The Vandals were a numerous and powerful nation among the barbarians that lived on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. They possessed central and eastern portions of what we now call modern Prussia and Germany. They had asked initially to come across the Danube to come into Germany into the areas that Constantine still ruled. He consented. They were asking for protection, for the Huns, back in Russia were approaching, making their way over the years closer and closer to Europe. The Vandals asked and they received the right to take up residence in the empire and that was fine for a while. The Roman officials and Romans as a people began to take advantage of them you see; the Vandals were in part, disarmed by the Romans as one of the stipulations. Roman administrators misused the men, their women, and children, embittering the Vandals. Men like Ambrose of Milan inveighed against it. Augustine raised his pen blasting politicos, who by their administrations would misuse the “barbarians” as they were called. He warned that bitterness and strife would result… for you don’t touch a man’s family, without incurring wrath and bitterness. The same thing was being done to the Goths who also were afraid of the Huns. They came to another area of the empire, until finally, for all the warning of men like Ambrose and Augustine, it finally erupted. 406 the great mass of the Vandals, the Alan and the Suevi, poured over the Rhine River and ravaged Gall, modern day France. They had had it with the Romans. Alaric in 410 savaged Rome and Rome was sacked. His statement was “I am not at war with the Apostles, but I am very much at war with Rome.” These are bitter individuals. They were not barbarians in the sense that they ran around in jungles drinking blood out of skulls. They were actually somewhat civilized. They didn’t have much in the way of assets, hence they didn’t erect much in the way of cities, but they knew how to plunder them.
The Vandals entered Spain 100,000 strong, and they received a ready welcome. Rome had so heavily taxed its people into oblivion that many ran to the Vandals for refuge. Again Augustine was writing concerning the administration of corruption, condemning what was going on, all the while, writing that ‘we are buying a whirlwind in this generation’. His counsels were left unheeded. The Vandals had savaged and devastated Gall, and took up their residence in Spain, and behind them were the Visigoths. When they poured into Spain the Vandals, being smaller in numbers, went to North Africa. Ambrose had written and said ‘we’ve lost the peace Christianity brought to the empire. From the days of Nicaea in 325 until Theodosius we HAD OPPORTUNITY to ERECT something Grand. And what is it now?’ It was a citadel of Corruption. St Augustine wrote that very thing, said what is church doing now… repairing to Hermits. “We had an empire bequeathed to us by our God”, he wrote, and now this infatuation with running off into the desert and wilderness….the hermit movement… instead of repenting and erecting what pleases God. Now all men draw their swords, and blood has again begun to flow.
The Christian Salvian, on the Government of God (1930), addressed himself to the same problem. Augustine’s City of God raised, which was the hope of regeneration. Could we have a city to be resurrected in the debris of even the barbarians? Heroics’ history against the pagans raised the questions, how could the evils of the barbarian invasion be reconciled in the divine presence of our God? His answer…we deserve this. We were given a great citadel, a temple as it were; a whole empire was taken without the sword. Our charities, our preaching, our churches became the government. The Roman Empire fell to an invader, the Christian Church, and without bloodshed, except ours, we took that empire. We had it given to us as a gift, and he concluded, we deserve the barbarians having become like them, even in the churches.
When the Vandal chief, Genseric, captured the so called “Christian” city of Carthage, he was appalled. There was a brothel on every corner. He shut them down, and told the prostitutes, get married or get out. That’s what a barbarian did. The Christians couldn’t do that… They couldn’t go back to the law of God and implement it, a barbarian did it. Get married or get out, and then he burned the brothels. He was appalled that this was even considered a Christian city.
As Augustine said, the church has lost all moral valor. Capture that phrase. You don’t hear much about, forgive me, valor. Moral Valor. Moral valor is the key part of that thing we call invisible Social Capital. Something that is of such worth…there is your invisible social capital, that creates the resolve, the Moral Valor to Stand. Augustine lamented the loss of Moral Valor and the barbarians swept city after city.
One city in Africa was laid siege for 14 months. People resisted. There was one aged minister who stood on the ramparts encouraging and became the leadership of the city as they resisted the cruelties of his particular ravaging horde. He was in his 70’s. Bad health had by this time seeped into his very being, nonetheless he was on the ramparts and went about them encouraging the soldiers to stand fast for their city and as a result the city was temporarily spared. However, during that 14 month siege which lasted from 429-430, amidst of which would be August of 430, that great minister perished in the flames. St Augustine died as a result of that day. He saw the storm coming, he preached about and wept as he wrote of the church and finally as they came upon the city he was found among the ramparts fighting, leading his people. He wasn’t just a writer. He drew the sword and led his people to resist against the cruelties of the barbarians. St Augustine died August 27th, in the year 430, standing for that for which he had always stood; the moral valor of a great man. His testimony was, “we deserve the barbarians”.
Understand the whys and the wherefores of that great loss. In chapter 4 of Romans we studied the imputation of Righteousness. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for Righteousness .In an age that knows very little of a justifying faith in Jesus Christ, believe you me; most of Christendom does not use the phrase of the historic gospel. It is one of the missing in their conversation. Listen carefully to the conversation of your brethren, your friends. Dig more deeply into the state of the soul of the church. There are certain phrases that should be there. A justifying faith in Jesus Christ is in fact the Gospel.
Chapter 4 of Romans discusses imputation of Righteousness. In Chapter 5 we studied that great calling of the sons of Adam. It was the call of Adam to lead his posterity in harmony and unity to erect a world civilization, whereby God’s will was visibly pronounced and visibly lived. But as you’ve heard me say, the glass was cracked at the beginning. In Adam’s fall…we sinned all. Through our covenant head on through the generations, the unity was broken. In other words, in imputing unrighteousness (sin to all of us) that means we are part of the human race designed for the harmonious calling, which is the union to build something to Christ. That is why we are here. No man is truly an island. The reason we are reckoned in Adam is that we are united in Adam in a common call. However, that covenant of works has been breeched. The whole thing was designed as a union. You and I were not conceived in the mind of God apart from that union with the entire human race. And…the race fell.
However, in Romans 5 there is the 2nd Adam, and the united body of the church, His Elect. They are now called to restore what Adam lost. So there is the loss of righteousness, and there is the union that will regain it. That is Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 is the yielding unto Righteousness. In verse 5 we find the key in the theology. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we should also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” That, dear brethren, is not something in the future. Yes, we will die and resurrect again in heaven, however, even as our Lord died and resurrected in this life, so the empowerment thereto, is reckoned to us. There is a dying to sin. There is a walking in the glory of God, which is the power of His resurrection as stated in Scripture.
And of course in verse 6 you see the reason for it. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin”. The key to this chapter is to understand, now that we’re in Christ, (Chapter 4,) and now that we are assured that we are part of a greater body, (Chapter 5,) now it is the calling of each one of us to serve not sin, for he that is dead is free from sin in that Christ will cause you to mourn over your sins, will indeed govern and chasten, teach and instruct unto repentance, so that you die daily unto sin, but rather hat you might have life unto Righteousness. That becomes both the theology and the practicum of the Christian Faith.
Note Verse 9. Unfortunately theologians stop with the process and the on going sanctification, which is the doctrine we are talking about. You can get Reformed theologians speaking of it all the time, but they don’t go on. In Chapter 6 verse 9, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” DOMINION… There’s a word we need to capture in our theology.
Paul is not interested in simply making a better you or me. That is not the summum bonum. What is that philosophically? That’s the ultimate. What is the Ultimate? It’s the greatest good in life. All the philosophers stop there with the phrase, and they think that because they’ve stated a phrase, albeit in the Latin, they’ve accomplished something and all too often we as Reformed think we’ve accomplished something because we’ve said the glory of God is the highest good. What have we accomplished? We’ve left it very mystical. The greatest good portrayed in Scripture, certainly in this book, is Righteousness. But Righteousness is carefully defined as a way of life. It is a world view. Not just for one person for if we stay with one person we won’t get very far. But, unite them in a body of people, which is what the church is supposed to be! Every congregation is given the calling to teach its people how to work in a united manner to bring about Righteousness. We’re back to this issue of disunion of a people.
Christ died that there would be no more dominion of sin and death. Read verse 10. “For in that he died he died into sin once.” How does he live unto God is the question and that is answered for us elsewhere. He mediates the body of His people. He raises them up. When the enemy comes in like a flood, we’re told in Scripture the Spirit of the Lord raised up a standard against them. That standard is a united people. How is it that Christ lives unto God to Glorify His Father? He told us that when he was here. “ I do always those things of my Father”. He Is the one that Does and Merits…We don’t in our theology merit… He does. He has earned the right to work on behalf of his Father; therefore he now compels that in us. Show me your faith without your works…I will show you what????? I’ll show you imputation of Christ’s Righteousness into the soul of a Christian whereby he is driven to perfect a work on earth. He will never obtain perfection. But the impulse to ever grow, the thirst for righteousness, we’re told in the beatitudes, will be given you!
You and I will struggle, (Chapter 7 of Romans) with the sin, that old man within us. We will never have full victory, but we are given the thirst for it, and the impulse toward it. We’re given the high standard of it, and will ever cry unto our God that it be obtained, and when it’s not, we will grieve for its loss and mourn. When it’s not having dominion within us we will be given a mourning even when we like our sins, when we enjoy them, the spirit of God will bring a mourning to our soul, and a chastisement upon us. He will show us the heinous nature of our own sinfulness and show us our weaknesses.
In the Book of the Revelation, one of the characteristics of the unregenerate is that they are afraid. It is the fearful of the abominable, the idolater. The book of the Revelation says they will be cast into eternal hell, the lake of fire. Afraid of what? Afraid to live. Afraid of decision making. More especially, fearful of handling evil and defeating it.
There is a moral valor that faces life. There is an invisible social capital that captures the world through your soul. You are the capital. You capitalize through your character, your worldview, and your faith. You will blueprint, as Augustine did.
Look at Augustine for a moment. He literally took the blueprint from his mind and put it on paper; The City of God, and for 1000 years, the faithful saw that blueprint. It shook Calvin, and brought him to his knees before God. The faith of a man that got it articulated on paper and that is a labor; especially that work. The City of God changed history.
The medieval scholastics didn’t want anything to do with Augustine. They will laud in the one hand Augustine, but they did not want his vision of victory which required a faith in Jesus Christ and the opening of the Word of God to the nations. Augustine blueprinted it. That is Social Capital. His character discerned the virtues, the tools necessary, and put it on paper. He had the moral valor of his convictions; he even died in battle fighting for his neighbor and his city. He was 76 years old when he pulled the sword on the ramparts in the City of Hippo, and while he was alive, they staved off the barbarians. Gaiseric, that very same band I told you about, left the siege. The heroism was so great. But in the siege the men responsible for uniting them, died. And the city of Hippo quit and Gaiseric came back and ruined it. The city seemed hinged on the moral valor of one faithful Christian whose resolve raised the trumpet, pulled the sword. Everybody knew his reputation around the world. Even Gaiseric was afraid to attack the city where Augustine lived. The moral valor of the discernments and character stood in the rampart and he literally fought the barbarians to a standstill.
God removed Augustine, and the Christianity of the city of Hippo was judged. That’s social capital. It is invisible. The one thing you can’t lose in life and civilization is the invisible. I say invisible, because it is in the soul. It’s in the instruction of the churches. It’s that hidden quality that differentiates preaching from a mere oratorical display. Something occurs during a sermon that is promised in God’s word. That is the invisible social capital.
Think about what God did with our congregation years ago. We were up against these treaties. That is the Government they are bringing upon us. Four of them were stopped by your church 10 years ago. One was very close to being passed. It was the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They would have had the right to seize your children and dictate terms. They had all the signatures of the most prestigious medical people around the country and it was stopped. The Wall street journal tried to figure out who it was that stopped it. They found out. One little church, because God simply and defiantly stuck a church there and boldly mocked the heathen. The weakness of God is stronger than men. Let our president elect parade out there like he’s a god in Chicago… of all places… to parade in a sewer. Let him have his parade…there is a moral value that distinguishes a church’s unity, resolve and call. There is a courage that faces wickedness and defangs it. There are the prayers of the united counsels and the prayers of the people who will not yield their members to unrighteousness.
Romans Chapter 6:19 says “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” God knows our natural infirmities. He knows we are weak, even frightened. He knows what we face, come Monday morning. Yes it’s great to hear about victory on Sunday, but on Monday morning we face the week. That is the natural infirmity of our flesh. The Lord knows that. Nonetheless Paul speaks and he speaks in verse 13, “Neither yield ye your members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness unto God.” There is a yielding our member to Righteousness: Our minds, thoughts, and our homes. That yielding to righteousness you will see as we move into the chapters ahead. We’ll begin to carve out churches but we have to un-yield to sin.
Some years ago, the late Hans Senholz wrote a very simple pamphlet. He designed it hat way in order to get across one point. The name of it was called “Two Standards of Morality”. It is not very deeply written and that was purposeful, but boy does it hit home. He says…
“Two standards of morality, in our personal relations we try to be careful, thoughtful, courteous and judicious. We may assist each other in many ways and be Good Samaritans, aiding people in need. In our political lives we often tear each other apart like wild beasts. We attack incessantly and seize other people’s income and property without remorse. Indeed, there seems to be two modes of behavior, two stands of morality: one for our personal relations and one for the body politic. ..When death comes to our neighbor, we may weep with the widow and her children. We honor the dead and comfort the living. We deem it our special duty that, if they need our help, we give it out the utmost of our ability and our power. But as members of the body politic we dispatch our estate sleuths and collectors to seize most of their belongings. For many years we expropriated as much as 77 percent of their possessions in inheritance were taxed. Through the Federal Internal Revenue Service; at the present we seize only 55 percent. We grab various percentages through our state revenue departments.”
“As members of a political party, professional association, or a labor union, we seek our own good at the whole world’s expense. We act like hungry tiger in our own cause, preying on widows and orphans, women and children and various minorities by majority vote. We plunge into politics to make our fortune. We join an association to fight for license and privilege, and sign up with a labor union in order to earn more and work less. In a labor dispute, we may man a picket line and use brute force against fellow workers, employers and their customers.”
“The difference between personal and political lives is clearly visible in the behavior of a teamster who, as a faithful member of his congregation, attends mass on a Sunday and, as a member of Local 1678, blocks traffic on Monday, throws bricks at passing trucks and slashes the tires of scab automobiles. Similarly, the organized steelworkers, longshoreman, bus driver or coal miner may attend church on Sunday, but waylay independent works on Monday. The hospital worker may care for the sick throughout most of the year, but desert them at bargaining time.”
“Most businessmen belong to the same church or synagogue as their workers. In their personal lives they may be merry and wise, honest and true. They may be tolerant and benevolent, devoting a large portion of their income for charitable ends. But many also are skilled in the use of political force. While they are putting one dollar on the plate of charity, they are taking two from the coffers of politics. They vote for every conceivable restriction on the business activities of their competitors; they vote to reap benefits at the expense of others. The managers and stockholders of a steel company, for instance, favor import restrictions which will benefit them at the expense of consumers. They personally may not resort to vandalism and violence, as their workers are prone to do, but they may persuade their politicians to impose the restrains which are enforced by the arms of government: the courts and police. Crossing a picket line of angry steelworks may expose you to violence; violating a business restriction may incite the wrath of a judge who may fine you and send you to prison.”
“Many professional people frequent the places of worship. They can be seen in cathedrals, temples and synagogues paying homage and singing praises to the Creator. Many are inspired to render important services to their fellowmen, attending to the sick and poor and giving assistance to all who seek it. Yet professional people, just like others, are tempted to use the instruments of politics to pilfer and purloin. Just like electricians, mechanics and plumbers, they long for permits and licenses which restrict entrance to their profession and allow the members to charge higher honoraria for less work.”
“Doctors, dentists, lawyer, electricians and plumber, all plead for license restriction in order to weed out imposters and incompetents. They wax eloquent about “quality control.” In reality, they bring about the very opposite. The sole guard and guarantor of quality is competition. It forces individuals to compete in the rendition of services, which rewards the able and diligent and penalizes the incompetent and lazy. Wherever competition is replaced by license and permit, the quality of service is bound to decline, and damage is done to people.”
“Every entitlement license or permit is a legal right to lay hands of someone else’s income, every new call for more benefits is a call for someone else’s dispossession.”
I would submit to you, that yielding our members, instruments of unrighteousness, includes consideration of self in the body politic.
We have people in this congregation who could lose their homes because someone else simply wants it. I’m sure many of those same people go to church…Praise be to Jesus…Forgive me for sounding sarcastic, for I certainly do not mean to be irreverent, but I am angry with those hypocrites who praise Christ as Saint James tells us and then mock him as they curse their neighbor. James was indignant.
There is a law of invisible social capital. Let me illustrate by contrast, what we mean by invisible social capital.
PT Bower, in a famous study of poor nations, concluded that economic progress (he was studying one thing, economic progress) and what is it in character that stopped or slowed down that progress?? He said that economic progress depends far more on human abilities and attitudes than it ever does on assets and money. Social and political institutions, values, heritage, are far more important, he concluded, than material factors However, there were certain attitudes, or characteristics of soul and habit, that created economic stagnation. Here’s the list. In other words…here’s now you can remain poor.
Resignation: that quality of the soul that acquiesces unresisting to whatever happens. In other words, Que sera-sera, what ever will be will be. Well it’s happened. Nothing I can do about it. Resignation is the opposite of moral valor. Moral valor beards the lion. Resignation is an economic issue that acquiesces to events. It throws his hands up and says... “What can I do??”
Disinterest in material goods. Isn’t it interesting that God has put us in a material world? John Calvin broke with the historic church’s position on material goods. That is why he is called the father of free enterprise. Going back to the law of God he saw what God was doing with material goods was measuring progress of the soul. That doesn’t mean the more successful the more moral or righteous you are, he was careful not to draw that conclusion. It would be an easy one to draw. No he is not saying that. He was saying you can measure your walk by your stewardship.
How do you handle time for example? How do you handle idleness? It is always been part of the Christian faith Old and New Testament alike to deal with this destruction of social capital we call idleness. Do you realize the Christian faith has shaken the world in a number of areas in the area of time orientation? We changed the world. No other worldview took the concept of time and made it a commodity usable to your stewardship. No one!
Peter L Bernstein, in his book called Against the Gods, writes, “As Christianity spread across the western world the will of a single God emerged as the orienting guide to the future, replacing the miscellany of deities people had worshiped since the beginning of time. This brought a major shift in perception: the future of life on earth remained a mystery, but it was now prescribed by a power whose intentions and standards were clear to all who took the time to learn them. As contemplation of the future became a matter of moral behavior and faith, the future no longer appeared quite as inscrutable as it had.”
Time became an issue of quality of life and faith. Social capital.
Lack of Self Reliance: Lack of ability to trust ones self to assess the world around and decide: The refusal to handle decisions. I’m of the opinion that young men, cultured in Christian homes often are taught by men who will not make decisions. They are taught by men with a lack of self reliance. We’re not sure! And not being sure we cut off and truncate results.
There is a moral valor that goes on to decide. Augustine didn’t lack it. He wrote a book, many books in fact. He took on the heaviest duty when it came to theological discourse. He went on and confronted the heretics of the age. He confronted the Emperors. He wrote concerning the corruptions, and then when time came at the end of his life, standing at the actual field of battle, realizing that for all of his writing, Christendom has come to this…he stood there with his neighbors and rallied them against the barbarians who could not take the gates because of the leadership of an aged 76 year old theologian. He was not lacking in moral valor or the ability to make a decision.
Self reliance is a function of your union with Christ. Decide and go with it. Sin boldly as Luther once said. He didn’t mean to sin… he meant sin boldly because he realized that if you don’t go ahead, you have sinned already, and you’ve given the field to the devil.
We need men of courage. We need men with self reliance. Men who are humble on one hand, and understand their flaws and failures and on the other hand they are gutsy enough to face the wicked. And gentlemen if you make mistakes…water off a ducks back…. You know when a man stands alive on a battlefield; there are a lot of naysayers on the stands who didn’t come out. I used to wonder about that when I played football. Everybody talked to you about the game on Friday. Everybody was a backstreet driver from the stands. I finally told one fellow I grew up with…Join us in practice…Do it better, Mike!
You know when men are on a battlefield they are going to make mistakes. Gentlemen, you will make mistakes. You must stop being afraid of them. Respect them, but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You’re going to make whoppers when it comes to bad decision making.
You ladies can strengthen the resolve of your husbands unto this end. A good woman puts steel in a man’s heart, and keeps charity tender in his soul. But we need that kind of strength now, for the barbarians own the gates. Cut and run is not given to us. Augustine didn’t do it… He had the opportunity by the way. He had a patron…several… who offered to get him out of Hippo. His reply was “I have spent my whole life rising up a people to stand…I am staying.” He could have bolted. And you know what? Gaiseric would have spared him. Like Valerick, Gaiseric was not at war with the Apostles…he was at war with Rome. He had almost a mystical superstition concerning Augustine. And when he knew that man was leading them on the gates, Gaiseric stopped and withdrew! Imagine that! Barbarians at the gates! They’re used to pillaging and plundering. They come to a city with a 76 year old man who has a reputation, and is standing there leading the resistance and the barbarians bolt. When they found out by intelligence that Augustine had died, they attacked. They saw no more moral fiber in the people there who could rally behind Augustine, but couldn’t learn from him.
We have a lot of people reaching for their guns. I’m all for the 2nd amendment. Those of you who have known me for these 30 years know that. But I’m not for that kind of a solution in the face of this evil, and neither was Augustine…not yet anyway.
High preference fore leisure. As Augustine and others wrote, while Rome was losing her provinces, Gall went to the Franks…Spain to the Visigoths; the Huns had taken Eastern Europe, Illyricum, Moesia, Dacia and down into Greece. The Vandals took North Africa, as it turned out. So while the Barbarians took all the provinces, Rome laughed and played. High preference for leisure is one of those characteristics that destroy social capital.
Go to First Timothy Chapter 5. The Apostle Paul, in establishing the boundaries of charity for widows called for in the law of God, writes in verse 9 “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,” verse10 “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work”. That does not mean she has to have done all these things…these are characteristics of somebody with that invisible social capital. We’re not dealing here with single women grown into upper age, but note, those who would be taken into charity lists of the church are those who are noted for a lifetime of good works. Those who have attempted to demonstrate faithfulness in their ethic. And now unable… do need the substance and strength. But the younger widows…refuse…When they begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry, having condemnation because they cast off their first faith. Boy if ever there was a blow to this issue of discrimination. There we go. Paul is discriminating. Listen to verse 1 Timothy 5:13 “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”
I just spoke with an individual this very week, describing another woman who specifically entered into marriage so to shred the assets of the man she married. She married to legally hook his assets. The woman had married just to shred this man in a divorce. That is the kind of character Paul is dealing with here. With all they married…There are those women just to sit back and have life easy. They won’t work. The churches are full of them. They marry so they can sit and watch soap operas or whatever else is on the tube. No they don’t shred their husbands necessarily, they just don’t contribute. There is not the Social Capital to building the home. I’ve counseled that many dozens of times. And withal they marry, being idle. It’s a loss of Social Capital. The home is being disenfranchised.
Going onto I Timothy 5: 14, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” I Timothy 5:15 “For some are already turned aside after Satan.”
We’ve just described Satan and idleness. Build your homes ladies. I know those sitting here know how to do that. I know your testimonies. Continue to bear good testimony. You young ladies, follow your moms. Don’t fall under the snare of Satan whereby you marry to have an easy life. It doesn’t work that way in life. You will destroy. That is the destruction of invisible social capital. Learn to build a life. When you build the home you are learning in many containers… your little laboratory on how to build a civilization. It takes moral valor to do that. It takes moral valor to get up out of bed and face the problems and decide… And if you make a mistake, remember it is water off a ducks back. .Decide and move on. Yielding your members as instruments of Righteousness means repenting much of what we just described.
Let’s take a look at yet another area Paul speaks of. I Thessalonians Chapter 4:7-8. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.”
Note by the way that the presence of Christian brotherly love is axiomatic. It’s one of the signs you have a regenerate heart. Paul says I don’t need to write too much…I might have to write on how to do it better, but I don’t have to write about the presence of such love. If you are Christian, it’s there. If you are not, it won’t be. The social capital will be there. You will demonstrate that love toward others. But note what he says verse 10-11. “And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”
We’re not given to violence or revolution. We are not radicals seeking to overthrow the world. We don’t react in a fury. Others will. Buying guns is sending a loud signal and I’m afraid. We don’t react that way, and kick start the violence machine because there is a portents of it on the horizon. Study to be quiet…Do your own business… Work with your own hands as he has commanded you….Walk honestly. That is invisible social capital.
By the way, in Chapter 4 again, at verse 11 is the moral valor. You study to be quiet….STUDY! What does that mean? What are you studying? Study your heart which has the propensity of your soul to react in a matter that would just lop off the next guy that confronts you. Study your tongue. Study the waywardness of the soul. Study the bitterness that can so easily grip you and produce gall in the soul. Study it carefully and overcome it. Put that viper called the tongue back in the mouth and keep him there. When someone does do you ill, he urges us to study to be quiet. Learn to handle it right.
Do your own business. That takes moral valor. And you might fail, especially in this economy. Still it takes moral valor. Just to decide to go on ahead and do it, doing your business, takes courage. When it looks like the whole society could burn down, it takes moral valor to erect it. Work with your own hands as we commanded you. Now here’s moral value. Walk honestly toward those that are without. It takes courage not to participate in the body politic where people go to church and then they tear one another apart like beasts.
In our political lives we often tear each other apart like wild beasts. We attack incessantly and seize other people’s income and property without remorse. We might be very charitable on the one hand and we turn around and dispossess others with laws. Those who do it, by and large, are church people.
How about oath taking? We have a whole plethora, a multitude of judges, who are automatically disqualified. But who insists? Most judges have not taken their oath because it makes them liable to the constitution they know they are defrauding. But a covenantal people won’t let them get away with that. And that is just one aspect of oath taking.
This issue of Invisible Social Capital needs moral valor to carry it forward. Every one of the virtues we hold dear takes courage to implement because as a virtue, it is up against its opposite, utter evil. And if virtue is cultured in the soul by God, not first to make a better you, but rather to make the church stronger, like Augustine on the walls at Hippo, it takes courage to be virtuous for others. That is the real doctrine of sanctification. The rest is mere commentary.
There are so many others here but do understand the issue of righteousness includes a faith. Yes, it blueprints, but maybe I’ve been remiss in leaving out one thing about faith and virtue and you’ve heard it said, Moral Valor. Using your members as instruments takes moral valor and discernment. As Paul says in this very same chapter…IF YOU”RE FREE FROM SIN YOU”RE A SERVANT TO RIGHTEOUSS. There is a whole way of life we have lost in America.
Wouldn’t it be something if we were to recover just this aspect of Righteousness? Let’s go back and grab what worked once. Not even adding discernments to future and building and progress and all that, let’s just grab what was once in America’s churches and just reinstitute just that much. We have plenty of works, plenty of histories archived that can tell us what was believed back then. Let’s just grab that much and put it in place. Do you think we’ll get a fight from our enemies? It’ll take moral valor to do just that much. And God isn’t calling us to do just that much, but at least that much is known.
How about if God takes that much and says “I’m going to add to it. I’m going to force discernment upon my wife and our children that they must take and build greater than what was once overturned by Me and the wicked” It’ll take a gutsy Christian to do that. It’ll take a discerning church to do that. And the union unto that end begins right here.
You cannot take on this enemy by your lonesome. God will not allow it. Your calling is given to you as a union, as a united people in your counsels. You have a church….again… a church that, and I know it sounds silly, but when I preach sometimes, let’s say about longevity, and I mention a young man beimg 100 years old! That seems far fetched. I speak of a Reformation that will sweep the globe, and that sounds far fetched. Alright I’ll concede that’s far fetched, for a moment. Here’s the call. That one church… One… just one, can show the power of God within Her to lead others, and knock the block off this evil. Remember, there was just one Augustine. Just one Ambrose of Milan. One church at Milan was the outstanding resistance point of the entirety of the middle ages. Do you realize it was one pastor, Ambrose, teaching well a generation, and that generation carried unto the next and the next all through the middle ages down to the Reformation in 1517? That would be 1200 years. But when you look at the men who stood up, they were direct theological descendants of the great pastor of Milan. One church.
When the Indians attacked in the King Phillips War, ravaging the countryside, the pastors had for a decade warned the puritans, “you’re the 2nd generation and you’re losing the great love your 1st generation had. God will bring a sword upon you. Beware.” Well the Indians ambushed the entirely of Massachusetts, right in the middle of it stood one church, kind of out in the wilderness area. There was a town there, not much else, and the Indians’ testimony was they could not take that church or that town, because the Great Spirit was there. “The pastor he preach much”. We’re not sure if that meant he couldn’t stop talking or if they were just afraid of the preaching, but it really doesn’t matter. They didn’t take the town… not because they attacked and failed, but because they were afraid to attack it. They were scared to death to attack a town. Now you talk about far fetched. Here’s far fetched. Your enemies won’t touch you. That Christ will be a shield and will mock them. That one church can lead in your united counsels against all evil. Perhaps for this day (as we say about Ester) you were born. We say those things, and Ester performed. Now it’s our turn. That is Moral Valor.
Will you make mistakes? Of course you will. It’s given to you as a church to act, first by deciding to be a church. And we need men of resolve. You young men, we need you. We don’t need gun totting men. That may come, God forbid; it may come to that, so hang onto your weapons. But what we need in all ages are men of resolve with their wives helping to provide the steel and discernment and the strength of character. That is the way God made a wife; he made her for courage as well as kindness.
So from now on in, when you look at Romans 6, think of the law of invisible social capital, because when God invests in you, when you yield your members to Righteousness, you become a servant of Righteousness, meaning there is a moral valor necessary to stand and not yield your instruments to ungodliness. Most will take the chapter yielding to ungodliness as personal ungodliness. It is both. You can’t love your neighbor and be unkind. You can’t go to church on Sunday and turn around block traffic, throw bricks and slash tires as a union person on Monday and call yourself a Christian. That is just a gross example.
There are two standards of morality even in the church today. We need to repent, so the one will triumph: The Law of God, unto Righteousness. Yield therefore your members as instruments of Righteousness. If you be dead to sin you are DOULOS, a slave of another civilization, and her King.
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