Born To Die

Almost everyone is familiar with the Christmas story. The tale of how Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn and gave birth to the Son of God in a stable is traditional holiday fare. Even those who consider the story to be a myth have at least heard it and recognize the characters.

That familiarity can be a problem. Many of us have heard the tale so often that it loses its impact. We have heard the story for so many Christmases now that it becomes part of the background, like Christmas carol muzak in a department store or mall, and we fail to appreciate the impact of Christmas.

The real impact of Christmas lies beyond the manger scene. Christmas is really about what the newborn infant would do some 30 years later as an adult.

Christmas reminds me of the scene in Talladega Nights in which Will Ferrell leads his family in a mealtime grace, addressing the prayer to “little baby Jesus.” Baby Jesus in the manger is a nonthreatening image that is easy to celebrate because a newborn infant is not controversial and makes no demands of us.

The problem with limiting our view of Christmas to the manger scene is that the babe in the manger came to shake things up and make difficult demands of us. The newborn baby was an infant on a mission. The baby Jesus was born to die.

If we fast forward about 30 years to see the ministry of the adult Jesus, we would get two central themes to his message. One, that we should love our fellow man, is another common Christmas theme. As Bill and Ted put it, Jesus taught that we should “be excellent to each other.”

But Jesus’ second theme is even more important. Beyond loving others, Jesus taught that we should love the God who created us and seek after him.

In fact, the most important message from Jesus’ preaching can be distilled down to two verses. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” In this verse, Jesus made the controversial and earthshattering claim that he is God. A few chapters later in John 14:6, he made another extraordinary claim. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” In two short statements, Jesus overturned the conventional wisdom that priests and sacrifices were needed to approach God.

Jesus’ statements were either the ravings of a madman or the herald of a new way of looking at life and God. After a few short years of itinerant preaching, he would be executed by the Romans with the complicity of Jewish leaders. Far from being a tragedy, however, Jesus’ death sealed his victory. It was why he had come in the first place. As Jesus had previously explained to his disciples, he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

You see, like Jesus, we are also born to die. I once saw a t-shirt that said, “Life is sexually transmitted and always fatal.” We are dying from the day we are born.

Unlike Jesus, who as the Son of God holds the ultimate power over death, we are its mercy. As sinners, we are doomed to eternal separation from God as punishment for our misdeeds. It is in this realization that Jesus’ mission is made clear. He did not come to bring world peace or military triumph. Contrary to what prosperity gospel preachers say, he did not come to give his followers worldly wealth or to heal the sick. Even though he is capable of doing all these things, Jesus came to give us a chance at eternal life and the ability to triumph over death.

Christmas is about hope. The hope that would ultimately be fulfilled by the adult Jesus on the cross. The baby in the manger would grow up to sacrifice his life for ours, but the gift of sacrifice must be accepted.

While the baby in the manger makes no demands of us, the resurrected Jesus who died on the cross demands that we put aside all other paths to God, believe in him, and make him Lord of our lives. In return, we receive salvation and eternal life, the ultimate Christmas gifts.

Falwell’s Shameful Attack on Christian Free Speech Proves He Worships Trump More Than God

One of the byproducts of getting too political is incessant paranoia. I know because I’ve run some campaigns. Jerry Falwell, Jr. has slid into the paranoid, and abandoned any pretense of where his priorities lie–he worships Donald Trump more than God.

As a Christian, I know how politics poisons the soul. And now we see exactly how worldly Falwell has become as the poison takes effect. Christian evangelist and author Jonathan Martin came to the Liberty University campus, and was promptly ejected by armed officers, served with a citation and warned that should he return, he will be arrested.

This is the stuff of UC Berkeley and antifa. It should not be the stuff of Liberty University and Donald Trump. See, Martin is not a fan of the president.

It was this behavior, culminating in a report that Falwell was teaming up with Steve Bannon to oust “fake Republicans,” that prompted Martin to travel to Lynchburg, Virginia, on Monday. His goal was to meet with students and alumni to organize a prayer gathering in protest of the school and its leader’s political activity.

Martin was not on campus to organize a rally for the KKK, or to invite Richard Spencer to hold a tiki-torch parade. He was not there to bring in antifa goons to throw rocks and feces at police. He was not there to bus in a few thousand of Linda Sarsour’s vagina-hat brigade. He was there to pray with students. He was invited by a music group, JOHNNYSWIM,  performing on campus. He didn’t trespass.

