Governing Authorities

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution …”
1 Peter 2:13
< This newsletter piece is an extension of the sermon from this past week on 1 Peter 2:13-17. If you missed the sermon, entitled Governing Authorities, the audio is available at RedeemerVA.org under the resource tab or on our podcast channel RBC Spotsy Village – available on apple or Spotify. >

There are two more areas from this past week’s sermon that I want you to consider. First, that God has ordained three basic spheres of authority in the world; government, church, and family. Each is different from the other. Each overlaps with the other – like a Venn diagram – but each is also distinct from the other standing as its own authority. Government is ordained by God for authority in areas of civil organization, law and order (criminal justice), national defense, and taxation. The church has authority in matters of doctrine, morality, local church organization and function. The family has authority in matters of the home related to organization and care of children (care and raising, education, and discipline).

When these function correctly according to God’s design, each informs and strengthens the other, but none takes over the other. When functioning as God intended, the church strengthens the family through informing it of God’s will and through the support of bringing families together in Christian community. The government serves the church and family by maintaining a safe, well ordered, and free society. The family contributes for the common good to the government through individual effort and taxation. The church guides the conscience of government by informing it of what is right and wrong according to God’s will. The government recognizes societal structures created by God such as human dignity, marriage, and religious liberty.

However, when this is not functioning properly, the spheres of authority do not cooperate and collaborate together but compete and destroy each other. Government works to take over the family and become the agent to raise, educate, and institutionalize children. The church gives away its moral authority to government for ultimate right and wrong to be determined by judges or dictators. Or the family loses faith in biblical church structures and attempts to substitute the family for church (i.e. home church). Or the church attempts to rise up and take on the role of government creating an indistinguishable fusion of church and state (a governing church).

In the Bible we see a degree of sovereignty for each of the three spheres. When each exerts a biblical authority and stays within its intended lane, there is a check and balance between the three authorities which produces peace and stability in society. I urge you to consider carefully the biblical role of the government, the local church, and the family – valuing each for the place God has given it.

The second consideration relates to standing up for governmental rights afforded to us by government structures. There is strong biblical precedent for this in Acts 22:22-29. After preaching in Jerusalem to a large crowd of angry Jews, the mob turns on Paul. As the scene descends into a riot, the local Roman tribune arrests Paul and takes him into custody to examine him by flogging. They go so far as tying his hands and feet and stretching him out for flogging when Paul speaks up saying, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” At this lawful appeal, the tribune releases Paul and does not flog him.

This is an important lesson to all Christians blessed to live in a society under the rule of law. In most democratic societies there are religious liberty rights. In the United States we are blessed with the first amendment which reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” This first liberty enshrines in American law the liberty to freely establish churches and practice our Christianity. This means we have the right to live out what we believe in the public square, and we should act on this right. Christianity is not just something to be lived within the walls of the church, or within our homes. We have the legal public right to religious liberty.

Similar to Paul, when we are leaned on or threatened for simply living out our Christian belief and morals, we should press our legal religious liberties. In this, we should be very careful that our attitude is Christ-like and that what we are doing is not based on tradition, but on Scripture. But if, like Paul, our attitude is above reproach and our actions are according to what God requires of us, we can stand up for our religious liberty rights with courage and a clean conscience. I believe it’s important here that we clearly use the language of the first amendment to those that would silence and undermine the Christian church, “Is it lawful for you to forbid the free practice of my religion? This is not my personal opinion. This is required by my religion as a Christian. I choose to live and act this way because I am a Christian.” As Christians we should strive to be a people of peace, but there is clear precedent that when we feel threatened, we are permitted to appeal to the protection of available civil laws.

I hope these considerations are helpful to you.
May the Lord Jesus give us wisdom for navigating these days,
Pastor Vic


“Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” –2 Corinthians 4: 14-15

              I look forward to being together this Sunday to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! The disciples who mourned Jesus’ death went to honor His grave, but instead found an open and empty tomb, angels proclaiming resurrection, and then Jesus Himself – glorified and alive! May this news increase thanksgiving and hope in your heart. We can know that because He lives we can face tomorrow, but more importantly, we believe by faith that we will one day share in His resurrected life and enter into His glorious presence in heaven.

