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2. Understanding the Government of God

Phil Mills Sr.

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Phil Mills Sr.

Dermatologist in Northern Georgia

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Conference

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  • June 19, 2017
    9:00 AM
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There’s an interesting prophecy in the book of Amos. “For surely I will command and will sift the house of Israel among all nations as grain is sifted in a sift, yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” Amos 9:9

 

After a wheat harvest, the worthless chaff is mixed in with the wheat. As in Biblical times, the farmer throws the grain and chaff into the air and expose both to wind and the lighter chaff would blow away while the heavier wheat will remain. But God used that as an illustration of His method of separating His people from those who are not His people. What are the winds that God uses to sift His people?

 

Paul likens false doctrines to wind. Just as a farmer exposes the wheat and chaff to wind, God exposes the church members to cunningly-devised and promoted false doctrines—the heresies. This separates His true people from false professors. Doctrine is important. Doctrine is what unites believers. Our core beliefs unite us with those who share the same core beliefs. But doctrine not only unites, it also separates. The Bible doctrine of the Sabbath unite Sabbath-keepers but it also separates them from those who do not keep the Sabbath. From the days of the early church, God has used the winds of heresy to sift the chaff out of the wheat and He will do this to the close of probation. God will arouse His people if other means fail. Heresies will come in among them which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. But God has some protections and we want to study these protections today.

 

God has provided His people with two very powerful protections from the winds of false doctrines. The first protection is the Word of God properly studied, for all Scriptures is given for true doctrines. (Dr Walling’s series on How to Study the Bible). The source of heresy is twisting the Word of God. Instead of going into the Bible to find what God says, people go to the Bible to find support for what they believe or want to do, find permission for the sins they love.

 

How do we properly study Scripture? We take all the Scripture with the desire to know God’s will and surrender to do whatever He says. We prayerfully and diligently study, carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture. This is rightly dividing the Word of truth.

 

The second protection from the winds of false doctrines is God’s government. Isaiah tells us, “Behold a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind.” Isaiah 32:1, 2. Because God’s Word and God’s government are such excellent protection, Satan has launched a full-scale attack against both.

 

The government or kingdom of God was of prime concern to Jesus. He taught the kingdom parables. It was the focus of His prayers and He taught His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:13. When God’s will is done in earth as it is in heaven, God’s kingdom has come, for God’s kingdom is doing God’s will as expressed in His Word as it is written. “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89.

 

The government of God is a topic that plays a prominent part in The Great Controversy theme for there is one who rebelled against the government of heaven. We must know the principles of God’s government to build a solid foundation for understanding God’s plan and in matters that are a part of God’s end-time test and even now are wrecking the church in controversy. God is not only the Creator of the animate and inanimate universe; He is also the creator of government. The Bible is very explicit in this. Colossians 1:16 “For by Him were all things created, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” He is not only the Creator of governments. He is the Sovereign of all governments. Romans 13:1 “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. Satan himself is forced to grudgingly acknowledge this.

 

“The principles of God’s government, the only principles that will endure from everlasting to everlasting are to be followed by those who are seeking for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Respect for the eternal principles of God’s government differentiates the servants of God from the servants of the world. The line of demarcation between those who serve God and those who serve Him not is to be kept clear and distinct. The principles of God’s government are codified in the Ten Commandments. God begins the second table of the Ten Commandments detailing how we are to relate to our first human authority, our parents.” MR volume 20, p. 154

 

In God’s eyes is a child of equal value to the parent? Yes!” A child might even be of more value. A story that occurred with Dwight Moody who had gone on an evangelistic series of revival in Iowa. The fruit had not been very great. Someone remarked that he heard that Moody didn’t do well in Iowa. The person said, “Actually we had great success. We had three and a half converts.” The man said, “You must have had three adults and one child.” “No, it was three children and one adult.”

 

Does being under authority diminish our value? No! Though a child is under the authority of his parents, the value of the child does not decrease. This command is far-reaching whether we are parents or children. We are to honour those in authority by deference, respect and obedience. God was the parent of Adam and Eve. Adam was to honour God as head. Eve came out of Adam, so in a limited sense, Adam was Eve’s father and Eve was to honour Adam. This commandment gives us directions for how we are to relate to all human authority in the home, church, school, work or state as Paul applies this in Ephesians.

