"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Our Duty To God And Country (22:15-22) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                 Our Duty To God And Country (22:15-22)


1. Teaching in the temple, Jesus was approached by the Pharisees and
   the Herodians...
   a. They came with the intention of entangling Him in His teaching
      - Mt 22:15-16
   b. They questioned Him whether one should pay taxes to Caesar 
      - Mt 22:17

2. Ever the Master Teacher, Jesus easily dealt with their question...
   a. Seeing through their hypocrisy, He called for a coin - Mt 22:
   b. He asked whose inscription was on it, and they answered 
      "Caesar's" - Mt 22:20-21
   c. His reply cause them to marvel, and to go away - Mt 22:21-22

3. The reply of Jesus:
   a. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's"
   b. "And to God the things that are God's"
   ...not only silenced His critics, but provided important teaching
      for His disciples

4. His reply reveals that we have responsibilities to both God and 
   a. There are things that we must render to Caesar (country)
   b. There are things that we must render to God

[What is our duty to God and country?  In this study we shall review
what the Scriptures tell us about our responsibilities as citizens and
as disciples.  We start with...]


   A. PAY TAXES...
      1. This was the point of Jesus in our text - Mt 22:17-21
      2. Paul also taught us to pay taxes - Ro 13:6-7a

   B. OBEY LAWS...
      1. We are to submit to the ordinances (laws) of the land - Ro 13:
         1-5; Tit 3:1
      2. This we do for the Lord's sake, that we might silence foolish
         men - 1Pe 2:13-16

      1. We are to respect and honor those in positions of authority
         - Ro 13:7b
         a. We are to fear the king - cf. Pr 24:21
         b. We are not to speak evil of our rulers - 
            cf. Exo 22:28; Ac 23:5; Tit 3:2; 2Pe 2:10; Jude 8-9
      2. Even as we are to honor all and love the brethren - 1Pe 2:17
      -- Do you notice that Paul or Peter never had unkind words about
   D. DO GOOD...
      1. We are to be ready for every good work - Tit 3:1
      2. We are to have conduct that is honorable before all - 1Pe 2:

   E. PRAY...
      1. To make supplications, offer prayers, intercessions, and
         giving of thanks - 1Ti 2:1
      2. To pray for kings and all who are in authority - 1Ti 2:1-3

[Christians are but sojourners and pilgrims in this world (1Pe 2:11).
While our true citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20), we are to be a
blessing to those earthly countries in which we sojourn.  Fulfill our
God-given obligations, and we will be an asset to any country in which
we live!  Now let's review...]


      1. Jesus considered this the greatest commandment of the Law 
         - Mt 22:34-38
      2. Being the greatest command, I would suggest this is our
         greatest duty!

      1. If we love God, we will keep His commandments - 1Jn 5:3
      2. Even as Jesus taught that keeping His commandments is evidence
         of true love - Jn 14:15,21,23

      1. His will, His rule, His righteousness, should be our first
         priority - Mt 6:33
      2. Not only over our personal concerns, but even over our duty to
         a. Whenever there is a conflict between duty to God and duty
            to country, God must come first
         b. As stated by Peter:  "We ought to obey God rather than men"
            - Ac 5:27-29
      3. This helps to answer questions that often arise concerning the
         Christian's duty to government
         a. Can a Christian vote?
         b. Can one serve in political office?
      4. If such duties and privileges come at too high a price (i.e.,
         placing country before God), then a Christian must obey God
         rather than men
         a. In some countries, the price may be too high, and a
            Christian could not serve in political office or exercise
            certain rights as a citizen
         b. Other countries may allow for God to take precedence in
            one's conduct, permitting the Christian to participate in
            such things


1. Christians ought to be a blessing for any country in which they
   a. A source of revenue, with respect for laws, and reverence for
      those in authority
   b. Contributing to the general welfare, through good deeds and
      fervent prayers

2. Christians can be such a blessing when...
   a. They render first to God what is His due, and then what is due
      the country
   b. The country respects the priority that must be given God by its

While those in authority might not always understand their proper
place, and expect more of their citizens than what is right, may we who
are disciples of Christ never fail to "Render therefore to Caesar the
things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (21:23-27) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

               Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (21:23-27)


1. While teaching in the temple, Jesus was confronted by the chief
   priests and elders...
   a. They questioned His authority to teach - Mt 21:23
   b. Jesus saw through their hypocrisy, and challenged them regarding
      the authority behind the baptism of John - Mt 21:24-25a
   c. Since they would not be honest in their answer, Jesus refused to
      answer their question - Mt 21:25b-27

2. In the process of exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus revealed an
   important principle regarding authority in matters of religion...
   a. All religious practices must come from one of two sources
   b. They come either from heaven, or from men - Mt 23:25

3. What Jesus asked regarding John's baptism, could be asked of many
   religious practices...
   a. Infant baptism
   b. Sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion
   c. Denominationalism, a clergy-laity distinction
   d. The impossibility of apostasy, observing the Sabbath
   e. Instrumental music, burning of incense, etc., in our worship
   -- Are such practices from heaven, or from men?

[In this study, we shall consider how one can know whether a particular
religious practice is from heaven, or from man...]


      1. For He has been given all authority - Mt 28:18
      2. Both in heaven and on earth
      -- Certainly if Jesus commanded it, it is from heaven!

      1. For Jesus delegated His authority to His apostles - Jn 13:20
      2. They serve as His official ambassadors - 2Co 5:20
      3. To ensure their reliability, Jesus promised the Spirit to
         remind them of what He taught, and to guide them into all the
         truth - Jn 14:26; 16:12-13
      4. This is why the church continued steadfastly in the apostles'
         doctrine - Ac 2:42; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13
      -- If the apostles of Christ taught it, it is from heaven!

      1. The apostles were given, and proclaimed, the whole counsel of 
         God - Ac 20:27
      2. They were given all things that pertain to life and godliness
         - 2Pe 1:3
      3. The faith revealed through them was delivered once for all
         (lit., one time for all times) - Jude 3
      -- There is no need for modern day revelations, for in the
         Scriptures we have all that is needed to be "complete, 
         thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2Ti 3:16-17)

[If a religious practice can be found to be taught by Jesus or His
apostles, then it is truly from heaven!  Religious practices that are
from men, however, might come from a variety of sources...]


