The following are the expanded notes from a speech Bishop Mattera made on August 7, 2011 to 150 political, business, and military leaders in the African nation of Rwanda, including the Speaker of Parliament.
First of all, I want to say that I am pleased to address you, the political and community leaders of Rwanda for the magnificent job you have been doing in rebuilding this great nation! Most in the United States have no idea how much progress you have made, the great attitude of your people and the motivation to move forward in spite of all the global challenges! I will be sure to pass the word around when I go back home to New York City!
Today I would like to speak to you about: “How to Frame a Nation with the Law of God.”
Regarding the separation of our faith from public policy, or the privatization of faith: This concept was foreign to the Founding Fathers of the United States where I come from and also to Scripture.
The original covenant of God to humankind was the Cultural Commission found in Genesis 1:28 in which God’s people were called to be servant leaders that would influence every square inch of the created order, including policy, economics and politics.
Jesus reaffirmed this cultural covenant in Matthew 28:18-20 when He told the church to disciple and baptize whole nations, teaching them to observe everything He taught them in private. This means Jesus viewed the Bible as a blueprint for nation building, not just a book to get individuals to heaven!
Furthermore, Jesus came to the earth to be King of kings. This is seen in His conversation with Pilate in John 18:37 and in His biblical titles and functions as found in Psalm 2:8-11, Rev. 1:5, 19:16. This has vast political implications because it means Jesus is not only the spiritual savior of the world but the political leader of the world as the President of presidents, Governor of governors and King of kings!
Furthermore, His followers have a duty of representing their King and kingdom on the earth to the political and economic powers that be!
He also called His followers a political term, “the ekklesia,” which was used during the 200 years before Christ coined it in Matthew 16:18. The term was used when Greek citizens came together to enact public policy.
We believe in the separation of church and state, but not the separation of God and state!
When liberals in the West say morally cannot be legislated, I laugh. Whenever a law is passed the lawmakers are imposing someone’s morality on the people! It’s just a question of whose morality, God’s or mere humans’?
When laws derive from human conventions and opinions instead of from God’s law, then a nation is vulnerable to arbitrary fiat law based on the vicissitudes of men. This can lead to slavery or another legalized holocaust as we saw in World War II!
It is interesting that Adolf Hitler was an avid reader of famous eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who started the first abortion clinics in Harlem, New York City—the place where the most African-Americans were concentrated in the United States. Read some of the reasons why she wanted abortion clinics in black communities:
“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
-Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.
“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
-Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.
“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. And the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
-Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, she and her organization, Planned Parenthood, have been largely successful in the United States. The latest statistics show us that for every 1,000 African-American children born, 1,500 are aborted! Thus, the death rate is higher than the birth rate for blacks in the USA. Many in our nation are calling this legalized genocide!
Regarding the fact that true laws come from God: The Book of James 4:12 unequivocally states that there is only one law-giver and judge: God! Since the Protestant Reformation, especially since John Calvin, the wealthiest nations in the world have come out of a Protestant ethos based on biblical law, which essentially teaches that every political leader is only legitimate if he or she correctly represents God to the people. It was for this reason that Samuel Rutherford of England was executed in the 17th century when he wrote the book Lex Rex which debunked the notion of the divine right of kings.
So what part of the Bible do we use to disciple a nation?
The Place of Civil Law in Regards to Discipling the Nations
1. Civil law is an extrapolation of the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments are an extrapolation of the Great Commandments found in Matthew 22:37-39.
2. An example of this extrapolation of the Ten Commandments is Exodus 20-23, in which the Ten Commandments are shown in chapter 20, with chapters 21-23 unpacking them principally in civil law.
Studying the civil law is important to formulate an economic and political blueprint for those called of God to enter the marketplace as leaders.
The historic reformed view is to apply the civil law of the Pentateuch (especially Exodus and Deuteronomy) principally.
The civil law is composed of the 613 laws in the Old Testament that explain the application of each of the Ten Commandments. This shows us that each of the Ten Commandments is really a category with vast implications for any nation. These civil laws can be applied in principle but not exactly because some of these laws were particular to the nation of Israel and the culture of their day. But the moral laws, as I already stated, are always relevant and applicable because they are grounded in the created order and are universal. Thus every political leader or jurist should study both the moral and civil law in order to know in concept how to structure a nation.
