Posted in biblical justice, Christian Living, Christian Perspective, culture, theonomy, Worldview Analysis

Biblical Justice is Social Justice, but NOT Society’s Version of Justice

If you want to make people uncomfortable, all you have to do is intertwine politics with religion. There is a strong sentiment in our society (here in the U.S. at least) of a concept of separation between Church and State. And yet, when we read God’s Word we find the following truth:

  • “Old Testament civil rulers were ordained by God, were not to be resisted, and bore religious titles as the representatives of God in society. Their main function was that of avenging God’s wrath against violators of His law for social justice.”1

In fact, Paul makes his argument in Rom 13:1-7 in light of such truth, going so far as calling the civil magistrate a “minister” (Gr. diakonos; deacon) appointed by God (Rom 13.4, see v. 1).

The unfortunate reality today is that there is a lot of talk about social justice, but a down right “antipathy to taking moral direction from the Bible, for to do so is viewed as outdated, ignorant, unreasonable, prejudicial, undemocratic, and impractical.”2 There is a great desire by many to hold all in this nation, in our church’s, in our families to a standard of justice that is fluid, not static. A position that is always moving the principle of practice from one field goal to another. Dependent upon the feelings of the general populace. Yet, “making moral judgments requires a standard of ethics.”3 However, the reality is that people are “uncomfortable and irritated by the holy requirements of God’s law for every aspect of human conduct, ‘modern’ men reject this shackle upon their personal liberty and desires, and they ridicule its provisions for social justice.”4

To be honest, I can understand this attitude by those from outside the Church, but I struggle with Christians who have—because of a syncretistic mindset—conformed to such thinking. This is not how things were always handled in the past. Even a cursory study of western society reveals that there was a foundation of biblical ethics that formed and shaped many things that we once hold dear, and are found complaining we have lost in just a few generations.

Of course, the moment an appeal is made to God’s Law-Word as an ethical standard for living is introduced, every abuse or misuse that has been documented is immediately brought to the forefront as a rebuttal. This, in order to deny any petition to the Bible as the first and final standard of ethical appeal.

You know, no matter how careful I am when purchasing produce, there are still times when I find a bad one in the bunch. But, I do not stop going to the grocery store to purchase my produce. “But today a vast number of theologians [scholars, apologists, pastors and the like] have thrown away the biblical yardstick of ethics and have substituted something else for it.”5 (Now those words were written in the 1980’s, but they are still relevant—perhaps more so—today). The fact of the matter remains that since “all of life is ethical, and ethics requires a standard of right and wrong. For the Christian that yardstick is found in the Bible—the entire Bible, from beginning to end.”6

Theonomic Considerations

The word “theonomy” is a cuss word in many Christian circles. It means “Gods-Law” (theos-nomos), and it is from “law” that we derive our ethical norms which have a direct bearing on our moral compass. Like it or not every Christian is a theonomist to some extent. If you are not, then it is pretty hard for you to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12.30; cf. Deut 6.5); or to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10.27; cf. Lev 19.18); including even “your enemies” (Matt 5.44; cf. Exod 23.4-5).

We are told in Scripture that God’s Law is perfect (Psa 19.7), that it is given to light our paths (Prov 6.23); something God’s people are to delight in (Psa 1.2; Rom 7.22) and meditate on (Josh 1.8). The Law/Word of God is spiritual, holy and good (cf. Rom 7.12, 14), and Christians “do not overthrow the law by faith…on the contrary we uphold the law” (Rom 3.31; italics added). For without this Law we would not know what sin is (Rom 7.13), how deeply it infects our hearts (Rom 5.20; 7.8-11) or be able to walk in the steps of our Savior (1Jn 2.6; 3.24; cf. John 15.10).

Christians often get confused on this point. The underlying assumption is sometimes voiced that “yes, we must obey Jesus commandment’s, but not those things spoken of in the old covenantal system.” Without being overtly abrasive that is an extremely naïve opinion. Jesus is Lord (Yahweh) of both covenants. The former a temporary shadow filled with types pointing to the true King of creation, ratified in animal blood. The latter having the crown jewel Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah/Christ properly situated as the cornerstone and capstone, having removed the types/shadows, for the true Prophet, Priest and King has ratified this better covenant in His own blood.

