In recent days, the Church of England has been in the news as they debated and voted on the admission of women as Bishops in their church. There are reports that some ‘Evangelicals’ stopped, or at least voted against the motion. Also recently, the name ‘Evangelical Christians’ has been used with some disgust and disdain, so what brings this about? Why should the word ‘evangelical’ cause so much trouble?
I checked out the definition and found it as follows (not my words): Evangelicalism de-emphasizes ritual and emphasizes the piety of the individual, requiring him or her to meet certain active commitments, including:
The need for personal conversion, or being "born again"
I also found out that evangelicalism has been around in the reformed church since the 1700s, and has not had a bad press until fairly recently, and I wonder why? Has the church in general changed, or does society no longer have any truck with the type of gospel described by the four characteristics shown above? Perhaps the church has not done itself any favours with some prominent senior figures who now disagree with, or have no regard for some or all of these basic foundations?
Let’s take them in turn (my opinion):
We no longer use words like conversion or being ‘born again’, because although a Bible term, it is old fashioned. There is also the link of these words being used by some TV evangelists in the USA mostly, who have behaved in anything but a Christian way, never mind evangelical.
Some so called learned christians pour scorn on many parts of the Bible, like creation and the virgin birth, so its authority is immediately doubted.
Many now believe that we will all get to heaven if we are kind and live a good life, and is a far cry from the belief in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus as the way to heaven.
Telling your story of salvation is not ‘appropriate’ now, and seen as ramming it down other’s throats, and is frowned on to the point that believers are branded as ‘strange’, or even ‘bigots’.
It looks like the word ‘Evangelical’ has been misused and abused by the very people who should know better. Those people we should be able to trust to carry the Gospel forward, have let us down. So, it is not the word, or its origin or meaning, but what it has become known as by non Christian commentators. Maybe the best thing we can do now, is bear the name ‘Evangelical Christian’ as a real ‘Badge of Honour’ and wear it humbly but sincerely.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1:22-24 NKJV
And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God. 2 Samuel 23,24 NKJV
It’s not a popular view, and very seldom expressed, but if we claim to believe God’s Word, and that it is timeless, we cannot ignore this verse. The latest war between Israel and Gaza is ongoing yet again, and it is impossible not to take sides in the conflict. I have watched many reports and listened to lots of commentators ask the question ‘why’ and there are few answers, but let me ask another question, ‘who’?
Who are the common factor behind all of the following, and others too numerous to list: 9/11 USA Twin Tower and Pentagon Suicide Plane attacks? 7/7 London’s Bus and Tube Train atrocities? Bali Bombing? Pan Am Flight 103 bombed over Lockerbie? Which group are most likely to use suicide bombers against their enemy? (A quick ‘Google’ check will list many hundreds more)
When the question ‘who’ is answered, we are all in a much better position to consider the question, ‘why’. There’s an old quote that says something like, “Do not dismiss the obvious”. Wise words indeed.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 NKJV
We get ourselves into situations when we want to add some light to a situation, but only seem to bring unwanted and unnecessary heat instead. At least I find that I do, maybe unintentionally, but it can happen anyway. Jesus words are clear, He is the light, not us, and we are to be like Him.
Arguments invariably cause friction, or heat and don’t help. A good evenly balanced discussion out of respect can bring light, and isn’t that what we ultimately want? Christians are usually on a hiding to nothing, because our views are now being seen as extreme, intolerant, and so we find ourselves at the edge of society and being marginalised by politicians and in fact anyone who disagrees with our views, no matter how conciliatory or reasoned we try to be.
Recent events have thrown up another problem. There are people who are very anti-Christian, and even atheistic, lying in wait, ready to ambush the unsuspecting pilgrim who just wants to follow his Lord. The internet is particularly well placed to act as the medium of choice for the enemy of the faith. Twitter and Facebook are often in the news for all the wrong reasons, because social media is hijacked by some who have no scruples. Even the simple Blog post can be shanghaied by those who may trawl the internet search engines, looking for a prime target to discredit. So how do we respond to these unwelcome and hostile attacks? The following verses show that we must recognise the work of the devil, and deal with his agents in a civil but steadfast manner, always mindful of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His grace which always covers us.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8,9 NKJV
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. Ephesians 5:8-12 NKJV
But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:16-21 NKJV
Psalm 50 makes for interesting reading, and reminds me of the saying that goes something like: “For evil to prevail, all it takes is for good men (and women) to do nothing”. The Psalmist’s problem was more than being silent, it was that the others thought he was like them! That is at the heart of the problem, for when we stay silent, others think we agree with their thinking, and that makes them happy and content, because they think they have our blessing.
