By Warren William Coles
How Should Saints Relate to Society?
Pilgrim separation may be called as "The Great Omission" from fulfillment of The Great Commission. In English-speaking and most Spanish-speaking countries I have visited, the failure of leaders to teach it may well be the greatest of losses to Christians. The Lord Jesus is our Pilgrim Prototype. May you see him as you read this.
This is an edited version of chapter two in my small paperback book, "Fresh Food." Gospel Literature Service, which is the largest Evangelical publishing house in India, copyrighted and published it in 1980. Praise God! It was a result of my making a trip around the world in 1979 with a Gospel team by God's grace.
Should a Christian Vote?
Many prominent ministers urge church members to become involved in political activities. How far should the Christian become involved? Should he stop at merely voting? Why did George Mueller, D.L. Moody, C. I. Scofield and so many others of God's dear servants in the past teach God's people to abstain from politics, while so few leading teachers do that now?
It is the fervent thesis of this writing that "strangers and pilgrims" should remain aloof from the world's politics. Our method of establishing this thesis will be that of considering in chronological order the major passages, plus several others, in the New Testament on the Christian's relationship to the world. Will you read this with a heart to do God's will when you see it? "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it (not the head) are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). Be aware of the principle underlying our Lord's statement in John 7:17, "If any man wills to do (God's) will, he shall know" God's guidance.
Testimony from the Lord Jesus
1. Just before the Son of God began public ministry to establish His kingdom, "the god of this world" challenged Him: "The devil, taking him up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:4-8). It is a fact that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (see I John 5:19 in various versions). So, Satan does have power over kings and nations, as he claimed (Compare I Chron. 21:1 with II Sam. 24:1; Prov. 16:1 and 4 explain this.)
This partly explains why there is so much moral corruption in political and governmental circles, and why governments in general do an inferior job. They are sufficiently sinful and satanic to make it doubtful that a Spirit-filled person could last for a whole year as a real activist in party politics. His strict honesty, zealous witnessing, exposing of Satan's tactics and crusading for righteousness would so repel sinners that the holy offender would be forced out Do you think that Eph. 5:11 would apply here? "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
2. Beginning with the moral breakthrough called The Beatitudes, the Master Teacher shows that citizens of His superior kingdom will be so poor in spirit, pure in heart and persecuted in life that they would be alienated from ruling society and from society's rulers (Matt. 5:1-16). Was Paul the apostle thinking of this when he wrote, "Evil companionships corrupt good morals"? (1 Cor. 15:33--a literal translation). As a follow-up to the Beatitudes, Jesus declares, "Ye are the salt of the earth" (5:13). Salt penetrates pungently without becoming of the essence of that which it affects. Salt seasons meat without becoming meat. The Lord Jesus uses the salt illustration to teach how His followers' testimony would influence worldlings. We are "in the world, but not of it," as a boat should be in water, but not water in the boat. We are called to pilgrim separation.
3. "Seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these (temporal needs) shall be added unto you" (Luke 12.31; Matt. 6.33). "The kingdom of Christ and of God" is our political position. We have no worldly patriotism. We have no other party nor platform for which to sacrifice. One brother in Christ impressively expressed it like this: "My Candidate was rejected long ago. He is the only Man in Whom I have ever had enough confidence so that I could choose Him to rule over my loved ones and me." It is also true that real pilgrims "lay up treasure in heaven," not upon earth.
4. "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached..." (Luke 16:16). The Messiah brought in a new order of things or heavenly, spiritual character. God's people now do not have an earthly kingdom with a visible throne and a literal army; so, we must follow Christ and the apostles and not imitate old Israel (nor Daniel in Babylon) in matters political and governmental. It is vital to understand the marked difference between God's program for His earthly people, Israel, and that new program initiated by Christ for His heavenly people, the Church.
