I have been invited to join a top secret group (oops) of men who will be meeting for several weeks while wrestling, and growing in our grip of theology. We are working though several theological topics and the practical implications of them.
This isn’t a debate club; our hope is to grow closer to one another while growing closer to God’s word. We are to study some of the topics ahead of time and work though them before we arrive at our undisclosed location so I thought I would work through them a little bit here. So, I warn you this may be a little more like stream of consciousness writing than a well thought article, if you want one of those I suggest you try the discovery that change my life, and biblical church leadership.
This week we are talking about Government, Authority and God. A topic I get particularly fired up about because my first exposure to it was a class in Bible College where we read “Spiritual Authority” by Watchman Nee, who all but said you must obey your authority even into sin because the sin would be your leaders and not yours. The class was very extreme but I had never heard any thing on the topic before so I was interested, although being a fairly rebellious person by nature I was very turned off at the same time.
What does God say about authority explicitly?
1 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. 3 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, 4 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. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 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
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.- 1 Pet 2:13-17
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.– Titus 3:1-2
A verse many evangelical Christians would be well served to mediate on considering most thing our current President or any with a ‘D’ after his name are Satan’s right hand man.
Does that mean that God has appointed President Obama to be our President at this time? Yes, but why? The notes in my ESV bible express it very well:
It is true that those governing authorities that exist have been instituted by God, but sometimes God gives good authorities as a blessing, and sometimes he institutes evil rulers as a means of trial or judgment (2 Chron. 25:20; 32:24-25). On God’s rule over earthly authorities, see Ps. 75:7 and Dan. 2:21. These earthly “authorities” will ultimately be superseded by the rule of Christ (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 22:1-5).
I am not about to try to decide which our current President is, he is my president and I respect that office. (In the interest of full disclosure; I am more Libertarian than Republican or Democrat so I think both of our major parties stink on ice and both running our country head long into a brick wall, although one may be doing it faster than the other I am not sure)
So what does the mean for a citizen of a country that is born of rebellion? Were our Founding Fathers in sin for rebelling against the crown? Can our president whom ever he is even be considered an authority when we are simply rebelling against the rule of Great Brittan? Should we repent and be subjects of the crown?
At what point did the Constitution become a binding authority of God? Was it after the 14th amendment was ratified officially recognizing “all other citizens as 3/5th of a person? Was it while Slavery still existed in a non biblical form?
How are we to handle our disagreements with the government in a republic where the government is to be of the people, for the people and, by the people. Paul was working in the context of a sovereigjn ruler not a republic, does that change things?
Was Martin Luther King in sin with his civil disobedience? Was he rebelling against the God ordained authority? (I cringe to ever write that).
Should we use the government to regulate human morality? Should we out law “Victimless” crimes because we see a biblical mandate to not do it personally? Drinking isn’t a sin although the bible warns against drunkenness so do we make a crime to be drunk? Not drink and drive just sitting home alone getting drunk, should that be a crime?
Should we try to change people though the law or through the Gospel or both? Should we just legislate that everyone should be a Christian?
How does the affect the Gospel? I know I fear making my political opinions more important than the Gospel. I get very fired up about politcs but not as much about the gospel? Have I made politics into an idol?
That is all I have time for and you probably haven’t read the whole things anyway. If you did, tell me what you think but I would prefer not to simply have an opinion, but I would like to know what the Bible has to say on the matter and how we are to live that out.