Do We Dare Defend Our Rights?

Awesome post from Collin Hansen on the Christian and political involvement. Very timely as we see politics dominating the American public forum as we approach the fall elections. Full post here:   http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/01/we-dare-not-defend-our-rights/.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…Those of us who live in democracies give thanks that we can be involved in the political process and shape policies out of love for our neighbors.

But we seem to be fighting a losing cause of late, at least in theUnited States. Our vision for the common good is being eclipsed by a new order that seems not to understand Western culture’s debt to the Christian vision for humanity.

Contrary to appearances, this new vision does not support a “live and let live” ethic. Religion continues its centuries-long retreat into the private sphere. Christians replace gays in the closet. Our future feels tenuous, so we appeal to help from the state. But we haven’t yet determined if the state is friend or foe.

“For democracies, like all governments, are based on affirming and supporting certain values and visions of reality, and proscribing others,” D. A. Carson writes in his new bookThe Intolerance of Tolerance. “But when the values and visions of reality that sustained such democracies in the past shrivel away, in the domains where the shriveling takes place the only über-value is the new tolerance, backed up by the coercive power of the state.”

We may have only a few reasons for optimism about the difference we can make in coming days. But neither should we fall prey to faithless pessimism. Though embattled, thousands of evangelical churches thrive across the country. We can learn from the example of congregations worldwide that maintain a vigorous witness where Christian rights have been restricted most severely.

Or we can look back to the body of beleaguered believers encouraged thus by the apostle Peter: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

Though slandered and scattered, these believers trusted that God would glorify himself among unbelievers through their good deeds and patient endurance. That’s the ethic captured in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry. Notably, this document says nothing about our rights. But it does hold out hope for significant cultural influence if we seek service rather than power. And it warns, “But if we seek direct power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”

We dare not defend our rights if this defense assimilates us into the culture of ressentiment [sic]. State-sanctioned persecution would be a better fate.

But there is a better way, laid out by Carsonat the end of The Intolerance of Tolerance. Let us practice civility toward our neighbors, believers or not. Preach the gospel and watch seeds of faith sprout. Be prepared to suffer—“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

All the while, trust and delight in God. No one can snatch your joy from the Father’s hand. But you can squander divine delight and squelch the witness of the Spirit by fighting for your rights while forgetting the sovereign Creator who endows them.”

-Collin Hansen, 03-01-2012

Are You Elect? Do You Have Fruit?

“Election can only be known by its fruits. The Elect of God can only be discerned from those who are not Elect by their faith and life. We cannot climb up into the secret of God’s eternal counsels. We cannot read the book of life. The fruits of the Spirit, seen and manifested in a man’s conversation, are the only grounds on which we can ascertain that he is one of God’s Elect. Where the marks of God’s Elect can be seen, there, and there only, have we any warrant for saying “this is one of the Elect.” How do I know that yon distant ship on the horizon of the sea has any pilot or steersman on board? I cannot with the best telescope discern anything but her masts and sails. Yet I see her steadily moving in one direction. That is enough for me.”

 

-J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, “Election”

Chosen to Salvation

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”  2 Thessalonians 2:13

“There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God’s elect are “chosen to salvation”: Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to “salvation” itself that God has chosen us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who “chose unto salvation”, decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this – “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation”, etc. Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.”

-A.W. Pink, Pamphlet: Chosen to Salvation
Complements of: http://networkedblogs.com/pE8C2

Narrow is the Way

“Let us not be carried away by the common idea, that the world will be converted before the Lord Jesus returns, and the earth filled with the knowledge of the Lord. It will not be so. There is nothing in Scripture to justify such expectations. Let us cease to expect a reign of peace. Let us rather look for wars. Let us cease to expect all men to be made holy by any existing instrumentality–schools, missions, preaching, or anything of the kind. Let us rather look for the rise of Antichrist Himself. Let us understand that we live in a day of election, and not of universal conversion. There will be no universal peace until the Prince of Peace appears. There will be no universal holiness until Satan is bound. It may cost us much to hold such opinions as these. But there is not a church or congregation on earth, whose state does not show that these opinions are true, and that while “many are called, few are chosen.” It may bring on us the unkind remarks and the unfavorable judgment of many. But the end will prove who is right and who is wrong. For that end let us wait patiently. Let us labor, and teach, and work, and pray. But let it not surprise us if we find our Lord’s word strictly true – “Narrow is the way which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14)”

-J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1985], 276, 277. {Mark 13:1-8}

http://www.jcrylequotes.com/2011/07/22/no-universal-peace-until-christ-appears/