PAUL’S LETTER TO THE PHILIPPIANS – THE ANTIDOTE FOR THE SIN OF CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM

The book of Philippians is the complete opposite of Christian Nationalism – an ideology which drapes the gospel of Christ in the American Flag, and justifies political slander, hate, malice, strife, and all manner of falsehoods in the name of religious values.

In Philippians 1:12 – 13 Paul says, “I would ye understood,  brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds (sufferings) in Christ are manifest in all the palace, in in all other places.”

Matthew Henry says, “Paul’s sufferings made him known at court, where perhaps he would never have otherwise been known; and this might lead some of them to enquire after the gospel for which he suffered, which they might otherwise have never heard of. When his bonds were manifest in the palace, they were manifest in all other places. The sentiments of the court have great influence on the sentiments of all the people.”

By the sufferings Paul endured for Christ, the gospel had infiltrated Caesar’s household. This is evident in Paul valedictorian to the Philippians – All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  ~ Philippians 4:22

Through Paul the gospel had reached the palace, but not through political means, as this is not God’s design. Rather it had reached the palace by the devoted life of Paul to Christ, which was magnified by the things Paul suffered for Christ. Paul doesn’t credit his preaching, but instead, his sufferings for Christ. Never do we see Paul engaging in political strategies among worldly authorities. Paul reminds the Philippians that Jesus Christ is our Lord (Philippians 2:8-11), and that we are to be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we are to shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life (Philippians 2:15-16), for our citizenship is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM – THE SIN OF THE AMERICAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH

The best description I have ever heard of Christian Nationalism is, draping the gospel in an American flag.

A gospel draped in an American Flag is a false gospel, and this is the sin of the evangelical church in the United States at this hour. Nowhere is patriotism for one’s earthly country taught in the New Testament. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic if it’s kept in check under the fruit of the Spirit of self control, but we must understand that as Christians, this world is not our home and our true citizenship is in Heaven.

We are first and foremost ambassadors for Christ, living as in a foreign land. We are the children of Abraham, and like fathers in the faith, we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ~ Hebrews 11:13

As sojourners we are to pass the time of our journey in this world in the fear of the Lord (1 Peter 1:17), and as strangers and pilgrims we are to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). We are to live honestly among the Gentiles (the world) so that they will glorify God in the day of their visitation (1 Peter 2:12). The manner of life we life before the world matters. And becoming a political, Christian Nationalist who demonizes everyone who is of the opposite political party while behaving with attitudes of malice and strife, is not of the Kingdom of God and Christ

DID JESUS AND PAUL PREACH THE SAME GOSPEL? (PART ONE)

According to Paul’s gospel, salvation is the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Was Paul’s doctrine of faith in Jesus consistent with, or foreign to the gospel preached by Jesus and the original apostles whom Jesus commissioned with the gospel? Did Jesus, and the original apostles preach salvation through faith?

To begin, consider that Jesus emphasized faith before Paul ever did. Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom, telling people to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). And it was Jesus who commissioned his disciples to go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Jesus declared “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (v.16).

In his gospel, the apostle John highlights the importance of faith in Jesus in relation to salvation. John begins his gospel by declaring that Jesus was the Word of God made flesh, and says the following in his prelude:

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:10-13

Belief in Jesus, the Son of God, is the central message of John’s gospel who wrote the things he did that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. ~ John 20:31

John makes this statement in view of Thomas’s encounter with Jesus after his resurrection. Thomas, who was one of Jesus’s disciples did not believe the reports of Jesus’s resurrection by those who had claimed he was alive.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. ~ John 20:24-25

John tells us that eight days later Jesus appeared to the disciples and Thomas was there with them. When Thomas saw Jesus, Jesus said to him, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing (v. 27). 

Next we are told the following:

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:28-31

As I close this first post on this topic, I want you to notice that John says “by believing you might have life through his name.” Faith in Jesus is not merely a get out out hell free card, or a free pass into Heaven. Instead, it is life from the dead. Genuine faith in Jesus changes us, and that change begins because God’s Spirit fills our hearts through our faith in Jesus.