3. The general rule regarding the law is that it is broken into three parts:
a. Ceremonial law (especially found in Leviticus). This was totally done away with in Christ because He as the Lamb of God fulfilled all the shadow and types of ceremonial law (John 1:29; Hebrews chapters 9-10; Galatians chapters 3-5).
b. Moral law: Is still in effect in the New Covenant. For example, the Fifth Commandment is quoted exactly in Ephesians 6:1-4.
c. The civil law: Is to be applied in principle as a blueprint to guide the construct of a civil government. The New Testament modified the civil law, especially in regards to capital punishment for most sins except murder. For example, Paul never espouses the death penalty for adulterers, homosexuals, etc., although he tells us in Ephesians 5:3-6 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the offenders. Also, 1 Corinthians 6:11 shows that former adulterers and homosexuals were saved and forgiven without Paul speaking of the capital consequences of the death penalty.
4. Those that believe we ought to follow the civil law exactly in the New Testament are called theonomists. Although I highly regard most scholars with this view, my reasons for disagreeing with them are too numerous for this brief speech.
Thus, the Ten Commandments are still in effect and relevant to all cultures and all societies at all times as we shall see in a moment.
So, to summarize the Bible, we have the Cultural Commission found in Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:18-20 that give all Christ-followers the mandate to steward every aspect of the earth. Then you have the Ten Commandments with its subsequent civil laws that are meant to be the guiding light for nation building. Then you have Jesus’ two sentence summary of the law in Matthew 22:37-40. Then you have all of this summed up in one person, Jesus, who said of Himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The following is an explanation of the Ten Commandments and how following them will bring prosperity and well-being to a nation!
The Blueprint for Biblical Economics and the Transfer of Wealth: The Ten Commandments and Biblical Prosperity
I. The Prologue: Exodus 20:1-2
1. Before the commandments were given, God reminds His people that He had to take them out of the bondage of slavery before He could give them the commandments.
2. We then conclude that this demonstrates that God connects the ability to own private property, economics, and individual freedom with true worship. (Furthermore, the Hebrew word for work and worship are one and the same. Also, holiness doesn’t just describe the inward condition of a person but any thing or activity set apart for the work and honor of Jehovah.)
3. This prologue also shows us that slavery and economic bondage limit the worship of God because the biblical definition of worship is ultimately connected to God’s seed serving and positively influencing every realm of the earth.
a. The so-called Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 clearly connects worship (“hallowed be Your name”) with God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
b. If the dispensational pietists are correct and God is only interested with inward holiness, then why didn’t God just tell the Israelite slaves to sing songs and practice the joy of the Lord while making bricks for Pharaoh?
c. Also, the Ten Commandments weren’t just given as a moral code for individuals but as a corporate blueprint for national shalom, prosperity, and for transferring the resources of the earth to those that will biblically manage the planet.
II. The Ten Commandments
1. “You shall have no other gods before me.”
a. This teaches that the nation and its citizens must base their religious, social, and economic systems only on the precepts and worship of the One True God. Essentially, we can’t force every person in a nation to worship God, but a nation should favor the Judeo/Christian worldview in its laws if it is to prosper (as the USA did its first 150 years of existence), while at the same time granting religious freedom to individuals in regards to their style of worship as long as it doesn’t conflict with the biblical values the nation espouses.
b. Thus the first four commandments have to do with our vertical responsibility to God. The best we can do is favor the Christian religion in our culture and laws without forcing it on people, because our nations are not theocracies like Israel was.
c. I will quickly summarize the next three commandments and then we want to jump to the last six commandments which are categories of how the people of a nation should relate to one another horizontally.
d. These first four commandments also refer to the fact that a nation must always be grounded to the cause, root, and foundation of the universe; focus and loyalty must always be to Him!
e. Matthew 6:33 brings more light to this. We should never put our business or the love of money before our pursuit and loyalty to God. Thus, while we believe in the meritocracy of the free market, believers must see themselves as stewards of the earth under God to spread His covenant (Deuteronomy 8:18). This is fleshed out in part by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, which means we are motivated to create wealth to minister to the poor and empower people to replicate our gifts as wealth creators. (Putting God first thus means we are not putting money or capitalism first.)
2. “You shall not have a graven image of anything in heaven and on earth.”
a. This not only refers to worshipping man-made idols but is a command to always accurately reflect the nature, holiness, and purpose of God as His image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-27).
b. It is very troubling to me when I see how quickly believers who believe for prosperity go to court and sue other believers, not reflecting the clear will of God found in 1 Corinthians 6:1. While in church on Sunday they tithe and claim a blessing, and on Monday they are in court suing another believer or operating their business with the worldly competitive cut-throat mentality so they can have more money to continue living a self-centered life that doesn’t represent God’s ways.
