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“An Awesome Responsibility”

The Gift of Governments

Romans 12:8—1Corinthians 12:28

I.       The Gift of Governments.

       For a society to exist there needs to be rules, and people who establish and enforce those rules.  A society without rules quickly degenerates into a state of disorder and confusion.  People begin living as savages, every person for himself, doing whatever is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). 

       That is why governments exist.  The purpose of government is to ensure domestic tranquility and to establish and enforce laws that will guarantee the common welfare of all members of the society.  Good government seeks to eliminate the evil and preserve the good.  Man has tried many forms of government throughout his history to achieve these goals.

       All forms of government – as well as all others devised by man – have been unsuccessful.  Mankind has proven that he is incapable of governing his fellow man without graft or corruption ultimately destroying every form of government he has created.  Man is incapable of ruling with righteousness. 

       God is the only One who can rule over man in perfect righteousness.  

A.     Government in the Old Testament.

1.       The Highest Form of Government—Theocracy

a)        The Definition & History

1)        Direct Government of the Nation of Israel by God Himself or His Earthly Representatives.

(a)      The name “Israel” means “governed by God.”

1.         Theocracy is not a biblical word, but the concept of God’s rule on earth is thoroughly biblical. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NKJV)

2.         In a theocracy human rulers interpret and carry out the divine ruler’s will.

3.         In Israel’s early days God ruled through men such as Moses, Aaron, and Joshua. Later, He ruled by using a group called the judges.

(b)      Deuteronomy 17:14–20 allows for an Israelite kingdom under God and in cooperation with other ruling officials.

1.         Later, when Israel finally demanded a king, it was their attitude of being “like all the nations” rather than the request itself that God considered a rejection of His kingship (1 Sam. 8:1-22).

2.         Samuel, the last judge and a great prophet, insisted that having an earthly king did not excuse Israel from obedience to the divine king (1 Sam. 12:1–25).

3.         One of the purposes of the New Testament is to show God’s kingly rule reestablished in Jesus Christ, the Prophet (Luke 24:19), Priest (Heb. 7:17), and King appointed by God (Rev. 19:16).

4.         Isaiah’s Prophecy (Is.9:6-7)

a.         Isaiah 7:14 the virgin birth (Matthew 1:23)

b.         He is the royal Son of David with rights to the throne (Luke 1:31-33; 2:7-11).

c.         Christ’s judgment in the millennium will be swift & righteous (Rev.19:15)

b)        There Was A National Consciousness of God Ruling & Reigning over the People.

1)        The Tabernacle itself—the Place of Meeting, was always set up in the center of the camp.

(a)      Their tents faced the tabernacle, why? 

1.         The moment someone came out of their tent, they saw the tabernacle of God.

2.         During the day they saw a cloud over the tabernacle, a pillar of fire by night. 

3.         All this made them aware that they were being governed by God as His people.

(b)      God intended the nation of Israel to be different from all other nations.

1.         Israel would have God ruling over her not an earthly king; God was to be her King.

2.         Nations would see how blessed were the people ruled by God.

(c)      Although God ruled, He used human instruments to lead His people.

1.         Moses was the first leader & whenever issues arose that needed a decision Moses:

a.         Inquired of the Lord  (oh how much we need to inquire of the Lord in our life!)

b.         God spoke to Moses & gave him the direction and guidance to govern the people.

                             The Consequences of Not Inquiring of the Lord (Joshua 9:14)

q  This is a lack of prayer

q  The Israelites’ ‘confirmation of the Gibeonites’ claim was purely in their own strength and on their own initiative.

q  The mistake on Israel’s part was not so much that they were deceived, (although they were) but that they did not ask for the Lord’s counsel.

q  Similarly, many Christians have found themselves in difficult or disastrous circumstances because they rushed to a decision without properly consulting the Lord, His Scriptures, and His people for guidance.

Steps to Dynamic Devotion

Joshua continues to call God’s people to devote themselves completely to the Lord. In a day when so many      follow the Lord with only partial devotion, Joshua and Caleb “who wholly followed the Lord” provide challenging examples of the life the Lord honors.

