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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Separation Of Church And State: Is It Biblical?

When you think about this phrase, what comes to your mind? Do you think about the ACLU? The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has been an instrumental organization in wiping religion (particularly Christianity) out of the public square. Over the last several decades, they have been successful in removing the Ten Commandments, crosses and other Christian symbols, forbidding prayer in the name of Jesus, fought the teaching of creationism in public schools, and have won many other victories for their side.

Because of these events, some Christians believe that Separation of Church and State is the reason why America is losing its godly heritage. I would like to set the record straight because many folks have been misinformed about it.

1. The Phrase Separation of Church And State Is Not Found In The Constitution

Ask the average person on the street if this phrase is found in the Constitution and they will say yes. It is surprising to many that the answer is no. In fact, it is not found in any of our nation’s founding documents.

The phrase Separation of Church and State is not found in the Constitution, but the principle is found in the First Amendment.

1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Back in Colonial days, many people were persecuted, imprisoned and sometimes sentenced to death because they went against the established religion in their state. To avoid this, the founders decided that the U.S. government would not establish an official denomination. This is the only way the church should stay out of government. For example, a public business that allows a church to meet in its building is not establishing a national religion. Having the phrase “In God We Trust” printed on our money is not establishing a national religion. This is why “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is there to insure that the government has no right to stop a church service, or someone from reading the Bible, praying, passing out religious literature door-to-door or out on the streets.

2. Separation Of Church And State Did Not Originate With Roger Williams

Roger Williams was a Puritan minister when he came to Boston in 1631. It didn’t take long for Williams to stir up trouble as he argued that the government should have no authority over the religious convictions of its citizens. The General Court pronounced the sentence of banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Williams, accompanied by some of his loyal followers, migrated to a new area and called it Providence. He made it a place where people of all religions could worship freely.

Where did Roger Williams get the idea of religious freedom? He got it from a Baptist pastor in London named Samuel Howe. Understand that the concept of the Separation of Church and State goes much further back than Roger Williams.

3. Thomas Jefferson Advocated Separation Of Church And State

In response to a letter that Thomas Jefferson had received, he wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 stating: “The First Amendment had erected a wall of separation.”

4. America Is Misinformed About The Separation Of Church And State

In 1853, a group was petitioning Congress to remove chaplains out of the military and remove religious expressions from the public square. Congress reviewed it for a year and than rejected it.

House Judiciary Committee Report in March 27, 1854 said, “Had the people [the founding fathers], during the Revolution, a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle…at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and it’s amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one sect [denomination].”

The report continued: “In this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”
Two months later, they said, “The vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the doctrines and the divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

In 1947, in the case between Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court for the first time in American history interrupted the Separation of Church and State wrong.

From that time on, the phrase Separation of Church and State meant the church had no control over the state and the state can place certain limits on the church. It means that if somebody is offended in anyway toward a Christian that prays, preaches, puts up a religious symbol around Christmas or anything done in the name of Christ, that person or organization can be sued and chances are they will probably lose. Many Christians today are confused and are buying into the belief that they shouldn’t be involved in government or should limit their religious beliefs out in public.

Dr. William James, the founder of modern psychology said, “There is nothing so absurd but that if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.”

Dear reader, I want you to consider what the Bible says about the Separation of Church and State.

5. The Bible Teaches Separation Of Church And State
The government and the church are two separate institutions. The former was established in the Old Testament (Gen. 9:6) and the latter was established in the New Testament (Mt. 16:18).

An example of the separation of church and state can be found in the New Testament. Mt. 22:21 says, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Jesus Christ taught there was a difference between Caesar (government) and God (church). A semicolon separates the two institutions.

As a citizen of the United States, I am obligated to follow the laws of my country, but as a Christian, I am to render to God what belongs to him. Therefore I have no right to not pay my taxes, to dishonor my government with a bad attitude even if it is corrupt, to never pray for those in authority and to be insubordinate to its laws unless it breaks the higher laws of God.

When the disciples were being persecuted for proclaiming their faith, they gave a great answer when they said in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Separation of Church and State is also found in the Old Testament. For example, remember in 2 Chronicles 26 when Uzziah the king went into the temple and attempted to offer a sacrifice? The priests warned him to go back, but he refused to listen and God struck him with leprosy. The reason all of this happened was because the king (one in government) overstepped his boundaries to do the work of the priest (a religious work for God).

In conclusion, let me say that the Separation of Church and State is a biblical idea. It means that the state has no authority over the church; nor does the church have any power over the state.

