A Framework for Selecting Leaders: Divine Institutions-Part 3
Decision Making in the Voting Booth Lesson #03
October 23, 2008
“Father, we are so thankful for Your grace that has showered us with just so many blessings, and so often we are so used to the blessings that we have, and we’ve been provided for, especially living in this country, and the prosperity that we have all enjoyed for most of our lives, and the freedoms that we have. Father, it’s easy to just relax and take some of these things for granted, and not to realize that every hour that we spend every day is richly blessed by You and much has been provided because of those who have preceded us in this nation going back to the original colonists, the way they established the governments in the colonies, the way they established the government of this nation.
And Father, the impact that the Bible had on their thinking has had such a tremendous residual effect, and yet that has been lost because of the continuous attacks from those who are antagonistic to You, antagonistic to the Scripture, antagonistic to Christ, and we live in an era today when everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, and there has been a blanket rejection of doctrinal truth in our culture.
Yet we are encouraged because we know that even in the midst of the darkest times, Your grace is prevalent, Your grace dominates, and that You sustain us and protect us, and so that encourages us.
We continue to pray for this nation, pray that You will protect us, pray for Your grace in this election that our freedoms might be preserved. That this nation might continue to be a place where the truth of Your Word is taught, where missionaries are sent out to proclaim the gospel throughout the world and where this nation may still be a place where there is support for the nation Israel.
We pray these things in Christ’s Name. Amen.”
We always need to start out with a little insight as we get into our series on “Decision Making in the Voting Booth.” And once again somebody sent me a piece of wisdom from Maxine that, ”Voting is like choosing your favorite mosquito out of a swarm.”
Seems like that has more truth every time we hit an election season.
The assumption that I am bringing to this is that the Bible, as God’s revelation to us, is sufficient in every area of the Christian life. And that means that we can go to the Word of God to find a framework that we can apply to any issue, any challenge, any situation in life, whether it has to do with problems at work, whether it has to do with problems in life, financial problems, whether it has to do with understanding history, whether it has to do with politics or law or ethics. Every single area of human intellectual activity comes under the umbrella of God as the Creator.
And as the Creator, He has addressed all of these things, and He supplies a framework that we can derive from His Word, and by studying His Word, we learn this framework. This framework gives us the ability to make wise decisions in life. So we have to mind this framework in order to come to understand how to go about making proper decisions and wise decisions in life.
Part of this assumption that I’m bringing to this study is also that when we make decisions in life, especially in the voting booth, we are deciding who will be the best leader, who is a good leader. Whenever you use these words best, good, better, worse, bad, evil, you are implying some sort of absolute value system that is the basis for your decision making, that there is something we can appeal to that has universal implications that we can take and apply to making these decisions and that these are somehow knowable.
As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, our ultimate value system comes out of the Word of God, and so we can go to the Word of God to find principles that are exhibited throughout revelation that can be applied to areas of economics, areas of politics, areas of leadership, areas of legislation that affect us at any point of time in our lives and in history.
So when we look at this, I’m not saying that we go to the Mosaic Law, and there is a direct transfer of principles or laws in the Mosaic Law to another country or even across time to our culture, but that we see certain patterns, and that these patterns are exhibited in the Mosaic Law, they’re exhibited in the New Testament in the teachings of Jesus, they’re exhibited in New Testament epistles, so that we can trace these principles throughout Scripture, and we come to understand that this gives to us certain universal realities, universal truths that are embedded within God’s creation that cannot be violated.
And so all you have are different instances of those universal truths— the Mosaic Law being one, the Sermon on the Mount being another, Jesus’ teachings to His disciples being another, New Testament epistles being yet another.
Now last time I had three sets of rationales that summarized the first lesson. So all I’m just going to put up on the board this time is the conclusion from each of these as a summary. This supplies the foundation of this study.
“All Christians, who are citizens of the U.S., should vote wisely and intelligently to preserve and defend the Constitution for this glorifies God.”
That is our job. That is also what the President swears to, what military officers swear to, it’s that we are to preserve and defend the Constitution of the U.S. In order to do that, we have to understand what the Constitution is, what it means, and we have to understand the kind of thinking that is embodied within that Constitution.
That’s the Second Conclusion, that
“Therefore, the U.S. citizen in order to vote intelligently and wisely must understand the thinking embodied in the U.S. Constitution, so that he can vote in a way that preserves and protects our heritage.” If we do not understand why these ideas are expressed the way they’re expressed and what the source was behind them, then we cannot maintain the freedoms that are embodied in those legal documents.
And so the Third Conclusion was that
“By understanding this biblical framework, a Christian can then vote more intelligently and wisely to preserve and protect the Constitution and the freedoms it recognizes.”
And that is that there was a biblical framework that informed the thinking of the founding fathers. So I spent a lot of time in the last two sessions establishing that because there is so much debate over whether or not this is a so-called Christian nation. I understand that a nation cannot be Christian in the sense of regenerated, justified or redeemed because that only applies to individuals—I understand that, but also that when you use the term Christian nation, you can also use it in the sense of a theocracy.
It was never used that way by the founding fathers and in the founding documents, but they understood that there was a worldview, if you will, that there was this framework of values that understood that there was a Creator God, as stated several times in the Declaration of Independence, that there’s a Creator God who is the source of rights and freedoms of the individual. And it is on the basis of understanding those rights and putting them within a political document that we can ensure the freedoms of the people.
