The Real Change Agents: Christians Acting on Moral Law Principles in Order to Advance the World Christian Civilization
Some use the term “world Christian civilization” to refer to an ideal universal, political civilization whose people, including government officials, voluntarily share an dedication to absolute truth. And since God’s principles define truth, and His principles are written down in the moral law elucidated and affirmed throughout the Bible, that means that public officials, and especially Christian ones, are morally obligated to follow God’s moral law. In other words, there should be no artificial separation between “faith” and action: the Christian should not only think like a Christian, but he should act like a Christian, too–including in his or her actions as a government official.
That is the meaning of the New England Puritan minister Dr. Benjamin Colman’s sermon, Government the Pillar of the Earth (1730), and his co-pastor William Cooper’s sermon, The Honors of Christ Demanded of the Magistrate (1740); that is the way Governor Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757), to whom Colman’s sermon was dedicated and who also inspired Cooper’s sermon, conducted his three governorships during his life: he acted on Christian principles, to uphold God’s moral law. Also, a sermon by Colman, Cooper, and Belcher’s friend, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), titled “The Goodness of God Appears in His Commands,” extolled the beauty and excellency of God’s moral law, and reminded Christians that they are to obey these laws, even the least of them, the last jot and tittle, consistently, their whole lives long, out of love for Christ and what He did for them–a love inspiring a fervent desire to please God. And of course, Edwards’ words applied to civil rulers, as well. As expressed in the 1738 sermon of another friend of Colman, Cooper, Edwards, and Belcher–New England Puritan minister John Webb (1687-1750)–the carrying out of Christian principles in official life should mirror Christ’s principles and should produce the Government of Christ (the title of his sermon). Another sermon, The Throne Established by Righteousness (1734), by John Barnard (1681-1770), not only upheld God’s moral law as the standard for civil rulers, but also referred to Governor Belcher directly, in these words: “God has honoured that his [Captain Andrew Belcher’s] son, in making him instrumental to preserve our liberties, and now has further honoured him before all the people, in placing him at the head of the government among us.” All four election sermons (Colman, Cooper, Webb, and Barnard’s) were preached during Governor Belcher’s administration of Massachusetts and New Hampshire (1730-1741) (he later was governor of New Jersey from 1746-1757), during which time he founded Princeton University to promote Christian knowledge), and the sum total of these sermons and of Governor Belcher’s public life define a clear pattern for a Christian public official to follow. Essentially, Governor Belcher and his very sincere Christian “circle of friends”–which also included the Great Awakening minister Jonathan Edwards (Belcher’s close friend and relative through the marriage of Belcher’s sister into the family of Solomon Stoddard, Edwards’ maternal grandfather)–elucidated and promoted a Christian jurisprudence. And that jurisprudence was basically this: the rule of law may protect, support, and guarantee human rights on earth, but only if that rule of law is based totally on God’s moral law. And God’s moral law must have the ultimate authority, the ultimate sovereignty, in a government, no matter how small or great that government may be. God’s law supersedes man-made laws (called “posited” or “positive” law) that govern the earth. However, the modern secularist viewpoint that only laws based solely on human authority are valid, is the incorrect view of the rule of law otherwise known as the legal philosophy of “legal positivism” (better described as “legal relativism”).
So, making human laws based on–indeed, deriving their ultimate authority from–God’s principles, should be the way human governments are administered regardless of country. This is the only possible, truly just “world government”: a world voluntarily based on common principles. And not just any set of principles: only God’s principles will do–his precepts written down throughout the Bible.
All Christians need to realize: God’s group of people–His group fighting for His principles, dedicated to promoting His interests–are the real agents of change, provided they will put God’s interests first. They are agents of change acting within the various cultures and polities in the world. Their one goal, their mission, is and should be this: to live out God’s principles in their own lives, even in the public arena. This means, for instance, that if they are educators, or economists, or doctors, or lawyers, or pharmacists, or government officials, they should put God’s interests first and try to see things from His point of view–even if doing so means encountering opposition. Thus, for instance, speaking of an economist or politician asked to give “special favors” to certain people based on their status or some other criteria (this would be unequal treatment, against Biblical standards of fairness and justice), or a United States Supreme Court Justice who has to make the politically difficult decision to overturn the pro-abortion decision (Roe v. Wade (1973)) on the basis of the moral law principles inherent in the equity jurisdiction granted to the Supreme Court of the United States by the United States Constitution: these are people who should be applauded. (Returning the abortion issue to be voted on by the states will not ultimately help matters, since it would merely subject the moral issue to the potentially immoral decision of the popular will, determined by popular vote or the vote of their elected representatives; this would produce a pre-Civil-War-like environment of a country like a “house divided.”) Rather, government officials who overturn the “abortion decision” or any other incorrect, immoral decision on the basis of Biblical principles are to be commended; their actions are actually a duty owed to the Divine world sovereign, not an option. And they are not merely “acting out their private beliefs”–for they are asserting that objective reality is this fact: that all mankind is morally bound and obligated to follow God’s moral law.
