Will there be politicians in heaven?

Will there be politicians in heaven? Perhaps another way to ask this same questions is: “Can politicians, too, be saved?”

There is a Bible verse in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 8, which raises questions, especially now, during campaign season when the airwaves and Internet are filled with political ads bashing the opposition and grossly misrepresenting the truth. That Bible verse, which describes the final outcome of God’s judgment, reads: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

We read that verse and can understand why God would condemn those who commit abominations and murder. We understand why those who make use of prostitutes will be in the lake of fire. We agree that those who practice sorcery and idolatry will spend eternity in hell. But then we come to that last group who will be condemned: “all liars.”

Since one of God’s commandments forbids bearing false witness against our neighbor (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20) and God clearly says all liars will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death, can politicians be saved?

For so many, their terms in office begin with a lie. They swear on the Bible to uphold the United States Constitution and then begin to violate its clear and plain words at almost every turn in order to gain power, wealth and political ambitions.

And, as I said in the opening paragraphs, can politicians be saved if they lie, twist and misrepresent the truth and smear others? The Word of God tells us where such politicians will be: “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” It won’t matter if they claimed to believe or claimed to be guided by God’s Word.

By the way, we really won’t need politicians in heaven because everyone will be perfect and without sin – no laws and rulers will be necessary.

So, how can politicians be saved? The answer, of course, is the same for all: Repent and believe the Gospel. Put another way, that simply means to acknowledge and turn from sin to Christ Jesus for pardon, forgiveness and eternal life.

That is, after all, what Jesus preached (Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47). It’s what John the Baptist preached (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:1ff.). It’s what Peter and the apostles preached (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19; 20:21; 1 John 1:8 – 2:2). That is also why Jesus suffered, died and rose again – to pay the penalty for all our sins that we might repent and trust in Him for forgiveness and life eternal in His kingdom.

And, if politicians do repent and trust in the Lord Jesus, not only will they be saved, the lying should stop and the truth be clearly spoken.

And, to be fair as a preacher, perhaps I should ask the same question in regard to preachers and pastors? Will they be in heaven? After all, they will be out of a job there, too, because everyone in heaven will know the LORD and know His Word.

Truth is that ministers, too, ought to be concerned about lying and misrepresenting the truth. They claim to speak for God and to be instructing people in the doctrines of His Book – the Bible.

If they purposely alter the clear teaching of the Bible for the sake of earthly gain, power or wealth, isn’t that the same as what the politicians are doing? What if they teach some parts of the Bible and ignore others? Isn’t that a misrepresentation of the truth? And the cost is eternal – souls are misled and lost forever to God’s kingdom.

And, if it is done in ignorance, perhaps because ministers were taught errors in doctrine through other preachers, professors or church bodies, does that excuse teaching falsehood in the name of God? The end result is still just as devastating for the lost and misled.

Ministers have a responsibility greater than any other when they preach and teach because they represent God and are responsible to Him for faithfully speaking His words and not their own. People’s souls depend upon their faithfulness. Ministers are not to preach their own thoughts and opinions, or even those of church leaders and theologians. They are to proclaim the clear and plain words of the Bible. They are not to give their own interpretations of Scripture to the people, but to use Scripture to interpret Scripture for the people.

The Bible says of ministers (1 Cor. 4:1-2): “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

So, can preachers, too, be saved? Will there be ministers in heaven? Only if ministers repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! There is no other way.

And if ministers repent and trust in Christ, not only will they be saved from that lake of fire, we should be able to see the fruits of repentance: great respect for God’s Word, care to preach all of it faithfully, letting Scripture (not church bodies and church leaders, not so-called theologians, not popular opinion) interpret Scripture.

Are our hearts too hard to see?

“And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not [the miracle] of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:51-52 (Read Mk. 6:30-56; cf. Jn. 6:1ff.; Mt. 14:13ff; Lk. 9:10ff.)

Should we be fearful when trouble comes our way? Or should we be amazed when Jesus meets all our needs?

Jesus’ disciples were fearful when caught in a storm as they rowed their boat across the Sea of Galilee. And, when Jesus, who walked to them on the water, entered the boat and the winds stopped, they were amazed. Why? Because they hadn’t considered and grasped the miracle they had just seen: the feeding of more than 5,000 with a few small loaves. Their hearts were hardened and they failed to recognize who Jesus is and to trust in Him, the Bible tells us.

What about us? Are our hearts hardened? Are we fearful when we have bills to pay and not enough to pay them? Or, when we become sick or face death? When troubles come? Or storms? Or threats of war and trouble?

