Who Shall Be Lord Challenge of Books of Acts - RR166A2
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
[Introductory speaker] Our speaker this morning is going to be Rev. Rushdooney. If you have read half of Rev. Rushdooney’s books you have read a lot. He was a man who was given much and in many ways framed the debate, as we know it today, between Christianity today and humanism. He has articulated the perimeters of that debate and has helped give the church its sea legs more or less in this battle beginning with a book such as The Messianic Character of American Education which really launched the Christian school movement in this nation. You see so many organizations out there battling such as the Rutherford Institute and other groups that would trace the Genesis back to the important contribution to the apologetics to the Christian faith which this man has contributed by the grace of God. And so his topic this morning is one that we gave him that we hadn’t yet heard him speak on and that we had a lot of questions about. And we figured, what better opportunity then to have Dr. Rushdooney asked to speak on this subject. Often times he is asked and you come because you know what he is going to say but I don’t know what he is going to say about the subject of The Challenge of the Books of Acts. We are in many ways faced with similar challenges today. But the early church faced how to deal with persecution, what is the proper relationship of the church to the civil magistrate and how do we proclaim the lordship of Jesus Christ? Who shall be Lord? is the topic of our first session this morning and we will ask if Rev. Rushdooney will come forward at this time. [00:02:02]
[R.J. Rushdoony] If you do not know who Barney Frank is you have not been reading the papers. Barney Frank is the congressman who had as a resident scholar in his home a homosexual prostitute and felt that his behavior is altogether innocent. The Boston Globe Washington bureau reporter and columnist Tom Olivent wrote with regard to Barney Frank when the scandal broke. “I have known Barney Frank since I was in college. He is a man of surpassing integrity. I have never known it to be questioned. I think he is a master politician which people forget. He is also a magnificent congressman and above all there is nothing at all in this episode that counters any of these other images and I would expect him to survive this smear in good standing.” Well he may survive it and thus far has. Now, in a country where Barney Frank is honored and the church is regularly in trouble and smeared you had better expect persecution and we are getting it; churches regularly being taken into court for daring to excommunicate a sinning member or for having an unlicensed Christian school or parents for homeschooling.
Before this day is over a few Christian somewhere in the world will have been slain. They are dying everyday somewhere and countless more being imprisoned. We face therefore a time of testing as the apostles did in the book of Acts. Very early in the book of Acts we see Peter and John arrested, imprisoned and tried for healing a beggar at the gates of the temple called Beautiful. In the name of Jesus Christ they did two things. First they healed the man who had been lame from his mother’s womb; secondly they ascribed the healing to the name of the Lord. So remarkable a miracle seems hardly a cause for arrest but if we think so we are thinking naively. We must remember that the primary question at the trial was, “By what power and by what name have ye done this?” [00:05:44]
Men are governed by various things, some by truth,...
Men are governed by various things, some by truth, and others by self-interest and so on and on. The Sanhedrin’s question is revealing. “By what power…?” For men without power, without faith, without hope power is often their central concern. For such men the power of God manifested through Peter and John was a serious threat. They wanted power for themselves alone. As the established ruling hierarchy they wanted no threat to their supremacy. When miracles continued they arrested Peter and the other apostles. Over and over again throughout history ungodly men have resented the presence of power outside their established order whether in the church or in the state or in individuals. For power to appear outside their control, outside the control of an establishment is seen as a threat to its life. And it makes no difference how good the manifestation of power may be. The power and wisdom revealed in Stephen’s ministry lead to his arrest and execution. The charges against Stephen as against our Lord also were contrived and dishonest ones. The problem was that it was opposition insisted on being primary in power while rejecting the truth. Even within the church this evil bent is in evidence. When Peter received Cornelius into the faith he was accused of wrongdoing in receiving a Gentile into the church without requiring him to become first of all a Jew. The church still all too often expects God to work through their official channels and inside their walls. [00:08:29]
Who is it that is most persecuted in the New Testament...
Who is it that is most persecuted in the New Testament among the apostles; most often under arrest in the book of Acts? It is Paul. Why? It is because the power of God was manifested in a special way through Paul which aroused not only the hostility of the entire ungodly world but even of the elements within the church. In this era the temple of the Sanhedrin were largely under the jurisdiction of Rome and of King Herod who proceeded to persecute the church. The church had in no way criticized or attacked the civil order. Its offense was to manifest the power totally independent of the state. If man’s hope for salvation rests in politics and the state as it did and it does again today then the state will be unforgiving and it will be hostile to anyone who sets forth another plan of salvation in power. The ancient state saw itself as man’s savior and hope. Man had no true life, it was held, outside the state; In fact some went so far as to say that a stateless man was not a person. Because of this view Christianity was seen as a rival government with a rival king and it had to be suppressed. The issue was lordship; Christ or Caesar. In this struggle the temple and the state stood against the church. In this struggle King Herod arraigned himself and presented himself as a god before the public and the book of Acts tells us that God struck him down. Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Libya for teaching customs we are told were not lawful to receive neither to observe being Romans. [00:11:21]
Alexander’s comment on this verse, Acts ...
Alexander’s comment on this verse, Acts 16:21 is very interesting. He said, “’Teach’ is precisely the same word that is translated ‘show’ in verse 17 though meaning in both cases being ‘to announce’ or ‘to declare’ but not without an implication of requirement and authority like that suggested by the word ‘proclaim’ from its habitual association with the acts of government or rulers. You get the point that they (pause?) to teach, to proclaim to set forth a gospel was the exclusive right of a king. And the very word ‘gospel’ referred to an imperial proclamation. To continue with Alexander. “Customs are rather institutions whether established by law or usage where the term is applied both in the singular or plural to the law of Moses.[00:12:35]
This is also the sense here as a Philippian colonist...
This is also the sense here as a Philippian colonist had probably no notion of the difference between Jews and Christians. “Unquote. Paul and Silas, it would seem, were arrested for being Christian Reconstructionists; for saying that everything had to be remade in terms of Jesus Christ and His Word. The gospel they preached challenged the power base of Lydia by revealing the saving power of God. In Acts 21:27and following Paul was arrested in the temple and the rest of Acts deals with its aftermath. In this instance Paul was simply worshipping quietly in the temple but his proclamation year in and year out of the gospel so threatened and angered the leaders of Jerusalem that an all-out attempt to at least keep Paul in bondage ensued. The persecution of the early church was logical given the revolt against God by mankind. Certain things follow. First, man’s original sin is his will to be his own God; to determine good and evil for himself; to determine law and morality. Fallen man will not welcome anything which sets forth God’s power in salvation. Second, the tower of Babel as well as the Babylon of Revelation tells us of humanistic man’s dream of a one world order apart from and in defiance of God. Given this fact it is absurd that to think that effectual Christianity will have anything other than a very hostile response from ungodly man. It is a threat to their power and their hoped for freedom from God. [00:14:54]
Third, effectual Christianity is a witness to the ungodly...
Third, effectual Christianity is a witness to the ungodly of the power of God and His kingdom and they want to forget Him entirely. The world has struck back at Christians and the church repeatedly, steadily over the centuries. Some of the ways that this has been done are the following. First, Rome forbad all unlicensed meetings and religions. To exist legally the church had to acknowledge Caesar’s headship and its right to tax regulate and license and to control the church. It was a question of lordship or Sovereignty; Christ or Caesar. Second, Rome saw the church, and rightly so, as a rival government with a rival sovereign. The church provided, besides worship, health, education, welfare services and much, much more. It provided a good government; a more powerful one in its effects on the lives of its people. This was of course very offensive to the Roman authorities. Third, in time Christianity began to triumph and another approach was taken by Rome, Caesaropapism, which later came to be known as Erastianism; the state as the head of the church, professing to be its father in Christ and controlling it for its own purposes. Fourth, in the modern age; toleration has been another approach. The church and Christianity are denied any relevant place in the life of the country but are allowed to live in the fringes in a tolerated condition. This toleration ends when the church becomes relevant. Fifth, defamation has been a common strategy of persecution. The early church was accused of immoralism, cannibalism, incest and much, much more. The Puritans were accused without substance also being joyless, sour killjoys, enemies of the arts, of culture and more. Christianity and Christians now face a like barrage of criticisms including the charge of seeking to oppress others and to establish a dictatorship. [00:17:54]
Sixth, as in Sweden today all voters are eligible in...
Sixth, as in Sweden today all voters are eligible in church elections because the church is a state church. As a result its Lutheran church offices are commonly atheists and Marxists. As the state gains power over the church it lays down the conditions whereby men can hold office. Several other strategies are being planned here in the United States and abroad to limit the power of Christians. First, by the use of Tort Law; planning to bleed the church financially by all kinds of lawsuits against it. You do not hear of these lawsuits; they are not publicized lest they arouse people; but they are there. Second, civil rights claims will be made against the church in favor of the ordination of women and homosexuals. This will be a way of requiring the church to conform to humanistic standards. Third, the churches creedal stand will be held to be divisive and discriminatory against humanists, Moslems, Buddhists and others. Fourth, steps will be taken and have been underway for some time to deny tax exemption to churches and to Christian organizations. All of this is being done by people who profess to be apostles of love and tolerance; people who express unceasing hatred in the name of love. The question remains as in the book of Acts; who shall be Lord? Christ or Caesar? The issue is always a religious one. More than a century ago Dr. Gerhard Uhlhorn in describing the persecution of the early church wrote of all civil orders generally and Rome in particular, and I quote, “The state was founded upon religion. It was very well understood that there must be something which binds the conscience and disposes man freely to obey the laws. This was faith in the gods and providence in a pagan sense; in retributive justice. [00:20:46]
Sooner says (Putark?) may a city exist without houses and ground then a state without faith in the gods. This is the bond of union; the support of all legislation. Unquote Today, of course, those religious bonds are humanistic. All laws have religious presuppositions. They rest on a doctrine of good and evil. Christianity has a very different religious premise then did the many pagan cults of the first century A.D. and hence it was by nature dangerous to the pagan state as it is to our pagan state today. Christianity began and begins with the Sovereignty of God rather than the state then of man or of man’s ostensibly autonomous mind. Many gods and many religions were given official status by Rome and according to Acts 17:23 there was in Athens an altar to the unknown god. Again quoting Uhlhorn, “The consequences of this confusion of religions in the select circle of the learned were different from its effects upon the common people. With the learned the whole ritual was only a veiled pantheism; each god was to them a symbol of a universal deity. The same is indicated by many inscriptions from this period such as “to all the celestials” or “to all gods and goddesses”. All the gods were even compressed into one and a figure in which is many attributes as possible of the several gods were combined was called Deism Pantheism; god of the universal deity. Unquote [00:23:00]
Priority in the scheme of things however, especially...
