Sunday I covered a few topics related to government and the Christian. The sermon audio can be found at holidayshoresbaptist.org. Below I am posting my unedited notes. Some find these useful. Mind you neither the notes or sermon are the finished product. Both need some refinement by our living unto Christ.
Governments Exist Under the Sovereignty of God for the Glory of God
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
“Authority” in these verses
Caesar Augustus; -ruler
All the world registered- law and organization
Quirinius- Governor of Syria- sub ruler
House & Linage- organizational subset
Registered with betrothed – duty, in the legal bond of marriage
God was using the day and age to bring about fulfillment of His glory.
God in His glory governs all timing. He puts things together in the right moment for His purposes that all are in subjection to Him.
At this time there existed for the first time ever..
- Pax Romans- Roman peace
- Safe travel by highway, good roads (This would later aid in the spread of the gospel) (Do not squander such privileges)
- Efficient sea travel
- Abundance of food supplies- this afforded better travel and standards of living, thus education, and community gatherings
- Good water could be found. Aqueduct systems
- Rome allowed state governments and thus people could have a national identity within their country. The Jews were not persecuted as before.
Governments are subject to God’s plans. They are tools in His hand.
The divided kingdom of Israel and Judah was a result of David’s sin. However, each king had a choice to make. Those who glorified God were blessed, those who did not were condemned. God does not have to bless at all. But He do do so when we glorify Him.
The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" They said, "Caesar's." He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. (Luke 20:19-26)
Here, we can see that God’s laws are above those of the government. This will play into how or whether we should participate in civil disobedience.
Subject to Governments
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. 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. 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. (Rom 13:1-7)
North Korea, Nazi Germany & Communism, as well as Babylon and Assyria?
Evil governments are also a tool of God. We see in the OT that Assyria, Babylon, the Philistines, all were used to bring about punishment on those who did not fear God. These governments were later punished themselves. The matter is is that bad governments rise when people fail to give God glory.
- Nazi German rose to power in part because the churches in Germany were liberal in theology and sided with Hitler. (A few did not and it cost them)
- Communism rose to power because the church failed to stand. Note that the first thing communism seeks is glory for itself and not acknowledgement of God.
- I ask, is God glorified more in the secret house churches of China and North Korea, or by those in the USA that sniff at opportunities to gather and rarely “worship” without counting the cost?
Should we obey Laws of an unjust government? Well we must answer what is unjust. That that is unjust is still God’s portion. Vengeance is His, He will repay. However, we should oppose that which is clearly wrong with the proper means. For example, we should in no way support the holocaust of the times, abortion. But we also should not use means that are contrary to scripture; such as blowing up abortion clinics and shooting doctors.
Further; Bad government reveals our need for God. It shows what we sinners are capable of when not restrained by His glory.
Good government is a test- do we rely upon God or on the economy, or morality, or like mindedness and personal opinion for our peace and well being?
Good or bad is not the issue, the issue is will the people of God glorify God.
Here is the goal
Be oriented to the goal of making His glory known in the government
Take every advantage that God gives you in your local principality, county, state, civic group, school graduation, military, national government, stamp club, neighborhood watch program, and live to the glory of God.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Eph 3:8-12)
All levels of Government are tools of opportunity for His glory.
Based upon these scriptures today……
If there is a ruler appointed above you, then seek to know how God is glorified in this. It may be in your enduring hardship and yet rejoicing in the hope of Him.
Make your hope in Him your motivation, not a personal rest. Be the diamond standing out against that black velvet of opposition, reflecting the brightness of His glory.
Live without complaining. But rather make a case for the Gospel. Show how the values of God are better than the laws of the land. That laws of community and government ought to be based upon the ten commandments and the glory of the Creator.
- If you disagree with welfare systems, don’t just criticize, but illustrate the superiority of the church meeting needs unto the glory of God. Also show how when a person is paid to be lazy it removes form the an illustration of their need for a Savior. They become more self absorbed thinking they deserve special treatment, rather work to see how dependant we are on His goodness.
- Don’t just call a politician corrupt, but show how the service of self and special interests exalts man and the majority suffers, Show how when God is glorified the nation prospers.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Tit 3:1-3)