This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today program originally aired on Jan. 4, 2024.  To listen to the program, please click HERE.

Sam Rohrer:       Hello and welcome to this first Thursday edition of Stand In The Gap today here in 2024. This also happens to be the first emphasis in our recurring bi-monthly constitution update emphasis. We began this emphasis years ago and, Lord willing, we’re going to continue it through this year. Now, yesterday on this program, former White House correspondent Bill Koenig joined me as we identified in a brief description overview way the most significant geopolitical, economic, prophetical, and domestic issues. We said then, you go back and listen to the program if you did not catch it, are converging it appears in 2024. And it’s a time that, well, the trend is towards greater instability. Not stability, instability. Now, in biblical terms, we talk then that in biblical terms you would say these are the perilous times that Jesus said we would increasingly encounter.

Jerusalem would become a stumbling block for the nations, as an example. Wars and rumors of wars would increase. Sickness and pestilence would begin to increase. An advancing global antichrist government would be evident as well as an apostatizing church. We touched on all of those briefly yesterday. Now, as believers, our primary preparation for these days must be spiritual in a relationship with the Lord made secure. Since we are in days, as Jesus said, of lawlessness, immorality, and demonic deception. Now that’s why we go there first. But secondarily, we must also be cognizant and aware of our duties as citizens of a heavenly kingdom first and then citizens of our respective nation in which we may live. Now, there may be people listening to the program now who live in countries other than the United States, so that’s why I say our respective nations in which we may live.

Today, constitutional attorney David New and I would like to focus a bit on our foundational duties as citizens in America under our constitution and foundationally as citizens under God. Now, in the process, we’re going to define some terms, consider some of the greatest civic challenges before us, and some principled responses about how we should be thinking. The title I’ve chosen to frame our conversation today is this, Understanding A Citizen’s Duty in Days of Impending Instability. With that, I welcome to the program right now, David New. 2024, here we go. Ready to go for another year?

David New:         Blessings to you, I’m ready for another year, and happy new year to everybody with us today.

Sam Rohrer:       And thank you so much. That’s great, David. We got a great topic here so let me get right into it and set up a few more points here. When I look at our country, there’s no question that we live in a great country, the United States of America. It’s been a grand experiment in freedom. That’s what William Penn called it here in Pennsylvania. There’s no question that God’s evidenced his hand in the raising up of this nation. He’s made us great as long as we understood that all blessings come from him. But ladies and gentlemen, and I’m saying this for your purposes and mine and David’s as well, our relationship to God as a country, as God as creator and giver of life, sustainer and protector has changed. And for well over a generation we’ve systematically set about to throw God out of our national debate, redefine his standards of right and wrong, his definition of justice for all, and literally overturned almost every one of the 10 Commandments upon which our laws have been established. We’re currently in free fall as a nation. That’s indisputable.

Now, that’s the basis for my theme yesterday and today, impending instability. There are reasons for that. But if for a constitutional and historical emphasis today, let’s bring the matter down to a personal level, that of citizen. Now, in the next segment, we’re going to go to the constitutional consideration of what our framers thought of citizen duty. But let’s start first, David, with the biblical commands surrounding citizenship, which go beyond the type of government structure a particular person may find themselves. So here’s my question to you and go with it, what Bible references, David, and fundamental principles would you cite that most foundationally come to your mind when you think about our primary citizen duty under God? And then in the next segment, we’re going to go to our duty under our constitution.

David New:         The Bible teaches that a Christian is a citizen of two worlds. We’re a citizen of heaven. We’re also a citizen on this earth and under a government. And that means that we have duties to both. And one of my favorite, favorite verses because it’s so concise and yet it’s full of wisdom and godly counsel is First Peter 2:17 in which the apostle said, “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Now, notice he starts off, “Honor all men.” We have a duty to be polite and courteous and basically respectful to everyone, honor them in the sense of showing proper respect. Be a good citizen. Then it says, “Love the brotherhood.” That means we should love our church and we should put our brother in Christ ahead of ourselves and we need to love God’s people because we’re going to be spending eternity together and so we need to make sure that we treat each other very well.

