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A Sermon On Biblical Economics

December 26, 2008

Does God care about the bailout? Should you other than politically? What is economics and does the Bible say anything about it? Does it have anything to do with us being Christians and living holy lives?
-yes, it  an issue of social justice. Hist. Background of fundamentalist and modernist controversy. Liberals made the gospel social involvement and fundamentalists retreated to a corner preaching  salvation only   It  only in last 50 years or so that some evangelicals are trying to bring the church out of its hiding. Why does gov  lead in rescue groups, drug rehab, helping the poor, caring for the elderly, etc? Where is the church? This is all reflected in our economics which shows what we believe, how much we e done about issues, and really where our hearts are. This is why I  preaching a sermon on economics from a biblical standpoint
–So what is economics?  Economics is the values and choices that people make, often referring to issues concerning money, the market, trade/sell. You live out economics everyday, even now. Will you listen to me or not? You will weigh your options as to whether this will be  nteresting to you or not. If you decide no, you make an economic decision to think/do something else. Just don  snore!
–Does the bible support a particular economic system? Does God have anything to say about our money, choices, and values? Well, the answer is obviously yes.

Main text: Amos 8:1-14  Tell context briefly. Note: in OT how the economic situation accorded w/ how Israel obeyed. Now, we aren’t  Israel but the principles of just judgment applies to all nations.

Text Reading(s): Leviticus 19:35-37   19:35
‘ R473 You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.
19:36
‘You shall have just R474 balances, just weights, a just ephah, F262 and a just hin; F263 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.
19:37
‘You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD.’

/   Deut 25:
25:13
” R764 You shall not have in your bag differing F381 weights, a large and a small.
25:14
“You shall not have in your house differing F382 measures, a large and a small.
25:15
“You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, F383 that R765 your days may be prolonged in the land F384 which the LORD your God gives you.
25:16
“For everyone R766 who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God.

Prov 11:1   false weight is an abomination to the Lord and but a just weight is His delight
Read Prov 16: 11,12
16:11
A just R605 balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights F214 of the bag are His concern. F215
16:12
It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne R606 is established on righteousness

Prov. 20: 10,23
Differing F274 R751 weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD.
20:23
Differing F280 R764 weights are an abomination to the LORD, And a false F281 R765 scale is not good.

Ezek 45:10 45:10
“You shall have just R1757 balances, a just ephah R1758 and a just bath.

Read Micah 6:6-16  FOR SECOND SERVICE
-Ex 8:26 – Show Context
But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?
Le 18:22 – Show Context
‘ You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

-note: not just one place, but throughout scriptural witness God talks about economics, judgment, righteousness together!!
-Cf. Rev. 6: 5,6  ow are the economic times? Will they be just? Got to get used to the pattern before this comes in!!
-Rev. 13:16,17 – economic woes are a sign of God  judgment in the tribulation.

List/compare capitalism  n economic system based on private ownership and rights
— socialism – Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy
— interventionism. – the policy or doctrine of intervening, esp. government interference in the affairs of another state or in domestic economic affairs.

Which does the bible support and which does it warn about?
First, warnings.
I) Gov  will always cost the people. And more and more gov  will cost you even more.
-cf. 1Kings 18:11-18 Samuel warned that having unnecessary gov  would cost the people financially and personally. What drove their wish? Someone/something to provide them with security, which results in an abandonment of personal responsibility. We give up rights to get security. This ultimately leads to totalitarian gov s as we surrender more and more rights for more and more safety until finally it becomes too late to turn back the tide. Your freedoms are no longer valid in the marketplace of ideas. This is a strike against interventionism and socialism where gov  exercises control over the market and hence the free decisions of people.