Priority in the scheme of things however, especially with the learned, rested not with the gods but with them. The Roman synod could establish or disestablish a god and its cult and it could make gods out of the dead Empires by its fiat will. Paul at Mars Hill challenged all of this. First of all he declared the God of Scripture to be the Creator of all things. And hence His worship could only be on His terms and in His ordained ways. God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though He needed anything. Seeing He giveth life to all and breath and all things. We do no favor to God in worshipping Him. We worship Him because of His favor and grace to us because He calls us to do so. Then second, Paul says in verse 26 of Acts 17, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” The nations are not only created by God but predestined by Him in all things. It is not the prerogative of men and nation to recognize and allow God and His worship to exist because all the prerogatives and powers of the lives of men and of nations are in God’s Hands. Third, Paul continued of the nations that they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after Him and find Him though He be not far from every one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being as certain also of your own poets has said, “For we are also His offspring.” These words cannot be given, as some say, an Armenian meaning. Paul says that we are God’s offspring; meaning His creation, His human race and family made in His image. Hence God is the inescapable fact of human knowledge because His knowledge of Himself is stamped upon every atom of our being. Men hold or suppress the truth, Paul tells us, “in unrighteousness.” Hence although he be not far from every one of us it is a matter of doubt that they might feel after Him and find Him. Fourth, because of this fact that we are God’s creatures created to serve and glorify Him it follows for as much then as we are the offspring of God we ought not to think of the Godhead as like unto gold or silver or stone graven by art and man’s device. [00:26:52]
Given these facts man cannot without great sin think...
Given these facts man cannot without great sin think of God as of his, mans, making and creation. In adultery man makes his god to be what he wants for as God is a creator and man the creature. Thus fifth, Paul concludes in verses 30,31 of Acts 17, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: 31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, or justice, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Before Christ, relatively speaking, men did not have a clear, or so clear a revelation of God. When Paul says in the King James “winked at”, this is not a good translation, “having overlooked” is that which Alexander gave. It was a time of some poor barons. Now there is a clear and sure judgment. This judgment is in the hands of Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead. Earlier the Athenians expressed great interest in Paul’s message about the resurrection; now they turned away from Him because the resurrection was linked to the judgment of God. This they hated. The thought of the God whose law ruled over all and in terms in which all the ungodly were to be judged this was very offensive. More than once, whether in personal conversations with the ungodly or in letters from them, the same issue comes up. These people are usually angry, hateful and vituperative but they, the self-appointed apostles of love, insist that orthodox Christians are all judgmental. Yesterday’s mail brought two such letters, standard for our receipts. People who, in the name of Christ, had every nasty thing they had to say about some of our writers and were doing it in love. Those who damn us with every breath sometimes call us judgmental and with good reason because in their conscience they feel always the judgment of Almighty God and whenever we preach or witness or write anything which troubles their conscience they will burn with rage. [00:30:17]
One of the letters I threw away yesterday indited one...
One of the letters I threw away yesterday indited one of our writers for being full of hate. I went over the article and couldn’t see anything in it except their conscience was pricked by something I could not spot and they burned with venom. They lash out as a means of striking at Jesus Christ. They want to persecute Jesus Christ by destroying His people and this is what the book of Acts is all about. Can man destroy the power of God? And the answer is emphatically “NO” and a classic example of this, we are told, of Saul, “And as he journeyed he came near Damascus and suddenly there shown round about him a light from heaven and he fell to the earth and heard a voice unto him, “Saul, Saul why persecutest thou Me?”” This represents the logic of unbelief. Persecution becomes a necessity for the fallen man as he develops the implications of his position and we should not be surprised at such developments. Let God stop every Saul in his tracks either to convert them or to destroy them. “For even the wrath of man shall praise Him.” We should not be surprised at the persecution of the church. The cause for wonder is the casualness and the lukewarmness of church members of which our Lord speaks in Revelation 3:14-19
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
And he promises to spit out any lukewarm churches. And our Lord as He gives us this warning declares, “He that has an ear let Him hear what the spirit says to the churches.” Rome is gone. And the other enemies of Christ are dust in the ashes. And the Soviet Union and the United States unless they repent and mend their ways will disappear. So, the summons of men and of nations is to repent and to believe lest judgment overwhelm them.