              This is such good news! Let’s do a few things differently this Easter Sunday. Let’s not lose even a little bit of the spiritual significance of this morning to tradition and secularism. What I mean is this. If putting on a show of getting dressed up causes you to focus on your personal appearance and that of your children and takes away from focusing on the resurrected Jesus – please dial back the show and focus on Jesus. If candy basket routines cause your kids to be flying so high on sugar that they can’t focus on Jesus glorified after the cross – consider doing baskets in the afternoon. Let’s make any personal adjustment necessary to make this Sunday result in glory and honor and thanksgiving to Jesus.

              The doors for the church will be open at 8:00 am for prayer. There will be people bustling around and worship music will be rehearsed, but that need not stop you from arriving early, taking a seat, and turning your heart to Jesus this Easter Sunday. Lay your burdens at His feet. Come with expectation and thanksgiving this Sunday. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be at work in our hearts. Adjust your routines to give maximum focus to the empty tomb. Invite a friend that has not been to church in a long time. If you are reading this, and you yourself have made excuse after excuse to be absent from the congregation, make time this Sunday to celebrate Easter with us.

              If you are a regular and are mobile, please choose to park further away from the building to free up parking close to the building. Please notice and make room for visitors. Welcome those you do not recognize. I’m excited to see you soon!

We will have eternal life because Jesus lives,

Pastor Vic

Evangelism and Book Review

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;

yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

1 Peter 3:15

              Later this summer the Billy Graham Evangelic Association (BGEA) is hosting an area wide series of meetings related to evangelism in the greater Fredericksburg area. This is an important occasion for Christian churches of various denominations to gather for a focus on seeking to reach our area with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The base of all this is being able to share the gospel personally with another person. Are you prepared and comfortable sharing with another person how they can believe in Jesus for salvation? Most people are not.

From late April to early May, churches around our area are hosting the “Christian Life & Witness Course.” This course has been taught to communities leading up to BGEA events for decades. Going through this three-week course will qualify you to serve as a counselor at the main events, but more importantly, will give you every day practical training in evangelism. We will be partnering with our sending church, Spotswood Baptist Church, for these classes.

Dates: April 18, 25, & May 2

Time: 7:00-8:30 pm

Location: Spotswood Baptist Church

No Sign-up Necessary

              I will be there, and I urge every single person at Redeemer to consider attending this time honored and effective course in personal evangelism. Mark your calendars! See you there!

Book Review

God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity?

Expanded and Updated Edition

By Andrew T. Walker

              The issues related to sexual ethics and transgenderism are no longer something happening in some far-off place on the news. We are surrounded by these issues every day and it is absolutely imperative that we have a historically based, biblical, and compassionate understanding of these issues. I am urging every person in the congregation to read this book. As transgender thinking and life choices have burst onto the scene, books related to the problem have evolved. This is by far the single best short book on the LGBTQ debate, focusing on the radical end of this spectrum – transgenderism.

              This book is written with extreme clarity and biblical accuracy of theology and tone by Andrew T. Walker, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book is a brief, but complete treatment of the issues. It begins with a historical review of how we have reached this place of extreme change in our culture so quickly. He next spends a few chapters clearly laying out a biblical sexual ethic and clarifying gender according to a biblical definition. From this base of theology and history, Walker then spends a few chapters addressing the Christian tone of compassion that must be in our hearts and in our words when seeking lost sinners. He makes a compelling argument for how exclusion, prejudice, or fear are incompatible with the gospel calling of Jesus. Walker does an excellent job putting truth first, then compassion, but keeping both balanced throughout. It’s right for us to strive after faithful biblical holiness and have a heart of true compassion toward those deeply in bondage to sin.

              The last few chapters are very practical sections on how to talk about these issues with your children and teenagers. These chapters include a section on frequently asked questions and a glossary of terms defining the new vocabulary this movement has come up with to redefine gender and sexuality.