As I pointed out, John Adams and others said when asked, and there is plenty of testimony to this effect, that that which provided the source of the ideas for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was primarily the Bible. That pastors—and again and again I’ve ordered and I’ve picked up several books over the years and have been reading over the stories the anecdotes, the historical references of the pastors, and you’ll be hearing these stories as we go through the coming years—the pastors and what they taught from the pulpits and the phrases that they used, in fact, many of the phrases that are familiar to us that are in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have been discovered to have been in these documents.
In fact, when, I think, McCullough tells this anecdote in his biography of John Adams, that when Adams and Franklin were reading one of the initial drafts of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin comments, “It sounds like a sermon.” Because that is where these ideas were normally heard, and it was expected that the pastors during the week would address the issues related to freedom and property and liberty, so that the people would understand these things and that came out of their understanding of the Scriptures.
We emphasize this and as Bible-believing Christians, I pointed out, we believe that the Scripture is best understood and interpreted in terms of a literal, grammatical, historical interpretation. And that this idea of interpreting documents as they were originally intended in light of the intent of the original author, taking into account the historical context, the literary context, and interpreting these documents in terms of normal language is the way we interpret just about anything from our phone bill to the instructions on how to fill out our tax returns to reading an historical document, and even though you have ….
Critiquing post-modernism is just so easy, I mean, it’s just amazing how simple it is. But in post-modernism, you have these post-modern writers who write about interpretation and say that the meaning is ultimately determined by the reader. The reader can read something and assign any value he wants to to it. But the discrepancy is that the reader cannot assign just any value he wants to to what that post-modern writer is saying. He is writing assuming that the reader is going to understand his intent and his meaning, otherwise, why would he even engage in the activity?
So it’s just such a logical fallacy that is embedded in the whole way of thinking in terms of relativism and subjective interpretation.
As I pointed out Tuesday night, I had this quote that came from Clarence Thomas in his lecture he gave just last Thursday. He said, “Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution—try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up …”
See, that is the same issue that came out of the 19th century in terms of biblical interpretation: You either interpret the Bible the way it was intended, or you make it up. And that’s it! So what we have today in judicial activism is this idea of just making it up as you go along.
One thing I failed to point out on Tuesday, which I wanted to make sure I made a point about and add is that back at the end of August when Rick Warren, who is the pastor of the Saddleback Church—the purpose-driven everything—when he had the interview with Obama and with McCain, and he did an excellent job of setting that whole thing up.
But one of the questions that he asked was, “Of the Supreme Court justices that are now sitting, is there one that you would want to get rid of?” And what was interesting was Obama’s answer. He said he would get rid of Clarence Thomas.
See, Obama is intent on getting rid of original intent meaning of the Constitution. He wants to change the meaning of the Constitution, and to reinterpret it, and see the problem with that is that if he is going to defend and protect the Constitution, which he is going to swear to in the oath of office, what does he mean by the Constitution? What does “is” mean? See, we continue to have this same fundamental problem of interpretation. So I wanted to remind everybody of that.
We’re going to move on and tonight I want to start developing the framework that we use in making these kinds of decisions. That comes out of something that is familiar to everybody. I’ve taught on this in different times and different series, but I want to summarize some things. There are some things I want to add. Every time I do this my thinking develops a little bit, and that’s called the divine institutions. We are going to use the divine institutions as a framework for analyzing political positions.
Now in the background of this, we have to understand that the Bible emphasizes ethics over economics. By that I mean that we have been influenced through the worldview shift to paganism over the last century to century and a half to think in terms of pragmatics and to separate ethics from the practical aspects of politics and leadership. And yet that was, as I pointed out on Tuesday night, and that was really the theme on Tuesday night, the founding fathers never saw that dichotomy, and that dichotomy is not in the Scripture.
Just a couple of passages that we’ve cited each night, Proverbs 14:34 and Proverbs 29:2:
“Righteousness exalts a nation ...”
The source of blessing in a nation biblically speaking is righteousness. God tells Israel that if you are a righteous nation by My standards, then I will bless you with all these blessings. But if you violate My righteousness, then all of these negative consequences are going to result: You are going to have depression, you’re going to have recession, you’re going to be defeated militarily, you’re going to lose your power base.
The priority is on ethics, and as Christians, we know that ethics can only come out of the revelation of God. As a result of an ethically sound rule, the people rejoice.
So that addresses an issue that comes out of the paganism of our culture where we have allowed the culture to influence us into creating this false dichotomy. So you go back and you look at the … I remember back in the 1990s when there was the debate over the election of President Clinton that people were trying to make an issue out of character, and they were not getting anywhere because the culture does not believe that character matters and that we just have somebody who knows how to handle the economics. That is a pagan idea. That is not a biblical idea.
Well we’ll tie economics into some of this in a different way tonight that I think will probably surprise some of you. At least, it is going to present it in a way that I have not talked about before, and it’s probably going to give you a little different orientation.
We are going to start with understanding what the divine institutions are as divine institutions. The term divine institution has been used by Christians and theologians to speak of those absolute social structures. Now think about this. The essence of these is more social than it is economic.
The term divine institution has been used by Christians to speak of those absolute social structures instituted by God or established by God and embedded within the social structure of the human race.
Now that’s really key to understand this. That as God creates man as a social being, there is embedded within his makeup as an image-bearer of God certain social realities. And if those are breached, then there are negative consequences because that is the way man was made by God. So that’s what I mean by these institutions. They are established by God and embedded within the social structure of the human race.