You should treat the members of your church, the members of God’s kingdom, the very best next to your family. You should be loving and kind and not condescending and judgmental. Now, next he goes, “Fear God.” Well, of course, that’s the source. That’s the source for good Christian living, is having a reverential attitude about God. Know that God knows everything you do. God is watching you. God is supporting you. God is encouraging you. God is lifting you up. Fearing God is extremely important. And right next to fearing God in the King James version, it says, “Honor the king.” So the location of the words fear God and honor the king being next to each other is extremely significant. Of course, it’s not saying that the king is God, but it is saying that the king has a function of God in that he or she administers the government for the purposes of good. So the government has a very, very important role in our life and we definitely should honor the government and obey the government’s laws and be a good citizen.

Sam Rohrer:       David, great foundation. And that brings us right up to the break. Ladies and gentlemen, think about that. Ecclesiastes 12:13 came to my mind when David was talking. The two greatest duties of man, fear God and keep his commandments. Do what God says. Why? Because we’re all going to give an account to God one day. That’s for us as citizens and that also applies to everybody who is in a position of authority. And we’ll talk more about those things as we go further into the program. When I come back, we’re going to now shift and say, what are our duties as citizens under our constitution here in America?

Well, thanks for joining us this first Thursday of 2024. Our program today, David New and I are conversing and our theme is this, Understanding A Citizen’s Duty in Days of Impending Instability. A rather long title, but you get the idea citizen’s duty in days that are, well, increasingly perilous. The program yesterday with Bill Koenig, I just talked about that, we dealt with more of the global bigger picture items and our spiritual response in these days of instability. Today, we’re focusing more on citizen duty. Now, one requirement that God places on all positions of authority, in the last segment, David gave just a very simple foundational requirement for Christian citizenship, which concluded with fearing God and honoring the king.

So if you didn’t hear it, go back and listen to that first segment. But beyond that, one requirement that God places on all positions of authority is that they rule in the fear of God. Any ruler, be they a parent or employer, church leader, particularly civil government authorities, they have the largest authority under these authorities that God places out there, they carry the sword, which is what Romans 13 says, but any of those positions of authority have one duty before God, a primary duty, and that is to execute biblical justice because God is just but as defined by God and that they carry out their duties as servants of God or ministers of God, deacons of God, which is what it talks about in Romans 13.

Now, praising those who do right according to what God says, punishing those who do wrong according to how God defines wrong, that’s God’s universal standard and expectation for all in positions of authority. The standard applies most certainly to those in civil government regardless of the type of government, theocracy, an aristocracy, a monarchy, or in the case of the United States, a republic. Now, one thing is for certain, the closer a nation and its citizens and its rulers align with God’s universal expectations for the purpose of authority, the greater will be God’s blessings and the greater degree of individual freedom that will occur. That is for sure. Now, Dave, let’s go into that with that laid out there. Our founders understood what I just said.

In the early days of our nation after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, there was a famous encounter between Ben Franklin and a Philadelphia citizen named Elizabeth Willing Powel, who after the signing stopped Franklin on the street as the story goes and says, “What kind of a government do we now have, a republic or a monarchy?” And his answer still applies today. He said, “A republic if you can keep it.” But many people, David, I think are confused with the terms of republic, constitutional republic, representative republic, democracy, democratic republic, all these terms. Would you distinguish, first of all, the differences in the distinctives in these terms and what do we really have and how should we properly refer to what we have?

David New:         The Constitution in Article IV Section IV says that the United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a Republican form of government. That means dictatorships are not allowed. It means monarchies aren’t allowed. Oligarchies are not allowed. Theocracies are not allowed. You cannot be theocratic. We are a theistic state, which means we acknowledge God, but we are not a theocracy. In other words, the clergy don’t run the government in the United States. So we are a Republican government. Now, the reason I say that is because you very frequently hear people say, “We are a republic and not a democracy.” That statement is only half right and it’s only half true. It’s not the whole truth.

