Posted in love

A Word Spoken to a World in Need and a Government Needing Repentance, Part III: A Christian’s Responsibility to Respond in Love

So far, in the two previous posts (A Word to be Spoken to a World in Need and a Government Needing Repentance: Part I and A Word Spoken to a World in Need and a Government Needing Repentance, Part II: The Issue and the Appropriate Response towards Civil Officials), I have laid out how God judged sin in the past at a national level through the use of water, fire and sword. God created mankind to bear His image throughout all creation, therefore, it is an act of rebellion—to the highest degree—to assume the authority to bear one’s own image without reference to His Law-Word. Rejecting God’s standard of holy living invites God’s wrathful judgment against mankind’s perceived versions of good and evil.

Civil governments are not above God’s retribution. They have been sanctioned to uphold good and to punish, and thereby, to purge evil from our society. In this fashion then, governments are meant to be protectors against the assault of godly (goodly) individuals. This is their duty as the Lord’s ministers and as our servants to be a defender and not an instigator of wrong. Remember they are ordained to serve the good of society by executing vengeance against evil, for, as it is written, “they do not bear the sword in vain” (Rom 13.4).

This means that they are severely limited by jurisdictional boundaries. It also means that the Christian—a member of Christ’s body, His Church—needs to recognize his jurisdiction of speaking God’s Truth into all areas of life. We speak not only to individuals, to families, and to Churches, but also to society as a whole, in particular, to the authorities above us in the civil sphere.

What of those entrapped by such lies or deceived by such sins?

Our duty is to speak the truth in love. This is a command from our Lord: “[to] teach [the nations] to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28.20; NET). Love is not to be defined by anything other than obedience (positive action) to (towards) the Law of God. Love is defined by God’s law for true love upholds it:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1John 5.3; NASB).

The one thing that we do not want to do is be silent. For it is the Name of Christ Jesus that redeems and ransoms sinners from the depths of all sorts of depravity. This is why we must speak out against such tyranny and abuse of power as we witness in Canada regarding the new legislation C4. For it is an attempt to silence the people of Christ from speaking in His Name.

Nor should we attempt to isolate, and therefore, insulate ourselves from the world in which we live. Though it must be admitted that this has been the practice of some, we must resist this temptation. But as Christians, this is not something we are authorized to do in this instance. For we are commanded in Scripture to separate the leaven from within our midst; within the body of Christ, but not to separate ourselves from the world:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; I did not at all mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the greedy and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person. For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders?” (1Cor 5.9-12; emphasis added).

Our goal as Christians is to bear witness to the world at large, to be salt and light (Matt 5.13-14). What good is light hidden or salt unspent? They are worthless. Does not the world need what we have? Were we not at one time just like those in the world? Were we not at one time guilty of the sins that we see the world committing? Even some of those things that are abominable to the Lord our God? Have we not been redeemed? Have we not experienced the love of God in Christ? Are we not adopted children of the Most High? How did this adoption come about? How is it that we have been redeemed? From where did we learn of a ransom price for our sin, for a life without lawlessness, a life filled with the Spirit and the love of God? Is it not because we were witnessed to? Did others who once shared in our lot not stoop to our level and proclaim to us the mercies of God in Christ? Were we not told by others who were once lost of the Savior’s sacrifice on our behalf?

“…Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Cor 6.9-11; emphasis added).

The message of the cross is Christ crucified. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might be adopted as sons and daughters of God (2Cor 5.21; Gal 3.26). All of us came from a previous life of sin. We are all deserving of hell and the grave. No mercy ought to be shown to us. No compassion should have been forthcoming to us. For we have all besmirched the Name of God (Rom 3.23). And yet, though we were all vile sinners, in Christ we experienced being made clean, being set-apart, being declared “not-guilty” fully acquitted of our crimes against our Maker. For Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit according to the will of the Father made us new through His saving, sanctifying grace! And dare we deny telling this truth to others? Dare we be silent for fear from tyrannical despots that no neither their right hand from their left. Should we not preach the truth in love, demonstrating the grace of God in sharing the goodness (gospel) of Christ and His kingdom with a world of lost sinners. Confused by deceiving hearts and the false doctrines of men. Should we not cry out against the liars and the abusers, the swindler’s in the highest offices in our land, and declare with one voice:

Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4.19).

Understand my brethren, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that these laws as seen in Canada and those currently coming our way under the guise of “hate speech” here in the US are meant to silence us from using the Name of Jesus (Acts 4.18), but we must not! We dare not! For I know not one, who knows Christ, who desires to feel His shame on that fateful day because we feared to speak His truth before those who can only harm the body but have no power over our eternal souls (Matt 10.32-33). Therefore, let us with one accord declare to the heads of state here and in Canada and across the West into the farthest corners of this world: God alone defines sin. God alone defines marriage. God alone defines sex. God alone determines male and female. God alone determines what constitutes the family. God alone determines right and wrong. And God alone determines salvation. Our desire is to go forth amidst the nations to proclaim the Word of God to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see, and no government, no organization, no bullying, no amount of hate or intolerance for our beliefs, no amount of phobia for the creation narrative will silence us. And those who refuse to listen, we do not judge, for the Word of Christ will stand against the unrepentant and judge them on that Day (cf. Deut 18.19; John 12.48; also see: Acts 17.30-31).

