Join us for midweek Bible study during the month of September as we continue to prepare ourselves for another presidential election season.
This month’s topic is “Avoiding Political Idolatry” and studies will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Wilda and Dave. Previous study outlines are available below:
Lesson 1 – Understanding the Nature and Danger of Political Idolatry
1. Both Old and New Testaments prohibit the sin of idolatry and warn of its grave consequences (Exodus 20:1-5, Exodus 34:12-17, 1 John 5:21, Revelation 22:15).
2. Idolatry can be biblically defined as: “Ascribing divine attributes to, placing one’s trust in, or seeking wholeness from something other than (or even in addition to) God”.
3. Mis-placing one’s trust in political institutions and activities was a very real temptation in OT times (Psalm 20:7, Psalm 33:16-17, Psalm 118:8-9, Isaiah 31:1-3).
4. Even Jesus’ disciples confused the coming of his Kingdom with geo-political affairs (i.e., the overthrow of Rome and restoration of Israel). Matthew 19:28, Acts 1:6
Lesson 2 – Understanding the Nature of the Kingdom of God
1. When Jesus came, he announced and inaugurated the inescapable presence of the Kingdom of God/Heaven on earth (Matthew 4:17, 12:28, Mark 1:15, 9:1).
2. The Kingdom of God can be defined as: “That realm in which God’s sovereign authority is exercised in power and experienced among people.”
3. During Jesus’ ministry, he was most interested in calling people to enter God’s Kingdom through repentance and regeneration (Matthew 4:17, 5:17-20, 7:21; John 3:3).
4. Until God’s Kingdom is established in all its fulness on the last day, its citizens are to pray, look, and labor for its coming (Matthew 6:10, 2 Peter 3:11-13, Luke 9:62).
Lesson 3 – Distinguishing Between Two Distinct Kingdoms
1. While “all authority” belongs to Christ (Matthew 28:18), the exercise of his authority can be distinguished between two distinct realms: Spiritual & Temporal.
2. Christ’s spiritual rule is exercised in his Church through his Word and Spirit; enabling individuals to believe and to become sanctified (Ephesians 1:13, 2:8-10, 4:7-16).
3. Christ’s temporal rule is exercised in the World through civil governments; restraining men’s wickedness so the saints may live quiet and peaceful lives (Romans 13:1-4, 1 Tim. 2:1-2).
4. Christians are simultaneously members of both kingdoms; enjoying the rights, privileges, and duties of both (Acts 25:10-12, Romans 13:5-7, 1 Peter 2:13, Luke 3:14).
Lesson 4 – Living Within These Two Distinct Kingdoms
1. Review: The risen Lord Jesus is presently exercising his rule over two distinct realms (the spiritual and the temporal) and Christians find themselves simultaneously living within both.
2. Sometimes, living within both kingdoms is easy because the temporal realm is sometimes tolerant (or even supportive) of the spiritual realm (c.f., Genesis 41-50 and Ezra 1-6).
3. Oftentimes, living within both kingdoms is difficult because the temporal realm opposes the spiritual realm (Luke 21:12; Acts 4-5, 12; Revelation 12-17).
4. When the two kingdoms seem at odds, we should not to be surprised; but rather rejoice, pray, and enjoy our fellowship with Christ (1 Peter 4:12-14, Matthew 5:10-12).
Lesson 5 – Acknowledging the Limitations of Good Governors
1. King Jotham prepared his ways before the Lord, did what was right in God’s sight, and his citizens therefore had cause to rejoice (2 Chronicles 27:1-2, 6; Proverbs 29:2).
2. King Jotham’s government was not only supportive of the church in his day, but even contributed to its maintenance and mission (2 Chronicles 27:3).
3. King Jotham was also committed to building the nation’s infrastructure, waging effective wars, and strengthening the economy (2 Chronicles 27:4-5).
4. Even though the people had a godly King and government, they continued to act corruptly. Hence we see: The Limitations of Good Governors (2 Chronicles 27:2).
Lesson 6 – Mortifying the Entitlement Mindset
1. A chief cause of political idolatry is that “entitlement mindset” which expects from the government things that it is neither authorized nor able to provide (c.f., Proverbs 30:15a).
2. The only absolute expectation citizens should have is that the government will maintain good societal order through Protection and Punishment (Romans 13:1-4).
3. The means through which government is to meet this expectation are: LAW for its citizens (i.e., legislation, police, courts, prisons, etc.) and WAR against belligerent non-citizens.
4. While the government may choose to provide other “benefits” to its citizens, we should always guard ourselves against that insatiable and idolatrous “entitlement mindset”.
Lesson 7 – Exposing the Wiles of the Devil
1. Satan’s earthy mission has always been to deceive the nations and destroy God’s people. He accomplishes this mainly through human agency (John 8:44, 10:10, 1 John 3:7-8).
2. The Bible speaks of many high-ranking government officials who were in league with the devil and who therefore used their earthly authority to oppose God’s people. Examples?
3. While the wicked tyranny of devilish rulers seems merely social (e.g., injustice, taxation, infanticide, occupation, deportation, etc.), it is ultimately spiritual (Ephesians 6:10-12).
4. Insofar as we seek the enlightening of the nations and the edification the saints, we are wrestling not against flesh and blood (i.e., policies and politicians), but against Satan himself.
Lesson 8 – Adopting the Mind of Christ
1. Jesus was fully aware of the wickedness of the civil government under which he lived (Matthew 2:13-18, 14:1-12; Luke 13:31-32, 19:41-44, 21:20-24).
2. Nevertheless, Jesus demonstrated a calm and cool nonchalance when it came to political controversies (Matthew 17:24-27, Luke 20:20-26).
3. Jesus’ quiet confidence flowed from a firm understanding that his ultimate earthly dominion was completely secure (Psalm 2:7-8; Matt. 4:8-11, John 16:33, 18:36-37).
4. We, as Jesus’ witnesses, should also therefore march through this world with an irenic and unshakable confidence that we shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5, 28:18-20, Rev. 5:10, 11:15).