, as well as teaching my children to do the same. I try to write things that bring injustice to people’s attention. I pray about it (albeit not enough). I try to learn from those who experience injustice and marginalization, but they don’t always want to talk. Maybe they feel it’s futile because there’s no way they can make me understand their experience.

Even so, I know I haven’t done enough. What little I have done hasn’t been sufficient. Most of this is due to ignorance, but I can’t let myself off the hook, because it’s on me to learn. I’ve also been silent at times when I needed to speak up. Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight. For these things, I apologize.

Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight.

It’s hard to know what to do, because I know that whatever I do to try to do may offend someone. I might do it wrong. I might inadvertently be insensitive. I might have the opposite effect than I intend. I realize that’s a possibility even in writing this article, but I am risking it, in the hopes that it will make a difference for good. That’s why, if you’re a person of color, I need you to educate me.

Last night, I accompanied my daughter to the protest in our city. That may seem crazy, given that the night before there were shots fired. But in hopes that the protests would be peaceful, and because, even though she’s an adult, I’m still a momma bear, and because I really do want to show solidarity, I rode along. However, we didn’t make it to the protest because as we were walking toward it, teargas was deployed. Don’t get me wrong: teargas doesn’t scare me; I was in the army and have been gassed. I’m not eager to experience that again, but I would do it to defend injustice. I knew it was in response to violence, though, and I do not want to be a part of that if at all possible.

My daughter tried to explain to me why violence may be necessary, and I’m trying to understand. I think I get it to some extent: People say they’ve tried to get our attention — those of us who are privileged — by peaceful means, but we didn’t listen. Sometimes when people aren’t heard when they ask quietly or respectfully, they feel the need to talk more boldly or loudly. I can understand that, but at the same time I can’t.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that, and “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate… Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”. Book by Martin Luther King Jr., 1967.

Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Many who have been discriminated against or otherwise been the recipients of injustice may not feel like we live in the same house. But I have to ask, what happens if we destroy ourselves from within? And what can we do to prevent this? These are genuine questions. What ways can a privileged American make this situation better? For those of us who want to know, we value the input of those who have experienced racial injustice. And the only way for us to truly know is for you to tell us.

I welcome your comments.

A Conflict of Liberty?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

There is a divide in the church today. Unfortunately, this statement could likely be made at any time in history past, present, or future, until the Lord returns.

I just read an article about a local megachurch, in which they had taken a survey of their members. According to the pastor, there was about an equal split between members who believe they should meet in person immediately, those who think they should wait the situation out a little longer, and those who believe they should wait till there’s a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Right after reading that, I read a post from a Christian leader who believes it’s cowardly for pastors not to immediately open, especially given that the President said he supports churches opening right away, even though some governors have kept them closed or placed lots of restrictions on them; she was discouraged that many pastors elected to remain closed.

Our small church did open today, allowing for following CDC recommendations, while not demanding churchgoers follow these protocols. We had some folks in attendance, as well as some watching online.

Christian seems to rise against Christian, some claiming we need to stand up for our rights, while others say that doing so violates Biblical principles. While I agree that the Bible trumps the Constitution, I also would posit that the Constitutional framers did so with Biblical principles in mind. Initially I asserted the view that we should lay down our First Amendment rights for the greater good of protecting our brother from harm; however, I’ve appreciated some contrary perspectives, and, while I don’t claim to have a perfect answer, I want to propose consideration of these thoughts:

  1. If someone slaps me on the right cheek, I can offer him the left; however, if someone slaps all of us on the right cheek, or if slapping me on the right cheek could lead to abuse of others, I should strongly consider standing up for our collective rights.
  2. I should examine my motives; if I’m driven by fear, greed, unrighteous anger, or any other sinful attitude, I should reconsider my position. Once my motives are pure, then I need to establish the best plan of action and follow it.
  3. What precedents are we setting by allowing our Constitutional rights to be infringed upon? How will our response impact future generations? We need to be wary of giving up rights that our God-fearing forefathers and generations of military members secured for us, many of them giving their lives, and all of them being willing to do so. More importantly, we need to prayerfully consider what is worth giving up the freedoms for which Christ set us free. We have been commanded not to be subject again to a yoke of slavery. The enemy of our souls can make a very convincing argument, and we need to be vigilant and discerning, lest we be led astray.
  4. What effect do our actions and inactions have on those who witness them? What will most glorify God to the watching world? There is a prevailing thought that Christians need to be compliant, docile, and unassuming at all times. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Some people believe that, since Jesus was described as meek, we are not to assert ourselves. However, meekness isn’t weakness. Meekness is power under control, not a lack of power. Jesus stood up against oppression and injustice. He spoke out against the Pharisees, who placed unbearable yokes on others, and against the moneychangers, who took advantage of others. He did not gloss over sin, but lovingly confronted transgressors. Should we not follow in His steps?
  5. How has our culture shaped our view of what it means to be loving? Is being nice the same thing as being kind? In this era of political correctness, we have been brainwashed into trying to please everyone and to avoiding actions that may offend others. To love another means to want his or her best. I would never condone shaming someone who doesn’t feel comfortable returning to church, to work, or to society because they are in a high-risk group; we are called to prudence. However, if we give the impression that the only way to be loving is to watch church at home, to keep our businesses closed, to wear a mask everywhere, and to support the governing authorities’ every decision, we may not be giving the full picture. Isn’t it also loving to visit the sick (provided we are healthy and not caregivers for others in a high-risk group), to contribute to our neighbors’ livelihoods by utilizing their businesses, to contribute to society with meaningful work, to uphold truth, to confront error, and to preserve our countrymen’s God-given rights?
  6. Do our actions show favoritism to any person or group? It seems that we are listening to the counsel of some medical professionals but not others. There are plenty of solid medical personnel, some of whom use conventional medicine and others who use alternative methods, who say that the recommended measures are inaccurate and even counterproductive. Even though many are using recent data or reliable research to verify their stance, not only are they being discounted, many are effectively being silenced, because their recommendations don’t fit the prevailing narrative put forth by many in government and the mainstream media. We also seem to be showing favoritism to those vulnerable from a health standpoint, to the exclusion of those vulnerable from an economic or spiritual standpoint.
  7. What is the highest authority in our country or state? It is not the president or governor, and it definitely isn’t any worldwide organization or philanthropist. The Constitution guides our government, and the government is “by the people, of the people, and for the people.” Who are the people? The citizens of this country. When governors, presidents, legislators, or judges violate the Constitution, we need to question whether obedience is necessary. If we follow the Constitution, we are not breaking the law, even if we are told that we are.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a masterpiece of logic, morality, and theological exposition, as applied to the issue of segregation is the source of the famous words, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Do you know the audience of this letter? Dr. King addressed this apologetic for “civil disobedience” to white pastors who thought he had gone too far by encouraging his followers to break the law. He echoed Augustine, saying that an “unjust law is no law at all.” He said that a just law is in harmony with moral law, that any law that degrades human personality is unjust. We must ask ourselves if quarantining the healthy is in harmony with moral law. We must consider whether destroying people’s livelihoods, keeping them from attending church, and imposing social isolation, especially in the midst of compelling evidence that this virus isn’t a serious threat to otherwise healthy people, is the correct coarse of action.

Pastors and other Christian leaders are called to be countercultural. We are to obey the authority placed over us, but in this country our highest authority is the Constitution, which was primarily written from a Biblical worldview. The Apostle Paul appealed to Caesar in the face of injustice; in America, the equivalent would be to appeal to the Constitution. Our Constitution says that nobody should prohibit the free exercise of religion, of speech, the press, or the right to peaceably assemble (Amendment I). Furthermore, “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amendment XIV).

Some of you live in open states, and may wonder what all the fuss is about. Churches in Washington State and Minnesota have unjustly been kept from operating, and many still fear government reprisal. This morning, the Chicago mayor was reported to have sent police to shut down a church gathering in her city. Churches, daycares, and small businesses in Kentucky have far too many restrictions to practically operate. Everywhere the mainstream media mafia perpetuates fear and censors informed citizens in an attempt to control the narrative.

Christians, we must not be silent. Pastors, part of your calling is to admonish the flock according to Scripture and to equip us for participation in all spheres of life, including the media and the government. Please challenge us to speak into the culture, rather than to assimilate. Please give us permission not to be nice, but rather to be holy and effective at fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Please activate us in the spiritual war that has the whole world in its grip. Please don’t sit down and shut your doors. Please don’t bow to those who rule unjustly, no matter how “well-intentioned” they may seem. Please bow only to God, and refuse to allow His commands to be twisted into irrelevance.

In the words of Dr. King, “it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends … it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” Let us be neither complacent, nor arrogant. Let us not use our liberty as an excuse for sin, but also let us not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. We were bought with a price. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Let us walk in that freedom, for the good of our country and our fellow countryman.

We Have Sinned

sad woman 1Dear Lord,

You have said, “If my people, which 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).”

Father, we, your children, have sinned. We, the church, have abdicated our responsibility to speak into the culture, preferring to blend in instead. We have allowed the religion of secular humanism to infiltrate our culture. We have allowed our children to be carried off to “Babylon,” a culture that says, “I am, and there is no other (Isaiah 47:8).” We have allowed ourselves to become complacent and entitled, believing that the world exists to serve us. We have devalued human life of many kinds, allowing the unborn to be slaughtered, the immigrant to be mistreated, those of other races to be abused, and the disabled to be devalued.

