Working with God

It is hard for you to kick against the goads (Acts 26:14).

Every Christian when he enters the kingdom of God, should make it a part of his task in life, to understand what are the God-ordained structures, and work with them. What are these? The family, the Church and the State. The symbols of authority for these institutions in scripture are the rod (Prov.22:15), keys (Mat.16:18-19) and the sword (Ro.13:1-5).

People are born and raised in families. That is God’s plan. Babies cannot survive long without a lot of loving care, and by far the best place for that, is the family. So, the first institution for us to recognise, is the family.

To recognise something as fundamental as the family means to make room for it in society; it means that the family must receive legislative protection. Marraige between a man and a woman must be protected by the law in every land.

It is significant that the Seventh Commandment (Ex.20:7) is a prohibition against adultery, and adultery under Biblical law is punishable by death. Any society that does not offer the family this protection, is saying that the traditional family is irrelevant and should be replaced. All attacks on the family, including incest, homosexuality, and violence of a child against a parent, can be punishable by death under Biblical law. That tells us something of the value God places on the integrity of the family.

It is significant that socialists since Plato have been hostile to the family, and have sought to subvert it, control it and destroy it. That way the institution that they really believe and have faith in (the State), can have total sway. This was one of the goals of Labor Senator, Lionel Murphy. Himself a divorced man, he introduced the Family Law Act which introduced “no-fault” divorce to Australian law in 1975. This meant that couples could divorce easily, and that the innocent spouse would probably receive only half of the family assets.

This introduced a significant legislative and structural change. Previously the innocent, aggrieved spouse was entitled to the “lion’s share” of family assets after a divorce. It means that not only is divorce now easy to obtain, but it provides a de facto subsidy for irresponsibility and adultery; cheat on your spouse, and get half of the proceeds. That partially explains why Australian couples divorce so readily today, and why it is so common for couples to merely live together. So, a Christian reconstruction of society will mean changing this law.

So, the family is a fundamental God-ordained structure. But as important as it is, the family was not created to be an autonomous, independent institution. It is to find its true place and identity in the Church. Why? Because with the coming of Jesus Christ, a significant change has come. We have a new institution in the affairs of men.

Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail overpower it” (Mat.16:18). There is a God-ordained authority structure now, that was not present in the days of the patriarchs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph.4:12).

In the context of the local church, this means there will be officers present (pastors, elders, deacons), who have responsibility for the leadership and welfare of the church. This lifts some of the responsibility off parents and families.

The Bible commands us to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb.13:17).

A godly father will thus understand he is still to be a man of authority and responsibility in his family, but always in submission to his lawful church leadership. If he is wise, he will give his children a mechanism for appeal to his church elders regarding his decisions and attitudes, so that he cannot be labelled as a tyrant or abuser, and misuse his authority.

Thus,

Jesus did not identify the family as the central institution in society. [1]The family cannot be made…a substitute for the institutional church. [2] Christianity teaches that the Church is the central institution in history, not the family. [3] Therefore, any attempt to strengthen the family without strengthening the institutional church is self-defeating for Christians. [4]

The third institution God has ordained, is the state. Thus we have in Australia, a national and State constitutions, and these are of Biblical origin (see Ex.18:14-26; Deut.17:14-20; I Sam.10:24). We have Parliaments, elections and courts of law, and the law is made by the Parliaments.

The Bible speaks of the necessity for us to be “in subjection to the governing authorities” (Ro.13:1). Christians are to be law abiding people, in submission to the law of the land. Christianity is not anarchy. We are to despise and reject lawlessness, violence and violent revolution as a means of gaining power.

Legitimate change requires the use of legitimate means. We are to uphold the law of the land, and seek to use peaceful, legitimate means to bring about change in the community. Christians must ensure they have Biblical justification before they break the law.[5]

Conclusion:

God’s law provides the legal framework for a free market social order and undermines the theory of socialism.[6]

It is our wisdom as believers to understand the God-ordained structures in the community. We don’t want to “kick against the pricks” of God’s plans for every society.

Internal integrity leads to external integration. Healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy churches lead to a healthy nation. We must respect and work within those structures, all the while knowing that, where there are people, there are problems.

But the problems of people will be with us forever. Christians are to bring the knowledge of God from scripture to bear in all that they do, so that the God-ordained structures around us are continually strengthened. Yes, that is a long-term proposition, but it is constructive and liberating, and will ultimately lead to the Christian reconstruction of society.


[1] North, G., “Baptised Patriarchalism,” 1995, p.2.

[2] p.71.

[3] p.71.

[4] p.2.

[5] See my articles under the heading, “Fundamentals of Christian Resistance.”

[6] North, G., “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, Preface.

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