Yes, he was going to pray that Liberty and its leader, Jerry Falwell, Jr., would abandon their disastrous political course and assume the proper role of a school dedicated to training Christians for the mission field–that field being whatever endeavor they take up. Liberty has trained journalists, lawyers, pastors and others–many of whom do not share Falwell’s devotion to Trump, or his penchant for getting political in the extreme.

But Falwell wouldn’t have anyone praying on his campus against his god (that is, Trump). So, in the name of Jesus, he had Martin expelled, though Martin was invited by a band performing on campus.

Falwell’s weak response defended Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. He argued that allowing Martin to pray would lead to hosting the KKK or Nazis or “Antifah” (sic). What utter rubbish.

It’s a private campus. Liberty can allow Martin to pray–to God–in a way that’s politically unsavory to Falwell’s politics (but acceptable to Jesus!) without compromising his ability to keep truly ungodly groups out later. His implication is, therefore, that praying against Donald Trump is tantamount to praying against God Himself.

A more presumptuous, anti-free-speech, ungodly position could not have been better spoken by King Herod Agippa I (see Acts 12:23), just before an angel struck him down and he was “eaten by worms.” Because he did not give glory to God.

Neither does Falwell give glory to God. He gives glory to Trump. He’s not alone here.

I am completely certain that not one of Pastor Robert Jeffress’ words in that tweet bring glory to God. Yet this man stands in the pulpit, week after week, supposedly exhorting his congregation to follow God, while injecting every second of his life with poisonous politics.

Both Jeffress and Falwell have become paranoid and have abandoned God for their personal orange idol, who neither created the world not saved it from sin.

And now, Falwell has turned against free speech and led Liberty University into shame by preventing a Christian from leading a prayer on his campus because he doesn’t like the man’s politics.

They both need to repent.

We Are In The Last Days: Jesus Isn’t Just All Right With ABC

…having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:5)

Whoopi Goldberg and the staff and producers of ABC’s “The View” would do well to learn this Scripture. In fact, they should learn it in context of what St. Paul wrote to Timothy.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people more emblematic of that Scripture than the hosts and producers of “The View.” They just proved it Monday, in a discussion of which of God’s commandments might be obsolete (video above).

Seriously, they were discussing which commandments given by the Almighty Creator of the Universe we might simply ignore today, because God has become irrelevant or something. Goldberg even mockingly pointed to heaven and said “don’t hit me, God!”

At one point in the discussion (the 4 minute mark), Paula Farris mentioned that she was raised in a strict God-fearing family.

My parents were really strict about what we said in the home. We couldn’t say, ‘Oh, my God.’ We couldn’t say J.C., we couldn’t say Je- (bleeped out) … My son, we could say ‘Jeez’ … unless you were praising him, and then you could say, (bleeped out).”

The producers bleeped the name of Jesus, spoken in context of His power and relevance. Just before those remarks, Farris said “the great thing about the Bible and God, it’s the same yesterday, today and forever.” But Jesus is not to be spoken of publicly in this discussion, because His name is apparently not okay in a Biblical context.

Disney/ABC will broadcast all forms of blasphemy, including multiple and endless taking of the Lord’s name in vain. They will broadcast coarse language, cursing, and outright rejection of God and His power. But the name of Jesus, properly used, in Biblical context, must not be heard.

Honestly, I’m disgusted by it, but not at all surprised. So far, Disney itself hasn’t banned the mention of Jesus Christ from its theme parks or other venues–my family and I still pray out loud when we visit Disney properties and we haven’t been thrown out.

Walt Disney World still hosts the Night of Joy Christian music festival, albeit no longer in the park itself, but on property. I wonder how much longer that will continue, since censoring the name of Jesus is now a normal activity.

As the Scripture says, we are in the last days.

Mathew 25: The ‘Luke, I Am Your Father’ of Scripture

Ask your average Star Wars fan the Darth Vader quote when he tells Luke about their relationship and you will more likely than not get “Luke, I am your father.” That is not actually the quote. It is really “No. I am your father.”

But over time, more and more people think it is the former. The movie Snow White has a similar one. You probably say it, “Mirror, mirror on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?” It is actually “Magic mirror, on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?”

In the same way, ask who “the least of these” is in Matthew 25:40-45 and you probably think it is the poor, generally. “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” (Matt 25:45 ESV).

That is the common view today, but it is neither the most accurate view or even the predominate view in church history. It is most common today because much of liberal theology premises its call for the social gospel on this passage.

