Jesus was crucified on a cross in the public square. His was put to death by the civil government after several monkey trials. It came on the back of shady Sanhedrin kangaroo courts and the Jews demanding His blood upon them and their children (Matthew 27:25). None the less Jesus’ crucifixion was very public. Thus, it must flow that the crucifixion has necessary public ramifications. You cannot be faithful to the message of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus simply in the privacy of your heart and home. You cannot faithfully keep Christianity private. Yes, as an individual you may keep your faith private for a season. But if the Church is faithfully preaching the gospel in the world it cannot be private. You cannot keep the public gospel private.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul tells that he comes to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (v2). He tells us he is not coming in human wisdom as a tele-evangelist showboater with eloquent speech. He did not want the Corinthians to place faith in the wrong person, in smooth preachers instead of the power of God (v3-5). Pretty boy preachers are out. But, Paul tells that we do speak wisdom. It is not the wisdom of this age nor the rulers of this age for they are coming to nothing (v6-7). The wisdom Paul is coming to speak is displayed in the crucifixion and it is for our glory (v7). God ordained this wisdom before all ages for our glory (v7), the church. Christ is head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18). If the civil magistrates had known what was actually going on they would not have crucified Jesus (v8). Their actions arranged a cosmic size blessing for those who love God (v9). This is revealed to us by the Spirit (v10).
A truncated cross
Now if the truth Paul is teaching here is truncated to the getting of souls into heaven after they die, then it will create introverted cult type Churches and clubs that meditate solely upon private salvation. If preaching “Christ and Him crucified” is limited to individual salvation, then it will lead to week upon week of Church worship sermons preached that are aimed purely at unrepentant sinners. Thus developing a church culture of mustering all the local Christians, preaching to them on how to become a Christian and then offering an alter call to become Christians. This is a caricature but none the less it is the modus operandi around Australian church circles.
Why? There are certain assumptions concerning the gospel that directs how we approach things. Now, the gospel preached is usually faithful. But we want more than this, not less. The prevailing understanding of preaching Christ and Him crucified is truncated, limiting it to the redemption of individual souls after they depart the body and this world. The sum of the gospel yarn is the saving of souls to heaven when you die.
Paul looks at this in a different light; the crucifixion of Jesus, the gospel, fells the rulers of this world (1 Corinthians 2:6). The message is bigger than the individual salvation of souls to heaven. It fells the rulers of this world and everything that was under their jurisdiction. By necessity, this means arts, economics, changing nappies, cooking, family life, economics, business and everything that men and women do. Preaching Christ crucified is as broad as the world. No stone is to be left unturned. Rolling up sleeves and hard yakka is required. Our task is to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). And this is accomplished through seeking to transform the relationship between all things and Christ into one of submission and faithful obedience. We want all done to the glory of Christ; we want art, mathematics, economics, music, business, science, the resistance of tyranny, everything done to the glory of Christ.
New Testament Atonement Theologies
Let me back up the truck a little and discuss the three basic theologies of the atonement that have emerged in church history. Often these theologies have been portrayed to oppose each other. They do not and all three are found in the New Testament. We are to accept them all and see how they fit together. Christ and Him crucified relates to all of life. You can’t segregate portions of life out from under the Lordship of Jesus. The doctrine of the atonement helps us connect the dots and understand how Christ and Him crucified impacts everything. If we isolate one view of the atonement, we will drift from what Paul is speaking about in this passage. Partial truth asserted as the whole truth is an untruth; it’s a way of lying.
The first theology of the atonement has been emphasised well by evangelicals. It is that of penal atonement. Christ died as a penal substitute, He was our substitutionary atonement. Jesus, the perfectly righteous man died in place of unjust, wicked people. Christ died for His people as a substitutionary atonement. This is rightly common speak within the broader evangelical church. We find this theology throughout the New Testament. For example, Galatians 1:3-5; “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Christ gave Himself for His people and died as a substitute for them. Unfortunately, many evangelicals ascent to this position to the exclusion of the others.
The second view is that Christ’s death is an example for us. This means that Christ died to show us the pattern of moral influence. Let me be abundantly clear; this view is inadequate if held in total isolation. But it is found within the Scriptures. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). We are to follow Christ’s example of suffering and dying. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2). The atonement gives us a moral example of how to live life. Liberals have sinfully turned this into sentimental moralism. We need the death of the righteous Christ for us, and as redeemed people, we are to imitate Christ and take up our cross and follow Him. Order is important.
The third view takes us close to what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 2. It is called the Christus Victor. The big idea is that Christ is victor. Through His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension Jesus defeated the powers of evil. Jesus triumphed over the devil and His angels.
We must hold all three views together.
Colossians 2:13-15; Jesus “has made [you] alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The principalities and powers are political rulers and the spiritual forces behind them. So the Bible teaches that when Jesus died on the cross He defeated, ousted and dethroned the political structure of the ancient pagan world. The crucifixion brought about a behind the scenes cosmological revolution. In the old world, man was ruled by demons under the tutorage of angels and demons and spiritual forces. Jesus died to judge and conquer these evil forces (John 12:31-33) and become the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
The authority structure in the Old Testament was God, angels (including demons) and man. The Christological revolution at the cross changed this structure to God, man (in Christ), angels. And this revolution had worldwide political implications.
Prophet, Priest & King
Now, when we put all of these atonement theologies together as part of the whole gospel we can see Christ discharging all of His offices on the cross (WSC Q 23). As a Prophet Christ sets us an example to follow. As a Priest He offers Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice and as a King He rules over all of His enemies by means of His death. We truncate the gospel if we demand that the discharging of these three offices are in tension with each other. They complement each other. Jesus did not simply die as a Priest or sacrifice for the sins of His people. He died as a Prophet, Priest and King. Likewise, He resurrected and ascended as a Prophet, Priest and King. All of Christ for all of life, for all of Australia, for all of the world. It is our responsibility to preach all of this total gospel to the established powers of our day.
So, what does all of this have to do with nations, politics and resisting tyranny? Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension setup a juxtaposition between the new humanity in Christ (Christians and the church) and the old principalities and powers. Jesus was crucified in a very public way. He was executed by the governing authorities with the blessing of the Sanhedrin and the demand of the Jewish people. He was not murdered in some back alley; it was an outlandish public spectacle put on by the principalities and powers of that day. Satan believed he had God in check. But Jesus resurrected in such a manner as to declare His absolute power and authority over all the kingdoms of this world (Revelation 11:15, cf. Matthew 28:18-20, Hebrews 1:13, Psalm 2,110). We must come to see the cross in these terms. And this is what Paul is insisting upon in 1 Corinthians 2 and elsewhere.
Hope & glory of the world
The preaching of Christ and Him crucified, the gospel, is the declaration of the hope and glory of the world (John 3:16-17). We barely comprehend what God has in store for those who love Him, here on this earth. So what exactly is God going to pour out on us? What does He intend for the world? He is going to pour out the deep things of God on this whole sinful and fallen world. God is no stooge. He will bless this world abundantly. When “the earth [is] filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14) we ought to have no fear of how deep those seas will be. God is outlandishly generous and we ought not to be worried about overstating the grandeur of the Great Commission.
The heart of man cannot comprehend the extent of the saving grace of God. In Revelation 7 John sees the 144,000. He then turned and; “looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-11). How many people are going to be saved? An innumerable number. We cannot even begin to count them. That’s how big the Triune God’s love is for this world. The number of people saved will far outnumber the people in hell. Yes, hell is a real eternal fire set for unrepentant sinners. But God saves the world. He loves the world and redeemed it.
John says; “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus is the propitiation for not only our sins but for the whole world. Jesus said that when He is lifted up on the cross He will draw all peoples to Himself (John 12:32). What does this mean? Jesus said He would judge the devil and all principalities and powers of this age and draw all peoples to Himself. But you might be wondering that I am crazy. You look around and see only unbelief…homosexual mirage, abortion, rejection of Christianity etc. Yes, it is true that we are living in evil times but it is not true that this is the way it will always be. What newspaper did Abraham have to take encouragement from when God promised him the whole world? Nothing, zippo. He was called out of a Pagan society like we have never experienced. All Abraham had was the starry sky and sand under his feet. God said, I will give you as many descendants as those shining stars and grains of sand. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now we sit in unbelief thousands of years later with the cross behind us, the world being transformed by the gospel at our feet. We see millions of people coming to Christ in lands like China, South America and Africa and we doubt, wondering if God has lost the plot!
For God so loved the world
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But there is another verse. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). What do most evangelicals believe is going to happen to the world when all is said and done? Jesus is going to return on the clouds, condemn the world and destroy it. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it. At the end of history Jesus is going to return on the clouds and present a saved world to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). Jesus’ worldwide mission will be accomplished and the saved world will be returned to the Father so that God may be all in all. Often, we get so bogged down in the potential terror of ISIS and the Islamic invasion that we forget Christ is king and He rules from the Father’s right hand. He conquered the principalities and powers on the cross and in history the church is bringing all enemies under His feet.
So, what's happened in the western world? The west is like a man who piles everything in his shed without sorting or organizing it for decades. It’s a mess and disorderly. But the day comes when something needs to be done. And on that day the man knows something must be done but he is overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem and does not know where to begin. We find ourselves in such a condition in our state and national politics. We all hear from great organizations like Family Voice and Australian Christian Lobby constantly. The same sex mirage, abortion and other erosions of Christian morality flash into our Facebook feeds and Twitter. From Mardi Gras to Dark MOFO and everything in-between, it all seems a big mess. The news is full of depressing things politicians and socialites are doing. Perhaps you are tempted to be nostalgic for the good ol days. I don’t think the good ol days were that good. We are living off the capital of our forefathers and we are also reaping the unfaithfulness to the whole gospel that has been sown over generations.
But, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:25-30).
This is where Jesus tells us He is going to come, bind Satan and take all his gear. Satan had already tempted Jesus to have it all. “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan!” (Matthew 4:8-10). This is the temptation. Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he says, just bow down and worship me. The gift Satan offers is not illegitimate; rather it is being offered without the cross and at the hand of the Devil. Jesus refused and obtained those kingdoms by dying, rising again, binding Satan and taking them because they belong to Him.
The new monarch
So, the kingdom of heaven has come. Jesus bound Satan and plundered His house. Now, we must also take note of what Jesus said; “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). We must come to grips with this; the claims of Christ are total. There is no way to miss this in the New Testament. Jesus claims everything. There is no neutral ground or one square inch of life that does not cry out, Christ is Lord. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. This does not mean Christ ascended into to heaven to be a spiritual King where there are no other kings to rule over. No, He is the King and ruler over all the princes and powers of this world now. Jesus is the monarch of heaven & earth.
Disciple the nations
We need to be more careful with understanding words. Jesus says; “’all authority has been given to Me in heaven…” so quick, hurry up and die because that’s where Jesus rules? No, He says; “’All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all things that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20).
So what’s the Great Commission all about? The Great Commission is not limited to leading your neighbour to Christ and then next, all is done. The Great Commission is; all authority has been vested in the new sovereign monarch Jesus therefore go and disciple Australia, China, South America, Europe, Africa and every other country on this planet. The Great Commission is not simply to make disciples within nations or evangelise people out of nations. The grandeur of Jesus’ command is that His bride, the church is to disciple all the nations of this world. The church is a nation discipling machine of war! Why? Because Jesus is the new presiding monarch over every nation. How is this to be done? By baptising the nations and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
That’s enormous right? Well, let’s recalibrate our truncated gospel of only saving souls and get started. You may be overwhelmed, but think of this: how many Christians copy the 10 spies who were sent into Canaan and came back saying there were grapes the size of tennis balls but were fearful of Israelite eating giants? But Joshua and Caleb came back faithful to take the land and slay the giants. The others were afraid of giants. Since when are Christians to be afraid of giants? Never. Our captain and king is the Dragonslayer, and in the historical battleground mop up of the earth, Christians are giant slayers like David. Remember with me. The Israelites are encamped and Goliath comes out every day to taunt them and blaspheme God. They all fear him for his size. But David comes along and says; ha, a giant, cool he’s the size of a house so how can I miss! Trust God and you too will be a giant slayer.
Often, we despair, complaining it’s too big, what can we do to stop the onslaught of secular humanism. How can little ol me combat the rabid new atheism?
How can we stand against such an all reaching and powerful civil government? Things are just going from worse to worse. Woe is us. Australia is going to hell in a handbasket and don’t forget, I told ya so. We need to stop and take stock. Jesus’ claims are total. All of Christ for all of Australia, for all of the world. Christ has claimed it all. That makes the task gigantic. We are fighting a giant but we can win. It’s just backwards and simply unfaithful to assert that we will lose. Jesus has claimed all things and He does not lie.
