Just leaving the Holiday Season
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year 2018
Family and Friends, Celebrate, Parties, Gift, Meals
Two subjects generally off limits (Sanity): Religion and Politics
Today I get to speak about both…lucky me
All joking aside, there are many implications in today’s text
About War and Peace
Regarding Dictatorships and Democracies
Concerning Law and Justice
On Taxes, Voting, Speed Limits, Seat Belt Laws
This is a small section, but is no small text
This is not about Democrat, Republic, Libertarian
This is not about Conservative or Liberal
My prayer is that we will see guide post for future thinking when we consider our responsibility to civil authority as the body of Christ.
End of Romans 12 “What marks a true believer”
Love - Let love be genuine (without hypocrisy)
Generosity - Contributing to the needs of others (time, money, gifts)
Hospitality - Making a friend of the stranger
Peace - As far as it depends on you
Not stirring up trouble - Not looking for opportunity to fight
Not seeking revenge (Law of Talon) Eye for an Eye
Responding in an respectable way to those who would seek to harm us
Why now, make mention of Governing Authority here?
An extension of society (Same Realm) (God-Man-Society)
Common to all - no ungoverned places/people in the world.
Grand Scale - A form of Central Government
Monarchies, Democracies, Dictatorships
More remote places: Tribal or Clan leadership
Minor Scale - Various Authorities Around Us
Judges, Police Officers, Bosses, Teachers, Parents
Some form of Hierarchy is present in all societies/cultures
This transcends the Roman Empire
Not just for them
Americans, Koreans, Iraqis (all nations)
For Nomadic and Tribal Cultures (all peoples)
Citizens, Immigrants, Employees, Students
This extension is to be included in our seeking to benefit society, not excluded or ignored
Paul was probably addressing mounting tension in Rome
Jewish people, even Christian Jews were kicked out of Rome in 55AD under Emperor Claudius for disturbances. Most likely tied to arguments over who Jesus was.
Roman Citizens were skeptical of Christianity, due to superstition. For example, many believed Christians practiced cannibalism because of their observance of communion. Eating His Flesh/Drinking Blood
Many in Rome thought that Christians wanted to overthrow the government. This lead to Christian persecution under Emperor Nero, who blamed Christians for the fire he started while he was drunk, that burned down 2/3 Rome.
All who read his letter, Christian or Roman Official, saw that Christianity was not about disrupting government, because Christianity recognizes God’s purpose for government.
God’s Purpose in Government / Authority
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
We know God has a purpose b/c government is appointed by God (OT is full of God using Governments for Glory)
Pharoah enslaved the Hebrews, was used to show God’s power
Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and Syria and God uses him to rebuild the Jewish Temple
Josiah was 8 when he became king and destroyed all the pagan alters and idols in his kingdom
Pilate was a governor with authority and God uses Him to release Barabbas and hand Jesus over to be crucified.
Daniel 2:20-21 After God reveals meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
Paul is assuring believers, that God is not asleep at the wheel
The authority in your life might be a godly person, or they could be one of the most vile people you know; God can use either to serve His ultimate purpose and reveal His glory.
No matter who is in office, who gets the promotion and becomes your boss. …God is not taken by surprise, and He is not pacing the floor trying to come up with plan B.
God has a purpose for those He has placed in authority, and sometimes it is greater than what we can see in the moment.
So when the election is over REMEMBER: How we react is evidence of two things
It shows our trust and faith in God (or lack of it) That He is sovereign and in control
It shows where our hope is: Is it in a president, is it in man’s wisdom and power; or do we wait/long for the day that Jesus comes to restore all things - no matter the results.
Are we continually sharing with others our belief that “WE” can’t fix this, that our hope is always solely in our God.
PS - If we passed only christian laws in America, it would not make us a Christian nation…
We cannot legislate conversion, neither can you create converts by the sword.
Our hope is not in legislation that changes action, it is in a Savior who changes hearts.
We can rest, and endure knowing that God is sovereign, and place all our hope in His wisdom, His power, and His purpose
The primary responsibility of those in authority is not to save the world, but it is the restraint of evil.
We see this in movies, these dsytopias, cities or towns in chaos w/o order (Think Judge Dredd or Tombstone)
Wyatte Earp, Doc Holiday go to Dodge City
The Town is in chaos, no law…the Clanton Gang runs wild
Wyatt Earp calls for backup; He, His brothers and Doc Holiday clean up the town…they bring law and justice…they bring order to chaos
In scripture, Judges…without leadership, we see over and over, everyone did what was right in their own eyes. God sends in these judges to rescue and salvage His people before they destroy themselves.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
God has purposed that government restrain evil
Remember we said last time, we are called to love our enemies, to live peaceably as far as it depends on us…but this does not mean we forget about justice…it is not swept under the rug.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
There is a future justice
If they repent…Jesus has suffered their wrath, they are forgiven by God
If they refuse to repent....God’s wrath eternally, separation from God forever in Hell
But there is also justice now
Even if they repent…there still may be a fine, or jail time
God has purposed that civil rulers have the authority and the responsibility to punish evil.
