“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.”(I Kings )
“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”(Mic. 4:4)
In a nutshell, our text sums up God’s economic plan for humanity:every man has his own property and means of production, and no one threatens to take it from him.That’s what we call free-market capitalism, and that’s one of the things that helped to build this great nation in which we live.Live and let live.Work hard, provide for your family, fear God, and be fair and compassionate toward your fellow man.That’s what built America, and that’s the kind of society that God wants us to have.
But that’s not the kind of society that many of our elected officials, educators, media people, and special interest groups want us to have.With all the talk of government bailouts, stimulus plans, and “spreading the wealth around” over the past year, there has been an increasing interest in an old word that’s being used more and more these days.That word is socialism. Thankfully, in the minds of many, the word still carries with it reflections of swastikas, the Hitler Youth, and concentration camps, and let’s not forget the UnitedSovietSocialistRepublic (USSR) and the millions that died in its hands.But, in the minds of others, the word has either no meaning at all or it means something heroic like “let’s be modern day Robin Hoods by taking from the rich and giving to the poor.”Of course, that’s not what Robin Hood did at all: he took from the stealing state and gave back to the workingpeople, but who these days cares about the facts?
For its first definition of socialism, Merriam-Webster offers the following words:“any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”There, do you see that?Socialism has to do with government.If you can’t get that straight, then you might as well just stop reading right now.Socialism is not something that happens when Bro. Jones offers a helping hand to Bro. Smith.Socialism is something that happens when governing bodies install and apply certain economic and political policies.
Another definition comes from thefreedictionary.com:“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.”There it is again: government, or at the least a collective productive and distribution system, both of which have nothing to do with individualism.
A third definition comes from dictionary.reference.com:“a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”Their third definition is “(in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.” Other dictionaries also use this definition.
So, simply stated, socialism is a form of big brother government that a nation goes through in its efforts to forsake free market capitalism and embrace communism.
Comparing Economic Apples and Oranges
Now, I have emphasized the fact that socialism concerns governments.Just as one would associate armies, taxes and laws with governments, they should also, and always, associate socialism with governments.Never should anyone, especially Christians, associate socialism with individual responsibility.To do so is to mix apples with oranges and promote confusion and deception.
Allow me to illustrate.Suppose a foreign student from the local college came to our church and saw a copy of our Statement of Faith.He then goes back to China and tells his family and friends there that in America every person has a Statement of Faith.That would be incorrect because a Statement of Faith belongs to a governing body, such as a church or other religious organization.A Statement of Faith does not belong to individuals, only organized groups.The young man would be mixing apples and oranges.
Well, that’s what many so-called “Christians” are doing with socialism.They are claiming that America ought to be a socialist nation because the Bible commands people to care for one another, not just themselves.In their view, capitalism is selfishness, and socialism is true love and caring.The trouble is that they fail to tell anyone that the Bible commands voluntary individual conduct, not forced government policy.For instance, in October, 2008, a socialist voter said, “My Bible tells me there is nothing wrong with helping other people, that we want to treat others like we want to be treated. That I am my brother's keeper, and I am my sister's keeper. I believe that." (www.blog.beliefnet.com)Well, most everyone else believes that too, but that has nothing to do with government policy!This person has taken a Bible principle dealing with individual responsibilities and applied it to government policy, a very big mistake.
So, in essence, socialism is a long bridge of government policies, built by the communists for the purpose of gradually moving people from liberty to bondage, from God to humanism, from moral capitalism to communism.
The Economic System of the Bible
The Bible does not teach socialism.As we shall shortly see, it teaches free-market capitalism for society as a whole, and it teaches moral responsibility for the individuals in that society.As the old saying goes, “You can’t legislate morality,” and that’s exactly what socialism does.Through legislatures and courts, socialists frame government policies that take from one class of citizens and give to another class.Their message is crystal clear: “Since you won’t volntarily give what we think you should give to the lower classes of society, we will make you give to them (and to us), and we will decide how much you should give.”That is socialism, and it is not supported by God’s word.
In the Beginning . . .
