Questions & Answers
By Norman Grubb
Q What is meant by the commonly-used expression “One Nation under God”?
A Since Pentecost there has only been one nation on earth. Peter called it “the holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9)—the Spirit-nation—though its members dwell temporarily in flesh bodies. Its head is the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ, and its membership is composed of those from out of every earthly nation who have been born again of the Spirit. According to Galatians 3:28 all human, national and racial distinctions are dissolved into a Spirit-oneness in Christ.
Its character is best outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, or described in one short phrase—universal love, with no earthly enemies. Its members maintain no hold on earthly possessions, for they are “strangers and pilgrims” with their citizenship in heaven. These heavenly citizens are “one nation under God”. They have only one absorbing interest—to bring all men into their privileged sonship and eternal inheritance in Christ, who by His blood has reconciled the world unto its lost Father-God.
But in these centuries before Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom in its final glorious form, the existence of earthly nations has been a temporary provision of God (Acts 17:26), for the growth and protective development of His human family (Acts 17:28). By this means we have been able to discover and express something of the enormous potential of our humanity made in His image.
But because we are a fallen race, enslaved by Satan in self-centeredness and self-interest, our national pride, competitiveness, fears, and jealousies will end in self-destruction. God has written on our hearts, and in outer forms such as the Ten Commandments, the differences between good and evil behaviour. He has always promised blessing on those who seek to conform to His Laws and to order their national life upon them. Such ordering of a nation’s ways according to God’s laws can, however, never be more than a stumbling approximation, for we plainly recognize that in the end disintegration awaits every nation, such as we have seen in all the empires of history.
So by God’s mercy and long patience, there is the intervening period for each nation and the world, in which a nation can conform itself to God’s laws and, insofar as it does, receive His blessing. This is the point at which a nation can claim to be a “nation under God”. Such a nation will continually call its people to a humbling of themselves for failure, to thankfulness for His goodness, and to prayer for His continued good hand on its people. Above all, we should be a giving nation which shares its benefits with others and has a world concern for brotherhood and the well-being of the whole human family.
This is also the point at which on every level of government there is a definite need of lawmakers who are born-again and have the inner line to God for guidance and faith. Only such lawmakers can properly influence governmental decisions, as well as be the light which points all to Christ by their personal witness and public life. So we are thankful for all such men and women in our governments.
Yet it is essential that none of us deceive ourselves into mistaking our nationhood for the kingdom of God. There is an element, call it the offence of the cross, in which every born-again member of God’s “holy nation” must experience contempt and persecution; for Jesus said, “If the world hates Me, it will hate you”, and “the disciple is not above his Master”. Self-interested self can only be the enemy of redeemed Christ-centered self. So we must always be among those who are knowingly with Christ “without the camp bearing His reproach”; and this must be particularly true for faithful ones in earthly high places. Perhaps one of the chief evidences of their faithfulness is when, as occasion arises, they will not only use the name of God, which is used by practically all outside the atheistic nations, but they will boldly confess that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour.
Q What is Paul trying to say in Romans 7?
A We are not meant to live in Romans 7—get out of it! Romans 7 is for you only if you still think you can do something. Left to yourself you can only be self- loving. But the real you is the Spirit of Christ in you, as portrayed in Romans 8. Visit Romans 7 as little as you can!
Q What does it mean in Romans 8:10 when it says the “body is dead because of sin”?
A This verse refers to our bodies. It means that we are in a corruptible body—we are stuck with it. But we must learn not to worry too much about our bodies. The Bible does not promise us a perfect body in this life. Life should be manifested in us no matter what the condition of the body. Healings there will be, perhaps, but that is not the most important thing. Don’t be a body fusser; be a spirit realizer.
Q Since we have learned that we are dead to the law, how can we convey this freedom to our children without undue permissiveness?
A It is only by the law that there is knowledge of sin; so we must present our children with laws. Even though we have learned that laws are dissolved and turned into liberty, we know that our children must pass through law and sin. But we must seek to sow seeds of Christ in our children, rather than seeds of self-effort. You do this by practicing your freedom in the normal family situations. Don’t work by a “system”. Just do the next thing as the occasion arises, whether at the time it is more law or more grace. Spontaneous life, rather than preconceived principles, is the only way I know.