All over America, there is a slew of ongoing lawsuits such as was filed last year against the city of San Antonio, Texas and its non-discrimination policy which effectively says that churches and religious orders cannot refuse to hire persons based upon their sexual orientation. One lawsuit filed in federal court by the U.S. Pastor Council, a conservative Christian organization based in Houston, argues that Austin’s nondiscrimination ordinance is unconstitutional because it does not allow churches the religious freedom to refuse to hire gay or transgender individuals. A separate lawsuit was filed by the Texas Values, another conservative Christian organization, seeking to invalidate the ordinance as it applies to both employment and housing decisions.
Shortly after gay marriage was legalized in the US by the Supreme Court, LGBT activists and announced that it was time to “punish the wicked.” The “wicked,” refers to “those who have religious objections to gay marriage.” In 2017, one lesbian couple (already married as of December 2016) drove around with hidden microphones and camera requesting of Christian bakeries to bake them a cake for their wedding. When a Christian baker declined to bake a cake celebrating their “upcoming” wedding, they sued to claim irreparable emotional damage because of the grievous discrimination. The baker offered to sell them products that were already made and on display, but they refused – demanding that the baker make a cake for their reception (which was not even going to happen.) Fortunately for the baker, the case was thrown out of court because the judge was clear-headed enough to recognize a set up when he saw one – but the lawsuits and harassment continue with a vengeance. Lawsuit after lawsuit is filed…….over funding birth control, cupcakes, solemnization of same-sex marriage, on and on the assault on Christian and conservative values rages. The cry from Christians before the court is always the same……”Please don’t make us do things that are in opposition to our faith.” And my point?
We need to stop saying “please,” and simply say, “No.”
We must stop asking the courts to extend to us rights that God has already given us. When the state demands that we perform services, hold views, or agree to participate in actions that violate the laws of God we need to stand up, grow a backbone, and refuse to comply. We must not be afraid to boldly resist (progressives should love that word) any effort to force us to comply with statutes that violate our faith.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were hauled into court for preaching in the Name of Jesus. They were imprisoned, beaten, and threatened because they had healed a lame man “in the Name of Jesus.” They were let go with an ominous threat: “You are to cease preaching the Name of Jesus!” Peter’s reply was stellar! I could quote the entire response, but in essence, Peter said, “No.” They could howl, and threaten, and rattle their swords all they wanted but the men were unbowed. We refuse. We resist such a command. We will disobey you in this matter.
The returned to their company and related all that had happened. They alerted their fellow believers to the reality that if they continued to preach the name of Jesus the result would be beatings, imprisonment, and even death. So the group prayed…………they prayed my favorite prayer in all of the Bible: “And now Lord, behold their threatenings; and grant unto your servants that with all boldness they may speak the Word of God.” There was no prayer for deliverance or ease, or to protect their jobs, or keep their wealth. There was no request to be protected from torture or imprisonment – THERE WAS A DETERMINED REQUEST: GRANT TO US BOLDNESS.
Earlier this year, the Chinese government arrested Wang Yi, Pastor of the Early Rain Church in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan. Pastor Yi was arrested alongside some 100 Christian congregants, following threats from government officials to shutter the church by the end of the year. He remains in prison even until now, charged with attempting to subvert the state. After his arrest, the church released a letter from Pastor Yi, written in anticipation of the actions of the Chinese government. I want to share just a portion of that letter which speaks to the heart of this post:
“As a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life. This is also the pastoral calling that I have received.
For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.
At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.
But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism in the form of civil disobedience because I do not have the intention of changing any institutions or laws of China. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disruption of man’s sinful nature by this faithful disobedience and the testimony it bears for the cross of Christ.
As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s Great Commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.” -Wang Yi-
My own resolve toward “faithful disobedience” is greatly emboldened by the courage and faith of Pastor Wang Yi and the members of the Early Rain Church. Increasingly my prayer has become one of growing resolve to boldly confront wickedness in our nation and even in the church, if need be, through my faithful disobedience.
“Lord, do not let us grow weak in the face of persecution or court cases or arrest or ostracization; strengthen our will to continue to declare the name of Jesus, to proclaim salvation in His name and no other. Help us to stare ruin, shame, and death in the eye and declare, “You can’t win!”
Jesus warned us about these days, he told us to be ready. In Mark 13:9 he says to his disciples, “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues, ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” This warning was given right in the middle of Jesus’ description of the last days or end times. They are a sign of his soon coming. But listen, there is more:
Mark 13:11 – But when [not if, but when] they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speaks, but the Holy Ghost.
Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
If you are faithful to the preaching of the gospel; if you are faithfully living a life to honor Christ; if the Word of God is your template for life –– they are going to come and get you. Those who hate Christ and His message of salvation are going to dream up, trump up, fabricate, set up – anything they can do to punish you for the fact that you follow Him. They are going to drag you into court. You are going to appear before judges and magistrates and town councils to defend yourself against the assault of the wicked – but with God’s help, you will turn the tables on them. God says that when they deliver you up to be prosecuted, He is going to put words, His words in your mouth and you will literally become a mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit.
Those who hate the Word of God, who despise the principles of the Scriptures, who rebel against the claims of Christ; those who reject His Lordship and His laws will demand that we defend ourselves but instead, the Holy Spirit will rise up in us as He did with Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, and as He did with Stephen before the Temple Court and He will give us boldness to speak the Word of God.
Stop saying “Please” to the ungodly and boldly say “No!”
The Devil always “overplays” his hand. In an effort to silence believers, the wicked will howl and gnash their teeth and drag you into court – right where God wants you to be. If you will believe Him and trust in Jesus’ Words a holy boldness will rise up in you for that hour and you will not bow in fear before the judgment of this world, but you yourself will be the one who pronounces judgment on those place – the very judgment of God upon the wickedness of those who oppose Him.
I tell you this: If you ever hear that I’ve been arrested for standing for Jesus, DO NOT BAIL ME OUT! Don’t hire an army of lawyers to defend me. Don’t weep at my plight, because as I await my day in court I will be praying, and I hope there will be many praying with me, “Lord, grant unto your servant boldness to speak the Word of God, and stretching forth your hand to heal, do signs and wonders by the name of your holy child Jesus.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood before Nebuchadnezzar and said, “No.”
Daniel stood before King Darius and said, “No.”
Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin and said, “No”
Caesar shouted at Polycarp in the Colosseum and cried, “Polycarp! Deny Christ and Live!” To this, Polycarp lifted his voice and replied, “Caesar, Accept Christ or Die!”
In such matters as these, there is far more power in the word “no” than in the word “please.”
Want to read more from Michael Gantt? You can purchase any of his books by linking to www.mkgantt.com/books