Mission of the Church (3)
The Full-Orbed Mission
Our subject in this hour is ‘the full-orbed mission.’ Our scripture is from the Epistles of the Romans 1:16-17.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
The world has a problem, and its name is sin. It affects the rich and the poor alike, and all races, and the only answer to that problem is Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To be our Lord means to be God over us, to be sovereign, to be absolute property owner over all that we are and have. To be our savior means that we are redeemed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Redeemed from sin, into a life of service.
A full-orbed mission thus, would stress the totality of our Lord’s calling to us as lord over the totality of our lives and of the world, and as savior. Basic to us, therefore, is the fundamental missionary task; evangelism. But it is important that we do not fall into Medievalism and Romanism in the fulfilling of that task. So much of what today passes as evangelicalism has more than a little of the flavor of Rome, because it preaches for a conversion experience. It places primary stress on being born again, something that the late Medieval friars did very heavily. Their preaching was geared to produce experience, but the Reformation did not begin with such preaching, but with the preaching of a legal act by God through Jesus Christ; justification.
Now, justification has, as God’s concomitant act, regeneration, so that we are born again, but the emphasis of the Reformation is not of man’s experience, but on God’s act in Jesus Christ. “The just shall by faith.” To be justified means to move in terms of that sovereign gracem and to manifest it in the totality of our lives and our service, and so the program of Reformed missions has, as its keynote; justification.
Then, the light of the justified. I spoke earlier today of the centrality of the family in so many cultures. The family is God’s basic institution, the only institution that dates back to the Garden of Eden, and in terms of scripture, virtually every power that can be given to man and society is given to the family save one; the death penalty. The reason why, in our day, there is an increasing attack on the family by humanistic society is because the five basic areas of a society are all controlled in terms of Scripture by the family.
There is, first of all, the control of children. If you control children, you control the future, and the control of children is placed, by the Lord, in the hands of the godly family.
Then, second, there is the control of property, which again in Scripture is placed in the hands of the family, so that family ownership is the keynote to property in Scripture.
Third, there is inheritance, which is again the property of the family. A good man, a godly man, we are told; “…leaveth an inheritance for his children, yea for his children’s children.” And we are told that an inheritance is to be to the godly seed, and the ungodly are to be passed over, so that the kingdom, in all its work, can be capitalized.
Then, fourth, education belongs again to the family, and we are told; “Learn not the way of the heathen.”
And fifth, welfare is again placed in the hands of the family as a stewardship by themselves; “He that doth not care for his own is worse than an infidel,” and that we are to be merciful and charitable to the poor and those that are without. So that, in the Biblical family, the basic functions of government are to be found. It is the essential government of man, but unhappily, too often on the mission field, the Christian mission is destructive of the family.
Now, we must make clear that family structure in non-Christian societies is a fallen system, full of errors. Ancestor worship, for example, or in the old Tibetan polyandry, geared entirely to the transmission of property, and we could go on and cite the Todas, and other cultures with like concepts. So that the family structure of pagan society is very often definitely to be altered, but it is one thing to replace a fallen family structure with a godly one, another to be destructive of the family. One of the great needs in the study of missions is a ‘family sociology.’ We do have a couple of classic works, unfortunately out of print, but which should be reprinted. C.Z. Zimmerman, the first volume of his Family and Civilization, and a second volume by Zimmerman and Cervantes, entitled simply; The Family. They are excellent expositions, not only of the role of the family in history, but also the critical role played by the family in times of Christian reformation. If you want an account of that, read Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s Out of Revolution, the autobiography of Western man, and note the tremendous force that was generated by the Reformation to perpetuate and extend the Reformation by the revival and the strengthening of the biblical forms of family life.
What scripture gives us is the ‘trustee family.’ The family as a trustee under God with a duty to pass on as stewards something to the future generations, but only in terms of the Lord, and his calling, and his work to a godly seed for the purposes of God’s covenant.
Thus, as we go out, whether it be to darkest America, or the darkest regions of the world, the life of the justified includes the biblical pattern of the family.
