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The Great Commission

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lower Magistrate Doctrine

As promised, I will attempt to lay out the case biblically and historically for Christian men, under the blessing of God, to take up arms in defense of life, liberty, and property. Our Founding Fathers thought a time could come when such an action would be not only necessary, but also righteous. Thomas Jefferson expected it as a necessary reoccurrence. He stated, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Given this reality, what are the principles that would facilitate the use of force by patriots against tyrants? Is there a bottom line that once crossed demands a righteous call to arms?

The Problem

Our nation is set on a dangerous course. Our freedom of speech, freedom to practice religion, freedom of the press (fairness doctrine), and a host of other freedoms hang in the balance, even as I write. We are therefore duty bound to restrain our passions in order to think biblically, principally, governmentally, and jurisdictionally as we approach this sobering topic.

The situation we face as Americans is not trivial. It is extremely weighty. What we are facing as a nation dwarfs our individual concerns. Civil government has become the chief robber and the greatest threat to our liberty. As we suffer economically, it is estimated that 2/3rds of the government's budget is spent on social programs that have no Constitutional basis.

The centralization of power has brought us to tyranny. Government creates many of our problems by violating their jurisdictions, and then clamors for more power to "fix" their abuses.

We have for years suffered from communist indoctrination, with cultural Marxism flourishing in our public schools and colleges. This infiltration is responsible for destroying the faith of eight-five percent of our Christian young, who now walk in goose step with the enemies of the cross.

Our government is systematically censoring and expunging Biblical Christianity from any place of influence in our beleaguered land. Left unchallenged, our nation stands on the verge of making true Christianity an enemy of the state.

With the election of Obama, government by emergency is in full swing. Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, rejoiced over the "opportunities" the present crisis offered. He stated, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. This is an opportunity."

The opportunity Emanuel spoke of is exploiting our nation's woes to implement the Marxist, socialistic agenda of Barack Obama. With the election of Obama, it appears the time has come for cultural Marxism to move from our classrooms to change our system of government. Remember, Obama's goal of "spreading the wealth," as expressed to "Joe the Plumber?”

For years, Barack Obama sat in a "church" that preached black liberation theology. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of the church, considered James Cone, the founder of this Marxist religion of racial hatred, as his mentor. The following statement by Cone defines black liberation theology and its core premise:

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . . Black theology will accept only the love of God, which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.
For twenty years, this racist theology has framed Barack Obama's religious and political worldviews. The election of Barack Obama, in many ways, is the culmination of Marxist efforts. Historically, Marxism has always viewed Christianity as its main competitor for men's souls, loyalties, and allegiances. Therefore, the influence of Christianity must be eradicated from the public life of our nation to further their Communistic agenda. It is this sad reality, which forces us to deal with the question of force in defense of what we hold near and dear to us as Christians in America.

Thinking Governmentally

Let us look at the proper roles of government through the lens of God's Word. Governments have proper jurisdictions. Jurisdiction is authority or the range of legal authority. In addition, there are different forms of government. The four basic governments are self-government, family government, church government, and civil government.

As men, it is vital for us to think governmentally in order to act principally. For instance, the basis of self-government, which leads to true liberty, is the Word of God. As individuals, the only way to place the proper restraints upon our sinful lusts, proud passions, and evil desires, and become truly free is by being transformed by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul taught, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).” Without the Word of God, men and nations take the path of least resistance. This inevitably reinforces our inherent corruption, which leads to anarchy and ultimately to tyranny.

The basis for God's authority in the family is the rod. The father, in particular, has the awesome responsibility to equate his children with the notion that disobedience and rebellion leads to pains in this life and the life to come. Proverbs, God's book of wisdom, repeats this admonishment throughout its narrative.

God's Word states, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24). "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13-14). "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame" (Proverbs 29:15).

The symbol for God's authority in His church is the keys to the Kingdom. Jesus stated, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).” Many in the church mistake this passage of Scripture as a teaching on prayer. This is not a call to pray or to some special prayer formula, but a teaching on church discipline. The keys granted by Christ are the authority of church leaders to excommunicate church members who are engage in known sin and refuse to repent.

Keys lock and unlock doors. The binding and loosing Jesus speaks of is permitting people into God's church based upon repentance and true saving faith, or banning them if they seek to corrupt God's church through refusing to repent of known sin. In fact, the Apostle Paul went so far as to command church leaders to turn over a rebellious member in unspeakable sin to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, to the end that his soul might be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5).

