How the Early Church Approached Politics

In the early church there was widespread agreement that it was inappropriate for Christians to seek political power. These early Christians believed that their separation from the state was an important part of following the example of Jesus. By “early church” I mean the church prior to the year 313, the year Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christianity. When Christianity transitioned from a persecuted religion to a government-endorsed religion, this led to a rapid change of perspective and practice on many issues.

Why Care What the Early Church Did?

The early Christians were fallible human beings. They wrote uninspired words. They were just as capable of error as men in any other generation. Although the early church’s practices and teachings did correspond to the New Testament in many ways, they made errors as well. We shouldn’t just agree with everything the early church said or did. The Bible is our authority, and where the early church departed from Scripture, we are always to go with Scripture.

These early Christian writers were not inspired, and they are not authoritative. But they were dedicated disciples of Jesus, and they were knowledgeable students of Scripture with very strong convictions (convictions they were often willing to die for). They also lived in a time and culture not far removed from the New Testament itself.

Their opinions aren’t authoritative, but we should still pay attention to what they had to say, and carefully consider their words. This is especially true in those areas where we find all of the early Christians speaking on a subject unified in agreement with one another.

Polycarp (69-155, Smyrna)

Perhaps the earliest post-New Testament indication of the church’s relationship to government from The Martyrdom of Polycarp (read chapters 9 and 10 here). Polycarp was personally taught by the Apostle John, and was an elder at the church in Smyrna. As he faced martyrdom, he was given a simple request,

Swear by the fortune of Caesar… Swear, and I will set thee at liberty!

Polycarp responded to this request in the following words:

Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: How then can I blaspheme by King and Savior?

According to John’s disciple, Polycarp, to swear an oath of allegiance to the fortune of Caesar was to blaspheme against King Jesus. Yet even while facing death, Polycarp went on to respond further:

To thee have I thought it right to offer and account [of my faith]; for we are taught to give all due honor (which entails no injury to ourselves) to the powers and authorities which are ordained of God.

Even though Polycarp refused to swear his allegiance to Caesar, he was committed to continually showing honor to governing powers and authorities.

Justin Martyr (100-165, Rome)

Justin Martyr wrote a defense of Christianity to the emperor , explaining that while Christians do not encourage open rebellion against the emperor, there are limitations to what services they can offer. (Read “First Apology” chapter 17 here)

And everywhere, we more readily than all men, endeavor to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him… Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you…

But if you pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations, we shall suffer no loss, since we believe (or rather, indeed, are persuaded) that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merit of his deed.

From Justin Martyr’s apology, we observe:

  • When Christians are unhappy with the unsound judgments of their rulers, they are not to rebel against them. Rather they are to continue to gladly serve them.
  • If Christians want to positively influence their rulers towards sound judgment, they may offer prayers and “frank explanations”
  • If these prayers and explanations are not sufficient to bring about positive change, they are to have confidence that God will hold their rulers accountable with the punishment of eternal fire.

Tertullian (160-220, Carthage)

Tertullian was one of the most prolific and well respected early Christian writers. In His treatise “On Idolatry” (Read chapter 18 here) Tertullian wrote:

He [Jesus] exercised no right of power even over His own followers, to whom He discharged menial ministry; if, in short, though conscious of His own kingdom, He shrank back from being made a king. He in the fullest manner gave His own an example for turning coldly from all the pride and garb, as well of dignity as of power. For if they were to be used, who would rather have used them than the Son of God? What kind and what number of fasces would escort Him? What kind of purple would bloom from His shoulders? What kind of gold would beam from His head, had He not judged the glory of the world to be alien both to Himself and to His disciples.

According to Tertullian:

  • If Jesus had wanted to hold earthly political office, He would have achieved the greatest honors any king has ever known.
  • Yet Jesus rejected the opportunity to become an earthly king.
  • In so doing, Jesus set an example that all Christians should follow.

Tertullian went on in the same chapter to describe political power as an enemy of God.

Therefore what He was unwilling to accept, He has rejected; what He rejected, He has condemned; what He condemned, He has counted as part of the devil’s pomp. For He would not have condemned things, except such as were not His; but things which are not God’s, can be no other’s but the devil’s. If you have forsworn the devil’s pomp, know that whatever you touch is idolatry. Let even this fact help to remind you that all the powers and dignities of this world are not only alien to, but enemies of God.

In another place, as Tertullian was writing a defense of Christianity, Tertullian observed that the testimony of Jesus was so convincing that even the Caesar’s themselves would have believed. The Caesars, however, were prevented from accepting Christianity because they understood that Christians cannot be Caesars. (Read Apology, chapter 21 here)

The Caesars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Caesars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Caesars.

Origen (184-253, Alexandria)

The most complete discussion of Christianity and politics in the early church can be found in the discussion between Celsus and Origen”. Celsus was a pagan philosopher who wrote a serious attack against Christianity in his book “True Doctrine”. Although his book has not been preserved in its entirety, a good portion of it is preserved through Origen’s response, “Against Celsus”. Origen was one of the greatest scholars and most prolific writers in the early church.

Celsus’ Attack

One of Celsus’ primary attacks against Christianity was the way they separated themselves from the state. He viewed Christianity as a “new state of things” that was caused by “rebellion against the state” (3.5). Celsus believed that each nation’s form of government had been preserved for the public advantage.  Therefore, “it would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in various places” (5.25).

At the heart of Celsus’ concern was his understanding that when one becomes a Christian, they withdrew themselves from participating in political powers.

