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The Christian's Responsibility to Government, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 21, 2020 4:00 am

The Christian's Responsibility to Government, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 21, 2020 4:00 am

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It is essential that a Christian understand that his relationship to authority his relationship to government and those who are over him is dramatically impacted by his salvation.

We are called to live as a model citizen. You may reach the world around us saving Jesus to God while it could be true depending on the circumstances.

For example, if the government commands you to do something that violates Scripture you need to obey God, not man, but if you live in a Democratic Republic like the United States, how can you honor God with your vote and how should you respond to a government whose policies are opposed to God's word is a relevant questions, particularly with the major election approaching in the United States. John MacArthur has biblical answers today on grace to you as he continues his series titled the Christian and government join John now as he begins today's lesson we say is are sort of settling into your Bible about now that Christianity is you know is a total life experience.

Christianity is not an addendum added to life is not peripheral. It touches every element of life, thought, word and deed in relationship nothing is left unaffected by the transformation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the life and as you study the New Testament, it becomes obvious that the spirit of God over and over, lays out the totality of the Christian's experience. If you're looking at Ephesians 5 and six. For example, you begin to see that every relationship is touched by the effect of the spirit of God in the life of the believer talks about husbands and wives and parents and children and masters and servants. If you look at Colossians chapter 3 you see the very same thing every relationship impacted by the power of Christ in the life, but just for a moment, turn to first Thessalonians chapter 4.

Let me select one out of many possible passages that illustrate for us the totality of Christian experience.

Beginning in verse one of first Thessalonians 4, the apostle Paul says furthermore therefore, we beseech you, brother, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus. But as you have received of us how you want to walk and to please God. So you would abound more and more. He says you want to live according to your faith as touching brotherly love verse nine. You need not that I write a new for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another, and indeed you do it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia, but we see Jew brother that you increase more and more. So what the apostle is saying is, now that you become a believer. It affects every relationship. No more illicit relationships, no more last no more unclean relationships, but only true love and pure love in verse 12, you walk honestly toward all the people who are outside the faith, and that he may lack nothing. So whether you're talking about those who are in the faith, with brotherly love. Those are outside the faith. You are to be sure that all relationships are properly impacted by your faith in Christ.

Now in our text, the apostle Paul says our Christianity affects our relationship to those in authority over us. It affects our relationship to government to rulers to leaders, whether a local or national level, and what we are learning here is that we are given some very strict and clear direction from the spirit of God as to how we relate to the government that is over us and effectively just bring the epistle of the total focus, Paulette said, since you are justified by grace through faith.

Since you have been made right with God, since you have become citizens of his heavenly kingdom. Since you are now controlled by his Holy Spirit living under his Lordship every dimension of life is different every dimension.

He started out in the in chapter 12 verses one and two.

We immediately have a different relationship with God and we present ourselves to him as a living sacrifice and then beginning in verse three he talks about how different our relationship is to believers, we are to minister to them.

We are to love them. We are to be kind to them. Our relationship to those in need is touched in verse 13 we are distributing to the necessity of saints and given a hospitality and then he talks about our relationship to those who reject and hate our gospel and us as well. We are to bless those who persecute, bless and curse not. In verse 17 we get back evil. No, not for evil we get back. Good for evil, says verse 21 we do not wreak vengeance on someone. So what he is saying is that all relationships are impacted by our justification and that is the intention of this epistle. Many people feel the epistle to the Romans is a great treatise on the doctrine of salvation, and that that is its high point, may I suggest to you that that is only a means to an end. If all Paul wanted to focus on was the matter of justification he could've ended the epistle in chapter 11, but he doesn't. He goes on to deal with the implications of the doctrines which has which have been laid down in the first 11 chapters which implications we are now looking so it is essential that a Christian understand that his relationship to authority his relationship to government and those who are over him is dramatically impacted by his salvation. We are called to live as model citizen, that we may reach the world around us with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We point out to you that this is not the only passage that deals with this truth. You remember what we saw in first Peter chapter 2 verse 12 where Peter says essentially the same thing. Having your behavior honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold glorify God in the day of visitation. How are we going to get the Gentiles to glorify God, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the King is supreme around the governors is under them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them to do well for so is the will of God that was well doing, you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. In other words, how you behave under the authorities in your country or nation. Your city whatever it is will demonstrate your faith, the legitimacy of your faith to that society. And so we are to submit them to the king to the governor to anyone who is over us in authority first Timothy chapter 2 first Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 to 4 and I want you to notice something here that is going to be a foundation for us as we go on in our study. This is behavior principle for the church. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, chapter 2, verse one. Supplications, prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved in the come to the knowledge of the true. Now there are two very very essential points of come out of that brief reading one that we are to pray and intercede and supplicate and give thanks to God for kings and all that are in authority in order that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty or sincerity. In other words, if we want to live a quiet and peaceable life.

