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“Just preach the gospel.” How many times have you heard pastors and critics of social and political action scold Christians concerned about the moral direction the church is taking for mixing the gospel with politics? The gospel is more than a life insurance program or a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. It is to transform everything we think about and act on. There is no neutrality or areas that are off limits to the application of God’s Word.

The gospel renews a life for service in God’s kingdom — an ever-present reality — via a changed heart and changed mind (Rom. 12:1-2). What are we to do with these two renewals? Wait to be taken to heaven in something called a “rapture,” live in the world God created and called “good” (Gen. 1:31; 1 Tim. 4:1-4) and allow the enemies of God to exercise dominion over it, claim that since Jesus didn’t get involved in politics that Christians should follow His example, or learn how the Bible applies to every area of life and make it our life’s work to transform every part of it?

The late Christian apologist Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), wrote the following in the Preface to his 1974 book The Great Evangelical Disaster:

Throughout all of my work there is a common unifying theme, which I would define as “the Lordship of Christ in the totality of life.” If Christ is indeed Lord, he must be Lord of all life—in spiritual matters, of course, but just as much across the whole spectrum of life, including intellectual matters and the areas of culture, law, and government. I would want to emphasize from beginning to end throughout my work the importance of evangelism (helping men and women come to know Jesus Christ as Savior), the need to walk daily with the Lord, to study God’s Word, to live a life of prayer, and to show forth the love, compassion, and holiness of our Lord. But we must emphasize equally had at the same time the need to live this out in every area of culture and society.[1]

Schaeffer saw the problem more than 50 years ago in what he described as “a shift in worldview—that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole … to a world view based upon the idea that the final reality is impersonal matter or energy shaped into its present form by personal chance.”[2]

We have been told that government can’t save us, and by government, they mean civil government, the State. Whoever said it could or should try to? What Christians are not often taught is that there are multiple decentralized governments: family, church, and civil. Government is not only about politics. The civil sphere of government was ordained by God and is said to be a “minister of God to you for good” (Rom. 13:4). How can civil government be “good” if good people are not involved and turn over civil governing authority to people who despise God’s moral standards (see Psalm 1)?

Without good self-government under God, the three governments, no matter how well conceived, will fail. Let us not forget that God is the Supreme Governor of all things and is the creator of family, church, and civil governments. These are God’s governments. He has not determined that they remain in the hands of those who hate His law so they can be redesigned in the name of another god.

Evangelicalism has had a mixed history on how to apply the Bible to all of life. For years I heard that the Bible applies to every area of life but rarely have I seen or heard evangelical leaders explain how it applies in the details. Many Christians have been taught, “We’re under grace not law.” But when asked if this means that it is now OK for Christians to steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and covet, these same Christians dismiss such an objection. They might say, “If a law is repeated in the New Testament, it still applies.” There is no such directive in the New Testament that says you should not curse the deaf or trip the blind (Lev. 19:14) or have sex with animals (18:23).

It is true that the law does not save anyone or that keeping a list of commandments makes us holy, but this does not mean that God’s law is irrelevant. Paul writes the following to Timothy:

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted (1 Tim. 1:8-11).

Note how the law and the gospel are not mutually exclusive because the proper use of the law is determined by the law and is “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which [Paul] had] been entrusted.”

Like God’s creation, the Law is good. God’s commandments are good. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). John writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). R. J. Rushdoony writes:

Lawless Christianity is a contradiction in terms: it is anti-Christian. The purpose of grace is not to set aside the law but to fulfil the law and to enable man to keep the law. If the law was so serious in the sight of God that it would require the death of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, to make atonement for man’s sin, it seems strange for God then to proceed to abandon the law! The goal of the law is not lawlessness, nor the purpose of grace a lawless contempt of grace.[3]

Without an appreciation of God’s law there is no way to combat lawlessness and the redefinition of everything from abortion to same-sex sexuality. Many of today’s churches have accepted homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle choice and twist the Scriptures to justify their position. And why not? Christians have been taught that God’s law (just some of it) is either (1) just for the church or (2) grace supplants biblical law. It’s a double whammy making the Christian message irrelevant this side of heaven.

Another popular brief that ends up disengaging Christians from applying God’s Word to every area of life in a way that would realize long-term change is the belief that we are at the point in history that the end is near. The world is in such bad shape that their only hope is the “rapture of the church” or some other end-time event. The world is a mess, but it’s not the end of the world as we know it.[4] You would never know this because of books like David Jeremiah’s latest foray into misapplying what Jesus said about Bible prophecy, The World of the End How Jesus’ Prophecy Shapes our Priorities (2022), a study of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.

William Edgar, a professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, recounts the time in the 1960s he spent studying in L’Abri, Switzerland, under the tutelage of Francis Schaeffer:[5]

I can remember coming down the mountain from L’Abri and expecting the stock market to cave in, a priestly elite to take over American government, and enemies to poison the drinking water. I was almost disappointed when these things did not happen.[6]

Edgar speculates, with good reason, that it was Schaeffer’s eschatology that negatively affected the way he saw and interpreted world events. Schaeffer was good at diagnosing the disease, but he found it difficult to prescribe a cure because the patient was never going to get well. One of Schaeffer’s last books, A Christian Manifesto, did not call for cultural transformation but civil disobedience as a stopgap measure to postpone an inevitable societal decline.