Then, there is a second great area which must concern the justified as they go forth. But for a few moments, let us treat this session as a brief course in Jurisprudence I.’ What are the four types of law? Well, the first type is Biblical law, whose fundamental principle is restitution, which rests in the cross of Christ, the atonement as restitution to God by God the Son; “Very God of very God, and very man of very man.” And so that laws for human society must implement, if they are the society of the justified, the laws God gives it, the essential premise of which is justification.
But we have had, in the modern era, another type of law that has arisen; law as reformatory, law as reformation. Perhaps the key figure in this was William Penn, who first propounded it, but it was not until much after his time, in the early 1800’s, that the idea began to capture a growing humanism, because it was, in essence, humanism. Penn was a Quaker. He wanted reformatories to be built, and of course, we still have institutions all around us called ‘reformatories,’ prisons. Penn’s idea was that there was to be a cell for each man sent to prison, to be designed like a monk’s cell, so that there in that cell, he could meditate on his sins. Now, being a believer in the inner light, the spark of divinity in every man, he held that man, by meditating and being separated from the world, that inner light, that inherent divinity, would quickly reform him. Well, we have seen the devastation rather than the reformation that the reformatories have worked. We have seen that attempts at reforming them through other means of rehabilitation; psychiatric and psychological, work therapy and the like, have all failed. Man cannot be saved by works of law, and when we have, as we do, a system of law which seeks to save man through this reformational idea; reformation by works of law, it works contrary to everything that we believe about justification.
So, first there is restitution, a biblical principle, then second, there is reformation, which is salvation by works, and third, there is another factor very much with us, increasingly since World War II, salvation of men by regulation to the point of total regulation. In this system of salvation, you regulate all men to prevent evil from occurring, and thereby keeping them good. So that the law strikes not only the evildoer, but every one of us in that we are to be regulated, kept within a narrow path so that we might not stray, with all kinds of regulatory agencies and agents continually supervising us to prevent us from going astray. But salvation by works, again, appears in this concept of law; of salvation by regulation.
The fourth type of law, again, sets forth this belief in salvation by works of law; redistribution. Let us take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots,” as though this deals with the problem of sin, and so we have in the Soviet Union today, redistribution, and there has been no change, no salvation. They are no closer to the dream of paradise than they were when they began, and in fact, much further away, and all over the world today, including here in our own country, increasingly, laws aim at redistribution.
Britain, after World War II, instituted income tax laws that taxed up to one hundred and twenty percent, the purpose of which was to take not only the entirety of the income, but of the assets, progressively, to strip everyone, and thereby, to redeem society, but there has been no redemption by these works of law.
So that the four types of law; restitution, reformation, regulation, and redistribution, give us three forms of law, which in any society, militates against the faith of Christendom in salvation through the sovereign grace of God, by His act of restitution for us, and only one system of law, as given by God himself, gives us the way of the justified; restitution.
Now, the native systems of law can fall into these categories, particularly these last two. Anyone who is thinking seriously of missions should read Helmut Schoeck, Envy. The book is not written from a Christian perspective, but he shows the harm that envy has done in bringing about regulations and redistribution that stifle and destroy societies, so that most of the societies through the world are destroyed by envy, which is sin, but, too often, we break down on the mission field, and milder forms of humanistic law held by tribes and peoples to replace them with the more advanced and dangerous forms of humanistic law, and then we wonder why the doctrine of justification does not take hold, and why it seems to be an esoteric doctrine which sets the people apart from society, and doesn’t seem to relate to the totality of man’s life.
The life of the justified and the doctrine of the covenant, infant baptism, requires also to recognize the importance of a doctrine of education for the people of God. Remember, the hieratic aspect of the priesthood disappeared at the cross, the Levitical aspect continues. Deuteronomy 33:10 defines the Levitical ministry as ‘instruction.’ Instruction! So that instruction is the life of the church, and it is the life of the covenant school and must be stressed, and we have a tremendous responsibility today, as a part of the mission of the church, at home and abroad, to educate the covenant child in the covenant faith. Wherever education is taken away from a religion, the religion quickly becomes a relic, it withers, its vitality has been destroyed. And so today, we have a fundamental duty to restore to the length and breadth of the life of the church, the responsibility of education. Apart from that, infant baptism becomes a farce, an empty shell, and a meaningless doctrine. For to give our children to the Lord in the sacrament of baptism, and then to turn them over to humanistic teachers is certainly to be traitors to our baptismal vows.
