Our mission through this website is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Law is Love, by exploring and teaching God's Word, by encouraging the saints to continue in the faith, by calling on sinners to submit to the rule of Christ, and by engaging in spiritual warfare for the sake of the burdened and broken-hearted, thus fulfilling the law of Christ through prayer, biblical counsel, and practical advice for navigating through the battlefield of life.
I have studied God’s revelation of himself through the Word and through Creation, and I will continue to do so, realizing that no person, church, or denomination should claim to have reached the end of the journey when it comes to learning and understanding God’s truths. While we must take care not to be “blown around by every wind of doctrine”, we must also constantly test the teachings we have heard for biblical accuracy. Traditional and denominational interpretations should not be considered infallible. Christian people throughout Church history have grappled with various theological concepts, and as a result some have moved beyond the erroneous doctrines of certain religious establishments to a fuller and deeper understanding of who God is and what kind of God he is. Sometimes the interpretations of the Lord’s followers change as they step more fully into the light of God’s Word as they obey the exhortation to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Word instructs us to “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding" (Proverbs 23:23), yet it is not perfect theology that saves us, it is “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:16). Those who submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and walk in obedience to him (Romans 10:9-10) are children of God, even if they differ in some of their biblical interpretations.
The following describes my doctrinal affirmations:
God The Father (Yahweh)
God, Father, and LORD are his titles - YHWH is his name. God is a Spirit (John 4:24), is perfectly holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), loving (1 John 4:16), and good (Psalm 34:8), and is unchangeable in his nature and character (James 1:17). He has revealed himself in nature, as well as in the scriptures, so that we may know him (Romans 1:19-20; Deuteronomy 6:4,
1 Corinthians 8:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshua)
Lord and Christ are his titles - Yeshua (Hebrew), Jesus (Greek) is his name. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Though a distinct Person from God (Ephesians 1:2,3,17; 2 Corinthians 1:3; John 3:16), he too possesses the attributes of deity and Godhood is rightly ascribed to him (John 1:1). In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9). He has existed eternally and he entered our humanity by being born to the Virgin Mary (Isaiah 9:6). He lived a sinless life (1 Peter 1:21-22), died as a sin-offering on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) as the Savior of mankind (1 Timothy 4:10), was buried, and was resurrected three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Matthew 28). He appeared to his disciples and ascended to heaven. He will return to the earth to rule and reign (Acts 1:1-11). All who submit to him as Lord are given the gift of eternal life (Romans 10:9-10).
I affirm the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit because the Bible teaches that the Spirit is the Spirit of God, God’s Spirit, that is, his personal, divine presence. It is correct to speak of the Spirit as “he” (John 14:17) or “it” (Romans 8:16) for both are true. God is a Spirit (he), and God possesses and confers his Spirit (it). The same can be said of Christ. Paul speaking of Christ wrote: “The Lord is that Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17), and he wrote that the “last Adam became a quickening Spirit (life-giving Spirit)” (1 Corinthians 15:45). We also read of the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). Thus, the resurrected Christ is a man who is a Spirit (he) and he confers his Spirit (it). Since there is one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), and since the Spirit of God is equivalent with the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), it seems appropriate to say the Father and the Son share the same Spirit. Accordingly, I do not affirm that the Spirit is a third, separate “person.”
One God and Father
1 Corinthians 8:6: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
Ephesians 4:4-6: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
In 1 John 1:3, John wrote that Christian fellowship (or communion) is with the Father and the Son. In 2 Corinthians 13:14, we see that communion is of the Holy Spirit (not with), the one Spirit that unites the Father, the Son, and all Christians. Just so, in Matthew 28:19, we see these same three subjects - the Father, the Son, and the Spirit that binds together the family of God. This could be a reference to the Spirit shared by the Father and the Son, or it could be the designation for the form in which the Lord Jesus, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17), would come to his disciples (John 14:18), or a designation for the Father who is our Comforter in all things (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Matthew 28:19 refers to the “name” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, singular, rather than in the “names”, however, this does not necessarily mean that the one God is a triune, or multi-personal being. As Christ and the apostles taught us, the Father is the only true God (John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6)), God is not a trinity. Yahweh is the "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:6), and who is the “head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Christ stated: “I am come in my Father’s name” (John 5:43). As such, the Lord Jesus said: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). Christ bears the name of his Father, the God who is above all. As Yahweh’s supreme Agent, the divine Son has come and he speaks with the same authority and operates under the same name (see Micah 5:4; John 5:43). Salvation comes to those who submit to the Lordship of the Son. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). God, through his Spirit, his influential presence, seeks to persuade us to turn from our sin filled, self-ruled lives and to submit to Christ as our Lord and King. We are baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Son has come from the Father (John 16:28), the Spirit is sent by the Father (Galatians 4:6), therefore, the Father and the Son, and the Spirit they share, all operate in the name of the Father - Yahweh - the one who is above all.
I, with Christ, affirm the supremacy of the Father (John 14:28; John 5:26; John 20:17, etc.) and the Son’s full divinity under the headship of his Father. I do not affirm that the Spirit is a third distinct person, though I deny that the Spirit is a mere impersonal force. I believe when the Bible refers to the Spirit, it is referring to God himself, who is Spirit, or to God’s Spirit, as in the Spirit within him that corresponds to the spirit of man within man, and in some instances to Christ himself, or to the Spirit the Son shares with the Father.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God (Genesis 1:1; Job 27:3; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 3:16; Acts 2:17; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10, etc.) and of Christ (Romans 8:9-10; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11). The Spirit reproves (John 16:8), regenerates (John 3:8), seals (Ephesians 4:30), indwells (Romans 8:9), leads (Romans 8:14), and instructs (Acts 8:29).
I believe in the inspiration of the First Testament and New Testament Scriptures as originally given by God. The Bible is God’s revelation to us, and it is my authority for belief and practice.
God created mankind in a state of innocence. Being tempted by Satan, man yielded and willfully disobeyed God, becoming a sinner and incurring God’s judgment. By means of Adam’s disobedience, sin and death entered the world. The Bible teaches that Adam’s actions have impacted his descendants - “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19a). The Bible does not explain how Adam’s disobedience resulted in many being made sinners, it merely states the fact. Some believe that because of Adam’s sin, all of his descendants inherit a sinful nature at their birth and they cannot help but sin. However, to be consistent, if the first part of the passage means that the sin of Adam resulted in all becoming sinners involuntarily, then the second part of the passage would mean that the obedience of Christ results in all becoming righteous involuntarily, for it states: “so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b). The idea of universal righteousness and salvation for all is not supported by the scriptures.
The Bible teaches us that we become sinners when we sin, not that we sin because we are born sinners. James 1:14-15 states: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” We are born with fleshly appetites, thus we can be tempted, but temptation is not sin. We can fulfill these appetites in accordance with the moral law, or we can be tempted to fulfill them unlawfully. When we are tempted and the will is overcome by the impulses of the flesh, we sin. We are not guilty of the sin of Adam, nor are we deemed guilty apart from the personal choice to sin. I agree with the words of Albert Barnes (1798 – 1870) who wrote: “I add, that one principal reason why so much difficulty has been felt here, has been an unwillingness to stop where the apostle does. Men have desired to advance farther, and penetrate the mysteries which the Spirit of inspiration has not disclosed. Where Paul states a simple fact, men often advance a theory. The fact may be clear and plain; their theory is obscure, involved, mysterious, or absurd. By degrees they learn to unite the fact and the theory:–they regard their explanation as the only possible one; and as the fact in question has the authority of divine revelation, so they insensibly come to regard their theory in the same light; and he that calls in question their speculation about the cause, or the mode, is set down as heretical, and as denying the doctrine of the apostle. A melancholy instance of this we have in the account which the apostle gives (ch. v.) about the effect of the sin of Adam. The simple fact is stated that that sin was followed by the sin and ruin of all his posterity. Yet he offers no explanation of the fact. He leaves it as indubitable; and as not demanding an explanation in his argument–perhaps as not admitting it. This is the whole of his doctrine on that subject. Yet men have not been satisfied with that. They have sought for a theory to account for it. And many suppose they have found it in the doctrine that the sin of Adam is imputed, or set over by an arbitrary arrangement to beings otherwise innocent, and that they are held to be responsible for a deed committed by a man thousands of years before they were born. This is the theory; and men insensibly forget that it is mere theory, and they blend that and the fact which the apostle states together; and deem the denial of the one, heresy as much as the denial of the other, i.e. they make it as impious to call in question their philosophy, as to doubt the facts stated on the authority of the apostle Paul. If men desire to understand the epistles of Paul, and avoid difficulties, they should be willing to leave it where he does; and this single rule would have made useless whole years and whole tomes of controversy.”
Also from Barnes: “Christianity affirms the fact, that in connection with the sin of Adam, or as a result, all moral agents in this world will sin—and sinning, will die. Rom. v. 12—19. It does not affirm, however, anything about the mode in which this would be done. There are many ways conceivable in which that sin might secure the result, as there are many ways in which similar facts may be explained. The drunkard commonly secures, as a result, the fact that his family will be beggared, illiterate, profane and intemperate. Both facts are evidently to be explained on the same principle as a part of moral government. The Bible does not, it is believed, affirm that there is any principle of moral government in the one case, that is not in the other. Neither the facts, nor any proper inferences from the facts, affirm that I am, in either case, personally responsible for what another man did before I had an existence.”
