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October 19, 2020 2:00 am
God rules over the affairs of men whether our human rulers are guardians and protectors or tyrants and oppressors. Bob Lepine shares that there is no guarantee in the Bible that the gates of hell will not prevail against a nation. But there is a promise from the lips of Jesus Himself that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.
Show Notes and Resources
Listen or watch the entire series from Bob Lepine at https://redeemerlr.org/sermon-series/jesus-politics-and-the-gospel/
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We've all heard the expression, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's but what is that mean in our day.
How to set apply as we think about politics, religion and government. This is family life today hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson on Bob Lapine can find us firstname.lastname@example.org politics Jesus and the gospel that's controversial stuff in our day.
How do we talk about that and think about that in a healthy biblical way. Talk about that and welcome to family life to.
Thanks for joining us because of no sir's election, we haven't noticed, it is impossible to not notice here is that it is impossible and I think maybe there is more anxiety and more fear, more concerned, more passion, at some level about this upcoming election. Then I remember seeing in my lifetime. I agree with that. I've never seen this kind of fear or anticipation and division across our country for months now.
Yeah me. I think every four years.
Every election has a lot of intensity to it, but this one is like ratcheted up by 100 and excited because we get the opportunity to hear you preaching on a subject that I'm interested in how to determine to talk about this when church for that so that stack on it that you know II just was looking at what's going on in our culture in our church and thinking we need to renew our minds biblically on how we think about politics and upcoming election.
Jesus, the gospel, how does all that fit together. How should our thinking be influenced directed really by what we read in Scripture and so I did a series of three messages at our church called Jesus politics in the gospel and I started by saying we need to think rightly about government itself. Government is a gift from God and and I don't dive into it here because we're here as we get into this message but you remember Jesus meeting with the Pharisees and and they said, should we pay taxes and he said show me the calling. He said the spaces on this side. Caesar says will then rendering the Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God what belongs to him. So Jesus is affirming the right place for government in our lives. Government is an institution ordained by God.
There were five principles about human government that I drew from Scripture and so I took our congregation through that timeliness. Let's go. I want to hear right here so here's a portion of that message. The first one is government is an institution ordained by God is both necessary and good God is responsible for giving us government, when Jesus answers the question about paying taxes he affirms in the process, the goodness of government, and it just so happens the government he's affirming in this case is an oppressive holy secular government, which is interesting. Jesus does not hear pause to get into the politics of what is righteous versus unrighteous governance. He is simply affirming that government is a part of God's design for humanity. Some Bible commentators say that when Paul in Romans 13 talks about our relationship to government. He's actually writing a commentary on this event from Jesus life that were to read.
Let me just read through Romans 13, the first seven verses and just walk you through it. Verse one says let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God to let that sink in for just a minute. The Tiberius Caesar administration in Jesus day was instituted by God.
The terrifying reign of Emperor Nero in the Roman Empire was instituted by God.
The Obama administration was instituted by God. The Trump administration was instituted by God.
If there is a Biden administration. It will be instituted by God the Kim Jong wound administration in North Korea is instituted by God. The Hitler administration not in Nazi Germany was instituted by God.
I mean, you flinch at that right.
How do we make sense of that well remember that James says in James chapter 1 that God is not the author of evil, even though he superintendents all things that come to pass. He does allow evil to exist for his own purposes. RC's process. This he says in the providence of God. There is no government that can ever come to power except through God's ordination, but that does not necessarily mean that the powers that be are approved by God.
How can he ordain and not approve because he is God and he is working out his purposes in ways that we don't understand, so verse one again there is no authority except from God. Second thing that this passage says.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. This doesn't mean that there is never a time when civil disobedience is not necessary. There will be times when we must oppose the government. When are those times we must oppose the government when it requires that we do things that God forbids or prevents us from doing things that God requires our general default position as followers of Jesus is to obey governing authorities and be good citizens. God wants us to do that first. Three and in Romans 13 says rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but the bad would you have no fear of the one who is an authority than do what is good and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good that this is not an absolute statement.
This is a general principle. Some rulers are terrors, but in general, even in secular countries most governing authorities are not going to be too troubled by somebody who's leading a good peaceful life.
Verse four goes on to say, if you are if you do wrong. You need to be afraid, for he is the ruler the governor does not bear the sword in vain.
He is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on wrongdoers. One of the functions of human government is to restrain the evil impulses of the human heart.
That's a key point here. One of the reasons for government is because all men are sinful. We will act out of our sinfulness and the function of government is to provide some restraint to the excesses of that sinful manifestation and one of the God ordained functions for government is to execute God's judgment on people who are wrongdoers, people who hurt or bring harm to others.
So verse five says. Therefore, one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience versus simply saying the reason we obey government is not simply so we won't get thrown in jail but because it's right to do so because God wants you to obey government we do it for sake of conscience, not just to avoid penalty and in this passage wraps up it is because of this that you pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God attending to this very thing paid to all what is owed to them taxes to whom taxes are owed revenue to revenue is owed respect and respect is owed.
