February 7, 2021

God, Internet Church and you

PulpTheology Book

God, Internet Church & You

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Due to lockdown or quarantine due to the CoronaVirus / COVID-19 Pandemic, Church has moved to using the Internet for its services to the world.  In this little book we seek to answer why the Church is using the Internet, as well as exploring together ways in which we can respond.

Here are some of the questions we will explore together:

  • What is Digital Space & the Internet?
  • Why should the Church be on the Internet and how?
  • Isn't Church on the Internet just a modern form of the ancient heresy of gnosticism?
  • Is God able to interact there?
  • For the Christian, what are some of the liabilities and virtues of the Internet?
  • Could an internet based church be part of the historical church?
  • What can a Church service on the Internet look like?
  • How can this technology be used, so that you as a Christian, can use your talents and serve God on the Internet in the 21st century?

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October 20, 2020

Issues - Government

 Partake - Issues

Government

 

In the UK, when we have a General Election, that is where people vote for their political representatives. After al the votes are counted there will be a government elected! This of course, is not unique to the UK! All people all over the world live under some from of leadership or government.  That government may be democratically elected, a monarchy or even an oppressive dictatorship. 

Whatever kind of government we find ourselves with, we have one!  If there was not a government in place, as hard as it is to imagine, total chaos would reign and people would just do whatever pleases them, regardless of consequences and regardless of other people.  Therefore, regardless of whatever government we live under, what does the Bible say should be our reaction and attitude to the government. 

By government, I mean all levels of government and authority - from local authority to federal government. 

But first of all, lets look at what the Bible has to say about the function of human government, before going on to look at our responsibility to Government and our community.

The Function of Human Government

Paul writing in Romans 13 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour."

Here Paul indicates that there are at least three functions of a human government: protection, punishment and promotion.

  • Protection: From the moment Adam sinned, it was plainly obvious that human civilizations would need some form of restraint and law, in order to protect their citizens - form themselves and others.  We see this clearly in Acts 21, where the Roman soldiers step in to save Paul from being killed by other people in Jerusalem. 
  • Punishment: Paul stipulates that duly appointed government officials and servants are to be considered as servants of God (even if they don't believe in God!) 
  • Promotion: Human government, as thought by Paul, was to promote the broad-spectrum welfare of all the community and not just select groups, where its laws are in effect.

 

Christian Response to Human Government

 

Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 writes: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- 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 Saviour,"

The Apostle Peter goes further when writing in 1 Peter 2v13-17 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king."

From these passages of Scripture we see that it is clearly impossible to be simultaneously a solid Christian and a poor citizen.  As Christians we have responsibilities to our government.

  • Firstly we have a responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that God ordains the Government. We see that from Paul's writing in Romans 13 and Paul was writing when the Emperor Nero was in power and systematically persecuting and torturing Christians!  We also see this thinking in the passage from 1 Peter. There is no authority except as given by God.  Even to the most sadistic, dictatorial or atheist governments - they have power only because God has allowed them.  So we are to obey our government!  But it is not to be slavish obedience regardless of what laws are decreed! No!   The exception to this is where obedience to the Government would require the Christian to actively or passively disobey God.  For we read in Acts 4v18-20 that the believer is to live in obedience to God rather than man.
  • Secondly, as much as we probably hate to, we are commanded to pay taxes to the government!  For by doing so, the government can set about ensuring, for example, that the weaker and more vulnerable sections of the community are cared for and protected!
  • Thirdly, and quite possibly, most importantly, Christians are to pray for their leaders, governments and those in authority!  Both Peter and Paul command and recommend it!  To pray for them is to love them and it is also a way for God to shine into the lives of people.  One of the things we are to pray for, is that the government governs righteously, honourably, honestly and with integrity. The Christian, as a citizen, is free to be law-abiding, conscious that they are under submission to Almighty God. It also means giving respect to all members of society from the lowest to the highest!  As Christians, we are to submit ourselves to our Government and be living lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ. This may indeed win some for God, win the recognition of their government as well as influencing Government policy and law.  Whatever government you find yourself under, pray for your leaders even if you thoroughly disagree with some or all of their actions.  They are in power, only because our God has allowed them.  They will answer to Him one day for what they have done with the power given to them by God alone.  God is in control, and He is on the ultimate throne and is the definitive power!