The symbol of God's authority in civil government is the sword. Romans 13:1-4 establishes this truth. God's Word states:

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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But 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.
Truly, it is this jurisdictional understanding that gave birth to the Lower Magistrate Doctrine. Notice that only civil authorities are ordained with a sword. Individuals and the church are not. This is why violence can never spring from these sources. The sword is an instrument of death, a lawful coercive force to exercise wrath against evil doers. Its divine purpose is to establish justice, safety, and order in society.

As Christians, we are to obey lawful civil authority as an ordinance of God. But what happens when lawful authority moves from being a "minister of God" to a willing dupe of Satan that terrorizes the people they are sworn to protect and serve?

First Principle: We Must Remain Law Keepers

First, when the laws of men conflict with the laws of God, the church is duty bound to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In the midst of tyranny, we are to trust God and continue to do good, even though this may be considered a crime in a tyrannical state. Just because the government becomes a lawbreaker, however, does not mean the church is alleviated from the responsibility to keep the law.

Having stated this, there is still a legitimate question that requires a genuine answer. Is it ever lawful for Christians or citizens of good will to take up arms to defend themselves from the destructive tyranny of magistrates? I believe the answer is yes, but certain preconditions and principles must be adhered to before any such action can be taken. Primarily, all legal remedies must be exhausted before considering armed resistance.

Second Principle: We Must Exhaust all Legal Remedies

Patrick Henry, in his famous "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech, articulated this important principle. He stated:

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!

In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending-if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained-we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
Our Founding Fathers exercised all lawful remedies. Their efforts were met with increased oppression. Eventually, lower magistrates in America voted to take up arms against the tyranny of the higher magistrate, the king of England. In the Declaration of Independence, they stated clearly that governments should not be changed or abolished over "light and transient causes.” But after a "long train of abuses," which is "designed to produce an oppressive authoritarian state," "it is the right, it is the duty, to throw off such government and to provide new Guards for their future security."

In this, the spirit of Lex Rex, the law is king, taught by Reverend Samuel Rutherford resisted the tyranny of the so-called "divine rights of kings.” Our Founding Fathers were guided by other lights as well, such as, the Christian philosopher, John Locke and the Reformers, such as, John Knox of Scotland. They therefore elected representatives from each state and by way of the Declaration of Independence announced to the world and at that time, the world's greatest power, England that America would become a free and independent nation amongst the nations of the earth.

They proceeded to list twenty-seven grievances for separation from England. What gave them the moral authority to claim such independence? Our Founding Fathers looked to the "laws of nature and nature's God." This creates a huge dilemma for us today. For if there is no existence of God, as humanistic America vainly believes today, then there is no higher law in which to appeal. Thus in the cases of civil tyranny, there is no higher authority to invoke against despots that seek to replace the sovereignty of God in the lives of its citizens. If this principle is not true, then America is a rogue nation that remains in rebellion to its lawful authority, England.

Third Principle: There must be a Lower Magistrate

Our Founding Fathers did not take up arms, however, until the lower magistrates in America resisted the tyranny enforced by England. Since only magistrates are ordained with the sword, to resist the tyranny of a higher magistrate, the lower magistrates must make a stand in defense of life, liberty, and property. Then and only then will the God of the Bible bless the efforts of Christian men joining with lawful authorities ordained with the sword to take up arms. Clearly, our Founding Fathers rested their case upon this truth. At the end of the Declaration, these words are found, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

The closest we have been to this situation, in recent times, happened in Alabama a few years back. The enemies of the cross went after Judge Roy Moore and his display of the Ten Commandments. It created quite a stir and media circus. Eventually, the Governor of Alabama stepped into the fray and warned the god-haters that if anyone dared try to remove the Ten Commandment plaque from Judge Moore's courtroom, they would do so "staring down the barrels of M-16s.”

Governor Fob James was prepared to call the Alabama State Troopers and the Alabama National Guard to protect the Ten Commandments and Judge Roy Moore's freedom to display them. Apparently, President Clinton found out and called to confront Governor James. He told him that he would federalize the Alabama Guard, if Governor James used them to defend freedom. If I remember correctly, Mr. James told President Clinton directly, "You do what you got to do and I'll do what I got to do."

At that point, if push came to shove, I believe every liberty loving Christian man in this nation could have gathered, armed, and defended freedom along side the Alabama State Troopers and the Alabama National Guard. A lower magistrate, in this case Governor Fob James, was prepared to resist the tyranny of a higher magistrate, President Clinton.

Lastly, American Christians have not exercised all lawful means against the tyrannical direction our nation has been heading for years. Most Christians do not even vote, let alone stand for righteousness in the public square. But if the time comes, when legal remedies are exhausted and flight or protest becomes impossible, keep your eyes open for a lower magistrate who determines "enough is enough" and makes a principled stand in defense of life, liberty, and property.

