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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Field Hands

November 02, 2011

God has called us, brethren.

Pop Culture

November 01, 2011

Pop culture must be “redeemed” if it is to be useful in seeking the Kingdom.

Responding to Grace

October 31, 2011

Patrick shows how we are supposed to respond to the grace of God.

The Joy of the Gospel

October 31, 2011

The Kingdom of God is joy!

Wondrous Kingdom

October 31, 2011

The Kingdom of God is a truly wondrous realm.

Cultural Discernment

October 30, 2011

We must not allow the world to press us into its mold.

Demand Consistency

November 06, 2011

T. M. Moore

And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Acts 23.2, 3

According to the Law of God, a man could only be beaten for transgression once his guilt had been duly determined, and then only if beating was the proper punishment for his offense. The high priest was supposedly the embodiment of the Law of God to the nation of Israel, and yet he himself stood guilty of violating that law and acting as a law unto himself. Paul did not hesitate to point out the inconsistency.

Christians must demand consistency of their public officials, and of their religious and spiritual leaders. But we must do so from some basis, and the only holy and righteous and good basis which does not change is the Law of God.

The Law defines and exposes sin. The Law engages the Spirit of God and outlines the full scope of Christ’s saving work. The Law marks out the path of righteousness and blessing. And the Law of God remains in force until the Lord Jesus returns. If we wish our nations to be wise and understanding, and our societies to reflect justice and to provide a context in which the work of the Gospel can flourish, then we must not be reluctant to embrace, proclaim, teach, and practice the Law of God.

We must be consistent in this – as Paul showed himself to be in this situation (v. 5). Then we shall be in a proper position to demand consistency of those who lead us, whether in the church or in civil government. There can be no consistency without an unchanging standard of truth, and no such standard exists except the holy and righteous and good Law of God. Kingdom greatness – and the best hope of any nation for justice and salvation – rests within the framework of obedience to that Law (Matt. 5.17-19; Ps. 33.10-12).

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

All Things Good

November 05, 2011

T. M. Moore

Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. Romans 13.3, 4

Ask any public official whether he wants to do what is good for the people, and he will certainly respond, “Of course.” But how can we know what is good? Do our public officials mean by this only what is expedient? What is economically feasible? What they consider to be good? Or what is “good enough” to keep them in office?

We must demand of our public officials that they commit publicly to a particular idea of what is good, explaining that, in God’s eyes, they are His servants to do good as He defines it.

The Law of God is good (Rom. 7.12). Since the Law of God is good, that public official who wishes to serve God for good must seek to learn the wisdom and understanding which that Law encodes. Our is the duty to instruct them, by communicating openly and privately, recommending policies consistent with the teaching of God’s Law, setting forth candidates schooled in the wisdom and understanding of God, and expressing our opposition to all policies and all politicians whose views do not reflect the holy and righteous and good Law of God.

We must not be shy about this. We hue to a standard of goodness that is fixed and unchanging. Our contemporaries cannot say this. Instead, they trade on a general sense of “good” which seems to get them by, largely because it is never challenged, but which begs more precise definition. They may attack us for our forthright stance on the unchanging Law of God. But we must show them that they lash out at our position from the shifting and unstable sands of relativism, political expediency, or mere self-interest.

In the end, for the wellbeing of the nation, the only definition of “good” that matters is that which God has prescribed.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

Public and Private

November 04, 2011

T. M. Moore

For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Matthew 14.3, 4

The paper currency of the The United States declares itself to be legal tender for all debts, public and private. The Law of God is of the same ilk. Not only should the public policies of public officials reflect agreement with the Law of God, but their private lives as well. And as it is the duty of the believer to augur for public policies in line with God’s Law, so we must not be reluctant to point out any private transgressions on the part of our public officials.

This is what John the Baptist did, as we saw in an earlier installment in this series. Herod, who was not a Jew, was living in violation of Leviticus 20.21, and that without any semblance of discretion. His transgression was public knowledge. Doubtless John began to assail the king in public, away from his presence. This may have been the occasion for his being arrested. But being arrested did not change his opinion or resolve, as he now had the opportunity to say to Herod that he was guilty of transgressing God’s Law.

