Looking for Godly Leadership (part 2)

In our last post we listed some of the qualities listed in Scripture of godly leaders. The table below compares each of the candidates on some of these****:

 

 

Candidate Citizen Accomplished Man Fears God* Capable, Experienced One-woman man
Bush Yes Businessman; FLA Sec. of Commerce, Governor Yes Roman Catholic Business and government executive experience Yes -Married 41 years
Carson Yes World- renowned surgeon; author; speaker Yes 7th Day Adventist Concerns about policy knowledge, no political experience, highly intelligent Yes – Married 40 years
Christie Yes U.S. District Attorney; NJ Governor Yes Roman Catholic Legal and government executive experience Yes – Married 29 years
Clinton Yes Lawyer; 1st Lady; NY Senator; U.S. Sec. of State No Methodist Legal and extensive top-level government experience NA (marital problems)
Cruz Yes** Lawyer; clerk; TX Solicitor General; TX Senator Yes Southern Baptist Extensive legal and political experience Yes – Married 14 years
Fiorina Yes CEO of HP No Non-Denom. Christian Extensive business executive experience NA (married twice)
Graham Yes Lawyer; AF Colonel; Congressman; Senator Yes Southern Baptist Legal, military, and political experience NA (never married)
Huckabee Yes Baptist Pastor; AR Lt. Gov. and Governor Yes Southern Baptist Government executive experience Yes – Married 41 years
Kasich Yes Congressman; OH Governor; Business Executive Yes Anglican Extensive government and business executive, legislative, and political experience No – Married twice
O’Malley Yes Baltimore Mayor; MD Governor Yes Roman Catholic Legal and extensive government executive experience Yes – Married 25 years
Pataki Yes Peekskill Mayor, NY state congressman, NY Governor Yes Roman Catholic Extensive legal, and legislative experience, UN delegate Yes – Married 42 years
Paul Yes Eye Doctor, KY Senator Yes Presbyterian Legislative experience Yes – Married 25 years
Rubio Yes FLA House Speaker, FLA Senator Yes Roman Catholic Legal and extensive legislative experience Yes – Married 17 years
Sanders Yes Burlington Mayor, VT Congressman and Senator Yes Jewish Extensive legislative and political experience No – Married twice
Santorum Yes Lawyer, PA Congressman, Senator Yes Roman Catholic Extensive legal, legislative, and political experience Yes – Married 25 years
Trump Yes Billionaire Businessman Yes No*** – Presbyterian Extensive business executive experience No – Married 3 times

* This table simply presents the candidate’s identified religion – showing that they at least publicly claim to believe in God and a form of divine revelation/moral law to which they are accountable. However, it is best to prayerfully examine each candidate to determine their actual theology and sincerity and commitment to those beliefs. My personal observations from studying the candidates’ lives and interviews are that Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are probably the most genuine born-again believers in the race. However, another important factor to consider is how the candidate’s fear of God impacts how seriously they would take their oath of office. Their strict adherence to the Constitution regardless of the political circumstances speaks volumes about their fear of God rather than fear of man. Probably the greatest example of strict incorruptible commitment to keeping one’s oath of office to champion the Constitution is found in the public service of Ron Paul:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ1aXD3_cVw&list=LL4arH-dtjEx6OT5tonisEmg&index=74

** Ted Cruz was a Canadian citizen (where he was born) as recently as May of 2014 and has some questions surrounding his legitimacy for President.

*** Donald Trump has publicly stated that he isn’t sure if he has ever asked God for forgiveness and that he doesn’t bring God into the picture whenever he does anything wrong.  His excessively proud boasting also identifies himself more with the tyrants identified in the previous post rather than as a godly leader.  (http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/trump-does-not ask/2015/07/18/id/657832/)

**** The other qualities we identified were non alcoholic (to my knowledge, although pretty much all of the candidates drink alcohol socially, none of them are alcoholics to the point where it could impact their ability to rule) and consistent and trustworthy, hates corruption, and morally discerning – which are subjective and closely tied to the person’s fear of God and unwavering commitment to their oath of allegiance to the Constitution. As such, it is extremely important that we place a lot of emphasis on electing candidates who not only say they know and fear God, but who we actually trust to do so in keeping their oath of office. George Washington was keenly aware of this when he said, “Let it simply be asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the OATHS, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?”

 

Please share your thoughts with us!

In Christ – Samuel and Lydia

 

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Looking for Godly Leadership (part 1)

Since civil government is God’s idea and its leaders are accountable to Him, it is vital that a nation’s civil rulers are able to fulfill the responsibilities that God has placed on civil government. According to the example of Scripture, rulers are established according to the consent of the people (Deuteronomy 1:13–15; 17:14–15; Judges 8:22; 9:6; 11:8, 11; 1 Samuel 8:5; 10:20–24; 11:15; 12:1, 12–14; 2 Samuel 26:18; 1 Kings 1; 12:16–24; 2 Kings 14:21; 1 Chronicles 12:38; 2 Chronicles 23:3). The people are granted this right in order to meet their responsibility to God for the conduct of their government. Just as God directs the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1), He also directs the heart of the people to select their rulers according to His plan for judging or blessing a nation. To assist men in choosing their civil rulers, God’s Word lists several qualities that indicate godly leadership with the potential to fulfill civil government’s God-given responsibilities.

In Exodus 18:21–22, Moses’s father-in-law gave him the following godly advice from which we can derive several principles for selecting our own rulers today: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” Here we see that it is advisable to “provide [as rulers] out of all the people able men”; that is, select a leader from among the citizenry based on an evaluation of his fitness to rule. The term “able men” refers to adult males. God’s design is that adult males lead a society (Isaiah 3:12). These men are to be natural leaders based on their distinguished reputation for valor, wealth, skill, etc. These men must also “fear God” (believe in their accountability to God for their actions), be “of truth” (marked by stability, certainty, trustworthiness), and “hate dishonest gain” (personally hate plunder).

Moses, speaking on behalf of God, instructed the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1:13–15: “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you.” These men were to be selected based on their wisdom (intelligence, prudence, cleverness, and skill), understanding (ability to distinguish between good and evil), and experience (“known among your tribes”—i.e., familiarity with matters relevant to the position).

Proverbs 31:3–5 says, “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” We see here two additional qualifications for civil rulers: being a one-woman man and not being an alcoholic.

God also warns against wicked leaders who pervert his intended purposes for civil government. His Word uses strong language to describe His opinion of such rulers:

  • Psalm 109:8: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”
    Proverbs 16:12: “it is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness.”
  • Proverbs 17:15: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that
    condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord”
  • Isaiah 1:23–24: “Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies”)

To warn nations against such rulers, the Scriptures list the character qualities and conduct by which they are identified.

Isaiah 1:21–31 labels them as “rebellious,” “companions of thieves,” those who “loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards,” as well as the Lord’s “adversaries” and enemies,” “transgressors,” “sinners,” and “they that forsake the Lord.”

According to Isaiah 5:20–24, they “are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight,” “are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink,” and “have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 13:11 says, “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Here “terrible” could also be translated as “tyrants” or “despots”; tyrants are marked by haughtiness.

Job 34:27–30 says that tyrants are those that have “turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways” and are marked by hypocrisy.

Proverbs 28:16 describes tyrants as lacking understanding: “The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor.”

Ecclesiastes 10:16 teaches that immaturity and valuing pleasure before work are also marks of tyrants: “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!”

Micah 2:1 adds that they obsessively plan to accomplish wicked schemes because they believe that “might makes right.” “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! When the morning
is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.”

Christ also mentioned some of the qualities of tyrants. In Luke 22:25–26 He said that “the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18:1–5 in which He described a judge who “feared not God, neither regarded man” and whose only motive for enforcing coercive justice was personal welfare.

In summary, we contrast the list of Scriptural qualities indicative godly leaders with ungodly leaders: —citizen—,distinguished, adult —male, —believe they are accountable to God for their actions, —consistent, trustworthy, personally hate corrupt gain, intelligent, skilled, experienced, able to distinguish well between right and wrong, morally pure/a one-woman man, and a non-alcoholic vs. a rebel, a companion of thieves, loves a bribe, chases after rewards, an adversary and foe of God, a transgressor and sinner, forsakes the Lord, rejects God’s Law, despises God’s Word, wise in his own eyes, an alcoholic, exceedingly proud, immature, values pleasure over productivity, does not fear God, does not respect man, values personal welfare over justice, godless, and one who lacks understanding.

In the weeks to come we will look at some of the candidates running for President in light of these qualities. We hope you will share your thoughts and insights with us as we look for godly leadership qualities in those running for our nation’s highest office!

In Christ – Samuel and Lydia

 

What is the Biblical Role of Civil Government?

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1 makes it clear that God gives civil government its authority (“power”) and design (“ordained”—literally, arranged in an orderly manner) and therefore implies a specific order that mandates conformity. When Jesus told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:10-11), He established that civil government’s power is not principal in nature but secondary. Psalm 2 and the book of Daniel further confirm that civil governments are accountable to God and are under His authority. All civil governments are accountable to God and are under His sovereign rule because they are His ministers and receive their power and authority from Him (Psalm 2:10–12; see also Daniel 2:21; 4:25; 5:21; Isaiah 13–23; Jeremiah 46–51; Ezekiel 25–32; Amos 1–2; Obadiah; Jonah; Nahum; Habakkuk 2; Zephaniah 2).