I also agree with the words of Charles Finney (1792 – 1875): “His sin in many ways exposes his posterity to aggravated temptation. Not only the physical constitution of all men, but all the influences under which they first form their moral character, are widely different from what they would have been, if sin had never been introduced.”
Following this line of thought, it appears we can say that Adam’s disobedience is the occasion for the increased immoral influences of a world in which sin was introduced, and the occasion for the subsequent constitutional degeneration of his descendants (the result of being barred from the health-and life-giving Tree of Life) and corresponding increase in susceptibility to temptation, thus by his “disobedience many were made sinners”, and the truth is upheld that people are condemned for their own sins and not the sin of another. In like manner, Christ’s obedience (his loving sacrifice) is the occasion “for many being made righteous.” Not that all are rendered righteous by birth or involuntarily, but because of his sacrifice, people can be released from the penalty and power of sin by choosing to follow him in righteousness. The Old Testament scriptures reveal to us that on several occasions, certain kings “made Israel to sin.” For example, the Bible says in 1 Kings 14:16 - “And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.” A king or kings “made Israel to sin” because of their wicked influence. This does not imply that the Israelites were not responsible themselves for becoming sinners, only that they were influenced by their surroundings and the actions of another.
The answer to the sinfulness of mankind is not that we are born with a sinful nature. Though in the flesh we are vulnerable to temptation, and we all at one point have chosen sinful self-gratification over obedience to God, the flesh itself is not sinful, or Christ himself would have been born sinful, for the “Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). However, it is sinful to walk in the flesh, or to be controlled by the flesh (Romans 8:5-8). Walking in the flesh, or being ruled by the flesh, describes a sinful state of a person whose ultimate purpose is choosing sinful self-gratification over obedience to God. Christ, though tempted in all points as we are in the flesh, did not sin, proving to us that sin is a moral transgression and that sin is in the will, not in the physical substance of man. The commission and practice of sin is the cause of moral depravity, resulting in people becoming “by nature (in essence) the children of wrath.” The Bible teaches that each person is condemned for his own sin, not the sin of Adam: “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Hebrews 5:12).
Death has passed from Adam to his descendants due to Adam’s sin, but the first death is not the judgment for our personal sins. All will be resurrected - some to eternal life, and some to be judged and condemned to eternal death. The judgment of eternal death (the second death) has passed upon all men for their own sins. Sinners make themselves objects of God’s wrath; we are not born as objects of his wrath. When a person chooses to disobey the moral law of God, he becomes, or is made, sinful due to his own free will. When a person, through the influence of the Spirit of God, chooses to repent and follow Christ in obedience, he becomes, or is made, righteous of his own volition.
In order to prove their belief that people are born with a “sinful nature”, some will reference Psalms 51:5, in which David stated: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” As already shown, sin is a moral transgression (1 John 3:4), not something physical that can be inherited. In fact, the Bible says this: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The word “they” shows this verse is not limited to the original creation of Adam. This verse does not mean that men are born righteous, for people are born neither righteous nor sinful. It means that people are born innocent, but they go astray, choosing sin over obedience to God. There are none that do good apart from following God, but this is because of their selfish choices, not because they were born of a substance that made them sin.
In a Psalm in which David was grieving over his sin, he offered several poetic expressions to convey his brokenness and contrition. David said: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (Psalms 51:7a). David knew that hyssop could not literally cleanse him from sin. David also asked God to “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalms 51:7b), once again using figurative language to address how his sin had stained his soul and how he wanted to be cleansed. David made mention of “the bones which thou hast broken” (Psalms 51:8b), yet God had not literally broken David’s bones. Elsewhere in the Psalms, this is written: “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies (Psalm 58:3). Newborns do not speak at all, so this is another example of the use of poetic expression to convey the idea that people go astray at a young age. This matters greatly, for it puts the responsibility for sin on the selfish choices of mankind, not the nature that we are created with. It appears that the weight of sin was bearing on David’s mind, and it reminded David that he was conceived and born into a world of evil, an environment characterized by sin, and David was relating this to his own transgression.
People should not be defined by their temptations, but by their actions. Temptation is not sin, but yielding to temptation is sin. Adam was not created with a sinful nature, yet he sinned and thereby corrupted his nature, showing to be false the theory that being born, or created, with a sinful nature must be the explanation for why we all sin. We cannot use the nature we were born with as an excuse for sin. Because of our God-given nature we can obey or disobey God, and for selfish reasons, we choose to disobey him and we too corrupt our nature. Sinning goes against our God-given constitutional design, and that is why sinners will be held accountable for their sins. God designed our nature to be in favor of righteousness, by writing his law upon our hearts (Romans 2:14-15), yet we go against our God-given nature and choose to walk in the flesh. To claim that sin is unavoidable because of the nature we are born with is to blame our Creator, rather than ourselves.
The Lord Jesus Christ has made provision for the salvation of mankind by his voluntary death on the cross for our sins. A person receives forgiveness for his sins and acceptance with God when he admits to God that he is a sinner, and when in godly sorrow he turns from his sin-filled and self-ruled life to follow Jesus Christ as Lord (Luke 18:22; Romans 10:9-10; Hebrews 5:9; Romans 6:16). Christ’s death makes salvation possible for all, but his death makes salvation automatic for no one. A person must repent and be converted (Acts 3:19). To be converted is to be born again. The new birth is not the imparting of new abilities or enabling capacities, as if we are not naturally able to respond to or obey God. We are not held responsible for what we cannot do, but for what we can do, and should do, but are choosing not to. Sinners are not unable to follow the Lord, they are unwilling. Regeneration is of the Lord because without the Holy Spirit influencing man to turn from the path of sin to the path of holiness (Hebrews 12:14), we would remain lost. God does not save people by force, therefore regeneration is also the responsibility of the sinner. We are saved by grace (God’s influence on the heart and his kind favor when we yield to him) through faith (submission to Christ). This is why the Word of God commands: “Make you a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 18:31), and why the salvation call is to deny self and to follow Christ (Mark 10:17,21). This means “being dead in trespasses and sins” is not an inability to follow Christ, it is being relationally and proleptically dead, for the sinner is separated from God and is under the sentence of eternal death. To be born again is to repent, to turn to the Lord, to submit to his rule, to choose obedience to him over self-rule and self-gratification. Therefore, regeneration is not a change in the abilities of a person, but the beginning of a person rightly using the abilities God created him with.
All followers of Christ have the promise of eternal life, on the condition that they persevere in holiness to the end of this life (Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 12:9-15), but they can fall away from the Lord, either through passive indifference or deliberate apostasy, and perish. Those who have submitted to the Lord and followed him may later fall (Ezek. 18:24; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19). Those grafted into the good olive tree may later be broken off through willful unbelief (Rom. 11:16-22). Branches that “abide not” are cast forth and burned (John 15:6). Those who have known Christ can again become entangled in the world (2 Peter 2:20). Those who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have produced the fruit of the Spirit may fall from God’s favor back into former pollutions (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:29; Galatians 5:4). We are instructed to take care that we do not lose what we have (2 John 8), and to hold fast so that no one seizes our crown (Rev. 3:11). There is reason to believe that the Christian will persevere unto the end because of God’s influence in his life, including the loving chastening of God toward his children if they err. I believe that a Christian that gives in to temptation and becomes a backslider through disobedience, will receive God’s loving correction and repentance will result in forgiveness. Should the believer fail to repent, I believe God will increase his chastening on his erring child for the purpose of saving his soul from eternal death (Hebrews 12:9). God is longsuffering and eager to forgive, and he promises not to forsake his followers, therefore I do not believe that committing a sin results in the immediate forfeiture of salvation as some teach, but I do believe that a Christian that sins put his soul in danger, for if the sin is not forsaken, if he resists and hardens his heart toward God’s correction, he can become an apostate. Backsliding can be remedied, by repentance, but it can lead to committed apostasy, from which there is no road to recovery (Hebrews 6:4-6). God is ever merciful, but the person referred to here is the man that has decidedly set his heart against Christ and has been turned over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28-32). This person cares nothing for following Christ, has forsaken Christ, and has been severed from Christ by God (John 15:6, Romans 11:22). I believe in the eternal security of the follower of Christ, but not the unbeliever, whether he was once a believer or not. A person that follows Christ will never perish, but the person who does not abide in Christ will forfeit his inheritance. Since man continues to have free choice, it is possible for him to fall into the practice of sin and to make shipwreck of his faith and be lost. I also believe there are many people who profess to be Christians that have never been converted to begin with.
