Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: God’s Governments

Monday, April 18, 2016

God’s Governments

God’s Governments

Human Government is the third Dispensation that began with Noah after the Great Flood.  From the beginning of the Dispensation of Human Government, human government has evolved and corrupted itself and more so with every generation.  Much of this corruption has been through various levels of influence in the development of paganism and idolatry.  The foundation of Human Government is found in Genesis 9:1-6 in the Noahic Covenant.  There are a number of aspects of the Dispensation of Human Government and the Noahic Covenant that continue into all later Dispensations and covenants.  There are a number of things that are addressed in the Noahic Covenant that did not exist in previous Dispensations.  All the changes defined in the Noahic Covenant will continue until the Kingdom Age where Human Government will cease and a pure Theocratic Government will begin, which will be administrated by glorified believers from the Church Age directly under the authority of the reigning King Jesus.

“1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life {a soul} thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein” (Genesis 9:1-7).

The emphasis of Human Government is that there are numerous levels of government within and under God’s sovereign rule.  Each level is ordained, or ordered, by God for specific purposes.  Every level of human government is ultimately accountable to God.  Therefore, obedience to God’s Word ALWAYS carries the ultimate authority over all other levels of government.  There is an inner spiritual governance of God over the human body, soul, and spirit that is always our first and primary level of government.  All other forms of government are various levels of external and physical government.  Paul addresses all these different kinds and levels of human government in the first verse of Romans chapter thirteen.  Paul then expands upon the issue of human accountability to these various levels of these numerous kinds of human government throughout Romans chapter thirteen. 

“1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:1-5).

Romans 13:1 establishes various levels of jurisdiction directly under God’s supreme jurisdiction, which transposes into various levels of adjudication.  Adjudication means the righteous enforcement and execution of the penalties of broken laws. Adjudication refers to the whole judicial process regarding criminal and civil actions against people.  Adjudication is defined in detail in the Mosaic Law.  However, the extreme example of this is the never ending and expanding Case Law system in most governments governed by the Rule of Law, which opposed the divine right of Kings to rule sovereignly (meaning absolute civil and judicial authority). 

The primary sovereignty over all governments is stated in Acts 5:29.  The Apostles had just been commanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin to no longer teach in Jesus’ Name.  The Sanhedrin was the highest court under Jewish authority in Israel.  The Apostles refused the order of the Sanhedrin because they were under the direct order of Jesus to teach in His Name.  God’s commands overrule the commands of men regardless of how high their positions in human governments. 

“26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:26-28).

The governments to which Romans 13:1 refer by the words, “Let every soul be subject {be subordinate or under obedience} unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” are civil governments.  Whenever the laws of civil governments do not contradict God’s commands, believers are commanded to be in subordination to those civil governments.  The first priority of believers is to know God’s commands so that they be discerning regarding the priorities of the moral responsibilities.  Civil disobedience is appropriate when civil government laws contradict God’s commandments and moral code of ethics. 

Civil government is external government, which rules only over the body.  God’s sovereign government is spiritual government and has superior rule in that it rules over the heart and the mind.  God commands the believer to bring his thought life and emotions under the control of the Spirit under the sovereignty of God in II Corinthians 10:3-6.  The thought life and the heart life are intended to control and dominate the body.

“3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6)?

The most difficult of all governance is self-governance.  Governing the desires of the heart and guarding against the fantasies that fill the mind are constant battlefronts against carnality.  This warfare takes place inside our bodies.  Most, if not all disobedience, originates in our minds (thought life) and in our hearts (our emotional life).  Keeping the carnality of our hearts and minds in abeyance is difficult because the fallen nature is alienated against God and rebels against being subject to God.  The fallen character of humanity is by nature anarchistic and rebellious against the will of God, or any government for that matter.  Anarchism is the Devil’s ultimate goal because through Anarchism he will always rule through evil.  Anarchism always begins in the heart and is the natural outcome of rebellion against God.  In every society governed by the rule of moral Law, Anarchists will fill the prisons until they overwhelm the culture and dominate it. 