Thus, truly acting the part of a Christian is not to think something like this: “these principles are my private beliefs only, never to be acted upon in the public arena.” Christians shouldn’t fall for that trap, for secularists impose their private beliefs, their worldview, on the public all the time, yet they impose a double standard for the Christian or for anyone else who dares follow God’s law. But the true Christian asserts that the Government of Christ–the sovereignty of God over human governments–is objective reality, not subjective belief–so therefore all mankind is bound by that reality. In other words, this truth applies to the entire world, all the people and their governments in it. God’s sovereignty and the supremacy of His moral law is a fact that is objective, immutable, eternal, and universal–for all places and all times. It is not a “private belief.” God’s principles advocate the freedom to be responsible for one’s own actions, within a society governed within the definitions of the moral law. Only acts in accordance with that moral law guaranteeing everyone life, liberty, and justice, should be lawful. And of course, the guarantee to have a life covers every human being, including the unborn child. A human life is not mere “property.” That’s the equitable basis for overturning Roe v. Wade–a judicial decision that will require much judicial boldness and courage in order to uphold the moral law principles built into the Constitution of the United States. (For a discussion of how those Godly principles got into the U.S. Constitution, see the book: Commander-in-Chief (Belcher, KY: Belcher Foundation, 2008).
Administering such a Christ-centered government would involve discerning the moral principles applicable to God’s created order, and that really means that one should pay the highest regard and respect for the only accurate, complete, inerrant, and infallible written expression of God’s moral law principles, namely, the Bible. (According to United States President John Adams, the Bible is the best republican book.) In that sense, the world civilization should be Christian. The name Christian should truly express the moral principles of Jesus Christ, whose whole life was dedicated to upholding God’s moral law. He demonstrated that dedication throughout the whole conduct of His life, including during His crucifixion, when He loved God’s justice so much that He loved it all the way to His death, even during the time God was judging Him guilty (for the sake of others’ sins) by the absolute standard of that justice. So, in essence, Jesus was the Judge who cared about God’s law so much that He upheld and restored the glory of that law by sentencing Himself to pay for people’s sin-crimes and by serving their sentence for them. He transferred their criminal record to Himself and made it His own–though He was absolutely righteous–perfect and faultless with regard to God’s law. He is the only one truly qualified to be the absolute world sovereign, because He is the only perfect person who ever lived, the only Person who totally met God’s moral standard of perfection–because Jesus Himself was God. No other so-called “messiah” political leaders qualify. Only those leaders dedicated to the world Christian civilization are truly qualified to administer a country, so long as they sincerely attempt to do so with justice, fairness, impartiality, and an absolute dedication to truth.
It matters not what a leader’s age or appearance is–rather, it is his or her principles that matter. And those principles should coincide and be identical with those of Jesus Christ–the World Leader of the world Christian civilization that already is (the one in which individual people are dedicated to His moral law principles and attempt to carry them out in the current imperfect world system). For God’s people, the Creator’s principles are what give them their handsomeness, their attractiveness, for such principles constitute their glory–the glory that comes from God alone. It’s the sincerity and dedication to the only right principles in the universe that really count. All humans are fallible, but at least if their principles are right, and they are acting on them humbly and sincerely, with a true motive for advancing God’s interests even above their own, then they are the greatest leaders in the world. No matter in what realm they work–even if their work is small, or even if they are “in exile” because they have lost their jobs because they followed God’s principles and refused to submit to the secular relativism of the world system–they are still members of God’s group of crimefighters who fight sin (including the sin within their own fallible human hearts). So they have the moral victory that secularism can never combat or take away. That, more than immediate, spectacular results in world history, is the real victory of God’s agents in the World Christian Civilization. Over time, with enough of God’s people acting together, they are bound to produce an influence in world history, no matter how (seemingly) small. And there is a joy, in knowing there are others like themselves, humbly but sincerely dedicated to upholding God’s truth. To live in such a manner, is worth one’s whole life.