 

Satan cannot create. He can corrupt and pervert and he attempts to defile all of God’s creation including God’s government. His success in leading people to reject authority and government is one of the defining sins in the last days.

 

Understanding God’s government is not optional for those living at the end of times. We are told that “in order to endure the time before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His Word. They can honour Him only as they have a right conception of His character, His government, His purposes and act in accordance with them.” This statement exposes Satan’s end-time game plan, he is attempting to keep us from understanding the will of God by spreading misinformation about God in three critical areas: His character, His government and His purposes.

 

God is love and genuine love is central to His character, government and purposes. The character of God answers the question of who God is. The government of God answers the question of how God works and understanding His purposes answers the question of why He does what He does or what His motivation is.

 

In this sinful world, civil heads of state do not provide a good model for God’s plan of government. For example, earthly rulers derive their power, their honour and their wealth from the citizens. The bigger the country, the more the citizens, the greater the honour of the ruler. But in the heavenly model, the opposite is true. The citizens derive their power, their honour and their wealth from their Ruler. In sinful civil governments, the citizens protect the head. In God’s government, the head protects the citizens. The covering cherubs are not protecting God from potential assassins. They are not His secret service agents. They are veiling His glory so that He is more accessible to the beings He created.

 

Homes provide a better model for it is from the parents that children derive their legacy, their genetics, their honour and their wealth. It is the parents that protect the child. Godly homes and churches are to follow the heavenly model.

 

“The principles of heaven are to be brought into the government of the home.” Child Guidance, page 143.

 

“Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony shall be represented in His church on earth.” The Desire of Ages, p. 680.

 

There are four leadership principles in God’s government. First, God’s decisions and His commands are never arbitrary. This is the reasonable principle.

 

Second, God rules in a very gentle and mild way and all service for Him is voluntary. This is the deferential servant principle.

 

Third, God grants complete freedom within necessary limits. This is the law principle.

 

Finally, God delegates authority and governs through such delegated authority. He holds his representative strictly accountable for the way they use His delegated authority. This is the accountability counsel principle.

 

1. Let’s begin by examining the reasonable principle. God is reasonable. He opposes arbitrary management and government. The word “arbitrary” is defined as “acting on personal whims or random choices.” Does God ever make decisions on His personal whims or random choices? Did the angels that surround God’s throne wonder if He woke up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning? Did they ever wonder if He is in a bad mood and have to tip toe around? That is never how the angels around God act. His government is based on reason and system and has love at its foundation. However, the reasonableness of God’s commands and restrictions must be accepted by faith as the issue of being arbitrary is a subtle one. Many of God’s loving and reasonable decisions may appear to be arbitrary. It is important to understand this because some argue against some of God’s instructions because to them it may seem to be arbitrary. Simplistic and naïve views of what it means to be arbitrary are not sufficient. Heavenly angels are exceedingly intelligent beings, yet fully one-third of those working directly at the headquarters of God’s government, actually working with God, felt that God was unfair and arbitrary. They still feel this way.

 

We should acknowledge that some of God’s decisions can appear arbitrary. Though God has not once done anything even slightly arbitrary, the charge may appear to be true. It has been difficult for Him to prove that He is not. He could not settle it by simply saying, “I am not arbitrary!”

 

Satan and his angels believe that God’s requirement of implicit, unquestioned obedience is arbitrary and requiring angels to be unthinking robots or deluded slaves. The forbidden fruit, the Sabbath, the law, have all been portrayed as arbitrary. Volume 3, p. 89, “When the appetite of ancient Israel was restricted or when any close requirement was brought to bear upon them, they reflected upon Moses that he was arbitrary, that he wished to rule them and to be altogether a prince over them when he was only an instrument in God’s hand to bring His people into position of submission and obedience to God’s voice.

