The Basis for Covenant Community - RR183A2
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On Wednesday and Thursday of this week I had with me four men who were Christian leaders who came from the west coast to the area of Oxford, England for some discussions with me. One of the starting points I made with them I believe is important to make in terms of our concern this day. I started off by telling them that one of the most serious problems facing the church today is in its inability to see what the world is like, to appreciate the fact of sin and its consequences, the fall and its direction. I pointed out that for most Christians and most pastors, unfortunately, the man next door who is not a Christian is a good man just like us and all he needs is to have Christ added to his life. That he is basically a decent human being, a good man and all he needs is Christ. For this is to fly in the face of all scripture, because we are told there is none righteous, no not one, we are told that men are depraved and their natural direction is to increase the scope of their depravity. And we are told that we are the salt of the earth, the preserving agent and if Christians are not in the community exercising their preserving character the world would quickly go its full course as it is now, and to every kind of abomination, and would then turn on Christians with total hatred. Then God would cast Christians as salt that has lost its savour into the roads and byways to be trodden under the foot of man. [00:02:40]
We have to appreciate the fact of sin, and that without...
We have to appreciate the fact of sin, and that without Christ there is no community. Community exists when people have something in common. Modern men have attempted to crowd community and the fact of being human. We’ve heard much about the family of man In this generation, but in spite of repeated efforts on the part of many, many intellectuals to further this doctrine of the family of man, people have either reacted indifferently or negatively to the concept so that only the promoters accept it and then intellectually only. The so-called ‘family of man’ has never been more divided then it is today. Another attempt to establish community has been racial. Of course German National Socialism under Hitler was dedicated to this belief. So too was Japanese Militarism in the thirties and forties. Since then black racism has been popular in some circles, as well as Arabic, Hindu, Celanese, Jewish and others who have tried to build a community in terms of nationality or race, on the fact of race or a people. Others, intellectuals, have seen community as founded in the life of reason. This of course was the great tenant of the enlightenment and very much so in that of some of our intellectual leaders. But how well do scholars get along one with another? Every academic community is also a place of tension and mutual hatred. Community has been seen in terms of cast and class by Hindus, Marxists and others. And others of course have tried to ground community on politics or economics. [00:05:26]
Modern man has turned to various doctrines of community...
Modern man has turned to various doctrines of community in the vain hope of creating a society which will provide its members with fellowship, with status. But it has only created more diversity and disunity because it never comes face to face with the fact of sin and with the person of Jesus Christ. In the early nineteen seventies a sociologist here in southern California and one of the universities spoke about the absence of community and he said in a metropolitan area of a few million people, such as greater Los Angeles, most people would not have more than twenty persons in the entire area who could share their particular interests if they were at all intelligent or cultured. Moreover, what if there were twenty or say a hundred? How could those people in an area of millions find each other? And so, he said, modern man has a problem, the more he develops his abilities and talents the less community he can have, the more isolated he is. And so people find that any concept of community is so fragile that they seek refuge in other areas than traditional forms of community. The common interest in sports, or in drinking so far as a place to look for community, or in drugs, or in a common line of business and so on. But these things do not provide community, only a single point contact, and the life of man becomes more and more barren. Clubs and various organizations provide common interests but again it is single point and very commonly members of a particular group have no contact or very little outside of that single point contact. [00:08:22]
As a result a great many people in our culture know...
As a result a great many people in our culture know a large of people but have close ties with very few or none. Some engage in a great many community services but when they leave the place of service their life is barren. What they have is not a common life, just a common activity. In the midst of all this if we look around the United States we find two limited forms of community, the first is made up of the foreign born, of immigrants. These usually maintain for a time strong ties of community because they come from the old country, they feel the difference and so they draw together. They have their own publications, their own churches, charitable organizations and so on, and some are very much given to a considerable amount of mutual help. But after a generation or two the children and grandchildren become Americanized and they drift away and they become unattached families. The second area of community life is the family, which has become all around us a nuclear family having very little contact with relatives. But the family now is now experiencing a major revival within the Christian community. The family is a community, it is the basic community under God and its revival of strength is an important fact. It has led to the revival of the Christian school movement. It has led to the establishment of family trusts and a great deal of things to strengthen the ties one between the other. Of course the reason for the revival of the family is Christian faith; it does not exist outside of the Christian community. So the basic and strongest form of community is Christian. [00:11:14]
As Christianity revivifies and as it seeks wholeness...