Blessings…

WHY I DID NOT VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP – A TEXT TO A DEAR FRIEND

I recently sent the following text to a dear friend:

Brother, I just want to let you know that I did not vote for Donald Trump this time around. I voted for Joe Biden. As a result I have been called a baby killer and told I like pedophiles. I have been told I am leading people to hell. 

I saw what Trump was provoking in evangelicals (the cult like loyalty) and turning people away from the purity of the gospel. What happened on Jan 6th at the US Capitol is just the tip of the iceberg of how deep into sin Trumpism is leading people. Evangelicals have lost so much credibility with the world and I am very grieved by this.

I hope this does not change our friendship, but I wanted you to know. It’s not about politics, its about the state of Christianity in our country and the heart of evangelicals.

I have written a number of articles addressing this and I pray that Pastors will have the courage to teach their congregations to live after the Spirit of Christ, being people of grace, compassion, understanding, and patience, rather than people of political strife and hatred towards those who have differing views. 

We will never win the lost through political warfare, only through the gospel of Christ. 

Jesus said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, because you have love one for another. If we would truly listen, we would see that God is actually using the lost to tell us that we are not representing his Son. And that is to the church’s shame. 

Thank you. I love you and I hope I haven’t disappointed you.

A REMINDER TO EVANGELICALS – CHRIST CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Evangelicals need to be reminded that Christ came into the world to save sinners. Paul refers to this as “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation…” 

A faithful saying is a timeless message, and an enduring truth. Worthy of all acceptation means it’s it something we must never forget and always be mindful of.  I think this is why Paul says in the next breath, “of whom I am Chief.” Paul did not view himself as the chief of sinners because of a sense of guilt, but rather from a heart of gratitude.

Paul never wanted to forget that he once was lost and God had mercy. Paul then tells Timothy, that his own salvation was a pattern of God’s great salvation to those whom God would save after him. Paul understood the depth of his sinful past, and even so God was merciful, for Christ had come into the world to save sinners. 

In his letter to Titus, Paul tells Titus to remind the people to be examples of godliness with regards to governing authorities, and to speak evil of no man, and not to be brawlers (abusive, fighting, etc.) but rather be gentle, showing meekness to all men (not only to Christians, but all men) because we too were at one time foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving different lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 

Too many evangelicals are sending the wrong message of us vs. them. We are not an exclusive group whom God favors and while hating sinners. God forbid! Instead, we are people who have been saved by the grace of God and at one time we too were lost and we should never forget it. If we do, we forget our calling and our purpose.

Christ came into the world to save sinners and has called us as co-laborers with him so that through us the savor of the knowledge Christ might be known in every place, so that the world can taste and see that the Lord is gracious. 

IN RESPONSE TO MARIO MURILLO

The following is a response to Mario Murillo’s article: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED BETWEEN THE PROPHETS AND THE ELECTION.

Mr. Murillo, in the beginning of your article you give this qualifier, “I did not prophesy a Trump victory, but I supported the true prophets who did.”

In response, it is highly questionable that those who prophesied of Donald Trump’s reelection are true prophets. While I do not know which ones you are specifically referencing that you supported, I do know many of the so-called prophets who predicted Donald Trump’s re-election did not repent but instead doubled down after he lost the election. Many of them continued to give more false prophecies, claiming that Trump would still win the election. At the time of my writing this, there are some who are still claiming Donald Trump will be President (not in 2024, but this time around), and the inauguration of Joe Biden was more than 2 weeks ago.

In your article, you argue that the prophecies were not wrong, but instead “lukewarm” Christians were to blame for Trump not winning. Are lukewarm Christians the reason these prophets kept spewing out false prophecies for weeks after the election was over? What about those who continued to claim that Donald Trump will be President even after the inauguration of Joe Biden? Are lukewarm Christians also responsible for these prophecies being false? Where does it end, and when are those who prophesied falsely (causing much damage to the cause of Christ) going to be held accountable?