If everyone should do the same as you, nothing would prevent the emperor from being left alone and deserted, and the affairs of the earth would come into the hands of the most lawless and the wildest barbarians; and then there would no longer remain among men any of the glory of your religion or of the true wisdom. (8.68)

Celsus was certainly prejudiced against the Christians, but he was well informed of their way of life. And it is apparent that Celsus did not know of any Christians who had become involved politics, and viewed the rejection of political powers as a matter of principle among them.

Origien’s Response to Celsus

It is interesting to note that Origen did not respond to Celsus’ attack by saying “You are wrong. Look, here are lots of Christians who have sought to reform, strengthen, and support the Roman Empire.” Rather Origen accepted the accuracy of Celsus’ claim, and sought to justify Christians in their separation from the state. Origen pointed out that as a matter of principle, the talent of the church should be devoted to the service of building up the church, rather than to be involved in politics.

“Celsus also urges us to take office in the government of the county, if that is required for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religion. But we recognize that in each state the existence of another national organization, founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches… And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God – for the salvation of men. (8.75)

Origen encouraged Celsus to think through his accusation to its logical conclusion. What would really happen if everyone became a Christian, and thus withdrew themselves from the political powers?

For if, as Celsus says, “everyone should do the same” as I, it is evident that even the barbarians, having come to the word of God, will be most law abiding and civilized, and every religion will be destroyed except that of the Christians, which will prevail. (8.68)

According to Origen it was a “religious act” of Christians to turn people away from the customs of the Romans and to turn them to the better laws enacted by Jesus (5.32). Origin’s understanding of the Christian’s relationship with the state in the early church could be summed up in these words:

We are to despise integrating ourselves with kings or any other men. (8.65)

What Can We Take Away From These Early Christians?

From the preserved writings of early Christian authors, it appears that the early church believed that there were two kingdoms: the kingdom of Rome and the kingdom of God. Since Christians are committed to imitating the example of Jesus, it would be inappropriate for Christians to seek political power.

And the church grew. Without any Christians in positions of political power, the church increased. Without any “religious freedom” or “Christian principles” in government, the church triumphed.

These early Christians aren’t authoritative. Only the Bible is. Perhaps these Christians were wrong, but their convictions should cause us to think about, and perhaps question, why we believe it is so important for Christians to get involved in politics.

An early Christian named Speratus wrote:

The empire of this world I know not; but rather I serve God… Because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.

Speratus refused to give his allegiance to Rome. Speratus went on to defeat the Roman Empire. He was martyred in 180 for his faith. (Read “The Passion of Sciliitian Martyrs” here)

Can A Christian Seek Political Office?

This question is important. It must be carefully considered in light of several scriptural principles before we can determine if we, in good conscience, can faithfully serve Christ while seeking political office. If, after examining everything the Bible has to say about a Christian’s relationship to the world and to its governments, a Christian can still in good conscience, seek political office without compromising their commitment to Christ, then yes, a Christian may seek political office.

To ask such a question does carry certain risks. There is little doubt in my mind that rulers with godly values are better than rulers with wicked values. Political power requires popular support. To even raise questions Christian involvement in politics increases the risk of having wicked rulers in power. This would almost certainly have negative consequences.

Yet even at the risk of hurting the church’s political influence, we must be willing to consider the question. I am convinced the risk we face from wicked earthly rulers is far less dangerous than the risk we face if political involvement causes us to lose both our body and soul in hell (Mt. 10.28). If our devotion to politics is so strong that we can’t even entertain questions raised by our faith, we don’t have a devotion to politics, we have a religious devotion to politics. Jesus is Lord, and we must be willing to examine every aspect of our lives in light of that fact: the church, our families, our careers, and even our approach towards politics.

Two Reasons Why The Question Is Important

I believe that one of the reasons that questions of Christian political involvement are often overlooked is because two important Biblical themes are likewise overlooked or ignored. When we consider that the political realm is under demonic control, and the kingdoms of this world are in conflict with the kingdom of God, it should cause us to view politics in a much darker light. This, in turn, brings questions of Christian political involvement to a higher level of importance than they are typically given.

  1. The political realm is under demonic control

Biblically speaking, Satan is the “ruler of this world” (Jn. 12.31; 16.11). Paul describes Satan as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4.1-4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2.1-2). Paul understood that the non-Christian world was part of Satan’s “domain of darkness” (Col. 1.13). Satan’s influence is especially powerful in the political realm. The kingdoms of this world have been handed over to him, and he has the ability to offer those kingdoms to individuals to tempt them away from worshiping God (Lk. 4.5-8).

Yes, Satan is an unlawful ruler, with limited and temporary power. Yes, the Bible teaches that God can ordain even wicked rulers as His ministers and therefore they do not bear the sword in vain. But Satan’s power and influence is real. Due to misunderstandings of passages such as Luke 20.25 and Romans 13.1-4, many Christians remain ignorant of Satan’s rule and influence over worldly governments. Those who are ignorant of his power are the most susceptible to his influence.

See also: “The “God” of the World”

  1. The kingdoms of this world are in conflict with the kingdom of God

The kingdoms of this world were established by God as a result of the fall of man, and God’s kingdom was established for the purpose of confronting and ultimately destroying these kingdoms (Dan. 2.44; 1 Cor. 15.24-26). Throughout the Old Testament, God continually shows himself superior of the pagan rulers and authorities. The prophets continually showed God as more powerful than these political powers and promised to deliver His people from them. Jesus showed himself to be the fulfillment of the law and the prophets by announcing a “kingdom” to a world where Caesar thought of himself as the only “Lord” and “Savior.” In reflecting on the resurrection and reign of Jesus, Paul understood that the kingdoms of this world are among the enemies of the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15.24-26).

