Government Under God - RR145A2
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With the Reformation Christians began to turn their attention everywhere to certain areas of Scripture that they felt needed to be understood. And one of the passages that became very important to believers was in Isaiah nine, the familiar verses of six and seven.
Christ in the Great Commission has said: “all power, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me.” Which another way of saying: ‘the government is now upon my shoulders. And as the governor of all things, the King of all creation, I send you forth. To conquer, to occupy till I come.’
Thus it was that men began to turn their attention to what this involved. What it meant. When the Puritans dominated in Parliament, they ordered that daily sermons be preached. Setting forth what Christ required of those who governed under Him. About ten years ago, one group decided it would be an excellent thing to reprint those sermons and that they would be very appropriate for our day. They brought out the first volume and there was so little interest that they wound up with a stack of books and a lot of debts. They had trouble getting rid of the books, and the project died.
Well, on our own, let us start a like project. Not of publishing the sermons of the seventeenth century, but of preaching those that God requires in the twentieth century. What the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords requires of us, as vice-gérants kings, priests, prophets under Him to do, to occupy in His name. One of the first things we need to do is to recognize that the government is upon His shoulders, and to modify our use of the term government. [00:03:48]
No Puritan, for example, would have ever spoken about...
No Puritan, for example, would have ever spoken about Parliament or Washington D.C. or the State House as the government. Never. What did government under God, government on the human realm, mean for them? Well, as they saw it, there were seven basic areas of government under God.
The first was the self-government of the Christian man. The self-government of the Christian man. Each of us under God must govern himself in terms of the word of God. Then, second, for them the basic governing institution was the family. Now a little later, I’m going to return to the family, to go in to it, in greater detail. But the family is man’s first government, his first church, his first school. It’s the most important area, institutionally, that God has created. Marriage is the one institution of the Garden of Eden that we have. It is basic in God’s planning.
Then, third, there is the Church, which is created by God to be a government. The very word ‘elder’ means one who rules by law, presbyter was someone who, in the Old Testament, ruled in terms of God’s law. This is why the term was taken over. There was to be one elder under the pastor for every ten families, you remember. This was the pattern that Jethro suggested, God confirmed, so that Moses in Deuteronomy, the first chapter, says, this is what God ordains: a captain, a presbyter, an elder, or a bishop, for every ten families. And then, one over fifties, hundreds, thousands, until you have the seventy elders of Israel. Do you know that that pattern of government, to govern the people of God, was maintained in the early Church? And we have a relic of it in the College of Cardinals. The College of Cardinals, in the early centuries, were seventy elders, laymen, that tradition continued till the last couple of centuries. Cardinal Richelieu, by the way, was a layman. He was not a priest. It’s only in the last two hundred years that Cardinals have been priests. [00:06:59]
Originally, however, centuries ago, the so called Cardinals...
Originally, however, centuries ago, the so called Cardinals were originally seventy elders. In terms of the Mosaic pattern. The Church today does not govern, unfortunately. And people feel that they have the freedom to go and come, to join or to leave. Just a few days ago, last Thursday, a young man, a very brilliant and talented young man, came up to see me about some personal problems, and I became very dubious about him, what I found, he had trouble with the definition of sin. Then I found out he had left a fine independent church, thoroughly committed to sovereign grace, over a trifling matter. And when I told him he was having trouble with doctrine of sin because he was in sin, he had no right to leave a church that was faithful to the word of God, and he said, well the pastor and the elders didn’t call on me the whole time I was there. And I said, now just a minute, I know the pastor and elders of that church, for one thing, the pastor has been quite critically ill part of the time, and is only now recovering. And the three elders are busy men, who dedicate many hours to the work of the church. Why should they call on you? Able bodied, nothing wrong with you, you should have called on them and said, what would you have me to do? And I said, you are in sin, for what you have just said. And you don’t have the prerogative to say, I will, or will not join the church. And if it doesn’t suit me, and if they don’t call on me, I can leave, because I have not been served. The Church is a government, it must command us with the Word of God. And we cannot leave the Church for personal reasons, without being under the condemnation of God. [00:10:05]
First of all, we have, as the basic areas of government...
