The Constitution of The Government of God
Many titles of old book have great long titles. If we were to give this segment in our study a longer title it would be this: “The Constitution of the Government of God as It Was Before the Entrance of Sin” Such a s study is an essential introduction to understanding God’s government as it was after the rebellion. While such an investigation is proceeding, continually keep in mind that “tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin.
If we then find the truth on this question as that truth is written in Holy Scriptures, then we will find that which is exactly contrary to what is generally believed. This means we would enter into asset of wholly revised and reversed concepts of God’s government and character. At the same time, there would be the continual pressure of traditionally held theories seeking to drag the mind back to the old ways again – a pressure which must be consciously resisted in order to arrive at the pure truth.
The whole structure of God’s government is perfection. It cannot be improved, and there is not a single alternative to it. God’s way is the not the best way – it is the only way. While other ways have been proposed and have even existed for a time, they cannot be counted as a way of life for they shortly die by their own imperfections.
Even the framers of the United States Constitution came together to form a more perfect union. All though the ages, man has been trying to form the perfect government, but as history shows, they failed. But what all governments have in common is that they have laws, for laws are essential in the structure of any government and the divine government of God is no exception. The necessity is there because of the provision of mighty powers without which life would be impossible but which have in them the potential for destruction. God’s law is a love gift from Him to His creatures, perfectly designed to save them from destruction.
The laws of the land should reflect the character of who the people are that made the laws to protect and govern with. This is certainly true with God’s law in which His law “is a transcript of His own character. And, by being the transcript of His own character it is the standard of all character. Within this truth lies something of the greatest importance. A transcription is the rewriting of something former to a new location. It does not matter whether you read the former or the latter, for the message will be the same. Inasmuch as God does what He does because of who He is, the law, being what God is, is the guide to His behavior. God will not do anything that is not in his character. Therefore, He will do nothing contrary to the law.
It is easy to think of God’s law as something that God decreed as being His wishes for our deportment and very little to do with His own conduct. We tend to think this way because of our familiarity with human lawmakers. Professedly, in modern democracies, the same laws made to control the behavior of the citizenry are to be obeyed by those that create the laws. But, how often have we seen the cover lifted off to reveal that those who created the laws are with increasing frequency the ones getting away with breaking the laws they created to protect society. Then, when they are found out, they do not suffer the same penalties imposed upon the individual in the street who is accused of the same crimes.
The more absolute the ruler is the more open and obvious is this practice of making laws for the people that are not in any sense for the monarch. We have all seen the chaos this creates, the distrust and eventual results in a revolt. This is not so in God’s government. His law is first of all His very own character. As such, it is the revelation of the way in which He will act under all circumstances. Then He simply calls upon us to behave as He does.
For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44).
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father. If you are God’s children, begotten by His Spirit, you live by the life of God. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh (II Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character . . . as it did in Him.
The areas of dispute in regard to God’s behavior surfaces in respect to the commandments “Thou shalt not kill,” “though shalt not steal,” and Thou shalt not bear false witness.” We know that death was not present until sin entered the world, bringing death with it. Therefore, we can know with certainty that God never once raised His powerful arm to take the life even of the minutest organism in His vast realm. Nor did He ever act deceitfully, or retrieve by force, or steal back that which He had given to any one of His creatures.
But it is contended that the fall brought about a circumstance which required that the Lord take decisive action to cut the sedition short and preserve the entire universe from corruption.
Most people have no problem with the idea that the natural consequence of the rebellion against His word was the introduction of decay and death through separation from the source of life. Yet many statements will surely occur in your mind, especially from the Old Testament, where it appears that God did come down and, by the direct and personal exercise of His might power, destroy, sometimes with great cruelty, thousands of people.
Let me take a moment to point out that as this series goes on, we will explore many of these instances and discover what really happened and who is ultimately to blame for the loss of life and destruction of property.
Yet many statements will surely be recalled to your mind, especially from the Old Testament, where it appears that God did come down and, by the direct and personal exercise of His mighty power, destroy, sometimes with great cruelty, thousands of people.
To recognize that God never destroyed before there was sin, and to accept the idea that He has destroyed after its emergence, is to believe that He has changed. It is to admit that with Him, of whom it is written that there is no variableness, there has been a variation. It is to believe that God respected the law in one way before iniquity arose, and then in a different and opposite way thereafter, and when sin is ended that He will return to the original pattern.
I realize that this is completely contrary to the arguments that have been presented to us in times past. But if we believe and follow through with what we have been studying together in this series and truly believe as the Bible states, that God does not change, then we are faced with the fact that our understanding of God has been the acceptance of a false teaching. Christ came to present “to men that which was exactly contrary to the representations of the enemy in regard to the character of God.” So I sincerely ask that you continue to visit until all the evidence as been presented so that you can carefully consider it and make an informed decision for yourself. Please, do not prematurely reject the conclusion just presented.