If God would seem fit to bless America with such courageous, godly statesmen, the taking up of arms becomes possible once again. Christian men in good conscience before God could then join in the holy cause of freedom.

Remember as well that the second Amendment was not so Americans could join the NRA or for hunters to shoot ducks. Our Founding Fathers established it as the last check and balance against governmental tyranny.

Moreover, may what was stated in the first American Revolution ring true for our future. Samuel Adams, the Father of the American Revolution, declared after the fight for liberty was won, "We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come."

No king, but King Jesus and may God be pleased to deliver us from evil once again! Amen and amen!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Prophetic Call of the Church

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience (James 5:10).”

The book of James is an interesting and controversial book. The German Reformer, Martin Luther, viewed it as “chaff amongst the wheat.” To the mind of Mr. Luther, Brother James drew too heavily from the wisdom of God’s Law. Perhaps, he thought this New Testament epistle was more suited for the Old Testament, rather than the New. Regardless, he thought James lifted up the Law of God to the point that it cast too great a shadow over the grace of God to suit his theological tastes. To Mr. Luther, this constituted “chaff amongst the wheat.”


Most scholars agree the epistle of James was written by the step-brother of our dear Lord. If so, clearly, he had a privileged position to observe our Lord not only based upon His public persona, but by being brought up in the same home. Apparently, he was not always a fan of his big brother. He participated in the family taunt to provoke Jesus to go the Feast in Jerusalem, knowing full well that there were enemies seeking our Lord’s death (John 7:1-9). I imagine living with “Mr. Perfect” had the potential to produce a dangerous jealousy.

Thankfully, James grew older and became wiser. He eventually came to understand the true nature of his elder brother. He was God in the flesh. Through the years, James rose in prominence. In the church and throughout Jerusalem, he was known as James the Just: The Safeguard of the People. He was also called Camel Knees.

One day the city fathers of Jerusalem came with a request. They asked James to climb up to the pinnacle of the Temple and address the city. They hoped James would help quell the rumors that were circulating concerning the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ. James honored their request and took his position high above the gathering crowds. He then proceeded to assure everyone there that everything they had heard about his elder brother concerning the Gospel of the Kingdom was absolutely true. He was indeed the promised Messiah. Obviously, this message was not received anon with joy by those who asked James to “set the record straight.”

Betrayed by the truth, the city fathers called to those near the brave man of God. “Throw him down,” they cried. James hit the ground with a thud. Amazingly, the great fall did not kill him. Living up to his name, Camel Knees, he rolled over on his knees, presumably to pray for his persecutors like Jesus and Stephen before him (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60). The frenzied crowd at this point took up stones to pelt him to death. The barrage of stones failed in their deadly mission. One can only presume God desired the people to hear more of James’ prayers for them. Finally, a fuller, who makes cloth bulkier by dampening and beating it, smashed the man of God in the head with his iron instrument. James, the brother of Jesus, mercifully succumbed to death and received a martyr’s crown.

James is writing to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” These were Jewish Christians under the boot of religious and civil tyranny. His purpose was to reach from Jerusalem as a faithful elder of Christ to care for their souls and encourage them to press on in the faith. In our opening verse, James 5:10, he wraps up his epistle to encourage the fledgling church to draw strength, inspiration, and encouragement from the prophets who had gone before them. In other words, he was seeking to tie the church to the prophetic realm of Almighty God.

Where would he get such a notion? Perhaps, he paid attention to his brother’s famous Sermon on the Mount. Maybe the Beatitudes helped to lead him in this direction. Matthew 5:10-12 states:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The connection our Lord is seeking to make here is irrefutable. Once again, the witness of God’s word seeks to bind the church to the prophets of old. In other words, the plight of the prophets would be similar to the plight experienced by God’s people. In other passages, Jesus declared, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city (Matthew 23:24).” He further warned the religious leaders of His day in a parable found in Matthew 21. He told them that the Kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation worthy to bear the fruit thereof. All this was due to their rejection and mistreatment of the prophets and Himself (Matthew 21:33-46).

Jesus as Prophet

In Matthew 16:13-15, Jesus asked two profound questions. God’s word states:

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

It is interesting to observe the view of Jesus by the people of His day. They related His ministry to the prophets of old. All the men mentioned were bold, righteous men of God. They were rough, tough and hard to bluff in their service to the Lord. Apparently, there was something in our Lord’s manner, perhaps, it was the fire in His eyes or the thunder of His voice that reminded the people that someone like Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist was in their midst. We know Jesus confronted Israel’s evil just like Elijah (1 Kings 18; Matthew 23). He wept over the city of Jerusalem like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:1; Luke 19:41). He even warned the Jews not to trust in being the physical seed of Abraham as the basis for their salvation like John the Baptist (Matthew 3:9; John 8:39).

Besides this, remember how Jesus defined John the Baptist? He asked the people:

What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

Jesus reminded people of John the Baptist. This view was so strong that Herod the tetrarch erroneously believed Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (Matthew 14:1, 2). Obviously, this view of Christ is conspicuously absent in the modern day church and the corrupt culture we have failed to impact. Most folks today view Jesus as an effeminate guru that wouldn’t harm a flea and His bloody cross as a good citizenship award. The civil and religious leaders of His day knew otherwise.

Obviously, this modern view of our Lord is a far cry from the people of Jesus’ day. And whether consciously aware of it or not, the people back then were adding their amen to a prophecy given by Moses. God promised to raise up a prophet similar to him. Acts 3:22, 23 records:

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

The Nature of the Prophetic Call

Jeremiah 23:22 states, “But if they had stood in my counsel, (false prophets) and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” The prophetic realm is the realm of reformation. It is a call to reform our ways, thinking, and behavior that is out of step with God’s righteous and holy character. Mankind tends to forget and go astray. God, in His faithfulness, raises up prophetic witnesses to bring us back into remembrance. He faithfully calls us back to the ancient paths we abandoned to our own demise (Jeremiah 6:16). The New Testament counterpart to this divine calling would be our Lord’s admonishment for the church to be salt and light in our perverse and corrupt world. Ultimately, this call is to protect people from the idolatry and immorality, which invokes God’s wrath upon disobedient men and nations (Deuteronomy 28).

Parable of the World’s Hill

To illustrate the importance of prophetic ministries in our day, consider this modern day parable. I call it the Parable of the World’s Hill. It seeks to distinguish the difference between mercy ministries and prophetic ministries in our crooked nation.

Picture, if you will, the world as a hill. The masses of the world gather at the top and by their foolish, sinful behavior cast themselves headlong off the cliff. At the bottom, some of the Church waits for the inevitable thud. Thankfully, a mercy ministry ambulance picks them up and whisks them away. Christians then work feverishly to try to piece back together again the broken lives impacted by the fall.

Prophetic ministries, however, make an extra effort to climb up to the top of the hill and place itself between the foolish, sinful behavior and plead with the world, “DON’T JUMP.” Prophetic ministries seek to intervene before the world mangles itself by hurling their lives against the reality of God and His moral commandments.

A good example of this difference is the battle against the culture of death fueled by abortion. Thank God for post-abortive, mercy ministries that help women cope with the aftermath of the grievous sin and crime they committed against their own offspring. Prophetic ministries seek to intervene in order to spare men, women, and children the horrors of abortion. Thus, the more we have prophetic ministries, the less we have need of mercy ministries. Both are important, however, when it comes to serving our Lord and loving others in His name.

As a wise man once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” especially, when it comes to the many issues in this life mankind will inevitably experience. Whereas mercy ministries seek to provide a cure after mayhem and disaster strike, prophetic ministries seek to prevent disaster from happening in the first place. Mercy ministries bind the wounds, while prophetic ministries seek to prevent the wounds. In other words, it is better to avoid disobedience, idolatry, and immorality, which devastates lives and ruins nations. How will men and nations know what is the source of their calamity? God raises up and sends forth prophetic witnesses.

Typically, the world will not manifest bulging veins and secular denunciations if the church exercises mercy ministries. In fact, the world may even render reluctant praise towards those in the church who feed the poor or clothe the naked. On the other hand, the world and even segments of the church will bear “tooth and claw” and howl against those who have the courage to “stand in the counsel of the Lord to turn them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” This situation is responsible for the majority of the church supporting mercy ministries while distancing itself from prophetic ministries. Our nation is bearing the fruit of this lopsided emphasis by the American church, which seeks to sever the tie between us and the prophets of old, our Lord and the Apostles sought to establish.


Lastly, in order for the church to be effective in the prophetic call, we must get over the suffering and death issues. As Christians, we must get use to the idea that we will suffer for two reasons. We will suffer for doing what is right and we will suffer for doing what is wrong. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There is a connection between sin and suffering. In fact, Peter taught, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (1 Peter 4:1).” The Psalmist would concur, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word (Psalm 119:67).”

If we suffer for being a true Christian, however, God’s Spirit and glory rests upon us and is working for us an eternal weight of glory (1 Peter 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:17). Revelation 12:11 sums up the prophetic call to the church to defeat Satan and evil, God’s word declares, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” So be it!

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