Category archives: Religion & Culture

Thinking Biblically About Politics in Church

by David Closson

October 22, 2021

In the lead-up to next month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, more than 300 churches are planning to show a pre-recorded campaign video featuring Vice President Kamala Harris in their morning worship service. In the video—which will be shown in predominantly African American churches—Harris encourages congregants to vote for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s former governor, who is in a tight and closely-watched race with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.

In the video, Harris says, “In 2020, more Virginians voted than ever before. And because you did, you helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House. This year, I know that you will send Terry McAuliffe back to Richmond.” The vice president concludes her message by outlining why she believes congregants should vote for McAuliffe and asking them to vote after church.

Although CNN reported on the campaign advertisement this past weekend, coverage of churches’ plans to show the video was relatively sparse. But besides some social media discussion that questioned the propriety of playing campaign videos during a church service, the story appears to have faded from the news. However, the incident raises some important questions regarding churches and campaigns that Christians and especially pastors should consider. 

First, Harris’ campaign video likely runs afoul of the Johnson Amendment to the IRS code. According to IRS regulations, churches are not allowed to engage in direct political campaign activity. Under the section “Charities, Churches and Politics” on their website, the IRS explains

Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

To be clear, FRC is on record opposing the Johnson Amendment’s application to a pastor’s sermons because no government entity has the right to censor speech, whether in or out of the pulpit. That is almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment, but the IRS has not brought an enforcement action against a church sufficient to produce a successful constitutional challenge in court. 

However, it is ironic that after months of issuing dire warnings about “Christian Nationalism” and the dangers of conflating religion and politics, the left is now actively engaging in the very campaign tactics they decry when practiced by those on the right. In fact, it is the height of hypocrisy to fuss about the “separation of church and state” and say conservative pastors should not engage the political process when they promote a campaign-style video designed to drum up support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in churches.

But the controversy over the Harris video raises important questions: to what extent and in what ways is it appropriate for churches to engage in politics? How should pastors guide their congregations through elections? Before answering these questions, it is helpful to recall some truths about the church. 

Theologian Gregg Allison defines the church as the “people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.” While the universal church consists of every Christian since Pentecost, local churches, led by elders and deacons, “possess and pursue purity and unity, exercise church disciple, develop strong connections with other churches, and celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” In other words, a local church is a congregation of believers who have covenanted together and are committed to the regular means of grace, including the regular preaching and teaching of Scripture, observance of the ordinances, and fellowship.

In terms of purpose, the church exists to fulfill several important spiritual purposes. Theologian Wayne Grudem breaks down these purposes in terms of ministry to God, ministry to believers, and ministry to the world. First, when it comes to God, the church’s purpose is to worship him. Second, the church has an obligation to nurture the faith of its members and build them up in maturity (Col. 1:28). This primarily occurs through the regular preaching and teaching of the Bible. Third, churches are called to evangelize the lost and engage in mercy ministry (such as helping the poor and needy).

Although most people (including many Christians) are not accustomed to thinking deeply about the church, it is crucial for Christians to think biblically about the church. To this end, Scripture employs several helpful metaphors and images to describe the church. The church is a “family” (1 Tim. 5:1-2, Eph. 3:14), branches on a vine (John 15:5), an olive tree (Rom. 11:17-24), and a building (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul refers to the church as the “bride of Christ” (Eph. 5:32, 2 Cor. 11:2). The “body of Christ” is another familiar metaphor that Paul uses to express the close relationship between believers in the church and their relationship with Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 2:19). Paul, while addressing the Ephesian elders, cautioned, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). For Paul, the church is the most significant reality on earth because Jesus purchased it with His own blood. Accordingly, those tasked with its leadership must recognize the weighty responsibility entrusted to them.

In short, because the church is the blood-bought bride of God tasked with the responsibility of bearing witness to the saving news of the gospel, I believe churches should carefully scrutinize how much time is spent on topics outside the worship of God and the equipping of the saints through the word of God. Of course, this does not mean that churches or church leaders should withdraw from politics. Far from it. While “politics” carries with it a certain image, the word, properly understood, actually gets at how groups of humans organize their affairs. In this sense, politics is intimately connected to community—how we relate to other people—and is inextricable from the concept of loving one’s neighbor, which Christians are called to do. Further, politics implicates issues of moral importance to all Christians.

