The world is in a crisis of government. Despotic communism, dictatorships, parliamentary democracies, autocracies, limited monarchies, republicanisms, tyrannies, majority rule — in whatever form of human government, crises threaten; and governments topple, collapse, decay, disintegrate, or are overthrown. Never have so many governments been in so much difficulty. And overriding every national governmental crisis is the most important international crisis: the lack of a world-governing authority which really could bring this world "peace with justice."
THE worst thing that can happen to an anarchist, plotting to overthrow a government and thus change the "status quo," is to succeed. Our anarchist, who loudly decried abuses of corrupt government to gain his following, emotionally polarize his lieutenants, and sweep himself into power over the bodies of those already in power, now becomes the proprietor of a new "status quo." Eventually, the tiresome evolution of man's inferior human governments, the inevitable inertias of governmental senility, loss of communication with its people, isolation and increasing self-deception due to original sensational successes, renders it helpless before yet another self-styled ruler who desires to overthrow the new "status quo."
Who Will Govern?
History reeks with the stench of rotten government corpses, thrown aside when the bright young deliverers promised grand new horizons of peace and plenty to frustrated, impoverished, disease-ridden masses. From Nebuchadnezzar to Nero; from Atilla to Hitler; from Alexander the Great to Otto the Great; from Ghengis Khan to Mussolini; from Ivan the Terrible to Tojo — the would-be rulers of the world. Statesmen, musicians, politicians, generals, murderers, perverts, strategists, empire builders, liars, historians, sadists, emancipators, criminals, orators, demon-possessed persons, literati, homosexuals, religionists — all have dreamed the dream of world government — of beneficent, wise, merciful, progressive, just, perfect government — with themselves, of course, clearly visible at the absolute pinnacle of power. Make no mistake about history's revolutionaries — whether those names daily remembered from high-school history lessons or the would-be leaders of a neo-American revolution of the 60s — it isn't "government" they're against. It's only a question of "whose?" Today, governments topple almost weekly. Within only a few months, the governments of Afghanistan, Argentina, Greece, Chile, Belgium, Thailand, etc., have either been overthrown or the head of state has been forced to resign, voted out of office, or murdered in office — or otherwise gone the way of so many heads of human governments in the past. In the United States, a very real crisis of government is under full swing. With the Vice-President's resignation (after being placed under criminal indictment, which quite possibly could have meant a jail term) on top of Watergate and the credibility gap, it was perhaps only the Mideast emergency and the energy crisis that stalled effective impeachment proceedings — at least for a few months. Struggles over who will govern are as old as the universe, as ancient as the garden of Eden, and as human as human nature itself.
The "Missing Dimension" in Government
The study of government (a tiresome business at best!) is necessarily a study of human nature. But for all our vaunted scientific and technological knowledge, there remains a monumental amount of confusion about what we are, why we are, and the "way" we are — just what human nature is. Quite literally, thousands of volumes have been written down through the bloody history of the human race probing the vagaries of the human mind. Still, whether the mystical or spiritual is emphasized, or strictly the evolutionary (and therefore purely physical) approach is used, there is no clear cut unanimity on just what man is. If we are, as evolution implies, only "animals" whose admittedly advanced civilization can be compared to ants, bees, lemmings or elephants; then the study of our "nature" precludes admission of any spiritual content in our brains — or any spiritual purpose in our being. But if we are not merely "animals," but the apex of God's physical creation — endowed not only with a brain but also with a spiritual essence added to that brain that makes the superb difference between animal and human — then any understanding of human nature must include a full understanding of how we came to be, as well as what we are. You can prove, and prove by the laws and requirements of science, that God does exist! (Read our free booklet Does God Exist?) You can prove, too, that the Creator God has not left man without a handbook, the Bible, explaining who, and what, and why, we are! The Bible, the Word of God, reveals to God's creation its reasons for being.
God Is the Ruler
God is the RULER — not only Creator and Originator of all things, but the present Sustainer — the One who continually governs and oversees the fulfillment of His purpose here below. As Supreme Ruler of all the universe, the Almighty God has set down certain inexorable laws. All law, meaning the known laws of science, is spiritual in origin and nature. While science can seek to define laws, it did not bring them into being — is powerless to alter them. The laws of physics are beyond real human comprehension, no matter how technically we try to define them. And, even though we may be discussing physical properties of a material creation — such as laws governing energy, heat, light, motion, radiation, or inertia — our minds cannot really fathom how those laws came to be or why they work exactly as they do. God's Word reveals God's divine authority over all His creation, not only through the continual operation of specific, human-limiting laws; but as the RULER, who created mankind, who called His own people, establishing a government on this earth, and who is working out a great purpose which will eventually bring about a world-ruling government over all mankind.
A Book About Government
The Bible is a book about GOVERNMENT. It is a book about obedience and disobedience, about good and evil, about life and death. When God originally called His people out of Egypt, establishing human leaders over them and giving them a complete set of laws by which they should be governed, He knew there was a missing dimension in that original government of God. Not that His law was imperfect, or incomplete, but that there was a vital ingredient which made perfect obedience to those laws, and the blessings resulting from that obedience, impossible! The Bible reveals what that missing ingredient was: "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deut. 5:29.)
