LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The greatest problem in America will not be solved by the winner of the presidential election, but only through the spreading of the gospel by Christian men and women across America, Moody Church pastor Erwin Lutzer said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Nov. 7.
Lutzer, pastor of the historic Chicago church founded in 1864 by D.L. Moody, made his remarks to students on election day at the Louisville, Ky., campus. Little did he know that one week later, the presidential election would still be undecided.
“I believe the situation in America is far too gone to believe that we can reverse the free fall of this nation simply by a change of administrations in Washington — however important that change might be,” he said.
The cultural decline in America will be reversed, Lutzer said, when Christians develop “a burning zeal and confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ and … recognize that the good news will never come from Washington. The good news comes from the lips and hearts of God’s people living out their faith wherever he has planted them.”
Lutzer, whose sermons can be heard nationwide on the Moody Radio Network, said that while politics can solve some problems, it cannot solve the most important problem.
“I don’t think America’s greatest problem is a moral problem — even though we have obvious moral problems,” he said. “Our greatest problem is not necessarily a political problem, though we all know that there are political solutions to some of the problems that we have. … The real fundamental divide in America is not between Democrat and Republican; it is between those who accept to believe and cling to the glorious gospel and those who reject it. That is our message no matter who gets elected [president].”
A government full of Christian men and women would not necessarily bring about the kind of change that is needed, Lutzer said.
“Let’s suppose that we here in America were to elect a president who is distinctly, vocally, strongly Christian,” he said. “Let us suppose that we were able to have a Supreme Court that had Christian values throughout. Let us suppose that such things as abortion would be outlawed [and] the advance of gay rights would be rolled back. Everyone in places of government would be as Christian as some of the zealots among us would like them to be.”
Lutzer then asked the students to imagine that same scenario in the midst of a failing economy.
“You would have soup lines in Chicago, Detroit and Louisville,” he said. “Can’t you just imagine what the pagans would say? They’d say, ‘You Christians said that when you were in power you were going to make America great again. Look at what has happened on your watch. We would rather have an adulterer in the White House with a strong economy than this kind of mess.'”
Preaching from Philippians 3:18-21, Lutzer said the apostle Paul outlined four key differences between Christians and non-Christians. He said Christians: walk in a different direction; have different desires; have different aspirations; and arrive at a different destination.
Lutzer said that such a contrast can be found in Augustine’s “The City of God.” In that book, Augustine essentially divided people into two cities: the City of Man and the City of God.
“The city of man … represents man’s hopes and fears and dreams,” Lutzer said. “[Augustine] said there is another city called the city of God. That’s the city of the patriarchs, the city of the apostles, the city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. And because there are two different cities there are also two different citizens.”
One of the differences, Lutzer said, is that Christians walk in a different direction than non-Christians.
“The people of the world are not looking for the Savior,” he said. “They’re looking for some kind of salvation here on earth because they belong to the city of man.”
Lutzer said that Christians also have different desires and aspirations and arrive at different destinations.
“I don’t need to tell you, do I, that we most assuredly love different things,” he said. “You and I have a profound love for God that has been implanted in our hearts by the blessed Holy Spirit as a gift that he has granted to us. But the world generally has its mind on the things of this earth. Just listen to the talk on airplanes or [while] you’re getting a haircut … and you’ll soon find that all that matters is this world.”
Lutzer pointed out that the apostle Paul was in prison during the rule of Nero — who was hostile toward Christianity — and yet Paul still found a way to spread the gospel.
“I don’t think it ever occurred to the apostle Paul that somehow the gospel was going to be held hostage to a particular political regime or by a regime that was not favorable to its message,” Lutzer said.
A Christian’s message should remain the same no matter who gets elected, Lutzer said.
“At the end of the day, the fortunes of Christianity in America are not dependent on who will be elected,” he said. “It is important to vote and to be involved in the political process, but God has his plans and his purposes and his providences which are far greater than any political regime.
“What should believers be doing when political regimes may not be favorable to their message? They [should] strive together for the one gift that God has given to us, [and] that is the power of God unto salvation — the priority of the clear proclamation of the message of the gospel.”
This message can be heard in its entirety at: http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/speakers_chapel.html. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ERWIN LUTZER.