·        9:14 cf. 1 Chron.28:9 Seek the Lord prayerfully for every decision you make. Know that you cannot consistently make good decisions without His Word and Spirit.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

·        14:8, 9, 14 Follow God wholeheartedly and be devoted to Him. Doing so will yield a rich inheritance.

·        22:5; 23:6 Be careful faithfully to apply all of God’s Word to all of your life. Follow Him with all of your heart and soul.

2.         Under Moses was seventy elders appointed as sub-rulers.

a.         The peoples disputes were brought to these men.

b.         If and issue became to difficult the elders brought it to Moses.

c.         Moses in turn took it to the Lord.

3.         Under Moses was also Aaron, the high priest and leader of the people in spiritual things.

4.         Under Aaron were various orders of the priesthood, men who served within the temple.

B.     Government in the New Testament – Romans 13:1-7

1.       God has Established Order in the Church.

a)        Jesus Christ is the Authority Over the Church.

1)        Jesus Chose Twelve to be Called Apostles-the first leaders of the church

(a)      The apostles ordained elders to take care of the spiritual well-being of the church.

(b)      Under the Elders are the deacons who handle the material resources of the church.

(c)      These leaders are to exercise leadership over the people in matters of the Spirit.

2.       A Tremendous Need For Good Leadership. 

An old Chinese proverb says, “One generation plants the trees and another gets the shade.”  Our generation lives in the shade of many trees that were planted by our ancestors [Our For-Fathers who founded this country]. 

In spiritual terms, we derive shade from our parents’ and grandparents’ ethical standards, their perceptions of right and wrong, their sense of moral duty, and above all, their spiritual commitment.  Their ideals determined the kind of civilization we inherited from them, and our generation’s ideals will likewise shape tomorrow’s culture for our kids.

There’s no question that society as a whole is in a serious state of moral and spiritual decline.  So the question that faces Christian Father’s today is whether we can plant some trees that will shade future generations from what may well be the blistering heat of anti-Christian values in and anti-Christian world. 

1.         Look at yourself as a human link between two generations—Passing on the baton of faith (2Tim.1:5; 3:15).

2.         As Youth Pastors, Pastor Robert & I are ministering to one of the most critical age groups in the church. 

2.1.     This is the time you are making the most crucial decisions in your lives.

2.2.     You’re career, mate, and your choice to follow or reject Jesus Christ.

2.3.     9/10ths of the decisions to be a Christian are made in the teen years.

2.4.     Whether you will spend eternity in heaven or hell is being made while under my tutelage.

3.         This is what I am committing to you today (2 Timothy 2:1).

a)        The Appointing of Joshua (Numbers 27:15-23).

       When Moses recognized he was about to pass off the scene, he prayed that God would set a man over the people who would be able to shepherd them well, God responded that He has already made His choice.  

·        Though Moses died, the reign of God would continue.

·        There was no diminishing of the nation because the next man was “filled with the Spirit” & would continue to rule under the guidance & direction of God. 

·        This is the primary qualification for leadership in all ages, “a man who has the Spirit” (v.18), & is governed and led by the Spirit.

·        Nothing can ever substitute for this, and the lack of it is always devastating:

b)        The Consequences of Poor Leadership.

1)        People are Destroyed.

For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed. (Isaiah 9:16 NKJV)

If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. (Matthew 15:14 NKJV)

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2 NKJV)

2)        The Dangers of A Godly Generation Dying Off (Judges 2:7-19)

(a)      Neglecting the Full-Time Responsibility of Parenting & Discipleship.

1.         Note: this was one generation after God had first given the Law at Sinai.

a.         Their environment influenced them more than their parents did because the parents abandoned the parental role.

b.         Then God raised up judges but that generation would not listen (2:16) but “they played the harlot, & turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked.

c.         Then God raised up more judges, but when the judge died they behaved more corruptly than their fathers (2:19)

d.         The result was idolatry, chaos, and destruction (Judges 21:25).

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12 cf. Proverbs 3:5)

3.       It’s Time to Take Inventory of Our Own Hearts!

Whenever a generation failed to plant the seeds that would provide shade trees for subsequent generations, there was a spiritual famine.

