How should Christians bring their faith into the voting booth? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Well, hi, this is 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. You can call us right now with your question. Here's our phone number, it's 833-THE-CORE, that's 1-833-843-2673. You can also feel free to leave us a voicemail at that number. And if you'd like to email us your question, you can write to us at questions at corechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to a call from Andrea from New Orleans. What's your question for us, Andrea? Hey, Pastor Adriel and Bill, the other day I heard you guys answering a question about Christian nationalism. I myself am a Christian, but I still don't really understand what that means. Can you help explain it to me?
Hey Andrea, thank you for listening to the broadcast. So many people have defined this in different ways. I think different people have a different idea in their mind of what Christian nationalism is. For some people, I think when they use that phrase, they just mean I'm a Christian and I believe that my faith should impact the way I engage with broader society.
And I'm patriotic, I love where I live, I'm proud of that. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with that, per se. Sometimes the phrase is used almost as a criticism or as an attack on that.
And I don't think that that's the issue. The question really is, what is it that Christ has called the church to? And one of the concerns that I have when I hear people talking about Christian nationalism is it does seem to me that there are many who sort of adopt that and take that to mean it's the church's job to transform the civil institutions of this world. So where I would say that the church is first and foremost called to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, and what that looks like is people from every tribe tongue and nation coming to faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized.
That's where we're baptizing is people. And this is exactly what you see in the book of Revelation, in Revelation chapter five, where John gets a vision of the church in having people from every tribe tongue and nation who have been redeemed out of these various places and are made a part of God's one holy nation, His covenant people. In the past, when people have used this phrase, Christian nationalism, I think a lot of times, and I've thought about it in this way too, is this sort of syncretism where we're merging our Christian faith with our views on politics to the degree that we're doing something idolatrous.
And I think that that's possible. I mean, there are churches where on the Fourth of July, they're not singing to the Holy Trinity. They are singing to the United States of America. I think that's an issue, that's a corruption of worship, because the church isn't associated with one particular nation. The church is itself, we say Catholic. That is universal.
It's in every nation of the world. And we are called to engage the nations that we're in positively with the gospel. And so look, if what you're referring to, Andrea, if the way you think about it is I'm a Christian who believes that my faith shouldn't be put in the closet, but I want to engage broader society, and I'm proud of where the Lord has me, I'm grateful that I'm here.
It's not perfect, but this is where the Lord has me, and I'm patriotic, I would say that's great. And we do want to be thankful for these things. But if what you're talking about is, well, the church's primary job objective is to change the civil institutions of this world, we need to baptize the societal structures. Well, that's category confusion. That's not what you see in the New Testament. And so I would have a biblical issue with that, an exegetical issue with that. And so, Andrea, I appreciate this.
I know it's a question that a lot of people have right now and are wrestling through. And I hope that as the church, especially, you know, Bill, today, you know, in particular being a day where people are going to the polls, and there are just so many concerns about things, and I hope that what we can do is cling to the hope that we have in Christ and use the opportunity that we have also to seek the good of our neighbor and to influence the world for Jesus Christ, wouldn't you say? I would. And let me ask you just to follow up. There are some voices in the media and maybe on the political left that would say any form of political involvement by a Christian is wrong, is Christian nationalism, is somehow anti-democratic.
How would you respond to that? Yeah. And that's why I think the phrase can really be unhelpful to you, because there's just so much confusion, the way people are using it today. And so, as I said, yeah, that's an issue. We really need to define our terms well. Personally, I think it's just not the most helpful way of talking about the way in which we should engage with broader culture, broader society.
So, that's my view. We can't lose, especially as the church, we can't lose the fundamentals of what God calls us to do as His people here on earth in engaging with people and with broader society as well. And I think sometimes in a lot of these discussions, that can get lost, the focus on the faithful proclamation of the gospel, the right administration of the ordinances that Jesus has given to us. One thing I've noticed, and I'm sure you've noticed it too in recent days, is politics has become so ultimate for many people.
I mean, it's just all-consuming. And so, I'm afraid that our Christian faith can be subsumed under this sort of all-consuming, the back and forth, the political debate that's out there. Sometimes people just use Christianity to try to get power, essentially, to try to get control.
