Dr. Ed Young - Should the Church Have a Say in Government?
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I hope you have your Bible in hand. Matthew 4:1 following: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. After He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry, and the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread". But Jesus answered and said, "It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". Verse 5: Then the Devil took Him into the Holy City and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the Temple and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning You, and their hands will bear You up so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.'"
Verse 7: Jesus said to the Devil, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test.'" Again, the Devil took Him up to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me". Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord Your God and serve Him only.'" Then the Devil left Him, and behold, the angels came and began to minister to Jesus. A prominent senator finished a busy day in the halls of Congress, and with some of his associates, he went to a bar that was close to the Capital, enjoyed a time of sharing and laughter, as it is called "Happy Hour".
And when he came out, he looked and crossed the street, and a car coming at a great rate of speed hit the senator, knocked him down, rushed him to the hospital. He died on the way to get help. The senator was taken up, up, up and stood outside the Pearly Gates. And St. Pete came out and said, "You know, we don't know what to do with you. It's been so long since we've had somebody of your station and rank, a member of the U.S. Senate that we don't know how to handle you exactly..." And the Senator said, "I just want to get in". He said, "Yeah, but I've got a word from the Higher Up that you need to spend a day in Hell, 24 hours, and a day in Heaven, 24 hours, and then you can decide where you want to spend eternity". He said, "Sounds good to me..."
And so they put him in the elevator, and he goes down, down, down, down, down, down, down into Hell, and they open the door and whoa! There before him was a golf course more magnificent than the Augusta National. I mean, there were flowers, and they had a mountain view on one side, and an ocean view on the other, and it was a spectacular moment, and he went into a fabulous facility. I mean, had appointed, every appointment of architecture, and there were all of his old friends he'd known through the years, and they welcomed and hugged him, and they laughed and they shared stories together, and they had caviar, and champagne, and they had dancing, and the afternoon, they went on a cruise on a beautiful yacht, and then they went back to a magnificent meal, and Frank Sinatra was running around singing, "I Did It My Way" all during the meal, and there was Marilyn Monroe, and I mean, he had never been in such an elite group, and it was just fun, and celebration, and laughter, and activity, and he'd never had that much caviar in his life!
It was fabulous! And then before he knew it, 24 hours had passed and the guide said, "We have to go..." So he got on the elevator, and he went out of Hell, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, all the way into Heaven. They opened the doors of Heaven, and there was the clouds floating, and there were saints singing praises to God, and the glory, and the awesomeness of the Almighty, and all of his creative juices began to stir, and his six senses became fifteen senses, and there was a sense of awesomeness, and worshipfulness, and praise, and adoration, and he knew there was much more to this. There was so much more beyond throughout eternity; but before he knew it, 24 hours had passed, and he, his guide took him out of Heaven, and he went back in front of St. Peter. And St. Peter said, "You make the choice. Where do you want to spend eternity? You have to choose"!
The Senator dropped his head and said, "You know, I would never have thought this before, but I'll tell you-I'd rather spend eternity in Hell. You know, I just felt more at home there..." and so Pete said, "Okay..." Put him on the elevator. He went down, down, down, down, down... and then the doors opened, and wheww! There was bareness-just bleak, dark, and there was a stench, and there were all of his friends there in rags, and boils, and in pain and agony, and there was disease, and suffering, and moaning, and crying, the air was-aaahh-just insufferable, and the heat was just overbearing, and it was a horrible, deadening feeling, and the Devil came over to him and put his arm around the Senator and said, "Welcome! Welcome! You'll be here with us throughout all eternity". And the Senator said, "What happened? I was only here yesterday"! And the Devil said, "Yesterday, we were campaigning"! He said, "Today, you voted"!
You know, the Devil has a campaign going on all the time? He really does. We see in our Scripture the Devil was campaigning. He was campaigning, trying to capture Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Divinity wrapped up in human flesh. What was he trying-how was he tempting Jesus? What was he trying to do? The Devil's campaign that he exerted toward Jesus in the beginning of His ministry is the same campaign he's employing with you and me. What is it? How does he tempt us? What is the point of the temptation of evil in your life and my life? Exactly what it was in the life of Jesus. You know what it is? Devil tempts us at the point of purpose. What was the purpose of the life of Jesus? What is your purpose from this day forward? What is God's plan for me? What is God's plan for you?
