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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Judgment is over due

Thankfully, I am still alive enough, that I could not make it to the end of this article.  It is still possible to disgust me so much, that I have to stop.

For those who say, the USA will not come under judgment, I would say, "We will and it is over due."  ONLY
grace holds it off.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Romans Bible Study #43 Romans 13:8-14

Romans Bible Study #43
Romans 13:8-14

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.      NASB

8-10Don't run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don't sleep with another person's spouse, don't take someone's life, don't take what isn't yours, don't always be wanting what you don't have, and any other "don't" you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can't go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.

 11-14But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!      The Message

Verse 8   This is not a new theme or a return to the theme.  This is the theme, it was the theme when we learned how to relate to enemies, it was the theme when we learned how to relate to our government.  It is the theme now. LOVE.  When you love, you honor others, you pay your debts, you pay your taxes, you are a good citizen.  You can only love when you know you are loved by God.  Love fulfills the law, with joy.

Verse 9   All the do-nots are obliterated in the doing of Love.  The Spirit working through our laid down lives chooses love.  Lasagna over vomit is an easy choice for the flesh.  Love over sinning is an easy choice for the spirit that lives in us.

Verse 10   The neighbor, the question of the Pharisee that brought one of the most memorable parables of all time out of the heart of God.  “Who is my neighbor?”  The one in front of you that is in need.  When we walk in the ‘knowing’ of having the abundance of God’s love at our disposal, we can meet the needs of our neighbor and not do wrong to them.

Verse 11   “Knowing the time”  is our hope-filled existence.  God is closer today than yesterday.  The ‘dawn'- the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has happened, so the ‘day’ of His second coming will happen.  Our hope, keeps us looking up, looking forward, moving onward.  It was heavily taught and emphasized in the early church which was experiencing strong persecution.  Kept from having delight in this world the hope of the next was more real to them. Our delight in this world, our being entertained by it and put to sleep by it takes away this very real hope and joy for us.

Verse 12  Eternity with its rewards and punishments is around the corner, LIVE like it!  This is war, we don’t just need light, we need the ‘armor of light.’  (Eph. 6:10-20)   Read the Bible, hear good preaching, don’t let thoughts in your head that would lead you to sin, that would awaken the desire to sin.

Verse 13  Be aware that strife and jealousy, inward acts of the heart are placed side by side with outward obvious ‘big-time’ sins.  “Carousing”  keep thoughts out that lead to substance abuse.
“Promiscuity” keep thoughts out that would stir up inordinate desires for sex.  “Strife”  don’t give place in your thoughts for desires for preeminence or control or attention.  These things breed quarreling and jealousy.  Forgiveness, Forbearance, Patience, Kindness, Meekness, Love, don’t rip apart the Body that Jesus is putting together.  If you are bored or lonely or tired or discouraged or feeling hopeless don’t even ponder the relief that alcohol or drugs or illicit sex would bring.  Don’t daydream about what another man has.  Misunderstood, dis-respected, abandoned, get back to Jesus.  Put on the armor, you are under attack.  The thoughts come in, but what we do with them is our choice, and we desperately need to the grace of God to put them down.

Verse 14  A lustful, greedy or self-pity thought comes in, say “NO! get out of my head.” AND become pro-active.  Actively put in the words of God that awaken faith, think of the promises that awaken hope.  Think of Jesus, dying and resurrecting.  Call somebody.

Piper emphasized the idea of being a debtor in verse 8.  It would seem our debt is to God, not man, but Christianity is different from all religions in that its premise is that we cannot pay God back, or do for God, anything.  Romans 1:14 “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.”  Our debt is to our neighbor, in whom we see God.  His love shed abroad in our hearts, must have an outlet, our ‘neighbor’ is that outlet.  They are our opportunity to keep the circle of love going around and around.  No one would come to this conclusion naturally.  God does an eternally good work for you, and that work obligates you to people who never have or will do anything for you... huh?  How in the world does that exchange take place?  If you find the best, most reasonably priced mechanic ever, you want to tell others about your find.  You have been blessed and you want to share the blessing.  As a satisfied customer of God you want others to know of His goodness.  AA and NA live by this principle in gratitude for finding a higher power and a program that works they look to serve others who need this news.
There is a true story of a young girl, who knew a railroad bridge by her house had been washed out.  She risked her life on a stormy night to travel to the nearest station to warn the people to stop the next train before it got there.  Her knowledge of the danger, obligated her to tell others.  It meant  risking her own life going over another bridge that was being battered by the storm, river and debris.  But she did it.  The Lamb that was slain bought the life of every person.  We know this, we have this knowledge and so we are under obligation to enlighten others to the knowledge of His sacrificial love.