Since God is the source of governmental authority and design, a nation legitimizes its civil government by placing it under His sovereignty (Psalm 2:10–12; Exodus 19:5–8; Daniel 4:34–37). Therefore, in God’s eyes a civil government is not simply a person or group that has the power to impose its will on a society. Rather, it must be capable of, and faithful in, upholding the law of coercive justice in a society in such a manner that it serves the good of those who live according to God’s laws. Accordingly, Christians are commanded to submit to the authority of civil government since it is a gift from God for our good (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–17; 1 Timothy 2:1–4; James 1:17–18; 2 Chronicles 7:3).

Because He ordained it for good, God has ordained civil government to be a minister of His justice for three purposes: (1) to facilitate the peace and quiet of society; (2) to secure the rights and rewards of those who follow His laws; and (3) to punish evil.

The first purpose is clearly laid out in 1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” This passage states that we are to ask God to provide us with and give thanks for governing authorities that enable us to “lead a quiet and peaceable life” while living according to His Word. Under these conditions, the gospel is able to spread unhindered, leading men to be “saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Simply put, God established government so that it would enable men to live godly lives without unnatural disturbances, resulting in the ideal conditions for the spreading of His gospel and truth.

Civil government receives its mandate to secure the rights and rewards of those who follow God’s laws from several passages of Scripture. Romans 13:3–4 points out that “rulers are not a terror to good works. . . do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good.” First Peter 2:13–17 says that government exists “for the praise of them that do well” and so that “with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” It also indicates that government exists to secure our freedom to serve God rather than sin: “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” The Ten Commandments passage (Exodus 20) further supports the notion that God gives us freedom in order to serve Him. Verse 2 says, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” This freedom from “the house of bondage” enabled the Israelites to fulfill the list of commands given in the verses immediately following this statement (vv. 3–17).

These passages bring to light an important principle—the Biblical concept of rights. According to the Bible, rights and responsibilities are inseparable. That is, we only have rights because we have corresponding responsibilities to God our Creator. Since He made us, we are accountable to Him for how we live (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, we require certain rights to secure our ability to fulfill that responsibility. These rights are unalienable because they come from God, and our duty to Him supersedes that of any other authority (Acts 5:29). God created man for three basic purposes, as stated in His covenant with Adam (Genesis 1:28) and then repeated in His covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:6–7): (1) “be fruitful and multiply”; (2) “replenish the earth”; and (3) “subdue it; and have dominion.” Each of these responsibilities implies/requires a corresponding right: (1) life; (2) liberty; and (3) property.

Since the Adamic covenant was pre-Fall, it did not require governmental protection of these rights. However, the Noahic covenant was preceded by the statement “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man,” establishing civil government as a means of securing man’s God-given rights. The remainder of God’s law further supports and protects these rights and responsibilities and serves as the basis for establishing the laws by which civil governments operate. God’s law is found both in the natural laws (the physical world and humanity, Proverbs 3:19; 8:31) and in His revealed law (the Scriptures, 2 Timothy 3:16–17). In Proverbs 8:14–16, wisdom (God’s law) says, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Thus, we see that by beginning with the revealed law and applying reason to the natural laws, we can discover the laws of God and His design for civil government.

This concept of discovering the established civil laws of God in accordance with the natural and revealed laws (as opposed to man inventing his own laws based on reason alone) was adopted by several legal philosophers known as the “Constitutional Scholars” (including John Milton, Edward Coke, Hugo Grotius, John Locke, Montesquieu, and William Blackstone). John Locke (1632–1704) elaborated on this approach as seen in his writings when he said: “The law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislator as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions must . . . be conformable to the law of nature, i.e., to the will of God. . . . Laws human must be made according to the general laws of nature and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.” William Blackstone offered his supporting insights by writing: “Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being. . . . And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. . . . It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. . . . The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or Divine law and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. . . . Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws.”

In order to avoid confusion and contradiction when using the Bible as a source book for civil law, it is important to identify the different forms of Biblical law and determine which are relevant to civil government today.

David Barton elaborates on this in an article titled, “The Ten Commandments: the Moral Law for Nations” where he states that there are four types of Biblical law: ceremonial law, moral law, judicial law, and social compact law. Ceremonial laws are unique to Israel as types and shadows of Christ’s future death on the cross. Noah Webster described these laws as “the Mosaic institutions which prescribe the external rites and ceremonies to be observed by the Jews.” For Christians, these laws have been fulfilled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and are therefore no longer binding on us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:4–14).