Amen

Posted in Truth and Error

A Word Spoken to a World in Need and a Government Needing Repentance, Part II: The Issue and the Appropriate Response towards Civil Officials

“To be an effective warrior in the battle for truth today, several old-fashioned, Christlike virtues are absolutely essential: biblical discernment, wisdom, fortitude, determination, endurance, skill in handling Scripture, strong convictions, the ability to speak candidly without waffling, and a willingness to enter into conflict.”—John MacArthur, The Truth War1

“Individuals should disapprove of and oppose homosexuality as immoral. Churches should decline membership and office to unrepentant homosexuals. States should restrain homosexuality rather than making it a civil right. We must equally insist that individuals not take a holier-than-thou attitude toward homosexual sin, that churches faithfully proclaim the good news of deliverance to homosexuals, and that the state not persecute them by entrapment, invasion of privacy, or intentionally selective and uneven attention…[Moreover,] contrary to common retort, disagreeing with homosexuals about their rights and disapproving of their behavior does not automatically make someone a bigot…Viewing something as immoral is not the same thing as being bigoted.” Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality2

God created mankind in His image to act as His vice-regents on this earth. Human beings were given dominion on this earth as the Lord’s stewards. Meaning we are to do two things: 1) work, tending God’s creation to its utmost potential, 2) work in guarding/protecting God’s creation from sin. To do this was to obey the voice of God and live. To do its opposite was to rebel against God’s Word and die. In this sense then, living and dying are ethical realities. Our parents in the Garden refused to listen to our Maker’s instruction, resulting in their eviction from His blessed sanctuary. (Only God’s grace made a further relationship—coming to Him in humility—possible).

Since that historical event, a visible struggle has been witnessed between those who seek to bear the mark of God in their lives and those who prefer the mark of the serpent. Previously, I pointed to how the Lord dealt with the rebellion of His creatures in the past. Using water, fire and sword to execute judgment against the nations (peoples) who refuse to submit to His Law-Word.

Today, I want to briefly explain why that is the case and what is going on that has so many Christian pastors (and Christians in general) concerned here in North America; specifically, in our sister nation Canada, although, such trouble is not far from our own borders. Furthermore, I want to challenge believers in their understanding of civil government and what our response ought to look like. In my final post (forthcoming soon) I will address how we are to deal with the sins of others in light of our gospel commitment.

A Warning and a Protection Enacted…

After the flood, God added a warning to the children of Man:

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9.6; ESV).

Life is precious and has dignity because God made us. We are not accidents. We are not products of a series of evolutionary events. Chance did not bring about man, God—the Creator of Heaven and Earth—did.

Genesis 9:6 lays out the groundwork for the death penalty. For to strike against a fellow image-bearer is to strike against the God who created them. Please understand that the death penalty is applied to more than physically slaying another individual. Do you not know that rape is considered the same sort of attack against a fellow image-bearer, against the God who gave them life (cf. Deut 22.26-27)?3 The depth of the commandment: “Thou shall not kill” (Exod 20.13) is greater than just not taking life, but also preserving life. We are to do all that we can to maintain the life and well-being of another individual.

What is sexual sin, if not a violation against the commandment of life? It is destructive to the life of an individual, a marriage, to the family, and in the end to society as a whole. Think about the ways that our current culture has twisted and perverted sex. Our technology makes it more prevalent, but we need to understand that what we are seeing in our culture is nothing new. Biblical revelation makes it quite clear that this has been done before.

This is why I cited various judgment passages from the Old Testament (Tanakh). I have no desire to jab my finger in the eye of another. Nor, do I want to cower in fear because my words, which are just a relaying of God’s Word to His image-bearing creatures, are offensive to some. However, speaking the truth in love means there will be times when others will not want to hear your message. Jesus Christ was crucified for nothing less; and yet, no one can deny that His words were spoken out of love. (That last comment alone is worthy of a lengthy discussion, but I must press forward).

Efforts of the Rainbow Coalition…

Recently you may have noticed that the alphabet soup “community” has gotten more brazen over the years. Initially, all they supposedly wanted was for us to tolerate their existence. To allow them to come out of the closet. But now they are gunning for our lives. They have attacked our places of business. They have invaded our educational institutions. They have attacked our concept of family, of marriage. Now they are gunning for our children. They demand that “sexual identity” reign supreme. Not just in their private lives, but in the public square. They are currently seeking political support in the hopes of drawing up legislation to further silence our voices and our freedoms. No longer do they seek toleration, but their true desire is to demonstrate their intolerance for our way of life.

They are driving home the narrative that male and female is a myth, a lie propagated to control the masses. It is argued that one can transition from the “gender” classification they were assigned at birth. Reason and rational thought have been replaced with feelings and intentions of the heart as if the truth of reality were determined by such things! For the human heart is “exceedingly wicked” (Jer 17.9), more so than an individual might know about themselves (Jer 17.10), and this “from our youth” (Gen 8.21)

The Overreach of the Canadian Government…

Now, this past December the Canadian government passed legislation at the national level that makes it illegal to speak against or attempt to correct the errors laden in these forms of sexual sin. No longer are you allowed to question or offer a gentle rebuke in the hopes of converting such an individual to Christ for that is now considered hateful, harmful, and worthy of getting your freedoms revoked. To offer counsel, to preach the gospel, to proclaim the truth about the reality of sexual sins, of previously unspoken perversions/abominations, may get you fined, jailed, or even worse…you may have your children taken from you.