That is where Satan comes with all of his lies, and snares, and beguilements, and tries to get us off track, out of step, out of pace with what God has for us. It's the point of purpose. The Scripture. John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Jesus came up out of the water. The Bible says the Holy Spirit, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. The Greek says the Holy Spirit pushed Him, forced Him into the wilderness where He fasted forty days and forty nights, and then Satan came to tempt Him. And notice, Jesus is being tempted-remember this, at the purpose of His life. Now what was the purpose of the life of Jesus? What's the first words that were pronounced in the Gospels? He said "The Kingdom has come". The Kingdom is here.
What is the Kingdom of God? Where is the Kingdom of God? When Jesus Christ is CEO, COO, and CFO of anybody's life, there is the Kingdom of God. Where Jesus is King, there is the Kingdom. And so Jesus came, God-Man, in flesh, Son of God, Messiah, to establish His Kingdom and to enable you and me to enter into a relationship with Him that gets us into a relationship of God so the Kingdom can begin in this life as He is Savior and Lord and continue forever in Heaven. Now, back to Jesus. He was tempted at the purpose of His life. What's the first temptation? Satan said, "Hey, aren't You hungry? You haven't had anything to eat for forty days..."
Now a lot of people say Jesus was at a low moment. Oh no! Forty days of fasting and prayer, He was at a pinnacle moment of the flesh. "Turn those stones to bread..." Jesus said, "Nah uh, uh. Man can't live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". What was the temptation there? That Jesus would use bread power to build His Kingdom. You say, "How does that work"? It worked for the communist. I mean, you offer to supply bread, hey-you can get a big crowd. You can establish a real following. So the temptation was to have a bread power, bread kingdom. What's the second temptation? It was a temptation to operate as a superhero.
If Superman came up here today, and I said, "Look! I want all of you to follow me, and I can jump off the top of this building, as Satan told Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple; everybody would see Him, and the angels would come and catch Him in mid-air. And Satan quoted a Scripture, Psalm 91 that says, you know, the Heavenly Father looked after the Son. The angels are there... He quoted a Scripture, but Jesus quoted a Scripture in Deuteronomy 7 that superceded the misuse of the Scripture the Devil used, see"? So what kind of kingdom would this be? It would be a kingdom of a superhero doing supernatural feats. You can get a lot of people to follow you if you take that route. You could build quite a kingdom. Quite a kingdom...
And then what's the third temptation? Interesting, interesting... He took Him on top of a high mountain, and the Devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. He said, "If You'll just bow down and worship me, I'll give you this whole world! It belongs to me" said the Devil. "I'll give it to You, and You can rule and reign over all of it". By the way, that brings us to our thesis of today. The church should not be involved in politics, and we're going to look at not only that lie, follow me carefully, but five lies that go with it. Five lies... not Five Guys. We're not going to serve hamburgers! Somebody perked up! "Whoa! Five Guys! Hey, this is great..." No, five lies. That's the big lie up front you hear.
The church should not be involved in politics, and there are five lies that go with it, and the first lie is dealt with in this last temptation of Jesus. And the first lie is simply, government is evil and demonic. Have you heard that? And the concept of that comes for Christians largely from this Scripture right here, which says the devil owns the world. We are a fallen world; therefore, the Devil has possession of this world. Where do you get that idea? The Devil was lying to Jesus. The Devil doesn't own the world. This is not his property. And, that's the reason we look at this and say, "Well, politics just runs the Devil's domain, so we need to stay out of politics. We're Christians..."
Listen-the Bible is clear how we as Christians are to relate to the world. To be sure, it's a fallen world. Not saying it's not. To be sure, there are principalities and powers of evil in this world. Certainly, we know that. But this is our Father's world. He is still sovereign, and the Devil lied to Jesus trying to say, "I can give you all that". It wasn't his to give. Now how do we as Christians relate to this world? We read about it clearly in Romans, Chapter Number 13, and in I Peter. Look what he says in 13, as Christians: "Every person is to be in subjection to the government authorities; for there is no authority except God, and those which exist are established by God And therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves". Verse 3: "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same".
And I Peter deals with it. Many passages deal with it. We as citizens, we are to be involved in the life and the affairs of the culture and of the government in which resides over us. So it is a lie to say that the government is evil and demonic. A lot of people think this, but that simply is not true. Number two, the second lie is that the government should compel religion. The idea, and we've dealt with this in recent days, that we want all the laws of America to be Christian, and that's how this nation should operate, and the government should compel religion. This has taken place in many, many places around the world today. The government compels religion. You go to Saudi Arabia; the government compels that everyone there be a Muslim if they practice their religion in public. Jesus never advocated this. He advocated the opposite. Others have the idea the government should expel all religion. The ACLU.
