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Introduction to the Biblical Doctrine of Government

 


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


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Self-government

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If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 26, 2017


12A basic definition of government is “direction, control.” God is the highest Ruler. His government is above all other governments; all other governments derive their authority from God. He, as the Sovereign of the universe ordained and rules over all other governments. “Ordain” means “to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 818 (10th ed. 1995)). Men know that God is in control because God put a God-consciousness in every person (See Ro. 1.18-32).

God teaches in many ways, throughout the Bible, that He is the Supreme Ruler and His is the Higher and Highest Power. As possessor of heaven and earth, God has and exercises supreme authority in both the heavenly and earthly sphere.

That God is supreme, the Highest Power, is revealed in the Old Testament through, among other things, His names. The Old Testament reveals the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe and of man, the Source of all life and intelligence who is to be worshipped and served by men and angels.

As the Supreme Ruler, He has decreed that men may choose to be guided by His principles or not. However, choices are met by either blessings or judgment. In the final analysis He will either reward or judge all governments according to the degree they abide by His will.

The first government established by God was self-government. Every person exercises self-government, and decides whether he or she will receive the only true and eternal hope which is provided by God, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6.40).

After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and man knew “good and evil,” God established family government. Every person within a family – father, mother, and children – in exercising self-government, chooses whether to submit to God’s guidelines concerning family government.

The next type of government ordained by God was human government or civil government. God ordained civil government at the time of the great flood.  For the first time, He gave man the responsibility of ruling the world for God. Relatively quickly after Cain killed Abel, all mankind except Noah and his family, guided only by conscience (knowledge of good and evil or an awareness of right and wrong) had become totally corrupted. Civil government provided further and direct control over the evil nature of man.

Some time after ordaining civil government, God called out Abraham to be the father of Israel. Israel was established as a theocracy. All other nations were non-theocratic and were and are called “Gentile.” God established Israel to be directly under Him for specific purposes. Israel was to be the only theocracy that God has ever ordained. The Gentile nations can only look to Israel to see that God is who He claims to be, but God still desires every nation to choose to honor Him and His principles.

The Word of God teaches us that no civil government, Jew or Gentile, since it is made up of sinful men, will, before the return of Christ, ever follow the principles of God for any significant period of time. That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is sadly apparent. Therefore, every civil government that has ever existed or which will ever come about prior to the return of the Lord will be judged by God.

God used a Gentile nation to take Israel into captivity, and He has already judged and is judging many Gentile nations. The Lord will return and crush the Gentile world-powers existing at the time of His return which, led by the beast and false prophet, will come and besiege Israel (Re. 19.19). The nation Israel will then be restored to the land which God gave them according to his covenant with them (Many verses in the Bible verify this. God will do this for His “holy name’s sake, which [Israel had] profaned among the heathen….”  Then Satan will be cast “into the bottomless pit, that he might deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled,” the nations shall be judged, and God’s kingdom will be set up.

Throughout these studies, the student should keep in mind all governments: first, God’s Supreme Government, then the other governments which God has ordained—self-government, family government, civil government, and church government. Biblical principles of governments other than church government are dealt with in this section, Section 1 with an emphasis on civil government; and biblical principles of church government are dealt with in Section 2. God laid down the boundaries of the authority of each type of government and the principles by which every government should conduct its affairs. He will hold every government responsible for the choices it makes. The reader should also keep in mind that the God-given goal for all governments is the glory of God, not the happiness of man. Joy is a side effect of “loving the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”


Many Bible verses back up the conclusions stated in this brief lesson. Only a few are given here. The student can go to Introduction to the Bible Doctrine of Government online or to Online PDF of God Betrayed pages 3-9 to find those verses.


 

More on Romans 13.1-2: The Powers/Governments That God Has Ordained

Shortly after this picture was taken, the soldier put a bullet through the head of this teenage girl. Her crime? Telling others about Jesus in public during the Bejing Olympics.
Shortly after this picture was taken, the soldier put a bullet through the head of this teenage girl. Her crime? Telling others about Jesus in public during the Bejing Olympics.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 16, 2014

Romans 13:1-2:  “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Romans 13.1-2 speaks of the powers which are ordained by God. Romans 13.1 says that God ordained powers; all lower powers are ordained of God, and there is no power but of God. Only a higher power can ordain a lower power. To repeat, God as the Highest Power established (ordained) lower powers. He obviously is the Highest power because only a higher power can ordain lower powers. Every soul (every individual) is to obey the higher powers – the powers that are above him; and all lower powers are below God who is the highest power. Only the highest power, God, has no higher power to which He is subject.

What are the powers which are ordained by God? They are individual, family, civil, and church governments. Each lower power is subject to higher powers. Power means the possession or control or command over oneself, another or others. “Powers” as spoken of in Romans 13.1-2 means “governments” since government means direction, control or rule. This is obvious from the immediate and overall context of Scripture. Each power or government has a God-given goal (the glory of God) and jurisdiction. Civil government and God have jurisdictions (Matthew 22.21, Mark 12.17, Luke 20.25).  God gave each of the lower powers free will or choice of whether to honor the higher powers.

Every soul is told to be subject to the higher powers. According to the Bible (1) individuals, who can legitimately direct and control only themselves, are to be subject to God first and civil government second; (2) within the family government wives are to be subject to God first and their husband second, children to their parents; (3) civil governments are to operate under God in line with the biblical doctrine of government (this does not mean union of church and state: see the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”); and (4) churches are to direct and control their organization, goals, and affairs according to the biblical doctrine of the church. All lower powers are to be guided by the word of God. When church government, civil government, or family government has rules which contradict the laws of God, the individual is to “obey God rather than men” (Ibid., Acts 5.29); he is to be subject to God, the highest power first. God desires each government to operate under Him with His word as its guide. For example, God is the power higher than civil government; therefore, God desires that civil government choose to operate  under Him. (See, e.g., Hierarchy of Law and Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself. 

