The Church Slept. Hitler Arose. Millions Died. Bonhoeffer Fought Back.

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Today’s pastors MUST LEARN lessons from Bonhoeffer and the inadequate efforts of German pastors to halt the rise of Hitler who murdered 6 million Jews. Let’s LEARN from history. Let’s NOT make the same mistakes those pastors made. The Church has been given “all authority” and must be the powerful light that is set on a hill and lights our cities!

The classic Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas was a #1 New York Times bestseller (abridged version is available here). This was named the book of the year and sold over 1 million copies. Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship and lived out his convictions. Bonhoeffer lived what Jesus taught: "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38). Bonhoeffer created a group of pastors who stood against the lies of Hitler. For this he was imprisoned and ultimately laid down his life nobly at the hands of the Germans.

Eric Metaxas just released his newest book, Letter to the American Church, which draws parallels between the sleeping German church as Hitler rose and today’s sleeping church, and the atrocities we see taking place by our governments. It is sobering enough to move us all to action. Each one of us must find out what our marching orders are from Almighty God as to the role we are to play in discipling our nations at this crucial point in world history.

The Church has been given two Great Commissions – not just one

Recently the Church has focused on the commission to get people saved and ignored Jesus’ second commission, which is to disciple nations.

  1. Preach Salvation: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation…  And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mk. 16:15,20).
  2. Disciple Nations: “And Jesus spoke, saying, ‘ALL authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen' " (Mat 28:18 - 20).

​It is time we fulfill Jesus’ second commission to the Church

Will we tell our children that we slept while evil ascended and our government stole our God-given and constitutional freedoms and enslaved us, or will we tell them that satan had ALL his power stripped from him (Col. 2:15) and now can only go about as a “roaring lion” and no longer has any teeth? Satan’s power was given to Christ who has given it to us (Matt. 16:19; 28:18-20). We are seated with Christ in heavenly places and we reign and rule (Eph. 1:20-23; 2:6). So let’s stand and shout in victory and in triumph (2 Cor. 2:14)!

The parallel situations between Germany and today

  1. A “suspicious fire” consumed a key building in Germany, so Hitler gave himself emergency powers to control people’s lives. A “suspicious pandemic” swept the world, and governments gave themselves emergency powers to control people’s lives, while removing the option of natural proven effective treatments. The governments used fear to control the people.
  2. Hitler gradually pushed the Jews within Germany out of public positions and into prisons, and the sleeping Church did not object. Today’s governments have gradually pushed any who would object to their usurping of power out of positions of influence and into internment camps.
  3. All media was controlled by Hitler’s government allowing his lies to become the norm. A bonfire consumed all books he did not approve of. Today the government lies are promoted through the big tech companies, and any contrary voice is labeled misinformation and removed from the public eye.
  4. Hitler’s control became tighter and tighter. Today’s governments have sought tighter and tighter control over people.

Quotes from “Letter to the American Church”

  1. The incident of the Reichstag Fire—in which a Dutch madman set fire to the German Parliament building—was used to enact sweeping emergency decrees that suddenly allowed Hitler to do things without the approval of the German Parliament. It was a stunning erasure of German government, with blitzkrieg swiftness. It is still a question whether the Nazis themselves enabled the arson so they could use it as a pretext. (Metaxas, Eric. Letter to the American Church (p. 37). Salem Books. Kindle Edition).
  2.  “Aryan Paragraph” law suddenly made it illegal for anyone with Jewish blood to hold a government position. In time, these anti-Semitic restrictions would be extended to other professions. (Metaxas, Eric. Letter to the American Church (p. 38). Salem Books. Kindle Edition.)

More quotes from "Letter to the American Church"

“First, Bonhoeffer said the Church was the conscience of the state and must call it to account, that it must loudly object if the state was doing wrong. It could not—and must not—remain silent when injustices and wrongs were being promoted and enacted. Second, he said that the Christian Church was obligated to help any victims of the state. For Bonhoeffer, that clearly included the Jews. But thirdly, and most dramatically, Bonhoeffer concluded that if the state refused to change course and do the right thing, but rather continued in its sins—which in this case were principally focused on persecuting the Jews—it was the solemn obligation of Christians to take action. They were not merely to protest verbally and to help the victims, but were also to become actively political—to “shove a stick in the spokes” of the wheel of the rumbling machine of the state. (Metaxas, Eric. Letter to the American Church (p. 39). Salem Books. Kindle Edition.)