Matthew 25:31-46 is about the final judgment. In the context of the social gospel, if you are helping the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, etc. then you are engaging in a works based salvation. The rest of the New Testament’s calls for moral living are overshadowed by this passage on judgment.

33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

Matt 25:33-39 (ESV).

In general context it does seem to be salvation premised on taking care of the poor and needy. The problem is that, as Denny Burke noted, it is “a classic case of right doctrine, wrong text.”

Yes, Christians must take care of the poor. Yes, while Protestants believe salvation comes from faith alone, judgment will be on our works. There are ample places in the Bible demanding Christians take care of widows, orphans, the poor, and refugees.

The problem is that Matthew 25 is not that place, but many people think it is. In fact, some twitter friends of mine told me I was wrong when I said Matthew 25 did not mean the “poor in general,” but the passage shows why it is not the poor in general.

Let’s break it down, but know two things starting out.

First, none of us should presume that the Holy Spirit speaks only to us. It is silly to think that our interpretation of a passage is the accurate because that is how we read it. We should never be opposed to seeing what others have seen in the passage and asking what the consensus on the passage is.

Second, in that regard, know that if you think the passage really does mean “the poor” generally, you are up against Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, the Venerable Bede, Augustine, Anselm of Laon, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus, Zwingli, Luther, and Calvin among others. (Source) Yes, this is one of the passages of the Bible where the Eastern, Western, and Protestant churches have long been in agreement.

Again, the view on this passage did not change until the right of the social gospel of liberal theology in the 19th century.

The key to understanding the passage is that the second part, on the goats, mirrors but abridges the first part on sheep.

Here is the passage where the sheep respond to Christ:

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

Now here is the passage where the goats respond to Christ:

44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?

The goats are saying the same thing, but in retelling it Christ has not used as many words. The sheep says “when did we see you hungry and feed you” while the goats say “when did we see you hungry.” The “and feed you” is implied by the last portion “and did not minister to you.”

In the same way, the “least of these” is abridged.

In Matthew 25:40, Christ says

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

In Matthew 25:45, he abridges it saying

Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

Notice the difference? He left out “brothers” in the second. It is implied, but not there, just like the other bits in the section on goats are implied.

So who then are the brothers?

Well, the Greek used is more akin to “brotherhood” than “brothers” but both were used in terms of his disciples.

But Matthew is written by one author. What about other uses of “the least of these” in Matthew?

Again, Denny Burk has done the hard work for us and the pattern holds. Each time “least of these” or “little ones” occurs in Matthew, they are references to treatment of Christ’s disciples.

So what is Matthew 25:31-46 saying?

The passage is about how the world responds to and treats Christ’s disciples. This is why there is so much outrage today at me for pointing this out. It is not just the social gospel that gets premised in Matthew 25, but that Matthew 25 also condemns those who would force Christians to violate their faith for the world. Here’s Denny Burke again:

This text is not about poor people generally. It’s about Christians getting the door slammed in their face while sharing the gospel with a neighbor. It’s about the baker/florist/photographer who is being mistreated for bearing faithful witness to Christ. It’s about disciples of Jesus having their heads cut off by Islamic radicals. In other words, it’s about any disciple of Jesus who was ever mistreated in the name of Jesus. This text shows us that Jesus will judge those who show contempt for the gospel by mistreating gospel-bearers.

In the last day, all the people who thought they could get away with mistreating Jesus’ brothers and sisters are going to come face to face with reality. They are going to come face to face with their judge. And they are going to find out what justice is. And they won’t be taunting or mocking. They are going to be crying out for the mountains to fall on them to shield them from the Lamb of God come in judgment (Rev. 6:16-17). But there won’t be a mountain big enough or a hole deep enough for them to hide in. Jesus will arise as a dread champion for his people. And he will close the mouths of the scoffers and the persecutors once and for all.

It is worth, at this point, reiterating that if you are wedded to the idea that Matthew 25 is about the poor in general, I probably cannot change your mind. The Bible is explicit that Christians must help the poor, but Matthew 25 is not. And though you may be tied to it, just understand that you are up against the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, the Venerable Bede, Augustine, Anselm of Laon, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus, Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, and many other Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant church fathers.

I would suggest the burden is on you to show it actually does mean the poor in general. I would also note that this is why Christians have an obligation to help Christian refugees around the world. We are to take care of Christ’s brothers and sisters, who are his disciples.