Honor to whom honor is owed. There's a level of honor that we give to the governing authorities and people who are in authority over us. But the greatest highest honor goes to God. God has instituted three human institutions of the church the family on the government. God's purposes for the family are that that the family will reflect in in marriage we reflect the image of God in a unique way we provide companionship.
We are fruitful and multiply. We fill the earth.
We disciple and care for the needs of our children. The family is the basic unit of any civilization.
The strength of the nation lies in the homes of its people.
So family is instituted by God as a key component of any successful civilization God's purpose for the church is that we will come together for corporate worship and for prayer that we will evangelize that we will disciple that will take the gospel to the nations that we will become. People whose lives are marked by holiness and righteousness and justice and that we will care for one another's needs and that will care for our world and our city. That's the purpose for the church. What's God's purpose for government. Well, God's ordained government. That was my first point to limited to the second point. The purpose of government is to restrain evil and promote justice and righteousness in our world. Why does God give us government to restrain evil that's one part but also to promote righteousness and justice in our world, quote from Chuck Colson here. If the state was instituted by God to restrain sin and promote a just social order government is in one sense God's response to the nature of people themselves. God recognizes were sinful. So, he says you need to be governed. Your sin is going to need a governor on it goes on to say, while the state cannot redeem the world or be used as a tool to establish the kingdom of God civil government does set the boundaries for human behavior that's very important.
The state cannot redeem anybody. The state does not have the gospel. The state has laws in the state cannot be used as a tool to establish the kingdom of God on earth. It is the function of the church to bring the kingdom of God into society, not the state but he says the state should be setting boundaries for human behavior that restrict evil and that promote righteousness and justice.
This is important understand were to come back to this more just a minute.
It's not the role of government to seek to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.
You don't bring the kingdom through law to bring the kingdom through the gospel.
The state Colson says, is not a remedy for sin. The state is a means of restraining sin, government and law can never cure what's deeply wrong with us. Only the gospel can do that. Colson says he goes on to say government's limited task is to promote the good of the community in its temporal concerns the protection of life and property and the preservation of peace and order. That's a pretty good description of what government is supposed to do. So what's God's purpose for government. That's where it is.
Here's our third point this morning. Government and religion have complementary and sometimes overlapping objectives. This is where we run into all kinds of problems were we get confused about what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God.
So how do we deal with this kind of an overlap. Why maybe give you a general principle here, even this has some problems with that. But here's the principle the state is concerned with our behavior and our actions. The church has a more significant responsibility it is to address the heart now the church is concerned about our behavior and our actions to flowing out of the heart, but where the state veers into the wrong lane is when the state tries to get your heart changed that's not it's purview words it's action that here's the problem with this. Our actions flow out of our heart and so you can't separate and so you have one thing what you what you believe in your heart or what you what your convictions are and then what your behavior is the two are linked together so try to save the church is responsible for the heart and then the behavior that flows out of that the state should only regulate behavior. That's a little disingenuous because the state does have a compelling interest detritus to try to get us to embrace civic virtues. For example, the state has a compelling reason to say the we should value human life. That's why we don't murder one another, it's rooted in that, but it's not just behavior modification, but primarily here's the principle.
Primarily, the church should be working on the heart while the state is restraining evil behavior till the work of the church is ultimately to have an impact on the nature of a society as people live out their faith. If the church is doing its job right government will benefit.
And if government is doing its job right. The church should benefit one of the functions of government, under God, is to protect the work of the church to establish it and enable it to flourish.
That's why we have the First Amendment in our Constitution so that when we fail to recognize and live out this division of responsibilities between what the church should do what the government should do we get it all kinds of trouble one mean by that will, when the state tries to coerce you to think or believe certain things the government is overreaching. At that point, when the state is trying to address your heart and your conscience.
That's not the job of government. Let's get to the fourth point we really been skating around the sport principal amount is problems arise when either the church or the state overreach when they stay in their lanes were in good shape when they overreach. We got a problem. Problems occur when the state seeks to expand its power beyond its mandate to restrain evil preserve order and promote justice, government officials, whether it's in ancient Rome or in communist China or even in our country. They don't mind if you have a religious belief and religious practices as long as you keep it to yourself and as long as you have a higher allegiance to them than you do to your religion.
And so we have to recognize that this is a part of the dilemma.
The conflict between church and state. There are many who say the state should come first in the church should come second. Honestly, I think part of the problem facing our nation today is that we've been taught that the role and the nature and function of government is more expansive and far more reaching than the founders never intended for it to be on the other hand, the church has also overreached throughout the centuries, and sometimes the church has taken on governmental authority. You can look at the Holy Roman Empire and see that it was church and state fused together and that was highly problematic or look at the Inquisition, the heresy trials people who were put to death by the government for having false doctrine in Europe in the 15 and 1600.
Your burned at the stake because you're a heretic that's not the role of the government. This is the case of the church overreaching and assuming governmental power chuckles and says the church, whose principal function is to proclaim the good news, and witness the values of the kingdom of God must resist the tempting illusion that it can usher in the kingdom through political means that he makes this important observation. He says Jesus was remarkably indifferent about those who held political power. He had no desire to play Caesar or replace Caesar a pilot with Peter and John, so here's the fifth principle I want to address this morning when people are moral and godly people government has less to do and when people are ungodly government has more to do. The idea here is that for our government working for people to flourish and have freedom for freedom to prevail and for evil to be kept in check. We need people to be moral people. If we think that good laws and good law enforcement will keep immoral people in check were fooling ourselves.
So we have to have some basic civic morality that has to exist and the work of the church at one level is to promote holiness and righteousness, and goodness in our lives so that we become those model citizens when we do that were actually serving not just God but were helping the government be more effective. Here's what I think this says to us. The most important thing we can do for our country is to advance the work of the church you want to see our country thrive. Our country is going to thrive when people are more moral when we are more godly people doesn't matter as much to the next president is what matters is who God's people are that's more important than who gets elected. Is it possible is it possible that the gates of hell will prevail against America at some point, is not only possible, it's likely if you are a student of history, you know that empires do not last forever. The Roman empire crumbled. There was a time when the sun never sets on the British Empire that time is not the day, the Soviet Union is no more. There is no guarantee that America is a superpower will still be a superpower.
50 years from now, the gates of hell may prevail, kingdoms come and go but let me ask you this.
Whatever happens in our country. Can the gates of hell prevail against the church. No so you want to be on the winning team be about the work of the church. His kingdom is forever if your hope for our country is in who gets elected were all in deep trouble. I see way too many of us and I tend to go here often who get more exercise and more passionate about what's happening in the news cycle and what's happening in Washington that I am about the needs of the church and how I can live this out about the spiritual condition of my own life about my neighbors spiritual condition how I can love them which had you been more exercised over in the last month be informed.
Pay attention to the news, maybe don't pay attention to everything that somebody shares with you on Facebook.
Is there some stuff on Facebook that she is not true. Okay the discerning be wise to me also say maybe listen to more than just your default new source, maybe listen to a broader range of things and hear from other perspectives just to expand the way you think the future of our country is in the hand of a sovereign God, so we remain faithful.
We do what he's called us to do. We serve him. We serve our neighbors. We vote. We encourage others to vote. We seek to persuade, but our hope is in God, not in what happens in November. I know that whatever happens, there are going to be some amazing kingdom opportunities for us. There will be opportunities for us to show the love and the grace of Jesus to others in ways that will astound them in the midst of the unrest there is going to be an opportunity for us to show a peace that passes understanding, and the hope that goes beyond our circumstances, there's gonna be an opportunity to demonstrate that because of Jesus. I don't have a spirit of fear but I have a a power and a love and a sound mind. Even as we watch the world wobble. There are good days and good kingdom work ahead, and there are opportunities for us to love our neighbor and love our enemies.
In some ways that will astound them and maybe God will use that open their eyes to the gospel. What we been a single portion of a message I should.
Recently our church.
Thank you. Thank you. This is, this was really the first part of a three-part series that I did, and in fact this week were to hear a little bit more from that series because I think all of us need to be thinking carefully, biblically, we need to be setting our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. We need to participate in this election season, but this is not where hope is sometimes it's hard because were run by our emotions and this was just a really good place to kind of sit back and put our eyes back on Jesus and I think a lot of us in the church don't know how to think biblically about government.
Anyway, go to tackle this to me in a lot of ways and church. It's like in your kitchen. Flight Delta by religion don't talk about politics, and sometimes they don't do that a church either need you to get up there and say who to vote for you gave us perspective to say who you vote for is not gonna be the ultimate answer to your to our hope. And in the third message I did.
I said, here's how you decide who you vote for an I didn't say here, so give up right I said, here's what you bring to bear as you prayerfully make the decision about who you gonna vote for what was the response from the congregation.
I confessed at the beginning of this message that I don't think I spoken on anything that gave me more apprehension, more more anxiety about how is this can be received in a divided culture like were living in but I got very warm response from people saying I needed this. This was helpful. I needed someone to point me back to Scripture. In the midst of all of this affecting this entire message both audio and videos available on our email@example.com along with links to the other two messages from this series. So if listeners would like an opportunity to hear the entire message. Review the entire message go to family life to a.com and access the links again.
Audio and video both available on our firstname.lastname@example.org and if you'd like to share these links with others.
You can do that on our website as well.
In the website's family life to a.com and we wanted to let you know about something that is going to be happening.
Starting next Thursday night, Thursday night, October 29 we are having an online live small group.
Dave and Anna and I are going to be together to talk about what biblical love looks like it's a love like you mean it. Three sessions small group on Thursday nights on Facebook live. We'd love to have you join us and there's information about this on our email@example.com. Starting next Thursday night October 29, continuing for three weeks each Thursday night at 7 o'clock central time. Find out more about the love like you mean it online small group with Dave and Ann Wilson and me and all kicks off next Thursday night and again the information is firstname.lastname@example.org and we hope you can join us back again tomorrow when working to talk about how we can have conversations about politics, where we disagree and still preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that the Bible tells us to do and will talk about how we do that tomorrow. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson and Bob Lapine see you back tomorrow for another edition of family life today. Family life to a is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas crew ministry help for today hope for tomorrow