God explains when and why He ordained each power (government) and set out the jurisdiction and guidelines for each in the Bible. The Bible teaches that the lowest power is the individual to whom God gives free will and the responsibility of self-direction and control (self-government). God ordained self-government in the Garden of Eden. Man in the Garden was innocent. God gave one simple rule for the individual in the Garden of Eden. God did this because God wanted man’s love and love requires a choice; without a choice, no man can love. The man who must be forced to marry a woman does not love that woman; a man shows love by making the choice to love. Love is action (See 1 Corinthians 13). Man disobeyed God’s rule and fell; God judged man for his decision to disobey the Highest Power.

The next power ordained by God was family government which was established at the fall. He did this to establish an order to a fallen race. Man was no longer innocent and therefore he was given the knowledge of good and evil (conscience). God forbade man to judge man; in other words there was to be no government (direction and control) over man by man (See Genesis 4.8-15). After the fall mankind was only to be guided by conscience, and he quickly forgot about God, the Highest Power. All mankind except for Noah and his family quickly became totally corrupted and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually. As a result, God was grieved and had no choice but to judge mankind by destroying the earth and all mankind except for Noah and his family. Something more was needed to control man and his evil imagination.

At the flood, God gave man the responsibility to rule over man for God thereby establishing civil government (direction and control of man by man under God, the highest government). God ordained civil government because, as demonstrated between the fall and the flood, the knowledge of good and evil (conscience) was insufficient to control evil. Certain evils were from that time forward to be judged by man through direct punishment by man (civil direction and control) here on earth. God then divided Gentile nations in the earth as explained in Genesis 10. Again, mankind soon rebelled against God and, led by Nimrod, built the Tower of Babel in an attempt to start a one-world government. As a result, God confounded their language and scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. He knew that as one people with one language nothing would be restrained from them, which they had imagined to do (See Genesis 11.1-9). Man has proceeded with individual government, family government (according to man’s choice), conscience, and civil government since that time.

The Old Testament after Genesis 11 deals extensively with, among other things, nations or civil governments. God called out Abraham as the father of both an earthly people (the nation Israel) and a spiritual people (those who are saved by grace through faith). When Israel was called out, the Gentile nations proceeded according to God’s original plan to be guided by conscience (see, e.g., Romans 2.14-15), but Israel was established as a theocracy in which the religion and state were to walk hand in hand directly under God. The goals of both the religion and the state were to be the same with the two working together in furthering those goals. Israel was the only theocracy ever ordained by God. A believer who studies God’s teaching and prophecies concerning Israel and the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations will see God’s ultimate history and philosophy of history unfolding before his eyes. Old Testament history and prophecy as well as secular history prove that civil government operating alongside individual government, family government, and conscience was insufficient to control man’s evil imagination.

The last government God ordained was church government as recorded in the New Testament. Individual, family, and civil government had proven insufficient to control evil, so God established his churches which were to be made up of born-again believers. Believers in the churches were to seek to walk in the spirit, and organize and operate the churches according to God’s directives. Because man’s evil imagination, the church, civil government, individual government, family government, and conscience have proven insufficient to control man’s evil imagination. Most churches are heretical at best. A great proportion are apostate.

Nonetheless, there is ultimate hope even though mankind, because of a sin nature, fails all God’s tests and makes inevitable the judgment of God. To this point in time, the basis of all earthly governments is the individual, whom God desires to be led according to His rules. The individual hope is salvation through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20.21; see also Jerald Finney’s Bible Study notes on Repentance, the new creature, the new life, and changed behavior and God’s Plan Of Salvation). The Holy Spirit leads a believer (a saved person) who studies God’s word into the truth which will make him free (John 8.31-32). An individual who is saved and who walks in the spirit will positively affect the family, the nation, and the church he belongs to. Sadly, no civil government on earth now honors the highest power; believers walking in the spirit are few and far between; God-honoring churches are rare and make up a small remnant. Just as the Old Testament chronicles the apostasy of Israel, the New Testament explains the apostasy of the churches. Only when the Highest Power Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns and crushes the Gentile nations at Armageddon will a government over all mankind be established on earth under the leadership of the Highest Power. Man will fail all tests God has given Him since the creation and only God will have the power to bring order out of the chaos which man has created.

One can go to the following links for much more on Romans 13 and related verses:

Romans 13 and related verses
Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses

For more on the various governments ordained by God, go to

The Biblical Doctrine of Government

For more on church government, go to

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

 

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Click the image above to go to the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”

 –

From New England to the South


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 31, 2012


Click here to go to the entire history of religious liberty in America.


Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment.


From New England to the South

Summary: The Great Awakening carried from New England to the South; Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall left Congregationalist church, became Baptists, moved to North Carolina, started the Sandy Creek Baptist Church, planted churches, the movement exploded and expanded into other states, the War of the Regulation, the Baptists depart, the departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.

Shubal Stearns


By 1755 only a few Baptist churches had been constituted in the South. This was about to change. The change came partly as a result of the Great Awakening.

Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, both members of Congregationalist churches in Connecticut, separated from the established churches, later became Baptists, as had Isaac Backus, and became chief instruments in carrying the Great Awakening to the South. The Separates were subject to persecution—fines, imprisonment, placing in stocks, and whipping—for their defiance of the laws of the commonwealth. They were subjected to a more intense persecution than the dissenters such as Baptists and Quakers, and many of them were imprisoned for practicing their beliefs.

Shubal Stearns was born in Boston on January 28, 1706. His family moved to Connecticut in his youth and joined the Congregational church in Tolland. He was converted to New Light views in 1745 as a result of the Whitefield revival. Mr. Stearns led others in his church to become a Separate church. After a thorough study of the Scriptures, he declared himself a Baptist and was baptized (William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 21).

Daniel Marshall was born in 1706 in Windsor. He became a prosperous farmer and a deacon in the established Congregational church. Deeply affected by George Whitefield, by 1747 he was a Separate; and by 1751 he, along with Shubal Sterns, was a radical Separate (Ibid., pp. 21-23).

George Whitefield’s preaching had a grand effect on his converts. A “twofold conviction was borne in and upon the hearts of the Separates around 1750.” Since all men can be saved, the urgency of missions and the need for men to hear the gospel now was impressed upon their hearts. “Love for [all] others, said Whitefield, stands alongside aversion to sin, a spirit of supplication, and a spirit of conquest over the world as a mark of having the Holy Spirit” (Ibid., p. 24, citing Stuart C. Henry, George Whitefield, Wayfaring Witness (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 124).

In 1751 or 1752, as had others before him, Mr. Marshall set out with his wife and three children and possibly with one other couple, with no prospect of material reward, to minister to the Indians in New York. They settled at the Indian town of Onnaquaggy, but had to leave after eighteen months because strife among the Indians caused by the French and English struggle and attempts to gain the support of various tribes disrupted his work and threatened his family. He went to Connogogig, Pennsylvania for a short stay, then moved to Opekon, Virginia. He was baptized by the pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church. His powerful preaching ability was recognized and a revival ensued (Ibid., pp. 25-28 citing Stewart Pearce, Annals of Luzerne County (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1960), pp. 34-35; J. B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), I, 19; R. B. Stemple, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists of Virginia, revised and extended by G. W. Beale (Richmond: Pitt & Dickinson, 1894), p. 370).

Shubal Stearns and his wife, along with five other families, possessed with missionary zeal, left Tolland, Connecticut in August, 1754. They moved to Virginia where they were greeted by Daniel Marshall. They settled in Cacapon Creek, Virginia, but did not stay there long. Members of some neighboring churches (later called “Regular” Baptist churches), which upheld dignity and orderliness in worship, were upset with the “noisy and emotional preaching of the Separates,” by some of the preaching, which “may have suggested Armenianism to them,” and by “the prominent place occupied by women in some Separate meetings which hinted at disorder.” Also, in 1755 the Indians broke into open hostility. Consequently, Mr. Stearns and his party moved to Sandy Creek, North Carolina, “a strategic center from which he could itinerate to a growing and spiritually destitute population” (Ibid., pp. 28-30).  There they constituted the Sandy Creek Church with Mr. Stearns as minister and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as assistant ministers.

Mr. Stearns immediately began to preach. People from neighboring farms began to attend, for the first time hearing the doctrine of the new birth:

  • “The enthusiastic manner of preaching, too, was unprecedented. Stearns’ delivery was warm and appealing, full of persuasive zeal, not at all the commonplace, lecture-type discourses which the people had formerly heard. Strong gestures and a fervent plea told the people that the preacher was intensely involved in his message.  It was obvious he wanted a verdict.
  • “The preachers deep feeling and personality passed to the members of the church and from them to the visitors. The music in the little pastor’s voice soon penetrated every heart, and his piercing, discursive eye seemed to peer into every soul. The tears, tremblings, and shouts of the members quickly affected the visitors, and from the little meetinghouse a tumult of grief at sin and joy at salvation ascended to heaven. Men who came to the meetings to mock returned home praising and glorifying God. The church began to grow!
  • “Then the Separates knew that they had found their home and that God’s will was being perfected in them. The heart of their little community held a plan worthy of the heart of an empire” (Ibid., pp. 31-32).

The population of North Carolina was growing rapidly. People were coming from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; and large families were common. Although the Church of England was established by law in 1701 in North Carolina, it had a feeble career there, and the colony gained a reputation as an asylum for the religiously persecuted. By 1755 the population of North Carolina was nearly a hundred thousand (Ibid., pp. 33-34, citing G. W. Paschal, History of North Carolina Baptists (Raleigh: General Board of North Carolina Baptist State Convention, 1930), I, pp. 252-254).

The Quakers preached the first sermon in North Carolina in 1672 and were the earliest dissenters. The Moravians also flourished there. The Anglicans were few in number, had only one or two ministers in the colony at any given time, and were looked upon with indifference and hostility by the people of North Carolina. Except for the Quakers and Moravians, until the middle of the eighteenth century, “[r]eligious concerns among the early dissenters were doomed to steady decline because of the shortage of churches, religious instruction, and pastors” (Ibid., pp. 34-36).

The work at Sandy Creek soon began to produce much fruit. Mr. Stearns and the other preachers in his church were in great demand to go preach at other settlements. He and Daniel Marshall decided, before having been at Sandy Creek a year, to go on a preaching mission all the way to the coast. Converts were being called into ministry, and the Separate Baptist movement was seeing the birth of new churches. Within three years, there were three churches with a combined membership of over nine hundred, and these churches had numerous branches. Young evangelists were “beginning to occupy the land of promise.” In 1758, the Sandy Creek Association was organized. The plan for the association “required careful planning, for the associational movement would usher in a grand new chapter in Separate Baptist expansion” (Ibid., pp. 41-45).

The movement exploded. Ministers and converts went all over North Carolina, then into South Carolina and Georgia. The power of God was with these Separate Baptist preachers. Churches were planted and many were converted. In North Carolina, the Anglicans and the Presbyterians were displaced by the Baptists. Daniel Marshall went to South Carolina with some others in his church and started a church there. From there, he went on preaching trips into Georgia. He was so successful in some of his forays there that he was arrested, convicted, and commanded to preach no more in Georgia. “The arresting constable and even the magistrate who tried Marshall were soon converted and baptized.” In 1771 Mr. Marshall moved to Kiokee Creek, Georgia and formed the first Baptist church in Georgia at Appling in 1772 (Ibid., p. 55, citing J. H. Kilpatrick, The Baptists, (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Convention, 1911), pp. 37-38).

In 1771 the so-called War of the Regulation broke out. The government of North Carolina tried to suppress the Separate Baptists, but succeeded only in spreading their movement all along the southern frontier. Before the suppression began, the established church, the Anglican Church, was ineffectual in North Carolina and only had five ministers in the state in 1765.

Before 1765 the western counties, made up of frontiersman, a large percentage of whom had become Baptists, were disproportionately taxed and represented in the Assembly. “Sheriffs, judges, and other officials of county government, were notorious for their injustice, and in the western counties they were, as a rule, dishonest, haughty, and overbearing” (Ibid., pp. 72-74). A license was required for teachers, and no place of higher education could be administered, except by ministers of the Church of England. The Church of England was given exclusive rights to perform marriages. In 1755, poll and vestry taxes were imposed upon North Carolinians (James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 181-182). The settlers mounted protests against these injustices.

When William Tryon became governor of North Carolina in 1765, the troubles moved quickly to a crisis. Governor Tryon set out to strengthen the position of the Church of England. He called for twenty-seven more Anglican clergymen and increased taxes and raised a military force. By 1770, Governor Tryon had established eighteen Anglican priests in thirty-two parishes in North Carolina. Property was seized for back taxes, people accused of rioting were arrested and set for trial, and others were fined and imprisoned. “In several places the Regulators yielded to mob spirit, broke up courts, and whipped the officers” and “some court records were destroyed” (Lumpkin, pp. 78-79). Armed conflict finally broke out. On May 16, 1771, a poorly trained and supplied force of two thousand regulators was routed by the state militiamen. Although Shubal Stearns and the Sandy Creek Association forbade Baptists to take up arms against the government, many did.

After the defeat of the regulators, Tryon “laid waste to plantations, burned homes, and sent numbers of men in chains to Hillsboro. The countryside was terrorized” (Ibid., p. 83).  Tryon seized Benjamin Merrill, who appears to have been a church leader. Merrill was convicted as a traitor, hung publicly, cut into pieces—quartered—and his body scattered (Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 197).

The Baptists had a mass exodus from North Carolina. By 1772, Sandy Creek Church had only fourteen members, down from six hundred and six. Little River Church went from five hundred to a dozen members. But as with the persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem, the persecuted spread to other parts and carried out the Great Commission—the departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.

Shubal Stearns, the chief light and the guiding genius behind the Separate Baptist movement, died on November 20, 1771 at the age of sixty-five. Forty-two churches and one hundred and twenty-five ministers had sprung from the Sandy Creek Church by 1772. Fires had been started in North Carolina and in other states, which could not be quenched (Lumpkin, p. 59).

Biblical Teaching on Civil Government


Jerald Finney
Copyright © May 14, 2011


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Biblical Teaching on Civil Government”


Preface

The material for this article is from Section I, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. The Endnote has more information on this and other books by Jerald Finney. The complete book will be reproduced in these articles, and the audio teachings on this blog also cover the book in abbreviated form.


Biblical Teaching on Civil government

dispensation_3a

In spite of conscience and the restraint of the Holy Spirit, what happened without civil government? Very soon after the fall,

5“GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart…. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” After the flood, “[T]he LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done” (Ge. 6.5-7, 12-13; 8.21).

When man, operating in an economy of God, has totally failed in his responsibilities under God, the only remedy is God’s judgment. Therefore, at that point God exercised His only option, judged man, and for the first time, in the Noahic Covenant, gave man the responsibility for ruling over man for Him and under Him—God ordained human or civil government. God initiated the Dispensation of Human Government. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Ro. 13.1b,c). He did so at the flood: He declared:

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Ge. 9.5-6).

“God gave man the right to take the life of a man, which in the very nature of the case gave man the authority to govern others. Unless [civil] government has the right to the highest form of punishment, its basic authority is questionable and insufficient to protect properly those it governs” (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 53).

Although the Bible did not, in those verses in which God first established civil government, call the institution which He ordained at that point civil government, that is what it was. It was the first time God ordained that man was to exercise authority, direction, or control over man. In addition to conscience and the restraint of the Holy Spirit, God instituted civil government. He ordained civil government to secure for man a temporal good—the protection of mankind from violence while on the earth. Only God had the power to prevent civil government, and only God had the power to institute civil government. It was apparent, in context, that He desired man to operate civil government under Him, according to His rules.

He ordained civil government for the earthly benefit of man—to control evil—as is contextually apparent: Before the flood:

kjv_genesis_6-5“… God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination2 of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them: and behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Ge. 6.5, 12-13).

“[A]nd the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done” (Ge. 8.21).

Mankind was so utterly corrupt that the only solution was for God to destroy every man, woman, and child, except the one righteous family. This total corruption of mankind, except for Noah and1 his family, had occurred in a relatively short period of time after Adam and Eve had been expelled from the Garden of Eden. At the same time that God judged man by the flood, He ordained civil government, in order to control the violence that resulted from the wickedness of man, to secure for mankind as a whole a temporal good. Some leaders have realized this. Alexander Hamilton asked and answered his own question:

“Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint” (M. Stanton Evans, The Theme Is Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Regency Publishing, 1994), p. 193 cited in William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought? (Knoxville, TN: Grady Publications, Inc. 1999), p. 72).

Civil government was established within the covenant God made with Noah. “The elements of the Noahic Covenant are:

“(1) The relation of man to the earth under the Adamic Covenant is confirmed (Gen. 8.21).
“(2) The order of nature is confirmed (Gen. 8.22).
“(3) Human government is established (Gen. 9.1-6).
“(4) Earth is secured against another universal judgment by water (Gen. 8.21; 9.11).Gen 9-13
“(5) A prophetic declaration is made that from Ham will descend an inferior and servile posterity (Gen. 9.24, 25). (Pastor Joey Faust says of this portion of Scofield’s note: “Scofield’s old note missed the fact that the curse of being servile was on Canaan (only one branch of Ham’s seed). This is why Canaan was dominated by Israel. But the first kingdoms of the world were all Hamite (Nimrod, Egypt, etc.), until Nebuchadnezzar (Semite) began to rule the world. All subsequent powers were Japhethetic.
“I do not think it would serve any purpose to try to make the curse of servitude to be on all of Ham’s seed. This was the error of some postmil preachers in the Southern states. I have two lengthy articles on the southern states, and how they saw the South as the New Canaan, and the actual Kingdom of God. These quotes are online at http://www.kingdombaptist.org under Baptist history, etc.”).
“(6) A prophetic declaration is made that Shem will have a peculiar relation to Jehovah (Gen. 9.26, 27). All divine revelation is through Semitic men, and Christ, after the flesh, descends from Shem.
“(7) A prophetic declaration is made that from Japheth will descend the ‘enlarged’ races (Gen. 9.27). Government, science, and art, speaking broadly, are and have been Japhetic, so that history is the indisputable record of the exact fulfillment of these declarations” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Genesis 9.1, p. 16).

God ordered man to multiply and populate the earth: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Ge. 9.1).

Noah ShamedWould man obey God on the basis of conscience, the restraint of the Holy Spirit, and human government? Man almost immediately failed to govern under God—Noah became drunk and incapable of ruling. Furthermore, Noah’s descendants rebelled against God’s command to populate the whole earth. The pattern has continued with every nation that has ever or will ever exist until Christ returns. The covenant God made with Noah was to continue: It was to be an “everlasting covenant”  (Ge. 9.12) for “perpetual generations” (Ge. 9.16). Thus, the covenant is in effect today.

Shortly after the flood, God divided the world into nations: “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations” (Ge. 10.5). God probably did this because if all worldly government were concentrated in one world government, the potential for evil would be unlimited:

“Rulers are sinful and given too much authority can become oppressive tyrants. Nations check each other’s power. A one-world government would have no check on its power. No one could check violations on legal limitations and guarantees. World government has the potential for world tyranny” (John Eidsmoe, God and Caesar: Biblical Faith and Political Action. (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stack Publishers, 1997), p. 210).

“The people, instead of obeying God’s command to scatter and fill the earth, conceived the idea of1staying together and building the tower of Babel to achieve their aim. Fellowship with man replaced fellowship with God” (Ryrie, p. 53). Soon after this division into nations, mankind attempted to build the world’s first “United Nations” building. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Ge. 11.4). This is what was wrong with their attempt:

“It was a picture of salvation by works, Tower_of_Babel 3reaching heaven by one’s own efforts; one of its probable purposes was astrology or Satan worship, as with the ziggurat towers in ancient Babylonia; it was based on pride and self-exaltation. In addition, its purpose was to keep the people together in a one-world government instead of spreading them out into national entities as God had intended. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing shortly after the time of Christ, says:
‘Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God…. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny—seeing no other way of turning them from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power. He also said … that he would build the tower too high for the waters to be able to reach and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers….’

“As we can read in Genesis 11.5-9, God frustrated the building of the tower by causing the people to speak different languages. God then reaffirmed nationalism: ‘And from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth’ (Genesis 11.9). God further reaffirms nationalism in Deuteronomy 32.9 and Acts 17.26. National entities will continue even during Christ’s millennial rule on earth (Isaiah 2.4; 66.18; Revelation 12.5; 20.3, 8), and perhaps even in heaven (Revelation 21.24, 26)” (Eidsmoe, God and Caesar, pp. 210-212, citing The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1974), p. 30).

Thus, God again judged man for his failure to keep His command to populate the whole earth. God confused their language. Since they could no longer speak the same language, the builders could no longer understand one another. They separated and relocated to different parts of the earth. They began to populate the entire earth.

The New Testament teaches that one God-given purpose of Gentile civil government is to control evil:

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Ro. 13.3-4; see also, 1 Pe. 2.13-14).

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers or fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Ti. 1.9-11).

A second purpose can be inferred from an admonition of Paul to Timothy—to organize society under God, that is according to God’s principles:

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Ti. 2.1-6).

For example, an application of God’s principles in civil law would be laws regulating hunting. In the Noahic covenant, mankind is told: “Every living thing that liveth shall be food for you” (Ge. 9.3a). Thus, God gave man the authority to hunt animals, but not the “right to engage in mass and wanton slaughter of the animal kingdom.” On the other hand, God placed man in the Garden of Eden to “dress it and keep it” (Ge. 2.15), not to destroy it. “So God requires man to exercise wise stewardship in his use of the animal kingdom and of natural resources in general” (Eidsmoe, God and Caesar, p. 8). God wants every Gentile nation to choose to operate under Him—that is, under His principles as given in His Word. If a nation will do that, Christians will live a quiet and peaceable life and non-Christians will be free to choose God, no god, or false gods or gods since, as will be seen in later articles (See also, Section III of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application), separation of church and state is a biblical principle for Gentile nations.

A third, and the most important purpose of civil government is to teach. Just as “[t]he law is a “schoolmaster” to bring us unto Christ” (Ga. 3.24) a nation, by its laws, teaches. The laws of a nation, as do God’s laws, have a didactic effect; that is, they teach. Lawrence McGarvie observed:

“American law tended to operate as if it had a life of its own, shaping society to conform to legal values by directing the actions of individuals. Recognizing law’s relative autonomy, scholars such as Michael Grossberg, Christopher Tomlins, and Mark Tushnet contend that law acted to infuse the new society—including the judges—with a system of rules and principles derived from liberal ideology. Many authors have noted the incremental pace of legal change. Law’s structural dependence on the Constitution, common-law precedent, and the procedural dictates of pleading recognizable legal arguments mitigated any societal tendencies toward rapid transformation. Instrumentalism, as a theory of understanding law, fails to fully appreciate its institutional inertia, the multiplicity of forces involved in its creation, and its hegemonic role as a relatively autonomous body of values, beliefs, and doctrine that provides the means of ‘discourse’ in a nation of law” (Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), p. 12).

aA nation under God will base its law upon biblical principles and such a civil government teaches its citizens the biblical principle that they have freedom of conscience (See Section III of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application), but that individuals should choose to conform their wills to the will of God. Everyone in such a nation may choose the one true God, god, gods, or no gods at all. If under God, a nation teaches and points to truth, including the ultimate truth that Jesus stated: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14.6). This is why it is important, for example, that government leaders, officials, and others pray in no other name than the name of Jesus. On the other hand, a nation which is not under God teaches the principles of Satan, the god of this world. A civil government not under God will allow or require official government prayers in the name of any god, no god at all, and perhaps also in the name of Jesus.

The Noahic Covenant was written to Gentile nations. Gentile nations were to always proceed15 under God’s original plan for civil government. Later, as will be shown, God called out a nation, Israel, for specific purposes applicable only to that one nation. Israel was to operate as a theocracy directly under God. Israel was to be the center of God’s dealings with nations. God’s treatment of every Gentile nation depended and depends upon that nation’s treatment of Israel.

Thus, the Bible teaches that God can prevent man from setting up civil government, and He can ordain civil government.  He is the Highest Power. At the same time, because God has given man free will, God does not force civil government to operate under Him and within the sphere of its God-given authority. Regardless, all other powers, including all other governments and civil government officials and leaders are under the Supreme Government and subject to His rules. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Ro. 12.1).

All that God showed man as recorded in the Old Testament failed to convince mankind, excluding a remnant, that God was who He claimed to be, that His rules and principles could not be changed, that judgment falls upon individuals and institutions which do not operate according to His principles. As Isaac Backus observed: “Yet all this [all that God had done in the Garden of Eden, the flood, the ordaining of civil government] did not remove the dreadful distemper from man’s nature, for the great Ruler of the universe directly after the flood gave this as one reason why he would not bring such another while the earth remains, namely, For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Backus, Isaac. “An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty,” Boston 1773, an essay found in Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, Pamphlets, 1754-1789, Edited by William G. McLoughlin. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968, p. 310, citing Ge. 4.19; 6.13, 15; 8.21).  “So that if he was to drown them as often as they deserved it, one deluge must follow another continually” (Ibid., pp. 310-311).

Having ordained civil government, God desires nations to know Him, to operate under Him according to His principles, and to glorify Him. This is clearly taught in the Word of God. That will be the subject of the next article.

Endnote

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction: The Biblical Teaching on and Doctrine of “Government”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 3, 2011


Click here to go to Self-exam Questions: Introduction to the Biblical Doctrine of Government”


Left click the following for links to all chapters (articles): The Biblical Doctrine of Government 


Preface to articles on the biblical principles of “government”

In God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application the author systematically examined the issue of separation of church and state (see En1 for links to preview God Betrayed online and links to sites where that and other books by Jerald Finney and others can be ordered). In Part One of God Betrayed, he analyzed the biblical principles of government (Section I), church (Section II), and separation of church and state (Section III). In Part Two he analyzed the history of religious freedom in America (Section IV), Supreme Court religion clause jurisprudence which has removed God from practically all civil government affairs (separated God and His principles from state or civil government) while still upholding the separation of church and state provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Section V), and union of church and state and how a church in America can both remain under God only (choose not to be become a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization or any other type of legal entity or religious organization) and also operate within the civil law, thus not only retaining her protection afforded by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as by state constitutions and laws but also, and more importantly, her New Testament church status as ordained by God (Section VI).

The author is now following the outline of God Betrayed in his present series of articles on this “Separation of Church and State” blog. He has already finished his series on the biblical principles of “church” (see column at left). The introduction below lays the foundation for and summarizes what will be published in future articles on the topic of the biblical doctrine of “government” in much more detail. The author plans to publish the complete study he did in God Betrayed on this website.

The purpose is to glorify God by publishing God’s truth concerning the issue of separation of church and state and applying that truth to reality.

Introduction to articles on the biblical principles of “government”

Nothing is more crucial to our concept of faith than a proper understanding of the nature of God. God is the Sovereign of the universe. He is not a glorified Santa Clause or a puppet controlled by our faith or whim as some “Christian” churches depict Him. Regardless of the willing subjection of some churches to civil government through incorporation, 26 United States Code § 501(c)(3), or in any other manner, God remains the Supreme Ruler, the Highest Power as recognized by churches in many nations whose members are imprisoned, tortured, and/or murdered for their faith and their refusal to submit to ungodly civil government and by churches in America who can and do choose to remain under God only while protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as by state constitutional provisions and laws. The government of God is supreme and over all other governments. He ordained and rules over all other governments (See, e.g., Ro. 13.1b,c). “Ordain” means “to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 818 (10th ed. 1995)).

God teaches in many ways, throughout the Bible, that He is the Supreme Ruler and His is the Higher and Highest Power. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the Jesus King of Kingsworld, and they that dwell therein…” (Ps. 24.1). John the Baptist understood the supreme rulership of God; speaking of Jesus Christ he said, “He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all” (Jn. 3.31).

 “As ‘possessor of heaven and earth,’ the most high God has and exercises [supreme] authority in both spheres: (a) The heavenly authority of El Elyon (e.g., Da. 4.35: [‘And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and 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?’]; Isa. 14.13-17 [Satan tried to usurp God’s throne, but God threw him out of heaven and he will be thrown into hell.]; Mt. 28.18 [‘And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.’]; (b) the earthly authority of El Elyon (e.g. De. 32.8 [‘When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.’]; Ps. 9.2-5 [‘I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to  thy name, O thou most  High….’]; 21.7 [‘For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.’]; 47.2-4 [‘For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth….’]; 56.2, 3 [‘Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.’]; 82.6, 8 [‘I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.’]; 83.6, 7, 16-18 [‘… That men may know that thou, whose name is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.’]; 91.9-12 [‘Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation….]; 2 Sa. 22.14, 15 [‘The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice….’]; Da. 5.18 [‘O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour[.]’)” [Bold emphasis mine.] (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Genesis 23.18, p. 23).

 “That God is supreme, the Highest Power, is revealed in the Old Testament through[, among other things,] His names. A study of God’s supremacy as revealed in His names is, of course, beyond the scope of this article, but one commentary gives a very good summary as follows:

         Class                                           English form                                       Hebrew equivalent
Primary                                                  God                                                     El, Elah, or Elohim (Gen. 1.1, note)
                                                                LORD                                                  Jehovah (Gen.2.4, note)
                                                                 Lord                                                   Adon or Adonai (Gen. 15.2, note)

Compound (with El= God)                 Almighty God                                    El Shaddai (Gen. 17.1 note)
                                                               Most High, or                                      El Elyon (Gen. 14.18, note)
                                                                most high God                                  
                                                                everlasting God                                  El Olam (Gen. 21.33, note)

Compound(with                                      LORD God                                        Jehovah Elohim (Gen. 2.7, note)
Jehovah = LORD)                                   Lord God                                          Adonai Jehovah (Gen. 15.2, note)
                                                                  LORD of hosts                                   Jehovah Sabaoth (1 Sam. 1.3, note)

God names of 2“This revelation of God by His names is invariably made in connection with some particular need of His people, and there can be no need of man to which these names do not answer as showing that man’s true resource is in God. Even human failure and sin but evoke new and fuller revelations of the divine fullness.
“The [Old Testament] reveal[s] the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe and of man, the Source of all life and intelligence who is to be worshipped and served by men and angels…” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Malachi 3.18, p. 983).