2) An unfair tax system does not reflect God  values. Illust. – A graduated income tax is unbiblical  why? God required an even 10% from His people by law and allowed for extra giving from free will. US penalizes someone for being blessed, hardworking, and/or wise/resourceful/inventive. The more you make, the more you are in effect penalized. It is in effect,  n unjust scales and balance. Taxes ought to be at a  lat rate as either supported in the flat rate tax or what  called the fair tax proposals.  Render to Caesar what’s Caesar but if Caesar is being unjust get him out of office. Not,  h well, they are all corrupt and do nothing about it.

3) the state of economic affairs and decisions reflects a righteous or unrighteous nation.
–what happens when you change administration, no matter who it is, and they change policy wise about how much to tax or what to tax instead of lowering taxes? Well, what was yesterday legalized theft has now become a crime today, or illegal in the gov  vernacular. And yesterday  citizen protection now becomes today  gov  target to redistribute your  or somebody else  wealth without their permission. Just be/c the gov  does it, doesn’t  make it just or a balanced scale in God  eyes. CF. Gov  once supported slavery, no voting rights for women, and even now supports abortion  all thru your tax dollars his I think also is a strike against intervention/socialism by implication

4) Profiting one group, whether race/economic status/heritage/political allegiance, for any reason is opposed by God.  Leviticus 19:15 y ou shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge you neighbor fairly.   EG.  welfare needs overhauling  incentive for unwed mothers  they get extra benefits s that favoring a select group; what about be/c your minority you get extra available helps? This is an unjust scale in God  eyes. ILLUSTRATION: M ichigan students selling cookies at higher price to white kids to make a point about entrance qualifications.
– Beneficiary programs often do not help the poor so much as they help the lawmakers who put them into effect. Cf foreign aid and recently all the earmarks somebody  getting kickback for the programs less than 25% goes to the actual helping of the poor, 75% goes to pay overhead to run the program Ronald Nash Why the Left is Not Right. Pg 183 hat if we cut these programs (sounds heartless right??) invested the money, as a result cut back on taxes, decreased gov  involvement, then everyone across the board would have more wealth ore money for non-profits ore money for the church to do her job that she  left to the gov  – Scripture is so strong about requiring restitution for theft and honoring a contract (takings something that  not yours  EG  the bailout taking my taxes to pay for other  contract agreements so that they don  assume the full loss or payment) that a person would be required to sell even himself in slavery to honor the contract. (Exodus 22:1ff)

It seems the system the bible supports most, though not perfect be/c we live in a fallen world, is capitalism. Ronald Nash  capitalism is economic freedom, the right of people to exchange things voluntarily, free from force, fraud, and theft socialism, on the other hand, seeks to replace the freedom of the market w/ a group of central planners who exercise control over essential market functions. Poverty and Wealth. Pg. 63

