Politics & the Social Gospel
by Mark Heatherly
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What a concept ! The co-existence of politics & religion . Today the country is all a buzz about politics & religion & how the two can co-exist after all & that, even by those in the past who have vehemently opposed all relating to church & state. Alas, they have finally found a way through a “common ground & cause”! It seems that those who have previously opposed all regarding God having anything to do with government & policy have had a revelation (of sorts).
The amazing revelation was that there is this common ground between the law & policy makers & religion referred to as the pursuit of “goodness” ; in man, his nation’s government & thus in his society. So then, all is well that ends well, right ? Now, we can all just relax & get along after all, right ? As long as we can all be in agreement that this goodness is the common goal & ultimate end all.
This mutual understanding & goal then gives us all a common bond & perhaps finally the power in a newfound unity to accomplish goodness in man & society as never before in the history of man. Oh, the power of unity. Just think of the power that could be had & wielded in the unity of the majority. No, strike that. The unity of all men !
All we need do is put aside all our differences for the greater good of “goodness” for the advancement of mankind. I mean seriously, isn’t this what Jesus Christ was all about, & all the religions of the world? Isn’t Christianity about the triumph of good over evil? Then why should Christians or advocates of any other religion or even of those who are not religious at all be opposed to anything that promotes the goodness for all mankind ? Don’t we all want good ? If we all want good (except for the hardened criminals, & they could be dealt with ) then who cares if people have differences of opinions regarding such very “personal” things such as religion & who or what they call God ?
The very fact that there are so many differing opinions on so many different things suggests there may not even be any absolutes after all. People in Christianity can’t even agree enough to find a universal common ground in their own religion so as to meet corporately, much less all the religions of the world being in agreement, right ? A group of say, 10 well educated & experienced engineers cannot even be in complete agreement on a single project. Lawyers, theologians, physicians, politicians, masters of trades & on & on could argue & debate for hours on end on a single topic. If 100 people have 100 different opinions then who is right & who is wrong ? Are all wrong or perhaps all are right? Who could possible have the legitimate ground & authority to even say definitively what is right & what is wrong ? Does it not stand to sound reasoning then, that with all these differences of opinions that there may really be no absolutes, other than perhaps mathematics because one plus one always equals two ?
Perhaps the truth is only a personal & subjective thing so that my truth is mine & yours is yours. Which leads back to the main topic of goodness & letting that be the only thing we can & must mutually agree upon.
How about this then for a paradigm shift ; let’s all just get along & agree to disagree about personal petty things concerning faith & religion & strive together in a common bond of unity for the greater good of mankind ? Let’s agree that our personal opinions about things are less important on the grander scale of the common good for all. Let us realize that for too long, we have let small petty things interfere with the advancement of what could be the greatest single achievement in the history of the world. Think about all that could be achieved with this wonderful new-found common bond in such a simple thing called goodness. The goodness & love that even Jesus lived & preached about. World peace & harmony, with no suffering of any kind for any people . Who cares if one is Jew, one is Christian, one is Muslim, & one is Buhhdist or if one is Russian, one is Chinese & one is American or that one is black , one is white & one is another.
Why should these differences be cause for division at all ? Why not simply embrace those differences for their simple uniqueness. Wow, is this not the very thing that every single person alive wishes for. Perhaps, the only thing that truly stands in the way of our finally having a good world for us to live in is just this little matter of personal opinions & differences. Should this even be tolerated then if it prevents world peace & happiness ?
What if all could just agree that we are entitled to our opinions, for therein lies our unique & beautiful one of a kind personalities. But let these opinions not be forced upon anyone else but just be kept to one’s self. Let personal opinions be just that…”personal” opinions & further note & acknowledge that an opinion is merely an opinion in & by it’s very own definition. With that in mind & mutually agreed upon, we would thus be qualified to take the next step which would be the natural & evolutionary advancement of mankind in the power of unity under the banner of goodness for all.
What a divine revelation this is…or is it? Without at least a little knowledge of the truth, this might all sound somewhat reasonable & palatable . Let us back up here for a minute though & consider just exactly where this logic & reasoning is coming from & let us also seriously consider how this can appeal to men & to precisely what part of the man it can influence.
To start with we must go all the way back to the beginning of mankind. All the way back even to the garden of Eden. This is where the problems of all mankind was initiated. There was this tree that God forbade the man to eat. God labeled it the tree of the knowledge of evil, right? No, the complete title of the tree was the knowledge of good …&… evil. Note that the tree contained knowledge & that this knowledge was not only about evil but also about good. What does this mean & what are the implications ? Bare with me now, because this gets very tricky & needs to be absorbed thoroughly into your mind & heart. (Keep this knowledge of good in mind for it’s later development in this writing along with the first part of this writing being today’s efforts to achieve goodness through the means of self-help & government as well as the improper practice of religion.)