If we want to be able to walk as God wants us to walk and enjoy peace so that we can live out our godliness. Our approach is to pray for those in authority over us.

We do not affect our rulers by protest. We do not affect our rulers by disobedience. We do not affect our rulers by revolution and uprising, but by prayer and so the text says. First of all we come to God in prayer, in order that as a result of that we may lead the quiet and peaceable life, a life of godliness. A life of integrity which will be the will of God because through it. Men will come to know the Savior that is God's desire in Jeremiah 29 seven we read and seek the peace of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captives.

This is a message to the Jews in captivity in Babylon. And God's word to them through Jeremiah is seek the peace of that place your captive your prisoner you been taken hostage as it work but you seek the peace and pray unto the Lord for it.

That is the God design pattern and it fits doesn't with second Corinthians chapter 10 verses three and following where Paul says the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly are the what they are spiritual and they are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds and the most powerful weapon we have as believers to pull down strongholds if you will, strongholds of the enemy of God of the weapons of prayer. So for Christians revolution has no place prayer has the priority place in a very significant book written by Robert Culver, entitled toward a biblical view of government. He says this church men whose Christian activism has taken mainly to placarding, marching, protesting and shouting might well absence, the author of these verses and then they might observe him first at prayer. Then, in counsel with his friends and after that preaching in the homes and marketplace.

When Paul came to be heard by the mighty it was to defend his action as a preacher of the way to heaven."

In other words, Paul says when it comes to political changes when it comes to governmental issues. Pray if you're going to be thrown in prison. Make sure you're thrown they're not for political protest but for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The goal of that kind of praying is a quiet and peaceable life in order that and that's the second thing that comes out of that we will have opportunity to see men saved and come to the knowledge of the true so we pray that God will allow us the privilege of living peaceable quiet life, to radiate the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the tranquil client, peaceful life is to be the distinctive mark of the Christian and I agree.

Frankly, when I hear all of this rhetoric about anger and violence and reaction and uprising in revolution. Listen to Paul's word again to the Thessalonian church. In chapter 4 verse 10 we beseech you, brother, and as we left off. A moment ago that you are to increase more and more in love is what he means. And you study he says to be quiet study to be quiet to do your own business to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk honestly toward them that are outside that you may have lack of nothing study to be client learn to seek peace. Frankly, beloved, all we can expect from government is protection of life and protection of property, protection of life and protection of property if it does that it serves God's intended purpose today. Unfortunately, in our own society. I think we see some failures, even in those areas. I think our country and part of course fails and the protection of life, with its millions upon millions of abortions. But in spite of those kinds of things.

As Christians we must pray and live a peaceful life influencing the world, not by political protest, not by efforts to overthrow the government, but by godly living and bold, confrontive, forthright preaching of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ that must be our message that you can turn back to Romans 13. With that in mind, we come to the text and it begins with this statement. Verse one. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers that is the bottom line command given to Christians. It does not discuss their character, their qualifications, whether they're good or bad weather. They were elected or appointed, whether it is a Republic or a monarchy.

It doesn't discuss any of that.

It says we are to be subject, it is remarkable to me that in Matthew chapter 23, our Lord spoke to the people in the temple setting, and he said the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses see and whatever they show it to you to do, do it. They have a God given place of authority. He says do what they tell you to do.

Just don't be like them. They were hypocrites, but their authority is granted by God even though they were perverse men in their own hearts and I'm amazed that some people in spite of the clarity of this command. Persistent disobeying it not only in our society and our culture. But in others as well. Jesus never taught his people to storm the Bastille. Jesus never taught his people to revolt against the king. He never taught his people to kill unjust rulers. He never taught his people to march on City Hall. He never taught them to barricade the administration building on the campus to sit in the president's office to harass leaders violate law didn't matter what the form of government was that was no issue is not even stated as to whether it's capitalistic or socialistic democratic or a monarchy matter is simple. We are supposed to reach the world in order to reach the world.

