Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE NEED FOR POLITICAL SERMONS”

Proverbs 14.34

 

I stand before you this morning a thoroughly chastened minister of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, regretting at this late stage of my service to this Church of Jesus Christ my inattention to an important feature of my charge to declare to you the whole counsel of God’s Word. I urge you to forgive me for neglecting a proper feature of every pastor’s role in the lives of those he is commanded to equip for ministry, one that is vital to the preparation of every Church member, every Christian, and everyone with any pretense of morality, and which is crucial in the development of good and God-honoring citizens of our nation. I speak of the Gospel preacher’s duty to preach political sermons from time to time as they are needed to influence congregations and as the opportunity arises, as they are crucial in correcting the direction of the body politic. I have always maintained that the chief fault for our nation’s spiritual decline lies in great measure with the pulpits and at the feet of the men who occupy those pulpits for failing to courageously proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, the only Savior of sinful men’s souls.

I would like to amend that personal conviction somewhat this morning. I have come to the conclusion that not only is the Gospel of God’s grace a message that needs wide, energetic, and courageous proclamation, but that far more specific application of the Gospel is also needed in the form of what might be called political sermons. To be sure, men and women who die in their sins are consigned to an eternity of punishment in the lake of fire. That truth proclaimed as most important, let it be said that we also have responsibilities as citizens in our country that need to be proclaimed that complement our heavenly citizenship. I say this because of the undeniable responsibilities every citizen of every nation bears and shares for the posture and conduct of his country and countrymen. Consider these words from Nehemiah’s prayer, in Nehemiah 1.6-7:

 

6  Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

7  We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

 

More needs to be said concerning the precise nature of a Christian citizen’s responsibilities for his nation’s present and past conduct. But this morning’s message has primarily to do with the necessity of preaching political sermons, a necessity that I feel compelled to set before you because there are so many of a mind that pastors should stay away from politics. The problem, of course, is that if pastors stay away from politics altogether, who will make application of such portions of God’s Word as Psalm 146.3?

 

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”

 

It is not only foolhardy to trust in princes and by extension the governments over which they preside, even if the government is Uncle Sam, because governments are so limited in abilities, but also because it is sinful to trust in princes, and by extension government. When one looks to a prince for deliverance, when one looks to government for help, one can no longer look to God. Psalm 146.5 illustrates:

 

“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.”

 

Rather than delve into the specifics of politics in this message I want to set before you two considerations for your reflection, your meditation, and your prayer; the requirement for political sermons and your responsibility concerning political sermons. The text that prompts me to bring this message is Proverbs 14.34:

 

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

 

So that a people will know what righteousness is for a nation, and so that citizens will know what sin is, in their own lives and their leader’s lives, appropriate sermons to those ends must be preached:

 

First, THE REQUIREMENT FOR POLITICAL SERMONS

 

Is there a case to be made for the Gospel minister to assume responsibility to conduct his ministry within the political arena? Martin Luther King thought so. Jesse Jackson thinks so. Al Sharpton thinks so. Even Bill Clinton must think so since he is speaking at a Church this morning, delivering what can only be a political sermon. Yes, is my answer, to promote righteousness. Should the Bible preacher from time to time not only deliver political sermons to the congregation where he serves but also as opportunities present themselves elsewhere? Again, yes, to promote righteousness. I answer in the affirmative for three reasons:

First, political sermons are called for because every group of people is political. I know some of you have from time to time said something like, “I hate politics.” And I completely understand. Politics, as most people conceive of the matter, is, for the most part, a dirty and underhanded business. However, the reality that many people are unwilling to acknowledge is that everything involving human beings is political because our word political is derived from a Greek word meaning relating to a citizen.[1] Are people involved? Then it is political. Years ago I made a comment in a sermon that royally ticked someone off. I can no longer remember who it was, but what I said was, “Every family is political.” I meant no offense by making that claim but sought merely to explain that where two or three are gathered together, you have politics. Two people meeting for coffee is to some degree political. A husband and a wife are to some degree political. How so? Politics has to do with the dynamics of relating to one or more human beings. The only way a human being has nothing to do with politics is by having nothing to do with people. Before you question whether or not there is politics in a Church congregation, take the time to discuss the matter with a preacher’s kid, or better yet with a missionary’s kid. Then there is local city government, regional, county and state government, and government at the national level. Beloved, whether you are willing to see the handwriting on the wall or not, it is all political. Every level of every organization, formal or informal, including government, serves ends that are political. We need to face reality.