Alright, let’s get into the Scriptures, and let’s start where God started, in the book of beginnings.As you know, God created a man.But do you know what He did with that man?He put him to work!He didn’t put him on welfare and food stamps.He put him in a garden and gave him a job to do.Genesis 2:15 says, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”So what was Adam?He was a producer.By dressing and keeping the garden, he turned over a profit.If that’s not enough, he was also told to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28).Multiply?Is that not production, or, better yet, reproduction?So, the first man on the earth was ordained to be an individualproducer before any governments were formed. By the Biblical law of first mention, the first producer in this world was an individual, not a government.God expects individuals, not governments, to be the main producers and distributors of society.
Coming over to Genesis chapter four, we see individuals, not governments, involved in the production and distribution of goods.We read in Genesis 4:2-5 that “. . . Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”Notice that both men had jobs, both men were producers of goods, and both men had the right to distribute their goods as they chose.They were held accountable for their individual choices, but they were not required to follow anyone’s economic policy.There was no government, nor any other group or individual, stepping in and making decisions about the production and distribution of Abel and Cain’s goods. That’s the way God wanted it, and that’s the way it was.
Now, one might argue that this was before governments were established, therefore it isn’t fair to use examples from Adam or his sons.As we shall now see, it makes no difference where you turn in the Bible; a Biblical economy is a free-market economy tempered with moral, individual responsibility.
Our next stopping point is Genesis chapter thirteen where we meet the first rich man in the Bible.We read in verse two that “. . . Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.”This means he owned cattle, silver, and gold.The state didn’t own it, and the community didn’t own it.Abram owned his goods and the means of production and distribution.Now, how did God feel about this?Was it acceptable for a man to be rich while others were middle class and poor?Consider verses fourteen and fifteen: “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.”What?!Abram was already rich in cattle, silver, and gold, but God didn’t think that was enough; so He gave him a bunch of land as well!“Oh, but Bro. Melton, you just wait till we get to the New Testament.”Well, let’s just get to it right now: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Mat. 25:29)That’s the same God that told us about Abram in Genesis chapter thirteen.God’s economic policy isn’t “from each according to his ability.” God’s policy is to each according to his production and distribution.Abram had been faithful with his riches, so God promised him more riches.
By the way, in light of that last verse, whois it that reserves the right to take from people?It isn’t government; it’s God!When men start getting into the business of taking from one group and giving to another, they are getting into God’s business, and judgment is sure to follow.
Now, back to Abram.In addition to having many material possessions, he also had a good many employees, or servants, who dependended on his prosperity for their own livlihood.Genesis 14:14 says, “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.” Abraham was in charge of over three hundred people!Would a man not need to be “rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” in order to care for over three hundred people?Of course he would, and God knew it.That’s why God made him rich and kept him rich.He knew that Abraham was a good man who would be a good steward with his possessions.So, God made Abraham rich, then richer, and He has spent the past 4,000 years cursing anyone who has a problem with it.
The Wealth of Job
Okay, let’s go visit another wealthy man in the Bible.Let’s take a look at Job.We read these words in Job 1:1-3:“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was wicked and greedy, and he had no use for God or his fellow man . . .”Oops!Excuse me!I must have been reading from the New Socialist Version.Let’s try that again with the true word of God, the King James Bible:“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”As we shall see, the passage slaps the socialist in the face like a wet towel.
First of all, God didn’t say that there was a government in the land of Uz doing anything. He said there was a man because God is interested in men, especially individual men.God’s hall of faith (Heb. 11) is filled with individuals, not governments.His prophets and preachers have always been individuals, not governments and programs, and His beloved Son was “the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5), not a government or a government program.When God’s eyes scanned the land of Uz, He took interest in a man, a very wealthy man named Job.
Next, notice how God first describes Job.Before telling us anything about Job’s wealth, God informs us that he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”That’s God’s comment on the man.Inspite of what anyone thinks of wealthy people, God first tells us that this man was “perfect and upright,” which means you are supposed to still believe that after discovering in verse three that Job was a very rich man.He was perfect, upright, and very rich.
Now, just how rich was he?According to God’s account, He outranked “all the men of the east.”He was an ancient Bill Gates, and God said he was a perfect and upright man.
Bill Gates is worth at least forty billion dollars, even after the recent stock market corrections.I’ve heard people criticize rich folks like him, by saying, “Why, no one needs that much money!”Yet, they don’t know how many employees he has, how much it takes to pay all their paychecks and benefits, nor how much it takes to fund their retirement accounts.The simple fact is that Bill Gates is a producer and distributor who provides useful products and thousands of needed jobs.God allowed him to be rich, and then He allowed him to become richer.Saved or lost, God allowes Bill Gates to have great possessions.