First of all, we have, as the basic areas of government under God, the self-government of the Christian man, second the family, third the Church, fourth the school. The school governs us. The function of the school is Levitical. In fact, that’s why the Christian school must not be called church related, it is a part of the life of the Church. And I believe it’s best to have separate officers for it. But, in the Old Testament you have two kinds of ministries. The priests, sacrifice. Hebrews tells us that’s ended. The Levites, and what was their duty? Deuteronomy 33:10 tells us. Instruction. Instruction and the Word of God for old and young. The Levites did the teaching of the old, they carried on the schools, so that the first country in the world to have universal literacy, was Israel. And you see, the ministry of the Church is not of Aaron, it is of Levi. It is Levitical. It is instructional. And that is why we must say to the state, the Christian school is not church related, it is fully a part of the church. Even though it be in a separate building. Because it is a part of the Levitical ministry, ordained by God. But the school is a government.
And fifth, our vocation is a government. We are governed by the work we do. It requires certain things of us, and if we don’t allow our work to govern us, we will be out of work in a hurry.
Then sixth, society governs us, the world around us. So that we live differently in terms of where we live. It makes a difference in California, what part of California you live in. You dress differently. When I was in Nevada, for example, you were a foreigner if you said, rodeo (ro-day-oh). It was rodeo (ro-dee-oh). When you crossed the border into California, you didn’t say rodeo (ro-dee-oh), you said rodeo (ro-day-oh). The littlest thing, but it made a difference to whether you were going to be an outsider or a native. But in a hundred and one ways that community around us governs us. It governs us emphatically. [00:13:31]
I knew one man in California, not a very godly man...
I knew one man in California, not a very godly man and I knew him slight, was from Mississippi. And he was kidding once, and he had a six-pack of beer, and he said, I’ve gotta drink it up tonight, I’m going back home to Mississippi for a visit, and he said, I don’t dare touch a beer there. I said, why not? Are you a hypocrite? And he said, oh no, no, I wouldn’t dare do it back there, among all the folks, he said, the community I live in, they’re pretty strict. And I said, you don’t go to church, you don’t have any standards, why the difference? Well, he said, I don’t want to make a fuss over things and create a problem. In other words, he was governed. He was governed in Mississippi by what the little town he grew up in, and where his family was, required of him. No matter how independent we may think we are, of those around us, they govern us. And that’s why the right kind of associations are important for us.
So, we have six areas of government, self-government of the Christian man, we have the family, we have the Church, we have the school, we have vocation, we have the society in which we live, and finally we have what the Puritans would only call, civil government. Never government. Civil government. The State. Whose ministry was limited to the ministry of justice. It was not the regulator of the man, the family, the church, the school, vocation, this was why they went to war against the king. They felt that he was violating what God required of him. Waging war against his own people, and against Christ’s Kingdom. No one area can claim to rule the others, all are alike under the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Today, of course, the State claims to be the government. And we’ve grown accustomed to this. Now just as in Scripture God is He under whom all things exist, we live and move and have our being in Him. Because the State today claims to be sovereign, it claims to be the umbrella under which all things exist, and we are to live and move and have our being under the State. [00:16:33]
Mediaeval church made that claim...
Mediaeval church made that claim. But any human agency that makes it is waging war on Jesus Christ. Now, I said we would postpone discussion of the family until we went through all seven basic areas of government under God. But let’s go back to the family. God gives to the family, in Scripture, all the basic powers in society, save one. The death penalty. That is why Cain could not be executed. Because God does not allow the family that power. He requires in capital offenses, the family to be ready to witness against their own son, in favor of the Lord and His righteousness, but they cannot do the executing. What are the basic powers in any society?
First of all, it’s control of children. Control of children. If you control children, you control the future. That’s why the modern, totalitarian State claims the right to control children. That’s why you have the Federal and State Child Control programs. To control children, is to control the future. It is interesting that Rome had all kinds of laws to control children. And that a French scholar, not a Christian, (Flandran?), in his history of the family in France, from the fall of Roman empire to the present, makes a very interesting point. He said, with the triumph of Christianity, all laws controlling children by the State were abolished, and did not reappear until recent years. The child was placed, in terms of Christian faith, under the authority of the parents. And if the parents did not meet their responsibilities, the Christian community assumed certain responsibilities.
