Go to: => TOP Page; What's New? Page; ROAD MAP; Shopping Mall; Emmaus Ministries Page; Search Page
[This sermon was preached at the Episcopal Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Placentia, CA, on the Last Sunday of Epiphany, February 23, 2009. There are some changes below.
This material is much of the answer to those who object to Jesus Christ in the public arena. Without God it is not possible to have a political structure of freedom. Only God can supply that. So, those who want that freedom in a secular or pagan form want something they can have only at the cost of something they are unwilling to grant -- the sovereignty of God.]
What does 'saved' mean?
It is the term our Protestant friends use to indicate someone who has been saved from his or her sins, who is at one with God. But to put some further flesh on that meaning, being "saved" means two things in particular: that we have recovered the two essential stabilities which we lose when we separate from God in the Fall:
First, our stability of being, our stability as persons, our sense of security as persons, our sense of identity. We know who we are, and that we are secure. We are not merely accidental products of an accidental, random, chaotic cosmos.
And secondly, our moral stability. We know the meaning of life, we know the meaning of our own personal life, we are submitted to that meaning, which is God's purpose for our existence and life. We are intelligently designed.
We know who we are, and we know where we are going. We are ontologically and morally stable and secure. Only that kind of people, united under God, can keep a civil government on a tether so as to keep it limited to the service of the people. Only such a people can keep civil government from becoming their Pharaoh.
And what does "on a Constitutional tether" mean?
Our Constitution was written specifically to keep government small and the servant of the people. Our founding generations had had personal experience with government grown out of control and become oppressive and tyrannical. And they understood, and said, that to keep government small and under control, We, the People, must be a Godly and thus a moral people.
Christians, over the last two centuries have come to believe that religion is a personal thing, and that our concern as Christians is for our personal salvation, not for social or political salvation. No Christian culture prior to the 1800's believed that. Every culture, including our American founders, believed that we are both personally and corporately responsible before God.
We have indeed been ill-served on the right wing by the so-called "Moral Majority" who thought that politically recapturing Washington DC would significantly change things, that if we got conservative political leaders elected, the downhill slide of the West in general and America in particular, could be stopped.
And we have been ill-served on the left wing by so-called "liberation theology", who likewise believe that control of civil government, by leftist instead of rightist types, would bring peace and justice.
Both have ignored the real issue -- which is: "Who is Lord? Who is King? Who has the authority to command us?" Without an authority higher than itself, civil government has no authority whatsoever, only massive power. It has no authority whatsoever on its own. No right to command, only power to coerce.
Our present (perhaps illegitimate) occupiers of the White House are openly murderous, with no shame wanting to give the freedom to kill little babies in the womb, for any or no reason at all, and have it paid for at taxpayer expense. Our present government is amassing greater and greater amounts of power to itself, always at the expense of local government, and at the expense of our personal freedoms, so that it will, if unchecked, have the capacity to exert enormous control over every aspect of our lives, including how we think and believe. We have already lost substantial amounts of our Constitutional protections against tyranny. We are drifting into a totalitarian state.
There are good and faithful Americans working within the system, for which we can be thankful, but the system is slowly making it harder and harder for good people to succeed in a contrary system.
If you think the threat represented by Mrs. Schori (CEO of the Episcopal Church) is terrible, that is nothing compared to the threat of the coercive force of civil government increasingly being aimed at the Christian population. You can walk out on Mrs. Schori. Much more difficult to walk out on your government. Tyrants know that the greatest threat to their overpowering control is an alive Judeo-Christian population. We are targeted.
Some of the most highly trained psychologists in the world (people who know how to change the way you think) are behind the efforts to control the thinking of our people through the government-controlled school system. That is legally criminal behavior, and little is being done -- other than hand wringing by most Christians -- if they are even aware of the problem.
So, how does one save a culture?
What can even Judeo-Christians do about it? Well, not much. But as God informed Moses at the Burning Bush, "If you obey Me, I will topple Pharaoh through you." God is doing that very thing right today in China -- because, by the grace of God, Chinese Christians will not stop talking about Jesus, and because they are willing to lay down the lives to keep talking about Him.
I want to describe for you two worldviews, the Biblical and the Secular/Pagan (Perennial) worldviews, the two final options before us. We all believe some form of one or the other of these two worldviews. The Biblical view has been run from the Western public arena for over a century, and the secular/pagan view has been creating chaos among us during that time, with almost no effective challenge by Judeo-Christian people.
When Whittaker Chambers left the Communist Party in the late 1930's to become a Christian, he said he felt like he was joining the losing side. The Church was in such a shambles already. It was already losing on every front in the public arena. Since then, it has only gotten worse.
I will draw two worldviews, the Biblical and the secular/pagan, as pictures in the air...
The Biblical view which has been run from the public arena can be described quite easily and pictorially. Imagine a Circle which I draw in the air. Here is an open Circle, which is the whole cosmos. This line going under the circle is the Hand of God by which we are created and sustained, and this line pointing at the world is the Voice of God which gives us direction and Meaning. It is an open circle, an open system, because there is communication and exchange between us within the circle and God outside of it.
