Government of God Expanded

God’s government over the lives of men is a key truth which will help us navigate through the confusion and competing claims for the hearts and minds of men. Yet that government is not readily understood and so I continue here a ramble through some of the elements of that government.

God is in Control

Deists think of God as a dispassionate and disengaged deity who initiated life but will not interfere with human existence. I am a theist. I believe that God is, as the Bible teaches, actively engaged in the issues of each of our lives.

The Bible reveals that God is in control of all that impacts us and has the power to totally transform or destroy our lives. He responds to our hearts and our prayers, giving us what is appropriate based on our walk with Him.

God is not only in control in the form of an external and interested personality able to impact our lives, but He is also in control via His prescribed order, which He has designed and instigated because it is the functionally effective form of government.

So, both by His sovereign power to intervene and by His prescribed order for mankind we have what I refer to as the Government of God.

Divine Hierarchy

Part of God’s prescription for human government is the hierarchical authority structure He prescribed for our good. God has set in place an order of governmental authority in the form of hierarchical authorities who exercise authority by being under the authority above them.

This divine hierarchy is explained by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In 1Corinthians 11:3 Paul points out that God is the ultimate authority figure, with Christ under Him. Man is under Christ and the wife is under the authority of her husband.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

Insights from God’s Hierarchy

This hierarchy reveals that God endorses and prescribes structural authority. People are not to be a law unto themselves but are to be under authority. But the authority over them is also to be under authority.

The only ultimate source of authority is God. Despotic leaders, corrupt administrators and evil parents are out of step with God’s authority structure, since they are not acting according to the will of God. Those expressions of government, global or domestic, are outside of or in violation of the Government of God, because they have refused to come under God’s authority.

God’s government of mankind not only has God as the supreme authority but it also has the home as the prime component. Every individual home is a direct expression of the government of God. The hierarchy in 1Corinthians 11:3 does not mention any form of civil government, but it leaps straight from heaven to the home. God’s concern for the government of human life is a combination of the divine and the domestic.

Two Important Thrones of Government

A person who wishes to exercise government over the affairs of this world has two important arenas in which to operate. There are two thrones of authority magnified in God’s authority hierarchy (1Corinthians 11:3).

God’s throne in Heaven is the ultimate place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise any role within human government must bow the knee to God and Jesus Christ. All other authority springs from them. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority independent of God and Christ must engage in borrowed authority or exercise illegitimate authority over people.

The dinner table is the place of that other throne. The domestic home, under the headship of the father in the family, is the other central place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority over the affairs of men must be sure to find their place in the domestic home, either in submission or through appropriate carriage of their responsibility.

That is not to say that every husband can rule his home as he chooses. That man only has authority in his home because he is under God’s authority.

A man who will not exercise godly authority in his home, being personally under God’s rule, is disqualified from leadership. He has rejected the government of God. A woman who refuses the authority of her husband is disqualified from leadership. She has rejected the government of God.

Civil Government

The absence of reference to civil government in God’s authority hierarchy is not a mistake. Civil government is a servant to God and man. When civil government interposes itself over the lives of people, without full divine authority to do so, it is evil government.

Civil government is described as government which rewards the good and punishes evil people. When civil government functions as an expression of God’s father heart toward humanity and God’s holiness upheld by man, then it is good government and part of the government of God.

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” The Apostle Peter 1Peter 2:13,14

Civil government is also a servant to the man as he leads him family. Good civil government will support the authority of the father in each family, as the head of his home. It will support that man and provide the resources which God the Father would give to His children to empower them to build strong families.

Kings or Consensus?

Civil government can be exercised by monarchs on a throne or elected representatives in a council, or by village elders and other expressions of administration. When that civil government (no matter how it is structured) functions in support of God’s throne and the domestic family it is a good government, whether it comes from the king and his minions or by social structures with elected officials.

Much discussion is made regarding the relative merits or evils of monarchs, dictators, village elders or democratically elected governments. If the Government of God is in place then the distinctions betweens there structural systems becomes less significant.

Ruling the Human Heart

Note that God’s authority is not expressed in the form of instant judgement. Lightning does not strike every blasphemer on the spot. Adulterers, thieves, liars and murderers are not immediately condemned by God.

Human government often seems much more responsive in dealing with evil than God appears to be. This is because God has assigned humanity the task of administering this expression of His government. It is also because God speaks into human lives via the human conscience.

Conscience

Human conscience is an expression of God’s government over the individual. Our heart condemns or approves our actions and thoughts. And so this will be an area of investigation in a follow up posting on the Government of God.

Government of God

The primary government to which we all must give account is the Government of God in our lives. But before you get all religious on me and think of that simply as some kind of stuffy or sentimental notion suited to church liturgy, let me assure you that I am talking about real administrative government over people’s lives.

The Government of God is not a religious construct created by bishops and popes to assert their control, but a primary level of government to which all people in every generation must give attention.

When God Governs

Most people have a dualistic notion of reality. They subscribe to various religious concepts, but see them only as notions or religious beliefs. When it comes to practicalities they have a completely different sense of reality.

Most religious people would admit that God is supreme over all, as a religious concept. But when it comes to the practicalities of who is in control, God doesn’t get another thought. This dualism decimates the real substance and authority of people’s lives. They live in a state of contradiction and compromise.

If God only governs in some notional sense then He does not govern at all. If God’s government cannot be seen in practical reality then it is only an empty concept and should not be subscribed to, even by the religious. It would be delusional and vain.

However, God does rule in the affairs of men and God has prescribed a form a government that is to be practically applied on the earth. That government is the government of God in the earth.

Application of God’s Government

In future posts I will explore some expressions of and implications of God’s government. Initial issues to consider include deism versus theism, God’s hierarchical order of authority and the role of personal conscience. I will not cover these in detail here, but wish to focus your attention on the reality of God’s government over your life and how that might be expressed in your experience.

Deism versus Theism

Those who acknowledge God can be relegated to two different perceptions of God’s government of man, relating to the level of intervention which God will exercise in the affairs of men.

Deists are those who believe in the existence of God but who do not expect Him to interfere in the lives and circumstances of humans. They conceive of God as an observer of that which He created and set in motion. Deists see that human history is in the hands of human will and that God will not intervene unless things become very drastic, as with Noah’s flood or Sodom’s sin.

Theists, on the other hand, believe that God not only initiated all things, but remains actively interested in and ready to intervene in human affairs. Theists recognise man’s place in responding to God and calling upon God’s power and they pray with expectancy to a God they know will hear and respond.

God’s Active Government

By the definitions explained above, I am a theist. I live my life with expectancy of God’s active intervention, and calling on God to direct that intervention according to my prayers.

I believe in God’s active government within the affairs of men. Men can conceive and plan what they will, but God has more than the power of veto. God has a pre-emptive will and dynamic foreknowledge, empowering Him to engage with the issues of human existence in a proactive and powerful way.

It is this divine activity that gives zest and substance to God’s prescribed government. His own active engagement gives power to His instructions and His expectations from man.

God’s Prescription of Government

The Bible provides the basis of all human government, developed by His divine guidance from the time of Noah. A complete study of the role of government as God designed it is a worthy investigation, found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The particular prescription of God’s government that I want to focus here is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Paul laid out an authority structure in which man is under Christ, who is under God, with the wife under the authority of her husband.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

God’s Hierarchy

Note the significances of this verse. God’s notion of government and authority is hierarchical. A person under authority is given authority over others.

In a day when the flat organization is being popularised and everyone wants to minimise their responsibility to be under authority it is worth noting that God, Himself, operates within an hierarchical construct of government. Government is not a matter of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

Note also that mankind is meant to be directly under the authority of God, through Christ. Civil government is not described in this hierarchy. Civil government is, by God’s design, a servant to God and man, not an imposition over the responsibility and authority of mankind. Civil government is not interposed between God and man, nor does it absolve man of responsibility.

Note also that the core unit of social structure, the home, is an expression of the government of God. A husband being responsible for his wife and a wife submitting to her husband is at the heart of divine government on the earth.

Modern Government

Today there are various forces competing for rulership over the lives of men. Governments, big business and social engineers are among those who wish for mankind to comply with their plans.

International law now imposes itself over sovereign nations. At the domestic level children defy the will of their parents and wives assert their independence of the husband’s headship. So government is in an interesting state in homes, communities, churches and nations.

The best way to navigate through the uncertainties and competing claims on the lives of men and women is to submit to the government of God.

Staying Under Command

Westerners have little grip on authority. Most westerners don’t have authority, because they are not under authority. Most westerners have violated their right to rule by refusing to be ruled. Of course they are ruled, or indeed dominated, but their spirit is one of insubordination and independence. So they have lost the right to rule.

This is profoundly significant for the menfolk of the west. They are the ones who are supposed to lead, as the head of their home. Yet they cannot take that lead, since they know nothing of true headship and authority. Their challenge is to stay under command.

I want to help you learn how to do that, so here’s an analogy I recently used to illustrate this principle.

The Chain of Command

Before we dig into my illustration let me remind you how God has set up the command structure. God has created an hierarchical authority structure for us to operate within. God is the head of that structure. The next in command is Christ. So God, as Almighty God and as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the two top positions in the hierarchy. Husbands are given a place of authority directly under Christ. Wives are given a place directly under their husband.

Husbands, then, have a pretty awesome place of authority. They are directly answerable to Jesus Christ. Imagine being directly answerable to the Prime Minister or President of your country. That’s the place of authority husbands have in God’s scheme of things. That’s a pretty elevated place of responsibility and authority.

Abusing the Boss

Imagine being directly answerable to the leader of your nation, and then taking orders from someone else. When you begin taking orders from someone other than your boss you are abusing the boss. You mock the authority of the boss because you do not revere and respect it. You stop being under that authority and so negate the delegated authority given to you.

Every time you let someone change the orders your boss gave you the effect is that of mocking your boss and demeaning the boss’s authority. What does it say about your boss, when you let some person off the street tell you what to do? You are lowering the authority of the boss to being no more significant than that of a stranger or some person with no authority.

Stay Under Command

The most important thing for a person to do is to stay under command. This is especially so if you have been given the privilege of direct access to someone of high authority. You certainly would not want to violate that authority and lose your place under it. You want to remain in direct line of command from the highest officer possible.

To do that you must honour your boss. You must be diligent to faithfully fulfil the wishes and instructions of the boss, so he is pleased with you and retains you in the position of authority he has assigned you.

This is equally as important for husbands as the head of their home. If a man disregards the lordship of God and Christ in his life he loses the effective authority that has been delegated to him. He ends up with a wife and children who have no regard for his leadership and headship, since he has no regard for Christ’s headship over him.

The Challenge

Many men are already starting from a lost position. They have to regain their authority in a context where their wife rules them and their children ignore them. This is a pretty hefty challenge, but it is one that can be met. God is the one who assigned men their authority and so when men move into it they do have God’s backing.

The question I get asked from time to time is about actually activating that authority, especially in a context where it has never been exercised before. That is where this Soldier analogy came from. I hope you find it helpful.

Soldier to Soldier

Imagine two platoons of soldiers from different armies working together in a battle zone against a common enemy. Each group is kitted out with their issue of uniform and equipment. The soldiers from the two armies mix together, but are under the direct command of their platoon leader.

A soldier from one army advises a soldier from the other nation that the way he carries his ammunition belt is not right. One army wears the belt around the waste and the other slings it over the shoulder. The solder being told what to do by the other soldier has to decide what to do.

He can take the advice of the other soldier. If he does so, he is stepping outside the instructions given him by his own army command. The kit which he is issued and trained to use is to be utilised as instructed. If he rejects his own command he makes himself subservient to a mere soldier from a different nation. He is acting outside his chain of command.

However, the suggestion may be a good one. So, could he not follow the instruction if it strikes him as a good idea? The answer is, No! He must operate within the chain of command and stay under the authority of his commanding officer.

What to Do?

What he can do is go to his commanding officer and ask for permission to wear his kit in a different manner to what is prescribed. The commanding officer may happily give him leave to do so. It may not be a significant matter. The officer may allow the soldier to do what he thinks best. Or there may be good reason why the prescribed wearing of the kit has to be maintained.

By respecting the command of his own platoon leaders the soldier is staying in a place of authority. That authority protects him and also empowers him with delegated authority.

The Point

The point of this illustration is to convey the concept of authority to people who have little practical experience in living under God’s authority. The next issue is how to practically apply authority and headship into a home where it has been absent. I’ll tackle that question in a future post about Regaining Domestic Authority.

The Marriage University

I spoke recently with a husband who was struggling to come to terms with his own responsibility in his home. To help him grasp one of the concepts I came up with a new analogy which I had not used before. I share it here to give you additional focus on the journey couples make in graduating into glory.

Different Roles in the Marriage

Husbands and wives have unique roles in the marriage. There are specific things husbands must do, that their wives are not asked to do. There are specific things wives are asked to do, that their husbands are not asked to do. Both husband and wife must make personal progress in their own assignment, irrespective of how the spouse is getting on with their challenges.

Different Places of Responsibility

According to the Bible, God has established human society by way of a hierarchy of responsibility. That hierarchy starts with God. Almighty God has the ultimate authority and the greatest responsibility, overseeing all else. Directly under God’s authority, and next in the hierarchy of responsibility is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Then, directly under Jesus Christ is the husband. In the marriage and family, the husband carries the next level of authority and responsibility. The wife, is then under the husband’s authority, just as the husband is under Christ’s authority and Christ is under God.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1Corinthians 11:3

Different Lessons to Learn

Many specific responsibilities spring from this hierarchical structure. The Husband must shoulder responsibility for the wife, children and home. He is directly answerable to God for his management and handling of the relationships, standards, training and spiritual blessing of the home. This includes morality, godliness, the fear of God, holiness, discipline, direction, spiritual and natural protection, and more.

The Wife must bring herself under the headship of the husband. This will be hard for her if she looks only at her husband. She must recognise and place her trust in God and Christ, as the husband’s heads. If she fails to do that she will end up taking matters into her own hands, making demands of her husband, manipulating, contending and otherwise failing to submit to his headship.

The husband must be able to nurture his wife and children, while being sure that he is answerable to Jesus and God, not others who will seek to direct his life. He must ensure that he does not abdicate to his wife, and allow her to replace Christ as the head of the home. If he allows her to do that he brings spiritual problems into the whole family.

Marriage University

Both husband and wife are attending the same university of life. They attend classes together, but both must learn different lessons from the life situations which they confront. It is as if they are both sitting side by side in the lecture hall, listening to the lessons. Yet the husband is enrolled in a different course to his wife. He will be set different assignments and tested on different questions to his wife, even from the same professor.

The husband is studying headship of his wife and submission to Christ. The wife is studying submission to her husband and faith in Christ and God.

The Curriculum

The Marriage University is an open book, mastery learning, life-experience oriented environment. The curriculum covers the same scope for all who attend, but the individual differences of each student are taken into account by the teachers. Some will study longer and be challenged with more difficult lab tests. Some will find that the open learning environment continues with extension courses for the rest of their lives.

Honours Courses

Each couple should make it their determination to graduate with Honours. High Distinctions are the best objective for each elective and every test. When a person graduates with that standard they are guaranteed many graces and much blessing from their diligent and faithful application.

The fruit of the course begins to be enjoyed long before graduation. Each lesson learned opens the couple to new joys and new privileges in their relationship. In time they will be expected to tutor other students and may well become emeritus professors themselves, as they make the grade and master the curriculum.

Here’s to Your Studies

I wish you every success in your studies. Please don’t drop out of the course. There’s nowhere to go if you can’t stay in the lessons.

And may the Living Lord God bless your relationship as you study and master the material together.