As the Supreme Ruler, He has decreed that men may choose to be guided by His principles or not. Just as man’s laws which, for example, place a speed limit on the highway or forbid people from driving while intoxicated do not and cannot keep people from violating those laws because people decide whether to obey them or not, God cannot force men to comply with His laws since He has given every government—self-government, family government, civil government, and church government—freedom of choice or free will. (See En2 for comments upon this most important matter of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man).  However, choices are met by either blessings or judgment. In the final analysis He will either reward or judge all governments according to the degree they abide by His will.

The first government established by God was self-government. Every person exercises self-government, and decides whether he or she will receive the only true and eternal hope which is provided by God, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior. En3. Since only some will do so, only those institutions which are composed of Christians—born again believers who also follow the principles of Christ—or which are dominated by Christians, have any hope of receiving the blessings of God.

After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and man knew “good and evil,” God established family government. Every person within a family, in exercising self-government, chooses whether to submit to God’s guidelines concerning family government.

The next type of government ordained by God was human government or civil government. God ordained civil government at the time of the great flood.  For the first time, He gave man the Noah the floodresponsibility of ruling the world for God. Relatively quickly after Cain killed Abel, all mankind except Noah and his family, guided only by conscience (knowledge of good and evil or an awareness of right and wrong) had become totally corrupted. Civil government provided further control over the evil nature of man.

Some time after ordaining civil government, He called out Abraham to be the father of Israel. Israel was established as a theocracy. All other nations were non-theocratic and were and are called “Gentile.” God established Israel to be directly under Him for specific purposes. Israel was to be the only theocracy that God has ever ordained. The Gentile nations can only look to Israel to see that God is who He claims to be, but God still desires every nation to choose to honor Him and His principles.

The Word of God teaches us that no civil government, Jew or Gentile, since it is made up of sinful men, will, before the return of Christ, ever follow the principles of God for any significant period of time. That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is apparent.  Therefore, every civil government that has ever existed or which willJesus christcomingwithhisarmyofsaints ever come about prior to the return of the Lord will be judged by God. God used a Gentile nation to take Israel into captivity, and He has already judged and is judging many Gentile nations. The Lord will return and crush the Gentile world-powers existing at the time of His return which, led by the beast and false prophet, will come and besiege Israel (Re. 19.19). The nation Israel will then be restored to the land which God gave them according to his covenant with them (Many verses in the Bible verify this. Here are a few: Is. 11.11-16; 14.1-8; 27.12-13; 43; 45.17; 48; 49.8-21; 51; 52; 54; 61.3-62; 65.17-66.24; Je. 16.14-16; 23.3-8; 24.6; 30.8-11, 16-24; 31; 32.37-44; 46.27; 50.19-20; Ez. 11.17-21; 16.60-63; 28.25-26; 34.11-31; 36; 37.21-25; 37; 39.25-29; Ho. 2.14-23; Joel 3; Am. 9.13-15; Mi. 4.6-8; Zep. 3.4-20; Zec. 10; Ac. 1.6-7; Ro. 11.25-27). God will do this for His “holy name’s sake, which [Israel had] profaned among the heathen…” (Ez. 36.22-23, 32).  Then Satan will be cast “into the bottomless pit, that he might deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled” (Re. 20.1-3), the nations shall be judged (Mt. 25.32-46), and God’s kingdom will be set up (Da. 2. 34-36, 44).

Thus, a believer can understand that the word “government” does not apply only to “civil government.” It is tragic that America has been so successful in indoctrinating its citizens to believe that the only government is civil government. This is against the desires of God who wishes all people to know that He is the Supreme Ruler, that His is the supreme government and that He has ordained various types of government each with its own God-given purposes and limitations.

Today’s America has redefined “government.” Most Americans now believe that all direction and control should come from civil government. For example, many now blame civil government when their child rebels, fails to get an education, becomes an alcoholic or drug addict, etc. The modern Webster’s Dictionary defines “government” entirely differently than did the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary which to a large degree still honored biblical teaching:

“government … n…. 1 : the act or process of governing; specific authoritative direction or control 2 obs : moral conduct or behavior : DISCRETION 3 a : the office, authority, or function of governing  b obs the term during which a governing official holds office  4 : the continuous exercise of authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit RULE 5 a : the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usu. classified according to the distribution of power within it b : the complex of political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried out  6 : the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization: as a  the officials comprising the governing body of a political unit and constituting the organization as an active agency b cap : the executive branch of the U.S. federal government c cap : a small group of persons holding simultaneously the principal political executive offices of a nation or other political unit and being responsible for the direction and supervision of public affairs:  (1) such a group in a parliamentary system constituted by the cabinet or by the ministry” (MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 504 (10th ed. 1995)).

The modern definition quoted above suggests civil government in every definition and the one definition which does not, “moral conduct or behavior,” is noted as being “obsolete.”

In the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, definitions of “government” went beyond civil government:

“GOVERNMENT, n. Direction; regulation. These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.
“2. Control; restraint. Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.
“3. 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 established constitution, laws and usages, or by arbitrary edicts. . . .
“4. The exercise of authority by a parent or householder. Children are often ruined by a neglect of government in parents. “Let family government be like that of our heavenly Father, mild, gentle and affectionate. Kollock.
“5. The system of polity in a state; that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social actions; a constitution, either written or unwritten, by which the rights and duties of citizens and public officers are prescribed and defined; as a monarchial government, or a republican government….
“6. An empire, kingdom or state; any territory over which the right of sovereignty is extended.
“7. The right of governing or administering the laws….
“8. The person or persons which administer the laws of a kingdom or state; executive power.
“9. Manageableness; compliance; obsequiousness…. Shak.” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)).