The Hand and Voice of God are two stabilities built into the cosmos. (1) We are given stability of our being, our personhood by standing (as it were) on the Hand of God.
And (2) we are given Moral Stability by the Voice of God. God gives us our being, our existence (personal stability) and then tells us why we exist, our reason for existence and being. We are here for a reason, specified by Jesus in Matthew 22 as to love God and our neighbor. The universe exists to be a community between God and ourselves, and among ourselves. Holy Communion.
So, we know who we are... And we know where we are going.... No power on earth can take those stabilities away from us -- except ourselves.
Adam & Eve led us out of God's world into this Secular/Pagan world -- off the Hand of God, out of range of His Voice. The secular/pagan cosmos is the cosmos of the Fall, leading to disintegration and death.
The Secular/Pagan view (Perennial) is also a circle - but a closed circle. There is no no Creator outside the circle, nothing at all, no Hand, No Voice
At Center is the YinYang -- the cosmic soup, the unknowable, ineffable womb of all existence and life - out of which evolves all that exists. This cosmos evolves in eternal cycles
Thus there is no personal stability -- only random
chance, always totally at risk
and no moral stability -- no principle of morality at all -- no right/wrong no good/evil
As one jaded teenager said, "There is no right or wrong, only fun & boring" --
He should have added -- 'There are the strong and weak -- and strong will rule the weak -- survival of fittest -- might makes right", i.e. fittest meaning - most powerful, clever, deceitful. Able to control others.
Life is eat or be eaten, kill or be killed, control or be controlled. Life is about power struggle, not about justice, love, peace.
That is the world into which we are re-descending ever more deeply as we return back from the Biblical foundations given to us in America to a pagan way of life and of government.
Would that be of concern to you as a Christian? It is, I can assure you, of concern to God.
In the pagan world, because there is no Creator, only random chance evolution out of an unknown and unknowable mystery, there is no personal stability of being. My being is always and eternally at risk. This world is a sea of trouble, unpredictable change, chaos, interruptions, no possibility of consistent order. I am always at risk, never safe.
And, because there is no Creator, there is also no moral principle, no Voice of God, no meaning or purpose for existence.
I do not know either who I am (my identity) or where I am going (my purpose in life and moral principle). I am myself only a meaningless bit of chaos floating on a sea of chaos, to be swept away by the next wave. That is an unsaved person. A person without hope of salvation.
Without either personal or moral stability, the best I can do is try to make it in the power struggle for survival. Hopefully team up with the winning side -- which changes with every shift of wind. Power struggle is all that is left to a Godless world. So, pagan and secular government will always drift toward centralization and then totalitarianism.
That is the government, in one form or another, we see emerging in every country which is trashing and attacking its Biblical foundations, including the United States of America. But, American is the only nation, so far as I know, on earth which has some significant residue of its former Godly heritage. That is why the American Church is being targeted, from within with apostate leaders, and from without by increasingly and openly hostile civil government.
So, again, how does one save a culture? How can Godly citizens be raised up who can take on the enormous and dangerous task of restoring a Biblical society?
Part of the answer is that not doing so is far more dangerous than doing it. We dare not shirk from the task.
The relation between civil government and Christian religion can be put quite simply:
(1) Without God, civil government is totally without legitimacy. Only God can grant anyone the right to command others. Civil government has no such right by itself.
(2) Only a saved people, only a people whose lives are invested wholly in the law and grace of God, who have submitted themselves to that law and grace, and who are willing to live that way in a contrary world, will ever be able to keep civil government on a tether, on a leash which limits is power and protects the freedoms of the people. That is what our Founding Fathers gave us, and what we Americans have given away.
But there is a way to get it back. It can be done only under the law and grace of God. We must repent of our apathy, cowardice, and ignorance -- and do four things.
(1) Get our own personal spiritual lives back in order, renewing our own personal commitments to the law and grace of God. Jesus warned that if we, the branches, are not grafted into Him, the Vine, that our works will be of no lasting value. Only a person who is grafted into the Vine, into the Lord Jesus Christ, can hold the enormous power of civil government on a tether, so we had better get our own personal stability so rooted in Jesus Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit that no force on earth can shake us, no power on earth can make us back down.
(2) Make our families, not our churches, the center of our spiritual lives. Then we would be bringing converted children to church, rather than waiting for the church to convert them for us. It would change the life of the Church of God everywhere. The rightful role of the Church in raising children is not to take it over, but to assist and to back up with resources.
That means that men must assume once again, their God-given role as the spiritual leaders of their households. It is not enough for us to say that priests must be men, which I believe to be true. The principle of spiritual leadership by the father is basic to God's design for family life. Spiritual leadership is the core of Godly masculinity.
That is not to say that single parent families cannot succeed in raising Godly and mature children. God has other ways of making up for unmet needs in a family, especially in a dedicated Christian community where both mothering and fathering are being done by many persons from outside the family. We help mother and father each other.
