Summary: Where do God & country meet? How can we be good Christians & yet good citizens? Can we be both, or do we have to be one or the other? Do we have to sacrifice our love of God for love of country, or vice-versa? (PowerPoint available - #245)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #245.)
ILL. A few years ago Dr. James Dobson began his Focus on the Family Newsletter with words as important, or even more important, today as they were then:
“Greetings! Unless you’ve been completely cut off from media access, you probably know that this is an election year & that ... the entire 435-member House of Representatives, a third of the United States Senate, & numerous other state & local offices are up for grabs.
“As citizens of a democracy, we have the ability to make our voices heard &, as a result, vastly affect the outcome of this election. I urge you to keep informed about the important issues in your part of the country, & then vote your conscience!
Given the fact that it can take very little time to either pull that lever, or fill in the box, there is no excuse not to vote. Now, more than ever, it is critical that men & women of faith bring their convictions to bear upon the world around them.” (Adapted from Focus on the Family Newsletter, October, 2002)
Do you think he is correct, or do you feel that Christians really shouldn’t say anything at all about the direction in which our country is going, or have any voice in the kind of leadership our country should choose?
In other words, where do God & country meet? Can we be good citizens & good Christians at the same time? Or do we have to sacrifice our love for God to show our love for our country, or vice-versa?
Well, I believe we can be both good citizens & good Christians. I’m convinced that it’s not only possible, but that, as Christians, we have an obligation to be the best citizens that we can possibly be.
PROP. Let’s consider that idea & see just how we can be people whose love for God helps us to love our country. The apostle Paul speaks about that in our scripture text, Romans 13:1-7, which we'll be looking at this morning.
I. GOD ESTABLISHED CIVIL AUTHORITY
A. First of all, we must realize that it is God who established civil authority. The apostle Paul speaks about this in Romans 13:1, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except…" Except what? "except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Now that doesn't mean God appointed Sadam Hussein or Hitler or Stalin. But it does mean that God has established the idea that a structure of government is necessary for human society. And as Christians, we are to be in submission to the governing authorities even though we may not always agree with them.
This principle of respect for authority is repeated throughout the New Testament. Jesus told those who were trying to entrap Him with a trick question about having to pay taxes to Rome, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21)
The apostle Paul told the young preacher Titus, "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men." (Titus 3:1-2)
And the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:13-15,17, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
"For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. ... Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."
ILL. Dr. John MacArthur wrote: “Believers are to be model citizens, known as law-abiding not rabble-rousing, obedient rather than rebellious, respectful of government rather than demeaning of it. …a godly people, doing good & living peace-ably within an ungodly society… so that the saving power of God is clearly seen.”
B. Going on in Rom. 13:3-4, Paul tells us of 2 purposes God has for government.
1. The first purpose is to do good. Listen to Paul’s words, “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right & he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good." (Romans 13:3-4a)
2. A 2nd purpose for government is to restrain evil. Verse 4 goes on to say, "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."