Washington quote — The first President of the United States reputedly said:
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
Definition — Government (Noah Webster 1828 An American Dictionary of the English Language
1.) Direction; regulation
2.) Control; restraint
The exercise of authority; direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies, or states; the administration of public affairs, according to the established constitution, laws, and usages, or by arbitrary edict.
PURPOSE of Government
1.) To glorify God by ordering all of our lives according to His standard of law and justice.
2.) To rule consistent with God’s standard
In the purpose statement. we find that Government always occurs by some standard. Either we will rule or be ruled in Government by God’s standard or we will rule or be ruled by the arbitrary standard of some false god.
NATURE of Government —
Internally — Self-discipline
Externally — Force
Origin of Government — Genesis 1 creation “And God called”
Genesis 1 in the Garden // Adam rules over the beast…(Naming)
See Westminster Confession for God as Governor — Governs (Providence)
1. That there is a providence may be inferred from the nature and perfections of God; from the dependent nature of the creatures; from the continued order and harmony visible in all parts of the universe; from the remarkable judgments that have been inflicted on wicked men, and the signal deliverances that have been granted to the Church and people of God; and from the prediction of future events, and their exact fulfilment. In the Bible, the providence of God is everywhere asserted. “His kingdom ruleth over all,” and he “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” – Ps. ciii. 19; Eph. i. 11.
Two things are included in the notion of providence,—the preservation and the government of all things. God preserves all things by continuing or upholding them in existence. The Scripture explicitly asserts, that “he upholds all things by the word of his power,” and that “by him all things consist.”—Heb. i. 3; Col. i. 17. He preserves the different species of creatures, and sustains the several creatures in their individual beings; hence he is called “the Preserver of man and beast.”—Job. vii. 20; Ps. xxxvi. 6. God governs all things by directing and disposing them to the end for which he designed them. “Our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleased.”—Ps. cxv. 3. “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”—Dan. iv. 36. The government of God may be considered in a twofold view,—natural and moral. This twofold view of his government arises from the two general classes of creatures which are the objects of it. The irrational and inanimate creatures are the subjects of his natural government. The rational part of the creation, or those creatures who are the fit subjects of moral law, as angels and men, are the subjects of hismoral government.
HC — LD #10
Genesis 2:15 — To dress and to keep (to Govern)
Some suggest that the Fall was a result of Adam failing to Govern. The argument goes that if Adam had governed per God’s instruction the Serpent would not have been in the Garden to tempt Eve.
An aside — Notice God names Adam showing his direct sovereignty over Adam but Adam is the one who names not only the animals but also Eve thus communicating man’s call to govern women.
Goal of Government — 1.) To Glorify God
2.) To order all things as consistent with God’s revelation for ordering and so to magnify God by living the good life.
Standard in relation to Governance / Government — All Government rules by some standard.
Varying standards may be the autonomous self, or it may be God’s law, or it may be God’s law as misinterpreted by the autonomous self or it may be by the standard of 50% plus 1 (mob rule)
Government as Inescapable category –You will never meet a person who is not governed. Even in anarchy the government is each individual self doing what is right in his own eyes. He is the sovereign governor and so he is being governed by the self.
Government and Worldview — You can know a great deal about a person by knowing who or what they are governed by. In point of fact if you can locate that which is governing a person who can determine how close you can get to that person. If a person is governed by their own selfish desires then you know you want to stay away.
Tell me what a man is Governed by and I will tell you the person he is.
II.) Government starts with the individual
Government is moral and personal before it is intstitutional.
Self-government undergirds all institutions governments
1.) family government
2.) church government
3.) civil government
If a man cannot govern himself by internal restraint (self-government) he will have to be governed by external restraint.
Some have argued, that it is in the interest of an institutional Government that desires to be God to do all it can to break down the ability of its citizenry at self-governance because with that lack of internal restraint comes the necessity of external restraint and so the growth of Statist Government to that end. In such a case it is in the interest of the pagan state to introduce chaos into the personal morality of its citizenry so that it has to be that which provides societal controls.
Examples — Weimar Republic …. Soviet Experiment … Modern USA
What is Government?
1.) Sovereignty — Legitimacy to rule
As all Authority comes from God (Romans 13:1) because only God is answerable to no one but Himself all other authority is therefore delegated authority and therefore limited authority to govern. God delegates this limited governing authority to every institution (Family, Church, Civil)
A desire to have the governing sovereignty of God often leads to madness (Daniel 4:30f). Nero, Caligula,
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
God takes legitimate governance so seriously that He calls rebellion to be as the sin of witchcraft. (I Sam. 15:23)
External Governments can remain legitimate even though those in position of authority in those Governments can act illegitimately. Then it becomes a question of how long the practice of ruling illegitimately can last before the Government itself is no longer legitimate.
This is an answer that requires Wisdom. For my part, I believe we long ago reached that point with the US Government. The US Government is no longer legitimate and any obedience we render up is not due to its legitimacy but is a matter of wisdom recognizing that they have the biggest guns.
II.) Representation: Accountability to the rule of another (I Cor. 11:3, cf. 3:23)
All Governments represent the sovereignty of another Government. This is just to say that no human Government is absolute. Only God’s Governance is absolute.
Exodus 18:17-23 as an example of Representative Government
III.) Law — A moral code by which to rule
All governments follow an ethical code. Ethical code like government itself is an inescapable category. It is never a question of “will there be an ethical code, but only the question of “which ethical code shall we have.” Even if no ethical code is allowed, (total anarchy) what one has is the ethical code of no ethical code.
In the civil realm the civil magistrate is to render judgment consistent with what God calls “good,” and “evil.” (Romans 13:3-4).
IV.) Jurisdiction: Authority to enforce sanctions
Law without the ability or will to enforce is no law.
Illustration — Recent statements VP debate that while abortion should be illegal there should be no sanctions brought against a woman who chooses to have an abortion. No penalty after transgression of law … no law.
Family sanctions — Rod (Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13, 29:15)
Church sanctions — Keys (Mt. 16:19, 18:15-20)
Civil sanctions — Sword (Gen. 9:6-7, Romans 13:4, I Pt. 2:14)
V.) Continuity: Stability of Government (Dt. 28)