Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Relationship Crimes

This hardness of heart principle means that relationship type crimes should not be enforced in a society where the majority of people are not Christian. If Moses showed mercy, we should too. If he did not enforce God’s standard against adultery, we should not be attempting to establish laws against other “relationship sins”. God has changed his mind; rather he is realistic about what can be achieved by the Law.

In modern society, adultery is so widespread that enforcing a law against it would be impractical. Likewise, homosexual activity is so widespread in modern society that enforcing a law against a law against it would be impossible. These laws should be taken off line in our time, due to “hardness of heart”.

The same principle applies to blasphemy or “treason against God”. This means that in a non-Christian society, crime should be limited to theft, violence and false witness.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hardness of Heart

A “hardness of heart” principle applies to the role of judges when dealing with crime. Although adultery was listed as a crime in the Law of Moses, this law was not enforced by Moses.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning (Matt 19:8).
Moses did not enforce the law against adultery, because the people’s hearts were hard. There were so many people committing adultery that applying biblical sanctions would have been unacceptable. God does not want his law to be enforced on a society that is opposed to it.

If a law is constantly being disobeyed, the authority of the entire law will be undermined. If adultery were widespread, a law against it would become a joke. Far better, to put the law against adultery on hold until society changed.

If a law is being ignored, it is better for judges to stop enforcing that law. This is what Moses did. Instead of undermining respect for the law by trying to enforce a law against the adultery that the people did not want, he chose not to enforce it.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crimes are Few

Crimes are a small subset of all of sins. We can identify crimes by determining whether biblical law specifies a punishment. If it a sanction is specified, the sin is the crime. If there is no sanction, the sin is not a crime.

A judge has no authority to deal with sins that are not specified to be a crime, because God has reserved them for himself. He can see into people’s hearts, so he is best placed to deal with them. Judges are not required to eliminate all sin, as that would be impossible. It is limited to punishing the few sins that really disrupt the functioning of society.

The surprising truth is that the biblical law specifies only a few sins to be a crime. The following sins specified in the law as crimes.

  • False Witness (Deut 15:19-21)
  • Theft (Ex 22:1-4)
  • Murder (Ex 21:12)
  • Manslaughter (Ex 21:13)
  • Kidnapping (Ex 21:16; Deut 24:7)
  • Incest (Lev 20)
  • Witchcraft (Ex 22:18)
  • Sacrificing children (Lev 20:2)
  • Adultery (Lev 20:10)
  • Bestiality (Ex 22:19)
  • Homosexual activity (Lev 20:13)
  • Treason against God (Deut 13).
This is a very short list. It gives judges a very limited role in dealing with sin. However, even this list must be shortened further by the “hardness of heart” principle.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Crime and Sin

Biblical law makes an important distinction between a crime and a sin. This distinction is important in defining the role of judges, because a crime is a sin that can be punished by them. Therefore, defining crimes places an important boundary around the activity of judges.

The Old Testament teaches that only a few sins are also crimes. For example, coveting is listed as a sin in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:17), but there is no punishment specified for coveting. Although coveting is a sin, it is not a crime. The obvious reason for this is that it would be impossible for judges to prove that a person is coveting. No one can testify that another person is coveting, because we cannot see into another person’s mind. This places a clear limit on judges. They can only punish actions. They must not attempt to control our thoughts.

Theft is specified as a sin in the Ten Commandments, but in this case the bible also specifies a punishment. This means that theft is both a sin and a crime (Ex 22:1-4). Once a man acts on his coveting and steals from his neighbour, judges have authority to act against him. His actions are visible, so witnesses can observe and testify against him. This provides judges with a basis for dealing with theft.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Risks to a Peaceful Society

A peaceful community that relies on judges for justice will be a great place to live, so only a fool would not want to change it. Foolishness cannot be eliminated, so a wise community will think about risks to it peace. A community under the government of God will face three different risks.

