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.
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
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
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