The increasing popularity of the “town hall” format among American politicians means that the opportunity for publicly asserting the will and Word of God into political campaigns and policies is richer than it has been in many years. Christians must not fail to take advantage of such situations to offer counsel and advice to their public officials, but also to declare the Word of the Lord against any transgressions, public or private, of His holy and righteous and good Law.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

T. M. Moore

Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. Acts 12.23

Few vocations seem more designed to promote hubris on the part of men than that of political office. “Power corrupts,” Lord Acton declared, and that corruption begins in the heart which becomes lifted up and filled with its own high esteem.

God, we know, is not mocked (Gal. 6.7). Just as Herod brought the judgment of God down on himself through his haughty usurpation of God’s glory, so politicians in every age have, by their hubris, invoked judgment on themselves and their nations.

Over and over in the Law God justifies His demands with the simple declaration, “I am the LORD.” By this He intended to remind Israel that, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of men, His Word is final, whether or not men agree or can tease out all the rationale for it. Whenever men presume to go beyond God’s Word, or when they fail to give it full obedience, they, in effect, put themselves in God’s place and declare that they are the final arbiters of matters concerning right and wrong, truth and error.

This problem is especially pronounced when it becomes the practice of a government, for then all the citizens of the nation are led into the path of stumbling as well. Christians must not hesitate to explain to their political leaders that God is still on the job, that His Word is still in force, and He still refuses to be mocked by the prideful presumptions of sinful and disobedient men.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

 

T. M. Moore

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and you iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4.27

That a nation conforms its statutes, and their enforcement, to the teaching of God’s Law is no guarantee that the saving blessings of God will redound to that nation. Nor does it guarantee that the prosperity and peace of that nation will continue indefinitely, or even that it will know prosperity and peace at all. The Christian, in working to bring the laws of his own nation into conformity with the Law of God, must not hold out obedience to the Law of God as a sure means to political success or material prosperity.

At the same time, there is more ground to hope for such on the part of any nation which chooses to bring its laws and practice of justice into line with God’s Law, than if that nation continued in willful disobedience to His holy and righteous and good statutes and commands. This, at least, seems to have been Daniel’s hope in confronting Nebuchadnezzar with his own transgressions.

Let us also note Daniel’s approach to the king: Not only was he faithful in his own civic duties and responsibilities, but he brought counsel to the king, rather than threats or political pressure. If we cannot persuade our government to embrace the statutes of the Lord, we must not try to do so by means that would compromise the integrity of our witness or the truth of that very Law. As long as lawful means are available to for affecting the laws of our nation, we must make use of them, in the hope that God will honor our faithfulness and withhold His wrath, giving us time to do the work of making known the Gospel of the Kingdom to our neighbors.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

T. M. Moore

Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment…” Amos 1.3

We have frequently observed in this column that “transgression”, in Biblical language, indicates any violation of the Law of God (cf. 1 Jn. 3.4). Nations and peoples who do not know the Lord nevertheless have the works of the Law written on their hearts, and their consciences either confirm or accuse them according to the degree of their faithfulness in obeying what they know to be right (Rom. 2.14, 15).

Thus, even those nations and peoples who do not know the Lord through the Gospel of Jesus Christ are accountable before God for the works they do and the laws by which they live. It is a consistent message of the Old Testament prophets – as represented in our text from Amos – that the ground for God’s pouring out His wrath on the nations is transgression of His Law. The formula “three transgressions and four” probably has a twofold significance. On the one hand, it represents repeated and accumulating sin for which no repentance has been offered. On the other, it suggests, through the use of the Scriptural numbers for God and man, transgression of both tablets of the Law. Nations which do not obey the Law of God heap up His judgment against themselves. They must therefore be made to know that, in His time and way, God will hold them accountable for their disobedience.

Knowing that such judgment awaits those nations that disregard the Law of God, the Christian should be eager to spare his own nation such wrath by working diligently, through all lawful means, to help bring the laws of his own nation, and the practices of her citizens, into conformity with the Law of God. This alone will not achieve the salvation of the nation or our neighbors. However, it will free up space for the blessings of God to flourish, rather than His wrath, and will establish a framework in which goodness, justice, and truth have objective significance, thus facilitating greatly conversation about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

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