              It’s not enough to just be angry over these issues, or to ignore them. We must hold our ground in holiness, but the commission of Jesus to reach the lost has not changed. We need to understand God’s good ways and teach them with compassion toward the lost. We need to help our children understand these issues that are hitting them every day.

May God help us to live in purity, not be ashamed of the gospel, and have compassion toward the lost enough to help those in need,

Pastor Vic

Storm Damage

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”–1 John 3:18

              This has been another week of struggle for many of our church members. The newsletter almost did not go out this week, because Christine just got power restored today! We have various forms of sickness, power outage (yes church members still lack power!), and storm damage all over the church. It’s very important during times like this that we draw together to help each other in actual hands-on service. When a physical need is present that we have the power to meet – let’s ACT in true Christian love.

              The first step to meeting a physical need is the person with the need expressing that need and being open to help. If you need help cutting up downed trees and branches, repairing storm damage, or just a place to take a hot shower as you wait for power to come back – please express this need. Please call a deacon, call an elder, call a small group leader, call someone! As you express your need church leadership will begin to consolidate the needs we have and start working the various needs. We have a long list of people who have already raised their hands to help meet physical service needs in the church. We want you to experience the love of Christ through the real service of friends helping friends in the local church.

              If you have a chainsaw, a trailer, and/or are willing to help others dig out from this mess, please let a deacon know.

              Also, we continue to have many sick in various way across the congregation. Please pray for healing, for wise treatment options, for patient caretakers, and for full recoveries. Please call those you know are sick and encourage them. Pray with them over the phone. Write encouraging notes. Consider bringing by a meal.

              It’s a blessing to serve others! It’s an antidote to selfishness. Let’s not forget the words of Jesus, that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

May every need be met! See you Sunday,

Pastor Vic

Bible Reading

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”–Psalm 119:105

“The grass withers, and the flower fails, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”–1 Peter 1:24-25

I want to encourage our church in three ways this week. First, please pray for the sick and struggling in our church, and in the community. We have many people in the church and in our community that are sick right now. After extended times of need we all run the danger of feeling “compassion fatigue.” This is when we have reached the end of any natural compassion or desire to help and pray for those in need. However, the compassion of Jesus Christ is never ending because His compassion flows from His love. When we feel our compassion for others running dry, it’s important that we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us again with love and concern for others. This is especially necessary for our fellow brothers and sisters in the church. As needs arise, let’s draw together praying for each other, filling needed meal trains, and meeting every need. May the world know that we are Christians by the way we love one another.

              Second, I want to press our church to focus in on the theme of Christian love in the new year. The world speaks often of love but does not have a true definition of this essential virtue. I’m asking for the church to focus on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as a memory passage for the month of January. These verses are familiar to us, but so often not applied. As we memorize these verses, the Holy Spirit will bring them to mind in our daily living with each other. We’ll be reminded to be patient, to turn away from irritability, to not insist on our own way, and to endure in hope. We’ll take this one verse per week. As you learn a verse, come see me or another elder at church and quote the verses you have learned. I would like to make a series of voice recordings each week to put out with the newsletter to encourage us toward memorizing this entire passage. May the Lord be at work in our midst to teach us to love one another as Jesus would have for us to.

              Third, we are almost to the new year. Your devotional study of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, will be essential to your spiritual health in 2022. I want to press you to choose a Bible reading plan that will structure and guide your reading next year. Go to the RedeemerVA.org website, click on the “Resources” tab, then choose “Bible Reading Plan.” There you’ll find some direction and encouragement on how to read your Bible every day. There are several plans available. The goal is not to check a box each day, but to systematically read the Bible. Following a plan will guide you to read through entire books of the Bible and to read parts of the Bible you would not normally read. Marking off one passage at a time from a printed plan will also allow you to not lose your place. When you miss a few days for whatever reason, just pull your plan out and keep plowing forward.

