Biblical Worldview Of Government
by Rusty Lee Thomas
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"For the kingdom is the Lordís: and he is the governor among the nations." (Psalms 22:28)
The fall of mankind being what it is, naturally tends to view humanity and all our selfish pursuits as primary reality. We, apart from divine revelation, consider man, especially ourselves, as the principle element in the universe. In other words, the world is to revolve around us and we pity anybody who tries to spoil this fanciful delusion. If God is ever brought into the equation, He is quickly regulated to a cosmic mechanic who exists to change mankindís flat tires as we drive along lifeís highway. He becomes, at least in the American mindset, a heavenly butler that is there to meet the needs of man and to fulfil our every whim. The Bible, on the other hand, presents an entirely different reality. One that we need to grasp, believe, and obey.
Isaiah 40:15 declares the majesty of God in comparison to the nations of the earth by stating, "Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing." The truth is, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. He is the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. The Bible declares that God Almighty is King, Governor, Ruler, and Judge. Obviously, these titles are not Ecclesiastical in nature. They are political and governmental titles. God is the blessed and only Potentate that created the nations. They exist for His glory and pleasure. From the ends of the earth, God cites all nations and peoples before His high judgment seat. Therefore all nations and all the humanity contained within those nations are bound to glorify God and obey His divine decrees, in order to secure their well-being by shining forth Godís wisdom in the earth.
The first principle of a Biblical worldview of government is that God is Sovereign. That He rules and reigns in the affairs of men and of nations. He sets up kingdoms and He knocks them down according to the council of His own good will. Secondarily, we must grasp the significance of sin (the breaking of Godís law that is the standard by which men are to live) and the rise of civil government. It is clear from Scripture that the first and only form of government leadership before the Fall was Patriarchy. Adam was the Federal Head of not only his immediate family, but of the entire human family. Before sin entered the picture, there was no need for a bar of justice, a police force, an army or magistrate. It is difficult for us to conceive of a world without sin, and yet without it, there would be no need for control or assertion of power to bring order and harmony to our world. Who binds up, when nothing is broken? Who uses crutches, where limbs are sound? Who needs an outside coercive force, if sin from within the human heart had never savaged mankind with all its destructive power?
Herein lies the rub and the difficulty that inevitably arises between the government and those being governed. Deep down, men are instinctively suspicious of governmentís power over their lives. We tend to view every State-formation, every assertion of power from a magistrate, every mechanical means of compelling order, and of guaranteeing a safe course of life as somehow something unnatural. It seems to chafe against the deeper aspirations that inspire mankind. This innate dread has fuelled much of mankindís bloody history. It accounts for the tyrannical abuse of power on the part of those who exercised it, and a continuous revolt on the part of the multitudes who fell under the weight of governmentís oppression. Thus originated the battle of the ages between Authority and Liberty.
The thirst for true liberty, not licentiousness, has been Godís ordained method to bridle authority whenever that authority degenerated into despotism. We have to look no further then our own "Declaration of Independence" document to draw that conclusion. Our Founding Fathers clearly stated, "...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government..."
Thus all true conception and validation of the State and the true right of the people depend on this primary truth-that God instituted civil government by reason of sin.
In this one concept are hidden the benefits and dangers associated with the State. The authority of the State is exercised by sinful man and is always subject to all manner of despotic ambition. On the other hand, in light of sinful humanity, the need for the outside force of the State is essential to maintaining order in society. Without the legitimate function of the State, life would be a veritable hell on earth; or at least a repeat of that which existed on earth when God drowned violent mankind in Noahís deluge. Therefore, the Biblical worldview of government has at least taught us two important matters. Number one, we are to gratefully receive, from the hand of God, the institution of the State with its magistrates, as a means of preservation. A blessing that is indeed indispensable in our poor fallen world. On the other hand, we must always be mindful of the natural inclination of the State to abuse its power by crushing the personal liberties of those they claim to serve.
The word of God thus stands, "By Me kings reign," or as the Apostle Paul declared, "The powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power withstandeth the ordinance of God." God, by His special grace, saves sinners, but in His common grace, He has granted us civil authority to thwart crime and to shield the good (as He has defined good) against all evil (as He has has defined good) against all evil (as He defined evil). He graciously instituted civil government as His Minster or servant. They are ordained by Him to uphold His Law and to preserve the glorious handiwork of God. They are to be an outside force to combat sin that left to itself will always lead to the destruction of humanity.
Unfortunately, a Biblical worldview of government is sorely lacking, not only in our government, but sadly even in our Churches.
God has been reduced to a pleading Saviour, instead of Sovereign Lord. There is no such thing as sin anymore.
So America allows sin to attack Godís handiwork, Godís plan, Godís justice, and Godís honour. Without this revelation once again beating in the heart of America, we will continue on this road to anarchy which will inevitably lead to tyranny. And once again the struggle between Liberty and Authority will stain the ground of America with the blood of our sons and daughters until we return to a Biblical worldview of government.