Other passages tell us to help the poor in general. This one specifically calls for us to help our Christian brothers and sisters.

Jesus Took The Lash

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

This passage is Jeremiah 31:15. It was directly referenced by the Gospel writer Matthew in chapter 2, verse 18. Starting in verse 16:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

“Herod the Great” was the king, appointed under Roman rule, in Judah. He knew the prophecies concerning a messiah being born, a King of the Jews. He was visited by men from the East, men of great learning who followed a star to find this King. Herod lied to the men, telling them he also wanted to worship this King, but in fact wanted to kill him. When the wise men were warned supernaturally by an angel, they avoided Jerusalem on their way home.

Many Christians know this Bible story. The rest of the story is that Joseph was told by an angel in a dream to escape to Egypt because Herod sought to kill Jesus. Herod murdered every child two years old and younger from Ramah in the north to Bethlehem in the south.

Herod was very worried about a backlash from Judeans who followed this king, and died with that worry. His rule was then divided into three, a tetrarchy ruled by Archelaus in Samaria and Judea, Herod Antipas in Galilee and Peraea, and Philip in territories east of the Jordan. When Pilate sought to pass on the responsibility of judging Jesus after his arrest, he sent him to Antipas, since Jesus was a Galilean. Antipas sent Jesus right back.

Pilate and Antipas were both worried about a backlash after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the foal of a donkey to chants of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

But before there was a backlash, there was a lash. Herod’s act to snuff out the toddler Messiah is known as “the slaughter of the innocents.” It should be very familiar to anyone who follows what’s going on in the world today.

Terrorism. War in Syria. ISIS. Children being killed. And Muslims in Germany are worried about a backlash after a refugee from Sudan barreled into a Christmas market in a Scania truck, then fled to Italy where he will killed by police. But what about the lash?

Today, prophetically, both Ramah and Bethlehem are under Palestinian rule. Ramah is known as Pisgat Ze’ev, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It’s one of the areas where the UN Security Council thinks Israelis should not try to build any homes. Bethlehem is a place where Muslims and Christians coexist, but Israelis are not allowed.

Israelis are also barred from the site of Herod’s Temple, which was the site of Solomon’s Temple, where the Ark of the Covenant once stood. It’s the “Holy of Holies” that was shaken by an earthquake when Jesus died on the cross. It’s the place where the “veil of the Temple split from top to bottom” in Matthew 28. Now the Dome of the Rock stands in its place, and Jews are confined to the Western Wall (also known as the “Wailing Wall”)–the retaining wall of Herod’s Temple Mount.

Think of it this way. If the Temple was AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play, the Wailing Wall would be somewhere in the parking lot outside the ticket booth. You couldn’t even see the game from it. And under the latest shameful UN resolution, even the Wailing Wall may not be properly Israeli.

Current events are not outside of God’s knowledge or control. He brought the Savior of the World into this world through the lash, and brought Him out of this world through the lash.

One Islamic scholar–a Christian missionary–I know told me that a Muslim said to him that he understood that God could come into the world as a baby, because with God, anything is possible. But he asked, why would God do that? That’s the whole question of Christmas, isn’t it?

God did this so that He could know us personally. Jesus came to suffer by the lash, and die by the cross, taking the sins of the entire world on Himself, so that those who He knows personally, who trust Him to know our deepest selves, can enter His Kingdom through our weakness.

He suffered the lash so that we could avoid the backlash. The backlash, be assured, is coming.

In Luke 2:14, the host of angels sung:

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

The Peace is His peace. The goodwill is in Christ. Our goodness cannot save us from the backlash. But He was born to take the lash.

‘Happy Holidays’ flap is a snowflake issue

I’m a fan of Christmas. I am a Christian and I celebrate the holiday as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who I believe is the Son of God. Even though I joyfully celebrate Christmas, I recognize that not everyone does. For that reason, I’m not concerned in the least about the “Happy Holidays” controversy that erupts every year.

Every year there is a wave of indignant posts on social media where people denounce the phrase “Happy Holidays” as an assault on the Christian message of Christmas. People often take the greeting, as well as many other trivial matters such as a redesign of the Starbucks holiday coffee cup, as attacks on the Christian religion and react with anger and hostility.

Christmas greetings even became a political issue when Donald Trump vowed last year, “If I become president, we’re gonna [sic] be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ at every store … You can leave ‘happy holidays’ at the corner.”