So if God has a law, which the Bible clearly teaches that He does and it also teaches that He is not only creator of that law but subject to that law and that this law is a reflection of His character, then we must consider the way in which God keeps the law. God recognizes that if obedience to His law has to be compelled, then He would have a form of government that was short of perfection. But He will have nothing that is anything less than ideal. He is determined on this, for He will not be content with anything less than the ultimate in happiness and prosperity for his subjects. Therefore, in God’s kingdom no force is ever employed to bring about allegiance to Him or to put down rebellion. We can be certain of this, for it is plainly written that it is so.
God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers . . . but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcomes by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used.
The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority.
Earthly kingdoms rule by the ascendancy of physical power; but from Christ’s kingdom every carnal weapon, every instrument of coercion, is banished.
Therefore, this needs to be firmly understood in our minds, that because the exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God and his government, under no circumstances will He use force to solve any problem.
Yet in the Old Testament, God’s actions seem to say that He did use compelling power to achieve His righteous ends, that He did resort to force to put down rebellion, and that He did make an example of some by crushing them with terrible punishments that were often fatal. You see, the choice of belief between the declarations of God and the appearances of what God did in the human arena is before every person. The greater the proportion choose to believe what they think they see rather than what God has said. And because so many have failed to fully comprehend the truth as explained in the Bible there is almost universal belief that God does use force, that he exterminates whole nations who have utterly rejected Him, and that He relies on compelling power to put down rebellion.
I will absolutely admit that that the witness of sight and circumstances is very powerful. When the Old Testament stores are read wherein it is reported that God rained fire and brimstone on the Sodomites; that He poured forth the waters of the flood until the wicked were all drowned; and so on, it is easy and natural to believe that God was personally resorting to the weapons of force.
But, when God’s actions are correctly evaluated, it will be confirmed that His ways are so perfect and infallible that He experiences no need to turn to the use of force. There has been aptness to conclude that there is only one possible interpretation of the Old Testament incidents. What is needed is a second and more educated investigation into those happenings. It will then be found that there are vital differences between what the Lord appears to have done and what He really did. As stated earlier, we will explore these in greater detail as this series goes on.
We now need to consider a most important aspect of God’s relationship to His subjects. It is a matter closely linked to, and consistent with, the fact that any use of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government and to the purpose and nature of God’s law. Only as all three of these are studied together will it be possible to understand any one of them.
One of the most precious gifts ever given by God to His subjects is freedom. A little thought will show that as surely as God has no intention of using compelling power to enforce the observance of His law, then as certainly has He set his creatures absolutely free to serve Him or not to serve Him. The two are consistent with and inseparable from each other.
I want to caution us for just a second before we misunderstand something vitally important. Although God gave us freedom, he gave us freedom to choose him or not to choose Him. He gave us the freedom to choose sin or not choose sin, but he did not give us the freedom to sin with impunity. When we choose sin, we will naturally choose the result of sin. When we choose to follow God, then we will natural choose the result of following God.
There is a doctrine abroad that paints God as being so sweetly loving that He will excuse and protect all sin and sinners rather than seeing anyone perish. That doctrine is not to be confused with the position taken here. The sinner will die. The heavens and earth will be destroyed, and the entire universe will be rendered clean from the stain of sin. But it will not be God who wields the scourge of destruction to effect this. Rather, He will first have warned every created being of the terrible consequences attendant on choosing to take the path of disobedience. Then, when they do, He will expend every effort to save them from it, and only when they reject His saving effort, will He finally leave them to perish.
The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures to service of love – homage that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.
Let’s look at it this way by observing the relationship between rendering to God a service of love based upon an intelligent conviction of God’s justice and goodness and the granting of each of perfect and complete freedom to obey or not. Interestingly, the exercise of that freedom in the wrong direction immediately deprives a person of liberty, for sin is a cruel taskmaster that forces its subjects into service. It is not God who deprives of the freedom, but it is the work of sin and Satan.
Just so soon as any element of compulsion, such as the threat of punishment, is introduced, then to that extent will there be a service motivated by fear. God’s subject would then obey Him because they were afraid not to. God can never accept this form of obedience. He knows that such a kingdom cannot be blessed with flawless happiness and fullness of joy.
Thus in the kingdom of God, perfectly and fully established, there is no question of the service rendered being real or feigned. It can only be genuine. Thus God will have an eternity’s coming perfection what every earthly monarch through all time has craved – the total and loving loyalty of every one of His people. No kingdom has ever been like this. Earthly kingdoms always tend to servitude in one form or another, seeking to hold the loyalty of their citizens with the threat of punishment for disobedience. No crime is considered worse than treason, disloyalty to the state.
Jesus Christ does not come to transfer the sinner from one form of bondage to another. God’s object in Christ is to restore the kingdom to its original perfection, the perfection of complete freedom to serve God.