 

When we have leaders in the church who are faithful to the Lord, they are going to be accused of being arbitrary. It is not different today. We need to be careful not to call God’s order and God’s ways arbitrary. God’s government is reasonable, not arbitrary.

 

2. We need to examine the second leadership principle. The leader exercises his authority in a gentle and mild way. All service is voluntary. In God’s government, leadership is deferential, not demanding. A godly leader respects the preferences of the ones being led and their needs above his own. He defers to their preferences whenever possible. A leader following the heavenly government serves the one he leads. The greatest example of leadership is Jesus who rules in a very gentle, mild way, accepting only voluntary service from His citizens, deferring to our preferences whenever possible.

 

Ellen White says, “Christ’s authority is exercised in wisdom, in all kindness, in gentleness. Wise, kind and gentle authority. Desire of Ages, p. 22: “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government. He desires only the service of love and love cannot be commanded. It cannot be won by force or authority. We have seen the sign that says, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” But that’s not God’s system of government. “Only by love is love awakened.” Although our service for God is voluntary, the Bible makes plain that God does not hesitate to use limited force against His enemies to protect His servants and to restrain and punish evil. Ultimately, His strange act, His compelled act is to use highly directed force to punish and destroy the wicked.

 

In heaven, before sin, Christ exercised His authority with such mild humility that many angels did not even know that He was the Ruler. As Lucifer departed from the order that God had established, he gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone. He presented himself in such a way that the angels in less exalted positions supposed that Lucifer was the ruler of heaven!” This Day with God p. 256.

 

The first complaints then began to be heard in heaven. Lucifer was the cause of every complaint but he carefully collected each one, blaming them on Jesus. When Satan had succeeded in winning many angels to his side, he bypassed his immediate supervisor, the superior Christ and artfully presented these things to God the Father as having come from the angels. He had the temerity to suggest some improvements in God’s government. He also stated that it was the desire of the angels that Lucifer, that is, himself occupy the position that Christ held. Lucifer thought that the condition of the angels needed improvement. He thought there were unnecessary rules and restrictions in heaven. He didn’t think that it was right that angels couldn’t choose their own task and each had his special work assigned him. Because the angels were bright, he believed they could figure things out themselves and should be left free to be more creative and imaginative. He stated that the angels should be trusted more since they would not do something that was harmful or imprudent and declared that the angels should be left free to follow their own will which would ever guide them right. He introduced the competition and rivalry principle in heaven, honouring the few who excel. This would give the opportunity for advancement by achievement rather than by assignment. As disharmony and conflict broke out in heaven, Satan’s way forward to peace was for God to give in to the angels’ demand. His solution, his way of peace was for more of what had caused the problem in the first place.

 

“When he urged that changes be made in the order and laws of God’s government, it was under the pretence that these changes were necessary in order to preserve harmony in heaven.” The Great Controversy, page 497

 

Dear folks, when you hear people pushing certain things to “preserve harmony in the church or preserve harmony in the school, be aware that that was what Satan’s push was, advancing his principles to preserve harmony. These kinds of arguments today are an echo of Satan’s rebellion.

 

Students at Battle Creek College used this argument in 1880 and many times you will hear the same arguments from students today. In 1880, unwise and indulgent administrators granted the demands of the students and temporary peace came but this is always a temporary peace.” 5T 54 

 

Whenever you hear an argument that unity can only be had by changing God’s system of government, God’s plan of Bible order, God’s system—that’s an echo of Lucifer.

 

Proverbs 24:21 “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change.”

 

Rumours were spreading and estrangement between angels were surfacing and God assembled the angelic host to give the only solution for the sin problem then developing in heaven—Jesus. Satan claimed that Jesus was the real problem but God said Jesus was the only solution. In God’s governmental system, Jesus doesn’t just have the solution. Jesus is the solution. God stated what has always been true that Christ, not Lucifer, was the Ruler. God called for the angels to worship Christ.

 

In the first evangelistic altar call that was made by God Himself, He called for the angels to rededicate and to dedicate their lives to Jesus and He had music in the background. It’s an echo of God’s first message on the Lordship to the angels in heaven. The angels prostrated themselves before Him and bowed, voluntarily in total submission and loyalty to His commands.