To find out what does Madison mean by the word republic, go to Federalist Papers number 39. And here he defines what a republic is, and it’s very important, because within the term republic is a democracy. Let’s see what Mr. Madison has to say. “If we resort for a citizen to the different principles on which different forms of governments are established, we may define a republic to be, or least may be bestowed that name on a government which derives all its power directly or indirectly from the great body of the people and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period.” What is he saying? A republic in Federalist 39, as defined by Madison, means we elect leaders to represent us in the government, to administer the government for us. But it also has the germ of democracy within it because, how do those people get there? We elect them. It’s done by democracy.

We elect the House of Representatives by democracy. It’s whoever gets the most votes goes to the House. At the time, whoever got this favor of a person became a Senator. Even now it’s done by people, by a direct vote by the people. So a republic means we hire people to represent us for the government, to be the government, to administer the government for us. So a democracy, when Madison’s talking about it, why it does not work, what he is talking about is a pure democracy where all the citizens come together every day to make decisions for the government. And he’s arguing in the Federalist papers, we can’t do that with a million and a half and two and a half million people. You can’t have a pure democracy with that many people. You can’t get them all together in one place to vote.

Therefore, the solution is to have a republic. The million, two million, three million, it doesn’t matter how big it comes, a republic can always manage the government affairs because we will be able to elect people to become part of the House and the Senate and the President to administer things for us. So a pure democracy is a bad idea, it’s impractical, it can’t work in a growing population, but a republic can take on 100 million people, 200 million people, 300 million people. That is the point that Madison is making.

Sam Rohrer:       And, David, that is a great point. Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t get into it, but that goes back to Old Testament principles when Moses actually assigned people and said, “Now rulers of 10, rulers of 100, rulers of thousands.” That representative government, there’s a basis for that. David, before we get out of this segment, so you’ve got a representative republic, a constitutional representative republic, a democratic republic, you’re really talking the same thing there, but duties. How did our framers view a primary foundational citizen duty under this framework of government?

David New:         Well, the thing is this, if you’re going to have a republic, that means citizen participation to participate in the election. That’s what it means. It means citizen participation. Now, when you have a high voter turnout, when you elect somebody with a high voter turnout, that sends a signal to elected politicians that the voters are very interested in what they do while they’re in office. But if you’re a republic and you have a low voter turnout, that sends a very bad signal to a politician that he or she can do whatever they want because, “Nobody cares what I really do while I’m here because nobody is voting.” So when you don’t like your government and you don’t vote, blame yourself.

Sam Rohrer:       David, really what you’re saying is that, citizen duty in voting carries with it a degree of accountability because those in office are held accountable to the voter. But ladies and gentlemen, can I suggest this and mention this also? Here in Pennsylvania, William Penn, I’ve referred to him often because I served in government here in Pennsylvania, I have done a lot of studying, William Penn made it very, very clear when he laid out this foundation of this whole experiment in government that, if it were ever to happen, and, of course, it did, and that ended up in the Constitution that Franklin was able to say, “We’ve given you to Republic,” Penn made it very clear that if that were to happen, which it did, he said it could only continue if the citizens and those who would be elected by those citizens voluntarily submitted themselves to, you guessed it, the 10 Commandments of God. That’s what Penn said.

So a representative republic where you have people electing the right people and those people properly representing the people who elected them, the only way the freedom will continue or the best of structures will maintain itself is if both of them understand they’re going to give an account to God and voluntarily submit themselves to God’s 10 Commandments, God’s moral law. Now think about that. That’s one of the things that as we think about citizen duty, again, it comes coming back, fear God first, then honor the king, citizen duty comes out of that. When we come back, we’re going to talk about identifying some of the threats because clearly governments that lead to freedom and upholding God’s law are not appreciated by those who are tyrants.

