Christian Nation or Nation of Christians?

For many years, many of us, including myself have referred to the United States as once being a Christian nation. In 1892, Supreme Court Justice Josiah Brewer wrote in his decision of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States that America was indeed a Christian nation.

But is that an accurate assessment of what America was?

With permission from Grace to You Ministry, I’m sharing a letter dated September 14, 2018 written by Pastor John MacArthur:

In the book of Revelation, Jesus wrote seven letters to the cities of Asia Minor. He didn’t write them to city hall; He wrote them to the church.

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Let that sink in for a moment. In the closing chapters of Scripture, the Lord did not set His church on a mission to “redeem the culture.” He didn’t advise His people to leverage political power to institute morality or to protest the rule of immoral men. In fact, he didn’t launch a social revolution or devise a political strategy of any kind.

The church today—and particularly the church in America—needs to understand that God has not called His people out of the world to wage a culture war with the world. We’re not meant to gain temporal ground, like some invading force working to superficially “turn this country back to God.” We need to shed the illusion that our ancestors’ morality once made America a “Christian nation.” There have never been any Christian nations—just Christians.

Believers need to understand that what happens in America politically and socially has nothing to do with the progress or the power of the kingdom of God. Cultural change can’t accelerate the kingdom’s growth, nor can it hinder it (see Matthew 16:18). Christ’s kingdom “is not of this world” (John 18:36).

That’s not to say I’m dismissive of our democratic process or ungrateful to have a voice in it. It’s a great blessing to have a vote and to be able to support biblical standards of morality. Many Christians throughout the history of the church have lived through far worse circumstances than ours, with no legal means to do anything about it.

But the presumption that a social movement or political clout could make a significant spiritual difference in the world is evidence of a serious misunderstanding of sin. Believers need to put our energies into ministry that can transform lives, not into laws. The work of God’s kingdom is not about overhauling governments, rewriting regulations or rebuilding society into some supposed Christian utopia. Political and social justice efforts are, at best, short-term, external solutions for society’s moral ills; and they do nothing to address the personal, internal, dominant matter of sinful hearts that hate God (see Romans 8:7) and can be rescued from eternal death only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In fact, as I made clear in a recent series of articles posted on Grace to You website and distributed widely, the push for cultural morality or even social justice is a dangerous distraction from the work of the church. It wastes immense amounts of precious resources, including time, money, and energy. Ephesians 5:16-17 urges believers to “(make) the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” And the will of the Lord is not a culture governed by social equality or even institutionalized Phariseeism.

It’s a time for the church to be about the ministry of reconciliation—for God’s people to boldly and faithfully proclaim His gospel and to be salt and light in this dark and desperate world (Matthew 5:13-16). That was the Lord’s message to the churches in Revelation. He commanded them to put off worldliness and corruption, to renew their love for Him, and to guard the purity of His gospel and His church.

Virtually every admonition, rebuke, warning, and call to repentance our Lord makes in these letters applies to the church in the twenty-first century—including many of today’s best known and most influential evangelical congregations. It’s time for us to pay attention to the letters to those churches in Revelation and heed Christ’s call to reform of His church…

Copyright 2018, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Reading MacArthur’s letter made me realize something I already knew but often forget, that we are waging a spiritual battle in America today and not just a political or social battle. Although what happens with our government is important in many ways and impacts the lives of all of us, it is temporal at best. What matters most is the eternal battle we wage with the forces of evil that come in many forms, some easy to distinguish and some difficult to spot. The best way to prepare ourselves for this battle and how to best identify our foes is to immerse ourselves in the Word of God.

 

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

David Jolly
R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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