Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL”

Exodus 20.16

 

Because I am a member of the black robe regiment[1] and because our national election day is in two days, I will at this time bring a message from God’s Word titled “All Politics Is Local.” “‘All politics is local’ is a popular political saying, most often associated with House Speaker Thomas P. ‘Tip’ O’Neill, Jr. (1912-1994). O’Neill used the saying in his first political campaign, in 1935” and it was throughout his life frequently rehearsed by him to all who would listen and by many others, as well.[2] What House Speaker O’Neill meant by that phrase is that regardless of the national and international issues that politicians dealt with on a daily basis in our nation’s capital, what was important to those who elected them to office were the issues that affected them day in and day out, the local problems that cried out for local solutions, and the pressing matters that were dealt with by the merchants, the laborers, the tradesmen, the homemakers, and the wage earners. Who would argue with that? Though Tip O’Neill was first, last, and always a politician and therefore concerned exclusively with the narrow view of politics as getting elected to office and doing whatever was necessary to hold on to elected office, I would like to expand our understanding of politics to something broader than standing for elected office. No doubt you have heard me make mention before that the word politic is derived from the Greek language, relating to a citizen.[3] Therefore, politics at its foundation has to do with the interactions of human beings with other human beings. Where two or three are gathered together, you have politics. And politics is always local.

I bring this issue up at a crucial time in our nation’s history. However, since one of the candidates for president is not a politician and has never held elected office, meaning his fingerprints are found on no legislation or policy, I will restrict my comments to the politician in the race for president, since we are on the brink of electing as our nation’s president a woman who claims to be for women despite advancing an agenda that encourages mothers of unborn children to murder the babies they are carrying,[4] who claims to be for women despite never arranging for the women who have worked for her over the years to be paid as much as the men who have worked for her,[5] who claims women who insist they have been sexually abused have a right to a fair hearing of their accusations while heading up a team of private investigators and attorneys who threatened and intimidated the women who accused her husband of criminal sexual misconduct against them,[6] and whose law license has been suspended.[7] Not to mention the thousands of Wikileaks emails that show her to be in violation of our nation’s laws governing government classified information on an unsecured and privately owned server,[8] that show her repeatedly slamming Black people,[9] and that show her to be engaged in a criminal conspiracy with her husband of astonishing proportions involving turning the office of secretary of state into a criminal enterprise.[10] Please be mindful that I have footnoted sources for my comments that will be posted with this sermon on the Church website.

These things said by way of introduction, I have no intention of focusing my sermon on the election that takes place in two days. My purpose is far broader and deeper than a mere election. My aim is at our entire culture, with the sad state of our nation’s political health being the tip of the iceberg that reaches throughout every portion of our culture and society, all the way down to the families of our land.

Please turn in your Bible to Exodus 20.16. When you find that verse in God’s Word, I invite you to stand and read silently while I read aloud: 

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” 

The Ten Commandments is the most familiar portion of the Law of Moses given by the LORD God of Israel to His chosen people when they camped at the foot of Mount Sinai following their miraculous delivery, beginning with the Passover, from four centuries of captivity in Egyptian slavery. May I remind you at this time that the Law of Moses was not given to everyone, was not even given to Christians, but was given to the nation of Israel as a temporary covenant governing their lives from the time the tablets were given to Moses until the Law was completed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the cross of Calvary, was buried, and then rose from the dead in victory three days later?[11]

Some have rightly observed that the two Tablets containing the Ten Commands are notable by their orientation to be four commands relating the people to God, commands one through four, what you might identify as the vertical direction of the commands, followed by six commands that are horizontal in their orientation, expressing God’s will for Jewish people as they interact with each other. My desire today is to explore a single principle by which today’s text, the ninth command, can be best obeyed. 

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” 

We understand that though the Law of Moses was not given to Gentiles or Christians, it does reveal to us God’s will for the Jewish people under the Law, as well as revealing to us a guiding principle by which civil people get along with other. Do not say things about people that are not based on truth. Imagine how politics in the USA would forever change if false accusations were not made. However, the problem runs deeper than that, with false claims made about others traceable to two factors; ignorance and sin. Sometimes people make false claims about others they sincerely but wrongly believe to be true, and sometimes people make false claims about others they know to be false.