Moral laws are God’s declaration of what is morally acceptable to Him. Since God’s character is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) and Christ did not abolish the Law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17), God’s moral law does not change. Therefore, moral law is just as applicable to New Testament Christians as it was when it was first delivered over 3,500 years ago (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

Judicial laws are the civil and statutory laws that take the moral law and assign penalties for its violation. They are distinct from the moral law, as evidenced by the fact that the Ten Commandments attach no judicial penalty to any of its commands. These laws apply only to civil government and can and do change. For example, in John 8:1–11 the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and demand that she be stoned according to the Old Testament law. Christ, however, gave no death sentence, though He still viewed it as sin. However, it is important to note that moral law and judicial law overlap in that the penalties for a violation of moral law should be moral (i.e., the punishment should fit the crime – Exodus 21:22-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:15-21).

Unlike moral law (absolute rights and wrongs), social compact law involves relative rights and wrongs based on society’s agreement (e.g., speed limits, parking regulations, municipal ordinances, etc.). This is law enacted “by the consent of the governed” and can only regulate things not covered by moral law. An example of this type of law is seen in Boaz’s approach to marrying Ruth (Ruth 4:7). Thus, when establishing law, legislators should look to the unchanging moral laws of God as their basis while viewing the judicial and social compact laws as non-binding examples of law in their respective cultural and historical settings.

The third God-ordained purpose of civil government—punishing evil— is an implied necessity for accomplishing the first two purposes. Romans 13:3–4 says, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Proverbs 24:25 says, “But to them that rebuke him [the wicked] shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.” Just as the government is to look to the moral law of God when determining what is to be protected as a God-given right, so it must also do when determining what is to be punished as a threat to God-given rights (i.e., evil).

In summary, we discussed that civil government is (1) God’s idea—it is accountable to and derives its authority from Him; (2) a positive force in a fallen world—we are commanded to submit to it; and (3) a minister of God’s justice to protect our ability to serve Him and enjoy the resulting blessings.

Please share your thoughts with us!

In Christ – Samuel and Lydia

Election 2016: A Biblical Commentary

The Bible was the most frequently cited source in the writings of the United States’ Founding Fathers, yet today the Word of God is scarcely referenced in political writings, speeches, or debates. This sad reality was made clear to me in October 2011 when I attended the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. The Republican presidential primary season was just getting under way, and the candidates were giving speeches at this event, along with several other prominent figures from politically active Judeo-Christian circles. The focus of the speeches and the numerous booths representing various political action groups and other activists was to appeal to the Judeo-Christian religious values of the attendees. However, from what I observed, only one of the speeches mentioned the Scriptures, and none of the booths had any Scriptural references at all. It seemed evident that the Christian community had largely discarded the authority of Scripture and was clinging solely to the appeal of human reason for promoting its political agenda. The disturbing conclusion that I carried with me from that weekend was, “No wonder we are experiencing defeat in the political arena and are suffering from so many national problems—even Christian political gatherings have forsaken the Bible!”

Ephesians 6:10–12, 17 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…and take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This passage makes clear that we, as Christians, are to take a stand against the “wiles of the devil” by using the Scriptures as one of our primary weapons. We are to expose and oppose evil with the truth because God Himself hates evil (Genesis 6:5–7; Proverbs 8:13; Psalm 97:10; Romans 12:9). Some argue that in order to make an impact we must modify our rhetoric to be more acceptable and therefore promote the principles of Scripture without referencing the Bible, but these people fail to recognize that Christ set an example for us when He stated that He did not come the first time to establish an earthly kingdom but to bear witness to the truth (John 18:36–37). His message was met with public scorn and led to His eventual crucifixion. The prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus’ disciples, and many other Christians through the centuries have suffered similar fates. Yet it is important to remember that our mandate as Christians is not results-oriented but process-oriented; we are to preach the truth in love for the glory of God and leave the results up to Him. Even when the final political victory is won at the triumphant return of Christ to Earth, He will use the sharp sword of His Word (Hebrews 4:12) to smite the nations (Revelation 19:15). Secure in His power, we should boldly follow God in using the Scriptures to expose and oppose the lies of Satan and promote God’s original design for civil government.

By restoring the Word of God to the political discussion, we confront others with the all-important question “Who determines truth: God or man?” My earnest prayer is that in the midst of a culture full of political deception and wickedness, “the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many” even if “they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days” (Daniel 11:32–33). As we faithfully bear witness to the truth, we must not become discouraged by the results. Instead, we should keep in mind the advice of John Quincy Adams: “Duty is ours; results are God’s,” and trust the promise of Proverbs 24:24–25: “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.”

My wife Lydia and I have decided to take a small step in this direction this election cycle by endeavoring to keep a weekly blog addressing the candidates and issues using Scripture. Our prayer is that the time spent keeping this blog will: (1) give us practice in viewing this election cycle through the lens of God’s Word and (2) encourage other believers to do the same. We hope the time you spend reading it will give you a greater appreciation for how God’s Word speaks to every area of life and inspires you to study the Bible more as a result.

Please share your thoughts with us!

In Christ – Samuel