  1. A foreign nation or government may try to invade the peaceful community. A temporary military leader to lead resistance is the best solution to this problem.
  2. A temporary military commander may try to become king and the people might be afraid to resist. The best solution to this problem is to limit payments to the military commander and ensure that all soldiers are volunteers. If the military leader is dependent on the community for his resources, they will desert him, when he gets too big for his boots.
  3. A criminal may become a predator and use his unjust gains to terrorise his community. If justice is effective, then offenders should be dealt with before they become hardened criminals preying on their communities. Prophets will have a role in warning against potential predators.
A free society that lives under God’s law and good judges will be able to deal with all threats to it peace, provided people are alert to the dangers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No Nations

When the Kingdom of God comes, nations will disappear. Although we see them as a normal party of life, they have no place in God’s plan. A nation is not created by a common language. Canadians and Americans speak English, but they are not one nation. A common culture does not create a nation. A nation is defined by a common ruler: whether king or parliament. A nation is a group of people that are ruled by the same political ruler. A nation has a common set of laws. The boundary of the nation includes all territory where that law applies.

When the Kingdom of God has come, all people will acknowledge the law of God. His law will be the only law, so kings and parliament will have nothing to do and will cease to exist. If there is no king or parliament, there will be nation. The only boundaries will be between areas were the law of God is acknowledged and nations that still want human laws. Within areas where God is acknowledged their will be no boundaries, because there will be no kings and parliament.

Different localities and communities will have their own judges, but they will be all applying the law of God. Different languages may be spoken in different places and culture will differ from place to place, but their will be no political boundaries, because there will be no political institutions. Christi will be all in all.

The book of Revelation is about the disenfranchisement of kings (and democracies). They will hide under the rocks and in the caves (Rev 6:15-16).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Titus

Paul summarises the principles of good government in his letter to Titus.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good (Tit 3:1).
Rulers and judges are “arkon’ and “exousia”, so Paul is urging people to submit to judges and magistrates. This is another confirmation that God’s government consists of judges and magistrates applying biblical law.

Achieving this goal will require most people to believe in Jesus. However punishing theft, assault and murder will make sense to most people, so judges who apply God’s law would be acceptable to people who do not believe in Jesus.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Servants of God

Judges who apply God’s law are his servants.

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 (Rom 13:4).
The Greek word translated as “servant is ‘diakonos’. Elsewhere it is translated as “deacon” (1 Tim 3:8) and as “minister” in the context of the ascension gifts (Eph 4:12). God has given us his law, but he cannot implement it himself. He needs servants to do this for him. Judges are his servants when they do his work, just asapostles and pastors are his servants.

Jesus stated clearly that you cannot be a servant of two masters.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matt 6:24).
Most modern judges serve a king or a parliament. There loyalty is either to one man or the entire people as represented by their parliament. However, a judge cannot serve two masters. A judge serving a democracy cannot be serving God. God is looking for judges who will serve him alone.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Praying for Kings

The scriptures tell us to pray for kings, but that does not mean they are appointed by God.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim 2:1,2).
The word used for authority is not the same as the word exousia that Paul used in Romans 13. The word here is “huperoch√©”, which means to be placed above. Kings have placed themselves above us, but they do not have legitimate authority in the same sense as a judge who is applying God’s law.

We pray for kings so we can live in peace and have freedom to share the gospel, not because they are God's reprentatives. Our prayers do not imply the "divine right of kings". We can pray for members of parliament, but that does not mean that they are God’s servants in the same way as excellent judges. Their authority is not authority from God.

We pray for kings because God is greater than they are. He was able to bring down Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon and one of the most powerful emperors that have ever existed (Dan 4). He was able to use Cyrus of Persia to complet his purposes. God decides the times and boundaries of the nations because he is God (Acts 17:26), but this does not mean that kings, dictators and parliaments are delegated authority by him.

Peter was always willing to challenge their authority and expose them for what they are. He said that we should submit to God rather than to man (Acts 5:29).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Honour the King?

We must honour the king, but surprise, surprise we are required to honour everyone. The king is not worthy of special honour.