Under a biblical worldview of society and government, justice, and citizen duty, of course, the word of God is the roadmap and the blueprint, and that’s what we’re talking about today. And, of course, every time you listen to this program, no matter what we talk about, we always come back to say right now, what does God say about what we are perceiving and how does God say we ought to respond to what is there? That’s the very nature of a biblical worldview. Now, the more closely one follows God’s roadmap, the more blessed and more free those people will be and that nation will be. That’s what the Scripture is all about where God told Israel of old, “Fear me and keep my commandments. I’ll make you prosperous. I’ll give you good weather. I’ll give you good health. You’ll be the head, not the tail.” Go back to Deuteronomy 28, you’ll find it all written out. It just is perfectly clear.

But you see, the enemies of God led by Satan himself are continually tempted to throw off God’s rule and do their own thing. Righteous rulers will fear God and keep his commandments, and then the people will be blessed. Unrighteous rulers reject God’s rule. So if you read chapter two of Psalm chapter two, it very clearly talks about those rulers and kings of the earth who lift their fists in defiance against God and God’s expectations for civil authority. Now, where greed and covetousness and rebellion toward God in the elitist concept that actually man is God, where that prevails, tyranny and war ensues and then God’s judgment comes as a part of that package. That’s all clearly laid out through Scripture all the way through the word of God. That has been the history of mankind since creation. So the Scripture says the wise will obey God and they will learn from history, but as we know the foolish plunge ahead, disregard history, disregard God’s plans, and then they suffer the consequences.

Okay, David, let’s go back now to Philadelphia, Ben Franklin’s wise comment. In that last segment, I asked you the question of what’s meant by a republic, and you laid that out very, very clearly. Good explanation for that. But there was another part of that statement and I want to ask you to talk about that now, and that is the challenges to the keeping where Franklin said, “We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.” Now, that obviously means he knew that there were challenges to a republic and there were risks associated with it. So, from a historical perspective, what kinds of challenges and what do you think Franklin meant by, “if you can keep this republic”?

David New:         Well, at the time that Franklin said those words, monarchies were very, very popular and there were people who thought George should become King George Washington. So without question, it’s a possibility that he meant at that time monarchies or something like that with a permanent President that’s installed forever, or things along that line. But since the days of Benjamin Franklin, when he said “a republic, if you can keep it”, we now know what one of the top threats to the United States of America are. High up on the list, maybe it’s number one, maybe it’s number two or three, somewhere in the top five is the concept of secularism. That is a deadly, deadly threat to the United States. The progressive secularists and people who believe in a secular state arguing that the government should basically be devoid of God is the antithesis of what the framers of the Constitution believed in.

Now, George Washington was not just the first President of the United States, but he was also President of the Constitutional Convention. And the very first proclamation he wrote on October 3rd, 1789, the very first sentence, and George Washington had been president for about six months when he wrote this proclamation, he was asked to write this proclamation by the Congress, and this is what that first sentence says because it’s the exact opposite of what is taught in law schools today. It is what historians deny in everything. Here’s what George Washington said, “Whereas it is the duty, D-U-T-Y, of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey, O-B-E-Y, his will to be grateful for his benefits and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” Now that sentence made by the President of the Constitutional Convention, he was elected on the first day of the Convention, and he remained the President until the last day of the Constitutional Convention, for him to say that tells us they did not, I repeat, did not establish a secular state.

And when you pick up books by secularists who attack people that believe the way I do, do you know what you frequently do not find in the book? That’s right. This first proclamation by George Washington because it is absolutely deadly. When you take God out of a republic of ours, you basically destroy the republic.

Sam Rohrer:       All right, David, and you made that clear. And as you’re saying that I’m saying that is corresponding to everything that you and I have talked about already on this program, where you went to Peter, “Fear God, Honor the king.” I went to Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Fear God. Keep His commandments.” That’s exactly what George Washington said in what you just wrote. All right, so a secular society, a danger to a republic such as we have. All right, you put that up there right at the top and very clearly we’ve seen the impact of that. How about identifying another great threat to this republic?