Thus, these are for the entire human race—believers and unbelievers alike, and their unbreakable realities.
Once we try to start engineering society away from these, then there is going to be a collapse. It just does not work.
One simple illustration of this is just the seven-day week of creation. You have had both in the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia attempts to shift to a 10-day workweek. It just does not work. There is something embedded in the fabric of God’s creation that builds on a seven-day cycle, and you just can’t change it. So that’s part of what we see the divine institutions.
Now as I discuss these divine institutions, I’m going to focus on—I thought I would get to the first three tonight, I doubt that I’ll get to two and three, but I might.
One thing I want to point out is that there’s a difference between conventions and institutions. A lot of people today, the pagan idea is that these are simply conventions.
Let me put these up here so you’ll know what they are.
The first one is individual responsibility:
Over the years, you have heard this referred to and with different labels from different teachers. Some have called it volition, some have called it volitional responsibility, some have called it responsible labor. But as you will see tonight as I focus on this, the key element in this is individual responsibility that each individual is accountable to his Creator for what he does with what God gives him. But there are some fabulous implications that come out from that and the episode in Genesis 2.
The second divine institution is marriage:
God defines what marriage is; it is not something that man invented to fit a need. That only comes out of paganism or Darwinistic culture that as man sort of works his way up from being an ape and grubbing around in the fields trying to find things, and as a hunter and gatherer, he finally decides that it works better if there is some sort of connection established between men and women, and that family sort of develops from that. It is all sort of trial and error over thousands of years. That would make it a convention.
The difference between a convention and an institution: Tommy Ice’s son came up with this illustration, and I think it is a great one. Some people in Texas think that Friday night high school football is an institution. I hate to disappoint you, that’s not an institution; that is a convention. Okay?
An institution is something that is embedded within reality. At one time you thought that watching a Dallas Cowboy football game on Sunday afternoon was an institution, but that was only when Tom Landry was still running things! These are conventions and are the result of cultural decisions.
So you can read literature in the classical period of Greece, and there were certain things that characterized the literature of the Greeks and certain things that characterized the literature of the Romans. And then you go 500–600 years later, and it changes. Because these were conventions.
So it is fluid; it’s different from culture to culture, and it’s not bred into the warp and woof of reality as God created things. But these institutions are established by God, and you cannot change them.
The third divine institution is family, and the fourth divine institution is government. I put the word judicial up there because it comes out of the delegation of judicial responsibility for dealing with murder in the covenant with Noah.
Then the fifth divine institution is distinguished from that because it does not come along until the Tower of Babel incident which is several hundred years after God establishes the covenant with Noah.
Somebody once asked me, he said, “Well how can you have government without a nation?” Well you have all kinds of governing. We just had a deacon’s meeting; that is a government function. You can have tribal government, clan government, family government; there are all kinds of different ways in which you can have government, but the idea of distinguishing nations, national borders, and national identity and keeping those unbreakable or inviolate is not established until the Tower of Babel. So we see that these are institutions.
Conventions relate to fashions or styles or personal preference. People in India dress differently than people in Nigeria; people in Nigeria dress differently than people in Russia; people in Norway eat pickled fish; and people in Texas eat beef. These are conventions; they change from culture to culture, but divine institutions are for all mankind: believer and unbeliever alike, African, Indian, South American, Russian; it doesn’t matter. If you do not follow these, then your culture will not go forward; it will fall apart. And that’s the next key thing to recognize here.
Those first three divine institutions are all established in Genesis 2 before the Fall. That is important: Volition, marriage, and family. Now they do not start having a family, but the idea is there and the mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. So these three divine institutions that are established before sin enters into human history have a different role than the next two. These are established to promote productivity and advance civilization.
Embedded in what is sometimes called the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:26–28 is that man is to be fruitful and multiply and to rule and subdue the earth. He is to extend his influence over the earth. This involves productivity, which is at the very core of the whole concept of labor and economy.
Then the second two divine institutions come along after the Fall and after the flood, and they are designed to restrain evil. So, there is a difference in their basic function.
The first three are to promote productivity, which is key. To promote productivity, and actually, as we will see, marriage and family are intimately connected to individual responsibility, and then government and nations are designed to restrain evil.
Another thing that we can say is that the role of government is to restrain evil from restricting the first three divine institutions, the role of government is to keep evil from restraining and changing the first three divine institutions. So that government is to protect individual responsibility.
But man wants to dump responsibility. He wants to claim victimhood. And see we have subsections, subcultures in our country who want to trade on their ethnic victimhood based on things that happened historically. This comes out of pure paganism. They want to make the solution government, the fourth divine institution, rather than individual responsibility, the first divine institution. They want to reverse things. But these have to operate in the proper order and within the proper sphere.
There’s just a complete failure to understand the integration here, but our founding fathers understood this. Even though you are not going to find places where they outlined it or systematized it this way, but you read what they wrote, they understood this, they developed this in numerous ways.
In Genesis 1:26–28, we learn that God created man in His own image.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
So that male and female are both in the image and likeness of God. That is important. We are reflections of God. We are representatives of God. We are, as it were, a finite replica of His nature in an infinite sense. So we have to really understand and unpack this, we have to understand a little bit about who and what He is. I dealt with this in a lot of detail back when I did the work in this passage in Genesis 2 in the early Genesis series, and so I’m assuming you have some frame of reference there.
In verse 28 we see the basic command, “… be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
This is responsible rulership and is a totally different framework for how man should handle the environment than what we have in modern pagan environmentalism.