Do we look at things with our hearts hardened? Or, do we remember who it is who is with us always even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20)? Do we say on the basis of hardened hearts, “What are they among so many?” (John 6:9) or do we give thanks and leave the rest to our God and Savior?

Do we not realize that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh? He created all things with His almighty Word and there is nothing too hard for Him (John 1:1ff.; Jer. 32:17). He fed thousands with a few loaves and fish. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, cleansed lepers, made the lame whole and even raised the dead. When He tells us not to worry but seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:25ff.), should we be afraid? Should we be full of doubts and fears?

And when He intervenes and grants us help, healing, strength and all that we need, do we see and recognize His helping hand? Or, are we astonished and surprised when we do see Him at work?

Have we considered what He did for us upon the cross? Do we doubt that all our sins are forgiven? That He gives us to partake of His sacrifice for us? That all our sins are washed away and we are God’s children through our baptism? Consider the price He paid? Consider that it is finished as He said. That in Him we are “accepted.” “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

O Spirit of God, open our hearts and minds to see Jesus, to recognize Him for who He is and to trust in Him and all He has done for us. Grant that our hearts not be hardened, but accepting and trusting of the truth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

What does God work in us through Baptism?

Christian Baptism was instituted and commanded by Jesus when He told His disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach (disciple) 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” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus’ disciples also taught that all people should be baptized. Peter said: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). And Jesus’ disciples baptized those who came to faith in Jesus, at times baptizing whole households (Acts 2:41; 8:12,38; 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:16).

Children (including infants and young children) are to be baptized since they are included in Jesus’ words “all nations” and “every one of you” and “your children.” The Bible also calls baptism a “circumcision made without hands” (Col. 2:11-12), and circumcision under the Old Covenant was performed on the eighth day. No where does the Bible ever say that children should not be baptized until they reach a certain age or that children are innocent and without the need of having their sins washed away.

Nor does the Bible ever specify the mode in which baptism is to be performed. The Greek word for baptize simply means to wash with water, and New Testament usage of the word “baptize” bears this out. Thus, whether one is fully immersed, or has water poured or sprinkled upon him is not an issue.

The true and important issues which the Scriptures teach regarding baptism are the following:

1. Baptism – or applying or washing with water – in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is not man’s work but God’s work – water is applied in His name and He works through it. Jesus said, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19); and “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:10-12).

2. Baptism conveys and assures to us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life which Christ Jesus won for all by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Act. 2:38); and Saul (the apostle Paul) was told by Ananias, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

3. The Holy Spirit works through Baptism to bring us to faith in Christ Jesus, wash away our sins in Jesus’ blood and regenerate us with a birth from above. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8). The apostle Paul wrote to Titus: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

4. Through Baptism, God brings us into a New Covenant relationship with Him whereby we are children of God and have the promises of the covenant; namely, forgiveness of sins and the eternal blessings of heaven. Paul writes to the churches in Galatia: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29). Quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, the writer to the Hebrews states: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:8-12). Later, he writes: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and [having] an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised…)” (Heb. 10:19-23). As circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, so Christian Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant in which we are joined to Christ in His death and resurrection and receive the benefits of His atoning sacrifice; namely, the forgiveness of all our sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom (cf. Col. 2:8-15).

Therefore, we believe that Baptism has been instituted by God to be a means whereby He offers, gives and assures to an individual the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross (Col. 2:11-15; 1 Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:26-29). In Christian Baptism, water is applied (by sprinkling, pouring or immersing) in the name of the Triune God (Matt. 28:19); and through Baptism, the Holy Spirit works to create and preserve saving faith, thus washing away sins and giving eternal salvation to all who believe (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16).

We believe that all people are to be baptized – including infants and children, for they too can believe – and that those who reject Baptism forfeit the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which God would give them through it (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38-39; Luke 18:15-17; John 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 7:30).

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

The Triune God reveals that He is eternal

When the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), it not only tells us of creation but of the fact that in the beginning God already was. The Bible amplifies this even more when it says in the Psalms, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps. 90:2).

Then read Genesis 1:2: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Not only the Father, but the Spirit was in the beginning. He is, by the way, called “the eternal Spirit” in Hebrews 9:14.

Combine this with John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” And so we see that the Word, the only begotten Son of God in human flesh (cf. John 1:14,18), also was in the beginning and is the Creator of all and the giver of life – both physical and spiritual. And the Son, too, is called eternal in Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7.