As I’ve explained in “Biblical Principles for Political Engagement,” voting is a matter of stewardship, and Christians should seek to vote in a way that honors God and advances the wellbeing of their neighbor. For pastors, there is additional responsibility. I believe churches ought to actively ensure that their members are educated on the issues. Pastors should preach expositionally through books of the Bible, ensuring they preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. Preaching through Scripture will have the effect of informing the conscience of congregations and help church members think faithfully about a host of public policy issues. Moreover, I think it is appropriate for churches to encourage good voting stewardship by conducting voter registration drives and distributing voter guides among their members.  

Of course, wisdom and discernment are needed when it comes to how pastors think about politics and disciple their people. Conservative pastors should be aware of the potential for hypocrisy when liberals criticize them for engaging in politics while playing campaign-style videos in their own churches. Yet regardless of their individual judgments, pastors should be free to speak. The First Amendment protects speech, and the Johnson Amendment and IRS guidance have historically had a chilling and stifling effect on pastors’ speech. 

At the end of the day, even though churches should have greater freedom and flexibility constitutionally, they should carefully and prayerfully consider how to steward their freedom well. Christians should engage politically, but that engagement must be done biblically, which is why churches (and particularly pastors) need to be wise and discerning, especially during election season.

Your Heart Was Made For Love

by Mikayla Simpson

October 19, 2021

Deep down, we all want to love people well. We can’t help it. We are made to worship and made to love, but sometimes the way we choose to prioritize our loves isn’t how it was meant to be. Without realizing it, our well-intentioned affection for people or things can turn into idolatry. Idolatry is dangerous because as we worship and love someone or something that cannot fill the wholeness in our hearts, we are left unsatisfied. We feel this emptiness because we are made for more.

Since the Fall of Man, Things Are Not as They Should Be

G. K. Chesterton once said, “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything.” Because we have a sinful nature, we do not worship God as we should. Instead, we seek after the things of the world, expecting them to satisfy us. We open our arms to broken things, expecting them to fill us. As we draw out of these broken wells that “can hold no water,” our thirst remains unquenched (Jer. 2:13). Sometimes, we choose to worship the creature we can touch rather than the Creator who is above. In doing so, we abandon our greatest love (Rom. 1:22-24, Rev. 2:4) and craft gods out of good gifts. At face value, these gifts are not necessarily bad things to love, but our affections become distorted and disordered when God is not our first love.

In Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols, Brad Bigney defines an idol as “anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.” Loving isn’t wrong; in fact, God created us with a great capacity to love, but loving anything more than God is idolatrous. This disloyalty flies blatantly in the face of God, saddens Him, and is sin. For He has said, “have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2). Idols are poor gods that too often take and use us. They don’t treat us well, and they promise pleasure that they can’t deliver on, leaving us guilty, alone, and always wanting more. Bigney puts it well when he says that “sin is what we do when we’re not satisfied in God.” When we become impatient or discontent, we turn to sin, worshiping idols mistakenly believing that they are more reliable than God.

Identifying Personal Idols

Idols are the hidden matters of the heart. To identify these matters of the heart, Bigney offers a few questions to help us identify our idols:

  1. Am I willing to sin to get this?
  2. Am I willing to sin if I think I’m going to lose this?
  3. Do I turn to this as a refuge and comfort instead of going to God?
  4. What are your goals, expectations, and intentions?
  5. What would make you happy?
  6. What do you see as your rights?
  7. What do you fear?
  8. When you are pressured or tense, where do you turn?

It can be tempting to rely on our own understanding because there is a way that seems right to us but is actually very wrong (Prov. 14:12). That’s why we need the Lord—who searches out the heart and tests the mind (Jer. 17:10)—to weigh our hearts and direct our steps (Prov. 16:9, 21:2).

Ask the Lord to show you your sin, then let His Word reveal the hidden matters of your heart. Inviting Him into this gutting process will expose and dethrone the idols in your life. Let this intimate surgery carve out the festering loves that keep you from drawing closer to God. Press His words into the hollow places that these idols leave behind. Let the words pierce you. Let them fill you. Allow God’s Word to dwell in you richly. He is the One who gives us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk. 11:19). Bigney encourages his readers engaging in this soulful surgery to remember to “glance at your heart but gaze at Christ.” We should examine the chasms and crevices of our hearts but ultimately set our eyes on Christ to renew our hearts.

