Authority and Life


Systematic Theology – Authority
Authority and Life
Professor: Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.

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Let us worship God. Thus saith the Lord, ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jesus said blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God we come into Thy presence hungering and thirsting after righteousness, after Thy justice. Oh lord the heathen rage and take council together against Thee, and they seek to destroy Thy kingdom and Thy saints. We come to Thee oh Lord beseeching Thee to work in our time, in our midst, in and through us, to accomplish Thy purpose, to bring forth Thy justice, and to make known Thy so great salvation. Bless us this day by Thy word and by Thy Spirit, that day by day we may move in Thee and to Thy purpose, to do Thy will oh Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

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I know that if God works through me, it is as a favour.

A massive, unearned favour.

Keep an eye on this bit:

From Deuteronomy 4:29, ESV

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

And again, from Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 10:12

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 11:13

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 13:3

you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 26:16

“This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 30:2

and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 30:6

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Deuteronomy 30:10

when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

And – a variation on the theme – Deuteronomy 32:46

he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.

I am going no further than Deuteronomy, but the phase continues throughout the Bible.

Well, just one little bit…

Jesus echos the demand of the Law, as per Matthew 27:37 below (Luke and John, too!)

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

People cry out that the God of the Old Testament was so mean.

I suggest that the Lord God — and there is only one, over all time, unchanging, who authored an unchanging law which will never pass away, and always be absolutely authoritative long after heaven and earth has passed away — makes serious demands of those who would follow Him, and allows no wiggle room.

Will He accept repentance of our sins? Yes, in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Will He tolerate redefining His Law-Word? No.

If you are not willing to give your whole heart, soul, and mind to God, then why should He waste time on you?

Go stand with the Right Sort, the Secularists and the Darwinists, shouting that their word defines reality: that who they call a man is a man, and who they say is a woman is a woman, regardless of objective reality.

Their God is who they see in a mirror, or at a government podium. Christians are to worship a different deity.

A sane deity, for starters.

—<Quote begins>—

Our scripture this morning is from the Psalms, the first Psalm. Our subject authority and life, authority and life, Psalm one.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

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I can sense the hostility of our ungodly and extremely scornful Overlords.

This means that we are on the right track.

—<Quote begins>—

Psalm one is to little appreciated in our antinomian age. It gives the temper to all the Psalms, and it sets forth a fundamental fact, namely that submission to God’s authority means life, while rejection of God and His law means death. Its promises are very clear, that anyone whose delight is in the law of the Lord who meditates in the law day and night is going to be like a tree planted in rivers of water that bringeth forth His fruit in a season. We are promised that if this fits us whatsoever we do shall prosper. Well people don’t like things that plain. Today to many things are programmed for defeat, they go through the scriptures to find all the texts that deal with defeat, and it’s true that there is warfare with this world, that the world is at war against God and therefore will be at war against all who are Godly. But the fact is, it is an uneven war. The forces of ungodliness, of rebellion, are not going to triumph. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. But people prefer to turn the moral universe upside down and are unwilling to say that God has said “whatsoever he (the Godly man) who delights in the law of the Lord shall do, shall prosper.

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Our real problem isn’t with the Overlords: they are visibly turning into chaff, blowing the wind.

Our real problem is with their Little Helpers, forever eager to distract us from expanding the Kingdom of God in the here and now, and have us chase after irrelevancies and failed prophecies and distracting controversies.

Always eager to speak against Christ’s Kingship in the ear and now, over the entire world.

Always insisting that Christ’s Law-Word must fail in time and on earth, and that the Snakes must win in time and on earth.

It makes you wonder just whose side they are on!1

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Well this Psalm makes known how serious our predicament is today. Some commentaries which profess to believe the Bible from cover to cover have actually held that this Psalm gives, and I quote “a distorted statement of the nature of true happiness.” Now that’s rebellion against God, to despise His word. Because the law is praised in this Psalm, hence many commentators insist this Psalm is alien to the Spirit of the New Testament. One writer however says it’s a good Psalm, but doesn’t apply today. It looks ahead to the millennium, and it’s a picture of the ideal man in the millennium. Dewey Morgan, a British writer, writes quite elegantly about Psalm 1 as one, and quote, “in which the distant poles of God and man merge into a splendid orb and man becomes one with his creator.” But never once does he refer to the law, or to the fact that these blessings are promised to those who obey God’s law and who are faithful to the authority of God. After you read page after page of Dewey Morgan you wonder what Bible he is using because it is not recognizably the Psalm one that we encounter in our Bible. 