Illustrative Conversation

As I have served in the ministry I have often met opposition several times on what I have stated thus far. One particular instance happened a couple of years ago. Two members of my congregation were having a lively discussion regarding the validity of God’s Law today. The aggressor had the other brother on his heels a bit, and so after listening for a few moments, I gently interjected “How are we to know what is right and wrong?”7 His response was quick and to the point, “By natural law of course.” I said, “O.K., what do you mean?” He replied, “That people know right and wrong naturally, it’s written on their hearts. And they can look at creation and see how things are ordered and how things should be done.”

In reply, I mentioned that nature does not tell us things we have to interpret them. For example, a mother hamster eats her young. Should we look to nature in this instance to determine the rightness or wrongness of how we ought to deal with our offspring? He told me that of course not, but we are not “under God’s Law today, but under grace” (an obvious reference to Rom 6:14). I agreed, but then asked does that imply we then live lawlessly when Scripture defines sin as such? “Of course not,” he said.

I then asked, “How do we define what is right sexually?” He added, “We are not to be sexually immoral; no fornication.” Again, I agreed. But then, I pressed further. “How do we define what sexual immorality is? How do we know what fornication is? Without God’s Law how do we define bestiality as sinful? If we appeal to nature, someone will point out that we are really just animals and sometimes animals have sex with other animals; for instance, a dog will pretty much hump anything.” Completely flustered with me at this point he said, that I was being “too specific” and he walked out the back of the church. (He did return for evening service, but there was no further discussion about the topic in question. Being gracious, I didn’t press).

Allow me to ask a very important question: How are we to know how to live in this world in a way that is pleasing to the Lord above? If we turn to our current culture they will point us to a pluralistic, relativistic standard of living. The world’s ethical standard is always in flux, because the man who has no king always does right in accordance with his own eyes (Judg 17.6; 21.25). How ought we to live? What about our society?

I believe the answer is firmly seated in Jesus Christ. Jesus—Yahweh in the flesh—is seen in Scripture as the head of both covenants (the latter one having been done away with cf. Heb 8.13). And, the ethical norms that He applied in the past are reflective of His holy heart. Therefore, by His life’s testimony we see that he not only refused to abrogate the smallest jot or tittle of the Law, but condemned anyone who taught others to do so (see Matt 5.17-19). Which is why he preached woe to the Pharisees and scribes (cf. Matt 23) who pretended to uphold the Law as handed down from Moses, but put forward their own man-made traditions that they attempted to bind to the people who were trying to live righteous lives before God (cf. Mark 7.1-13).

Sometime last year a statement was written to be signed by those who disagreed with how some are using “social justice” as a ploy to deviate from the centrality of the gospel in Christianity (https://statementonsocialjustice.com/). I have stated in the past that I agree with social justice, but not how our society defines it. I am not a progressive. I abhor liberation theology. I detest anything that deviates from biblical truth. Therefore, I signed the statement agreeing with the articles defining and defending it.

Imaging Bearing Responsibility

When I speak of societal justice I believe that it is what Christians ought to fight for. This is our Father’s world. He created it. He gave us stewardship over it to rule effectively in His stead (cf. Prov 16.12; 25.5).

Some deny the dominion (culture) mandate described in Gen 1:26-28, believing it has been effectively removed after the fall (Gen 3). I disagree because our fall into sin did not remove our image bearing status. God created human beings as image bearers, this is our status as His creature. People image something, just what exactly depends upon what they ultimately have faith in. The sinner as well as the saint reflects the image of that which they hold dear.

For the Christian we know who we have been created for. Being born from above means being born anew. We have been made new creatures in Christ. His image we are to reflect (Rom 8.29; 2Cor 3.18; Eph 4.24), and we will do so the more our minds are renewed by His Word (2Cor 4.16; Eph 4.23; Col 3.10; cf. Rom 12.2). The former mandate (Gen 1.28a) is once again picked up in Matt 28.18-20 when Jesus declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” (Matt 28.18-19a; NET).