Then second in terms of Scripture, the family has control in the second great area of power. [00:19:36]
Property. Property. We’re used to think of property as private ownership, or State ownership. Private ownership or Communism. Or Socialism. The Bible does not espouse either. What the Bible espouses is family ownership of property, and the family as the trustee from the past to the future. Remember Naboth? That land was an inheritance from his fathers, to be passed on to his descendants, how could he sell it, he was a trustee. Not the owner of it. God was the owner. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. God says it in His law. And it’s on that basis that the earth is mine, that the Lord says, here is my law, I control the earth, because I’m the maker of it. It’s my possession. Therefore you shall be governed by my word. By my laws. And property belongs to the family. The godly family is to be a steward under God, for all that they have. And the man cannot say, well I earned it, and therefore it is mine, and I will do with it as I please. No. It’s the blessing of God, to be used by him in terms of God’s word, and God’s kingdom. Which brings us to the third basic power in any society: Inheritance. Who is to inherit in terms of Scripture. Well, it’s the eldest son who is to receive a double portion, so if there are three, it’s to be divided four ways and the oldest is to receive it, if he is godly. But he can be passed over. And in Genesis we see the oldest son passed over more than once. And with the double portion, the oldest son had the responsibility for the care of his parents. So it carried with it responsibilities. Also the debts of his parents. [00:22:12]
He discharged them...
He discharged them. But what has happened today? The State says we control the children. In fact, some courts have said in the last two, three years, the child belongs to the State. And we have so altered our laws in the last century, that today, according to the technical language of the law, when you have title to your property, you have title to its use. The State owns it. You can leave the use of it to someone else, or sell the use of it, but the State at any time can take the land from you. Exercising its eminent domain, that is, its prior ownership. With or without compensation. Normally they give compensation. But in terms of legal precedents, they need not do so. It is theirs. And the State today claims the right of prior inheritance with the inheritance tax. Do you know that as of nineteen seventy-nine, seventy-five percent of all families were wiped out by the death of the father or mother because of inheritance taxes? Seventy-five percent of all families. The farm or the business had to put up for sale, to meet the inheritance tax. And as of the first of nineteen eighty, the taxes have been substantially increased, so we shall see a much higher percentage wiped out. Totally wiped out. Moreover, the State says, in effect, that it is now the eldest son. It gets the first cut of the inheritance. And says, don’t worry about the parents, we will provide for them with welfare. Then the fourth basic power, that God gives to the family, is education. A good deal of the Bible is written with children in mind. Reread Deuteronomy, for example, with that in mind. What does Moses do? His farewell address to Israel, before he goes to be with the Lord, is to review the law for them. What God requires of them, and this is what they are to instruct their children in. And Proverbs, instruction for children. And over and over again in Scripture, we are reminded of the duty to educate our children. [00:25:38]
So that education is one of the basic powers of the...
So that education is one of the basic powers of the family, which the State in the last couple of centuries, under the influence of socialism, has claimed, has taken away from the family. For its own purposes, to destroy the family. And to destroy the faith. And today we have a battle because we have been taking education back, in terms of Scripture. Learn not the way of the heathens, said Jeremiah, ten two. And to go to public schools is to learn the way of the heathen. So education is a basic power of the family under God. And fifth, the fifth basic power of society is welfare. And God gives this to the family. Paul goes so far as to say, he that doth not care for his own hath denied the faith, and is worse, worse than an infidel. And we are led to believe, both from the Old Testament and the New, that to care for our own includes not only those of our blood family, but our faith’s family. So that there is a ministry to those of our family of faith, who are in need. Here again we have worked to destroy this power of the family. I was very deeply moved a few years ago, when I was in Alabama, to read of a study just completed of two rural counties. Predominately negro, where there was not a single family, at that time, about a decade ago, on welfare. Not a single child receiving welfare aid. Why in those two counties, very small, out of the way counties, the black communities still held to the old time religion, and they didn’t want the State messing in. And they were caring for their own. Well if those very poor blacks could do it, why can’t the rest of us? Any elderly men or women who was homeless and had no children, why some family took them and he or she was called Uncle or Auntie. And so were homeless children. This was once commonplace in this country. Very commonplace on the frontier where deaths were so common. And people had harder lives then. It was not as easy to do this sort of thing. But they did it. [00:29:14]
Why today, when our lives are so much easier, are we...