As Christianity revivifies and as it seeks wholeness and strength it also revivifies the family. There are many people today, especially the humanists among who the nuclear or atomistic family is common place, but among Christians we are seeing increasing evidences of a return to the trustee family. When I was in Britain last November, with two others of our men, one of the most encouraging signs in a country where everything seems so radically discouraging is the revival (or rather establishment) of two or three groups who’s one concern is reviving Christian family life and Christian family support for the members of the family. The family caring for its own and the results are beginning to attract wide spread, even national, attention in Britain. A strongly covenantal theology and church will provide more community than other factor in American life because its life is grounded in Gods covenant of law and grace and in the covenant family. At present my two volume systematic theology is being prepared for publication, about a hundred or so pages of that are given to the biblical doctrine of the family, very much forgotten in our day and that’s why we have anti-nomianism and that’s why we have irrelevance. Because what is a covenant? Well it’s a treaty of law. That’s the simplest definition, covenant and contract are synonyms. There are two kinds of covenant, one between equals where each agrees in terms of stated premises to abide by the terms of that covenant or contract. But the biblical covenant is different, a covenant between a superior and an inferior, between the Creator and his creatures. It is a treaty of law but at the same time it is an act of grace, it is an act of grace whereby the King of Kings and Lord of Lords says that I will give you the way of life, my law. Walk ye in it. This is my grace to you; I have given you my law. [00:14:38]
I have redeemed you from death...
I have redeemed you from death; I have put you into the community of life. That’s why the covenant of God is an act of grace whereby He gives us His law. That’s why we are told faith without works is dead because our faith is a covenantal faith, it is not intellectual assent. This is why by their fruit ye shall know them, our Lord says. When we recapture the doctrine of the covenant we will see the essential, the inseparable relationship of grace and law. The law given unto man as an act of grace and the law is a covenant privilege for the community of life. Now within this covenant the family has an important place, remember the covenant is given as the way of life and the family is the nursery of life. So the family has a central place in the covenant of our God. Beginning at Exodus 20 we have the law as God gave it to Moses in Sinai. In Deuteronomy we have the law as Moses summarizes it to the families of Israel, to the covenant people to guide them in their family government. And Moses declares in Deuteronomy 6:20-25:
“In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” Tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the LORD sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
Remember first the sacrifice and then the law. First atonement and then the law is the way of life, the way of holiness. God’s covenant with man is thus a blessing for our good always that He might preserve us alive. [00:18:17]
It is both law and grace...
It is both law and grace; the covenant of our God is a covenant of peace and life. Christ is the covenant redeemer who restores fallen man into the covenant of life and the great covenant celebration of the Lords table celebrates the fact of life and of our communion through the Adam of the new humanity with Jesus Christ. Those outside of Christ are members of the covenant of death. Which shall be disannulled, they are members of an agreement with hell which shall not stand as Isaiah declares. This is fallen man’s covenant with the tempter. Because the basic fact of fallen man is his will to be his own God, Genesis 3:5, and to determine good and evil for himself, to be his own law. He cannot live in communion with other men. As one existentialist said to affirm the fact that man was his own god, for him God was not a problem, he didn’t think about it. But his neighbor was, because if I am god my neighbor must be the devil. The dominion mandate to man in Genesis 1:26-28 specifies dominion over the earth and over its animal life and its potentialities. It does not include dominion over other men. This is however precisely the goal of fallen man, ungodly dominion or domination over other men. And this warped and fallen concept of dominion not only produces all the evils of history but it definitely precludes community. Our original sin is to believe each of us that we are all our own god. And as long as we are fallen and believe that, how can we have community? We will only seek domination over others. [00:21:01]
It is a grim and telling fact that Hitler’s dream of...
