Publication: Pastoral Letter, July 2010
Dear Friend in Christ:
As we move into yet another election cycle, the subject of politics is in the air, and our nation is polarized. Is there a way forward that will yield peace and progress? Yes, there is, if we will seek God; He has already provided a solution. We are steadily proving that there is no other path to peace and progress.
Our nation’s founders understood something long-forgotten by contemporary society: laws alone will not produce a desired result. And today, one “simple” law will contain more provisions and work than our entire Declaration of Independence and Constitution combined. Our government seems desperate to find laws and more laws that will somehow fix our problems, and the tyranny of laws only grows. How long before we awaken to the fact that more human government is not the answer to human problems?
THE POWER OF IDEAS
Our founders came to North America to escape tyranny and establish liberty for the individual. Many, if not most, were believers in the Sovereign God and understood the limitations of human government. They borrowed ideas from men like Adam Smith, John Locke, Algernon Sidney, Montesquieu, and William Blackstone; men who lived under tyranny. These men were Bible scholars and students of the Christian faith. It was their ideas, drawn from Holy Scripture, that found fertile ground in the hearts of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and a host of others who thirsted for liberty and the kind of government that would preserve and propagate it.
Adam Smith, writing in the mid 1700s, said, “The man who acts according to the rules of perfect prudence of strict justice, and of proper benevolence may be said to be perfectly virtuous. But the most perfect knowledge of those rules will not alone enable him to act in this manner: his own passions are very apt to mislead him.” In other words, Smith said, “Rules are not enough.”
Montesquieu wrote, “Society must repose on principles that do not change.” He went on to state that Christianity offered those principles. Blackstone said, “Thus when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter from which it can never depart and without which it would cease to be.”
These great men of thought and spiritual revelation understood that we must be a society of principles, or we would become the victim of laws. Self-governing principles bring us freedom; laws and more laws only bring a burden. From God’s first law in the Garden (“Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil”) through today with our myriad of laws, we have only proven that law by itself is insufficient. Over the centuries, laws have changed and multiplied, but the God-given principles remain the same. We need to return to biblical ideas and principles if we are to survive the coming chaos. The laws we need are Creation law and “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (see Romans 8).
Numerous passages of Scripture teach us, as they did the aforementioned authors, that law is not enough to civilize the human heart. The apostle Paul, an expert in Jewish law, well-understood the issue. As a religious, law-keeping Pharisee, he consented to violence against peaceful Christians, but upon conversion he received the revelation of Jesus Christ.
After his conversion, he began to proclaim the Gospel of grace. In Galatians he went after these who perverted the Gospel by attempting to bring Christians back under the law, who were saying that it would save them. He knew better. He insisted, by the Holy Spirit, that justification is by faith in Jesus Christ (see Galatians 2:16). He further stated that law became a “curse” to us (see 3:13). The law cannot save us from ourselves, it can only condemn us. That is true of all laws. An external force, no matter how strict, cannot change the human heart. Wise people have always understood this. It only reflects our need of God’s Sovereign grace.
IS THERE HOPE?
Yes, there is hope, but it lies not in a political party, a government, and certainly not in more laws. So where does hope live? It lives in the only One who fulfilled the law – Jesus Christ (see Matthew 5:17). In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus turned the entire body of law into two simple principles: “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” How clearly and powerfully Jesus cut through volumes of laws to expose the truth.
Though Jesus was of course profoundly accurate, we still have a problem: what about our past violations, and how can we keep even these two rules? The fact is that in ourselves, we cannot. Jesus made provision for those issues as well. One, He took our sin upon Himself (see Isaiah 53:4-5 and Romans 6:6-9). Second, He regenerates our inner person by the Holy Spirit (see John 3:3-8 and Jeremiah 31:31-34). He changes our motivation from self to service. Third, He intercedes for us continually and becomes “the Guarantee” of our deliverance (see Hebrews 7:25 and Hebrews 9:11-28). He leads us progressively to become what He created us to be (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
What once was written against us has now been written in us. What once condemned us now frees us from condemnation, from ourselves, and from judgement. Where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty (see 2 Corinthians 3:17). Where we were once children of fallen Adam, we are now children of God(see John 1:12-13).
