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Are Christians Called to Be Pacifists?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2024 5:30 pm

Are Christians Called to Be Pacifists?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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April 22, 2024 5:30 pm

Episode 1472 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

  1. Why does the psalmist state that God would be with him in hell in Psalm 139? 2. What does it mean to "resist the devil"? 3. Are Christians commanded to be pacifists? 4. Can christians take up arms if the government takes away their rights? 5. Is "extreme unction" a true sacrament?     Today’s Offer: Praying with Jesus   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View      Today’s Offer: Praying with Jesus   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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Are Christians called to be pacifists? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Hi, it's Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. We're also open to questions about doctrine, theology, maybe something going on in your church life that you're either concerned about or confused about.

That's the number, 833-THE-CORE. You can also email us anytime at questions at First up today, let's go to Dave in Rome, New York.

Dave, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, my question is Psalm 139, verses 7 and 8. It says, Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Now, Pastor, I know that part of your answer to my question is probably going to be that the Lord's all-powerful, He's everywhere, and He knows all things. And that's true. I get that. That is true. However, I also know that one of the worst punishments of being is hell's separation from God.

Maybe the punishment and all that and the pain or whatever, but the worst part is the separation, no hope at all. And the light does not shine in the darkness in hell, like now. So I'm lost on this whole, what that means. Can you explain it to me, please?

Yeah, thanks, Dave, for that question. So what exactly is David getting at here when he says, you know, one, he's talking about God's omnipresence. He's saying, God, there's nowhere I can go where I can really escape from Your presence, even if I go down to Sheol or the grave, and it sounds like the Bible translation you're using is using the word hell there. And when we think about hell, a lot of times today we'll talk about it as this everlasting separation from God, as if God is totally absent in one sense.

But I think there's another way of looking at it. There's a sense of covenant faithfulness from His grace, but still under His judgment. And so in one sense we can say that God is present in His judgment, in the execution of His judgment.

And so I don't think that you need to see this as, you know, like some sort of a great mystery that needs to be solved. There is a real sense in which those who are in the grave, separated from God's kindness and love and mercy through Jesus Christ in respect to the gospel, are still under kind of His judgment and presence. It's just His curse. But I don't know, actually, that that's specifically what David is getting at there in Psalm 139. I think that the focus there in Psalm 139 is just on the magnitude. I mean, he's speaking in this poetic way, that just how massive God's goodness and presence is, and how wherever He goes, it's like, Lord, I can't escape from You in the best sense of the word, or in the best sense of the idea.

There's nowhere I can go, Lord, that You're going to be, you know, incapable of reaching me. And he goes on to talk about just God's magnificence in creating Him, in sustaining Him from the time of His birth. You know, in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. So it's God's perfect knowledge, it's God's perfect omnipresence, it's God's perfect power. And as he's thinking about these things, his heart just bursts forth. into praise and worship. And so that's what our hearts should do as well, as we're reading these Psalms, as we're learning about who God is, and how great He is. Hey, Dave, thanks for your question, and God bless you out there in New York. Check that out if you want today, and you can call us right now at 833-THE-CORE if you have a question.

Let's go to Tawny, who sent us a voicemail earlier this week. My question is about, resist the devil and he will flee. Do you talk to him?

Do you tell him to leave you alone? Is that borderline praying to the devil? I just need clarification on this. I appreciate it.

All right, thank you. Yeah, I don't think this entails, you know, having a conversation with Satan, although throughout church history, I know that there have been some, you know, pretty interesting stories of people who have done this, rebuking the devil. You think of Martin Luther, for example, but I think if we just look at the context here, we get some clarity as to what it looks like to resist the devil.

Verse 7 of James chapter 4, submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep.

Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. When we live in sin, unconfessed sin, when we live in pride and in arrogance, we are inviting the evil one in. Resisting the devil looks like walking in repentance, looks like humbling ourselves before the Lord.

It looks like confessing our sins and turning to Christ. And so it's not so much, I think, here that James is suggesting that we need to, you know, get into this conversation with Satan. And now, of course, there are instances again in the scripture where the evil one was rebuked in the name of the Lord.

