Share This Episode
Growing in Grace Doug Agnew Logo

Serving Our Almighty and Autonomous God

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
February 19, 2024 1:00 am

Serving Our Almighty and Autonomous God

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 453 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

February 19, 2024 1:00 am

Join us as we worship our Triune God- For more information about Grace Church, please visit


Let's turn to Romans 13. I'm going to read a couple extra verses. Romans 13 obviously has a bigger context. I'm going to read verse 1 of chapter 12 and verse 21 of chapter 12, and then we'll read the next seven verses. Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Verse 21, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verse 13, one. Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a curse 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 on the one who practices evil. Therefore, 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.

You may be seated. Let us pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the fact that you have given us divine revelation, not the thoughts or the summaries or the wisdom of men, but your own word to us as your children. Father, help us as we look at these verses of scripture that you would speak to our hearts of your sovereignty, your almighty holy power, and that these are your words and not ours, not man's. Give us a heart to love and serve you and open our ears and our hearts to relish the fact that you've called us out of darkness into your marvelous light. Come, Lord Jesus, and speak to us. We pray this in Jesus' name. As we look at this text, it's a challenging text. Sometimes people use it and maybe make a lot out of it, maybe adding a lot of other things into it, but we need to focus particularly on this one because the title of the sermon is Serving Our Almighty God, Our Autonomous God.

And that shows that for just for a particular reason. If you want to look at a cross-reference ... Here's one to look at, and I'm going to quote that for you. It's almost a condensed version of these seven verses that we read, and that's in 1 Peter 2, verses 13 and 14. Here's what it says, submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as to one in authority or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. The proposition of the sermon tonight is this, is for the Lord's sake, for the Lord's sake, for the spread of the gospel, we are to be good citizens serving our Lord and loving our neighbors. Now there's an underlying or major truth that runs through this, and that is this foundational truth. We are to obey earthly governing authorities as long as man's laws do not contradict God's moral authority.

That's a qualification. Now, as we begin the text and we look at this, there's something else we need, I think we need to do, and that is we need to talk about who God is, who is giving this command to us to obey rulers that we sometimes resist or we resent because they are doing something we see as being truly wicked. So how do we deal with this? We need to begin by saying, who is this almighty and autonomous God who's revealed this to us and is giving us this instruction? We can misunderstand the scripture very well on this subject, and our God is the God almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and that is repeated multiple times throughout the word of God. He is the maker of heaven and earth.

He is the God most high. I'm going to read a number of sections from the Psalms. Psalm 104 begins, bless the Lord O my soul.

O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with splendor and majesty. O give thanks to the Lord. Call upon his name. Make known his deeds among the people. Praise the Lord. O give thanks to the Lord for his good, for his loving kindness is everlasting. Out joyfully to the Lord all the earth. God be gracious to us and bless us that your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations. Ascribe to the Lord O sons of the mighty. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. We serve and obey the almighty autonomous God.

All the heavens and the earth and every person who dwells in it has been and will be made by him, brought into life by him. Now there's some observations I would like you to make. As we go through this, you may have noticed some of them as we read through the text. So this is sort of my second introduction. But there are two themes that we see. And that's sort of the outline of what I'm going to cover. The two themes, the same ones you find in 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 13 and 14.

And this is this, first theme is this. One is that all authority originates and comes from God almighty. All authority originates and comes from God almighty. First point. Secondly is that we should obey governing authorities and laws that conform to God's moral law. God never vacated his moral law. And later in the sermon, we get the part three, I'll review some vivid scriptural examples of living by faith under God's authority and under earthly secular authorities. Those that are not so well liked.

Okay. What does this text teach? First, the main first three points is this. State authorities, states, governments, nations or magistrates, however you use that term in a broad sense, state authorities are servants of our autonomous God, of the autonomous God. Who is this God who established godly state powers? Remember that all authority is derived from God. All authority originates from God.

All authority is delegated to earthly rulers by God and all authorities are accountable to God. Daniel chapter 2 verse 30. We follow the illustration there of God's autonomy and his rule over that state. When King Nebuchadnezzar stood standing there on the banks of the Euphrates River as he looks out over his kingdom, and this is what he boasts about. Verse 30. The king reflected and said, is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by my might of my power for the glory of my majesty? Well, for this pride, God struck Nebuchadnezzar with Boanthropy. That comes from the word bovine, which means cow.

It's a real disease. And for seven years, he thought he was a cow, a beast of the field and he ate grass. And then God in his grace brought him to his senses. And this is what Nebuchadnezzar said. I bless the most high and praise and honored him who lives forever for his dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

He was a changed man, at least for a time. God Almighty is the author of all existing earthly governing authorities. He allows them. God established our civil government to serve his purposes. In Genesis 9, 6, we get a glimpse of that. God ordained civil authority to punish evil and to protect what is good. In Genesis 9, 6, it zeroes in on one particular sin and wickedness. God says that he rules over human life because man is made in the image of God and is to reflect God's image. And remember, God had just judged the entire world for its wickedness. And so he makes this, he says this in verse 6, whoever sheds man's blood, by man's blood shall his blood be shed, for even the image of God made he man. That's God's declaration. God is protecting human life. God's powers exist because God ordained morally just civil laws. Now for further reflection on this, go to the Westminster Confession of Faith and look at chapter 25.