 

Community Responsibility

But just as we have responsibility to our Government, we also have a responsibility for those in our community - both local and global.  We are also to work for social justice and be involved in social action - that's part of our loving of other people.  The oppression and persecution of people is to be anathema to us as Christians, just as it is to our God!  Where a minority is maltreated and discriminated we should be at the forefront of demanding justice for all!  We are to be promoting civil rights and using all aspects of the law to do so.  We are to be working to ensure the poorest members of our community, both local and global, are cared for and the oppressed freed! In your country, this could mean peaceful demonstrations and interacting with your political representatives! 

Look at some of the great reformers or social activists of the past: Wilberforce helping to abolish slavery; or Martin Luther King Jr. at the forefront of ending segregation and racism.  May each one of us, on both a local and international scale, play some small part in ending prejudice, suffering, racism, poverty, bigotry, abuse, oppression and other injustices. 

As John Stott once said: "The reason for our acceptance of social responsibility... is simple uncomplicated compassion.  Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need."

As Jesus of Nazareth once said: "Love God and love other people."

Some questions to help your thinking!

  1. In what way can I influence and encourage my government to promote justice, free the oppressed and take care of the poor?
  2. How can I help my government authorities to protect, punish and promote?
  3. When was the last time I actively prayed for those in authority over me, whether Christian or secular? Thank you.

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 sermon.jpg

Sermon - God, the Church and the Internet

(John 17:13-19 & Romans 12:3-13)

13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17v13-19)

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (Romans 12v3-13)


Introduction

We are, as I am sure you are aware, in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. All gatherings of Christians to gather in Churches has had to cease. How has the Church responded to this. They have gone online and using the internet! But why are they using it when before they largely eschewed it? Let's look together at the what, why and how Church can also fit in with a biblical world view.Not just accepting it but embracing it fully, taking advantages of all the opportunities it affords as well as being wary of any liabilities or warnings. Let's go!

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip!

One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

1. What is the internet?
2 - Can God interact on the Internet?
3. Why should the Church be on the Internet?
3a. Go into the world but don’t be part of it (John 17:13-19)
3b. Go serve, you gifted people! (Romans 12:3-8)
3c. Love in action (Romans 12:9-13)
4. What are some of the benefits?
4a. Reach out to the world!
4b. Assisting Housebound & disabled people
4c. Assisting the Geographically Isolated


Conclusion

Tonight we have looked together very briefly at God, the Church and the Internet. I hope that you have been blessed by our time together. We saw how God can interact on the internet. We saw why we should be using the internet for God’s Glory as well as some suggested ways as to how to do this. We are on a mission. A mission to tell people the Good News of Jesus Christ and to disciple them.

Part of this mission is the use of our Spiritual Gifts, which each of us have. We are to use every opportunity to develop them, use them and enable others in the use of them. For this is God’s will for you and it reflects His love of you to a world that is dying to know Him. We are to use our Spiritual gifts with the aid of our God-given imagination and creativity. Just because you can’t think of a way to do something, doesn’t mean somebody else can’t think of a way! Just because we don’t understand something, does not mean it is wrong! Don’t limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination! What is more, don’t limit others because of your own limited imagination.

Let’s use the internet communities of Facebook etc to uplift, encourage and support each other. I personally get more encouragement from those outside the church, non-Christians, than I do Christians. They are usually always the first to notice if I am absent without telling them or to tell me some good news.

Let’s go! Let’s go and fulfil our mission – on the Internet as well as in our streets and roads. It will mean more than just having an internet website with the latest events and sermons on it, but we can do it! Are you willing? Let’s go!

To discover what more is said, please do download the audio to hear this sermon... Thank you!

 

To discover more about this topic, our book: "God, Internet Church and You" is available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon with this link

 

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