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The Saint and the State

The Saint and the State

Text .  Romans 13:1–7

We have recently had a UK national election, and the result is a hung parliament.   Chaos.  But why do we need a government, or parliament or a local assembly?  After all some of our elected politicians have been a disgrace, – more interested in their own salaries and expenses than in pubic service. As a result of their legislation, our society is more secular and ungodly than ever before.   So, what is the relationship between the believer and the government? Let’s see…

 

  1. The Believers Responsibility. Let every soul be subject Be a loyal subject!

The need for governing authorities. V1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Paul recognises that they exist and that we must acknowledge them. Who would run the hospitals, empty the bins etc if they did not exist?  Who would order society?  Anarchy and chaos would reign.  Because government is necessary:-

  • God in his providence and sovereignty appoints our governments. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God    He always rules every situation according to his will and purpose, even if we can’t see that at the time.  In fact sometimes, that appointment is to chasten His own people.  There’s historical and biblical evidence of this.  Habakkuk 1:5     The conclusion of this is stark…
  • To resist them is to resist God, and incur his wrath. V2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  Now surely that will be a challenge for all of us, for there are times when it seems that civil disobedience is the only way.     Furthermore…
  • The government has the divine right to bear a sword for justice! V4

This is not some unusual doctrine for a specific local situation that Paul is talking about either.  There are plenty of other references in the NT: 1 Timothy 2:1-2   Titus 3:1  1 Peter 2:13-17   Jesus himself had been asked about this very issue in Mark 12:13 -17.  The early Christian apologists like Justin Martyr and Tertulluan employed the Christian subjection to authority as a defence of the faith!  So in making these comments Paul is stating quite clearly that the Christians attitude to authority is to submit, to acknowledge that authority and to respect that office. Practically speaking, how will that respect be given:-

  • Christians will obey the law of the land. V3 do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
  • Christians will keep a clear conscience in respect of the law. V5  
  • Christians will pay their tax bill! Acknowledging that to do so is in fact an act of obedience to God, to contribute to the overall good of society, to pay for our hospitals and our security.  V7      
  • Christians will give honour to the king! And sing the national anthem! fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

So, the Christian beliver is a model citizen in evry way!

 

  1. The State’s Responsibility. unto the higher powers

So Christians in Rome were to honour, respect and obey the laws of the land. Caesar’s law. But there are two sides to this coin.  The government also has a responsibility, and we can see it quite clearly here too.

  • To acknowledge the God who ordained their power. V2   
  • To minister benevolently. V4 .
  • To punish evil doers. V4 and to praise what is good. V3  
  • To be consistent in administrative affairs. V6     Government officials are ‘Ministers!’

There is a delicate balance. The Christian must respect the government and the government must honour the Lord God who placed it in power.

 

  1. When Two Worlds Collide. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God

Ethically, what happens when the government attacks the church and fails in its side of the equation.  What happens when the government oppresses the church?   There is of course a biblical precedent for this. It is found in Acts 5, where the Jewish authorities ordered the Apostles to cease and desist from preaching about Jesus.  Acts 5:5:24-29  The key here seems to be that the governing authorities were hindering and prohibiting the preaching of the Gospel.  Look at the accusations against the Apostles:

  • Disobedience of an edict prohibiting the mention of Jesus’s nane! Don’t talk about Chrst! (Ok to OMG on Facebook, or use the name of Christ in blasphemy of course)
  • Preaching DOCTRINE. Cant have that!  Declaring absolute truth, and making others fell that they are being judged?  No on.
  • Blaming us for Christ’s death! Like it because of us, our sins that Jesus was put to death, saying that He died in our place – how dare anyone blame me for the death of God’s son.

Peter’s answer is clear.   In these circumstances, (and in very few others) our first duty is to obey God, not men.  This was the case with the great historical examples of disobedience, like when the covenantors in Scotland in the 16th century rose up against the Stuart kings, who were trying to use the ‘divine right of kings’ to enforce Anglican conformity (and popish ritual) over and above the clear teaching of God’s Word.

We have a very fine ethical line!  When the gospel is being hindered, when Christian doctrine is being attacked, surely we have a ringht to evoke Peter’s defence.  I’m just not so sure about the right to march down a road!