Job was like that.This man had seven thousand sheep.Feeding that many sheep would require some land, don’t you think?He also had three thousand camels.Now, not everyone owned a camel in those days.Folks owned donkeys for burden bearing and oxen for plowing, which would be about the same as having a standard car or truck, or both, and maybe a small tractor or two, but having a camel was like having a Cadilac, maybe even a Cadilac Escalade.Very few people owned one of those, yet Job had three thouand of them. He also had five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she asses.Wow!When your farm needs five hundred tractors and five hundred trucks, you’re doing some serious producing!Job was one serious producer, and he was perfect and upright in the eyes of God.We won’t study Job chapter thirty-one, but that chapter will offer the reader a little insight into the righteous character of this great man from the east.
The Rich Get Richer
My point is this:God didn’t look at Job and think that he had more than any one man needed and that his wealth needed to be redistributed.After enduring an incredible time of testing, God delivered Job and blessed him.Here’s how he blessed him:“And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”(Job 42:10)Rather than ending with men spreading Job’s wealth around, the book ends with God doubling his wealth!The passage continues:“Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.”(Job 42:11-17)Though Job didn’t need it, “every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold” (vs. 11), which tells us that Job’s fellow men had the right attitude about Job’s wealth.He was a great produder and distributor, and their duty was to show their appreciation.Many people benefitted from Job’s prosperity, and his righteous life was just “icing on the cake.”He was entitled to everything he had, and God even gave him more due to his good stewardship and good character.No man, and no government, has the right to interfere with that process
Socialism and the Commandments
The eighth commandment is THOU SHALT NOT STEAL (Exo. 20:15), and , simply stated, the tenth commandment is THOU SHALT NOT COVET (Exo. 20:17).Socialism cannot exist without these two commandments being disobeyed.Those promoting socialsim are counting on your disobedience to these two commanments.If you are obeying the eighth commandment, then you do not support takingsomething from its rightful owner, and, if you are obeying the tenth commandment, then you are content with your own possessions, rather than coveting someone else’s possessions.If a man is truly living in obedience to these commandments, then there is no way he will cast a single vote for a candidate who favors breaking these commandments.No God-fearing Christian supports theft, even if it has been legislated and legalized by the government, and no God-fearing Christian allows himself to be “stirred up” by a spirit of coveteousness and class envy.
Getting “Stirred Up”
Most people reading this booklet know that Ahab was a very wicked king, but do you know why? We read in I Kings 21:25 one of the reasons why Ahab was such a wicked king: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”The implication is that Ahab would not have been near as wicked had Jezebel not been around.But Satan used her to reach into his heart and “stir up” the evil that had been resting quietly.If he’d had a “clean heart” like David (Psalm 51:10) it would not have been possible for her or anyone else to stir him up because there wouldn’t have been any evil there to stir.There would have been only good things to stir.
Paul wrote to Timothy about this good stirring in II Timothy 1:6:“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”The heart of every Christian ought to be filled with good seeds that produce the fruit of the spiritfound in Galatians 5:22-23:“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”By contrast, the heart of the lost person is filled with seeds of carnality that produce the works of the flesh:“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”Satan is a master at stirring up these evil seeds so that the works of the flesh become manifest and promote his cause.It’s understandable that a lost person would allow this to happen, since they’re ignorant of their lost condition and Satan’s working in their members, but Christians should know better.Since we still have our old nature, we must keep our hearts in check to be sure that seeds of carnality are not hiding there, waiting to be “stirred up.”In the book of Acts, Luke uses this term five times to describe the manner in which people allow themselves to be moved for evil causes.A good exmple is Acts 14:2:“But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.”
