The Power of the Church: The compassionate use of private property rights

The church is called to use her property rights to assist those who are in need in a sustainable way. In the parable of the Talents, different individuals were assigned resources at  a level they could sustainably develop that would both provide for their own needs, advance God’s kingdom and care for others.

In the Parable of the Talents, God – specifically Christ – as the Master of the Household of God gave private property to His servants. They received according to their ability and were to go into the marketplace. It should be apparent that the Master had police power as He was able to cast the unprofitable servant “into outer darkness.” He could have sent His servants to the marketplace with swords to conquer His enemies. He does not do so. He dis not send them to Ceasar to play the harlot to gain special favors from the household of Ceasar. He send them into the marketplace to manage what He delivered to them using  the delegated private property rights to engage in commerce to increase the wealth they had been given.

How this private property is to be used
One insight as to how we are to use our private property rights is found in the fact that the Lord’s parable echoes Deuteronomy 8:18 “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. ”   The purpose of the dispensation of the power to get wealth is to provide the means to administer the covenant. Deuteronomy was written in the context of the Mosaic Covenant. The Lord Jesus, in the parable of the Talents, sought its application in  the New Testament Church. Wealth was given so that the gospel might go forth.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

(Luke 4:18-21)

This passage is the very definition of what the gospel is. The Lord has anointed His servants to propagate the gospel to do seven specific activities, six of which Jesus  cites in His synagogue reading. (More on the seventh in the next installment.)

He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. This is the good news of the cross and the resurrection of Christ. We are all poor in this context, needing a Saviour!!!

He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted. The gospel provides for emotional healing.

He hath sent me to preach deliverance to the captives. The gospel provides for liberty from all addictions due to sin through application of the word of God with power.

He hath sent me to recover the  sight to the blind. The gospel provides for physical healing through both supernatural prayer of faith and by mean of Christ followers using their private property rights to pursue medical treatment.

He hath sent me to set at liberty them that are bruised. We are to advocate for the rights of the oppressed. This is the only provision of the gospel that compels us to directly address the police power of the communities where we live. We are called to advocate for the rights of all who are oppressed. The church of late  has miserably failed in this area, which is sad given that it is the church of Jesus Christ that brought to the world liberty and benevolence ministry. Prior to the gospel, the world was a very harsh place.  This is also the only provision of the gospel that provides for redistribution of wealth through either private means or the police power.

He hath sent me to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. This is simply proclaiming that the grace of God has appeared to all humanity. Grace is available to “whosoever,” and we are saved by grace through faith. This grace has freely available to all men and is manifested through various means. It is also libertarian (unlike modern socialism) as it is not forced on anyone who does not wish to receive it. This grace touches the whole of human experience, spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical (Luke 2:52). As such the people of God are called to minister to the whole human experience, including social and physical; needs. Matthew 25:31-46 gives a summary teaching of the “social gospel.” We know it is a summation of the entirety of the social aspect of the gospel because it is being used here to determine the eternal destiny of individuals. This should not be interpreted as salvation by works or salvation by philanthropy. The Bible repeatedly says salvation is by grace alone (compare Eph 2:8-9 and the book of Galatians). We should see this as a “by their fruits you shall know them” moment. Those who brought their own oil  and have a personal relationship with Christ through faith and have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit will act differently than those who walk by the flesh.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

(Mat 25:31-46)

Notice that this judgment begins by a gathering of the nations. however, this is not a judgment of the collective entity of nations. The reason we know this is that these “shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Nations do not have eternal souls; they are only the matrix of the individual souls that have identified with them. If a nations loses each and every one of its citizens to death or repatriation, its soul ceases to exist.

The judgment is inaugurated by separating the nations into only two groups: this would be sheep and goats that are both composed of individuals who do have eternal souls. This means, that at the moment the books are opened to begin the process, that the individuals being judged were no longer identified with their nationalities within the context of this judgment.  When the Lord convenes judgment  based on how well or poorly people fulfilled their social responsibility,  He judges them as individuals and not as states. In this judgment,  leaders such as Donald Trump will not be judged as the President of the United States or other leadership position but as individuals.  World leaders,  will of course,  answer to God for their actions as leaders (Psalm 2.)  The judgment for these was intentionally hidden in the context of Matthew 25:31-46 because the Biblical mandate for social justice applies to how people use their property rights to minister their wealth and time to the vulnerable; this set of mandates was not intended to apply to the police powers of the world.

 

It is in the context of the compassionate use of private property rights that are to care for the aliens and foreigners in our midst.  Leviticus 19:33-34   was not meant to prevent the use of police power of  communities from protecting their borders from potential threats. It was meant to address how individuals used their property rights to minister to the foreigners in their communities. While this passage does not constrain the United States government,  its moral principles do instruct how the Church should behave

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

(Lev 19:33-34)

We have discussed the compassionate use of private property rights that as a weapon of the Church. It is in the Church that the Lord does the subversive thing of turning private property rights into police power when it is done under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There is, however, a place where we pursue the use of police power in pursuing justice,  which is the topic of the next installment.

 

 

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