—<Quote ends>—

The hatred of the Law of God — and so, implicitly, the hatred of Divine Authority and Divine Rule — did not start with the atheists.

“Oh, if only God would Just Shut Up
how happy we would be!”

You can actually see their skin get that scaly, shiny sheen, right before your eyes

—<Quote begins>—

Now this not to say that all the commentators have done this. Spurgeon and Joseph Addison, Alexander and others have seen the meaning very clearly. It is interesting that unlike many another Psalm no author is listed for this. So we don’t know whether it was Asaph’s or David’s or whose Psalm. In a sense however it is the very word of God, as are all the Psalms, because we encounter these words elsewhere. We encounter them in Jeremiah 17:5-8 in essence the same thing where this Psalm is referred to, and we are told,

“5 Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” 

What does God tell us through Jeremiah? Simple that the ungodly man has put his roots into a desert where there is no water, where there is only salt which will kill any growing thing, where he is cursed because he has departed from the Lord. But the man who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted by waters, who does not feel the heat of oppression, has no need to be careful in the year of draught because the waters there will flow continually and shall not cease from yielding fruit. I submit that the scripture from beginning to end tells us in a hundred and one ways what Psalm one summarizes, why are we afraid to claim the promises of this Psalm? Why do men run it down, see it as Old Testament? As though God could only be good to primitive people you know, the Hebrews, but now we’re too sophisticated in the age of grace to have blessings. That’s in effect what they are saying, and I believe it is blasphemous

—<Quote ends>—

God speaks the simple – and rather easily demonstrable! – truth.

And men run from the waters of life, and to the desert salt, preferring to hate God and die than submit to God and live.

I suppose that said rebels will shout on and on about how much they love liberty… right until they run into trouble, and start looking for a Mighty Man to Save Them.

Born losers.

Born slaves, too.

Preferring to be slaves to Mighty Men, rather than becoming obedient, Adopted Sons of God, destined to rule all things with Jesus Christ Our Lord, the only Begotten Son of God.

—<Quote begins>—

When we compare Psalm one and Ezekiel [I think he meant Jeremiah] 17:5-8 what we are told is very clear. To trust in the Lord is to obey His covenant law. Belief in God’s law is the way of life, of blessedness. And second, to delight in the law of God is to delight in life, and to reject God’s law is to choose death. The beginning of this century one commentator, an English scholar Kilpatrick, made the statement and I quote “divine knowledge cannot be abstract, nor ineffectual.” We cannot know God and hold abstract knowledge. Our God is a living fire, and there’s nothing abstract about fire. Our God is the supreme and ultimate person, and there is nothing abstract about a person.

—<Quote ends>—

Powerful Men LOVE Powerful Abstractions… as such things are nothing more than tools in their hand.

They do not like a Powerful Personal God, who has His own will, His own Law-Word.

And Who is willing to enforce it, too.

—<Quote begins>—

Our Lord makes very clear the essential unity of faith, obedience, and doctrine. In John 7 verses 16 & 17 our Lord says “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In other words the way to know the blessings of Psalm one is to move in terms of them, to delight in God’s law, to obey God’s law, to put ourselves under God’s authority, then we can have the blessings, because the knowledge of God cannot be abstract, it is a living thing. We can no more separate faith, works, and knowledge, then we can separate a man’s head from his body and from his feet and expect all three to be alive, it’s sure death. And so those that talk about a head knowledge and a heart knowledge of the Lord and who want to separate love and justice, faith and works, grace and law, are trying to dissect what cannot be dissected.

—<Quote ends>—

What God unifies, Men want to divide.

Faith they can tolerate, so long as it is an abstract faith to nothing in particular.

Obedience and Doctrine (Truth), on the other hand, is deeply hated. Until it is obedience to Powerful Men, and the doctrines of Powerful Men, Men with the right amounts of power and money and Proper Certifications.