We have to demonstrate a godly, virtuous, peaceable kind of life so that what we possess, and what we have is attractive to others and if we are to let our light shine in a perverse and wicked generation. It must be the light of the glorious gospel that shines in the face of Jesus Christ. Not having said all of that may remind you of what we saw last time that there is only one occasion tolerated in Scripture where we will violate this command and that is when the government demands us to do what God forbids us to do or demands us not to do what God commands us to do right. The only time we violate this law. The only time we break this command to be subject to the higher power is when God himself has called us to do something which we are being forbidden to do or has commanded us not to do something, we are being called to do. Look for a moment in your Bible, to Daniel's prophecy. And here you have a very clear and precise illustration of a man who refused to do what the king said, because it would be in violation of what God had said and you remember in Daniel chapter 1 the Daniel was taken into babbling captive with other of the young princes of Israel and several of them are named in verse seven there are real Hebrew names are in verse six, Hannah and I am a Shayla and Azariah, and says in verse eight, the Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself of the portion of the king's food nor the wine which he drank here you have the occasion where Daniel was instructed by the Babylonian monarch to take the food of Babel and eat it. To do that would've been to violate that which he knew to be laws revealed by God for the Jews had very circumspect dietary laws and he would not defile himself with food that was not prescribed by God and yet in all of Daniel's attitude. There's a spirit of submission he requested.

Verse eight says of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. He asked permission he goes to the one who is over him under the king, and over him and he seeks permission and he gets in the little dialogue he says let's try a test commit myself to eating what I would prefer to eat and after a period of certain days you come back will look at everybody. Those who beaten the king's maiden.

Myself having eaten just these vegetables 10 days will go by and will see looks the best and this was a wonderful and conciliate a way for Daniel to seek to obey God without becoming abusive of this man who was carrying out orders from his king, and so in verse 14.

The man consented and 10 days pass and of course you know the story when the 10 days were ended and the man came in to check everybody out. Daniel and his friends far and away surpassed all the others and rose to place of prominence that Daniel could've protested he could've revolted. He could've been disrespectful to the one over him.

He could badmouth the king he could've got all kinds of things, but he started conciliate a means to obey God in the midst of a difficult situation but he would not compromise and then in chapter 6 we find. Of course that very familiar account of Daniel in the lion's den, and now it's moved out of the Babylonian setting and were in the Medo Persian kingdom and by the way I want to say is a footnote here. There is absolutely nothing wrong for anyone serving in a government position. There's nothing wrong with serving in a civil government role or state government or any other kind of leadership that is an honored position and Daniel is the single best example of that in the Scripture and every time he was uncompromising. He got a greater reputation and because of his uncompromising spirit. He was constantly promoted till he finally became the prime minister of the whole nation the whole kingdom is an honorable thing to serve in government is not a dishonorable thing. Daniel is an illustration of that but it was Daniel's wonderfully conciliate eating and yet not uncompromising attitude that caused him to prosper you remember the Daniel prayed and so those princes the war the get rid of Daniel got the king to sign an edict that no one was to pray to anybody.

No one was to give obeisance to any other God and of course Daniel went on with his prayers.

He went on with doing what he knew was right before God and so he was thrown into the den of lions but he was not at all disrespectful. As you know it. Verse 21, just before God protected him then said Daniel to the king.

Verse 20 10 king what will forever, long live the king seems a strange thing for a man about to be thrown in the den of lions by this king, but he understands that the powers that be are ordained of God and he is submissive in a unique sense and very trustful that no matter what that kingdom is doing.

He's in the hands of God. God delivered him at the end of chapter 6, verse 28 says so. This Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel's no compromise approach along with his friends meant disobeying the government, but his attitude is a model for all those who come to that crossroads of having to face the reality that you can't do what the government says we can't not do what they say to stop.