It is a grim and telling fact that Hitler’s dream of a racial community became a murderous nightmare. And Stalin’s dream of community, communism, ended in unequaled exercise in mass murder and hatred. The closer the humanist gets to the realization of their dream of community the more deadly they become. They are in truth a covenant with death. Our community in Christ, our covenant in Christ, is a covenant of life and reveals itself in our life together in Christ, a community of communion in Christ. One of the very interesting and now forgotten classics in English is the publication of the Book of Homilies. When the Church of England was formed they found that the clergy who didn’t break with Rome were ignorant of the Bible, did not know how to preach, and so two books of homilies (sermons) were prepared for all the basic doctrines and for the clergy to preach them Sunday after Sunday in rotation. And they set forth some very basic doctrines and beautifully. In one of the homilies, and I quote, “Ye have heard that there be two kinds of faith, a dead and an untruthful faith, and a faith lively that worketh by charity according to Galatians 5:6. And the first to be unprofitable and the second necessary for the obtaining of our salvation, the which faith have charity always joined unto it. And it’s truthful, bringing forth all good works. And the same matter concerning the same matter you shall hear what follow it, the wise man sayeth ye that believeth in God shall hearken, hearken unto his commandments. For if we do not show ourselves faithful in our conversation (and conversation in the King James sense means behavior) the faith which we pretend to have is but a vain faith.” Because the true Christian faith is manifestly shown by good living not by words only as Saint Augustine said: “Good living cannot be separated from true faith which worketh by love.” And Saint Chrysostom said “Faith of itself is full of good works as soon as a man doeth believe, he shall be garnished with them.” If you go down the line over the centuries to the great fathers of the church and up to the last century you find this repeated over and over again by all the great Christians. It is a sad fact that Christians have neglected the doctrine of the community, the covenant, it’s meaning for us. [00:25:05]
It is I think rather sad that a man who was a banker...
It is I think rather sad that a man who was a banker and a professor and has been a federal administrator is the man who in a rather superficial book all the same reminded us of the part of the covenant in the American past. According to John Oliver Nelson it was once the covenanted community which held America together. Towns would come together as they were formed and establish a covenant with God and with the members. Nelson cites the covenant of the blue hill main Christians in 1772 who were the signers of the township said that they did and I quote: “Covenant together in faith and love and promise in love to watch over one another and by all means in our power to promote the honor of Christ and the peace and happiness of the whole Church.” Unquote. That was the covenant of the township, whereby as Christians they dedicated themselves to further their mutual love and helpfulness and to further by all means in our power the honor of Christ. Such covenants committed believers to faithfulness to God and to membership one in another. Many covenants were regularly renewed in times of revival because people felt the need to go back to their roots. Nelson cites one of 1861 in Hartford, Vermont. Now this is an interesting bit of historical data from a man who gives no evidence of a Christian perspective. Men do make alliances and they do establish associations, if they neglect the covenant of our Lord they will make other covenants and communities all which are destructive to a country and its people. [00:27:41]
Now we often read of the laws which at one time required...
Now we often read of the laws which at one time required Jews in Europe to wear a yellow cross or some like identifying insignia. We should be mindful however that some badging did not mark Jews alone, it came in late in the Middle Ages as faith was waning and so they were badging everybody. In England for example, from the fifteen hundreds convicts had to wear an identifying badge, so did beggars and vagabonds. Any of the poor receiving pensions had to wear a badge on their left sleeve or they would lose their welfare. The middle class were required to dress in a certain way so they could be identified and so on, everyone was badged by law. And over the centuries men have regularly tried to separate themselves and others in terms of some symbol of status or lack of status. We have this in our day, badging becomes popular when faith declines. The rich and others in the mainstream of wealth have certain new styles and new places to go to which they drop immediately if others pick them up. So they are constantly adopting new styles and new resorts as the ‘in’ place to be. It’s a modern form of badging. [00:29:46]
It goes with de-Christianization...