Prophecy, Foreknowledge, and Future Events
All people have either a settled view or an open view of the future in theory, but almost all professing Christians live as if the future is at least partly open. When it comes to God’s purposes, plans, and prophecies, there are those who believe that God has predetermined everything that happens. There are others who believe that God does not predetermine everything that happens, because that would make him responsible for the sins people commit and all the suffering in the world. Instead, they teach that in eternity past God looked down the corridor of time and foresaw all the sins people would commit, all the suffering in the world, as well as who would reject him and who would submit to him, and that knowledge became fixed in his mind. So, either God causes all things that happen, or God foreknew what would happen in every instance, therefore each event of every moment must occur as he caused it or foresaw it in eternity past. But many passages in the Bible prove to us that God does not see everything in our lives as foregone conclusions (Jeremiah 26:3; Exodus 13:17; Jeremiah 36:3; John 5:14; many others). God speaks in terms of “if you do this then X will happen, but if you do not then Y will happen.” He states that some things “may” or “may not” occur. This does not sound like a God who sees the future as settled because of his own inflexible decrees or an exhaustive definite foreknowledge, and in fact, the forthrightness of the scriptures becomes questionable if either of those views are correct.
For example, when God told Hezekiah that he was about to die, God was telling him the truth (2 Kings 20:1-6). Since God was telling Hezekiah the truth, God truly added 15 years to his life as the Bible says. According to the beliefs of some people, God knew all along that Hezekiah would live another 15 years, but this would mean that God was telling Hezekiah a falsehood by telling him he was about to die. It would also mean that the Bible falsely states that God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life. The Bible clearly tells us that God extended the life of Hezekiah 15 years. This means a change in circumstances occurred, and that neither Hezekiah’s imminent death, nor the extension of his life were fixed events in the mind of God ahead of time. This is a perfect example of God changing his mind and changing the circumstances in the life of one of his creatures. God never changes in character (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), but the Bible shows that he has often changed his mind about a course of action due to human responses. Though he specifically states that there are things he will not change his mind about (Numbers 23:19), this does not mean he never changes his mind, and the biblical references that show he will change his mind are numerous (Jonah 3:10; Genesis 6:7; Jeremiah 26:19; Numbers 14).
The only way the biblical passage referring to Hezekiah can be genuine in all aspects is if God moves along with his creation in time (he is from everlasting to everlasting in duration; not timeless [outside of time], thus he experiences reality as we do), he was sincere in his proclamation that Hezekiah was about to die (that was reality as God knew it at the time, making him sincere in his claim), that God is powerful and resourceful and can change the circumstances for any of his creatures at his choosing (showing he is almighty, that the future is not a foregone conclusion in God's knowledge or by fixed decrees), and that he can make plans and change his plans when it is morally safe for him to do so.
According to the Bible, the future is settled in some regards, and it has elements of contingency. God can know all there is to know. He can know all that is in existence, but there are parts of the future (such as decisions of free will creatures) that do not exist to be known. Certainly, there are some aspects of the future that are settled, and foreknown by God, in the sense that he has determined some things will come to pass - The Lord Jesus will come again, the Lord’s enemies will be destroyed, etc., (It is also true that the saints of the past, from a present perspective, were foreknown by God, as in formerly known [Romans 8:29-30]. Also, the same meaning is used in the context of the foreknowledge of human beings [2 Peter 3:17; Acts 26:5], showing it is not referring to an exhaustive definite foreknowledge of future events that do not exist to be known.) - but this has to do with God’s power and ability to accomplish his purposes, not a foreknowledge of something that has not been decided and is not a certainty. For example, who will or will not be saved is not predetermined, it is not settled (because Christ has not yet returned and the day of salvation is still ongoing), therefore it does not exist to be known. This coincides with the doctrine of corporate election. The doctrine of corporate election teaches that God’s election concerns a body – the Church – not that he elected certain individuals to be in the body and chose not to save the rest of mankind, or that God simply foreknew all of the individuals that would comprise the body. God calls all to repentance. This call would be disingenuous if God knew in eternity past that many or most would not submit to him.
Christ is God’s elect individual. We partake in God’s election, and thus become one of the elect, by being followers of Christ (1 Peter 1:2). We enter the body and continue in the body through faith (2 Peter 1:10), and we can be severed from the body through unbelief (Romans 11:20-36). The eternal destiny of individuals is not a settled matter, thus, our prayers and actions can really make a difference in the lives of others.
This issue is not about the knowledge of God, for all Christians believe God can know everything. The issue is about the nature of reality and what is involved in “everything.” Since the future does not exist, then the future free will choices of human beings do not exist and cannot be objects of knowledge until these choices are made. This is why God told Abraham: “…now I know (emphasis mine) that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12), and why God brought the animals to Adam “to see (emphasis mine) what he would call them” (Genesis 2:19), and why the Bible says numerous times that God tested people to see what course of action they would take (Exodus 15:25-26, Exodus 16:4, Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 13:3, Psalm 14:2, Jeremiah 17:10). We also see in the Bible that even though God can be anywhere he chooses, he can choose not to be in certain places, and though he can know all that is in existence, he can choose not to know the specifics of evil actions. “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know” (Genesis 18:20-21).
God can plan and ensure that certain things will happen, and he can in his infinite intelligence even make accurate predictions based on current human conduct (we often do the same even with our limited intelligence), and this explains prophecy, foreknowledge, and future events. The Bible shows us that the future choices of individuals are not settled and that God is not bound by fate or inflexible decrees, nor is he locked into inevitable certainties by an exhaustive definite foreknowledge. God is free, and so are his human creatures. We can make a difference in the world around us.
I believe that a church is a group of Christians that have united for the purpose of fellowship, edification, and evangelization, with overseers (pastors, bishops, elders) shepherding the flock (1 Timothy 5:17; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1). Churches should be patterned after the principles of the New Testament scriptures. I believe in the autonomy of the church, free of any ecclesiastical or State control. The church is an important element in our lives, for God has ordained that we exercise our spiritual gifts in cooperation with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). Under pastoral oversight, the local church should strive to be doctrinally sound, and should be characterized by orderly participation without suppressing personal liberty and open dialogue.
The Gifts of the Spirit
I believe that God bestows spiritual gifts to believers. God uses evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip believers so they can do the work of the ministry by using their spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10). I believe that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gift of healing were temporary and ceased once God’s written revelation was complete (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Ordinances of the Church
I believe that baptism (Matthew 28:19) and the observance of the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19-20) are essential ordinances in the ministry of the church. Some churches practice foot washing as an ordinance of the church, which is an appropriate practice (John 13:13-15). These ordinances are symbolic expressions of and reminders of the gospel, and they serve to strengthen our faith.
Women in Ministry
I believe that men and women are equally valuable before God and that God has ordained distinct and separate functions for men and women in the home and the church. The husband is to be the overseer of the home and men are to be the overseers (pastors, bishops, and elders) of the church, as well as deacons of the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible for ordination. Women are forbidden from preaching to and teaching men in the assembly (1 Tim. 2:11-12).
Marriage and Family
God created marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society (Matthew 19:4-5, 1 Corinthians 7:2). For this reason, I believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and that no sexual relations of any kind are acceptable outside of this union. I believe that the union of one man and one woman, more than any relationship on earth, mirrors the relationship that we are to have with our Lord. I believe that the scriptures clearly teach that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s creation and design (Leviticus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7). I believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance (Deuteronomy 22:5).
The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25) and he is to be her provider and protector (1 Timothy 5:8). God commands him to keep himself pure in body (1 Corinthians 6:18), to set no wicked thing before his eyes (Psalm 101:3), and to bring his thoughts into subjection to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The wife is to submit herself to the headship of her husband as the church submits to the headship of Christ (Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5). God commands her to be a keeper at home (Titus 2:5), modest in appearance (1 Timothy 2:9-10), and meek in spirit (1 Peter 3:1-5).
Children are “an heritage from the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). They are to honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Fathers and mothers are responsible for teaching their children Christian values and leading them through example and appropriate discipline (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 1:8).
In instances where a breakdown in the family has occurred, perhaps due to the neglect or departure of the husband/father or wife/mother, rendering the ideal home situation impossible, the single parent should be encouraged, loved, and respected as he/she attempts to do the best he/she can in these challenging circumstances.
Divorce and Remarriage
I believe that God hates divorce and intends marriage to last until the husband or wife dies (1 Corinthians 7:39). If divorce occurs and the marriage is ended, remarriage is not necessarily allowed by the Word of God. Remarriage after divorce is adultery, except on the grounds of fornication (Matthew 19:9) or abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:12-15), but even then, repentance and reconciliation, if possible, is the preferred outcome. In the case where a person realizes he or she has committed adultery by divorcing and remarrying, repentance results in forgiveness, and the individual should continue in the current marriage and live for Christ.
There are no scriptures supporting birth control, however there are no verses that say it is a sin to use natural (or non-abortive) methods to space one’s children or because of health and safety concerns. Motivation and methods matter. Birth control chemicals and devices are immoral because 1) they prevent birth, not conception, which means human life is being destroyed in the womb, and because 2) God’s sovereignty over the womb is being disregarded. Many in the Church have adopted the world’s values in many areas. Birth control chemicals and devices became more readily accepted so women could abandon their scriptural duty of being keepers at home (1 Timothy 5:14).