      1. Many people will accept whatever most people think about 
      2. Yet Jesus warned against following the majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you had followed the majority...
         a. In Noah's day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua's day, you would have perished in the wilderness
      -- What the majority believes or does is not likely to be from
         heaven, but from men!

      1. Some believe "If it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it is
         good enough for me."
      2. As much as we may love and respect our parents, Christ must
         come first - Mt 10:37
      3. If every generation had simply followed their parents, then we
         who are Gentiles would likely still be idol-worshippers and 
      -- Let us honor our parents, not by following them blindly, but
         by applying principles they themselves likely taught us, such
         as seek to do the right thing, obey God, etc.      

      1. It is common for people to place their trust in their
         "preacher," "priest," or "pastor"
      2. They reason that surely these "men of God" could not be wrong
         or lead them astray
         a. Yet Paul warned of how we can easily be misled - 
            cf. 2 Co 11:13-15
         b. And Jesus warned about the "blind leading the blind" -
            Mt 15:12-14
      3. Our attitude needs to be like that of the Bereans, who
         carefully examined Paul's teachings in light of the Scriptures
         - Ac 17:11
      -- What a preacher teaches is only as good as the authority
         behind it; unless we wish to be led astray, we have the 
         responsibility to ask "Is it from God, or men?"

      1. This is where the denominations really get most of their
         a. E.g., for such things as infant baptism, pouring or 
            sprinkling instead of immersion
         b. E.g, for such things as denominationalism, once saved 
            always saved
      2. Indeed, adherence to the creeds of men is what produces 
         a. Accept the Bible only, and you become a Christian only
         b. Accept some man-made creed or tradition, and you become
            something else!
            1) Accept the Book of Mormon, and you become a Mormon
            2) Accept papal authority, and you become a Roman Catholic
            3) Accept the Lutheran Catechism, and you become a Lutheran
      3. Creeds are really not even necessary...
         a. If they say more than what the Bible says, they say too
         b. If they say less than what the Bible says, they say too
         c. If they say exactly what the Bible says, then why not let
            the Bible be our creed book?
      -- The fact is creeds are filled with the traditions and commands
         of men, many of which conflict with and displace the commands
         of God! - cf. Mk 7:6-9

      1. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
      2. But our conscience cannot always be reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - 
            cf. Ac 26:9-11
      3. Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly if set
      4. Once our conscience has been "set" by the "apostles' doctrine"
         then it can be a good guide
      -- Unless what your conscience is telling you can be confirmed by
         the Word of God, then what you believe is from man, not God!

      1. Many believe that through their own wisdom they can determine
         right and wrong
         a. If it makes sense to them, they reason it must be true
         b. If it doesn't make sense, they won't accept it
      2. But God's thoughts and ways are not always our own - cf. Isa 55:8-9
      3. In fact, God has chosen to save man in a manner specifically
         designed to confound those who depend solely upon human wisdom
         - cf. 1Co 1:18-29
      4. For us to know God's will, it was necessary for Him to reveal
         it to us - 1Co 2:9-12
         a. This He has done through His Spirit-inspired apostles 
         b. Who in turn shared it with us through their writings - Ep 3:1-5
      -- Appeal to human reason to justify a certain practice, and it
         will likely be from man, not God!

      1. This is often the "standard of authority" for many people
         a. Who go by whatever "feels right"
         b. Who place stock in a religion "better felt than told"
      2. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is
            the way of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23
      -- It should be evident that any religious practice or doctrine
         based upon "feelings" alone is from man, not God!

      1. People will sometimes resort to the O. T. to provide authority
         for some practice
         a. When they can't find authority for it in the teachings of
            Christ and/or His apostles
         b. For example, a clergy-laity system, burning of incense and
            use of instrumental music in worship, keeping the Sabbath,
      2. But the O.T. was designed to be temporary, to fulfill a 
         specific purpose and as a covenant has been replaced by the
         New Covenant (i.e., the New Testament)
         a. It was given because of transgressions, till Christ should
            come - Ga 3:19
         b. For those under the Law (Israel), it was a tutor
            1) A tutor designed to lead them to Christ - Ga 3:24
            2) A tutor that has been taken away - Ga 3:25
         c. When those who were under the Law came to Christ...
            1) They became dead to the Law - Ro 7:4
            2) They were delivered from the Law - Ro 7:6
         d. As prophesied by Jeremiah, God has made a "new covenant" to
            replace the "first covenant" which is now obsolete - He 8:
      3. In handling the issue of circumcision, the apostles 
         demonstrated that one cannot use the O.T. to teach something
         which they did not command
         a. Some sought to enforce circumcision and the Law upon 
            Gentile believers - Ac 15:1,6
         b. But the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
            were able to defuse the problem by simply stating they
            themselves "gave no such commandment" - Ac 15:22-29
      4. This is not to say the O.T. is not of value to Christians...
         a. It was written for our learning, to provide patience,
            comfort, and hope - Ro 15:4
         b. It was written for our admonition, that we not make similar
            mistakes - 1Co 10:6,11
         c. We just can't use it to enjoin religious practices upon
            others which the apostles' themselves did not teach!


1. Do we want to avoid being led astray?
   a. By "blind leaders of the blind"? - cf. Mt 15:14
   b. By "false teachers...who will secretly bring in destructive
      heresies"? - cf. 2 Pe 2:1

2. Then we need to know how to ascertain whether a religious doctrine
   or practice...
   a. Is from God or from men
   b. Is based upon what the apostles of Christ taught, or some other

3. The solution is simple, but requires effort on our part...
   a. We must "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" - Ac 2:42
   b. We must "search the scriptures daily" - Ac 17:11

Only then can we be sure that what we believe or someone teaches is
truly from God, and not from man!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Let the Land Rest by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Let the Land Rest