It goes with de-Christianization. Badging breaks down community, it stresses economic status. And as our modern era has de-Christianized itself it has also replaced community in Christ with political, economic and other ideas of community. One Scholar, Maurice Ashley, in The Age of Absolutism has noticed that the English governor of Jamaica, 1673, the Dutch there had a motto: “Jesus Christ is good but trade is better.” And that has marked that temper in the modern age, we’ll hang onto Christ for fire and life insurance but we like our way and the modern tempo better. And the sad fact is that in too many churches that profess the Bible from cover to cover, Jesus Christ is seen primarily as a fire and life insurance agent. In fact, I was on a plane last year and a woman got on board who was making such a fuss and so much trouble for everyone, I said ‘oh I hope she is not my seatmate’ and sure enough she was. And she saw that I was reading a book and she wanted to know what it was about and when I showed her the cover that it was Christian study, she said ‘Oh are you a Christian?’ and I said yes. And she promptly identified herself as an official of a very, very prominent American evangelical group, and she began to go on about certain things assuming I would agree with her fully and I made clear I did not. And I said ‘I don’t agree with that approach’, I said, ‘I am someone who believes that is very, very wrong to view Christ just in those terms, rather we must say though he slay me yet must I trust him. We can’t go to him for just the good life. We cannot treat him as a super fire and life insurance agent’. With that she began to beam, she said ‘Oh that’s beautiful, that’s the best designation of Jesus that I’ve ever heard’, and I said ‘It’s a high road to hell! If all he is to you is an insurance agent, to save you from hell and give you heaven and He’s not the Lord who commands you, you do not belong to him.’ She was immediately offended and she went to the stewardess and asked if she could change her seat and did, for which I was grateful. [00:33:26]
Community, you see, says we are members one of another because we are members in Christ. The idea of community of being a community of gentleman, or of community of scholars, or of community of businessmen is warped. It puts community in terms of statist and activity, not in terms of life, and without Jesus Christ, without fellowship in Him as members one of another, the basis for community has been warped. And what has happened while the community has been replaced by the state. And this is our problem today. So as we continue with our next subject we come to the brotherhood of humanistic man, the brotherhood of humanistic man. The modern idea of community and of brotherhood comes from the enlightenment and the enlightenment was defined by Immanuel Kant in these words and I quote: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his nonage or childhood.” The childhood from which man has supposedly emerged according to Kant was Christianity of course. That’s what the goal of the enlightenment was about. Reason, Philosophy and Science have now given man maturity and the ability to solve the problems of mankind now was a matter of enlightened men and their activities. It was the duty of all men to follow and obey these thinkers as they once had followed priests and pastors. In fact, they held that this new elite was the new priesthood. With the triumph of the age of reason, wars they held, should gradually disappear and man’s problems be solved. But wars have not disappeared, nor has crime disappeared and poverty with state control of education as for Horace Mann predicted would happen in a century after its adoption. This means fifty years ago crime and poverty should have disappeared in the United States. [00:36:55]
We live today in the most bloody and the most brutal...
We live today in the most bloody and the most brutal century in all of history. A higher proportion of mankind has been killed in mass murders, war, famine, genocide and other forms of brutality than in any other century of all history. Now those are the statistics as of the 1950s when the century was half over and think of how much has happened since and the end of this century is not yet. We are given a great deal of mythology in our schools. The modern age saw the depression of the lower classes and the rise of civil brutality. Did you know that torture had disappeared by the middle ages, the high middle ages because of Christian influences? It reappeared in full force with the renaissance and it is now as we are de-Christianizing the world through our humanistic attitude reviving on a scale unequaled in history. The enlightenment however, saw itself as the birth of freedom. Baron d'Holbach in the System of Nature in 1797 gave the basis for that birth of freedom. It is nature. He wrote and I quote: “Man is the work of nature, he exists in nature, he is submitted to her laws.” Unquote.