How are we to deal with accusations that may turn out to be false? God has given to the human race an approach to communicating with each other that was first revealed to the nation of Israel, and then passed on to the Church of Jesus Christ, and then was passed on to civil society in the West, and is shown to us in God’s Word to be an approach that God uses in His dealings with us. It is an axiom that is so obvious that proof to support it is unnecessary, though proof to support it is abundant. And it provides a tool for us to use when dealing with people who are prone to mistakes, who are prone to sinning, and who are prone to bias. However, it is so valuable an axiom that even God has condescended to our limitations by making use of it when dealing with His creatures. For lack of a better label let me identify it as the “two or three witnesses” axiom. It is the recognition that human beings are so prone to mistakes, and because so many have improper motives, it is to the advantage of the hearer to withhold judgment on any accusation leveled against someone until verification of that accusation is made by one or two additional credible witnesses. To state it another way, matters of fact are established in the mouths of two or three witnesses. Hence the footnotes attesting to the accuracy of my earlier remarks.

Let me develop the usefulness of this axiom under four headings before applying it to our present distress: 

First, GOD’S REVELATION OF THE AXIOM TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL 

Keep in mind that the axiom of withholding judgment until the credible testimony of two or three witnesses is heard is not part of the Ten Commands and bears no direct resemblance to the ninth command. Rather, it is a useful tool for making proper application of the ninth commandment to the national life of Israel.

Consider this axiom’s use in a criminal trial. Numbers 35.30 deals with a case in which someone is on trial for murder: 

“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.” 

It is clear from this verse that the testimony of one witness was not sufficient to convict, but that two or more witnesses to the murder are required by the Law of Moses. However, do not think the two or three witnesses axiom applied to capital offenses only. Multiple witnesses were required under the Mosaic Law for every criminal prosecution, as Deuteronomy 19.15 establishes: 

“One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” 

Accompanying the requirement for multiple witnesses before anyone could be convicted of a crime was the requirement that any witness who was caught lying would himself be subject to the punishment faced by the person he falsely accused.[12] Thus, if a witness was caught giving false testimony about a man accused of murder, the witness himself could be convicted of capital murder and face the death penalty for the lie he told. This is the basis for our nation’s criminal proceedings being based on the assumption that anyone accused of a crime is by definition innocent until guilt is established using multiple witnesses of fact. In many countries that do not have a Judeo-Christian ethic those charged with crimes are presumed guilty and face the daunting challenge of proving themselves innocent. Thankfully, in the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. 

Next, CHRIST’S REVELATION OF THE AXIOM TO THE CHURCH 

Though the axiom of two or three witnesses in the determination of criminal guilt was the rule under the Mosaic Law for over 1,500 years, I am not familiar with how thoroughly that approach to determining the truth prevailed in civil or social situations. What we do know is that the Lord Jesus Christ established the two or three witnesses axiom as a rule for addressing matters of sin against a fellow Church member in Matthew 18.15-20: 

15    Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16    But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17    And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

18    Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19    Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

That this axiom of two or three witnesses applies to matters of honest disagreement in business matters between Church members as well as accusations of sinful conduct is seen in First Corinthians chapter 6. I urge you to read that chapter when you get home. Therefore, throughout those regions where the Gospel penetrated and Churches that honored God and embraced the truths of God’s Word were found, a new ethic was introduced to people’s dealings with their brothers and sisters in Christ, that no doubt spilled over to their dealings with their fellow man. When a statement is made by someone, the depravity of mankind demands in your dealings with human beings, and the value placed upon human worth as image-bearers of God, that you withhold final judgment until corroborating testimony is obtained. 

Third, THE SPREAD OF THIS AXIOM TO CIVIL SOCIETY 

We are not so naive as to believe that the spread of nominal Christianity produced Christian conduct or the embrace of Christian principles. Too many are the examples to show that professing to be a Christian and acting out religious rituals that are claimed to be Christian are a far cry from knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and living a Christ-like testimony. I am reminded of the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions at the hands of Roman Catholic priests that saw the torture of numerous individuals based on the secret accusations of single unverified witnesses. That is a far cry from the Biblical axiom we are dealing with this.