David New:         People away from God. “Our republic,” according to John Adams, “requires a moral and religious people.” That’s one of the most famous quotes John Adams ever gave. It’s a beautiful quote. Now, once you take God away from the American republic, all bets are off. Anything is possible, from the complete destruction of the American republic as we know it, and one of the ways that can be done is through treaties, U.S. treaties. One of the big threats to the United States of America is globalism, world government, government run by a force outside the United States of America, run by the United Nations or some successor in interest to the United Nations, where we are willing to surrender our sovereignty, we’re willing to surrender our Constitution, we’re willing to surrender the Bill of Rights to a world government.

And, of course, when that happens, this government will not believe in something called the First Amendment. It’s not going to be too interested about religious freedom or freedom of speech. There’s no reason to believe that people who do not fear God will respect basic human rights. So another major threat to the United States is also global government. A third one is the education system in the United States. Lousy public schools. You take God out of the public school, what you’ve basically done is you’ve set a course for destruction. We are seeing the effects of removing prayer and Bible reading from America’s public schools.

There had to be at least maybe 100 million students who went through the public schools until 1962, I don’t know what the exact number is, but were brought up in a public school with prayer and Bible reading or something like that, and basically it worked extremely well. There were problems here and there that had to be dealt with, but basically it worked very, very well. And the education system was a world-class education system. That is no longer the case.

Sam Rohrer:       And, David, I make a connection again. Everything we’re saying here, and you and I have not rehearsed what we’re talking about that you quoted John Adams, that our system of government, fear of God, keep his commandments, George Washington’s statement, would only survive with a religious people in mind. Makes me think back to what I just said about William Penn’s statement, that unless our citizens feared God and voluntarily submitted themselves to the 10 Commandments of God, God’s moral law, and those in office also did so, everything we’re saying is confirming of one another and that’s what our framers believed. But David, unfortunately, that is not what is believed today and it’s not the transcendent view of government today at all, is it?

David New:         No. Today, when you talk to most people, they see absolutely no connection between the United States Constitution and our frame of government with Christianity. Before the 1960s, the people of this country saw a real positive connection from the 18th, 19th, and up until the 1960s, a real positive connection between the Christian religion or Christianity and the U.S. Constitution. They have the same foundation. Well, in fact, Christianity is the foundation for the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution clearly teaches Biblical principles in two clear ways. Number one, man is a sinner. Therefore, he cannot be trusted with too much power. That’s why we divide Article One, Two, and Three, legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Number two, not only is man a sinner, but man is possible of redemption.

Sam Rohrer:       And with that, David, you’re going to have to hold it because we’re out of time. Ladies and gentlemen, stay with us because when we come back, we’re going to conclude the program by saying, “Hey, we are in a country now that does not fear God. So what do we do?” Now, in this last segment here, stay tuned, stay with us, we’re going to try and give some resolve to, all right, now, what does the godly citizen do in our Republic that was once founded biblically on Biblical principles, but, as David has said very clearly, due to secular, humanism, and other things have moved far from that position. And, David, you were laying out there some things about what our founders understood, the depravity of man. They understood the nature of God. And ladies and gentlemen, without going into detail, the book that we are making available, America’s Roadmap to Renewal, has the 10 principles that our founders understood.

You can get it on Amazon. You can get by going to our website as well, America’s Roadmap to Renewal: The Answers to Past Prayers and the Hope for the Future, biblical principles as applied by our framers touching on some of the things we’ve talked about today. David, take a few minutes here right now because I’d like for you to share a primary understanding that our framers understood that they built within the system that we should be thinking about now even as we see an enlarging federal government that seems to be like a cancer taking over everything. You identified a couple of items. Lay those out there for us right now and then I want to conclude with some biblical principles.

David New:         Absolutely. Ladies and gentlemen, if you turn to Federalist 46, that talks about military dictatorships and the protection that the United States has against them. Now, of course, one of the protections is the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military. A civilian authority commands the military. That’s a great protection. Another protection is that the President is limited. He’s limited by Congress and he’s limited by the Supreme Court. So he’s not an absolute ruler by no means. But there is another area of protection against military dictatorships that James Madison talked about, and that is the state governments. The state governments are expected to oppose any military overthrow by the federal government. And he talks about it in Federalist 46. He’s talking about people who say that the federal government will take over the states and wipe them out. This is what he says.

