WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - SEPTEMBER 7, 2022
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Over a Third of Senior Pastors Believe 'Good People' Can Earn Their Way to Heaven: Survey
“At least a third of senior pastors in the United States believe one can earn a place in Heaven by simply being a good person, according to a nationwide survey. The findings were among several surprising responses as part of a survey conducted earlier this year by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. The American Worldview Inventory 2022 examined more than three dozen beliefs held by pastors. Researchers found that in addition to believing that people can merit salvation based solely on their good works, one-third or more of senior pastors surveyed also believe the Holy Spirit is not a person but rather ‘a symbol of God’s power.’ Others said that moral truth is subjective; sexual relations between two unmarried people who love each other is ‘morally acceptable’ and biblical teaching on abortion is ‘ambiguous.’” read more at the Christian Post
It is particularly shocking to discover that the culture’s influence on so many pastors has affected the most fundamental issue: our salvation. Numerous Scriptures could be cited to show that forgiveness of our sins and eternal life can never be earned, but it doesn’t get much clearer than Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This faith cannot be placed in anyone other than Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) How could so many pastors not acknowledge this if they are reading the Bible? Perhaps because, sadly, so many aren’t consistent. Shockingly, one-third of all pastors do not read the Bible during a typical week. This opens the door to accepting beliefs that feel and sound “Christian” but are far from it. Because this is easy to fall into, the New Testament is full of reminders of the truth and warnings against deceptively false teachings that sound godly. Researcher George Barna pointed out the implications of this data. “Because pastors teach what they believe, many churches are becoming centers of syncretism and secular thought,” he stated. “Perhaps without even realizing it, thousands of pastors have become leaders of a movement away from God, toward narcissism.” So, what do we do? Thankfully, because this error was common from the time Jesus walked the earth, Scripture presents clear instructions for us. In Luke 6:47-48, Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them…is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” After coming to Christ, a lifestyle of hearing (or reading) Scripture and acting on it is vital for every Christian. Two key findings of the survey give evidence of this. First, the pastors who held the most consistently biblical beliefs also regularly engaged in Bible reading, prayer, worship, and confession. Second, the only other societal group in the study to surpass the percentage of pastors who possess a biblical worldview is the SAGE Cons: Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservative Christians. If you are a regular reader of the Intersect, you’re likely a SAGE Con–someone who is actively walking in obedience to Jesus (informed by Scripture) in all aspects of life, including your civic action. Last year’s survey showed that the percentage of SAGE Cons who possess a biblical worldview was nine points higher than the percentage of pastors. If you’re a SAGE Con, political candidates and elected officials need your influence in their life. At the very least, they need to hear from you on the issues that matter. It could be that so many politicians who claim to be Christian but do not act like it lack consistent spiritual disciplines and a pastor who holds and teaches a biblical worldview. “To see American culture transformed,” Barna concluded, “will require a time of Christians and pastors devoted to repentance and the scriptures unlike anything we have seen in more than a century. And until that happens, there is little hope of America becoming a godly, Bible-friendly nation once again.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for bearing my sin on the cross, taking the punishment I deserve, and giving me Your perfect righteousness in exchange. (1 Peter 2:24) It grieves me to see anyone settle for a feel-good, yet empty, works-based “Christianity” that leaves them dead in their sins. (John 8:24) Help me to communicate the true gospel. As I read Your word, reveal any unbiblical beliefs I may have adopted. Let Your Word dwell in us richly as we teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus by the power of His Spirit. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” Pray that your pastor stands against the temptations of Satan. If Satan tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4), he’ll go after the men who proclaim the gospel of Jesus. Pray for godly influences in your pastor’s life with who he can be honest, who will hold him accountable and continually direct him to God's Word. Send a note of encouragement to your pastor today, letting him know you are praying for him.
