Democratic societies choose their leaders by voting in elections. Should Christians participate in the politics of their country? Would Jesus vote if He were here today?
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This world is in deep trouble. How did it come to be as it is? Why so much poverty, disease, hunger, pollution, ignorance and confusion? Why can the governments of men not get along, avoid war—and find peace and agreement? Why such constant instability, scandal and division among leaders everywhere? Why so much favoritism, antagonism between parties, ethics violations, political arm-twisting and lobbying, infighting, poor judgment, corruption, bribery, misrepresentation—and outright lying—in virtually all national governments? Why are there seemingly endless revolutions and military coups? Why no shortage of demagogues, dictators and revolutionaries, always promising to make things better, yet invariably bringing worse problems and conditions?
Millions believe voting and participation in government are their civic and patriotic duties. This is the democratic way. But is it God’s Way? Christ’s gospel is about government. If He were here today, would He vote? Would His servants participate in politics? Would they vote? Does His Church practice voting internally—to decide doctrine, spend money or select ministers and leaders?
This Personal reveals the Bible teaching on voting and participation in politics. Prepare to be very surprised!
Like a broadcaster ahead of His time, everywhere Jesus went, He announced the kingdom of God—a message entirely about a coming, divine world government that would smash and replace all governments of men.
But you have probably supposed that the governments of modern nations generally reflect God’s Way. This is almost everyone’s assumption. Yet, while God does, in fact, establish and remove nations—and leaders—this is not His world! This is why the Bible foretells the arrival of a supergovernment to replace the confused, competing, inefficient and ineffective governments of men that are so powerless to solve any of the world’s biggest problems.
Look at the governments of this world. Generally, there are three types—monarchies, dictatorships and democracies. Monarchies involve nobility—royalty—where bloodline is the key to succession of power. When a king or queen dies, a prince or princess ascends the throne. This cycle can last for centuries. History records that monarchies are almost always replaced, either violently or peacefully, with the king or queen often allowed to retain minimal power.
Dictatorships and totalitarian governments are usually created through violence—by coup or revolution. They are often short-lived, with something similar replacing them.
Democracies and republics are collaborative or representative. Leaders are elected, and represent “the will of the people.” This involves a voting or balloting process to select one candidate in preference to others. This form is generally considered the best of men’s governments. Yet the great 20th-century British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called democracy “the worst form of government except [for] all the other[s]...” This is a startling admission from an insider.
But, as bad as democracies may be, they are far better than any other form of government—when it is in the hands of men. Democracy at least attempts to ensure more individual “freedoms” than other kinds of humanly devised government.
In the end, however, none of man’s governments work either very well or for very long.
Consider. God is today revealing His truth to people who are citizens of many nations on Earth, and most of these are privileged to enjoy the freedoms of a democracy. They probably once participated in local, state or national elections.
This question arises: Should the new Christian continue to vote and participate in the politics of his country?
A Christian is one who follows—who copies—Jesus Christ. (Read I Peter 2:21 and Philippians 2:5.) Again, would Jesus participate in the politics of men? What does the Bible teach about voting to select leaders—either in national governments or in men’s churches? And what about the Church that Jesus built?
Recognize that Christ understands the origin of the governments of this world and who leads them. So must you.
Where did the governments of men come from? Who is behind them—who guides them? What is the source of the strife and competition in today’s world? Is this God’s world—reflecting His Way, and His direction and guidance?
Most religionists and churchmen blindly assume it is. Thus, they conclude that if, as they usually put it, “All Christians work together, in love and unity, to make this world and its governments a safer and better place for everyone—or for democracy and freedom, as some emphasize—we can bring peace, happiness and prosperity to all.” Many naively believe that if they can “fix the world”—or even just improve it—they can usher in God’s kingdom on Earth. Also, and even more naive, is that many believe they can influence governments to become more godly.
This is fantasy—a completely wrong view, and it is not what God expects—or wants. Nowhere did Jesus say, “Go into the world and strive to make it a better place by becoming part of it.” He said, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15)—about His coming government—and “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). And the Bible also commands, “Come out from among them [the world], and be you separate” (II Cor. 6:17), and further, speaking of society’s Babylonish ways, “Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
World punishment lies just ahead for those who carelessly reject God’s plain Word.
This world is a condemned building. Built on a wrong foundation from the beginning, its weak underpinnings have eroded to the point of collapse under its own weight. It will soon be demolished, scraped away and replaced by a vastly better world and government—one infinitely better than the best parts of men’s governments put together!
