Practice What You Preach

Quotes are from Kenneth L. Gentry’s Greatness of the Great Commission, pages 73-77.

The rallying cry of concerned Christians is not in the least the call for dominion through political manipulation and military conquest. The promotion of the crown rights of King Jesus,[1]as it may be expressed, is through the means of the Great Commission’s evangelistic call to disciple the nations. Clearly the means of Christ’s dominion in the world is to exercise, through His people, a spiritual influence, not an influence through carnal warfare or political upheaval.[2]

The Right Sort uses badges & guns, financial carrots & sticks, and media control to secure their rule.

We are going to have to persuade people, lead by example, and teach and practice the Law. Yes, badges and guns will be needed for murders, thieves etc, but that just suppress evil: such things cannot build a good and righteous society.

Only the Spirit of God, lived out by His people, ca do that!

The Christian road to a holy and free world, a dominion by men & women over the earth (and not a dominion over men & women!) is a slow road, but the better road.

In fact, we are reminded once again that “The term ‘make disciples’ places somewhat more stress on the fact that the mind, as well as the heart and will, must be won for God.”[3] The reason being that Christ’s kingdom is “not of this world,” that is, it does not receive its power or exercise its influence like earthly kingdoms (John 18:36). This is because it operates from “within,” rather than from without.[4] Christ’s authority, we must remember, is “in heaven and on earth”; it comes from above and works within.

As time goes on, more people will follow Christ, and – empowered by the Holy Spirit – will follow the Law placed in their hearts.

And as time goes on, the unbeliever will have to at least present as a Christian at some level: no (public) murders, no (public) theft, fewer (punishable) lies, etc. Obeying the commands brings blessings, even for unbelievers (“common grace”), so the world will be more peaceable, free, and prosperous over time.

True: the commandment to populate the world will suffer a temporary setback over the next two centuries due to perversion & child murder. Let’s guesstimate a fall from a peak of ~11 billion in 2050 down to 1 billion in 2200. After the bust, the surviving cultures are going to be rather more intolerant of today’s delusions.

Note that, with the longer lifespans and greater wealth at the era — after the recovery from the Demographic Bust is completed — growth will resume, but at a lower pace. For example, a (genetically modified) woman of the era may live to 400 years, but only bear four children per century.

The command to teach is a command to “teach them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20a). We are to urge the promotion of Christian theory and practice. The theoretical foundation in the Great Commission (“all authority”), gives rise to the practical duties (“go,” “disciple,” “baptize,” “teach to observe”). In fact, it is important to note the general order of instruction in the New Testament epistles. There is the common tendency to lay down doctrinal foundations (theory) first, and then to erect upon those sure foundations ethical directives (practice).[5] That is, there is the call to “practice what you preach.”[6]

Setting up mystery cults, focused on spiritual contemplation, and tied to various temples where the sacred rituals are made, was NOT the goal of the apostles.

We are here to change the world, the laws as well as the heart.

Again we are reminded that conversion to the Christian faith involves the taking up of a new life style.[7] As we noted earlier, Christ claims to be “the way” of life (John 14:6). He obligates us to “follow” Him.[8] He promises us blessings for building our lives on Him and His teaching, and warns us that a refusal to build our entire lives on Him and His doctrine will eventuate in collapse and ruin.[9] Thus, the implementation of His truth claims in every endeavor and walk of life is here rightly commanded of us.

You can guess the double woe nations – and people! – earn when they follow Christ, get the goodies, and then drop Him like a hot potato in favour of some thinly-disguised form of self-adoration.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Hebrews 6:4-8, King James Version

As with people, so with nations.

And — I predict — as it was with Ancient Israel and her Temple, so it will be with Western Europe and her cathedrals. From Notre Dame (built more for the Glory of France than the Glory of God, I bet!) right down the line.

Those who neglect the social and cultural ramifications of Christ’s Word relegate Scripture to practical irrelevance regarding the larger issues of life. Like the Old Testament, the New Testament promotes a Christian view of social duty and involvement. Or course, it is concerned with marriage and divorce (Matt. 5:27-32; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:1-10), family relations (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-20), and child rearing (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:21), as all agree. But it also instructs us regarding the rich man’s duty to the poor (Matt. 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-25; 2 Cor. 8: 13ff), employer-employee relationships (Eph. 6:5-9; Luke 10:17), honest wages (1 Tim. 5:18; Luke 10:7), free-market bargaining (Matt. 20:1-15), private property rights (Acts 5:4), godly citizenship and the proper function of the state (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), the family as the primary agency of welfare (1 Tim. 5:8), proper use of finances (Matt. 15: 14ff), the dangers of debt (Rom. 13:8), the morality of investment (Matt. 25:14-30), the obligation to leaving an inheritance (2 Cor. 12:14), penal restraints upon criminals (Rom. 13:4; 1 Tim. 1:8-10), lawsuits (1 Cor. 6:1-8), and more. In doing so, it reflects and supplements the socio-cultural concern of the Old Testament, urging the people of God to live all of life under Christ’s authority, not just the inner-personal or family or church areas of life. Hence, the command to “observe all things I commanded you.”

How do you know if you love Christ? If you do what He told you to do in the Bible!

And one thing we are commanded to do is to encourage our nations – as an ethnic group and as a public force of law – to grow more and more obedient to Christ.

We are to disciple the nations!