We Only Fulfill Our Purpose When We Worship God

Apart from God, we will never be satisfied. The fourth-century theologian Augustine correctly observed, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find their rest in you.” As God exposes our heart, His Spirit renews and transforms our heart by realigning our desires with His will so that we do not live by our natural desires but instead can walk in the newness of life. When we walk in step with the Spirit, we are transformed.

God wants the good life for His children, and apart from Him, we have no good thing (Ps. 16:2, 63:3-4). We were formed for God that we would praise Him and bring Him glory (Is. 43:21). In fact, we cannot do better than God’s best for us because His very presence quenches our soul with a fullness of joy and pleasure that never comes to an end (Ps. 16:11).

But in order to know that fullness of joy, we must come. We must seek. And we must worship Him. James says, “Draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The extent of our surrender to God is the extent of our satisfaction. He is the greatest pleasure and highest treasure. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we must search out our hearts to determine what we must surrender, then actively remove the idols that hinder us from worshiping Christ as our highest treasure.

No one else in all the earth is like God. As Isaiah notes, He “stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to dwell in” (Is. 40:22). The One who created the galaxies and stars and calls them by name knows our names and came to earth to die and redeem us so He could bring us closer to Himself. He is the One our hearts long to worship. But if He is not our first love, we will always be empty. So, love Him. Worship Him. Your heart was made for this.

Mikayla Simpson interned with the Center for Biblical Worldview.

What To Believe About Issues Jesus Didn’t Discuss

by Joseph Backholm

October 15, 2021

A favorite argument of those trying to push the boundaries of Christian ethics is an argument from silence. It usually goes something like this: “Jesus never talked about [insert issue], so that means He doesn’t care.” 

However, arguments from silence are a type of logical fallacy. The lack of evidence for something does not mean the gaps in our knowledge should be filled with assumptions. Furthermore, every parent who has heard their child say, “You didn’t see me do it,” understands that those who depend most heavily on a lack of proof might not be prioritizing the truth.

When it comes to the Christian life, arguments from silence are more than just sloppy thinking. They might also be evidence of a heart that is more interested in getting its own way than trying to live God’s way.

Fundamental to the gospel is the idea of submission. Paul expressed this attitude when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20, ESV).

When we justify our morally questionable decisions with an argument from silence, we put the cart before the horse. Our goal should not be to do whatever we want until someone says, “No,” but to affirmatively look for ways to honor God with our lives. 

Instead of asking, “Is it okay if I do this?” we should be asking, “Does God want me to do this?”

The first instinct of a life surrendered to God is to find out what He wants, not to see if we can justify doing what we want. As Christians, everything we do should be viewed through the lens of honoring God. As Paul said, “[W]hatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

The instinct to see what we can get away with is evidence that we don’t always want God to be in charge. We want Him to supervise and provide help when needed, but mostly we want Him to help us have fun. In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis described that view of God in this way:  

We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”

The God of the Bible demands daily submission for His glory and our pleasure because He loves us and understands that our sinful desires promise joy and satisfaction but deliver neither. 

Even Jesus, who is fully God and an equal member of the Trinity, was primarily focused on what God the Father wanted Him to do. As Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

It is folly to build our moral view of the world around what Jesus did not talk explicitly about. After all, Jesus didn’t say anything specifically about sexual assault or flying planes into skyscrapers, yet we can still know what God thinks about them. As Christians, our desire should be to think biblically about everything. Even though the Bible doesn’t provide explicit instructions on every issue or question we may encounter in life, the answers are not difficult to find if we actually want to find them.  

When considering what Jesus said and thinks, our attitude makes all the difference. Any time we find ourselves saying, “Jesus didn’t say you can’t…” is a good time to take inventory of our motives and make sure that we are really wanting what God wants and not merely trying to justify doing what we want.

Image: Carl Heinrich Bloch, “Sermon on the Mount” (1877)

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 26)

by Family Research Council

October 1, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

After months of promising that his administration would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring millions of federal employees to either get the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. Shortly after the executive order, the president handed down another mandate, requiring all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate their workers be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation.

