Monday, December 20, 2010

Christian Nation?

By Pastor Anton Bosch

Over the past two millennia many nations have claimed to be a “Christian nation.” The whole Roman empire became “Christian” in 312 AD, France became a “Christian nation” in 466 AD and technically England remains one to this day, since the monarch is both head of the “church” and head of the state. Germany was a “Christian nation” when it spawned Nazism. Sweden and Denmark became “Christian nations” in the 11th and 12th centuries respectively. South Africa made the same claim until 1994 when overnight it changed from “Christian” to Secular/Communist. These are but a few examples of the many nations that have claimed to be “Christian” over the last 2,000 years.

However claiming the name “Christian” did not result in these nations being more righteous than those who claimed not to be. Some of them did bless the world with great works such as the missionaries from England who spread the Gospel across the globe. But did being “Christian” make them godly and righteous societies? No. England, at the height of its “Christianity” murdered tens of thousands of innocent Boer women and children in concentration camps in South Africa. A “Christian” Germany empowered Hitler; and the alliance between church and state under Constantine gave birth to the Roman church/state. Thus we can examine each of those nations who claimed to be “Christian” and find that none of them, as a nation, exemplified the essence of Christianity.

Any nation can claim to be “Christian” just as any person can make the same claim. But, claiming to be “Christian” does not make one a Christian. The word “Christian” means a follower of Christ. The name was first used in Antioch: “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Thus a Christian is a disciple – one who follows Christ. It is clear that the vast majority of people who claim to be Christians do not follow Christ. And the same can be applied to those nations who use the same title.

For an individual and a nation to be “Christian” implies a relationship with Jesus Christ. If any a relationship exists, it needs to be acknowledged by both parties in the relationship. You can claim a relationship with the Queen of England and know a lot about her, but does she acknowledge the relationship? In the same way Jesus warns that there will be many who will claim a special relationship with Him: “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus speaks of those that He never knew in spite of their claim to His name. In Revelation 3:5, Jesus speaks of those whom He will acknowledge before His Father and the angels. In the same way, a nation can make its claims to being “Christian,” but the real question is whether God acknowledges that claim. The Bible speaks about such a relationship only with regards to two groups: Israel and the Church. No other nation is mentioned as having a special deal with God. Many nations are mentioned in connection with the last days (not in good terms); but the most amazing thing is that America, the most powerful nation of all, does not even get a mention. Wouldn't God have made mention in the Bible if He was planning a special covenant with America?

Secondly Jesus says that the proof of that relationship, or lack of it, is manifest in behavior (“you who practice lawlessness”). In the same way we can look at the fruit of someone’s life to determine whether their claim of being a “Christian” is valid or false. (God is the ultimate judge but we are taught to know the difference – Matthew 7:20, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them").

In the same way a nation that claims to be “Christian” needs to prove it by their works. Pre-World War II Germany was said to be “Christian” because an overwhelming majority of its citizens were “Christians,” but what did it produce? What was its fruit? Two world wars in one lifetime, in which millions were killed and entire people-groups annihilated, is not the fruit that points to a good tree.

Now you need to look at the fruit of any other nation that makes the same claim and judge objectively.

What does the Bible say about the nations of the world? 1John 5:19 says “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” The NIV translates it: “the whole world is under the control of the wicked one.” The Greek word for “world” here is kosmos meaning the world, its people, governments, systems, riches and everything that it contains. Also note the word “whole,” meaning every bit, totally, completely – nothing and no nation is excepted. Many people think that this was the state of the world before the Cross. But John makes this statement long after the Cross, and he places every nation (amongst other things) squarely under the control of the Devil and not under God.

Revelation 5:9 speaks of those who are redeemed out of every nation, but the Bible never speaks of a redeemed nation.

In Daniel chapter 2, God shows Nebuchadnezzar an image and the interpretation of the vision. Daniel supernaturally details all the great kingdoms that will follow the Babylonian empire until the end of the age. Each of those world empires, except for the final one have come and gone, exactly as predicted. Finally, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

Revelation 19 explains how this will happen: Jesus will come again and he will destroy all the kings of the earth and their armies and then He will set up His Kingdom. Not one earthly kingdom is spared which simply means that not one belonged to Christ! He does not use a single one of them as a base on which to build His Kingdom.

Thus, there is not a single “Christian” nation at His return – which is any day now.

The Truth:

"Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)

Pastor Anton Bosch is author of Building Blocks of the Church and Contentiously Contending, both available HERE.