I believe that human life begins at conception. Once the new human life attaches to the uterus, in about a week after conception, its physical form begins to develop. But even before this physical development begins, from the moment fertilization takes place, the child’s genetic makeup - gender, eye and skin color, etc. - is already complete. Abortion is the purposeful ending of a life and it is murder (Exodus 20:13).
Sometimes in our suffering creation, after fertilization, a child does not travel the normal course to the uterus. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy (for example - when the child attaches to the fallopian tube - also known as a tubal pregnancy, which is potentially fatal to the child and the mother). Several courses of action are available, some of which are morally acceptable while others are not. A “wait and see” approach can be taken in which the situation is monitored and prayers are offered to God. Once it is apparent that the ectopic pregnancy will not be corrected, a decision has to be made. In some instances the life of the mother is in jeopardy. A procedure can be conducted in which both sides of the fallopian tube around the child are cut and the child is removed in order to save the life of the mother. While the death of the child is foreseen, the purpose is not to end a life, but to save the life of the mother. This is a difficult situation to be in. Some believe the correct decision is to allow the matter to take its course and to leave the outcome in God’s hands; if the mother perishes, she perishes. I will not question the faith of these individuals. Others may decide that saving the life of the mother is the morally upright choice under the principle of double effect.
Moral actions that produce two effects can be evaluated under the understanding of the principle of double effect. It is an ethical basis that Christian philosophers have used to evaluate the permissibility of certain actions that may also cause an effect one would otherwise want to avoid.
1. The action, apart from the foreseen bad effect, must be either morally good or indifferent.
2. The bad effect must not be directly willed.
3. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect. All reasonable measures to avoid or mitigate the bad effect must be taken.
4. There must be a proportionate reason for permitting the bad effect.
Considering the removal of the fallopian tube under this principle:
1. Removing a part of the body that is about to rupture and cause the death of the mother is a morally good action.
2. The death of the child, though foreseen, is not the direct intention of the procedure. The removal of the fallopian tube is for the purpose of saving the life of the mother, not to cause the death of the child.
3. The death of the child is not willed and would be avoided if at all possible - if, for example, re-implantation in the womb were reasonably possible.
4. The life of the mother is not less valuable than the life of the child.
Though this procedure will result in the death of the child, it is not the intention. I do not consider this procedure to fall under the evil known as abortion, since abortion is the intentional and purposeful destruction of life as an end in itself.
Death and the Intermediate State
Many Christians believe the Bible teaches that once a person dies, the spirit is a conscious part of him that is alive in heaven or hell. Other Christians, myself included, believe the Bible teaches conditional immortality, that when a person dies, he is dead (Daniel 12:2). The Bible describes this as “sleeping” (Matthew 27:52-53; John 11:11; Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:4). The sleep of death is an unconscious existence in which people have no awareness of time as creation awaits the return of Christ and the resurrection. Christians that hold to conditional immortality believe the scriptures when it says that God alone possesses immortality (1 Timothy 6:16), but God will grant immortality (eternal life) at the resurrection. This gift is already theirs as followers of Christ, but they must abide in Christ, then they will be clothed with immortality once Christ returns. In contrast, the lost will be raised, judged, and then cast into the lake of fire where they will suffer and perish. To perish does not mean to live eternally in an alternate form of existence – it means to die. The lost will die the irreversible and everlasting second death. Both soul (conscious being) and body will be destroyed in the lake of fire, just as the Lord Jesus warned (Matthew 10:28). This view opposes the idea that the wicked will burn forever in eternal conscious torment since one has to go beyond reason to explain how a person can perpetually perish. While the punishment of the ungodly is described as eternal, I believe this refers to an irreversible punishment that is eternal in consequence.
In Mark 9:43-44 we read: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (see also verses 45-48). Some may not know that the Lord’s words are a reference to what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 66:24. Isaiah wrote: “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” Isaiah portrayed the righteous going out of the city of Jerusalem, after God’s judgment of the wicked, and viewing their dead corpses in the dump where maggots (“the worm”) and a fire are consuming them. It is important to realize that Isaiah is writing about dead corpses, not living beings. The picture involves shame, or contempt, not pain.
Throughout the Bible, unquenchable fire refers to fire which completely burns up whatever is put into it (see Ezekiel 20:47-48 and Amos 5:5-6). No one would claim that the fire Ezekiel referred to is still burning, or that the fire in Amos would still be burning, though we would say the fire could not be resisted and was unquenchable in that it would continue until it had accomplished its purpose.
This language came to be associated with the Valley of Hinnom, also known as Gehenna, which is the word translated “hell” in the New Testament. Gehenna is a place outside of Jerusalem. It was once the site of child sacrifices (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6) and later the city “dump” for garbage and dead carcasses (Jeremiah. 7:31-33; 19:2-13). It was a dreadful place, filled with maggots, and was a reminder of sickening sights and smells.
When the Lord Jesus used this language from Isaiah 66:24 for his own teaching, it is wise to consider the verse he quoted so we can understand what he means. Isaiah was clearly referring to total destruction, being consumed by fire, not eternal conscious torment.
Over the years, many Christians have labored in study attempting to explain the relationship between the atonement of Jesus Christ and the salvation of mankind. This has resulted in the development of numerous atonement theories. All Christians believe that Christ died for our sins, but how the atonement works has been a matter of debate. I do not believe that any one view of the atonement must be accepted before a person can become a Christian. Believing in the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection and being able to explain all that it means for us are two very different matters. We can always learn more about the atonement of Christ, but my position is that the combination of the principles of the Christus Victor and Moral Government models of the atonement, along with the understanding that man is conditionally immortal and the wages of sin is death, gives us the most accurate picture of what God has done for us through the cross.
The theme of the Christus Victor view is that Christ was afflicted, not in the sense that God literally abandoned him, or that God’s wrath was directed toward him, but in the sense that evil men and evil spirits were allowed to have their way with him that he might deliver us from the power of sin, death, and Satan. The Lord Jesus voluntarily gave his life as a ransom, but this does not mean he had to pay God or the devil, or that sinners are “victims” as if they have no responsibility for their sins. A ransom is a price paid for the release of something or someone. Christ did not “pay” for our individual sins (as some teach), but he did pay a price (suffering and death) to free us from the power of death, the slavery of sin, and the oppression of Satan. Some Christians have been taught to look at the atonement in legal terms. God is viewed as an angry judge who is ready to send everyone to hell, while the Lord Jesus is viewed as a defense attorney who offers to take our punishment. If a person will only mentally depend on Christ as this substitute, he is saved, so some believe. What the person does going forward has no bearing on his standing with God. With this being taught, it is no surprise that many people that call themselves Christians will hear the Lord say in a coming day: “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.” The Christus Victor view stresses the fact that we must participate in Christ’s death and resurrection to avail ourselves of his victory. We do this by abandoning selfishness and submitting our lives completely to Christ and his Kingdom purposes.
God is not a merciless deity that must be “paid” before he will pardon. One can argue that this is not mercy at all. But he does have a moral government that must be upheld for the good of his creation. God’s love is the reason for his law. As most everyone knows, for law to be law, there must be a penalty for breaking the law. We not only need to be released from the power of sin, death, and Satan, we also need to be released from the penalty of sinning under God’s moral government. The governmental view holds that Christ’s death was a substitution for the punishment that human beings deserve because of their sins, but it did not consist of Christ receiving the punishment due to sinful people. The governmental view declares that Christ was not punished at all, for an innocent person cannot be punished. Furthermore, the penalty for sin is eternal death, not physical death by crucifixion, therefore Christ willingly submitted to death to provide a substitution for the penalty, not to suffer the penalty itself.
God is a holy and merciful Moral Governor. In his holiness and love, he must uphold his moral law for the good of creation. When sin is committed, the transgressor must be punished by receiving the penalty attached to the transgression, or the moral law is undermined. Were the moral law to be undermined, God’s government would be undermined. To be just, God must hold wrong-doers accountable. But God loves mankind and does not want us to perish, therefore, he mercifully provided a substitute for our penalty in the atonement of Christ. Since Christ died “for our sins”, the moral law was upheld, public justice was maintained, and God can forgive sinners of their trespasses. In this way, God can be both just and justifier. Christ’s death does not mean that people can sin with impunity, as some suggest. It makes provision for the salvation of all in that it satisfied the governmental demands of the law (even more so than the infliction of the penalty on sinners would have) and it allows the wrath of God to “pass over” his followers. It allows God to justly forgive those who forsake their sins.
Christ “bore” our sins in the same way he “bore” the sicknesses of people in his earthly ministry. He did not become sick for them. He took their sicknesses away. In the same way, he did not literally become sin or sinful for us, or have our literal sins placed upon him since this is impossible, rather, he suffered as a sin-offering on our behalf, and therefore he was the lamb that “taketh away the sins of the world”, meaning his sacrifice is sufficient provision for the entire world to be forgiven of their sins. As stated previously, this is not the only condition for our salvation, however. The cross of Christ satisfied public justice, but repentance from individuals is necessary for salvation. God will forgive those who forsake sin to follow the Lord Jesus, because of the atonement. The cross is the evidence that God loves mankind and wants all to come to repentance.
