Article 15 | The Christian & the Social Order

All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ (we can’t just minister to felt needs, but must ultimately minister to the spiritual needs which transform the individual). In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

Scripture

  • Exodus 20:3-17 >> The Ten Commandments form the basic foundation of law in all society, rooting virtue in the spiritual part of man & applying the principles of individual dignity to human relationships.
  • Leviticus 6:2-5; Deuteronomy 27:17 >> Robbery & oppression are sins against God as much as they are against individuals. Penal restitution is a biblical consequence for those who deceive in this manner.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12; Matthew 22:36-40; John 15:12 >> Loving & fearing of the Lord is the duty of all men.
  • Psalm 101:5 >> God will avenge wrongs done in human relationships.
  • Micah 6:8 >> God’s desire for civil interaction is that we would pursue justice, love kindness & walk in humility with Him.
  • Zechariah 8:16 >> God delights in those who tell the truth & make decisions that exalt the truth & pursue peace.
  • Matthew 5:13-16, 43-48 >> Christians in society are meant to preserve, heal & exalt God’s design before all.  One of the major ways we do this is by loving our enemies & those who seek to oppress us.
  • Matthew 25:35; James 1:27 >> Caring for the poor is an opportunity given to us by God to testify of our love for Him & our fellow man.
  • Mark 1:29-34 >> Jesus modeled a kind of engagement with society and culture that drew near to the rejected & outcasts.
  • Mark 2:3ff. >> The ministry of Jesus models the need of the church to minister to the sick & poor, but ultimately to have concern for their spiritual condition.
  • Mark 10:21 >> We should not worship our money more than God. Giving to the poor is a way to keep that tendency in check.
  • Luke 4:18-21 >> The coming of Jesus would be marked by the transformation of society through the Kingdom of God impacted individuals through the Gospel.
  • Luke 10:27-37; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; James 2:8 >> Love for God is evidenced through our love for our neighbor.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, love was fleshed out through sacrificial service, care, & provision.
  • Luke 20:25 >> God is primarily concerned with heart obedience & worshipful submission.  Paying taxes & serving one’s country is not in conflict with serving God, as long as that service does not contradict the will of God.
  • John 17:15 >> Christians remain in the world by the will of God so that they can be salt & light.
  • Romans 12; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:12-17 >> The Spirit of God influences Christians & leads them to bear godly fruit that impacts every area of their life & every relationship.
  • Romans 13 >> The Spirit of God also influences the way Christians respond to the government, revealing its true nature & place in God’s design.
  • Romans 14 >> The Spirit of God influences our relationships, helping us understand the specific responsibilities that we have towards one another.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 >> Far from being totally separated from “sinners” in this world, we are called to associate with, befriend, minister to, & serve all people.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 >> Christians are meant to exhibit an all-conquering unity as they walk in the Spirit, not bringing earthly cases before earthly judges, but resolving disputes with one another under godly counsel & through biblical convictions.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 >> It is the unique experience of Christians to recognize that they have been put where they are for a reason.  We should always seek to maximize our freedom & our opportunities, while at the same time taking advantage of where God has put us for His glory.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 >> Christians must take their mission so seriously that they selflessly consider their neighbors & those around them when making decisions, so as not to mar the witness of the Gospel in their eyes.
  • Galatians 3:26-28 >> Faith in Jesus brings all people to a point at which they are one, unifying those with blatant earthly differences into the family of God.
  • Philemon >> Christianity undermined the evils of slavery by changing the hearts of slaves & masters.

Article 16 | Peace & War

It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.

Scripture

  • Isaiah 2:4 >> In this world stained by sin, war is a reality.  However, there will come a day when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will bring peace through His power, dominion, & authority.
  • Matthew 5:9; Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14 >> Jesus makes clear that His people will generally be people who seek peace & bring peace.
  • Matthew 5:38-48 >> Christians are not those who repay evil for evil, but instead seek to love their enemies & look to Him for justice.
  • Matthew 26:52 >> Christians should not look to physical conflict as the first solution to problems.
  • Luke 22:36,38 >> The “sword” or weapons of this world can & should be used by Christians as instruments of protection or self-defense.  The weapons of this world in the hands of Christians are instruments of justice, but not vengeance.
  • Romans 12:18-19 >> Peace is the goal for all Christians in all situations.  While we should seek justice for those in our care, we should never take revenge, but rather should leave that in the hands of the Lord.
  • Romans 13:1-7 >> God has established governing authorities to be a terror to those who are committed to wrongdoing.  Taxes are paid as an act of submission & honor. 
  • James 4:1-2 >> War & conflict come due to unchecked passions that compel us towards selfishness & entitlement.

Article 16 | RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

SCRIPTURE

  • Genesis 1:27 >> All human beings are made in the image of God, which means that they are entitled to liberty according to God’s design.
  • Genesis 2:7 >> Each person is valuable because God’s power, creativity, & purpose are the reason they have life.
  • Matthew 6:24 >> Our ultimate allegiance is to the Lord God.  We cannot be fully surrendered to more than one master.
  • Matthew 16:26 >> The soul is the part of a man meant to relate to God.
  • Matthew 22:21 >> Human beings are to worship God & serve Him.  No government should infringe upon that duty, not should they claim that level of allegiance.
  • John 8:36 >> Freedom is the right of all individuals, but true spiritual freedom is found in Christ alone.
  • Acts 4:19-20 >> Government is not worthy of absolute allegiance.  The only One worthy of that devotion is God.  Christians must oppose anyone who calls for them to contradict the will of God.
  • Romans 6:1-2 >> Christians have died to the old system of this world.
  • Romans 13:1-7 >> Governments are established by God.  However, they have limitations & should function within those limitations.
  • Galatians 5:1,13 >> Christians are called to exercise their freedom to worship & not enslave themselves to government regulation upon their consciences.
  • Philippians 3:20 >> Christians are not ultimately citizens of earthly nations, but are instead citizens of the eternal kingdom of God.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-2 >> It is God’s will that Christians pray for & seek the salvation of their rulers so that the church will be able to pursue the will of God without limitation.
  • James 4:12 >> All human beings are ultimately accountable to the one true judge, Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Peter 2:12-17 >> Christians are called to submit to human authorities & governments as those authorities serve the purposes defined for them by God.
  • 1 Peter 3:11-17; 1 Peter 4:12-19 >> Christians must pursue a lifestyle that honors God even if it brings upon them the persecution & condemnation of the government.

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