What should we do?

We ought to do as we are commanded to do. Herein lies the issue of jurisdiction. Whose spoken law has legally binding authority on this issue? Who should Christians bow the knee to and whom should they oppose? Where is our allegiance supposed to be demonstrated and in what way?

Romans 13:1 says,

Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exists are established by God” (emphasis added).

I was listening to Dr. Joe Boot this week and he made a point I thought was worth repeating. (Bear in mind that this is a paraphrase of his words.) He pointed out that it is our duty as Christians to proclaim the truth. But he cautioned,

“We are not preaching against the government. For as we are taught in Scripture God has established government. He has sanctioned it to act as His ministers in the civil sphere. What we do is preach against the abusive tyrants that are besmirching the name of God…that are trampling on His Word…that are distorting the truth in government.”4

God ordained governing bodies because of mankind’s sinfulness. They serve as an authority above the person in society, in order, to curb bad (evil) behavior while upholding the good (lawful) citizens. Notice that the apostle Paul says “governing authorities” in Romans 13:1. Not one governmental body, but many; a plurality of governing institutions have been ordained (instituted) by God to help govern the affairs of men and execute His vengeance against those who take His laws lightly. This is why Paul also says that leaders in governmental bodies serve as His ministers (Grk. term for deacon) in the public sphere (Rom 13.4, 6).

The limitation is two-fold in Romans 13:1-7. First, the citizens of this earth are limited in their sphere of individual authority in that they are responsible to do good (honor the law), and if not justice will be executed against them accordingly (cf. Deut 19.21). Second, the individuals in positions of authority (governance) is given the use of the sword (retributive justice) but are limited in their use of it as the exercise of the sword must comport with God’s law. The governor (regardless of his/her station) is not a law unto themselves.

As Gary DeMar explains,

“Ultimately, only God has the authority to govern. He does so because He is God, and His infinite wisdom and majesty are beyond compare. He grants authority to others to govern: ‘By Me kings reign, and rulers decree justice’ (Proverbs 8:15)… [Therefore,] all who rule receive their authority for the administration of justice and equity from God, Lord (Governor) of all creation.”5

It is here that we find a voice for the Christian to speak. No one government is absolute, they are by divine decree derivative having delegated powers. They are not all-encompassing, and therefore do not have absolute autonomy. They have a jurisdictional boundary by which they are able and likewise limited, to operate.

God’s Truth…

Thus, they have no right to write nor authorize legislation that attempts to supplant the truth of God. Marriage was ordained by God, and so too was sex, which is a part of the covenantal bed (cf. Heb 13.4). God alone has the right to define human identity and this He did in the beginning:

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1.27).
“…the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person” (Gen 2.7).
“…the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘At last this is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man” (Gen 2.21-23).

Moreover, God defined marriage between a man and a woman and therefore, no other union is to be legally or lawfully recognized as marriage. And to those who claim that understanding marriage in this fashion is outdated or patriarchal, I respond it is based on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords:

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate” (Matt 19.4-6; cf. Gen 2.24).

What teaching may we glean from this? What application(s) may be drawn from Jesus’ words? That God created only two “genders” from the beginning—male and female. That God made the woman for the man and by extension the man for the woman; thus sex is to be shared only between a man and a woman. In fact, the entire alphabet soup narrative is destroyed by this one teaching. For no governing authority is authorized to change the defining marks of what makes marriage, sex, or even the family—something that Christ also warns not to attempt to separate—are. God reserves that right.

And so, it is the duty of the Christian minister whether great or small to proclaim/preach this truth in opposition to the governing authorities above us that are attempting to pervert it. We are to warn them that God’s wrath was not silent in the past, and it will not be silent in our present state if they do not desist and repent from what they are doing right now!

ENDNOTES:

1John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 146.

2Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2011), Preface 1, 2. Using the term “homosexual” Bahnsen recognizes “…specific variations within sexual identity and orientation…” (p.1) and so it applies to a wider variety of practices within the LGBTQ? Community; something that continues to evolve over time at an increasingly rapid pace.

3The list of sins that struck the image of God in man are many. Either the sins were a direct assault on this image or indirect. This includes a long list of sexual sins (cf. Lev 18, 20), but others as well. For example, child sacrifice (Lev 20.1-5), kidnapping (Exod 21.16), chattel slavery (Deut 24.7), murder (Num 35.16-18), parental abuse (Exod 21.15; Deut 21.18-21), and in some cases the slanderous purger/malicious witness (Deut 19.19).

4When I say paraphrase I mean just that. This is the essence of what he said, but it is not a word-for-word transcription of his message to his listening audience. Therefore, if a person would like to hear Dr. Boot’s testimony I will provide the link to his website so that you may download his podcast and listen: https://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/podcast/biblical-sexuality-sermons/.

5Gary DeMar, God and Government (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2011), 56.