2. Update: House Dems United in Death

People say it’s hard to find consensus in Washington, but Democrats have found plenty on one issue: abortion. At least in the House, the idea of middle ground has vanished. When it comes to the taking of innocent life, the battlelines are clear: Republicans are 100-percent opposed, and all but one Democrat is in favor.

3. Blog: Unconscionable: New Bill Proves Democrats Are Okay With Abortion Up Until Birth

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed an abortion expansion bill that deserves the full attention of the American people. This bill is so morally bankrupt that the hackneyed terms used to express political outrage, such as “extreme” and “radical,” fail to capture the gravity of the bill’s implications.

4. Blog: Radical Progressive Ideology Has Become Normalized in Schools. It’s Time to Act.

Revelations of radical activism by a teacher in California with an Antifa flag in his classroom and marking student’s papers using stamps with images of communist leaders roiled Sacramento area parents. In a shocking and at times profane 12 minute video, Inderkum High School AP Government teacher Gabriel Gipe explained that he has “180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries.”

5. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Michael Burgess, Robert Cahaly, William Lee

Tony Perkins was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, who discussed the Pentagon leadership’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee over the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the atrocities that have followed. Michael Burgess, U.S. Representative for Texas, gave an update on the debt ceiling debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s push for massive spending bills. The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly shared the findings of a poll showing a 65 percent majority believe Americans who refuse the vaccine should not lose their jobs. And, William “Dean” Lee, retired Vice Admiral of the United States Coast Guard, shared his thoughts on the military vaccine mandates and the leaked documents showing how Coast Guard chaplains are being used to enforce the mandate.

6. Washington Watch: Ron Estes, Mike Berry, Jerry Boykin, Arielle Del Turco, Meg Kilgannon

Tony Perkins was joined by Ron Estes, U.S. Representative for Kansas, to talk about the massive spending votes in the House of Representatives. Mike Berry, with First Liberty Institute, discussed leaked documents showing the Coast Guard plans to grill service members about their religious beliefs over religious vaccine exemptions. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, shared how imposing a vaccine mandate on the military will harm recruiting and retention. Arielle Del Turco, FRC’s Assistant Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, talked about the recent March for Martyrs in Washington, D.C. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, discussed the graphic material a Fairfax High School mother found in school library books and what happened when she read them during a Fairfax County School Board meeting.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Biden’s Mandates and Your Freedom

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Christopher Ferrara, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Jennifer Bridges, and Pastor Jack Hibbs to discuss and pray over what America soon might look like if President Biden’s vaccine mandate is not stopped.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 19)

by Family Research Council

September 24, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: President’s Prison Rule Cells Out Women

Joe Biden may be headed for the beach, but don’t expect it to be a vacation from his problems. When the president got on the plane this afternoon, the White House was frantically trying to clean up another mess of Biden’s making—this time on the southern border. In Del Rio, Texas, where more than 10,000 migrants are wading in the water on the U.S.-Mexico border.

2. Update: Pentagon Can’t Camouflage True Vaccine Agenda

Trapped in a sinkhole of Left-wing radicalism, our troops are so busy fighting climate change, white supremacy, conservative “extremism,” and COVID to deal with America’s real enemies. Now, as if the embarrassment of Afghanistan and a feeble commander-in-chief weren’t enough, the president says he’s ready to fire anyone who won’t get the vaccine.

3. Blog: How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced an executive action that all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

4. Blog: Google Finds Innovative New Method of Exploitation

After a four-month runtime on the internet, Google has banned all of Live Action’s advertisements about the abortion pill reversal treatment. Google’s attempt at censoring Live Action is sadly unsurprising given the tendency of Big Tech companies to cater to the whims of the abortion lobby.

5. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Pete Ricketts, Mike Berry, Chad Robichaux

Tony Perkins was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, to discuss what’s happening at the southern border. Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska, explained how he is fighting President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, decried the Department of Defense’s requirement that military members must receive the COVID vaccine or face removal. And, Chad Robichaux, Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, shared the latest on evacuations and the state of Afghanistan.

