Summary: First in a 3-part series on how Christians should view and participate in governmental issues.
The Christian and Government
#1 - Understanding the Role of Government
May 23, 2004
It was not my intention to talk about this whole issue of government at this point of the year. I was going to talk about it in October, a week or two before the elections in November, but after thinking about what I wanted to share, I realized that this week would be just as good a time as any.
My original hope was to cover all this in one message, but there is too much to cram into one message, and we are coming up to an election that will have world-wide impact, even the races taking place in South Dakota.
My intention today is to give you a Biblical view of the role of government, and how you can be involved.
I will draw some conclusions that I think are Biblical. Some of you may not agree with me on this, but that¡¦s okay ¡V I¡¦m sure you¡¦ve been wrong about other things as well!
This is serious business, but I¡¦m hoping that it won¡¦t come across as dark and oppressive, because that¡¦s not my intention. I¡¦m not an anti-government conspiracy theorist or anything like that.
I also don¡¦t hold unrealistic expectations of what government is or what some think it should be.
But the Bible has a lot to say about civil governments, and the idea today is to explore some of that. We¡¦ll also take some time the next two weeks to look at the issue of what should influence your vote and the idea of mixing your religion with your politics, which is a hot item nowadays.
But let¡¦s move into the first part of this series.
The passage that will guide our time today is Romans 13:1-7, which is printed in your note-taking guide. Rather than read the whole passage now, we will refer to it during the message.
I want to give you two very important principles regarding the role of governments, and then offer some suggestions for involvement. Let¡¦s go.
1. God has ordained civil governments.
Look at verse 1 of our passage in Romans:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Circle the phrase, ¡§established by God.¡¨
Government, including civil government was God¡¦s idea in the first place. And not only was it God¡¦s idea, He¡¦s the one who puts people in power, or at least allows them to be in power.
And yes, that includes such people as Hitler, Stalin, and whatever president you don¡¦t like during the history of the United States.
Listen to Isaiah 40:22-25 ¡V
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
The civil authorities, ultimately serve the purposes of God. Scripture notes a number of examples where God raised up a certain king in order to accomplish a specific task that would bring God glory among the nations.
Wouldn¡¦t it be just lovely if we didn¡¦t need civil government, where we could just rely on God and His Word to keep us in harmony?
Sure it would, but God, knowing how stiff-necked we are, and knowing that most people don¡¦t care to live under the laws of God, put civil governments in place, for our own protection if for no other reason.
But what is the main function of government, according to the Bible? Let¡¦s look at that now, under point number 2 because, believe it or not¡K
2. Government has Biblical Functions.
Civil governments are not given permission by God to just run rampant. They have limits.
Here are the main functions of government from a Biblical perspective. Ready?
- Provide for civil protection (laws and enforcement).
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Did you get that? God uses the government to punish wrong and reward right.
Unfortunately, at times, our government is so busy trying to regulate everything, they forget to reward those who do right.