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king (1 Peter 2:17 NASB).
We should love other Christians. We must fear God. We are not required to love or fear the king. The king is below God and our Christian friends, but on the same level as other people. We should honour the king, but no more than we would honour any one else.

I am to submit to my Christian brethren, but I am not required to submit to all people. I am not require to submit to a king or hegemon.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Free Men

Peter says that we should live as free men.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God (1 Pet 2:16).
If we must submit to evil rulers, then we are not free. However, Peter is talking about voluntary submission. If we submit voluntarily, then we remain free.
Submission is not something that God requires, but something that we do voluntarily for pragmatic reasons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kings and Hegemons

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers… that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Pet 2:13-14 NKJV).
The contrast between Peter's word and Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 is interesting. Whereas Paul says that judges are instituted by God, Peter is very clear that kings and governors are instituted by man (ordinance of man). The word translated as ordinance is a derivative of the word for “create”, so kings and governors are the creation of man. The reason for the difference is that Peter is describing life under an ungodly government, whereas Paul is confirming God’s ideal government (just he describes ideal Christian behaviour in Romans 12).

The Greek word that Peter uses for governor is “hegemon”. This is not a nice word like "judge". (We should also note that governors are sent by the king, they are not appointed by God.)

Christians should submit to kings and hegemons for the sake of peace and freedom to do God’s work, but they are not instituted by God. Governors are not appointed by god, they are appointed by kings. They have political power, but their power has been stolen from God. We might have to submit to them for the sake of the gospel, but submitting to a king or a parliament is not the same as submitting to God. They are the creation of man and are not appointed by God.

We do not need to start a revolution against emperors or parliaments, because our gospel is revolutionary. As more and more people at converted and give their allegiance to Jesus, the power of kings and rulers will gradually leak away. The gospel undermined and defeated the Roman empire, so it can destroy any political power. Powerful preaching of the gospel supported by prayer will be more effective than revolution.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Peters View

Peter’s comments about political rulers in his letter are often misunderstood, because the context is ignored. Whereas Paul in Romans 13 was giving basic principles, Peter is providing advice to Christians about life in a hostile world

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world.... Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds.… (1 Pet 2:11,12).
He is writing to Christians who are living in a hostile world ruled by kings and dictators. He tells them to submit to the political powers for the sake of peace.
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers… that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Pet 2:13-14 NKJV).
Peter is not describing God’s will for government, as Paul does in Romans. He is explaining to Christians how they should get by under a hostile government. They should not attract unnecessary attention, by trying to overthrow the government, but should submit to it, so they can be free to get on with preaching the gospel.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Only One King

A kingdom can only have one king. If God is King then all other kings must stop being kings. If God is lawgiver, then other law givers will have to find something else to do. If they are unwilling to become judges applying God’s law, they are usurpers and rebels.

Mary understood very clearly the implications of Jesus birth, and spelt out the consequences of what God would accomplish in her song of joy.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:52-53)

A major implication of Jesus ascension into heaven is that he is king of the universe, so rulers should be brought down from their thrones. God will raise up humble judges in their place.

Unfortunately, Christians have failed understood Paul's message about submission to authority and have twisted the scriptures to give a justification to kings and parliaments that have set themselves up in opposition to God.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Coercive Power

Paul says judges “bear the sword” (Rom 13;4). The sword is a symbol of punishment. This is a confirmation of the Old Testament teaching that judges have the power of coercion. They do not need to turn the other cheek or repay evil with good (Rom 12:21), but are required to punish those who break the law. This can only be done by using force.

This passage is not a justification of absolute political authority or democratic political powers. It is a confirmation of the role of judges as developed in the books of the law. God instituted rule by law which must include enforcement by judges. This is the authority that was instituted by God.

Paul warns that resisting what God has instituted is dangerous. This is a challenging thought. We think that a Parliament is better than a King, but neither is instituted by God. A parliament puts the law of the people above God’s law applied by judges. A king put his own laws above God’s law. So any nation that is ruled by a king or a parliament is “is rebelling against what God has instituted” and will “bring judgment on themselves”.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Whose Authority?

