This is the beginning of a new full-time column here at Unified Patriots, focusing on the connections between Christianity and culture with an emphasis on current events and how God’s Word informs us in responding to those events.The views are the author’s alone and may not reflect the views of the editors or other contributors to Unified Patriots.
Many patriots are Christians, and many Christians are patriots. In large part because of the Christian ideas involved in the founding of the United States, Christianity and American patriotism are closely entwined. It is, however, important that we do not conflate the two because they are not identical. A patriot is someone who has pride in their nation and a desire to see it at its best. A Christian is someone who has accepted the grace of God through Jesus Christ and through Him has everlasting life.
Sometimes the question is rightly asked about the legitimacy of a person who identifies as both a Christian and a patriot. Children of God owe their loyalty first and foremost to God, and their citizenship truly lies in heaven (Philippians 3:20), not in an earthly nation. On the other hand, God has saved us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) and has commissioned us to spread his word (Mark 16:15). God instituted earthly governments, and commands them to serve Him (Romans 13). Because the American form of government is a Constitutional Republic; every voter has a share in that responsibility. As Christians we have an obligation to work for the good of our country so long as that work and that good are in keeping with Biblical principles and commands.
The Nature of Salvation
Before we are able to adequately discuss current events we need to establish a basic foundation.
What comes after death is a common subject in movies, television and books. In popular culture and in the teaching of most major religions, salvation is all about doing good. There is a general misconception that if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds you go to heaven or paradise. The corollary is that if your bad deeds outweigh the good you go to hell or some other form of punishment.
While most world religions teach about this balancing of good and bad – God does not. You read that correctly. God does not weigh your deeds. God is not “keeping score” or grading on a curve. Eternal destiny is pass/fail and we have all failed –
All have sinned (Romans 3:23)
The word sin means to “miss the mark.” Murder, rape, armed robbery are all sins. So is envy, pride, fibbing, gossip, and many other things we tend to minimize. In God’s judgment, there is not a hierarchy of sins and sinners. If you have ever done ANY of those things, even once (and we all have) then you are a sinner. Being a sinner is a real problem because –
The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23)
Not just big sins, not just worse sins than someone else, but all sin carries the penalty of death. Death followed by eternal residence in a real place called hell forever separated from God. The reality that we are all sinners and are all sentenced to death and hell is the bad news. The Gospel (which means good news) shows that not all is lost because –
The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)
It is a gift. You cannot earn it. You cannot buy it. You cannot put it on layaway and make 12 easy payments. That is the “amazing” from the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace”. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, paid the death penalty for you. His words as he died on the cross were “It is finished”, He did it all. There is no work you need to do before you are saved. There is no work you need to do to be saved. There is no work you need to do to stay saved. John 3:16, one of the most famous passages of the Bible, explains it clearly “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”(emphasis mine). Believe. That is all. Put your trust in Jesus’ work on the cross to save you and you are saved.
There is no magic prayer. You do not need a priest or a pastor to do anything for you. You do not need to walk forward at a church or stadium. You just trust in Him in your heart. Once you trust Him, everlasting life is yours, and it cannot be taken away (or it could not very well be called everlasting).
Doing good is not a requirement to either gain or keep salvation, but it is the appropriate response to salvation. It is God’s desire that you do good, share the salvation message, and be a beacon to a world lost in the dark.