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Throughout history, God has used the Earth to provide man with all of his physical needs. From the beginning of man’s existence on this planet, Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Earth and cultivated crops. In fact, when God punished Adam for sinning, his punishment involved hard labor in the field. From the time of Adam to the present, one of man’s most valuable commodities has been land. Without fertile ground, crops have no place to grow, animals have no place to graze, and humans have nothing to eat.
God always has known how important it is for man to have fertile land. For this reason, He gave the children of Israel explicit instructions on how to care for their land. In Leviticus 25:3-5 Moses wrote: “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.” But what would happen to the land if the children of Israel (or anyone else, for that matter) did not take care to protect the land? The American “Dust Bowl” of the early part of the twentieth century provides a fitting answer to such a question.
Beginning in the early 1930s, several western states in America began to have serious problems with agricultural production. The late 1920s had seen a huge demand for wheat, and many farmers in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas planted crops year after year. What they failed to factor into their farming practices was the fact that the land could not sustain growth of the same crop repeatedly without a period of rejuvenation. Nutrients and bacteria (specifically, nitrogen-fixing bacteria) that had been removed from the land as a result of the never-ending sowing-and-reaping cycles needed time to be replaced. But the farmers did not allow the land that precious time, and as a result, the grasses that normally grew in the fields to protect the land from erosion were unable to do so. When matters were complicated by a severe drought and dangerous windstorms in the region, the ground was too weak, and too fragile, to sustain either itself or its crops.
Huge gusts of fifty-mile-an-hour winds moved through the area, causing massive dust storms that filled houses, destroyed valuable farm equipment, and swept away millions of tons of valuable topsoil. People thus referred to this time and place in America as the “Dust Bowl.” Few epochs in the history of the United States have paralleled the Dust Bowl for sheer destruction, depression, and poverty. Sadly, such despair and suffering could have been avoided if the denizens of the Dust Bowl states simply had obeyed God’s commands to grant their vaunted land a period “of solemn rest.” Why is it that we as humans find it so difficult to listen to and obey our Creator?

God's Electrical Heavens by Branyon May, Ph.D.


God's Electrical Heavens

by  Branyon May, Ph.D.

According to atmospheric scientists, the Earth has a functioning dynamic global electric circuit. “In the conventional picture, the main components of Earth’s global electric circuit include thunderstorms, the conducting ionosphere, the downward fair-weather currents and the conducting Earth” (Su, et al., p. 974). [The ionosphere is a portion of the upper atmosphere composed of ionized particles formed by the x-ray and ultraviolet irradiative effects of the Sun.] In a greatly simplified picture, the global electric circuit can be viewed as a large spherical capacitor (i.e., a device for the storage of electrical charge). In this model, the ionosphere serves as the upper boundary, and the ground serves as the lower boundary. Between these two boundaries, scientists have measured an existing potential difference of 300,000 volts (Pasko, 2003, 423:927). The electric potential that exists due to this natural capacitor is vital to the global electric circuit. The balance of this potential is vital to the proper functioning of the atmospheric system. Victor Pasko, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University, commented: “There are many components contributing to the balance of potential between the plates, but two are critical: thunderstorms, of which there are about 2,000 globally at any given time and which act as batteries charging the capacitor; and fair-weather regions, in which the capacitor can discharge continuously through the weakly conducting atmosphere” (p. 927). During fair weather, there is a continual discharge occurring in the global electric circuit. This discharge has been estimated to account for a leakage of approximately one kiloampere, on the global scale.
The traditional view held that the role of thunderstorms was to counteract the continual fair-weather discharge, by acting as a generator driving current into the Earth’s capacitor, both recharging and maintaining the potential difference found between the ionosphere and ground. However, the discovery by Su and his colleagues has introduced another aspect to thunderstorm activity. As Pasko remarked, there is “a new factor in the model of the Earth’s electrical and chemical environment” (p. 927). These “gigantic optical jets” have acted against the commonly held view of thunderstorms as recharging mechanisms; rather, the measurements support the view that they serve to discharge the global capacitor, removing approximately 30 Coulombs each, from the ionosphere. The researchers stated that this would account for only a fraction of one percent of the total charge in the atmosphere, but does “account for a substantial fraction of charges residing in the lower ionosphere” (Su, et al., p. 976). With the new data, Su and his colleagues concluded: “[T]he conventional picture of the global electric circuit needs to be modified to include the contributions of gigantic jets and possibly sprites” (p. 974).
In addition to the electrical environment, Pasko also mentioned that these jets present a new factor in the chemical environment. Oxygen is one of the primary constituents of Earth’s atmosphere, accounting for approximately 21%. Oxygen is considered a diatomic element, meaning that it has an affinity for being paired with itself, as in atmospheric oxygen (O2 ). The explosion of thunder that can be heard is the result of a rapid expansion of air. The expansion of air is caused by the intense heating of atmospheric molecules by the electrical discharge. As it extends, lightning scorches the air, reaching temperatures more than four times hotter than the surface of the Sun—nearly 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. According to John Roach, writer for National Geographic, lightning produces “enough energy to keep a 100-watt light bulb lit for three months” (2003). Through its electrical nature, lightning also has the capacity to ionize particles. It has been documented that lightning has the capacity of initiating chain reactions, whereby atmospheric oxygen molecules are dissociated, leading to the formation of ozone. This process has been duplicated in the production of industrial ozone for the past century (see van Veldhuizen, 2000). Concerning their chemical effects, Pasko commented: “The ionization created by a gigantic jet is likely to have a significant chemical effect on that volume of atmosphere” (p. 928). He went on to correlate the known surface effects with the high-altitude conditions that would be present in TLEs. He commented that in high altitude situations, streamers would “have the ability to produce highly active chemical species and can effectively ‘treat’ thousands of cubic kilometers of atmosphere” (p. 928). Finally, Pasko concluded: “So the known chemical impact of streamers may be a good indication that TLEs noticeably affect the chemistry of the atmosphere” (p. 929).


The atmosphere is of vital importance to all life on Earth. It contributes to more aspects of life than we are able to quantify, or that could be qualified. For the evolutionist, the changing, early atmosphere of the Earth accounts for the chance emergence of life and the subsequent organic evolutionary process. However, scientists constantly are being confounded by their observations. Although men have been viewing the natural world since the dawn of time, there continues to be an unending stream of intricacies to discover.
Concerning the atmospheric discoveries mentioned, scientists have declared: “It has not been clear, however, whether all the important components of the global circuit have even been identified” (Su, et al., p. 974). They also have commented: “This field is in its infancy, and it remains to be seen how important the electrical and chemical effects of the gigantic jets and other TLEs are for our planet” (Pasko, p. 929). The design of the Earth’s atmosphere continues to impress humanity’s combined intellectual prowess. When discussing the driving forces behind the formation of lightning, Roach described the particle collisions that are needed to produce a separation of electrical charge, which results in the imbalance between cloud and ground. Senior meteorologist Stephen Hodanish of the National Weather Service concluded that a correction (i.e., lightning) for this imbalance results because, “Mother Nature doesn’t like to see that” (as quoted in Raoch, 2003). By ascribing the ultimate cause to an ethereal Mother Nature, Hodanish unknowingly proved the presence of design. Whether it was his intention or not, Hodanish’s comments illustrate the extent of naturalism that now pervades science, and the extent to which that naturalism has reached even into the common aspects of everyday life. Yet, by the scientists’ own admission, it is known that with the brilliantly obvious effect of lightning, there also is a brilliantly obvious Cause.
In the book of Job, the inspired writer penned the words of Elihu, as he declared God’s majesty: “He spreadeth abroad the cloud of his lightning: and it is turned round about by his guidance” (Job 37:11). And to Job, the questions were asked: “O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know how God layeth his charge upon them, and causeth the lightning of his cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:14-16). Job was chastened for placing honor upon himself, neglecting to acknowledge The Most Honorable. For that, Job was reproved—by God Himself.
“Suffer me a little, and I will show thee; for I have yet somewhat to say on God's behalf ” (Job 36:2). In discussing such wonderful design, we also must pay tribute to the Designer; in standing in awe of such an incredible effect, we also must stand in awe of the far greater Cause. As Elihu boldly proclaimed in the verse above as he rebuked Job for self-righteously questioning God’s majesty, we, too, ask, “on God’s behalf,” that time be taken to behold the extraordinary design that is present in the world around us. We must not ascribe it to some mystic, ethereal force; rather, we must acknowledge the ever-so-loving and familiar Father Who can be clearly seen and perceived (Romans 1:20), and Who is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).


Pasko, Victor P. (2003), “Atmospheric Physics: Electric Jets,” Nature, 423:927-929. June 26.
Pickrell, John (2003), “Huge Mystery Flashes Seen In Outer Atmosphere,” National Geographic News, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0625_030625_atmospherethunder.html, June 25.
Roach, John (2003), “Key to Lightning Deaths: Location, Location, Location,” National Geographic News, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0522_030522_lightning.html, May 22.
Su, Han-Tzong, Rue-Ron Hsu, A.B. Chen, Y.C. Wang, W.S. Hsiao, W.C. Lai, L.C. Lee, M. Sato, and H. Fukunishi (2003), “Gigantic Jets Between a Thundercloud and the Ionosphere,” Nature, 423:974-976. June 26.
Van Veldhuizen, E.M. ed. (2000), Electrical Discharges for Environment Purposes: Fundamentals and Applications (Nova Science: New York).

Ezekiel’s Vision: An Alien UFO? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Ezekiel’s Vision: An Alien UFO?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

“I saw it with my own two eyes,” the farmer excitedly explained to the reporter. “As I was feeding the chickens, a huge, saucer-shaped object hovered over my house. A bright light beamed down through my barn, and before I knew what was happening, I saw Bessie, my best milk cow being pulled through the air toward the ship. In seconds, the ship whirred away with Bessie. Don’t know why those aliens would want my best cow!”
Does this scenario sound vaguely familiar? Hundreds of UFO sightings, alien abduction stories, and supposed communication with extraterrestrial life forms have been reported across the globe. From the various outlandish claims, not a single shred of legitimate evidence for life in outer space has ever surfaced. Yet, humanity’s fascination with aliens, UFOs, and extraterrestrial life seems only to grow year by year, in spite of this lack of evidence.
As proof of this growing fascination, it has been suggested that the biblical prophet Ezekiel, in the Old Testament book bearing his name, had an early encounter with an alien spaceship. In a Web article titled “UFOs: Even Before There Were Weather Balloons…,” the author misquoted Ezekiel 1:1-4: “As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as if it were gleaming bronze” (a very loose paraphrase of Ezekiel 1:1-4). The article then listed several other ancient “UFO” sightings, and concluded by stating: “These are just a few of the examples of UFO sightings from history” (2004).
Is it the case that Ezekiel saw an alien-operated flying machine from outer space? No, Ezekiel did not see an alien spaceship. How, then, are his visions to be explained? When one looks into Ezekiel’s prophetic book, it becomes clear that Ezekiel did see some strange things. From a quick reading of chapter one, it becomes apparent that Ezekiel saw a “great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself ” (vs. 4), four living creatures from within the cloud (vs. 5), a wheel beside each living creature (vs. 15), and the rims of the wheels full of eyes (vs. 18), among many other things. Indeed, the things seen by Ezekiel were amazing and unusual to say the least.
But with a little research into the biblical message, it becomes clear that Ezekiel’s writing and visions were apocalyptic in nature—very similar to the writings found in both Daniel and Revelation. The visions Ezekiel described are of heavenly, spiritual beings, not “alien life forms.” By comparing the description of the living creatures in Ezekiel to that of the living creatures that surround the throne of God in Revelation 4, one quickly realizes that the scenes witnessed by Ezekiel, John, Daniel, and other inspired writers were visions of God and His spiritual host of heaven.
As further evidence of this fact, at the end of Ezekiel 1, after describing “a likeness with the appearance of a man” on a throne, Ezekiel wrote: “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (1:28). Then, a few verses later in chapter 2, this same person said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me” (2:3). Ezekiel fully understood this to be the Lord talking to Him, that the vision was of spiritual beings, and that he had not had an encounter with an alien from outer space. It is ironic that Ezekiel recognized his vision to be a calling and message from God, yet over 2,500 years after this vision, modern-day UFO hunters want to “reinterpret” Ezekiel’s original understanding of what he saw. A simple question should be asked: who would be in a better position to know what he saw—Ezekiel, or a modern-day “alien hunter” who believes in UFOs in spite of the overwhelming paucity of evidence? To ask is to answer, is it not?
Ezekiel did not see a UFO! He was allowed the special privilege of being called by God through an amazing vision of the heavenly host. His description of the vision ties in perfectly with other apocalyptic writings such as Daniel and Revelation. Those who are looking for the long-absent evidence proving the existence of aliens and UFOs, will have to look some place other than Ezekiel for it.


“UFOs: Even Before There Were Weather Balloons…” (2004), [On-line], URL: http://ufos.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa052097.htm.