Next, political sermons are called for because Gospel preaching has application to every aspect of life. To be sure, the primary thrust of Gospel preaching is the glory of Almighty God brought about by declaring the individual soul’s salvation through faith in the crucified, buried, and risen from the dead Savior, Jesus Christ. Few there are who would question the propriety of applying the Good News that Jesus Christ saves to sinners. However, it is in my view entirely inappropriate to restrict the Gospel message to only that narrow matter, regardless of its profound importance. Was it Francis Schaeffer who first observed the two-tiered thinking of the Western mind, whereby matters of faith and spirituality are relegated by many to an upper compartment of life, with practical matters of everyday life left in the lower compartment and no fair the one spilling over into the other compartment? The only problem with that view of life is that it is wrong. God’s plan is for matters that are eternal, matters that are spiritual, matters that have to do with God and faith and sin and such not be relegated to an upper compartment, but dealt with squarely and on a daily basis in the lower compartment of real life, the marriage, the family, the job, and everything else. Thus, it is entirely appropriate to bring into every family consideration, every clan consideration, every work related consideration, and every consideration of one’s nation, spiritual truths from God’s Word. “But that means mixing religion and politics.” Yes, it most certainly does. “But you’re not supposed to mix religion and politics. Everyone knows that.” Everyone seems to know that but God. Proverbs 14.34 shows us that religion and politics are intermingled:

 

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

 

Understand that I am not suggesting arguing with people at Thanksgiving about religion and politics. I do not think it serves the body politic to create frustration and hostility by forcing down anyone’s throats at Church what they do not want to hear. I am only pointing out that Gospel truth, God’s truth, Bible truth, applies to every aspect of life, and the downward spiral of our nation is directly caused by our nation’s departure from righteousness. Political sermons have in the past proven to be useful remedies for that downward spiral by nations.

Which brings me to the third justification for political sermons: Entire nations can respond to Biblical preaching and the cries of God’s men to repent. May I set before you not only Biblical but also extra-biblical examples?

Nineveh responded. In Matthew 12.41 the Lord Jesus Christ rehearsed what we find in the third chapter of the book of Jonah:

 

“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas.”

 

The man of God arrived on the scene, preached the Word of God and the citizens of the capital city of the mighty Assyrian empire believed God, and from the king down to the common man repented.[2]

Judah responded. Under the preaching of the aged prophet Isaiah the new young king of Judah, whose name was Hezekiah, responded by taking some wise steps that resulted in God’s great blessings. He destroyed Nehushtan, the bronze figure Moses had crafted but had gradually become an object of worship over the centuries, he reopened the doors to the Temple, he confronted the priests and Levites concerning their idolatry, he cleansed the Temple and restored worship and offerings, and then he urged the people to return to the LORD.[3] And humanly speaking it all started with a young man who was responsive to the preaching of an old prophet named Isaiah.

 

 

 

 

 

I could speak of the revival in Korea that began in 1907, South Korea very possibly now being percentage-wise the most Christian nation on earth, with only China having more believers than Korea. I could speak of the revival on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in the late 1940s. I could also speak of the revival in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, that led to the formation of a new nation on the island of Timor.[6] However, the point has been made that preaching can affect both regions and nations, preaching can result in the formation of nations. Therefore there is some need for preaching political sermons to apply Gospel truth to nations.

 

Now, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY WITH POLITICAL SERMONS

 

For political sermons to be useful to the cause of Christ, it is necessary for those who claim to know Christ, for those who profess to be children of God, to decide before any political sermon is preached that they will obey the revealed will of God by complying with the dictates of Scripture.