In verse 9 Piper made it clear that we should recognize as a lie the teaching that implies there are 2 commands in the statement.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  There is only 1 command and one thing that is understood as occurring naturally in everyone.  Love of self is a ‘given.’  Everyone seeks food and water and safety.   We love ourselves consistently and well.  Do that to others also.  There is a thinking that ‘self-esteem’ not the gospel is the universal need of mankind.  That thinking is clearly wrong.

Barth had a section that I felt needed copied word for word.
“Love edifies the fellowship, because it seeks fellowship only.  Love expects nothing, because it has reached the goal already.  Love does not intend, because it has already done.  Love asks no questions, it already knows.  Love does not fight, it is already the victor. Love is not the Eros the lusts ever, it is the Agape that never fails.”... “Therefore love is in itself perfect: it is the NEW doing, THE new doing, which is the meaning and fulfillment of all ‘not-doing’.”....Therefore-Love works no ill to his neighbor.  Love is the good work by which the evil is overcome.  Love is that denial and demolition of the existing order which no revolt can bring about.  In this lies the strange novelty of love.  In the cycle of evil unto evil, of reaction unto revolution, it plays no part.  Love is the inversion of all concrete happening, because it is the recognition of the pre-supposition that lies in every concrete event.  Love, because it sets up no idol, is the demolition of every idol.  Love is the destruction of everything that is--like God: the end of all hierarchies and authorities and intermediaries, because, in every particular man and also in the 'Many’, it addresses itself, without fear of contradiction--to the One.  Love does not contradict; and therefore it cannot be refuted.  Love does not enter into competition’ and therefore it cannot be defeated.  Capable of being defined only in negative terms in the sphere of evil (1 Cor. 13), it is, therefore, the action which is altogether pre-eminent over all evil.  No impossibility of my not doing good in the realm of evil--the only realm we know!--can rid me of the duty of love.  If, therefore, as a protest against the course of this world, I cease to love, I thereby simply--do not love God, offer no sacrifice, and do not renew my mind (12:2)  This is the relentless, impelling, earnestness of the command of love, and--Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

True Prophets and barking dogs

We have many dogs in our neighborhood, that bark at everything.  I was thinking yesterday.  When a real prowler comes, no one will pay attention to those dogs, because they bark at everything.  Quickly on the heels of that thought came this thought, that is why Art Katz and others are so jealous for the word prophet.  many claim the title and tell us of impending doom, earthquakes and tsunami's all of which will happen "soon" and they are watering down the true and necessary word of the 'prophet' with their false alarms.  "Syria is the next thing on God's timetable" I heard one say, oh really, because of one verse in Isaiah you can say that?   It is just
so wrong to put yourself out there as speaking for God.  Oh for the true prophet and the true word of God!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Romans Bible Study # 42 Romans 12:21-13:7

Very long but very necessary, in order to truly see the challenge of these verses.  The wide easy road, would just by-pass the difficult questions this passage raises.  The Narrow Way, seeks to submit to the truth.  May the Word change us, not us change the Word.

Romans Bible Study # 42
Romans 12:21-13:7
Passivism - Dominion Theology

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Be Subject to Government

 Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.    NASB

Romans 12:21 Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

To Be a Responsible Citizen

 Romans 13:1-3Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you're irresponsible to the state, then you're irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you're trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
 3-5Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you'll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you're breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren't there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That's why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it's the right way to live.
 6-7That's also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders. The Message
Here are some thoughts,  this is a part of a whole letter, in that letter it was just shown, we are not to seek our own vengeance, but now there is an acknowledgment that the government is an instrument of God and of His vengeance, also there does seem to be an emphasis on non-action
choosing not to act.  Choosing to pay taxes, because God is in control,  choosing to live freely in God giving the state credit for very little, and in so doing not really seeing a great deal of “light” in changing the state, which is, revolution.
That is part of what makes this section hard, humanity judges some governments and says that revolution and overthrow would be the best course of action.  Up till now, we have tried our best to let the word change us and not us change the word and that is our simple goal tonight.

The first part of  “To be or not to be” from Hamlet, where Hamlet is asking much the same question as we are.
HAMLET: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

Interestingly, in the end of Hamlet, the conclusion is, it is better to let God set things in order.