We Gotta Do Something! What?

What I fear is that because Christians—knowing something is wrong with the world in which we live—no longer find acceptable or valid the precepts of God as binding upon human lives, therefore, they appeal to something else. Something that reflects not God, but sinful man; specifically, in the U.S.A. context, the state. There are many movements within the Church that have a veneer of goodness, but are full of rot inside.

  • Those who decry racism teach their children racism. Those who deny privilege for one group, teach their children privilege for another. Those who decry the robbing of an individual’s rights as human beings, teach their children (if they have not already killed them) to rob others of life. Those that teach acquiring wealth by theft is wrong, teach their children to rob the wealth of others in order to gain what they have not worked for. Those who decry hate speech (i.e. slander), teach their children to speak hatefully towards others they disagree with. Those who decry religion in the public arena, teach their children a religion where man is god in the public arena. Those who decry chauvinism, teach their children to be chauvinist pigs (yes, a feminist is a chauvinist through and through).

One of my daughters came home the other day and said, “Dad, do you know some people say they are color blind. That they don’t see color?” I told her yes. I then asked her if she knew what that meant? After saying that she didn’t. I pointed out to her that I am “color-blind.” (No, I don’t suffer from physical colorblindness.) What I mean by that, I explained to her, is that I don’t see people based on the color of their skin. I view them as fellow image bearers of God, descendants of Adam. There is one race, not many. And while we may all share ethnic heritages that are unique and different, I do not value a person based on their ethnicity, but their character. Some of my greatest friends have been from a different ethnic heritage than my own.

We live in a victim seeking society. The Smollet case from Chicago is one clear example. Racism is not color blind, and it doesn’t just happen because some white man hates a black man. There are blacks who hate whites and they are just as guilty of racism—a.k.a. bigotry.

I’ve seen similar arguments on the issue of abortion. You can’t take my right to kill my baby, because it will infringe on my ability to produce wealth, find happiness or ruin my figure. It’s such a burden to have a baby…you’re a man you don’t understand!

I’ve seen the same form of victim argumentation used to justify rapists and child molesters’ light sentencing. When “gun violence” is reported we act as if the gun is the truly sinful one in the equation, not the sinner who is pulling the trigger. The gunner is a victim that needs the state and state funded institutions to help the perpetrator cope with the pain in their life.

There is a perpetual firestorm raging in our society at large, and in our Christian churches on the whole. I’m sorry, but socialism and communism are not biblically taught paradigms. Neither is the WOKE movement a method of gospel reconciliation, but a perverted teacher of unforgiveness, segregation and division within the body of Christ.8

I am by no means an expert on these issues. But I am confident that our identity as human being’s is defined by the God who created us, not by the groups we associate with (contrary to intersectionality). However, I should add that some of the groups that we associate with are in stark contrast (i.e. opposition) against our Creator. These are the unfortunate results of not being willing to apply of God’s Law-Word to every aspect of our lives (starting with the individual, within the family, within the church, and yes, within the state). Where we attempt to define and then ratify what we believe to be right and wrong by our own standards, and then seek to rectify them by that same standard of foolishness.

I am amazed at how we assume that the Creator of it all, would just leave it to us to figure things out?! This is not the form, method or definition of social justice that is defined within the pages of Holy Writ. Our God loves righteousness and from Him it springs forth, but righteousness is definable by the one who is Right and that is the Holy God of the Bible.

  • “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all…righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psa 103.19; 97.2b).

The moment we deviate from what He has decreed and assume that authority on our own merit, we are (perhaps without realizing it) carving an idol of our own making.

______________________________

ENDNOTES:

1 Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985), 227, PDF e-book.
For those who are not familiar with Greg Bahnsen he was an apologist (nicknamed “the man atheists fear the most”), an elder/pastor in the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church), a scholar in residence, philosopher, and family man. He went to be with the Lord in 1995 from complications during heart surgery, he was forty-eight years old.