Therefore, the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal and the Holy Spirit is eternal; and yet there are not three eternals but one eternal God who created the heaven and the earth.

Why does God allow His people to suffer?

“And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed.” Daniel 11:35 (Read Psalm 74)

Before it came to pass, God revealed to Daniel the terrible suffering and persecution which would come upon His people during the Hellenistic Period and the wars between the Greek kingdoms following the death of Alexander the Great.

Not only would there be continual warfare between the Greek kings, the war would spill over into the Holy Land, and God’s people would suffer greatly, with Jews slaughtered and the temple desecrated (cf. v. 15-16; v. 30ff.).

Why would God let His people be persecuted, suffer and even be killed for their faith? Verse 35 answers that with the words: “And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed.” God allowed His own people to suffer and even die for their faith and the true doctrine to test, purge and purify their faith.

And what about today? Could God allow Christians to suffer and even be put to death for their faith as nations and rulers struggle for power and to advance their worldly agendas?

Consider what Peter wrote to the believers scattered across parts of the Roman Empire because of persecution: “…Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…” (1 Pet. 1:6-7; Read v. 1-9; cf. Psalm 74; 1 Cor. 11:19; Deut. 8:2; 13:3; 2 Tim. 3:12ff.).

Persecution and suffering serves to test and purify our faith in Christ Jesus. Those who profess Christ for worldly reasons are rooted out and the faith of true believers is purified and strengthened – focused solely upon Christ and the eternal inheritance He won for us in heaven by the shedding of His holy and precious blood for the sins of all the world.

Should God permit such testing to come upon us, we can rest assured He is working for our good, that we might hold fast to Christ and His Word and take comfort in the salvation He has provided for us with His death and resurrection.

O gracious and merciful God, guard and protect us from all the assaults of the devil upon us and preserve us in the true faith in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

We are called to walk by faith

“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10 (Read Genesis 12ff.)

When God commanded Abraham to leave his relatives and his father’s house and go to a land that God would show him, much more was involved than an earthly inheritance. God was directing Abraham to the land of Canaan in order to bless Abraham and make of him a great nation but also – and even more importantly – to bless all the families of the earth through him. God was directing Abraham to leave behind his earthly ties and go to the land of Canaan that he might be a part of God’s eternal plan to send the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the promised Messiah and Savior of all mankind.

Trusting in God’s promises, Abraham left his homeland and extended family and came to the land of Canaan, where he lived as a stranger and foreigner. Isaac and Jacob, too, sojourned in the land as strangers, believing God’s promises to bless them and make them a blessing to all the families of the earth by sending the Messiah and Savior – Shiloh (rest-bringer) – through their descendants.

Why? They “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” They looked forward to the resurrection and their eternal home with all other believers in the presence of the eternal God.

We, too, are called out of this world to be blessed by God and to be a part of His eternal plan. Jesus, the Messiah and Shiloh promised in the Old Testament, has come and has suffered and died upon the cross, in full payment for the sins of the whole world, and He is risen from the dead. He calls us to come to Him and follow Him and promises us rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30). He offers us forgiveness for all our sins and a place with him in His everlasting kingdom (cf. Acts 3:19; John 3:16ff.; John 14:1ff.); and He sends us out into the world to tell others the good news of salvation through faith in Him (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).

Will you, in faith like that of Abraham, forsake this present world and follow Jesus, trusting in Him for forgiveness of sins and life everlasting? Will you walk with Jesus wherever He leads and directs you to go in this life? Will you, like Abraham, walk with Jesus, looking for an eternal home with God the Father in heaven – “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”?

Dear Messiah Jesus, thank You for coming into this world to take my punishment and die for my sins that I might have forgiveness and life everlasting. Graciously lead me through this life to Yourself and my eternal home with You in heaven. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Is there really an advantage in being a Christian?

“Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” Psalm 73:12-14 (Read Psalm 73)

Have you ever noticed how the unbelieving and wicked prosper in this world? While Christians struggle to survive and are plagued with troubles, the ungodly appear to be blessed with all their hearts’ desire.

Like the psalmist, it would be easy for us to think that we have cleansed our hearts in vain and that there is no reward or gain for following after the LORD and walking in His ways. But consider the rest of the psalm. Though the wicked prospered in this world at every turn, when the psalmist entered into the sanctuary, he saw their end and realized that truly he was blessed. The end of the wicked was coming, and he had the everlasting blessing of the Almighty. God was with him and holding his hand through life.