Barth wrote the book we use as our commentary in the early 1900‘s in Germany, before the rise of Hitler, so in his life time, he had to wrestle with these questions.  Quoting a short online biography below.
“The Rise of Nazi Germany
As Barth was dedicating himself to the massive Church Dogmatics, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists were gaining influence and political power in Germany. Barth was forced by events to reconsider his withdrawal from political involvement. Could he be a “good Christian” and remain silent? For Barth, the answer was a clear “No.”
Karl Barth became an outspoken critic of the National Socialists, opposing
Hitler’s political machinations. It was clear to Barth that Hitler was using the weak German democracy to establish a tyranny. When Hitler announced the state of Germany was favored by God, Barth was deeply offended as a theologian and worried as a resident of Central Europe.
University instructors, like all teachers in Nazi Germany, were ordered to begin each day with “Heil Hitler” and various nationalistic anthems. Barth refused to comply. Not content to merely resist the order, in 1934 Barth composed the Barmen Confession, a formal declaration that God was separate from and His authority higher than the state. As anticipated, Barth was removed from his teaching post and “escorted” out of Germany.
From his new home in Basel, Switzerland, Barth continued to speak out and write about the threat to Europe posed by Hitler. Working as a professor of theology at the University of Basel, Barth used his post to write directly to various Christian church officials, political leaders, and anyone else he thought might be persuaded to resist Hitler. Barth wrote of Nazi aggression and the suppression of Christian values in Hitler’s Germany.
Barth was troubled by the ease with which German religious leaders accepted Hitler, even promoting the notion that the state and “science” were equal to the churches. Barth saw “reason” taken to a cold, indifferent, and dangerous extreme. Even if the Nazi logic was flawed, it seemed reasonable to enough people.
The Post-War Years
Following World War II, Barth dedicated himself to the rebuilding and restoration of Germany. Though he had condemned Hitler and the National Socialists, Barth always considered the German people victims of historical circumstance. He did not dismiss the Holocaust, but he recognized the rise of Hitler occurred within a larger social upheaval.
Barth returned to lecture at the University of Bonn during the 1946—1947 academic year. His political involvement declined and he returned to religious scholarship. Church Dogmatics was once again Barth’s focus.”

One portion of the Barmen confession document against Nazi control of churches in Germany
8.22 - 5. "Fear God. Honor the emperor." (1 Peter 2:17.)
Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God's commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.
8.23 We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church's vocation as well.
8.24 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.

The Barmen Declaration, 1934, was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the Nazi state. Almost immediately after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, Protestant Christians faced pressure to "aryanize" the Church, expel Jewish Christians from the ordained ministry and adopt the Nazi "Führer Principle" (The Führer-Reich of the [German] people is founded on the recognition that the true will of the people cannot be disclosed through parliamentary votes and plebiscites but that the will of the people in its pure and uncorrupted form can only be expressed through the Führer.) as the organizing principle of church government. In general, the churches succumbed to these pressures, and some Christians embraced them willingly. The pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement became a force in the church. They glorified Adolf Hitler as a "German prophet" and preached that racial consciousness was a source of revelation alongside the Bible. But many Christians in Germany—including Lutheran and Reformed, liberal and neo-orthodox—opposed the encroachment of Nazi ideology on the Church's proclamation. At Barmen, this emerging "Confessing Church" adopted a declaration drafted by Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Lutheran theologian Hans Asmussen, which expressly repudiated the claim that other powers apart from Christ could be sources of God's revelation. Not all Christians courageously resisted the regime, but many who did—like the Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Roman Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg—were arrested and executed in concentration camps. The spirituality of the Barmen Declaration profoundly influenced many of the first generation of pastors and laypeople who formed the United Church of Christ in 1957.  It seems from this that what caused Barth and others to ‘rise up’ was when the politics of the state began to dictate the actions of the church.

We are not the first to wrestle with this section of scripture.  I took the best of what I could find off the internet.

            1)   What Paul wants then, according to Romans 13:1 is willing, intelligent submission to the authorities, out of humility, because one is conscience of God's appointing and working through them. Underlying Paul's injunction is the understanding that the government is doing what God has appointed it for—that it knows between right and wrong (13:3) and carries out its role of maintaining harmony among the citizens.

A few other things must be said about submission to governmental authorities. Paul is not putting his carte blanche on all government actions per se, but is instead upholding the principle (13:1b) of "government and order" as an end towards responsible, peaceful living in a fallen world. When a government fulfills its functions of maintaining peace, and generally protects the welfare of its people, both against those from within and without who would threaten these things, then it is carrying out the end to which it was appointed. It must be obeyed even if some things are tough—e. g. paying high taxes. But, when it crosses these boundaries and becomes an instrument for evil, violating the explicit will of God as outlined in Scripture, then it must not be followed (i.e. obeyed) at that point. When the explicit will of God conflicted with certain authorities,  Peter said we must obey God, not men (Acts 5:29). (Those were religious authorities so that is a completely different discussion.) Paul accused the governing authorities of carrying out sentence without proper jurisprudence and he demanded certain actions be taken to remedy the situation (Acts 16:37). (Paul, in doing this was appealing to the political authorities over the ones he was dealing with, so that doesn’t directly apply either.) If the spreading of the gospel is unwelcome by one's own state, then the Christian must suffer the consequences, but nevertheless continue to obey God. There does not appear to be the possibility in Romans 13:1-7 that a Christian could take up arms against the state.

