The Changing of the Guard (20)

Reconstruction

A.What the Church Should Do:

1.Teaching:

The Church is in bondage today. It is held captive behind the walls of a massive evangelical ghetto. It is scuttled off to a dungeon of irrelevance simply because we have failed to teach the truth. “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst” (Isa. 5:13). “Behold, the days are coming: says the Lord God, “that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

Instead of nurturing God’s people with the rich truths of practical Biblical instruction, we have indulged in theological junk food. Instead of building every discipline on the unwavering foundation of God’s Word, we have humoured ourselves with intellectual white elephants.

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in 1830, he attributed much of the nation’s greatness to the vibrancy and relevancy of the Church. He noted that the whole land was indelibly marked by “pulpits aflame with righteousness.” The Church taught its people then. It applied the Bible to every sphere of life: art, music, ideas, government, education, agriculture, science, history, and economics.

Those founding Americans believed that the Bible is authoritative on everything to which it speaks. And they believed that it speaks to everything. They believed that, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim.3:16-17).

They believed that “not one jot or tittle” had in any wise passed from it (Mat. 5:18). They believed it is “settled in heaven” (Ps.119:89) and “established on the earth” (Ps.119:90). They believed the Bible, and they taught it systematically.

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).

2. Worshipping :

Man’s chief end is to glorify and enjoy God. We are to glorify and enjoy Him in every area of life. But we are to do it particularly in worship. When Moses went before Pharaoh to lobby for Israel’s liberty, he did not say, “Let My people go that they may start a new political party.” He did not say, “Let My people go that they may found a confederated theocracy.” No, instead he said: Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness (Ex. 5:1).

And again: Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness (Ex.7:16).

As theologian David Chilton has written, ‘We know the story of Israel. God forces Pharaoh to release them, and they went on to inherit the Promised Land. But the really crucial aspect of the whole Exodus event, as far as the people’s activity was concerned, was worship.

And so it continues to be today. Chilton concludes, “The orthodox Christian faith cannot be reduced to personal experiences, academic discussions, or culture-building activity– as important as all these are in varying degrees. The essence of Biblical religion is the worship of God. . . . True Christian reconstruction of culture is far from being simply a matter of passing Law X and electing Congressman Y. Christianity is not a political cult. It is the divinely ordained worship of the Most High God.” (Paradise Restored,Tyler, Texas: Reconstruction Press, 1985).

Notice what happens when God’s people forget this very fundamental truth:

In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’” Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified; says the Lord. ‘You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?’ says the Lord  of hosts. ‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house’” (Haggai 1:1-9).

When we neglect worship all else goes to seed.

Worship changes the shape of world history (Rev. 8:1-8; Mat. 6:19; Jn.20:23). Worship reorients us to God’s plan, God’s purpose, and God’s program (Ps. 73:1-28). Worship brings about the demise of God’s enemies and the exaltation of the righteous (Ps. 83:1-18). This is why Paul is so insistent that our ministry of political action begin with prayer (I Tim.2:1-4). We are to pray benediction and blessing for those who honour God’s Law in the civil sphere (Ps. 69:13-19), and we are to pray malediction and cursing for those who impugn God’s Law in the civil sphere (Ps. 69:20-28).

The practice of singing Approbative Psalms (Psalms of blessing, e.g.: 5, 7, 9, 20, 23, 25, 65, 75, 113) and Imprecatory Psalms (Psalms of cursing, e.g.: 2, 10, 35, 55, 59, 69, 79, 83, 94, 109, and 140) has long been first recourse of political activism for the Church. And rightly so. If our first response is social or organizational or litigal or judicial, we are no better than the humanists, for we have put our trust in human action as the ultimate determiner of history.

We must begin to reassert the worshipping role of the Church in our day.

We must pray.

We must pray day and night, in season and out, in small groups and amidst the whole congregation, publicly and privately.

The Church must pray.

The Church must worship.

The Church must win.

3.Serving:

God has called the Church to serve. And through service He grants us favour with the people. This is a fundamental principle of dominion in the Bible: dominion through service.

This principle is understood all too well by the humanists who run the modern Welfare State. They recognize that whatever agency serves the needs of the people will ultimately gain the allegiance of the people. So, they “serve.” So, they continue the preposterous charade of government charity. And so, they gain dominion.

 And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and  drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”(Luke 22:25-30).

Sadly, Christians have not comprehended this link between charity and authority. They have not understood that dominion comes through service. When people are needy, or fearful, or desperate, they seek out protection. They seek out benefactors. They seek out authorities with whom they can trade allegiance for security.

Historically, it was the Church that operated the hospitals, orphanages, alms houses, rescue missions, hostels, soup kitchens, welfare agencies, schools, and universities. The Church was a home to the homeless and a refuge to the rejected. As a result, the Church had authority. It earned its authority by serving.

Canvassing neighborhoods is fine. Registering voters is good. Evaluating candidates is important. Phone banks and direct mail centres and media campaigns are all necessary. But, if the Church really wants to make a difference in the political arena, it will become a sanctuary to the poor, the aged, the handicapped, the unborn, the abused, and the needy.

If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your souls in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In (Isa.58:10-12).

 God will give us dominion. But only if the Church reasserts its serving role.

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