Inflation and Abortion are the Biggest Motivators for Young Voters in 2022
“Two of the primary issues driving the news this year – abortion rights and inflation – are also driving young voters’ plans for participating in the midterm elections, according to new survey data. But those issues are not equally motivating all millennials and members of Generation Z. Rather, 60 percent of Democrats and left-leaning independents in battleground states are motivated by protecting abortion rights while 80 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents are focused on the economy and inflation. The survey, conducted by the Alliance for Youth Action and Civics, concentrated on people ages 17-39 in 11 battleground states.” read more at Fulcrum
One finding to note is the high motivation among young people: eighty-six percent plan to vote this November. And while young voters are generally expected to trend liberal, there are some interesting results. Fifty-six percent of young Latino voters said they would vote for the Republican candidate for Congress, as did a majority of young independents. Do you have a young person in your life? What concerns may be influencing their vote this year? Asking that question could lead to a very worthwhile conversation. Many young people are ready to act. The question is, how many will THINK, PRAY, and ACT according to biblical values? This is an increasingly important question as the voter turnout rate is increasing among young voters faster than among older age groups. In other election news, a significant development has occurred in one of the battleground states where this survey took place. An initiative to put a question on the November ballot that would amend the state Constitution to legalize abortion was rejected last week by the Board of State Canvassers in Michigan. This year, voters in at least five states will face a ballot measure regarding abortion–the most on record for a single year. And more have already been proposed in other states for the next two years. With abortion on the ballot and the fact it is driving people to the polls, it is important to clearly communicate regarding this issue. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) is fighting misinformation surrounding abortion laws with a fact sheet refuting claims that pro-life laws will hinder doctors’ ability to provide treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If you know the truth, you can share it with your voting friends. And regarding initiatives to amend state constitutions to include abortion “rights,” let’s pray that voters will follow the example of Chile, whose citizens just voted to reject a proposed new constitution which would have enshrined abortion as a right, among other leftist proposals.
The next generation is the future of our country. Are you praying for them? Pray for their spiritual growth–that they would come to know Jesus, that their love for Him would grow more and more as their knowledge of Him increases, and that they would live boldly for Him in every aspect of their lives.
We’re just 61 days away from the Midterm Elections. Read this incredible testimony from Payton, one of our young Action Partners, and join her in writing letters for the upcoming elections: My name is Payton and I am in 11th grade in Saint Johns, Florida. Being raised with strong Christian values and patriotism, I feel strongly about increasing the integrity and dignity of our nation, specifically through our work as Christians. As social media continues to play an influential role in the lives of people my age, the platform for spreading Christianity is changing. One of the ways this can be helped is with young people like myself, participating in groups that help get the Biblical information out to the public, as well as educating others on the benefits of conservative values. At times, there is censorship of people who are aiming at spreading Christianity. As Christians, it is important to participate in groups like My Faith Votes to help combat this. This is my second election cycle participating with My Faith Votes. By sending out postcards and letters encouraging Christian voters, my hope is that our community and nation will become more Christ-centered and uphold Christian values. I believe this will be reflected in future generations through participating in campaigns such as Write Now with My Faith Votes.
Biden Ramps Up Attacks on ‘MAGA Republicans’ in Fiery Campaign Speech
“Nearly two years after President Biden pledged to be a ‘president for all people’ — including those who didn’t vote for him — he kicked off the Democrats’ fall campaign season by tearing into pro-Trump Republicans as a threat to democracy. In a prime-time event in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden struck a somber mood, framing the upcoming midterm elections as an eternal battle for ‘the soul of America.’ He cast supporters of former President Donald Trump and the Make America Great Again movement as a threat to the nation’s rule of law, global standing and civil rights. ‘Too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundation of our republic,’ Mr. Biden said.” read more at the Washington Times
President Joe Biden delivered his speech from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was here, at the “birthplace of America,” that the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Eleven years later, in the same room, delegates to the Constitutional Convention created the United States Constitution. In many ways, their work defined what the president called the “soul” of the nation, which he defined as “the breadth, the life and the essence of who we are.” In his view, that “essence” is under threat from what he called “MAGA Republicans” who “are determined to take this country backwards, backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.” He added that they “promote authoritarian leaders, and they fanned the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.” In response, the Republican National Committee called the president the “divider-in-chief” and described the Democratic Party as “one of divisiveness, disgust, and hostility towards half the country.” The media agreed, with Henry Olsen of The Washington Post running a column that had the headline, "Biden's MAGA speech was designed to protect Democrats, capital D, not democracy, little D." The editorial board of The Washington Post, one of the most liberal newspapers in the country, offered a headline, "Democracy is in danger. Biden should invoke patriotism, not partisanship, to make that point." Presidents rarely give speeches during prime-time TV hours, unless the country is in a national crisis. When it does happen, networks will typically comply and air the speech to make sure it reaches as many Americans as possible. CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox all refused to run the president’s address to the nation because they deemed it was “too political” ahead of the November midterm elections. Just hours after his speech, Biden tried to walk back some of the rhetoric he had used the night before causing a cloud of confusion on his words and the overall purpose of the speech. When you drill down to the words of his speech the ironic twist is that Democrats have done everything Biden accused MAGA Republicans of doing. Our words have power. Words do more than convey information; they have an impact on people. The power of our words can burden one’s spirit, even stir up hatred and violence. Words can exacerbate wounds and inflict them directly. Alternately, words can build up and be life-giving. Words are so important that we are going to give an account of what we say when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words, you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37).
