4 Quotes On Religious Freedom

“Religious freedom is a human birthright. Everyone on the globe is entitled to religious freedom simply by having been born. Governments, if they are just, will recognize that birthright.” —James Tonkowich

“The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.” —James Madison

“Religious freedom includes the right to believe as you wish, live according to your beliefs, raise your family according to your beliefs, petition the government according to your beliefs, evangelize, and convert from one faith to another, and all without government interference. Is that because of the First Amendment? No. It is because religious freedom is our birthright as human beings. The First Amendment simply forbids the government from robbing us of that inalienable birthright.” —James Tonkowich

“The same First Amendment that first and foremost guarantees religious freedom also guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for change. To that list we can add economic freedom, freedom to choose our friends and associates, and the freedom to make a myriad of other legitimate choices.

“Consider: what if you are granted ‘freedom of speech,’ yet are not permitted to articulate your most deeply held religious beliefs? You could talk about sports, the weather, celebrities, and TV shows, but not about the ideas that inspire and motivate your life. That kind of freedom of speech would be hollow and meaningless.

“Freedom of assembly is not free if you cannot assemble over the truths that are most dear to you. Freedom to petition the government does us no good if we can petition the government only for things that have nothing to do with our faith. Traffic laws or banking regulations might be okay topics for petition, but not issues of life or marriage or war or the poor since our advocacy may be the result of our religious convictions.

“So it goes with all our freedoms. Take away the right to make up our own mind about matters relating to life, morality, and God and what is left is servitude, not freedom.” —James Tonkowich

(these quotes are taken from A New Kind Of Apologist)

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Fear God, Honor The King

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God (Matthew 22:21).

The Bible has much to say to God-followers about how to interact with earthly governments:

  • Wise King Solomon told us to “fear the Lord and the king” and not go along with rebels against the government (Proverbs 24:21)
  • Daniel said several times that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes” (Daniel 4 & 5)
  • The Apostle Paul declared he was no rebel to either the civil or religious governors: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar” (Acts 25:8)
  • Later on, Paul reminded the church that government officials are God’s servants, and that we need to give them the respect that is owed to them (see Romans 13:1-7)
  • Peter counseled Christians: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors … Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

But a man that exemplifies this balance between fearing God and honoring the king best is Mordecai. Mordecai was a Jew who served the Babylonian king faithfully—

  • He protected the king from would-be assassins
  • But disobeyed the king when the law of the land conflicted with God’s law
  • Then Mordecai helped the king get out of a bad law written by an evil man

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the difference between fearing God and honoring earthly kings.

How can today’s leaders live out this principle? This is something that should lead us to prayerfully search the Scriptures, and then boldly live out what the Holy Spirit reveals to us.

This is Part 13 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts by clicking here.

13 Introspective Questions From “Longing For A Changed World”

As Ralph Lehman made his case for Christian to (re)establish a prayer focus for revival in his book Longing For A Changed World, he asked several penetrating questions. Here are a few of them for you to consider.

“[Josiah’s revival] was one revival that began with the leaders of government. Are we praying for our leaders?”

“Our government has entered many areas that were once considered to be the Church’s sphere of ministry. How can we lead our churches back into these areas?”

“Have you considered that you are grieving the Spirit when you deprive Him of conversing with God by choosing not to pray?”

“As men of prayer, should we not strive to be like the great prayer warriors of the Bible?”

“Tertullian, a church father who lived in the Roman Empire around 200 A.D., stated that the Roman emperor and his armies benefited greatly from the prayers of the Christians who interceded on their behalf. Can we present the same argument to our political leaders today?”

“What would we be willing to leave or to set aside for the sake of more time in prayer, seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God?”

“Do we seek the Lord of revival, or merely desire His blessings?”

“If we do not enjoy God’s presence, through His Word and prayer, we are missing the true blessing God intends for us—the blessing of Himself. If we will not seek the presence of God day by day, how can we expect Him to go with us in our daily lives?”

“If God was willing to take the Israelites into the Promised Land without His presence [Exodus 33:3-4], what does this say to the proponents of the ‘health and wealth’ gospel?”

“Even though we have been blessed immeasurably by living here in the United States, do our hearts long for God’s rule to be acknowledged in our land? Do we yearn to abide in His presence? Or are we idle in our contentment with the milk and honey?”

“Sometimes, our areas of giftedness become spheres where we fail to ask God for strength. Have you considered your strengths may be the very areas that satan exploits?”

“Are we praying for revival, are we also praying that we would conduct ourselves in such a way that the world would take notice, even if this meant for us to suffer?”

“Is the God of today’s church big enough to surprise us?”

You can check out some other quotes from Longing For A Changed World by clicking here, and my full book review is available here.