Back in the beginning, the tripartite man had a properly functioning spirit with which he communed with God, a body in which to exist & function in the physical environment & a soul with which he could articulate & express himself. Prior to the infamous fall, man, having no knowledge of good & evil was morally neutral & must have of necessity relied upon God entirely for all right & wrong. God merely commanded & man thus obeyed.
We don’t know all the intricacies of this relationship but one thing understood is that Adam in his original state was as of yet not fully developed. There was something left to be done to make the man perfect & complete. God had made man in His image but He wanted & intended for man to be further developed into perfection by taking on His divine life as indicated by the existence of the tree of Life.
The possible reason for Adam not to have eaten from the tree of life is a tremendous thing which could be addressed another time but for now we will focus on the other tree. God intentionally put before him the choice between two trees that he might exercise his free will. The choice was monumental & tragic & yet brilliant & glorious in it’s final conclusion by the mighty workings of God who takes that which was meant for evil & turns it to good. God however, afforded man the free choice of his own will in order to maintain His righteousness & integrity in not forcing the man.
Now, back to the two trees. It is safe to say that partaking of the tree of life would have imparted the very life of God into the man so that we can easily & safely surmise that this would change the man from his previous condition & plane of life & living. He would no longer exist as merely a man but now as a god man having the human nature & the divine natures coexisting. This would then be a form of development & advancement.
If this is correct then, in order for there to have been a “choice” at all means that the other tree was also a means of development & advancement albeit on a different plane apart from God & one that God expressly forbid. This aspect of development can be further seen when Satan goaded & baited them into disobeying God by saying “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, & you will be like God (emphasis mine), knowing good & evil”. The “eyes being opened” as well as “your being like God” clearly indicate that this was presented to them as an alternative form of development & advancement. To have your eyes opened & to be like God is plainly & obviously an effort to become developed & advanced.
It is very important to understand this point that the basic & fundamental choice concerning the two trees was that of furthering the development & advancement of man. One through God in man’s spirit while the other being apart from God exclusively in man’s soul. This is needed in order to go on & understand the fundamental problems facing all mankind in history as well as today. Since you may never have heard these things before , please give me the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
We know that after Adam & Eave ate from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil that something catastrophic happened. God had warned them that if they did this they would surely die. Actually, in the original language the command was that they would die, die meaning that they would die twice. This is always translated surely die instead of die, die because it does not sound grammatically correct. However, die, die makes sense when you consider that the first death occurred in the spirit of man & the latter death was to occur later on.
At this point then, man was forbidden to eat from the tree of life at least in part because he disobeyed, in part because God did not want man to live forever in this state & in part because he had chosen his development to be along another plane of life. This other way of development was now to be carried out through what we commonly refer to as the soul life. Herein is the great & fundamental problem of man (apart from Christ) he is not only separated from God but he must now resolve to develop himself entirely along the plane of the soul life.
The soul has only a limited & finite capacity towards self improvement & development via the operation of the mind, will emotion. However, having eaten from the forbidden tree he, in a sense ingested Satan into himself for to eat this tree was rebellion & Satan is the author & originator of rebellion. The fusion of Satan in the very body of man mutated his body into what we now call the flesh. This poison & corruption then influenced the soul of man transforming it into the self because the body & soul are in close proximity. The spirit was instantly deadened & Satan could not touch or effect it as it was in the inner most part of man & probably forbidden.
For the purpose of this writing we should regard the tripartite man in this manner : the outer man being the physical body with the senses for contact with the environment, the soul with it’s functioning parts of the mind, will & emotions being the inner man, while the spirit being the inner most man in it’s enlivened state being the conscience, intuition & fellowship with God.
With this being established, we can go on to the problem of man & that being his capacity for development now being regulated entirely to that of the soul apart from God. It would be bad enough just trying to develop one’s self without God’s help but here we have several problems working against us in the way of the sin nature in our body, the soul’s corrupted condition of the “self”, & the totality of the fallen nature being the “flesh”. In addition we have what is called the old man & this works against us because it is in conformity to the world & the world system which is ruled, authored & established by Satan himself. If this were not enough, we have Satan as an evil enemy who intends to kill, steal & destroy by any & all means available. Satan also has at his disposal the fallen angels, rulers, powers & authorities & the earthly demons to carry out his wishes & cause us harm.
This is indeed a hopeless situation for man apart from Jesus Christ & Him crucified ! I will try to get back to this very important subject of Jesus & the cross of Christ & how this has defeated all of these things. Praise the Lord ! For now however, I wish to go back to man’s predicament in this so-called self development endeavor within the confines of his soul.