The Lord rebuke you. But I think for our part, you really want to engage in the spiritual battle. The right way to do it is through prayer, is through humbling ourselves before the Lord, is through confessing our sins. And so as you turn to the Lord, as you humble yourself before him, as you seek to draw near to God, and as you do that by going to church, by reading the scriptures, by encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ, you are, in effect, resisting the devil.

And when we do that, as James promises here, he flees from us. And so may God enable all of us to do that, and God give us the courage and the strength to stand firm, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, resisting the devil. God bless.

Amen. By the way, we have a great core resource on this topic. It's called, Can the Devil Read My Mind? And you can find that by going to Another thing you can find on our website is the brand new book that Pastor Adrian wrote.

It just came out last week. Yeah, this book, which I've written, is called Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer. And it's just, one, an exposition of the Lord's Prayer, so going through each petition of the Lord's Prayer and diving into the rich theology that undergirds each of the petitions.

So there's some Bible study there, there's a little bit of church history there, which I think will encourage you, but there are also a few chapters that are just more sort of practical, general teaching on prayer, the relationship between the body and prayer, the importance of making time to pray. And I know that that sounds, it may sound difficult. I mean, so many people feel like, I just don't have any time for that.

I don't know where I'd squeeze that in. Well, part of the issue is we don't understand how important prayer is. There's a reason why the disciples of our Lord Jesus asked him, teach us how to pray.

They recognized by watching him that prayer is vitally important for the spiritual life. And so I hope that you'll get a hold of my new book, Praying with Jesus, Getting to the Heart of the Lord's Prayer, and I pray that it encourages you to commune with God in prayer. Now, this would be a great resource for you individually or for your family or maybe for your Bible study or Sunday school class. If you are a Sunday school teacher or Bible small group leader, why not get this particular book and go through it together? Again, it's called Praying with Jesus, and we'll send that to you for a donation of $25 or more if you go to forward slash offers. Again, that's forward slash offers.

Well, we do receive voicemails here at the core, and here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Paulette. All my Christian life, I've considered myself a patriot of my country and have voted as such. Now that I see the biblical signs of the end appearing in Revelations, I'm experiencing confusion. I hear many Christians say we should not own weapons for we are to be loving to our enemies, do good to them, even if it means our families may starve or they are going to kill us. Other Christians say we need to arm ourselves and protect the Christians who are being threatened by death or starvation. I, being a lover of God, realizing America is not my permanent home but only my present home, feel deeply to be armed to defend and protect my homeland and citizens. I have always believed in the defense of the nation, even to the killing of those who threaten our lives. Where is the scripture to support patriotism, or are we to be pacifists and not defend ourselves at all in our country?

Thank you. Hey Paulette, excellent question. You're picking up on a couple of different things here. One, we are called as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and representatives of His grace and of His gospel to turn the other cheek, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount. So that is, as Christians and as a Christian church, it's not the job of the church as the heavenly embassy of God's grace to take up arms and go to war.

That's not what we do. That's not how we advance the kingdom of God. When Christians are persecuted, just read it in the New Testament, what is their response? The response to persecution, the disciples' response was never, you know what guys, it's time to fight back.

This is what we're going to do. Now, does that mean that a Christian has to be a pacifist, or that it's wrong for a country to defend itself, or that it's wrong for us as individuals as well to defend ourselves? Say somebody breaks into your house or something like that, and they're trying to steal something or trying to harm a member of your family. Do you just need to sort of say, oh well, let me turn the other cheek and let you do whatever you want to us?

No, that would be bad. I don't want to call it a tension, but I think a little bit of a misunderstanding here. We sort of operate as citizens of the kingdom of heaven, representatives of Christ, but we're also citizens of this world and of the nations that God has made us a part of, and we're called to pursue the good of those nations. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, in line with that is also loving the people around you. That doesn't mean that you have to love everything about where you are or your country. Certainly every single country has things that I think we can look at and say, man, that was not honoring to the Lord.