Why today, when our lives are so much easier, are we unwilling to put ourselves out. And we let the State take care of parents, because we’re unwilling to do so. You see, God in His Word, has given the answer for social problems. And there was a time when Christians met these needs. This what Lester Roloff and the others are doing as they’re going into delinquency work. They’re restoring this dimension. Welfare. This was one of the things that made Rome so upset about the Church, very early. One was the conflict of lordship, and the other was the abortion issue. Interesting that we’re faced with it again. Not only did the early Church condemn abortion and disciplined sharply any member who practiced it, but also, because abortion methods were crude then, and they did not always succeed in aborting unwanted children, on birth they would take them, for example, in Rome, under the bridges of the river Tiber, and abandon them. Knowing that in an hour or two the wild dogs would be there to eat up the baby. And in every one of the cities of the Empire they had set places where they would take the baby promptly upon birth, and abandon it. And what Christians did was to go around systematically, and watch, pick up those babies, rush them to one family or another, and tell them to rear them in the Lord. That was a tremendous means of growth for the early Church. They grew by leaps and bounds. You know you can read in some of the history books how the early Church, according to the stories, was actually practicing cannibalism. That their communion meals are celebrations for cannibalistic feasts, where they drank the blood of and the body of the innocent children. I got that when I went to the University. They didn’t tell me why that story was circulated. It was circulated because they were trying to discredit them for picking up the babies. But the Romans knew better. They could see all these little children in these Christian families, and they also knew that these Christians were taking care of some of their old folks whom they were abandoning. [00:32:13]
It got so bad that Rome finally forbade Christians...
It got so bad that Rome finally forbade Christians, by law, to pick up these babies. That made them look worse. So they repealed the laws quickly as possible, because it discredited them with their own pagan followers. But this is the kind of responsibility a persecuted Church was undertaking. Families who were going to lose a father or a mother because they were Christians, and were arrested in a meeting, were still taking in these elderly people, and these unwanted, abandoned babies. Is it any wonder Rome was afraid of the early Church? You can’t compete with a faith that does that sort of thing. We’re no competition now to the ungodly, Christians can live side by side with pagan neighbors, and apart from the fact that they don’t get drunk and don’t commit adultery, what’s the difference? Really, very often you’d have to say, what’s the difference? What dedication is there? And after all, as one pagan magazine, couple of years back, in commenting about the sexual revolution which it helps promote, said, well, after all, it doesn’t pay to commit adultery, it’s awfully messy, leads to a lot of problems. So they said willy-nilly, it’s better to be faithful in marriage, pragmatically. And now of course, we have a book or two promoting the new celibacy. It’s very popular in Hollywood, by the way. What’s the ground for the new celibacy? The justification, the rational? Well, every time you go out and you sleep with somebody, you wake up with guilt feelings and nothing you tell yourself, about the fact that doesn’t make any difference, there is no God, helps. You still have the guilt feelings. So it’s better not to get involved. And so you have prominent personalities in Hollywood today, openly saying, we’ve joined the new celibacy. No more guilt trips for us. They can’t avoid the guilt trip before God, they’re sinners even though their sin now may no longer be fornication, or adultery. [00:35:27]
No it is not mere negation that makes us Christians...
