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Four Spheres of Government

By Editorial Staff
Published June 1, 1989

By Marshall Foster

FEW CHRISTIANS TODAY SPEAK OF THEMSELVES as God’s world-changers, but that is what they are. The bumper sticker that reads “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven” epitomizes the attitude of many, who think the only difference between a believer and an unbeliever is forgiveness.

The Christian, in Scripture, is seen as more than a man who does good and avoids evil. He has within him, because of his faith in Christ, all the power to subdue God’s earth to His glory.

Today in America our tendency is to think of the word “government” in purely external terms: as “they” – the people in city hall, statehouse, or in Washington, D.C. To us they are the “government.” So, at first the term self-government seems strange. If it is used in a humanistic sense – suggesting that every man is free to govern himself however he wishes without reference to God’s moral law – then self-government becomes anarchy. The word “Christian” is an adjective that should not be removed from use with self-government, for true self-government is only possible when one is ruled or governed by Christ.

In colonial America, the God of the Bible was seen as sovereign over men and their property, reflecting the “Biblical worldview” of the reformation. But in the past 100 years a disarming doctrine which sees Satan as the sovereign of this world, has been accepted in many Christian circles. Many Bible teachers today see Jesus as an absentee king who is concerned exclusively with building and maintaining His church until He returns to earth. They see Jesus as having the authority and right to rule, but as having given power to subjugate the world temporarily over to Satan.

The worldview of the reformers was diametrically opposite to the above view. The reformers and the Puritans taught that Jesus Christ is the ruler of the earth (1 Tim. 6:16; Hebrews 2:14) and Satan, a defeated foe (John 12:3, Col. 2:15).

Our attitude toward the “sovereignty issue” is of paramount importance because it affects what is done in every area of life. God’s sovereignty begins with the individual self-governing Christian who is the building block for the other spheres of society.

Sphere #1: The Individual

Christ’s government is internal, resulting in the Christian being self-governing, but always in accord with God’s laws. Self-government that ignores God’s laws or defies them is not true self-government and leads not to liberty, but to the bondage Jesus refers to in John 8:34: “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” Only when the Son sets you free are you free indeed.

The self-governing Christian has the power within him to bring all areas of life into submission to God. This is his ordained purpose (1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 10:5). United with the word of God and faith, he will accomplish all that His Lord has commanded (Psalms 8:3-6).

Sphere #2: The Family

The self-governing Christian family is the engine of godly dominion and the hope of the future of our nation. God has ordained the family and has given to it the responsibility to care for all of its members both young and old. In our 20th century welfare state, we have given over to the state much of the responsibility of caring for our parents and educating our children. This is an abomination and, if continued, will lead us to destruction.

To the family, God has given us responsibility to educate and prepare godly children (Proverbs 22:6; Deut. 6:20). If we choose to share that responsibility with another, it should be in the godly environment of a Christian school, not under the tutelage of the humanist public school system. We must come to see that “public schools” really are “state schools” where the philosophy and the religion of the state will be promoted.

We as families must encourage the development of Christian schools. To make this godly movement fulfill its purpose, parents should insist that these schools not only provide Christian teachers and Chapel services but a Christian curriculum. That curriculum should reflect the godly educational philosophy of our Founding Fathers and the training of our youth to be self-governing citizens of this great land.

Sphere #3: The Church

The believing church in America makes up almost 200,000 individual congregations that can greatly impact the rebuilding of our nation and the reaffirmation of our covenant with God. If we are to fulfill our purpose before God as the Church of Christ, our pastors must be encouraged to teach the scriptural foundations of Christian self and civil government in the pulpits of our land just as they did at the time of the War for Independence.

Without giving up personal distinctives or compromising doctrine, millions of believers can unite in voluntary union to accomplish godly purposes. The churches, not the state, must once again become the great arm of God’s “charity” reaching out to a needy people with the Gospel and its answers to society’s social problems.

Sphere #4: The State

There is increasing discussion today of restoring our self-governing republic. The only possible way for such rhetoric to become a reality is if the critical path we have just discussed is followed. Discussion of civil government is left to the end not because it is the least important area of our lives, but to emphasize that the basic structure of government will not conform to its original Constitutional model until the people become self-governing in their homes, churches, schools and businesses.

We must also begin immediately to become involved in the political process, for there are issues that need to be confronted before our entire structure is destroyed. For example, God will not tolerate a nation that legally kills the unborn child, calling it “abortion.”

Let us not forget the godly way of nation-building presupposes as its foundation Christian character and intelligent self-governing Christians. This is the reason we are failing in our current attempt to set up republics in foreign lands. It does little good to give a copy of the Constitution and plans for popular elections to a people who do not know how to govern themselves. The battle must be won form the internal to the external, from content to from, from character to its full expression as a Christian republic.

For further information contact: Reformation Covenant Church, P.O. Box 2129, Beaverton, OR 97075. Phone: (503) 254-2869.


Bibliography

Redemption

The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther, Summit Books
The Forgotten Spurgeon, Iain Murray, Banner of Truth
The Sovereignty of God, A.W. Pink, Baker Book House

Law of God

Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Greg Bahnsen, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company
Productive Christians In An Age of Guilt Manipulators, David Chilton, Institute For Christian Economics
God and Government, Gary DeMar, American Vision Press
Institutes of Biblical Law, R.J. Rushdoony, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company

Presuppositionalism

Van Till and the Use of Evidence, Throm Notaro, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company
Every Thought Captive, Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company
The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company

Earthly Victory

Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, David Chilton, Dominion Press
The American Covenant, Marshall Foster, The Foundation For Christian Self-Government
An Eschatology of Victory, J. Marcellus Kik, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company
The Flight from Humanity, R.J. Rushdoony, Thoburn Press


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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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