More Testimony from the Lord Jesus
5. "1 am become a stranger unto my brethren and an alien unto my mother's children" (Psalm 69:9). Since the immediately connecting words are quoted of Christ in the Gospels, we see that this is a confession of "God manifest in the flesh". The God-man was "wandering as a homeless stranger in the world His hands had made," as a hymn-writer poignantly expresses it. The Royal Lamb was "despised and rejected of men," but "he was wounded for our transgressions" so that we would follow Him in salvation and in rejection as aliens. Strangership is a recurring theme in the New Testament. An early reference to it is John 15:19: "If ye were of the world, the world (fallen humanity organized) would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." "Be not ye partakers with them (be nonparticipants, separatist, strangers)1 for ye were formerly darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light" (Eph. 5:7,8). "Dearly beloved. I beseech you as strangers (since we came from someplace) and pilgrims," because we are going somewhere (See I Peter 2:11).
A follower of Christ must accept strangership. "If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). The happy, successful pilgrim keeps "looking unto Jesus" and looking for the city that hath foundations," so he discreetly and resolutely avoids getting entangled in affairs of the country he is passing through. In fact, he realizes that he has no right to interfere. Pilgrimhood and politics don't mix. The saint must not lose his pilgrim character, but be Spirit-filled and Christ-like.
"No home on earth have I,
No nation owns my soul
My dwelling place is the Most High,
I'm under His control."
6. "Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" (Man. 22:21). God's N Word specifies what we are to render to Caesar in addition to praying for magistrates, namely, (1) subjection, (2) tribute money, (3) other "taxes," (4) fear and (5) honor (Rom. 13:5-7). Then the Holy Spirit returns to His theme of "love' from verse onward, which recalls to our minds what we render to God before all others, that is, love, allegiance and obedience. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart"; this is our first and big order of business every day. So, we must be careful not to render to Cesarean politics or government our prime time, energy or money that belong to God and His work. Wholehearted devotion to the local church pretty well eliminates Christians form other activities after a day's labor in the field, workshop, store or office. Happily, in most lands the government doesn't strictly require citizens to vote, so God's children don't render to Caesar in this. Thank God!
7. "1 pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as lam not of the world (or "world system'). Sanctify them through the truth, they word is truth."
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:15-18). This priestly petitioning gave rise to the old proverb, "The Christian is in the world, but not of the world." The saying is true, but a trite truism by now, so that people take it lightly without thinking things through and making due applications of it. Just what is "the world"? How far "in" is the saint? Does 'C not of it" mean that he doesn't form part of organized society?
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" to evangelize the lost while remaining "separate from sinners" by insulation or by isolation. The pilgrim maintains separation by insulation from their sins in his casual contacts with them. He also experiences successful pilgrimage to Heaven by isolation from their political parties and organizations in general. Thus lived our Prototype Pilgrim.
"This world is not my home,
I'm just a-passin' through,
If Heaven's not my home
Then, Lord, what will I do?"
8. "Jesus answered (Pilate), My kingdom is not of this world . . .but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). Presently, His real rulership and "holy nation" are spiritual and mystical, although actual, international and interplanetary: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me" (Matt. 28:18--a literal translation). Christ is reigning now, mediatorially, and when He returns to the earth at His Revelation, He will have a literal, "political" Dominion here. "Our citizenship is in heaven whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Praise the Lord!
Testimony from the Apostles
9. The verbal and life testimony of Christ in the Four Gospels is paralleled by the apostles in Acts and the Epistles. The antagonism between the two humanities, old Adam and new Christ, is evident in various ways in the Book of Acts. It is so obvious that members of the new creation couldn't have seriously considered participating in politics. For example, you see this in Acts 5:11-14: "Great fear came upon all the church and upon as many as heard these things. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people (and they were all with one accord in Solomons porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)" Strict separation engendered much conversion. Spirit-baptized, gracious separationists have holy power; their testimony is that "to live is Christ."
