If you’re joining this series for the first time, please scroll down to find Parts 1-3. So far, I’ve argued that our own comfort and the fear of what we might lose are not good motivations for how we should cast our vote in a national election. But what about what others have to lose?
What about non-Christians? Shouldn’t we be concerned for our friends and family and neighbors who have not accepted God’s saving grace? If America is destroyed, won’t they be destroyed with it? If we can put off God’s wrath by living according to his law, shouldn’t we encourage moral behavior among unbelievers for their own good?
These are valid questions, but they are focused in the wrong direction. Everyone is going to die someday.
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Jesus did not come into the world to save people’s lives and stop us from dying. He came to offer himself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins so we might be reconciled to God and live with him forever. People aren’t saved because they are good or because they obey the law, even God’s law, because no one can perfectly obey that law.
It is not obedience or goodness or outward displays of worship that reconcile us to God. It is only Jesus. It is he who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The only people who ever really get that, though, are the ones who recognize they are sinners—that they are not worthy of God’s love or mercy. The comfortable, the prosperous, the respected, the “good” people of our world are often the hardest to reach with the good news of the gospel because they do not see their need of it. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
He did not mean there were some people who were obedient to God and did not need him. He meant there were some people who were righteous in their own eyes and would never accept him. Those same self-righteous “teachers of the law” he later called hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, blind fools, and snakes (Matthew 23). Jesus had no time for those who outwardly obeyed the law but had no real love for God or for man. Jesus went to the humble, the weak, the social outcasts, and the law-breakers and offered them God’s forgiveness and love.
Laws do not save people. Good acts do not save people, nor do good intentions. Only Jesus saves. “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5). It is only through faith in Jesus that we will ever be able to live a life pleasing to God. So our efforts would be better focused on saving individuals from the penalty of sin than in trying to save a nation from the eventual judgement of God.
Tomorrow – Part 5: Freedom
Most of the posts in this series are excerpts from my book, Separate for a Reason, which will be released next month. If you would like to read an advance copy of the book and hear my full argument in favor of separation of church and state in America, you can join my book launch team here or send me a message through my Contact page.
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What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.