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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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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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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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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

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Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!

Running Time: 240 minutes

Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California

“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan

Running time: 85 minutes

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