The ACLU would tell you, remember, "The Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional! It is"! Well, why is that? "It has a reference to the Creator. It has a reference to evil. Therefore, it's unconstitutional..." The pledge to the flag is unconstitutional, they tell us. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God-uh, oh! Unconstitutional! You mentioned God. That's how far we've gone, to expel religion-to expel religion out of our culture. Then there's another lie here. It says, "Do evangelism; not politics". Jesus said, "Go ye therefore into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit". That's evangelism. Then it says what? "Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you" and that teaching means we are to come to Christ.
And then we are to be Christians, and then we are to be involved in the affairs of life. See? It doesn't just stop there. We move on from there, and the secular world have us, "Man, keep all that religion inside the church! Don't let it get outside! Don't let Jesus out in the world. Therefore, you just do Jesus and do evangelism. We'll take care of all of this out here". You see, that just does not work, ladies and gentlemen. When the church has turned its back on the culture and not get involved in the culture, look out deadly it has been. Look how deadly it has been. Where do you start? You start with praying. "Oh well, I've heard I need to pray more, eh, eh, eh...." You pray, and you say, "Oh God, I seek You"! He comes and touches you and touches me. Then He gives us insight. We just wait on the Lord. We pray and say, "Lord, what would You have me to do? Where is my realm of influence in my family, in my business, in my relationships, in my hobbies". I pray. Pray. I seek Your mind. I seek Your heart.
We pray, number one. We pray. Number 2, we prioritize. Let me tell you something. What if we were able to bring every pastor, every clergyman in this whole 50 mile area and bring 'em on this platform, every one of 'em! Every one of 'em, every clergyman, and we'd ask one question, "What is the biggest problem you have with members of your church"? Do you know what they'd say? Huh? You know what they'd say? "They've got their priorities wrong. They'd rather go fishing, hunting, traveling, ballgame, recreation, homecoming, company's coming..." We've got so many things that distract us... Let me say, if we're in our church, we have 52 weekends in a year. I'm not going too fast for anybody, am I? If you take 40 of those weekends, and you're in your church, in your place, that's a good place to start; 45, and you're really moving forward.
I'm not saying we don't go and we travel and we do things and we rest and we have recreation and re-creation. But when that becomes a big agenda-when anything is a substitute for the best thing, which is worshipping God Almighty, we got our priorities backwards. And we get 'em right with prayer-with prayer. And then we get our priorities down, and we begin to live according to those priorities. And what is the next thing we do if we're going to be the salt and light? We're going to put the truth, God's truth into our society and recover the world in which we live.
You see, a social reformation will not do it. There has to be a spiritual regeneration. That's how it's going to work. How do we do that? First of all, we have to speak. We have to speak out. I know some big guys, and man, they'll argue with you about football, basketball, baseball. They'll talk with you about politics, and man, they're bold and fine, and you begin to talk about spiritual things and the reality of Christ, and they just sort of melt down, and these big guys, I want to ask, "What is your maiden name"? Speak. Speak. Speak... You know how we speak? We vote-not only in the political realm, but when you vote every day and say, "I want God in Christ to influence my life..." One vote! So we have to speak, and also we have to stand.
When I was a little guy in Laurel, Mississippi, I didn't go to this, but I remember clearly that a German guy named Martin Niemöller, who had been in the concentration camps, I think Dachau was where he was; he came and spoke in the First Methodist Church. I didn't go, but my friends told me about it. And I have read since that what he said about being a Protestant clergyman in a prominent church in Berlin; brilliant in his mind and his ability to think, and he says this. He said, "When the Nazi's came to power, they came and took the Communist's off". He said, "I was not a Communist, so I didn't say or do anything". He said, "Then the Nazi's came and they took the Jews off". He said, "I was not a Jew, so I didn't say or do anything". He said, "Then they came and took the trade unionists off". He said, "I was not a member of a trade union, so I didn't say or do anything". He said "Then they came and took the Catholics off". He said, "I wasn't a Catholic, so I didn't say or do anything". He said "Then they came for me" and he said, "There was nobody left to say or do anything".
Do you not see? That's the direction we're going, 10, 15 years; away from God, away from Christ, away from really being those who vote for Christ every single day, everywhere we are. Big campaign is going on by Satan in this world. I'm not talking about politics, but there's a big campaign going on. Lot of decisions being made in the political realm in the whole area of education, and the whole area-you name it, and the bottom line is, you and I as Christians need to pray, re-prioritize our lives, to speak, and to stand. It's time for you and me to vote.