          2)   This section, 13:1-7, raises the question is Paul just talking about authority in general or obeying the specific people in the specific government that is over you?  It seems he is talking about specific people to me, and the idea that maybe it is just authority in general, and only when that authority is acting justly, kind of seems like, an attempt to squirm out of the demands of a simple reading of the text.

The question that has arisen here concerns the idea that Paul has apparently taken no account of unjust authorities. Many commentators see the problem and Cranfield surfaces three possible explanations. First, says Cranfield, there is the possibility that Paul is speaking (I am very wary of people who start to say “Paul is speaking” because it seems to me they are under-cutting the authority of the Holy Spirit inspired word of God, by saying, “Paul says.”) out of his good experiences with the Roman government and has forgotten or neglected the fact that Rome could do and had done evil. That this is the explanation is severely weakened by the fact that Paul had been treated unjustly by the Roman authorities (Acts 16:22, 37; 2 Cor 11:25) (These mistreatments occurred at the hands of people at the local level and Paul would appeal to higher authorities when he thought the time was right.)  and it was ultimately those authorities that he understood to be the ones who crucified Christ (1 Cor 2:8).  (But he emphasized totally unknowingly.) Second, Paul, though fully conscious of the possibility that the government might commit evil, is here only speaking of its true and natural duty as a magistrate under God and appointed by him. Third, Paul is saying that consciously or unconsciously, in one way or another, the government will praise the good work and punish the evil. Cranfield argues for the third possibility based in large measure on the "absoluteness" of the promise. He says,

The promise of v. 3 is absolute: the Christian, in so far as he is obeying the gospel, may be sure that the power will honour him. It may indeed intend to punish him, but its intended punishment will then turn out to be praise. It may take his life, but in so doing it will confer a crown of glory. On the other hand, if he does evil, it must needs punish him.

I find it difficult to see Cranfield's rationale for the acceptance of this third option. Paul does not appear to be talking abstractly, or about such accidental benefits to the saint as death and a crown of glory, but is simply saying that those in authority will punish the wrong and praise what is good. The second explanation for the passage seems best as Paul is arguing for the role of the state in the light of the diatagh/`  (Greek word) of God. He is here assuming as a norm a positive and just role for the state.  (I don’t agree with this person who was criticizing ‘Cranfield.’  Paul in chapter 8 made it very clear that because God is sovereign all things work together for the good, so to say that in this chapter he is not considering that truth is questionable.)
       3)   Honour and respect are due to earthly rulers not because they are powerful and influential men, but because they have been appointed by God. It follows that to treat them with less than their due of honor is to dishonor God; and honor without its practical corollary of the due payment of taxes for the maintenance of the authority would be a mockery. by Greg Herrick

         4)  This is a parallel passage of scripture
1 Peter 2:13 Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme 14 or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. 15 For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. 17 Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king. ©NET

         5)   This is a Greek scholar answering a question.
I agree with you that there is a great deal of confusion about the Christian’s attitude toward the state. According to the limited insight God has given me, permit me to say a few things in response to your excellent questions.

I believe we may dismiss from the outset any thought of a servile, uncritical attitude toward the state. I stress this because so many Christians today believe they are to give unquestioning obedience to the state. Such an attitude is based on a faulty misinterpretation of Romans 13:1: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (please read vv. 2-7 also). Statists are accustomed to appeal to this text as if it supported an unconditional and uncritical subjection to any and every demand of the state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The immediate context shows that Paul’s point is something quite different. He is at pains to show that the state performs properly what is forbidden to the individual Christian: it takes vengeance on the one who does evil (see verse 4). Christians, on the contrary, must never repay evil for evil (12:17), and therefore they are not to oppose this legitimate function of the state but are to submit to it. God alone may take vengeance, and it is the “sword” of the state that he uses for this purpose. Essentially, Paul is teaching the same thing that Jesus taught: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Jesus assumes that the existence of the state is willed of God – even the existence of the pagan Roman Empire. But the disciple of Jesus is not allowed to give to the state what is God’s. Whenever the state makes an illegitimate claim to what is God’s it has transgressed its limits; and the Christian will not render to the state what is unjustly required of him.

The state is often confused with the kingdom of God. Indeed, many Christians are guilty of this false association. The state is a temporary institution (see 13:11). It will pass away, whereas the kingdom is eternal. Therefore, as long as the present age exists, Christians need not oppose the institution of the state as such. Rather they are to give the state what it needs to exist (e.g., taxes) and submit to its right to bear the sword. This is the plain meaning of Romans 13.

