Monday, March 19, 2012
Repent As We Stand Up For Religious Freedom By Jim McGarvey
Thousands of Americans, including many Christians, will be participating in Stand Up For Religious Freedom rallies across the nation this Friday March 23. We will gather in prayer and public witness to oppose the recent Health and Human Services’ mandate announced by the Obama administration. May I suggest two Biblical mandates that should guide our prayers and response to the challenge before us.
First, the Church must begin by repenting of its own sin. The apostle Peter wrote, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17 NIV)
We need to repent of our sexual sin. In the Spring 2012 edition of Insight, a publication of the National Association of Evangelicals, it is reported that,
“Eighty percent of unmarried evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 have had sex. That’s 4 out of 5. Sixty-four percent have had sex within the last year...These single Christians are getting pregnant - 30 percent of unmarried evangelicals have been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant.”
There is a direct link between sexual immorality and abortion, 83% of all aborted children being concieved out of wedlock.
We need to repent of the Church’s complicity with abortion. Insight also reports that “Thirty-two percent of all unplanned pregnancies among evangelicals end in abortion.” According to Focus on the Family, 250,000 evangelical women choose abortion each year in America; 5.6 million women in evangelical churches have aborted unwanted children; and one out of six women who have an abortion are evangelical Christians." (heartlink.org).
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI “In Brief” 2008) reports that 43% of women having abortions identify themselves as Protestant and 27% as Roman Catholic. That represents 70% of all abortions. As Rev. John Ensor has pointed out, if Christians stopped having abortions, abortion clinics would close because it would be difficult to remain in business having lost 70% of their clients.
Insight concludes, “Abortion is happening in the Body of Christ, and it’s time for us to talk about it.” May I suggest that a good place to begin the conversation is with a call for repentance.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV). This is God’s plan for us to experience His forgiveness, grace and restoration.
Abortion is a gospel issue.
We need to repent of our hypocrisy. Just last week Dr. R. C. Sproul Jr. wrote a blog about the response of Christians to the recently published article by two Australian ethicists outlining why they considered “after birth” abortions to be ethical. (“Savorless Salt” at http://rcsprouljunior.blogspot.com/) He concludes with these words,
“We expose our hypocrisy, our callowness and shallowness when we protest after-birth abortion, sex-selection abortion, partial-birth abortion, late-term abortion, unsafe, unregulated abortion, Obamacare funded abortion, all the while living a business-as-usual life in the face of babies being butchered in our neighborhoods every day. The evil of killing babies is that they are babies, no matter their age, no matter whether they are born, no matter how they came to be, no matter what butchering technique is used. We, the living, must repent. Lord have mercy on our souls, and the souls of the babies we destroy.”
The healing of our land depends more on the Church repenting than anything anyone else can do. I almost hesitate to cite 2 Chronicles 7:13,14 because it is so often quoted. But I will anyway, because it could very well be the most under-practiced quoted Scripture in the Bible.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I hear the Lord saying to Solomon and the people of Israel,
“When you, my people, who under my judgment, turn to me in humility and turn (repent) from your sin, I’ll forgive and heal your land.” I think Peter was familiar with that passage. No mention of the sin of a politician, judge or authority figure. No, it’s, “if my people” - that’s us. That’s where it begins. We’re responsible to get the ball rolling. Our repentant prayer unlocks the outpouring of Divine healing and prosperity.
As Americans today, we face threats to our freedoms perhaps unprecedented in our two hundred plus years of history. If that is true, what better time to put God’s call to humility and repentance and His promise of healing, to the test.
Secondly, we must involve ourselves in intercession for President Obama and every other elected official, judge and person in position of authority. The apostle Paul’s instruction,
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV)
Whether we are a supporter of President Obama or one who opposes his policies, we are instructed to pray for him.
Have you ever wondered why the command to pray for those in authority is followed by a clear declaration of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only mediator between God and man? Could it be that God wants to change the heart of those who serve Him in government positions - in response to our humility, repentance, and obedience in prayer? Could Paul be reminding us that in God’s plan, His Son Jesus Christ is the only provision for their salvation and that is of paramount importance from the Divine perspective?
I will take a stand for religious freedom. But it will be from a posture of bowing in humility and repentance, first of all for my sin, the sin of the Church and then the sin of the nation. And it will include heartfelt intercession for those who serve this nation as leaders - a prayer for salvation if they do not know Christ, a prayer of blessing, and a prayer for God’s intervention in the affairs of a nation that is rapidly sliding down a slippery and precipitous pathway, as it turns its back on God.
(Go to http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/ for further information)
The Fort Lauderdale Rally for Religious Freedom will be held at the Federal Building located at E 299 Broward Blvd. from 12 noon to 1:00 pm.