The view that Christ’s death does not apply to individuals directly, but to the Church corporately, supplies a better understanding of what it means to be a part of God’s elect. God elected that a group of people would be saved and sanctified, but not who would be a part of that elect group (it is the same principle as Israel being God’s elect nation.) We become a part of God’s elect body by submitting to the Lordship of Christ. According to the governmental theory and the Christus Victor atonement models, individuals partake of the atonement by being attached to the Church through faith. Accordingly, people can remove themselves from the elect group by forsaking Christ.
The wages of sin is death. Not the first death, for all humans die the first death whether they are sinful or not. Even Christ, being born as a man, would have died a physical death eventually, even though he was without sin. So, it is not just the fact that he died that is all important, it is the mode of his death. Christ died a horrific public death “for our sins”, and because of this, God’s obligation to punish was cancelled. The Atonement of Christ cancelled the governmental obligation for punishment. Now, those who submit to him as Lord and walk in obedience to him will escape the second death. Through his death and resurrection, the first death has no hold on us.
The Need for Righteousness
The Bible says: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." The Bible says that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. We have no self-merit, or self-righteousness, but we must have the righteousness that is a result of obediently following Christ. It is a righteousness that we “do”, but it is a righteousness that is a result of following Christ, thus “his” righteousness becomes “our” righteousness as we follow him. Some people teach that we are righteous because Christ’s righteousness is imputed, or transferred, to our account when we believe in him, so how we live has no bearing on our salvation. The word impute does not mean to transfer. Furthermore, the Bible teaches we are saved by God’s mercy in that we are forgiven of past sins, not that we are saved by the claims of justice because Christ’s obedience is transferred to “our account.” The Bible teaches imputation, but not the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. In the words of Albert Barnes (1798-1870): “It is not that his righteousness becomes ours. This is not true; and there is no intelligible sense in which that can be understood. But it is God’s plan for pardoning sin, and for treating us as if we had not committed it…on the ground of what the Lord Jesus has done in our stead… the whole scope and design of the Psalm (Psalm 32) is to show the blessedness of the man who is forgiven, and those sins are not charged on him, but who is freed from the punishment due to his sins. Being thus pardoned, he is treated as a righteous man.” The gospel does not relieve us of the obligation to obey the Lord (Romans 6:16), it is the good news that our sins can be forgiven, and we can meet God’s terms for the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
I believe the only events we are waiting for are the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection, and the catching up of the resurrected and living saints to meet the Lord in the air, at which time we will immediately accompany him back to the earth for the millennial reign. I do not believe that we are waiting on a certain antichrist to appear, or that we are to be looking for certain signs (wars, famines, earthquakes, etc.) or that the Church will be raptured before a time of Great Tribulation on the earth, and I do not affirm that the modern day State of Israel is the Israel of the Bible. Certainly, some of these teachings have application to our time, for there are many antichrists, there are warmongers aplenty, food shortages arise, and we must deal with disasters, however, I consider the teachings of Matthew 24:1-35 and most of the Book of Revelation to have been future events for the writers and their immediate audience, but as of today, the specific events are in the past.
Though the people of God have faced many tribulations over the centuries, and will continue to face tribulation until the Lord returns, I believe the specific tribulation period referred to in the scriptures took place in the past when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70, within a generation of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:34). The tribulation was a judgment visited upon the unbelieving Jews for their sins and rejection of their Messiah (Matthew 23:35; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). The judgment on the Jewish nation was executed by the Roman armies - "the abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet. As for the Book of Revelation, it appears that much of what was written, while having application for Christians since that time, had to do with Rome, the Caesars (particularly the tyrant Nero) and their persecution of Christians. From today’s perspective, Revelation deals with past judgment upon the Jews in chapters 7-11(fulfilling Matthew 21:33-43 and Matthew 23:34-38), then the past judgment of the Roman Empire in chapters 12-14 (the destruction of Rome occurred in AD 410 and the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476), then the future judgment of the whole world in chapters 19-22. Christ will return, he will reward the righteous, he will judge the wicked, and the new heavens and new earth will be created.
The Kingdom of God – The Kingdoms of Men
Many professing Christians over the centuries have supported and/or participated in the evils of the kingdoms of men. Because of the misuse of Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-7, many professing Christians have trusted more in the political power of the State than they have the power of Christ through his churches. The State is not merely an institution of social service, it is the systemization of illegitimate control over a given territory and the people and activities within that territory. The State does not produce and provide, it takes the production and possessions of others through coercive measures, tries to convince people it is for their own good, and then uses the people for its own interests. It survives by exploiting and using violence against the people. God’s legitimate authority structures are undermined by the State.
The Bible depicts the rulers and kingdoms of this world as being hostile to God (Psalm 2). Knowing this, and knowing the pain and misery that rulers and Heads of State have heaped upon earthly citizens, including Christians, and in some instances specifically Christians, and that they have been far from agents of “good” (even in Paul’s day as he wrote Romans 13), we must interpret Paul’s words accordingly. If Paul was making the claim that we are required to submit to State officials and policies, as some claim, this means that the Egyptian midwives should have obeyed Pharaoh and killed all the Hebrew males at their birth, that Rahab should not have hidden the Hebrew spies from the city officials that were looking for them, that the apostles should have stopped preaching that Jesus Christ is Lord, that German Christians were obligated to participate in the holocaust, and that today’s Christians are obligated to yield to the State when it comes to the murder of humans in the womb, immoral wars, injustices, the definition of marriage, the forced redistribution of wages, and more. In the first three biblical examples, we see God specifically bless the individuals because of their actions – actions that defied State authority.
It is a mistake to take this passage to mean that God has placed all earthly rulers such as Kings, Emperors, Presidents, or State governing bodies into their positions, and that we are obligated to obey them. The people of Israel rejected statelessness under God and demanded a king to rule over them. God told his prophet that the people had rejected him (God), then he told the people about the suffering they would endure under an earthly ruler (1 Samuel 8). Submission to an authoritarian State was not God’s will for his people. God has established legitimate centers of authority (higher powers) - family authority, Church authority, and social functions that abide by Natural Law - and we are to submit to these centers of authority. To disobey God’s centers of authority is to bring condemnation upon oneself. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we are to become subject to, or that we are to give our allegiance to, an illegitimate authority such as a Nebuchadnezzar, a Pharoah, a Caesar, a President, a Constitution, or an authoritarian State.
Since Christians are living in a world in which illegitimate authorities take over territories and the people within those territories, we must remember that we are subjects of the Kingdom of God, and we are to obey God regardless of the consequences. If man’s ordinances do not conflict with the directive to love God and our neighbor, we should follow them in order to avoid unnecessary trouble.
The Christian and the State
Many Christians agree, that in order to prevent harm, there are times we should not obey State policies and officials. On the other hand, due to the support of militarism, welfarism, and political authoritarianism, many professing Christians have made an idol of the State and they are hindering the purpose of God’s churches.
Nation Worship is Idolatrous
Americans, including many professing Christians, tend to believe their interests are superior to the interests of people living in other countries. It should first be said that the United States is not a nation, it is a State. A nation is a group of people (with no particular form of government) formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture, and/or society. A nation is the collective identity of a group of people defined by those features. Though nations have existed in the territory now known as the US (for example: Native American nations; English speaking settlers), these nations were Stateless and were not dependent on location. It is important to keep these distinctions in mind. The US, like all States (federal, state, and in many cases local Governments) uses threats, theft, and violence to control the people living within the territory it has claimed. We should not confuse nations of people with the Government by which they are controlled, though many have been indoctrinated to do just that. Statism is a great evil that should be rejected by Christians. Furthermore, Christianity and Americanism are not synonymous, and allegiance to Christ is incompatible with allegiance to an Empire. Christians belong to a nation that is distinct from the nations of the world:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Peter 2:9)
Simply stated, America is not the Kingdom of God, America is not a new Israel, Americanism is not Christianity, America is not the world’s hope, and Christ is not an American patriot. No one can deny that good things have occurred in the history of the territory known as America, but to attribute this to Americanism is folly. In their worship of American traditions, some often neglect to mention, or they explain away, the evil that has occurred in American history. American Indians and black people were considered “lesser races” by many, even though it is both a biblical and scientific fact that there is only one human race. American Indians were slaughtered or placed on reservations for the sake of expansionism. Slavery was ended, but the disdain that many Americans had for black people continued as evidenced by the Jim Crow laws. Americans of Japanese descent were held in internment camps during WWII. Americans whose skin color is white are currently being maligned for past occurrences they had nothing to do with. Governments divide people with their policies and rhetoric, then claim to have solutions. This is all made possible by false racial constructs and earthly kingdom building. None of these actions are Christ-honoring, yet political power was and is used to enforce them, even by some professing Christians.
The worship of the military has led many professing Christians to betray the Kingdom of God. Many professing Christians will decry the abortion of American babies, but they do not say a word when the military kills people in other countries (including women and children) for the US Empire. God’s will for the people of other nations to come to repentance is ignored by many professing Christians for the sake of “spreading democracy” and maintaining US hegemony. In fact, Christians in other nations are killed due to the policies of American interventionism, or their homes are destroyed, and some professing Christians will ask God to bless the military as it wreaks havoc in their lives. Many churchgoers are more influenced by Americanism than they are the Word of God.
Pointing to the missions that God gave to Israel in the Old Testament is not a justification for claiming the US has a mission from God to destroy people in other countries. Christ is not advancing the interests of any earthly kingdom today. His concern is the Kingdom of God, which is comprised of people of all nations and all languages. America’s interests have not been God's interests, though “God and Country patriots” will try to tell us otherwise. Hitler also claimed that his actions were “for God and Country”, as he influenced his people toward death and destruction. Speaking of Hitler, WWII is often considered an example of a “just” war by those who wish to defend American interventionism, but others point out the fact that America’s involvement was hypocritical because the governmental actions of their allies were not that different from the actions of their enemies. For those who think the US got involved in WWII to help the Jews, they may be surprised to hear that the US had the opportunity to receive thousands of Jews into the country rather than let them suffer at the hands of the Nazis, but they were turned away by the US Government.
I believe that the principle of defending one’s family or community from violence is present in the scriptures, but this should not be equated with the militaristic nature of the State. For anyone who takes this matter seriously, there is no doubt that the US is at the top of this list, as evidenced by the military’s invasion of numerous countries (including its own) over the past century and a half, its foreign bases in countries all over the world, and the fact that the US Government has sold weaponry to some of the most repressive Government regimes on earth.
US military personnel have made many orphans and widows, not because their own homes were being invaded or because their families were in danger, but because the State commanded them to invade, occupy, kill, and destroy. It is certainly disturbing to hear some professing Christians attempt to defend the fact that the US military dropped two atomic bombs on the men, women, and children of Japan, or that it was justifiable to bomb and slaughter and starve the men, women, and children of Iraq, to name just two examples. It is one thing to protect one’s family from harm, it is another to invade other territories and kill for the State because it is one’s “job.” The interventionism of the US military does not provide us with freedom, though this terminology is commonly employed to soothe the minds of those who kill for the State and those who support them. Even if it was for freedom, Christ does not call his people to kill people in other countries, or to spread certain forms of government, but to lay their lives down for him and the gospel. Christ is the King of kings, yet he forbade his followers from killing for him. Yet some would have us believe we should kill for a president, a congress, for “democracy” (majoritarian rule), or for “our country.” Engaging in war for the monopolistic, interventionist, imperialistic State is immoral and unjustifiable for the Christian.
There was a day when the disciples James and John, referring to their enemies, asked the Lord Jesus:
"Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, therefore the kingdom to which true Christians belong is not of this world. Those who are following Christ will be living sacrifices, seeking the conversion of non-Christians, not their destruction. Making the claim that military personnel that kill are only obeying orders, when it has nothing to do with actual defense, is no justification before God. Murder is evil whether it is done by an individual on the street, or an individual or group of individuals in uniform.
In the US today, many have decided that the State should be our brother’s keeper. God’s charitable purposes through the Church have been crowded out by a dependence on State solutions for the needy. This has resulted in many local churches not carrying out this intended Church function, and this causes the poor to miss out on God’s benevolent purposes through the Church. The Bible says:
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14).
He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor (Proverbs 14:31).
God has called upon Christians (individually and corporately) to be their brothers’ keepers, not to turn them over to State departments and programs. State welfare provides money apart from morality, by stealing from some and redistributing it indiscriminately to others. True Christian charity not only provides goods to the needy, it rescues people from the streets, delivers hope, restores families, and helps people position themselves to be their own providers. People need more than a handout that they can get from a State politician - they need to know that someone cares. Churches must obey God’s instructions to assist the poor, the sick, the heartbroken, and the outcast (James 2).
Many professing Christians look to the State for the answer to life's problems, instead of relying on the influence and persuasion of holy Christians and churches. The Bible tells us to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and to keep ourselves from becoming entangled in the affairs of this life. This does not mean that Christians cannot seek to have an impact on the customs and norms of their community, but the State is not a legitimate center of authority. I agree with those who see the State as an illegitimate entity that undermines families, churches, and the Natural Law. Be that as it may, through taxation and force, we are slaves to the authoritarian State. Still, great things have happened through the witness of Christians in places where State actors have sought to curtail or even stamp out Christian practices, so it is obvious that Christianity does not need State approval to accomplish its purposes. There is something to be said for the impact that Christianity has on others when they see people preaching and following Christ when it is dangerous for them to do so. I believe Christianity makes an impact on society regardless of the actions of State officials.
Christians can try to harness the power of the State so Christian practices can be implemented as the law of the land, but this would mean Christians would be using aggression and theft, both of which are sinful. Or they can go along with the system only so far as to protect their families from harm, while they preach, peacefully protest, and vocally support legislation that gives liberty to all people to believe and do as they please, even though it will result in people choosing to do things we disagree with. I reject the first and accept the latter. It goes without saying that safeguards that protect people from violence should be present in any society, and this can be accomplished apart from State rule.
While many worship their false god – “democracy” - others ask how people can be duped into thinking democracy (or any form of State rule) is worth killing and fighting for, or that it is a system worthy of our allegiance. Democracy is nothing more than a dominant minority ruling (and manipulating) the subservient majority. Many people submit to the yoke of tyranny. It’s one thing to have it forced upon us as we try to survive the best we can, but many are willing to be enslaved by the State. Some do it out of fear. Others submit because they have believed the lie that the State, or their country or nation, is a God-ordained center of authority over their lives. Even some professing Christians, who should be speaking against the evils of the State, are shills for the State. Rather than trusting in the Lord and seeking to change the world through his churches, many believe the answer to the world’s ills is a “righteous State Government”, yet this a mistaken concept, for God’s agent for good is the Church. Accordingly, people have allowed Governments to determine truth for them, and in the process, truth and liberty have been sacrificed. Families allow the State to determine truth for them. Many churches allow the State to determine truth for them and they bend the knee to the State’s dictates. Communities do whatever the State demands so they can continue to receive State funds. Government is god in the eyes of many, and that’s why they will pledge their allegiance to its flag, its constitution, or its representatives. They will do what the Government says is good, and will avoid what the Government says is evil (Isaiah 5:20-21), and it is all enforced by Government hirelings. Government hirelings are those who obey what they are told, no matter what it is. They are not serving humanity, they are serving themselves, earning a paycheck, and they don’t care what happens to those the Government says to kill, arrest, or imprison. They are just “doing their job.” The founders of the US were against standing armies and a police state, but today, political conservatives and liberals empower and unleash both. They are not for freedom, they are for control – and their hirelings enforce their tyranny.
I consider myself a Christian anarchist, more specifically, a private property anarchist that acknowledges no king but Christ and no authority except that which is established by God – family authority, Church authority, and social functions that follow the natural law - enforced through customs, norms, and voluntary contracts. As a Christian anarchist, I oppose chaos and disorder, for I believe no one has the right to aggress against another person or his property, and that includes State officials. One can look at a dictionary definition and see different meanings of the word anarchy. The general understanding of those in a particular society can be influenced by the bias of those in control, thus a word such as anarchy, which merely means the absence of State rule, can be used by those who claim their lack of control will always lead to disorder and chaos (to make people think their rule is necessary) to make the unfounded logical leap to – anarchy means chaos and disorder.
To say anarchy is the absence of order is a false premise. Disorder can be present in any society, but many argue that disorder is most prevalent under State control, not the other way around. Because of the way humans behave, an anarchist society would not be perfect, but statist societies are worse, because the State accumulates power and control over others that could never happen under an anarchist society, where people are responsible for coming together for their mutual benefit and they are not forced to abide by tyrannical dictates.
Furthermore, to say that anarchy is the absence of governance is misleading. As I stated above, every society should be governed by family authority, Church authority, and social functions that follow the Natural Law, enforced through customs, norms, and contracts. Stateless societies have existed (the Old American West, Native American tribes, ancient Ireland, and others), and they did not have a monopolistic Government in control that ignored property rights. A tyrannical, monopolistic State is not necessary, and in fact where it is present, true chaos and disorder persists. Anarchy, then, does not mean looting and rioting, it is in fact order without tyranny. It is not lawlessness or unruliness, it is the absence of rulers. It is not an absence of governance, it is an absence of the State. If only people could understand how they have been sold out by their forbears to State rule, and indoctrinated with State propaganda, perhaps many of them would disengage from the system. I do not agree with the idea of attempting to infiltrate and influence the system, I am of the opinion that people of conscience should forsake the system as much as possible. The State is not something that can be redeemed, it is an entity that should be starved. It survives by claiming the resources of the people as its own.
Many support statism because they do not mind being told what to think and what to teach their children. They like receiving money from the Government that was taken from someone else so they can do little to nothing. They like having Big Government provide them with food and medicine. They like the “security” of State control. They don’t mind letting the Government run their lives. Others of us reject the notion that a group of politicians and bureaucrats should be able to tell us what we can or cannot do. We despise the thought of being someone’s slave. We hate the idea that the State thinks it knows better than the fathers and mothers. The State is the real cause of disorder and chaos. Consider the theft committed by the State every day, the senseless killings by the State, the curtailing of liberty, the lies, the tyranny, the many harms caused by mandates, the number of people imprisoned (creating concentrations of pure evil), the debt foisted upon the people, the murders in the womb, the disregard of God’s design for marriage and the family, and the number of injustices.
