We have seen in past postings that each jurisdiction in the kingdom of God—family, church and civil government—has its own unique biblical parameters that the other jurisdictions never violate. There is a legitimate “separation of church and state,” but never a separation of “God and state,” which is the current working definition of the term. To try to do so is laughable.
The original intent in the Constitution was to protect the church from the state; it is seen today as protecting the state from God! “Let’s keep God completely out of government,” is today’s mantra. However, even though the church and the state are separate institutions, each completely independent of the other, Jesus Christ rules over both! He rules in each jurisdiction by His Word through His people. This obviously makes the kingdom of God a theocracy, the rule of God.
Theocracy is looked upon as the most feared of all forms of government by the world, even by most Christians. They somehow feel the rule of God would be scary! We are not talking here of an ecclesiocracy, the rule of the church. That indeed would be scary! Not understanding the distinction between the two independent institutions of church and state, both under God, was the source of the constant conflict between them during the Middle Ages—each fighting for supremacy over the other.
While the vertical lines in the diagram represent the delegation of authority, the horizontal lines represent the relationship between jurisdictions. Biblically, there is cooperation, not competition, as each performs its separate, unique, divinely-ordained responsibilities.
What are those specific responsibilities, given by God to each institution, and how do they work together as God designed them to do, that will cause “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?” Let’s follow the horizontal lines in the diagram and find out.
1. The family. The family is the source of supply for the church and the civil government, as pictured by the horizontal lines representing the flow of that provision between them. The family provides well-trained, young men and women for both the church (to fill offices and ministries), and to the civil government (to provide good citizens and office holders). As the family neglects this task, the other institutions suffer, as we see so clearly in our society. The broken families so prevalent today compared to a generation ago equal today’s impotent churches and an ineffective civil government.
2. The church. The task of the church in the kingdom is to equip families to live in the kingdom by, first of all, faithfully and consistently proclaiming, week after week, both edges of the sword of the word of God: the law of God and the gospel of the grace of God poured out at the cross.
Its ministry is ministerial, not magisterial; it teaches, but it does not command, as does the state. It must teach men how to be proper rulers in their homes, ruling as Jesus would rule, with love and strong leadership for their wives, bringing up their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It must teach women how to love their husbands and children with a gentle and quiet spirit. Where else but in the church can a man, who grew up in a non-Christian home, learn to be a godly husband and father? Where else can a woman, who grew up in our feminist culture, learn the value of a gentle and quiet spirit, submitting to her husband in all things as unto the Lord?
The church’s role toward the civil government is to speak prophetically to it, exhorting it to diligently follow the law of God in all its judgments (Mark 6:14-18), and to conform man’s law to God’s. Exercising the sanctions that God commands and not man’s best ideas is the only way to achieve true justice in a nation.
It is the church’s job to call the civil government to account, praying the imprecatory Psalms and calling for God’s direct sanctions on that government if it belligerently rejects the church’s exhortation. The church’s guidance is influential rather than authoritative. God continues to deal in time directly with the governments of nations as He has done through the ages. He alone puts up kings and brings them down as He desires, and you can know that He continues to do so.
3. Civil Government. Biblically, the role of the government is limited. It has only three functions. The first is protection—protecting the family, so it can function in its role of supplying trained young men and women to society, and protecting the church, so it can evangelize the nation and equip the converts for useful lives of service (1 Timothy 2:2). The second is to punish—punish evil doers according to the law of God to keep unregenerate, sinful man under control to provide a stable, functioning society. The third is to praise, or encourage, those who do good in that society (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Conspicuously absent from its biblical responsibilities are welfare, health care, education or the economy, which, along with the legitimate task of national defense, sadly make up the primary activities of today’s civil government!
As we have rejected the one, true God in our land, the civil government has become our substitute “god.” It is an ever-growing behemoth: out of control, absorbing the functions of the other institutions, and taking unto itself authority over them that belongs only to God. Only a true understanding by God’s people of the biblical role of civil government can keep this monster in check.
Next week we will summarize our vision of our trip on the Ship of the Kingdom. Where does it fit with other, more familiar aspects of the Christian faith, such as the law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Islam has its famous five pillars—the five most important duties of a Muslim. Are there similar pillars in Christianity? Is the kingdom one of them? Next week we’ll see.