Let’s stop a minute and just think a little bit about this idea of man being in the image of God, because the first thing we ought to note is that there are two ways to understand the Trinity. Two ways to understand the Trinity.
God exists eternally as a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three Persons who we say are coequal, coinfinite and coeternal. Three Persons. Okay, that means that it is what is referred to as the ontological Trinity—if you want to have a big theological word—that has to do with their very essence and in terms of the very being of God, they are equal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and they are Persons, and they relate to one another.
Throughout all of eternity, They have loved one another. They socialize together, just to put it in another term that may jar you just a little bit, but they have a society there. That is what a society is, it is more than one person. There is a social group there, and so there is something social that is at the core of the being of God.
The three Persons of the Trinity relate to one another, they love one another, and they enjoy one another. And in their being they are completely equal. They share identical attributes. None of them knows more than another, none can do more than another, none can love more, and none is more just or righteous than another. They are completely equal.
But in terms of their function, there are distinctions. In terms of their roles there’re distinctions. The term that theologians have used to describe that is the economic Trinity. We are not out of the Trinity yet, and we are already talking about that there is an integral relationship between social reality and economic reality.
Now the reason I say that is that you will often hear it said by some people today that they are economic or fiscal conservatives, but they are social liberals. As if economics can be separated from the social. What I am showing you is that if you are a Bible-believing Christian where you are building your view of reality out from the nature of God as your starting point, you cannot bifurcate social and economic. Because social and economic come together in a perfect unity within the Godhead.
Now I know that your brain cells are just really warping out at this point, but that is fundamental to understand what happens to the image of God. Because when God creates man and places him in the garden, He is going to assign labor to him. Now it does not become toil until after the curse, but He has labor assigned to him, so labor is a part of that first divine institution.
He’s to be fruitful and multiply. Of course, that was not laborious, but it was a responsibility to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, to subdue it, and to rule over all of the animals. That is labor; it is not tainted by sin yet, so there is no resistance from nature. That is what happens after the Fall when thorns and thistles grow up, and there is a fight.
In the garden, Adam is out there and he’s looking at the trees, and well they need to be pruned a little bit, and there’s just so much cooperation. He prunes and the next day he wakes up, and they’ve just grown so much. I mean, there’s just this harmony within the productive sphere. There is not a fight and antagonism between nature and man as you have after the Fall. He does not sweat, and he enjoys the product of his labor.
But Adam is created, and he is assigned responsibility. He’s created to assume responsibilities and to labor. But one of the first jobs God gives him as part of that is to start identifying, classifying, categorizing all the animals.
God is multitasking here. He is teaching man what it means to subdue and to rule over the animals, and at the same time, He is teaching him that all these animals come two-by-two. There is a male and a female, but there is no counterpart to Adam yet. So he is going to recognize this need, and then God is going to bring him a woman to be his ezer, his assistant.
To understand the role of the ezer is to understand that marriage is social—I hope you all understand that, marriage is social—but it is economic. The woman is created to help the man fulfil his role in labor and fulfilling that God-given task to rule and subdue.
So you cannot separate the social from the economic, at least not if you want to try to stay within the parameters of a biblical worldview of what the Bible is teaching about how to look at all these issues in life. And see, we have not gotten to the Fall yet. After the Fall is when all this stuff fragments. We understand these first three divine institutions in this sense that because man is in the image of God, the economic facets—the labor—cannot be distinguished from the social.
You start messing with the social aspects and trying to be social engineers and change things, of course you all know where I’m with that in terms of trying to change family and marriage and all these other things. You start messing with that as the Marxists did in Russia and as they did in the French Revolution, then the society collapses; it cannot survive. Because God has built it in such a way so that there is an integral relationship between His social institutions and the economic consequences of following those social institutions.
Now if we are created in the image of God, then we are to represent God; we are to reflect who He is. What is the first thing that we see God doing before in Genesis 1? God created. He is a laborer, He is a workman, He is a craftsman, He is an artist, He is an architect, and He is planning. And we know from Scripture that you have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all involved in creation. And that’s their distinct roles. The Father is the architect, the Son is the one who is the building contractor, and you have God the Holy Spirit who’s the One in Genesis 1:2 is hovering over the face of the earth. That is their economic function.
Later on in John, we understand that Jesus cannot do anything without it being under the authority of the Father, so the Father begets the Son, and the Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit. So that is their economic function, but their economic function is not separated from their ontological reality.
Ok y’all chew on that for a while.
But what I want you to understand from that is that when you hear people talking about, “Well, you know, the Bible just addresses the spiritual life.” No, it doesn’t; it addresses everything. When you hear people say, “Well, I’m all for being economically conservative, lower taxes, smaller government, all of these things, but the government does not need to address social issues or ethical issues, such as homosexual marriage or all of these other things.” Then we don’t need to do that. What I’m showing you is that from the very beginning, the Bible doesn’t allow us to make those kind of bifurcations and dichotomies in life. Those kind of things really only come out of the introduction of the Enlightenment pagan thought that shifted our authority base in the 19th century.
So the first picture we see of God is that He is a laborer, and if man is going to be a reflection of God, then man is going to be involved in labor. So we come to the first divine institution, which I am calling individual responsibility. It emphasizes the fact that man is accountable to God, so there are going to be three dimensions to this that we need to think about.
The first is the aspect of spiritual accountability. And when I say spiritual accountability, the first thing we ought to understand from that is that it necessitates someone to whom we are accountable, which means that authority is embedded in the nature of reality, as it is in the Godhead.
