Sunday, October 28, 2012

City of God Is Not the City of Man

AS AUGUSTINE WROTE IN HIS BOOK, The City of God, there are two cities, the city of man and the city of God. The city of man, being the product of his pride and rebellion against God, reflects man’s dreams, earthly hopes, and values. This is an earthly city, a city of this age and Satan’s world system. It is temporal and fundamentally opposed to God and ultimately ruinous to man. There is another city, however, “with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). This is the city of God with God’s values, plan of salvation, and one that endures forever. At the center of this city is the cross or the person and work of Christ who died for our sin. Here is a city that can change the people of the city of man and add stability to their society because of the new life and values that are a part of the city of God. The citizens of the city of God have new life, are a part of an unseen spiritual world, and have their sights set on eternal values. Concerning Augustine’s city of man, Lutzer writes: Augustine did not mean that the city of man is destitute of all civil righteousness and justice. Yes, pagans have built great civilizations, thanks to the virtues they inherited as those created in the image of God. Indeed, Christians should be actively involved in the city of man, building it, maintaining it, and working alongside of those headed to destruction. But Christians should also have no illusions about building an earthly utopia, for they must pass this life with continual opposition from the citizens of the city of man. They must march through the crumbling empires of the world, spreading the knowledge of the gospel.149 Looking at our past life as a part of the city of man, the apostle (Paul) shows us that the city of man as so evident today in America is built on the cult of self-absorption and the desires of man’s fallen nature. The church always faces the temptation of fighting a legitimate battle in the wrong way. We always are tempted to fight the world with the weapons of the world. We always are tempted to use a sword of steel instead of the sword of the Spirit. And today, that temptation is greater than ever.150
---Hampton Keathley III, There is a great need for prayer in and for our country now ahead of the election and afterwards too. Now matter which candidate wins, we are facing a contracting economy and enormous debt, not to mention moral bankruptcy in many forms. It will not be an easy time in America going forward. Keathley continues his commentary from Paul's letter to Titus:
In chapter 3 of Titus, the apostle shows us how the church is to live in the midst of this city of man. As seen in nearly all the New Testament letters written to the church, Titus was written to help God’s people live in a world and age that is a sea of pagan and humanistic values. But significantly, Paul neither calls on us to use the world’s methods nor seek to Christianize the morals of the society. Again, in his book, Why the Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t, Lutzer has an excellent word here: The second premise of this book is my deep conviction that our so-called culture war is really a spiritual war. In other words, our problems are not fundamentally abortion, trash television, and homosexual values. The roots of our cultural decay is first and foremost spiritual; we must attack the root of this corrupt tree. As always our greatest challenge is theological, not political or cultural.151 As the salt and light Jesus called us to be, we are to seek change from the inside out through faith in the person and work of the Savior and through a personal walk with Him—with His values and priorities and calling. That this is so is clearly evident, or should be, from the way Paul reminds us of our past life, but then points to the theological basis, as in 2:11f, for our spiritual change by the regenerating and justifying work of God (3:4-7). And it is this message that has its hope centered on the eternal that we are to confidently proclaim (vs. 8) rather than any manmade substitutes (vs. 9). Again, let me quote Lutzer: Today, it is tempting to wrap the cross of Christ in the flag, to equate the American dream with God’s dream for this nation. We have attached a myriad of agendas to the cross of Christ, often clouding the one message that the world needs to hear with clarity and power…152 Incredibly, the church has, for the most part, abandoned the very message that is most desperately needed at this critical hour of history.153 My clear purpose is to challenge the church to confront the world with the one message that is able to transform society, one life at a time. Yes, we must fight social evils; we must attempt to use whatever means we have to clean up our contaminated culture. But all of our efforts will be futile unless we go to the source of our defilement.154
Hope you'll read all of Keathley's commentary. It's well worth the time and thought. And continue to pray with me for our country.


Christopher Burgess said...

I stumbled upon your blog and am consuming your content vociferously. I especially like this one, for the need for prayer ahead of and after the election. Whomever is elected will need our help.

Great blog - you've a new subscriber.

Webutante said...

Thanks so much Christopher! Nice to meet you! Let us pray!