First, the Gospel must be obeyed, even when it is delivered in the form of a political sermon. It was Pharaoh, who said,

 

“Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.”[7]

 

It is obvious that God must be obeyed whether a person claims to be a follower of God or not. After all, God is God. Consider this matter of obeying the Gospel, since this whole issue of trusting Christ, is not optional. One either obeys the Gospel and trusts Christ or suffers dire consequences:

 

 

Next, the truth must be received, even when it is declared in the form of a political sermon. James 1.21 provides clear instruction for everyone under the preaching of God’s Word:

 

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

 

Those in Nineveh received Jonah’s words with meekness, as did Hezekiah and those under his rule. The same goes for those who heard John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, and Asahel Nettleton preach. To receive God’s Word meekly is imperative.

Third, the world must be recognized, even when statements true to God’s Word are made during a political sermon. Choices have to be made. You cannot have it all. To accept the truth of God’s Word, you have to be willing to break with those who are unwilling. Consider that those who trusted Christ on the Day of Pentecost likely lost family, friends, a place in their synagogues, and their trade as the direct result of receiving God’s Word with meekness and obeying the Gospel. You may see yourself as part of a well-defined national, ethnic, social, political, organizational, or family group. The Word of God describes these another way, labeling them as being part of the world. And what do we know about the world? First John 5.19:

 

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”

 

This is not to suggest for a moment that you turn your back on family, friends, kindred, tongue, tribe, and nation when you hear a sermon with political implications. Oh no. You just need to do right by God and His Word, because they will turn their backs on you. Understand that. Anticipate that. Be prepared for that. Because that will happen.

Finally, application of the truth is necessary, even in the context of your reaction to a political sermon. James 1.22-25 is very clear about this:

 

22    But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23    For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24    For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25    But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

 

 

Do you think the sermon delivered by Jonah to the Ninevites did not have profound political implications for those who heard him? And what about those who heard Simon Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost? As well, those who heard Paul preach in Philippi? When John Wesley and George Whitefield preached the Word of God in fields and meadows, it was a violation of law for those men to preach outdoors, and a violation of law for English freemen to even stand there listening to them. Think there were not political implications when William Carey preached to the idolatrous Hindus on the Indian subcontinent that there is only one true and living God? What about the political implications of Samuel Davies preaching the Gospel to slaves? And all those preachers looking into the eyes of slave owners, while pointing their fingers and declaring to them the liberty every Christian has in Christ? Would you want slave owners to pay attention to those political sermons and respond to them? How should a politician who takes political donations from Planned Parenthood respond when he or she hears about the sanctity of the life of an unborn child? How can a politician expect support from a Christian of color who supports Planned Parenthood, an organization formed by Margaret Sanger and supported by the KKK with the goal of reducing the birthrate among Blacks by murdering their unborn children? There will be millions of Americans who will vote for Hillary Clinton despite this in just over a week.

As I look back over the last two centuries of Christian history I take delight in the fact that Gospel preachers courageously delivered unpopular at the time political sermons. But their sermons resulted in the outlawing of burning Hindu widows alive on the Indian subcontinent, the military intervention of the British navy to drive slave ships from the high seas, and the eventual outlawing of slavery throughout the Western world. I think it will take political sermons to turn our nation forever and finally against the murder of the unborn in the form of legalized abortion. I think it will take political sermons to make our citizenry aware of the demonic nature and danger to a free society of Islam. I think it will take political sermons to expose charlatans and political con men. I think it will take political sermons to persuade our citizenry to look to God for help in time of need instead of looking to Uncle Sam.

 

Psalm 27.9:   “thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.”

Psalm 40.17: “thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”

Psalm 63.7:   “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”

Psalm 70.5:   “O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.”

Psalm 71.12: “O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.”

Psalm 94.17: “Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.”

Psalm 121.1: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

Psalm 121.2: “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

__________

[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1392.

[2] Jonah 3.5

[3] 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-30

[4]http://www.ibtimes.com/ethiopia-first-christian-nation-1110400

[5] Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, Carey, Christ And Cultural Transformation, (Carlisle, Cumbria UK: OM Publishing, Revised 1997), pages 15-19.

[6] Kurt Koch, The Revival In Indonesia, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1972), page 121ff.

[7] Exodus 5.2

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org