For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Who's In Charge?

Just over ten years ago I made this statement.  I said that May 17, 2004 will be a date that will go down in infamy.  We always talk about those dates that mark significant turning points in our nation’s history. You may or may not remember the event, but on that date the state of Massachusetts began issuing official marriage licenses to homosexual couples. At the time it was the only state to do so, joining the Netherlands, Belgium and three provinces of Canada as the only major jurisdictions in the world to recognize such unions.

My how things have changed. Today, there are 17 countries worldwide with legalized gay marriage.  And there are now 19 states along with the District of Columbia that have followed, ten of those in just the last 2 years.  And now the Supreme Court has refused to hear any cases on the subject, all but guaranteeing that more states will quickly join. The downward slide has indeed been rapid.  

And that’s just one area in which our nation has rushed as far away from the principles of our Christian founders as we possibly can. All around us we find moral decline and increasing violence and more dangerous schools.  The more faith is removed from the public sphere, the worse things get.  And yet the irony of it all is that the nation as a whole is still consistently and persistently committed to removing all traces of Christianity from the scene.

Years ago David Limbaugh wrote a book called “Persecution” in which he lists example after example of young people being censored in their schools from talking about Christ.  Employees being censored and even fired for daring to discuss God in public.  City after city where lawsuits are filed and thousands of dollars are spent in legal fees over things like prayers and graduations and displays of the Ten Commandments.  A runaway judiciary that thinks it can legislate from the bench regardless of what the people want or even what the constitution says.

I agree that our courts and schools have erred in their interpretation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.  And I believe that many recent events should serve as a wake up call for Christians everywhere to get off their backsides and get involved in our government process; being salt and light as we’ve been commanded. However, I think we need to keep things in perspective.

People use phrases like "Kicked God out of School", or “kicked God out of the public square” and so on.  Honestly, that offends me in a way. Too much doom and gloom and fist raising against “the man” makes me ask the question "Who's in Charge here?” Yes, we’ve failed to recognize God the way we should as a nation, but the truth is: Can the Supreme Court tell God where He can and cannot go?  Can the ACLU restrain God in His activity?  Do you, for a moment believe that God's Sovereignty is surrendered because an atheist throws a fit or a court makes a ridiculous ruling?  Who's in Charge?

The answer is: God is! He is Lord; He is Sovereign; and He still sits on His throne.  No matter what man may do, God is still God, and that has implications for all of these issues.
Scripture reminds us that all authority comes from God. In Romans 13, Paul writes, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Psalm 22:28 says, “For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.”

As an example of that, we can look at King Nebuchadnezzar.  Speaking to the king about the punishment he would receive from God, the prophet Daniel said, “Seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Dan. 4:25)  I actually like the NIV there which says: “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

God is Sovereign, and men who rule do so under His authority. The authority to rule comes from God. That truth goes all the way back to the very beginning. Now, I’m not saying in any way that all earthly rulers have always ruled justly or rightly.  Obviously they haven’t.  Obviously they aren’t today.  But never forget that God is the one true King, and all these earthly authorities will answer to Him.

Over and over in God’s Word we read words of judgment.  I know it’s not a very popular subject these days; not that I guess it was every really popular.  But in recent years we just don’t hear about God’s wrath anymore.  The best selling books aren’t about judgment, but are about Your Best Life Now, and Love Wins, and all kinds of other tripe. People want to hear about how much God loves them and how graceful and merciful He is; which is all true.  But it’s only part of the truth; a half-truth; and incomplete truth.

The other half is that God is also a holy and righteous God.  And His very character demands justice and judgment.  Judgment is one of the most talked about themes is all of Scripture.  In fact, the event that is one of the most often repeated and quoted events elsewhere in Scripture is the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Don’t bring that up to the pro-gay lobbyists.  But like it or not, it’s there.  God consistently and continuously wants to remind us of the wrath poured out on those two cities in hopes of warning us of the judgment to come. And never doubt, judgment is coming.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 says “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  In Joel’s prophecy, God says, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there.” (Joel 3:2)

Jesus himself repeatedly spoke of the coming Day of Judgment.  Romans 2 speaks of “the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)  And Romans 14:10 says, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”  I think you get the idea.  The picture of God on His throne as Sovereign Lord reminds us that from the throne also comes judgment. I once read a quote that said, "A time is coming for all men when they will be either born again, or wish they had never been born at all.” Sobering words, but true words.  God will bring all things to justice

I know it’s easy for us to get caught up in all the garbage going on in this world.  It’s easy to get frustrated by all the foolish political decisions and immoral court decisions and reckless ACLU maneuverings and on and on.  And as Christians we ought to be concerned.  We ought to take a stand for the truth of the Word.  If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know I’m not shy about speaking my mind about moral issues and so on.  We ought to make our voice heard and be salt and light in a dark and decaying world.  It’s part of why we’re here. 

But in the midst of all that, let’s never forget who’s in charge?  Let’s never forget that God is God.  Let’s never forget that we serve a Sovereign Lord who still sits on the throne.  And one day, all these earthly judges, and all these politicians, and all these ACLU lawyers and such will all stand before their king and answer for their actions.  They’ll answer for their use and/or abuse of the authority God has given them. 

And not only will they be held accountable, but so will you and I.  We all belong to Him.  We all have been given the responsibility of managing the resources He has blessed us with; whether it be our jobs, our homes, our families, or our very lives.  He is the owner of it all and one day we will stand before Him to give an account. Which is why we need Christ.  Apart from Him, none can stand in that day.  We need His grace and mercy.  We need His sacrifice.  But even those who rest in that grace are told that we will be held accountable for what we've done in that grace.

So be salt and light.  Speak out against injustice.  By all means pray for our nation.  But don't ever forget Who is in charge.  And be sure that we spend at least as much time focusing on our own preparedness to meet Him on that day.  

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