Summary: As Christians, we are to support the Government because human government is ordained by God.
Note: This is the sermon manuscript that Ben carried into the pulpit. Feel free to use it in any way to advance the kingdom of God.
The Christian and Government
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday Morning, July 6, 2008
God’s timing is always perfect. As I began preparing a sermon for July 4th weekend, I looked at the next chapter of Romans and what did I find before me? I found Romans 13 which deals the Christian’s role in government. How timely.
Remember, the Apostle Paul shifted gears beginning with Chapter 12. We have moved from learning to living. We are no longer talking about doctrine; we are talking about duty. Last week, we looked at the opening verses of chapter 12 and Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Our duty as Christians, first and foremost, is to give ourselves entirely to God—our bodies, our minds, our wills. Now if we had time, we would explore the rest of chapter 12, but let me hit the highlights to set the context for today’s passage. In the rest of the chapter, Paul makes it clear that our belief system affects all areas of our life. It affects our relationship with other believers. Look at 12:5. It says, “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” What he is saying is—there can be no “lone ranger” Christians. That’s why we believe in Sunday School here. Everyone needs a place to belong—a place to exercise his/her gifts. I like to call these “divine enablements” and you have some. When you are saved, you are saved into a body and in order for this body to be healthy, each member must function.
I heard a pastor speak at a conference last year. He was talking about a problematic, troublemaking member of his church. This person kept causing division and unrest and stirring up gossip. He looked at that member and he thought to himself, “What part of the body are you?” And his flesh gave him the answer. His flesh said this, “He’s the appendix. He’s going to blow up and kill us all.” This pastor was struggling to see where this member brought health to the church. All believers are designed to pull their weight in the body. And so, in view of God’s mercy, we don’t live isolated from other disciples. We live in fellowship.
Now, skip down to v. 14, and you see that our faith not only affects our relationship with God, and our relationship with other believers, our beliefs also affect the way we treat our enemies. Look at v.14, “Bless those who persecute you.” V.17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Because we have trusted Christ as our Savior, we are not like the rest of the world. We seek to live at peace with everyone and we do good to those who mean us harm. That is how this doctrine is lived out.
And now we come to Chapter 13. Paul turns a corner and says, “Now, let me address how a Christian should view his government.” This is how your faith informs your politics…
Dr. Chuck Story gave me a book months ago and I am just now reading it. The name of the book is When Nations Die and it talks about the 10 warning signs that a culture is in crisis. In the introduction, the author makes the point that if America wants God to bless her, then America must return to blessing God. And we as Christians, if we love our kids and if we have hope for our grandkids, we cannot afford to run from the problems that we face in our nation. We are in moral crisis and Christians must respond. This is what Jim Nelson Black says,
Our challenge today is not to run from conflict but to engage in it. Our ‘fight or flight’ reactions should propel us forward into the center of the controversy. We should also remember that in the parable of the talents, as spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, the landowner tells his servants to go forth into the vineyard and “occupy till I come.” That should be a vital lesson for every Christian today. Jesus Christ did not want us to run away, to flee to the hills, or to hide our eyes, but to go into the fields and bring forth the harvest. We are to occupy as faithful soldiers of a loving God until the Commander himself returns.”
--Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die
And this is the point that Paul makes in Romans 13. Paul says that we must occupy our land. We have a responsibility to the government and he explains the rationale behind why we should support an organized government. Let’s look at this.