Saturday, December 16, 2017

Of “Hush” Funds and Collusion: Christmas and “The Rule of Law”

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 15:05
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By David Brand

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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

-Isaiah 9:6-7-

While there is frequent talk about the “rule of law” in America today we do well to have more evidence of it, even, if not especially, in the professing church.  A congressional “hush fund” has surfaced only a couple of decades after an “It’s All About Sex” attempt to justify a scandalous American presidency.  By contrast, Joseph, being a “righteous man,” contemplated  quietly divorcing the virgin Mary, his betrothed, upon learning of her pregnancy.  It took an angel to convince him that her pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit  (Matthew 1:18-19).  American baseball fans may need to be reminded that these celestial beings were not the creation of Hollywood.  Neither was the word “scandal”!

The English word “scandal” is derived from the Greek scandalon which means “stumblingblock.”  The apostle Paul well understood the cross of Christ to be a “stumbling block” or “scandal” to the Jews and “foolishness” to the Greeks, i.e. it transcended their thought categories. [1]  True Christian believers do not need a “hush fund.”  Having renounced the unfruitful works of spiritual darkness, [2] they are up-front about their faith confession and forthright in acknowledging their wrongdoings.  As the hymn writer so well expressed it–“my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross”! [3] 

When Christians sin, they do not need a “cover -up”–they need to come clean by confessing all known sin to their heavenly Father.  The Son has made atonement on their behalf, thereby providing a remedy, for any and all sins they have ever committed and will ever commit.  Their responsibility is to walk uprightly and, when they do fall into sin, to own up to it, confess it to God, put things right with those affected by their transgressions to the extent possible, and make every effort to avoid morally compromising situations.  They must be watchful over their souls remembering that even King David–a “man after God’s heart” [4] succumbed to the sin of adultery and tried to cover it up by murder.  Thankfully King David, when confronted by the prophet Nathan, did repent of his wrongdoing. [5]  All the heroes of the Bible are flawed except for our Lord Jesus Christ–though He became “sin” for us–the Just for the unjust vicariously on the cross in order that He might bring us to God.

The apostle Paul instructed his Galatian readers that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ” and that “by works of the law no one will be justified” but rather “through faith in Jesus Christ.” [6]  The only way David’s throne could be forever upheld was for Christ, the Son of David, to pay the price for David’s sin, and that is the only way people of any generation can be included in the Kingdom.

As a mother once chorally edified her young Presbyterian pastor son,

He paid a debt He did not owe.

I owed a debt I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song–Amazing Grace!

Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay!

Did Jesus’ birth involve collusion?  King Herod made an attempt at collusion with the wise men at the time of Jesus’ birth, but the wise men were subsequently “warned in a dream not to return to Herod,” and they did not.  So desperate was Herod that he ordered all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding region to be put to death. [7]   Did the apostles’ testimony concerning Jesus’ resurrection involve “collusion”?  Following Jesus’ resurrection, it was the Jews who colluded with the soldiers paying them a “sufficient sum of money” to spread the rumor that the disciples came by night and stole the body while the guards were sleeping. [8]  But sleeping guards do not make very good witnesses in a court of law!

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the ultimate collusion, illustrates how the Sovereign God uses even the wrath of men to please Him. In the end Judas made an unsuccessful attempt to return the blood money and went out and hung himself. [9]

Righteousness revealed in the Gospel through faith fulfilled the law of God “by one man’s obedience.” [10]  Nowhere is this message needed any more than it is needed in America at this time thereby affirming and upholding the rule of law. [11]

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Endnotes

[1]. 1 Corinthians 1:22

[2]. Ephesians 5:11

[3]. Hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

[4]. 1 Samuel 13:14

[5]. Psalm 51; 32:1-5; 2 Sam. 12:1-23

[6]. Galatians 2:16; 3:24-25                                                                  

[7]. Matthew 2:12, 16-20

[8]. Matthew 2:16-19

[9]. Matthew 27:3-10

[10]. Rom. 5:19

[11]. Rom. 1:15-17

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About the Author

            David C. Brand, Contributing Editor, is a retired pastor and Christian educator.  He and his wife Marilyn have four grown children and eight grandchildren.  In addition to books Dave has self-published, his Th.M. thesis at Westminster Seminary was published by the American Academy of Religion in 1991 via Scholars Press under the title: Profile of the Last Puritan: Jonathan Edwards, Self-Love, and the Dawn of the Beatific via Scholars Press.  He enjoys ice-skating and canoeing.

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