Today the humanist, as I said earlier this week at St. Paul, recognized fully the menace to them in the Christian schools. They recognize very clearly that, by the end of this century if the Christian school continues its present growth, this country will again be Christian to the core, because the percentage of children in Christian schools every year is rising dramatically; two or three new schools a day, and the number increasing. So the attempt to control these schools, to require them to use humanistic textbooks, to become accredited and the teachers to be certified so they can be subjected to state controls and regulations, and regulated out of vitality and finally existence. It is a tremendous mission field, here and abroad, so that, to have a mission and overlook Christian education is to have only a fractional mission.
Again, economics is an area of tremendous concern because every man lives in a practical world, in a world of economic realities, and there again, a trustee economics prevails in scripture. As I indicated earlier, the concept of property in scripture is neither private nor public, but family ownership as a trusteeship from the Lord, as something to be transmitted in terms of the Lord’s calling work to capitalize the kingdom, not to be given to an ungodly seed. It means, moreover, that the whole of our economic life must be reordered, therefore, in terms of a stewardship concept.
Here again, many native economies are destroyed, and all that is left to replace them is a more severe and militant form of paganism or humanism. The economies that range from our modern welfare state to full-scale capitalism, none of which, in any way, can merit one iota of approval from us, because what they do, they do in the name of the sovereignty and the lordship of the state, and what they do is destructive of the people of God, and what they do constitutes a form of works salvation.
We could go on and cite one form after another, one area of life after another which needs to be reordered; government. Today the word “government” means the state. For the Puritans, the word ‘government’ never meant the state, unless they qualified it with the word civil government. Just recall your reading of any Puritan, when he’s talking about the state he says, “civil government.” When he uses the word ‘government,’ he means first of all the self-government of the Christian man. Second; he means the family. Third; he means the church. Fourth; he means the school. Fifth; he means a vocation, and hence, the tremendous number of books written about the Christian vocation; The Christian Cobbler, The Christian Seaman, The Christian Farmer, and so on. And then sixth; for the Puritans, it meant the society in which we are, which does govern us and affect us. And finally, seventh; civil government, a minor form.
It is interesting that when de Tocqueville visited the United States in the late 1820’s, he wrote in his Democracy in America, the fact that in these United States, very few people were aware of the existence of Washington and its civil government. It was a far away, distant thing, once in four years, a president was elected, but the life of the federal government rarely touched theirs, and Congress met a few days from time to time, and that was the extent of it. There were times when the US Army was as low as two hundred men.
A little later, by the way, I discovered recently in my reading, a secretary of the Navy was appointed, who was some landlubber who had served a candidate very well, and was named Secretary of the Navy. When he first inspected the ships, something he had never seen before, he was amazed that they were hollow! Our bureaucrats have not improved much in their knowledge since then.
The state governments, de Tocqueville said, are also very remote and almost non-existent. The county governments have slightly more to do, but he said most Americans live and die, and never have any contact with any agency of the state. What is the government of the United States? He said, private associations, and the sad fact is that he used that term, because what he was talking about was tithe agencies. In one of my books, I trace, and one or two of you are familiar with my thinking here, so you’ll bear with me if you hear this again.
Salem, Massachusetts, from 1795 when it was a community of two thousand five hundred to 1845, fifty years later when it was a community of forty-five thousand, during which time it doubled again and again, and again, and in terms of the people who came into it, it should have been a highly humanistic city, but with a preponderance of Catholics among those who had any religious faith. But at the end of time, it was still a Puritan community. Why? Because the Christians there took seriously their mission as individuals. And I do believe that in the early days, practically everybody in Salem or very close to it, must have been a part of one or another tithe agency. Tithe agencies to establish Christian schools for the immigrant children. Tithe agencies to teach English to the immigrants. Another tithe agency to give job-training to the immigrant men. Another tithe agency to teach homemaking and knowledge of the foods of this country to all the immigrant women. Another tithe agency to have a boarding house freely, with a chapel, at the dock to meet every seamen, to give him a free place to stay and to evangelize him. It is impossible to think of anything they did not cover, and so at the end of that time, the community remained unchanged, and there were, for a time, thousands of tithe agencies throughout the length and the breadth of this land.