In the Bible we see that God expects us to respect people and their property. The State kills, threatens, and steals, and does so with impunity. We are not allowed to govern our own lives – we must obey the State. People assume that humans cannot govern themselves, but they are willing to give humans the power to govern others. The absurdity of this seems to escape many people.
We do not have property rights under State rule. In a free society, a society governed by voluntary agreements, we could govern our own lives and we could do as we wish with our own property. The only thing we couldn’t do is use violence against others and their property. Those who do would suffer the consequences.
Certainly, having a society based on Christian values would be beneficial, but trying to force beliefs and behaviors upon others through the power of the State would cause more harm than good. Whose “Christianity” should become the law of the land? There are many denominations and unaffiliated Christian churches across the country, and they differ in their doctrines, practices, and world views. Would we want a Catholic nation? A Baptist nation? A Methodist nation? A Presbyterian nation? A Calvinist or Arminian nation? A nation that believes in the enforcement of the Mosaic Law? I prefer to live in obedience to God according to my own understanding of scripture rather than having someone tell me and my family what we must do and what we must believe.
Theonomists claim that the civil laws governing the people within a territory should be State enforced and should follow the example of Israel’s civil and judicial laws under the Mosaic covenant. I look at this idea and see the danger of a Church-State relationship and how it jeopardizes the freedom to oppose official religious decrees being enforced by the State. God’s theocratic purposes for and through Israel are not now his purposes for and through the kingdoms of men, though the US is not the first State to make these claims for itself. The civil laws that God enforced in Israel were meant to protect the special relationship between himself and Israel, as well as his purposes through Israel as a nation, and we have no indication from the scriptures that God established the State to carry out these regulations.
There are some professing Christians who think that the State should be given the power to carry out the death penalty, but this gives an illegitimate entity the power to do the same to them just for being Christians if it so decides. I do not oppose the death penalty in principle, however I do oppose the death penalty being in the hands of the State. Throughout the scriptures we see God calling on people to repent of these kinds of sins without the death penalty being enforced. In Israel, King David committed adultery, yet he repented, and God forgave him of his sin without putting him to death. When the religious hypocrites dragged the woman caught in the act of adultery to the Lord Jesus in an effort to question him and place him at odds either with the directives of the Mosaic Law or the civil magistrates of Rome, the Lord put his finger on their hypocrisy, and they dropped the matter and left the scene. The Lord had a conversation with the woman and asked her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” She said: “No man, Lord.” The Lord Jesus then said: “Neither do I condemn thee; now go and sin no more.” We see that God’s morals are ever the same, for he did not say it was permissible for her to continue in adultery, but the idea that God uses the State to impose strict civil retribution for sin is refuted in these examples and others.
It is good when churches have liberty to proclaim the gospel, but it is not good when the State uses religion to control the minds and behaviors of people, even if it claims to be a “Christian” State. People may claim they want to see moral and religious uniformity being enforced by State power, but pursuing this model of governance is dangerous to individual Christians because the largest and most powerful religious group will set the standards for everyone else, and this will result in tyranny and persecution. In the history of the Church, rather than having one group dictate to everyone else what it means to follow Christ, Christians have worked through theological difficulties via conflicts, disagreements, and freedom of thought and expression. This would be impossible in a static, State-imposed system.
I consider the State to be a source of evil that is not concerned with justice; it is only concerned with maintaining its monopoly over the lives of the people in its territory. Christians should not seek to accomplish “good” by means of aggression or control, which are the hallmarks of statism. For the good of humanity, the Church’s sphere of influence must increase, and State power must decrease.
Christians and Justice
Micah 6:8 says: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
While some people have been conditioned to think that the State is the indispensable provider of public safety, others view the State as an evil institution that lives off the resources of its subjects and is more concerned with its monopoly over the lives of those subjects, than with actual justice. The State in its various forms has caused more harm for humanity than any other entity on earth through its wars, manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction, starvation blockades, economic intrusions, and unjust imprisonments. To back the claim that the State is mostly concerned with its monopoly over the use of force and the resources of its territory, consider these facts: if someone steals from another person it is called theft, and if someone steals from another person and threatens to use force if the other party does not comply it is called robbery. However, the State does the same and calls it taxation. If a person does not “pay taxes” on property that he “owns”, he can be thrown into prison or have his property taken away. If someone takes someone’s children from him or her it is rightfully called kidnapping. When the State does this, it is called conscription. If someone invades another person’s home and kills him and his family, he is a murderer. When the State does the same, it calls it foreign policy. If someone locks another person in a cage for doing something he does not like, even though it was not an act of violence, he is wrongly holding someone against his will. When the State does the same, even when it is for an act that was not violent, it is called criminal justice.
It is not that the State never gets it right. When the State holds a murderer accountable for his actions, this is a valid function that upholds the Natural Law, however this does not legitimize the State, for it operates on the basis of theft, coercion, and violence, just for the purpose of maintaining its control. The State often makes mistakes and condemns people for merely disagreeing with State policy, then the State claims to be the sole arbiter and enforcer of justice and forbids alternatives to its methods and practices. Its decisions are final, and we have no recourse. It has a monopoly over our lives in this way. All practices, in every realm of society, must be approved and regulated by the State, however, morality and legality do not always tread the same path (Isaiah 5:20-21).
As someone who has worked and studied in the criminal justice field, I believe that I am in a position to make the claim that the State is woefully inconsistent in its laws, its application of those laws, and that the State prison system causes more trouble than it alleviates. Though prisons have become a mainstay in the modern world, ancient Israel is an example of a society that did not have prisons. However crime is handled, the point is, prisons are not the solution that some people might expect. They create a concentration of evil that has negative effects on the prison staff, the community, and the prisoners themselves. State prisons in the US are overcrowded, they cost a lot of money to operate, and they are ineffective at deterring crime.
Morally, I believe the death penalty is appropriate for the crimes referenced in Genesis 9:6 and Deuteronomy 22:25-26, with corporal punishment being appropriate for other crimes, and restitution for others. For all three categories, there must be a tangible victim; someone who has had violence committed against him/her or whose property has been damaged or stolen. Vices, such as drug abuse, while dangerous, should not be considered crimes. The so-called “War on Drugs” is a failure in that it does not remove drugs from society, it drains resources that should be used in fighting real crime, and it results in non-violent individuals being incarcerated, which is costly, and it separates families unjustly. In our current legal context, we as Christians are not called to overthrow the State system, but we should be seeking to intervene in people’s lives by offering Christ-centered solutions to communities as we “do justly and love mercy.”
Drug abuse is a major issue in our day. The Church has the message of hope these people need, not the State. Churches that are using their resources to try to prevent these people from entering into the criminal justice system, reaching those that are already in the system, and assisting them to get on their feet once they have exited the system, are doing a good work. I believe we should be trying to help all of these individuals through substance abuse counseling, job searching programs, family resources, and other appropriate means.
Christians and the Public School System
I maintain that homeschooling is a necessity for having a Christ ruled home. While I am aware there can be some challenges present in some households because of previous poor choices and worldly mindsets, this does not mean that these challenges should not be overcome for the good of the family. There are no good reasons to send one’s children to Government schools.
Parents, and no one else, are responsible for teaching their children.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
We have a short time with our sons and daughters, and we have the responsibility of educating them by training, instructing, nurturing, and disciplining them. God expects children to be taught by their parents, not by baby-sitters, childcare workers, or people who are teachers for the State. Public school teachers are not experts, they follow textbooks, just like anyone else can do. The only people who think teachers are especially qualified to teach others are teachers or family members of teachers. Christian parents should not trust the education of their sons and daughters to a stranger that stands before them without much knowledge in what really matters in life, and is only there for a paycheck. Parents are to teach their sons and daughters the Word of God, all throughout the day. Every moment should be a teaching moment. At home they will learn about subjects that matter, and about real work. Their time will not be wasted having to wait on slower learning individuals, or by being left behind by faster learning individuals. Their time will be productive, and they will learn to apply themselves as they study and work alongside their mother, and also from their father when he is not at his place of employment. Unfortunately, many sons and daughters spend more time with sinful peers in Government schools and they learn more from them than they do their parents.
The Government school system teaches antichrist ideologies.
Government school attendees are taught the lie of evolution, they are saturated with secular humanistic ideologies, relative morality, and worldly success measures. Government schooling is not Christ-centered, it is world centered and promotes self-centeredness. Schooling by the State (and private schooling) has never been ideal, but nowadays many of the schools don’t even teach there is a difference between males and females, and God’s truths are undermined with regularity.
The Government school system teaches obedience to the State.
Those in Government schools are taught loyalty and obedience to the Empire, certainly not to the Kingdom of God. They are taught to stand and place their hand over their hearts, while making an idolatrous pledge to a flag and an earthly kingdom, while using the Lord’s name in vain by saying their nation is “under God”, when this is a lie. School attendees are trained to be workers that do not question Government orders, not free thinkers that serve God and humanity.