He never wavered from honoring the king and neither did his friends and Anaya missile and Azariah, they were never disrespectful. In fact, let me just give you a little bit of a pattern that I see flowing out of the experience of Daniel. First of all, normally we obey respect and do everything in response to and to please those in authority. We are to be model citizens obedient not only hourly but obedient in spirit. Secondly, we resist and disobey only when we are commanded to do something the word of God forbids or forbidden to do something the word of God commands and those two things are illustrated in Daniel's prophecy, he would not do what the word of God forbid that is it a certain kind of food and he would not stop doing what God commanded him to do and that was pray the third principle that flows out of it, even when government and the word of God. Conflict we should not disobey overtly until we have done all we can to try to resolve the conflict peacefully to get that to try to resolve the conflict peacefully. Daniel went to the leaders over him and said luck isn't there something we can work out here so that I can maintain my convictions and you can carry on with what you have to do and that brings us to 1/4 point that we learn from the pattern of Daniel and that is it. If disobedience is necessary. We must be willing to suffer the consequent punishment if we are called to obedience and our government says you will be punished for that. We don't care if it is what you believe to be biblical then we have to quietly and peacefully accept that punishment just as Daniel did when he went into the lion's den, and all we simply do is commit ourselves to the safekeeping of the one who were obeying right we could be in safer hands but at all times we say, as it were with Daniel king live forever, and we never have anything other than a respectful and honoring attitude to the authorities who are over.

This speaks volumes of the integrity of the Christian faith, and it also speaks loudly and clearly about the fact that Christianity is not a political viewpoint is not a political lobby is not a social perspective limited to some idea or some concept of social or economic existence, but it is a matter of soul salvation.

That's the principle in whatever type of government you live under you like Daniel can honor God and remain faithful. That encouragement came from John MacArthur as he continued his study here on grace to you titled the Christian and government will John.

We talked about the Christian's duty to obey the government. The one exception being when the government commands us to disobey God and you see this in the New Testament where you know the Roman government was as corrupt as they come, and actively persecuting Christians.

And yet, the early church didn't stage public protests or do acts of sabotage or whatever. If you want to sum this up, you might say that one of the vital aspects of our testimony as believers is that we need to be good citizens is that a fair statement that it is a fair statement, but it also means that if were going to be faithful to the Lord. We have to come together as he has commanded us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves. That's why that's what we all know the history, the underground church. The underground church in Soviet Russia. The underground church in China that the underground church in Muslim countries.

Even today, as we speak of Christians are being killed every every day I read about another pastor who's been killed and his church burned to the ground somewhere in the world and there comes a point in time when we we we don't do anything against the state until the state tells us to go against God, and then we have no choice. We need to be faithful to the word of God. I would just remind you that understanding what the word of God teaches about government and about anything and everything else is really important for you to know and I'm very much aware that there are many of you wish you had a church that was perhaps more faithful to teach you the word of God, and maybe you feel like your little shy on getting all the biblical information you need.

Here's a great way to have access to what the Bible teaches Nesta get a copy of the MacArthur study Bible 25,000 footnotes explaining everything on every page throughout the Scripture. It will help you understand the Bible understand your responsibility as a Christian living in this very very troubled world because everything you need to know is in God's precious word so the MacArthur study Bible. It comes in hard bound in leather comes a new King James new American Standard, ESV, and multiple languages. This is a book that contains a library to help you understand your Bible need to order one today write the 25,000 footnotes in the study Bible explain really the entire Scripture. And when you understand God's word you're equipped to apply its truth to every part of your life to order a copy of the MacArthur study Bible, get in touch today call our toll-free number 805 five grace or visit Jide TY.org the MacArthur study Bible is reasonably priced in hardcover, softcover, and genuine leather. There also premium leather options. Shipping is free for the study Bible, as well as for all of our books, devotionals, New Testament commentaries everything we sell our web address again. Jide TY.org in our number 855 also friend if John's teaching is helping you grow in your love for the Lord knowledge of the Bible.

Your service to your church. You let us know your letters encourage the whole staff and help us gauge the effectiveness of our ministry. You can send your note to letters@jidety.org that's our email address letters at Jide TY.or reach us by regular mail. Our address here is grace to you.

Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 and now for John MacArthur on Phil Johnson. Keep in mind can watch grace to you television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378 or check your local listings for channel in time and then be back here tomorrow when John looks at how you should respond to a civil government that rejects biblical standards. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth verse at a time on grace to


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