The Nature of Man
They didn't have the nature to obey. Human, carnal nature is "naturally" disobedient to law. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). The law God gave, His Ten Commandments, was a perfect law. Had it been perfectly obeyed, that new nation would have been totally free from all sins, which means, in short, every conceivable evil which plagues any human society, including even physical diseases and material poverty. They would have risen to become literally Utopian in their own time. But only if they had the "heart" and the nature to obey. Human nature is the opposite from an obedient nature. God's Word reveals there is another "law," or a principle, at work in our flesh and in our minds, like a magnetic pulling or tugging of the senses and the mind itself, which automatically pulls us the wrong way. "For the good that I want to do, I don't do; but the evil I don't want to do, I do. Now if I do that which I don't want to do, it isn't me that is doing it, but sin that lives in me. For though I really rejoice in the law of God inside myself, I see another law in my body, struggling against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which lives inside of me! O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with my body, the law of sin" (Rom. 7: 19-25, paraphrased).
Why Government Failed
God's government failed, then, not because the government or the laws by which it ruled or the Governor were inferior, but because there was a "missing dimension" — a missing ingredient! Speaking of that first government over the nation of Israel, Paul writes about the "second" (a spiritual) government, through God's Church, under the terms and conditions of a NEW covenant, or better promise. "But now hath he [Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry [compared with Moses and Aaron], by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant [as Moses was mediator of the first one], which was established upon better promises [spiritual and eternal, in place of physical and temporal]. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.... after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb. 8:6-10). Notice, the "fault" in that former government in the wilderness was not with God, or His laws — but "with them," as the Bible amply explains. They simply lacked the nature to obey. Having carnal, physical, human nature — they just "naturally" did not want to obey God, or keep His laws. The Prophet Jeremiah said of the nature of man: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ["sick" — margin]: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9.) Jeremiah had earlier cried out: "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23). While there is a "spiritual essence" (Job 32:8; Heb. 12:23) in man's brain which makes it "mind" and not just physical brain — man's mind is carnal in the sense of being materially oriented, physically directed, sensual, "having not the Spirit" (Jude 19).
The Holy Spirit
The "missing dimension" in government is God's Holy Spirit! It is only through repentance (see Acts 2:38) and receiving the Spirit of God that perfect government can ever be possible. No wonder human governments — utterly cut off from God and displaying the very epitomization of avarice, cunning, suspicion, jealousy, hatred, greed, ambition, selfishness and vanity — are doomed to failure before they start! God's Holy Spirit, both within the governed and those doing the governing, would replace all the base human emotions with God's spiritual qualities. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23). Believe it or not, God has a representative form of government on this earth today! But it is not a government of or by man. It is the government of God, through His Spirit. That government, while not now in any position of authority the governed do not voluntarily and specifically allow, is God's government; and in and through human agencies, led of His Holy Spirit, is constituted for performing a great purpose on this earth — and doing the very Work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ instituted it; He originated it; He called and trained, personally, its very first leaders. And He never for an instant quit ruling over them, just as He has never quit ruling over that group (which is His Church) all down through history! Jesus absolutely guaranteed that His Church — the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23) — would continue unabated throughout all ages. He would never abandon it or let it die! Jesus had promised: "... I am with you alway[s], even unto the end of the world [age)" (Matt. 28:20). The Apostle Paul later reminded the Hebrews of this ironclad, absolutely binding guarantee: "... For he [Christ) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).
A Giant Commission
Jesus entrusted His Church — the little flock (Luke 12:32) — with a giant commission, especially now in the latter part of this super-complex, fast-moving 20th century. It is to preach and proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God — as a warning and a witness — to this sin-sick and dying world, just prior to the end of this chaotic age. It is to announce the ushering in of a new era in man's governmental experience — the wonderful world tomorrow — God's rule on this earth. Can you imagine God using human instruments to perform such a gigantic task without any government — or a weak, loosely organized conglomeration of individuals seemingly going in all different directions? Of course not! That would be utterly ridiculous and contrary to all sensible logic!
Church Government and the Gospel
Wouldn't it seem a little odd for God's chosen human agents to proclaim a gospel of rulership, of government, of laws, of law enforcement, of rule "with a rod of iron"; and then have no governmental rule but near anarchy in His true Church today? Doesn't make any sense, does it? No, the gospel could not be sounded abroad through the length and breadth of this entire earth without effective government. And God does not want His gospel trumpeted around this globe with a weak, "uncertain sound" (I Cor. 14:8). The Work of God today is a globe-girdling, worldwide enterprise with offices dotting every hemisphere and every continent. Such a large organization made up of thousands of employees around the world demands a well-organized, viable, flexible governmental structure functioning like a well-oiled machine.
Church Government in God's Word
God amply provided in His Word — the Holy Bible — the very basis for government in His Church today. The New Testament is literally replete with scriptures about who is the Head of His Church, governmental authority, how to settle disputes between brethren, binding and loosing, disfellowshipping and reinstatement, and myriads of other governmental principles extant in His true Church today. The complete picture of why God's government is so necessary in the Church, what it is like, and what are its basic principles and concepts, is too lengthy and requires far too much in-depth expounding of the many dozens of scriptures to do the subject justice in this introductory article. So be sure to read the next installment in this series about Church government and how God's rule, with Christ at the head (Eph. 5:23), is found in His true Church today. Did Christ institute Church organization? How? Why? Find out in a soon-coming issue.