We have voted for people according to economics, rather than character. We have taken your Word and prayer out of our schools and the public square. We have given lip service to prayer. We have neglected to disciple our children according to your Word.

We have forgotten our first love, and have grown cold and self-absorbed. We have bowed down to many idols, including money, power, ease, comfort, and pleasure. We spend more time on our phones and computers than on in-person relationships. We have allowed our society to become sexualized and violent. We see people as objects. We play games, watch movies, and listen to music full of sex and gratuitous violence. We waste much of our time on mindless entertainment. We have allowed our children to absorb it all.

We lie to one another, cheat each other, steal from each other, and talk badly about each other. Instead of going directly to each other in loving confrontation of sin, we gossip and slander. We justify ourselves under the guise of venting or making prayer requests.

We no longer value marriage and family. Instead, we stand by and watch as others trample these institutions that were entrusted to us by God. We worry that if we speak up we will seem intolerant or culturally irrelevant.

We shrink back from boldly declaring your Word, and blindly believe that we must not speak up because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” We prefer to offend You, our creator and just judge, rather than risk offending our fellow man. We turn a blind eye to others who claim to be Christian while living like the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the design of secular humanists, and have given the sleeping potion to our children by allowing them to attend schools that teach them that You don’t exist, or that if you do, You are irrelevant. We have allowed them to be given atheistic sex education and taught that they descended from primordial goo. We have allowed them to be programmed to follow their hearts and to do whatever makes them happy, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” What about You, Lord? Sin hurts You. You gave us Your Son, who lived perfectly and died a horrific death for these very sins. His death and resurrection alone save us, yet we flippantly allow His Name to be used as a common curse word. We don’t even flinch anymore when Your Name is taken in vain.

We have forsaken Your design for marriage. We have created unstable families for our children. We have preferred to make a name for ourselves than to invest personally in our children. We have not corrected our children’s disobedience.

We have created idols of athletes, actors, musicians, and philanthropists. We have enthroned people who have money, power, and influence, regardless of their faith, values, or actions. We have dismissed scandals in our leaders, because we idolize the economy and pragmatically vote for Supreme Court nominations. We overlook character defects in favor of policies. We have created false messiahs in our government officials. We have not called those into account who claim to follow You, minimizing their sin, because we believe they are benefitting us.

We sit by, fattening ourselves up on our riches, while much of the world lives in unfit conditions, and many are marginalized, mutilated, and slaughtered. We believe we are entitled to live long and prosper, neglecting to consider that much of the world truly must pray for their daily bread. We believe we deserve honor and abundance while others languish in life and die without Christ.

We have bought into the lie that government can solve our problems. We have tried to treat this worldwide crisis as something we can solve with the right brain power, techniques, policies, and vaccines. But we cannot! We need you to heal our land. We need you to heal the coronavirus, but more than that, we need you to heal our pride, our obstinacy, our apathy, our faithlessness, and our selfishness. We need you to heal our families, our government, our schools and our churches.

I need You to heal me. We all need You to heal us. We are so independent, self-sufficient, and content in our sin that have a form of godliness but we deny your power (2 Timothy 3:5).

You have said, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (James 4:2-3).

Lord, where our motives are tainted, purify us. I pray for a revival, the likes of which the world has never seen. I pray that we would wake up from our slumber so that the “new normal” we keep hearing about is Your new normal. I pray You defeat the enemy and his purposes, that many more may come to know You and to glorify Your Name. I pray you have mercy on us for our great sins, for the sake of those who don’t yet know you, and for the sake of Your glorious Name.

You are the Great I Am, the First and the Last, the Living God. We are your people. We humble ourselves. We ask you to heal our land.

On behalf of the church in America, I ask this in Jesus Precious and Holy Name, Amen!

If you would like to add to this prayer, you may post it in the comments. Any other comments will not be posted, as this is a prayer addressed to the Lord. This post is not for airing opinions or arguments. If you do not know the Lord and would like to turn your life over to Him, and have questions about that, or want to leave a comment for me, please fill out the contact form below.  

 

Obedience and Justice: An Open Letter to All Who Follow Jesus Christ

20170804_163841Dear Church,

There are many opinions and divisions today among us. Some of them are due to personal preferences and simply illuminate the diversity of the people God created. Others simply should not be. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29)”

As those who profess Jesus as Lord (meaning master, one who is in charge), we should strive to live as He lived (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus gave up His rights when he became man (Philippians 2:5-11). He did so for our benefit. We also should be willing to give up our rights for the benefit of others.

I should not exert my rights simply because I can. However, I am called to fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for theirs. I am called to stand against injustice (Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 24:11-12; Nehemiah 4:4-5; Psalm 94:1-7, 20-23; Isaiah 10:1-3; Revelation 6:10). Sometimes that means participating in civil disobedience.