Freedom for man meant freedom from supernaturalism, from Christianity and living naturally, not supernaturally. This meant overthrowing this book, the law of God, the word of God, because man had to live naturally. By eliminating biblical faith tyranny and slavery would be ended because natural man, they held, is good. They saw Christianity as the fall of man. [00:39:39]
Nature would be a return to freedom...
Nature would be a return to freedom. For Kant, and I quote: “Any perpetual religious constitution calling for unquestioning faith must be absolutely forbidden.” Unquote. He said further and I quote: “Knowledge in religion was most dishonorable for man.” Unquote. This he said in his essay What Is Enlightenment. This is what we’re seeing in the courts and in Congress, the attempt to destroy Christianity legally, step by step. Holbachs exultation of nature and of natural man and the life in nature as freedom led to Marquis De Sade’s kind of thinking. Jean-Jacques Rousseau also exalted nature and natural freedom. One scholar has described the modern age as revolution, a revolution from Christ to Adam, from supernatural man to natural man. The Marquis De Sade’s works were very much a part of his age. Between 1770 and 1800 there was a very, very large production of pornography to satisfy the new naturalism. It had begun, it’s natural. If the law forbids it, that’s unnatural and therefore bad. Sade’s works had a very extensive circulation until Napoleon banned them. Many people have never forgiven Napoleon for that. Sexual perversions were very common in various parts of Europe and bestiality and sodomy very popular. Napoleon forced De Sade’s works underground but its influence on the Romantic Movement was very, very great. In the 1960s Sade’s works were revived and were basic to the sexual revolution and to the revolutionary impulses of that time. [00:42:16]
His works were widely published from the ...
His works were widely published from the 1960s in hardback and paperback. He was touted and is being touted as a great thinker and psychologist. They are manuals in perversion. Sade in his last will and testament described himself as and I quote: “Atheistic to the point of fanaticism.” Unquote.
His sexual practices were not uncommon in his day but the difference was that Sade wrote about them. Sade was at total war with Christianity, against God and morality in the name of nature and humanism. He laid down the program for humanism and it’s what you’re getting in the sex-ed classes in the schools today. For him only sexual perversion had meaning because sexual perversion violated biblical laws and sodomy in particular was his great delight. He found pleasure in evil, in anything that horrified the godly, and hence his coprophilia. Sadomasochism was essential to him as a way of life. He stayed awake at night trying to think up new ways to do evil and to horrify Christians because by his own statement it was the profanation of the sacred that gave him pleasure. Because creation is Gods handiwork, Sade had to defile and to destroy it. He wrote and I quote: “Ah, how many times by God do I not long to assail the sun, snatch it out of the universe, make a general darkness, or use that star to burn the world, oh that would be a crime.” He relished crime. He called attention to crime and to himself. He made public war against God and he wrote and I quote: “The idea of God is the soul of wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind.”
For De Sade nature is the norm, humanism the true religion, because for him nature was the antithesis of the idea of God. [00:45:11]
Whatever occurs in nature is normative, is good...
Whatever occurs in nature is normative, is good. He wrote, and I quote: “It is for villainy, the appalling which pleases. Well, where are they more emphatically present than in vitiated [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. It is the filthy thing which pleases, the more filthy the thing the more it should please. And it is surely much filthier in the corrupted than in the intact and perfected form.”