I’m not offended when someone tells me “Happy Holidays.” Christmas is a holiday and is included in that greeting. The phrase doesn’t exclude Christmas. Rather it includes New Year’s Day, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and probably even Festivus. The phrase is simply a recognition that there are other holidays that occur within the December time frame and bundles them into one greeting. It also has the advantage of being easier to say than “Happy Merry Christmahanakwanzika.” Stores often use “Happy Holidays” because not all their customers celebrate Christmas and it is poor marketing to alienate and offend your customers.

More and more, the flap over saying “Happy Holidays” seems to be a snowflake issue. By that, I don’t mean a winter precipitation problem, but an issue similar to the liberal faux outrages by those sensitive souls derided as “snowflakes.” These universally offended types find something to be outraged about in everything and it seems that many conservatives are taking a cue from this behavior on several issues. Christmas is one example.

Why do conservative Christians feel offended when some people choose not to say “Merry Christmas?” Christianity is a voluntary religion. People have to choose to accept Christ. Belief in Christ and repentance cannot be forced. Isn’t it equally futile to try to force people to pay homage to Christ by saying “Merry Christmas” when they don’t want to?

The United States has freedom of religion. People should be free to celebrate and say, “Merry Christmas,” but they should also be equally free to say “Happy Holidays.” The government has no constitutional role in determining appropriate holiday greetings.

There is a real war on Christmas in some quarters. Bans on nativity scenes, Christmas trees and banning “Merry Christmas” are clearly wrong and, to use the liberal phrase, intolerant. There are attempts by some to turn Christmas into a “winter break.” These attempts should be resisted and haven’t been widespread for the most part. How many of us have personally been involved in such an attack on Christmas? Not me. I’ve only read of them in the outrage media.

Saying “Happy Holidays” should not be considered an attempt to excise religion from the public square. The word “holiday” is actually derived from the Old English word for “holy day.” When someone wishes you “Happy Holidays,” they are actually telling you to have a good holy day. Christmas, along with Easter Sunday, is one of the most holy of holy days for Christians.

To take the matter a step further, even the word “X-mas” is not an attack on Christmas. The “x” is not crossing “Christ” out of Christmas, according to students of the Greek language and theology. The “x” is actually shorthand for a Greek word meaning “Christ” that starts with the Greek letter “Chi,” which looks the same as our “x.” Far from being a modern invention, the shorthand has been in use for over a thousand years.

For snowflakes who do get hot and bothered when someone tells them “Happy Holidays,” there is a simple solution. My response when someone gives me the controversial phrase is to give them a big smile and say, “Merry Christmas” in a friendly way. Often they’ll respond back with “Merry Christmas” as well. This technique even worked before Trump won the election.

Don’t be a snowflake. Let’s focus on important issues and not trivialities.

A Godless Universe Sure Is Kind To Earth

NASA scientist Dr. Joseph Nuth concluded that Planet Earth is overdue for a makeover of the “extinction-level” variety.

The Guardian reported:

Speaking at the annual meeting of American Geophysical Union, Nuth noted that large and potentially dangerous asteroids and comets are extremely rare, compared to the small objects that occasionally explode in Earth’s sky or strike its surface. “But on the other hand they are the extinction-level events, things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially. You could say, of course, we’re due, but it’s a random course at that point.”

There you go. We’re due for it. The universe is just random enough that our existence here is totally by accident and unnoticed, and the end of it will be just as accidental and unnoticed.

And then there’s what physicist Dr. John Polkinghorne, who was a professor at Cambridge, said, as related by one of his former students, Ravi Zacharias.

In the earliest picoseconds of the universe, the fine tuning of things had to be so amazingly precise. If you consider just one variable of the many, the expansion-contraction ratio, it had to be so exact, that it would be like taking aim at a one-square-inch target at the other end of the universe, 20 billion light years away, and hitting it bulls-eye. And that is just one of the contingencies that had to be precisely so for the universe to come into existence.

I guess somebody must have noticed us, because we’re here, on the one planet in this solar system where water can exist in its liquid, ice, vapor, and gaseous forms, where solar radiation is deflected by the magnetic field created by its solid iron core, where our moon absorbs many of the so-called “extinction-level” objects headed for our planet.

We’re far enough away from the galactic core not to be consumed by a supermassive black hole, but positioned perfectly to see the universe in all its splendor. And nobody has come up with a testable theory of just how that first life appeared here.

There is so much we don’t know about our own planet, never mind the rest of the universe, that all our guesses about when some planet-immolating meteor will end humanity are just that–fantastic guesses sprung from imagination combined with mathematics.