Tenants of Capitalism that have biblical support:
1)    the law of incentives  people will do/choose the option that they perceive will give them the most benefit(s) and reject the option(s) that they perceive will cost them the most.  Matt 11:28  Jesus said, come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and (INCENTIVE) I will give you rest. Matt 5:8  blessed are the pure in heart, (INCENTIVE) they shall see God! 2 Thess 3:10  f a man will not work, neither shall he eat. When you know how people tick/desire/want/need, then you can predict w/ some degree of accuracy how they will respond to new incentives. This doesn’t  give 100% certainty as we l see in a moment. Evaluate present crisis with this: Many overextended home buyers AND loan companies don  want to suffer the consequences of their risks, so they are pushing for the bailout. INCENTIVE: Why should I pay for my risk when I can legally subvert my debt to be shared by society as a whole and be protected by the government? See, if you passed your taxes off on someone by force (this is what law is! It  not optional although  legal ) where the government didn’t  get them from you they would arrest you, confiscate your property, and throw you into prison on felony charges. So, is the bailout biblical on these grounds? NO! EG 2  welfare  unmarried mothers are given more welfare resources!! This encourages marriage out of wedlock and rewards worker unproductivity. Law of incentives accords w/ the bible be/c a) God Himself works by incentives  b) he  wired us to work by incentives
2)    Scarcity of resources and personal choice  Matt 6:21  here your treasure is, there your heart is also. What does this mean? There  only so much of something to go around. Simply put this is that people  choices reflect their values, even in what they buy/don  buy.  The bailout leaves no room for choice. God gives us choice even in the issue of the most important thing of all facing us: our salvation!! God doesn’t  force value choices on you, but the government does by things such as this bailout!!  Supported biblically by: a) it honors man  freedom to choice and bear responsibility/benefit for his choices  b) scarcity of resources pushes us to be even better stewards of God  creation and more efficient at subduing the earth with what God has given us.
3)    Economic uncertainty  people  choices change, leaving some room for uncertainty. Why are people sometimes unpredictable? It  not be/c of randomness; it  due to changes in their circumstances/incentives that we don  have all the data to. Eg 1  everyone buys bread; but all of sudden people start paying more for it? Why be/c people stopped farming wheat/grains for other businesses and now the price for bread has gone higher o now, fewer people are buying bread on a regular basis.  EG,  one man is reg. buyer of coffee, but all of a sudden stops. Why? Saving money for wedding ring! For the government to make a full proof intervention decision that will succeed, they must know infallibly what all people will choose based on knowing all their present and future circumstances. Which by the way, only God does. So gov  intervening will not work. The bailout will by nature fail to take into account the changing values/circumstances of society as a whole!
–   PRINCIPLE: When I am forced by governmental law to pay for economic choices, I am forced to support their/someone else  values and hence contributing to the further reinforcement of the bad and maybe unbiblical values. EG- when you vote for politicians who support abortion, he will help get gov  funding aka tax money, your money! to support subsidized (that  a nice word again to say we are going to take your money to pay for our plans!) groups to carry out unbiblical tasks. (Planned Parenthood of America)  Why can  these groups make it own their own? Be/c most Americans are still against such funding of such acts so they find ways to legally get your money, they know you won  support them so they get people who you support to support them ho are you voting for and what do they believe about abortion?? Don  vote party line be/c that  family tradition vote biblical values vote economically (This is not just money but about what you value!!)
4)    Importance of long term consequences  biblically, we are to consider the ant, who thinks long term proverbs 6:6-8   consider the ant o sluggard how she lays up food in the summer for the hard coming winter season.   To interrupt or give false impressions (Hence interventionism or outright control-socialism) about benefits/incentives will work in the short term but prove disastrous in the long run. This is why Russia had to look to America  markets to determine the value of any good/service. Gov  policies will either encourage or discourage incentives to modify responsible behavior and accountability. It  not the taxpayer who has saved, invested in wise companies, etc. to assume the risks and penalties of those who have not. If I buy a car, and can  make the payments or it tears up should you be required to finish paying the payments on it be/c your car runs well and you e paid it off? NO!
a.    The bailout has in essence rewarded foolish choices on part of the loan company and the loanee due to gov  intervention policies since the 70 .
Illustration of this: Intervention be/c it influences choices, etc. based on false impressions redirects resources to areas that it  not needed and takes it from other areas that are balanced, therefore giving false growth. EG. The housing market bust  be/c the gov  in the 90  messed w/ the market and the credit lines, people enjoyed  prosperous times as a result, many extra homes were built be/c credit was easy to get and people had false impressions about what the society needed/wanted (what the market was actually saying)  s a result, the view became off balanced, people over extended themselves, too many houses were built, and people found out they didn’t  have as much wealth as they thought hence, the housing bust and hence, the bailout nd hence, paying for it in the long run b.
Raising taxes  alters people  incentives  more gov  dependent, less self reliant g  then cutting taxes sounds like telling the addict that his supply of drugs are cut off his is usually blasted by rhetoric like  t  not compassionate to cut off their needed/expected supply.
5)    Private property rights : Exod. 20: 15-17  Thou shalt not lie and  thou shalt not steal are the basis for a capitalistic system; socialism only knows  f it works, use it or  f it furthers the agenda, it should be legalized Private property and the rights with it are assumed under these 2 commandments.
6)    Fair, free exchange of goods and services. Gen. 23: Abraham  fair exchange for the burial plot for Sarah. Fair, free trade. The are many other examples.
7)    Fair trade   Deut 23:15-16 Just weights and measurements. This is pure and simple fair trade, not gov  controlled trade or intervention favoring one group over another much like we e seeing today.   This implies the honoring of contracts by the way, which the bailout just undermined $700 billion of contract commitments. What if you rescinded on your contracts to pay taxes, enlist in the services, obey the laws of the land which are all contracts to the gov ? What does this say about our integrity as Americans, to our influence as Christians in a free society where we can have an impact?
8)    Profitable use of resources: This is diff from scarcity (limited) this includes idea of making profit/living from the resources, even if they are raw materials or your skills. Gen 1:28 God has wired some to be artists, mechanically inclined, book worms, etc. Capitalism best affords for the unique gifting/wirings from the Lord to allow someone to fulfill the cultural mandate of subduing the earth
a.    Socialism kills any incentive to progress/ to further yourself since the controlled market doesn’t  reward one type of behavior over another, thereby reinforcing minimal creativity and participation. Why should I study to be a doctor and have to pay all the extra taxes and come out making the same as someone who works construction and makes a less than me and doesn’t  have to pay so many taxes? Why go thru all the training when I can come out an easier way?
b.    Wealth comes, not from resources themselves, but from people who use creativity and hard work to harness those resources for their benefit and society . Land by itself produces only weeds. W/ man fulfilling the cultural mandate to subdue the earth in a free market, produces fruit, etc. that feeds a community. The government has no revenue or produced goods whatsoever; whatever it has it has by  legal action.
1)    Objections: Does Lev 25 and Acts 4:32-35 support socialism/redistribution of wealth? No, not on closer examination.  Voluntary sharing. NOTE: this very church was later in financial trouble  Paul had to take up a special collection for the saints at Jersusalem.