Likewise, many public figures today are successful in stirring up people for evil purposes, including the support of socialistic policies.If a Christian has the sin of coveteousness residing in his heart, lusting for someone else’s possessions, then he is a prime candidate for being stirred up by the devil.All Satan needs is an event, such as an election, a nataional “crises,” a hot media story, or some tragedy, to get the Christian on his side in support of something unscriptural.It is our Christian duty to keep our hearts “fixed” so that it cannot be stirred (Psalm 112:7; I Cor. 15:58). The clean-hearted, Spirit-filled Christian doesn’t follow the “conventional wisdom” of the masses; hedetects the devil’s motives and takes God’s side.If you’re going to get stirred up, make sure God is doing the stirring.It is clearly Satan, not God, who stirs people up into a spirit of covetousness over the success and wealth of others.Our Christian duty is to keep our eyes on God and be content with our own possessions: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”(Heb. 13:5)“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”(I Tim. 6:8)“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”(Phlp. 4:11)“. . . Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”(Luke 3:14)
Just about Gone
The reason for so many people having their eyes on the prosperity of others is the fact that they don’t have their eyes on the things of God (Col. 3:1-4).The massess who vote for and support liberal and socialist politicians and causes are not a heavenly-minded people.Such people are consumed with envy, bitterness, and coveteousness, because they spend all their time focusing on either themselves or other people.This keeps their hearts in a sinful state of instability rather than in a righteous state, “fixed” on the will of God (Psa. 112:7).Such people grow more and more bitter as the years roll by, and they grow harder to reach with the gospel.
Asaph once had this problem, and he tells us about it in the seventy-third Psalm.The psalm begins with these words:“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”(Psa. 73:1-3)It is probably true that most rich people are unsaved and wicked, but that does not give the righteous justification for coveting their possessions.Doing so only places us in the same carnal category as them.Asaph said that his stepshad “well nigh slipped.”Thankfully, they didn’t slip because he got his eyes back on God.He goes on to say in verses sixteen through eighteen, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.”Asaph nearly got his feet off the solid rock of godly contentment and onto the slipperly slopes of envy and covetousness.If not for the grace of God, he would have ruined his testimony and met a very sad end just like the wicked.
Many Christians, or at least professing Christians, are in the same condition today.Their misplaced interest in the success and prosperity of others has taken their eyes off of the will of God for their own lives, and they are wandering into the “slippery places” of which Asaph wrote.Unless they repent, like Asaph, and get their eyes back on God and their duties to Him, they will ruin their testimonies and be found naked at the judgment seat of Christ (Rev. 16:15; 3:17).I can almost see Satan bent over in laughter as so many professing Christians allow themselves to be pulled into his socilaist philosophies. Let us take heed to Paul’s warning to the Colossians: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”(Col. 2:8)Just before telling that to the Colossians, he told them to be “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:7)Rooted, established, and abounding with thanksgiving; does that sound like a man who thinks he’s entitled to someone else’s possessions?I think not.
If Riches Increase . . .
I do not particulary enjoy defendning rich people who oftentimes have no use for my God and my Bible, but it is necessary to do so because so many people, Chrisians included, have their eyes fixed on them, rather than on God.I believe Psalm 62:10 is a very appropriate verse for our study:“Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”The verse says, “trust not in oppression,” which is what socialism often amounts to, but then God told us something else in the verse:“if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”The verse might be referring to your own potential riches, but it didn’t say so.It simply said, “if riches increase,” meaning anyone’s riches.You shouldn’t set your heart on any riches, be they your’s or someone else’s.
As already stated, God allows some people to become wealthy for the benefit of others, but not through socialist policies.It is by providing goods and services, jobs, insurance benefits, retirement, bonuses, and sometimes even charity, that people benefit from the wealthy.It is God who gives people power to get wealth (Deu. 8:18), so our trust should remain in Him, not in the wealth.Paul addressed this issue in his first letter to Timothy when he said, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (I Tim. 6:17) He didn’t say it was wrong for them to be rich; he said it was wrong to “trust” in riches.Many people in this world are rich simply because they never sought to be rich.They simply had a passion to start a business and make or sell a good or a service that they love.Their riches are merely a consequence of their passion and hard work.The truth is that the middle class and the poor probably think more about their riches than they do.In such cases, the real culprits are not those with the riches, but rather those who are lusting for material riches themselves instead of being content with “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).After all, Warren Buffet might have billions, he won’t carry a penny of it into eternity.So, why set your heart on it?By doing so, are you not telling God that you do not highly value your relationship with him, your Bible, your godly friends, and your treasure in heaven?
It has long been Satan’s plan to confuse or even reverse all that is godly.He puts pants on women, and he puts long hair on men.He fills pulpits with women, while grown men sit idle in the pews, and he brings people of the same sex together at a wedding alter.Our society is filled with evidence that Satan delights in confusing God’s orderly plan.