 

During God’s presentation, Satan experienced conflicting emotions. But when God made His appeal for all the angels to worship Christ, momentarily, Satan was carried along with the music and the Spirit of God was allowed entrance. With the other angels who probably looked to see what he would be doing out of the corner of their eyes, Satan bowed. But that commitment did not last long. Almost immediately the doubts, jealousy and envy returned. He was stung by jealousy that he had not been honoured. He was envious that Christ had been honoured. Envy is well-nigh incurable.

 

“If an attempt be made to convince the envious person of his sin, he becomes even more bitter at the object of his passion and too often he remains incurable. Thus it was with Satan.” 5T 56.  By this time Lucifer was so narcissistic that he was convinced that God’s real purpose in assembling the angels and honouring Christ was to humiliate Lucifer. Lucifer resigned his position as covering cherub. The more Lucifer thought about it, the more angry he became that Christ had been exalted. Seeking revenge, Lucifer reassembled the angelic host to honour and exalt himself. He charged that God’s government had taken a turn for the worse because “an absolute ruler had been appointed them.” Turning truth on its head, he “made it appear that Christ had assumed the place that belonged to himself.

 

At first, because of God’s gentle and mild rule, Satan told the angels that if they stood firm in demanding their rights, “they could yet gain all that they desired.” PP p. 6. When it became clear that this wasn’t going to happen, Satan then claimed that the angels needed to fight for their rights and Satan’s agents follow the same steps today. You can easily observe this in the political and religious arena. Pride seeks honour and recognition for itself. It is sensitive and easily hurt. It begins with the demand for its rights but it progresses to fighting for these rights. And during this tumultuous period in heaven, there were questions that angels asked which God refused just to answer. God is not held hostage to questions. Just as God the Son was silent in the face of false accusation at His trial, so He and His Father were silent in heaven. The rebellious angels tried to ascertain His purpose in exalting Jesus and endowing Him with such unlimited power and command.” EW 146, 147.  

 

There was then, just as there is now, information that God did not make available, even to the angels. God may have declined to answer some questions because the information would have been distracting. In other cases, He may not have given the information because it was above the ability of even the angels to understand. He may also have withheld some information because it would have been misunderstood or misused by the angels. It may have been withheld as a test just like Adam and Eve were tested by the fruit that was withheld in Eden. But for whatever reason, Satan falsely insinuated that God’s government was unresponsive and lacked transparency. He may have insinuated that God didn’t dare answer, was hiding the answers or didn’t even know the answers to some of these questions. We don’t know how long this problem simmered in heaven, but God bore long with Lucifer.

 

At last, God set a time when He would hear Satan’s arguments and render a judgment. This was the first investigative and full judgment in heaven. Standing before the judgment throne, Satan proudly presented his case using his now familiar arguments and threats. After listening to the arguments, God rendered His judgement and “informed Satan that He required all the family in heaven, even Satan to yield Him implicit, unquestioned obedience.” 1 SP 22. This was not a new truth. It was an eternal truth but it was not necessary for God to explain this truth before. However, sin now made it necessary to state what should have been obvious and leave everyone without excuse. Satan believed that heaven’s verdict and sentence were unjust. Satan and his angels were convinced then and believe now that they were the “innocent victims of oppressive power.” GC 499.

 

30:10 “Evil men join evil angels in believing that Jesus is severe and tyrannical.” GC 500 This reveals an interesting pattern of natural process before sin to commanded process after sin. In heaven before sin, Christ’s leadership was so natural, so mild that many angels were not even aware of it. Just like gravity, people live with it without knowing about it. The angels, too, were humble and Christ-like, happy to function in their assigned positions. After sin, rulers, however, became, by turn, autocratic or indulgent and subjects were naturally selfish, critical and complaining. Because of sin it became necessary for God to clearly spell out Christ’s headship position and enforce it. But nothing had changed.

 

Satan declared that God’s explanation of Christ’s eternal headship position was an announcement of something new, a change of rulership which was oppressive and arbitrary. Like it or not, Satan and his angels were still compelled to comply with the demand of Jesus.

