May the Lord gives us boldness and wisdom as we speak in these interesting days in which we live. This week I want to make you aware of a ruling that should concern all of us who cherish our freedom of religious speech.
Please allow me to begin by making the following statement concerning our so-called protected religious speech in the United States of America. Our constitution protects the right of free speech – and part of the speech protected is religious speech. That being said, those of us who belong to Christ need to know that God’s command for us to preach the gospel is not abridged by any government or law that is written or established by man. Regardless of what the governments of men say – we are to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of all the nations. That command comes from a higher authority than that of mankind. It comes from God Himself. Therefore, it is imperative for us to remember that regardless of what decisions are reached by the IRS, the Supreme Court, or any other human entity, they do not trump the command of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to continue to proclaim the gospel – and if in the process we face punitive action by our governing authorities – we are to accept it gladly as we choose to obey God rather than men. This was the response made by the apostles as they were commanded by the governing authorities of their day not to speak or teach any longer in the name of Jesus. We should not respond any differently in our day.
“What is all this about?” you may ask. It is about a ruling made a few days ago by the Internal Revenue Service in answer to a suit filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. They charged that the IRS was not investigating and punishing churches and pastors who preach politics from the pulpit. The law or ruling used for this invasion of our nation’s pulpits is actually not even from our Constitution, but rather is from an IRS ruling in 1954. At that time Senator Lyndon B. Johnson urged this measure so that he could use it against specific opponents of his agenda and that of the Democrat party. This provision was gradually extended to include religious groups and their speech in regard to specifically endorsing a candidate in an election from the pulpit. Some may read this and wonder why this has become a problem – and why I voice concern over it. That, my dear saints, has to do with where our government is going in regards to its moral stances being taken in our day. Many of these issues are not being decided in Congress, which is the only place laws are to be passed, but by executive decisions of the President – or by courts that are legislating from the bench.
Because of decisions rendered over the past several decades, the sacred arena of religious speech has been invaded by the secular government. In 1973 the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision attacked life in the womb. And more recently a wave of lower court decisions have attacked the sanctity of biblical marriage. As these decisions have been politicized, elections have included debates over whether these decisions are just or not. Such debates REQUIRE a response from the spiritual leaders in America. Those spiritual leaders are the pastors of local churches, who have found it necessary to teach what the Scriptures have to say about these issues of life and marriage. Here is where this issue is going to reach a head. Is the IRS going to rule in such a way that pastors are no longer allowed to teach certain passages that will be deemed “preaching politics?” Will we watch pastors be cited, fined, and possibly even arrested for teaching on Romans 1:18-25 (dealing with homosexuality) and Psalm 139 (dealing with the sanctity of the womb)?
The day may come where we are forbidden by the state to teach such things without losing our tax exempt status. The day may also come when things far worse that this may result. Baring God moving in our country, the day will come when pastors will be fined or arrested for committing a hate crime because they dared teach these passages INSIDE the church. May God give us grace to stand and teach His Word, with grace and meekness, regardless of the consequences. May God strengthen us to hold fast the faithful Word He has given us – not surrendering to political correctness or even punitive threats to abandon it because it has become socially unpopular in our day to do so.
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