2 Ibid, 17.

3 Ibid, 14. Italics in original.

4 Ibid, 17.

5 Ibid, 17, 18.

6 Ibid, 27.

7 The one individual was known for joining into theological debate on a variety of issues. Normally, I would not have intervened, but since this was a discussion between two teachers in the church and things were beginning to pick up in intensity I attempted to ease things a bit. This is a paraphrase conversation, not a word-for-word dialogue. The quotes are used to identify the speakers, but are not intended to be exact quotation as they are the general overview of the conversation that ensued for illustrative purposes.

8 Capstone Report, “Wake Up to Wokeness: J.D. Greear embraces Racialism & rhetoric of White Privilege,” April 6, 2018, http://capstonereport.com/2018/04/06/wake-wokeness-j-d-greear-embraces-racialism-rhetoric-white-privilege/31966/; James R. White, “An Exegetical & Historical Examination of the Woke Movement,” post by James Manning, Sovereign Nations, January 30, 2019, https://sovereignnations.com/2019/01/30/exegetical-historical-examination-woke-church-movement-james-white/.

Posted in Biblical Questions, Christian Living, Christian Witness, culture, dominion, politics, war, Worldview Analysis

Buried Treasures: What Are You Willing to Stand For?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6.21)

This is not a post that I intended to write, but one that I want to get off my chest. And, I suppose that it does coalesce with what I have been saying over the last few posts. Christianity is at war with the surrounding culture.

That statement probably comes to a shock to some within the Christian community. The funny thing (a sense of irony; not a laughing matter) is that though many of us may be unaware of this reality those outside of our covenantal body[1]comprehend the true state of things…we are at war. There is a battle being waged between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent (cf.Gen 3.15; Matt 3.7; 12.34; John 8.37-47).

Understanding the Overarching Conflict:Kingdom Related

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other”(Matt 6.24). This is the reason I have labeled the gospel as a battle motif. Not because Christians are seeking to pick fights with the world, but because of the natural enmity between the two nations; members of the kingdom of light versus members of the kingdom of darkness.[2]I realize that we do not often refer to the saved versus unsaved as citizens of distinct nations, but that is in fact the case or texts like Col 1:9-13 are robbed of meaning:

  • “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased praying for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthen with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son….” (italics added.)

Notice the distinction between the two kingdoms. Both have opposing ultimate standards. The one is established, committed to, and in love with God. To the Lord do we owe our allegiance, for it is His will that we seek, and it is His knowledge and understanding of reality that we strive for.Those who do not share citizenship in the kingdom of Light[3],by nature are members of another kingdom and seek to do the will of the master of that domain.

An explicit point that Jesus made during his earthly ministry:

  • “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear[4][Gr. “not able”] to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John8.43-44).[5]

This is the reason the Lord told his disciples that they would be hated by those in the world[6],and as they persecuted him they would likewise persecute them (us).[7]It is our opposition to the evil in the world that ushers in hate and persecution. We are not called to needlessly pick fights, but we are called to stand firmly upon the truth. We are commanded to oppose every ideology, every theology, every philosophy, every ethical theory or scientific inquiry, etc., that stands in stark contrast with God’s Holy and Righteous standards.

The inner Problem Determining the When and Where to Fight: The Political Battlefield

Unfortunately, all of us are affected in some measure by the culture in which we live. By nature, we dislike strongly when someone hates us.We have strong aversions to persecution or suffering in its various forms. Much easier is it to go with the flow than to act like a salmon swimming against the current of the streams of thought found in our culture. People have their sacred cows that they do not want molested or tarnished, and this is true for the Christian as well as the non. One particular sacred cow is found in the field of politics (or river, if I were to stick with the salmon metaphor).

I believe in social justice. Not social justice as defined by our society, but justice as revealed in Scripture. A more applicable term might be biblical justice if I were afraid of offending those within my Christian fold, but I’ve been more of a salmon in life than one of those school fish. Therefore, I have no qualms using the phrase “social justice” within biblically defined parameters.