 

The history of Job shows us that even now, Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. Some have asked with incredulity that the pre-Fall leadership was so natural as to be almost unnoticed, it could be asked How could the angels not be aware that Jesus was the head since the proper response to His headship is submission, honour and respect. Sin has made such a complete difference that we can scarcely imagine this kind of natural harmony. But we can begin to experience this even now and this is the work of the gospel.

 

“If we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts, so blend our minds and hearts into conformity to His will that when obeying Him, we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service.” DA 668  

 

We can observe the same pattern of change from natural process before sin to commanded process after sin in Eden. Before sin, the law was in the heart and it was as natural for Adam and Eve to obey this as it was for them to breathe. They obeyed without a thought, without a competing desire but this was not true after sin. The Ten Commandments had to be defined. They were no longer in the heart. They had to be placed on stone. Through the gospel and through the finger of God, the Holy Spirit, they were to be re-written in our hearts.  Before sin, relationships were all so natural. Parents would naturally have loved their children, protected them, guided them and children would naturally have honoured and obeyed their parents.  After sin, relationships had to be defined. The wife was submissive to the husband and the child subject to the parent. The husband-father before sin was mild, gentle, thoughtful, humbly serving his wife and children. His wife and the mother was also humble, willingly volunteering to be a servant. What a profound change sin brought. The husband became at times autocratic and at times indulgent, ruling through coercion or bribery. Sin made the wife selfish, resentful, critical, complaining, a mere slave. This helps us to understand God’s law. Paul asked, “What purpose, then, does the law serve?” He then answered his question: “It was added because of transgression.” It was always there but sin made it necessary to be stated. Transgression made it necessary for God’s law to be clarified. We can see the same pattern in the home and church. In the beginning, the head of each family was considered the ruler and priest of his own household. 1 SP 53.

 

Adam, by nature, exercised his delegated headship authority in the mild, humble manner of Christ. Eve, too, was Christ-like, happy to function in the position that God had assigned to her but sin made it necessary to clearly spell out Adam’s leadership role and enforce it. Satan and his sympathizers declare that Adam’s headship and the Ten Commandment law were a change, something introduced after sin, a punishment for sin and they blasphemously declared these eternal principles to be arbitrary and oppressive.  However the gospel changes. As husband and wife become increasingly like Christ, the delegated leadership like the law, become natural again.  To live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God brings peace because it brings Christ’s rule and governmental order. To be apart from His gentle rule brings war. Wherever Christ is not the ruler in the home or society or the church, there is division.

 

An important law in God’s government: Christians don’t fight for their rights.  Jesus explained this to Pilate when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.” Christians would not ever murmur or complain. Christianity is not only about correct doctrine; it is about proper attitude.

 

“The correct interpretation of the Scriptures is not all that God requires.” 1888, p. 45 We’re hearing about the importance of correct interpretation of Scripture. That is important. God requires that but this is not all that He requires. He enjoins upon us that we should not only know the truth but that we should practise the truth as it is in Jesus. We are to bring into our practice in our association with our fellowmen the Spirit of Him who gave us the truth. This is the truth as it is in Jesus.

 

We have looked at two of the principles of God’s government. First, it is never arbitrary though it may be portrayed as such. This is the reasonable principle. Second, authority is exercised in a gentle, mild rule with voluntary service. This is the deferential-servant principle.

 

We must come to the law principle. Complete freedom within necessary limits. God would grant as much liberty as it’s possible for Him to give. This is the law principle. In the universe, there are some things that come out as incompatible with life. God wants us to live but He won’t force life on us. He gives us the freedom to choose eternal life or to choose eternal death. He leaves us free to make this choice. To protect us, He tells us what dangers must be avoided. Like the warning signs posted by Yosemite Falls, God’s Ten Commandments are warning signs for activities that may seem safe may even seem right but they end in death. God delights in our lawful choices. He gives us great latitude to exercise our preference and our judgment. Of the fruit in the Garden, only one was forbidden. All of our gain, save the tithe, is discretionary. All of our time, except the Sabbath, is ours to manage as we see fit. Manna could be prepared in multiple ways but it could be preserved overnight only on Friday. We can marry only one of our choice, as long as they agree to the marriage and the faith. Satan despises these limits that safeguard us from harm. He falsely charges that such obedience is limiting and nothing short of slavery. Satan portrays the wise protection of God’s law as unnecessary and arbitrary. He offers a life without restrictions. He promises happiness and thoughts, words and actions that God forbids but God forbids them only because they bring misery and finally death. Satan seeks to have us become a law unto ourselves. We have looked at the first three leadership principles in God’s government. It is never arbitrary. Rulers are gentle and mild in the exercise of their authority. The law of God’s government is based on as wide a freedom as possible and includes the absolute, and only the absolutely necessary limits.

 

We now come to the final principle. God delegates authority but holds those He has given authority to be accountable for how they exercise that authority—the accountability-counsel principle.  This is sometimes referred to as the headship principle, a word that is interchangeable with leadership. God creates ordered systems and organization. God Himself established the order in heaven. PP 35. God created animals with heads. He didn’t add heads to animals as a concession to the sin problem. At the very cellular level there is even an organizational head found in the nucleolus that directs the cell. A head coordinates and unites the body, binds together all the functional units of an organization so that they can function harmoniously, united in purpose. That is why the head of the home is called the house-band (husband). For those who deny that Adam was the head of the home before sin, the Bible calls Adam Eve’s husband or house-band before sin. Genesis 3:6. The Bible calls the civil head a ruler. Exodus 18:25. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens. The civil head was also called the lawgiver. This is true from the very start. As it is written, “In the beginning the head of each family was considered ruler and priest to his own household. Without a head, an organization quickly dies. To remove the head is to make every part of an organization a law unto itself. Removing the head by giving everyone their own way is well-liked because it removes any restrictions and laws but this has been forbidden. You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.

 

Regardless of whether we are dealing with a pre-sin universe or post-sin universe, God is head. Sin did not change God’s headship. The term Godhead used by Ellen White certainly contains the thought of headship. His headship is a good thing. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings. We do not join the atheists in their attempt to guillotine the universe by removing God but neither do we join the anarchists and antinomianists and spiritualists in their attempt to make each member a head, a law unto himself. If a hand or an eye removes itself from the body, it becomes its own head. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body?” 1 Corinthians 12:15. The Bible reveals God as over all. He is not only high, He is the Most High. He is not only Lord; He is Lord of lords. He is not only King, but King of kings. But if God is the Most High, there must be those who are high. And if He is Lord of lords, there must also be lords. If He is King of kings, there must also be kings. And there are kings. For the Bible shows that the throne of God is itself surrounded by thrones with elders sitting on those thrones and wearing crowns. Before his fall, Lucifer had one of the thrones around God’s throne and sin brought him the covetous thought, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”

 

Furthermore, the Bible clearly teaches the headship of Jesus and what He is today He has always been since the I AM is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the Commander of the army of the Lord. He is the Ruler of His people in the days of Israel. He was the acknowledged head. Just as the body has only one head, the church, the body of Christ has only one head—Jesus. Headship is true before sin when peace and joy and perfect submission to the will of heaven existed throughout the angelic host. 4 SP 316 We don’t know how long this happy state lasted but we are told it lasted for ages before the entrance of sin. 4 SP 316. Though our knowledge of this period is limited, “Lucifer was the covering cherub, the most exalted of the heavenly created beings. He stood nearest the throne of God and was most closely connected and identified with the administration of God’s government, most richly endowed with the glory of His majesty and power.” ST April 28, 1890. Before the fall, God’s government was organized and structured. There was a council where Lucifer was not a member. Understand the value of councils. God the Father is not alone. The highest council in heaven is the Godhead—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is the highest council and one that excluded Lucifer.

 

After this came various angelic councils. Lucifer served as an honoured member of the highest angelic council in heaven. Every head has an associated council in the system of God’s government. Lucifer was not a puppet. When God gave Lucifer a throne, God gave power, authority and command and a council. Before sin, Lucifer gave commands and angels delighted to execute his commands, obeying them with alacrity.” PP 36, 1 SP 18.

 

Lucifer began his work of rebellion with the angels under his command. 1 SM 222. Sin did not change the strict organization in heaven. The desertion and rebellion of a third of the angels required a re-organization of the angels who remained loyal. This was done at the very start of the war in heaven. Those loyal angels were marshalled in companies, each division with a higher commanding angel at its head. Though reconstituted, God’s government had remained the same. His organization, despite Satan’s charges, was not defective and needed no change in its law and its organization. A very simple organizational flow chart in heaven before the fall which showed that God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit…Lucifer, the covering cherub, and then the angelic hosts and then the sons of God in the unfallen worlds. Each head was associated with a council. Heads are not autocratic and independent. They work within councils. There is interaction, input, and united action. This is the heavenly model.

 

In the home we see the same united governmental structure. God’s Word is the standard. The father is CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or president as the house-band (husband) but his major advisor is the wife and mother, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) and in some cases, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer). The houseband-wife team have a parental council so that they can have a united approach when dealing with the children and dealing with the world. Both husband and wife are equally subject to God’s word. The goal of the parental council is understandingly and unitedly follow God’s Word.  If children join the family, the parental council continues but in addition, there is also a family council. This also promotes communication, harmony and unity and the goal is for all in the family to understand and unitedly follow God’s Word. Since we pray that God’s will be done in earth as it is in heaven, the church has a similar governmental structure. There is a church leader with representative members making up the church councils. Neither the leader nor the advisor and representatives are above God’s Word. They are meeting together to better follow God’s Word, to be a united church family. This is how God organized the early church. We see this in the first general conference—the Jerusalem Council found in Acts 15.

 

Ellen White says in AA, p. 190, “There, they were to meet delegates from the different churches and those who would come to Jerusalem to attend the approaching festivals. Meanwhile, all controversy was to cease until a final decision was to be given in general council. This decision was then to be universally accepted by the different churches throughout the country. Was this dictatorial, autocratic, demanding, catholic or against the New Testament? No! This is how our Seventh-Day Adventist Church was organized. Some are saying that this is dictatorial, autocratic, demanding, catholic and against the New Testament. Are those accusations correct? No!

 

God has warned leaders. Listen to this closely: “The greater the responsibilities placed upon the human agent and the larger his opportunities to dictate and control, the more harm he is sure to do if he does not carefully follow the way of the Lord and labour in harmony with the decisions arrived at by the general body of believers in united council.” AA 199.

 

Satan would have changed God’s organizational chart. Ellen White says that “the creation of our world was brought into the councils of heaven. There the covering cherub prepared his request that he should be made prince to govern the world then in prospect.” Isn’t this interesting?  In the councils of heaven, Satan asked to govern this earth. This was not accorded him. Jesus Christ was to rule the earthly kingdom. Under God He engaged to take the world with all its probabilities. Satan’s proposed flow chart was God the Father, then Lucifer, Jesus, the angelic hosts and the sons of God in the unfallen worlds. Practically, however, Satan’s plan put him above God since he was telling God what to do.

 

Beware of those who exalt Christ’s headship alone but will not accept His delegated authority in the church or family. Just as Satan exalted God as having authority alone but rejected Jesus, God the Father’s delegated authority. Though angels are equal in value, they are not identical in personality, gifts or office. For example, some are taller, stronger or smarter just like there are taller, stronger or smarter humans. They each have their own unique collection of talents and personalities. There are different orders of angels. The Bible speaks of cherubim and seraphim. The covering cherub is the highest order. Satan was at the highest order of angels. From The Great Controversy, we discover that the covering cherub is a seraphim. We don’t know the number of covering cherubs but Lucifer was the head of these angels. Gabriel is of this order of angels. Because of his position, Lucifer was more honoured. Lucifer was not more capable than Gabriel though their specific talents and personalities were different. Angels that were given less exalted positions were not necessarily less capable although Lucifer had a brighter glow than other angels. This, like Moses’ glow, reflected his proximity to God and was not something that he inherently possessed. Just as God established order and headship in heaven, God established order and headship on sinless earth at creation.  Though all humans are equal in value, they are not identical in personality, gifts or offices. “He who sets the starry worlds on high and tinted with delicate skills the flowers of the field, who fill the earth and heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worthy of the hand that gave him life. Just as Lucifer’s rulership in heaven was not independent of God, Adam ruled as the vicegerent of Jesus, his head. This is the position of every truly Christian father. Adam was given an equally capable assistant. Adam ruled as king; Eve ruled as queen. Both kings and queens are rulers but in different capacities and in these different capacities, they should be united. As united rulers of the home kingdom, let father and mother show kindness and courtesy to each other. The father is to be the house-band of the family. RH March 13, 1894. This is his position and if he is a Christian, he will maintain family government. In every respect, his authority is to be recognized.

 

Some have asked, “Why would Eve need Adam as her head since both had the same perfection of character and mind?” This question is troubling because it is the essence of a question Satan raised: “Why did angelic beings created with perfection of character and mind need a head?” Satan’s implication was that headship for angels was unnecessary but leadership is a good thing, a necessary thing, which is why God created it in this way. Even perfect organizations need heads.

 

Furthermore, the same question could be asked God after the fall. “Why would modern Eves need Adams as the head today since they both have the same imperfection of character and mind?” Again, the answer is the same: because leadership is a good thing. It’s not an unnecessary evil. It’s a necessary good. The father has no more value than the mother or the child but he has been assigned the responsibility to unite them, care for them, and protect them in God’s stead. God’s governmental model is true in the church. The gospel minister is not of more value than the janitor or the cradle roll Sabbath School leader but the church, under the direction of God, assigns a man who meets the Bible qualification with the responsibility to unite the church, care for the members and protect them in God’s stead. But the leader must be blameless. Then Paul goes on to list what will bring blame to a leader: multiple wives, intemperance, disordered homes. A well-ordered home gives training for leadership in a well-ordered church. In the church, there are head elders and head deacons and head deaconesses. The early Adventists rightly call this Bible order.

 

We live in a society where God’s principles of government are under attack in the home, church and nation. We live in a society that is seeking to obliterate the gender distinctions that God created between men and women in dress and activity. This is a direct attack on God’s governmental order as it is direct in promoting Sunday-keeping. Culture is boldly attempting to remove every trace of God’s creation order in the Sabbath, in the home and in the church. When the church removes God’s distinction between men and women and the distinction between the role of men and women, it joins Satan in his attack on the government of God and the church assists in preparing the way for the removal of distinctions between male and female even in marriage. But God has a system of government and God will have a people who are in harmony with His system of government, His laws, His leadership. His people will have peace in their hearts, peace in their homes and peace in their church. And this is part of God’s preparation for the end time. The principles of God’s government, the only principles that will endure from everlasting to everlasting are to be followed by those who are seeking for entrance into the kingdom of God. The four principles of God’s government:

1. His system is never arbitrary.

2. All His leaders are like Him, gentle, with a mild rule and voluntary, never forced service.

3. He offers complete freedom within necessary limits.

4. All leadership is but delegated authority from the Leader, God.

 

It is not enough for us to notice God’s principles intellectually. “It is not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed in the nature of His kingdom. What they needed was a change of heart that would bring them into harmony with its principles. This change of heart alone will prepare God’s people for Satan’s end-time attack on the government of God. For in order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word. They can honour Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government and purposes and act in accordance with them.” DA 457

 

Do you want to be part of that government? Do you want to have the peace of heaven in your heart, extending into your home and throughout your church? That’s what I want and I know that’s what you want. And let’s pray that God brings that into our lives and from our lives the peace of heaven flows out like it flowed out from Jesus and like He told His disciples, When you enter into a home, say, “Peace be to this house.” Jesus wants to enter into our homes and say, “Peace.” He wants to enter into our churches and say, “Peace.” He wants to take the storms of life and He wants to say, “Peace be still just as He did long ago when He walked this earth, showing what He wants to do with us today. And if you want to join me in that desire for Jesus to bring us His peace, bow your heads with me in prayer.

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