But the empirical evidence shows that when the father of a household is a Godly person, that has an enormous influence over the children's pursuit of the spiritual life when the child leaves the family next into independent adulthood. When that spiritual leadership of the father is lacking, the spiritual lives of the children typically drop. When fathers go to Church, the percentage of children continuing on with their Christian lives after leaving the family nest increased from about 10% to about 70%. There are clearly exceptions to that, especially when the single mother is living in a healthy Christian community.
(3) Take back authority over the education of our children, whether or not the state agrees. God gave that responsibility to parents, not to either the Church or the State. We should either home school, or build Godly schools. We must turn our churches into resource centers for home schoolers, and we must restore our parish schools.
Giving away our children to hostile pagan and secular schools has helped to compromise and injure the minds and moral standards of several generations of Christian children. We Christians lose about 75-80% of our children to secularism and paganism because we have not known how to pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ to our children. That is an appalling betrayal and abuse of our children. We have left them vulnerable to the world, the flesh, and the devil. How can we hold the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such low esteem that we do not want to pass on our faith?
There are good and capable persons, Christian and otherwise, who administer and teach in the public school system, protecting their staff and students from the intrusions of a Godless government. But, again, the system is slowly making it harder, so that the good and positive people are waging an increasingly defensive battle to protect their charges from immorality and rebellion against God.
(4) We must recover our knowledge and practice of Biblical government, the kind given to us by our Founding Fathers.
The alleged Separation of Church and State as we hear it has no basis in the Constitution, it has no basis in the Bible, it has no basis in common sense. We have been systematically and deliberately lied to, creating a deluded public, and we have let the liars get away with it.
God owns both Church and State because God is the Creator of the whole cosmos. That is the fundamental foundation of all Biblical theology and worldview. That makes it the fundamental foundation of Biblical politics also. God owns every government on the face of the earth. Any government deliberately not submitted to the law and grace of God is an outlaw government. That may be by reason of ignorance rather than open rebellion, but the negative effects will be much the same.
There is a legitimate separation. Both Church and State belong to God, but they have different tasks, and neither is to meddle in the affairs of the other except under extreme circumstances when one or the other is in serious violation of its place in the economy of God.
We are in that stage of affairs right now. Churches have become apostate, and governments are routinely exerting totalitarian abuse of power. The same evil forces are behind both.
Those four points make a good plan for changing the world. But what kind of person will make that plan work? Only those who begin with the foundation of salvation and spiritual maturity.
What would that look like??? (Voice of the Martyrs, August 2008):
Pastor Nestor Basola was 2 years old in 1982 when the terror begin in his town. The Shining Path [a Communist terrorist group] was forcing young boys to join their army. For four years he ran from place to place with his friends, hiding in houses and caves. A decade later, when the war was over, he and his wife saw the JESUS film in a city park in Ayacucho. They both wept and knelt in prayer. They dedicated their lives to God and returned to the more remote areas to evangelize.
Pastor Nestor told us, "During the rainy season we cover ourselves with a sheet of plastic. With that we go. We do God's work. Sometimes we cannot cross the swollen rivers We carefully wrap our Bible in plastic so they do not get wet. ..... When our neighbors see us reading the Bible, they ask us, 'What are you doing?' We tell them, 'We are looking for Jesus.'
And where is He?' they reply
"'I have found Him in the Bible', I respond and I teach them. I travel to 15 churches and tell them about the times of terror when I was a child. T each them not to go into terrorism, to be good.
"I have to work very hard with my wife every month. We work two weeks for a living, and two weeks we dedicate to doing God's work. Two weeks to eat, get clothes, survive, and the rest of the time is to preach the Word of God. My wife helps me, and now my sons."
One wonders what kind of retirement plan he has.
Twenty two years ago, Peru was in the grip of a Marxist war led by the Shining Path "Maoists, .......
When lay pastor Alejandro Gomez was 28 years old, he ran to help the people in his village who were under attack by the Shining Path. As he ran, his legs were shattered by a mine or grenade.
His young wife, Victoria, and their baby, due to be born the next day, were killed. With his useless legs amputated, Alejandro would lie outside a church in Aycucho and pray.
He sat in his first-floor shoe repair shop and told me, "When I worked shining shoes, I told the businessmen, 'Christ loves you. Christ loves you.' These words came out of my mouth. Before God changed me, I never used to say that. I was too embarrassed. Some of the people came to Christ. Some did not have money. I told them, 'Don't worry.' Since then I have moved up a bit. I am a a shoe repairman now.
"God has blessed me. He has given me wisdom to pray for the brothers from other countries which I have never known: the United States, Europe, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia. I never know where my prayers are going to take me...."
Twice a week, Pastor Alejandro walks several kilometers above Ayacucho up into the mountains to preach and witness for Jesus. His original prosthetics were worn out, so we provided new legs for him.
We will begin to turn things around as we Christians today model our Christianity on that of the saints, those of today, those of 2000 years ago, those from Old Testament times, and all in between. And mostly on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. We are far behind the 8-ball, and it will be a long march back through our institutions, churches, families, and our personal lives to recapture the Church and America for God. But there is no power on earth which can stand against a healthy and mature Body of Christ.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *