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Though most do not see it, we as believers in the 21st century are in grave danger because pastors and church members fail to hold fast to Christ and His Word. What follows are just a few of the dangers currently threatening churches and believers.

1) Mixed-up priorities — Each and every one of us is a sinner, and we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell if we neglect the salvation God offers and gives through the promises of His Word and Sacraments; and yet we pay little heed. We neglect God’s Word and we fail to partake of His Sacraments.

a) This is evident in that sporting events, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and even doctor’s offices are full but churches in which the truth of God’s Word is proclaimed are empty. This reveals how so many see little need or benefit from the care and nourishment of their souls.

b) Jesus called upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel of forgiveness and life in His name (Mark 1:14-15; 16:15-16). He said in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

2) We take sin lightly — both pastors and church members fail to recognize the dangers of sin. Those calling themselves Christians continue to live in open and willing disobedience to God’s Word, recorded for all to read in the Bible, and pastors say nothing even though the end result is death, spiritual and eternal.

a) The Bible warns in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.”

b) Hebrews 10:26-31 says: “For if we willfully continue to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who despised Moses’ law died without mercy in the presence of two or three witnesses. How much more severe a punishment do you suppose he deserves, who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant that sanctified him to be a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine,’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay.’ And again He says, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

3) Both pastors and people underestimate the enemy. We are opposed by the devil, the world, and even by our own flesh. Yet, we are willing, even delighted, to dabble in sin — to hear and spread gossip, to view sexually suggestive images in print or on TV or our electronic devices, to entertain evil thoughts and desires, to give in to the weaknesses of our own flesh or the temptations placed before us by the world.

a) Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Paul warns in Ephesians 6:12: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Cf. Ephesians 6:10-20.

b) Sin easily deceives and entangles us, and it brings about spiritual death and damnation. The writer to the Hebrews says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). James includes this warning in his epistle, in chapter one, verses 13-15: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death.”

c) Our own flesh is corrupted by sin and deceives us, as Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked.” Our flesh desires and longs to indulge in sinful pleasures. Paul describes its corruptness in these words: “Now the works of the flesh are revealed, which are these: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

4) Pastors fail to preach against sin as sin and warn of the consequences of sin, that their hearers might repent and take comfort in the Gospel. Pastors and churches say nothing against (and sometimes even endorse) such things as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, transgenderism, drunkenness, drug abuse, gossip, etc., etc., etc.

a) Pastors are to administer the office of the keys, forgiving the sins of penitent sinners and retaining the sins of the impertinent as long as they do not repent. This means that pastors are to rebuke as sin all that the Bible calls sin, and pastors are to proclaim God’s promise of pardon and forgiveness to all who repent and look to God for mercy in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus said to His apostles in John 20:21-23: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.’” Cf. 1 John 1:3ff.

b) Pastors are responsible for warning God’s flock when they fall into sin or error. In the book of Ezekiel, in chapter three, we read these words: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel. Whenever you hear the word from My mouth, then warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity. But you have delivered your soul” (v. 17-19; read v. 16-27)).

5) Pastors fail to preach the promises of the Gospel to penitent sinners that they might hear and take comfort in the forgiveness, pardon, and life eternal won for them by the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross (cf. 1 John 2:1-2). So often because pastors fail to preach against sin and its consequences, they also fail to preach Christ crucified as the only hope for sinful people. Pastors sometimes prescribe human works and efforts as a solution to sin, leading to utter failure. And, sometimes, pastors, fail to offer any Gospel comfort at all, leaving troubled souls to despair. We have an example of this failure in the words of the chief priests and elders of Israel to Judas after he recognized his sin in betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3-6): “When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? You must see to that.’ So he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed. And he went and hanged himself.”

6) Both pastors and Christians imagine that they can preserve and maintain their own faith apart from the regular hearing of God’s Word and reception of the Sacraments. Yet, the Bible clearly tells us:

a) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17); and “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

b) St. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17: “But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them, and that since childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul commands Timothy as a pastor to: “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

c) Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.”

7) We neglect to encourage one another with God’s Word and pray for one another. Yet God’s Word urges us:

a) “Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much” (Hebrews 10:25).

b) “Brothers, if a man is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, watching yourselves, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2; cf. Matthew 18:15-18).

c) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

In summary, we Christian pastors and church members need to wake up and get serious about God and the teaching of His Word. We need to acknowledge our own sinfulness and weakness and be aware of the constant threats against our souls coming from without through the devil and others around us in the world, as well as from within because of our own sin-corrupted hearts. We need to cling to the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word and the right administration of the Sacraments that we might continue to repent of our sins and take comfort in the Gospel of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of all upon the cross.

Hold fast to Christ Jesus and to the true teaching of His Word!

Pastor Randy Moll
Good Shepherd Ev. Lutheran Church in Rogers, Ark.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

1. Why do we study the Bible? What does it teach us?

2 Timothy 3:14-17: But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them, and that since childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 Peter 2:2-3: As newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow, if it is true that you have experienced that the Lord is good.

We study the Bible because it is the inspired Word of God and it teaches us about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the study of the Bible, we learn the true doctrine and teaching of God, and we are taught how to walk in His ways.

2. What is unique and special about the Bible?

2 Peter 1:19-21: And we have a more reliable word of prophecy, which you would do well to follow, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of the Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. For no prophecy at any time was produced by the will of man, but holy men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

1 Corinthians 2:13: These things also we proclaim, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

2 Samuel 23:1-2: The oracle of David the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the favorite psalmist of Israel: The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.

The Bible is special and unique because it is God’s Word to man. It was not written by the will of man. God Himself moved men to write and guided and directed them in the thoughts they expressed and in the words they wrote.

3. Does the Bible have mistakes and errors in it?

Proverbs 30:5: Every word of God is pure.

Psalm 119:160: Your word is true from the beginning.

John 17:17: Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

John 10:35: The Scripture cannot be broken.

All that the Bible teaches and says is true because it is inspired by God Himself and is His Word.

4. Has the Word of God been corrupted or lost?

Psalm 119:89: Forever, O Lord, Your word is established in heaven.

Isaiah 40:8: The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.

1 Peter 1:24-25: For “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” This is the word that was preached to you.

Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:35: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

Not only did God give His Word by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He has and continues to preserve His Word as a true and faithful witness to all the people in the world of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

5. What does God say about changing His Word — adding to it or taking away from it?

Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor shall you take anything from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Proverbs 30:6: Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.

Matthew 5:18-19: For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one dot or one mark will pass from the law until all be fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Revelation 22:18-19: I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City and out of the things which are written in this book.

Jeremiah 23:28: And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.

God forbids us to change His Word — to add to it or to take away from it. We are to speak and teach it faithfully. For this reason, we use great care to teach nothing more and nothing less than what God has revealed to us in the Bible. And we seek to use translations of God’s Word which are fully faithful to those texts which God has preserved and which have been widely used by the churches down through the centuries.

6. What use should we make of God’s Word?

Luke 11:28: Indeed, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.

Psalm 119:97: Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

We should read and study the Bible, learn its teachings and meditate upon it because it is God’s Word to us and reveals our sinfulness and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. It also teaches us how we ought to live, as believers, in service to our God and Savior.

Look in the front of your Bible at the listing of books there. You will find our Bible has a total of 66 books — 39 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books. Memorize these books of the Bible in order so that you can easily find them when studying God’s Word. Also, memorize the Bible passages listed above — memorize them all if you can — for they are God’s Word and will help you learn of Him and grow in your faith in Christ Jesus.

SUMMARY
We believe that all of the Bible, and each and every word of the Bible (the 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament canonical books), were given by inspiration of God and are, therefore, the true and unerring Word of God (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Samuel 23:1-2). We also believe that the Word of God has not been lost or corrupted but has been faithfully preserved by God down through the centuries as a witness to all the nations (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:25; Matthew 24:14,35). We believe that it is still accurately recorded in the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Majority (or Received) Texts and that it can be read and studied in faithful Bible translations, such as Luther’s German Bible, the King James Version, the Modern English Version and the New King James Version of the Bible, and other faithful translations. We discourage the use of texts and translations of the Bible which are unfaithful and thus corrupt the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 23:28; Matthew 5:18-19; Revelation 22:18-19).

Since all of the Bible is God’s true and unerring Word, we teach that the Bible is to be the source and judge of all Christian teaching. What is not in accord with God’s Word is not to be taught as Christian Doctrine (Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 23:28-32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 17:11). The Bible is also its own interpreter; thus, passage interpretations that are not in agreement with other clear passages of Holy Scripture are to be rejected (2 Peter 1:20-21; Isaiah 8:20). We teach that the Bible is to be diligently studied and heard; for it reveals to mankind the only way of salvation, which is through faith in Christ Jesus, and it guides the Christian in living according to God’s Holy will (John 5:39; 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 119:105).

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Psalm 121 is one of the Songs of Ascents — the psalms which were spoken or sung by the people of Israel as they went up to the temple in Jerusalem to worship on feast days.

