When we moved to Springfield to attend Baptist Bible College we rented a small house in an older neighborhood. Our landlady told us about the lady who lived next door. She told us that she was a nice lady, but two things she wouldn't talk about were religion and politics. That is a standard reply from many people.
Tonight, I am going to talk about both subjects, because they are really inseparable. The first ammendment to the Constitution was never intended to create a wall of separation between church and state. Clearly the intention was to 1) prohibit the establishment of a national religion and 2) guarantee the free exercise of religious belief void of any interference from the federal government. There are radicals on both sides of this issue who advocate that one has nothing to do with the other. This simply is not biblical!
I. Civil Government is Ordained by God.
A. The civil governments authority. note: Romans 13:1-2
1. A Christian is to be in subjection to the government under which he lives.
2. God gives no exceptions here.
3. Though non-Christian, Roman law was to be observed.
4. Paul wrote this prior to the Imperical persecutions of Rome, but Paul had just suffered at the hands of Roman officials in Philippi.
5. To resist the power of civil government is to resist God.
B. The civil government's purpose. cf. Romans 13:3-5
1. Though always imperfect, they are "ministers of God" for our good. Note: This is the purpose of God in establishing civil government.
2. Anyone can obey for fear of punishment, but a Christian ought to obey because of conscience.
3. When the law is right, the Christian must obey it if he is to maintain a good conscience.
4. In its function of suppressing evildoers, the civil authority bears the sword, a symbol of justice and penalty.
5. The way to avoid being fearful of civil authorities is to do good!
C. The recognition of civil govern- ment. cf. Romans 13:6-7
1. Now we enter into a sensitive area...our pocketbooks!
2. Paying tribute ... continually.
3. Taxes should be paid as well as honor and respect.
4. Jesus answered the question of tribute in Matthew 22:21.
5. He said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
6. This does not mean that we should not take advantage of any legal tax breaks that the government may allow.
7. Though only human institutions, governments are divinely established. Note: 1 Pe. 2:13-17.
8. Christians should be the best citizens any country has!
II. Civil Disobedience is Necessary at Times.
A. Loyalty to Christ and the Word of God supercede civil obedience.
1. The passages in Romans 13 and elsewhere deal with our responsibility to our God-ordained authorities.
2. However, they do not address the dilemma where civil govern- ments overstep their divinely established guidelines.
3. Acts 5:29, "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
4. When a government persecutes Christians or when a civil authority requires a Christian to disobey God.
5. In such cases Christians must obey God, even if doing so necessitates their disobedience to civil government.
6. I must offer a caution here lest I be misunderstood.
a. This should never be done without spending time in prayer over the matter to discern God's will.
b. It should never be done with a flippant or light attitude.
c. Before Peter and John came to the place where they could make the statement in chapter five, they had spent time with God in prayer in Acts chapter four.
B. Other Biblical examples of civil disobedience.
1. Exodus 1:8-21 "The midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them."
2. Daniel 3:1-18 "We will not serve thy gods."
3. Daniel 6:1-28 "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed ...he kneeled...and prayed."
4. Acts 12:1-11 records a divine prison break.
III. Jesus Christ Will Establish the Perfect Government.
A. Conditions on the earth during the millenniel kingdom. cf Is. 11:1-9
1. Absolute justice. v1-4
2. Absolute righteousness. v5
3. The curse is removed. v6-9a
a. The animals will live in peace.
b. The carnivorus will become vegeterians.
c. The animal kingdom will revert to how it was before the fall of man. v9a
4. There will be complete revelation. v9b
B. Israel is the only nation fully authorized by God.
1. The times of the gentiles will run its course.
2. Christ will return, establish the millenniel kingdom, and rule Israel and the world.
Conclusion: God in His infinite wisdom established the civil government to fulfill His purpose. We are obligated to obey this God-ordained authority in our lives. We are to be good citizens and maintain good testimonies while here on earth. However, God did not relenquish His sovereignty over the lives of men by the establishment of government. There may come a time when we must disobey that we might be obedient unto our Lord. If this time comes, we must be sure of the Lord's will in the matter. Thank the Lord, one day Jesus Christ will return and we will have perfect government for ever and ever. Tonight, are we the witness in this world that we ought to be? Are we ready for the return of Christ?