Posted in Romans 13:1-7

The Difficulty of Romans 13:1-7

There is no question that we are living in some strange times. Just twenty years ago…just twenty years ago…things looked much different here in the United States than they do now. I’m not speaking about the technological changes, but the overall mindset of our society in general. It is as if someone has turned on the spotlight in a very dark room and now all the little creepy crawlies, that we were blissfully unaware of, are seen scurrying this way and that. That is to say, things that were once considered gross or vile are now being paraded by the highest levels of our society. Our civil government not only applauds such behaviors, but now seeks to make them legitimate.

At the moment one begins to suggest it is the right and responsibility of the believer in Jesus Christ (a.k.a., Christians) to stand against those violations, those perversions of justice found committed in the civil arena, numerous objections are raised. These objections find their footing in light of a particular understanding of Romans 13:1-7. The difficulty here is that there is an air of truth to the initial claims being made.

First, you have the famed, “You cannot legislate morality” argument. Second, you run into the, “It is wrong to disobey or rebel against the authorities over you.” It is the latter that appears to be the stronger of the two, because of what is stated in Romans 13:1-2:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”1

The apostle’s argument is pretty straightforward. All governments exist because God, the sovereign Creator, established them. Thus, to refuse to be humble before your leaders in the civil arena is to invite God’s negative judgment against you. The only caveat forthcoming from this second objection is whether or not the ruling government in question commands something that might be deemed sinful. In other words, humble Christians that are truly striving to serve the Lord in their day-to-day life are not permitted to rebel, unless it may be proved that the edict in question is antagonist to the worship of our Lord.

A requested consideration…

In what follows, I will offer a response to each objection offered.

You Cannot Legislate Morality

All law, stated and established, is a legislation of someone’s morality. To say, “this is good and that is not,” and then to codify those beliefs into law is a form of legislative morality. Any comment and commitment to right or wrong, regardless of the source claimed, is an attempt to curb the thinking and behavior of the populace in question. In short, all codified law is legislation of a particular moral bent. There is no way to avoid this conclusion.

Obedience is Required to Civil Government; unless, Sin is being Commanded

The preferred thesis “obey…unless sin is being commanded” is a loose and narrowly focused interpretation of Scripture. Rather than observe all that the Bible has to say on the given topic, only a few choice passages are chosen for consideration. For example, when the question of civil disobedience is entertained by various Christians a reference will be made to the apostles response in the book of Acts when they were commanded to stop speaking in Jesus’ name (cf. Acts 4.18-20; 5.27-29). Is this all that the Bible has to say regarding “civil disobedience?” Have we reached the limitation on where and when a man or woman of God might disregard and even challenge those that rule over them in the civil sphere?

I realize that this, in and of itself, does not prove that the person who offers this second objection is wrong, it does highlight the fact that only a small portion of God’s Word is being utilized in order to draw such a conclusion. In light of this, a few things need to be considered.

  • (1) What constitutes sin?
  • (2) Is civil government an unlimited power, unregulated by God who ordained it?

In reference to Question 1…

Scripture explains that all sin is a violation of God’s revealed law. To sin is to strike out in rebellion against the two tables of the Law (i.e., the Decalogue; ten words). And so, for any governing body to assume to deface God’s Name (1st table) or to assault His creatures (2nd table), is a clear violation of this principle. While this generalized statement is true, it does not bring with it much clarity in the form of understanding without fleshing out the specifics.

For example, “Thou shall not steal,” or “murder,” or “bear false witness,” or “commit adultery” are on the surface fairly clear statements of right or wrong.

If I rob my neighbor, then I am liable for my actions. After I am found guilty in a court of law, I will be held accountable and punished accordingly. The same would be true for any other violation of the previously stated laws above. In this fashion, the civil governing authorities bear the sword (a symbol of punitive justice) “to carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13.4).

Worldview perspectives…

On the surface such truths will suffice to illustrate my point, but I believe it is necessary to point out to the reader that a person’s conviction on what constitutes theft, murder, lying and adultery will vary. Such things are determined by the worldview held by the individual(s) in question. Thus, the reason why people argue over the nature of killing an unborn baby in the womb:

Some call it choicenot really murder; others, call it murdera wicked choice.

And yet, there will others who acknowledge that a young life has been snuffed out, but steer clear of designating it murder perpetrated by a mother’s whim.

All law making is an identification of a particular acts morality. In a sense then, laws label things sin if the act violates what has been established as a moral good.

In reference to Question 2…

Which, brings us to the second question: Is the civil government an unlimited power, unregulated by God who ordained it? Earlier I mentioned that sin is defined by the two tables of the Law of God. From that point, I then spent a little time focusing on the 2nd table. There was a reason for this. We shall address it now.

You see, those that claim that we must obey civil authorities because they are established by God, except in the case of those leaders commanding us to sin, tend to forget the 1st table of God’s Law. Some who attempt to teach in light of God’s law are really ignorant of it. This ignorance may be in total—not knowing the 7th from the 1st commandment. Or, this ignorance may be partial—knowing the material aspects of the law (i.e., their content), but not the depth to which it applies (cf. 1Tim 1.6-7).

Dear reader,

You may have heard and bought into the idea that it is wrong to legislate morality. Or, you may be convinced that it is morally wrong to oppose civil government unless it may be proved that what the government commands is sinful—i.e., opposing the worship of God. Perhaps, you have stated and attempted to defend one or both of these positions. In what follows, I offer my challenge for you to thoughtfully consider.

