Are Christians Being Treated Fairly by Politicians?
Are Christians Being Treated Fairly by Politicians?
I live in California, and there are many Christians here – and around the United States – who think that at this point, in the response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Christians and churches are being treated unfairly by politicians and public health officials. People notice that many businesses and some gatherings are permitted to open or operate, some with restrictions, some without restrictions. Yet, churches are being surveilled, are being sued, restraining orders are issued, threatening letters are sent, violations are being cited – all this regarding gatherings for worship.
In titling this video, I chose the line “Are Christians Being Treated Fairly by Politicians?” but really what I am talking about is consistency. After all, consistency is an important part of fairness. So, are politicians being consistent in their treatment of Christians and churches? By politicians, I mean governors, mayors, city council members, county supervisors. Are public health officials and government workers being consistent in their treatment of Christians and churches? Are judges being consistent in their treatment of Christians and churches? Is this fair or unfair?
As I have thought about it, I have come to the conclusion that most politicians and government workers are being completely consistent in their treatment of Christians and churches. I think it is really important for us to understand and learn from their consistency.
To understand their consistency, you need to understand their principles. You might think their principle is: the highest priority is public health and slowing or stopping the spread of disease, and we must do everything possible to stop or slow the spread of this dangerous, deadly disease. Now, if that was their operating principle, then I would say that at least here in California, many politicians and public officials are being terribly inconsistent. I would point out that when I go to the big warehouse store, or the home improvement center, or the supermarket, I see people gathering together inside buildings, in about the same way they would or could gather together at churches or houses of worship. I would point out that large public gatherings have been allowed and even endorsed by many of these politicians, public health officials, and government workers. I would point out that people of faith have gone so far as to have meetings in gambling casinos (where they could legally gather) instead of their own houses of worship (where they could not legally gather). So, if the principle is public health and stopping a disease, then these politicians and others are being terribly inconsistent and unfair to religious people, including Christians.
What I recently realized is that our leaders are operating on a different principle, and according to thatprinciple they are being completely consistent. Here is the actual principle that our leaders operate on: public health and stopping the disease are important, but there are certain things that are more important. So, it is important to stop the disease, but it is more important to keep certain stores open. It is important to stop the disease, but it is more important to keep liquor store and marijuana dispensaries open. It is important to stop the disease, but it is more important to allow certain political protests. It is important to stop the disease, but it is more important to get gambling casinos running again.
Here’s the real problem: most of our leaders don’t think that churches and other houses of worship are important. Oh, they may say they think they are important; but their actions say otherwise. Christians are often judged more on their actions than their words, and often it’s right to judge politicians and public officials the same way. At least in California, the way many politicians, public health officials, government workers, and judges are treating Christians, churches, and houses of worship shows that religion, faith, whatever – is, in their opinion, completely unimportant. In other words, whether churches meet or don’t meet really makes no difference for the community. For them, churches and houses of worship are just another “non-essential” operation.
Let’s pretend there is a social organization in your community – the Rotary Club or the Elk’s Club, and those groups have regular meetings. You probably wouldn’t think it was a big deal to tell them, “For safety’s sake, you need to shut down for an extended time.” It’s not because you are especially against the Rotary Club or the Elk’s Club – it’s just that you really don’t know that much about them, but shutting them down for an extended period can’t really make that much of a difference. That’s how most public officials see Christianity and churches. It’s something like this: “Sure, do whatever you want to do. But what you do isn’t really important and it doesn’t have any real meaning.” That’s why it’s easy – even natural – for many of them to do extended shut-downs and to do very little to accommodate churches and houses of worship.
Now, we Christians believe differently. We think that it is vitally important that the people of God gather together in some way. For some it will be smaller groups, for others it will be larger groups. Some churches have little problem working with the restrictions the government requires; other churches find it impossible and reluctantly defy the restrictions governmental leaders institute. We know that in whatever way that Christians gather, those gatherings are vitally helpful for the spiritual, mental, and even physical well-being of the community. We see that it is no accident that suicide attempts have increased so much in recent months, that so many more people have been depressed, and that anxiety cripples so many people. Christians don’t think that church meetings are a “fix” that eliminates all these problems, but that when people of faith get together as they should, it helps a lot.