See also: “Kingdoms in Conflict: An Important, Yet Overlooked Theme in the Bible

The Importance of Wrestling With What Scripture Teaches

While it is true that there is no explicit command which forbids Christians from seeking political office, we must not ignore all that Scripture does say that could impact the question. There is likewise no explicit command which forbids Christians from owning a Casino, but we all understand that such a career would be wrong because it would obviously violate so many Biblical principles. We must not look to the absence of an explicit command as permission to ignore or disagree with what the Bible does teach on the subject.

If seeking political office causes one to compromise our commitment to Christ and to His kingdom, then no, that Christian may not seek political office.

It may be wrong to seek or obtain political office if:

  • It tempts someone to love their enemies less (Mt. 5.38-48)
  • It tempts one to have their heart focused on earthly things instead of heavenly things (Mt. 6.19-21)
  • The office requires one to act as a judge over those outside the church (Mt. 7.1-5; 1 Cor. 5.12)
  • It causes a Christian to “lord over” others like the gentiles did (Mt. 20.25-28)
  • It causes one to fail to render to God what is rightfully His (Mt. 22.15-22)
  • The office requires one to do harm to enemies if necessary rather than doing good to them (Lk. 6.27)
  • It causes a Christian to lose their distinction from the world (Jn. 15.18-19)
  • It leads one to fight like the world fights(Jn. 18.36-37)
  • It requires one to take vengeance on evildoers, something that Christians are forbidden from doing (Rom 12.19)
  • The office requires one to resist other earthly rulers (Rom 12.29-13.4)
  • It tempts one to think forget that God can even use their wicked political opponents for good if He so chooses (Rom. 13.4)
  • It causes division between Christians (1 Cor. 1.10)
  • It causes one to be yoked together with unbelievers in a way that gives them influence over them (2 Cor. 6.14-18)
  • The office’s duties include the use of earthly weapons instead of spiritual ones (2 Cor. 10.3-4)
  • It tempts one to treat as enemies those who have flesh and blood (Eph. 6.12)
  • It causes one to feel like earthly authorities have more power and influence than they actually do (Col. 2.15)
  • It distracts one from their Christian fight (2 Tim. 2.3-4)
  • It causes one to lose their distinction as a stranger and exile (1 Pet. 2.11-12)
  • One is motivated to do so out of the intimidation of wicked rulers (1 Pet. 3.13-17)
  • It keeps one from separating from Babylonian-like powers (Rev. 18.4)

Satan’s influence over the political realm is real. Earthly kingdoms are among God’s enemies who are destined to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15.24-25). No Christian should ever offer any service to their government that would cause them to compromise their commitment to Christ (Acts 5.29).

Being “Christian” means “Christ-like”. Even though Jesus did oppose ungodliness in His culture, Jesus never showed the slightest interest in politics, and resisted the temptation of earthly political power when it was offered to Him (Lk. 4.5-8).

Can it be wrong for a Christian to seek political office? It absolutely can be.

The Importance of Respecting Biblical Silence

In spite of all these principles which must be considered, I find it significant that no Biblical author ever sets forth a rule that forbids Christians from seeking political office. While it is true that Jesus never sought to use political means, neither did Jesus establish a law against it. We also have the example of men such as Joseph and Daniel, each of which held positions of authority in pagan kingdoms. In the New Testament we read about a Christian named Erastus, who was a city treasurer (Rom. 16.23), as well as saints who were in Caesar’s household (Phil. 4.22). And while scripture is silent about whether Cornelius the centurion or the Philippian jailor continued in their posts after becoming a Christians (Acts 10.1-7; 16.25-40), the Bible doesn’t rule out that possibility.

There are several Christians (myself included), who after meditating on all that the New Testament has to say about a Christian’s relationship to the world and to its governments, will conclude that it is inappropriate for Christians to seek positions of political power. But no matter how much wisdom there may be in such a conclusion, we must remember that there is only one lawgiver, and we are not Him.

Is it possible to consistently love your enemies, if your political position requires that you order the dropping of bombs against them if necessary? Is it possible to enforce even the best intended of laws without becoming a judge of those outside the church? Is it possible to spend years of your life dedicated to politics and to avoid Satan’s influence upon you? I personally don’t see how it can be done. But (and this is very important), no matter how firm one may be in that conviction, we cannot, and we must not, make a rule where God Himself has not spoken.

If another Christian wrestles with all of those same New Testament scriptures, and concludes that they, like Erastus, can faithfully follow Christ and hold political office at the same time, there is nothing in the New Testament that plainly says that seeking a political office is itself a sin.

If we attempt to elevate our personal convictions to the level of scripture, it is not our personal convictions that we have elevated, but rather scripture that we have brought low. If Satan tempts us to turn personal convictions into a rule for others, we have in practice jumped up into the judgment seat of God and proclaimed ourselves to be equal with God.

Can a Christian Seek Political Office?

If, after wrestling with all that the Holy Spirit has to say, a Christian concludes that they can, in good conscience, faithfully follow Christ and execute the demands of the office, then yes, a Christian may seek political office. If we cannot consistently and faithfully follow Christ while seeking political office, it would be wrong to do so.