And we see that all over the place. That's not what the Christian faith is about. Good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question for us about the Bible or the Christian life, feel free to give us a call anytime, 833-843-2673.
That's 833-The Core. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners. This is Mike in Henrietta, Oklahoma. Yeah, Pastor Adriel, I got overwhelmed by all the times that I would go to church and be taught politics, to talk the story of our Lord Jesus. What I was compelled to call and tell you was that our Lord Jesus, He is not right-wing and He is not left-wing.
Respect who He appoints, don't question why He appoints them, and serve them with respect as you would the one that you wanted to vote for. God bless y'all. You do such a good service for the Lord. Hey, Mike, thank you.
That's very kind of you. I mean, look, one, if you're going to a church on a Sunday morning, and that's what you're hearing is just politics here, so you need to vote for political activism, you're not going to a good church. I would say that because the job of the minister of the gospel is that person is an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven, called to preach and teach the word of God. Now, that's not to say that politics and civil society is not important. It is important. It's just that's not what you should be getting on a Sunday morning. There's a solemn charge that the apostle Paul gave to Timothy to preach the word.
Why? Because people go to church to hear from God, and so that's what we need more than anything else. It's not to minimize the importance of politics or, you know, our civic duty. It's just to say that that's not what church is for. That's not what the gathering, the assembly of the saints is for. And so that's one issue that I have, and we just encourage you, and frankly encourage all of our listeners, again, if that's not what you're getting, if you're not getting the gospel and faithful preaching in your church, find a place where you're going to get that. Because, I mean, it's so interesting in a lot of sort of mainline, progressive, liberal denominations churches.
That's all you get on a Sunday morning. It's political activism. It's not the preaching of the holy gospel, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the life of the world to come.
It's, hey, let's join together and be activists for this. I mean, in those churches, oftentimes it's this sort of progressive agenda. But in conservative circles, this can happen too. I think, and especially where we're getting concerned about the way in which culture and society is going.
And so you can almost have this sort of conservative social gospel type thing that takes place. We just got to be cautious. We got to be wise here. And so, Mike, I do appreciate your question. I do share some of the same concerns that you have. I also appreciate the fact that you said, look, even if things don't go your way, you still are called to be respectful, to live in a godly manner. Your candidate may not have won, but you still have to heed what the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 13, verse one, let every person be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God. You think about the authorities in those days, right? They weren't often favorable towards the church and yet Paul could say this. And those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed. And those who resist will incur judgment for rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good and you will receive his approval for his God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid for he does not bear the sword in vain.
By the way, this is one of the reasons why we can't confuse. The church with the temporal kingdoms, governments of this world, the church does not bear the sword. It's not our job to, you know, bring about capital punishment when somebody gets excommunicated in the church.
That's not what we do, right, Bill? Thank the Lord. Yeah, no, there's excommunication, but it's not like it was with Israel under the old covenant where the church at that time was essentially also the civil government. No, that was a type of what the church would be in the future. But Israel as a political body there, you know, with the theocracy and the old covenant, that's not what we have today. And so the civil government bears the sword, right?
God uses them to hopefully bring about justice. And that's why I think in terms of our engagement as Christians, we help with that through voting, through participating in broader civic life. But that's not what our ultimate hope is in, obviously.
And so, just so much confusion out there on this subject right now, and appreciate your encouragement, Mike, and your commitment to be faithful to the Lord in the midst of these difficult times. You know, and what you said is really important for all of us to remember tomorrow morning, is perhaps your candidate didn't win, and perhaps you're upset about the results. And yet, what is our responsibility? As you said, we are to obey the civil government. Now, I think you would say the exception there is when the civil government is doing something that's clearly unjust in the eyes of God, in a case like that, we do have a responsibility to maybe resist. Yeah, the example that's always given is that text in the book of Acts where the apostles are forbidden by the, I think it's the temple authorities, they're forbidden to speak in Jesus's name.
And what's their response? We are called to obey authorities. That call right there is embedded in the fifth commandment to honor your father and your mother. I don't think it's just referring to our parents.