While the President mentioned there is a battle for the soul of America, we know that the battle is not between Republicans and Democrats. The real battle is between heaven and hell, darkness and light (Ephesians 6:12). Pray for the strength to put on the whole armor of God, always praying, standing firm in the Word of God, and staying alert (Ephesians 6:13–18). Let us, O Lord, speak the words of Your truth to a dying world.
When was the last time you took the opportunity to pray for those in leadership, particularly at the federal level? Take a few moments today to spend time interceding for them and for our nation. We’ve created a helpful list of those in federal leadership positions, including their name and title, that you can pray for. You can access and download it here.
21 Years Later: The Spiritual Response to 9/11 Now and Then
“Twenty-one years have passed since the modern version of “the day that shall live in infamy,” September 11, 2001. Just like its predecessor, Pearl Harbor, it is a day that we must never forget. What makes 9/11 so very different from Pearl Harbor is that the target was not a military installation of strategic importance to our adversary. The tragic attack of 9/11 was aimed at civilians, everyday Americans, going about their business. Some would say that the strike on the Pentagon held a strategic purpose. But consider how many civilians work at that facility. The attacks of 9/11 were not conducted by the uniformed military of a foreign nation. We were struck by non-uniform, non-state belligerents, those who ascribed to a very heinous and barbaric view, Islamic jihadist terrorists. We weathered their assaults previously, even in New York City, with the truck bombing. Overseas we suffered attacks on our U.S. Embassies, in essence, strikes on American soil, again targeting civilians. The attack on Khobar Towers was aimed explicitly at our deployed troops and civilian contractors. But there was something very different about the attacks on 9/11. They targeted our homeland. The victims were our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and Americans.” read more at My Faith Votes
In a personal reflection article from Lt. Col. Allen West, featured above, he shares that, “At that time, there were no White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian delineations. We were all Americans. And there was one place that we gathered to find hope: our churches. We were searching for the answers only God can give us, that peace that transcends all understanding. Yes, we responded with military action, but our nation first responded spiritually to tragedy.” He goes on, “I find it quite telling that in March 2020, when facing the Covid virus, the government first sought to shut down our churches. It was as if they completely forgot the lessons of 9/11. We were able to go to Home Depot, McDonald’s, dispensaries, and abortion clinics, but not church.” Now, it is far less common to see government officials encouraging us to seek the Lord. Now, we live in a culture that is rapidly moving away from God, and Americans have taken the idea of “separation of church and state” much too far. A nation that isn’t influenced by the worldview of the church will increasingly become an authoritarian, domineering force in the lives of its people. But there is something we can do. Christians in America must commit to praying for our nation and its leaders, thinking about the issues biblically, and then acting by bringing our faith to the public square and to the voting booth.
Lord God, our world changed so much 21 years ago. We saw how easily buildings can fall and how quickly lives can end. As we reflect on the 9/11 anniversary this week, may it remind us that You are our only true security. Give us Your strength to face the memory of that day and the changes it made in our lives and to our world. Give us Your compassion to help each other and recognize the needs of others around us. Thank You that You are sovereign and in control.
As West says in his article, one of the best ways for the body of Christ to respond to attacks undermining our Judeo-Christian faith heritage is to get engaged politically. Yet, 15 million Christians are not even registered to vote. Join us for National Voter Registration Sunday, September 18, 2022, for a day of national church engagement. We’ve created all the tools and resources you need, both for in-person and online participation. All non-partisan resources are free to download and use at your discretion, including videos you can play in your church service. Encourage your church to be a part of this important day so we can impact this nation through the upcoming elections.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.