It will always be necessary in this life to plead with the hearts and minds of men, even Christian men, to understand the message of the Gospel. Men need to be convinced. It is not enough that something be said only once; the truth needs to be repeated over and over again. When dealing with such an important issue as legalism, i.e. being bound to the world and its law or constitution, an issue which has congealed and hardened into a different Gospel over many, many years, it is critical that every imaginable argument in opposition be answered. This issue, which encompasses patriotism, I firmly believe, can be the “bowl of pottage” (see Genesis 25:34) that will render the salvation of so many to be a mere fantasy and wishful thought. The noble intentions to ascend that mountain of faith, or the repetition of that majestic promise of eternity, are not the same as the actual exercising of trust and obedience to the commands of Christ. Saying we believe something and actually demonstrating that belief through the fruits of an identifiable lifestyle is two different things. Saying we trust and have faith in a promised inheritance while grasping tightly to the pottage of this world is a recipe for disaster. The identifiable lifestyle I speak of is a love that rejects the offers of the world to experience the peace obtained at the end of gun or the justice of courts and their condemnation. That lifestyle is the one exemplified by Jesus, and His Apostles, and the primitive Church, and their sacrificial love for all, including their enemies.
The journey of faith for so many is not unlike the desire to do some exceptional thing in their life, like reading the entire set of The ante Nicene Fathers or climb Mt. Everest. What generally happens in reality is something much less, like just purchasing the book set or picnicking at the base of Mt. Hood. The noble desire did not translate; owning the tee shirt or the books proves nothing. Getting an emotional rush through the accomplishment of someone else or believing that it is possible for you to do these things, but never getting off the couch is called “delusion.” An unhealthy person who claims to have climbed Mt. Everest is not convincing, even if he owns the tee shirt. Likewise, a Christian who loudly and openly makes a show of faith and yet their life displays a contempt for Christ through their involvement in the machinery of hate and violence, war and politics, judging and condemning, is not a compelling and convincing argument for faith, trust, and belief in the Prince of Peace.
So, yes, it is necessary that more be said, that a compelling argument be made, that deluded Christians be stunned and shocked into consciousness, that their lives are not in harmony with the life of Jesus. I am not judging anyone; I am only trying to make a compelling argument to those who have bought the tee shirt claiming to follow Jesus when they haven’t gotten off the couch. Darkening the doorway of a religious building or experiencing emotional moments does not qualify as a follower of Jesus.
The Necessity of the Law
The transgression which took place in the Garden of Eden made the “rule of law” necessary; the law being a system of governing that the man of the world understands. The Apostle Paul said, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” Given the traditional definition of the Law, by the Jews, as “the yoke of heaven,” other men by extension are yoked to the world through law also; and it too carries a curse because, “No man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.” The faith that Christians are to live by does not stop at the courthouse, or the legislature, or the Constitution. Christians are to live as those who have been redeemed from ALL laws, including the laws of man; but that doesn’t mean we are anarchistic, it only means that we have pledged our allegiance to the “perfect law of liberty,” the “royal law,” and the “law of love.” This new law, which is also called the “law of the Spirit of Life,” overrides all the laws of this world because, “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” This perfect royal law of love and life is so much higher, and is the rule that governs Heaven itself.
The rule of law after Eden is equated with death and all men were under that curse till Christ came. All unbelievers still remain under that curse to this present day. Under this rule of law men are ordered to fight as a measure of enforcing the law and establishing justice; this is the only peace the world understands. To men who are in the same situation or relationship to God now, as they were then, this system is right and good; it is the system ordained by God Himself to regulate men who do not believe in the deliverance of Christ. The rule of law is the best system under the circumstances comprised of men with blind eyes and blocked hearts. But, it does not follow that because it was right for those who were under the rule of law then, and unbelievers now, that it is right for those under the Gospel, who has released men from the bondage of law and its curse.
Law and the Obligation of the Christian
Christians are not obligated to that old system and law just as we are not obliged to refrain from eating pork or wearing clothing comprised of both cotton and wool. With the conversion to the Gospel’s new law of love the Christian is no longer subject to the laws that govern the kingdoms of this world. Converted Christians, as opposed to carnal Christians, are only subject to the law of the Kingdom of Heaven, which constrains its subjects to comply to all the regulations and dictates imposed by the rulers of this world that do not bind its citizens to disobey their true King. As “pilgrims and strangers” in this world we are to walk cautiously, heedful of potential problems and consequences. We are to walk honestly and peacefully in the presence of the whole world, being the manifestation of Christ in all of our actions. The laws of this world are only obligatory to the degree that they do not offend our Lord and Master, in which case it is better to obey God than men.
Those Christians who regard themselves as citizens of this world, who not only place themselves under Caesar and his laws, but who enter into a compact of allegiance to criticize, influence, vote, or legislate those laws, to their own benefit and liking, stand in the same position as those to whom it was said, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” That law, of which contained the curse of death is very much alive and accepted in the American Patriot Church system today. Those who place themselves inside the kingdom of this world and its rule of law rightly belong to the world, and will be left to that rule as their judge. Those who belong to this world have no part or interest in the Kingdom of Christ. These followers of Christ, who do not follow Christ, have forfeited their rights for a pot of stew, even though they are good people and stay morally within the law; their patriotic pride and zeal and love of this world will be their reward.
What a Shame!
These good people, many who I call friend, brother, and sister, technically have no part in the inheritance with our Lord and Savior. Not only that, but these same Christians may very well assist in the demise of the true followers of Christ, as past history has shown; ironic but true. The Jews, who eagerly awaited their Messiah, never recognized Him when He arrived and mercilessly had Him tortured and murdered; and the Catholics and the Protestant Reformers both tracked down, persecuted, and murdered thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of innocent Christians who chose to live by Kingdom rules over the laws and godless dictates of other so-called Christians, who had sold-out to this worlds leadership and laws.
The Prohibitions and Blessings of the Kingdom Life
The law of Christ’s Kingdom, the law of love, necessarily prohibits those of that Kingdom from taking part in any of the affairs of state, whether judicial, legislative, or executive, federal, state, or local. The mystery is a dark and confusing affair for very many Christians, but how can it be otherwise? There is no such thing as dual citizenship; you cannot serve two masters at the same time. Converts to Christ are given a choice; they cannot serve both Christ and Caesar.
There is no question that very many of the unconverted are good, moral, effective people. These good people have chosen to cast their lot in with the world and to reap a reward from the results of their hard work and involvement. It is not necessarily evil that they do this. Their hard work may provide them with a safe, adequate, and self-satisfying existence, and the Lord will not prevent them from doing so, but it is such a shame that all of their hard work is of such an immediate concern, and so temporary. The Lord offers so much more of what their hearts truly desire. He only asks that they beat their swords into pruning hooks and follow His life of peace, now, and forever.
Your heart tells you it is true. The agonizing cries of those who have lost so much tell you it is true. The lines of mourners at any given gravesite tell you it is true. The night sweats of the guilty tell you it is true. The empty souls of returning warriors tell you and them, it is true. The executioner’s needle and the hangman’s noose all tell you and them it is true. Evil cannot overcome evil and the end of war–is not more war!
The life of Christ has called every believer to live a life of merciful, forgiving, self-sacrificing, evil overcoming goodness and peace. This is the story of the Bible, and it is not too late to start. We do not live for this world, but for the world to come; but the life we live now will make all the difference to those who are watching and who know in their heart-of-hearts that it is true.