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Isn’t He Wonderful

“Thou art the God that doest wonders.” -Psalm 77:14

This passage is in reference to what God did for the children of Israel when he delivered them out of the land of Egypt. Notice that Psalm 78:12 says, “Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan” (an ancient city in Egypt). Psalm 78:43 says, “How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.” God proved His power to His people. The very end of Psalm 77:14 says, “Thou hast declared thy strength among thy people.”

When most people think of God, they think of some old feeble being upstairs who is out of touch with society. Is this the way you and I sometimes feel about the Lord? Why of course we do. Sometimes we throw our hands up into the air in frustration at God’s timing. Other times we are like John the Baptist who had a weak moment of faith and asked Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”

Allow me to share four applications that I have gleaned from our verse.

1. God Is Wonderful

The psalmist declared that God does wonders. Since that is true, then God is wonderful. That is a characteristic of God most Christians rarely dwell upon. How many times do you forget that God can take a tragedy and bring something good out of it? How many times have you complained about things that don’t go your way when God could have squashed you like a bug? Have you praised him lately for being a wonderful God?

Song: Isn’t He Wonderful
Isn’t He wonderful, wonderful, wonderful? Isn’t Jesus, my Lord, wonderful? Eyes have seen; ears have heard; it’s recorded in God’s Word. Isn’t Jesus, my Lord, wonderful?

2. God Has Infinite Power To Do Wonderful Things

God can do whatever He wants because He is God. Did the Pharaoh believe that the Israelite God could perform the ten plagues? Absolutely not. Pharaoh had placed his faith in the Egyptian gods and not in the living all powerful God. Pharaoh was not a believer, but even God’s people lacked the faith to trust in the powerful hand of God. The Israelites worried and complained all the way to the promised land. They failed to trust the hand of an all powerful God.

Anything mankind achieves will soon be forgotten. When God works his wonder, it will be remembered forever. Forty years after the exodus, people were still talking about it. In Joshua 2:9-10, Rahab said these words to the two spies, “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt.” God’s Word will endure forever and so will the works of His all mighty hand. Only God can do the incredible and impossible because of his infinite power.

3. God Has Already Done The Greatest Miracle In Your Life

I wish I could have seen the Red Sea divided as the children of Israel walked on dry ground. That would have been an awesome sight to behold. As great of a miracle that it was, God is still working miracles today. I think most of us read our Bible and say, “This is what God did.” We have forgotten that the greatest miracle occurred when you placed your trust and faith on Christ to forgive you of your sins. God took a hell-deserving sinner and made you a trophy of his grace. Amen! If you have never been saved, I pray that you would call upon the name of the Lord today. God wants to do something miraculous in your life.

4. Don’t Wonder If God Can Do A Wonderful Work In Your Life

From the book entitled Scaling A City, I share with you this story:

Mabel Lucille Thompson was a godly woman who desired that her husband and children would serve the Lord. Her husband became an abusive alcoholic and she often fled to a rescue mission at night for safety. Under these conditions she became pregnant and suffered complications. The doctor told her there was no way to save both her and the baby and that she had a choice to make. Mabel Thompson believed in the power of prayer. Alone in the hospital and in tears, she prayed, “Lord, I ask that you would let this baby live. If this child is a boy, I pray that you would make his life count for something and call him to be a preacher of your word.” Her prayer was answered. On May 25, 1933, Roy Thompson was born. Not only did the baby survive, but the Lord also allowed his mother to live. Mabel lived to see her son trust Christ and become one of the greatest preachers of his time. Roy Thompson started the Cleveland Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. By the time Bro. Thompson retired, the church had grown to 2,000 people.

We hear a story like this and say, “Wow! That’s great. I don’t think God will ever do anything great like that in my life. He can do that for other people, but not for anyone like me.”Let’s be honest. If you are like me, you limit what the Lord can do in your life. How many times does God have to prove Himself until you finally get it? He loves to prove himself over and over to you.
Does God want you to start a church, go on the mission field or get involved in a particular ministry? Maybe it’s not something God wants you to do, but some area of your life that you need to surrender to him. Perhaps there is a sin in your life that you cannot overcome. Has it beaten you up to the point that you feel hopeless? Whatever the case may be, apply this message to your life.

There are moments in your life when God wants you to get your feet wet and say, “trust me.” You want to believe, but you still have unbelief lurking inside. You may not think you’re ready for it. You may not think you have what it takes to get the job done. If God wants you to do it, do it now. Be ready to see Him do a wonderful work through your life as you surrender to Him.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Is Hypocrisy Evident In Your Life?