6. Washington Watch: John Joyce, Mo Brooks, Dave Yost, Travis Weber

Tony Perkins was joined by John Joyce, U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania, who gave an update on the reconciliation bill. Mo Brooks, U.S. Representative for Alabama, responded to reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made secret calls with his Chinese counterpart, circumventing President Trump. Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, talked about how state attorney generals are fighting back against federal vaccine mandates. And, Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, shared the results of a survey on fairness for all.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: America’s Foreign Policy: The State of Faith & Freedom

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand you’ll get a closer look at President Biden’s foreign policy record and what the consequences may be at home and abroad.

What is the “Gospel”? A Deeper Look at the Historical and Literary Context Behind the Good News

by Jaelyn Morgan

September 24, 2021

When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). As Christians, our goal is to follow Christ completely. To obey Him, we must understand what He meant by the “gospel” and how it relates to the kingdom of God.

The Gospel Is Good News

The English word “gospel” comes from an Old English word godspel (god meaning “good” and spel meaning “story” or “message”). This was an English translation of the Latin bona annuntiatio, which in turn was a translation of the Greek word euangelion (“good tidings”). In ancient times, an euangelion was a royal proclamation of military victory or ascension to a throne. If a kingdom had military victory over their enemies in battle, a messenger would run back to the capital and proclaim the euangelion to the people waiting inside in the city’s walls. Essentially, the word “gospel” means “good news” and has historical connotations of a royal, victorious proclamation of one kingdom overtaking another.

The Gospel Announces God’s Kingdom

Having learned what euangelion meant in Jesus’ historical context, we must now consider the biblical, or literary, context of “good news.” In Isaiah 52:7 and 10 (emphasis mine), we read:

How beautiful upon the mountains

    are the feet of him who brings good news,

who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,

    who publishes salvation,

    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

…The Lord has bared his holy arm

    before the eyes of all the nations,

and all the ends of the earth shall see

    the salvation of our God.

This prophetic passage foretold that the good news—or the gospel—would be a proclamation of happiness announcing the reign of Zion’s God and an international salvation that would reach “all the ends of the earth.” As Jesus later explained, His kingdom, the kingdom of God, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). By calling Himself the “Son of Man,” He connected His Kingdom to Daniel’s prophecy about the Son of Man’s kingdom, which would neither pass away nor be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). This new kingdom would be unlike any kingdom people have seen before. Not only would it be multiethnic, multi-national, multilingual, and everlasting (Isa. 56:8, Dan. 7:13, Rev. 7:9); it would transform the whole world under a King who would reign for eternity (Rev. 11:15).

Every kingdom needs a king. The Bible declares that the king whom God has appointed over His kingdom is Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sinless life and atoning death, God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…And he put all things under his feet…” (Eph. 1:20-22). When Jesus proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” He was heralding the incoming of God’s long-awaited kingdom as its King!

The Gospel Invites Us to Join God’s Kingdom

The proclamation of God’s kingdom and its king, Jesus, is good news for everyone because all are invited to partake in its glory. Just as every kingdom has a king, every kingdom has citizens. Citizens of God’s kingdom need to receive eternal life because God’s kingdom is everlasting (Ps. 145:13, Dan. 7:14). God has given us everything we need to become part of His kingdom. In fact, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus]” (1 John 5:11). When we believe in Jesus, we receive eternal life and our citizenship is in heaven (John 3:36, Phil. 3:20). Jesus proclaimed, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) to tell us that, by these actions, we can become citizens of the kingdom of God!

So, what does the Bible mean by “repent”? The original Greek word translated as “repent” is metanoeo, meaning “to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent.” The immediate context of Mark’s gospel reveals that repentance is changing one’s mind about something in order to act in faith (Mark 1:4, 15; 6:12). Hence, it is a new mindset that results in new action. The rest of Scripture affirms this understanding of repentance. Thus, in Jesus’s call to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), “to repent” means more than just changing one’s mind; it means accepting the gospel message, turning away from sin, and turning toward King Jesus for a new way of life.

Shortly after Jesus was resurrected and returned to heaven, the apostle Peter addressed a crowd in Jerusalem, proclaiming the euangelion and the need to repent:

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when [the crowd] heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:36-42).

