Theology Thursday: The Government of God


The Government of God ©2001 by Robin Arnaud

“I love the Lord just fine, it’s just that I can’t stand His people! Besides, I can worship God anytime and anywhere. I don’t have to be in church to worship Him, I can worship Him on my own. I truly do love the Lord, but I don’t want to go to church.”

A very common sentiment is expressed in that paragraph, one that I hear often and from many people, some of whom haven’t been to church in many years but still say they love the Lord and worship Him “in their own way.” But is this legitimate? Can we truly love the Lord as we ought while rejecting church? Is participation in church really “mandatory” for those who love the Lord in their hearts?

We know from the scriptures that Jesus Christ is our King, and because we love Him we gladly submit to His rulership over our souls. We recognize the bible as His word and His will, and we read our favorite passages once in awhile when we need comfort or reassurance, or when we wish to point out someone else’s faults. But many don’t want to learn about the church. They love the King, but reject the church as something completely separate and apart from the King’s rule over them.

The King

Way back in Deuteronomy, the Lord promised Israel a king of His own choosing. This king would be one of their own, not a foreigner, and would rule righteously and without using his office to multiply his wealth and power.

When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, `I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, `You shall never again return that way.’ He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel (Deut. 17:14-20, NASB).

Looking at the history of Israel we can see that they had several kings, some good and some bad. But even the great king David couldn’t have been the king promised in the Deuteronomy passage, since he multiplied wives through deception and murder and did not keep the law carefully. Even the great Solomon, wisest among men, multiplied horses, and wives (over 700 concubines!), as well as gold and silver. And by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter to form an alliance between Israel and Egypt, he broke the command of God “never again to return that way (Deut. 17:16).” Only one king completely and fully fulfills this prophecy of Deuteronomy 17, who abandoned wealth and power and privilege, kept the whole law and rules righteously. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), but of His countrymen (his brethren, the elect – Colossians 1). Yes, Christ is this king.

The King’s Rule

As King, Jesus Christ must surely have a government:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the GOVERNMENT will rest on His shoulders … There will be no end to the increase of His GOVERNMENT or of peace, on the throne of His father David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isa. 9:6-7).”

“Let THE ELDERS THAT RULE well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in doctrine (1 Tim 5:17).”

“We beseech you, brethren, to know those who labor among you and ARE OVER YOU IN THE LORD, and admonish you (1 Thess. 5:12).”

“Remember those who have AUTHORITY OVER YOU, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith you follow… Obey those that have AUTHORITY OVER YOU, and SUBMIT YOURSELVES; for they watch OVER YOUR SOULS as they who must give an account… (Heb 13:7, 17)”

“And GOD HAS SET some IN THE CHURCH, first apostles, then prophets, then teachers, after that miracles, healers, helps, GOVERNMENTS, diversities of tongues (1 Cor 12:28).”

According to these scriptures, our King governs through human agents who are held accountable for their rule over us. If we reject His government, have we not rejected the King’s rule? Look again at the Deuteronomy passage and compare it with the King’s ministers in the New Covenant, described in 1 Timothy 3:1-13.

“Not a foreigner (Deut 17:15)” becomes “not a new convert (1 Tim 3:6),” in other words, a brother.

“He shall not multiply horses for himself (Deut 17:16)” becomes “not fond of sordid gain (1 Tim 3:8).”

“He shall not multiply wives (Deut 17:17)” becomes “the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2).”

“He shall read it all the days of his life (Deut 17:19)” becomes “able to teach (1 Tim 3:2)” and “those who labor in the word and in doctrine (1 Tim 5:17).”

The King’s government IS the church.

He has empowered His ministers with awesome responsibility for the flock of God, and authority to carry out that responsibility: To “retain and remit sins*” (Matt 16:19, 18:17-18, John 20:21-23), to “shut the kingdom against unrepentant rebels”* (1 Cor 5:1-5, 1 Tim 1:20) and “open it to penitent sinners”* (2 Cor 2:6-8), in the discipline of errant believers (1 Tim 5:20, 2 Thess 3:6, 14-15, Titus 3:10). If we reject church, we reject the government of God.