The Challenge Given

You say, “you cannot legislate morality,” but what you mean (at least in part) is that “you can’t make people holy, good, acceptable before God, just because you legislate against this or that sin as illegal.

I agree. But, the Law of God was never given to make people holy, good or acceptable. The Law of God is given to expose, curb and eliminate evil (bad behavior) from our society. Good laws are written to give society peace from the wicked, for it will be the wicked that will be purged from society (driven to the shadows) if we enact and uphold just laws.

You say, “We must obey all governing authorities over us unless they command us to sin.” What you mean to say, however, is that “you cannot resist the authorities over you unless they command you not to worship God” (e.g., Acts 4.12).

I agree (in principle), but I also disagree (in the particulars). Any government that neglects their purpose—whether acknowledged by others or not—is to serve God’s ends (1st) and then their citizens (2nd). All governing officials are servants of their Creator and their people. To ignore this truth leads to tyranny, the rule of despots as seen in socialistic and communistic countries. History stands as a witness against anyone who would deny this truth!

Moreover, the fact that Christians will cite Romans 13 as a rule of thumb to say “You must obey them, for God has ordained them,” they prove their case too far. You are right in that you say “they exist because of God,” but in so doing you (perhaps unknowingly) help my case when I argue that they should not always be obeyed.

How so? Because to be “ordained by God” means that they are “bound to God.” To what end? To serve His purpose and not their own. They do not represent themselves, they represent Him. To fail to do so is a clear violation of the 1st table of the Law.

Any government (regardless of its size and scope) that refuses to acknowledge God above them, preferring their own subjective standard of morality—declaring good what the Creator has deemed bad and vice-versa—as a means of legislating the activities (and thoughts) of their citizens, is in clear violation of crossing the boundary of their prescribed domain.

For such a tyrant government calls themselves god, erecting an idol to be bowed down to by the populace, and in so doing blasphemy the sovereign name of God, pretending they alone can give the people rest. Such a government is not only guilty of sin, but also legislating (legalizing) sin, and therefore, must be resisted at all costs. Lest, you as a populace are intent on inviting God’s wrath not only upon your nation, but upon your person.

This is the strangeness of the times in which we live. Not that governments grow corrupt, but that God’s people are blind to their own responsibilities. For it is not only the government that is called to represent God, but the citizens that make up the nation in question. If the citizenry fails to do what is right (in the eyes of their Creator), then the civil government is authorized the use of the sword; “a terror…to bad [conduct]” (Rom 13.3). But if the government is the one who fails to “do what is good…for he is God’s servant for your good” (Rom 13.4), then we are commanded to give what is owed (Rom 13.7). Obedience? Nay, civil disobedience. We are not only to stand on the truth in our personal lives, but we are called to speak the truth into the lives who refuse to do it. For, we represent God, our Creator, through Jesus Christ our Lord first and foremost. How well do you suppose you represent Him when you give approval (through your silence) to what you know is evil (Rom 1.32)? Hmmm….

The difficulty of Romans 13: 1-7 is not the passage, but our failure to make the necessary connections from God’s Word on what our actual calling and responsibility is.

Endnote:

1All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

Posted in politics

A Voter’s Conscience: Support for Donald Trump

I will be voting for Donald Trump this coming November for President of the United States, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of doing so. My support does not mean that I agree with everything he does or says. Nor does it imply that I approve of his previous life choices. But it does mean that I believe he is the most fit person for the position this election cycle.

Recently Tim Keller posited the argument in the Twitter-sphere that a Christian cannot tell a fellow believer who they should vote for (Biden or Trump). He has taken the position that to do so would be an attempt to bind the conscience of another; evidently, a severe “no-no” in Christian etiquette. To be honest, I find that a bit strange.

As a pastor, is it not the job of leading the flock of God by helping shape and mold their conscience in order to curb their behavior to pursue righteousness (i.e., right versus wrong living)? Keller goes on to argue that the Bible teaches many things, principles even that we may infer from, but it does not give us direct answers on some of today’s political issues. “Therefore,” says Keller, “we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other.”

The famed Protestant Reformer once argued on similar grounds.1 He stated when challenged to disavow some of his teachings, and in so doing condemn much of his writing, that unless they be

“…proved to be wrong by the testimony of Scripture…it is impossible for me to recant. [For] my conscience is bound to the Word of God. It is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. I cannot do otherwise.”2

Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521 A.D.

However, there is a vast difference between what Luther defended as a matter of conscience and what Tim Keller is proposing.

Choking Spasms

Politics is an area deemed off limits for many in terms of religious convictions. To say that social policy (practice of politics) ought to be regulated in terms of religious beliefs causes a choking spasm for those who cherish the false dogma called neutrality. For those unfamiliar with my terminology its called being “bipartisan” in our day. To be partisan (i.e., following a particular party line and thereby denying the aforementioned cherished dogma) is extremely vilified by a great number of people. Sadly, it is not just those outside the Church of Jesus Christ who are so affected but those inside as well. What Keller seemingly wants is for us to be bipartisan in our approach to this election year, and he is not alone. The call for unity is being propagated on all fronts.3

You see, Trump plays by the beat of his own drum. He does what he believes is right, often times to the chagrin of others. He doesn’t play bipartisan politics, for his positions and the policies that he desires to enact are very partisan. This is one of the many reasons why Trump is so hated. He says what he thinks (sometimes not a good thing), and he doesn’t appear to give two thoughts to what others might say regarding it. Which is just another way of saying that he doesn’t succumb (in most cases) to peer pressure.

