Prayer Targets: More Unity; Values Voter Summit, Clergy Housing; Pulpit Freedom; Obama HHS Mandate
October 11, 2017
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
Dear Praying Friends,
Don Wilton is senior pastor of the 6,500-member First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A native of South Africa, Don preaches internationally and has served on the faculty at the Billy Graham Schools of Evangelism and the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.
The matter of unity occupies a significant place in the words of our Savior in this final prayer. This call for all believers to be unified leaves the distinct impression that Jesus was not simply making a request. He was asking the Father to enforce this as a mandate for all believers. It is also vitally relevant to the constitution of the body of Christ. The functionality of the church is connected with the functionality of the triune God. And this interconnectedness becomes manifestly evident in all the Savior has to say to the Father in this inclusive prayer. This is the point at which the Savior begins to focus attention on our future... This final word of prayer allows believers throughout the ages to gain an insight into the reality of God's great expectation for the church. Jesus has already prayed about security and sanctity... character of the Christian disciple... Christian faith and the pillars of our salvation. Now the burden of His prayer is unity. His central and overriding concern for all the children of God is that they experience the practical outworking of the oneness of the Godhead...
The Basis of Christian Unity... Is this something the church strives for because it provides for easier living or perhaps because it allows leaders to go unchallenged? [No] the Lord Jesus points to the essential nature of the triune God when He says, "May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You" (John 17:21-23). He goes on to add, "May they also be one in Us," "May they be one as We are one," and "May they be made completely one" (vv. 21-23) ...
[In Eph. 4:1-6] we hear the apostle [Paul] pleading with the believers at Ephesus to conduct themselves in a manner well-pleasing to the Lord. And the basis of his plea finds ground in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One can hear the apostle changing gears from doctrine to duty, from principle to practice, and from position to practice. His use of the word walk carries with it the idea of daily conduct and matches the theme of the rest of His pastoral letter. The worthiness with which they are admonished to walk is an instruction. Paul encouraged them to have their talk match their walk. And the basis of the call to Christian unity is identical to Jesus' presentation to the Father in the inclusive prayer. The Spirit bestows oneness on all believers, creating a bond of peace that surrounds God's children in everything they seek to accomplish for His sake. Even in his instructions about sexual purity, Paul points to the oneness between the believer and the Lord as a sure hallmark of protection against immorality: "But anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor. 6:17).
Just as the Lord Jesus refers to His oneness with the Father, so Paul refers to the spiritual cord that binds God's people together. He lists specific areas of oneness that demonstrate unity: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God the Father. His focus is on the Trinity. Paul emphasizes their complete unity in every aspect of their divine nature and plan even though they have unique roles as the members of the Godhead. ONE BODY Since the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the body of Christ is united without distinction. This is made possible by means of the work of the Holy Spirit. ONE HOPE the Lord... (Don Wilton, When God Prayed, 2008, Kindle book)
The powerful tenets of civil faith that have held our nation together for 240 years are inadequate without the working of the Father to whom Jesus prayed. The same God makes His people one, holds all things together (Hebrews 1:3). President George Washington warned, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens" (Farewell Address 1796). There is a multitude working to subvert that faith and to undermine the foundations of our nation today. Only God's people, walking in wholehearted faith and obedience -- every Bible-believer, church, and denomination working together -- fulfilling the prayer of Jesus, can provide those indispensable supports that George Washington warned America to remember. I believe that means uniting together in a nation-wide Solemn Assembly repenting of our individual sins and the sins of the church, and crying out to God for another Great Awakening, appealing for mercy and healing of our land, asking him to unite our nation as "One Nation Under God" yet again.
Values Voter Summit -- FRC and FRC Action's premiere annual gathering of Christian Conservatives from across America, the Values Voter Summit, will take place on October 13-15. FRC has teamed up with a number of great partners to make this the best VVS yet. Preview the amazing lineup of speakers, including President Donald Trump, and plan to be there. There is still time to register to attend the event in person. But if you simply cannot come to Washington, you can still view the event on the website or parts of it on C-SPAN. It is going to be a 2-day extravagance of inspiration, learning, and connecting with like-minded organizations and people, and the net effect will be nation changing!
- God, be mightily present at VVS and let the people return home Sunday and speak to all those gathered together to learn from people who love you on how to impact our nation for good! (Mt 4:25; 8:1; 28:18-20; Acts 14:1; Jn 4:28-30)
Federal Judge Rules 60-Year-Old Pastor's Housing Allowance Unconstitutional -- For 60 years, the law has allowed churches to provide their ministers a tax-free housing allowance in lieu of housing in a church rectory or parsonage. Now, a federal judge has ruled this law to be unconstitutional. The provision is akin to the housing allowance military servicemen receive to live on the economy instead of on the military base. Atheists and other anti-Church, anti-Christian organizations have long targeted this provision which has helped many pastors to make ends meet and to earn an asset over a lifetime of service. Like many Americans, this allowance gives pastors an asset, rather than having to move out of the parsonage to make way for the next pastor. Wisconsin Federal Judge Barbara Crabb similarly ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, but her ruling was struck down by a higher court. (Hear Tony & attorney Ken Klukowski on this topic, beginning at 17:00.)
- May the hand of the state be kept out of the God's treasury and the care of His servants. May this ruling be quickly and thoroughly struck down! (Josh 6:19; 2 Kgs 25:12-17; 2 Tim 4:1-5; Mk 12:41)
Free Speech Fairness Act (H.R. 781, S. 264) -- Pray, then ask your pastor to sign a letter urging Congress to pass this critically important bill. This is the bill President Trump has long-promised guaranteeing pastors the freedom to speak what they wish from their own pulpit. They are already guaranteed that freedom by the First Amendment to the Constitution, but the IRS has threatened sanctions against them (loss of church tax exemption) if they exercise that freedom by openly supporting or opposing a candidate for elective office. Recently, 4,000 liberal progressive pastors, ministers, and leaders signed their own letter to Congress, asking them to keep the muzzle on ministers when it comes to speaking about campaigns and government policy.They want to keep God out of government and politics out of the pulpit. Will these liberal pastors prevail in the debate? Ask you pastor to help make sure that doesn't happen by signing this letter urging Congress to PASS the Free Speech Fairness Act (H.R. 781, S. 264).
- Thank you Lord that so many of the promises that have been made by this president to uphold the religious liberty of the American people are being and have already been kept. May Bible-believing pastors across America who revere their prophetic calling and the free speech liberty we enjoy in this country take time to let their voices be heard by signing this letter. May those reading this take time to contact their pastors and may the results be fruitful! (Ps 75:5-7; Is 59:21; Jer 1:92 Tim 4:1-5)
Finally, this week the Trump administration repealed the coercive Obama administration regulation that required the Little Sisters of the Poor and all other religious ministries, colleges, and non-profit groups, etc. to provide insurance for their employees that covered abortifacient contraceptives (see Repeal; FRC Statement).
Your prayers are making a difference! Thank you for praying!