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Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 3





“Captives in a Strange Land”

by John H. Leeper 

St. John 14: 30I will not speak to you much longer for the prince of this world (Satan) is coming.

 St. John 15: 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.

 Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 Titus 2:11-13 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 Hebrews 11: 13-16 – These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country, and, truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly (country) . . .

American Christians mistakenly believe that they are living in backslidden Jerusalem as described by the Old Testament prophets.  Thus, if there is only “national repentance,” God will again bless their nation and give them prosperity.  But the Bible is clear that Christians are captives in Babylon — a foreign and hostile country influenced by supernatural powers of great spiritual darkness.  They are pilgrims whose country is yet to come.  Thus, they should eagerly await the return of Jesus Christ who will set them free from this present bondage.  The political and economic systems and institutions of this world, including those of the United States of America, are predominately under the influence of Satan, “the prince of this world,” not Christ.

 Commentary: “Captives in a Strange Land”

 From the same evangelical pulpits, often on the same Sunday, two views of Christian existence are expressed that are absolute contradictions of one another.  The service might open with a prayer that says something to the effect: “Let us pray that our nation, like the prodigal son, will repent of its gross sin and return to the faith of our forefathers before God’s righteous judgement falls upon our land.”  This is the voice of the prophet Jeremiah crying to citizens of a backslidden Jerusalem, “Repent or face God’s wrath – exile in a foreign land!” 

            Immediately, this is followed by a hymn that laments, “I am a poor wayfaring stranger, traveling through this world of woe . . . .”  This is the voice of Ezekiel speaking to the exiles in Babylon: “Great Deliverer, come quickly and release us from this present bondage.”  

            Are we citizens of a backslidden Jerusalem or captives in pagan Babylon?  A Christian can be one or the other but not both at the same time.  Anyone should be able to grasp the profound implications of that question.  The first view implies that evangelicals (i.e., the true believers) are living in a Holy Nation – a society composed largely of the children of God.  However, the children have been led astray by pagan idolaters in their midst and by vain self-interest.  To avoid punishment, the Holy Nation must collectively repent of its sins and return to the faith that it originally held.  The second view is of a people held prisoner in a hostile, pagan world, surrounded by the enemies of God. While in bondage, they must hold tenaciously to their faith and exhibit prudence and caution in dealing with their heathen overlords for the good of their families and the sake of other believers,  In simple terms, they must be ...wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove.“  They must expect and tolerate oppression and await their freedom with patience and endurance — the return of Jesus Christ to release them from this present bondage.

            These two positions are as far removed from one another as night and day; however, the inability of Christians in America to grasp the fundamental differences between these points of view has led to “theological schizophrenia.”

            While this question is seldom discussed by evangelicals in the United States, the fact is that a large segment of the fundamental Christian movement in America has come to the conclusion that the former, not the latter, is correct.  Evangelical churches have stepped away from spiritual solutions for issues and events and moved towards political solutions of them.  The message of Christ’s universal love for all nations and peoples is drowned by strident cries from pulpits across America for the political leadership of this nation-state to recognize the principles of Christianity as the basis of the United States government.

            However, in order to “put God back” in American culture and politics, it must first be assumed He was there in the first place.  There is an assumption among this sect of the Christian church that Jesus Christ – not Allah, or Buddha, or Socrates, or Voltaire – was at the root of the American system of government.  Because, if the words of Christ did not shape America then the Christian cry would necessarily be “Try Jesus!  He is wiser than the men and women who built this nation!” 

            Sadly, many false teachers within the Church espouse the notion that American society is coming apart at the seams because Jesus Christ has  been “dismissed” by corrupt leaders of political or social institutions.  They preach a false message: “Bring Jesus back from exile!”  The Biblical message, however, is that this world, including the United States of America, does not belong to Christians.  It is ruled by spiritual powers of darkness who set about to deceive even the elect.  There are no “Christian nations” in this world, and there will never be until our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ comes again in power.  Thus we pray: “Return, O Lord, and set your people free!”

            As the old hymn reads: “This world is not my home, I’m just-a passing through.”