1. Where do we look for help? Where was the city of Jerusalem located? What was in Jerusalem? Whose presence was sought in the temple at Jerusalem? (Remember that this psalm was used as the people ascended the hills of Judea to Mt. Zion and the site of the temple where Jehovah God served His people through sacrifices for forgiveness and with His holy Word.)

2. Who is the LORD (Jehovah God) who was worshiped at Jerusalem? What did He create?

3. Cf. Psalm 96:5 and Psalm 115:2-11. How is the LORD God so much greater than the gods worshiped by other peoples and nations in the earth?

4. How is it comforting to have the God who created the heavens and earth as our Source of help? Cf. Nehemiah 9:6 and Jeremiah 32:17.

5. What does it mean when the psalmist says that the LORD will not allow our foot to be moved or to slip? Where do we regularly pray for this? Cf. Matthew 6:13.

6. Is there ever a time when the LORD will not be attentive to our prayers? Why not? Cf. Isaiah 65:24.

7. Why can we come to the LORD God in prayer? Cf. 1 John 5:11-15.

8. What does it mean when it says the LORD is our Keeper? Cf. Daniel 5:23; Acts 17:23-28.

9. How is the LORD our shade? From what does He protect us? Cf. Psalm 91:1-8.

10. How does He protect us from all evil? Cf. Psalm 91:9-16. When things which appear evil happen to us, how does the LORD use them in our life? If God allows us to die, how are we still protected from all evil? Cf. Matthew 6:13.

11. How does the LORD preserve our soul? Cf. Philippians 1:6; John 10:27-30.

12. How does the LORD preserve our going out and our coming in from now to eternity? Cf. 2 Timothy 4:18.

Look at LSB Hymn No. 877. How does it echo the message of this psalm?

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We hear a lot these days about the separation of church and state, especially from those who do not wish for Christians to impose their moral values on others via civil government. And there are some who would use the powers of civil governments to force ministers and churches to say nothing against the commonly accepted morals and values held by society. Here, we look at what God says regarding the proper roles of church and state.

Both the church and the state are ordained of God — the church for the eternal salvation of men, and the state for the maintenance of external righteousness and order among men in this world.

When Jesus asked the disciples who they believed Him to be, Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16); and Jesus said that, upon this truth which the Father had revealed to Peter, Jesus would build His church; and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (v. 17-18). Jesus also said: “If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32).

On the other hand, the Scriptures say of the government: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil works. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him, for he is the servant of God for your good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who practices evil” (Rom. 13:1-4); and, “Submit yourselves to every human authority for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or to governors, as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and to praise those who do right” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

While the state — civil government — bears the sword to maintain order, punish evildoers and wage just wars, the church uses and is ruled by the Word of God.

The Bible says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16); and, “But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them, and that since childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17).

In order that men might be saved, the church has been commanded to preach the Word of God and proclaim Jesus Christ crucified as the Savior of mankind. Jesus commanded His disciples to “go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned ” (Mark 16:15-16; cf. Rom. 1:16-17; 10:15,17).

To maintain civil order and righteousness in this world, civil governments have been given power and responsibility to enact just laws, punish evildoers (including the use of the death penalty), and to wage just wars (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Psalm 82:1-4; Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:3-4).

As Christians, we reject as contrary to the Holy Scriptures attempts to confuse the powers of the church and the state, such as using the power of the sword in an attempt to force people to accept the teaching of God’s Word or using laws and threats of punishment to restrict the faithful preaching and teaching of the Bible (cf. John 18:11,36-37; 2 Cor. 10:4-6; Eph. 6:10-18). Rather, civil governments are to use the power of the sword to promote what is good and right and to punish evildoers, and the church is to use the Word of God to proclaim God’s truth, call sinners to repentance and to offer and give to penitent sinners the promises of the Gospel, namely, the forgiveness of sins and life eternal through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 24:46-47; John 5:25; 6:63; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:17; Isa. 55:10-11).

When civil governments depart from their God-given duties and forbid what God commands or command what God forbids, Christians must obey God rather than men even if they must suffer the earthly consequences (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29; Luke 12:4-5).

And we have ample examples of a Christian response when governments require what God forbids or forbid what God requires. In Daniel 3, the king commanded that people fall down and worship the golden image he had made. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to disobey God’s commandments (Ex. 20:3-6) and chose to obey God rather than men even if it meant death in a fiery furnace. In Daniel 6, when the king foolishly issued a decree that forbade prayer to the true God, Daniel continued to pray even though it meant being cast into a den of lions. In Acts 4 and 5, when the apostles of Jesus were commanded to no longer speak in Jesus’ name, they chose to suffer a beating and to risk death rather than disobey their call to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, how do we apply these principles in regard to our duties as citizens of the kingdom of God and in regard to our duties as citizens of the United States of America?

Based on these principles, we recognize that our first and primary duty is to God, for He created us and gave us life, He redeemed us with the precious blood of His own dear Son, He brought us to faith through Word and Sacrament and gave to us life and salvation in His Son, and He, through the Son, will judge us on the last day. We apply the words of our Lord Jesus to ourselves: “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that can do no more. But I will warn you whom you shall fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell. Yes, I say to you, fear Him” (Luke 12:4-5). Thus, we seek to obey God and live in accord with His Word in all things.

We also apply to ourselves Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34-38: “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever would lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Whoever therefore is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

First of all, we pray for our government and our rulers. Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:1-4): “Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Secondly, we obey our civil rulers whenever and wherever we can without sin and acknowledge that their authority is from God, for the Bible tells us in Romans 13:1-7: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil works. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him, for he is the servant of God for your good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who practices evil. So it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are God’s servants, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: taxes to whom taxes are due, respect to whom respect is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due.” And we read in 1 Pet. 2:13-14: “Submit yourselves to every human authority for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or to governors, as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and to praise those who do right.”

Thirdly, we disobey civil authorities when they command what God forbids or forbid what God commands for “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Like Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, and the apostles, this is not done in disrespect for civil rulers but in faithfulness to our God — they did not seek to overthrow their rulers but obeyed God and willingly suffered the consequences as a testimony to the truth.

Fourthly, we testify to the truth revealed in God’s Word, calling sin — including the sins of governments and rulers — sin and meriting God’s wrath and eternal punishment. The Bible plainly tells us in Jeremiah 23:28: “He who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.” Therefore, we call abortion murder and contrary to God’s commandments and we make it clear that all who partake of this sin or support and promote it also share in its guilt and punishment. The same is true in regard to perversions of God’s institution of marriage (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 5:27-32; 19:3-9; Lev. 18-19; Rom. 1:18ff.) or any other sin against God’s revealed Word.

Fifthly, when rulers repent of their errors, we proclaim to them the Gospel of Christ and announce to them the forgiveness and life offered them through faith in Christ Jesus (cf. Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:23).

Sixthly, as citizens of the United States, we seek to be responsible citizens and use the privileges granted to us by our government in order to promote good government — government which punishes evildoers and promotes what is good and right “that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty” and proclaim the saving Word of God (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Thus, we exercise our rights to vote for good and honest candidates, we consider serving in government offices, and we do all in our power to preserve and promote a government and rulers which use their God-given authority rightly.

Finally, as citizens, we seek to legitimately remove from office rulers who fail to do their duties, abuse their authority, or promote what is evil and ungodly, and to nullify laws (or court rulings) that command and promote what God forbids or that forbid what God requires.

This is, perhaps, the most difficult to rightly apply. And, adding to this difficulty is the question of what to do when government rulers do not follow the laws of the land or when they pass or enforce laws that contradict the very foundation of our government, the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Then the question may arise in regard to which document we obey, an act of Congress, an executive order, or the Constitution itself. And Christians often disagree on the appropriate response because we get into the area of human opinion in regard to the application of the above principles.

Below I offer my opinions and some points to remember in our response to a government that has become corrupt and evil.

The Christian’s duty is to advance the Kingdom of God and that can only be done through the faithful preaching of God’s Word and the right administration of the Sacraments. Winning political or military battles will make no one a Christian and will bring no one into the kingdom of God, though it could possibly promote peace and safety in this world.

I would also add the note that winning a political or military victory will not necessarily change the views of the people, meaning a new government would likely be no better than the old and could even be worse.

To what extent do we take the writing of the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence? Do these writings give us the right or duty to seek to overthrow our present government and establish another? We must weigh our answers in light of the Scriptures cited above and be careful not to put these documents on par with or above the Word of God.

In dealing with those who practice or promote what is evil, we have God’s command to testify to the truth but would be hard-pressed to find a command of God to take up arms against them.

In my opinion, it would be better to pursue a path of objecting to and refusing to obey laws that run contrary to God’s Word and willingly suffering the consequences (we have Biblical examples of this). We have in God’s commandments the right to defend ourselves and others against evildoers who would take life and property from us, but I don’t see any authorization in the Bible for us as individuals to take the law into our own hands and use force to punish evildoers or overthrow rulers.