Even after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, there are those among evangelical ministers who refuse to acknowledge the presidency of Joe Biden. Such behavior is not a display of spirituality, but rather of pride and disobedience to the Word of God with regards to how we are to conduct ourselves as servants of Christ.

Respectfully, these prophets you are defending did not speak on behalf of God. They followed Donald’s Trump’s lead who months before the election was making assertions that the only way he could lose the election was if it was rigged. The false claim that the election was stolen comes from Trump’s rhetoric, not from revelation from God. The so-called prophets prophesied by inspiration from Donald Trump, and not by inspiration from the Lord.

In your article, you do not place the responsibility for their false prophecies where it belongs. Instead you blame, as I mentioned above, lukewarm Christians who did not vote for Trump or pray for his reelection. Since when did support for Donald Trump become the gold standard for determining whether a Christian is dedicated to the Lord or not? By declaring such things, you are defending false prophecy with false accusations and advancing Christian Nationalism instead of sound doctrine according to the truth of the gospel of Christ. 

The “Trump prophets” were wrong because their prophecies were not from God!

Some of these very same “prophets” boasted against the coronavirus, prophesying false hope as if it would pass over quickly with minimal effects on the United States. Were those false prophecies also the fault of lukewarm Christians?

Did any of the false prophets you are defending warn of extremism and deadly violence which we saw play out at our nation’s Capitol because of Donald Trump’s rhetoric? Did any of them warn against “cult loyalty” to Trump and the detriment it would cause to evangelical credibility? Did any of these Trump prophets ever stand up to speak truth to power and hold Donald Trump accountable? There were many opportunities to do just that. Did any of them warn evangelicals against the political rabbit hole leading to right wing extremism?

A fundamental problem with your defense of these “prophets” is the misrepresentation of what the ministry of a prophet actually is. The prophets in scripture were not fortune tellers going around predicting the future and casting blame on others when they were wrong. The prophets in scripture, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, were preachers of the Word of God who spoke God’s Word with integrity regarding righteousness and truth. Within the context of serving God in righteousness, God would show them what he was going to do, and they would prophesy accordingly, and God fulfilled his words!

In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter said of the words of the prophets that spoke of Christ, “… those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” ~ Acts 3:18

Nothing Israel or any other nation had done could stop the words of God from coming to pass which he had spoken by the mouth of his prophets. If God says it, he will fulfill it! God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? ~ Numbers 23:19

Be careful you do not fall into the error of defending false prophecy with false teaching about prophecy.

You referenced of 2 Kings 13, with the following explanation:

We read in 2 Kings 13 about a prophetic prediction. Jehoash the king faces the doom of the Syrians and beseeches the prophet Elisha for God’s help. “And Elisha said to him, ‘Take bow and arrows.’ And he took bow and arrows. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Put your hand upon the bow.’ And (Jehoash) put his hand upon it, and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. And (Elisha) said, ‘Open the window to the east.’ And he opened it. Then Elisha said, ‘Shoot.’ And he shot. And (Elisha) said, ‘The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria. For you shall smite the Syrians in Aphek until you have destroyed them.’ Then he said, ‘Take the arrows.’ And he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike on the ground.’ And he struck three times and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had destroyed it. But now you shall strike Syria down only three times” (2 Kings 13:15-19).First, Elisha prophesies the complete destruction of Syria at Aphek, saying, “For you shall smite the Syrians in Aphek till you have destroyed them.” But the king failed to seize the promise, and rather than striking repeatedly, Jehoash made a half-hearted effort. The promise, though valid was thwarted, and the prophet said, “But now you shall strike Syria down only three times.”

This text has nothing to do with the Trump prophecies falling because of lukewarm Christians. Jehoash, the King of Israel, came to Elijah while on his deathbed. This all happened in the same setting, and Jehoash’s failure to strike the ground 5 or 6 times occurred before his encounter with Syria in which he was told exactly how it would turn out before he engaged in that battle.