The psalmist wrote: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (v. 24).

God leads and guides us through life with His Word. He holds our hand and never leaves or forsakes us (cf. Ps. 32:8; Heb. 13:5). And, when we die, He receives us to Himself in glory – all for the sake of Jesus Christ, who suffered and died to pay the penalty for all our sins and rose again in glory!

In this life, the wicked and unbelieving may prosper. We may struggle. They may possess the world, and we may have nothing. But, by the grace and mercy of God, we have God Himself. Through faith in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, we have forgiveness for all our sins, are accepted as God’s dear children and have an eternal inheritance in heaven which can never be taken from us (cf. Gal. 3:26ff.; Eph. 1:3ff.; 1 Pet. 1:3ff.).

With the psalmist we can say: “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (v. 26).

When the unbeliever dies, he leaves all his wealth and prosperity behind in this world and stands before the Judge of all naked and with nothing. He is condemned. When the believer dies, he leaves behind the pain and suffering of this life and stands before the Judge of all the earth clothed in Christ’s righteousness – all His sins have been washed away in Jesus’ shed blood and Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to him. He is received into the everlasting joys of heaven and dwells with His God forever and ever.

As we read in Psalm 17:14-15, the men of the world have their portion in this life and God fills their bellies with his hidden treasure: “they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”

Keep me from doubting Your Word, O Lord, and strengthen my faith that I might not desire the goods of this world which shall pass away but desire and wait patiently for the eternal blessings promised in Your Word to all who place their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and long for the everlasting joys of being in Your presence. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

God puts His name and blessing upon us

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

This is the blessing which God commanded Aaron and his sons to speak over the children of Israel. We often refer to these words of blessing as a benediction because it is the good words of blessing which God has commanded to be spoken over His people.

God also says of these words that in this way “they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” Thus, we see that this blessing is a way in which God’s name is to be placed upon His people; and we see that God Himself has promised to carry out the blessing.

This blessing is a Trinitarian Blessing because the word LORD (JEHOVAH in the Hebrew) is to be spoken over the people three times – once for each person in the Trinity. The threefold blessings also depict the work of the LORD (JEHOVAH) for mankind.

It is the Father who has created and preserves us. “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life” (Luther’s Small Catechism). He also keeps us. “He defends me against all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil” (Luther’s Small Catechism).

In the person of the Son – who is also the LORD (JEHOVAH) – the LORD looks upon us sinners with grace and favor; for Christ Jesus, who is “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary … has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death” (Luther’s Small Catechism). For Christ’s sake, God’s face shines upon us and He is gracious and merciful toward us.

It is the Holy Ghost – also the LORD (JEHOVAH) – who lifts up His face toward us sinners and gives us peace (shalom) with God through the knowledge of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus. He “has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith” (Luther’s Small Catechism). He gives us peace by assuring us that God forgives and accepts us for Jesus’ sake.

In this blessing, God’s name is spoken over us and placed upon us! As in Christian Baptism, where the minister applies water “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and God washes away sins and makes us His own dear children in Christ Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 22:16; Tit. 3:5; Gal. 3:26-27), so also in this blessing, the LORD (JEHOVAH) – the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – does what He has promised to do. God does “bless” us and “keep” us. His face does “shine” upon us and He is “gracious” unto us. He does “lift up His countenance upon” us and “give” us “peace.”

God graciously places His name upon us and makes us His own dear children through faith in the Savior, and He continues to bless and keep us throughout our earthly lives until that Day when we finally partake of the everlasting peace of heaven!

Dear LORD God, graciously grant that we receive Thy benediction in faith and receive the blessings which Thou dost give us for the sake of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Pray that God’s people would repent and look to Him for mercy and understanding of the truth

“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” Daniel 9:13 (Read Daniel, chapter 9)

Have you ever known a church or a church body to admit and confess its sin and seek the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness? Even though they may not claim it to be so, the attitudes and actions of church bodies often give the appearance that they count themselves infallible in their official actions.

Consider what happened to the visible church in the Old Testament – to God’s people Israel. They turned aside from following after the LORD God and from His Word and commandments. Again and again God warned them and called upon them to repent, but did they heed God’s Word spoken to them by the prophets. Finally, God’s judgments spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy (see 28:15ff.) and by the prophets came true and the land was made desolate, the temple and Jerusalem destroyed and the people scatted among the nations.