As Christians, we must remember that hope for our world doesn’t hang on which people get in power. It hangs on Christians using the power God has given us. And this isn’t a power that we release by getting more godly people into positions of political power. It’s a power we release by how we unite together, as God’s kingdom, and show the world God’s love in how we live, in how we share, and how we sacrificially serve the needs of others. And when we, as the church, address the needs of the world, the glory goes to God and not some version of government.

9 Things Peter and John Said That Should Impact The Way a Christian Approaches Politics

Like Jesus and like Paul, John recognized that the nations of this world are under demonic influence. Peter likewise understood this and encouraged Christians to endure persecution from their rulers, while maintaining honor and reverence towards them. Together, with the rest of the New Testament writers, Peter and John encourage Christians to remember that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not.

1.The World Is Under The Power of the Evil One

We know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. – 1 John 5.19

Even after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, John still viewed the whole world as being under the power of the evil one. The church is God’s, but outside the church is Satan’s (1 Cor. 5.1-5; 1 Tim. 1.20; 1 Tim. 5. 15). Three times Jesus referred to Satan as the ruler of the world (Jn. 12.31; 14.30; 16.11). In other words, Satan holds the highest position of authority in this world. Paul frequently taught the same thing (2 Cor. 4.4; Eph. 2.2; Eph. 2.2).

Of course John understood that God ultimately holds more authority and power, which is why He will win (1 Jn. 5.4-5). But in the present, Satan is the one who exercises the most power and influence over this world.

If you’ve ever wondered why the governments of this world have continually failed to provide lasting solutions to social and global problems, or why they continually gravitate towards violence and oppression, this should help answer those questions. If we recognize that Satan is the ruler over this world and its kingdoms, we shouldn’t be surprised.

2. God’s Kingdom Will Be Victorious Over the Nations

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever… We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And all the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bondservants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” – Revelation 11.15-18

John’s Revelation describes two different kingdoms that are at war against one another: The kingdom of the world and the kingdom of Christ. In keeping with John 5.19, these verses do not describe God as having unilateral control over the nations of the earth. When the Kingdom of Christ is victorious over the kingdom of the world, the nations become enraged. The nations are thus described as being on the side of the kingdom of this world. How can Christians seek to build up and strengthen those nations which exist in opposition to Christ’s kingdom?

3.Earthly Governments are Deceived by the Destroyer

Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out and deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together for the war the number of them like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20.7-10

The dragon, through His deception, has rallied all the nations of the world together against God’s kingdom. But when they are confronted with God’s justice, everyone who has refused to be a part of God’s kingdom will be destroyed. And so the dragon, the nations, and all who chose them are eternally punished, never again able to corrupt God’s good creation.

Abaddon, the Destroyer, is identified as the king of the nations of this this world (Rev. 9.11; 11.15). The world is deceived by the power of the great beast, and thus they worship the beast and give authority to the beast (Rev. 13.11-15). In John’s Revelation, it’s not just a few of the “bad” nations, or particuraly powerful “empires” that are deceived. Rather all the “nations which are in the four corners of the earth” are deceived by Him. These nations are collectively identified as “Gog and Magog”, an archetype of earthly governments who trust in military power (Ezekiel 38).

4.Babylon Will Be Destroyed

 Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality…

And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning…

So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer… and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. – Revelation 18.2-3, 9, 21-23

Babylon, the great and evil earthly nation that swallowed up the Israelites in 597 B.C. became a symbol of the wickedness, idolatry, immorality, and violence of later earthly nations. In John’s Revelation it is stated that “all the kings of the earth” have committed acts of immorality with “Babylon,” for the nations were deceived by her. “Babylon”, the great kingdom of this world will be destroyed. When she falls, all the earthly governments will mourn, for they have long loved the sensual pleasures that she provides.

5.Come Out of Her!

Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues. – Revelation 18.4

God’s people should recognize Babylon and come out of her! Come out of her who is deceived by Satan. Come out of her who seduces kings in their lust for wealth and power. Come out of her who oppresses and kills God’s people.

Why? Because she will suffer plagues for her sins. And when she does,  kings and merchants (vs. 9-18) will share in her plagues when she is punished. Meanwhile the saints and apostles and prophets, who have avoided her seductions, will rejoice when she is judged (vs. 19-20).

God’s saints should be careful to distance themselves from the deceptive allure of the prostitute named Babylon.

6.Christians Are Strangers and Exiles

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2.11-12

Peter recognized that Christians should fill the role as strangers and exiles. These words were used to identify those who live in a city, but do not identify as permanent residents of that city. It should be no wonder that Peter, who lived long after the earthly nation of Babylon had been destroyed, identified himself as living in “Babylon” (1 Pet. 5.13). Peter was picking up on the same concept that was to be described in the book of Revelation. Peter and his readers did not have permanent ties to the earthly city or nation in which they lived. As exiles, they did not wage war against the enemies of their earthly nation, but rather they waged their warfare against fleshly lusts.

7.Be Subject to Them

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may be able to silence the ignorance of foolish men…. Fear God. Honor the king. – 1 Peter 2.13-17

Christians are instructed to subject themselves to earthly rulers. Why? Not for the sake of the rulers themselves, but for the Lord’s sake. The Lord is the one Christians should fear, yet we should still show honor to earthly rulers by subjecting ourselves to them.

