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MON
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Bible Search
Voting Our Christian Values
Who Is God’s Candidate?
Selected Scriptures
 
One of the measures before voters this fall is State Question 790 which deals with the use of public resources for religious purposes.  If approved, this question would repeal Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which reads, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”
 
SQ 790 was placed on the ballot by the Oklahoma Legislature in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that required the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds based on this section of the Constitution. 
 
So the governor asked the legislature to consider amending the constitution to clear the way for the Ten Commandments to be legal placed at the Capital. 
 
It seems to me here is a greater question that needs to be answered than whether or not it is unconstitutional to post the Law of God and that is what place shall faith, and in particular, Christianity have in our society. 
 
As you know, there are those adamantly opposed to any connection between the church and state.  In fact, the driving force behind the removal of the monument at the capital is the Rev. Bruce Prescott, an ordained Southern Baptist who now heads the Oklahoma branch of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. 
 
So where should we stand?  What is the proper connection and relationship between the government and the people of God? I want to look in two places this morning to find the answer.
 
First, and it is always the first place we should look, is Scripture. 
 
  1.  A Scriptural Principle
 
Listen to what we read in
 
Psalm 33:12
 
Isn’t it amazing that in one simple, straightforward, concise verse we find all the answer we need to all the problems of any government and any society in the world? That doesn’t need any explanation or exegesis. It requires no commentary or sermon.  God has ordained to bless the nation that acknowledges Him as Lord.
 
The second place I want to look is into history.  Obviously we could look at Israel’s history or even America’s history, but this morning I want to look in another direction.
 
 
 
  1.  An Historical Perspective
 
On June 10, 1900, at the age of 84, the Bishop of Liverpool in the Church of England went to heaven. His name was J. C. Ryle. Bishop Ryle was a man of unwavering conviction and because of that, he was well-loved and strongly hated. But God used him to speak on many matters both spiritual and societal to the people of England and to the world.   
 
One of the things that was important to him was to have his people understand the relation of the church to the state, and because it was so important, he spoke often on the subject.  And he held a view that was somewhat unique.  In fact, it is almost considered foreign by today’s standards.  And yet I find it extremely compelling.   
 
Bishop Ryle recognized that what was missing in the thinking of the people of his day in England was that they tried to have a government without God, without the Bible and without the true church.
 
Ryle affirmed that man was created in the image of God and for the glory of God, and that God had planted the truth about Himself in the heart of man, that based on Romans 1 and Romans 2. He also believed God had planted His law in every human heart, but that man in a fallen condition, with a compelling, driving instinct to worship, would choose to worship anything and anyone but the true God.
 
In fact, Ryle said, and I quote, “Any worship is more pleasing to the natural heart than worshiping God in the way which our Lord Jesus Christ describes it as in spirit and in truth.”
Man is designed and created by God to worship, but man will do all that he can to substitute any and everything in the place of God.  He went on to say, “The worship of God is fundamental to life and blessing, and anything less than the worship of God, the true and living God, and an endeavor to follow His laws in society will divest a society of reverence, fear, morality, and hope.”
 
Ryle knew that God not only gave a law written in stone to His people Israel, but He gave a law written in the heart to every human being, and that law was there for all the purposes of the law. Now think about that: That means when a society or a government separates from the law of God, it cuts itself off from any kind of morality or restraint against sin.
 
If the government believes its only job is to care only for the physical, and the church believes it is only to be concerned with the spiritual, then both have made devastating mistakes. Society cannot survive caring only for physical needs; and the church cannot fulfill its mission caring only for spiritual needs.
 
There is a sense in which the church cares also for the natural, physical, temporal needs of people.  After all, Jesus said those who feed the hungry and clothe the naked and give water to the thirsty are those who are approved in judgment. 
 
But there is also an equal expectation that government should be concerned about the character of people, because if they are concerned about the character of people, they understand the critical importance of restraint by law, and the necessity of moral law, and they hold tightly to that or else they have anarchy.
 
In that regard, and this was the bedrock belief of Ryle, a secular state is a lie. Government is a divine institution. The powers that be are ordained of God. There are lots of Americans who like to talk about the constitutional requirement of the separation of church and state. But there is no mention of separation of church and state in our constitution. 
 
And what is now being espoused by those who are ignorant of God and ignorant of American history are essentially paving the way for the death of a society.
 
Bishop Ryle believed that biblical Christianity should be recognized nationally, and he believed that for this reason: It is true.  Christianity is the only true religion, therefore, only it can provide the answers and solutions that bring God’s blessing.
 
Because it is true, only laws based on it can provide true morality and restraint.  It is the true path of behavior that allows a nation to enjoy the maximum impact of God’s grace and blessing.
 