Mt. 23:28 says, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus was condemning the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. No matter who you are or how long you’ve been a believer, hypocrisy can easily creep in causing us to play the game instead of being genuine. We need to realistically examine ourselves to see if we are falling into the trap of hypocrisy. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. There Is Hypocrisy In All Of Our Lives

J.R. Graves, a Baptist preacher from the 19th century once said, “It is easy to hate our enemies and to speak evil and bitter things of those who have injured us, but it is not the spirit of the meek Jesus; it is not an evidence of a renewed and sanctified heart.”

Typically what we dislike the most in others is evident in our own lives. I think of my own kids when I say this. I’m realizing more and more that loving patience is needed when I deal with them rather than with a harsh tone.

2. Every Secret Sin Of A Christian Will Be Dealt With At The Judgment Seat Of Christ

Ps. 90:8 says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” You might as well nip it in the bud right now or stand ashamed before the Lord Jesus Christ. Wrong motives, bad habits, ungodly lust and dirty thoughts will be brought to light at his appearing.

3. Having A Good Reputation Doesn’t Mean You Have Character

The religious leaders were well received by the people, but Jesus saw them for who they really were.

A couple of years ago, this article appeared in Sports Illustrated:

“Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who resigned under pressure on May 20, once wrote a book, The Winner’s Manual, that espoused character and the moral high ground. “Discipline is what you do when no one else is looking,” Tressel wrote. Yet Tressel failed to report to school officials that his players traded memorabilia for cash. And when those rule breaches went public, he lied, saying he knew nothing about them. Now a Sports Illustrated story alleges that the misconduct by Ohio State’s players was more widespread than previously believed. Tressel was a winning coach-he finished 106-22 at Ohio State-who seemingly possessed great discipline. But he failed to heed his own words while covering up the missteps that cost him his job. Tressel might as well have written a manual on hypocrisy.” ​

4. It’s Easy To Be A Hypocrite

The word hypocrite means, “play actor.” It means one that can put on a good show. Oh how great a lot of us are at that. We carry our Bibles to church, put on our Sunday best, fellowship with the brethren and think everything is all right. However, the problem is that we have fooled ourselves the most by thinking that everything is all right between us and the Lord.

5. Wisdom Is Needed To Avoid Hypocrisy In Your Life

Jam. 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Take a good look at this list. Do all of these characteristics describe you? If not, die to self and ask the Lord to give you wisdom to walk without hypocrisy.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

3 Thoughts From John 3:16

John 3:16 says,”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What a tremendous verse! I have three thoughts for you:

1. Love is the greatest need of any human relationship

Without love, man cannot survive. It is said that Adolph Hitler tested this fact. He would place a baby in a room with all of it’s needs met such as food, clothing, shelter. The only exception was that the babies were never held, hugged or played with. Someone would enter into the isolated room wearing a mask and gloves to change and feed the baby without any physical contact. Sadly, all the babies in his experiment died. All of their basic needs were met except for love.

2. Accept the fact that God unconditionally loves you

God’s love is the same for every child of God (e.g., He doesn’t favor Bro. Smith more just because he is a Sunday School teacher and you aren’t).

God’s love is the same no matter what you do. He doesn’t love you more when you do right and he doesn’t love you less when you do wrong. You can’t earn extra brownie points with God because you have been on your best behavior. You also shouldn’t beat yourself up with guilt thinking the Lord won’t forgive you of wrong-doing.

3. It is our responsibility to share God’s love with everyone

Madalyn Murray O’Hair was an atheist best known for a lawsuit that led to a Supreme Court decision ending government sponsored prayer in American public schools. In her own personal life, she often made fun of people, had marital problems and used profane and vulgar language. Life magazine referred to her as “the most hated woman in America.” When Madalyn Murray O’Hair vanished in 1995, very few people cared that she was missing. When her diaries were found she often cried, “Somebody, somewhere please love me.” No matter how hard-hearted someone may be, everybody wants to be loved.

If everyone witnessed like you, would you be saved? Will you share your faith with someone else who needs to hear about Jesus Christ?

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

First Blog Post

Welcome to the Edify One Another blog. The idea for the title comes from 1 Thes. 5:11. The word edify means “to build up.” It’s my desire that this blog post be used to be a help and an encouragement to everyone who reads it. Most importantly, I want it to be a tool to be used for the glory of God. Starting this week, I will put a new post on the blog. Until then, may God bless you.

Jim Larger

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Uncategorized