Isaiah and the Deity of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Isaiah and the Deity of Christ

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It has become popular in recent years to consider the divine nature of Christ as simply a doctrine invented by Christians long after Jesus’ death. In his blockbuster book The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown alleged that Jesus’ deity was concocted 300 years after His crucifixion (2003, pp. 233-234). Jehovah’s Witnesses also frequently distribute literature espousing that Christ’s divine nature is a trumped-up teaching of men, rather than an actual doctrine of God (see “What Does...,” 1989, pp. 12-16). Although many New Testament passages could be consulted to demonstrate the deity of Christ (e.g., John 1:1-5,14; 20:28; Philippians 2:6; Hebrews 1:5-13; etc.), of particular interest is the fact that long before Jesus appeared on Earth in the form of man in the first century, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold His Godhood.
In approximately 700 B.C., Isaiah prophesied about many things concerning the Christ. Hebrew scholar Risto Santala wrote: “The Messianic nature of the book of Isaiah is so clear that the oldest Jewish sources, the Targum, Midrash and Talmud, speak of the Messiah in connection with 62 separate verses” (1992, pp. 164-165), including Isaiah 9:6. “For unto us,” Isaiah foretold, “a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6, emp. added). The Messiah, Isaiah wrote, would be not only the “Prince of Peace,” and the “Wonderful Counselor” (NASB), but also “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” [NOTE: “The Targum elucidates this verse, saying: ‘His name has been from ancient times...’ and, regarding the ‘Everlasting Father’ part, that ‘the Messiah has been for ever’” (Santala, 1992, p. 196), or that He is “the Father of eternity” (see Jamieson, et al., 1997)]. What’s more, Isaiah also prophesied of the virgin birth of the Messiah, and that His name would be “Immanuel” (7:14), which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, emp. added). Why would Isaiah call the Messiah “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Immanuel,” if He was not God?
Interestingly, more than 100 years before Jesus allegedly was “made God” at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 (cf. Brown, pp. 233-234), Irenaeus quoted from Isaiah 9:6 and applied the divine names to Christ, Who “is Himself in His own right...God.”
...this is Christ, the Son of the living God. For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man. But that He had, beyond all others, in Himself that pre-eminent birth which is from the Most High Father, and also experienced that pre-eminent generation which is from the Virgin, the divine Scriptures do in both respects testify of Him: ...that He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men;—all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him (Book III, Chapter 19, emp. added).
Isaiah not only referred explicitly to Jesus as “Mighty God” in 9:6, he also alluded to the Messiah’s divine nature in a prophecy about John the Baptizer in 40:3. “The voice of one that crieth, prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God” (ASV, emp. added; cf. Malachi 3:1). According to the New Testament, this “preparer” (or forerunner) was John the Baptizer (John 1:23). He prepared the way for Jesus, as all four gospel accounts bear witness (Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-23; John 1:15-34). Notice that Isaiah wrote that John would prepare “the way of Jehovah;...our God” (40:3, emp. added). Thus, Isaiah claimed that the Messiah is God.
Truly, long before the Christian age, even long before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah provided inspired testimony of the nature of Christ. He is Jehovah, Mighty God, Immanuel (“God with us”), Everlasting Father, “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 1:8; cf. Isaiah 44:6).


Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday).
Irenaeus (1973 reprint), “Irenaeus Against Heresies,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Santala, Risto (1992), The Messiah in the Old Testament: In the Light of Rabbinical Writings, trans. William Kinnaird (Jerusalem, Israel: Keren Ahvah Meshihit).
“What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?” (1989), Should You Believe in the Trinity? (Brooklyn, NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society).

Confessed Conjectures and Contradictions of Paleoartists by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Confessed Conjectures and Contradictions of Paleoartists

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

How do we know what Neandertals really looked like? Is H. floresiensis (i.e., the Hobbit) proof of evolution, or was “the Hobbit” just a small human? Does “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) look more like an ape or a person? What about the dozens of illustrations appearing on magazine covers around the world in any given year, which supposedly illustrate the truth of human evolution? What are the real facts behind the illustrations and models of our alleged ape-like ancestors?
In a recent Science article titled “Bringing Hominins Back to Life,” evolutionist Michael Balter collaborated with various scientists and artists to discuss some of the shaky science of today’s paleontologists and paleoartists. Since no one has ever seen an ape-like human or a human-like ape (they do not exist and never did—Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11), there are no photographs of hairy, bi-pedal, knuckle-dragging, club-carrying “half-and-halfs.” All of the life-like illustrations and reconstructions around the world are based upon interpretations of various fossils. So much of the time, however, “[reconstructions] require lots of decisions that science can’t answer.... The reconstructions allow us to ask the question but not to answer them” (Balter, 2009, 325[5937]:137). According to anthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged, “[A]rtists must track researcher’s latest anatomical interpretations.... But the end product should be seen as an artistic creation” (as quoted in Balter, p. 137, emp. added)—not a scientific one.
Sadly, books, magazines, and museums all over the world are full of faulty artistic creations based on misinterpretations of human and animal fossils. Balter briefly mentioned two examples of these mistakes, albeit he passed them off more as differences than mistakes. First, he noted how, in the early 1900s, French paleontologist Marcellin Boule “concluded that the Neandertal did not walk fully erect and played no part in human ancestry” (Balter, p. 137). What’s more, the early 20th-century artist that Boule enlisted “created a brutish stooped, hairy creature, more ape than human” (p. 137). However, “[r]esearchers now think that Neandertals...were closely related to Homo sapiens and did not look apelike” (p. 137). Thus, rather than focus on animalistic likenesses, “[t]oday’s Neandertal reconstructions tend to emphasize their humanity” (p. 137).
A second example of contradictory interpretations and reconstructions by paleontologists and paleoartists is found on page 138 of Balter’s article. At the bottom left-hand corner are two very different recreations of the head of Homo floresiensis. On the left is a pale, wrinkled, round-faced, round-eyed, small-nosed “Hobbit” with scraggly facial hair and thinning head-hair. On the right is a dark-skinned, tight, chiseled-faced, wide-eyed, big-nosed “Hobbit” with a head full of hair, but with no facial hair. Amazingly, paleoartists made the reconstructions from the same skull...yet they look nothing alike.
Near the end of the article, Balter quoted anthropologist Adrienne Zihlman, who admitted that “[m]ost of what we do is part art and part science” (p. 139, emp. added). Similarly, he acknowledged that “much of the work that human evolution researchers do today is based on conjecture as well as hard science” (p. 139, emp. added). In truth, the “conjecture” and “art” part of evolutionary scientists’ work is the part about evolution, while the “hard science” is that which we can know experimentally or from the laws of nature.
What we can know from “hard science” is that no one has ever observed apes or ape-like creatures evolve into humans. What’s more, such evolution defies a well-known law of science known as the Law of Biogenesis (see Thompson, 1989). “Advanced” mammals never evolved into humans, anymore than fish developed legs and lungs and evolved into amphibians and reptiles over many millions of years. Such conjectures may make for appealing art exhibits, but they will never tell the true story of human origins (Genesis 1-2; Psalm 139:13-16; see Harrub and Thompson, 2003).