Also, in my opinion, should one legitimate government entity separate itself from another or be attacked by another, or should a new government be established and replace another, Christians may take up arms in service of a legitimate government in defense thereof.

It should not be surprising to us that human governments would oppose God and His Word and persecute the faithful (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12-13; John 15:18ff.; Matt. 5:10-12; Psalm 2; Rev. 11).

In all this, it is wise to remember where your true home is, where Jesus is even now preparing a place for you that He might come again and take you to Himself (cf. John 14:1-6).

In closing, I think of the words of a hymn by Thomas R. Taylor, written in the early 1800s, “I’m But a Stranger Here, Heav’n is My Home,” LSB # 748:

1 I’m but a stranger here, Heav’n is my home;
Earth is a desert drear, Heav’n is my home.
Danger and sorrow stand Round me on ev’ry hand;
Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.

2 What though the tempest rage, Heav’n is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage, Heav’n is my home;
And time’s wild wintry blast Soon shall be overpast;
I shall reach home at last, Heav’n is my home.

3 Therefore I murmur not, Heav’n is my home;
Whate’er my earthly lot, Heav’n is my home;
And I shall surely stand There at my Lord’s right hand;
Heav’n is my fatherland, Heav’n is my home.

Thomas R. Taylor, 1807–35, Public domain

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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Friday, Jan. 22, marks the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which opened the way for legalized abortion in the United States; and I would have to count that day to be one of the saddest in American history because, since that day, more than 61 million babies have been murdered in this country through legalized abortion.

It is, as I’ve said before, America’s holocaust because we have killed — or stood by and done little or nothing while it happened in our own land and communities — 61 million of our own children inside or partially inside their mothers’ wombs. More than 20 million of those murdered children are African American — more than the entire African American population in the U.S. in 1960. If God graded on a numbers-based curve — and He doesn’t — Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime would come out looking like saints in comparison to us.

And why have we done it? The argument we usually hear is that it is a woman’s right and her freedom of choice. But the truth is that it is selfishness. People do not wish to be burdened and inconvenienced with the responsibilities of giving birth to and raising a child. They place themselves and their own plans and desires above the needs of another human being and choose to kill a child rather than being responsible and giving of themselves to care for it.

Science itself tells us that the unborn child in its mother’s womb is a human being — a heartbeat at 3 weeks, a highly developed brain by 8 weeks, thumb sucking by 9 weeks — and yet we still kill each day an average of 2,360 human beings for the convenience of mothers and fathers. We are alarmed at the death toll from the coronavirus but still murder more babies each and every day through abortion.

The Bible clearly forbids us to murder human beings (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17). And the Bible also clearly teaches that it is God who creates life in the womb and appoints to that life a number of days on this earth: “You brought my inner parts into being; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are Your works, and You know me completely. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and intricately put together in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed, yet in Your book all my days were written, before any of them came into being” (Psalm 139:13-16).

Since, as I said before, God does not grade on a curve, even one abortion is a terrible tragedy and heinous crime. But the crime goes on in America’s death camps; and the judgment of God, who created and gives life and values each life so much He gave his Son to redeem it, will fall upon our nation and people for all the innocent blood that is shed in our land, whether in abortion clinics or doctors’ offices and hospitals (cf. Deut. 21:1-9; Gen. 9:5-6). Perhaps we are beginning to see it in the current pandemic.

Some would argue and say, “What about cases of rape and incest and those pregnancies which endanger the life of a mother?”

The fact is that they are only a very, very small percentage of the pregnancies which end in abortion. But in cases of rape or incest, why should the child be put to death for the sins of another? Why not put to death the guilty rapist and the sexual predator? Yet, we destroy the innocent and let the guilty off with minimal punishment. And even when medical professionals determine the life of a mother could be at stake, is abortion the right answer? I’ve known of mothers who, without medical warning, gave their lives to deliver a healthy child and of many who’ve been told they would die if they gave birth but went on to have several children and with few complications.

My point is simply this: Pray for God’s mercy upon our people and an end to legalized abortion in our land, use your voice and your votes to protect human life whether young or old, encourage and teach Biblical morals to children and youth regarding God’s design for marriage and bearing children, and stand up for the protection of life against those who would urge us to tolerate their ongoing slaughter of the innocent.

And this is especially important now as our new federal government leadership has promised to defend and further enable this merciless slaughter of children in our land.

O Lord, open our eyes to see our great wickedness and repent before Your full judgment falls upon our land and people! Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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