An Illustrative Ad…

One such example was sent to a few nights ago by a friend through a Facebook link that had the current president speaking about how he was for protecting the rights of the newly born. Why would he find a need to address that topic? Because there are leaders within this nation that are for infanticide. Governor elect Ralph Northam of Virginia is one such individual in favor of terminating the life of the newly born, as an extension of current abortion practices in this country. He once stated on a radio program that he’d have no problem after a baby is born having the mother and her doctor(s) discuss whether or not that child should live or be terminated.4

Such savagery is supported by many within the party of the Donkey.5 The termination of a mother’s offspring in the womb is one of the chief selling points (platform is the more formal term) for this party. Trump’s ad was no doubt a promise to his supporters (and some who are not) that he will not give even the slightest nod to such practices.

Weighing the Issues…

In light of such things, who should I support in the upcoming election? Should I follow Keller’s haphazard claim that it is wrong to attempt to bind the conscience of another?6 Bear in mind I am not talking about my personal standards (that would be self-righteousness), but God’s objective standard of truth. His ethical claim on what is right, holy and good.

“Oh, but you’re just being a one-issue guy. There are so many other issues that must also be taken into account. According to the Bible, we as Christians are to care for the poor. What’s Trump ever done for the poor!” comes the critic’s response.

I’m sure you’ve heard this argument. I’ve heard quite a few times from those that bear the name of Christ. The claim that we need to have a more holistic approach to political involvement rather than just focusing on one issue out of many. What of racism? What of employment? What of the sojourner? What about education? What about healthcare? Etc.

Ethical Considerations in light of Current Ethical Matters

Okay, what about those things? There is more than one way to approach such concerns. First, are all ethical matters weighed the same? According to our Lord they are not (e.g., John 19.11)

Ethics refers to right and wrong practices based off of some upheld (preferably objective) standard. So, are all issues of right and wrong measured the same? For example, it is it ethically wrong according to Scripture (which is to say, according to God) to murder another human being? Yes ,of course it is. Is it wrong to steal from another human being? Yes, of course it is. Is it wrong to lie about another human being? Yes, of course it is.

All of these things are ethically wrong, but are they all weighed the same? What is the penalty according to God’s holy law when someone takes the life of another unlawfully? What of theft? What of lying? Depends on the context of the sin committed.

If the murder was accidental then the penalty is less than if it was premeditated, but a premeditated taking of another’s life requires the death penalty (Numb 35.16-34). Whereas stealing normally results in paying back what was stolen by a factor of 2 or 4. But if the theft results in the enslavement of another’s life, then the death penalty is the result (Exod 21.16). The same could be said of lying. Lying about yourself or your neighbor is ethically wrong, but it is not a crime. Unless, of course, your lying is in a court of law in order to pervert justice. In that type of circumstance the liar (perjurer) will be held accountable by the court by the very punishment they sought to inflict on their neighbor through their lying (Deut 19.18-19).

A little kickback…

So, when someone says “yes, killing a baby in the womb or on the table after birth is wrong, but so is not caring for the poor!” my response is that they are not equitable in terms of injustice. Christians are commanded to love their neighbor (Lev 19.18), which means we are to be concerned for the poor, but God places more value on the life of another being wrongly taken (Prov 24.11). To kill is worse than to neglect the impoverished. One is a crime punishable by death (life for life, blood for blood), but the other is a wrong that the Lord above shall tally on His Day.

Identifying Differing Spheres of Governance…

Secondly, I would add that many of those other matters mentioned are not governmental responsibilities. Whose job is it to care for the poor? Is it the responsibility of the Church or the Civil Government? Does not the Lord lay that burden at the feet of His own in order to test their hearts (cf. Deut 15.7-11)? Isn’t it the responsibility of the individual as well to work so that they might eat (2Thess 3.10)? Not all of us will amass the same amount of wealth in this life (cf. Deut 8.18), but we are all required to be content with what we have been given (Phil 4.11-13). This is true in terms not only of talent and gifts and abilities, but in terms of accepting our station in life and not being envious of others around us (1Pet 2.1).

Education, healthcare, poverty, racism (i.e., tribal bigotry) are all biblical issues, but they are biblical issues concerned about self-governing individuals within the family and ecclesiastical governments. These are not issues that a free societies’ civil government are supposed to be dictating, monitoring, delegating. Though I am somewhat inclined to agree with those of Keller’s mindset in that the Bible gives many guiding principles in how one handles each area, and direct “This is how it must be done” commandments are naturally (and purposefully) limited by the Lord, there is a caveat that needs to be added.

God’s Law-Word does lay out what is holy, righteous and good (see Psa 119). The ethical norms prescribed in the Bible are more than principles from where one might draw from at leisure, but they are objectively prescribed measures by which all men, women and children are required to live by.