By showing honor and subjecting ourselves to earthly rulers, the ignorance of their foolishness is silenced. If Christians want to see the ignorance of foolish rulers silenced, they must keep their behavior excellent, submissive, showing honor to their enemies in power.

8.Do not fear them.

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. “And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,” but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.. – 1 Peter 3.13-17

Christians are not to fear earthly rulers. Neither are they to consider their earthly rulers as “Lord.” Rather they are to set apart Christ as their Lord. When earthly rulers slander disciples of Christ, we must be ready to give an answer for our hope, while continually maintaining gentleness and reverence towards them.

9. Recognize that Jesus is our King

Baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. – 1 Peter 3.21-22

When Jesus rose from the dead, he was exalted above the authorities and powers. Earthly governmental powers have been defeated in the resurrection. Like the flood which delivered Noah from the wicked world in which he lived, baptism delivers Christians from their wicked world. It is for this reason that Peter, living right under the nose of the Roman emperor, could boldly proclaim, “To Him [Jesus, not Caesar] be dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 5.11). When we are baptized, we confess that Jesus is the Lord, the ruler. And by implication, if Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not.


Peter and John stand firmly in agreement with Jesus and Paul. They never encouraged Christians to become involved in earthly politics, but rather they sought to overcome those powers by peacefully submitting to them.

Shouldn’t Christians Use Political Means to Help the Poor?

Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. – Matthew 25.41-46

In an earlier article I wrote about 9 things that Jesus said that should influence the way Christians should approach politics. Should Matthew 25.41-46 be added to that list? Did Jesus intend for Christians to become involved in political means to help the poor?

It is imperative that Christians help the poor. Helping the poor must never become just as small side project that Christians do when it is convenient. If Scripture ever clearly identified an issue as a “salvation issue”, this is it. Our decision to help or neglect the poor is directly tied to our eternal destiny.

Not only that, but Christians should go to whatever extent they possibly can to help the poor. Notice Jesus’s words in verse 45: “To the extent that you did not do it to the one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” Think about those words, “To the extent…“. That is a very broad challenge.

The church doesn’t have the power and resources to help all the poor everywhere. Shouldn’t Christians at least vote to help the poor? Shouldn’t they at least do their part to pressure government to enact compassionate economic policies? If we really want to defend the poor and disadvantaged, shouldn’t we seek to use government to defend them from the injustices they face?

No. Emphatically, no, they should not. I can totally understand why some Christians would choose to take this course of action, and I recognize that they do so with righteous motives. Yet I hope that you will consider some thoughts in response to this idea.

Which Version of Government is Best?

I write this to passionately encourage Christians not to think they are doing God’s work when they try to rally others around the particular version of government that they think is best. Like anyone else, I can imagine how governmental decisions impact the poor and disadvantaged. I don’t find it that hard to recognize how minimum wage laws increase the pay for some at the expense of others who are left unemployed. It is easy to see that all the government interference in health care markets has reduced competition, lowered quality, and driven health care costs to a point where it is affordable for many to pay for the care they deserve. It hurts me to think about how many jobs are destroyed through the high taxation and heavy regulations that businesses face, and how this has a big impact on the lower classes. And I’m not alone. There are lots of really bright people out there who understand that regulating free markets is, in the long haul, the worst possible thing you could do to the poor.

What if I were to take Matthew 25.41-46 as instruction to get Christians active in politics for the sake of the poor? Now that I’ve decided to get Christians involved in righteous political causes, I stand in my pulpit next Sunday and encourage the church do everything in their power to help the poor, which includes getting out there and stopping those liberals from regulating free-markets.

At the same time, you are encouraging Christians to get out there and help the poor by supporting minimum wage laws, wise regulations on big businesses, increasing funding to compassionate welfare programs that support the poor, and funding those programs by taxing the top 1% of earners. You wouldn’t be very happy with me, and I wouldn’t be very happy with you. We both agree that we should help the poor, but instead of using our pulpits to actually encourage Christians to help the poor, we are driving a wedge of division into the church with our message.

As a result, the left and the right argue over which particular kind of government is best for the poor. We spend our time, energy, passion, and sometimes even our money arguing over what our rulers should do about the poor (something the Bible never commands us to do), instead of working together in unity to actually help the poor (which is precisely what we are commanded to do). This leads to one more important point.

The Church Must Do More To Help The Poor

If Christians were to take all of their time, energy, passion and money that they currently invest into political arguments, and were to put that same level of passion into actually helping the poor, the church could make a huge positive impact on the poor, not only in their community, but throughout the country and throughout the world. And what’s even better, when the church works together to help the poor, the glory is given to God rather than to some particular style of government (2 Cor. 9.12).

There is no doubt in my mind that the church needs to do more to help the poor. One of the big reasons we don’t is because we are too busy arguing over what Caesar should do about poverty. This will only change when Christians stop thinking that it is their job to tell the authorities how to rule and start to do what Jesus commanded us to do. We must trust that God who makes all kinds of bad things work together for good (Rom. 8.28), will use even the worst rulers for good (such as Nero, who was the ruler when Romans 13.1-5 was written). Therefore we can simply submit to our rulers, trusting that God will somehow use them for the good He has promised. Only when we learn to trust that they are God’s ministers, and not ours, will we stop clamoring for greater political influence, and actually start working to serve the poor.

Ultimately, the hope for the poor, as well as anyone else, doesn’t hang on which party gets put in power. It hangs on the power that God has given to the church. The church’s power isn’t a power that we release every four years when we unify together and make our voice heard in the voting booth. It is a power that we release when we unite together to show God’s love by how we live, by how we share, and by how we sacrifice to serve the poor.

