Toward a Christian Society
© 06.04.07 By D. Eric Williams
Looking to the original state constitutions for inspiration does not mean that we are bound to adhere to them in every detail. For instance, most states required their elected officials to embrace specifically Protestant beliefs. In this sense the early documents are products of their time. Certainly there is no need to identify Christianity in narrowly Protestant terms. The Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed are definitions that all true Christians can agree upon; these are adequate statements of true religion. Rather, our review of the original state constitutions is designed to remind us that this nation was created by men who embraced a thoroughly Christian world-view. No doubt about it, this nation was founded as a Christian commonwealth.
From the perspective of the Believer, the question at this point would be, "are we genuinely called to establish a Christian society on earth, or is our biblical responsibility restricted to saving as many souls as possible before the second coming?" In other words, do we accept the Left Behind argument or do we labor to bring all areas of life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this age?
In a way it doesn't matter what our nation's forefathers believed. Perhaps, they were misguided in their attempt to create the shining city on a hill. Hence, our initial focus will be on the biblical record; what does the Bible actually tell us to do?
In Mark 1:14-15 we read; "And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, (15) and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel" (a literal translation [Majority Text] reads, "And after the delivering up of John, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the reign of God, and saying - `Fulfilled has been the time, and the reign of God has come nigh, change your mind, and believe in the good news.'"). I think that many Christians are not fully informed concerning the nature of the Gospel. We tend to focus on the individual aspect of the Good News; personal forgiveness of sins and the restoration of relationship with God through the substitutionary death of His Son. Yet Jesus Himself defined the Gospel as the favorable message of God's rule in the Messiah. In other words, the Good News is that the reign of the Messiah has begun. In Christ (the Son of Man), Man has been readmitted into the presence of God (Eph. 1:3, 2:6). The page of history has turned; Satan has fallen like lightening from heaven and the rule of Jesus Christ is advancing.
The Messiah's coming reign was originally announced in the Garden of Eden when God assured the Woman that her seed would one day crush the head of the Serpent. It was reaffirmed in the promise to Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3, 18:18, 22:18 and so on). King David was assured that the Messiah would descend from him (2 Sam. 7:12-13, Psalm 132:11-12 and so on), and the prophets continually reminded God's people that the Messiah would one day come and establish the rule of God on earth (Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 9:6, Hagg. 2:7-9 etc.).
As one late nineteenth century writer put it:
The Messiah is the same person as "the seed of the woman" (Gen. 3:15), "the seed of Abraham" (Gen_22:18), the "Prophet like unto Moses" (Deu. 18:15), "the priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Psa. 110:4), "the rod out of the stem of Jesse" (Isa. 11:1, Isa. 11:10), the "Immanuel," the virgin's son (Isa. 7:14), "the branch of Jehovah" (Isa. 4:2), and "the messenger of the covenant" (Mal. 3:1). This is he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." The Old Testament Scripture is full of prophetic declarations regarding the Great Deliverer and the work he was to accomplish. Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men.1
Thus when Jesus declared that the "time is fulfilled" He meant that the time had come for the actualization of "all of God's promises" to His people (2 Cor. 1:20). I have written in another place that Jesus is the true Israel, true seed of Abraham, true son of David, true temple, and true land of promise, so I won't take the time to repeat the argument now. Here it will suffice to say that the Bible does not indicate there is any postponement of God's purpose in Christ. Instead, in the fullness of time, Jesus came to earth and established the kingdom of Heaven just as God had promised. For this reason Jesus maintained throughout His ministry that the kingdom had indeed come to earth with His advent (Matt. 4:17, 5:3, 10, 6:33, 11:12, 13:24, 37, 10:7, Luke 10:9-11, 17:20-21, 18:24, John 3:3-5, cf. Col. 1:13).
Yet, what is the "kingdom of God?"2 In a nutshell, it is the rule of Christ in the lives of His people. And since Believers live in the world (but are not of it), the rule of Jesus is manifest in the world through those who belong to Him. One who belongs to Jesus will not be sexually immoral, nor idolatrous, an adulterer, a homosexual, a thief, greedy, a drunkard, a reviler, nor a swindler (1 Cor. 6:9-10). A Christian must not be involved in sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, nor orgies, "and things like these." As the Apostle Paul said, "I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21). In addition Paul reminds us to be,
"...imitators of God, as beloved children. (2) And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (3) But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (4) Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (5) For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:1-5).
In other words, the rule of Jesus Christ is made evident in how we think, speak and act. Moreover, His rule touches every area of our lives. As subjects of King Jesus, we exercise our right to vote in keeping with our primary allegiance; we understand that we are called to provide authority and covering for our wives and children; we do our job heartily as unto the Lord. If we have any confidence at all in the life changing power of the Gospel, how can we reject the idea that the kingdom of God in Christ has an immediate and positive impact in this present age? To the degree that it does not, we, as followers of Jesus, must take the blame. It is because of our lack of faith in the life changing power of the Good News that we do so little to see that change realized.
Consequently, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this essay is yes, we are, called to establish a Christian society on earth in this present age; it should be obvious that each and every Christian is expected to make their own sphere of influence a "Christian society." In the essays to follow we will detail the extent and nature of that call.