—<Quote begins>—

Man we are told by this Psalm, the Godly man, is like a tree planted by rivers of water. Note the Psalm does not say planted by a river, by rivers of water. The imagery is purposefully in the plural. There are waters without end, sustenance without end, for those who believe and obey the Lord. Moreover notice it is a planted tree, or very literally the connotation here is a transplanted tree, and the word is very often used to indicate something transplanted. So we who believe in the Lord, we who are saved, are transplanted out of the dry and dessert place into a place of rivers of water, and we are there protected. His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. This Psalm is giving us an equation. Equations are something we have in mathematics. Now what this Psalm is telling us; if we believe and obey God, if we submit to His authority, this equal life; if we do not believe in God, if we despise His word, this equals death. And I submit when God makes and equation like that it has all the weight and authority of 2+2= 4 and then some. 

God means what He says, this is the way that it is. He doesn’t say there aren’t problems in this world, He doesn’t say that the ungodly rage against us, and that isn’t true, He says “yes these things happen, but here, this is the fundamental equation. All these things happen, the world is full of storms, the world is full of the wrath of the ungodly, but basically this is the fact. Here and now, not just in the world to come, the Godly are blessed in the face of all their trials and all their persecution. They have productivity, they endure in the time of judgment, and they come forth in victory. Godliness equals life, Godliness is obedience and a delight in the law of the Lord.

—<Quote ends>—

Godliness is life, and both Godliness and life are tied to obedience to the Law-Word of Christ. As Jesus Christ Himself says.

From John 14:15, ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

And in John 14:21, Jesus teaches

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

—<Quote begins>—

On the other hand the ungodly are scornful, an interesting word, scornful. They despise everything. As one Rabbi long ago commenting on this verse said “to the man whose soul is rotted with scorn nothing is sacred.” To the man whose soul is rotted with scorn, nothing is sacred. The man who is scornful has a soul rotted with scorn. Now this Psalm militates against a very powerful tradition and force in the modern era. This is one might say a very strongly anti-modern Psalm. In the modern world, of course this is a part of sin but it has been developed, it has been refined with the Romantic Movement and has become a part of modern culture. Creativity, power, and freedom, and all things desirable are equated with revolt against God. Some years ago a scholar, Mario Praz, wrote an exceptionally good study The Romantic Agony. In The Romantic Agony what he did was to document the fact that the Romantic Movement which began with the idolatry of the good, the true, and the beautiful, ended up seeking out and idolizing every kind of perversion and depravity. And it was a logical development because they sought the good, the true, and the beautiful apart from God, and their rebellion against God led them ultimately to drop everything that in any way smacked of God.

As Albert Camus, the French existentialist said “because God is good I must choose evil.” And the course of the ungodly becomes deliberately evil, and so you have the romantic agony, the culmination of rebellion in the adoption of every kind of perversion, every kind of degeneracy, of every form of suicide. “All they that hate me love death” God says, for such people to be alive means to sin and to defy God. Early in the 1970’s near one university a student stood outside a church shouting and railing at the people as they came out of the church, accusing them of being the living dead. He was on drugs, so he was the living dead. But what was he saying? He was saying that because they had never experimented sexually with total permissiveness, and he was very graphic and specific, as he would ask a woman “have you ever tried this or that” and so on. Total permissiveness, with every kind of depravity, they were the living dead. Of course this kind of thing very early was set forth in the Romantic Movement.

One of the most brilliant, if undisciplined, of the Romantics William Blake in 1793 expressed his opinion about the virtue of rebellion against God’s law, declaring in his book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and I quote “Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained, and the restrainer or reason usurpers its place and governs the unwilling, and being restrained by it by degrees become passive till it is only the shadow of desire.” For Blake therefore any kind of moral restraint, any kind of self-discipline, was the prelude to fading away, to dying; so that the ungodly have made an equation. That to rebel against God and His moral law means creativity, power, and freedom; it means for them life. They see things as an equation. Of course they’ve turned things upside down, and what they are talking about equates with death. But Christians are afraid to trust God’s word and to say there is a correlation between authority and life, between faithfulness and life, between the way of the Lord walking in the council of the Lord, delighting in His law, and life. Blake said man’s desire must take priority over the law of God. Blake held that mans will is not fallen but good, and must be realized. It has authority and therefore for Blake and for others of the Romantic Movement, and the whole world of the ungodly to our day, to deny man his will is slavery, it is slavery. 