It's a great chapter on the civil government and it has plenty of biblical references that may, all the loose ends I'm not covering, you can find the answers right there, I hope. So you should be able to find them. But that's a recommendation that I hope you follow up on. Now I'm going to make another statement.

It's hard for me to make this statement, but it's true. Listen to this. Resisting what God established and authorized is rebellion against God. Whoa. That kind of hits me hard, but I believe that's what the text is saying.

There are qualifications and I need to clarify that. Sin against God and our fellow man is our personal human problem, our personal problem with sin. We don't have, no one ever had to teach you how to lie or cheat or steal.

You just kind of got that yourself. And that's our human problem. And every, even the once grand nation of Israel was judged by God because they forgot God.

They put him in the background. They were judged because of their unbelief and they were judged because they oppressed the poor, they oppressed the widow, they oppressed the orphan. They were just totally immoral. And even though they had these precious laws, which they seem to worship and honor, and yet they were decadent and God judged them.

Can you remember a time, most of us men probably remember these times. Ladies are probably not so aggressive, but do you ever remember a time when you're going down the road and then all of a sudden you pull pick, take your foot off the pedal because you see a car up there and it has an insignia on it. Remind you there's a policeman there and oh yes, I'm supposed to be law abiding and speed kills. So sometimes we know things in our own conscious that laws, these laws are good. Those laws are bad. And yet we have to be checked.

They're there to check us. And civil law is there for that purpose. Now, of course, there are more complex situations than that one. And we'll cover some of those, touch on some of those at the end when we get to some of the examples.

But I've got a few statements I want to make and some gathered from some commentators and that is this. God has designed, has a design, he has a design for earthly powers and governing authorities. And here are some of the purposes. One, civil authorities are servants of God for our good. They are servants of God to severely punish evil. They are servants of God are there to avenge evil acts.

And civil authorities are to punish those who are unrepentant repeated offenders. Now God has an intent for earthly rulers. His intent is that earthly rulers are to restrain evil influences and actions. They are to protect the innocent and the law abiding citizen. And they are to serve God as judges and avengers of his moral law.

Let me give you an example of how this actually can actually work out. And God does things like this at times, not in every case, but this is from 2003 talking about the role of civil authorities. There is a country which you probably know what I'm talking about in this audience, but there is a country that has civil strife, hunger, an assortment of medical, political, military, internal problems that have just devastated the country where there's hunger and there's strife and there's sickness. And you've contributed to that by your giving and funds have been sent for the relief of these people. And so I've been in communication with some of these pastors and these men live on the third world or fourth world level and they don't always know where their next meal is coming from, but you have sustained them. And so sometimes we've sent them funds and they've taken that and bought some grain and some other things and they've gone into the neighborhood and gave it to other believers, other members of their small church, but they also gave it to unbelievers whose belief system is totally anti-Christian. And they gave them to these neighbors because they had need, they gave them to widows.

And then it happened. It wasn't the military that came in and said this, but it was the local policemen who ride around on their little scooters and motorcycles. They came into the community and they said, listen folks, if you bother these people, you're going to be in trouble. What do they mean? If you bother these Christians, you're going to be in trouble.

Why? Jesus said, let your light shine before man in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven. God used those unbelieving pagan authorities to glorify his name because they saw the good that these Christians were doing in that community to all the whole population, not just to Christians but to their neighbors and their friends and those in distress. So we know that God intended and his purpose is for civil governments and magistrates to serve his purpose, to serve him as the autonomous almighty God. But the second part of this is that Christians, we are servants of this almighty autonomous God. God requires of us as Christians civil obedience according to God's moral law and according to God's jurisdiction. Why be submissive to God's ordained authorities? That's a good question.

I think every child asked that question, right? Okay. Threaded through this text, there's a central theme that comes up about earthly authorities and you see in verse three and verse five, it's really stated very strongly. Believers are not a cause of fear for good behavior but for evil.

If you do what is evil, be afraid. It goes through that several times, qualifying what God means. The definition God is using and Paul is repeating here is the foundation of the moral law, the 10 commandments. God is defining the good and the evil. God's moral law is the basis of holiness, his character. God is good. Or if you're a philosopher, God is the good. So stop and look at the rhetorical question, the practical question that Paul asked in verse three.

And here's the question. Now just think about this question, just write in your own context. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do you want to live in a neighborhood where no one has a fear of authority? Is that the neighborhood you want to live in?

I don't think so. Why should Christians be submissive to secular and civil authorities? We should fear the wrath and punishment that can come from breaking God's moral law and that should be reflected in those civil laws.

The second reason is we should be submissive to civil authorities for conscience sake. Verse five states this clearly, therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. And in 1 Peter 2, 3, 2, 13, it says, submit yourselves for the Lord's sake. Now remember the context of Paul's letter. It is to the Romans and the Roman Empire is not one you would just laud as being, oh, these are wonderful leaders.