The Gospel Freely Justifies Us

The gospel is not only good news about the victorious kingdom of God but also the personal good news that sinful men and women can become members of God’s kingdom and be reconciled to a holy God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ! Each of us is personally invited to become citizens of God’s kingdom. We can become part of God’s kingdom when we accept Jesus as the king that He already is and trust in Him for a right standing before God. Jesus purifies anyone who believes in Him so they can have a right standing before God and be part of God’s people (1 John 3:3, Titus 2:14).

Justification (i.e., right standing before God) is given to us by God through Jesus Christ for free. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 3:21-26, justification from God is a gift:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested…through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

As sinners, we did not have a hope in the world. But then God sent Jesus, who willingly died on the cross, for our sins, in our place. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). This is amazing news! When there was no way, God made a way. When our sin prevented us from having a right relationship with Him, God sent Jesus. Because of God’s graciousness toward us, we are invited to “repent and believe in the gospel” and become part of God’s eternal kingdom, His people, and His family.

The Gospel Gives Us an Urgent Choice

The biblical gospel gives us an ultimatum. We can continue in our sinful state, trying (and failing) to get into heaven by our own merit, or we can accept the good news. If we repent of our old ways and place our faith in Jesus Christ as our new Savior and King, we are saved from God’s wrath against sin and saved into God’s eternal kingdom!

By sending Jesus to us, God showed that He loved us. Jesus, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), can be our friend, savior, and king. What will you decide? As 2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us, do not waste another day, for “now is the favorable time” and “behold, now is the day of salvation”!

NEXT STEPS

  1. How Can I Be Saved?
  2. I Am a Christian, Now What?
  3. What Is the Christian Life?
  4. Why Should I Go to Church?

Jaelyn Morgan interned for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 12)

by Family Research Council

September 17, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: Vaccine Mandate Sticks It to Freedom

Twenty years ago today, Americans experienced a once-in-a-generation nightmare carried out by extremists. It would have never occurred to us then that two decades later one of the greatest assaults on our sovereignty would come from our government itself. That the man we’d elect as president would one day tell us that confronting a deadly threat is “no longer about freedom and personal choice.”

2. Update: Open Treason on Trump?

General Mark Milley wasn’t exactly inundated with friend requests after he helped botch the disastrous situation in Afghanistan. In fact, when President Biden said it was on the general’s advice that he closed Bagram Air Base, entire editorial boards were calling for the Joint Chief Chair’s resignation. But long before Kabul, an unflattering image of Milley had already emerged.

3. Blog: A Profile of Moral Collapse: President Biden, Abortion, and the Culture of Death

Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains the moral issue in American public discourse and politics. There are very few profiles in courage in American politics. The political predicament of a pro-life politician is this—the political class and the New York-Hollywood-Silicon Valley axis reward those who abandon pro-life positions and condemn those who refuse to surrender.

4. Blog: Biden Wants Us to Forget about Afghanistan. We Must Not.

Even as the front pages of newspapers have noticeably shifted away from focusing on Afghanistan, reports from that country are increasingly troubling. Taliban fighters have hunted down and killed four elite Afghan counterterrorism agents from American and British-trained units. The UN has warned that one million Afghan children face possible starvation in a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

5. Washington Watch: Sam Brownback, Jerry Boykin, Carter Conlon

Tony Perkins was joined by Sam Brownback, former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who responded to President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, reflected on 9/11 and discussed the threat of terrorism today. And, Pastor Carter Conlon, General Overseer of Times Square Church, shared what the Lord put on his heart prior to 9/11 and how the events of that day changed his church and its members.

6. Washington Watch: Greg Murphy, Brian Kemp, Robert Cahaly, Jack Hibbs, David Closson

Tony Perkins was joined by Greg Murphy, U.S. Representative for North Carolina, to discuss Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony about Afghanistan. Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, shared how he is fighting back against President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Robert Cahaly, Senior Strategist and Chief Pollster at the Trafalgar Group, shared what his polling reveals about how Americans view President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, talked about the religious liberty implications of President Biden’s vaccine mandate. And, David Closson, FRC’s Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, discussed how Christians should think about the role of government in light of President Biden’s vaccine mandate.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Immune to Reason: Biden’s Mandate Ignites a Nation

As many as 100 million Americans could be affected by the Biden administration’s new vaccine mandate. Many will lose their jobs. And we are left to wonder: what else will the heavy hand of government under this president, or the next, compel Americans to do against their will or their moral conviction?