There is even a Scripturally established government BETWEEN churches, according to the examples given to us in scripture:

Questions which arise among churches and between churches are biblically settled by councils of their rulers (Acts 15:2,4,6) and that such councils have some authority over the churches they oversee (Acts 15:22-25, 16:4). But because these councils may err, they are never to be made the final rule of faith or practice, but only to be a help in those things, the scriptures being the supreme arbiter in questions of doctrine and practice (Eph 2:20, Acts 17:11, 1 Cor 2:5, 2 Cor 1:24). Under no circumstances are church councils to decide CIVIL or DOMESTIC affairs except by way of petition, advice, or conscience (Luke 12:13-14 and John 18:36). The authority of a church council is ecclesiastical, not civil, and is limited by the reign of scripture.

Clearly, a government over God’s people, separate from the civil government, IS scriptural! When we stop going to church, we lose all the benefits of that government: Its protection from error, from predators, from pretenders, abusers, and even from ourselves. God’s government, biblically, provides material and spiritual benefits that we really can’t do without.

We need one another. And without participation in God’s government, we are in great danger from within and from without.

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Veteran’s Day 2014


I have had the privilege of working with many former military men and women.  And I have had many of my family serve in the military from World War II ( my father and uncles) to the current war in Iraq and Iran. 

To all of these men and women, co-workers, friends, and family thank you for your service to this country.  Thank you for keeping us safe and free you are the best. 

Movie Review: Fight Church



Jesus never tapped out

Directors: Daniel Junge, Bryan Storkel
Cast: Jon Jones, Benson Henderson, Jill Burress

Warning violent images

Let me state now that I have nothing against martial arts. I achieved a red belt in Tang Soo Do before a training accident ruined my chances to achieve a black belt. And at one time I went with my instructor all over giving demonstrations and he would give his testimony about how Christ changed his life. So I have nothing against Christians using martial arts to witness to God’s changing power in their life.

But there’s something about Fight Church that rubs me wrong.

Plot:  Fight Church is a documentary about the confluence of martial arts, in particular MMA, and Christianity.  It follows around pastors who are or were MMA fighters and how they merge MMA training int0 ministry of the church as a form of evangelism and Christian witness.  This film also shows some of those that have left MMA and how they don’t think that the church is the place for training MMA fighters.
With regards to this documentary I would say that it is well done, it does go into the various lives of the pastors and their families. It shows the concerns of the wives who know that MMA is a young man’s game and that age means that healing takes longer to happen and they may not bounce back from a bad concussion.

You also see the pastors in the octagon you see what happens when they fight each other.

And that is one of the questions in Fight Church how can you say that you love your neighbor when you’re doing your best to tear his head off?

But this isn’t the only disturbing image. You also see one of the pastors who is talking about how he wants his boys to be “manly” and so he takes them out shooting. But these aren’t teens they are between eight and ten and can barely hold the semi automatic pistol. And the look on their face as they pull the trigger is more fear of the gun than anything else. Later in church this same pastor shows a pistol to his parishioner before placing it back into his pants waistband.

But the most disturbing part of this movie is the “do whatever it takes to put butts in the pew” attitude of these pastors. Dr. James White has a saying “what you win them with is what you win them to.” Is the “gospel” of the Fight Church saving the people who comes to these churches or is it just entertaining them until they find something new?

Ultimately Fight Church makes you think, it makes you examine what should or shouldn’t be used to further the Gospel. It also looks at contemporary Christian culture and asks the viewer is this what church should be?

I give Fight Church four out of five stars.

Catechism


Q . 117. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

A. In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:13

41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Psalm 19:13

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1Corinthians 10:13

15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
John 17:15

Frenetic Friday


You look around seems a nice place for some much needed shore leave when Bones grabs your arm and points to a white rabbit in a waistcoat saying “Oh, dear, oh dear it’s Frenetic Friday!”

And down the rabbit hole we go. First up is politics.
image

So in case you haven’t heard the sixth court of appeals in reviewing the ban on same sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee said they do not violate the federal Constitution.

Here’s a summary:

1. The Supreme Court’s summary ruling in Baker v. Nelson (1972) binds federal courts of appeals to hold that state laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman are constitutional. The Court’s ruling last year in Windsor v. United States doesn’t overrule Baker, nor does it clash with it. Neither of the two preconditions for ignoring Supreme Court precedent applies. Nor do the Court’s recent denials of certiorari in other marriage cases have any bearing. (Slip op. at 13-17.)