In fact, Ryle believed that biblical Christianity should be recognized nationally as being true, that the true and living God should be recognized as such, and that all laws and rules should be based on the divine revelation of Scripture so that the principles and behaviors promoted for the good of society would come out of God’s Word; and that that, first of all, make the law available for its first use, to convict sinners of sin; and its second use, to restrain sinners; and its third use, to be the way of life for those who had been redeemed.
By the way, Ryle wasn’t alone in that opinion. In 1890, A. A. Hodge, the great theologian from Princeton University warned with these words: “The atheistic doctrine is gaining currency, even among professed Christians and even among some bewildered Christian ministers, that an education provided by the common government for the children of diverse religious parties should be entirely emptied of all religious character. The claim of impartiality between positions as directly opposite as that of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and especially as that of theists and atheists is evidently absurd.”
 
In other words, he said it is absurd to think you can educate an entire society without regard to true religion, true morality, true divinity, true sacredness, true law.
 
Ryle wrote extensively against those who wanted to separate the church and the state, so that the state would have nothing to do with religion, and he said the result will be absolutely disastrous.
 
Listen to Ryle. It’s a lengthy passage, but it’s worth listening to. He said, “If we succeed in separating church and state, the government of England would allow all its subjects to serve God or Baal, to go to heaven or to another place, just as they please. The state would take no cognizance of spiritual matters, and would look on with Epicurean indifference and unconcern. The state would continue to care for the bodies of its subjects, but it would entirely ignore their souls.”
 
 
 
He went on: “Galileo, who thought Christianity was a matter of words and names, and cared for none of these things, would become the model of an English statesman, the Sovereign of Great Britain might be a papist Roman Catholic, the Prime Minister a Muslim, the Lord Chancellor a Jew. Parliament would begin without prayer. Oaths would be dispensed within courts of justice. The next king would be crowned without a religious service at Westminster Abbey. Prisons and work houses, men of war and regiments would all be left without chaplains. In short, for fear of offending infidels and people who object to intercessory prayer, I suppose that regimental bands would be forbidden to play ‘God Save the Queen.’”
 
He continues: “Scripture teaches plainly that God rules everything in this world, that He deals with nations as they deal with Him, that national prosperity and national decline are ordered by Him, and that without His blessing no nation can prosper. Whether men like to see it or not, I believe it is the first duty of a state to honor and recognize the true God. The sinews of a nation’s strength are truthfulness, honesty, sobriety, purity, temperance, economy, diligence, brotherly kindness, charity among its inhabitants. Let those deny this who dare. And will any man say that there is any surer way of producing these characteristics in a people than by encouraging and fostering and spreading and teaching pure scriptural Christianity. The man who says there is must be an infidel.”
 
He closed his statement with this: “The government which ignores religion and coolly declares that it doesn’t care whether its subjects are Christians or not is guilty of an act of suicidal folly.
Irreligion, even in a temporal point of view, is the worst enemy of a nation.”
 
On another occasion he said this: “In what manner God would punish England if English governments cast off all connection with religion; I cannot tell. Whether He would punish us by some sudden blow such as a defeat in war and the occupation of our territory by a foreign power, whether He would waste us away gradually and slowly by placing a worm at the root of our commercial prosperity, whether He would break us to pieces by letting fools rule over us and allowing parliaments to obey them and permitting us like the Midianites to destroy one another, whether He would ruin us by sending a dearth of wise statesmen in the upper ranks and giving the reins of power to communists, socialists, and mob leaders. All these are points which I have no prophetical eye to see, and I do not pretend to determine God’s sorest judgments, which the ancients said are like millstones, they grind very slowly, but they grind very fine. The thing I fear most for my country is gradual, insensible, dry rot and decay. But of one thing I am very sure, the state that begins by sowing the seed of national neglect of God will sooner or later reap a harvest of national disaster and national ruin.”
 
I would suggest what Ryle prophesied of England we are now watching happen in America. 
 
And I will say it again:  There is no law that is true but God’s law, there is no worship that is true but the worship of the true God, there is no morality that is true but the morality revealed in Scripture, and there are no blessings for individuals or nations apart from honoring God and His law.
A nation that lives under the power and influence of the law of God will enjoy the richest blessing of God.  The chaos of the world, national chaos at any point anywhere is always related to the rejection of God, and the rejection of true worship, and the rejection of His law and His Word and obedience to Him.
 
His law defines what is good; His law defines what is evil. His law promotes good; His law restrains evil. And Romans 13 says that all government officials are ministers of God for the punishment of evildoers and the welfare of those who do what is good. And irreligious, immoral government that cares nothing about God and nothing about His law will self-destruct in the disintegration of its own godless choices.  Such a society will be open to all kinds of religion, all kinds of moralities, all manner of freedom, all preferences.
 