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 5)

by Family Research Council

September 10, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Blog: Messing with Texas: Biden Not the Women’s Advocate He Claims to Be

In a statement issued on September 2, President Biden called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect “an unprecedented assault on women’s constitutional rights.” Unfortunately, the president’s track record makes it abundantly clear that he is not the champion of women he purports himself to be.

2. Blog: “Christianity Is Neither Left nor Right,” Part 2: Re-envisioning Conscience Issues As Discipleship Issues

Many have held the belief that because Christians inevitably disagree over political matters, we should simply attribute those disagreements to differing consciences and move on. But as it turns out, our convictions matter tremendously. Elections have consequences, as we are now witnessing in Afghanistan after the U.S. military’s withdrawal and the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.

3. Blog: A Closer Look at Virtue: Chastity

Properly defined, chastity is intentionally choosing to refrain from immoral sexual activity. It is possible to be a chaste, sexually active married person; it is also possible to be an unchaste virgin. This virtue applies to married couples and singles alike.

4. Blog: A Closer Look at FRC’s Viral Tweet: The Bible Really Is Pro-Life (Part 1)

Last Friday, FRC posted a tweet that stated: “The Bible is ardently and unequivocally pro-life.” For an organization whose mission is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview,” tweeting support for the Bible’s pro-life ethic was hardly controversial—or at least it shouldn’t have been.

5. Washington Watch: Kevin Brady, Dan Gainor, Marty Makary, Gordon Chang

Tony Perkins was joined by Kevin Brady, U.S. Representative for Texas, to discuss President Biden’s push for the largest tax increase since 1968. Dan Gainor, Vice President for Free Speech America and Business at Media Research Center, talked about a survey showing a decline in trust in the media. Marty Makary, Professor of Health Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, shared the findings of an Israeli study showing natural immunity is 13 times stronger than the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. And, Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” discussed why we must hold Beijing accountable for Afghan militants’ crimes.

6. Washington Watch: Dan Patrick, Chad Robichaux, Ronny Jackson, Ronnie Floyd

Tony Perkins was joined by Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, to discuss the Biden administration pledging that its best lawyers will fight the Texas Heartbeat law. Chad Robichaux, Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, shared his on the ground perspective of the evacuations in Afghanistan. Ronny Jackson, U.S. Representative for Texas, talked about his efforts to evacuate American citizens and others from Afghanistan. And, Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, discussed the Southern Baptist Convention’s hurricane relief efforts.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: The Left Wants You to Pay for Abortion

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, you’ll learn the history of the Hyde Amendment and why it is one of the most significant pieces of pro-life legislation in our country.

Remembering 9/11: One New Yorker’s Testimony About the Power of Prayer

by Jennifer Bauwens

September 10, 2021

For many of us who were alive at the time of September 11, 2001, our memories of that day, and the days that followed, are marked by stories of heroism and patriotism but also terrible loss and grief. But there is another theme that has been less publicized, and that is the effect prayer had on 9/11.

It’s hard to estimate the number of people that prayed that day or were moved to pray in the days leading up to the attack. One thing we know, as tragic as 9/11 was, it could’ve been far worse. While no harm or loss of life is acceptable, this attack could’ve resulted in even more widespread devastation. This is because the average number of people working at the World Trade Center in 2001 was roughly 50,000 people. Additionally, the number of daily visitors and tourists were around 140,000. The loss of life that day in New York was significant, at 2,823 people, but still much lower than what was intended by the attacks. 

Through years of living in New York and researching about the psychological impact of 9/11, I’ve had the privilege to hear stories from people who should’ve been at the World Trade Center that day, but “something” happened that caused their plans or routines to change. I’ve heard countless stories, like my friend Tiffany, who invited another friend to breakfast. As a result, her friend wasn’t at the WTC that day.  

One of the clearest stories I’ve heard about the power of prayer started with a dream that one of my friends had in 1998. In the dream, my friend, Julianna, was walking around downtown Manhattan near Trinity Church. As she walked along Trinity Place (street), she entered a 12-story gray building that had two revolving doors at the entrance. She walked into the building and began to shout, with great assurance, “It’s safe!” She then saw a lot of people running and scrambling inside the building and out on the streets. Then a great wave came which looked like a tsunami cascading down the street, but the wave didn’t enter the building. That was the end of the dream.