Keep in mind that while the state is “ordained” of God, it is not by nature a divine institution nor are its principles equally valid to those pertaining to the kingdom. Elsewhere Paul uses the term “rulers of this world” (1 Cor. 2:8) to refer to earthly political leaders. The state in which they rule is willed by God and hence Christians have to affirm the state as an institution. But, as Paul says in another passage, Christians are not to allow their controversies to be judged by the state because Christians themselves will one day sit in judgment over the very powers that now stand invisible behind the state (see 1 Cor. 6:1 ff.). So there is no question of Christians obeying the state at any point where it demands what is God’s. For Paul at least, this meant that no Christian could say “Caesar is Lord” or “Let Jesus be accursed,” even though such confessions might be demanded by the Roman state. The state that deifies or absolutizes itself has freed itself from its proper constraints as the servant of God and has, in fact, become satanic.

Inasmuch as the state remains within its proper limits, the Christian will acknowledge it as the servant of God. But inasmuch as the state transgresses its limits, it is to be considered the instrument of Satan. But even when the state functions properly as God’s servant, the genuine state for the Christian – his politeuma (the Greek word Paul uses in Phil. 3:20) – is in heaven. (On the concept of our Christian citizenship, please see my essay, The Christian as Citizen.)

And so the Christian gladly acknowledges the place of the state in God’s earthly economy, but he also knows the state’s place within the divine order. For that reason he will see his task regarding the state as one of watching to see that at no point does the state fall away from the divine order.

Thus I am forced to conclude that, far from teaching that the state is to be accepted uncritically in all that it does, Paul’s discussion in Romans 13 serves as a warning against the state exceeding its limits.  (Wow, I can not see how a person would come to this conclusion with a simple reading of this text.) How this works itself out in daily life is, of course, another topic and one I hope to address in a book that I am currently writing entitled Unleashing the Church.

Thank you again for writing, and my very best wishes and warmest regards,


     6)   Andrew Melville
"This precept concerning obedience to magistrates, in which, in consequence of the mutual relation of subjects towards magistrates, and magistrates towards subjects, every civil duty is contained, is a universal precept, (verse 1), no man of any class being excepted. Subjection  is enjoined to the supereminent  authorities: in which the word is tacitly presumed an argument for subjection: if rulers are placed in the higher grade, subjection is due to them from inferiors. A second argument is, that a legitimate magistracy is from God, whose authority Paul calls exousian—lawful, not without law, or an unrestrained license. As Melancthon said, ‘The authority is to be distinguished from the person; for Paul loved civil organization and authority, but Nero and Caligula he execrated as monsters of nature, instruments of the devil, and pests of the human race.’ (Where did he do that?)A third argument is derived from the fact that it is an order divinely constituted, under God, for the glory of God. For so I interpret, ‘upo tou qeou tetagmenai, as meaning, not so much ‘by God,’ which had already been said, as ‘powers ordained’ under God [Melville here adduces a number of instances from classical writers confirming his interpretation]—powers that are really such, and deserve the name. Hence an impious and unjust tyranny, which is neither from God, as such, nor at all according to the divine ordination, he excludes as illegitimate from this legitimate obedience, unless at any time it may seem good to God to impose even upon his own people a tyrannical government as a paternal rod for their chastisement,—for then, indeed, they should obey it, provided it enjoin nothing impious towards God, or unjust towards others—for in such cases its authority is to be disregarded."
"In verse 2 he concludes, from the second and third arguments, that they who resist God and the ordinance of God, resist divine power, and consequently bring upon themselves judgment—that is, condemnation and ruin: which itself constitutes a fourth argument—the uselessness and hurtfulness of disobedience. In verse 3 he renders a reason why those authorities which are not to be resisted are from God and ordained of God: adding a fifth argument for obedience—‘Magistrates are not a terror to good works, but to the evil;’ therefore they are of God, and are his ordinance, and are to be obeyed; for the magistrates of whom we speak are not unreasonable tyrants, but kind and just princes, by whom punishments have been appointed for the wicked, and rewards for the good. This he proves (verse 4) from the fact that the magistrate is the minister of God for the good of the church and the good of men, nor less of vengeance upon the wicked by inflicting punishment upon them. Hence he concludes (verse 5) that subjection is necessary for a twofold reason—to escape this vengeance, and for the preservation of a good conscience, and more for conscience’ sake, than through fear of suffering."  "Therefore it is good princes and legitimate magistrates, of whom the apostle here treats and so graphically describes, to whom all legitimate obedience is due."  (Conveniently this interpretation gives us leeway to obey only those who are good and legitimate, which would be from our own perspective, I don’t see that in the simple reading.)

       7)    Kaesemann sees no metaphysical background in the text and argues that the exousiai or “powers” are easily recognized in Hellenistic usage as political leaders. He deplores also the tendency of exegesis to seek a “maximum” interpretation where a “minimum” one is demanded. The text, he writes, is not really dealing with the state as such, but with functionaries with whom Christians have to do. Actually, many who use the word “state” in their analysis, seem to mean something very similar. “Neither Paul, nor Christians in their lives, are concerned with the abstract entity of the state,” writes Brunner, “but with persons who have something definite to do, who occupy a definite position, and expect something definite from them.” On the whole, this is a sensible position. It allows for an ordinary reading of the terms for authorities, it accommodates easily the transitions between singular and plural usage, and it does not call for undue stretching into abstractions. It says simply that, along with other kinds of people with whom Christians may well have difficulty, there are also people of authority. Like masters to slaves, they are a fact of life, and they must be related to in the spirit of Christ.