Balter, Michael (2009), “Bringing Hominins Back to Life,” Science, 325[5937]:136-139, July 10.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thompson, Bert (1989), “The Bible and the Laws of Science: The Law of Biogenesis,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2004.

God, the Founders, and the Purpose of Human Government by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God, the Founders, and the Purpose of Human Government

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The American people have been experiencing a significant level of confusion regarding the purpose of civil government. Perhaps the prevailing sentiment of the population is that the core purpose of government is to collect money from citizens (via the IRS) so that elected politicians can make decisions regarding the distribution and dispersal of those funds. This serious misconception has led to a plethora of errors and harmful societal circumstances: a bloated, insatiable federal government that is in the throes of unprecedented, debilitating debt, a corresponding failure of elected officials to focus on their true purpose, a host of citizens who think the government exists to redistribute monetary assistance to them, and the list goes on. Meanwhile, the central purpose of government—the very reason the Founders established a federal government—is being neglected to the extent that citizens are encountering increasing danger to their lives. Perhaps even more tragic, the very government intended to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has assumed an adversarial role in which it persecutes those who hesitate to go along with its oppressive socialistic, anti-Christian, “politically correct” agenda.
What’s more, many Americans have been indoctrinated in the public school system with the idea that “separation of church and state” is true, that the government should have nothing to do with religion—except to suppress it in government, school, and public life.1 This indoctrination is so thorough and pervasive that few consider the fact that God has expressed His view on the subject. Indeed, the sole source of infallibly correct thinking—the Bible—addresses these concerns, articulating very precisely the divine purpose of civil government. What does the inspired Word of God say regarding the purpose of human government?

The Bible

Perhaps before answering that question, we should ask the prior question: “Did God intend for humans to form a government?” Yes, He did. The Bible states definitively: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1, emp. added). Another inspired apostle stated: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Jesus, Himself, had previously expressed what His apostles later wrote. He implied the validity of human government when He declared: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Nebuchadnezzar’s dream included the realization “that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). So, yes, human government is authorized and ordained by God and fully in keeping with His principle of authority that pervades all of life.2
What, then, does the Bible say about the purpose of the divinely authorized entity of human government? The Bible states explicitly that the central purpose and role of government is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society which, in turn, enables citizens to live their lives in freedom. Consider, for example, Paul’s lengthy discussion of civil government in his admonitions to Christians in the capital city—the heart—of the Roman Empire:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Romans 13:3-4, emp. added).
Observe: “a terror to evil works” (vs. 3) and “an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil” (vs. 4). Peter expressed these same thoughts when he also addressed the subject:
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good (1 Peter 2:13-14, emp. added).
Observe:“for the punishment of evildoers” and “praise of those who do good” (vs. 14). Commenting on this passage, Guy N. Woods remarked: “the design, incidentally, of all civil authority—was (a) to punish the wicked, and (b) encourage good works by protecting those engaged therein.”3 In his remarks to Timothy, Paul again noted this same purpose:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).
Observe again: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (i.e., protected from those who would disturb that peace). Even the pagan attorney Tertullus, who acted on behalf of the high priest in bringing formal charges against Paul before the Roman governor Felix, noted in passing the purpose of civil government:
And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness” (Acts 24:2-3, emp. added).
Observe: through the civil magistrate, i.e., the government, “we enjoy great peace, and prosperity,” i.e., we are protected from those who would disrupt the peace, enabling us freely to exercise our right to pursue our vocations and the prosperity such brings. The government does not guarantee, let alone provide, prosperity; it simply ensures a peaceful atmosphere in which citizens can pursue their vocations and earn their living unhampered by thugs, thieves, and other criminals.
Hence, while not discounting subsidiary functions, the Bible states very succinctly that the essential thrust of human government—its core function—is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society so that citizens may be permitted to live their own lives and have the freedom to make their own decisions. This arrangement is God’s will. However, recall again Paul’s words to Timothy:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).
Why should we pray for the government? So that our lives might be “quiet and peaceable”—the objective and purpose of the government as intended by God. But what is the purpose of having a peaceful, undisturbed, unmolested life? So that we might live life “in all godliness and reverence.” God wants people to make wise, spiritual decisions as they live their lives in anticipation of eternity. That is their purpose for existence (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But whether they do or don’t, civil government is divinely designed to create an environment where citizens are not molested by internal or external assailants.

america’s founders

Every American ought to be grateful to live in a country where its Founding Fathers understood God’s view of human government and, consequently, implemented that same view in their efforts to establish the Republic. They were very forthright in their expression of the purpose of government and what they envisioned were the enumerated sub-purposes. Hear them:
Though not an American Founder, the British empiricist philosopher and physician John Locke (1632-1704), widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers, exerted a considerable influence on the thinking of the Founders. They certainly agreed with his assessment of the purpose of human government: “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property,” with “property” defined as “their lives, Liberties and estates.”4 Another Englishman with whom the Founders agreed on this point was British jurist, judge, and politician of the Founding Era Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), most noted for his Commentaries on the Laws of England which profoundly influenced the Founders and the formation of American law.5 He explained: “For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which are vested in them by the immutable laws of nature.”6
Apart from these weighty influences, the Founders themselves expressed pointed views of the purpose of government. In a sermon preached in Cambridge before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 30, 1770, prominent New England preacher Samuel Cooke pinpointed the true intention of government: “Civil government…the sole end and design of which is…the public benefit, the good of the people; that they may be protected in their persons, and secured in the enjoyment of all their rights, and to be enabled to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.”7 Five years later, on May 31, 1775, a month after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, Harvard College President Samuel Langdon delivered a sermon to the Massachusetts Congress titled “Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness.” Distinguished scholar, theologian, and charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and delegate to the New Hampshire convention that adopted the U.S. Constitution, he, too, understood the central role of government:
Thanks be to God that he has given us, as men, natural rights, independent of all human laws whatever…. By the law of nature, any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage.8
On July 6, 1775, one year before declaring independence, the Continental Congress issued a declaration articulating precisely why they felt compelled to take up arms against their mother country. Obviously, they felt the government had gone awry (notice the extent to which they connect the purpose of government with God’s will on the matter):
If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe, that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the Inhabitants of these Colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.9
In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it—for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms.10
The Founding Fathers, en masse, believed that the role of government was to protect its citizens.