1.        The same thing is happening right now & the outlook for our next generation looks bad.

2.        There will be no turn around unless this generation of Christian’s resume’s the full-time responsibility & work of planting spiritual shade trees.

2.1.     Do you thirst for God as a deer pants after the water brook (Ps.42:1)?  Or is your life sending a message of hypocrisy and spiritual indifference?

2.2.     Is your own commitment to Jesus Christ what you hope to see in your children’s lives?

2.3.     What if every Christian was had the same spiritual commitment as you, what would the church be like?

2.4.     Is your obedience to His Word the same kind of submission you long to see from others?

3.        Christians who are “lax-easy going” in these area’s virtually guarantee that the next generation will fail spiritually.

C.     Qualifications For Leadership.

1.       Called To Lead the Church.

a)        The Ministry, Effectiveness, and Testimony of A Church Is A Reflection of Its Leaders.

1)        The principle of Hosea 4:9, “And it will be, like people, like priest” is still true.

(a)      People do not normally rise above the level of their leaders.

1.         Church leadership is at the core of New Testament teaching, since the Lord came into this world to build the church (Matt. 16:18).

2.         Leaders must set a godly example for the church to follow.

               Our Lord said in Luke 6:40, “Everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

               Paul urged the Corinthians to “be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16; cf.. 1 Cor. 11:1).

               To the Philippians he wrote, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things” (Phil. 4:9).

2.       Requirements For Leadership – 1 Timothy 3:1-13

a)        Above Reproach; blameless (v.2)

1)        Definition “not able to be held” “a life without blame.”

(a)      The man who is above reproach cannot be arrested and held as if he were a criminal; there is nothing for which to accuse him.

(b)      He must be a model for the congregation to follow (cf.. Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:9; Heb. 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3).

b)        Pastors & Leaders Must Take Great Care To Remain Above Reproach for Several Reasons. 

1.      They must not give the enemies of the church reason to attack its reputation (2 Samuel 12:14).

2.      They are the special targets of Satan, and he will assault them with more severe temptation than others. Those on the front lines of the spiritual battle will bear the brunt of satanic opposition.

3.      Their fall has a greater potential for harm. Satan knows that when a shepherd falls, the effect on the sheep is devastating.

4.      Leaders’ greater knowledge of the truth, and accountability to live it, brings greater chastening when they sin.

5.      Elders’ sins are more hypocritical than others’ because they preach against the very sins they commit.

Leaders need an abundance of God’s grace and power because of their greater responsibility and visibility.

c)        To Protect Themselves Leaders Must Spend In-depth Time In the Study of God’s Word.

1.      A leader must be “constantly feeding on the Word of God” (1 Tim. 4:6).

2.      A leader must be “treasuring God’s Word in their heart” (Ps. 119:11).

3.      A leader must continuously expose his life to the light of the Word of God. He must also be a man of prayer, and be accountable to others in spiritual fellowship.

4.      A leader must be spending his time & energy in training themselves for spiritual fitness.

3.       How Are We To Rule?

a)        Rule In the Fear of God (2Samuel 23:3)

1)        No Man Can Rule Who Is Not Ruled Himself (Dan.4:28-37)

1.         Unless a man is aware that he is governed by God, and is responsible to God, and will have to appear before God, that man is disqualified from having authority.

b)        Rule Diligently (Proverbs 12:24)

1)        If You’ve Been Given An Office of Ruling, Remember You Will Answer to God.

1.         Your faithfulness in ruling now will determine what authority you will have in the kingdom of God (Luke 12:35-48). 

2.         The extent of our authority in the coming kingdom will depend on how diligently we exercise rule over those things that God puts in our dominion here.

c)         Preach the Word (2Tim.4:2) & Speak the Word of God (Hebrews 13:7).

1)        When Rulers do this there will be submission to the Word of God (Heb.13:17)

2)        Rulers Must Not Misrepresent God - 

(a)      Moses(Num.20:8-13; 27:12-14; Deut.32:48-52)

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