Later that week, Julianna went to her weekly prayer meeting where she shared the dream. Ada, who attended the prayer group, was also a high school principal. When she heard the dream, she recognized the description and location as characteristic of her school. Both ladies had a sense that God was leading them to pray for the safety of this high school, which was located near the World Trade Center.

For the next three years, Julianna and Ada walked around the school building and prayed for safety. Ada also enlisted some of her students and faculty to pray for safety. Although they never fully understood what they were praying about, they continued to pray.

On the day of September 11, 2001, Julianna was in her home in Brooklyn when she saw the news break about the Twin Towers. She saw the footage of people running and the cloud of smoke behind them. She knew that it was the tsunami wave that she saw in her dream, and she fell to her knees and began to pray for safety.

At the same time, Ada was with other faculty members assisting the students out of the school building. Before completely evacuating the area, one of the teachers went back into the building to make sure no one was left inside. While this teacher was in the building, he noticed that the smoke never entered the lobby. Not only was there no smoke, but Ada’s school did not suffer any damage and there were no broken windows from the attacks. However, the buildings to the right and left of the High School suffered structural damage.

Most importantly, Ada and the faculty were able to bring every student to safety, and no one was harmed. In the end, the dream was completely fulfilled. It truly was “safe” for every person in the school and for the building itself.

As we remember 9/11 and honor our first responders and service members, those who lost their lives and were wounded, and the families who lost loved ones, let’s also not forget that prayer changes things.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 29)

by Family Research Council

September 3, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Blog: “They Need a Miracle”: Pray for the People of Afghanistan

Following President Biden’s decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops, Taliban fighters have taken over the capital. Civilians not wanting to live under Taliban rule rushed to the airport in Kabul, desperate to make it onto one of the last planes leaving the country. For Christians in that country, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

2. Blog: Critical Race Theory and the Path to Truth

Some see the debate over Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a disagreement between those who think racism is real and those who do not. But this is not the case. CRT’s oppressor/oppressed framework is a way of understanding and interpreting the world—one that is significantly in conflict with a biblical worldview because it offers a different understanding of truth.

3. Blog: So You’ve Decided to Homeschool – Now What?

American homeschooling households have more than doubled since 2020. Why? For many parents, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed what America’s public schools have been teaching their children – and it’s terrifying. If you have chosen to homeschool your children, here are some helpful tips to get you started.

4. Blog: Explainer: What Is Happening with Texas’ New Pro-Life Law?

Roe v. Wade resulted from a challenge to a pro-life Texas law. Forty-eight years later, Texas is once again protecting life—but this time, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court has let those protections stand. Texas recently passed a law (known as Senate Bill 8) that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child – this usually occurs around six weeks.

5. Washington Watch: Jerry Boykin, Scott Rasmussen, Pam Pryor, Jody Hice

Joseph Backholm was joined by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, to discuss the 13 U.S. service members who were killed at the Kabul airport. Scott Rasmussen, pollster and editor-at-large at Ballotpedia, talked about the polling on how President Biden has handled foreign policy, the economy, and the pandemic. Pam Pryor, former Senior State Department official under President Trump, critiqued the Biden administration for mishandling the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies. And, Jody Hice, U.S. Representative for Georgia, shared his thoughts on the recent events in Afghanistan and what Congress can do to hold the Biden administration accountable.

6. Washington Watch: Chris Smith, Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, Nina Shea

Joseph Backholm was joined by Chris Smith, U.S. Representative for New Jersey, to discuss the humanitarian disaster following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Tony Perkins, FRC President and Marine veteran, gave an on the ground report on Ida Hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana. Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, shared how Samaritan’s Purse is responding to Hurricane Ida. And, Nina Shea, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, talked about what’s happening to Christians in Afghanistan.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Biden’s “American Families Plan”

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand FRC’s Mary Szoch, Joy Pullmann of The Federalist, Charmaine Yoest of Heritage Foundation, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) outlined the problems with Biden’s “American Families Plan” and discuss alternative polices that will truly help all families flourish.

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