“The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the state governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of that ambition.” In other words, the federal government’s going to make an army large enough to wipe out the states. Here’s what he later says in saying why that cannot happen, why the state governments are so important. He said, “Let a regular army fully equal to the resources of the country be formed and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government.” In other words, this army that’s going to be made is dedicated to the federal government, not to the states, and ready to overthrow the state governments. He then says, “Still, it would not be going too far to say that the state governments with the people on their side would be able to repel the danger.” Just by sheer numbers, the states are part of the reason we cannot have and should not have a military dictatorship.

What does that mean? It means that it’s extremely important that the President be elected by the states. It’s very important. That’s why the electoral college is very important. If a President is elected by the state governments, and that’s basically what we have, we have 50 Presidential elections by 50 different states and they elect the President. That’s done with the people, but it’s done through the states. Now, consider yourself a President and you don’t particularly like the idea of having to give up office after four or eight years, and you are a very charismatic person where people just love you to death and you are elected by popular vote. How would you think to yourself? “Well, I have no loyalty to the state governments. I’m elected by the people directly. The states have nothing to do with why I’m President of the United States.” What does that mean? That is the danger, that a President, he or she, at some point might feel that since the states didn’t send them there that the people by popular elections sent them there.

His or her loyalty will be with the people, he or she will believe that the people will support him or her, and basically become a dictator. And by the way, I’m not indirectly referring to anybody at this moment, and you know who I’m talking about, because I want that guy to get elected. But this is the danger of a direct election by the people. The Electoral College makes a President loyal to the states. Even the small little itsy-bitsy states with one or two or three Electoral College votes. It makes a big difference getting to the magic number of 270. So the state governments are a barrier to military dictatorship in the United States.

Sam Rohrer:       David, that’s excellent. And ladies and gentlemen, that is a built-in protection that our framers understood because they understood the nature of man and the nature of those, when they get an office, they just want more power. All right, now, let me just conclude with actually five points that I believe are biblical, they are biblical, and should guide all Christian citizens regardless of the type of government in which they find themselves, particularly for us as we are listening right here. Here’s number one. Second Timothy 2:1-4 says, “Pray for all of those in positions of authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” Do you pray? Do I pray like I ought to? For all of those in positions of authority? We should. That’s number one. Number two, we are to honor those in positions of authority, understanding that they serve in a position of authority established by God. That’s where we started with, David started with, “Honor the king,” in Second Peter 2:17. So pray for those in positions of authority. Honor those in positions of authority.

Number three, we are to submit to God’s authority first and foremost and then to all authority as established by God, and obey them until their orders violate God’s commands, at which point then we must obey God rather than man. Romans 13 talks about submitting ourselves to God’s ordained or ranked authority. First Peter 4:15 and 16 says, “Obey even to the point of suffering as a Christian.” But there’s a drawing line. When we’re told by government and it violates God’s commands, we obey God rather than man. Number four, we as American citizens must consider that our duties under the Constitution as our highest civil law is an obligation and we therefore resist all unlawful and unconstitutional actions of any civil leader. We in America have our highest law under God’s law, moral law, the Constitution. What a privilege we have and that does not leave us even though you have a tyrant perhaps in office.

And number five, remember that we are first and foremost citizens of a heavenly kingdom and that as ambassadors of that king and kingdom we are to model heavenly citizenship and moral duties to our king. And why is that? Well, Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” And in that whole passage, it says that when we properly reflect our citizenship as citizens of heaven, as ambassadors, we actually point all those around us to the God of heaven, who alone is able to reconcile people to himself. And that’s why Christ came. That’s our purpose. That’s what we do. Those five, go back and listen to the program again. I don’t have time to recite these once more, but they’re all here.

Thanks for being with us today, ladies and gentlemen. Hopefully, this has been helpful. David New, as always, thank you for being a part of this program.