Tag: Conservative Evangelical

“Be Strong and Very Courageous:” Joshua 1:9 and the current Political Climate.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

One of my favorite Bible Passages is found in Joshua 1:9 which says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”(ESV). It has been on my mind a lot lately as I have been mediating and praying through Joshua as part of my Lectio Divina. It has also been on my mind as I am preparing to enter a new season of life and has come to mind several times while watching the recent election coverage.

It is the latter that I wish to discuss in this article because it is so prevalent in our current culture. I mean, watch the news. Fear of Terrorists, fear of refugee’s, fear of oppression of religion or by religion, fear of each other, fear of the government, fear of Donald Trump. We have been fed, or force fed, a culture of fear. But instead of coming out against such a culture with the positive message of the Gospel the message of certain popular evangelist is to continue to feed that fear. They do it seemingly in a well-meaning article share, the result is the same, people become chained to fear.

The result is a lot of people doing highly irrational things (like voting for Trump) because they are afraid and that thing seems to promise them safety from that fear, which in time has been allowed to fest and turn to anger and hatred. Master Yoda was right on when he said: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to the Dark Side.”

So Christians riot in the streets, demanding a return to a perceived power touted by revisionists and Christian Constitutionalists. Out of fear they say things like: “I’m moving to Canada” or “I fear what will happen if so and so is elected president.” And sometimes this even comes from our own pulpits.

In an age of high biblical ill-literacy I suppose we should not be surprised, it is hard to know passages like Joshua 1 and 2 Timothy 1 exist when one has not read their bibles. It is hard to read about Peter stepping out on the waves to greet Jesus, or all the times Jesus or an Angel of the Lord said “Do not be afraid.” Again, it is hard to know those things are there if we never read it.

But in an evangelical world where people are culturally evangelical and not traditionally evangelical I suppose we should not be surprised. When church attendance is seen as salvific and used as an avenue to power. When you are raised in a place where the church is still clinging to an unhealthy idea of power that it sees slipping away, what else are we going to fall back upon if we do not have the biblical basis. We can call out to God to return us to power, as if we were entitled to political and cultural influence, and then get angry when we do not see him returning us to prominence. Like the Disciples, asking Jesus if he will restore the Kingdom of Israel.

I pray for those cultural evangelicals, that God would soften the blow when the Post-Christian Mindsets of the Northeast and other places start to creep in. What are they going to do when it actually becomes unpopular to become a Christian? How can they stand up to the type of persecution that comes with that? Subtle though it may be, hint, it has nothing to do with Red Cups.

Honestly it baffles me, how do we so justify this blatant ignorance of the word and those who know it, how do we justify ignoring it? If you are Christian, in any way, you should know the Word of God. And if you know the Word of GOD then you know that Donald Trump is not the answer, (neither are Kasich, Cruz, Sanders or Clinton). You know that for you to be afraid of what is going to happen in America, or what is going to happen in the world, is absurd in the light of Scripture. If you have read the text then you know that God’s promises are true.

If you do not know what that means, let me tell you.

It means that God will do what is right and just and we can trust that in the end all the wicked will be thrown down and the righteous will be lifted up. It means that God is the good shepherd and that no one can take us out of his hand. That regardless of what our circumstance, God has and will continue to provide for us daily bread and by his providence fill every need of His creation. It means that regardless of who is president, your eternal security is secure by the blood of Christ. It means that you have nothing to fear in any situation whatsoever because God is always with you no matter what and because of that you can now be strong and courageous.

If, as Romans says “The righteous shall live by Faith (1:15), then the righteous must have their faith placed where it belongs, in Jesus Christ. If the Christian wants power and boldness for chance, he should remember the power that comes from the Holy Spirit, that boldness that once shook a society to the core and saw thousands being added by the day. If the Christian wants comfort and rest, he should remember and rest in the promises of GOD that are revealed in Scripture.

We have nothing to fear. Not ISIS, not refugees, not a presidential candidate, not man, not beast. We are divinely plugged into the savior of the universe, we have communion with the God who made all these things and who is sovereign over all of these things. So be strong and courageous Christian, for your hope does not lie in man, but the creator of man. Be bold you Saint, for your eternity is secure in the blood of Christ. Be joyful son and daughter of GOD, your life is eternally hidden in Christ. Thought you may face death, and though you may face persecution and though you may face pain and loss and though the world tells you to fear. You can stand firm in the foundation of Christ our Lord and Savior who died on the Cross for our sins, was dead and buried and rose again on the third day, thus defeating death and bringing us a new, secure and eternal life and eternity in Heaven.

If you want to fear something, show that reverent and upright fear of GOD, for as Proverbs says, it is the beginning of wisdom.

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

Who are you to decide?