Now since I believe that Christians ought to be concerned about justice in society, I have no problem speaking on political issues. Some Christians will not touch such things with a ten-foot pole, others can get down right nasty. I found this out first hand in my first pastorate. It was an election year, and since I believe that the Bible speaks to all areas of life—my Lord is the Lord of life, and not just mine but all aspects of it—I opened my mouth.Some may have preferred that I had shoved a shoe in it, but I didn’t…I won’t.

My position politically is to vote for that candidate that best reflects my positions in life. I realize that we have not had very many“good choices” over the past few decades, but that is to be expected when the Church remains divided and silent allowing unbelieving thought to fill in the vacuum we have created culturally. One particular issue that I pay attention to is baby-killing.

You know it is a sick bit of irony when we will protect the babies within the womb of animals (especially endangered species), but when it comes to the infants in human wombs justifications fly off the shelves like water, milk and bread before a snowstorm.

I will not vote for the murder of babies, and I will not vote for anyone who refuses to take a firm stance on that issue. Little did I know that one of my parishioners was a party-line voter. That is to say, didn’t matter what the issue was they would always vote for that party. With a Bible in one hand and a finger jabbed in my direction on the other I was yelled at as I stood behind the podium.

Heartbroken is the best word that I could use to describe my internal reaction. Disbelief was a close second. After a few moments, when the individual managed to pause to take a breath. Perhaps, this person thought they had me dead to rights, I’m not sure, but I was thankful for the opportunity to speak. I posed a question to the person, “do you not think that the Bible speaks authoritatively on political issues?” The question was side-stepped. The ad hominem attacks ensued for a few more moments, and then the individual left.Their spouse came up to me apologizing saying that they would probably not return to church services there. I told her I appreciated her kindness, let her know that I would be praying for them both, and then after all others had left I collapsed in tears.

Now I was not angry with that brother, and I prayed for them that night, pleading my case before the Lord. The next day the person who had stormed out of the church called me in tears asking forgiveness for the way that they behaved. We had a good conversation that day, and he and his wife never stopped coming to that church until I resigned.

What this has to do with Buried Treasures

Jesus in the sermon on the mount makes the obvious point,“where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” You cannot serve “God and money.” Either God and His way of life is most precious to you…your treasure; or, the material/relational benefits of this life are what you care about…your treasure. I guess there is a meme out there about the state of New York stating that they don’t believe in the death penalty (the killing of convicted criminals), but they are for the murder of babies in the womb. That is a sad, sad reality.

So, for today I want to turn your attention to Endabortionnow.com. This is a ministry arm of Apologia Church in Tempe,Arizona. They are networking with churches all across this country (and in parts of the world like Australia) in providing materials and offering training for opposing the killing of our heritage. They call the sanitized taking of life what it is murder, but they also share the gospel with women who are entering those clinics that seek to victimize unborn children. They also provide for those women who decide to not go through with killing their offspring by providing the necessary materials needed to take care of the newly born children (i.e. diapers, formula, even in some cases places to stay), even offering adoption if the mother does not believe they could take care of the child.

Literally thousands of babies have been saved by this ministry as they network with other Christian church’s/ministries across this nation. Perhaps you’ve heard the slogan “put your money where your mouth is.” Well, I give as I am able to this ministry and I want to get the word out for other like minded individuals to do likewise.

If you are not able to get on the front lines, then you ought to be able to dip into your wallets. This is one fight that all professing believers ought to be involved in, in some way. God Bless.

ENDNOTES:


[1] But you say, “I’m not a covenanter. I don’t believe in covenant theology, that’s a reformed theological position.” In response, I ask, “Have you made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ? Do you acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior before others? Have you been baptized? Do you participate in communion/eucharist?” If you answer “yes” to these questions, then you are a member of the covenant community. Have you not read, “And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’”(Mark 14.22-24; ESV). By the way, participation in these sacramental rites(baptism/communion) is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and acknowledgment before others that you have faith in the one whom you identify as Lord and Savior. Whether or not you are truly saved is the subject of another discussion, but it should be noted that being a member of the “covenant community” is not equal to being a member of the “saved community.