Holbach, Rosseau, Sade and others held nature is good, let us follow her. That was their motto, nature is good, let us follow her. Sade simply took that and then reversed it later he said no, and I quote: “Nature is evil, therefore follow nature.” And this was his program. La Mettrie who wrote Man a Machine also denied morality and affirmed the legitimacy of every impulse in man and he declared and I quote: “We are no guiltier in following the primitive impulses that govern us than is the Nile for her floods or the sea for her waves.” Montesquieu had also prepared the way for Sade by holding that laws simply reflect the climate, circumstance and physiology. For Sade every man was his own god and for him and I quote: “My neighbor is nothing to me. There is not the slightest relationship between him and myself.” What we see in Sade and in all the humanism is the will to death. All they that hate me, says the Lord, love death. [00:47:38]
As (Ceber and Wainhouse?) have noted and I quote: “Sade saw condemnation.” He declared and I quote: “Destruction, like creation, is one of nature’s mandates.” He favored abortion because he liked death. Saint Ives has described Sade as others have as a precursor of the Romantic Movement and rightfully so. Sade favored murder as natural. He opposed the death penalty because it was religious; doesn’t that tell you something about the modern attitude? The death penalty abolished, but abortion sponsored? Sade has had a major influence on modern films, television and fiction. Sade’s importance is considerable and he is, in terms of what humanist thinkers have said, the fountain head of their thinking. He took the humanistic worship of nature to its logical conclusion by stripping nature of the attributes of God which some of the earlier thinkers had given it. Nature, he said, had to be the sum total of the acts of man and of nature…except for their religious acts. He stripped nature of Christian morality and he held the greatest thing in nature was destruction and death. These are the premises of humanism. Is it any wonder that when they are in the church they seek to destroy the word of God, when they are in politics they work to destroy the Constitution, when they are in the schools they destroy education, when they are in society they work to destroy the family, their work is destruction. We cannot see the ungodly around us who are people who are good and just need Christ added to their lives. [00:50:11]
We have to see them as totally depraved and if they...
We have to see them as totally depraved and if they’re not acting at all out it is because they don’t have the opportunity to do it and are still afraid. These men, Sade and others saw evil as both natural and necessary, because to go against nature was, for him, stupid and perverted. Sade believed that depravity was man’s only good, his only natural and free condition. Freedom meant for him the freedom to be evil, Shelby Shark a very prominent American attorney has said in many areas of serious crime since 1950 we have seen such an explosion that is eight thousand to ten thousand times more common in forty eight years. Why should Christians be surprised at this? In Revelations 9:11 the name given to Satan is Apollyon which means destroyer. Since Satan cannot create he seeks to destroy and the same is true of all Satanists. We see today many, many cults with either open or disguised practices of Satanism. These at times have very many criminal affiliations with murderers, with the drug trade, with pornography, with prostitution, with homosexual groups and more. Common to them all is this same demonic destructive impulse. Humanism therefore because it rejects the God of life, the covenant God, rejects salvation from sin and death through Jesus Christ. It is linked to the urge to power, power over others and a will to death. George Orwell in 1984 summed up the truth about modern man’s dream of political, economic salvation with these words: he said it is the sensation of trampling an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, said Orwell, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever. [00:53:17]
The brotherhood of man and the great community of humanism...
The brotherhood of man and the great community of humanism thus are simply a façade for power and domination. They are an urge to mass destruction. Igor Shafarevich, a soviet scientist, writing in From Under the Rubble edited by Solzhenitsyn ascribed socialism as a war against God, against the family, against private property, against life itself, and he said its results will be and I quote: “The withering away of all mankind and its death.” Not community but death is the result of all departures from Jesus Christ. Of our Lord we are told by him were all things made and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the life of man. Our Lord himself declares: “I am come that they might have life and they might have it more abundantly. I am the Resurrection and the life, they that believe in me though ye were dead yet ye shall ye live. And whosover liveth and believeth in me shall surely not die. I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father except by me.” And no man comes to community or to any good without Christ. Jesus Christ is life and Satan is the destroyer and all who are in Christ are those who work to further life in every sphere and all those who are outside of Christ work to further death in every sphere. How then can any man imagine that life and community are possible except through the salvation of Jesus Christ or apart from the government of the King of Kings and his law? There is not one plan for heaven and another for earth, there is not one kind of community in eternity but another for this earth. Only in Christ whether in heaven or on earth is there life and community, to seek it elsewhere is sin and it is the enthronement of evil. [00:56:31]