And, yes, for a considerable time even after the Protestant Reformation and the rediscovery by so many in Europe of the principle of justification by faith certain aspects of the Christian lifestyle were slow in coming. However, over time and under the influence of Anabaptists in Europe and nonconformists and Baptists in England, Bible truth began to shine in the common culture, especially in English common law, with its developing right to trial by a jury of peers, by the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, and by the demand for the prosecution to use witnesses to testify against an accused while the accused could call his witnesses to testify in his defense.

And certainly, as people raised their children according to Biblical principles, no responsible mother or father would act upon one child’s uncorroborated accusation against a brother or sister. Neither do Christian parents automatically accept as true a tale told by their child about a teacher at school. People are too important. The truth is too valuable. People are also prone to both ignorance and sinfulness. Therefore, the axiom of basing all judgments upon the testimonies of two or three witnesses rather than the say-so of your little girl is crucial in our society, and departures from the norm established by the axiom of two or three witnesses is most destructive.

“But pastor, if no one sees big brother pick on little sister he will get away with it.” “If no one sees that mean teacher saying bad things to my child that mean teacher will get away with it.” My response to such irresponsible reactions is twofold: First, God sees all and no one gets away with anything so long as God is in charge.[13] Second, you have no idea what happened based upon the say-so of a single individual, even if it is your precious child. God sets the ground rules for interpersonal dynamics, and His determination is that it takes two witnesses of any event to establish what happened. Period. 

Finally, THIS AXIOM IS SO IMPORTANT THAT GOD APPLIES IT TO HIMSELF 

Consider three kinds of scenarios:

First, there is the Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. If the Lord Jesus Christ wants to establish a credible testimony during His earthly ministry, it is only reasonable that what He insists on from others He provide Himself. And such was the case. Consider, for example, the Savior’s dealings with His disciples. After He had begun His public ministry, they accompanied Him everywhere, and not just to learn from Him as He trained them, but also to provide credible verification of important events. Why, for example, do you think He took James, and Peter, and John with Him to the Mount of Transfiguration if it was not to testify to what they saw?[14] Then there was that time, early in His ministry, when John the Baptist was arrested. Remember John sending two disciples to ask the Lord Jesus Christ if He was the One they were anticipating? Rather than challenge John the Baptist to take His Word for it, notice what our Lord told those two men sent by John, Matthew 11.4-5: 

4      Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

5      The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 

I could cite more of the same type of examples, the Lord Jesus Christ showing things to multiple witnesses and making sure there were witnesses to things done privately.[15]

Second, there is the Lord Jesus Christ raised from the dead. Consider no less than three kinds of credible testimony that Jesus Christ rose from the dead: First, there were the hundreds of believers who not only saw Jesus Christ after He had conquered death but were willing to give their lives testifying to that truth, First Corinthians 15.5-9. Next, there were the enemies of Christ who themselves testified that the tomb sealed and guarded by their soldiers under penalty of death was empty, Matthew 28.11-15. Finally, there was the enemy of Christ who was separated by time, by distance, and by professional cost from the resurrection of Christ, yet the Apostle Paul gave his all for Christ, his position, his reputation, his family, his people, and eventually his life, to insist that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, First Corinthians 9.1.

Finally, there is God’s application of this axiom to Himself. First John 4.7: 

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 

Is it not interesting that the Triune God emphasizes to the readers of the Bible that the Three Who are One bear record in heaven? Does this not speak to the importance not only of the truth and the handling of the truth, but also the proper steps we should take to arrive at the truth? 

Let me now bring this sermon to a close. Our nation is in trouble. Our nation is in trouble because our nation’s citizenry are an ungodly group of people who have wandered far from God in every imaginable way and as a result of their wanderings play fast and loose with the truth. To be sure, the best course of action for our citizenry is for each to repent of his sins and turn to Christ for salvation full and free. Oh, what a difference it would make to every aspect of our civilization and the world as a whole, not to mention the difference it makes to each eternal and undying soul’s destiny.

