September 10th, 2010 by David Harwood

Called to Pray:

and from Jesus (the Messiah) the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father… (Revelation 1:5-6a)

In Revelation 1:5 the Messiah Jesus is identified according to His authority. He is the faithful, resurrected witness, the ruler of the governments of this world. This glorious king is also a priest, our “great priest.” (Hebrews 10:21) According to His inherent power and authority, He has made us to be a kingdom of priests. (Revelation 1:6)

Apparently, the believing community has forgotten this primary calling. Generally speaking it is not considered a good thing if someone wakes up and cannot remember where they work or what they do. It is important for every believer to recover and live in this aspect of our identities. We really are priests. (1 Peter 2:5,9)

The Spirit of God, through the Scriptures, shows us our identity and reveals the nature of our Creator. As spiritual priests we know, and freshly discover, Who we worship through the Scriptures. Let us know and rediscover our intercessory priestly priorities as well. For direction in prayer, the first place we go to receive our assignments are the Scriptures. Since we are submitted to God through His Scriptures, let us be attentive to enscriptured apostolic guidance.

Paul gives a doxology in 1 Timothy 1:17 – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. In the light of the reality that the Messiah Jesus is king, (five verses later) Paul prioritized prayer for governments.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

We are called to pray for the social and economic climate in which we find ourselves. We are called to pray for the structure of civil society to be amenable to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God through the church. To pray for the Kingdom’s purposes to advance in our nation we must identify with the King’s heart for those who govern. First, we must renounce wrath, rebellion and resentment.

Renounce Wrath, Rebellion and Resentment:

Here’s a principle offered by an apostle: Peter wrote that husbands must live “in an understanding way” with their wives “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7b) There is an analogy to be made concerning prayer for our government. We must make sure that our hearts are right with God before we can expect to be heard.

To wisely pray we must have hearts that are free from wrath and rebellion.

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (1 Timothy 2:8)

Wrath” in this context has to do with being angry at the repressive Roman regime. The dissension spoken of in this verse is not referring to rebellion within the church. It is speaking directly to the priestly call to pray for those who ruled a godless, amoral, idolatrous, tyrannical empire. This follows the instruction of the Messiah Jesus. He told us that if we are to effectively pray we must have hearts that are free from resentment.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)

Anger, rebellion and rancor pollute the streams of our relationship with God and revelation from God. Let us rid ourselves of the deception that we will be enabled to maintain holy intercessory interaction while ignoring this important injunction.

Honoring God’s Heart:

We must diligently watch over our hearts.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Many who read this may view President Obama and this administration as adversaries of important godly priorities. I am not contending with that perspective. However, let me ask us a question – what is it about loving our adversaries that we don’t understand? Jesus shed His blood for those who were adverse to God’s righteousness. He loved His enemies. He died for sinners. He expects us to reflect this love, even in the light of serious political oppression.

The degree of despotism experienced by Israel under Roman occupation and what we are enduring in our nation is not worthy of comparison. Yet, Jesus said this, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:41) What a test this verse provides for many of us in this current political climate. Look at this section of Scripture that follows:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

How serious is the oppression we are enduring? In comparison to what believers suffer throughout the world, we are not suffering. If we cannot walk in love during this season, how can we hope to do so in a time of serious tribulation?

Here’s something else to consider for those seeking to fulfill their role as priests: Can we come before God, through the blood of Jesus with an attitude which is antithetical to the motive which caused this blood to be offered? Dare we come with a different spirit? His blood speaks love and cries out for forgiveness. If we are to effectively pray for our nation’s leaders we must have a similar spirit.

To pray effectively there must be a thorough, heartfelt, renunciation of anger and rebellion. To be heard in heaven, we must honor the heart of God by embracing His love for His enemies.

During this time before the elections, let us consider our ways, return to the Lord and pray that righteousness would be exalted.

Posted in Law & Politics Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

June 19th, 2009 by Frank Turek

Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org

My friend David has a knack for cutting through the smokescreens people throw up when they’re trying to avoid making commitments, be they commitments to God or to other people. Last week, with one comment, he blew away all the smoke that a young agnostic was hiding behind. It was a demonstration of tremendous insight, and it required some courage to say.