Christ did not come to fix or make this world better. He announced a future, better world, made possible because of His government! His true followers are preparing themselves to participate in that government.
Blind, deceived men think they can bring about the kingdom of God through human effort. They see certain evil forces at work and feel compelled to “do something about it.” They assume Jesus would be an “activist” striving to “make the world a better place.” Be honest! Haven’t you heard this, and probably many times? Haven’t you heard preachers urge people to “get involved” or “take a stand” —or some similar thing—to help improve national or even world problems?
Again we ask: Is this God’s world? Does He want Christians to “make the world into a better place”? These are crucial questions.
The Bible speaks of Satan who “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). It says, “the whole world.” This is a staggering statement—but there it is in your Bible!
How is it possible that the devil can deceive almost 7 billion people? Does he work primarily through human agents—or influence in other ways? More crucial questions. This verse concludes, “He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9). It says, “his angels.” These fallen angels, subordinate to Satan, play their own role.
For now, let’s focus on one aspect of the enormous understanding within this passage.
If Satan has deceived the entire world, how can it be God’s world? Since the whole world is deceived—and the apostle John also recorded that “the whole world lies in wickedness” (I John 5:19)—modern civilization cannot be of God. It is in fact cut off from Him. Read Isaiah 59:1-2 and Jeremiah 5:25.
Now, if you do not accept Revelation 12:9 as revealed knowledge from God, any hope of personally breaking free of this deception is lost! If you do, think for a moment! Worldwide deception would certainly include influence upon, and control over, the human governments of all nations.
The Bible references the “god of this world”—and it is not the God of heaven. Let’s read, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel...should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).
Only one being wants to “blind” the world to the truth of the gospel—Satan the devil. Understand. The true gospel is about the kingdom of God. Our booklet Which Is the True Gospel? explains how Christ will return, bind and replace the devil, and establish God’s kingdom. It is not strange then that Satan wants to hide understanding of this marvelous truth—when he will have been banished from his position of influence.
Three times, Jesus refers to Satan as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). These passages reveal that this “prince” will soon be judged. John 12:31 parallels the world’s judgment with Satan’s judgment. Why? Because this is HIS world!
But let’s make this crystal clear.
Many know something of Jesus’ confrontation with the devil while fasting for 40 days. The devil repeatedly tempted Him through twisting scripture (one of his favorite devices). At one point, “the devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said unto Him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8-9).
This offer is more unusual than meets the eye! Why? Notice Jesus rebuked Satan, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, and answered, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matt. 4:10). Yet, at no point did Jesus correct the devil, with, “These kingdoms are NOT yours to give” or “Who do you think you are, offering Me what is already God’s?” Why? Because He knew the governments—the kingdoms—of Earth ARE the devil’s. Christ knew they belonged to him—they WERE Satan’s to give. Therefore, He rejected the terms for receiving these kingdoms from the one who did have authority to offer them.
How many preachers are explaining this? The answer? NONE!
Also understand this! This account describes what is called the temptation of Christ. Obviously, what the devil offered was designed to tempt Him. If both Christ and Satan knew the kingdoms of this world were not the devil’s to give, then where was the temptation? Surely the devil would have known what Christ knew. Of course, Christ, who was God on Earth, would have known who had power to offer those kingdoms. The temptation would carry no weight if men’s nations and governments were not the devil’s to offer—if they already belonged to Jesus.
So there is absolutely no doubt of this, let’s read Luke’s parallel account. A key phrase there should hit like a sledgehammer. Satan said, “All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for [it] is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it” (Luke 4:6). Do you see? It was completely within the scope of the devil’s authority to offer or withhold the kingdoms of this world. God had temporarily “delivered” them to him—to his control!—and they are still his.
This world’s nations and governments—all of them!—are still under the control of the “god of this world”—the “prince of this world”!
Again, have you ever heard this? Yet, this is the plain truth from your Bible, and it has a direct bearing on why the world is overwhelmed with problems. This world, with its ways and systems, led by the devil, has much to do with whether a true Christian votes in men’s elections or seeks office in any of his governments.
While the devil holds sway over all governments and nations, is his own government—led by him and his demons—unified? Is Satan’s government divided? Allow Jesus to answer.