From the accounts of the bible we can see man’s pursuit of this development as he began to build cities & then nations. All along the way he has had to find ways to combat this sin nature, the self & the old man within in order to become a good man & have a good environment in co-existence with other men. Thus man developed various forms of culture & so-called refinement & this continues even until today. We now have modern educational systems & institutions, philosophies & just within the more recent centuries we have employed a new thing called psychology. These are the results of the efforts of the mind, will & emotions of man’s soul to work & sort things out.
Today we have more books on self improvement than one could even read in a life time & yet man is not really making any advancement at all. In fact, it appears that man may even be getting worse & not better ever pursuing the state of being good but never obtaining it. There is not a person alive who does not have this knowledge of good as well as the evil. All seek to do the best they can to be good & to have goodness around them. Politicians even, despite themselves believe & promise that if elected to office they can make a difference & so do law makers , lawyers, judges & officers of the law .
What is my point in all this you may ask ? It is that we do have a knowledge of good & evil & even an innate desire or inclination for the good but do not possess the ability, the know how, nor the power to achieve it. We reside in darkness. Most look around to compare themselves with others & suppose that they have at least done better than others & in the end that is good enough & all that one can expect.
Praise the Lord in that He has all the answers & all the provisions & it’s in the person of Jesus Christ. Man could not & still cannot achieve nor attain to the level of perfection for which he was created & that has been irrefutably demonstrated over the course of history. God has canceled out all the resulting negative effects of the disobedience of the first Adam through the cross & death of the last Adam & made available to man once again the choice of the two trees through faith in Jesus Christ. By believing in Him we were placed in Him by the power of God so that we too would be crucified with Christ to objectively eliminate the old man, the flesh, the sin nature & the selfish soul life in His all inclusive death & that in His resurrection we have available also newness of life as he abides within us in our regenerated spirit so that we may begin to walk on the higher plane of life & living by His divine nature. This is indeed God’s intention for not only the recovery of man from his sinful fallen state but also for his development & advancement towards being god/men having both human & divine natures.
I must regress for a moment though, as there still exists an obstacle for this development for there’s a problem with those born again of the Spirit, & that is that they must now work out this objective work of God through the cross, death, burial, resurrection & glorification of Jesus Christ in a practical way for it to be a subjective reality in their spirit & daily living.
This takes me back once again to the two trees which basically represent the two lines of development for man. One is through God becoming our life & living within our spirit & the other plane being apart from God in the confines of the soul. If even a Christian is still on this latter plane of living out from the soul he will still be trying to be & to do good because of the knowledge of good & evil that is still present within his soul. We must not be deceived in that living by the soul in pursuit of good is still a living by the wrong tree.
Though a true Christian now has the Sprit in him as the tree of life he still has the other tree present as well for as long as he is alive. Though these negative aspects have been objectively defeated by the cross of Christ, they are still present as long as we remain in our mortal bodies & must be dealt with as Jesus said by our taking up our cross daily in denying the soul life & it’s self. As He also said, we must lose our soul life in order to obtain His eternal life. In other words we must stop living for self & by the soul life in order to live & walk for God from within our spirit.
Though we may indeed be saved yet as long as we are still in this world our salvation is not complete. Being a tripartite being, this salvation must be accomplished in all three parts of our being to be complete . The spirit, we know is saved instantly at the point of our repentance & regeneration as will our body be in the resurrection but our soul must be transformed . We know we are saved by grace & not by works & yet it is written that we are to work out our salvation with fear & trembling. This proves that the salvation of our soul is a process & a work of progress which must be accomplished . This is not brought about by good works for this would be the self effort of the soul out from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil again.
The meaning of the saving of the soul is that the soul is to be brought back to it’s proper function as that of an organ by which the Spirit in unity with our spirit may have usage and access for expression. We are told to walk by the spirit & you will not carry out the desires of the flesh, the flesh being the totality of fallen man in his selfish soul & sin nature.
We were never meant to live by & out from our soul. The soul is not to be done away with but rather it is to give way to our spirit that we may begin to live by the divine nature & life. To live in this manner & on this plane, we then will find that we have entered the rest of God which means that we do not have to try to do & be good. We find then, that it is now no effort at all to produce fruit unto God because we abide in Him & it is His life living in us that we now live by.
As a Christian one can no longer live by the soul for to do so is to live by the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. One may even try to live for God, serve God & worship God out from his soul but in doing so we encounter many failures because of the soul’s inherent weakness & limitations. This way requires much effort because it is a living apart from the Spirit of life.
This is a difficult thing to discern but there must occur a division of spirit & soul in order for us to have a walk & living in the spirit. One cannot walk by both spirit & soul as it would be like trying to walk in two opposite directions at the same time.