That society will lose control of everything. Chaos will begin to take over, and the only way that chaos will be slowed down will be when dictatorial control, or maybe even a police state is formed, where thought and behavior is fixed, and anybody out of bounds is punished. Eventually, the chaos has to be controlled. We’re not headed toward socialism; we could well be headed toward dictatorship in our world. Is this hard to grasp?
 
Remember the America that was, some of you? Even though we were never a Christian nation in the truest sense of the word and many of our founding fathers were not Christians, they understood that Christianity was a necessity because it established divine law; and when people knew that this was law from God, it controlled their behavior.
And because of that, Biblical ethics, biblical patterns of morality were honored, respected, and expected. Marriage, family, virtue, work, relationships, success were all connected to the ideals that are found in Scripture. That’s long gone and unlikely to ever appear in the lifetime of anybody sitting here because evil men just get worse and worse.
 
Ryle had some serious convictions about government and about the worship of God and about the law of God, and he said, “If England separates God from the state, England will be destroyed morally, religiously, ethically, and in every other way.” It is today an absolute wasteland, spiritually speaking. Why?  It is because any time you separate church from state you create chaos. 
 
One of the great issues before us this election cycle and one of the glaring differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is where they stand regarding border security and limiting illegal immigration. 
 
Does anybody really believe it makes sense for our government to welcome millions of Muslims into our historically Christian traditional countries?  Are we really naïve enough to believe that will not result in chaos? 
 
Suddenly, for the very first time in our short history, we have a collision of whom and what will rule our conduct.  Will it be traditional Christian morality, a very different Muslim morality, or the very rapidly developing immorality? Everything is out of control.
 
 
Removing the acknowledgment of the true God, the authority of the Bible, the voice of the true church, the moral education of youth, and the elevation of the Bible and the gospel is the fast track to destruction, and it’s a downhill run. 
 
Now there are many ways to support what I’ve said, but since we are about to elect a president, let’s begin with leadership.  Does God have a requirement for leaders? And I’m not talking about leaders in Israel or leaders in the church. Does God have requirements for national leaders in general? What does God require of rulers?
 
Now keep in mind, the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord.  There is this inseparable link between the acknowledgment of God as Lord and the blessing on a nation.  Therefore, God’s favor is dependent, to a very large degree, on rulers who have some fear of the true God and understanding of His law, and uphold that. Where that does not happen, everything disintegrates. 
 
And notice, I didn’t say that had to be a Christian and enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It’s all the better if they do, but that is not a requirement for a leader to stand for and support the right things.  But they must have some fear of the true God and understanding of His law and its requirements and base their leadership and decisions on that understanding. 
 
Let me show you how it works from God’s Word and we’ll spend the time we have remaining in some Bible study on the subject.
 
 
  1.  A Spiritual Pattern
 
Turn to Deuteronomy 26, and as you’re turning, I’ll remind you the children of Israel are about to enter the Promised Land.  God has already given them His law 40 years ago.  And now, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, as they prepare to go forward into the Promised Land, He is repeating it once again, with some amplification.
 
In some many words, God is going to tell them how
He wants them to live. Now there is one piece of information that is vitally important to properly understanding this passage.  What He’s going to say to them here, as they are gathered outside the Promised Land and about to enter, is not related to personal salvation. This is about national behavior and national life. He’s talking to them about how they are to behave as a nation.
 
Let’s pick it up with the prayer we find in 
 
Deuteronomy 26:15
 
I would suggest that is a fitting prayer for any nation.  “God, look down from the holiness of heaven and bless our nation.”
 
So how will it happen?
 
Verses 16-19
 
Again, He’s not talking about personal salvation.  He’s talking about national conduct: “If you will conduct yourselves in this way, recognizing the true God and obey His laws, God will elevate you as a nation.”
So there we see that this obedience on a national scale results in, verse 19, “praise, fame, honor, and testimony.”
 
In chapter 27 God starts laying out the rules.
 
27:1-3
 
There we find a description of the blessing God has promised to give. “You’re going to a rich and blessed land. You will experience many of God’s rich blessings, but you must keep His law.”
 
So He calls for a ceremony involving two mountains and he’s going to use this ceremony as an illustration of what God is going to do depending on the response to the law of God.  One mountain, Mount Ebal, will represent God’s curses and the other mountain, Mount Gerizim, will represent God’s blessings.
 
First come the curses,
 
verses 15-26
 
All o these are about national, ethical, moral behavior and the people are asked to confirm their understanding of the curses by saying, “Amen, so be it, we agree..
 
