Which god? God or god?
“Thou shalt have no other god before me.” (Exodus 20:3 KJV)
October 1, 2010
Even before that -
And even before that -
The left is pushing their "progressive" (liberal) agenda.
The right is pushing it's conservative agenda.
At least -
Sometimes it seems as if the left is anti religion -
Sometimes it seems as if the right is pro religion -
Whether you agree with what I just said or not -
Even more basic -
This actually came up because I'm reading John MacArthur's book, Why Government Can't Save You. I was expecting it to actually talk about why the government can't save our souls. To be sure -
But it takes an interesting path to get to whatever the conclusion will be.
He starts off with a Christian perspective on political involvement and our responsibility to authority. Very interesting -
Then he gets into the Biblical purpose of government. And that's where this article comes in.
I was reading part of the book that talked about the prison system and capital punishment -
You can settle the argument over government’s basic purpose and the extent of its activities much more easily if you simply use Scripture as the starting point.
Keep in mind -
If you've read what I wrote about Inside the Revolution -
Also from Chapter 3 -
When in February, 1791, Washington called upon Jefferson and Hamilton to submit their opinions on the constitutionality of legislation chartering a Bank of the United States, national political affiliations had already been well defined in terms of broad and basic interests. Though the letters they wrote in reply were couched in the language of the Constitution, the rival Secretaries wrote primarily as leaders of their respective parties. Fearful of extending the powers of an administration so deeply committed to the interests of Federalism, Jefferson spoke the mind of his party when he declared for a “strict” construction of the Constitution: his was a philosophy of limited government. Congress, he argued, had been delegated specifically enumerated powers; its further power “to make all laws necessary and proper” for carrying them into execution must not be loosely defined. “Necessary and proper,” wrote Jefferson, mean “essential.” A bank was not essential for carrying out the enumerated powers; therefore the Bank Bill was clearly unconstitutional.
For those whose interests were so well served by the ever more powerful Federalist-
"Implied powers" -
Continuing the left / right comparison from above -
The left generally goes for implied powers -
The right generally goes for strict construction -
MacArthur points to what Paul wrote in Romans 13 to show what God intended for governments -
Submission to the Authorities
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
So then -
Those who do right -
Whose who do wrong -
Please note -
And then I start to think about some of the really awful regimes that have been & still are in the world. What about them? How can they be restraining evil? It seems that they themselves are evil.
Fortunately, this is the next thing addresses in the book. Guess that means I'm not alone in thinking this way.
For major crimes -
From Genesis 2:15-
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Not to say that everyone actually does good all the time (obviously we don't!) -
And what about Jesus -
Paying Taxes to Caesar
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Not here. Give to Caesar (the government) what is his -
The Apostle Paul even appealed to the Roman government -
Paul the Roman Citizen
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
So what about when things are really, really bad? What about when the truly evil government takes control?
It's not a popular thing to say -
For example -
The End Has Come
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Disaster! An unheard-
“The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd—no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. The seller will not recover the land he has sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.
“Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague. All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins. Every hand will go limp, and every knee will become as weak as water. They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Their faces will be covered with shame and their heads will be shaved. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD'S wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will enter it and desecrate it.
“Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
OMG!! This is awful stuff. And like it or not -
We can choose to demonize those who would call attention to these warnings and call for us to recognize them and turn around. Or we can join the crowd and pretend that this isn't part of our faith.
You see -
We can elect our leaders -
We can get hung up on one little "litmus test" -
We can look at what we want from government -
We can realize it's not a question of left or right -
Political party labels don't define a person. What they actually do as leaders defines them.
If it was the government -
If it's God -
Do we want the government to save us -
is our "god" the government -