I know that there have been many in the Bible and church history who disobeyed the earthly authorities, but it was because the alternative was to disobey God. So I have to ask, with each executive order and law issued in our state and in our country, am I being asked to disobey God? For example, I don’t think I’m being asked to disobey God to wear a mask, but I may very well be disobeying Him if I don’t sing in church (Ephesians 5:19). As much as I don’t like the thought of it, I don’t think I’m disobeying God to submit to a temperature check, but I definitely believe I would be disobeying to take a vaccine that was developed with fetal stem cells and/or was accompanied by a chip, mark, or other detection system.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t protest and petition the government, because I think we should, but I know we are to do it respectfully. I see too many Christians being disrespectful to governing officials. We are called to kindness (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). We are called to submission, so that we may glorify God to the unbelievers (“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12). We are told to be unified as believers and to let our gentleness be known to all, because the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5). I believe He is very near. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I’m definitely open to insights about all of this. I know I don’t have all of the right answers, because I’m fallible and because this question is downright baffling. Experts don’t agree and the Bible doesn’t specifically address our current situation. I hope that, in the midst of our varying perspectives, we can be united as believers, because the world is watching.

In Christ’s Love,

Heather Walton

 

 

Judge not … ?

20200514_145222By Heather Walton

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

This is probably the most well-known verse in all of scripture. Why? Because people inherently like to justify themselves and their behavior. If a Christian confronts sin, this Bible verse inevitably glides smoothly off someone’s tongue in hasty rebuke, in an attempt to shame the messenger into silence. How dare you? is the implication. Don’t you know Jesus told us not to judge one another? We all sin; you just prefer your own brand of sin. 

Here’s the problem with that logic: Most people know the first part of Matthew 7:1, and some know all the way through the end of verse 3, but many neglect what comes next:

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5 ESV)

Notice here that Jesus said to remove your own log, meaning do everything you can to be right with God and free from sin (albeit not perfect), and then yes, remove the speck from your brother’s eye. So if you have some glaring sin problem in your life (log) then get that straight before criticizing your brother for a smaller infraction (speck). So Jesus wasn’t, in fact, telling us we are not to judge at all, but that we’re not to be hypocritical, which in the Greek carried the idea of acting. In essence, I’m not to live a phony life, acting the part of a Christian, while I have this glaring area of sin in my life, and then call a believer out for some small behavior that pales in comparison with my own issues.

In Matthew 18, we’re told to confront our brother or sister who is caught in sin. We should do so first between the two of us, next with a witness, and lastly we should bring our concern to the church. (This doesn’t apply to every situation, by the way, but it does to most.) This passage is for dealing with a brother caught in sin, which could mean they wronged us personally or that they simply were, as the text states, caught in sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, believers are specifically told to judge those inside the church who are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, idolaters, revilers, drunkards or swindlers. Paul stated that God would judge those outside the church, but commanded Christians to hold one another accountable. He went so far to say, “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13b ESV). Believers were not even to eat with someone who called himself a Christian, yet had blatant sin in his life.

It is a lie from the pit of hell that we are not ever to judge anyone for anything. As Christians, we should not be shocked when an unbeliever lives a sinful lifestyle. We should instead lovingly show him the truth and share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), challenging him to accept Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-11), and discipling him toward a Biblical lifestyle (Matthew 28:18-20). However, when someone claims to be a Christ-follower, we are commanded to lovingly and truthfully call him out, not out of self-satisfaction, but out of love, out of a desire for his benefit, that He may repent for his good and God’s glory.

This is not comfortable. I have found myself needing to confront brothers and sisters on multiple occasions, and I never enjoy it. I generally feel some anxiety over it. I do it because I must. On a handful of occasions, I’ve spoken out about public officials’ behavior. (I’ve written about officials on both sides of the aisle.) I know these people already have been confronted about their sin, yet they continue. I do not expect these types of posts to go over well with everyone, yet I share them, believing God wants me to speak up about injustice, rather than to stay silent.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?” 
(Proverbs 24:11-12)

In Ezekiel 3, the prophet was told to be a watchman for Israel, delivering messages to those whom God directed. He was to warn the wicked and the righteous if they were not in God’s will, to change their ways. If he did, and they didn’t listen, he would be blameless, but if he shied away from sharing the truth that God told him to share, he would have their blood on his hands.

Therefore, when God lays it on my heart that I’m to address someone about sin, I know I shouldn’t shy away. I don’t like doing it, but there’s nothing in Scripture that says I’m only to do what I feel like doing. Knowing others will judge me, as they tell me not to judge, I do it anyway, in obedience to the Judge who is above all judges, and with whom I will spend eternity.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

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