The Sovereigns Court - RR274E09a

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Sovereign's Courts
Course: Course - Godly Social Order - 1 Corinthians
Subject: Subject:Sociology
Lesson#: 15
Length: 0:39:51
TapeCode: rr274e9a
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Godly Social Order - Corinthians.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Praise ye the Lord, praise God in His sanctuary, praise him for his mighty acts. Praise Him according to his excellent greatness. Let everything praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Let us pray.

Glory to be Thee the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. For Thy grace and mercy has separated us unto Thyself. To be the people of Thy kingdom. To be Thy instruments in reclaiming the kingdoms of this world for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To be the people of faith and of obedience. Make us grateful, strong, ever constant in Thy service and give us a holy boldness that we may in all things move forward in the conviction that our Lord is the King and a conqueror. How great Thou art, Oh Lord, and we praise Thee. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our scripture is First Corinthians 6:1-8. Our subject: The Sovereign’s Courts.

“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”

It is a commonplace statement among historians that Judea was an insignificant corner of the Roman Empire. Therefore of not a very great importance. Nothing could be further from the truth! As a matter of fact when in the first century B.C. Rome took over Judea and Galilee it did so very happily. It was an event and an opportunity they welcomed because of the strategic importance of that area. Not only as a major trade route but in terms of the eastern frontiers of the Empire. So Rome went out of its way to favor Judea, hence it’s vengeance when they felt betrayed in the Jewish-Roman War of 66-70 A.D., a fearful war of vengeance unparalleled in history. They had poured money into Jerusalem and elsewhere, turned it into a colossal city of marvelously paved streets, marble palaces, important and strategic centers of the Empire. [00:05:59]

Now, here we have Paul writing to the Corinthians calling...[edit]

Now, here we have Paul writing to the Corinthians calling them a church, an ecclesia. Up until now the church was known as the Christian synagogue. In the second chapter of James where the English translates ‘assembly’ it is literally the Greek word in the original ‘synagogue’. There was a reason why the very early church and in fact into the second century used the term synagogue which is what they were, they were governed by old testament law, they were patterned after the synagogue, they had the same officers, the same format, but: by so calling themselves they also gained in unity from the Roman prosecution as an unlicensed religion. Because the synagogue required no license it had a special exemption. As a part of the Roman strategy to placate Judea. But Paul chose another word, a revolutionary word, one which the Church has forgotten to its own peril. That word was ecclesia. E-K-K-L-E-S-I-A, or usually in English two C’s instead of Ks. We have that word in English as church. But the word church does not convey the meaning of the original. As we have pointed out before we must again and again so you see the epistle, and all Paul’s writings in fact, in context. Ecclesia was a political term; it was a name for the city council. The governing body of the area. Here in our county we would say the board of supervisors because virtually of the county is unincorporated. [00:08:55]

What was Paul doing in using a technical political...[edit]

What was Paul doing in using a technical political term to describe the Christian assembly? He was saying that in terms of the kingdom of God you are to be his governing body upon earth. First to govern yourself then to extend your scope into the community so that little by little the kingdoms of this world are made the kingdoms of our Lord and of Christ. It’s no wonder that very quickly the church began to be viewed with suspicion. It was to use the old term, an emporium in Imperial. An empire within the Roman Empire. Claiming to have its own apostles, embassies of the king of Kings, its own ecclesia, governing bodies. And in fact in the original we find the word [unknown], our English word parish used. Which originally meant an embassy and Paul speaks of himself, we have it in the English text, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Now an ambassador has extra territorial rights and powers as does the embassy. And this is why the ecclesia from the beginning refused to submit to Roman licensure or taxation or regulation. Our text in particular sets this forth very powerfully and clearly, but is a text of central importance in the Bible. And it addresses the question of law. Which law should rule over Christians, the law of men or the law of God? Submission to the ungodly powers of this world is required up to a point, because the pivotal aspect of the kingdom of God is regeneration, not revolution. The church is the advance army of God’s kingdom called to convert, not to coerce the nations of the world. [00:11:57]

If the church, the ecclesia of Christ, turns from God...[edit]

If the church, the ecclesia of Christ, turns from God’s law it turns from His kingdom to the kingdom of man. This is a form of apostasy and can only be treated as such. One whose sword we obey as our social bond is our Lord and savior. Is it the state or is it God? The church as God’s governing council for an area must be governed by God’s law. Its members must obey and apply God’s law. To seek justice in man’s law is to deny that God is the only source of law and justice. For the Corinthians the choice should have been obvious it was God’s law over Greco-Roman law. At one time cases in America were decided by juries out of the Bible. Relics of biblical law are still around us to a degree but the basic direction of statist law is now anti-Christian. Paul thus states the issue bluntly: dare any of you. Notice that word dare. This is an affront to God, to Christ the King. Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law against the unjust and not to the saints. Paul regards such a step as daring insolence in the face of God. This did not mean that the Roman court could not be used in certain ways. Sometimes we find ourselves entangled with such systems, Paul himself applied to Caesar. But he was already forcibly before a Roman court and he used it as best he could. This requirement is not suicide but the avoidance of pagan courts wherever possible. Paul calls the pagan courts unjust. This does not that some decisions could not be good but that the basic premise of such courts is the rule of man, not God. The existence of Christ’s ecclesia means the existence of another law sphere, the true one. An institution to promote and further it. You can see what it means for the church to abandon God’s law, to abandon the army. It means in one group has followed the logic to its conclusion; you reject the lordship of Jesus Christ. You cannot have it! [00:15:42]