John Jay
John Jay was a brilliant Founder with a long and distinguished career in the formation and shaping of American civilization from the beginning. He not only was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774-1776, serving as its President from 1778-1779, he also helped to frame the New York State Constitution and then served as the Chief Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. He co-authored the Federalist Papers, was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington, served as Governor of New York, and was the vice-president of the American Bible Society from 1816 to 1821. Here was his description of the purpose of government:
[W]ickedness rendered human government necessary to restrain the violence and injustice resulting from it. To facilitate the establishment and administration of government, the human race became, in the course of Providence, divided into separate and distinct nations. Every nation instituted a government, with authority and power to protect it against domestic and foreign aggressions. Each government provided for the internal peace and security of the nation, by laws for punishing their offending subjects. The law of all the nations prescribed the conduct which they were to observe towards each other, and allowed war to be waged by an innocent against an offending nation, when rendered just and necessary by unprovoked, atrocious, and unredressed injuries.11
Jay insightfully observed that God instituted human government in order to enact a restraining influence on the propensity of human beings to harm each other.
Alexander Hamilton was another prominent Founder, serving as an artillery Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel/Aide-de-camp to General Washington in the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington. In The Federalist, No. 15, dated December 1, 1787, Hamilton asked: “Why has government been instituted at all?  Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”12 Government is intended to constrain lawbreakers.
Another patriot preacher of the Founding era was Samuel West, who served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War and was an influential member of the Convention that formed the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts, and also of the Convention for the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In an election-day sermon preached before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 29, 1776, sometimes titled “On the Right to Rebel against Governors,” West noted the role of government:
Men of unbridled lusts, were they not restrained by the power of the civil magistrate, would spread horror and desolation all around them. This makes it absolutely necessary that societies should form themselves into politic bodies, that they may enact laws for the public safety, and appoint particular penalties for the violation of their laws, and invest a suitable number of persons with authority to put in execution and enforce the laws of the state, in order that wicked men may be restrained from doing mischief to their fellow-creatures, that the injured may have their rights restored to them, that the virtuous may be encouraged in doing good, and that every member of society may be protected and secured in the peaceable, quiet possession and enjoyment of all those liberties and privileges which the Deity has bestowed upon him, i.e., that he may safely enjoy and pursue whatever he chooses, that is consistent with the public good. This shows that the end and design of civil government cannot be to deprive man of their liberty or take away their freedom; but, on the contrary, the true design of civil government is to protect men in the enjoyment of liberty.13
Constitution signer, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and fourth U.S. President, James Madison, in a speech at the Virginia Convention in 1829, stated: “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”14 Quintessential Founder Thomas Jefferson pinpointed this same function of government in his second presidential inaugural address, likewise linking God and religion to its purpose:
Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government.… entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.15
Declaration signer Samuel Adams, considered the “Firebrand of the Revolution” and “The Father of the American Revolution,” was vociferous in his pronouncements of the proper role of the government. In his monumental “Rights of the Colonists,” he explained:
Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence…. [T]he grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property.16
Writing in the Boston-Gazette on Monday, December 19, 1768 under the pseudonym “Vindex,” Adams expounded that “the only true basis of all government [are] the laws of God and nature. For government is an ordinance of Heaven, design’d by the all-benevolent Creator, for the general happiness of his rational creature, man.”17 Alluding to the “fundamental principle of nature and the constitution, that what is a man’s own, is absolutely his own, and that no man can have a right to take it from him without his consent,” Adams maintained:
It is against the plain and obvious rule of equity, whereby the industrious man is intitled [sic] to the fruits of his industry: It weakens the best cement of society, as it renders all property precarious: And it destroys the very end for which alone men can be supposed to submit to civil government; which is not for the sake of exalting one man, or a few men, above their equals, that they may be maintained in splendor and greatness; but that each individual, under the joint protection of the whole community, may be the Lord of his own possession, and sit securely under his own vine.18
So to Adams, the purpose for a community of people to form a government is to create “joint protection” for all citizens as each exerts his own efforts to prosper. Adams’ allusion to each person being enabled to sit under his own vine is taken from the Old Testament prophet Micah (4:4). That same year, in a letter sent by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to their agent in London, Dennis DeBerdt, the purpose of government is identified in the words: “The security of right and property is the great end of government.”19
As tensions increased between the Americans and Britain, the First Provincial Congress of Massachusetts issued a letter to newly appointed British military Governor Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, appealing to him to cease and desist from the hostile preparations being made, which included the construction of military fortifications at the entrance to Boston. The letter, dated Thursday, October 13, 1774, contains a reminder of the proper purpose of government:
Your excellency must be sensible that the sole end of government is the protection and security of the people. Whenever, therefore, that power, which was originally instituted to effect these important and valuable purposes, is employed to harass, distress, or enslave the people, in this case it becomes a curse rather than a blessing.20
In “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” Thomas Jefferson offered a further description of the purpose of human government:
Whereas, it frequently happens that wicked and dissolute men, resigning themselves to the dominion of inordinate passions, commit violations on the lives, liberties, and property of others, and, the secure enjoyment of these having principally induced men to enter into society, government would be defective in its principal purpose, were it not to restrain such criminal acts, by inflicting due punishments on those who perpetrate them.21
Prominent Founder John Adams stated the purpose succinctly in these words: “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”22 The state constitution of Massachusetts, believed to be largely the work of Adams, provides a more extensive definition of the purpose of government in its Preamble:
The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and the blessings of life: and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness.23
Though Thomas Paine fell into disrepute in the 1790s all across America when he published The Age of Reason, nevertheless, he was a significant Founder at the beginning. His wording of the purpose of government was given in his treatise The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind:
Government is nothing more than a national association; and the object of this association is, the good of all, as well individually, as collectively. Every man wishes to pursue his occupation, and to enjoy the fruits of his labours, and the produce of his property, in peace and safety, and with the least possible expence. When these things are accomplished, all the objects for which government ought to be established, are answered.24
Another Founding era preacher, Dan Foster of Connecticut, articulated the same sentiment in his “A Short Essay on Civil Government:”
For ‘tis for the good of the state and people, that every one and the whole community, may enjoy their persons and properties free of all molestations, invasions, rapines and invasions whatsoever, that civil government is erected; and these great ends must be kept in sight and direct…. Our proposition asserts that the people have a natural and inherent right to appoint and constitute a [government] over them, for their civil good, liberty, protection, peace and safety…. to defend and secure to the people the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of their persons and properties.25
Harvard graduate and Founding era preacher from Duxbury, Massachusetts, Charles Turner, delivered an election sermon before the Massachusetts-Bay government in 1773, declaring:
God would have His civil ministers to prove, a terror to evil works; to punish evil doers—by salutary laws, honestly and honorably executed, to save the state from foreign injurious invaders…and to prevent the peoples suffering, from one another, as to life, property, or any of their rights.26
These citations could be multiplied extensively. They may be summarized in the words of the Declaration of Independence which the Founders crafted to articulate clearly the infringements of the British government under which they lived:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.27


