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“The Christians Bill of Rights” (living godly in a pagan society)



“To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” -1 Corinthians 4:11-13 (ESV)

In Augustine’s brilliant tome, “The City of God”, he depicts members of two societies: The City of God and The City of Man. Both are bound by God’s sovereignty; both are under the authority of His Word, but the two cities posses very different realities. One is eternal, the other is temporal; one is heavenly, the other is earthly; one is perfect, the other is human. But yet both are under the divine will, purpose. plan and pleasure of God. For the believer in Christ, the tension is living faithfully by God’s Word in The City of Man while pressing on to The City of God. Some have suggested that Augustine’s story is the justification for believers asserting their political societal rights and engagement in the culture wars to restore morality where there exists moral decline; that this is what it means to love ones neighbor.

One well respected theologian rightly states, Amen! I couldn’t agree more with my brother.

“We love our neighbor because we first love God. In His sovereignty, our Creator has put us within this cultural context in order that we may display His glory by preaching the Gospel, confronting persons with God’s truth, and serving as agents of salt and light in a dark and fallen world.”

He goes on rightly to say, James calls it “the royal law” in confronting the sin of partiality in the house of God. Paul says that whole law is fulfilled and summed up in that one phrase. And the Lord Himself says that it is second only to “Love the Lord your God…” This is the most clear evidence of our regeneration in Him–when we “love [our] neighbor as [ourself].” The Lord is giving His church here a clear way we are to live as His redeemed people that pleases and brings glory to Him while we are “strangers and aliens” on this earth (cp, Matthew 5:40-44).

“we understand that when we are instructed by Scripture to love God and then to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are given a clear mandate for the right kind of cultural engagement.”

Ultimately as believers in the Lord, we do this for His glory and for the sake of gospel witness (cp, ! Cor. 6:1-8). The Christian being “salt and light” is not a call to create and promote the vaneer of cultural civility; but a call to give up our rights, live for Jesus, and point others to the gospel. The Apostle Paul was once a violent persecutor of the church; but then the Lord regenerated him into a humble, loving, meek pastor of the church. That kind of radical life transformation only happens through the life-changing gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Loving our neighbor means we are by God’s grace to love others how Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. And it is considering other peoples needs more important than our own–even if it means our own demise. Biblical love is not driven by self-preservation, by political suasion, or even by exacting our own revenge against others when we feel we have been wronged. It is “others-driven” in response to loving God. Biblical love is not an emotion or a feeling; it is not conditioned upon another’s response. Genuine “agape” love doesn’t love someone else because they are lovely, lovable or doing loving things. God’s love is unmerited; undeserving; unfailing; self-sacrificial; and unreciprocated. It is not demanding, nor self-seeking, nor protecting its own station in life. Agape love… gives ones life away. Once again, here is how high the Lord Himself has set the bar: “Love one another as I have loved you and gave Myself for you.” This is love that’s driven not by the political; not by the social; not by the cultural or by the personal; but love that is driven solely by the biblical in response to what Jesus Christ has done for us.

In an age where people are consumed with asserting their rights, it is an “other worldly love” that compels us to lay down our rights as Christians to ensure a real witness for our faith in the Lord Jesus resulting in our neighbors experiencing the benefits of grace in our own lives – which is good and profitable for all men (Titus 1:8).

In that spirit, I humbly offer you the following.

The Christian’s Bill of Rights
1. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we have only one right: and that is to give up all rights to ourselves (2 Cor. 5:14-16; Romans 14:7-9).
2. We have the right to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Mt. 16:24-26).
3. We have the right to esteem others more highly than ourselves; and love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:39;Phil. 2:1-5).
4. We have the right to fulfill the law of Christ in bearing one another’s burdens of sin (Gal. 6:1-3).
5. We have the right to be wronged and to maintain a faithful testimony (1 Cor. 6:1-8).
6. We have the right to live in unreciprocated, self-sacrificial love (Eph. 5:1-2).
7. We have the right to forgive others the smaller debt, as God in Christ has forgiven us the larger debt (Eph. 4:31-32; Matthew 18:12-35).
8. We have the right to suffer for the gospel and to take the blows for the One who took the blows for us (1 Peter 2:21-24)
9. We have the right to be “subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
10. We have the right to not be political agitators trading the truth of His Word to play politics with men’s souls; thinking that true spiritual change occurs through legislation rather than the transforming power of the gospel of grace. (1 Peter 4:10-16).
11. We have the right to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
12. We have the right to be stripped of all earthly things (Matthew 5:40-42).
13. We have the right to not repay evil for evil and to be at peace with all men as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:17-18).
14. We have the right to love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44-45).
15. We have the right to pursue holiness-not personal happiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).
16. We have the right not to be ashamed of the gospel (2 Tim. 1:6-18).
17. We have the right not to harbor revenge, anger, bitterness, clamoring, wrath, malice and slander when wronged by another (Ephesians 4:31).
18. We have the right not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19).
19. We have the right to repent of and not cherish our sins (Psalm 66:18).
20. We have the right to guard the trust; and to contend for the once for all delivered to the saints faith (1 Timothy 6:20; Jude 1:3).
21. We have the right to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3).
22. We have the right to reflect God’s covenantal relationship with us by honoring our vows in the covenant of marriage with our spouse Mt. 19:6).
23. We have the right to worship Christ Jesus as God of very God; Creator; Redeemer; Sovereign Lord and Ruler of all (Col. 1:15-19; Hebrews 1:8; Phil. 2:5-11).
24. We have the right to present our lives as living sacrifices everyday to God (Roms. 12:1-2).
25. We have the right to live in the expectancy and hope of the Lord’s return by which we purify ourselves (Roms. 12:1-2).
26. We have the right to march daily on our knees in prayer; praying for our leaders in government; our church leaders; our fellow believers; our families; and the lost (1 Timothy 2:1-3; Ephesians 6:18-21).
27. We have the right to praise and glorify God according to how He has revealed Himself through the pages of His Word (Col. 3:16-17).
28. We have the right to honor our local church pastors; for they keep watch over our souls as those who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17).
29. We have the right to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).
30. We have the right to have no rights apart from Christ Himself; “for whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25: John 15:5).

A Puritan Prayer for Those Who Have Surrendered Their Rights in this Life

“Accept His worthiness for my unworthiness, His sinlessness for my transgressions, His purity for my uncleanness, His sincerity for my guile, His truth for my deceits, His meekness for my pride, His constancy for my backslidings, His love for my enmity, His fullness for my emptiness, His faithfulness for my treachery, His obedience for my lawlessness, His glory for my shame, His devotedness for my waywardness, His holy life for my unchaste ways, His righteousness for my dead works, His death for my life!”