              It takes months to develop new habits and acquire new tastes. I very much remember what it was like to be new to the gym. I didn’t know how to use any of the weights or machines. I didn’t know any of the exercise movements. I was out of place and out of shape, but I had a written plan that a fit friend had given me. By determining to alter the routines of my life to make personal fitness a priority, new habits were developed.

Sadly, reading as a habit is being wiped out by technology. As Christians we cannot allow this to happen in our lives. God has recorded His revelation and action as a book for a reason. Writing is the most specific form of human communication. Particular words are carefully and intentionally chosen to convey specific meaning. Important written documents are examined and approved before being released for others to read. The careful author works to make sure the written words conveys their meaning. This is more true with the Bible than any other document in the world. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is God’s perfect word to us.

Reading is an active mental activity. You cannot zone out and read. You cannot be distracted and read. To rightly comprehend what you are reading, you must intentionally shut out other distractions and intentionally focus on understanding the written word. This is very different from an audio book or watching a video. Listening and watching are passive activities. Yes, you can actively listen and watch, but when you lose concentration (which happens often) the audio and video keep playing. As you fade in and out of concentration you miss much of what is being conveyed. When you’re listening to a novel or watching a movie, it doesn’t matter if you catch the details. But the details of the Bible are too important to speed past. Missing the details will lead to wrong conclusions and wrong doctrine. Reading is an exercise of the mind. We are commanded by Jesus (Luke 10:27) to love the Lord our God with all our mind.

If a passion for entertainment has grown up in your life and choked out your habit of Bible reading, then it’s time to start reading the Bible again. If you have never read large passages of the Bible with regularity, this is the year to start. If your life has gotten so busy that you only occasionally listen to the Bible while rushing from one place to the other, it’s time to give priority to meaningful Bible reading. Lastly, if reading the Bible is “boring” to you, it’s time to recognize that that the Bible was not written to entertain you. It was written to reveal to you the nature of God and His salvation. As you read the Bible you will find that God does not exist to entertain you. Instead, you exist to glorify Him! May we each devote ourselves to the study of God’s word this year.

May you grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ this year,

Pastor Vic


“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35

              The Lord has many themes that He uses to teach humanity about His person and His work. One of those wonderful themes is manna.

              We first see manna appear in Exodus 16, not long after the Lord brings the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. They have passed through the Red Sea on dry ground and have been but a short time in the wilderness, when the people begin to grumble and complain against Moses, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (v. 3). How quickly the people forgot their many prayers for deliverance from slavery where their boys were being put to death and their lives made bitter through hard labor (Exodus 1, 2:23-24). The people of that generation were continually complaining and hard-hearted; nonetheless, the Lord supplied their needs.

              Each day the Lord sent “bread from heaven” (16:4). Israel called it manna. Each morning in the desert wilderness it appeared like frost on the ground. Each day there was enough for everyone, and it tasted like a wafer made with honey (16:32). The manna was provision for food and the powerful beginning of an enduring object lesson on faith. The manna, by God’s providential working, only lasted one day. The people were instructed to gather what they needed for one day. If they gathered more than needed, the manna would stink and be full of worms the following day. However, on the day before the sabbath day of rest and worship, the people were to gather a double portion and that portion would last two days. This providential process went on for forty years while Israel wandered in the desert under judgment (16:35).

              The daily manna was a powerfully real way for Israel to learn daily dependance on the Lord. The Lord always desires for His people to be dependent upon Him day by day. We naturally want independence and long-term predictable stability, but these things lead us away from the Lord to self-reliance. Not long after the manna began to fall daily, the Lord instructed Moses to set aside a jar of manna to be kept through the generations as a reminder of the Lord’s miraculous daily provision. Hebrews 9:4 speaks to how this jar of manna was one of three objects placed inside the Ark of the Covenant to never be forgotten by Israel. This jar was a physical reminder of how the Lord had provided in the past, day by day, and would continue to provide, day by day, into the future.