Yet there are those in evangelical circles who would attempt to dissuade in-depth social involvement for the believer. One missions textbook does so:

Christ is the wisest of all philosophers. He is the wisdom of God, yet founded no philosophical school. Christ is the greatest of all scholars and educators, yet He instituted no educational system. Christ is the greatest benefactor and philanthropist, yet He founded no social welfare societies, institutions of philanthropic foundations. Christ was ‘Christian presence” with deepest concerns for freedom, social uplift, equality, moral reformation and economic justice. Yet Christ founded no organization or institutions to initiate, propagate or implement the ideals which He incarnated… Christ did not become involved in processions against Roman overlords, slavery, social and economic injustices, or marches for civil rights, higher wages, or better education.[10]

That book continues elsewhere:

We are sent not to preach sociology but salvation; not economics but evangelism; not reform but redemption; not culture but conversion; not a new social order but a new birth; not revolution but regeneration; not renovation but revival; not resuscitation but resurrection; not a new organization but a new creation; not democracy but the gospel; not civilization but Christ; we are ambassadors, not diplomats.[11]

Contrary to this text — which would limit Christ’s rule to mystical otherworthy realms that will never hinder the rule or challenge the will of Our Masters — the commandments of Jesus Christ are to be manifested in the real world, in time and on earth.

Yes, we are to fight slavery, push for economic justice, the conversion of the culture, the redemption of our politics, the reconstruction of our laws.

Not by revolution, but by the unstoppable might of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is King of all things, right now.

And all thing must recognize His rule.

Starting with Christians and their actual obedience to His Law-word, right now.

But should we not preach “biblical sociology” so that the recipients of salvation might know how they ought to behave as social creatures? Should we not preach “biblical economics” to those who are evangelized, so that men might know how to be good stewards of the resources God has entrusted into their care, resources they use every day of their lives? Should we not promote a “biblical culture” to those who are converted so that they might labor toward a transforming of a godless culture into a God-honoring one? On and on we could go in response.

There are even Christian colleges advertising along these lines. The following advertisement was see in Faith For the Family, advertising a Christian university: “Christianize the world? FORGET IT!…. Try to bring Christian values, morals, precepts, and standards upon a lost world and you’re wasting your time…. Evangelize – preach the Gospel; snatch men as brands from the burning…. All your preaching won’t change the world, but the Gospel ‘is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.'”[12] (We might ask: What academic course work could be assigned that would be consistent with such a view of Christian thought? What textbooks does such a university assign? The answer is obvious: textbooks written either by humanists or by Christians who do not share this university’s presuppositions. By the way, just for the record, until the “name inflation” of the 1970s, a university was an academic institution that granted the Ph. D degree.)

Let the dead bury the dead.

Another evangelical writer agrees, when he comments on the Great Commission: “What we are to obey is modeled for us in the examples of the life of Christ and the Apostles. They did not call for political revolution, organize a political party, or plot the systematic takeover of society. Instead they spent their energy saving souls and transforming the lives of those converts into citizens of God’s spiritual kingdom.”[13] Unfortunately, the way the statement is framed (“revolution,” “political party,” “takeover”) puts the worst possible light on the spiritual call to socio-cultural involvement. Our weapons are not carnal for political revolution, but spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Our effectiveness is not through political parties, but through the Church (Eph. 1:19-21), prayer (1 Tim. 2:2-5; 1 Pet. 3:12), and godly labor (Luke 19:13; 1 Pet. 2:15-16). Our goal is not to “takeover” as in a coup, but to win through powerful word (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17). As one writer has put it: “the labor is ours; the subduing is His.”[14]

Exactly.

We proclaim His truth, follow His direction, restructure the world around us: our family, our church, our neighbourhood, our workplace.

We do our job,and we will gain the victory, little by little.


[1] Acts 17:7; Rev. 1:5-6.

[2] “The basis for building a Christian society is evangelism and missions that lead to a widespread Christian revival, so that the great mass of earth’s inhabitants will place themselves under Christ’s protection, and then voluntarily use His covenantal laws for self-government. Christian reconstruction begins with personal conversion to Christ and self-government under God’s law; then it spreads to others through revival; and only later does it bring comprehensive changes in civil law, when the vast majority of voters voluntarily agree to live under biblical blueprints.” Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), pp. 585-586.

[3] William Hendriksen, Matthew (New Testament Commentary) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), p. 999.

[4] Matt: 18:84; Luke 17:21; 1 Cor. 4:20; 2 Cor. 10:4-5.

[5] Although this is no hard-and-fast rule with water-tight compartments, the general tendency is especially evident in Paul’s writings. Paul urges a specific conduct based on particular doctrinal considerations, often by the use of a “therefore” (Rom. 1-11, cp. 12:1ff; Eph. 1-3, cp. 5:1ff; Phil. 1-8, cp. 4:1ff; Col. 1-2, cp. 3:1ff)

[6] See: Matt: 7:24; 21:28-32; 23:3; Jms. 2:22.

[7] Luke 3:8; Rom. 6:18; 1 Cor. 6:10-11; Eph. 2:2-3; 4:17, 22, 28; 5:8; Col. 3:5-8; 1 Thess. 1:9.

[8] Matt. 10:38; 16:24; John 8:12; 10:27; 12:26.

[9] Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 11:28; John 13:17; 14:15, 23, 24; John 15:14.

[10] George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 211.

[11] Ibid., p. 209.

[12] Cited in Herbert W. Bowsher, “Will Christ Return ‘At Any Moment’?” in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction 7:2 (Winter, 1981) 48.

[13] Lindsey, Road to Holocaust, p. 279.

[14] Herschell H. Hobbs. An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker, p. 422

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