All authority belongs to God.

There is no authority except that which God has established (Rom 13:1).
If all authority belongs to God, there cannot be another source of authority. There can only be delegated authority, but delegated authorities only have authority, while they are submitted to their superior of authority. If they claim an independent authority, their legitimacy disappears. If a king’s servant claims the right to make his own decisions, he is refusing to accept the authority of his king. He is making himself into a king.

If all authority comes from God, then Caesar cannot have an independent authority. The same applies to a parliament. The only legitimate authority is one that acknowledges God’s authority and implements his law. Political powers that claim sovereignty and an independent authority are in rebellion against God’s authority. Any institution that creates its own law is usurping the authority of God. To be legitimate, a political power must apply God’s law in every situation. The only legitimate government is righteous judges applying God’s law.

We have totally misunderstood Paul’s message in Romans 13. He is not saying that we should submit to parliaments, kings and emperors. The real implication of his message is exactly the opposite. These so-called authorities are in rebellion against God, because they are refusing to apply God’s laws, but are trying to establish their own laws. The role of a parliament is to create laws, so by definition, it are illegitimate. By being a law-maker, Parliament becomes a law breaker. A parliament that acknowledged God’s authority would have to vote itself out of existence and hand its power over to anointed judges.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Doing Good

Paul says that good people do not need to fear "rulers".

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 (Rom 13:3).
If Paul were speaking about all political authorities, this statement would be nonsense. All over the world and throughout history, good people have had terrible harm done to them by rulers. Kings and armies have pillaged and burned houses and farms without discrimination. In the Soviet Union, millions of good people were sent into exile and many were killed. Millions of innocent people were slaughtered in Communist China. Political powers have always been a source of terror for good people.

Democracy does not prevent political powers from doing terrible harm to good people. After the London bombings, a man was shot dead by police while he walked onto a train. Tax authorities have made life miserable for many innocent people.

Paul cannot be speaking about all political power, when he says that they hold no terror for those who do right. In fact, the opposite is true. Modern political authorities have so much power that they are terror to good people.

Paul’s statement can only be true of judges implementing God’s law. They have no power to hurt good people. They can only harm those who have broken God’s law. This is further confirmation that Paul is only commanding submission to excellent judges. His statement cannot be true of other forms of political power.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Implementing the Law

Another key to understanding Romans 13 is given the third verse of the chapter.

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 (Rom 13:3,4).
The word usually translated as “ruler” in the third verse is “arkon”. However, this Greek word can also be translated as “judge” or “magistrate”. It is translated as judge in Luke 12:38. This suggests that Paul is writing about submission to judges. This is confirmed by the context. The role of these authorities is to punish the wicked, which is what judges do, not political leaders or military leaders.

We should also note that the word “authority” is plural. Paul is not talking about a single political leader or king. He is suggesting that we should submit to authorities (plural). Romans 13 is not about kings and parliaments, but confirms the Old Testament teaching of the role of judges. There will be many judges and authorities and we must submit to the excellent ones. This is also consistent with the Old Testament, which always speaks of multiple judges (Ex 22:8,9, Deut 19:17,18; 25:1).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Excellent Judges

The word authority (exousia) is used four times in the first two verses of Romans 13. It has a broad meaning, ranging from freedom to ruler to judge. Exousia is used for the authority that was given to Jesus (Matt 28:10) and for spiritual authorities (Eph 1:21; 6:12). One meaning of exousia is judge or magistrate. This is the way that it is translated in Luke 12:11. In Romans 13, exousia is authority that has been given by God to those who implement his law, so it must be referring to judges.