Authority is not something God said man needed to learn because of sin and to bring order out of chaos. There was authority in the Godhead from the very beginning. The Father is in authority over the Son and the Spirit. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit. There is an authority hierarchy within the Trinity. That is the economic function.
So there is spiritual accountability even in paradise. In the perfection of the Garden, there is an authority structure that is established. The creature is accountable to the Creator.
Second thing is he is given responsibilities. He is to labor, but it is not toilsome, it’s not negative, it’s not from the sweat of his brow. In his labor, he is to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, rule and subdue the earth. He is to also, Genesis 2, he is to tend and keep the garden. And those words, “the tending” is the word for work. He’s to work in the garden, and the word for “keep” has the idea of guarding.
Now we get something important out of this because not only does he have responsibility of production and producing something with what God has given him, which forms the foundation of the whole subject of economics, deals with production and labor, but also we have the idea of protection.
So we have production and protection here, and production means you are producing fruit, and you can enjoy, you possess the fruits of your own production, which is private ownership of property whether it is physical property, which is what we normally think of with that. Today there are all kinds of discussions in the legal realm about how you identify ownership of intellectual property. Property is not just real property; there is abstract property as well. And so man is to produce and protect. That’s embedded within this.
Now what did Adam have to protect the garden from? Well, that serpent, Satan, who is going to show up in the next chapter. That’s part of his protection.
When we talk about protection in this country, one of the things that we talk about is the private ownership of weapons. That we have the right, according to the Second Amendment, to keep and bear arms. In the Second Amendment, the idea that keeping and bearing arms is related to a militia, but a militia is somewhat related to what we might call the ready reserve today. And that is as opposed to regular reserves or active-duty reserves in the military.
Ready reserves do not show up, they don’t go out on weekend exercises or anything, but at any moment, with the militia, the call is going to go out and everybody’s going to grab their rifle, and go to the assembly point, and be prepared to protect hearth and home.
So the individual citizen soldier is at the essence of the concept of a militia, and the citizen soldier needs to have the ability to protect himself with the latest technology in weaponry because one of the things that he is going to be protecting himself in order to secure liberty is the government.
And that was the idea in the Constitution, it is to protect from the tyranny of the government. You can go to passages like 1 Samuel and 1 Samuel 7 as they are under the dominion of the Philistines. The Philistines who would not allow blacksmiths to operate in Israel. See the Philistines were into the Iron Age and iron production and iron importation, so they had iron weapons but did not want any blacksmiths working with iron in Israel, leaving them in the Bronze Age. So the Philistines had superior weapons.
That is how tyranny works: It keeps the citizenry from having the latest technology, and you can read that any way you want, to assault weapons or whatever, so that you can protect yourself against whatever the government can bring to bear against you in any kind of assault to establish their tyranny.
The idea of self-protection is clearly reinforced by the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 22. This occurs the night before He goes to the Cross. He is talking to His disciples.
“And He said to them—in Luke 22:36— ‘But now, whoever has a money belt’ ”—“But now” is the night before He goes to the Cross—” And He said, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag.’ ” See, earlier in the ministry when He sent the disciples out, He sent them out, don’t take food, don’t take any clothes, just God’s going to provide for you along the way.
Now it’s changing. A new dispensation is going to start. He says, “… take a money belt, take it along, likewise also a suitcase and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one”—self-protection!
In the next verse he asks the disciples if they have any swords, as they get ready to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, and their response is, “Yes, Lord. We have two.” That is where Peter got one of the swords when he cut off the ear of Malchus. But there is a recognition here of self-defense and the right of carrying a concealed weapon. It is a biblical right.
Now we are applying these principles we derive from Scripture to our candidates on various issues related to the Second Amendment at this point. According to John McCain’s website—and what I’ve tried to do in this is go to the candidates’ own websites, as well as look at some analysis in some of the papers, but primarily I look at their own websites to see what their campaigns say their positions are.
McCain believes that “It is the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, and that is a fundamental, individual, Constitutional right. And that we have a responsibility to ensure that criminals who violate the law are prosecuted to the fullest, rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens in the area of gun control.”
And he states on his website, “Gun control is a proven failure in fighting crime. Law-abiding citizens should not be asked to give up their rights because of criminals. Criminals ignore gun control laws anyway.”
So he believes that gun manufacturers should not be liable for crimes. He opposes restrictions on assault weapons and ammunition. He voted against the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapon Ban.
On the other hand, we have Senator Obama. Senator Obama is rather vague and uncertain on some of these issues, especially after the Supreme Court ruled against the law in Washington, DC that banned the ownership of handguns. He’s extremely vague in what his position is.
But we have, of course, a legislative record that we can go to. When he was a state senator of Illinois, he endorsed the Illinois Handgun Ban, which he later lied about and claimed that it was a staffer that filled out the questionnaire. So he is trying to avoid letting anybody really know what he believes. It is reported that he was the most consistent Illinois state senator in voting for enforcing and expanding gun control laws.
Since we do not have a lot of clear statements from him, I want to read from a letter that was posted on the Internet by Richard A. Pearson, who is the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, dated Oct. 10, 2008.
“Addressed to fellow sportsmen: My name is Rich Pearson. I have been active in the firearm rights movement for over 40 years. For the past 15 years, I have served in the Illinois state capital as the chief lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association. I lobbied Barack Obama extensively while he was an Illinois state senator.