De Tocqueville calls attention in a very long footnote which is over half a page of small print in his edition, that is, to New York City, and he calls attention to the fact that, with the formation of the United States, the nations of Europe were simply emptying their jails onto emigrant ships, and shipping these people to the United States. It was the cheapest way of solving the criminal problem. And he said that no where in the world was there such a fearful element as inhabited the big coastal cities of the United States, and he said unless the United States soon calls a vast standing army into existence, it will be beset by revolution with the worst element the world has known, but did we have revolution? No, we had Christians, and they went into those slums where, even at the Five Points area in New York City, no less than five policemen ever dared to with guns drawn, and they made those people converts, they Christianized them.
The University of Chicago sociologist, a priest, who wrote a study not too long ago, of the Irish in America, and he found that most of the Irish in the United States are Presbyterian. Interesting fact. Why? Because of these tithe agencies that the people of God created to meet those Irishmen when they landed, and to minister to them. You see, they were people with a mission. They met all those ships. They met them with the grace of God, and some practical as well as religious counsel, and all of it based upon the word of God, and the result of it was tremendous, and we are still coasting on the momentum of their achievements, although rapidly laying them waste. This should tell us something about our duties. “Go ye therefore into all the world…,” unto all nations, and to every area of life. The king, when he summons men to his feast, tells them to go unto the highways and the byways, and to seek them out, that the justifying gospel; “…the just shall live by faith,” that their salvation is not the work of man, nor of themselves, nor of a statist system of laws, or statist plan of education to save man, but of Jesus Christ; Lord and Savior.
And today, we are withdrawn into the convent-church, and we’ve forgotten the world, but the world does not forget us, and the humanists of the world are bent on destroying the church. These attacks against the Christian schools are an aspect of that planned destruction. We either conquer in Christ’s name, or are conquered. There are no neutrals, and no peace in this war until Christ be our peace.
And so we must stand in terms of the whole Word of God, recognizing that we are not our own, that we have been bought with a price, and that we cannot live unto ourselves. I told you earlier of the fact that on the Indian reservation, no child was homeless. That was one of the sound aspects of the old Indian culture. They were very much given to hospitality, something scripture talks about. Occasionally, an Indian, Christian or non-Christian, would go out to a city and when he was there, he would go to a church, and the report I would get when he would return was always the same, and it was an indictment of Christianity; “I went to church and somebody shook my hand and said, ‘We’re glad to see you,’ and nobody asked me out to eat. Nobody offered me hospitality. I thought that was what the Bible teaches.” Some of them did this again and again, and they found the church wanting.
Well, after all, they were Indians, rather shabbily dressed in some cases, walking into whichever church they saw, and they were outsiders, and therefore, there was no gospel for them. But if we are not our own, our hospitality as well as our lives, our states, our schools, our churches are commanded by the law-Word of God, and man shall not live by bread alone, and certainly not by his will, nor his dictates, but by the every Word of God. And today, it is urgently necessary that we take that word seriously and literally, that we recognize that we are called to proclaim justification and then to exemplify, in our every affair and in all our institutions, the life of the justified.
This is what it means when scripture declares; “The just shall live by his faith,” for “faith without works is dead,” and “circumcision and uncircumcision are nothing, but keeping the commandments of God,” and “faith working through love,” so says the Apostle Paul.
Are you ready to be a missionary and to have a mission? Let us pray.
O Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee that through the work of Jesus Christ, we are the justified. By thy Spirit, move us so that we manifesting the life of justification, might in all our ways, show forth thy law-Word, manifest the obedience of faith, be mindful that we are not our own, that we have been bought with a price, and that we must glorify and serve thee with all our heart, mind, and being. We thank thee, Father, for faithful peers that love thy Word and seek to be guided thereby. Bless these thy people, to thy service, praise, and glory. Do thou guide them in their daily walk and grant that they walk with hinds feet in high places, in Jesus name, Amen.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder