The Four Spheres of Authority
The order of God’s world can be divided into several spheres. These spheres can be referred to as compartments of society or circles of influence. Each sphere is divinely constructed to perform a specific function in the societal order and is given a limited sovereign power. The spheres are commonly known as the Individual or Personal Sphere, the Family Sphere, the Ecclesiastic Sphere and the Sphere of the State or Civil Sphere. Each of these holds specific sovereignty of which no other sphere should usurp. While there is some overlap of responsibility it is very limited. These spheres are given laws by which they are to function, goals that they are to achieve and limitations that if they violate them results in chaos and tyranny. Whenever these spheres go beyond their divinely order sovereignty and seek to commandeer and subordinate any of the others an imbalance in the cultural order occurs. The fours spheres are to function in harmony with one another honoring and abiding by their God given role in the matrix of society.
The Individual Sphere
Before any of the other areas of society can be remedied or reconstructed along Biblical Lines the personal life of each Christian must be brought into conformity to the Law of God. Personal piety, faith and obedience is essential to the development of a mature personal Christian walk. In addition to these attributes an ongoing desire to study the Word of God must also be part of individual development. This is where a systematic study of God’s Word is beneficial especially if it is a well plotted course of study under a faithful Bible teacher. This kind of accountability is often the difference between learning and just wasting time reading books without being challenged by a skilled mentor.
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It must be stressed, however, that personal piety is not an end unto itself. It is merely the starting point for something much greater in the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. The individual sphere is the initial training ground for the application of the Word of God. Personal piety, scholarship and self control is the first step in getting something done in the world for the Glory of God without which nothing will be accomplished and certainly nothing will be profitable.
Since this sphere is small, i.e. relegated to the life of a single individual, the task as well as the scope is narrowly defined and should be easier to concentrate on. Having a targeted area to deal with allows the individual to focus upon the discipline of applying the Law-Word of God to the self. The mastery of the self is the first hurtle for advancing the Kingdom of Christ. If an individual cannot master the self, they cannot master anything beyond themselves.
1. Carefully study the pastoral epistles of the Apostle Paul. (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) Read the entire catalog of elder and deaconate characteristics. Make a personal list of them and being to pray so that you can develop these qualities in your life. Be sure to compare some of these traits with others mentioned in the New Testament. Make a full study of the entire Bible as far as Biblical characteristics are concerned beginning with the pastoral letters.
2. Read through the Proverbs and list all the admonitions for the practice of certain character traits including economic stewardship qualities. Since economics is part of personal stewardship an individual must curb his or her appetite when it comes stewardship.
3. At New Geneva I assign a number of books for the “Christian Character” course, which, by the way, is mandated for all degree seeking students. Thomas Watson’s “The Godly Man’s Picture” and William Guthrie’s “The Christian’s Great Interest” are of utmost importance. These are essential reading for the Biblical development of Christian Character and are beneficial for both men and women. There are other works as well which are especially targeted for men as well as women. These can be found in our on-line book store or at any of the faithful Christian ministries dealing with this subject.
4. The buddy system is also helpful. We all need to be accountable for our actions before both men and God. Debrief with a close friend who is also concerned about becoming a mature Christian individual. Talk often about your progress as well as your challenges. Be consistent and be honest. Pray with and for one another. You may even start a study group to strengthen your character and your knowledge of Scripture. Be creative. Initiate and bring others together for the mutual benefit of all.
Next: The Familial Sphere