It’s as if rank and file Americans at the inception of the nation were widely educated in the principles of government and were attuned to the essentiality of government fulfilling its God-assigned responsibilities. Make no mistake: the freedom which they believed was endangered by the usurpations of the British government was not the 1960s “do your own thing” “freedom” which promoted the overthrow of the prevailing social mores in America. Far from it. They would have viewed such “freedom” to be licentiousness and immoral. Rather, they envisioned the freedom that they considered inherent in the creation of human beings by God—the unalienable right to live on the Earth in order to make one’s own choices in anticipation of eternity.
When the government loses sight of the function for which it was created, citizens are hampered in their efforts to achieve the purpose for which they were created: to obey God. Tragically, more than ever before in its 230 year history, America is experiencing severe convulsion due to the distortion of the role of government that prevails on virtually every level—local, state, and federal. Government has assumed a measure of control over the lives of its citizens that it has no right to exert, exceeding the limits envisioned by both God and the Founders. Citizens are being threatened, bullied, harassed, and intimidated by government to accept a redefinition of marriage and to embrace gender confusion as normal. They are being pressured to ignore the threat to national security posed by the blanket acceptance of foreigners who disdain the religion of Christ and the values upon which the Republic was built.28 The government has placed Americans under severe, nonconsensual financial burdens.29
It is bad enough that the government has ventured into illicit areas of activity. But, in the meantime, it has neglected, if not forsaken, its central purpose of providing adequate security for its law-abiding citizens. Is it coincidental that prisons are full while the government wages war on religious expression? Ask yourself these questions: Do I feel safer or less safe than at any other time in my life? Do I feel that my life and my property (i.e., home and possessions) are more secure or less secure? In my attempt to live a peaceful, serene, undisturbed lifestyle, do I feel the government is a friend and ally, or is it hostile and part of the problem?
The time has come for the nation to return to its moorings. The time has come for a massive spiritual and moral awakening, lest God say to America what He said to Israel of old: “‘Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the LORD. ‘And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’” (Jeremiah 5:9,29; 9:9).


1 See the DVD Separation of Church and State? available at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=106.
2 For a discussion of the crucial principle of authority, see Dave Miller (2012), Surrendering to His Lordship (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
3 Guy N. Woods (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), p. 72.
4 John Locke (1821), Two Treatises of Government (London: Whitmore & Fenn), Book II, Chapter IX, p. 295.
5 Thomas Jefferson noted that the standing sentiment of American lawyers was that “Blackstone is to us what the Alcoran is to the Mahometans”—“Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, May 26, 1810,” The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress,” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib020310.
6 Sir William Blackstone (1765), Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press), Book I, Chapter I, 1:120, emp. added.
7 Samuel Cooke (1770), The True Principles of Civil Government, A Sermon Preached at Cambridge, in the Audience of His Honor Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief; The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 30th, 1770 (Boston, MA: Edes and Gill), p. 159, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N09097.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext.
8 Samuel Langdon (1775), Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness (Watertown, MA: Benjamin Edes), p. 23, italics in orig., emp. added.
9 Continental Congress (1775), A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 2:140,156, emp. added, http://goo.gl/OrJ371.
10 Ibid., emp. added.
11 William Jay (1833), The Life of John Jay (New York: J.&J. Harper), 2:393-394, emp. added.
12 Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison (1911), The Federalist or the New Constitution (New York: E.P. Dutton), pp. 71-72, emp. added.
13 Samuel West (1776), A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England. May 29, 1776. Being the Anniversary for the Election of the Honorable Council for the Colony (Boston, MA: John Gill), pp. 13-14, emp. added.
14 Ritchie and Cook, eds. (1830), Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-30 (Richmond, VA: Samuel Shepherd), p. 537, emp. added.
15 Thomas Jefferson (1801), “First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, emp. added, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau1.asp.
16 William Wells (1866), The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co.), 1:504, emp. added.
17 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 716, Monday, December 19, 1768, p. 1.
18 Ibid., italics in orig., emp. added.
19 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 679, Monday, April 4, p. 1, emp. added.
20 William Lincoln, ed. (1838), The Journals of each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety (Boston, MA: Dutton and Wentworth), p. 17.
21 Thomas Jefferson (1853), “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H.A. Washington (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury), 1:147, emp. added.
22 John Adams (1805), Discourses on Davila (Boston, MA: Russell and Cutler), p. 92.
23 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Preamble,” emp. added, https://malegislature.gov/laws/constitution.
24 Thomas Paine (1795), The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind (London: Daniel Isaac Eaton), p. 97, emp. added.
25 Dan Foster (1775), A Short Essay on Civil Government (Hartford, CT: Ebenezer Watson), pp. 14,27, emp. added.
26 Charles Turner (1773), A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Governor: The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 26th. 1773 (Boston, MA: Richard Draper), pp. 10-11, italics in orig., emp. added.
27 Declaration of Independence (1776), Library of Congress, emp. added, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/pe.76546.
28 See Dave Miller (2016), “Should Christians Favor Accepting Syrian Refugees?” Reason & Revelation, 36[4]:45-47.
29 Writing ca. 1817, James Madison noted: “The people of the U. S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized [sic] in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.” If the Founders were outraged over the violation of the principle underlying a three cent tax, they would be incredulous at the extent to which Americans tolerate oppressive governmental taxation without their knowledge—let alone consent (e.g., the tax on cell phone bills that funds free phone giveaways). See “Detached Memoranda,” The Founders’ Constitution, ed. Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 64, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html.