One God, One Kingdom
A consideration of our duty to self government under God in relationship to godly civil government must rest upon a proper understanding of the current state of affairs in this life and realm. In other words, is the call to self control limited to personal piety or is self government under God intended to impact our entire arena of activity?
In the first article of this series we noted the requirement to harbor proper presuppositions concerning reality. In the second article it was established that apart from the a priori acceptance of God as sovereign it is impossible to establish a viable system of ethics. In this article we will consider the notion that Christians are subjects of two spiritual kingdoms. For, according to some, God rules only in the hearts of his people while Satan rules everything else. However, this doctrine is based upon a faulty interpretation of Scripture.
Throughout the New Testament, Satan is called the ruler of this world (John 12:31) the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). At the same time, the Bible says Satan was cast out of heaven during the ministry of Jesus (Luke 10:17-19), was about to be crushed under the feet of the saints (Romans 16:20) and is easily put to flight upon resistance (James 4:7). So which is it? Does Satan command a kingdom in competition with God or is he a soundly defeated foe, reduced to harassing a superior force through hopeless hit-and-run tactics. The answer is, a little of both.
As a feature of the old covenant age, Satan ruled this earth in Adam's place. He was given access to the heavenly throne and to the Saints (Job 1:6-ff, Zechariah 3:1). Rather than Man acting as vice regent, angels were given responsibility to superintend in the affairs of men (Psalms 68:17, Acts 7:38, 53, Galatians 3:19, Hebrews 2:2-5). Even then, the devil was under the complete control of Yahweh. He was not the sovereign king of the Earth but a deputy used by God to chasten humanity until the coming of the Messiah. With the advent of the last Adam Jesus Christ, things changed. Satan was cast down and the kingdom of God in Christ was established. The transition from the old covenant to the new was realized in the first century with its completion marked by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70 (1 Corinthians 7:31, 2 Corinthians 3:11, Hebrews 7:11-12, 8:13). Thus the continuing references to Satan as the ruler of this world found in the New Testament.
Moreover, the Bible tells us that the sovereign LORD is awe-inspiring; he is the great king who rules the whole earth! (Psalms 47:2). He is the undisputed Master of the cosmos who rules over the nations (Psalms 47:8). In this age of the Son of Man, God's ascendancy is exercised by Jesus the Christs to whom has been given "all authority in heaven and on earth... Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). There are a multitude of other passages we might reference, but the Bible is clear in telling us that God alone rules creation. In this age of the Son of Man, Believers are called to bring "all earth's systems and processes into a state of optimum productivity and utility, offering the greatest glory to God and benefit to mankind" (Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, 41). In light of this, there is no reason to believe self government under God excludes participation in civil government as a servant of the Most High.
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