Socialism is just one more way of doing this.God’s law is that one should reap what he sows, be it good or bad (Gal. 6:7-8).Jesus said that the laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7), and Paul taught the same (I Tim. 5:18).If a man works hard and succeeds in life, then he is morally entitled to his reward.Psalm 128:2 says, “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” But in socialism this is not the case.The industrious man knows very well that he will be punished with higher taxes and ridiculous government regulations, if he becomes “too successful.”He knows that Washington is packed full of men and women who crouch like hungry lions, ready to pounce on his success and “spread the wealth around” to people who didn’t earn a penny of it.So, why even bother, or why keep his business in America?It’s usually not about greedy, rich, people.It’s usually about power hungry thieves in Washington who know that their ignorant constituants will keep electing them if they keep promising to “stick it to the rich,’ excluding themselves, of course.Socialism isn’t coming to America; socialism is here, and it’s growing like an out-of-control cancer.If not corrected, socialism will eventually either export or totally quench the American dream, and it won’t be the fault of the crooks in Washington; it’ll be the fault of the ignorant and covetous people who put them in office, the dupes who allowed themselves to be manipulated by by the socialists and communists that Satan has planted in all walks of life.Yes, they’re in Washington, but they’re also in the schools, in the newspapers, on the television, at the lunch table, and probably in your church, maybe even in the pulpit.Until socialism is seen for what it is, and its disciples are clearly identified, you can kiss America goodbye.It breaks my heart to have to state it so plainly, but that’s the truth, and people need to face it, God’s people first and foremost.After all, we are supposed to be “a wise and understanding people” (Deu. 4:6; James 1:5).
Private Property Ownership: A God-Given Right
I trust that I’ve made my point about how socialism cannot exist without the sins of covetousness and envy being committed as a way of life, so let’s move on to the issue of private property ownership being a God-given right.We’ve already seen the examples of Adam, Abraham, and Job, and we’ll see more later, but let’s also see a few clear passages of scripture that encourage the ownership of private property.
First, let’s get Psalm 115:16, which says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”The verse doesn’t say that God gave the earth to the governments of men, but rather to the children of men, to individuals.All government property once belonged to individuals.There is no other way for governments to own anything.Its money, its buildings, and all of its land came from the hands of individuals because God first gave it to individuals.Yet, we’ve allowed governments to reverse God’s plan and have us think that land rights (and other rights) come from governments.The founders were bitterly opposed to this idea, as is the Bible.
In Acts chapter five, speaking of land, Peter asked Ananias, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?”Ananias had been dishonest and uncheerful in his giving, but there was no sin in his owning land.
Genesis 21:25 records for us the fact that a rich man, Abraham, had the right to reprove a man for taking some of his land.Abraham wasn’t expected to “share” his land with anyone.He had the right of ownership, production, and distribution.
Exodus 20:17 commands us to not covet our neighbor’s land.It’s his, and no one else’s.
God felt so strongly about private property ownership under the law of Moses that a man who sold a house in a city could redeem it for up to a full year after he sold it (Lev. 25:29-30).
Deuteronomy 19:14 gives to us a familiar portion of scripture about private property ownership:“Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.”Many other passages could be given, but these make the point clear.God gives land to people, and they have the right to pass that land on to their children.
If these references to private property rights seem unnecessary, you might consult the citizens of London, Connecticut, who had their land taken from them through “emminent domain” laws in the summer of 2005, thanks to the United States Supreme Court.Justice O’Connor’s dissenting opinion stated that, “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party . . . the beneficiaries will likely be those citizens with disproportional influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”Please don’t act surprised.After all, the first plank in Marx’s Communist Manifesto (1848) is the abolition of private property:“Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.”This author isn’t “out of touch” by any means.I’m more in touch with what’s happening in this country than I want to believe.The sad reality is that most readers of this booklet will not care much about it until they are personally affected in a big way.Then it will be too late.
The Parable of the Labourers
We’ve established the fact that God gives men the right to own property and that He allows them to be the producers and distributors of their own goods.We will now attempt to pull it all together with a brief commentary on Jesus’ parable of the labourers.The parable obviously offers many spiritual lessons, but it is the lessons regarding property and the production and distribution of goods that we are concerned with in this study.We’ll read the parable as a whole, and then comment on a verse or two at a time.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”
Verse 1: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.”This man was a “householder,” which means that he, like Abraham, was invested in the production and distribution of goods, and he was also invested in the care of numerous people.The vineyard is said to be “his” vineyard, not the community or state vineyard.
Verse 2:“And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.”Again, we are reminded that this is “his” vineyard, and “he” agreed “with the labourers” on what the pay would be.There are no government regulations and no labor unions involved.If the workers don’t think a penny a day is enough, they can negotiate with the householder for more pay, or they can look elsewhere for a job.If the housaholder is being unreasonable, then the free market will eventually force him to offer better wages or go out of business.
Verse 3:“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace.”Evidently, there were no welfare programs available, else they would have been at home drinking beer and watching game shows.The absence of socialist policies forced them to go out and make themselves available for work.
Verses 4-5:“And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.”Aparrantly, the boss was a fair and trustworthy man beause this group agreed to work for “whatsoever is right.”Unlike modern socialists and communists, they didn’t immediately assume that he was a crook just because he had money.They took him at his word.
Verses 6-7:“And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.”Again, notice that being hired was their only hope.They had no socialistic programs to depend on.They had to either work or go hungry. Eventually, they were hired.No one had to have governmet step in with a welfare plan.
Verse 8:“So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.”Now, this is where it gets good.The householder knows perfectly well that paying the workers “from the last unto the first” is going to cause a controversy, but he goes ahead with it for the sake of teaching a lesson, namely a lesson about covetousness.
Verse 9:“And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.”Regardless of what anyone thinks about it, Jesus said this is “right” in verse seven.
Verses 10-12:“But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”There’s the old sin creeping in and rocking the system.These first workers would have been content with their pay (since they agreed for a penny a day), but then they saw what the other workers received.Only then did they start expecting more for themselves.This is covetousness, plain and simple, and it led to the sin of murmering.
Verse 13:“But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?”Amen.They lost nothing.They agreed to a penny (a standard day’s pay at that time), and they received a penny.
Verse 14:“Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.”What they received was their’s, and their duty was to go their way and not worry about anyone else’s pay.
Verses 15-16:“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”Their eyes were evil because they were filled with the sin of covetosuness, yet the boss was good for giving extra to some of his workers.He could have saved himself some money by paying the latter workers less, since they only worked a partial day, but he was pleased with the day’s production, so he generously gave everyone the same pay.Though this seemed unfair, he reminded the workers that he had the right to distribute his own possessions as he chose, and Jesus didn’t tell us that any government agency stepped in to render justice.Justice was served when the individual workers received their pay from their good and fair employer.There was not one ounce of socialism in the parable because God’s econimic plan for society is free-market capitalism.
Who Should Give?
I’ve said a lot about free enterprise and capitalism because the Bible teaches the same, but it also teaches personal responsibility and compasion.In other words, people should have the right to do as they choose with their own possessions, but they should choose to be decent individuals who live by the two great commandments:“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”(Mat. 22:37-40)
True love in the Bible is a love that gives.The supreme example is John 3:16:“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave . . .”One cannot really love without giving; therefore one cannot really love his neighbor without giving.Taking from one class of people in order to give to another class is not real giving; it’s nothing more than stealing, and it doesn’t please God.Biblical giving is when you, as an individual, give your own goods or services for the purpose of benefitting another individual.The story of the good Samaritan illustrates the concept pefectly (Luke 10:25-37).God can be glorified when an individual gives to another with a pure motive, but not when governments steal and redistribute goods; and all things are supposed to be done for the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31; 1:29).
How Should One Give?
The basic spirit of giving is supposed to be cheerfulness.II Corinthians 9:7 say, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”The good Samaritan gave no indication that he was anything other than happy to have the opportunityto help his fellow man.This should be the spirit of all giving.But with socialism this isn’t possible.How can a man be cheerful over the fact that rich politicians are stealing his money and giving it to other people?Obviously, he can’t be cheerful about it, which means it cannot glorify God. This fact alone renders socialistic “giving” unscriptural.
Who Should Receive?
Those who choose to give of their substance for the benefit of others should know who the recipients of their goodness will be, yet this is not the case in socialism.Some people are unworthy to receive charity, yet socilaist policies reward them equally with those who are worthy.
The Bible says a great deal about our moral obligation to help the fatherless, widows, and strangers, but it is very clear in pointing out that we are not supposed to help lazy, able-bodied, men who refuse to work and provide for their own.The references are numerous:
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”(II Ths. 3:10-12)
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”(I Ths. 4:11-12)
“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.”(Pro. 21:25)
“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”(Pro. 20:4)Why would he have nothing?Will society not support this man?No, not under God’s system; maybe an occasional free meal, but not a monthly check.