Paul "claimed his earthly citizenship" (as in chapter 22) to the extent of enjoying police protection and due judicial process, not however, to the extent of intruding into politics nor governments. It was not merely a matter of limitation by persecution, but of pilgrim abstention. Pilgrims witness, but do not try to reform society. In fact. you rejected this Christ-rejecting human society when you were voluntarily baptized in water (I Peter. 3:20-22).
10. "Be not conformed to this world' (Rom. 12:2), politically, socially, religiously nor otherwise. C. I. Scofield (for one) explained in the early edition of his Reference Bible that Christians should abstain from politics. Other noted teachers in past generations, such as John Bunyan, were emphatic in inculcating entire separation from the world. Now, in the midst of the culminating apostasy of Century 20, a vast army of preachers has succumbed to "the offence of the cross" instead of teaching and practicing Hebrews 13:12-14: "Jesus, also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Will we be Christ-like in our separation and in our citizenship?
Pilgrimhood in the Epistles
11. Romans 13:1-7 is a classic passage on human government and our relationship to it. What a shame that many Christians have not really studied it, so all they can quote is "the powers that be are ordained of God"! "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers...the powers that be are ordained of God." They are providentially ordered by God in the same sense that a river is: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it withersoever he will" (Prov. 21:1).
The Most High God "setteth up kings" and the satanic god upsetteth kings. Verse two 'Yams us not to take part in violent revolution against the divinely placed or divinely permitted "powers that be." However, neither here nor elsewhere does Gospel Scripture suggest that 'Ye take part in governing. Contrariwise, this very portion shows that Caesar is to serve the Church: "He is the minister [that is, servant] of God to thee for good." This leaves the Christian outside of the bureaucracy and all divisions of human government. God expects him to remain outside in pilgrim separation. He is not to serve as a policeman, judge, governor or military officer, all of which violate principles of Christ's kingdom, such as faith, love and nonviolence. But he is to be served by civil and milita6 governments. The New Covenant Scriptures require strict separation of Church and state.
12. "Man's day". Did you know that this is actually the way the Greek original reads in I Cor. 4:3? God is letting man have his "day" since he rejected the God-man. God will not allow rebellious man to have successful governments since the God-provided King was rejected. Human government is a provisional arrangement whose primary function is to restrain evil.
After man has made a massive mess, Messiah will mediate, masterfully, in the Millennium. We joyfully anticipate "the day of Christ", "the day of the Lord".
13. "Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read" I Cor. 5:9-6:3. We are to fellowship with God's enemies in the marketplace and in other necessary c6ntacts in which we seek to love them into the Kingdom. This is the day of grace, so we are not to judge them: "What have I to do to judge them that are without?" -- outside the Church or the local church. Since voting, politicking and much governing are judgmental (in contradiction to Christ's principles of conciliation and forgiveness), this rules out our participation in these activities. In God's time, we will judge or govern the world and angels (6:2,3). Meantime, we do well to honor the rule that John Wesley gave to his early followers, which went something like this: "A child of God should only engage in those activities that are necessary to maintain his life and testimony on the earth,"
14. "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Cor. 11:1). Christ and Paul are the only two great and explicit examples that God has set before us in the New Testament to be imitated. This simplifies guidance. A young man once asked the writer, "Should a Christian take part in politics?" The answer was, "When you find a Scripture showing that the Lord Jesus or Paul directly engaged in some political activity, then you should do the same." Of course, there is no such Scripture. The question, "Where does God's Word say that I can't vote or bold office?" displays a carnal attitude. The spiritual approach is, "What can I do to be like Christ and Paul?"
15. Christians are ambassadors: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ . . . " Who was "made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:20-21). Saints are royal representatives of Christ the King to worldlings in general and to earth's provisional governments; this is particularly true of ministers of the Gospel in full time ministry of the Word. By calling us Heaven's ambassadors, the Holy Spirit teaches, graphically, that we avoid politics. Does the reader need to be reminded that an ambassador is strictly forbidden to interfere in the civic and political affairs of the country to which he is commissioned? God's Word does not use terms carelessly.
16. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion bath Christ with Belial? Or what part bath he that believeth with an unbeliever? (what do they have in common?). And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you; and I will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
This superb section of Scripture teaches that the righteous and the unrighteous have so little in common that born-again believers should "come out" from their organizations. This applies, especially, to religious ones such as churches and lodges. Don't even "touch the unclean thing." God forbids the "unequal yoke". Two oxen in a yoke are on the same footing. The teaching here is that the all-wise Father forbids His child to form a religious, matrimonial, commercial, political or other partnership in which the two or more partners are on an equal footing. If they have an equal voice and vote, the child of God would share the guilt of the child of the devil in wrongdoing or failing to do God's will. And such alliances are of the nature of things in the world of politics. Do you see this?
More Apostolic Testimony
17. Christ "gave himself or our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world. according to the will of God and our Father;" "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and!, unto the world" (Gal. 1:4; 6:14). The Savior sacrificed Himself to save us from sinning and from sinful civilization. Egypt is a type or symbol of the civilized world. so Golgotha was our redemption from Egypt's slavery, Presumably, Christians have escaped from the attractive, systerhatized errors of artful mankind.
Notice how Peter (Acts 2) exhorted his convicted hearers, Save yourselves from this untoward (perverse generation." Scripture urges men to repent, believe and surrender to the Lord Jesus, because salvation liberates sinners from sinning and from the world and, secondarily, from Hell. No wonder Paul prays, God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I, unto the world." Crucifixion brought separation (for death is separation) from Christ-rejecting society, from natural, fallen man in Adam.
18. "Our civil-political orientation is in heaven" --this is a literal rendering of Philippians 3:20. The Greek work here is politeuma. It means "civic and political affairs." So it can be summarized by either "citizenship" or "orientation." Why not check this in reliable reference works? It is not for those who properly belong to another world to "mind earthly things". We are to think and live as taught in Colossians 3:14. God's called-out ones should have a strong sense of belonging to another world. What if earthlings taunt with the jibe, "Some people are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good"? They said worse things about our blessed Saviour.
God intends the local assembly to be "a colony of Heaven" on earth. Church or assembly comes from ecclesia in the Greek. It means a gathering of called out (separated) people. This requires a clannish attitude. We need an "our community" spirit. The congregation should serve the surrounding community, while remaining a distinctly different culture, ruled by Scripture, love and faith. "As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith." To worldlings Christians who dress conservatively and modestly look foreign or strange. They are of a different culture, namely, the kingdom culture.
19. Colossians 3:1-4 describes our heavenliness. Verse two orders us who have "risen with Christ" and are "with Christ in God", "Set your mind (and affection) on things above, not on things on the earth." This demands much intensive Bible study, loving visitation in homes, frequent attendance at worship meetings, etc., when free from work hours. So the child of God simply will not have time, energy nor money for the world's political activity. Isn't that obvious?
20. In I Timothy 2:7-15, Paul begins by asserting his veracity as a spokesman for God and his authenticity as an apostle from God. He is giving divine revelation, rather than personal opinion. Then he teaches the men ("males" in the Greek) to take the lead in praying and in holy living. He follows up by urging women to display submissiveness to God by modesty, good works, and quiet, retiring conduct. Next, he explicitly forbids women to teach men or take authority over them. This was not a matter of that culture or Jewish mores. Notice that he takes us back to man's beginning to give the two reasons for these two restrictions in woman's role in life: (I) "Adam was first formed, then Eve" (the priority of the male in his creation) and (2) "Adam was not deceived, but the woman" was. So, at the beginning God had ordered that man should lead and woman follow in the relationships of society as whole.
This obviates women's voting, office holding in civil government or doing military service in which they would exercise authority over men. Which the Church is not mentioned in the immediate context, God's original, natural order for the sexes would be at least as strictly applied in Church relationships, since the members are still male and female. Galatians 3:28 does not modify this, since it refers to our equal position in Christ and to Christ as our life within, not to external relationships. Women in thousands of churches around the world gladly follow God's order and do not try to take authority over men, thanks be to the Lord! Shouldn't they show a "meek and quiet spirit" like blessed Mary of Bethany? "A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30). It was a sad day in U.S. history when Women were franchised to vote.