Is it capitalism biblically moral?
1) It exploits people  –   Wrong: a) when gov  plays it proper, limited role to uphold a just balance and the honoring of contracts, no one buys anything unless he sees it as a profit to himself G. Your thirsty, there are several stores, you choose which one you like based on your values and their integrity (if not honest, no one shops there!) you agree for $1 you want their Coke, they agree they want your $1 more than they want to keep their Coke, you exchange goods, you both win!   B) also it encourages, not guarantees, the most dignity for people based on their specific skills to further the wealth of that society.   Biblical justice in Lev. 19:15 demands equality before the law, not in incomes or abilities.
2) It encourages greed/selfishness: Wrong: greed is kept in balance when there is competition and fair trade as above. We both have to agree that the exchange is fair in our eyes before the deal is done. Greed is kept in check by my competitors (to beat them) and my desire to get your business (I have to come down on the price for you to buy it) Actually, by extension of this process, it builds society and community be/c it fosters interaction for both sides to win.
3) It exploits the poor: Not true: A) All things must be considered.  Some are poor be/c of bad choices, not working, or bad circumstances. The bible recognizes exploitation but holds gov  responsible for not upholding the law but if you vote exploiters in, do we not bare some responsibility?. . Again, they are better, more efficient ways to help the poor w/out the waste of gov  overhead as w/ socialism/intervention policies.  B) the wealthy actually create wealth for others: When  the last time you got a job from a poor person??  How about your home appliances that make your life easier? That  wealth, what poor person made that?? If he was poor, now he  rich and he still benefits your life!! As rich people expand, they create more jobs which in turn gives more opportunity for you to have a job/wealth as a result. Poor is a relative term. Cf. the poor here to other countries ur poor our rich be/c, of what  looking more and more, our past capitalism
Conclusion:
2)    Gov  should set up ethical standards of fair, just, balanced trade and let the people work. To have social justice where the gov  sets, changes the market focus will prove and has proven disastrous.  This should affect how you vote for people. Look at what they support economically: bailout or not; gov  intervention; pushing for social programs and intervention? Don  vote for these people  it  an unjust balance and scales in God  eyes. Contact your representatives about these issues. Be informed w/ God  truth about these issues and let it change how you live.
3)    If the gov  and their economic policies, etc are a reflection of the American people, what does it say about where we need to repent as God  people? John Adams said,   republic form of government (Not Republican but representative!) always gets the leaders it deserves (because it reflects the people  choices!) What do we show economically as our treasure/values/ethics?
4)    So biblically, where your treasure is there will your heart be also.
a)    What are you going to vote for? Gov  backed Robin Hooding? Or tax breaks and enforcing personal responsibility for choices?
b)    Economic value is subjective: If we looked at our church budget, what do we show is important to our priorities? Missions, evangelism, doctrine or just maintaining? What does your bank account show what is important to you? If you were to take inventory of your household goods, what would it show? What does it show in relation to your investments in the world  goods vs issues of God  kingdom? The question sometimes is motive, not so much what you buy. Eg.  eating out Why? Sole indiv. Gratification or bless others, minister to them?? How can you as a voter/citizen make the value of ethical choices more important in the marketplace? By supporting/not supporting the appropriate causes.
c)    The biggest economic question; why do you consider living for yourself, the gain of temporary sinful pleasures to be more valued than having God as your inheritance? CF. Isaiah 55:1-3 come buy
d)    God paid for us according to the value of His glory He was going to have in us:  e redeemed (Bought back  monetary/market term) us with the precious blood of His Son.  Thankful and how will you be  redeeming the world for God  glory? Adoption? Giving? Going? Supporting? Social involvement? Illust.  Amazing Grace movie William Wilberforce  politics or ministry Yes, it  both!
e)    Prov. 16:8  Better a little gain w/ righteousness than much gain w/ injustice. A bailout gives much gain, to the select few who are in trouble and that have caused the mess, but tips the scales of a fair and just balance in God  eyes.

