Last week we started this discussion about Christians and Government.
We saw that...
As God’s Special People, Our Submission to Government…
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…
Peter and John : Acts 4:1-31
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.
(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??…
1.1 Told To Stop Preaching The Gospel
They were told to stop preaching in the Name of Christ…
Acts 4:18 “18 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 4:19-20 “19 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???
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 4:31 “31 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.
Our Second example this morning is…
2. Daniel: 1:1-16
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 1:3-5 “3 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 1:8 “8 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.
The official is reluctant (vv.
9-10), but Daniel offers a reasonable solution (vv.
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 3:15 “15 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?””
Daniel 3:16-18 “16 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