No it is not mere negation that makes us Christians, nor that fills the Church. It was this kind of dedication. It was this kind of application of what it means to be under the government of Jesus Christ. Now we have an episode in Scripture that may help us understand the kind of question that comes very often to our minds, what do we do with all these unwanted, unjustifiable incursions of State power? Well, one of the areas is, of course, ungodly taxation. The income tax is ungodly, the property tax is ungodly, the only State tax allowed in Scripture is a half-shekel for every male twenty years old and older. That was the so-called temple tax, but it was actually the tax, they said a covering for your souls, covering or atonement means a protection, a covering. And we know from a long history, I’ve traced that tax to the year nine hundred A.D. among the Jews. It was the tax even after Judea fell and Jerusalem fell, for by that they provided their own government wherever they were. And the interesting thing, by the way, is that, not important in terms of our subject, but very interesting, in Southern France, Narbonne and another province were a small principality or kingdom, at that time, under a Jewish family of the house of David. Distant relatives of Jesus Christ. And all over Europe and North Africa and Asia, Jews faithfully sent their tithe, or rather their shekel, half-shekel, or the equivalent of it in gold and silver, to this prince. Made him the richest prince in all of Europe. The family disappeared because it became Christian, every ruler in Europe wanted to be related to Jesus Christ. To the divinic line. Including Charlemagne. And Charlemagne had one of his sons marry a daughter of this Jewish divinic family. So he could say, my grandchildren are of the blood of David and of Jesus Christ. So, they married that family out of existence. In about three-quarters of a century the family ceased to be Jewish. But they collected this half-shekel. And they governed by it. That was the only tax allowed to civil government. And since the Church was allowed one tenth of the tithe, or one percent of a person’s income, the Church was to be kept small. The rest was to be used for education. To provide music for the Church. [00:39:05]
To provide welfare, the second tithe...
To provide welfare, the second tithe. It provided a number of services, including health also. That’s why, from Old Testament times up until the last century and still with certain groups, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Adventists, they have hospitals. Which once did far more in the area of welfare, as well as ministering to those who could afford it. But our Lord was confronted with something that confronts us today, a tax revolt. Now, we don’t usually think of that, but Judea, throughout our Lord’s ministry, was in the grips of a tax revolt. It was one of the hottest issues of the day. After all, Rome was a foreign government, an unpopular, unwanted, alien force. Paying taxes was very unpopular. Many refused to pay. And those who paid did it because they didn’t dare do otherwise. And so, we are told, by the Gospels, and Luke makes this extra point, they came to our Lord with a trick question, bringing spies, bringing spies, Roman spies, asking, is it lawful, Master, to pay tribute unto Caesar? The perfect question to wipe Him out. If He said yes, it’s lawful, nobody would have listened to Him from that day out. He would have been finished, discredited. Because that was the one sure way of being unpopular in Israel. To say that you should pay taxes to Caesar. Caesar was so hated. But if he should say, it is not lawful, He would have been arrested. That’s why the spies were there. And that would have been the end of His ministry. You see the question designed to put Him out of circulation, to wipe Him out, and to wipe out His ministry, whichever way He answered. And so our Lord, discerning their intent, said, bring me a coin. Does anyone have one? Let me see it. Oh, whose image and superscription is on this coin? Why, Caesar’s. Well. Caesar is providing you with the coinage. With the police, with the army, with the courts. Well give back, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. But render, give back to God the things that are God’s. Now what did that mean? He said the answer is this, if you give to God the things that God’s, His tithe. If you give back to Him the government that belongs to Him in one area after another, by exerting that government, by taking this area of government, and that area of government, and recapturing, occupying it in the Lords name, under God, you’ll, little by little, eliminate Caesar. And the civil government will be no more than God intended that it should be. [00:43:22]
And that’s what we’re doing now...
And that’s what we’re doing now. By giving back to God the things that are God’s. The tithe, and we’ll deal with the tithe tomorrow and its implications, it’s the most revolutionary thing you can use to overthrow a government, believe me. By taking back the schools and giving them to Jesus Christ, and the children, and the family, the Church, and welfare, why, the major cost of taxation is education and welfare. You will wipe out Caesar and his power. Render to God the things that are God’s. Caesar will not be a problem. Now, this why Paul says, I would that every man remain content in the condition he was when he was saved. We’re not revolutionists. Our way is not revolution, its regeneration and faithfulness to the Lord. But, ye have been bought with a price, the price of Christ’s blood. Be ye not the slaves of men. How do you become free men? By obeying God’s word and by applying what he requires of us and governing one area after another, occupying in His name. So that you re-establish government under God. You take it away from Caesar. And this is what the Lord is calling us to do today. And this is what we are seeing step by step being done. And this why the enemy is so upset. Now, I’m not going to stop at the moment for questions, I want to skip on to another subject, and then afterwards have questions on both. Of what we have covered, and what we shall cover. Because I do want to get through with this, because I feel it’s so important to seeing the problems of what is involved in living under godless government. This is the doctrine of the atonement. The doctrine of the atonement is an inescapable doctrine. [00:46:32]