“As a result of that experience, I know Obama’s attitudes toward guns and gun owners better than anyone. The truth be told, in all my years in the capitol, I have never met a legislator who harbors more contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner than Barack Obama. Although Obama claims to be an advocate for the Second Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois senate paints a very different picture.
“While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners and forcibly confiscate banned guns.
“Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers, including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms, and Les Baer.
Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month. Without a doubt, Barack Obama has proven himself to be the enemy of the law-abiding firearm owner.”
So it looks as if he does not recognize the value of the individual citizen protecting his own private property. Once the value of private property begins to erode, it fits within a consistent web.
My thesis is Barack Obama is a Marxist, which is seen from many of his views. He sat under a Marxist pastor in his black liberation theology messages, and that’s what Black liberation theology is. It comes out of Latin American liberation theology, which is Marxism wrapped around the Bible trying to give it some kind of justification. If a man is not bright enough to understand what Marxism is and cannot spot it sitting in a pew and hearing it Sunday after Sunday, then how can he really be bright enough to serve as president? When would he know that politicians were trying to get him to be Marxist.
So we go back to looking at our passage in Genesis 2. There are many who think it is somewhat radical, they’ve never heard it quite expressed that way that labor is instituted, that work is instituted before the Fall, because we are so wrapped up in our own experience, that we cannot think of work as being non-toilsome. We cannot think of labor apart from it being laborious and by the sweat of the brow because that is our post-Fall experience. But the reality is there is labor before the Fall.
So when we look at this breakdown, we start with spiritual accountability because the one negative of all the commands that God gives—remember be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, subdue, rule, tend and keep or work and guard—one negative and the one negative is don’t eat from the fruit of the tree, from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die. So that is the spiritual accountability.
There is labor, not toilsome, and man has the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor, which develops the whole concept of private property and private ownership of property. We can develop this whole concept of private ownership of property all the way through Scripture.
For example, in Genesis 12, God gives a piece of real estate to Abraham. In the next chapter, there is a conflict between Abraham’s men and Lot’s men. They are cattlemen, so they own property; they own cattle, they own sheep, they own all this different property. So Abraham says, “Look out over the land and take the area that you want.” And so there is recognition implied in that of the legitimacy of private property.
What I am pointing out here is that while these things are not the point of the text and these things are not necessarily the point of some of the laws in the Mosaic Law or the point of some of the parables that Jesus gave. These stories don’t work, the parables don’t work, the laws don’t work if God is not recognizing the legitimacy of private ownership of property, the private accumulation of wealth apart from government interference, and the right of the individual to decide how to utilize his own wealth without government interference.
When you get to the 10 Commandments, which is basically a summation of the Mosaic Law, the 10 key principles out from which the other 603 commandments are going to be developed. Two of the 10 Commandments relate to private property; the first two commandments relate to God. Only two subjects have two commandments related to them: one is God and one is the protection of private property. The 8th commandment is “thou shall not steal,” which assumes the right of ownership of property, and the 10th commandment is “thou shall not covet” your neighbor’s property.
But class warfare, which is often promoted in this country by various liberals of both parties, promotes the violation of the 10th commandment and encourages people who do not have to want to benefit from the fruits of the hard work of those that have. So they are basically being encouraged by the government to covet the money and the possessions of what others have earned and what others have worked for.
And then the government is used in Marxism and Socialism, and we saw a classic example last week when Joe, the plumber, the famous Joe, the plumber, which wasn’t a set-up, and it doesn’t matter anything about him. He asked a basic question. “If I buy a business and that business is going to make more than $250,000 a year, am I going to be penalized by the taxes that you are recommending?” The answer was, “Well, we need to spread the wealth.”
That is Marxism, that is socialism. The path to socialism leads to servitude. The irony of this, in case you have not caught it and at the risk of being called a racist, the irony of this is we are on the verge of electing the first black president of the U.S. and what his agenda is is to return all of us to a state of slavery—slavery to the federal government. And, yet, that irony has been completely lost on everybody. Everybody is so scared that they are going to be labeled a racist for pointing it out that nobody is going to point out the obvious, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
We have to recognize that on the basis of what the Bible teaches about economics and labor, people can be classified in one of two areas: They are either producers, or they are consumers. They’re either producers, or they are consumers. Now let me tell you what I mean by those.
A producer is someone that when you look at the sum total of their involvement in their society, their work adds to the net worth of the culture.
Consumers are those who take more from the culture of society than they put into it. Now there are two categories of consumers. There are those who cannot work or support themselves due to the fact that they are too old, or they’re too young, or they are injured in some way or handicapped in some way. They cannot produce.
Now the Bible recognizes a valid provision for them, and that is the only valid provision that the Bible has for government to provide for widows and orphans. In the Mosaic Law, one of the three tithes was taken up only once every three years; it’s the third tithe, and it was 10% which was taken up for the widows and orphans. And it’s only taken up every three years. So 3% percent of the gross national product of Israel, only 3-1/3%, once every three years, 3-1/3% went to providing that safety net for widows and orphans.
The Bible has a consistent view that rejects the lazy person and values and rewards the worker, the producer. The producers are owners, or laborers, or workers. that is, everyday people who contribute to society through their work, through their contributions, through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. These are the ones who protect and defend the society, and these are the ones who are valued.
The consumers are those who are classified as “wicked and lazy.” I’ll show you the verse in just a minute. In the Bible, there are 205 verses that deal with the poor. None of these assign responsibility for the poor to the government except for that one tithe in the Mosaic Law.