When you report a crime to the police you are seeking justice by God’s good design.
When our armed forces searched for those responsible for murdering thousands in the world trade centers, they were seeking justice by God’s good design.
Paul says these authorities are God’s servants for our good because they are a restraint to evil, and they approve of what is good…it is for our benefit/protection.
Paul is implying that government should be a good enforcer of God’s moral law, of what is “right and wrong”
He is not saying the government defines “right and wrong”
He is saying that they are tasked with upholding a standard of right and wrong, and Paul is suggesting that the standard they use be God’s.
v3 - They are not a terror to good, but bad conduct
This is like saying “We don’t burp at the table”, not meaning we never do, but implying we shouldn’t…it is rude
If you do good…God’s good, then they should approve of this good.
If you do wrong...God’s wrong, they carry out punishment.
So if God’s purpose of government is enforcing moral law, approving of good and punishing evil, how should Believers respond?
What is Our Responsibility?
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Our responsibility as Christians is submission to God first, and because of our submission to God we also submit to the authorities He has placed us in subjection to.
So we pay all what they are due:
We respect those whom respect is due
We honor those whom honor is due
We pay taxes and revenue to whom revenue and taxes are due
We obey speed limits, we don’t use bit torrents to get illegal music and movies, we follow building codes, we obey wildlife and fishing regulations…
If we seek to honor God, we will honor those in authority, if we seek to submit to God, we would seek to submit to authority.
There is a call to obedience, and in this obedience we shine as a light in our community, we are an example, we are not above the law of the land, our allegiance is to our God, and God has placed us in subjection to certain civil authorities.
I don’t want to end here, some of you in the back of your mind have a question…it is a big question, an important question...
What if those in authority are not doing what they ought? What if they punish good and reward evil?
Is there such thing as God approved civil disobedience?
How do Christians respond to a corrupt government?
God-approved civil disobedience in Scripture
John Piper - Even though God said to submit to the men in authority, he does not mean: Obey them when they forbid what I command or command what I forbid. The command to submit to man does not make man God. It gives man authority under God, and qualified by God.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3)
Where told to bow to the golden image as God
Commanded to do what is forbidden “no other Gods before me”
As result, they were thrown into a fiery furnace, where they were protected by God.
Daniel (Daniel 6)
Was told not to pray to God for thirty days.
Was forbidden to do what was commanded
As result, He was thrown into the lions den, where he too was protected by God.
The Apostles (Acts 5)
The Apostles had been placed in jail for preaching, an angel of the Lord comes and frees them telling them to go back and preach.
The high priest comes, the senate comes, officers come…why are you doing this? Did we not tell you to stop?
Peter - “We must obey God rather than men”
So How Do Christians Respond to Corrupt Authority?
1 Timothy 2:1-4 We Pray
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We pray that God they will submit to God’s Authority
That they come to the knowledge of Truth…God as Savior/King
1 Peter 2:13-15 Be Involved
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Can you see it? By doing good we silence the ignorance of the foolish…being a light, an example of God’s best way to live
In America, this means we go to the polls and vote, and in our voting we voice that we approve of God’s good and we voice that we want to restrain evil.
We Obey God rather than Man, being prepared for change or punishment.
If there is a time when we are commanded to do what is forbidden, or forbidden to do what is commanded…our allegiance is to God first.
Here is the downside...
I don’t see revolution in scripture....but I see plenty of death.
Beaten and Imprisoned
Stoned, Boiled in Oil, Fed to Lions,
Burned, Beheaded.....Murdered for their Allegiance to God
In Restricted Countries
They have ripped out pages of a bible
They meet in dark rooms with windows covered by candle light
They are beaten, they are imprisoned, they are marked for death
Voice of the Martyrs - I Am In
There may be a time when our allegiance to God means that we must say no, when we must be respectfully disobedient.
The tone and demeanor of this Christian civil disobedience will be the opposite of strident, belligerent, rock-throwing, screaming, swearing, violent demonstrations.
We are people of the cross. Our Lord submitted to crucifixion willingly to save his enemies. We owe our eternal life to him. We are forgiven sinners. This takes the swagger out of our protest. It takes the arrogance out of our resistance. And if, after every other means has failed, we must disobey for the sake of love and justice, we will first remove the log from our own eye, which will cause enough pain and tears to soften our indignation into a humble, quiet, but unshakeable, NO.
I’ll leave you with one more verse...
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Christianity is not about making much of self, it is not about making much or a government or political party…it is about making much of God.