[2] Some may ask, “But why can’t we just get along? Aren’t we called to peace?” In response,I would ask, “peace with whom? To whom should we seek to be at peace with?”Obviously, as Christians we are commanded to live peaceably with all people as long as it is dependent upon us (Rom12.18). But that peace is not to be adopted at the sacrifice with what we know to be right and true (cf. Deut 4.1-8; Deut 20.11-12). I will attempt to explain the overarching manner in which this is to be done in a future post.

[3] Remember Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12); and in another place: “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world” (John 11.9). This is not a new teaching, but one encased in Old Testament theology: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Psa 36.9; cf. John 1.4-5, 9); “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling” (Psa 43.3; cf. John 8.31-32); “For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the lightof life” (Psa 56.13; cf. John 3.19-21); “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day(Prov4.18; cf. 1John 1.5-7).

[4] In the English the sense should still be easy enough to understand for “cannot bear” means “cannot accept or allow one to be subjected to” (Merriam-Webster) for they are hostile to what the Lord is saying (cf. Rom 8.7-8) because of where their true allegiance/parentage lies (v.44).

[5] For those that want to argue that this is limited to a Jewish context, I merely refer you to the following texts in the N.T.:

  • “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2.1-3; cf. Rom 1.18-32);
  • “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother”(1John 3.10);
  • “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1John 5.19).

If you want some O.T. evidence that refers to the same sort of context, I would recommend reading Psa 1.4-6; 2; Prov 1.10-33; Isa 30.1;Jer 12.3-4; Ezek 22.9-11, etc.

[6] I should probably note that the “world” (Gr. Kosmos) is not meant to convey the idea of the planet. Although the Greek can have that meaning, the references in John’s writings normally (not always) speak of two opposing systems of faith. Likewise, when Paul calls Satan the prince of the air, or the devil is referred to as the “god of this world” this does not entail his control over the planet earth, but instead speaks of his blinding influence over fallen human beings. The world (planet earth) is the Lord’s. He sits as sovereign above it, for it is His footstool (cf. Isa. 40.22; Isa 66.1).

[7] See John 15.18-20; Phil 1.29; 1Pet 4.13.

Posted in Christian Living, Christian Perspective, Christian Witness, culture, dominion, war, Worldview Analysis

We are called to War

Now these are the nations that the LORD left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before. (Judges 3.1-2)

What sort of wars were these? Were these wars primarily physical battles or spiritual encounters? Why would we even care today? Sure, they are important historical truths encapsulated in that precious book we call the Holy Bible, but really what do those fights have to do with us?

We are not Israel, it is said. We are not living in Canaan, it is thought. Would it surprise you to realize that the fights that we witness in the past through these biblical accounts were not physical battles fought over the promise land. Nor were these skirmishes limited to the spiritual conquest of one people’s God over all others gods and goddesses. The fact remains that the fighting we witness in Canaan was both a physical and spiritual war.

An unfortunate reality has settled on the hearts/minds of the modern Church today. There is presented to members of the faith a false dichotomy of the spiritual versus physical realms. Tell me, how did the Lord God create us? Are we not both at the same time spiritual and physical beings. Persons that have flesh and bone, and yet at the same time a spiritual nature living within us.

Of course, such thinking has become taboo to some extent in what many like to identify as a scientific age. Cut us open and what do you see? To the psychologist or sociologist all that we are as human beings is seated in that three-pound mass within our skulls called a brain. No evidence of a spirit, therefore a spirit we do not have. Then again a spirit by its very nature lacks physical properties (cf. John 4.24; 2Cor 3.17). Our consciences, our rational thoughts, our emotions, etc. are not material things. We see and feel the actions of such things, but no one has ever looked at them or dissected them in the lab. Human beings for all that we are, we are not limited to matter in motion.