Elijah did not prophesy about the King’s encounter with Syria and then after the battle give an excuse as to why his prophecy did not come to pass. This was a dialogue in a single setting and all occurred beforehand. Elijah told the King exactly what would happen before it happened, and then Elijah died in the same setting.

In your interpretation of the scriptural reference above, you say the following:

That is a direct parallel with what happened in America. There were true prophets and false prophets. And, while their messages about Trump seemed the same, there was a stark difference. The true prophets rightly coupled the promise of Trump’s victory with a call for the Church to repent. But the false prophets spoke as if we were entitled to an automatic victory. We also entered a “but now” moment, just as the king did. Elisha said, “But now you shall strike Syria down only three times.” In the same way, now, we got an election win, but not the victory to carry us over the finish line. Just as the prophet ordered the king to “take arrows and strike the ground,” so God ordered the American Church to rally around Trump. The true remnant struck the ground, but many others did not. Some misguided voices diluted the church’s ability to run with the prophetic promise.

In response to your assertion that the true prophets rightly coupled the promise of Trump’s victory with a call for the church to repent. I ask the following: repent of what? Not supporting Donald Trump? Your entire message is steeped in Christian nationalism rather than the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Biblical repentance has nothing to do with supporting a political candidate to win an election so as to enforce your morality on others.

By saying “we got an election win,” you are advancing a lie. Donald Trump lost this election. Your claim that God ordered the American church to rally around Trump is a false statement. There is not a single text in all of the New Testament that supports the ideology that Jesus would order his church to vote for a political figure and those who didn’t would be in disobedience.  I walk with God and I voted for Joe Biden. I received no directive from the Lord ordering me to vote for Donald Trump, and I am sure there are many others who would say the same.

You then claimed “the true remnant struck the ground, but many did not.”

When did Donald Trump and MAGA politics become the plumb line for determining who is the “true remnant” of believers among Christians in the United States? Christ alone is the standard for the people of God and Christ alone is the Captain of our salvation, not Donald Trump!

In your closing, you reiterated saying, Nevertheless, we struck the enemy three times, and we actually did win the election. Trump won by a landslide. But we did not get the full victory that would have come if the fraud had been exposed and overturned. That victory was in God’s original plan, but the American Church’s response was simply too little, too late. We could have taken more authority over demonic power. We needed the lukewarm to repent. That is why we saw the Supreme Court collapse, and why Mike Pence and other Republican leaders chose to save their own political careers, rather than save the nation. On January 6th, a demonic blanket of evil fell over Washington as Antifa, and BLM protestors posing as Trump supporters, along with a few misguided rightwing extremists, allowed the march to walk into a trap, release great tragedy, and handed the enemy an excuse to try and destroy Trump permanently. That plus the lethal combination of ‘woke’ Christians, false prophets, and assorted cowards, combined to weaken the enforcement of the true prophecy that Trump would remain in the White House. Instead, we have a puppet and a Jezebel spirit lurking in the people’s house.

Nevermind the fact that Donald Trump’s contesting of the election failed in court some 60 plus times. In all, there were approximately 86 lawsuits by Trump and others contesting the election results. Nearly all the suits were dismissed or dropped due to lack of evidence. Nevermind the fact that Mike Pence had a constitutional responsibility to oversee the certification of the electoral college votes, and there was nothing he could legally do to give Trump the victory. Never-mind the fact that Trump supporters made videos of themselves breaching the Capitol which they posted on social media sites, and are now being rounded up by the FBI.

Nevermind the truth –  it’s somebody else’s fault, it’s those lukewarm and woke Christians. Could it be the real culprits for Trump’s loss were those who built a shrine to him in their thoughts? Maybe the American evangelical church needs to get their focus on God and on Christ again and become the fragrance of Christ to our fellow Americans rather than trying to bring our country under our rule of Americanized Christianity. Just maybe we need a refresher course in true Biblical evangelism.