3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”
a. This means that as believers we are to honor who and what His name represents and also to use His name in faith, believing His promises as His hierarchy to exercise dominion on the earth.
4. “Honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy. SIX days shalt thou labor….”
a. Believing business owners should not require their workers to work seven days a week.
b. The Sabbath does not only mean one day in seven, but the law extrapolates the Fourth Commandment to mean taking time off with families to worship God during religious feasts (Deuteronomy 16:1-17) and taking a sabbatical once every seven years, etc. (Leviticus 25:20-22; Exodus 23:12). Christian business owners are guilty of breaking the Fourth Commandment if they don’t give their employees adequate time off for vacation and worship.
c. The Sabbath is a sign between Him and us that ultimately He does the work. Taking time off to rest shows you have faith in him to prosper you.
5. “Honor your father and mother so that it will be well with you on the earth.”
This teaches us that state governments should respect families as one of the jurisdictions on the earth. Thus, they should not impinge upon families by weakening the family unit with legalizing same-sex marriage, over-taxation, death taxes, and the like. Families are responsible for their children more than the state unless their children are unruly and are arrested. The more responsible and powerful the family unit, the less people in a nation are incarcerated and the less taxes are needed to support individuals from fragmented homes who don’t know how to take care of themselves. (For example, 85% of the five million men incarcerated in the USA have an absent father or come from a broken home! The curse of the land is fatherlessness!)
a. This has to do with respecting and building upon the foundation of your forefathers and parents.
b. In regards to economics and wealth, if children obey the Lord and honor their parents, then their parents will trust their wealth to their offspring.
c. This commandment is the basis of Proverbs 13:22 and flies in the face of the death/inheritance tax that liberals have instituted, because they want to transfer wealth (dominion) from the jurisdiction of the family to the state. After all, whoever has the wealth has dominion. (In biblical times wealth was based more on family property and job skills than the currency exchange based on money). God always equates dominion with owning land (e.g. Joshua 1:3; the point of the Israelite Exodus out of Egypt was to give Israel their own property and thus freedom to worship the Lord).
d. Children who didn’t honor their parents were disinherited and in cases of severe rebellion were put to death. (In biblical times, capital punishment was given for this because a child’s rebellion isolates and separates them from the generational blessing preceding them. Thus they start with nothing and are on their own; independence is the same as a death sentence in the eyes of a covenantal God. [Read: Deuteronomy 21:18-21].)
e. The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 clearly shows that what motivated the backslidden son to repent and go home to his family was economics. His economic ability was connected to his father’s wealth. If this happened today, the prodigal son would have bypassed his family and went to the local welfare office for state aid.
f. In biblical times, wealth was not only in land but in the amount of children you had (read Psalm 127:3-5). There was no welfare system like we have today; families were responsible for taking care of their own family members in need. In the case of old age, a person’s children would carry on the family business and maintain the property, and the aged would live off this arrangement.
g. In modern times, because of the fracturing of the nuclear family, the state has now come to the rescue (after helping to destroy marriage with welfare entitlements) and the sense of wealth being equated with having children has been reversed. Now people say they can’t have children because they can’t afford it!
h. The present fractured family structure along with the secular messianic state caring for the poor and the aged (with social security) has contributed to the demise of the traditional family. Now many parents are in conspiracy to kill off their offspring (abortion) for convenience, thus cutting off potential financial supporters in the future. Because of the lack of generational planning and respect for traditional families, many don’t even care for their parents properly and have pawned off the care of the aged to state-funded nursing homes and entitlements.
i. Secular humanists like Margaret Sanger and Thomas Dewey have successfully changed the paradigm of the American people to a one-generational self-centered society dependent on a messianic state that is in competition with the God of the Bible.
6. “You shall not murder.”
a. The command not to kill really means not to murder (killing in a just war and in capital punishment was sanctioned by both the Old and New Testaments). Romans 13:4 shows capital punishment was carried over into the New Testament and was entrusted to civil magistrates.
b. Legalized abortion breaks this commandment and is the new genocide of African-Americans. This is so serious some say American blacks are threatened with extinction within 50-100 years in the United States.
c. Africa should learn from the United States and Western Europe and not cave in to pressure from the IMF, the World Bank, the United States, or the United Nations to have legalized abortion!
7. “You shall not commit adultery.”