“Now when He [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:20-21).
Christ’s kingdom–His reign, His rule, His civilization–is expressed through His people: His special agents. Their actions should give expression to everything that Jesus stood for–for God’s eternal, immutable principles that are valid for all places and all times. The Ten Commandments serve as signposts pointing to the way to the Biblical standard by which all individuals and all national governments should act: this is the only universal, “one world” standard that is objectively valid. In that sense, the only true and valid New World Order is Jesus Christ’s New World Order: the moral order (both private and public, individual and political) for His new world. And His people are God’s agents of change, whose individual “assignments” (no matter in what realm, and no matter how big or small) are to carry out God’s will (His principles) in that world, during the course of world history, thus influencing and changing that history for the advancement of God’s historical plan. For the world needs to realize: that God’s plan is the real change that is needed. His Biblical standard is the change that is needed to straighten out the world mess–all the messes of the world that result from man’s sinful nature. But the only ones empowered with the knowledge to see clearly enough to try to straighten out the mess are God’s people–those who sincerely and resolutely follow His will. The knowledge they must accept, in order to be effective change agents, is the only knowledge that is objectively true: God’s Biblical revelation. Carrying out these Biblical precepts will require submission to God’s will, and complete dependence upon Him for knowledge, comfort, and everything else: nothing less will do.
Jesus, after his comment on the kingdom of God, warned His people about following false “messiahs” (even ones claiming to be the secret “second coming of Christ”):
“Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
“‘And they will say to you, “Look here!” or “Look there!” Do not go after them or follow them.
“‘For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
“‘But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
“‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:
“‘They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
“‘Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
“‘Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. [*****]
“‘Whosoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it’” (Luke 17:22-30, 33).
In other words: complete adherence to God’s will, in humble dependence upon Him rather than following one’s own way: that will result in the true preservation of life. One should think of acting out Christianity as living life according to His principles, as a good agent should. There is only one way to really do this: to want nothing the world has to offer more than what He has to offer. That is, to not want anything badly enough where one would be tempted to sacrifice His principles for it.
In every avenue and field of life, what the world system offers eventually entails a price: paying the price that is doing something that is against the Creator’s principles, something an agent of His should not do. So there is the potential that any one of these worldly attractions–anything the agent sets his or her affection on–will attempt to lure him or her away from God’s group. But nothing less than God’s own principles will satisfy a true member of His group. Such a person will search for perfection his whole life long until he comes back to his senses and realizes: the only perfect person is Jesus Christ, because He is God. Only He has what His people want. He saves them from the false thoughts and empty goals with which they have become so disenchanted.
In chapter 18 of the Book of Luke, Jesus showed people the meaning of justice through the parable of the “unjust judge,” and by holding up God’s righteous commandments to the rich young ruler (who yet didn’t want to go “all the way” in giving God his whole life).
“Then Peter said, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’
“So He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Luke 18:28-30).
That is the attitude that is the mark of the World Christian Civilization–the attitude that characterizes the real agents of change. Living such a life influences people and events, and inspires and produces results: real progress.
When Jesus drove the crooked moneychangers out of the temple in Jerusalem, “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up’” (John 2:17). Those words describing Jesus’ absolute dedication to promoting God’s interests were found in Psalm 69:9–which talked about enduring estrangement and reproach from secular-minded people as the cost of following God’s principles. Also, the same concept was found in Psalm 119:139 (“My zeal has consumed me, Because my enemies have forgotten Your words.”), in the midst of a long tribute to the joy and the glory of following God’s pure, righteous precepts that comprise His Law.
Such dedication to God’s interests–to His moral and legal principles–is what characterizes the universal “world order” comprised of God’s “change agents.”
It is Christians–those that are the true, the humble, the sincerely-dedicated to God’s principles–that constitute God’s One World Order that is the world Christian civilization.
It’s the only world system that’s really worth believing in.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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