     8)  Harold J. Dyck   Paul’s claim is that the authorities have been instituted by God. This is the heart of the argument, and all agree that a positive value is here being recognized. Luther finds this to mean that governmental power (in itself) is good and of God (even if rulers are wicked). Relating it to the church, as discussed in chapter 12, he writes

The former serves the guidance and peace of the inner (spiritual) man and his concerns; the latter serves that of the outward (earthly) man and his concerns. (That is, the church directs people as Christians; the state, as citizens.)8

Paul’s real task, then, is not to encourage an exalted view of the state, but to discourage rebellion. The temptation to revolt is probably in view in verse 2, where it is regarded as both futile and wrong. The rising tide of zealotry in Palestine cannot have escaped Paul’s notice. Though it may not be the background for this text, it may have made him more acutely aware of similar tendencies among other Roman subjects. Moreover, it is not simply his relatively good experience under Roman law at this stage that motivates this attitude, but his desire that love of neighbor should prevail (vv. 8-10) and his conviction that the night of the present age must yield to the new day of the end of the age (vv. 11-14). Such a hope is quite the opposite of the hope that underlies rebellion, and it harbors no illusions about the immediate prospects. It calls for the bodily sacrifice and renewal of mind (12:1-2) with which this section begins.

Paul concludes these instructions with the admonition to pay each what is due to each. As in the injunction of Jesus to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17), what is due to whom is not made explicit. Calvin sees in all four elements listed in verse 7 “the particulars in which the duties of subjects to magistrates consist.” Others doubt that the authorities are entitled to fear and honor. Some  are persuaded that taxes are not always due, just as obedience is not. It is probably best to apply the same logic here as in the initial command to “be subject.” The problem cannot be solved by assigning two or four of the “dues” to the authorities and directing the rest to God. The entire thrust of the text is toward the acknowledgment of at least the tentative legitimacy of the authorities’ demands and away from resistance. To some degree, they are due all of the obligations listed in v. 7. But they are due none of them absolutely. Therein lies the ongoing tension which calls for courage and discernment in the church.  Harold J. Dyck

Luke 21:12-19  12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16 But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18 Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Barth from “The Epistle to the Romans”
This section is a denial of revolution and a denial of Legitimism.   Overcoming evil with good, is far deeper/ more essential act than loving an enemy.  Revolution in its aggressive form, (not sure what he thinks about the passive form at this point) is wrong.  It is the devil who approaches Jesus and offers Him all the “kingdoms of the world.”  We should be aware of this when any system of thinking offers us great rewards in this world.  Barth showed God as outside of world history by depicting Him as a negative sign outside of a math problem
-(abcd) and it does not matter if abcd is + or negative, the controlling factor is the negative sign on the outside of the parenthesis.  Our hope is not in the state as it currently is nor is our hope in a successful revolution of some sort.  Our hope is in God alone, and we are subject to the current authorities, simply because we desire to obey Him.  Evil will bear witness to the good, simply because God is sovereign.  Revolution and vengeance are taken out of our hands in this understanding.  God alone can judge, He raises up and He takes down the rulers.  When men take up the sword to judge the state they are judging themselves.
         God in us, as the source of our behavior, “He is not assailable, for he makes no assault.  he is not vulnerable, for he does no injury.  He does not take up a position where evil is delivered up to the judgment of evil, and therefore, no ‘fate’ threatens him.   The good man beholds the End that lies beyond all his penultimate activity within the realm of evil.  And in spite of the irony of his position the man convinced of his ultimate judgment being in the hands of God as an individual, does make a good citizen within the state, even though he has no hope in the state.

“The good citizen has no illusions.  he knows that all these endeavors are questionable, even when they seem to be almost successful.  And, moreover, he never supposes them to form a series of rungs on a ladder, of which the highest rung is--the successful and good human endeavor.  He pauses; and behold good contrasted with all human endeavors, --however successful they may be--only in the incommensurable pre-eminence of God.”  Which speaks against atheistic evolution.  ‘we are getting better, we just need more education/understanding, then we will achieve peace in our time’ (baloney!)
The only terror for us is eternal, the only peace for us is eternal.  This world system has nothing to offer us.  Not terror or peace.  So go ahead and pay your taxes, but continue to live, in a ‘world’ and a truth beyond this world.  Witnessing to the truth that is eternal.

There is a transition in the message of the Bible, no longer a physical nation that is to display God’s plan in a physical way.  The plan is to show the people of God, now small gatherings within many nations, how to respond to the nations around us, and the nation that we are in.  Knowing that this world is not our home.