Because if Christ is Lord then the word of God is the...[edit]

Because if Christ is Lord then the word of God is the law book for his people. Paul asks do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? He takes it for granted! This is a fundamental fact, do ye do not know, are you so ignorant of the faith that you do not know this? The word judge is [greek word]. Now judgment is a central and basic aspect of rule. So one could render it ‘do you not know that the saints will rule the world?’ but he uses the broader term in the Greek, translated as judge. No man nor power rules who does not provide the law and the judgment. To surrender either is to acknowledge a greater power than Christ. It is the calling of the Christian in Christ to rule the world by the power of God. To give supremacy to another law then God’s is to deny God’s sovereignty and lordship. If the world in time is to be judged and ruled by Christians how can they now act as though incompetent to judge the smallest matters? Law is the will of the sovereign power for the lives of those within his jurisdiction or rule. They are his saved ones. In effect the redeemed of His rule. These come under the protection of their Lord or Sovereign. At one time cities were walled. Why? Because it meant those inside the wall were the protected ones because they were the people of the law, the law-abiding. The outlaws lived outside of the wall, as did foreigners who were not under the cities jurisdiction. We reveal our faith by the law we live under as our way of life, as our sanctification. Laws are essentially related to salvation because law is the outworking of a plan of salvation. It is its application in our daily life. We witness by our law to whom saved us and He to whom we give our allegiance. The world is made up however of God haters. The Christian who knows God’s law is more worthy to judge in matters great and small. In due time Christians at the last judgment shall gain their reward and they shall be, in part with Christ, judges over the fallen angels. [00:19:59]

For judgment is on transgressors...[edit]

For judgment is on transgressors. Thus, in a case within the church’s jurisdiction, to appoint as judges those in the church who are least esteemed to sit as judges is a bitter sarcasm on Paul’s part. Do you have so little regard for God’s law that you the rulers of the church do not use it? You go to the pagan’s outside! Well, your lowliest members are better than they. Why go to the pagans for judgment. Our choice of elders is the choice of those wisest in the Bible and holiest in the practice of their faith. Paul tries to make the church ashamed that it goes to pagan law and that it judges in terms of pagan standards rather than by God’s law and Christian judges. It is shameful he says that Christians go to court against Christians and that before unbelievers. Paul’s council is against going to pagan courts against fellow Christians. One Christian man can adjudicate the case in terms of scripture. It’s better to be defrauded, he says, then to let pagan courts as viewed as courts of justice. To go to pagan courts is to seek justice in a form of fraud because it gives validation to pagan courts. Paul sees it as ungodly to trust pagan courts as sources of justice. Having denied the triune God the pagan court has abandoned true justice. The pagan court can at times give at time what seems to be justice but because its verdict is unalien premises it undermines true justice. We live in a time where the relics of Christian law are around us but are increasingly being eroded. Which makes it all the more important for us to recognize the situation and to begin to create a Christian system. In fact one man sought to do so, someone whom I knew well, a Laurence Ekk, a brilliant young man, one of the more brilliant younger lawyers in the country. Who sought to set up councils of arbitration to adjudicate all cases between Christians and Christians. They were remarkably successful until the pietistic influences prevailed and those courts of settlement were taken over by people whose attitude was ‘yes you were wronged, you were robbed of twenty thousand or two hundred thousand (and I’m talking about specific incidences), by a fellow believer but why can’t you forgive and forget, isn’t it better to be at peace with your brother than to have your money back?’ and so they destroyed the courts. And Laurence Ekk, a lawyer, because he called attention very graciously to a judicial error by a judge was thrown into jail for contempt of court and beaten to death. [00:25:04]

So you can see what is happening...[edit]

So you can see what is happening. In verse eight Paul calls any resort to pagan courts defrauding one another. Paul says better to be robbed than to rob. But you are actually robbing each other by unjust law suits against each other. In verse two when Paul asks ‘do ye not know’ he is in effect saying have you forgotten what I taught you? Here is an elementary aspect of the faith he says. The saints are the God-destined world rulers and you seem to pay attention to this fact. The Corinthians saw as reality Roman rule and law. But Paul insists that the reality is God’s rule and laws. To neglect this is to surrender the faith. He sees the recourse to a pagan power as a lawless act, a criminal act on the part of Christians. It is their duty to obey God and to have recourse to God in His law rather to man’s court. Clearly for Paul the Christian is not called to validate the world’s ways and institutions, nor to wage war against them by civil disobedience or any like strategy. For Paul who wrote First Corinthians did not deny the jurisdiction of Caesar’s court when taken before it. Rather he worked to bring it into the light of another law system, its courts and it’s sovereign. The church in our time has largely forsaken Paul’s requirements. Is it then a valid ecclesia? A local ruling council? [00:27:41]

The word ecclesia or church in the original means more...[edit]

The word ecclesia or church in the original means more than preaching although preaching is clearly required. It is the proclamation of the law word of the Great King. The church must again be the church to be blessed of God. Because we are called to be obedient to the powers that be we do not in civil society practice civil disobedience but obedience within our kingdom where we apply God’s law and seek to bring all men into its orbit. Our King’s law must govern us but we are the people of the Prince of Peace and what we do must work ultimately to the peace of all society. Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God, other lords beside Thee have dominion over us. And we confess that we have been unfaithful to Thy kingdom. Unfaithful to our calling, to be elders, judges in Christ within Thy domain. Lord, make us zealous for the whole of Thy word. Faithful in its obedience, ever mindful that we have been called to be members, citizens of the new creation and have an obligation to bring all things into captivity to Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, Amen. [00:30:01]

Are there any questions now about our lesson?...[edit]

Are there any questions now about our lesson?

What Paul requires of us is that Christianity be a total religion. Most religions of antiquity outside of Biblical faith were limited. In the Roman pantheon you went to one temple if you wanted to buy, which you did buy a gift, insurance for your ship on its voyage to bring some merchandise to the capitol or wherever you were located. You went to another temple for a different type of insurance Worship was not much of a factor in Greco-Roman faith. You gave something to the gods to buy some kind of protection. But of course what the Bible represents is a total religion, one that applies to the totality of life, to every area of life, thought, activity and so on. And by abandoning God’s law we have reduced ourselves to the Roman mystery cults, mystery religions, which provided you with ideas and faith with regards to the afterlife but had very little or nothing to do with law or the world around us. And the retreat of the church into a mystery religion in the past two centuries has been a devastating surrender. We- yes? [00:33:04]

[Man speaking] Is the United States Constitution in...[edit]

[Man speaking] Is the United States Constitution in conforming to God’s law?

[Rushdoony] Is the United States Constitution in conforming to God’s law? That’s a very important question so many people treat the constitution as a sacred document, and they really don’t know what’s in it! It’s simply a procedural document. It gives you the kind of officers the federal union is to have, their terms of office, and a handful of other procedural rules. Nothing about law in so far as it governs the life of the people. Nothing! The bill of rights tacked on does deal with that in part, but it’s a procedural doctrine. First, it was not designed to replace the government of the states. Second, as Carl Bridenbaugh in his book Miter And Scepter, a very important work, pointed out, the very important, perhaps the most important single reason for the War of Independence was that among other things, the growing intrusion into the life of the colonies, each being a separate kingdom under King George the Third. He was king of Massachusetts, king of New York, king of Virginia, and so on. There was an attempt building up to impose bishops and a uniformity of religion upon all the colonies. And with that the colonies revolted. They fought against this intrusion which together with the other attempts to overrule local law had led to illegal judges being imposed on them and troops quartered on them, which meant quartered in the homes, having total power over the members thereof. A very immoral kind of power. Well, with that the colonies resisted an armed invasion which is what it was. [00:36:13]

Now, for some generations the colonies, then the states...[edit]

Now, for some generations the colonies, then the states, were ruled by Biblical law. [unknown name] an attorney not a practicing Jew and not a Christian wrote a book some years ago demonstrating that this was the truth about early America. The only aspect in the Constitution touching on Christianity was the required Oath of Obedience. Now an oath does not mean much today but an oath in those days and for generations was always taken on an open bible, open to Deuteronomy 28, invoking God’s obedience to his law word and his judgment for disobedience. Since World War Two I’ve noticed in the televised inaugural ceremonies that the oath is taken on a closed Bible, which is a fitting symbol of what we now have in Washington. So that’s the relationship of Christian faith and the Constitution. Yes?

[Man speaking] Rush what was the title of the book that you mentioned, do you recall?

[Rushdoony] The Bible and God’s Law, I believe. J. Erelic [uncertain].

Any other questions? If not let us conclude with prayer.

Oh Lord our God how great and marvelous Thou art. And how true and righteous all together is Thy purpose for us and for men and nations the world over. Give us grace to proclaim Thy so great salvation through Jesus Christ. And Thy purposes for the redeemed of God as set forth in Thy law. Recall Thy church Oh Lord to its proper function. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide you and protect you, this day and always, Amen.