Gary concludes his interview with Jay Rudolph on the Plumb Line radio program.
Family, church, and civil governments reflect the self-government of the people, whether good or bad. At the civil level, a nation gets what it votes for. Civil government, no matter how righteously conceived, cannot make people better. Leadership, like water, rises to its own level, the righteousness or unrighteousness of the people. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, gave this advice to the nation: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports” (September 17, 1796).
Self-government is generated through the power of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26), therefore, ultimately we cannot talk about self-government without addressing the person and work of Jesus Christ. Men fail in self-government because they are in rebellion against God. The heart of rebellious sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, must be regenerated. Only the renewing work of the Holy Spirit can effect such a change. For the unbeliever, the law and the threat of punishment keep him in check (1 Timothy 1:9-10). Even for the Christian, because he is still a sinner, the law and the consequences that come with disobedience (punishment) keep him in check as well.
Any society that has a history of self-control among the citizenry has at its foundation a biblical moral order. Those nations that attempt to copy the fruit of a Christian society without copying the root (the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit) will eventually degenerate and collapse. Christian virtues will be counterfeited, and attempts will be made by the State (civil government at the national level), from a desire for a man-centered utopia, to force a humanistically conceived “morality” in the name of “the people.” Such regimes more often than not end in bloodshed.
We should not expect any long-term change in society without a radical change in the belief patterns of the citizenry. This means that a revival and reformation must sweep across America with millions converted. From new hearts will flow a new, albeit imperfect, society. Societal change without personal regeneration is a myth and an impossibility. If we are going to see society changed, then we must see individuals changed. Evangelism, therefore, cannot be divorced from our talk about “good government.” But these internally transformed individuals need a guidebook to know what needs to be changed and how to do it. The Bible is that guidebook.
God and Government
With a fresh new look, more images, an extensive subject and scripture index, and an updated bibliography, God and Government is ready to prepare a whole new generation to take on the political and religious battles confronting Christians today. May it be used in a new awakening of Christians in America—not just to inform minds, but to stimulate action and secure a better tomorrow for our posterity.Buy Now
Gary concludes his interview with Jay Rudolph on the Plumb Line radio program. History is full of examples of both kings and religious leaders overstepping jurisdictional boundaries. The Bible is clear that government and politics are not the same. There are several broad categories of governments—family, church, civil—but each one is dependent upon self-governed individuals. As Robert Winthrop succinctly put it: “Men will be governed by either the Bible or the bayonet.”