When was the last time you stayed silent in the face of injustice or wrongdoing, or didn’t just moan about something, but broke your silence and spoke up for righteousness and God’s justice to the right people? Not easy is it, but if we don’t speak up against unrighteousness in our land, then who will?
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walkhumbly with your God? Micah 6:8 NKJV
It has been impossible to notice that the United States of America is voting for the man who would be president for the next four years. Obama or Romney, they both think they are the man to bring prosperity to this great nation, and both are happy to tell it at every opportunity. By the time you read this, the elections will be over and I/we won’t have to listen to it any more.
My Mum had a saying she used to describe selfish, proud and egotistical people, and it went like this, “..me, myself, and nobody else..”. Wise words, and this is something I am fed up hearing from both presidential candidates. Oh, it’s not just these two, it applies to politicians in the UK, and can be seen in many high level lifestyles here.
We used to joke about men needing to be ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ and then saying, ‘well two out of three isn’t bad’ and it would usually raise a smile. The prophet Micah doesn’t give us the option that two out of three is good enough. Justice, mercy and humility are all needed. I will be glad when the US election is over, and I don’t see and hear the ‘me, myself, and nobody else’ mantra again, or at least not until we have an election in the UK soon. It is worth remembering that there is a very large army of workers behind all political figureheads, from those who will clean up after the mess, to the security man who will be prepared to ‘take a bullet’ for the proud leader. Our nations do not revolve around one man or woman.
Talking about pride, I will leave you with another thought from Solomon, who was a very wise man: Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NKJV. We like humility in our friends, and we would like our friends to think the same of us, but apparently politicians and humility don’t go together at all. I can’t help but wonder if man’s pride is the root of the failing spiritual condition of both great nations? Just a thought.
I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. 2 Timothy 4:2-5 The Message
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, was given the dubious honour of being ‘Politician of the Year’ by Stonewall, the champion of Homosexual rights. The same group gave Cardinal Keith O’Brien the ‘Bigot of the Year’ award for expressing his opinion against the redefinition of marriage.
So we have an immoral group who are not only out of the closet, but who have locked the door behind them, a politician who leads a group of people not trusted by the ordinary voter, but not just a politician, a leader of a political party, and then someone who expresses a different point of view from the other two. Let’s not pretend that ‘Stonewall’ is a reasonable, balanced and equality based group. The events of the past few days have nailed that lie. The only person who is given bad press, is the one who dares to stand against the tide of political opinion, and to make it even worse, he is the leader of a church. Horror of horrors, that only makes matters worse.
I don’t know about you, but this gives me a problem, because Stonewall have all the major political parties in their pockets. Perhaps not in the same way that all party leaders are homosexual, but they do support the immoral agenda of something the Bible says is clearly and unambiguously a sin (no matter how opponents view it). How should I vote? Should I abstain as a protest? Does it really matter? Scotland has a major vote in 2014 when it goes to the polls to decide on independence. The SNP by that time will have passed a law to redefine marriage in favour of homosexual and Stonewall wishes. Then a year later the UK will go to the polling booths to decide their leadership for the following five years. All of the main political parties have already agreed that the redefinition of marriage will be completed within their term.
Make no mistake, the moral landscape of our once Bible believing nation will change dramatically, and only time will tell how quickly our nation will fall completely. It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. You are free to dismiss my opinion, but I will take my stand alongside Cardinal O’Brien, who I have very little else in common with, but whom I admire for at least standing up and being counted, unlike some other church leaders who are happy to keep their heads down in case they are seen to offend. The Stonewall campaign asks for tolerance, acceptance, and freedom to express their views. It seems this only applies to them, and no one else, but then we were warned about attitudes like this by Jesus who is the truth, in these words:“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 NIV
This Blog was a bit of trouble for me to set down, but today’s Bible verse says it best, and puts God’s absolute sovereignty into the picture. This verse is for me, and I needed the reminder of these words from the apostle Paul, who was under the authority of Rome, and had no vote to cast either:Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1