For several weeks David was teaching through a series on Christian apologetics, which involves providing evidence for the truth of Christianity. In addition to the biblical mandate to provide such evidence, David thought it would be wise to do so because 75 percent of Christian youth stop attending church after age 18. Many of them abandon the church because they’re bombarded by secularism in college and they’ve never been taught any of the sound evidence that supports Christianity.

Last week, after David finished a presentation refuting the “new atheists”—Dawkins, Hitchens and the like—a young man approached him and said, “I once was a Christian, but now I’m an agnostic, and I don’t think you should be doing what you’re doing.”

“What do you mean?” David asked.

“I don’t think you should be giving arguments against atheists,” the young man said. “Jesus told us to love, and it’s not loving what you’re doing.”

David said, “No, that’s not right. Jesus came with both love and tuth. Love without truth is a swampy, borderless mess. Truth is necessary. In fact, it’s unloving to keep truth from people, especially if that truth has eternal consequences.”

David was absolutely right. In fact, if you look at Matthew chapter 23, Jesus was more like a drill sergeant than he was like Mister Rogers.

But the young man would have none of it. Without acknowledging David’s point, he immediately brought up another objection to Christianity. David succinctly answered that one too, but again the kid seemed uninterested. He fired a couple of more objections at David, who began to suspect something else was up—something I’ve noticed as well.

I’ve found that the machine-gun-objection approach is common among many skeptics and liberals. They throw objection after objection at believers and conservatives but never pause long enough to listen to the answers. It doesn’t matter that you’ve just answered their question with an undeniable fact—they’ve already left that topic and are rattling off another objection on another topic as if you hadn’t said a word. They don’t really seem interested in finding answers but in finding reasons to make themselves feel better about what they want to believe.

After all, a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.

David recognized that’s exactly what was happening in his conversation. So after the kid fired off another objection, David decided to end the charade and cut right to the heart. He said, “You’re raising all of these objections because you’re sleeping with your girlfriend. Am I right?”

All the blood drained from the kid’s face. He was caught. He just stood there speechless. He was rejecting God because he didn’t like God’s morality, and he was disguising it with alleged intellectual objections.

This young man wasn’t the first atheist or agnostic to admit that his desire to follow his own agenda was keeping him out of the Kingdom. In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul revealed this tendency we humans have to “suppress the truth” about God in order to follow our own desires. In other words, unbelief is more motivated by the heart than the head. Some prominent atheists have admitted this.

Atheist Julian Huxley, grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog” Thomas Huxley, famously said many years ago that the reason he and many of his contemporaries “accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn‘t want God to interfere with our sexual mores.”

Professor Thomas Nagel of NYU more recently wrote, “It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time.”

Certainly the new atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have problems with cosmic authority. Hitchens refuses to live under the “tyranny of a divine dictatorship.” Dawkins calls the God of the Bible a “malevolent bully” (among other things) and admits that he is “hostile to religion.”

It’s not that Hitchens and Dawkins offer any serious examination and rebuttal of the evidence for God. They misunderstand and dismiss hundreds of pages of metaphysical argumentation from Aristotle, Aquinas and others and fail to answer the modern arguments from the beginning and design of the universe. (Dawkins explanation for the extreme design of the universe is “luck.”)

Instead, as any honest reader of their books will see, Hitchens and Dawkins are outraged at the very thought of God. Even their titles scream out contempt (god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and The God Delusion). They don’t seem to realize that their moral outrage presupposes an objective moral standard that exists only if God exists. Objective morality—as well as the immaterial laws of reason and science—cannot exist in the materialist universe they attempt to defend.

In effect, they have to borrow from a theistic worldview in order to argue against it. They have to sit in God’s lap to slap his face.

While both men are very good writers, Hitchens and Dawkins are short on evidence and long on attitude. As I mentioned in our debate, you can sum up Christopher’s attitude in one sentence: “There is no God, and I hate him.”

Despite this, God’s attitude as evidenced by the sacrifice of Christ is: There are atheists, and I love them.

Posted in Philosophy & Science Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,