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What Right Does God Have
...to demand that I obey Him?
by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058
copyright © 1998 by J. W. Jepson
All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.
*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.
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Every space probe sent out to determine if "life" exists somewhere else in the universe is reminiscent of the story of a ship-wrecked sailor who spent his first days ashore wandering over his island and calling out, "Helloooooo! Is anybody there?"
When modern man denies the existence and providence of a personal God, he tends to feel terribly alone in the universe. Spaceship Earth seems so islated.
By contrast, people who are not biased by an unwillingness to believe have no trouble recognizing that Somebody is there and He is not idle. He has the intelligence and power to create a universe of mind-boggling magnitude, and He is running it by laws that are amazing in their complexity, precision, and dependability.
O.K. But what right does that give God to tell me what to do? What right does He have to demand that I obey Him? And what right does He have to punish me if I don't? God can just leave me alone. I'm getting along fine. I don't need Him and His 'cosmic colonialism'!"
Total independence. Individual autonomy. Unrestricted freedom.
Problem: it doesn't work. It doesn't square with reality. None of us is our own supreme being in a self-created and self-defined system, especially not here on this planet. Too many little "gods" are meeting at the intersections of life, and they all want the green light.
"But we don't need God to tell us what to do. We can figure it out for ourselves. The human race has progressed to the point where we are capable of solving our own problems. If we just get together, we can make it work."
Problem: we don't all agree; so someone would have to have the intelligence, the authority and the power to create a consensus and force all dissenters to conform to it.
The assumption of general enlightenment and virtue is negated by the very pride inherent in the rejection of God and His authority. Presupmtuous pride and enlightened virtue cannot co-exist. They are mutually exclusive. One is self-centered; the other is centered on the greater good to all, including (and especially) God. For virtue to exist a basic moral change has to take place in our attitude toward and relationship with God, resulting in a corresponding change in regard to others. It is called being born again.
Moral law is a fact. It exists because of who we are and who God is. Each of us knows that our own well-being is intrinsically valuable. We know what it is to be happy and we know what it is to suffer. The one is good; the other is bad. We know that this is just as true of others as it is of ourselves. If others experience joy or pain, we know how they feel because we experience the same feelings. Happiness is valuable. Misery is evil; it robs people of happiness.
This is why we are morally obligated to love others as ourselves--to treat them only as we would be treated. If we do not, we have chosen our own self-gratification at the expense of the good of others. We are wrong.
And what about God's interests--His happiness, honor, and well-being? Are they not infinitely more valuable than our own?
Because moral law is a fact, moral order is essential. This calls for moral administration; that means a moral Administrator. We need someone to reveal, establish and uphold moral law and moral order in the universe. And that's a job too big for any mere mortal or any number of mortals together.
Whenever society fails or refuses to acknowledge its ultimate accountability to a moral authority higher than itself, the seeds of totalitarianism have been sown.
Because moral government is a necessity, and only God is qualified to exercise the ultimate authority of moral government, God has both the right and the duty to govern us morally. The good of all, including Himself, depends on it. God rules because our good requires that He do so, not because He happens to be powerful enough to force His authority on us. God does not rule by consensus; neither does he rule arbitrarily. He obligates us by the same moral realities that our own reason and conscience impose on us by reason of our very being.
God governs us because He loves us. Would a God of love create moral beings who need His moral administration, and then refuse or neglect to provide that administration? Of course not. Everything that God does clearly demonstrates His determination to uphold moral order. He has given us the Bible to show us the way. He sent His Son to die for us to save us from our sins. Now the Holy Spirit is here doing everything reasonably possible to move human hearts to turn to God, believe, and obey.
For the same reason that God has a right and a duty to govern, we have an obligation to obey. To refuse to do so makes us enemies of the public good. We violate moral law and become outlaws under the universal moral rule of God.
God's right to rule also includes His right to judge--to give out the rewards of obedience and the punishments of disobedience that are demanded by moral law for the public good.
What the moral rule of God is designed to uphold, protect, and promote is so valuable that it obligates all to make whatever personal sacrifices are necessary to secure it.
And God Himself is the highest example of this self-denying love. On the cross -- in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ--the great, offended Lawgiver suffered, bled and died under the penalty of the universal moral law to make it morally possible to forgive us and thus to remove the horrible penalty of the law from all who will come and be reconciled to Him by faith in Christ.
Jesus Christ would not have gone to the cross if there had been any other way. He is the only way. Turn to Him now. Accept God's offer of full and free pardon. Believe and be saved.
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