“5 Now the end {the ultimate point aimed at or the goal/purpose} of the commandment {referring to a biblical mandate} is charity {sacrificial benevolence} out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (I Timothy 1:5-11).

Until the believer learns to govern the heart and the mind by the Word of God and the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God, he will never be successful in being “subject to the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) ordained by God in the numerous levels of civil governments under which he lives.  There are numerous levels of subjection to government defined in the Word of God.  Ephesians chapter five is a text that gives numerous levels of government to which all believers are responsible. It is critically important to see that every level of human government comes with God ordained commandments of human responsibilities. 

1. The ultimate example of subjection and submission to the governance of the will of God is the sacrificial love exhibited by Christ.

“1 Be {present imperative} ye therefore followers {imitators} of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in {sacrificial} love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

2. Then, the believer is commanded to be in submission “one to another in the fear of God” within the context of the local church.  The idea is that of servanthood to one another as opposed to lordship.  Each of the following areas of submission, or subjection, requires the filling of the Spirit, which requires volitional yielding, or submission, to the will of God in the Person of the indwelling Spirit. 

“18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21).

3. The next level of submission is within the home as wives are commanded to be in submission “unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).  This submission again is under the sovereignty of God.  Therefore, the wife need only be in submission to her husband when her husband’s decisions are in alignment with the Word of God.  She need not submit to him in any form of ungodliness.

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

4. Perhaps the greatest moral responsibility given to anyone is given to the husband in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  The example is sacrificial love that is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life for his wife.  The details of this extreme sacrificial love anchors its purpose to what is said in Ephesians 5:26-33 regarding the practical sanctification of the husband’s wife.  The example of Christ to the husband is that the husband should love his wife in detailed consideration of her holiness before God.  It is the primary occupation of the husband to love his wife in that he is to “nourisheth and cherisheth” his wife’s spiritual growth in holiness before the Lord. 

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

5. The next level in God’s chain of command of human government is given to children regarding their relationship to their parents.  This command is found in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”  We notice in Ephesians 6:4 that fathers are warned against abusing their authority over their children.  Angry outbursts are a contradiction against gentleness of nurturing and cherishing love that is to exemplify the husband’s/father’s life. 

“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour {to give value or reverence; respect} thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

6. The last level of human government for believers is given to servants/employees in relationship to their masters/employers in Ephesians 6:5-9.  There are key phrases that detail culpable moral responsibilities that are seldom considered by believers as they do their jobs each day.  There is also a similar warning to believing “masters” in Ephesians 6:9 as was given to “fathers” in Ephesians 6:4. “Masters” who abuse their “servants” will answer to God for that abuse and mistreatment. 

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Romans 13:6-14 detail the believer’s responsibility to civil governments.  Some of these civil governments may not be sympathetic to the beliefs and moral values of Christians.  Regardless of what type or form of civil government under which believers might live, they must try to live in “peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). 

Civil government defines a culture by the laws the government enacts and enforces.  In most civil governments, laws governing morals have dissolved away into obscurity.  Regardless of how immoral a culture becomes, the believer is commanded to obey the laws that do not contradict God’s commands.  Even though the civil government may not restrict human behavior by establishing laws against that behavior, God’s laws still govern the believer (Romans 13:9-10).  These commandments are individualized by the repeated use of the word “thou” in Romans 13:9 even if civil governments do not outlaw these immoral behaviors.

“6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:6-10).

Living within a culture where just about everything and everyone contradicts the principle of holiness and godliness can be very difficult.  However, that is the cultural and social construct of just about every generation of Christianity since the beginning of the Age of Grace.  The “perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) is to spiritually equip believers to function within ungodly cultures so that these cultures can be evangelized and souls can be harvested out of them.  Local churches are grown by winning the souls people who are living upon the dung hills of social corruption. 