Jesus’ Shocking Teachings: Divorce (Part 2)

In our series on Jesus’ shocking teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, we come to His teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage.

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her A certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32

It’s clear enough to see what Jesus said, which was discussed in Part 1. Let us now explore some questions about what was unsaid.

1. Do Jesus’ teachings apply to everyone, or just Christians?

Many have tried to make it easier on people by saying that Jesus’ teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage only apply to those who are Christians. Therefore, if someone breaks this commandment outside of covenant with Christ, he or she is not accountable for it.

First, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that those outside of covenant with Christ are not accountable for their sins. In fact, if Jesus’ teachings don’t apply to them, then who are the lost? I was under the impression that those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus will receive judgment (2 Thess. 1:6-10).

Notice how Jesus presents His teachings on divorce in Mark’s gospel.

And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” Mark 10:11-12.

“Whoever” applies to whomever, just like it would in other Scriptures (cf. John 3:16).

Second, we also cannot say that this teaching applies to Jews only. In Matthew 19, Jesus was not trying to present Jewish understandings of the Scriptures. If He were, then He would have enforced the punishment of adultery, which was death, instead of permission to divorce.

So, Jesus’ teachings on this subject are universal.

2. What if my husband or wife lusts in his or her heart for someone else?

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus says, “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). A woman whose husband that has used pornography may ask, “Since my husband has committed adultery in his heart, may I divorce him?”

The simple answer is, no, not on those grounds. The sin committed during lust is an inward, non-physical act. It is very serious in the sight of God and anyone else affected by it, but it is not the same as πορνεία, which is, “voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other.” Only the person lusting is active, and the other person is passive, and in some cases of lust, ignorant and innocent; therefore, fornication has not occurred.

3. Am I trapped, then?

What about those whose marriage is in serious trouble, but neither party has committed adultery? First, let us be reminded that God hates divorce, and so should we (Mal. 2:16). God understands, however, that there are things that trouble marriages other than adultery.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 7, if a believer is married to a nonbeliever, and if the nonbeliever is unwilling to dwell with the believer, the marriage can be separated. In this case, neither is permitted to divorce the other, and neither is permitted to marry another person, but they are permitted to live separately.

Let it be said that in the case of an abusive marriage, both parties need to seek help, and the victim should seek safety away from the abuser immediately.

4. What if someone becomes a Christian after entering into an unbiblical second marriage?

In this case, does Jesus’ blood make an unsanctioned, unbiblical marriage an acceptable marriage?

And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” Mark 10:11-12.

Again, this applies to “whoever,” and not just the Christian. Notice the literal translation: “she is committing adultery” The KJV says committeth. Whenever you encounter a verb with that suffix (eth) in the KJV, it indicates a continual action.

John 3:16 talks about whosoever believeth on Him. Faith is not a one-time action, but a continual one. Therefore, when people stay in an unbiblical marriage, they continually commit adultery.

So, what is someone who is continually sinning to do in order to enter covenant with Christ? What would a fornicator, drunkard, or thief be told to do? Repent, which comes from godly sorrow and involves the ceasing from sin, and turning to Christ (2 Cor. 7:9-10; Acts 26:20)! In the case of one who is committing adultery in an unbiblical marriage, he or she should repent and turn to God.

5. What should I do?

Someone is looking at the perfect law of liberty as a mirror, the way James describes. He now realizes the mess his decisions have put him into. What should he do? When the disciples had this question, they concluded, “it is better not to marry” (Matt. 19:10). Jesus said that in some situations, that’s true.

For those who would sin by beginning or remaining in a relationship, Jesus would teach them to become celibate, that is, refrain from sexual activity (Matt. 19:12). In other words, there have been those who have made drastic decisions and deprived themselves of temporary happiness in order to stay pure for Christ.

Previously in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that if something in your life causes you to sin, it would be better for you to lose it, in this case an unbiblical relationship, than for you to lose your soul (Matt. 5:29-30).

6. But doesn’t God want me to be happy?

In an emotional response to such difficult teachings of Christ, many have thought either Jesus just wants to see me unhappy, or Jesus will make an exception for my unbiblical marriage, because I am “happy” in it, and God wants me to be happy.

God does not provide eternal joy in return for sinful lifestyles. Instead, He provides gladness to the disciple who is storing up treasure in heaven.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12.

This logic of, “God wants me to be happy, and therefore, He will make an exception for my relationship,” is flawed from the beginning. Should we make an exception for those who are “happy” living together before marriage? What about the thief who has built a comfortable and “happy” life off of the wealth of others? What about the person who gains happiness by abusing others? No, and so it applies to the one who is living in adultery.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

7. What if it’s too late?

You may be looking at Jesus’ commandments and saying, “It must be too late for me.” An example may be a man who divorced his wife several years ago for reasons other than adultery. First Corinthians 7 would teach that this man has two options:

  1. Remain unmarried.
  2. Be reconciled with his wife.

But she has now moved on, moved away, and started a family with someone else; therefore, reconciliation is impossible. Is it too late to feel complete again?

Christ is the provider of true hope and completion. Are you breathing? Do you have blood running through your veins? Do you have a sound mind? If so, that’s an opportunity for you to respond to the gospel! It’s not too late.