When it all boils down to our understanding of Grace, then I know that we are getting somewhere.  A proper understanding of Romans 9-11 would have propelled the church in Germany to a very early, united, battle against the Nazi regime.  Then all the Christians in the country would have had the backing and the unity they needed to withstand the demands of the Nazi’s and confront them with the truth of God’s word.  So we must keep this chapter in the context of the letter, in the context of, “no one is good, no not one” (no government, and no revolution against a government will give the ultimate answer) in the context of “the call and election of God are not withdrawn” (the Jewish people can not be cast aside, in a “God is done with them" way.  God has made promises and He is not done.)  in the context of “our lives as a living sacrifice.” (The way of the cross does not allow for worldly ambitious power grabs as in ‘dominion theology.’)

I wonder if we as a people get the government we deserve and the ‘not revolution’ thing is not an endorsement of the state as much as it is an acknowledgment of the justice and sovereignty of God.  “ This is what we have, this is what we deserve.”  If we continue to love and trust God through this maybe He will relent and restore.  If we take up  arms and try to fix it ourselves we are “bound to repeat.”

After all these thoughts it is still not concrete.  When the state attempts to control the church and push it away from the cross of Christ, this must be resisted.  The idea that the state can make laws to control what is said in the pulpit, currently happening in Canada and Europe, and in some ways in our country where political endorsements can not be made from the pulpit.  Some would say the way to resist is to ‘go to jail.’ for doing what is right.  Paul, who wrote earlier, that there is no one good, no not one, would not be under any illusions that a man-made government would be truly good and just.  He was looking beyond the government to see the God who established the government.  Which brings us back to the question, what about a blatantly satanic government?  Of all that I read I like Harold J. Dyck the best, “Therein lies the ongoing tension which calls for courage and discernment in the church.”  We are in an ‘ongoing tension’ that requires us to hear the voice of the Shepherd, and rely on our relationship with Him, to guide us, understanding, that no solution down here, will be an ultimate solution.

Extra/ Bonus stuff on the lie of Dominion Theology
Historically Dominion Theology emerges whenever the Christian Church enters into covenant with a political power that is either at the apex of international wealth and power or about to make a play for it. The first Church-State deal was seen in the 4th Century. This was the prototype for all the Church-State accords which were made with the European princes in the following 17 centuries. Here is how it happened.
After the sickening persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the late third century the Roman powers faced a fact that was becoming quite obvious. Using their cruel methods of direct persecution they were unable to halt the Christian witness. Diocletian's successor Caesar Constantine came to power early in the 4th century. He soon saw the writing on the wall. The persecutions against the Christian Church were clearly counterproductive. Accordingly he issued the Edict of Milan in 308 A.D.. This halted the persecution of Christians. What had happened?

As the 3rd century came to an end the Church was spiritually victorious against the powers of Rome. The Roman powers, realized that the direct persecutions of the Church were actually hurting them. Persecution of Christians led to martyrdom, which is the Greek word "witness". For the early Church "witness" for Christ meant "martyrdom" for Christ. This is the way it is for Christian believers in China and in the Muslim world today. One Christian dies for the faith every four minutes.

The facts emerging in the late 3rd century were quite straightforward. Roman persecution was creating Christian martyr/witnesses. But all these efforts to stamp out Christianity were a waste of time. The efforts of the Roman powers using this strategy of frontal attack were actually counterproductive. Their persecutions were just adding to the numbers of Christians.

Early in the 4th century the Roman powers woke up and realized what was really going on. They decided their only option now was to take a different approach. They decided to take the advice of Balaam. Their new goal was not to attack the Church. Instead they would use subterfuge and attempt to get the Church compromised. In short, they had adopted a Fabian approach to conquest.

Under the Emperor Constantine the icy relationship between Imperial Rome and the Christian Church began to thaw. In 325 A.D. it broke out into a veritable love-fest. The invitation was sent to the elders of Western Christendom. Constantine's invitation was there before them. What to do?

Many of the Church elders saw the opportunity for advancement and seized upon it. They accepted the invitation to "go up" to Niceae to meet with Constantine. Pilgrim Christians did not go. They stayed behind. (And they suffered for it afterward). But it was right here that the Christian Church began to enter into power politics. Christians were all abuzz with talk of an accord with Rome. For politico-religious opportunists their hour had come. Finally, they had their chance. They packed their bags. Soon they were off to make some lucrative and power garnering deals with Rome, the worldly power of the day. This is how the Christian Church became "established".

And what was the result of all this of this power play?
History bears witness to the tragic outcome.
Dalliance with a pagan world system led to corruption of the Church.
The Christian Church fell from grace into a pit of spiritual debauchery.
The spiritual collapse of the Church led to grievous consequences.
Western Civilization went down with the Church.
This first blush of Dominionism took us into the Dark Ages.
And there we stayed for a thousand years.