Bob McEvoy, June 2017

Applying the Gospel in the Modern World

Applying the Gospel in the Modern World

Text . Romans 12:14-21
A self explanatory portion of scripture! May God give us grace, that with the help of the Holy Spirit we might be enabled to practice it in our own lives! An elder was asked by a lady member, ‘I need help with a passage of Scrioture, that passage that says that women are to be silent in the church, for I don’t understand it!’ The elder was wise. He replied, ‘you don’t need to understand it. Just put it into practice!’ This is a passage just like that!
There are many modern ethical issues that face Christians. In the 70’s I was studying a Christian ethics course at bible college, and I found John Stott’s book, ‘Issues Facing Christians Today’ extremely helpful. It covered a wide range of topics which were being debated in the church, like abortion, euthanasia, divorce etc. It’s now in its fourth edition. And covers topics that I would never have dreamed of in the seventies. Cancellation of debts, same sex marriage, terrorism…. The issues facing Christians today have grown, and even in our local context, we are faced with our own particular difficulties, victims of the troubles, dealing with the past, conflicting views of history, competing rights and responsibilities. But the challenge is the same. How will the Christian apply the Gospel in modern society, live out that Gospel and bring the good news to his pagan neighbours and friends? Read more…

A New You! Romans 12:2

A New You!

Romans 12:2.

Note one of the evidences and results of our consecration is that we will have a different worldview…

  1. A New Perspective. Do not be conformed to this world.

The Christian sees things differently.

  1. He is living in this world. We cannot do otherwise.  We cannot practice the monasticism of the past.  We must live in this world, and work in this world and raise our children in this world.  We must also witness for Christ in this world.   
  2. He does not belong to this world! We are to be salt and light in the world.   Matthew 5:13-16    Salt to preserve it and light to disperse its darkness.
  3. He views this world from a different angle. What the world loves does not captivate him as it does those who are worldlings.  The Christian will come to hate the things that this world treasures.  Will hate its morality and its standards.  Will grieve over the babies that are aborted and the lives that are lost.  Over pensioners robbed and women violated.  Over men whose lives are forfeited by greedy governing powers and ruthless political movements.  Over all the lies and duplicity of the ruling classes and the political lackeys who crave for power over us.

So what is the answer?  Perhaps we need strong, closely bonded Christian communities, who love and serve the Lord and believe His Word, who will learn and grow together and work to influence the world to return to civilised values.

Read more…

Consecration

Text Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

A Christian will be CONSECRATED!  Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious.   So, since consecration is our proper resonse to Christ, let’s see what paul teaches us about it here.

Read more…

The Drama of Redemption 1.

The Drama of Redemption – Introduction

Reading: Romans 9:1-5
In Romans, Chapters 9, 10 and 11 are closely related. They unfold for us some of the truths concerning God’s sovereignty and providence, using the people of Israel as a background. Now. because these chapters contain many references to Israel, we ought to ask the question, “When Paul refers here to Israel, who exactly does he mean?” There is no doubt that one theme running through the chapters is Jewish unbelief and the problems that it raised. Why did the covenant people of God fail to recognise their Messiah and crucify Him? How did the conversion of the Gentiles fit in with God’s plan and purpose? What future do the Jews and the Gentiles have, in God’s mind? The passages in chapters 9-11 deal with Israel’s past, present and future! Let’s see:-

1. The Relationships that are being Addressed.
These chapters concern the relationships between the Gentiles and the Jews. The Jews, everyone agrees, have had a unique position in God’s purpose. Paul has already made mention of This. Romans 1:16. Romans 2:9 Romans 2:17-20 Romans 3:1 Romans 3:29-31 Romans 4:1-5 Romans 6:14. Romans 7:1-5 Romans 8:2-5 So these chapters will address the balance between the Old Israel and the new situation, in which God’s people are both Jew and Gentile. But why was such a detailed explanation of the matter necessary? Read more…

Jesus the Mediator. 1 Tim 2:5-6

Jesus The Mediator

Text . Job 9:32-35 1 Tim 2 5-6 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all.
H/C Lord’s Day 6, Q18 & 19. Because only Jesus can bridge the gap between God and sinners, only he is our Mediator. Today we are going to discover what that means – and whereabouts in the Bible we can find out about his mediatorial work. Read more…

The Great Escape. Heb. 2:3

The Great Escape

Text . Romans 2:1-11 Hebrews 2:3.

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5.

So far in this series, we have been looking at the basic biblical teaching about MANKIND. We learned that we are sinners, – because we have broken God’s Law, but we were not always like that, we were created in God’s image, and that the image of God was shattered and distorted at the Fall, and that one day we will have to give account of ourselves in judgement.  Yet all the time we have been discovering that the solution is always Jesus.  He is sinless, and he perfectly fulfilled the Law of God, and yet he gave himself for us, to pay the price for our sin in his own body on the cross.  Last study we thought about the Last Judgement and the excuses some people think they might make on that day.  To no avail!  Now, the bible poses a question, and it is one we will consider:  Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.  The question in the text makes some basic presuppositions:-

Read more…