Many of our leaders don’t see this at all. To them, people who take religion or faith seriously are strange. This should not surprise us. For many years our culture – especially our leaders – have become more and more secular, more and more detached from any kind of religious faith or experience. They don’t believe in God in any meaningful, life-impacting way, and they are mystified at those who do. When they think of “essential services,” churches are the last thing on their mind. Think about it: when is the last time you saw a real, honest portrayal of a religious person in a major Hollywood movie, video, or television series? Our life of faith is almost completely foreign to most of them.
I’m really not talking about this to complain about it. We don’t expect the world to love us or understand us. For the most part, the world did not love or understand Jesus, and as Jesus said – the servant is not greater than the master. That’s just the way it is, and we need to be careful about exaggerating things or living as perpetual victims. No matter what our political, cultural, or societal leaders think about us – we are winners in Jesus Christ.
I don’t think that we, as Christians, should expect or desire any special favors or status from the government. But we should not be blind to the reality of the situation: most of our political and cultural leaders have no regard for religion, faith, or people of faith at all. I’m not saying they are necessarily hostile or biased against them; I’m simply saying that many of them have no regard for religion at all. What Christians believe and do seems strange, mysterious, and maybe bizarre to them. Whatever it is that churches and houses of worship do, it really doesn’t have anything to do with really helping people or the community. They don’t think that churches and houses of worship really help the community – they do whatever it is they do, but they aren’t source of much good for the community.
So, when it is time to elect public officials, take a look at how they regard Christians and other religious people. The way most public officials are acting today (at least in California), they see no real value in churches or houses of worship. Maybe that is important to you, maybe it isn’t – but you should be real about it either way.
Now, I wonder what it would be like if there was a politician, government worker, or judge listening to this, and they would protest: “David, I really do value what churches and houses of worship do. I think they are an important part of the community.” If that is you – that’s wonderful! Then my only question is, “Are you actinglike you value what churches and houses of worship do?”
Whatever the government or other leaders do – we’re going to follow Jesus Christ and be faithful to Him.
How can I live a disciplined Christian life?
Whenever we’re talking about discipline, we’re talking about the habits of life. There are practical ways to build strong and good habits. Basically, it just is a principle of starting with something small, being faithful with it, and then building upon it. For example, you can make a strong commitment that you’re going to spend five minutes a day in prayer and follow through on that small commitment. Someone might say, what good is just five minutes a day? What can be accomplished in prayer in five minutes? First of all, a lot can be accomplished in five minutes of prayer! But it is also important to see that in when we establish a small habit, get that ingrained, it makes it so much easier to build upon it. Someone can make the commitment to read three Bible verses a day, starting small but being faithful, and then building upon.
This applies to the basic Christian disciplines of worship, prayer, reading our Bible, thinking deeply upon God’s word (if you want to use the word meditation), fasting, or other spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. These are basic principles of habit-building that God has put into us as human beings. This is how we’re wired. Start small, be faithful to it, and then you build upon those habits. People say it takes 14 days or 21 days or something like that to establish a habit. If you’ll do something every day for those two or three weeks, you will begin to ingrain a habit into your life. We want to build good and godly habits.
Did Old Testament saints understand God the Son?
How did the Old Testament saints perceive God the Son, or how was God the Son revealed to them?
The more direct understanding of the Triune God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is most clearly revealed in the New Testament. Yet there was much about the triune nature of God for Old Testament saints to understand. They could understand that Yahweh, the name of the Triune God, We see in the Bible that God the Father is Yahweh, God the Son is Yahweh, and God the Holy Spirit is Yahweh. Old Testament saints could understand that Yahweh could appear among humanity, such as in the instances where it says that the LORD visited people as the messenger, the angel of the LORD. They could also realize that the promised Messiah would be undeniably human yet also at the same time God, and would be called the Son of God. From these different pieces, they could bring together an elementary understanding of God the Son, but they were not revealed with greater clarity until the New Testament.