No matter the situation we have gotten ourselves into in the past, Jesus can provide a new life through the new birth. Does that mean the consequences will disappear? In many cases, no. A murdered who repents will not be able to bring his victims back to life. The blood of Jesus does not immediately undo damage to relationships.

However, you can still be given a new life today by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Won’t you respond?


I know there are more questions to explore with this topic, but I am sure they can be answered by faithfully looking at Jesus’ teachings and applying them consistently. I also know that anyone who speaks on this subject so straightforward may be charged of being insensitive.

If I have been insensitive, first, please don’t hold that against Jesus. He came to this earth because of His sensitivity toward sin and His love for you. Second, please accept my apology. My goal was to teach the truth with heartfelt conviction, not with heartless attacks.

Jesus’ Shocking Teachings: Divorce (Part 1)

We all live under different forms of authority: parents, government, teachers, supervisors, God, and even ourselves. The Scriptures teach there is spiritual value in self-control. What you do in life is under the authority of your mind–your decisions–and your decisions are shaped by your knowledge, your feelings, your current situations, and your experiences.

What is the hierarchy of authority in your life? Isn’t that the key question? The answer to this question will dictate how you respond to other authorities. When two authorities conflict with each other in your life, which one will you follow? Obviously, the one that is higher on the list.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges His disciples to get their priorities (their authorities) straight. Is God number one? Will you subject yourself to your own thoughts and feelings or to the One who has your eternal best interests in mind?

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her A certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32

The other five sayings Jesus addresses begin something like, “You have heard…” (vv. 21, 27, 33, 38, 43). However, when we get to this subject, Jesus simply says, “It was said…” Why does He not mention that they had heard about this? Was it that case that people were not teaching on the importance of marriage and the seriousness of divorce? Was it the case that, in the first century, there was no need to teach on God’s plan for marriage from the beginning? Whatever the case may have been, Jesus knew that this subject had to be addressed.

If you think Jesus teaches somewhat strictly on this subject, you’re not alone. On a future occasion when Jesus speaks on this subject, Jesus’ disciples are shocked.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her A certificate of divorce and send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it. Matthew 19:3-12.

The disciples are so affected by Jesus’ teaching that they conclude it would be better to not marry. Jesus does not agree with their sweeping statement, but He does give credit to them that, for some people, it is better not to marry.

When Jesus brings up the ideal circumstance and His new covenant teaching on divorce and remarriage, don’t fall into the temptation to wish for Jesus to be like Moses. Some might want to bring back the permissions of the Law of Moses to be able to divorce a spouse for other reasons other than sexual immorality. However, are they willing to be consistent? Would they also want Moses’ punishment for one found committing sexual immorality, which was stoning to death? Let us accept both Christ’s law and His grace.

“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16.

If God hates divorce, we should too.

The word translated in Matthew 5:32 as unchastity in the NASB is πορνεία (porneia). Of course, this is where we get our English word, pornography. It means “sexual immorality, fornication, illicit sexual acts.” In the context of the marriage, if one of the partners commits unchastity/fornication, it is called adultery, because fornication includes adultery. As we saw in the previous study, the English definition of fornication is “voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other.”

So, what does Jesus say? He says that when you say, “I do,” you are committing to that person for life. He also says that the only reason you are permitted to divorce the person you have committed to for life is if he or she breaks the marriage covenant through illicit sexual activity with another person. That’s it. If you divorce anyway, and you remarry, you are committing adultery, because you had no biblical right to put your spouse away in the first place.

It does not matter what human law permits, Jesus’ word on this subject will continue to be binding on all. In order to enforce this point, Jesus appeals to God’s plan from the beginning (Matt. 19:4). God’s plan supersedes culture. Jesus came to restore God’s plan from the beginning. We should share this goal with Christ.

Consider this: If divorce were permitted for any reason at all, as many societies say it should be, then where is the sanctity and value of marriage? Why is it that most of us would value a glass chalice over a paper cup? One is made with disposal in mind. If you enter marriage thinking that you can always throw it away later, you devalue it.

Also, where would the seriousness of adultery be?

When any society sinks to such a level that complete freedom of divorce for any excuse permits as many husbands or wives in quick succession as desire may crave, any command not to commit adultery becomes a farce. Harold Fowler (Matthew Vol. 1. 1968.)

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her A certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32

There have been hundreds of questions thrown at these verses. In Part 2, I will endeavor to answer seven of them. But let us remember that no question we ask can detract away from what Jesus said, which was said quite clearly.


Staring Into The Gates of Hades

Sometimes death is all over the news. We see the Las Vegas massacre. We’re painfully aware of the growing reality that not even our church pews can be considered safe anymore. We see reports of acts of violence almost every night on the local news. We’re continually reminded of the looming threat of nuclear war. But it’s more than just the acts of violence that grab the headlines. It’s the everyday car wrecks. It’s the loved ones with cancer. It’s ever-present “prayer lists” at church, continually filled with announcements funerals, illnesses, hardships and sufferings. With each day that passes we are reminded of our mortality and evil. We are continually forced to stare into the gates of hades.

The only way to stare into the gates of hades without fear is to be a part of the one Kingdom that is victorious over death. Of all the churches that may be established by man, only the Church established by Christ will be victorious over death. Of all the kingdoms on earth, only one has declared war on the grave itself and will emerge victorious.

When Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus responded:

Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16.17-19

Jesus came to preach the kingdom (Mt. 4.17). The theme of the kingdom was present in all of His teachings, His parables, and His actions. Here in His response to Peter, Jesus refers to His Kingdom as a church that would be built upon a rock.