The fact remains that Dr. Schaeffer’s manifesto offers no prescriptions for a Christian society…. The same comment applies to all of Dr. Schaeffer’s writings: he does not spell out the Christian alternative. He knows that you “can’t fight something with nothing,” but as a premillennialist, he does not expect to win the fight prior to the visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth to establish His millennial kingdom.[7]

This view has been true for millions of Christians. There is no doubt that many Christians are otherworldly and have no interest in culture or the dirty business of politics. Many more Christians are eschatologically schizophrenic. They believe that we are living in the last days but still engage society at some level as a form of theological schizophrenia.

Economic, political, moral, and religious conditions seemed to have set the world on the brink of destruction numerous times in history. Economic circumstances were so bad in Israel thousands of years ago that some people resorted to cannibalism (Deut. 28:53-57; 2 Kings 6:28-29; Jer. 19:9). Josephus relates an account of a woman who killed, cooked, and ate her own child during the siege of Jerusalem that ended in AD 70.

There have been other economic crises in the not-too-distant past, and we have weathered them: The Great Depression and Dust Bowl in the United States and the hyperinflation in Germany where the United States dollar was worth 4 trillion German marks. We can include two world wars, prime indicators used by the prophetic speculators that the end was near.

As a result, dispensationalists argued, “The church is largely parenthetic, thus unimportant. The teachings of Scripture have largely to do with the Jews alone. The Sermon on the Mount is largely for the Jews. The Lord’s prayer is for the Millennium rather than for the Church.”[8] As a result, Christians check the hourglass of time running out and wait in vain for a rapture that is always promised but never comes. Dr. Gary North pointed out the problem:

To escape this inherent despair, fundamentalists have turned to their own version of the humanists’ escape hatch: an upper storey universe. This upper story is the world of faith, expectation, and hope: the heavenly realm. It is a hope in heaven — a world above and beyond this world of Christian powerlessness and defeat.


Fundamentalism’s lower storey is the world of work, economics, professional training, art, institutions, authority, and power, i.e., the “secular” realm. This realm is governed, not in terms of the Bible, but in terms of supposedly universal “neutral reason” and natural law.[9]

And that’s the problem. It didn’t use to be this way. Every area of life was seen as a place for the application of God’s Word, even among those who did not embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior. The world worked the way it did because God made it that way. As a result, Western Civilization flourished. In time, however, many people believed that impersonal nature—Natural Law—was good enough. Darwinism killed any lasting vestige of a link between nature and God. God was not needed in a clockwork universe. The blind watchmaker was in charge. The Christian response was to reformulate theologically. A sacred-secular divide was developed coupled with an eschatology that put Christians on their prophetic seat anticipating an any-moment rapture of the church to relieve them of the task of cultural change.


Last Days Madness

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Is Jesus Coming Soon

Matthew 24 Fulfilled

The Beast of Revelation: Unraveling the Mystery

Identifying the Last Days Scoffers

Matthew 23-25: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Study

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

A Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Prophecy Wars

The Reduction of Christianity

House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology

Revelation in the First Century

The Early Church and the End of the World

Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction

Ten Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered

The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance: Israel, Russia, and Syria in Bible Prophecy

Basic Training for Understanding Bible Prophecy (video series with outlines)

House Divided

House Divided

The book that started a revolution. Bahnsen and Gentry stir the hornet’s nest with this comprehensive refutation of Dispensationalism. The two pillars of law and eschatology are dealt with evenly, fairly—and most importantly—biblically. Dispensationalism teaches that God has two distinct plans: one for Israel and one for the Church. Bahnsen and Gentry show clearly that God never intended or taught about separate plans. Quite the opposite, God’s plan for Israel was but the first phase of His plan for the world. Jesus was both God’s plan and His solution before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:17-21).


[1]Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 12.

[2]Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, 36.

[3]Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1973), 4.

[4]J.D. King, Why You’ve Been Duped Into Believing that Word is Getting Worse (Lees Summit, MO: Christos Publishing, 2019).

[5]Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 42.

[6]William Edgar, “Francis Schaeffer and the Public Square” in J. Budziszewski, Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 174.

[7]Gary North and David Chilton, “Apologetics and Strategy,” in Tactics of Christian Resistance: A Symposium, ed. Gary North (Tyler Texas: Geneva Divinity School, 1983), 127-128. Emphasis in original.

[8]Peter E. Prosser, Dispensational Eschatology and Its Influence on American and British Religious Movements (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999), 148.

[9]Gary North, Publisher’s Foreword, in Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, [1989] 2022), xiii-xiv.

Author: Gary DeMar

Gary—who served as President of American Vision for thirty-five years—is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. Author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, he has been featured by nearly every major news media outlet. Gary also has hosted The Gary DeMar Show, History Unwrapped, and the Gary DeMar’s Vantage Point Webshow and is a regular contributor to AmericanVision.org. Gary has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979 with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and are enjoying being grandparents. Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).


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