The Government school system creates an atmosphere of immorality.
Promiscuity, abuse of alcoholic beverages, drugs, and disrespect for parents is rampant in the environment created by Government schools. The influence their ungodly peers have on them is extremely harmful. Young people are very impressionable, and they often defile their conscience in order to fit in with their peers. They adopt the values of their peers and are exposed to many forms of wickedness.
Government schools are filled with sports idolatry.
Exercise is good for young people, and sports are not inherently problematic, but organized sports are filled with moral dangers. An easy way to tell that sports is an idol in the lives of young people, and the lives of their parents, is that they get more excited about winning a game or receiving attention for doing well in a game than they do the things of God. They spend more time watching sports, and practicing sports, than they do studying the Word of God, seeking opportunities for service, and witnessing to others. Holiness is not their pursuit; recognition in sports is what matters most. They know the names of more professional sports players than they do missionaries and other Christian servants. Though the Bible tells us to redeem the time, for the days are evil, sports consumes the time of young people and their parents; Christ may get their leftover time and efforts. That does not describe a Christian, only a make-believe Christian. Many sons and daughters have been taught to love sports rather than the Lord and after a life of sports idolatry they have lost their soul.
Government schools force you to vaccinate your children.
There are many sources one can go to in order to find out about the dangers of vaccines, though many will deny or minimize these dangers. People that have been vaccinated or have vaccinated their children do not want to find out they have made a poor decision, so they look for any information they can that says vaccines are safe and they promote these claims, more out of hope than certainty. I say this as one that received the scheduled vaccines as a child and whose oldest few children received vaccines. It is undeniable that the cells of murdered babies have been used in the creation of some of the scheduled vaccines and my family will not partake in this.
Response to objections:
But I am not qualified to teach.
Teachers are not experts. They follow textbooks (that are often in error) and many of them wouldn’t know truth from error if their lives depended on it. All parents are qualified to teach their children. Parents must study the Word for themselves, but also so they can teach their children from the scriptures. A young person that learns how to read, write, do basic math, learns real history instead of Government lies, learns how to become a problem solver, learns a trade, and learns how to be an independent thinker will be way ahead of most of the teachers anyway. All parents can teach their children, and they can gather resources to help them do so.
But my child will get a better education from public schooling.
There are sources that show homeschooled children easily outperform Government schooled children academically. When parents take the time to educate their children appropriately, rather than dumping them off at public school so they can chase personal agendas and make more money, the children benefit tremendously because they can go at their own pace and follow their own interests. I’m not sure why parents are willing to capitulate to the State as it tells them what subjects their children must study. The State does not own my children and it is not responsible for their education, my wife and I are responsible. The State doesn’t care about our children more than we do; the State doesn’t care about our children at all. The only interest the State has in anyone’s children is regimenting them to be taxpayers and cannon fodder.
But my child will suffer from a lack of socialization; besides, my children can witness to the others in the Government school setting.
Here are some strong words from a preacher and writer:
"If you fear your children are too isolated from the world and need what the socialists call "socialization," then get yourself a TV and sit them down in front of Hollywood for about two hours every day. They will soon be duplicates of the public school, frequenters of the local hangout, and accepting of back-alley morality....If you want a child who will easily integrate into the New World Order, waiting his turn in line for condoms, a government-funded abortion, sexually transmitted disease treatment, psychological evaluation, and a mark on the forehead, then follow the proper guidelines in today's education, entertainment, and discipline. But if you want a son or daughter of God, you will have to do it God's way and in God's choice of location--the home."
Young people learn best in a biblically controlled environment, from parents who love them, and different aged siblings, not from children their own age who know as little as they do, and who may bring their own family’s ungodly influence into the experience of our sons and daughters. Many imaginations have been corrupted through exposure to the sins of other youth, as well as the satanic indoctrination of the State. Many will not square with these facts simply because they do not want to square with them. They do not want to admit that they subjected their sons and daughters to these things and more, or that they are worse off for having attended a Government school themselves. Not all public-school attendees indulged in sinful practices and dishonored Christ, surely there are rare exceptions, and it is also true that some who have sinned terribly have come to repentance, but the havoc that gets unleashed on the imaginations of young people in these licentious environments is incomprehensible. Some may turn to the Lord from their sinning, but the mental scars cannot be erased. "Socialization", sports, and extra-curricular activities (which can be done apart from Government schooling) are terrible reasons for sending children to these lairs of darkness.
Christ or Caesar
“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.” (Mark 12:13-17)
This passage of scripture has been understood by some people to teach that we have separate obligations in our lives – that we have a duty to the State, and a duty to the Kingdom of God. If Caesar tells us to invade and kill, or to steal and destroy, then we should obey, or at least we are free to obey, and we will not be guilty because we have an obligation to obey “our country”, so it is claimed. It has also been used to teach that compulsory taxation is God’s will. I believe this is an absurd misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the text that has been used to justify service to the evil State.
What does it mean to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? It does not mean that we are to submit to whatever State officials tell us to do, even if they say it is for the “good of the country.” The previous chapter tells us that the scribes and the chief priests were looking for a way to destroy Christ, for they feared him, because he was drawing the people away from their control (11:18). They wanted to take him by force, but they feared what the people would do, so they went away and sent some of the Herodians and Pharisees to try to catch him in his words. They knew that taxation was a touchy subject, and so they asked him if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not. If he said yes, it would disappoint the people who were being drawn to him. If he said no, then they could refer him to the Roman authorities for punishment. The Lord knew they were up to no good and he told them to bring him a coin. He asked them whose image and superscription were on the coin. They answered, it was Caesar’s. The Lord said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
This was not a call to yield to God and Caesar, it was a call to choose one or the other. Will you follow God no matter the earthly consequences? Or will you trust in the “securities” of the State?
The coin would have been issued by Emperor Tiberius, whose reign coincided with the Lord’s ministry. Inscribed on the coin was an image of Tiberius, with words that translate to: "Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of the God, Augustus." This signified Caesar’s sovereignty over all of the people that used the coin for transactions. Taxes were the topic of discussion in the passage, but the Lord opened this up to the much bigger issue. Who do you pledge your allegiance to?
What do we owe Caesar? What do we owe the State? Should we give them all of our resources if they demand it, making us unable to provide for our families? Should we give them our children so they can be educated, recruited, and regimented for the State’s purposes? Should we kill when they say kill? Should we believe them when they call people from other parts of the world our enemies? Should we surrender to them our ability to protect our families from harm? The answer to each of these questions is no.
I believe it is a grievous error to take these words of the Lord as teaching anything other than the fact that we must choose whom we will serve – Caesar or God. We are to render unto God what is God’s. And what do we owe him? Everything. What do we owe the Caesars of the world? Nothing. I will state again that even though we may obey the laws of the State to a point, such as paying taxes, we do this to avoid unnecessary trouble, not because the evil State has a right to our God-given resources, and not because it has the right to claim our allegiance.
Christians and Tyranny
What actions can Christians rightly take against a tyrannical government? We are living in dangerous times. According to sources, billionaire elites and government tyrants are implementing population control measures, purposefully sabotaging the world’s food sources, coercing people into injecting themselves with dangerous substances and turning the populace against those who refuse, and waging endless wars that are destroying millions of lives and draining resources.
As Christians, we are not called to violently overthrow the State, but it is also true that we are not expected to allow tyrants to run roughshod over our families. We serve the Prince of Peace, and as much as it is possible for us, we should strive to live peaceably with all men. But some have, and will, make this impossible. People will try to harm our loved ones. While some Christians remind us that the Lord tells us not to resist evil, others believe these words of the Lord are referring to slights and insults, not threats to our lives. The Bible gives us many examples of holy men and women resisting evil in various ways. We need to know what actions we can take as Christians against a tyrannical Government without behaving in an unrighteous manner.
Following the thinking of others that have considered this subject, I would say that our first course of action should be preaching, protesting, and appealing to whatever legal means may be available. Preachers should be leading the charge against the evil kingdoms of men, yet many of them are shills for the Government. They support the State’s immoral wars, they encourage people to plunder for the State, and they call on people to comply with the State’s wicked mandates because they care more about protecting their 501c3 status than they do protecting souls. Fearless men need to preach against the evil State, rather than cowering to it. Protesting can also be effective. Rulers pay attention to unrest. A little here or there will not bother them much, but widespread, peaceful civil disobedience can cause them to lose what they love most – control – so at times they will relent if only to save their own positions and titles. We can also try to influence the rules and regulations of society through appropriate means.
If our efforts of preaching, protesting, and using legal means are fruitless, if it is possible, we can flee from tyranny. If the tyrants are attempting to enforce policies upon us that we cannot abide by, we can try to relocate to another territory. Perhaps we can form an independent community that respects the life and property of others. If we can avoid dangerous conflict, we should, for the sake of our families and others.
In the case of extreme danger, I believe we can defend our families. We can refuse to allow tyrants to harm our wives and our children. The State does not own my wife and children and they will not force their immorality upon them. Defending my family, I may perish from this life, but there is something that would be worse than death. It would be allowing evil tyrants to have their way with my family while I stood by and did nothing to try to stop it.