Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honoring Heroes of War and Faith

David Virkler's thoughts on Veterans Day 2010 are worth repeating, so we are re-posting them today.

Veterans Day focuses on honoring those who have served our military, many of them giving their lives to defend America in war and peace. Newspapers and TV feature gripping stories of military survivors whose memories recall gallant service and not a few recounting their fellow soldiers’ deaths in tortured battles around the globe.

Formerly called Armistice Day but renamed after World War II, Veterans Day recalls the end of World War I when, on November 11, the armistice became official in a railroad car at 11:00 AM in a French forest in 1918. Many observe a two-minute silence at precisely 11:00 AM each November 11.

As Veterans Day approached, my wife and I realized our outdoor flags had worn out and not been replaced. It would be a tragic oversight not to replace them by November 11. I bought two new flags at our local hardware store - one for our residence and the other for the Dedication Evangelism headquarters building next door.

It took much longer to put up the flags than I had planned, and I was tempted to complain and fret over the delay as other important business was waiting. But then I thought, “Why am I distressed over these few minutes when brave men and women have fought and died so I can live in freedom and preach the Gospel? Shame on me!”

All this eventually turned my attention to God’s memorial passages of the Bible. One is Hebrews 6:10, where we find, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 11 is an entire chapter honoring spiritual warriors who fought the Lord’s spiritual battles in faith. Some were prominent Bible figures, such as Abel, Noah, Abraham and Moses. Others were obscure, remote figures whose life flitted past with scarcely a lingering notice, such as Barak and Jephthah. (Read up on them in Judges 4, 5, 11 and 12.)

All heroes of faith are memorialized in God’s record books, even those who merely frequently fellowship in the Lord. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16 & 17)

Human peace agreements are only temporary given the warring, uncontrollable nature of sinful man. When Hitler came to power to begin WWII and crushed France, French officials were forced to sign a surrender armistice in that same rail car parked in that identical spot in the French forest on June 22, 1940.

However, in Christian theology, our surrender becomes our permanent freedom. Calling on the Name of the Lord brings salvation as Romans 10:13 declares. In Christ we yield and are liberated forever. John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Romans 5:1 reaffirms it: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

November 11 will pass and veterans may be forgotten for another year, but we are never forgotten by “the captain of [our] salvation” (Heb. 2:10). “God is not unjust to forget….”

Dave Virkler

Monday, November 3, 2014

How Important Is Your Vote?

Tuesday is an important mid-term election in the U.S. The results of some key races could shift the majority in the Senate from Democrat to Republican. A number of gubernatorial races are also taking place. State and local races and public questions are also on the ballot.

Christians must pay special attention to some basic issues regarding political involvement, especially as it relates to elections. Understanding these issues will affect the political behavior of each American citizen.

Following are excerpts from the article “Political Q&A” by David Virkler. These are questions that you or others may have asked. The answers may surprise you.

Q: What is the most important “political” verse in the Bible?

I believe the most important “political” verse is Luke 20:25, where Christ said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (see also Mark 12:17 and Matt. 22:21). He could have said to render just to Caesar, thereby endorsing a secular state, to render only to God indicating a theocracy, or to Caesar and God together indicating a church state. However, Christ said to render to each their due indicating that there is a difference between church and state. This is most closely approximated in the United States.

Q: Who or what is “Caesar” in the United States?

In Bible times, Caesar represented the highest political authority. In the United States, the highest political authority is the Constitution. Our constitution makes the people the government. In rendering to Caesar (the Constitution), we give to the common good through personal involvement.

Q: How many social institutions did God ordain?

There are three institutions ordained by God—the family (Genesis 2:21-24), the church (Acts 2) and government (Romans 13:1-7).

Q: Are civil servants ordained ministers?

Yes. In Romans 13, Paul says that “higher powers” are “ordained of God” (vs. 1) and a ruler is a “minister of God” (vs. 4).

Q: On what Bible verse is our three-part system of government based?

It is thought to be based on Isaiah 33:22, where the Lord is called “our judge” (judicial), “our lawgiver” (legislative) and “our king” (executive).

Q: Is it possible to be an American and not be involved in politics?

No. Everyone is involved in politics regardless of whether we vote. If we pay taxes, send children to public schools, drive on public roads, accept police protection, allow ministers to marry with state authority, accept government assistance or scholarships or say the Pledge of Allegiance, we are politically involved. If religious institutions grant state-authorized degrees, place the U.S. and Christian flags together in church or accept tax exemption, they, too, are politically involved.

Q: What are the general Biblical areas of political participation?

The Bible indicates four areas of involvement:

Precedent – God governed as dictator in Old Testament times. Daniel and Joseph rose to high positions in pagan governments. Jeremiah 29:7 enjoins prayer for the well-being of pagan societies that believers might be blessed.

Passive – This is outlined in the previous question.

Prayer – God’s Word commands that we pray “for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1 & 2). “All men” is the electorate. “All that are in authority” includes any elected or appointed official, even those with whom we don’t agree.

Personal – Paul accepted and appealed to Roman protection as a Roman citizen (Acts 21:35) and as a means to evangelism in Europe (Acts 25:10-12).

Q: Does it really matter if Christians vote? Does a single vote count?

Yes! But even if it did not, obedience to God and “Caesar” dictates that we should register and vote.

In his 1981 inaugural address, Ronald Reagan declared, “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

The prophet Ezekiel recounted how one person would have made a difference in God’s judgment of Israel. “And I (God) sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads….” (Ezekiel 22:30, 31)

God thinks one person is important. Shouldn’t we?

Click here to read the full article on our website. Print copies are also available on request.