Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Human Government and the Kingdoms of the World

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
Daniel 2:44-45
None can doubt that the final end will be the destruction of all earthly kingdoms, that they may give place to the reign of the Divine kingdom.  How can this be when the children of the Divine kingdom give their lives to uphold the earthly kingdoms?  As things now go, every individual in the world might be converted to Christ and yet the earthly kingdoms would remain in all their present strength and vigor, and the spirit of the world would be cherished in the church of God.  But if every man converted to Christ withdrew from the support of the earthly kingdoms, these kingdoms would weaken and fall to pieces, for lack of supporters; "little by little" giving way before the increase and spread of the kingdom of God.  It would no more do to destroy them suddenly, lest the wild beasts of ruin and destruction and anarchy possess the land, than it would have done to suddenly destroy the inhabitants of Canaan on the advent of the children of Israel lest the wild beasts multiply in that land against the people of God.  God must in the police regulations of the world retain his institutions ordained to execute wrath until his own children possess the earth.

God has two processes continually going forward, by which the world is to become the possession of the "saints of the most high."
  1. The work of conversion goes forward taking men, one by one, out of service of the earthly kingdoms and transferring them to the service of the Divine kingdom.
  2. He uses one wicked nation, one earthly government to destroy another nation or people, hopelessly given over to sin and rebellion.
The compromises of the children of God with the human governments, that obtain now, thwart both these processes.
  1. Conversion to Christ does not take the person out of the kingdoms of the evil one.  It does not weaken the kingdoms of this world.  It does not consecrate the talents, the means, the strength, the life of the converts to support and spread the kingdom of God.  It does not separate them from the kingdoms of the world, it does not bring them under the guidance of the kingdom of Christ.  Conversion to Christ now does not weaken the kingdoms of the devil.  It does not strengthen the church of God, but oftener, by bringing in an evil spirit, weakens it.
  2. The children of God are so mixed and mingled with the kingdoms of the world, that God cannot destroy the wicked kingdoms, without destroying his own children.  Hence the call of God is: "Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).
This is spoken of the Babylon of human government.  We cannot find one word of ground, in all the New Testament, for the children of God participating in the kingdoms of the evil one.  The practice weakens the church of God; deprives it of the service, the talent, time and devotion of its children, gives it strength to the building up of what God proposes to destroy.  It brings the spirit of the world kingdoms into the church of God, corrupts the church, drives out the spirit of God, destroys the sense of dependence upon God, causes the children of God to depend upon their own wisdom and devices, and the arm of violence, and the institutions of earth rather than upon God and his appointments; weans them from trust and faith in God, and from service in his kingdom, diverts their minds, means and service from the church to the kingdoms of the world, and so defiles and corrupts the church that God cannot bless that church.

What the church needs now is a consecrated membership that will sanctify the man -- soul, mind and body -- to the service of God.  That will consecrate the talent, the time, the means of God's people to the service and advancement of God's kingdom; that will cause every Christian father and mother, like Hannah of old, to accept children as the gifts of the Lord, to be consecrated to his service from childhood.  Now the mothers and fathers in Christ, oftener than otherwise, object to their children devoting themselves to the service of God.  They prefer that they should do service and gain honor in the earthly governments.  It is all folly and delusion to think of converting the world to God, with the present affiliation between the church of God and the kingdoms of the devil, and this giving the means and service due the church, to strengthen and upbuild her enemy.  There can be no hope for the conversion of the world, until these two kingdoms be recognized in their true, antagonistic spirit, mission, and destiny.

--David Lipscomb, Civil Government: Its Origin, Mission, and Destiny, and the Christian's Relation To It, p. 81-83