              When we turn to the New Testament, manna is again intentionally engrained in the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 6 when Jesus teaches the people to pray, part of His instruction on prayer is for them to pray for provision from God for “daily bread” (v. 11). This is the exact same picture of manna carried over from the Old Testament. It was a picture that the Jewish people would absolutely have understood. Part of our pattern of prayer should be going to the Lord daily with our real physical needs, believing by faith that He will provide those needs day by day.     

              However, in the New Testament, Jesus extends the picture of manna to His own person. In John 6:22-71, the day after Jesus had fed over 5,000 people with just a few loaves and fishes, the people come again to Jesus for food. Jesus rebukes them for coming to Him for physical food when they should be coming to Him for spiritual food. But the people want a miraculous sign from Jesus, stating that in the past the Lord showed His reality through the provision of manna. Jesus states, “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world … I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” In the past, Israel ate the daily bread of God from heaven (manna) but died in rebellion and discipline. However, those who look to Christ Jesus and believe in Him, will share in His everlasting life. Those who daily look by faith to Jesus Christ will have their sins forgiven and find in Jesus nourishment and hope for their soul that will never end. Jesus is the living bread come down from heaven to nourish our souls (John 6:51). But in keeping with the manna example, Jesus would have us come to Him every day with our weakness and struggles. He would have us confess our sins every day, and every day find fresh mercy and provision. He is the living Bread of Life that will sustain us far beyond the forty years of Israel. The resurrected life of Jesus will sustain you every day of this life and for all eternity.

              There is one last extension to this powerful theme. One that will carry the church until Jesus comes again. In the later part of John 6, after Jesus proclaims that He is the Bread of Life come down from heaven, he extends this metaphor and tells the people they must “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood.” This was a hard saying that caused many to turn away from following Jesus (v. 66), but at the time of the last supper and following the resurrection of Jesus it became clear what Jesus spoke of. In Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus makes clear that the elements of the Lord’s Supper are to symbolize His body and His blood. As we regularly partake of the elements of bread and juice, we both remember the cross of Christ and symbolically partake of the Bread of Life. We acknowledge that apart from the life of Christ we would have no life. Jesus Christ is our life. He is our daily, sustaining bread.

              May you pray this week in daily dependence on Jesus. May you go to Him for the strength your soul needs to carry on one more day. You will find that what you need will be supplied, and for this you should give thanks!

The righteous will live by faith,

Pastor Vic

I Am the Lord

I Am the Lord

“And you shall know that I am the LORD …

Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 6:13-14

              I recently read back through the book of Ezekiel and was struck by how many times these two phrases are repeated. One phrase or the other is spoken by the Lord at least fifty-five times in the book! It’s clearly the major drive of Ezekiel’s ministry to awaken the people of Israel, again, to the reality of the LORD.

              The warnings have a definite pattern and progression. They begin with the sobering declarations that the people will come face to face with the reality of the Lord when He brings crushing judgment upon them for their sin and rebellion, “Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. I will bring the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. I will put an end to the pride of the strong, and their holy places shall be profaned … and they shall know that I am the LORD(7:23-24, 27c). The Scriptures speak often of sin and judgment because God is holy and will not forebear forever His righteous judgment toward rebellion. There always comes a time when the patience of the Lord has been poured out, and unbelief results in the wicked recognizing the reality of the Lord too late – after final judgment has fallen.

              Next there is the purifying and separating work of the Lord. The Lord is Himself at work saving and restoring His people, as we will see, for His glory among the nations. Ezekiel speaks of all the people being like dross, an impure mixture of metals. To this the Lord speaks, “I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you” 22:21-22. The people will come face to face with the reality of the Lord as He brings holy discipline into their lives to curb their sin and turn them away from rebellion. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but in the end yields the fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:3-11). The Lord always disciplines those He loves, treating them as true children.

              Next, the Lord goes beyond discipline, speaking of the New Covenant of grace He will one day establish with this rebellious people. “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules … Then they will know that I am the Lord” (36:26-27, 38b). The unconditional love of the Lord is astounding. These beautiful words are spoken to a nation of people that are idolatrous, sexually immoral, violent, greedy, and proud. But in all their sin, the Lord has chosen them and loves them. Because the Lord lives and is sovereign over the affairs of humanity, He is able to change hearts and make them new. Even while they were enemies toward the Lord, He had a plan to redeem them!

              Last, there is the glory of the name of the Lord. The Lord will not allow His name to be blasphemed and dishonored forever. “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel” (39:7). The redemption action of the Lord radically and totally changes our lives, but the redemption is not ultimately about us, it is for the glory of the Lord! When the world sees a people restored that should be wiped out, it reflects on what they hope in. Our hope must be in the Lord our God.

              Where are you in your heart today? Do you believe the Lord of the Bible is real? What will it take for you to believe? Will you die in your unbelief? Will you be separated out from the dross by the fire of the Lord, but instead of being set aside as silver, be burned up with the dross? Or will you turn from your sins and be spared the discipline of the Lord? Will you believe in the reality of the Lord and rejoice over His promise of grace and mercy? May you be a person that goes out to proclaim the glory of Jesus as Lord to the nations!

May you know that the Lord is God,

Pastor Vic

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.”–Colossians 1:3

              On Veterans Day, I want to thank all those in our congregation who, past and present, serve in the US armed forces. There are many veterans in the Redeemer Bible Church family. I thank you for your courage, patriotism, and sacrifice to voluntarily put yourself in harm’s way to protect and defend the freedoms of our beloved country. I also want to thank the supportive military spouses, who held down the home front during long deployments where loneliness and need were often present. Without your support and love, there is no home to defend or come home to.

              On this day I also pray for those family members and friends who still grieve the loss of loved ones on the battlefield. May the Lord encourage your heart and give you hope, as you remember those who have gone on before us to eternity.

I pray for those who returned from the battlefield wounded in body, mind, or soul from the violence and hardships of war. May the Lord Jesus do the saving work that only he can do, to take old hearts and make them new. May the Holy Spirit be at work taking away addiction, giving peace where there is anger, and hope where there is despair.

I pray for each soldier still on active duty. I pray for their courage in body and in soul: courage to enter battle when called upon, and courage to stand up for Jesus at a time where Christian morals are actively being removed from our military ranks. May our Christian soldiers not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

I pray for Christian military chaplains that are increasingly hemmed in by secular regulations. May they find a way to faithfully minister God’s word to the souls of our soldiers that so badly need to hear the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

              Lastly, I pray for a great spiritual awakening in the souls of our governing military leaders. May they turn away from politically correct and godless agendas and turn back to the Christian moral base upon which our freedoms were built. May this awakening happen one soldier and one veteran at a time. May they stand as Americans and stand as genuine Christians.

              Lord, we humble ourselves, confess our sins, and ask that you hear these prayers.

Thank you, Veterans, and may God shed His grace on these United States of America,

Pastor Vic

Good for Evil

Good for Evil

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And shrewd in their own sight!” The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 5:20-21)

There continues to be wide-spread intentional confusion over the issue of what is political and what is religious. The increasingly secular narrative of our country pushes that politics relates to public matters and religion relates to very personal matters. It’s appropriate to discuss public matters in public, but we should all keep personal matters personal. This powerfully works to keep all “religious” matters out of the public square, out of conversation at work and school, and generally out of polite social conversation. The problem is that Jesus did not have these same distinctions. Jesus and all His apostles went about constantly and publicly proclaiming and loudly preaching about religious matters in intentionally public places.

The political and moral worlds do not divide along the lines that our culture currently divides them. Jesus was clear that we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). However, what things belong to government and what things belong to God? The most basic way to divide these worlds is that what is moral (right and wrong) belongs to God, because moral goodness is defined by God’s character, then revealed to us as human beings. Moral evil is counter to God’s character, is at odds with God’s purposes in the world, and will one day be judged by Him and will not stand. In this vitally important area of discernment, we do not have the right to reverse the moral order. We have no authority to “call evil good and good evil”, yet it happens every day.

Political matters are most purely matters of civil government. These most basically relate to creating an orderly, secure, free, and just society. Political matters relate in part to commerce, national security, transportation, police and fire departments, and a justice system of courts. However, it doesn’t take much thinking to immediately see how these two spheres overlap in an inseparable way. The moral informs the conscience which drives and defines the political. If the moral compass is off because a person lives in rebellion against God, the way they live in the world will reflect this. When millions of people turn away from the revealed moral will of God, it surely will affect the political direction of the entire country.

A few points of clarification on where we find ourselves in the day God has appointed that we live our lives. First, Jesus is abundantly clear that we should not keep secret His teaching, the truth of His resurrection from the dead, or the hope of His salvation and second coming. We are sent to proclaim these things publicly to the nations, just like Jesus did.

Second, Jesus’ message cannot, and should not, be separated from His ethic. It’s a growing position to hear people say they love Jesus but reject His ethic. This means they love the idea of salvation and know they have a soul, but they reject what the Bible says about right and wrong (especially sexual ethics). This will not work.

The Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is not to affirm people in their sin and from there help to improve them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of repentance and faith. The good news stems from the bad news. The bad news is that we are ruined sinners (morally, then physically), beyond all hope of being made right by our own efforts. We are truly under the condemnation of a holy God. The good news is that Jesus was sent as Savior, to bear the just penalty of our sins. He comes not to make us better, but to give us a new nature that loves the things that God loves and desires to put to death evil ways. And this salvation begins now but will extend into eternal life. This is not a private matter, but life altering good news.

However, the narrative of our time is powerful, relentless, and persuasive, especially for our young people. It’s important that we have this conversation with our young people. A new study was released this week further showing the disconnect between younger generations and churches in America. It indicates that more than half of all young adults and teens don’t think that religious institutions care about what matters to them. As the survey unfolds, it becomes clear that the main issue being addressed is distance between generations on sexual ethics (LGBTQ matters).

Language related to LGBTQ people has intentionally and continuously been weaponized over the past decade to reverse the moral order. What used to be clearly understood as sinful sexual behavior, is now loudly celebrated as a right of personal expression. Those that speak against this behavior as morally sinful are said to discriminate, to be full of hate, to be inflicting mental harm, and creating physically unsafe environments. In this area, we have a major issue that has passed from moral to political in the public narrative. This language is winning the day and largely persuading the next generation.

God declares that sexual sin should be stopped, repented of, and can be forgiven in Christ. This is good news! The world today says that every form of sexual expression should be celebrated, indulged in to the fullest, and all who disagree should be loudly condemned. This survey quotes young people saying commonly heard phrases today, “The church doesn’t care about the rights of LGBTQ people. I’m spiritual, but not connected to the church. I want the church to fully embrace them for who they are. The church discriminates against people that are different.” When you go down the line with these statements in a church like ours, it’s important to speak to these comments: Jesus does care about LGBTQ people. Like all other sinners He bore their sins in His own body on the cross, but not so they could abuse that grace and continue in sin (Romans 6).

The Bible has no category for spiritual people that are outside the community of the church. Individual spirituality is not a biblical concept. God, and by extension the church, will never embrace sin as good. To tell someone their sin is good, is to lie to them and say something we do not have authority to say.  The church does separate good from evil according to what God has said is good and evil. The church must teach sin and call for repentance, but this is done out of love, not hate. It is the offense of the gospel. Everywhere the gospel is preached, many will not believe and hearing their sin exposed will provoke anger.

In closing, we must not stop declaring what God has said to be evil as evil, and what God has said to be good to be good. We must not be silent in the public square about these things. We must help the younger generations understand why we are saying what we are saying. We must first do the work of evangelists loving the lost, not affirming them in sin, but calling them to the merciful grace of God by repentance and faith. In all this, we live in our community being active salt and light.