Then chapter 28, we move over to the other mountain and hear the blessings.
 
Verse 1
 
Right off the bat,, God repeats the conditions for blessing.
If you will just obey me, you will be blessed in unbelievable ways and beginning in verse 3 he begins to enumerate those blessings. 
 
Verses 3-14
 
And keep in mind, all of this is national blessing, but it is dependent upon, and we read it again inverse 14, obedience to His law. The only pathway to  blessing a nation can ever take is the path of obedience to the Word of God. There is no blessing apart from that.
 
And there is a stark reminder of that beginning in
 
Verse 15
 
And if you keep reading, you will see that he goes back through all the same things for which He promised blessing and promises a curse. And it gets worse.
 
verses 30-33
 
And He goes on and on and on with all these curses for disobedience all the way down to verse 68.  They are vivid curses.  And unfortunately, the second half of the text instead of the first is the history of the Jews.
 
And it’s not as if these promises and curses were for that generation only. 
 
Notice chapter 29:10-14, 22-25, 27
 
 
 
In fact, so important is this message, notice what we read in 
 
verse 29
 
In other words, there are some things God keeps secret but this isn’t one of them.  God wants nations to know and understand how to live and how to receive His blessing. 
 
Now, verse 1 of chapter 30 is where I’ve been trying to get to.  Notice
 
Deuteronomy 30:1
 
In other words, take this message to every nation that you ever set foot in. Why? Because God has the same standard for all nations.  Israel is simply the witness nation, the example to the world that God blesses obedience and curses disobedience.
 
It is not a badge of honor that the United States of America is so relentlessly devoted to separating the church and the state. That is a destructive division. Should we allow the 10 Commandments on the grounds of the capital?  Without a question.  They should not only be posted, they should be read and revered and honored and followed and obeyed if we expect God to bless America!
 
Listen: Israel is witness to the world of what happens when you obey and what happens when you disobey, and they have played that role. Times of obedience, they were blessed. Times of disobedience, they were cursed.
 
 
I want you to see how this message of blessing and cursing comes to a conclusion. 
 
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
 
The principle is very simple:  “As a nation and as a people, love and obey God and you will have a life of prosperity. Reject God, bring in other gods, and you will have death and adversity. Choose God. Choose life.”
 
God has declared unmistakably that blessing is for the nation that acknowledged Him and obeys His law. It is not wise to throw open our borders and welcome all religions, to proclaim tolerance and acceptance and diversity. 
 
In fact, it is the primary responsibility of a national leader to call a nation to the worship of the true and  living God of Holy Scripture and to live in obedience to the revealed law of God in the Bible.
 
Condoning illegal entrance into this country, supporting the killing of babies in the womb through abortion, elevating the sin of homosexuality to that of marriage, praising the nonsense of transgender identity while at the same time removing any reminders of God and the Bible from the public square is to shake your fist in the face of the true and living God!  And to call a nation to accept and approve and endorse those behaviors and positions is to invite upon a nation the curse and wrath of God. 
 
And I will tell you, and especially those of you who vote a party platform over the Word of God, that’s a very serious and deadly thing to endorse. 
You better think long and hard before you cast your vote for the curse of God. 
 
If you want an illustration of what that looks like, take a look at Acts 12.  In this chapter, we find a guy named Herod on the throne of northern Palestine.  He serves under the authority of Rome and the relationship with Rome is shaky, at best.  So, in order to gather some popularity with the Jews, as we see in verse 1, he persecuted Christians. 
 
Notice what we read down in
 
verse 20-22
 
There are two things at work here.  First, Herod is full of himself, and two, the people have needs, so they resort to flattery. 
 
So see what happens in
 
Verse 23
 
Listen:  God’s standards for rulers in any nation, Israel or any other nation, are the same.  It doesn’t matter if you are a pagan king in a pagan land or if you are the King on the throne of Israel or the president of the United States of America or anything in between.  God expects national leaders to worship Him, honor Him, uphold His law and call the people to true worship and obedience. And when that doesn’t happen, God moves in judgment.
 
 
 
 
Every ruler needs to read that. Every nation needs to understand, in fact, deserves to know that God is the true King. If you do not honor Him you will be judged. Here was a pagan king, and yet he was held to the same standard as the leaders of Israel. 
 
Now, what is true of Kings and rulers is true of you. Every person needs to understand God is the true King. If you do not honor Him you will be judged. And the truth of the matter is you will be held to the same standard as the leaders of Israel.
 
The only hope is to bring your life under His authority, and honor Him as Savior and Lord. 
 
Let’s pray.   
  
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