Jesus goes on to tell Peter that the “Gates of Hades” will not overcome His church or Kingdom. The phrase “Gates of Hades” is sometimes misleadingly translated “Gates of Hell.” The word “Hades,” rather than referring to a place of eternal punishment, refers to the realm of the dead.  When Jesus refers to the gates, He speaks of the ever-open, completely engulfing open door policy of the grave. By combining the two ideas, Jesus refers to the great strength, power, and dominion that death has over the world.

Jesus recognized that death is an extremely powerful force in this world. The power of death is a direct result of sin (Gen. 2.17; Rom. 6.23). When God created the world He said that it was good, yet death continually reminds us that our world falls far short of what God created it to be. Satan has filled this world with disease, tragedy, violence and corruption, all of which lead to death. The fear of death is what keeps wicked kingdoms in power; and the fear of death is what brings empires tumbling down to their knees. The poison of sin, death, and ruin has filled the entire material, moral, and spiritual world.

When other kingdoms see the all-powerful gates of hades, they seek to make death an ally. They look to use deadly weaponry and warfare to keep safe.  And yet, Jesus believed His kingdom would do what no other kingdom has ever done: defeat death itself, that is to withstand the gates of hades.

In this response Jesus echoed the prophecy of Daniel.

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. – Daniel 2.44

Just as Daniel had prophesied of a Kingdom that would never be defeated, Jesus too taught that His church would endure.

Other Institutions and Organizations

When Jesus stated that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His kingdom or church, He implied that the gates of Hades would be able to prevail against other kingdoms or other churches. If any and every kingdom or church were able to withstand the gates of Hades, it would not have made any sense for Jesus to specifically state that they would not prevail against His church. There is only one church that will be victorious over the gates of Hades. There is only one Kingdom that will be victorious over all the influence of death, destruction and ruin. Only the church built by Christ; the kingdom established in heaven, will endure.

Just a short time earlier, as Jesus was conversing with the Pharisees and the scribes, He stated:

Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. – Matthew 15.13

This was Jesus’s response when the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus about ceremonial hand washing, through which they were invalidating the word of God to uphold the tradition of their Fathers (Mt. 15.1-9). In this response, Jesus stated that every law, every institution, and every organization which was not established by His Father will not endure. Ultimately, all others will be uprooted.

There Will Be A Judgment

Those who seek to domesticate Jesus as simply a “great moral teacher,” simply teaching His disciples a new, improved and more loving way to follow God, must be set aside. Yes, Jesus’ kingdom was a more loving way, but the good news of the establishment of God’s kingdom necessarily means that there will be a much needed judgement, wherein His disciples are seperated from the evil in the world and justified.

The victory of God’s kingdom necessarily meant that those who were not part of His kingdom would not be victorious. A distinction would be made between those who would follow Jesus’ way and those who would not; between those who would be victorious and those who would be defeated.

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5.20

Jesus defined the boundaries of God’s kingdom.  Without the judgement, we would all be destined to ruin. The only way to avoid that ruin is to live the way Jesus taught.

But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. – Matthew 6.15

Jesus taught a different way of living – a way of living that would bring peace. To reject His way of peace leads to destruction.

For all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. – Matthew 26.52

A distinction would be made between those who would pass through the narrow gate and those who rejected Jesus’ teachings.

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the  gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7.13-14

Or to change up the metaphor slightly, only those trees which bore good fruit would escape the fire.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.– Matthew 7.20

Even those who thought they were following God, if they did not follow the lifestyle Jesus taught, would soon find out they were on the wrong side.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7.21

The same theme was continually emphasized throughout Jesus’ parables.

When the harvest was ready, a sickle would be put to the crop (Mk. 4.29). The tares would be separated from the wheat, and then burned (Mt. 13.24-30; 36-43). The net would pull out all kinds of fish, but the bad fish would be separated out and thrown away (Mt. 13. 47-52). Those who rejected Jesus’ way would be like laborers who killed the king’s messengers who were sent to invite them to a wedding feast, only to ultimately be destroyed by the king himself (Mt. 22.7). At the banquet, those who took the best seats would be humiliated, and those who rejected the invitation would be replaced with others (Mt. 22.1-14; 25.1-13). When the king came to his people, those who refused to do the king’s business would be judged (Mt. 25.14-30).

It is impossible to separate the gospel of the kingdom of God from the idea that a distinction will be made between those who are part of His kingdom and those who are not. There will be a judgment separating those who are part of His kingdom and church from those who have aligned themselves with other kingdoms or religious organizations.

We stare into the gates of hades everyday. Yet because we know there will be a judgement, Christ’s church can stand boldly. All other religious organizations will ultimately be engrossed by the gates of Hades, and the ruin and destruction that death brings. All other kingdoms will ultimately be broken in pieces, shattered, and consumed by the kingdom of God, which will stand forever. But God’s Kingdom, Christ’s church, will be judged and justified, defeating the gates of hades.

Why would we want to establish any other “church” other than the one built by Christ? Why would we want to align ourselves with any other “kingdom,” knowing that all others are doomed to fail?

Becoming part of His church, and living as part of His kingdom is far more than simply calling on His name. We must follow the pattern of living which He set forth. The “keys” (or terms of entry) into His kingdom were established in heaven. His terms will endure when others will not. Living according to His teachings is the way to be victorious over the gates of Hades.