Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bible on Authorities (including the President of the United States)

In light of the recent election results, I wanted to post this response to provide some key Scriptures on those in authority over us, including our President. I want to encourage you to heed these words of God!

Romans 13:1-7
"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
  • Subjection means to come under the authority of another that placed in authority over you.
  • Our President has been given authority by God, been placed in authority by God Himself and is a servant of God.
  • Resisting authorities placed over us is not only a rebellion against man, but a rebellion against God Himself resulting in our condemnation.
  • Our willful subjection will ensure we escape their wrath and live with a clear conscience.
  • We should not fear our authorities, but rather do good while trusting God's authority and protection over our lives.
Titus 3:1-2
"Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men."
  • Subjection and obedience is a mandate of humanity for rulers and authorities placed over us.
  • We are to be ready for doing good deeds.
  • We are not to malign (to speak harmful untruths, speak evil, slander, defame) our rulers, but rather be uncontentious (not quarrelsome), gentle and respectful.
1 Peter 2:13-17
"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."
  • Submission to human institutions is commanded with the knowledge that that God has established them.
  • Authorities have the responsibility to punish evildoers and praise the righteous.
  • The will of God is for us to do right, hence silencing ignorant fools.
  • Freedom in Christ is to be used for righteousness rather than evil.
  • Every human must be shown honor including the king (hence the President).
  • Fear of God and love of fellow man, especially fellow believers, is our marching orders.
Hebrews 13:17
"Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
  • Obedience and submission to leaders is commanded once again.
  • Leaders are required to physically protect those in authority under them and will give an account to God for this stewardship responsibility.
  • Our obedience and submission to our leaders will result in a joyful leadership experience that will profit the servants rather than an experience grieved by a disobedient people.
Acts 4:8-22
"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name." And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard." And when they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which they might punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed."
  • Jesus Christ is the only Savior for mankind. He was crucified, died for the sins of the world, and rose again. He is the only name from which salvation is found and by which we are saved. He offers eternal life to those who believe in Him for it.
  • The men were ordered by those in authority over them (the rulers and elders of the Jerusalem Council) to not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
  • Peter and John respectfully answered that they could not stop speaking and testifying about what they have seen and heard concerning Jesus Christ.
  • God's will triumphs over the will of our authorities.
  • If our authorities command us to do something against the explicit will of God, we have an obligation to obey the will of God rather than the authority of man.

1 comment:

Scott Larrison said...

Hi, Scott. Thanks for sharing with us.

Some thoughts on this timely topic:
1. Let's include the "whole counsel of God" on this topic - including the Old Testament. There are many examples, but the following come most quickly to mind:

A. David was encouraged by his own men to kill Saul when he had multiple opportunities to do so but David refused. He reason - Saul was God's anointed ruler. Even though David had already been anointed by Samuel to succeed Saul, David still refused to remove the errant ruler by his own strength or means - he left that to God to decide when and how that was to be done.

B. The first half of the book of Daniel contains episodes which all have to do with how God-fearing "believers" dealt with situations in which they had to choose between remaining faithful to God or doing what their pagan earthly ruler told them to do. In each situation, they were delivered out of their predicament by God and won favor with the ruler.

2. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament, particularly chapter eleven, where the writer describes situation after situation of what it means to live "by faith", almost all those mentioned had to contend with choosing between obedience to an earthly powers or obeying God. The latter part of the chapter, starting with verse 32, specifically addresses this theme.

The hardest portion of the chapter for me to deal with starts with the second sentence of verse 35 - where people were NOT delivered out of circumstances in which they suffered for their choosing to obey God. Verse 39 says "none of them received what had been promised". Choosing obedience to God does not guarantee deliverance out of suffering nor entering into the fullness of God's blessings in this lifetime.

We know from church history that there has been and are today a "cloud of witnesses" who have had to choose and are now having to choose between obedience to earthly rulers or obedience to God: whether in living a lifestyle faithful to Jesus Christ or translating the Bible into the common tongue or witnessing to a faith in Jesus Christ seeking to bring people to conversion. Many were and are now being charged with sedition or treason because of their choice.

Our present circumstances in this nation will test us to see if we are willing to maintain vigilance in the face of seductive "theologies" and blatant overt pressure to conform to worldly forms of faith. Some forms of pressure will be very subtle and inducements for "going along" will sound attractive and seem to have benefits.

Are we willing to be distinct from the world when such a stance leads to loss and suffering in this world - for ourselves or for our loved ones? Are we willing to submit to God's authority and sovereignty in this life when to do so draws attention to us that causes embarrassment, humiliation or persecution?

I think the most difficult part of this theme is that so often times individuals and whole churches do not develop or grow into a living relationship with Jesus Christ because they know at some level of their mind that doing so WILL put them at odds with others - with those in the church, much less with their community and society in general.

Such persons let the world define for us what the Christian faith means - thus, they think having the best of "both worlds" - acceptance by the world and living the faith. Such people are deceived (Matthew 24: 5, 10-11 and 24; 2 Timothy 3:12-13).

Coming into the full knowledge (heart knowledge, experiential knowledge, faith knowing) of God's sovereignty is a radically "unworldly" way to live life. Those of us who love Jesus Christ above all will first need to mature in our obedience to God, then we will be living life from a perspective of faith that enables us to discern more clearly and be led by God's Holy Spirit in how we are to submit to the authority of earthly rulers.

Well, I didn't intend to get as lengthy as this response has become. It is a vitally important topic - especially given the outcome of this country's presidential election. Thank you for bringing it up - and sharing it with us.