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

One of the tactics used against me by the pastor who spiritually abused the church I attended in High School was to tell people that “God could not possibly be laying something on your heart if you were not sure of your salvation.” This did a lot of damage to my own family members as well as to my already damaged Psyche. Sad as it is, questioning the salvation of others is an earmark of Authoritarian Leadership. “You are not a Christian if you do X” is a common line or “God cannot use you unless” or “God cannot use you unless” and of course “You are not a Christian if you…”

So when the radical fundamentalist and the leader of the “Facebook Church Movement” Joshua Feuestien comes out and says “You cannot be a Christian and vote for Hilary Clinton” my immediate reaction is to reject the idea completely. While it is true that there are moral issues with voting for Hilary, God’s Heart does not dispute that, nor is this an endorsement of Hilary. We take issue with saying someone is not a Christian because of who they vote for. Or saying someone is not a Christian in general.

In some ways this is also a pushback against things that I myself used to stand for. I have ruined my share of Christian Walks with the legalism I used to practice with great zeal. However, as I have grown and done ministry for myself and as God has redeemed the church and His word for me and redeemed His people, as the spirit has taught me, I have grown to reject those former things. I suppose it is the natural progression of the Christian to maturity, though I am far from mature and far from worthy of being called such.

It came down to having to question myself. “If I claim to be a believer but do such and such, but condemn that act in someone else’s life, calling them non-Christian, how am I actually a Christian?” The radical revelation of our changed condition in Christ thus gave me an answer. “Who are you to say anyone who claims to be a Christian is or is not a Christian, is God not working in them just as He is working in you?”

Who am I to decide if a person is a believer or not? Yet we do, as recently as last month the Pope called Trump an unbeliever. Some Christians have even questioned the faith of those Conservative Evangelicals who have thrown their lot in with Trump, who by the way, professes to be an Evangelical.

We do, also acknowledge, that American Christianity has largely grown illiterate, Biblical Literacy is at an all-time high as anti-Intellectualism sweeps through the laity. It is hard to practice the wisdom given us in 2 Timothy 1:7 when we do not know what it says and preachers preach on Opinions instead of building up the flock to stand firm as people of God.

Still, I am not qualified to judge them as unbelievers, I can look at their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20), I can discern an action or a thought to be in line with the Gospel or error or false teaching or even Heresy. But I cannot say for certain if an individual who professes faith in Jesus Christ is a believer or not. They could simply need guidance, direction, spiritual wisdom, discernment. They may just need to be shown their error lovingly and lovingly led to repentance. That has ben the way shown to me by those who have helped to rehabilitate me as a member of the Body of Christ. Had someone come to me and told me “You are not a Christian because you are a legalist” I would have laughed at them. Which is why we refuse to say that Feuestien is not a Christian, only that his teachings depart from Christian Orthodoxy, into Gnostic Heresy.

As the verse from 1 Samuel 16:7 states: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” God said this to Samuel while as he was looking at David’s brothers, considering their height and strength and physical appearance. But David, who was the youngest and not initially present for Samuels arrival, and certainly not a weakling himself. Was chosen to replace Saul as King of Israel. God calls David a “Man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) despite the terrible sins of adultery and murder he committed.

Matt Chandler points out in a sermon series on James that “David would not be able to get a job at our church.” And he’s right. Were David alive today we might say “He is not a Christian, look at this horrible thing he did.” Yet David, when he was confronted by his sin repented and God kept his Covenant with David and if was from the line of David that Christ came into this world and now sits enthroned forever.

We are all being Sanctified, we are all being lovingly corrected by the Holy Spirit, learning how to live Righteously and sometimes that is a slow process. We must allow for it, we must also recognize our need for others to come alongside us and speak life into us and most importantly we need to recognize the constant and eternal presence of the Triune God and the Trinity’s role in our lives. Living in accordance with Scripture, becoming refined into the likeness of God while acknowledging and encouraging our identity as one body in Christ.

Friday morning, I released the following post of Facebook after seeing Feuerstie’s indictment against believers who vote for Hilary. I pray you will consider these words prayerfully and with a grain of salt: “It is not a sin to vote for someone in an election. And it is extremely foolish to tell someone they are not a Christian for voting for a candidate. However, we do need to look at the fruit of those who are running. Whether it be Hilary, Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bernie or Rubio. We have to prayerfully discern through the lens of Scripture the course each Canidates platform could take us and look at the fruit of their past actions and come to a conclusion based on that, a conclusion that should be informed by the Spirit. But we also must not judge our brothers and sisters, calling them Non-Christians for voting for any particular candidate.”

We should not be divisive with our words, participating in foolish talk that causes quarreling among the saints (2 Tim. 2:23). Rather we should seek to build up, exhort and encourage one another. Wisely admonishing our brothers and sisters and joining together to worship God as one body of Christ (Col 3:10-17). Living in the spirit of “Power, Love and Self-control” (2 Tim 1:7) we have found in Christ. Praying for all people and living “Godly and upright lives before all men. For God desires that none should perish” and come to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus (1 Tim 2:1-5).

So let us stop focusing on who is a Christian and who is not. Let’s stop saying “you are a believer, and you are not a believer.” Let God judge the hearts of man and let us look at the fruits we bear and pray that we might produce the good fruit as we are commanded. Not dividing, but uniting, vessels of grace and love that bring people into the Covenant relationship with God that we daily enjoy.

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry