Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Great Commission's Political Implications

Since Christ has all authority in
heaven and in earth, Christ's
authority extends to political matters.
Therefore, all rulers must submit to
Him and enforce His civil laws.
By Steve C. Halbrook

One of today’s prevalent misconceptions is that Christianity has nothing to do with politics. Christianity, it is said, is only about spiritual matters. It does not concern itself with temporal matters.

As such, you might hear something like, "We [Christians] should just focus on the Great Commission, and forget about politics." 

However, the Great Commission has enormous political implications. Consider what Christ tells His disciples:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:18b-20a)
Note closely that Jesus says that He has "All authority in heaven and on earth.” If Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, then His authority extends to political matters.

And it is on the basis of His total lordship that Christ tells His disciples to “make disciples of all nations”—not just individuals, but nations. And political matters are a crucial aspect of a nation. As such, Christ’s total lordship requires all nations to obey His laws in every area of life, civil matters included.

On the Great Commission's focus on nations, Matthew Henry observes,  
"Christianity should be twisted in with national constitutions, that the kingdoms of the world should become Christ’s kingdoms, and their kings the church’s nursing-fathers."[1]
In His Great Commission, Jesus goes on to say, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Thus all nations must observe all that Christ has commanded the apostles.  

Note: these commands are not limited to commands that the Bible records Christ giving during His earthly ministry.  Being a person of the Trinity, Christ is God, and therefore the laws God gives throughout the Bible are also Christ's commands 
 (as well as commands of God the Father and God the Spirit).[2]  These commands entail the law of Moses—including its civil code. 

Indeed, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8); 
He did not change His moral standards during His earthly ministry.  Quite the opposite: during His earthly ministry, Christ upheld the moral standards—including the moral civil standards—that were given to Moses (Matt. 5:17-20; 15:1-9). 

Given then the Great Commission's political implications, we should not be surprised to see the Bible designate Christ with the political title, “the King of kings” (1 Timothy 6:15). This title logically implies that civil rulers must submit to Him by enforcing the law of Christ--not the lawlessness of men. 

And so Psalm 2:10-12 gives rulers this sobering warning,
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” 
Of course, we should note that nations have always been obligated to serve God; the obligation didn't just begin at the Great Commission. God is and always has been ruler of all things, whether it be the soul, the state, or anything in between. The Great Commission is a reminder that nations must submit to God unconditionally, or perish. 


     [1] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible: Matthew 28 (1706)
    [2] In the New Testament the Old Testament ceremonial laws are abrogated, but not the Old Testament civil code in general.

We had the privilege of contributing to the script of this video, "Christonomy." (The word Christonomy is Jerry's idea, but we think it's a good synonym for "theonomy")  


Unknown said...

Excellent work for the Kingdom! God bless your ministry.

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Thanks Pastor Rubino, for your kind words. Soli Deo Gloria.