-Capitalism, although no system is perfect in a fallen world, best accords w/ the biblical data. Socialism, which we are moving fast towards, is elitist, squeezes out the basic human liberties that God grants to all of His creatures made in His image, and for the fulfilling of the cultural mandate. Show me a society that has socialism as its fabric and I l show you a country that has to borrow ideas/technology. Show me a country that has capitalism, and I l show you an efficient, innovative people who live in luxury compared to the rest of the world.
The only way to arrive at equal fruits (everybody has the same results in life economically) is to make everybody have equal behavior/drives/ambitions. The only way to do this is to take away human rights and make them slaves of the gov . Economic freedom and the right to private property are crucial for political freedom. And I would add to fulfill the Cultural mandate, the image of God in you, and to uphold the life freedoms God has bestowed upon His creatures.

MY POINT: as we move further and further from a bible influenced society and as the American church lies in willful ignorance more and more about the teachings of scripture, the basic rights of all people everywhere become threatened. Economic policy is a reflection of society. Our society is moving faster/faster in the wrong direction. So what must we do? Christians must vote and be socially involved. Economics is a very good reflection of the values of a people and what they believe about life, rights, and their responsibilities before God.  We need to repent of our own economic choices, whether financial, individual, ethical, etc. We need to pray for our country. We need to put our money where our mouth is.
-Cf Isaiah 65:21-21  he righteous reign of God is brought in, people  property and work are protected. So in an evil degenerating society, what will the economics be?

Conclusion: Is this setting the stage for worldwide economic collapse? As America goes, most of world goes. It  not that they just did this, but now it has set precedent. This is fallout from Carter era, helped by Clinton  administration, and now further empowered by Bush.  Are we beginning to see the beginning of birth pangs of the tribulation? Is the stage being set? Maybe. Watch the fallout from this in about 7-10 years! The gov  will do more intervening, unjust balance and hurt the American people.

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