—<Quote ends>—

The Establishment really are a proud, scornful, and deeply contemptuous bunch.

That’s how you know that they are a temporary phenomena.

If they were humble and careful, they would stay alive and alert, and willing to admit when they get it wrong. As it is, they can be left to their increasingly isolated, blinkered, and delusional echo-chambers.

Willful isolation from God… the hatred of God… leads to madness (really, demonic control) and then death.

It really is that simple.

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A while back when there was a question of closing the bath houses where the homosexuals have been holding forth there were debates about it in Los Angeles and in San Francisco, as well as elsewhere, and it was interesting that one who argued, a homosexual, against closing the bathhouses insisted the problem was not the bath houses, it was simply matter of education. Education as to what, that homosexuality was bad? Oh no, no, not that. Somehow education is going to eliminate AIDS, it’s going to eliminate gonorrhea and syphilis, and it’s going to eliminate crime, that’s the mythology; that somehow education, data, will equate with life. That’s not what Psalm 1 tells us. The modern equation turns Psalm one upside down. Ungodliness and rebellion against God are seen as the life nourishing force, and the Biblical faith is held to be the way of death. After all this is what both humanist manifesto’s set forth. This is what liberationism in all its form, men’s, women’s, child’s, sets forth; the denial of God’s authority, and of God’s law, this is the way of life. And what Christians ought to be saying to all of this is “look at Psalm one, thus saith the Lord.”

—<Quote ends>—

Education cannot save. Medicine can help, maybe, but for a time, and to a limited extent: death is coming for us all.

Godly living really does add years, even decades, to your life: but even that blessing eventually comes to an end. Even the “good man” is a sinner at the end, and the penalty for sin is death.

—<Quote begins>—

Thus the central question with regard to authority cannot be on the secondary level. We finish today our series on authority, and we have dealt with it from a theological perspective. We haven’t gone into all the secondary matters, the authority of rulers, of husbands, of parents and so on. That’s all real enough, but none of that stands apart from the essential authority of God. And today authority is breaking down in every sphere because men do not take scripture seriously. Because what Psalm one tells us is not seen as God’s truth, it applies to the millennium, or it doesn’t express New Testament religion, it was for the primitive Hebrews. The issue in authority is between God and man, who is the Lord? In Genesis 3:1-5 and again in Matthew 4:1-11 the tempter says “my principle, that every man is his own God, this is the authoritative and governing principle.” And our Lord in return says “It is written, it is written, it is written.” God here spells out the word of authority, man shall not live, man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 

Men have pursued the tempters concept of authority. Of every man as his own God, they have pursued it to disaster and death. “He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all that hate me love death.” In Psalm one the alternative God provides is plainly set forth, the equation is there for us to read. Only under God’s total authority is there life for man both now and in the world to come. Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God Thy word is truth. Thou alone are the way, the truth, and the life. Give us grace to believe and to obey, to know that Thy word gives us the way of prosperity, of success, of triumph in Christ. Make us ever mindful that our Lord has summoned to believe him and to keep His commandments, to go forth making disciples of all nations, teaching them all things that Thou hast commanded. Make us joyful and faithful in this task, that whatsoever we do shall prosper. Grant us this we beseech Thee, in Jesus name amen.

—<Quote ends>—

Obedience to God gives live, to us and to our families, our houses, for thousands of generations.

Rebellion against God leads to death: again, to our families and our houses, for the three or four generations needed for the unstoppable wrath of God to shatter our hopes and dreams, and grind our future into futility, into so much dust and ashes.

Fear the Lord.


1Granted: Cornelius Van Til, a man worthy of respect (as he respected the Law of God, and had no problem cutting down the man-centred delusions of Our Betters, Immanuel Kant included), was indeed a defeatist. Indeed, as he did not believe in the Rapture but was an amillennialist, he was more of a defeatist than the silly Rapture-inclined people.

But, even though I am personally confident that Van Til is among the saved, the defeatist attitude still stinks of the smiling Establishment Men.

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