What they could understand from the Old Testament is that there is one God (Yahweh) and that God reveals himself in different ways, revealing Himself as the transcendent God in heaven, revealing Himself in some human-like appearance on Earth, revealing Himself in the Holy Spirit – they could understand these things. They could also understand that the Promised Messiah would be divine. These strands could be perceived from the Old Testament, but other than that, it had to be one of those things that was more clearly revealed in the New Testament.
Can the Holy Spirit leave the life of a believer?
Today, can the Holy Spirit leave from a person’s life? I met a person that says that if the Holy Spirit does leave, that you have to fast 40 days to bring it back.
I presume that you’re speaking about a believer who does something to grieve the Holy Spirit, and then the idea is that this believer would have to fast for 40 days and then the Holy Spirit would come back to them. To say it simply, that is a very harmful and legalistic way to think.
Of course, it is true that a believer can grieve the Holy Spirit. The New Testament tells us to not grieve the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30). But the New Testament also tells us that if anyone belongs to Christ, they have the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is given to us as a down payment (2 Corinthians 1:22). If a person is born again, if they are a believer in Jesus, then they have the Holy Spirit.
Of course, I don’t want to exclude the idea of continual and future new experiences with the Holy Spirit, fresh fillings and fresh outpourings of the Spirit. Yet everybody who is truly a believer has the Holy Spirit as an abiding possession. So the idea that the Holy Spirit could leave a believer and we kind of have to earn His return by 40 days of fasting is an unbiblical concept, and to me sounds quite legalistic. Fasting is a wonderful and important part of the Christian life, but it isn’t done to earn things such as earning the return of the Holy Spirit.
Do you need permission to quote from commentaries?
I was wondering what it was like to quote from other commentators in your commentary. Did you have to get permission from them or just acknowledge that the quote was them?
It is my understanding that to quote small excerpts from other people’s works, you don’t have to formally get their permission. If you go to my commentary at enduringword.com, at the bottom of every page there is a copyright statement because my commentary is copyrighted, both the English commentary and the Spanish commentary. I get many kinds of emails from people saying, “I want to quote you in my sermon – is that okay?” I always say, “Yes, that’s absolutely okay. The only reason I put that statement in there is because I don’t want anybody to sell or make money off of my Bible Commentary without my permission – it is fine for your personal use.” I’m happy for other people to give it away.
So, that being said, you don’t need special permission to quote or cite another author, but integrity tells us that when we use a quote, or a dominant thought from another author, that we at least acknowledge that it’s their thought or their quote. In this sense it’s not a matter of legality, it’s more a matter of ethics, of being honest about our work. That is what I endeavor to do in my work.
What if Christians continually struggle with the same sins?
According to Galatians 5:19-21, those who practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. If a believer never overcomes a practice of sins and dies, will he or she be saved? What are your thoughts?
This is a question that can’t be answered by merely outward observation, because outwardly we don’t have an absolutely positive way to always tell if a person is born again or not. We know that it is possible for a person who is born again to struggle with sin. If I counsel someone in that situation, what I am most concerned about is noting whether or not that person has given up in their struggle against sin – if they have, so to speak, surrendered to their sin, or if they struggle against their sin, yet sometimes find themselves overcome in that sin. But at the same time, they feel guilty about their sin and wish to overcome it.
But if a person’s attitude is, “I do this sin, but who cares? Everybody has their own sin. This is mine. I don’t care.” In those cases, this may be evidence that their heart is not made new by God at all. So, these are things that can’t be immediately understood just by looking from the outside. We have biblical principles, but sometimes how those principles specifically apply is only fully understood and known by God.
What does it mean to live a holy life?
What is living a holy life? What does living a holy life mean in the sense of “without spot or blemish or wrinkle” according to Ephesians 5:27?
The reference is to Ephesians 5, where Paul explains what Jesus is working in the church. Ephesians 5:27 says about the church: that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Here is the simple idea – that this is God’s work in the church, this work of sanctification and continual cleansing. This work in the church will be ultimately completed and perfected in heaven, in the resurrection. On this side of eternity, nobody’s sanctification is perfect, but it it should be moving in a direction of increasing holiness.
