Christians: Citizens And Disciples

I believe this year’s elections are the most important in my lifetime. Much is hanging in the balance, and this November could either be the turning point or the point of no return for our nation. I urge you to get out and vote, and become a part of the answer instead of a part of the problem.

I also urge you to read this letter in its entirety. I believe it will give you a new perspective on the importance of your role as a Christian citizen and disciple of the Lord.

John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other…. Free government rests upon public and private morality.”It is not our government that has failed; it’s the church that has failed to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).

Read what Dr. Jedediah Morse said in 1799: “In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of it institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom…Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.” He was saying that Christianity, not government, is the driving force behind true freedom.

When World War II brought America back to her knees, a revival broke out that is still referred to as the era of the highest church attendance in recent history. A time of repentance and seeking God brought peace and a period of great prosperity. But sadly, the result was a church that was lulled to sleep. While it was sleeping, a generation of “baby boomers” became obsessed with materialism and freedom from moral constraint.

How did the church react? In a variety of ways, some of which were very good. People began seeking the Lord, and the Lord answered through what is often called “The Jesus People Movement,” “The Charismatic Movement,” “The Word of Faith Movement,” “The Lay Witness Renewal,” and others. These revivals were not spearheaded by any individual, yet they had worldwide impact. Truly these were mighty moves of God’s Spirit.

Yet, as a whole, the church responded by promoting political involvement as the answer to society’s woes. Make no mistake—Christians who live in a country that provides them the freedom to govern through voting or holding political office have a responsibility to participate. However, for many, politics has not been a weapon against the moral decline; it has been the only weapon.

The ‘70s and ‘80s saw the largest influx of Christians into the political process in recent history, and it did produce some good results. It influenced who was elected president and helped change the balance of power in Congress and the Supreme Court. Although some good came of it and the potential destruction of our nation was stayed off a little longer, it hasn’t turned the tide. There are still millions of innocent children killed every year. Immorality continues to advance nearly unchecked. And some of our so-called “conservative” Supreme Court appointees defied logic by turning the government loose in ways that would have caused our Founding Fathers to mount a revolution.

Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States (1923-1929) declared, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them [the foundations of society] if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country” (brackets mine).

Our society isn’t sick because of the government; it’s sick because the church has not made faith in the teaching of the Bible “practically universal in our country.” Once we cease to win the hearts of man, it is inevitable that ungodly people will make their way into leadership and take the country with them.

If we change people’s hearts with the Gospel, the people will change the government with their votes. Government merely reflects what people believe in their hearts; it does nothing to form those beliefs. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, wrote in the late 1600s, “Government seems to me to be a part of religion itself…. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad.”

It’s good to pursue legal action and political means to right wrongs. But the power of the Gospel has more power to change the hearts of man than all the military might and legislative bodies of any government. Billy Graham understood that when he was asked to run for president in the 1950s. He responded by saying he would not lower himself to that position. He was not attempting to diminish the office of the president; he was elevating the office of a minister of the Gospel.

Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress in 1783 and later congressman from New Jersey who served as president of the American Bible Society, said “the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.”

There is a civil war going on in America today, but it is not political. Sure, the courtrooms and congressional halls are the battlegrounds, but the war itself is between light and dark—the truth of the Gospel and the lies of the devil. It’s between the people of God and the children of the devil.

In this war, the Enemy tries to hide his true objectives behind the mask of individual rights and personal liberties. But make no mistake: The real goal is the elimination of God and His influence from society so people can indulge in their carnal lifestyles without conviction or guilt.

The way to win this war and save the political character of this nation is to change the moral character of its people with the Gospel. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Dr. Benjamin Rush said in 1786, “Nothing can be politically right that is morally wrong.”

The church needs to refocus its energies back to the Great Commission that our Lord Jesus Christ gave us: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28 19-20).

I feel privileged to be on the frontlines of this battle for the hearts of man. It’s a war that won’t be won in Congress or the White House. It will be won in our families, the workplace, the marketplace, and in our schools.

That’s why I’ve just spent two months teaching Christian Philosophy on television. In this series, I teach about a Christian way of thinking—a paradigm. Not only do I address the theology behind a sound Christian philosophy, but I deal with controversial social issues like evolution, homosexuality, and abortion. It’s your philosophy that determines how you see issues like those.

I am fighting to change hearts and minds. However, I know that one series of programs is not enough to win those hearts and minds, and certainly not enough to teach others to do the same. That can only be done through discipleship, and that is the reason I launched Charis Bible College (CBC) in 1994.

Students arrive at CBC like fresh recruits to boot camp. Two years later, they graduate as trained soldiers in the war against ungodliness. Over 1,400 have graduated in the last seventeen years, and about 2,000 more are in our CBC system worldwide. Their lives have been changed, and now they are prepared to literally go around the world affecting the lives of thousands.

These committed people are one of our best hopes to win this war, and many are already in the fight. Some have gone to the mission field, some are pastors, and some are taking their message to the marketplace. Many have become directors and staff members at the thirty-plus extension schools of CBC World Outreach. It’s growing fast and it is only going to get bigger.

If you can’t come to CBC, you can still enlist in this army. One of the best tools we have to change your life and to help you change others is our Discipleship Evangelism course. It is a spiral-bound book with forty-eight easy-to-understand lessons on the basics of Christianity. It makes the discipleship of a friend or loved one easy. If you can read, you can use this tool to help change a life. A CD-ROM is also included with the book, and this allows you to reproduce and distribute copies of the material contained in the book to those you are discipling. We are seeing this used to change lives around the world.

In Uganda, for example, a graduate of CBC used this very tool to disciple over 800 pastors. He read it word for word from the text and then followed the teacher’s study guide. After hearing the lesson, the pastors went back to their churches and taught their congregations the same lesson. The next year, over 2,000 native pastors participated. There are now around 500,000 people being discipled through this simple course in this one nation alone.

It’s being used effectively in America as well. Many use it for their Bible studies, home groups, Sunday schools, or one on one with friends and family. No matter who God places on your heart, this tool will help you change their life. Jesus never told us to make converts—He told us to make disciples.