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)
Government — Definition
God’s overarching Gov. Isaiah 9:6-7
Christ is the Sovereign of the world (Eph. 1:20-23)
Bow to God’s Government or be destroyed — Psalm 2
World History is a long chronicle of rebellion to God’s Government
II. ) Self-control
Lack of self-control
David — Bathsheba
Moses — Striking as oppose to touching the rock
Amnon — II Sam. 13
Standard by which we determine self control. II Tim. 3:16
Ability to be self-controlled — Regeneration (John 3)
Consequences of not being self-controlled
Control from the outside (Top Down)
If you will not be self controlled in family parents discipline (Prov. 13:24)
If you will not be self controlled in Church Elders Discipline
If you will not be self controlled in civil realm magistrate disciplines you
(Now with everything upside down … anarcho-tyranny)
All depends on a citizenry being regenerated. Without a proper belief system, all that is left is Mahat systems to control.
Quote — Winthrop (pg. 17)
III.) Family Governments (Rod)
When the state is weak, the extended family or clan is the primary social power, and the state itself is seen as a union of families rather than individuals. Rights and property belong primarily to the family itself, and its current living members see themselves as mere trustees, charged with passing along what they have received. The family is the primary instrument of justice: the family itself is held accountable for the misdeeds of its members, and each member has a duty to avenge wrongs against his kinsman. Trustee society is naturally polytheistic, with each clan having its private gods. Greece, Rome, and the Germanic barbarians all began with the trustee family system.
2) The domestic family.
As the state gains power, it takes over the role of enforcing justice and tries to stamp out the private justice of the trustee family. Universal religions extend moral duties to non-kinsmen. With the spread of trade, it becomes useful for a family to be able to sell the property which it had been holding in trust. Out of these pressures arises the domestic family, the type which Zimmerman believes constitutes the best balance of family and society. The domestic family consists of the living members of the nuclear family unit: father, mother, and children. Family property belongs to the paterfamilias; the living no longer hold it in trust. Rearing children is the family’s primary function. Religion provides strong social sanctions against divorce, childlessness, and sexual immorality.
3) The atomistic family.
As individualism and impiety spread, the ideological foundations of the domestic family are undermined, leading to the atomistic family. In an atomistic society, marriage is seen as a temporary and socially unimportant contract between independent individuals. As atomism spreads, divorce becomes common, adultery loses its stigma, sexual perversions of all sorts come to be accepted and even celebrated, children rebel against their parents, childbearing comes to be seen as a burden, and the population implodes. A society cannot survive without the will to produce a next generation, and so the decedent society is eventually replaced by a new civilization embracing a more virile (trustee) family type, and the cycle begins again. Greece after the Peloponnesian War, Rome during the late empire, and the contemporary West have the atomic family as their dominant type.
It is in the interest of the State to undermine the family since an Atomistic family is no threat to the State’s increasing power. Where the family is weak there the State can assume the former’s authority and power of the family to itself.
Zimmerman sees Western civilization headed for destruction if it cannot revive the domestic family. One of the heroes of his story is the Emperor Augustus, whose anti-adultery and anti-celibacy laws can be seen as a rational attempt to protect the Roman family and hold Rome’s destructively atomistic tendencies at bay. This history’s most important hero, however, is the Roman Catholic Church, which was forced to fight a war for the domestic family on two fronts, against both Roman atomism and barbarian trustee-ism. By the High Middle Ages, the Church had established her own sacramental version of the domestic family as the primary type in Christendom. This work was undone by the smart-aleck partisans of divorce and immorality of the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
Ephesians 5:22 – 23 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Titus 2:5 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
IV.) Church Government
1.) Episcopalianism (or “prelacy”) is the rule of the church by monarchial bishops. That is, one man may govern those under him (whether members or other elders), and he need not be chosen by the people to be their leader, but can be appointed by a higher agency. Authority thus rests in the one human priest at the top (a pope or archbishop), is then communicated to his subordinates, and extends from there over all of the congregations.
2.) Congregationalism (or better: “independency”) is the rule of the church by every member and the independence of every congregation from all others. Authority now rests with the many at the bottom. Technically speaking, for any given decision which the church may make, every member within the congregation has the same authority as every other; ruling boards are simply an administrative convenience (whose decisions can by overthrown by the congregation as a whole). Moreover, no individual congregation is subject to external jurisdiction; associations of churches are voluntary and have no independent power over the internal affairs of their member churches.
3.) Presbyterianism is the rule of the church by multiple, elected elders—not the dictates of one man, nor those of the whole congregation. These elders must be chosen by the people from among themselves (men to whom they are willing to vow submission), but also examined and confirmed by the present governing board of elders in the congregation or regional body of elders (the presbytery).
All congregations are connected with each other under the jurisdiction of the presbytery, and all presbyteries are connected under the jurisdiction of the “general assembly” of elders from the entire church—thus allowing a system of graded courts for the purposes of appeal and redress of errors made in subordinate ruling bodies.
Christ directs his church through the Scriptures, His own self-revelation and authoritative guidance. Let me offer here a brief summary of the biblical material which I believe is relevant to determining how Christ would have His church governed. The Bible is not silent on this matter.
- There is no distinction between “elders” and “bishops” (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17,28); these represent the same office and order.
- Each congregation and center of leadership is to have a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Phil. 1:1), not one-man rule.
- These elders have oversight of the church (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:2-3) and are thus responsible to rule the congregation (I Tim. 3:5; 5:17; I Thes. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). They judge among the brothers (cf. I Cor. 6:5) and, in contrast to all the members, they do the rebuking (I Tim. 5:20). Christ calls them to use the “keys of the kingdom” to bind and loose (Matt.16: 19; 18: 18; John 20: 23)—these keys being the preaching of the gospel (I John I :3), administering of the sacraments (Matt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 11: 23ff.), and the exercise of discipline (Matt. 18:17; I Cor. 5:1-5).
- The elders are assisted in their ministry by “deacons” who give attention to the ministry of mercy (Phil. 1:1; Acts 6:1-6; cf. I Tim. 3:8-13).
- The office-bearers in the church are nominated and elected by the members of the congregation (e.g. Acts 6:5-6), but must also be examined, confirmed and ordained by the present board of elders (Acts 6:6; 13: 1-3; I Tim. 4: 14).
- Members of the church have the right to appeal disputed matters in the congregation to their elders for resolution, and if the dispute is with those local elders, to appeal to the regional governing body (the presbytery) or. beyond that, to the whole general assembly (Acts 15). The decisions of the wider governing bodies are authoritative in all the local congregations (Acts 15:22-23, 28, 30; 16:1-5).