Closing Remarks…

To say that you are a Christian and that you can support the redefining of marriage, allow government sanctioned child abuse (called gender reassignment), stand by approvingly for theft from one group (“the haves”) in order to redistribute their property to another group (“the have-nots”), all the while having a seared conscience toward the millions of defenseless ones whose lives are snuffed out on a daily basis is asinine to the highest degree! To vote for a party that promotes the systemic abuses of power based on ethnicity is nothing more than calling evil good. And let us not forget that the freedom to speak against tyranny, against the abuse of power, and to proclaim the gospel message of Christ is being squelched by the party of Biden/Harris.

So as I said in the opening I will vote for the reelection of Donald Trump for President of the United States of America, and I hope others are wise enough to do the same.

ENDNOTES:

1When I say similar I do not mean that the intention of both men (Keller and Luther) is the same. Both use a similar form of the argument (speaking about not going against a bound conscience), but I tend to believe that Luther had a better idea of political climate in the 1500’s in his day than Keller does in our own. Not to mention the fact that Luther’s intention was to bind the conscience of fellow believer’s to trust in the justifying work of Christ on the cross over and above indulgences and any other service that the Pope or another leader might insist would help such individuals “work out their salvation.”

2Ray Comfort, Luther Gold: Pure. Refined, Mary Ruth Murray, ed. (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 22. This was Luther’s testimony at the Diet of Worms before King Charles V of Spain in 1521.

3Should we seek unity for unity sake, or should we seek unity in light of the truth? Which do you suppose is the better path to live by?

4Andrew Kugle, “Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could be Delievered and Then ‘Physcians and the Mother Could Decide if it Lives,’” The Washington Free Beacon, January 30, 2019, https://freebeacon.com/issues/northman-on-40-week-abortion-bill-infant-would-be-delivered-and-then-a-discussion-would-ensue-between-the-physcians-and-the-mother/.

5In stating this fact, I am not denying that many within the elephant party are also guilty of such reasoning. The only difference, as of right now, between these two political parties is the rate (speed) in which they continue their descent into the abyss. Though the donkey’s are leading the race, the elephants are not too far behind!

6By the way, Keller’s tweets work in the opposite direction. If it is wrong to bind the conscience of another believer, then why is Keller attempting to bind the conscience of his readers that it is wrong to “bind the conscience” in political matters? In other words, his standard cuts both ways and is therefore not a consistent model to follow.

Posted in biblical justice, Law, Theology, theonomy

Legal Relativism: Hasty Conclusions drawn about God’s Justice

Today, I want to deal with the legal relativist. You know the Christian who says, “Well, that Law was valid back then in that time, in that place, but not so today.” I want to pick on the Paul Copan’s of the world, men and women who are extremely talented Christians that have a strong aversion to applying God’s Law today. I realize that’s not a popular position to take, because it offends my brothers and sisters in Christ. Can we stop wearing our emotions on our shoulder’s please? We need to develop a little backbone and be able to take some criticism. Or do we, as professing believers, fail to realize that judgment begins with the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17)?

For example, Copan argues “…as we look at many of these Mosaic laws, we must appreciate them in their historical context, as God’s gracious, temporary provision.”1 Copan is making this statement in light of the penal sanctions expressed in the Old Testament (hereafter O.T.). Highlighting the death penalty for adultery, he appeals to 1Corinthians 5:1-5 where the man is caught having an affair with his step-mother. Copan thinks that the only role the Law of God is to play here is for excommunication from the church body, since that is what the apostle Paul says the Corinthians should do. I’m sorry to say this, but that’s just sloppy exegesis on his part. A shame really when you get right down to it, because in a lot of ways, Copan is a very bright individual.

“Where does he commit an error?” you ask. Great question, glad you asked it.

First off, let’s look at the sin the man is guilty of. It is true that he has committed adultery for he has slept with his father’s wife, but he’s also guilty of incest. Biblical law takes familial relationships very seriously, and when one is grafted into a family through adoption, etc., they are considered a genuine family member. The man has not only seen his father’s wife’s nakedness, but he has fornicated with one who is considered his mother.

  • “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness” (Lev 18.8).
  • “If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Lev 20.11)
  • “A man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness” (Deut 22.30).
  • “Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen'” (Deut 27.20).

Second, notice the penalty is a death sentence. That alone makes many Westerner’s pause, reconsider and pull back. Is there really any crime deserving of death? God says there is. You say there isn’t. Who’s right? Well, unless you think you are God, then the answer seems rather simple. But surely we live in an age of grace such extreme (harsh, awful?) penalties are no longer applicable.

Hmmm, really? Again, I guess it depends on who you think you are. And you do realize that if you truly think this way you are calling the God of the Bible “harsh” and “awful.” I understand why unbelievers do this, but why you?

The death penalty is just, but there are limitations on how it may be applied. Let’s deal with the justice of it first, and then we’ll return to the limitations.

Justice

Why would the death penalty be just? How can taking the life of another be right? Two quick answers will settle it.

1) The punishment fits the crime. How you treat others, the Lord through His civil servants (cf. Rom 13.1-7) will do to you.

  • “If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him…You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God” (Lev 24.19-20, 22).
  • “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut 19.21).

**Obviously, the concern is for the victim not the perpetrator.

2) The punishment causes other criminal activity to lessen; evil doers don’t want to be blatant with breaking the law if there is quick retribution brought against them.

  • “So you shall purge evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. (Deut 19.19b-20; cf. 13.11).

The alternative is seeing crime rising in society, because civil rulers fail to do what is right and just according to the Word of the Lord.