The responsibility for the poor is divided up between three groups:
The first is the individual themselves. They are to go to work, and if they do not work, they do not eat. That’s 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12). You don’t work, you don’t eat.
The second group that is supposed to take care of the poor is other individuals. It is the responsibility of others to exercise care and compassion and to care of their families, their family members, to provide for them. It is not the responsibility of the government.
And then the third group that is responsible is the church. It is the responsibility of the church to take care of widows and orphans. That’s laid out in 1 Timothy 4 and others, but it’s not the responsibility of the government. The government is extremely inefficient at doing so.
According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, which sets up guidelines and evaluates non-profit charities in terms of their efficiency in getting money to its intended goal—that is the poor people, The American Institute of Philanthropy recognizes that at least 60% of the money that is donated to a non-profit charity should end up in the hands of those to whom it is intended to go—that is the poor. That is their benchmark: 40% of every dollar that goes in, it goes to covering just the basic overhead and administrative costs, and all those things. But you should not donate to a charity if less than 60% gets into the hands of those it is intended for.
Since the beginning of the war on poverty back during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in the ’60s, nine trillion dollars has been taken by the federal government to end poverty, but only 30% of that money has reached the poor. According to the figures given by the American Institute of Philanthropy, the last thing in the world we would want to do is to give money to the federal government. It is the most inefficient way to solve the problem of poverty that there could be. It is like using a hammer to polish crystal.
One example that we can use on private industry handling problems like this is that in government prisons, there is a 68% recidivism rate. But in private, faith-based prisons, there is only an 8% recidivism rate.
Government cannot get the job done, but we keep being told that that is the way to do it. All it does is to line the pockets of those in power. So what we see is the whole principle of responsible labor.
Now once again, I’m going to run over just a little bit, but indulge me.
What we see summarized in Scripture—I won’t go to these passages; you can look them up later—If you look through the Gospels, there are many times that Jesus talks about land owners; or the king gives money to his servants or to his slaves, and then comes back to ask for an accountability.
What we learn from these various passages is:
#1 That man has the right to employ who he will without the interference of government regulation telling him what kind of insurance he should provide, what kind of wage he should pay—the Bible is completely against a minimum wage—and all the other myriads of regulations that hinder business and destroy capital.
The place to look for this is in the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20:1 and following, specifically in verse 8, the landowner decides how much to pay.
This is the landowner who gets up early in the morning and goes to Gessner and Longpoint to the labor pool down there where all the Columbians hang out, and he picks a few laborers to go out to work on the house he is building. And he goes back three hours later, and he picks another 5–6 guys that are hanging out, and he goes back a couple of hours later, picks out another 5–6.
To the first guys he says, “If you work for me all day, I will give you a denarius.” The rest of the guys all day long, he says, “I will give you a fair wage.”
When he comes to the end of the day—it’s five o’clock—he goes down and hires a couple more guys. They go show up at the house.
As dusk comes at seven o’clock—see it wasn’t and eight-hour work day—as dusk comes, he comes up and he says Okay I’m going to pay off everybody, and he starts with the guys he hired last and gives them a denarius. But they only worked two hours. He pays everybody a denarius. It is up to the landowner to determine how much he is going to pay. It is not the government’s responsibility.
In a Marxist interpretation of that, the landowner would have to be the evil capitalist who is exploiting the worker. And in the parable, the landowner is God. See Marxism is inherently anti-God because of the way it would have to handle certain things of this particular nature.
In Matthew 18:23 and following. In that particular parable, this is where you have the king and he has a servant who owes him or you have a landowner actually who has a servant who owes him a large amount of money. He comes to him and says, “I can’t pay. Give me time to pay the debt.” And the landowner eventually decides, “Okay, I’m going to be gracious and forgive you.”
Then this story goes on, this guy goes to somebody who owes him a lot of money, and he insists that he pays him, and then the landowner finds out, and says, “Okay, since you do not understand grace, I am going to go back and force you to pay everything that I was originally going to forgive you.”
What is in force there is accountability. That everybody is accountable. Ultimately it reinforces the first divine institution of responsibility. And that forgiveness of debt or how you handle the money is up to the king or the landowner or the person who heads up the business.
In Matthew 25:14 and following you have the parable of the talents. One man is going to go away and travel for a while, so he calls in his stewards, and he gives them different amounts of money, called talents.
Two of them invest; put the money at risk, but they gain. The third says, “Oh, he’s such a cruel taskmaster; I am not going to risk the money. I’m just going to go out and bury it in the yard, so when he comes back, I’m still going to have it.”
Well, when the man comes back, and he asks them what they did with the money, he rewards and praises the first two because they risked the money, and they earned reward on it, and they increased its value.
But when he comes to the third one—and all he did was bury the money, the man who is the Lord condemns him for being wicked and lazy. He does not say, “Oh my, I’m going to exercise compassion, and I’m going to take a little away from the first guy and a little more away from the second guy, and give it to you.” He says, “You’ve been wicked and lazy, so I’m taking everything away from you, and you’ll have nothing. And I’m going to give it to the other guys.”
See that is how God works. God does not have this pseudo-compassion that we need to somehow subsidize laziness. In the early colonies, the Puritans tried an experiment with socialism and found out that the people who had an inclination to be lazy would just become more and more lazy and ride on the shirttails of those who were more productive.
