One of the greatest tragedies in modern evangelicalism is the compartmentalization of truth. Sadly, we have narrowed where we believe the truth ought to go and what we ought to say largely because we seek unity within the Body of Christ, and acceptability outside of the Church.
Unity without Truth is Sentimentality.
Another major flaw in our theology is our misunderstanding of “law.” In most cases law is lumped into one general category and is usually defined, or least insinuated, as something punitive, restrictive and with inhibiting rules and regulations. After all, we are not under Law but under grace, and the implication is that the law has no real voice for us today. This is, however, incorrect. The word Torah means not only “law” but, “instruction” and “teaching.” The Torah was given as an instruction manual from the God of heaven as to how to live a godly life both individually and collectively. This instruction was expansive, liberating, informative, and consisted of commands for God’s glory and our success.
In many respects, what God gives us in pages of Scripture can be likened to a comprehensive legal system. With 613 laws addressing every arena of life ranging from taxation to immigration, business operations to criminal justice, sexual behavior to the military, and of course so much more. The Scriptures are extremely wide-ranging and practical, which is no surprise. While 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that God’s Word is inspired, or “God-breathed,” verse 17 indicates that He gives us His Word so that we as believers can be “equipped for EVERY good work.” In short, the Bible (and of course the Old Testament, which Paul had in view when he wrote this) holds answers for every aspect of life and living.
For the modern church, the reality of Hosea 8:11 (KJV) is applicable and a sober exhortation to go after knowledge and apply it to our dual citizenship as being both members of God’s Kingdom and the United States.
“I have written to him the great things of my law, [but] they were counted as a strange thing (something alien NIV)” – Hosea 8:11 KJV
Because God’s Word provided such thorough guidance in so many areas, citizens regularly went to ministers during the founding era rather than just attorneys for guidance on laws. This is certainly not the practice today, but it definitely was during the time of America’s founding. As early historian J.T. Headley explains:
“The patriotic clergy of the Revolution…were the soundest statesmen of the time.” – J.T. Headley
Listen to the role of pastors (or priests) in regard to their “knowledge” of the law:
“The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. 7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he [is] the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 2:6-8 KJV
Friends, when I first read these verses and they began to sink into my heart, I actually broke out in contrite confession over my sin of neglect. For too many years I too have been too quick to segregate OT teachings (laws) from NT instruction.
The far larger and more concerning issue is that because of years of neglect concerning the proclamation of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) from the pulpits of America and from many Christian Leaders, we have lost our voice into the defining issues of our day. In many cases we don’t even know what the Biblical answer is to these topics, much less how to address them.
By in large we have developed a theology of non-engagement so we continue to be relegated to the margins.
Secularists are content with us as long as Christians remain in their churches, bible studies and seminars. They are also satisfied because many of us do not speak up into the challenges of the day.
“You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.” – Philippians 1:7
Secular people are also content when our primary outreach to the world is providing food for the poor, shelters to the needy, and keeping our message to love, grace, mercy and compassion. The sobering reality is these messages and actions by themselves are good and right, but also incomplete!
What is so wonderfully powerful is that we as Christ-followers have answers! We have the WHOLE BIBLE to give us clarity and we can be people of courage who actually influence our culture for righteousness’ sake.
Even in these last few weeks as I see the huge challenges of our country and world, and several topics and pertant Scriptures come to mind:
The Founding Fathers established the method of legal immigration found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution based on Leviticus 19:33-34.
- HELPING THE POOR
The Puritans and the Founding Fathers knew that the importance of caring for the poor meant that the poor were always obligated to work. They based this on Deuteronomy 24:19-21 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
- THE CHARACTERISTIC SPIRIT OF RADICAL MUSLIMS
The nature of the present radical Muslims and their desire for world conquest by the sword, as well as their propensity to fight each other is found in Genesis 16:10-12. With the intensity of ruthless Muslims in the Middle East we can see why the Apostle Paul told us to pray for each other and those who are in authority!
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV
When we look at the pastors in the beginnings of our nation, they were engaged in the political process and often participated in making laws.
For example, the Revs. Joseph Montgomery, Hugh Williamson, James Manning, John Zubly, John Witherspoon, and many more pastors were members of the Continental Congress. Noted historian, Alice Baldwin confirmed, “the Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit.”
American ministers were intimately involved in every aspect of introducing, defining, and securing America’s governmental and legal system. So if a citizen of America wanted to know something abut the law, or a particular issue impacting our country, he could go to a minister of the Gospel, just as God’s ancient Hebrew people had gone to the priests in their day to understand the “instruction “ and “teaching” from the Word of God. Then, this minister would seek to clarify and give an understanding about how a society ought to operate and what His covenant keepers ought to do.
President James A. Garfield (a Christian minister during the national revival know as the Second Great Awakening) succinctly reminded Americans:
“Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation with a great and worthy Congress, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” – James A. Garfield
As believer-priests (see 1 Peter 2:9) let us study the magnificent “law” of God so that we may be equipped for EVERY GOOD WORK in EVERY ARENA OF LIFE!
An Action To Take: Please purchase several Founders Bibles and give them to people, read the information out loud to your family, lead a Bible Study with it reading selective articles and discuss the ways you can influence those around you.
An Action To Take: Purchase the Christian Voters Guide at: www.oregonfamilycouncilvotersguide.org and give them out to 15-20 people prior to the next election.
 For example, topics such as which crimes require restitution; marriage and family laws; abortion and the unborn; inheritance policies; agricultural practices; employment contracts; business loans and interest rates; etc.
 For an amazing commentary on this truth, I recommend you check out John S. Dickerson’s The Great Evangelical Recession.