Tuesday, January 06, 2009

As the Church Goes So Goes the Culture

This election year can bring the most stalwart conservative to his knees—but only if basic Biblical principles are forgotten. This section, Second Reformation, is here to encourage the faint of heart by recalling those principles—truths and doctrines taught at the founding of our nation, rooted in the theology of the First Reformation.

One such principle is the close alignment of spiritual and political freedom. A theme hammered by the early Election Day sermons of yesteryear and even by our Founding Fathers. This principle asserts that the two freedoms are inter-related such that the fall of one affects the other. However, this effect is not in a symmetrical fashion, for although a loss of political freedom does affect the spiritual freedom of the church as an organized institution, it never means the loss of that basal and foundational freedom in Christ. In fact, the spiritual freedom in Christ created our American political freedoms. Whenever the spiritual freedom is loss the demise of political freedom is sure to follow.

Evangelical Christians tend to forget this truth—especially the fact that spiritual freedom in Christ is a precursor to true political freedom. We must recall that wherever in life man lives and works, there he is called of God to obedience. He must obey in the liberty of Christ. But if the Christian man is ignorant of the liberty of Christ as found in the Law of Christ, his actions in the culture he lives in will be negligible if not a negative act toward cultural renewal.
The revival of Josiah (2 Chron. 34ff.) began with the king’s repentance after reading the long-lost Law of God. And that Law of God—the Word of God—was found in the House of God—the Church. This brought about a change in the Jewish culture as the idols were torn down—both physically and spiritually. The Church, by the power of the Word of God, was used by the Lord to bring revival.

And this was promised by the John-the-Baptist passage of Malachi 4:4-6. What instrument does the Spirit use to bring the hearts of the children to their parents? Legal laws against homosexuality? Voting the best political leader? All good in themselves but of no avail against spiritual powers! The Holy Spirit used the Church, specifically the ministers of the church (Elijah-John the Baptist) to bring His Holy Word to an Unholy people. Revival—Reformation—comes by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, especially preached.

This preaching theme is consistent in the Bible. The OT had its prophets always bringing the Law to convict the hearts of the hardened Church and the Gospel to redeem the repentant. This is no less true in the NT. Christ’s main mission was not to challenge the political status quo. He neither ran for office nor focused on all the miserable laws Rome enacted. No, He preached to the Church of the Jews. And His apostles followed a similar course. Politics were never lost sight of in the NT (John the Baptist lost his head over it), but the focus was upon preaching truth to a dying world.

The NT Church grew because they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). And that steady diet of doctrine and fellowship brought about a slow but steady transformation of the Roman culture. The Church was a leaven in the culture.

History bears truth to this fact. As the Church waxed and waned so the culture was sanctified or defiled. We need to take back our churches before we can take back our nation. Too many churches preach anti-Reformational doctrines of wealth and prosperity, deliverance by politicking or simply salvation by voting for God. And all of this is because of the doctrinal ignorance that the Barna polls demonstrate over and over again.

What is the lesson? If you want our country back, then support good churches, especially good Reformed churches. Strong political leaders usually come from a culture empowered by manly preaching that offends the effeminate. Too many Christians support weak churches but want strong political leaders. More importantly, a true Gospel preaching—the total helplessness of man and the total sovereignty of God—will bring the nominal Christian population to its knees, if the Lord wills.

Now is not the time to look backwards wistfully on our American past, but forward to reconstructing the churches of God through faith and repentance. Before America can repair her political house, the churches must first get their own spiritual houses in order.


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