Let us for a moment examine some gems of thought from A. T. Jones’ book “Ecclesiastical Empires”: “As God made angels and men free to sin if they should choose, did He not then have to provide against this possible choice before they were made – did He not have to provide for the possibility of sin, before ever a single creature was made? Assuredly He had to make such provision which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord . . . .
Standing then, in thought, with Him before there was a single intelligent creature created, He desire that the universe shall be full of joyful intelligences enjoying His love to the full. In order to do this they must be free to choose not to serve Him, to choose not to enjoy His love. . . . Shall He then refuse to create because . . . sin may enter? – This would be to eternally remain self-centered and solitary. More than this, such a shrinking would in itself cause Him to cease to be God. For what is a god, or what is he worth, who can not do what he desires? Who can not fulfill his own will? Such a God would be worthless.
He proposed to give Himself a sacrifice to redeem all who should sin; and give them even a second freedom to choose Him or themselves, to choose life or death. And those who the second time would choose death, let them have what they have chosen. . . .
This is God, the living God, the God of love, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is fully able to do whatsoever He will, and yet leave all His creatures free. This is He who from the days of eternity “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Ephesians 1:11.
And this is “the mystery of His will, which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” Ephesians 1:9, 10. This is “the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:11
Even though God thoroughly understood the possibilities of there being a period when some or even all His creatures would undertake a terrible experimentation with a supposed way of life other than His, He did not institute any safeguards involving the element of force. He would have nothing less for them then perfection; wherein lay the unlimited possibilities of infinite development.
Under restricted freedoms there can be no such thing as infinite development, for “freedom of choice is essential to intelligence.” This theme is explored in the pages of the Jones quote, above. We may confirm this by exploring the annals of history how the freedoms brought by the Reformation resulted in great advances in intellectual development. Where freedoms are restricted there tends to be in general shorter, more toilsome lives of ignorance, poverty, and disease.
The following statements closing this post should be read, re-read, and pondered with the proper quality and quantity of mental taxation!
Put those two principles together again – the principle of no coercive force being used and the principle of granting absolute freedom to choose. As surely as these two things are combined in the constitution of God’s kingdom, then just so surely does God place Himself where He cannot punish those who do what He said they could do, namely, chose another master if they wished.
This is a most difficult principle for people to understand because it is so foreign to their way of thing. Civil rulers do not grant to anyone freedom of choice. Their mandate is, “Obey, or suffer at our hands.” Those who make the law are the one who punish the lawbreaker, but it is not so in God’s kingdom. He has spelled out the law as an expression of His own character, but it is sin and death that enslave the transgressor.
To totally reject the use of force and at the same time grant to all freedom of will is to set up a situation wherein it would not be possible to administer punishment and death in order to correct the problem. It does not matter how it may appear that during the Old Testament period, for example, the Lord administered punishments as earthly rulers do; the fact remains that a government constituted to the lines of total rejection of the use of force as a solution, while at the same time giving freedom of choice to the subjects, simply cannot punish those who choose to go another way. God gave them the right to make that choice, and He cannot punish them for making the decision He Himself gave them the liberty to make.
God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leave the rejection of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown.
It was when those powerful being stood up under Lucifer’s leadership, determined to set up a rival dominion, that the first challenge of God’s sincerity in his promise of freedom under His government was raised. Satan and his followers have pressed that challenge to the utmost limits, exploring, probing and searching for some weakness whereby they might gain a foothold and topple the divine organization. God has declared that His ways are perfection, not simply for the sunny prosperous days, but for any possible circumstances from the best to the worst. Under this searching inquisition, this endless pressure, will those principles stand or will they prove to be faulty? That is the question to be decided in the great controversy. Will it be found that God has to make modification and concessions, that He would after all be forced to acknowledge that He has gone to far in granting such completer freedom, and that He has to withdraw it in order to rain punishments on the wrongdoers?
Satan contends that God had to resort to force to punish those who exercised the freedom He gave to them not to serve Him. All to readily, humanity in general has subscribed to Satan’s lies. The time is now when a revised understanding of God’s actions is imperative. Such will be offered as these posts continue, but first, consideration must be given to another factor – the workings of the law of God. As already stated, the rejection of force, the granting of perfect freedom of choice to call, and the nature and purpose of God’s law are three things so closely related that they must be studied in connection with each other for any or all of them to be adequately understood. Study has been given to the former two, so we must now consider the last.
Our next post on this subject will be “A Perfect Law”
Listed below are the previous posts on this subject of God and His Character:
01 He Wanted to Teach Respect 05 Approaching the Study of God
02 Why a Tree to Teach Respect 06 The Constitution of the Government of God
03 The End of the Great Controversy 07 A Perfect Law
04 Isaiah’s Wonderful Prophecy