Thesis: Christians have a responsibility both to God and to civil government.


1. Sing: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," by Julia Ward Howe.

a. In Ken Burns' PBS Civil War documentary, he tells how Julia Ward Howe wrote that song as the Civil War was beginning. She was in a Washington D.C. hotel room at night and heard the sound of Union troops marching to battle. She was so moved that she wrote this song. JWH passionately believed in justice--that God was at work making right what was wrong in our world. She believed she was involved in that. So did others. That's why this song became so popular in its day.

b. QUESTION: Does our nation still believe God is at work? Would a song like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" be written today? If it was, would it be as popular now as it was then?


(chanted to no tune in particular) Paul V. Mankowski First Things, number 36

BEFORE: by Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword.

His truth is marching on!

He has sounded forth the trumpet that will never call retreat.

He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat.

Be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant my feet.

Our God is marching on!

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.

While God is marching on!


Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on!

AFTER: Sanitized for your protection

I see God's approach; it is good.

God makes wine with God's feet, from non-union grapes.

Brightness flashes from the decision-making apparatus.

God's worldview is currently earning widespread respect.

A musical instrument is summoning many people, including women of color,

into God's presence for ongoing evaluation.

I must walk quickly and say yes to this invitation.

God's worldview, after all, is earning widespread respect.

Our Faith Leader had a non-Western agrarian background.

His talents and abilities changed our lives for the better.

We shuld make great efforts for civil rights because he died for world peace.

God's worldview, we recall, is earning widespread respect.


Give honor repeatedly to the god of our tradition.

We have owned our values.

3. Illust. This past week on the CBS Evening News (with Dan Rather and Connie Chung), I saw a disturbing news report. About a particular state election that featured a candidate for lieutenant governor who was also an outspoken Christian. The report predictably raised concerns about hidden agendas and separation of church & state. One of the supporters of this candidate asked, "Is it a crime to believe in anything anymore?"

4. This A.M. we want to talk about Christians and civil government.

a. Biblical teaching.

b. Application.


A. PAY (Mark 12:14-17).

B. PRAY (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

1. Do not slander! (Titus 3:1-2).

2. Illust. A group of prominent evangelical preachers met with president-elect Clinton, after election and before inauguration. Began discussing different views, among them homosexuals in the military. Discussion became rather strident. Chuck Swindoll interrupted and said words to this effect: "Mr. Clinton, you don't have to worry about bitter opposition from us. We're Christians, we're going to be praying for you."

C. OBEY (Rom. 13:1-7).

1. Purpose of gov't: Suppress evil, administer justice.

2. Obedience for us is NOT to avoid fines, or jail, or the electric chair--it's because God said to obey government!


A. A Christian's ultimate allegiance is to God, not government.

1. The two must not be confused (Acts 5:29).

2. Illust. As a teenager I remember seeing patches on the uniforms of law enforcement officers. Had an American flag on it with these words: "For God and Country." The two were equated. Christians don't confuse the two!

3. Illust. Or do they? In the front of many church auditoriums in our country there are two flags--A Christian flag and an American flag--one on each side of the auditorium. Something dangerous about that symbolism. Flag and the Cross are NOT of equal importance to us!

4. Illust. It is time to be concerned when one goes to a Christian singing group concert and one of the songs is "I'm Proud to be an American" and have that song receive the greatest applause. Something's wrong when we can get more excited about a Lee Greenwood song than we can over "Amazing Grace."

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