Three ways Bonhoeffer believed the Church is to relate to the state

  1. To be a conscience to the state – ensuring the state is a minister of righteousness (Rom. 13:3,4)
  2. To come to the aid of those wounded by the state - we come to the aid of all (1 Jn. 3:14-18)
  3. To shove a stick in the spokes of the wheel of the state if necessary – come against evil (Deut. 12:1-3)

But I am commanded to obey the government

Yes, “for it is a minister of God to you for good” (Rom. 13:4), which Paul follows up in the next verse, “Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection” (Rom. 13:5). Yes, we should obey righteous government, government which is “a minister of God for good.” When governing authorities step outside of their God-ordained role of being a minister for good, then the Church is called to take action.

In America we are blessed with MANY ways of taking action which are completely peaceful, and at the end of this article I list several resources. For starters, we pray for our government and vote! If the 25 million registered Christians who don't vote would instead vote for righteous people to lead us, our problems would be largely over. I suspect they are not praying for the government either. This means they are NOT part of the solution to bring righteousness to their land. In a worst case scenario, they believe, envision and speak that wickedness is overtaking the land. Really! Let’s leave that job to the satanic church to do, and instead we speak Isaiah 9:7 over our land. 

Pastors must preach that it is our God-given responsibility in discipling nations that we take every action possible to guide the government into righteous action.

What am I to do when an authority’s rules conflict with God’s rules? Do I obey God or man?

Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge (Acts 4:19). Click here to listen to Dr. R.C. Sproul teach for 25 minutes on this verse.

  • Peter did NOT obey the authorities and stop preaching. He resisted authority and obeyed God (Acts 4:19). Rather than submitting to evil dictates, we must bring nations into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Rahab the harlot lied to evil government officials to protect righteous people, and did she receive a reprimand from the Lord for lying? No. Instead God put her in Hebrews 11 as an example of a hero in faith (Josh. 2:3-13; Heb. 11:31)!
  • The Egyptian midwives acted honorably when they disobeyed an evil government and saved the male babies from death and then lied about it to the authorities (Ex. 1:17-22).
  • Paul didn’t simply submit to the corrupt rulers when he was arrested, but demanded his rights as a Roman citizen to go to Caesar (Acts 25:11).
  • At the Nuremburg Trials, German guards who gassed 6 million Jews to death defended themselves with the statement, “I was just obeying orders.” They were found guilty of their crimes. At the great White Throne Judgment, if I claim the evil I did was because I was just following orders, I will discover that is unacceptable. Each of us must give account for their own actions (Rom. 14:12).

Principle: If an authority commands us to do something God forbids us doing, or forbids us from doing something God commands us to do, we obey God and not man.

Examples from Scripture of believers being a conscience to the state

  • Elisha rebukes an unrighteous king of Israel (1 Kgs. 18)
  • Nathan rebukes David for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12)
  • John the Baptist rebukes Herod (Mk. 6:18)
  • Jesus rebukes unrighteous religious leaders (Jn. 8:44)

Examples from history of throwing a stick in the spokes

  • Had Americans not fought against England, America may still be a British colony.
  • Had the world not fought against Hitler, we may all be speaking German.
  • The abolitionist campaign in Britain was led by significant Quaker anti-slavery groups who made public their concerns and brought it to the attention of politicians who were in a position to enact real change.
  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a campaign which brought an end to segregation.
  • Albert Einstien - The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.

Personal Application - Resources to assist you in discipling nations

  1. Patriot Academy - National Biblical Citizenship Class (You can join an online class or host a class)
  2. Honest news outlets and ways to get involved (Click here).
  3. Ask the Lord, “What is my role in triumphing over the evil that has raised its head?” Then say, “Yes Lord,” and get involved in the battle for victory and become active in the continual increase of His government (Isa. 9:7).
  4. The Church has been given all power by Jesus. Therefore, do NOT empower evil with a false belief that it has any power (Matt. 9:29). Attack and destroy evil with the anointing God has placed upon you.
  5. Declare that Jesus Christ IS LORD of all, and that we triumph in His name. Do what Jesus did. Release the power of God on the streets so people SEE that God is alive, loving, powerful and active. Last week a student watching our class online was healed of a long-standing neck injury during our corporate exercise of speaking biblical truth over ourselves: “By His stripes I, (insert name), am healed!” Her testimony was, “Not only was all the pain gone, but I just felt a release, a freedom from everything associated with it.” People are hungry, hurting and ready to get saved and healed. Let’s give God opportunities to show up by testifying, sharing Christ and praying for healing. He will move! Revival is NOW! 
  6. GET INVOLVED SOMEWHERE: Do NOT be part of the silent majority. Speak. Act! Support those on the front lines. Ask them what assistance they need. Share this blog on social media along with other blogs which inform and call people to action. Take a role as a leader on a school board, in towns, cities, states, or volunteering at voting locations, etc. (Deut. 28:13)!
  7. Get inspired - Eric Metaxas, and others share in this uplifting FlashPoint LIVE Omaha event
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