"Christians and Government pt.2"

Our Living Hope  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:54
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Last week we started this discussion about Christians and Government.
We saw that...
As God’s Special People, Our Submission to Government…
Is commanded
Requires proper motivation
Will not be easy
It is God’s Will
It is an act of stewardship…
Let’s look at our main passage, once again… 1 Peter 2:13-17 (Read)…
This passage alone is a great example of the growth that Peter had experienced since being fully committed to Christ. A few years prior to this, he would’ve submitted to his own will and cut off the ear of anyone that got in his way…
The question that I want to answer this morning is…
What about when the government isn’t doing right?
What do you do when your governor’s main reasoning as to why they should be re-elected is because they will allow babies to be killed… and then they do get re-elected…
Decisions were made on Tuesday, that we do not agree with and quite frankly, should make us sick to our stomachs… But even still, we are called to being submissive to our governing authorities.
However, as Christians, as God’s special people, we are to take a stand and continue to share the truth of Scripture and the love of Christ with those who have been blinded by Satan…
That being said, we need to realize that there is a right way to take a stand and a wrong way to take a stand… and the main point that I want to make this morning is…

Main Point: The church may be called to civil disobedience, but is not called to violent revolution.

There are a number of key passages that I want to look at to establish what the Bible has to say about this question of “what about when the government isn’t right?”, but the overall answer we’re going to fill in is this… : there are times when the church may be called to stand up in civil disobedience against government wrongs, but we as the church are never in the Bible called to pursue violent revolution.
Let me take a moment to define civil disobedience. That is when someone feels that a law is unjust before God and they knowingly violate that law. They realize that the government may inflict a punishment on them if they do that and they do the act willing to pay that penalty.
An example of this would be the Civil Rights Movement. People violated the immoral segregation laws in the south, knowing that they might end up in jail. They were engaging in civil disobedience.
How about an example from today…
Now that prop 3 has passed, there are going to be some Christian Doctors and Nurses that will need to make a decision. I am going to perform this abortion, because the law says that I have to, or am I going to refuse?
Refusal may mean they get fired, they lose their license and can no longer practice medicine, possibly even face a lawsuit against them… but they know that this law is unjust before God and they knowingly violate that law… That is civil disobedience.
As we dig into this subject this morning, I want to look at 4 different examples of civil disobedience that we find in Scripture…

1. Peter and John : Acts 4:1-31

(Read Passage)
The Church started in Acts chapter 2… here we are 2 chapters later and there is already trouble…
They are preaching the resurrection of Jesus (v. 2) and the temple guard are sent to put them in jail for it (vv. 1, 3). (It’s worth noting here that we have an unusual “governmental” situation. The Romans were, of course, the ultimate authority at that time in the region. Nonetheless, they gave the Jewish leaders a measure of authority, as shown clearly here by the fact that they had the authority to arrest Peter and John.
We see this mixed authority most clearly in the crucifixion story when the Jewish leaders ask Pilate to authorize Jesus’ death because the Romans had not given the Jews the right to impose the death penalty. So in spite of the limits, they clearly had some governing authority.)
What did they tell Peter and John to do??… They were…

1.1 Told To Stop Preaching The Gospel

They were told to stop preaching in the Name of Christ…
Acts 4:1818 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John’s response is the same one that we should have when approaching anything that goes against the principles of Scriptures…
Acts 4:19-2019 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.””
A paraphrase of these verses would be… “19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.””
John MacArthur explains it this way “Christians should obey governmental authority, but when government decrees are clearly contrary to God’s Word, God must be obeyed
What did Peter and John do???

1.2 They Continued Preaching The Gospel

They didn’t come back with pitchforks and swords to try and overthrow the authority of the Jews… They simply went back to pray with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and v.31 says
Acts 4:3131 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Going back to the main point on your outline… I want you to notice that throughout the book of Acts the disciples continue to do what is right when it comes to preaching the gospel. That is a command of God that they must obey, even when the governing authorities don’t like it.
They are often arrested and beaten for their disobedience to the commands of man. Nevertheless, never once in the book of Acts (or the rest of the New Testament) do we have a discussion from them of engaging in violence to overthrow the governing authorities. Not once.
Our Second example this morning is…

2. Daniel: 1:1-16

(Read Passage)
The first thing that I want to point out about Daniel, is the fact that he was....

2.1 Chosen To Work Within The Government

He and his three friends are carried off into captivity from Judah to Babylon (v. 1). Once in that foreign land, they are chosen for service in the Babylonian government.
Daniel 1:3-53 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.
Daniel has a problem, though. The royal food allotment from the Babylonian king includes items that would cause him to violate Jewish law…
Daniel 1:88 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
His first step was to go to the official over him and ask for an exemption (v. 8). The official is reluctant (vv. 9-10), but Daniel offers a reasonable solution (vv. 11-14). This revised diet of vegetables and water produces a good result (vv. 15-16) and the crisis is averted.
Even though Daniel was away from home, even though most of the others were indulging in the Kings “choice” food and even though Daniel new it could cost him his life…

2.2 He Stood Up For What He Believed In

Again, with our main point in mind… He was willing to make sacrifices for these matters of conscience, but did not pursue violent means.
Daniel and his buddies were blessed for it… (Read vv.17-20)
Speaking of His 3 Buddies… They are our next example… and we will use their Babylonian names…

