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Theonomy, the Only Biblical Government
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ďTheonomy, the Only Biblical GovernmentĒ


I. Introduction: What is the best type of government?


Democratic?  (Most common answer.)  What if a majority of the people want evil, like legal abortion?  In the Bible, a democratic consensus wanted to worship a golden calf and go back to Egypt.  They preferred the consistency of slavery rather than the rugged adventure of freedom.  In Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram stirred up rebellion in the Israelites against Moses and Aaron.  They wanted to elect their leaders and do what was right in their own eyes.  They wanted a democracy, not a theonomy.  God told Moses to have all of the democrats get on one side of a line and the God-worshipers get on the other.  Moses said, ďDepart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.Ē  As soon as the men took their stand, for God or for democracy, the ground opened up and the democrats went straight down to the pit of hell!  Counting those that died in the plague the next day, 15,000 perished Ė all because men choose democracy over God!  A democracy puts the supreme power in the hands of the people, and therein lies its intrinsic fault.


Republic?  Our forefathers designed America to be a democratic Republic, not a democracy.  Unfortunately, we have had leaders who usurped their Constitutional limitations and we have become more socialistic in recent decades).  As a Democratic Republic, we have a Constitution that delineates a limitation of powers among the leaders and acknowledges God-given rights, and we elect our leaders.  But what if the Constitution justifies evil?  What if the Constitution legalizes racist slavery, as ours initially did?  A Republic puts the supreme power in a Constitution, therein lies the fault of a Republic.


Monarchy?  What does history tell us about monarchies?  A good king may bring peace and prosperity, but if the king is wicked, history shows us and the Bible confirms that the people mourn because of the abuses they suffer.  In a monarchy, the supreme power is with the king, and therein lies the fault of a monarchy. 


Note: Of course, as with a democracy and a republic, a monarchy may be blessed by God.  In Deut. 17, for instance, God places limits upon the power of King.  He may not multiply his wealth at the expense of his subjects, he may not multiply wives to himself, and he shall obey Godís law.  But the supreme power of a democracy, a republic, or a monarchy that God can bless, lies not with the people, or the Constitution, or the king, but with the King of kings and Lord of lords! 


Socialist?  Communist?  The state acts like it is God, and does not respect God-given rights.  The state thinks the commandment, ďThou shalt not stealĒ, doesnít apply to it.  Ecclesiastes 3:13 and 5:19 say that God gives men the right to enjoy the fruit of all their labor, but the state thinks it has the right to usurp God-given rights and take a portion of the peopleís labor.  The supreme power of such a form of government belongs to the state, and therein lies the fault of such a form of government.


II. Theonomy is the ideal Biblical government 


A theonomy is defined as a government ruled by God (the God of the Bible).  The basic principle of theonomy is that everybody should obey Godís Word, whether they be kings, governors, congressmen, senators, or judges.  Godís Word speaks to all matters of life -  economy, taxation, criminal justice, etc. Ė Godís Word has the answers.  We may not like the answer or fully understand the answer, but God being good, His law is also good and our compliance with His law would maximize our potential Godís image-bearers.  Man cannot improve on God, however wise and sophisticated they think they have become and however hard they try.  As individuals and nations, compliance with His Word brings peace and blessing, disobedience to Him brings chaos and cursing.  (Deuteronomy 16:16 through 30:20)  From Genesis to John, the Bible proves that when a nation obeys God, it is blessed, and when the nation disobeys Godís law, they are cursed and ultimately destroyed or will soon be destroyed. 


Jeremiah 18:

7   At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8   If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9   And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10   If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.


What defines ďevilĒ?  Godís Word!  So the passage could be paraphrased: nations that obey Godís Word will be blessed, and nations that disobey Godís Word will be judged.


Proverbs 14:

34   Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.


Psalm 33:

12   Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.


(Many eschatological implications are commonly associated theonomy, but whether there ever will be a society with a godly government before Jesusí second coming is not a question with which we will deal.  Everybody should submit to Godís Word, governments not excepted Ė that is the principle I am defending herein.)


III. Theonomy is the ideal government to protect and secure liberty


God designed man to be free, free from tyranny, free from oppression, free from injustice.  When man is not free, he is miserable, his productivity is squandered, his imagination stifled, he cannot reach his potential as God's image-bearer.  Freedom is not the ability of men to do whatever they please without restriction.   We do not have the right to lie, to commit adultery, to be a sodomite, to rape, to murder, or the right to do any evil whatsoever to our free neighbor.  It is the law of God that not only grants our freedom from the abuses of others, but also limits our freedom in demanding that we not abuse our neighbor, that we treat them as we would want to be treated.  Only by walking in according to Godís law, which is summed up in one word, love, can man be truly free, as individuals and as a nation.


John 8:

34   Whosoever committeth sin is the servant to sin...

36   If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed


True freedom is freedom from sin, freedom from violations of Godís law (I Jn.3:4, Rom.6:16-23).


Psalm 119:
44   So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
45   And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.


Liberty, true liberty, cannot be divorced from law.  True liberty is discovered by living in obedience to Godís law, the way we were designed to live.  Godís law, which demands that we love our neighbor as ourselves, would secure our neighbor in their right to life, liberty, and property.  The law of God, for instance, forbids murder and therefore protects the God-given right to life.  The law of God forbids theft and therefore protects the God-given right to property.  Just as personal liberty is found by personally walking in obedience to Godís law, so national liberty is discovered when nations walk in obedience to Godís law.


The law of God is like the banks of the river.  When the river stays within its banks, the crops are watered, the ships sail safely, fish are plenteous, and the river is a blessing to the community.  But when the rains and the floods cause the river to transgress the banks which contain it, the river floods the crops, pollutes the water supply, kills the fish and livestock, destroys houses and lives, and becomes a curse to the community.  So likewise, when the rains of sin and unrestrained lust cause the river of humanity to swell and transgress the banks of God's law, mankind becomes dangerous and destructive.  The worst tyrannies of history, from Josef Stalin to Mao tse Tung to Adolf Hitler, are due to one thing Ė sin!  When the people begin to break Godís law with importunity, tyranny or anarchy soon follows.


The fear of God in government leaders would prevent tyranny and secure the people from abuses by the state because the state would respect its God-ordained limitations.  They would never try to usurp Godís place and demand the allegiance that is due only to God.


Mark 12:

17. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.


Rendering unto Caesar the things that belong only to God is state-worship and idolatry, and a godly government would respect its inferior position to God.  The Scripture says that leaders should be servants, not masters, and this would be the attitude of a godly government.  A godly government would never infringe on the God-given rights of its subjects, because for fear of offending the God who is the Judge of all, pauper and prince alike.

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