Adultery is a category that includes all sexual relations outside traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Read Leviticus 18 for the extrapolation of this law. Rwanda should not cave in to the West in regards to legalizing same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage has resulted in Catholic Charities closing down in Massachusetts. Many individuals working for the civil government in New York State have been fired for not wanting to participate in same-sex marriage. Many individuals in the six states of the USA where same-sex marriage is legal are being sued if they refuse to do business with a same-sex marriage couple (like a photographer or someone who makes wedding dresses). Thus, individual Christians and non-church institutions are not exempt even if the churches are!
Also, in the Nordic nations same-sex marriage has watered down marriage so much that most people choose not to marry anymore!
Same-sex marriage normalizes an abnormal arrangement in which two people come together in a union and raise children in a home without either a mother or a father!
a. A husband or wife who commits adultery divides a family, causes a divorce, and causes shipwreck with the inheritance and generational wealth potential they could pass down.
b. Adultery is not wrong because God doesn’t want us to enjoy pleasure; it is sin because it divides the loyalties between spouses and destroys the spiritual, emotional, and financial well-being of families for generations to come.
c. Much of the cycle of poverty can be traced to adultery, divorce, cohabitation without marriage, etc. Numerous studies have shown that children of one man and one woman committed to each other in marriage have the best chance for economic, emotional, and spiritual stability in their lives. (Read “Do Mothers and Fathers Matter?” at the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy’s website: http://www.marriagedebate.com/pdf/MothersFathersMatter.pdf)
8. “You shall not steal.”
This commandment is a slap in the face to Marxists who don’t believe in private property!
a. The present progressive tax structure is legalized theft. First Samuel 8:10-18 teaches that any civil government, religious or secular, that extracts 10% or more in taxes or tithes is in competition with God as to who will be the provider and king.
b. In regards to those who own private businesses: When owners pay people less than what has been agreed upon (cheating them) or less than their skill demands and what they are worth, and they (the business owner or company) has the money to do so, then they are breaking this commandment.
c. When we don’t celebrate with and affirm what people are worth in regards to our words and actions, we are also undervaluing them and stealing from them their dignity and diminishing their calling.
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
a. Some say this means not to lie, but this really has to do with bringing false accusations against another in a court of law. Of course, those engaged in this kind of activity attempt to manipulate power and the system to receive benefits they don’t deserve, whether it is suing for money, land or property. Following this commandment is essential for the prosperity and harmony of a nation or people group. We can see today how many doctors are going out of business because of all the malpractice lawsuits; also, car and homeowners insurance is going through the roof in large part because of false claims. This litigious American culture is a sure sign that we as a nation have forsaken the Ten Commandments.
b. Essentially, nations should make a person who sues pay all the legal expenses of both parties if they lose their case. This would greatly limit the number of people who break this commandment!
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.”
a. A prosperous nation or people must base their values on justice and equity.
b. This present liberal economic system is based on egalitarianism, not justice.
c. Egalitarianism is a system in which the state attempts to even the playing field by granting to people things they haven’t worked for with the following socialistic policies:
i. Affirmative action, in which a person is given entry into school or given a job because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, or gender instead of being qualified for it. Affirmative action is reverse racism because it has the potential to stop a person from being accepted into a university because someone else less qualified has a different skin color.
ii. The progressive tax structure that forcibly takes from those who make the most money in order to fund entitlement programs for the poor. In essence, a rich person is penalized for making more money than a poor person because they have to give more money percentage-wise to the state.
iii. The biblical model is a flat tax in which rich and poor both pay the same amount (either the 3% poll tax in the Old Testament or the 10% tithe).
iv. Although believers are commanded to voluntarily care for the poor, the Bible expressly commands us not to favor either the poor or the rich in regards to civil matters (Exodus 23:3, 6; Leviticus 19:15).
v. The underpinning for these egalitarian policies is covetous people who penalize success and reward failure. Even Jesus taught in Matthew 25:29 that God gives to those who have and takes away from those who have not. Instead of taking away from the rich, God often gives to those who are rich because they are usually the only ones who understand how to steward wealth. For example, a poor person that wins one million dollars in the lottery has a good chance of still being poor once the money runs out.
d. When covetousness is integrated into a society it creates class warfare, division, and poverty. When success is celebrated it creates more wealth and more jobs for those less skilled. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 shows that it takes a wealthy person to adequately serve the poor. (A poor person couldn’t have possibly afforded to lend a stranger an extra donkey, pay for a person to stay in an inn for a week, and pay for their medical needs.)###
Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond. Visit his website at: http://josephmattera.org.
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