Nevertheless, we seek the good of the places where we are, and there's nothing wrong with having that heart of patriotism, if that's what you want to call it, but wanting the best for where you live and wanting the best for your government and so forth. In fact, we're called to pray for our civil authorities, that God would turn them to him and that they would experience his grace and his mercy. But there certainly are examples in the Bible pertaining to things like self-defense. Even in Deuteronomy, I think it's chapter 20, God gave his covenant people in the Old Testament these rules for warfare.

Here's what it looks like when you're going against another nation. There's, I think, a right way to go about this and a wrong way to go about this, and that was thinking specifically in the Old Testament, but you also think of what God said in Exodus chapter 22. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no blood guilt for him.

It wasn't just like, let him do whatever he wants. So again, we have to recognize that we're operating as dual citizens in one sense. When it comes to our Christian faith, if people are persecuting us, our response, if they're persecuting me for my faith in Jesus Christ, my response there is never to be, I'm going to punch you in the face.

That's not the right response. We're called to live peaceably with all men as much as is possible. But if you break into my house in the middle of the night and you're trying to take something from me, you may not find me so nice. So this is, again, there's nothing wrong with being a patriot. Countries, I think, do have to defend themselves and have these kinds of rules and ways of operating, and Paul in Romans chapter 13 talks about that, how civil authorities bear the sword and not in vain. And so right there, the idea is if you do something wrong, you are going to get punished by the civil authorities.

It's not their job to turn the other cheek. They are not the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. God rules over civil government and civil authorities in a way that's distinct from how he rules over his kingdom, the church. And if we don't realize that, then we'll get into all sorts of trouble. And I think that's why there's so much confusion today. And so two things. One, God help us as Christians to love our neighbors, to preach the gospel, and when people fight against us or when people stand against us, not to respond with fists or to try and fight back, but to suffer for Christ's sake and to glorify God even as we seek to honor him.

But that doesn't mean that, you know, as a citizen of this country or as a police officer, as a civil authority or whatnot, that we don't also have another kind of obligation for the good of our neighbor and for the preservation of society in general. And so I appreciate the question, and may the Lord bless you. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. By the way, we're going to be recording a second episode of Core Christianity after our live program ends here in just a few minutes. So if you weren't able to get in, you can still call us for the next 45 minutes or so at 833-THE-CORE with your question. Let's go to David calling in from Oklahoma. David, what's your question for Adriel?

Hi, thank you for taking my call. So this is not a political question. I truly don't have an agenda here. It's just an honest question dealing with our country and the state. You know, our country is an amazing experiment. It came out, you know, we rebelled against taxation and freedom to worship.

And we've done so many beautiful things. And now we're at the point. So my question is that what it's like an avoided topic. Is there ever a point that we have to defend this country from from the inside, you know, tyrannical situations, whether freedom of worship is taken away, whether it's taxes, whether it's, you know, some of the immorality that's crazy, not even as a Christian thing, but just as a country like these empires that were amazing, that fell, all those symptoms are happening. What is your opinion?

At what point? Like what if the elections? What if it's true that they are rigged?

I'm not saying they are. I have an opinion. You know, what if we are being censored? At what point do you ever think about we have to take up arms? Hey, David, thanks for that question. I'm kind of in line with that question, the voicemail that we just took up.

And so I appreciate kind of this theme that we have going right now. Look, just me speaking as a minister of the gospel. The two things that I would want to say, because understanding the history of our nation, the fact that there is such a thing as tyrannical rule, and that there can come a point where people gather together and say, OK, something needs to change. What I would want to say is, again, to reiterate that first and foremost, as a Christian, you mentioned, for example, the government saying, you know, taking away our rights to worship or whatnot. Well, the right to worship and the call to worship is something that comes from God. And when human rulers contradict God's law with their laws, whatever those laws are, then we are called to a kind of disobedience. And that disobedience doesn't need to be exhibited in us shooting at people who are trying to come and keep us from going into our church.

We're not trying to get into something like that. But I do think that there are times, and you see this in the book of Acts, where the church does need to stand up and say, is it right for me to obey man or to obey God? I need to obey God.

I need to follow him. And so speaking as a Christian and as a minister and thinking about our role as Christians and what we're called to, I do think that there are times where certainly we have to say, we ought to say, no, enough's enough. We're not going to let you keep us from doing what God calls us to do. Now, your question, it seems bigger than that in terms of, well, with regard to the nation, when is it right for us to go even further? Frankly, I'm not sure.