The course of events here is not hard to follow or complicated.
Christians are called to a life of holiness before God.
Our devotion is to Jesus Christ and to Him alone.
Jesus said the "No man can serve two masters".
He went on to say "You cannot serve God and Mammon".

There is an inherent corruption that comes whenever the Church, the people "called out" to be the Holy Congregation of God, forget the way of the cross. When Christians enter into a blood covenant relationship with the princes of this world it gets worse. There is Hell to pay. The Anabaptists finally realized this important truth. Whenever Christian believers embrace the power of the sword it always corrupts the Christian faith.

Dominion Theology is not Biblical. It is not a doctrinal belief that emerges from a careful study of the Holy Scriptures. Typically it emerges in the heady milieu of a wave of success in a nation's economic, political, and military successes. Religious enterprises soon follow this. So in this sense Dominionism is really a form of religious populism.

Dominion Theology was showcased in the history of the former British Empire. It rose up in the Edwardian period during those heady early years of the 20th century. We shall be looking at the British experience with Dominion Theology further down in this article.

National pride and hubris is a great spiritual danger. The temptation is to assume power and authority over others instead of being a servant before God. This is inclined to happen when a nation comes into great blessings. The prophets of Israel warned God's covenant people about this danger. Indeed this theme of corruption right in the midst of God's blessings is a theme that recurs throughout the Old Testament.

King Solomon was a classic case of corruption coming in with great wealth and power. His peaceful rule took the nation of Israel to the peak of economic and national greatness. But in doing this he compromised the glory of the God of Israel. Solomon defiled Israel with the paganism of the world. He intermarried many hundreds of women of power from neighboring nations. He did this on a grand and opulent scale.

The result of Solomon's bid for power with the world was soon plain to see. The following generation saw Israel going into steep economic decline. The once proud nation lost its glory and its power. Soon afterward Israel lost its union and the Kingdom was divided into two kingdoms. The northern ten tribes went off on their own and after that would not go up to to celebrate the feasts at Jerusalem. Drifting further and further into idolatry the lost ten tribes of Israel ended up in subjugation 200 years later. They were carried off captive to Assyria in 722 B.C.. Later the royal southern kingdom of Judah was taken off as well. captive. Judah was taken captive into Babylon in 605 and 587 B.C. By God's grace they were able to return to the land 70 years later and begin to rebuild the Temple under Zerubbabel, rebuild their faith in the Ezra Biblical revival, and rebuild the city of Jerusalem under Nehemiah.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Restorers of Hope opposed to Preterist Lie

Another post similar to the last, containing my response to a friends missive on Israel in the millennial time.  The paragraphs quoted are from Reggie Kelly, my response is in ( ) and then below the two paragraphs is more of my take on this issue.  The preterist lie that all this prophecy is past already, is leading many pride-filled, grace rejecting people down of path of destruction.

These two paragraphs are so very key,

One can see at once the kind of problems that such re-interpretation and spiritualization of such a large body of specific prophetic detail would pose for the church's apologetic towards Jews that are knowledgeable of the scriptures. So the question of the relationship and harmony of the two testaments is a problem that has great bearing on how we talk to Israel, certainly now, but most critically in the coming time of Jacob's trouble.
 (Our knowledge, our trust, our firm belief in these promises will be the 'faith' that carries,the paralyzed body of a broken and fleeing people, to Jesus, just like it was the faith of 'his friends' that allowed the paralyzed man to be forgiven of sin and healed.)

As Jesus was the stone of stumbling to first century Israel through the mystery of His twofold advent, it seems evident to me that the same mystery is still with us in its essence; now in the form of the question of an abiding election of a particular land and people. I believe God intends to use the last day's crisis of Israel as a formidable test of the heart concerning its disposition towards God's free and sovereign right to choose as He will choose.  (There it is!  Once again and always, our view of God's sovereignty and grace, in His dealings with Israel and us is the crux of the matter, the foundation that must be properly laid.)

It seems to me this lengthy time between the appearance of Messiah and the Millennial fulfillment, has served to remove from this people their hope of a literal Messiah.  It is the 'servants' that they will meet in the wilderness, who will speak the prophetic words that have the life of God in them to restore this hope.  In fact, "Restorers of Hope" would be a perfectly good name for those who carry this message.  Unfortunately, those that still do hope for a literal Messiah but reject Jesus, are blinded to His first appearance and so are wide open to the deception of the false peace agreement and the invalid, man-made building of the altar/temple.  In the last 20 minutes of this movie, Jeremiah is shown stating, Jer.31:31-33, this is strong Biblical evidence of yet to be fulfilled promises to the people of Israel, shown to be a literal people by the reference to being taken out of Egypt.
        31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke,though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.