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”(Eph. 4:28)Yet, the man who gains his living through government handouts is stealing, and he’s not giving to anyone!
America’s First Experiment with Socialism
America’s first experiment with socialism didn’t come inmodern times.It came nearly four-hundred years ago when our Pilgrim fathers came over from Europe and began their settlement.According to William Bradford’s work Of Plymouth Plantation, the pilgrim settlers established rules that required every family to give their harvests to a communal storehouse that would divide the goods equally among all citizens.This proved to be disasterous since many grew lazy, knowing that they would be fed regardless.Others refused to give their best effort, knowing that the fruit of their labors would only be taken from them.The whole plan was eventually ditched, and free-market capitalism was embraced, which worked wonderfully.But who ever learns from history?Certainly not Americans.
If individuals, families, businesses, or even churches, want to distribute their goods to others, that’s perfectly fine, and the Scriptures encourage them to do so with cheerful hearts as the Holy Spirit leads, but governments have no goods to distribute to anyone other than the goods they have taken from people, so this makes socialism an unscriptural economic system.
The Communist Manifesto
The following is from pages 67-68of our 2004 book Satan’s New World Order (still available).I believe you’ll agree that this information is growing more relevant every day . . .
One would do well to examine American policies, trends, and events in light of what Marx and Engels wrote over one hundred and fifty years ago in their Communist Manifesto.In “the most advanced countries,” this document called for ten specific goals to be reached, commonly referred to as the “ten planks of the Communist Manifesto.”As you read through the list, meditate upon how each item (some more than others) finds fruition in the modern American system.They are as follows:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a
national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the
hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the
state; the bringing of cultivation of waste lands, and the improve-
ment of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work.Establishment of industrial armies,
especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual
abolition of all distinction between town and country by a more
equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools.Abolition of
children’s factory labor in its present form.Combination of
education with industrial production, etc.
Even the most casual observer can easily see that our nation’s leaders are assisting in the adaptation of Marxist ideals in America. The America that we know today bears very little resemblance to the America of our forefathers.The twentieth century was the century of “change” in America, and the changes brought us more in line with the Communist Manifesto.Why?Because Satan’s new world order will be a Communist world order, so America must adapt.In the years ahead, more changes will occur until America is fully prepared, or fully “ripe” (to quote Lenin).
Stay off the Bridge
I trust that we’ve covered this subject adequately enough for any truth-seeking person to comprehend, so I’ll close our study with a little story that I recently told to the children at our church:
Once upon a time Jared, Joy, and David, were playing on their grandfather’s great farm, called Freedom Farm, when they wandered off across the pasture, into the woods, and all the way to the banks of a big, wide, river.While looking across the river they saw a very great, dark, mountain that they had never seen before.They also saw a great bridge stretching across the wide river to the base of the mountain.With much excitement, they ran all the way back to grandpa’s house and cried, “Grandpa!Grandpa! We just saw a great river, and across the river a very great mountain, and a big bridge to take us there!What’s it called, grandpa?Have you ever seen it?Have you ever been there?Will you take us there?”Then, with the most serious look they had ever seen on his face, grandpa sat down, gathered the children around, and told them the truth about the mysterious mountain, the wide river, and the great bridge . . .
“Children, don’t ever go back there again. That great mountain you saw is not a mountain at all.It only looks like a mountain.It’s really a very dangerous volcano called Communism, and it has claimed the lives of many people.The people who live there are called Communists.Folks like to go there, thinking that they’ll be happier, only to be devoured by the wrath of the volcano.God placed the wide river there, called Constitution River, to keep us from crossing over into danger.”
“But who built the bridge?” asked David.“Yeah,” added Joy, “and does the bridge have a name?”“The bridge was built by the Communists,” said grandpa, “and it is called Socialism.But never should you set a foot on the bridge, not one step!Stay here on this side of the river, and you can always enjoy the many blessings of God. Promise me that you’ll never take the first step onto the bridge.”
They all promised, and they all lived happily ever after, serving Jesus on Freedom Farm.
We have a choice, America.We can enjoy the American dream as one nation under God, or we can suffer the socialist/communist nightmare under Big Brother Government.
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