That's way above my pay grade. I want what I want for Christians and for believers who are really concerned. It sounds like you are concerned about the country and things that you see and the direction of things. What I want is people not to panic, not to see these things as ultimate, but to trust in Christ, to continue to pray, to continue to pray for civil authorities, to continue to be faithful to God in all that they do as examples as Christians. I think that's what we need to be devoted to right now as the church, recognizing that if there's going to be any real change, any real lasting change, it's only going to happen by the work of the Holy Spirit and through the proclamation of the gospel and Christians being faithful to what God has called them to. And if we're going the way of the world, as Christians and as churches, trying to fight for Jesus in a way that Jesus doesn't need us. It's sort of like Peter chopping off the servant of the high priest's ear. Jesus doesn't need our help like that.

And so that's not the way of the cross that Christ calls us to, but he does call us to be faithful, and sometimes that faithfulness looks like saying no and standing up to civil authorities that are calling us to be unfaithful to God in one way or another. And so these times call for a lot of discernment, a lot of prayer, a lot of humility, a lot of being grounded in the word of God, and that more than anything, brothers and sisters, is what we need today. Great counsel. And David, thanks so much for your excellent question.

Appreciate that. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We have a voicemail system and you can call us 24 hours a day and leave your question on our voicemail. If you do, please let us know where you're calling from.

Make sure you tell us your name. Here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Lizzie. My friend was saying that they practice extreme unction as a sacrament, and I was arguing that there really are only two sacraments that Jesus instituted, but she was saying that after she talked to her priest or whoever, he said that they look to James 5, 14 and 15 as where they get their sacrament for extreme unction. And after reading it, it does sound like that would be something that would be instituted by Jesus. So is there a reason why we don't practice extreme unction if it's in James telling us to anoint with oil and that sins will be forgiven? Is there a reason why this wouldn't be considered a sacrament for us?

Thanks. Great question. In the church that I pastor, if somebody is sick and they come to the elders and they say, hey, we want you to anoint us with oil and to pray for us, we do, based on what James says there in James 5, because we believe that God does really work in what he says, that he can heal. And we have seen the Lord do wonderful things in people's lives. It doesn't mean that he always is going to heal an individual, but your question more specifically is, should we see this as a sacrament? And what is a sacrament? A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby through these signs, these sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant, his saving grace, are represented, sealed and applied to believers. And so the ordinances that Jesus has given to us, sometimes, again, we call them sacraments, those ordinances are visible depictions of the gospel, of his saving grace, of the blood of Christ that washes away our sins, of his broken body through which we have eternal life. And so there are things that the church does and can do, which are good things, but we don't need to call everything that the church does a sacrament. And in the Roman Catholic Church, there are more than two sacraments. They claim that there are, I think, seven.

And those seven sort of develop. You obviously have the main two, baptism and the Lord's Supper, but then over time in the history of the church, as doctrine developed or as theology developed, I think they began to identify other things like marriage or like extreme unction as a sacrament, truly exhibiting the grace of salvation in one sense. And I think I would just say, well, the reason we don't is because it doesn't seem like this practice that James is describing here was immediately instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for the church to do and to exhibit the gospel. That's not what the focus is here. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. But it does mean we shouldn't, I think, refer to it as a sacrament specifically. And so I appreciate that question and I love that you're having conversations with your Roman Catholic friends.

God bless. Just a follow-up question for you on that, Adriel. I know there are some people who believe that anointing with oil actually has some kind of special power. How would you respond to that belief in some churches? Yeah, it's more of a picture, a symbol than anything else of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It's not that the oil takes on these magical properties or anything like that. And so we want to be careful that we're not being superstitious about this. And so, yeah, that's what I would want to say. One of the neat things that's highlighted with all this, we're thinking about oil or water or whatnot, is how God uses very creaturely things to show us who he is and to exhibit his grace to us in these different ways. And so I appreciate that question. God bless. God bless.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-22 18:07:17 / 2024-04-22 18:17:01 / 10

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