Jesus and His disciples often cast out demons. I have done this on numerous occasions, and these can be intense, dramatic encounters. They are not pleasant to witness—and those who do are shocked by what they see. It becomes obvious that great power is present—both in the angry, departing demon and in the greater power of God necessary to cast one out.
Jesus’ accusers saw clear evidence that He was backed by real power! However, some accused Him of using the devil’s power to cast out what would be his own demons. Jesus’ response?: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then HIS kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:25-26). Jesus was saying that Satan would never cast out demons! He would be dividing his own kingdom. Get this! The devil has a kingdom. Since it does stand, it is not divided! And it transcends the entire world!
A fascinating point arises from the apostle Paul, who explains how individual Christians wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the RULERS of the darkness of this world, against [wicked spirits—the correct translation] in high places” (Eph. 6:12). It becomes obvious that these high places are within the principalities and governments of men!
Now for an incredible account that illustrates and explains the terms “rulers” and “high places.” An actual spirit war, lasting three weeks, is described in Daniel 10! Michael, an archangel, fought with one called the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Dan. 10:13), and referred to another upcoming battle with an arch-demon called the “prince of Grecia” (Dan. 10:20). Archangels—or any angels—do not need 21 days to defeat puny, little, physical men. The “princes” that Michael was battling were powerful fallen spirits that ruled nations within Satan’s governmental structure.
I repeat, this is not God’s world! It should now be clear the devil governs a vast realm of fallen spirits. Together, they deceive, confuse and exert far-reaching influence over all the governments and activities on Earth, including the many religions of men. Get this! These governments cannot be fixed or improved. They must be removed!—by God!
But understand. True Christians never disobey—or resist—civil authority—unless that authority directly instructs them to disobey the higher authority of God. (Read Acts 5:29.) Christians never participate in protests or demonstrations, even non-violent ones, never mind violent ones—or participate in any form of war, which is of course always much more violent. Not ever! Here is just one thing Jesus said about this, speaking to Pilate while on trial: “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence [meaning, from here—this world]” (John 18:36). But understand. Participating in the governments of men and obeying or submitting to them are entirely different matters. Christians do not confuse the two! They yield to—as a very model of obedience—men’s governments at every level. Romans 13:1-7, among other scriptures, make unmistakably clear what God expects. Our article “Should Christians Submit to Government Authority?” explains much more.
Again, God’s people are readying themselves to take part in Christ’s coming government. Get this! The ultimate destiny of true Christians is to become kings and priests, ruling with Jesus Christ in the kingdom of God—on Earth! God’s people represent a foreign government, because “Our [citizenship—the Greek is politeuma, from which comes the word politics] is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).
Every Christian does have an important diplomatic job here and now, however. Think for a moment. Ambassadorships are critical appointments, only conferred on those who can properly represent the ideals, laws, people, culture, policies, political ideologies and interests of the country where the ambassador holds citizenship. They must also possess good judgment. If an ambassador fails to uphold all these standards, he can disqualify himself from representing his country—and be recalled from his post!
The apostle Peter referred to the true Church as a “holy nation” (I Pet. 2:9). The Church is the true Christian’s country of origin. As ambassadors for God’s future government, Christians must exemplify His Way—His “nation.” They are to represent the peace, order, love and abundant joy inherent in the spiritual government to which they owe their true allegiance.
Jesus told His disciples they were “light[s] of the world” (Matt. 5:14). He explained that real Christians have been “set on a hill” for all to see (Matt. 5:14). All observers should notice the Christian’s conduct is radically different from all others.
Consider. People categorize those with whom they come in contact. If you meet someone from a foreign country, you automatically fit the person into the image you have of that country—whether or not you have been there. We assign people to “slots” in our minds. For instance, Britain, Russia, France and China all bring to mind different images.
If someone drives a Cadillac, it means a certain thing to most people. A Volkswagen means something else. Businessmen dress a certain way. Doctors, police, bricklayers and athletes connote different mental images. Just the way a person carries himself can convey that he is cocky, refined, shy, confident or relaxed. Of course, people are categorized according to their religion, color, manners, friends, sports they like, books they read, jokes they tell, entertainment they prefer—or even the kind of dog they own. Here is the point: One’s political preference also tells its own tale to observers.
Here is what this means to a Christian ambassador: Since people analyze one’s every word and action, his example must unmistakably identify what he is and who he represents!