The mission of local churches and individual Christians is not Kingdom Constructionism (Theonomy).  The mission of every local church is evangelism centered on making followers of Jesus (discipleship) intent upon creating local churches wherever a nucleus of believers can be formed.  These local churches are intended to be godly countercultures within the corrupt cultures usually formed by corrupt civil governments.  The darker a culture becomes by its own corruptions the brighter will shine the light of God’s children as these live in holiness within the counter cultures created by sound local churches.  This exposes the oxymoron of local churches trying to become like the world to win the world.  Here is where the warning of Christ aptly applies.  “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:23)!

As Romans 13:6 says, the purpose of taxes is for government to enforce laws that remove dangerous people from society; “for he beareth not the sword in vain.”  God has ordained civil government to execute capital punishment against those that commit capital crimes.  Capital crimes are crimes deserving a death sentence under the Law of God.  Such crimes were murder, kidnapping, smiting one of your parents, giving a purposeful false witness in a capital crime, rape, incest, adultery/fornication, child molestation, homosexuality, and bestiality to name a few.  Civil governments were ordained of God to put to death those found guilty of such crimes against their fellow man.  Corrupt governments become unjust and refuse to carry out the execution of such offenses against God or to simply not enforce such laws if they exist.  The degree by which this corruption of civil government exists is the degree by which the whole culture will be corrupted. 

The grave difficulty within this growing scenario of the corruption of civil governments is the corruption of local churches in what those local churches begin to accept.  This is where Romans 13:9-14 intercedes.  Each use of the word “thou” defines aspects of moral government that should not be allowed within the lives of individual Christians, within the Christian home, or within the local church.  Although the individual, the Christian home, and the local church do not have authority to execute people for these crimes, they have the responsibility to seek justice in these matters from civil government.  The local church has the moral responsibility to excommunicate unrepentant members guilty of any issue of moral turpitude. 

“11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time {ho’-rah; an hour or short amount of time left} to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).

The emphasis of the statement “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” in Romans 13:11 refers to the “day is at hand” of the believer’s appearance before the Judgment Seat of Christ at the believer’s resurrection/glorification.  Each day of the Church Age brings us one day closer to that “day.”  Romans 13:11 is both a reminder and a warning.  The Christian lives each day within the context of the imminency (any moment) of our Lord’s coming.  This should be a sobering thought that governs all that we do each moment of each day of this life in that any moment might be our last moment on this earth. 
One of the most difficult things for busy people to do is to wait.  Perhaps that is why they call people going to the doctor and waiting in the waiting rooms patients.  There is a danger when we wait for a long time.  We get bored and we begin to get weary.  Then we fall asleep.  This scenario is not to be part of the Christian’s life as he waits upon the Lord’s return.  This is very similar to what Paul says to believers in the church as Thessalonica in I Thessalonians chapter five. 

“1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness {of ignorance}, that that day {second coming of Jesus} should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep {the sleep of ignorance}, as do others; but let us watch and be sober {the responsibility of knowledge}. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thessalonians 5:1-10).
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) has a twofold application.  The darkness of human corruption due to the fall of humanity into sin is far along and about to come to an end.  The “day” of the Lord is very near.  The comparison is the end of the night to the dawning of the Son of God in the second coming of Jesus.  The words “cast off the works of darkness” and “put on the armament of light” means to be prepared for the transition from living within the curse of the corruption of human government to living in the blessing of glorification under the divine theocratic rule of King Jesus.  The believer, although still living in the Church Age, is commanded to “walk honestly, as in the day” (Romans 10:13).  The point being to live as if we are already in the Kingdom Age where King Jesus and the faithful believer/priests of the Church Age shall “rule with a rod of iron.” 
The “armour of light” in Romans 13:12 is the same as “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14.  To “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” is to be dressed by the supernatural enabling grace of God with the character and passion of Jesus Christ defined elsewhere as the “fruit of the Spirit.”  Only through this clothing of grace can the believer be light in the midst of darkness.  It is this grace that protects the believer from the pressures of the world to conform to its ever growing aberrations of spiritual corruption.  The believer that does not understand how the Devil works will not be the person who will “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 10:14).  The person who does not understand the absolute necessity of the enabling grace of God to overcome the pressures of the world will very gradually, but progressively, be conformed to the world and the “works of darkness.” 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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