When considering the expression “governing authorities” in Romans 13:1, we should note that the word “governing” is not in the Greek text. The word that is often translated as governing is “huperecho” can mean “superior in rank”, but it also has a strong sense of excellence and excelling. Paul used the same word in Phil 3:8, when speaking of the “surpassing greatness” of knowing Christ. Paul is actually saying that we should submit to “excellent judges”. This gives us a choice about submitting. We are only required to submit to those judges who have demonstrated excellence.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Powers that Be

Before we can understand Paul’s teaching about submission, we must answer a basic question: who are the civil authorities that he is writing about? I believe that Paul is only referring to judges. His teaching about submission does not apply to other political powers. There are several reasons why this is true.

The essential key to understanding Paul’s message about civil authority is in Romans 13:1, where he writes,

The authorities that be have been established by God

He was referring back Deut 19:17, for which a literal translation refers to “the judges which shall be in those days.” This link has been missed because we do not love the law and have tended to ignore it. When Paul says that the “authorities that be” have been established by God, he is speaking about judges like those that existed in Moses' time. He is not talking about politicians, parliaments, emperors or presidents.

This is an extremely important principle. We are only required to submit to righteous judges. Romans 13 does not give a blanket authority to political power in all its forms, Paul is simply confirming the Old Testament principle that government by judges is the best way. This is the system of government that has been established by God.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Romans Thirteen

Paul’s letter to the Romans has an important teaching about the role of civil government sandwiched within a discussion about the meaning of love. At the end of the Romans 12, Paul is expounding Jesus message about “turning the other cheek”. He explains that we must not use force against those who harm us, but wait on God to provide justice. We must overcome evil with good.

Paul then answers a question that he had probably been asked many times when talking on this topic. Does the injunction to turn the other cheek apply to the civil authorities? Was Jesus saying that they should turn the other cheek to those who break the law instead of punishing them? Was Jesus advocating absolute pacifism? Paul gives his answer to this important question in Romans 13:1-7. He then goes back to talking about love for the remainder of the chapter.

The heart of Paul’s message is that Christians should submit to the civil authorities because they have been instituted by God.

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 (Rom 13:1,2).

This passage has been used to justify various forms of political control. The common argument is that Paul was writing to the church in the Rome at a time when Nero was Caesar. If a terrible ruler like Nero was instituted by God, then all forms of political power are justified and Christians must submit to whatever political authority they face.

The problem with this argument is that it does not define the “governing authorities” that Paul is writing about. In my view, the entire passage has been badly translated into English. Translators of almost every English translation have translated it in a way that gives the greatest possible power to political leaders. This is odd given that we are supposed to be submitted to God and that Paul got into trouble with the political authorities throughout his ministry. The assumption that Paul is commanding us to submit to every political authority including dictators and tyrants is totally wrong.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Judges not Politicians

We do not need elected politicians to write laws and regulations to cover every possible situation. We need good judges to interpret the God’s moral principles, using the method of application described in the books of the law.

God is our lawmaker. He has given us all the law that we need, so we do not need politicians to make laws for us. However, God’s law will always have to be interpreted and applied to the current situation. Elected politicians will not have the skills to do this task. The best people to do this task will be wise and godly judges.

Good judges are all that we need in addition to the law. God has provided his standard for justice in the law. Our challenge is to apply God’s law to the modern world.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

God's Law is Holy

The Law is Holy and Spiritual. Paul affirmed that the law is good in his letter to the Romans.

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not!
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
We know that the law is spiritual (Rom 7:7,12,14).
The law is holy, righteous, spiritual and good. Christians who reject the law are rejecting a gift from God. The law is only problem when used for the wrong purpose. When used as a substitute for the cross, it becomes a heavy burden, but when used to restrain evil it is righteous and good. Substituting man-made law for one that is holy and good does not make sense.

Once we realise that the law is good, our attitude to it will need to change. The key to understanding God’s government is to love the law. The scriptures say,
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes (Psalm 119:97-99).
This passage is usually interpreted as a command to meditate on the scriptures, but this is not what the Psalm says. It encourages us to “love the law”. It suggests that “loving the law” is the key to gaining wisdom about the role of government and the law. The Lord said something similar to Joshua.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Jos 1:8).
Loving the law of God is a key to understanding true justice and achieving good government.