  • “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8.11).

Do we not read of this in Israel’s history when they failed to abide by God’s judgments, seeking instead to do their own? Do we not see the fruit of this philosophy (cf. Eccl 8.11) in our own societies here in the West? We refuse to punish rapists, murders, child-molester’s, etc., speedily and with justice, preferring a man-made standard because the God of the Bible is too harsh, and so these individuals become more emboldened to continue running to harm their neighbors and shed blood. Justice would be better served if we did what was right in God’s eyes, and stopped pretending that we are the true kings.

Limitations

There is a notable distinction that God makes between certain sins. Some are criminal in nature and deserve a negative civil sanction, others do not. For example, the 10th commandment is against coveting (desiring/lusting after) what is your neighbor’s (fellow human being’s) property. This is a sin that needs to be repented of, but there are not civil sanctions against it. How in the world can a judge (civil authority) discern another man’s heart? They can’t (we can’t), and so that type of sin is judged by God alone (cf. Jer 17.9-10). However, this is not the case with adultery (which actually falls under the umbrella of sexual fornication). Adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. are sins that God provides civil sanctions against—i.e. they are crimes.

However, there is a caveat that needs to be mentioned. While certain crimes (sins that) deserve a civil penalty, there are limitations on how one may prosecute them. There has to be evidence. Specifically, there has to be two-to-three lines of evidence, and we are not talking about circumstantial here, but direct evidence.

  • “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deut 19.15; italics mine).
  • “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deut 17.6; italics added).

You could not convict someone of a crime deserving death without first meeting these necessary limitations. The people in question were innocent until proven guilty. Does that sound familiar? It should.

Moreover, the one being charged with a crime was protected from perjurers. If an individual or group of individuals brought false charges against another, and they were found guilty of lying, then they were the ones punished with the penalty that they sought against the other (Deut 19.16-19a). I cannot help but think of the Cavanaugh case in recent months as I contemplate the aforementioned verses.

Dare we say that these laws are from days gone by and are no longer applicable? Have you not read Matt 18:16 or 1Tim 5:19 or even Heb 10:28? Perhaps, you should for it is clear that their validity still stand.

“Wait a minute, if this is true, what about 1Cor 5? It seems that Copan does have a valid argument, since Paul did not insist on the things that you are claiming!” you say. Thank you, I appreciate the attentive nature of your reading. Please allow me to respond with the final thing that Copan failed to recognize in his hasty conclusion.

Understanding the Three Spheres of Governance…

Who was Paul speaking to in 1Cor 5? To what sphere of government was he referring to, in order to make a judgment against the man sexually fornicating with his stepmother? That’s right! Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth. There are three spheres of governance that God has established. Each sphere has a specific area of authority to rule and exercise godly dominion. They are the family, the church, and the state.

While it may be properly said that the Church has the authority to offer biblical guidance (godly counsel) to the other two spheres of governance (family and state), the Church through its elders, deacons and congregants2
has no right to rule in them. The parents are over their children, and the father is the head of them all in submission to his head—God. The civil magistrates are over their citizens, and they—the magistrates—are to be under their head who is God.3

Why is that important? Because, it would have been unlawful (against God’s Law and therefore sinful) for Paul to have the man sentenced to death. It was (is) beyond the sphere of authority for the Church of God (of Jesus Christ) to sentence a man to death, as they are not civil authorities.

However, they did offer the man a sentence of death in the sense that he was cut-off from the fellowship, handed over to Satan, and treated as an unbeliever. If the man failed to repent of this sin and plead the mercy of Christ in confession to the body from which he was forced out of, then his physical reality of being cut-off would be fully realized in the life to come. Being eternally damned, cast into darkness—bound and chained—where weeping and gnashing teeth is the norm.

The reason we do not see the application of the full penalty of these laws in existence today is not because they are invalid, but because we are rebellious sinners and our governments reflect this disposition. This should be obvious to the Christian living here in the states where many of the just laws of the past, based upon the Law-Word of God, have been slowly overturned and done away with. Why has this happened? Because the Church who should be counseling the nation’s civil leaders at all levels of government have been cowed into a corner, or they have truncated the gospel to a get out of hell free card, rather than standing for what is right and true.

While, I am saddened by Copan and other Christians for their confusion regarding these truths, I am not surprised as they are a product of a watered-down gospel; the gospel of the kingdom (rule) of God in Christ the King. Living in the land of relativists, we should not be baffled that many Christians are legal relativists to.

_____________________

ENDNOTES:

1 Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 65.

2 There is no true hierarchy in the congregation/assembly of Jesus Christ. He alone is the head of His church. Though there are notable rules of leadership, no one person elder or otherwise has explicit rule over the people of God. All members of the covenant community are on equal footing, although there is a slight difference in the roles each one plays, dependent upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10.42-44; ESV).

3 It should be noted in God’s economy that the citizens of the city would carry out the punishment determined by the elders at the gate.

“The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all of the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut 17.6).

Why? More than likely so that those who brought charges against another image bearer would not take lightly giving false testimony since God would hold them accountable for murder if they did so. No doubt this was also a testimony of zeal for the Name of God whose name had been defiled by the act of the criminal (cf. Num 25.1-11); as well as, the righteous vindication of the victim who had suffered at the hand of the wicked person being condemned.