2. Under the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, state marriage laws are clearly constitutional. (17-18.)

3. State marriage laws easily survive rational-basis review. It is rational to define marriage as a male-female union because (a) governmental recognition of marriage operates to regulate the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse (19-21), and (b) it’s reasonable for the people of a state to assess how the benefits and burdens of redefining marriage are playing out in other states before they decide whether to take that step (21-22). “Any other approach would create line-drawing problems of its own.” (See 22-23.)

4. State marriage laws do not reflect animus. (24-28.)

5. There is no “fundamental right” to SSM. (28-31.)

6. Under Sixth Circuit precedent, rational-basis review applies to sexual-orientation classifications. Windsor says nothing to the contrary. (31-35.)

7. Under an “evolving meaning” approach to the Constitution, the relevant measure is society’s values, not judges’ values. “Freed of federal-court intervention, thirty-one States would continue to define marriage the old-fashioned way.” (35-38.)

Source:National Review Online

Of course this will force the hand of the Supreme Court as basically it divides the country by saying that same sex marriage is both legal and illegal in the country. Plus the proponents of same sex marriage will not be satisfied until it is legal in all fifty states.

Albert Mohler covers this brilliantly in his briefing podcast as well as discusses Ligioner and Lifeway’s theology poll that I linked to last week. Read the transcript here.

Now moving to Northern Ireland it appears that a Christian Bakery is in trouble because it refuses to make a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Earnie that is being used to promote same sex marriage.

Ashers Baking Co, based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, was told by a Government equalities agency that it was guilty of “unlawful religious, political and sexual orientation discrimination” for its stance on the Sesame Street-themed dessert.

Just to lay it out for you the religious portion comes from the fact that the owners are Christian and are holding to their biblically based views which violates the rights of customer who doesn’t hold those views. Political because the bakers are against the current political policy, and sexual orientation, well I think you can figure that out.

Now the ironic thing about all of this is that Sesame Street has always maintained that Bert and Earnie are not a gay couple. (Open Sesame) But the gay activists have co-opted the characters for their own agenda.

However, in the meantime Asher’s Baking Co must pit it’s small bank account against the wealth of the government of Great Britain. Read more here.

Changing to the new and outré but staying in Great Britain the very first breakfast café has opened. With over hundred varieties of breakfast cereal and different kinds of milk the customer can make his very own breakfast bowl consisting of different combination of cereal. The café will be decorated in the breakfast cereal theme consisting of different boxes and other cereal memorabilia. Who is responsible for all this? Twin brothers Alan and Gary Keery who love breakfast and turned this love into a business. (Source)

And now for a bit of a rib tickler here is an article from Teaching Good Things about a homeschool victim who survived!

Moving to technology if you’ve seen any of the Iron Man movies you know that when Tony Stark puts on his helmet he doesn’t actually see through those eye slits instead he “sees” via a heads up display. Well life imitates art with this new motorcycle helmet.

Sticking with tech news I think my co-author Robin pointed me to this bit of news. China has decided to remove all Windows based operating systems from their computers. They have decided to create a state sponsored Linux version and plan on being windows free by 2020. So far fifteen OS programmers are working on the operating system. China has also banned all computers that have Window 8 on them because of spying concerns. (source: Maximumpc.com)

And now in Robotic Over Lord news:

US Needs a New Robotics Agency or the Machine Overlords Will Win … Or Something

Yes from Nextgov.com comes a story where assistant law professor Ryan Calo says that ” The U.S. government’s ‘hopelessly piecemeal’ approach to robotics could allow other countries to leapfrog us in innovation”.

Federal Robotics Commission would be small by agency standards. “Ideally, it would be staffed by robotics experts,” Calo told Nextgov Monday. “That would be folks who are expert in software, in hardware, in human-robot interaction.”

Calo said he would put engineers and others with backgrounds in mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science right alongside experts in law and policy.

He isn’t looking to regulate robotics, he said.