21. "Thou, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who bath chosen him to be a soldier. If a man also strive for masteries, yet is be not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (according to the written instructions) --2 Tim. 3:5. In the spiritual warfare with invisible "principalities and powers," such as demons, the dedicated soldier of Jesus Christ will build up the local church and spread the Gospel without allowing himself to be entangled or distracted by the world's affairs. You want to please Him who has chosen you, don't you? Then "lay aside every weight" of worldliness, "looking unto Jesus," the "captain of our salvation." Strive "lawfully" by obedience to Scripture and nonconformity to the rebel world. As dear John Wesley said, "You should engage only in activities that are NECESSARY to maintain your testimony on earth."
22. "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1). Consider Him in His separation and pilgrimhood. Consider, also, and follow the faith example of the patriarchs: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country (patriotism to the Fatherland). And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:13-16). Men of faith don't say, "My country, right or wrong." We say, "The Kingdom, come what may!"
General Epistles and Revelation
23. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses (spiritually speaking), know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world (Christ-rejecting society) is an enemy of God" (James 4:4). One has to choose sides and go wholly with one or the other. The Spirit-filled person will not feel affinity for the world; with such steadfast peace and joy in his heart, he doesn't need to indulge in worldly pleasures. He will not make common cause with a civilization whose institutions in general, and even many laws, militate against God's ways: this is especially true in Communist or strongly socialistic countries. "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee which frameth mischief by a law?" (Psalm 94:20).
The Lord Jesus decreed, "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gatbereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matt. 12:30). The author who warns that friendship with the world system is animosity toward God also explains, "Pure (devotion) and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Remember "the Siberian Seven"? Their church was C even allowed to have baptisms out in the open! But when they took their children out of the atheistic public schools, severe persecution set in quickly and "the Siberian Seven" fled to the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Their case was so sensational that the story made the headlines of papers in many countries. The world hates total pilgrim separation.
24. In our beloved King James Version, 1 Peter 2:13 reads like this: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake . . . ". Other versions do not use the word "ordinance," since the meaning of this Old English word was different from our modern meaning of "a law". Other versions render this Greek word, which is kisis (literally, "creation"), as "institution" or "ordination". From what follows in I Peter 2:13 and 14, it is evident that the idea is an arrangement made by man for governing: "--whether it be to the king, as supreme (the federal government) or unto governors (lesser rulers), as unto them that are sent by him (a human institution) for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of them that do well."
This exhortation to be subject to rulers is consistent with the Scriptures on the subject throughout the New Testament. They call on us to submit to the rulers. God doesn't say, "Obey the laws" (or ordinances). This distinction is decidedly significant. President John F. Kennedy referred to the distinction between "a government of laws" and "a government of men". One can see the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in maintaining this discrimination in the New Testament in that (1) rulers interpret the law (and disagree as to the interpretation) and, (2) they apply it loosely or strictly or, (3) they choose not to apply it at all. So, God specifies submission to magistrates, rather than to laws or ordinances.
Notice that the two functions of earthly government that God has authorized are, first, "the punishment of evildoers" and, secondly, "the praise of them that do well".