The apostle Paul says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love” (Colossians 1:13). We are under a new government! Our hope lies in the government of God, who has set His King on the Sovereign Throne (see Psalm 2 and Ephesians 1:15-23). Without God’s government in hearts and lives, civil government cannot ultimately succeed. It can only create more laws.
The message of the Bible is not, “Keep the law”, neither is it simply, “Be born again.” The message of both Covenants is the same – the Kingdom of God. The Old Covenant promised it and tells us why we need it; the New Covenant tells us how it enters us and how we enter it (see Isaiah 9:6-7; John 3:1-8; Acts 2:32-39).
The authors of our national foundations understood that God’s Sovereignty superseded that of human government and that it would require His government for human government to succeed. The evidence that our founders were inspired by Holy Scripture is voluminous. Those who will not be ruled by God will eventually be ruled either by tyrants or tyrannical laws.That’s where many nations are, and where ours is headed. The civil government’s best friend is a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
One of the criticisms against those of us who believe in the reign of Christ, is that we want a theocracy – a religious government – like Iran, only “Christian”. That criticism is either gross ignorance or a deliberate lie to dissuade others from following Jesus Christ.
In John 18:36, Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” In verse 37, Jesus stated “I am a King.” But His was a Kingdom administrated by the Holy Spirit, not an earthly government (see Romans 14:17). In Luke 20:25, He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God, the things that are God’s.”
Jesus endured civil government (even tyrannical civil government). He subjected Himself to it and advocated that others do. He was not a rebel. In fact, He was exalted by the Father, whom He trusted, through submission (see Philippians 2:5-9). And we are told to have His mind in us. A theocracy is not really a “God government”. It is a human government by whatever religious laws are observed. It is not a government of the Holy Spirit. I agree with critics that a theocracy is not a desirable. But we need the Holy Spirit! I want leaders who understand accountability to a Sovereign Lord and the grave dangers that face the nation if those principles are ignored.
QUALIFIED TO BE KING
Many years ago, I confessed Jesus as my Lord. Something happened as I placed my faith in Him_I became His. I recognized my own limitation and sin. That decision ultimately led me to understand that my life – the only one I have – was His. Whatever He called me to do was my command. My obedience has often faltered, my light sometimes has dimmed, but I know that I have an advocate with the Father, and my hope is in Him. My decision made me a better citizen of the Kingdom of God, and also of our nation.
What would cause a person to make such a commitment to Someone else? There are several reasons why we do, and commend Jesus to others. I was not able to govern myself by law. Adam Smith said, “Knowing did not mean I could live righteously,” and I did not. I therefore ceased to trust in myself to do what I already knew. But Jesus is qualified to rule my life, and there are many ways that I know that:
- I accepted as truth that Jesus is God. That gives Him infinite qualifications.
- He came to give life, not condemn me.
- He lived above sin and fulfilled the law. No one else ever did.
- Jesus was and is full of grace and truth. He didn’t just believe; He was.
- While He was and is truth, He had compassion on sinners.
- His teaching was and is unrivaled in human history and stands the test of time.
- He transcended races, national boundaries, and generations. No one else ever has. He loved the whole world.
- He came to serve and not be served.
- His life and message were based on eternal principles and not man-made laws.
- His cross made atonement for me and reconciled me to the Eternal Father.
- He arose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit – and conquered death, hell, and the grave.
- His miraculous ministry is unmatched.
- He did not simply give me rules; He promised to be with me and in me.
- He loved the underdog, the poor, needy, and helpless.
- He was the embodiment of wisdom, power, and virtue.
- He gave me abundant eternal life, now and forever.
- He was my only way of escape from a just punishment.
- He promised a place for me in Father’s House.
As the old hymn says, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise!” That praise will continue when we’ve been there ten thousand years. We must not get lost in the political conflict today. Yes, it matters who wins, and your vote matters; but the vote that matters most is the one He cast when He elected you. And that election was held long before you, and I had the right to vote.
Please continue to stand with CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month and throughout the remainder of the Summer. The message of the Kingdom must be proclaimed, and your support is a vital part of us being able to continue to do that in this nation and around the world. Thank you for your friendship … we are praying for you.
Scripture Reference: Romans, Galatians, Matthew, Isaiah, John, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Psalms, Luke, Philippians,