The Third Leg
--By Ben Gilmore
God seems to deal in 3’s; Solid, liquid, gas; body, soul, spirit; mind, will, intellect; Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
One of my mentors often pointed out that a 2-legged stool will not stand. Always look for the third leg. I find only three human organizations in the Bible, recognized by God and through which He deals: Family, Church, State.
The building block of every human society is the Family. Every human society develops a corporate concept of a higher power (a god, or God). In turn, that concept will always determine the relationships within the society.
We call the vertical relationship of families with that higher power, “Church.” We call the horizontal relationship of families with families, “State” or “Civil-Government.”
Attached to this post is a time line documenting the source of events that led to the founding of the first civil government in human history specifically designed to enhance Biblical principles of government.
“Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of political institutions of that country; … it facilitates the use of free institutions. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief … I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole of the nation … “
[Alexis De Tocqueville “Democracy in America” 1835]
De Tocqueville was a Frenchman who traveled America to discover what was happening.
American pulpits featured three kinds of special sermons; Fast-Day sermons, Artillery sermons, and Election sermons.
In times of distress a community would be called to fast and pray. Pastors would preach on the Biblical source of, and the Biblical response to, the distress at hand.
Artillery sermons were preached to military groups, presenting the Biblical authority for their military service and to the citizens regarding their responsibilities.
Election sermons were preached to newly elected politicians, seated in the front row of a worship service. They were taught the Biblical authority and limits of the office to which they had been elected by the people.
Sermons by the thousands are easily available from that period. They document what the man in the pew was being taught. — Men were placed upon the earth by God. They were entitled to Life, the Liberty to sustain that life, and the Property necessary for that sustenance.
The world had been through eons of trial and error. Concepts of government (i.e. how people in a society were to get along with one another) had risen and fallen. Asia hosted the Egyptian, Medo-Persian, Oriental civilizations.
Alexander the Great introduced Greek civilization and language across much of the Mediterranean area and down toward India. Then Rome rose up and incorporated Greece and Europe along with the British Isles.
In the midst of all that was the advent of Christ. The seed of individual self-worth began germinating, The Bible was translated into common language. Men wanted to read God’s word and suddenly literacy exploded on society.
Great thinkers like Wycliffe, Luther, Locke, Montesquieu, Whitfield, Blackstone began to relate common sense (observation & reason) with Biblical principles – “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. Literacy enhanced the Industrial Revolution. Printing Presses produced books and pamphlets.
In America, born free of those eons of tyranny and oppression, the seeds of God-given liberty took root. The Colonial churches were ablaze with Christ-centered liberty and justice for all men. They produced and supported the great men who formed our nation. It was a government the man in the pew was trained to understand and support.
Today, it appears to me, the American church teaches Biblical concepts of family and church government. They appear ignorant, even hostile, toward Biblical principles of civil-government – the third leg of Biblical society. It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who said the whole of Biblical law rests in loving God and one another (vertical and horizontal).
If we are to survive — If we are ever to regain the God-given Liberty that once was America — I believe it must be founded upon individual and corporate acknowledgement of God as sovereign, and our obligation to live within the laws He has set for our happiness and prosperity. If God be sovereign, civil-government is not! Rather – Civil-government was created by free men to protect our liberty under God. Our Constitution sets limits on government, NOT Americans.
Let it begin with me. Let it begin with you. Let us restore the third leg to our Christian message. God created men to be at liberty to honor and obey Him. Let our churches once again be filled with the fires of Liberty under God!Ben Gilmore
Downloadable File: Time Line Bible & Leaders