The flesh is comprised of the soul & we know that the flesh sets itself against the spirit. The flesh cannot be separated from the soul but the soul can be separated from the spirit yet only by the power of God as it is written “the word is living & active & sharper than any two-edged sword & able to divide between spirit & soul”.
A picture of the proper functioning of the new man thus would be one of unity with God in our spirit so that our life becomes His & His life becomes ours so that we in a sense are as one new person (though God always maintains His independant Godhead). When He wishes to move or to weep or to speak we are both willing & able because we are of the same mind & heart. Our body & soul being made proper they are thus available for any means of action or expression.
Paul was of such a kind that he could speak in the very presence of Christ & speak confidently both the very words of God or his own knowing that they were both the same because of their unity in spirit. The truth & reality of this life is a great mystery & paradox which reminds me of part of a poem ( The Way) that says :
“Darkness gives way to light as the spirit prevails.
This life is in Christ; this life is Christ.
We must decrease that He may increase.
We must lose our life to keep it.
We must cease that He may be.
We must hate our life in this world that we may have this life eternal.
We must lay hold of that which has laid hold of us.
For we cannot take hold of that which is true life while we yet hang onto the life in hand.”
And another ( Life Exchange) that says :
How blessed is the man who has come to the end of himself.
For now he sees that true life is not found within himself but in his God alone.
How odd is the wisdom of God to the foolish man ;
For one must give up all he possesses to gain the more.
He must become a slave to be set free.
He must become a child to be a man.
He must close his eyes to see.
He must become humble if he is to be exalted.
He must die before he may live.
There is a great need today for Christians to know the truth about these things. They are truths swept away by the adversary so as to keep Christians in a weakened & ineffective state & useless to God. As long as Satan can persuade & coerce men so as to remain in the realm of the natural soul life he knows that man cannot develop into a truly spiritual man of God.
We must be ever mindful that there are just these two planes of life for man & they are lived out either by the soul or the spirit. One is the tree of life in the spirit the other, the tree of the knowledge of good & evil in the soul. No matter how seemingly good or noble minded it may seem we must reject this pursuit of goodness by the soul’s life, instead losing our very way of living from the soul life for the way of Christ in the spirit. This is why we are told to set our minds on the things above so that we might live & walk along this higher plane of life.
A mind set on the things of earth necessitates a living out from the soul relegating man to the lower plane of life. Having affections for worldly things also keeps our heart confined to the lower earthly plane. Thus the only way, is the way of Christ through the cross & the outright denial of all things soulish, worldly & self oriented. We must die in order to live.
The only way to be transformed from a life lived out from the soul is through death. The life lived out from the spirit is one of resurrection. It comes only after death & it remains only as we abide or continue our stance of being dead through baring our cross. This is the presenting one’s self to God as one alive from the dead. The cross is the suffering of the loss of the soul’s self life. This is indeed a travail & a true cross because the self very much wants to live. It hangs on most tenaciously & resurfaces to take over given the least opportunity. The only sure way of victory is to live in such a way so as to deny self any ground at all.
This a great & profound truth, that as long as a person desires & seeks anything at all for himself whether it be material things, respect or acknowledgement from others, self esteem, or even justice or a ministry he is living out from his soul. As long as it is for self, the self is enlarged & empowered to be your way of living .
Today Satan has entrapped many Christians into a soulish living by the so-called doctrine of monetary prosperity. This is a twisting of scripture for the express purpose of stirring up the desires of self so that one will abide in the soul. May God enlighten the eyes of your understanding that you may see the truth & be set free & escape the snare of the devil having been held captive by him to do his will.
Oh brothers, I have a great burden in this matter for many think they could not possibly be doing the will of Satan since they are a Christian & seek God & want to please Him. All one need do, to do the will of Satan is to abide in his soul’s way of living for this is derived from Satan. Seek out one’s self centered desires & you live out the very self seeking life & way of Satan for he is the originator of selfish thinking & desires. Therefore to be like him is to do his will as his will is nothing more than self seeking attainment & gratification & this way is opposed to God.
As I said earlier, even to seek goodness & to please God can be another form of soulish behavior for it is of the tree of the knowledge of GOOD & evil. We must become very sober & alert that we may see all these subtleties. Do not be ensnared by the current deceiving mind-set of seeking after good in this world for this is nothing new. It is the very life of all man derived from the tree of knowledge.
One day, & perhaps very soon the anti-Christ will appear as the champion for all things good & the pursuit of world peace & happiness. We cannot & must not be deceived, God does not seek after men who will be good & do good along this plane of the soul life but He seeks a new man reborn of the spirit who will live & walk by his spirit & will thus produce spiritual fruit.
Beware therefore, of the social gospel of the good of men. And beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing who seek to devour the saints through the leaven of today’s teachers, leaders, & politicians !
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