In the beginning God created us as both creatures of the physical realm with a spiritual essence, and He did so in order that we might represent His glory throughout the world. Therefore, every act, every thought, every word is intended to reflect the invisible Creator God; all of life is both physical and spiritual. “Okay,” you ask, “why the text above?” I’m glad you asked.

In the coming weeks, I will be discussing the Flood recorded in the book of Genesis. This will be in response to a few skeptical remarks I have heard by professing believers and skeptics alike. One such individual made the offhanded remark that God must have failed in His purpose for sending it, for it was not too long after Noah and his wife, and his sons and their wives got off the boat that they began sinning again. The assumption is that God was starting over to rid the world of evil, but He evidently failed in His goal.

God didn’t fail. That’s a fact, but we do fail in seeing the big picture. There are several deep truths revealed in the deluge of that period in human history. The one that I want to fix your attention on today is inheritance. The Lord gave a very clear example of what He expects of His creatures, and the dire consequences of sin. He also demonstrated who He intends to inherit this earth…His people. “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5.5).

Think about this for a moment, who did God create this world for? His people.

This is first demonstrated in the garden with our foreparents, and it is lastly promised in Revelation where we are told “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21.3). Throughout Scripture God demonstrates time and time again that He is longsuffering with sin and evil for His people (cf. 2Pet 3.9). He also explains that our purpose for being is to exercise dominion over the earth (Gen 1.26, 28), for this is how we glorify Him in word, thought and deed.[1]

The Purpose of the Canaanite Conquest

When Israel entered into Canaan they were exercising godly dominion. Pagan’s were in the land, they had been there for generations but their time was up. Just as the Flood came in judgment against sinful people, so too was judgment coming against those who purposefully and willfully rebelled against the God who had given them life.[2] This promise delivered to Abram (Abraham)[3] was fulfilled in the generation of Joshua:

  • Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Josh 21.43-45; italics added).

And yet, we read the passage at the head of this post that God left pagans in the land to test His people who were not trained in war. They were to physically drive out that which was considered abominations before the Lord. Things that we rightly identify as spiritual issues, but the physical actions are which are known as sins. The Israelites as God’s representatives were sent in as cultural marauders; minus the negative connotation we often associate with that word.

Failure to Follow Through

One of the glaring sins present in the book of Judges however was that rather than humbly submitting to the Lord as King they lived as if they had no king over them: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 17.6; 21.25). Rather than confront the sinful culture before them, they married themselves to it. Thus, they were rightfully seen as adulterers before the Lord; unfaithful servants of the One True King.

The reward for their unfaithfulness to God was enslavement to a pagan culture. Eventually, overtime they began to cry out for aid. A generation would rise up that would identify their sin and beg for mercy from their God. In response, God would deliver them by raising up a judge (equivalent of a civil magistrate) who would lead them in the fight against the enslaving culture and God’s people would once again inherit the land for a season. Of course, if you’ve read the book of judges you will know that this cycle repeated itself over and over again until the time of Samuel who helped usher in the age of kings in Israel. Even then, if we read our biblical history we see that physical/spiritual battle ensued over and over again.

Our Current Dilemma: Whats this have to do with Us?

“Yes, Kris…that is all well and good, and probably true, but what does that have to do with us?” Uhm…EVERYTHING!

  • Question: Do we have a King? As Christians do we have a King over us? Or are we justified in doing what is right in our own eyes? (Yes, yes, I realize that is more than one question).
  • Answer: Yes, absolutely! Do we not say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior?” Do we not call Jesus, the Christ? Are you unaware that the name Christ (Messiah, the Hebrew equivalent) means the “anointed one of God…the King?”

“Yes, but Kris we are not called to exercise godly dominion, the dominion mandate was done away with at the fall.” Really? Can you turn me to the text(s) that state this is so, or is this merely an opinion that you possess either from tradition or desire? If the Bible has not nullified this command given at our beginning, then why would we be so foolish to assume that it no longer applies to us.

“Yes, but we are not Israel.” Oh…so God expected them to act one way, but He expects us to act another. Where is that taught to us in God’s Word? If the Bible has not taught us this, then why would we be so foolish to adopt this mindset.