Thursdays With Oswald—A Biblical View Of Government

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

A Biblical View Of Government

     The Bible point of view about government is that God compels men to govern man for Him, whether he likes it or not. The ordinance of government, whether it is a bad or good government, does not lie with men, but is entirely in God’s hands; the king or the government will have to answer to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14). … 

     In politics also it is difficult to steer a course; there is a complication of forces to be dealt with which most of us know nothing about. We have no affinity for this kind of thing, and it is easy to ignore the condition of the men who have to live there, and to pass condemnation on them. … It is easy to condemn a state of things we know nothing about while we make excuses for the condition of the things we ourselves live in. … 

     We say, “Why does God allow these things? Why does He allow a despot to rule?” In this dispensation it is the patient long-suffering of God that is being manifested. God allows men to say what they like and do what they like (see 2 Peter 3:14). Peter says that God is long-suffering, and He is giving us ample opportunity to try whatever line we like both in individual and national life. If God were to end this dispensation now, the human race would have a right to say, “You should have waited, there is a type of thing You never let us try.”

     God is leaving us to prove to the hilt that it cannot be done in any other way than Jesus Christ’s way, or the human race would not be satisfied.” 

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers wrote these words during The Great War (what we now call World War I), when everyone was questioning how governments could do such horrendous things.

I think Chambers sums up how a Christian should respond to earthly governments:

  1. Remember they are placed in their positions by God, so treat them with respect (Romans 13:6-7).
  2. Don’t condemn government officials, but pray for them  (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. Clean up the areas where we can clean up, and let the politicians clean up their own areas.

Book Reviews From 2016

John Bunyan On The Relationship Between Church And State

Of Antichrist And His RuinJohn Bunyan, as Charles Spurgeon said, was so steeped in Scripture, that he practically bled Bible! In his book Of Antichrist And His Ruin, Bunyan pointed out how God would use earthly governments to bring about the demise of Antichrist. In addition, Bunyan also shared these insights on how the Church should treat the governments of Earth.

“Take heed in laying the cause of your troubles in the badness of the temper of governors. … God is the chief, and has the hearts of all, even of the worst of men, in His hand. Good tempered men have sometimes brought trouble; and bad tempered man have sometimes brought enlargement to the churches of God: Saul brought enlargement (1 Samuel 14:28). David brought trouble (2 Samuel 12:10).) Ahab brought enlargement (1 Kings 21:29). Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did both sometimes bring trouble (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35; 32:25). Therefore, the good or bad tempers of men sway nothing with God in this matter; they are the sins or repentances of His people, that make the church either happy or miserable upon earth.”

“The church therefore, as a church, must use such weapons as are proper to her as such; and the magistrate, as a magistrate, must use such weapons as are proper to him as such. … She [the church] may, and ought, with her faith and prayer, and holy life, to second this work of kings (Ezra 1:2, 3). When the king’s laws, and the law of their God, did at any time come in competition, they would indeed adhere to, and do the law of their God; yet with that tenderness to the king, his crown and dignity, that they could at all times appeal to the righteous God about it (Daniel 6:22). Nor did they lose by doing so; yea, they prospered; for by this means Mordecai was made a great man, and a savior of his people (Esther 2:21-23). By this means also was Daniel made a great man, and helpful to his brethren (Daniel 5:29).”

“Pray for kings to the God of heaven, Who has the hearts of kings in His hand: and do it ‘without wrath and doubting’; without wrath because thy self is not perfect; and without doubting because God governeth them, and has promised to bring down Antichrist by them. Pray for the long life of the king. Pray that God would always give wisdom and judgment to the king. Pray that God would discover all plots and conspiracies against his person and government. Pray also that God would make him able to drive away all evil and evil men from his presence….”

To read more quotes from this book, please click here. And to check out my review of this book, please click here.

Religious Liberty In School

free-to-speakAs our students are heading back to their schools, it is a great time to be reminded of the religious liberties they have while in school. With all of the talk of so-called “separation of church and state,” I think many parents and students are reluctant to say anything that sounds remotely Christian, for fear of getting in trouble with the powers-that-be.

But we don’t have to tread so carefully!

Gateways To Better Education has some great resources. I ordered a couple hundred of their “Free To Speak” pamphlets. I gave them to our school superintendent, and as many parents as as I could. This short pamphlet summarizes the US Department of Education’s guidelines on what is allowed in school. In short, the Seven Freedoms are:

  1. Students can pray, read their Bibles or other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.
  2. Students can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce their meetings like any other club.
  3. Students can express their faith in their class work and homework.
  4. Teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers.
  5. Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.
  6. Students can express their faith at a school event.
  7. Students can express their faith at a graduation ceremony.

Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be uninformed. Know your rights as a US citizen.

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