Daniel recognized from the Scriptures that God was righteous and that it was his own people who had sinned and brought all this evil upon themselves. Thus, He prayed that God would have mercy and forgive the sins of his people and, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21f.), that God would restore them to their land and and to true worship and service of God.

How true this is today as well! Not only have we and God’s people sinned as individuals, we have sinned as churches and church bodies in departing from the Word of the Lord and from true worship and service to the LORD God who has both created and redeemed us!

Instead of faithfully proclaiming God’s Word and calling all to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, we have failed to preach God’s law in all its severity and His gospel in all its sweetness, leaving people with the false belief that God is satisfied with our own righteousnesses rather than directing people to the only righteousness which avails before God – that which is imputed to us through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Tit. 3:3-7; Phil. 3:8-9; Rom. 3:19-26). And, when it comes to teaching all that Christ has commanded us (Matt. 28:19-20), we have often neglected to hold fast to every article of Christian doctrine, often conforming to the world rather than following Christ our head and holding fast to His Word (cf. Eph. 5:22ff.; Rom. 12:1-2).

In Daniel, we have an beautiful example – an example for us to follow in regard to our prayers and petitions to the Lord God. We pray, acknowledging not only our sins as individuals but our corporate sin as a congregation, as Lutherans, as members of Christ’s visible church in this world, even as a nation. We confess our sins and pray that God would pardon our sins and turn us from our iniquities and to a right understanding of His truth. We pray for His mercy in Christ Jesus!

O LORD God, have mercy upon us, upon our churches and upon our nation. We have sinned in turning aside from Your Word and from Your salvation in Christ Jesus. You are righteous; we have gone astray. Pardon our sin and restore us to a right understanding of Your truth, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

It’s time for Christians to come out of the closet

For many years we’ve heard of people being “in the closet” in regard to one moral issue or another. There were closet drug users, closet drinkers, closet lovers or, as used most commonly, closet homosexuals.

The reason people practiced their lifestyles “in the closet” was simply because their lifestyles were not accepted as the norm and because they violated commonly held moral principles based on the Bible.

Sad to say, the tables have now been turned and the lifestyles which were once the exception and practiced secretly and behind closed doors are now out of the closet and practiced openly. And those who would testify to the immorality of such practices are being shoved into the closet with threat of the door being forever locked and the key thrown away.

This is the case, especially, in regard to gay rights and the gay movement in America. Not only has the gay lifestyle come out of the closet, the movement seeks to silence Christians and anyone else who would say with the Bible that the lifestyle is sinful and an abomination condemned by the LORD God. While liberal Christianity (if it can even be called Christian) has abandoned and explained away Biblical teaching on the subject (cf. Matt. 5:13ff.), Biblical Christianity is being badgered into the closet with accusations of hate and intolerance and with legislative and judicial action.

The question then for Christians is when are they going to come out of the closet and stand for the truth of God’s Word? When are they going to stop letting the world shame them into silence and stand up and say what God says?

And what does God say in regard to the homosexual lifestyle, and of other forms of adultery and fornication?

First of all, we must remember that God is the designer and creator of marriage between one man and one woman.

The Bible is clear when it says: “God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:27-28); and “And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:18-25).”

And God forbade adultery and homosexuality. Why? Because it was an aberration of His purpose and design for a life-long union between a man and a woman in marriage. He forbade adultery and lust and called homosexuality and adultery of any kind an “abomination” (Lev. 18; Ex. 20). And Jesus echoed the Old Testament teaching when He spoke against adultery and upheld God’s institution of marriage recorded in Genesis (cf. Matt. 5:27ff; 19:3ff.).

God not only condemned and judged homosexuality and sodomy in the Old Testament (Gen. 19), He continues to condemn and warn against it in the New – along with adultery, fornication, lying and a host of other sins – (Rom. 1:18ff.; Jude 7; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 5:3ff.; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8).

So what are Christians to say? Can we claim to follow Christ and proclaim His Word if we sit quietly in the closet and say nothing of the sin which rages in the world around us? Are we being faithful to Christ’s great commission if we do not call upon all to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and look to the Lord Jesus for mercy and forgiveness (cf. Luke 24:46-47; Matt. 28:18-20)?

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. How can we love them if we do not speak the truth to them and warn them of the coming judgment of God upon all who do not repent (cf. Eph. 4:15,32)?

It’s time to come out of the closet and call sin sin that we might also proclaim the Gospel and offer God’s mercy and forgiveness and healing in Christ Jesus.

Should we keep quiet or speak out? Keep our faith in the closet or come out and proclaim it upon the mountaintops?

Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]