Moore: Don”t be surprised if your preaching upsets the status quo

FORT WORTH­– The issue of religious liberty is one that confronts every single believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, said Russell Moore in an address to the 2014 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting, Nov. 11.

This is a tension seen clearly in the book of Acts, Moore said, drawing the messengers’ attention to Paul and Silas’ experience in the Philippian jail detailed in Acts 16.

“It is a tension of living in a world with legitimate, rightful state authority but living in another world as the people of God in which we have a greater authority in the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” continued Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Paul finds himself in prison because he was on mission for Christ,” Moore said, noting religious liberty is a matter of global mission, as well as a matter of gospel witness and public justice.

In casting the spirit out of the slave girl, Paul quickly discovers the town’s citizens preferred this girl enslaved physically and spiritually because for them she was a “means of great gain through her fortune telling,” Moore said.

Noting this incident was a common theme in Paul’s ministry, Moore explained, “The gospel becomes a public threat. The gospel becomes something that must be silenced.”

“The gospel of Jesus Christ comes in with a message that if it is understood is always, in every single era, going to seem strange and crazy and freakish and dangerous,” Moore said, explaining Paul was not surprised his preaching of the gospel would upset the status quo.

“That has everything to do with religious liberty. If you get the gospel wrong, you will get religious liberty wrong. If you get the mission wrong; you will get religious liberty wrong.”

Referencing Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s attempt to force a group of pastors in the city to hand over their sermons and other papers, Moore said the mayor’s decision to subpoena sermons was “shocking and audacious and reckless.”

“But you know what is worse than a mayor audacious enough to subpoena sermons?” Moore asked. “Sermons that aren’t worthy of being subpoenaed,” he answered.

Moore said to avoid such governmental interference is to become the kind of people “city hall doesn’t have to worry about.” But that is the wrong direction to go, he insisted.

“It is a terrible thing for the government to put the church in jail,” Moore said. “But it is worse if the church isn’t willing to go to jail for anything.”

For religious liberty protections to remain in place, it is critically important the church raise up a generation that fears God more than they do governmental authorities or any other outside force, including death, Moore concluded.

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