So the Bible is totally against that. This is what we have in passages such as Ephesians 4:28 where Paul says, “He who steals must steal no longer”—that applies to the government and applies to legalized theft. Of course, they don’t want to listen to that— “He who steals must steal no longer but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good.” See, labor in and of itself is valuable. He must work!—performing with his own hands so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”
See, you cannot share unless there is a surplus. There has to be an accumulation of wealth in order to have the resources to give to somebody.
2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” See Paul’s just a mean, old capitalist, doesn’t care about people. No, this is the Word of God! If you do not work, you do not eat.—for we hear that some among you—it goes on to say—are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.”
What is interesting is when you look at the Mosaic Law, the Scripture condemns inheritance taxes because inheritance was to be passed on to the next generation, so there could be an accumulation of wealth over the generations. You see this condemnation of inheritance taxes in Proverbs 13:22 and 1 Chronicles 28:8.
Another thing you see is there are no property taxes. God is the one who ultimately owns the property, not the government, and there are no property taxes because property taxes come back and bite the next generation when they inherit it. If there are any back taxes, they have to pay that off. So property taxes are understood by the Bible to destroy the accumulation of wealth and the development of prosperity.
Also the Bible recognizes the validity of tax exemption. In Ezra 7:24, the Levites and the priests and all those who worked in the temple were exempt from paying taxes.
Now when we look at the evaluation of the candidates in terms of all these standards we get from the Bible, they both fall short. And they fall short a long way because we have been operating on a false system of economic philosophy in this country since at least the ’30s with Keynesian views on economics. We operate on deficit spending and many other things that just continue to destroy the prosperity and the wealth of this nation.
With regard to Senator Obama, he has introduced the Patriot Employer Act. Doesn’t sound good? It is not good. The Patriot Employer Act of 2007, with Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both Democrats, to reward companies that create good jobs with good benefits for workers, but the legislation provides certain tax incentive if they will let labor unions come in and have elections to form them into labor unions. And that just takes away from the rights of the owners.
Of course, the second thing about him that I just mentioned is that he told Joe, the plumber, that we need to share the wealth. We need to take away from those who have and give it to the have-nots.
But who is going to determine the line of wealth? Is it $250,000? Well, where did that come from? Why not make it $125,000 or why not a million or two million or 25 billion dollars? Who decides that somebody has made too much money? How arrogant.
That’s like Charles Grassley from Iowa who is investigating five or six prosperity ministries because he thinks they just spent the Lord’s money the wrong way. Who in the world does he think he is? Arrogant idiot!
I don’t agree with any of those ministries, but who has the right to come in and say that, “You know, it is wrong for you to spend $10,000 on a bathroom.” I do not agree with that, but that is their decision. It is not the government’s responsibility to tell people what is acceptable. Next year it will be you cannot spend more than $500 on a bathroom or you can’t spend more than $50. So it sets up a terrible precedent.
It is a punishment of those who are productive. And the Bible rewards those who are productive but punishes those who are lazy.
Obama wants to leave the corporate tax rate at 35 percent, which I understand is very high within the so-called free world.
Third: He promotes restrictions on gun ownership.
Fourth: He supports the raising of capital gains tax for those who make more than $250,000—and let me tell you folks, $250,000 doesn’t buy what it used to.
Many of his tax credits are refundable tax credits, which will give money back to people even if they did not pay any taxes to begin with. 44 % of Americans do not pay taxes. So they get a $5,000 refundable tax credit. That means that when they file their income tax, if they did not pay any income tax, then the government will write them a check.
He is also in favor of increasing the death tax—and there’s no death tax in Scripture. It’s against that—in favor of increasing the death tax or the inheritance tax for those who have over 3.5 million, and he wants to increase that to 35 percent, but McCain would set it at 15 percent for estates over 5 million dollars—he is wrong too.
The only difference is that you got a Marxist and a socialist. The change that Obama wants, in my opinion, is just a change in degree, not a change in kind. And we have had a basic trend of socialism for the last 50 years in this country, and he just wants to intensify that.
McCain proposes to reduce spending, which is good. I heard him say that he wants to increase the child tax credit to $7,000 a child, which is good.
After World War II, Americans were given a $600 child tax credit. Now that does not sound like much today, but that was a lot in the post-World War II environment. That led to the baby boom. And why in the ’50s and ’60s moms were stay-at-home moms is because with the $600 per child tax credit, they could afford to stay at home and raise children. Today’s money that would have to be a $12,000 tax credit per child in order to have the same result.
The other positive thing about McCain is he favors less restricted gun laws. But he still has bought into the same basic framework of economics that Obama has. The Non-Partisan Tax Policy Center concluded that if all things are equal, that is, no new wars and nothing else changes, Obama’s plan would cost $2.7 trillion, and McCain’s would cost $3.7 trillion, but that does not factor in the $700 billion plus in extra spending that Obama has in his plans.
So what we see in both of them is continued support for the unjust taxation system of the U.S. that violates the principles of private ownership of property that is supported in the Scriptures. We must take heed to a statement from 1918 in McCullough v. Maryland that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” Watch out.
“Father, we thank You for this time together this evening to go through these things to see how Your Word gives us a framework for evaluating what goes on around us today, and we pray that again for our country, for our nation that our freedoms might continue and that people would be awakened to the realities of the programs that are being promoted by the politicians of this country that seek to destroy their freedoms and seek to take away their resources and their wealth.
Father, we’re thankful that we have immeasurable wealth in the Lord Jesus Christ and that we can rest and relax because You are in control of history.
We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.”