It is referring to our parents, certainly. But I think by extension, you have all authority that God places in our lives. And so you have an authority thing to do something, but it's calling you to do something that's contrary to God's Word, the ultimate authority, the Lord. And so, yeah, in that situation, we don't just sort of bow down and say, okay, whatever you want, Nebuchadnezzar or whatever, we follow the Lord, first and foremost. But we do that in that situation. I think we also want to be careful that any time we disagree with someone on something, we don't just sort of justify our rejection of that authority.
Of course, we can do that with our children and so really complex stuff. You could tell why people are so divided in our day about these things. Even within the church, one of my greatest concerns as a pastor, just really wanting to see people come together around the gospel, first and foremost, and the unity that we have through holy baptism in the body of Christ. That's the main thing about us, brothers and sisters, that we belong to Jesus and our sins have been forgiven.
You might have some differences here and there with brothers and sisters within your church about a particular policy or something like that. But we really need to lean into the fact that our sins have been forgiven and we're united when it comes to the most important thing, our union with Christ. So well said.
Great discussion for this election day in our country. So thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We often get calls about the overarching theme of the Bible. What is the Bible really trying to say? Well, it's the gospel. It's the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we have a wonderful book on that topic that we'd like to offer you today. Yeah, Bill, and I'm liking this background music here as I as I pitch.
There it is. Yeah, if I pitch this book, it's Journeys with Jesus, How Every Path in the Bible Leads Us to Christ by Dennis Johnson. I mentioned before Dr. Johnson was a professor that I had while I was in seminary. Great when it comes to practical theology, New Testament scholar also has written a number of things on the book of Revelation, including our study, our 10-week study on the book of Revelation. So if you don't have that, please be sure to get that as well. But this book in particular is a great resource if you are wanting to get a better grasp on the Bible as a whole and the unifying theme of Scripture.
We got Christmas around the corner. This would be actually a great gift to give to someone too if they're wanting to grow in their understanding of the Bible, what the Scriptures teach, and you want to point them to Jesus, which is the ultimate goal, I think, of the study of Scripture. I mean, Jesus told the religious leaders, you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but these are the very Scriptures that testify of me. And so the Word of God should always lead us to Christ, and Dr. Johnson does a great job showing you how that looks in Scripture. So get ahold of this resource for a donation of any amount over at corechristianity.com. And I'm also thinking this would be a great book if you're talking to a friend or a relative who's a non-Christian, especially around Christmas time, and they're arguing, well, the Bible is all about, you know, God being angry at people. And then you can say, let's talk about what the Bible's overarching theme is and point them to Jesus and the gospel. Amen.
Amen. So if you'd like to get that book, go to corechristianity.com forward slash offers and look for journeys with Jesus by Dr. Dennis Johnson. Well, we do receive emails here at the core and you can email us anytime. Here's the email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com.
And here is one from Brandon. He says, I listen to your radio show every weekday. It's taught me a lot on the questions of life. I really appreciate your wisdom, but I have a question. When did Jesus know that he was the Messiah for the first time? Ah, great question.
Yeah. Sometimes people talk about this as this sort of messianic consciousness. When did Jesus know? Did he know that he was God? Look, Christ, the word incarnate, is the true and the living God. I mean, this is when we're getting into the doctrine of the incarnation, there are many people who will say, well, this was something that, you know, later generations, the church later on basically started to embrace this idea that Jesus was God. He never had this conception in his mind.
That's just not true. It was prophesied in the Old Testament. And then it's very clear when Jesus is on the scene, especially during his earthly ministry, that he identified himself as God.
I mean, it's why the scribes and Pharisees picked up stones to stone him in John chapter 8. They say, who do you make yourself out to be? And it's in that context that Jesus says to them in John chapter 8, verse 58, before Abraham was. I am.
I am. Well, what's that a reference to? He's alluding to Exodus, where God appeared to Moses at the burning bush. And Moses is saying, you know, who should I say sent me when I go to your people to deliver them from Egypt? And what does God say?
I am that I am. And so here, you know, it's clear. It's so clear throughout the New Testament that Jesus identified him as God, himself as God. And I would say that from the very beginning, I mean, this is the eternal word of the Father. Who assumed humanity coming to earth for us, for our salvation. I don't think there was ever a time where he was not aware of this reality.
I mean, this is who he is. And so we need to steer clear of, you know, the people who try to say or suggest that this was, as I mentioned earlier, some invention of the early church, because it's just so clear both in the New Testament, but then also in the Old Testament, all of those prophecies that we're going to be getting into, especially come Christmas time, you know, celebrating the incarnation of our Lord, all of those prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah, not just as this mere man, but as the mighty God, for unto us a child is born, Isaiah says in Isaiah chapter 9, unto us a son is given and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And so just everywhere in scripture and from the earliest days, I mean, Christ was worshiped as the true and the living God. Thanks for that explanation, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
Let's go back to the phones. We have a call from Rhea. Rhea, what is your question for Adriel? I would like an answer to help in my witnessing to correlate between the same God of the Old Testament and Jesus's practices in the New Testament of love, as opposed to fearing God. It says that we are supposed to love God, but in the Old Testament, it just seemed like it was nothing but fear.
Thank you. I think, Rhea, well, one, thank you for that question. And this is one that we've gotten before because many people, you know, they read scripture.
By the way, this is another reason why it's so important. I think like that resource we mentioned by Dennis Johnson was so helpful, but many people read scripture and they look at the Old Testament and say, okay, I see a lot of laws. I see a lot of rules. I see God judging people, the Egyptians, His people, the Israelites, right, like sending them into exile. And then you get to the New Testament and I see a lot of grace and love and Jesus showing compassion to the sick and those who were demon-possessed.
It seems like you have a lot of rules and regulations, law, legalism, even in the Old Testament. And then in the New Testament, you get the grace and forgiveness. But the reality is from the very beginning, Rhea, in the Old Testament, you have the promise of grace and forgiveness. We sometimes call this the first preaching of the gospel, the proto-Euangelion in Genesis chapter 3, where God promises to crush the head of the serpent through the seed of the woman right there in Genesis chapter 3, you have the promise of the gospel and that promise is traced throughout the Old Testament. And you see God's forgiveness, God's grace, God's love, God's mercy. Yes, you see judgment, but you also see that in the New Testament over and over. I mean, Jesus had no problem talking about hell and judgment. I'm preaching right now through the book of Revelation. I mean, this is something you see throughout the book of Revelation as well. And so it's not like there's the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. So one God, the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who has revealed himself throughout redemptive history in the Old Testament through these types and shadows, but still infused with grace, mercy, and the promise of the gospel in the New Testament in the coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ for us and for our redemption.
Not too long ago, I mentioned this a few, I think it was last week I mentioned that I was reading through the book of Jonah with my kids. Think about a story of grace and mercy. You know why Jonah doesn't want to go to the Ninevites? It's because they were a wicked people. They had persecuted the people of God. They were violent. They were cruel.
They had big piles of skulls. Yeah. Yeah. That's right.
I mean, that's right. You read up on the history and in particular the ways in which they had hurt God's people. This is why Jonah doesn't want to go. It's not just he's a lazy prophet.
He just is, God, I want to just hang out here. No, God is calling him to preach repentance, mercy, forgiveness to people who deserve death, to people who have sinned against a holy God. And he doesn't want to go because he knows, what does he know? He knows that God is merciful. He knows that God is willing to forgive.
And of course, the way that story ends is there's this massive repentance and God pours out his spirit, forgiveness upon the people of Nineveh. And Jonah is upset at the Lord, you know, he's mad. And God says to him, do you do well to be angry for the plant?
Remember, there's a plant there that he was getting some shade from. And God struck it down and he said, yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die. And the Lord said, you pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night.
And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left and also much cattle, which is kind of an interesting addition there. But God just showing us right there that he is a God who pities the nations, who calls them to repentance, even those who have sinned against him. And so we see that not just in the New Testament, that the mercy of God, the kindness of God towards his enemies, but throughout the Old Testament as well, over and over and over again. I think it's just important for us to read the Bible closely, to understand it in its context. And then, as we've been saying already on the broadcast, to trace some of those themes that we see throughout the scriptures and the ultimate theme is that theme of forgiveness, mercy in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Jesus Christ, our ultimate hope, our Savior.
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