If you are still dealing with the same sins, in the same way now, that you were dealing with 10 years ago, I think that’s a danger signal for your Christian life. I’m not trying to preach some kind of sinless perfection; we are going to deal with sin until the day we die, when on that day our salvation will be complete and we will be glorified, the last aspect of our salvation.
Until that time, we should be growing and godliness growing in grace. And if we’re still dealing with the same sins in the same measures in our life today as we were 10 years ago, then something is not quite right. And we need to give attention to this in our life. So that kind of perfect sanctification is waiting for our glorification, but it should be moving on a trajectory in this life. Older saints are to be better, not bitter; but the mere passage of time does not sanctify a person. We need to continually yield to Jesus Christ and bring those things to Him.
Is there any passage in the Bible that explains the whole gospel?
Is there any passage in the Bible that proclaims the whole gospel?
The best definition of the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15, where the Apostle Paul declared the content of his gospel. There it says, For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. That’s simply it. That’s the gospel and those are the events of the gospel. What those events mean, and how they are applied is explained in the rest of the Scriptures.
I can’t think of a succinct verse or two that explains the gospel and all its implications. I have a message on this on my YouTube channel titled, “When the Gospel Comes in Power” that speaks more about the gospel and its implications (https://youtu.be/-eCuknbynTE).
We have 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that describes for us the content or the core of the gospel, but the meaning and the effects of the gospel is really explained throughout the whole Bible.
Are we in the beginning of the “birth pains” of the return of Jesus Christ?
What do you say when someone asks you if you think this time we’re living in is the beginning of the birth pains that the Bible talks about in Matthew 24?
It is good for Christians to believe that Jesus Christ is coming soon. I think that Jesus has given reasons for every generation to have the expectation that He could or would be returning soon. As I look around at the world today, I see that the stage is set. I see that the Bible describes a certain spiritual environment, political environment, cultural environment, a governmental environment, economic environment, and technological environment. The Bible describes all these different aspects of the world in the very last days, the stage seems set now more than ever.
Does that absolutely mean that Jesus Christ is going to return the next year, or five years, or 10 years? I don’t know. But it just tells me that I need to be ready for his return, and that it is a good thing for Christians to live with a proper expectancy of the return of Jesus Christ.
What is a good book to teach me how to preach the gospel to those who don’t yet believe?
I don’t do a lot of contemporary reading, so the books that come to my mind are older books, and some of them you may know, and some of them you may not know. I can suggest Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; it is a wonderful evangelistic book. Other books are More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell – it is an older book, but again, excellent for evangelism. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a couple decades old now, but it is a wonderful book. Gayle Erwin is a friend of mine and has a great book titled The Jesus Style, and is a great book for anyone to understand and appreciate Jesus.
Do unbelievers go straight to hell when they die?
Believers go straight to heaven when they die. So, do unbelievers go straight to hell when they die?
You can go through some of the teaching on my YouTube channel, especially one from a short series titled “Earth, Hell, and Heaven” (https://youtu.be/lMWqaoocr20).
It is correct that believers go directly to heaven, as Paul said, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul said that it would be advantageous for him to be with the Lord, not that he would be in some kind of suspended animation or soul sleep. But I would say that the best indication (though I want to acknowledge we wish the scriptures gave us more understanding about this) is simply to say this, that when unbelievers die, they go to a place of torment called Hades. And there they await the final judgment sometimes known as the Great White Throne Judgment. After that all the guilty will be consigned to the lake of fire. That’s the order of judgment for those who reject Jesus Christ, and who don’t want to have anything to do with the salvation that Jesus offers. The second death would be that that final condemnation that comes to people from their rejection of Jesus Christ.
What is sin, more than missing the mark?
What is sin other than just missing the mark?