Here are the facts as I see them, and I welcome any arguments to the contrary.

  1. Jesus is rightfully called the Christian’s Lord and Savior, and as such He is our King. To Him we do owe our fealty.
  2. The world is God’s creation and He intends to give it to His people who are faithful to Him and reflect His glory throughout. Like Israel we are faced with living in a culture that is naturally hostile to our Lord, our God.
  3. And, like Israel we are faced with the same choice: Live for God and confront the culture with the truth, or embrace what we know to be false and therefore in opposition against our Lord.

Either way a difficult way is before us. We may not have chosen our current situation, nonetheless it is upon us whether we will it or not. We continue to live like Lot with our heads in the sand, hoping someone rescues us all the while experience the judgment of our refusal to enter the fray. Or we can stand for the Lord and be hated by the world. Our generation may not see the full fruit of faithful labor, but perhaps our children or their children will.[4] Either way we are left with this charge:

  • “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matt 28.18-20; italics added).

Those are our Christian marching orders, but here is how they are played out practically in confronting the culture:

  • “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2Cor 10.3-5; emphasis added).

Notice that he does not say we do not wage war, but that our weapons of warfare are not physical.[5] Yet, we fight every argument, every lofty opinion of men according to their traditions/philosophies, attacking their strongholds in order to bring them to obedience to Jesus Christ. Though our warfare is not fought with physical weapons it does have physical ramifications. Just as our failure to obey our King has physical ramifications today (e.g. unjust taxes, improperly defined marital unions and gender confusion, an influx of false religions, insurmountable debt, educational tyranny, etc.).

Closing Remarks…

In short, if you understand the analogy we have Canaanites in the land that because of our refusal to fight as faithful soldiers for Christ (as a holy priesthood should) who have a cultural stranglehold on us. Not only do we defame Christ’s Name by refusing to enter the public sphere, but we enslave our children to tyranny.

For this reason I am thankful for faithful men and women of God who risk all (carrying their cross) for Jesus Christ; such as Justin Hoke  from Weed, California who as a faithful minister of the gospel has endured great persecution from the very flock that he was trying to faithfully lead.

Praise God that He still has such servants in this nation; in this world. May we likewise continue the good fight, contending for the faith which has been entrusted to us (Jude 1.3; cf. Tit 1.9). May the Lord grant His children the courage and boldness to speak on every issue and to be silent on none (cf. Josh 1.6-9; Acts 4.29).

ENDNOTES:


[1] This type of dominion is to be expressed in the three covenantal branches that God has established: family, Church and state. The representative heads (father, elder and magistrate) in all three institutions are intended to exercise godly dominion in all that they do.

[2] In case someone would like to claim that this was unfair to the inhabitants of the land that Israel somehow stole it from them, know this all the earth is the Triune Creator God’s and He has the sovereign right to give it to whom He pleases. Those that rebel against the Lord do so on borrowed time because He allows it, but at the same time He promises that such individuals will not inherit the good that God has promised. This is true temporally and eternally. Turn to Leviticus 18, 20 and Deuteronomy 18:9-14 to see many of the sins that were condemned by God, and were justifications for Him vomiting them out of the land giving the inheritance of the land (earth) to those who were zealous for God’s holiness.

[3] And they [your seed] shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’” (Gen 15.16-21)

[4] I realize that if you have a different eschatological bent than I do, you may think that this is the terminal generation, but I’m not convinced. Either way, we are called to live for the Lord which means to be a faithful spur in the side of a culture that promotes hateful rhetoric and sanctions against our God and His people.

[5] Or to use another analogy from Scripture: our swords have been beaten into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks (cf. Isa 2.4). No longer does God send His people out into the world to fight physical battles, for we have become seed sowers—spiritual farmers if you will (cf. Mark 4.3-20)—and yet our onward progress of cultural destruction towards cultural enlightenment is consistent with one who breaks up fallow ground removing the debris in order to get to the good soil of life (cf. Jer 4.3; Hos 10.12)