What if a government goes beyond what the Sovereign has authorized and forbids Gospel preachers to preach the Gospel? You will answer, "Then we ought to say and do what Peter and the apostles did; we should go ahead and preach, because we ought to obey God rather than men". All right, picture yourself in Holland in the '40's during the five years when "the powers that be ordained of God" were the German military who were persecuting Jews. Should you help "the underground" transport Jews, secretly and against Caesar's will, to a place of safety? If so, what becomes of the theory that we must be subject to all laws and ordinances? Are you even being subject to rulers in this case? While being law-abiding citizens of a temporary, provisional, earthly "kingdom," we must be careful not to render to Caesar the things that are God's
In I Peter 2:13 and Romans 13, God is speaking of normal government; the reigning emperor, Nero, had not yet become despotic as he later would and was not persecuting Christians. So, "let every soul be subject to the powers that be" can be qualified: it means that we should submit as a rule, not when they are like Stalin, Hitler or Idi Amin, wicked, lawless oppressors. God has not given, as legitimate functions of human government, such things as welfare and insurance programs nor other policies that characterize socialism. Neither has the Most High authorized rulers to compel citizens to participate in governing, not even to the extent of voting. When Caesar oversteps himself, compelling churches to register with the government and be much regulated by Caesar, Christ's loved ones must choose to become an undergound Church. an otherworldly community.
25. "Love not the world, neither the things that arc in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (I John,2:15-17). The world includes human government; certainly the latter is not part of the Church. A national government is of God in about the same sense that a river is: The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he tumeth it whithersoever he will" (Prov. 21:1). Again in ] John 2, the drift of Scripture is that a Christian should avoid involvement in the pride, lusts and other corruption that characterize political and governmental circles. "Be not deceived; evil companionships corrupt good morals" (1 Cor. 15). Such relationships are not "NECESSARY to maintain one's life and testimony on earth".
Revelation and Conclusions
26. "All the world wondered after the beast--and power given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations"--see Rev. 13. This is the culmination of man's efforts to govern himself, after having rejected God's Man for King almost two thousand years ago. Scripture warns of the anti-God nature of most governments: "The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed" (Psalm 2:2 and quoted in Acts 4 as applying to our age). The famous Watchman Nee rendered Psalm 2:1 and 2 like this: "Why do the heathen rage. . . ? (Because) the kings of the earth set themselves against" Christ. Even the best forms of government must fail, because Christ is not truly recognized as Lord. But it is God's will that "in all things he should have the preeminence".
Effectively praying Christians accomplish more good in civic, national and world affairs than do mayors, presidents and generals. Why? "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations (rationalizations) and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10). "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5).
Electioneering church members do not have as strong a testimony as praying Christians. Early Christians had a prayer-warrior reputation. They were so withdrawn from worldly pursuits and civic matters that they were sometimes referred to as "haters of the human race". There is not a single clear instance in the New Testament of a saint's being a government official or seeking to become one. Erastus was a city treasurer, at least temporarily, and may or may not have been a true convert (Rom. 16:23). This and the case of "they of Caesar's household" are borderline cases that certainly cannot be used to justify Christian participation in these earthly matters in light of the overwhelming number of Scriptures that teach the opposite.
Don't allow yourself to be deflected from the truth by extra-biblical cases. For example, it doesn't help to ask, "What if Gladstone hadn't been prime minister of England?" In which chapter and verse of our "only rule of faith and practice" do you find Gladstone's name? "Faith cometh by bearing" God's Word, not by bearing case histories. The Lord Who is Truth only guaranteed one way to know the truth: "If ye continue in my word (the Holy Bible), then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8).
What great cause is left in the world for which one should live and, if necessary, die? There are two, surely; world evangelization and crusading for freedom of conscience. A noble soul should devote himself to prayer, speaking, writing and otherwise promoting these causes by legitimate, non-violent means.
Only the extremist can be victorious in the midst of today's rampaging evil. John Bunyan in his book, "The Pilgrim's Progress," dramatized this fact that we must be radical to be successful. Strong winds of adversity oblige the pilgrim to lean forward into the wind with faith, courage and love. The carefully calculating extremist will appear to others to be unbalanced, but he knows and God knows that only thus can he stay upright. "The prayer of the upright is (God's) delight" (Prov. 15:8). So, keep praying and persevering without politicking. As one keeps "looking unto Jesus" and "beholding the beauty of the Lord," he will be a successful pilgrim.
(Edited edition, May, 1997)
You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and bibleviews.com source.
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.
This page is presented by:
Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Back to the Articles page.
Return to Home Page
May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.