The older definition recognized the biblical teaching that God did not intend civil government to be an all-seeing, all-defining, all-controlling, all-directing eye; and that God Himself, as the Supreme Authority, has given churches, individuals, parents, and authorities, in addition to civil government, rules and boundaries by which to govern themselves and others without the control of the civil government, except for violations of certain moral laws. God was able to do this because His is the Supreme Government, over all other governments. He is “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Re. 19.16).

Those who believe in the supremacy of civil government have not thought out the consequences of their belief. For example, as John Eidsmoe points out:Humanism

“[the humanist] would deny that government derives its authority from God. But in doing this, he also denies the source of government’s limitations and the source of human rights. If government does not depend upon God and his law for its authority, it is not bound to respect the limits God has placed on its authority, and it becomes a monster unleashed to do whatever it pleases. Under this concept there can be no such thing as an unjust law, for there is no higher standard by which man’s law can be judged. If government has said they are just; government becomes the arbiter of right and wrong as well as of legality.
“That is why humanists, when they try to destroy the biblical foundations of government (in the name of liberty yet!), end up creating a tyranny far worse than even they ever imagined. The very word tyranny, in its early Greek root tyrannos, means ‘one who rules without the sanction of religious law.’
“[A statement of William Penn] summarized it well…, ‘Men must choose to be governed by God or condemn themselves to be governed by tyrants.’” (John Eidsmoe, God and Caesar: Biblical Faith and Political Action (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stack Publishers, 1997) p. 35).

The reader should keep in mind all governments: first, God’s Supreme Government, then the other governments which God has ordained—self-government, family government, civil government, and church government. Biblical principles of governments other than church government are dealt with in a series of articles already published on this site (see categories at left); and biblical principles of individual, family, and civil government are dealt with in this series. God laid down the boundaries of the authority of each type of government and the principles by which every government should conduct its affairs. He will hold every government responsible for the choices it makes. The reader should also keep in mind that the God-given goal for all governments is the glory of God, not the happiness of man. Joy is a side effect of “loving the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”

Endnotes

En1. God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from amazon.com at the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

En 2. In the colonial period, Isaac Backus recorded that “How to reconcile divine sovereignty with human liberty, and efficacious grace with the use of means for conversion were also questions that they had long and tedious debates upon.”  See Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, p. 239.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee has stated on his “Thru the Bible” radio program that no matter what one argues, it cannot be denied that both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are in Scripture. God in His sovereignty has allowed man choices because without choices love is impossible. That is, love requires choices. God wants our love. One can force a man to marry a woman with a shotgun, but that man does not love the woman if he has to be forced to marry her.

God foreknows everything that will happen, but foreknowledge does not mean control.

Pastor Joey Faust commented upon the paradox of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man: “God is able to ‘control men’ (Prov. 21.1); yet He is so powerful and sovereign that He alone can control men without infringing on man’s free will! We do not understand with our limited minds (Rom. 11.33-36) how God can control, and yet do so without interrupting man’s responsibility. Therefore, I believe in absolute free will that will be punished or rewarded. But I also believe that God is somehow able to work through man’s free will in His perfect plan. We see this in the Jews who crucified the Lord. Peter says they were wicked to do so (wickedness requires free will); yet it was also ordained by God. We see this also in Samson who rebelled against his parents, but it was said to be of the Lord. There are many other examples.

Pastor Faust teaches: “The Calvinist Postmillennialists will seize on [the] statement that ‘God cannot force men to comply with His ordinances since He has given every government—self-government, family government, civil government, and church government—freedom of choice,’ and imply that God has left all nations, and thus the whole world, under the whims of their free will. They will point out that God sets limits and boundaries. I am no Calvinist; but I do believe in a paradox beyond our comprehension. Most Calvinists advocate sovereignty and make free-will a dirty word. Some who deny Calvinism go to another extreme. For example, the Jewish radio host, Dennis Prager, argues that if some tragedy takes place, it is because God was too weak to stop it. He says this is the only way to make God good. Calvinists decry this view of Divine weakness (and rightly so). The biblical balance is beyond our comprehension.”

En3. Jesus said, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6.40.

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The History of the Religious Freedom in America”

One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

As this study progresses, the Christian who has listened closely to the previous broadcasts will begin to understand the importance of all the prior broadcasts to the issue of separation of church and state and the history of the First Amendment. The historical facts presented in this section should be taught in every American History class. Only when one knows history (plus biblical theology and law) can he understand where he came from, where he is, and where he is going. Only when one knows the facts presented in these studies and included in books by Jerald Finney in more detail, can he understand how we got our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This begins the study of the American application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Since the beginning of the church, Christians believed and practiced separation of church and state. They paid dearly for this practice. In the fourth century certain religious leaders were seduced by Constantine to join hands with the state. Over a thousand years of the worst persecutions imaginable followed as religion worked hand in hand with the state to enforce all ten of the commandments. Anyone who did not bow down to the theology of the state church was imprisoned, horriby tortured, burned alive, drowned, buried alive, beheaded, etc. as the state religion tried to stamp out all forms of what they called “heresy.” The Protestant churches followed the theology of their mother in this matter and continued the persecution. However, forces and circumstances were such in the American colonies that the final result was the first nation, the second civil government behind the colony of Rhode Island, to have religious liberty.

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment and The Light Begins to Shine (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The light begins to shine (August 30, 1009 and August 1, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (1) (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (2) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (3) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (4) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (5) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (1) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (2) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (3) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (4) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (5) , the Separates and Baptists in New England (1) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (2) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

From New England to the South (October  4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (1) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (2) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (3) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (4) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (5) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To the new nation and conclusion (October 18, 2009, September 19, 2010, 1st 15 min. Segment):

END

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The Biblical Principles of Separation of Church and State”

This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principle of separation of church and state. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the biblical principle of separation of church and state (June 27, 2010, 40th Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the biblical principle of separation of church and state (June 27, 2010, 40th Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Defintions and dispensational versus covenant theology (1) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (2) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (3) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (4) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (1) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (2) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (3) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (1) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (2) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (3) (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (4) (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

END