Friday, November 04, 2005

God's Standard

The reason that modern Christians have so much disagreement over politics and the role of the state is that most believe the New Testament, but do not take the Old Testament seriously. Many Christians have never studied the Old Testament law, because they believe that the law has been replaced by grace. Even those who know that Jesus has not abolished the law are uneasy, because they have accepted the conventional wisdom that the Old Testament is harsh and cruel.

This creates a serious problem, because it leaves Christians with nothing to say about the role of the state. The New Testament teaches very little about the state and law. The reason is that God does not repeat himself. His word on these issues is contained in the Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, so it does not need to be repeated in the New Testament. Those who ignore the content of those books are left with a big hole that has to be filled in some other way. Without a standard to decide the role of the state or judge the performance of government, many Christians who teach on political issues end up following a secular prophet.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gods Law is All We Need

God revealed his law through Moses. His Ten Words are recorded twice in the Old Testament: in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Case laws that explain how the Ten Commandments should be applied in a variety of situations are provided in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These laws deal with theft violence and murder, so they are all that is needed for a peaceful society.

There is no evidence in the Bible of a group of people being elected to decide what the law should be. A parliament or congress is not needed because God had already provided his perfect law. This is a very important principle. We will not understand the government of God while we think that we need politicians to make laws for us. We already have God’s perfect law, so we do not need elected representatives to make laws on our behalf.

Christians tend to hate the law, because they relate it to salvation by good works. Jesus does not come to destroy the law.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matt 5:17,18).
The law will remain until God’s purposes on earth are complete. Christians have failed to understand that God still has a purpose for the law. We cannot be justified by obeying the law, because we are saved through faith. Abraham knew that five hundred years before the law had been given. However, the primary reason that God gave the law is so the people of a nation can live together in peace and harmony. The law was given to protect citizens from theft and violence that destroy the peace of a society.

Paul explained the purpose of the law to Timothy.
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers (1 Tim 1:8-10).
We must understand that the law is still good, when it is used for the correct purpose. It cannot wipe away sin, because only the cross can deal with the guilt of sin. However the law is good for dealing with lawbreakers and evil people. By dealing with murder, adultery, theft and false witness the law allows good people to live together in peace.

The Ten Commandements were spoken directly by God, so we should take them seriously.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Correct Question, Correct Answer

The correction question is "What is God’s ideal form of government?"

The answer to this question is that God’s ideal for human society is government by his law. His law is the only system that can provide peace on earth, but it must be supported by two human activities. The first is wise judges who apply his law to resolve legal disputes and punish evildoers. The second human activity is temporary military leaders raised up in response to threats of invasion by an external enemy. The Old Testament polity consisted of judges and military leaders. Isaiah described these two roles in the same passage.

He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate (Is 28:6).
These two governing roles are described in detail in the Old Testament.

The first role is that of judges who settle legal disputes based on God’s law. Moses and Samuel took this role. The second role is the military commander who calls soldiers together to defend the nation when it is attacked by an enemy. This is probably not a permanent position, but only comes about when the nation is attacked. Moses, Joshua and David took this role.

Military leaders are only needed during a time of crisis. Judges are more important, because they will be needed all the time.

Judges applying God's law are his ideal government.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Not J-in-J

Many Christians think that Jesus ruling as king in would be the perfect government, but this is really an awful idea. The thought of Jesus sitting in and using an “iron fist” to crush all opposition is repulsive and because it is contrary to the gospel it cannot work. Military power does not produce good government. The United States has one hundred thousand well armed troops in Iraq, but they have not been able to enforce peace. How would Jesus sitting on a throne in Jerusalem be able to do any better. Many evil people would just ignore him.

If Jesus has to come back to bring peace to the world then the gospel must be useless and the Holy Spirit is a failure. God does not use force to bring change to the world, but change the hearts of people, so that they freely choose to obey him. God is backing the gospel and the Holy Spirit, so counting on the return of Jesus to bring peace to the world is a false hope.