God intended that ancient Israel be a sterling example in obedience to Him, and that all the surrounding nations would not be able to help noticing how they too were intended by God to live. (Carefully read Deuteronomy 4:4-8.)
Tragically, this never happened. Israel utterly failed their commission! In fact, so miserably that, in the New Testament, Paul used Israel’s example to show Christ’s followers how NOT to conduct themselves. (Read I Corinthians 10:6.)
Part two of the companion World to Come video broadcast on this subject covers many biblical proofs that Christians do not vote or participate in politics. But here is one proof now, and it comes from II Corinthians 5:20. Paul wrote, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.” The reference to ambassadors is not to the ministry or apostles alone.
I attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, Calif. Students were taught what it meant to be an Ambassador. I knew I was in training to reflect this office, possibly on behalf of the Church as a minister. High standards were set—touching all facets of student life. But “Ambassador College” could as easily have been called “Representative College,” because I was training to become Christ’s representative. Here is why this name would have worked.
The Greek word for “ambassador”—presbeuo—is interesting. While it means ambassador, the words president—and Presbyterian—derive from this word. Its most literal meaning is “representative.” In America, we have the House of Representatives, with 435 members. Adding 100 Senators forms a Congress of 535 representatives who are elected to carry out the will of America’s citizens. All democratic governments work similarly.
The leader of a country often carries the title of president, as in America. This is because he is the highest elected representative of the people. A country’s top office could as easily carry the title of representative. And the American House of Representatives could as easily be the House of Presidents. These words are interchangeable. Presidents are representatives and representatives are presidents, but men distinguish between them by using two words with the same meaning!
Both mean ambassador.
It is the same with Christians, who are ambassadors—or representatives—of Jesus Christ, who serve in foreign lands. This carries implications.
Any nation’s representative knows that, as ambassador to, for instance, Mexico, India or Lebanon, or any other country, he cannot participate in the politics of that country. He is a citizen of a different nation. He participates in the politics of that nation—the one he represents. He also cannot fight for the country to which he is sent. If he does either of these—under any circumstances—he loses his citizenship at home. In fact, he would be considered a traitor.
Now—here is what everyone should understand, but most do not. Ambassadors of Christ do not push or in any way involve themselves in the social, political or cultural agendas of their host country. They represent God’s laws, ways, values, truths, government and goals. Christians—true ones—are ambassadors for another, different government! This is a big part of what it means to be the light of the world—and what it means to be an ambassador for Christ in a world growing darker by the day!
A sidenote. All ambassadors have “diplomatic immunity.” This is understood the world over. One reason the practice developed was because diplomats could be arrested and tried on trumped-up charges. This meant no one would accept appointments to countries where the government is corrupt, and functions on bribes, favors, nepotism and rampant injustice. All Christians do enjoy obvious benefits as citizens in the country of their birth. They have certain immunities and privileges in the country to which God “assigns” them as ambassadors—while still representing their true government, foreign to where they live.
As ambassadors of God’s kingdom, God’s people cannot participate in man’s systems of government—at all. Their citizenship is derived—and held by—a different authority—HEAVEN!
Almost all churches, wishing to be inclusive, and afraid to appear intolerant of others in different churches with different beliefs, ignore—or simply do not know—that Jesus Christ built one Church. And He said so in Matthew 16:18. As His ambassadors, this Church does His Work of announcing the true gospel around the world and warning great nations of impending national punishment for terrible sins. It also holds to and declares all of the many truths of the Bible, including about voting and participation in worldly politics. And that Church exists and functions under God’s government—where leaders are appointed from the top down, not hired by a board of deacons below who hold power over their jobs.
Participating in the governments of Satan’s world, through voting, military service or activism in social causes, is far more serious to God than most realize. It is disloyalty to God’s government and His total authority over a Christian’s life.
At the center of the gospel of the kingdom of God is a message about God’s hierarchical government. The followers of Jesus Christ practice this leadership structure now. Any church that participates in the democratic politics of this world or that elects its leaders and makes other decisions by voting cannot be a house built by God! As the Psalms say, those weary builders are toiling in vain (Psa. 127:1).
The interested reader will also want to read our booklets Should Christians Vote?, War, Killing and the Military and What Is the Kingdom of God? These three booklets are truly eye-opening. They present plain, clear biblical truths that no one else talks about.
Again, Part Two in the companion World to Come broadcast brings many more biblical reasons that Christians do not vote. You have only begun to understand what God teaches.