“The agency would advise on issues at all levels — state and federal, domestic and foreign, civil and criminal — that touch upon the unique aspects of robotics and artificial intelligence and the novel human experiences these technologies generate,” he said. (source: Nextgov.com)

I don’t know about you but personally I’ve never seen a federal agency that didn’t end up regulating what they were assigned to advise. Which actually may be a good thing because with a government agency regulating our Robotic Over Lords the robotic apocalypse will never occur.

That’s it for Frenetic Friday now everyone out of the rabbit hole.

Theology Thursday: Alternative Churches


Recently I visited a local “Cowboy Church.” I would never have bothered ordinarily, but my extremely talented but chronically unemployed and more often than not homeless brother mentioned that he’s playing guitar in their worship services. Looking out for him, I went to the “Cowboy Church” to see him. I also wanted to make sure he wasn’t just being exploited by some sophisticated manipulator who will discard him after he has no more use for my brother’s talents, as has happened a few times in the past.

My brother did a great job on the guitar as always, but this time there less of my brother in the music and more genuine focus on the Lord and on worship. It was good to see that. That’s a big part of what I go to church for. I took part in the singing whole-heartedly as always, but couldn’t agree so whole-heartedly with the presumptive content of the public prayers, nor with the all-over-the-map, rambling sermon content. If there was a sermon outline or notes hidden on the pulpit somewhere to guide the preaching, I’d bet the pastor didn’t follow them. There was no exegesis of the Scripture, only the typical “proof texting” so typical of evangelical preaching and teaching. Basically a lengthy and contrived commentary.

So we’ve got gay churches, hiphop churches, rock’n’roll churches, surfer churches, and now cowboy churches. All aimed at a particular subculture and catering to their cultural idiosyncrasies. Maybe someone should start one just for scuba divers, and hold services underwater. Or maybe a whole conglomerate of dance churches. One for ballet, one for Tap, one for Ballroom, the whole gambit. All it takes is a mail-order ordination from any of several ordination mills and/or a membership fee to whoever dreamed up the association of fill-in-the-blank “churches” to affiliate with and lend legitimacy to one’s ministry. Today’s cowboy pastor was not seminary trained, though he did take a 60-hour course from some “bible school” and got his ordination from one of those “associations” that purports to be “just like a denomination,” except that no one knows what they believe about anything or who is accountable to whom and for what – other than annual membership dues.

They say, “We provide an alternative to traditional churches for people who can’t relate to church as we have known it. We can reach those people for Christ in a way that traditional churches can’t.”  Yet the service during my visit was identical in every respect to any typical independent evangelical church, except that this one has a whole bunch of “cowboy trappings” tied on. The pastor wore dusty jeans with chaps, a leather vest and a big black Stetson, which he removed only to pray. Lassos and saddles and other tack hung on the walls and from the rafters. A cowbell hung from a rustic lectern and rung softly every time the pastor leaned against the podium as he preached, pacing the floor and rambling without any apparent sermon outline. And of course, a cowboy-modified altar call.

The idea of “alternative churches” has me not a little concerned. We live in a godless culture which we are supposed to be calling people out of, and discipling them into a new “culture,” that of the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  I’m not suggesting that all churches should have the same culture without diversity.  That would be completely unbiblical since God calls His children from every race, tribe, language, and people. And being discipled to Christ does not eliminate the differences. Rather our service and discipleship to Christ transcends those differences so that we have true fellowship with one another in spite of differences. But as citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world, there ought to be some things that set us apart from the culture we are called out of, whether we are cowboys, farm boys, city boys, biker boys, surfer boys, ghetto boys or choirboys. But what should “kingdom culture” look like?  Shall we adapt it to the surrounding culture in order to reach them?  At what point does such adaptation become a phoney front or a means of manipulation?  Where’s the line between being “all things to all men” and tossing the Regulative principle of worship out the window to accommodate the people we reach out to? When does “contemporary worship” become entertainment instead of a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God? And most importantly, what makes a true church, no matter the culture?

Look for my next post, entitled The Government of God, for a look at what makes a real church and why “alternatives” are unbiblical and dangerous. Originally written as a rebuttal to those who argue that they can worship without church and don’t need church and that church is optional anyway, this article hopes to show from the Scriptures why church membership is not optional, and what a true church looks like.

 

Catechism


Q . 116. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, which is, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:1,3,7

25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Mark 11:25

35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:35