The basic Christian confession is that Jesus has been given all authority and power in heaven and on earth; and He is Lord of all (Romans 10:9-10). And in Mathew 12 if you are not for Him you are against Him. If you are not gathering for Christ, you are scattering. In the cosmic battle between light and darkness, there are no neutral parties, there is no middle ground. And there is no 3rd way. There are only two positions in every human endeavour: faithful obedient gathering or unfaithful disobedient scattering. So, do you have a little corner and are you gathering for Jesus? Good, trust God for the victory and don’t despise small, humble beginnings. God honours obedience, no matter the size.
Truncated Jesus, limited gospel
The danger in our Christian circles is to truncate Jesus’ claim of total authority and dominion. Often, we weasel out some personal autonomous space by paying lip service to the Bible’s declarations of Christ’s sovereignty and demands over every square inch of life (1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Corinthians 10:5). We ought to want to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. But to keep up the façade of actually being obedient to the Biblical repercussions of the Lordship of Christ we must come up with some fancy theological footwork. This means concocting a way to use the total lordship of Christ language in the Bible while ensuring it is maintained as partial in effect.
These come in many different forms such as individualism, Gnosticism and rationalism. For example, the individualist asserts that Jesus is Lord of my heart. He gets around the total lordship passages by saying Jesus is lord of all of my heart. The problem with this anaemic view is that Jesus is really Lord of all of it. He is Lord of your toes and hands and everything else; not just the fist-sized meat pump in your chest.
In the Gnostic error, Jesus’ authority is limited to spiritual things only not yucky fleshy and dirty things like economic policy, law, politics, parenting, weed control, art, farming... But Jesus is Lord over heaven and earth; and every manifestation of culture between the two. He is the new King. Rationalism is the folly that appeals to natural law to the exclusion of the Revelation of God in Christ and His Law-Word. Old Testament Law is poo-pooed by in large. This approach is pure pragmatism that bows the knee to every demi-god in the public arena. We too often see this in Christians who get involved in politics who do not acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and the rule of God’s Law in politics. We have all heard so-called neutral arguments coming from many well-meaning Christians in the same sex mirage debate. It goes like this: you see, natural law tells us, most cultures of the world tell us that marriage is between one man and one woman with the key objective being procreation and the advancement of the human race. Everyone knows same sex mirage is wrong, it hurts the children for heaven’s sake and we need to look through the eyes of children. Such theological rationalism is unfaithful and sinful.
Culture is Religion externalised
There is no neutrality in any of man’s cultural endeavours; politics, law, poetry, art, economics etc. All reveal a person and a society’s god. Our duty is to assess whether the culture’s religion is faithful or unfaithful to Christ. Henry van Til’s definition is apt; “all culture is religion externalised.” We can also turn this around and say with Doug Wilson that; “all religion is culture internalized.” Thus, the question is not does our culture have a god. Rather, which god does it have and serve?
But many object…hold up a second there mister. Are you advocating a theocracy; that’s just archaic and barbaric? We ought not to stick our heads in the sinking sands of neutrality and accept the faulty premises asserted in such bad reasoning. The argument is over whose Theos; whose god. Those opposed to Christ and His kingdom are working hard to implement a theocracy under any which idol. There has been no society that has been governed by no god. Even the 20th century’s atheistic states had a functional god - the state. There is a god of every culture. It is inescapable. The question is not whether or not we impose morality but whose morality will be imposed on whom; it is not whether we serve God but rather which god we serve. It is not whether or not we impose blasphemy restrictions but rather the blasphemy of which god do we restrict. And it’s not a question of whether we will embrace sexual politics but whose theology of sex will be codified into our law.
All of this is directly related to the ascension of Jesus. When the Christ ascends into heaven in Daniel 7:13-14, He comes before the Ancient of Days and is crowned and receives all authority over every nation, tribe and language. And His dominion over all is everlasting. There is no gap in Jesus’ rule. There is not one split second between the ascension and Second Coming when it can be said that Jesus is not Lord over all. Daniel 7 reveals that the time marker of Jesus’ coronation is His ascension. We celebrate this on Ascension Sunday; Jesus Christ was crowned with all power and authority by the Father at His ascension. Jesus is Lord of all. Nothing, not even politics, escapes His rule.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). These verses are preceded by the humility of Christ. He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).
God exalted Jesus, and this exaltation consisted of more than the pinnacle of man’s heart. The Father exalted Jesus above all powers and authorities. This makes evangelicals uncomfortable. Why? Because the exaltation of Jesus has some serious political ramifications for now, down here on planet earth. The death of Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of His teaching that the first shall be last and the last first (Matthew 20:16). There is no greater humbling in the history of the world than when Jesus humbled Himself to death on a cross. And thus, Jesus is exalted to the highest position; He has been given the name above all other names. Not only is this true but it is also not to be considered as some sort of internal spiritual truth with no effect in the world. Every name under Jesus must acknowledge His Lordship; every knee must bow whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth. There are no exclusions. This includes Hobart and Canberra, Washington and London, Paris and Brussels. It includes every Prime Minister and every political party. It includes every monarch and prince. Every tongue is commanded to confess Jesus is Lord over all, to the glory of the Father.
Faithful Political influence
True political influence must follow in the footsteps of Jesus. If we are to faithfully influence Canberra, Hobart and every local council we must be faithful to Jesus and bow the knee to Him in how we seek to change and what change we seek. All must be done to further the crown rights of king Jesus. Method is important. We can’t affect faithful political influence while bi-passing the cross. Some want to go straight to ascension in all glory and others are so pessimistic that we all die on the cross and God skewers us there because that is what depraved people deserve. One flavour of Christianity goes for the cross with no resurrection and the other goes for resurrection without the cross. We are to imitate Christ; when He tells us to go to the back of the queue He is teaching us how to get to the front of the line. Jesus teaches us how to get into the seat of honour at the banquet. He is teaching us how to come before kings and be heard by those in authority and power. He is not teaching us to be revolutionaries or doormats. Rather He commands us to die, give yourself up and take the lowest place; and when we learn to do this and let go completely God will entrust us with the highest place; a seat at the table of kings.
There are two ways in which we disobey this teaching of Jesus. The stoic pietist takes the lower seat and glues his bum firmly to it. Now when the master comes and offers the seat of honour he refuses because he’s a worm, totally depraved and far too holy to receive God’s gracious promotion. Like all good pietists he is holier than Jesus. The other extreme is the greasy pole climber who, like Formalist and Hypocrisy jump the fence on the other side of the cross. They just want to get things done and like all good pragmatists, the method or pattern doesn’t matter. Bonhoeffer said that when Christ calls a man He calls him to come and die. This is exactly what our baptism means. Paul tells us in Romans 6:3 that we are baptised into Christ’s death. Godly authority in politics can only be entrusted to sinners who have died and come back to life. Without that death, everything is abused; whether it is the refusal to take dominion which is the sinful pietistic escape religion or the abuse of taking dominion through brute raw power without dying to self. Both are sinfully inadequate.
Preach it brother
Now, this is the crux. Christian preachers have two duties. The first is to preach the gospel - calling sinners to repent and believe and call upon the Lord Jesus for salvation. The second duty is that of a herald, announcing the coronation of Jesus, the new king over all. We are to announce the Lordship of Jesus Christ and summon all the lords of the earth to bow their knee and kiss the Son (Psalm 2).
The Bible teaches that God has given Jesus the name that is above all names. This is the promise of the Father to Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11; Psalm 2:8, “Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Jesus is at the Father’s right hand now and His enemies are progressively being brought under His authority in history.
The exaltation of Christ demands that every knee is to bow. Note that I am speaking about Australia. I am not talking about bowing in your heart. This is not some lofty hidden heavenly spiritual concept. Every knee here is summoned to bow to Christ’s Lordship; every tongue here is called to confess that Jesus is Lord. The faithless disobedience of the modern church is that she has through theological biases taken to vetoing and quarantining certain areas of life as separate from the Lordship of Christ. Jesus says He has all authority, therefore, disciple the nations to obey His Law-Word. We say disciple all the nations except leave politics and law to pluralism to keep a separation between religion and state. The church does not have the authority to veto God and quarantine these things.
Bow your knee, all of you
Now, we have been expressly told to declare that every knee must bow to the Lordship of Christ and every tongue profess His name. This means that all 76 tongues of the Australian Federal Senators, all 150 tongues of the Federal Members of Parliament, all 25 tongues of the Tasmanian House of Assembly and all 15 tongues of the Tasmanian Legislative Council and their 266 knees respectively must bow and confess Christ and apply the Law of God in the legislation they pass. It means that the Governor-General of this nation must bow his knee to the Lordship of Christ and confess Him when considering granting Royal Assent to Federal laws. This means that the Liberal Tasmanian government must stop authorising the murder of unborn babies because God’s Law says “thou shalt not kill.” But the Health Minister might appeal: you’re talking as though the Law of God applies to us. Yes, I am and stop murdering unborn babies now. But some might object that God says more than “thou shalt not murder.” Yes, He does and yes it applies. But we need time. We want to bring all of the authority of all of God’s Law-Word to bear on our society; understood through the lens of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s not like we want to grab the Law of God by the scruff of the neck and forcefully drop it onto our society as though Christ never came. But the Old Testament is not the Word of God put out to feed with no relevance today. It still applies in the name of Jesus and is to be applied into all with the cross, resurrection and ascension of Jesus centre of mind.
This charge to submit to Christ as Lord over all includes every politician in every local, state and federal government. It also includes every bureaucrat across the states and territories. Our fallen and corrupted civil magistrates have thus been told in the name of Jesus that they have been summoned. They answer to an authority that is higher than them. We declare this because God has already made it so. Our declaration does not make it so. The Great Commission is not the process whereby the church goes out and gives Jesus authority as she evangelises nations. The Great Commission is the process whereby the church goes out and declares the authority of Jesus. We are declaring to the nations that there is a new monarch. Because Jesus is the king we are calling the nations to bow the knee and quietly come and confess Christ. The war has been won. It is simply delusional to deny the lordship of Christ over all.
Christianity is a public faith. The claims of Jesus are extensive. He is the Lord over all. The church has no authority to diminish these claims. We cannot grant any name the right to say it is the ultimate authority. Thus, approaching politics and law from neutral ground or natural law is not faithful to King Jesus. Our duty is to herald the new King and His Law.
We need to recalibrate our thinking. If Christ is Lord of all, and He is, then we must accept that all authority belongs to Him, which it does. From this we must accept that all authority is delegated by Christ. No man or collection of men has absolute authority. All government is derived from Christ the King. In the realm of civil government, all rulers are to bow the knee and confess the Lordship of Christ over their office and duties. Now, if Christ is the sovereign King, and He is, it flows that He sets the rules and makes the law. All civil magistrates are ministers of God (Romans 13) who must administer His Law in our society. And God’s Law rightly understood and applied is a gospel issue (1 Timothy 1). It is God’s Law alone that provides objective standards for all of private and societal life. This has been the standard to greater or lesser degree throughout Western Civilisation.
So how do we resist tyranny? By dying to self as Christ did. But this does not mean being a doormat for secular humanism. There is a Biblical view called the doctrine of the lesser magistrate. Simply stated, “the lesser magistrate doctrine declares that when the superior or higher civil magistrate makes unjust/immoral laws or decrees, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both a right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority” (The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, M Trewhella, p.2). This doctrine has a rich Christian and Biblical history. It was practised by Roman Governor Publius Petronius in AD 39 against Emperor Caligula who demanded a statute to himself be erected in the Jewish Temple. John Calvin taught the doctrine of the lesser magistrate in his Institutes. John Knox also wrote about it extensively; especially in his Appellation to the Scottish nobles (1558) in which he referred to over 70 Scripture references showing the duty of the lesser magistrate to protect the innocent and oppose unjust laws.
By way of example, it is the duty of our lesser magistrates to defend marriage. The Tasmanian Liberal government ought to interpose on our behalf and reject any and every law that the Federal Government passes which is in opposition to the Lordship of Christ and the sovereignty of His Law. If the same sex mirage were to be passed federally our Tasmanian government ought to reject the law within our jurisdiction. How can we implement this strategy? People and numbers. More than 10,000 Jews petitioned Roman Governor Petronius over erecting an idol in their Temple. We need to do the same. Our duty is to herald the good news that Christ is king and that our leaders must bow the knee to Him and God’s Law. We can’t do this if we limit Christ to our hearts and church ghettos.
Much work is needed. But remember Christians are giant slayers. Our first duty is to repent and acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all in our lives, our families, our churches and our communities. Then we are to get on with the battle, roll up the sleeves and apply all of Christ and His Law to everything. Play the long game and faithfully expect the victory because Jesus has won, all nations now belong to Him and He is with His church until the end of the age.