However, imagine what would happen if parents knew what they were doing when it comes to raising their children. So many have children but don’t know what to do with them. It is heartbreaking to see parents who think their lying, scheming, deceitful; conniving children are good kids and to be believed without corroboration. Psalm 58.3 declares that children begin their pattern of lying at birth! However, parents with clouded judgment about the sinfulness of their children perfectly illustrate why the two or three witnesses axiom is so necessary for the interaction of human beings, and especially for the rearing of children.

“I can always tell when my child is telling me the truth. My baby wouldn’t like to me.” What a laughable load of malarkey that would be if it were not so tragic. Beloved, it is precisely because 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart,”[16] 

that God has given us this axiom of two or three witnesses. It is because you cannot tell when your sweet and precious is lying to you. It is because she does not know herself when she is lying or telling the truth that every single thing she says and claims she does must be verified before accepting it as being true.

Understand that I am not suggesting that you walk around the house with a suspicious look on your face, always ready to say, “Liar! Not for one moment do I believe you.” That is not the way I raised my daughter. However, wisdom and God’s Word demands that you withhold final judgment about the truthfulness of anything your child says until there is independent verification.

The Bible teaches that your child’s tendency is not to sometimes tell lies, but to sometimes tell the truth. Therefore, as you raise your child, train him or her to handle truth precisely the same way the axiom of two or three witnesses prescribes. In that way you can end up with a child who will be far more likely to tell the truth, will be far more likely to be honest with herself, and will have a much greater appreciation for the truth when it is discovered. Imagine, then, come the day after raising your child in this way, when the Spirit of God brings home the truths of the Gospel verified by the testimony of witnesses. Imagine your child seeing your Christian life and testimony, your spouse’s Christian life and testimony, and the power testimony of God’s infallible Word. This is real politics, and it’s local. Oh, how God can use that.

Additionally, imagine a national culture of people who knew how to better ascertain the truth as opposed to believing unsubstantiated charges. Politicians are making railing accusations against opponents, yet without credible proof. A discerning voter would rightly pay little attention to such comments. However, when someone else produced a credible history of malfeasance in office supported by documentation and investigation, that person would be far more likely telling the truth. Sadly, that is not the case in the political firestorm raging before us. Not that we don’t have wild and unsubstantiated accusations. We do. Not that we don’t also have a credible history of malfeasance in office supported by documentation and investigation. We do. We just do not have a citizenry trained to apply the axiom of two or three witnesses. Neither are our voters much concerned to discover the truth.

Our nation is far from God, far from the Bible way of doing anything, and far from the pursuit and application of the truth, the truth that would set us free. God help us come election day. Therefore, I call upon you to consider a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow, crying out to God on behalf of our nation.

__________

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UYpH5ey-jY and http://www.blackrobereg.org/

[2] http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/search/results/51b78ac565058515c50e785f8d2916fa/

[3] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1392.

[4] http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/hillary-clinton-video-ad-support-planned-parenthood-2016-120949

[5] http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2016/04/14/of-course-clinton-foundation-pays-female-executives-38-percent-less-than-male-counterparts-n2148105

[6] http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/22/backfire-hillary-tweets-all-sexual-abuse-accusers-deserve-to-be-believed-is-reminded-of-her-husband/

[7] https://www.quora.com/Was-Hillary-disbarred-and-if-so-why

[8] http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/21/unquestionably-an-opsec-violation-clinton-sent-us-operations-info-to-podestas-hacked-email/

[9] http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/wikileaks-drops-new-bombshell-hillary-racist-slammed-black-people/

[10] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441573/hillary-clinton-corruption-foundation

[11] Deuteronomy 5.1-3, Romans 3.19

[12] Deuteronomy 19.16-21

[13] 2 Chronicles 16.9

[14] Matthew 17.1-13

[15] Such as insuring three disciples witnessed His raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Luke 8.51-55.

[16] Jeremiah 17.9-10

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org