3. Shadrach, Meshach & Abed-Nego: Daniel 3:1-30

I don’t have time to read through this whole account so lets look at the highlights…
vv.1-6 give us the ultimatum… (Read)
Simply put, their two choices were… and yes, this is very blunt… but their two choices were to…

3.1 Bow or Burn

The King really like these guys so he gave them a couple of different opportunities to bow…
Daniel 3:1515 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?””
To which…
Daniel 3:16-1816 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Most of us know how this turned out, the King turned up the heat of the furnace, tossed these 3 guys in, and God delivered them from the furnace. They were not burnt, their clothes didn’t even smell of smoke.
The point of this illustration though, is the fact that they took a stand… The acted in civil disobedience and basically said that…

3.2 Worship is to be Reserved for God Alone

And again, referring back to our main point… The main takeaway for us is that when faced with a decree (an edict, or a law) that violated their obligations to God, they engaged in civil disobedience.
That is, they refused to obey the immoral law even though they knew the consequences that might come to them… and they did it with no thought of violence as a response.
Finally this morning, I have saved the best example for last and that is…

4. Jesus: John 18:33-38

(Read Passage)
Jesus says something during His interview with Pilate that is essential for us to consider here. Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king and about the charges against Him (vv. 33-35). Jesus’ reply is powerful: He says…
John 18:3636 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.””
Jesus stated that…

4.1 He was Not Of this World

What does that mean? Does it mean that it has nothing to do with life on this planet? Of course not, because Jesus says in v. 37 that what He’s about to do (die on the cross and be resurrected) is the very reason He came into this world. We know that He came on a rescue mission for us.
He means is that His Kingdom is not from here. It is from nowhere less than the throne room of heaven itself. That closing statement that the Kingdom is “from another realm” (or another place) in v.36 highlights what He’s trying to say.
Jesus says that if He was from here then His servants would fight to prevent His arrest. Is He speaking of Violence against government?? No… He dismisses that option away, with the phrase “My kingdom is not of this world
He is basically saying “That’s not the kind of Kingdom I’m the king of,”… “I’m not here so we can overthrow the existing governments. If you think that’s the point, you don’t understand the type of Kingdom I’m bringing.”
People wanted a Messiah to violently overthrow Rome and reestablish a powerful Israel. At His birth He was proclaimed “king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) and that statement had so much weight to the people concerning political power that all of Jerusalem was “disturbed” (Matthew 2:3) at that word.
Later when they saw Jesus doing miracles, they wanted to force Him to be king right then (John 6:14-15) so He would use that power to free them.
Repeatedly throughout His ministry Jesus explained the suffering that the Messiah was going to go through (Luke 9:22, for example) and even His disciples couldn’t figure out what He was talking about because they were totally sold out to the idea of Messiah as political conqueror.
Even after forty days of teaching after the resurrection, the disciples still asked, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
So Jesus proclaims His point to Pilate against a backdrop of an entire ministry spent with people pushing Him in the opposite direction. They want a Kingdom of earthly power! But that’s not what Jesus is coming to establish.
And even though Jesus could’ve called 10,000 Angels to fight on His behalf… He didn’t. Why?? Because that was not part of God’s plan.
As we get ready to bring this to a close, I don’t want you to misunderstand me… I am not preaching pacifism. I do believe when there is a “just war” (like, for instance, World War II) that Christians are right to stand up and fight.
A full discussion of that subject is worthy of a sermon of its own, but I do want to make it clear that I am speaking of the church pursuing violent revolution, not the Christian’s duty when one nation is battling another in a just war.
It’s essential that we know what our goal is… and our goal is not the accumulation of earthly power.... Our Goal is the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
We want people to come to know Jesus. We want people to follow Jesus. We want the Kingdom of God to reign in people’s hearts… and we want God’s will to be done as much as possible in the lives of ourselves and those who are a part of the Kingdom with us.
Peter says in…
1 Peter 2:1717 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
When Peter wrote this Epistle “the king,” was Nero. Nero was one of the worst emperors ever to rule the Roman Empire. He was a cruel, wicked, vile, immoral, sadistic man.
Nero did not just kill Christians, he wanted to make them suffer first. He would dip Christians in wax, and impale them on poles around his palace he would then light them on fire, and yell: "Now you truly are the light of the world."
He would also kill Christians in front of large crowds of spectators. He would wrap Christians up in animal skins and throw them to lions. The lions would then tear these men and women apart in front of thousands of entertained spectators.
At other times he would crucify them, and after the crowd would get bored, he would set the Christians on fire.
Even knowing all of this... Peter says, “Honor the king.” - We may not like this, we may not agree with it, but the Father says that we are to submit to authority.
Even when your boss is a pain! Even when your teacher is mean! Even when your politicians are crooked! Even when your President is immoral. God says submit to authority, and as His children we must submit to our Heavenly Father's authority!
If we refuse to submit to authority in other areas of our lives then we are not submitting to the Lord. We are saved because Jesus was submissive.
When we submit to Him, and allow Him to work in, through, and around us the Father will be glorified. And our submissive actions may point others to Him!
Will you sacrifice your desires in order for God to use you?
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