We know far more about the history of a tiny town called Bethlehem, on a dusty road a few miles from the hills of Jerusalem, a mere 2,000 years ago. We know who ruled the Roman Empire, who was tetrarch of Judea, and how the shepherds of the field tended their flocks.

We have abundant source material of how a baby born in the humblest of circumstances attracted the attention of men from the East who studied the stars. These men followed a star to worship the King of the Jews.

Yet scientists tell us how we’re woefully unprepared for what the cold, random, Godless universe will throw at this planet (as if we really could do anything about it). We would be much better engaged in preparing for another event we’re due for. That would be the return of Him who through His Word, hit the bulls-eye from 20 billion light-years away.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

The Salvation of Donald Trump

Let’s say that, today, Donald Trump publicly declares that he has repented as a sinner, and accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ for his sins. Let’s say he apologizes and asks forgiveness from the #NeverTrump crowd who have criticized him for his immorality. Let’s say he publicly admits he regrets boasting of his past sinfulness and pledges to govern with Godly counsel.

What should Christians say?

For some, it would be too late. Without fruit, Trump could be lying, they’d reason. For others, it would be enough that he claimed salvation. For if Trump would be lying, to whom would he be lying? To the Holy Spirit, of course, and we know what happens to people who do that.  (See Acts 5.)

Erick Erickson’s primary argument against Christians supporting Trump is it damages the public witness of Christ in a Christian’s life. I agree with that argument. But when that witness shows promise, even if it’s a small shaft of light, should we then turn the other cheek?

Yes. Christians should not be cynical about other people’s salvation. The Golden Rule requires it. How would we feel if the church we attend looked at our confession of faith and responded, “yeah, right!” I know, it’s not about feelings. But it is about forgiveness and love.

Now let’s extend this argument. If Hillary Clinton has wholesale abandoned an absolute morality, even if she claims a Christian heritage, and Trump holds to many truths of the Bible, should we look to his salvation by faith as a reason to support him now?

Can we claim Trump–surrounded many times as he is by Godly people who encourage him in the Lord–as a leader who may come to the Lord through those associations, our prayers, and the weight of the solemn responsibility of the presidency? Could it be God’s will to save Trump through the White House (as he has all but claimed himself)?

It certainly could be. However, let’s look at this from God’s perspective, which He has given to us in the Scripture:

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:5-10)

This description is also found in Luke chapter 4. The devil quotes the Psalmist in Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” The devil challenges Jesus to ask God for a miracle, knowing that the Father would grant it. Then the devil offers Jesus “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Jesus counters with the First Commandment and dismisses Satan.

Supporting Trump is the same test for American Christians that Satan gave to Jesus.

First, shall Christians pray for a miracle, that Trump is saved? Yes, absolutely. But should we cast ourselves from the pinnacle of the temple and therefore ask God to provide a Godly man in a repented and sanctified Trump to lead our nation? Should we trust that God has blessed America to the point that the Father’s plan could not proceed without us?

To think that is naked hubris. God is not American, and God doesn’t need America to carry out His prophetic plan. America was not there when either of the Old or New Testaments were written. Our existence is not relevant to Biblical truth any more than any other of “the nations.” America is blessed because we were founded on the Word of God, not because the Word of God requires it.

If we support Trump because we believe God wants to bless America through him, and will save Trump to accomplish that, is tempting God to perform a miracle because it helps us. That in itself is a dangerous position, theologically, spiritually, and relationally to God’s Kingdom. No nation can wear the mantle of the Kingdom of God. All that have tried have perished doing so. Read your history (the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Inquisition are good examples).

The second test is “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” If we support Trump because “he wins” and we want “America first” we have bowed before Satan. We are asking God to bless that which the devil offered the Lord and the Lord rejected. We will have violated the First Commandment to worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.

If Trump, today, publicly confessed that he is a sinner, accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, publicly repented and asked for forgiveness from God and man, then yes, I would believe him. I would consider casting my vote for him–subject to seeing a month’s worth of fruit, or at least the evidence of it. I would not judge his confession to be a ruse or a lie just because he said it.

But short of that, there’s no Biblical basis to support Trump, and doing so is in fact counter to God’s instruction. It’s the same magical thinking Trump wants us to have about all his policies. We should not apply magical thinking to the Bible–the one true, unchanging rock of our faith. If we do that, we’re no better than Hillary Clinton.