Let us preach the Gospel in our time,

Pastor Vic

False Gospel

False Gospel

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel …” Galatians 1:3-6

From the time of Paul to our present day, many have spoken of the gospel and the way of Jesus. Some preach truth, but many teach lies, partial truths, and “different gospels” intended to steer the heart in a different direction. The Gospel means good news, but lies about Jesus are not good news. Telling only part of the story and leaving out essential truth to fill in with what false teachers think is an improvement, is not good news. Paul labored to separate truth from falsehood. He trained the elders of the new missionary churches to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Jesus, Matthew 7:15, Paul, Acts 20:29) who would intentionally work to come in and destroy the church by false teaching.

How are we to discern truth from error in a world over-filled with well packaged and endless information? Whom do we trust? Can we trust anyone? Can we know truth? Take heart that this is not a new problem or a new question. As Pilate questioned Jesus at His trial, he asked the same question, “What is truth?” Jesus gave Pilate the answer, but he would not accept it, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37-38). The Bible is revelation from God. If you would know the truth, look first to this ancient and divine document. It is the most precious thing you possess. Its words are true, living, active, sharp, will divide truth from error, and will tell you the truth about God, the world, and yourself.

But, briefly, let’s examine some false gospels that we all hear expressed regularly in our daily conversations. First, “All religions are basically the same. There’s a God out there, but you can get to Him pretty much any way you want.” This is like saying all Indian people look the same. Only a person who has never visited India, has no friends of Indian descent, and doesn’t care to even look closely at pictures of Indian people – would ever make such an ignorant statement. Even a cursory examination of the religions of the world reveals irreconcilable differences of worldview. The religions of the world are not the same. They do not have the same understanding of the nature of God or the nature of humanity. They express different moral codes and different understandings of existence after death. Anyone that really cares about their soul will press through this assumption and look more closely. This is a false gospel.

Second, “Jesus is my supreme moral example.” Yes, Jesus is our supreme moral example, but this understanding of Jesus cannot stand alone. People who begin and end with this understanding of Jesus do not accept Jesus as divine and do not see themselves as ruined sinners. They see Jesus like an inspiring figure from a biography. They look to Jesus for direction and inspiration for how they can take hold of their current life and improve it. This is moralism. This is self-improvement, not salvation. This makes the totally incorrect assumption that you have the ability in yourself to live like Jesus. You might pray periodically when you get stuck and ask for some help, but this is not the dependent life of biblical Christianity. This is an assisted life, that still largely succeeds because of your goodness and talent, and you still get most of the glory when you succeed. This is a false gospel.

Third, “I’ll preach the gospel with my good actions, and only use words when necessary.” This common saying confuses general revelation (the general sense from nature, ethics, and ordered beauty that there is a God) and special revelation (clear teaching about who God is and what He has done to accomplish salvation through the cross of Christ). Hear me clearly – general revelation is not sufficient for anyone to come to salvation. You cannot walk in the mountains and come to an understanding of substitutionary atonement. You cannot hold a baby and finally have a clear grasp of Justification by faith alone. These things must be taught. Those who bring clear teaching of the divinity and salvation of Jesus Christ, bring good news. Those who call for repentance from sin and belief in Jesus as Savior, proclaim a true gospel. Those who just live a moral life and leave people with the impression that salvation comes through being more moral like you, preach a false gospel of moralism.

Fourth, “I had an amazing spiritual experience that brought me close to God.” This one needs a little more explaining but is of vital importance in our entertainment, ultra-experience saturated modern world. People have emotional experiences every day and for many different reasons. All these emotional experiences are not from God. The most important thing that God desires from us is our heartfelt worship motivated by love and joy. Authentic gospel is always a very emotional and passionate experience, but Bible truth must precede authentic experience. Our worship must be according to truth and full of the Holy Spirit. If the ground of a religious experience is not biblical, then it is not of God. We can have very powerful emotional experiences that are of this world and lead to death. They are experiences void of the Holy Spirit, and instead of satisfying, they leave us seeking an ever more radical experience to outdo the last one. We must measure our experiences by truth, not truth by experience. Otherwise, it is a false gospel.

“As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:9

Jesus, give us ears to hear and believe Your word,

Pastor Vic