The Bible uses many different words to describe sin: iniquity, transgression, offence, unrighteousness, evil deeds, and more. The Bible uses so many different words because our sin is a many faceted thing. There are many different angles regarding sin, how we sin and practice sin – there is no one word that can define our sin. Sin is actually explained by a broad vocabulary of words in the Old and the New Testament.
What does it mean in Romans 8, “the Spirit groans within us”?
Can you please explain what it means that the Spirit groans things that can’t be uttered in Romans 8? I’ve heard some folks say that this is a reference to tongues.
The reference in Romans 8:23 is this: Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. I don’t think that that’s speaking of the gift of tongues. Now, in some sense it could refer to the gift of tongues, but that’s not really the fundamental sense behind it. The fundamental sense of “groanings” is that these things cannot even be uttered, and whatever you want to say about the exercise of the gift of tongues, it’s something that can be uttered. It’s God’s way of expressing this idea that when there are things that are so deep within us, that we can’t even find any words to express, even then the Holy Spirit hears. So, I wouldn’t rule out the gift of tongues in this, but it doesn’t really seem to be the focus of it at all. These are more things that cannot be uttered.
Who are the sons of God and the Nephilim in Genesis 6?
Who are the sons of God and Nephilim in Genesis 6:4?
There are Christians who have widely different opinions on this, but I will give you my opinion. Let me preface it by saying this: I believe that every possible explanation of the sons of God and the Nephilim in Genesis 6 has some difficulty attached to it. I hold to what I believe not because it has zero difficulties, but because I think the difficulties it has are to be preferred to the difficulties of the other positions.
I hold that the “sons of God” were some expression of the demonic; either demonic beings or a unique form of demonic possession. But they were some manifestation of the demonic; that is, that the “daughters of men” were human beings, and that there was something unnatural about the offspring between this manifestation of the demonic and the human.
This is an opinion of the text that is mocked by many people. They think it sounds like some weird science fiction thing, and I agree it sounds a bit strange. But I think that is the best explanation of the evidence, when you take what it says in Genesis and in Jude.
Were the Hebrews warning passages written to believers?
What are the various views on the Hebrews warning passages? And were they believers that we’re in danger of falling away or not?
That that’s certainly how it appears in the text. I know there are people who say it’s not speaking to believers, it speaks to unbelievers that just happened to be among Christians.
However, there’s no specific indication of that in the text. Theoretically, that could be true. But we see the purpose of these passages is to give rise to a proper self-examination for every believer. When we read these warning passages, we should take them seriously.
What we shouldn’t say is, “I am born again, so I don’t have to worry about that.” No, we should take them seriously and say, “What does this speak to me about my Christian life and how I need to be continually faithful to God?” I believe that if you are truly born again, you will persist in your Christian life – you will persevere if you want to use that terminology. This is part of the way that God builds perseverance in His saints is through such warning passages.
There is a danger for Christians to be so focused on theoretical theology saying, “In theory, someone who is really a believer can never fall away,” that they miss what’s right in front of their face – a warning to you, dear believer, so take it seriously. I don’t want to blunt the impact of those warnings. This is something for every believer, and for people who just are church attenders, but not believers, not actual believers. It’s something for them to give attention to as well.
Do you believe in the pre, mid, or post tribulation rapture?
I believe in the pretribulation rapture. You can find videos on my YouTube channel (such as https://youtu.be/2QiXG7bpKec). Just as I said with a previous question, I hold this position recognizing that it has some difficulties. I believe every position regarding the end times and the rapture of the church has some difficulties; I prefer the difficulties presented by the pre-tribulation rapture concept to the difficulties of the other approaches. I just think we have to be very real about this and realize that they, there are weaknesses to every position, you just have to carefully weigh out and decide what weaknesses you think are preferred.
How can I live a consistent Christian life?
How can one stick to a consistent spiritual life without backsliding?
I mentioned this in answer to question in the very beginning of the video, where we simply talked about building spiritual habits, spiritual disciplines such as reading your Bible, thinking deeply upon the scriptures or meditating on the scriptures, prayer, worship, fasting, evangelism, and getting together with God’s people. These are spiritual disciplines.
We build these habits by starting small, by being consistent and letting the habits build.