You would not. But these are Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome and they faced a lot of criticism, ridicule. They faced the scrutiny of the Roman government because Christians were known as a Jewish sect. And the Jews who were represented primarily by the folks in Jerusalem, well, those people were rabble rousers.

They had a number of rebellions and so we've got to watch this Jewish sect of Christians. And Paul's writing to that context there. And so Paul has a specialized point of view, I think, that Paul wanted the good news of forgiveness to be spread throughout the Roman Empire. He wanted it to be preached there in Rome.

So he's saying live as peacefully and amiably as you can in this crazy world, distorted world, this Roman world. Why? For the sake of the Gospel.

Why? For the advancement of the Gospel and for the glory of God for his people. It's for the good of mankind that the nations hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now William Hendrickson makes this comment about this. He says this text, chapter 13, does not, well, it's not a treatise on the relationship between the church and the state as an institution. It's not a complete treatise. It's only, it's part and a segment and a piece that Paul is sharing with the church in Rome. And so he say don't be rambunctious like the folks in Jerusalem. Live a peaceful life showing that Christ has changed your life and you're a witness for him and you're for his kingdom. Live for the Gospel. Now I want to give you a transitional example. I've got some examples I want to go through here in a minute, but there's a sort of a transitional example because we hit that verse six and it says, well, pay your taxes and be a good citizen.

Well, I don't like that. It says pay your taxes. Yeah, that's biblical. Believe it or not, it is biblical. Even though there may be unjust, it's biblical. Okay. However, there's some clarification we need to make here.

William Hendrickson points this out too, gives insight here and I want to share that insight with you. You know, there were religious leaders in Jerusalem that came up to Jesus and they gave this example and they asked this question, is it lawful to pay a poll tax to Caesar or not? Now, when he says, is it lawful? The question is, is it lawful? Is it true under Moses' law?

Is it true under all of the practices of the Jewish faith? Are we supposed to pay these coins that have images on them and idle images on them and pay Caesar with this? Jesus' answer was, whose likeness and inscription is on this coin? As he held the coin up. And his answer was, render the things to Caesar, the things that are Caesar's to God, the things that are God.

Very diplomatic, but very pointed answer. However, as I read this and read some commentary on this, I realized this illustration that Jesus is giving example and instruction is a two-edged sword. If Caesar had been there, he would not have been happy.

Let me tell you why. On one side of the coin is the engraving of Caesar in his royal robes as emperor. But on the other side of the coin is Caesar in priestly garb. And that inscription under Caesar as a priest says pontiff maximum or pontifex maximus. That means highest priest. So when Jesus said, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar and the things that the God that are things are to God, half of the coin's okay.

The other half is down the road. I didn't realize he was saying that. So Caesar wasn't present, but I'm sure that the Jewish authorities were happy about that except the fact that, yeah, we still got to pay our taxes. God himself is the only almighty and autonomous God. That's the point. You pay taxes to Caesar, but you render to God what is God's.

That's tough sometimes. Christ is the only holy priest whose sacrifice covers our transgressions, and he pays the way, pays the way for us to enter into the presence of a holy God. He paid for it in his own blood. Christ, our higher priest, is our true spiritual king, our true Caesar. He is the king of heaven and earth. Let's look at a number of biblical examples.

You know a lot of these. Daniel, the man of prayer, the man who went to his rooftop face toward the west toward Jerusalem and prayed. What did he pray? Well, he prayed a lot of things.

We'll surmise about that in a minute. But you remember before that, he had made an appeal when he first was drugged to Babylon as a captain. He had appealed to them not to eat the dietary foods and the foods that had been sacrificed to idols, and he won that appeal. He appealed to the pagan government, and that's a good process to make appeals. But in this situation, Daniel was trapped because his colleagues, fellow counselors, had been spying on him because they did what some people do.

One time they make a new law so it can trap somebody, or we make a law retroactive so when you did that, it wasn't illegal, but now it's illegal, so now we're going to judge you. You know, that's politics. But anyway, he got trapped in these politics, and I think when Daniel was there, my guess, that he was praying for King Nebuchadnezzar. I think he was praying for those counselors who he knew did not like him because he was the chief counselor. He was praying for his enemies as Jesus could command us to do. But Daniel did not stop praying. He did not obey that rule. Isaiah 55-11 says, so will my word be which goes forth from my mouth.

It will not return to me empty without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding what the matter for which I sent it. In Jeremiah chapter 36, we have the story of Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah. This subject is about talking about the reading of scriptures. The scriptures were read before the king of Judah, and they were not appreciated. So in verse 28, Jeremiah says to Baruch, take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll with Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, burned. Many have suffered translating scripture, distributing scripture, teaching scripture, but they did it anyway because that's God's will.

They defied the government. Let's think about our fellowship. In 1 John chapter 1, it says indeed our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 10-25, we are commanded of the Lord not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We are to assemble and worship in small groups and large groups and serve the Lord. Now worship, yeah, that's it.

That is a major form of assembly. That's what we're doing here tonight. The church, we are the called out ones. We're called out of the world. We're called to serve the Lord. We're the people of God. You know, Moses was sent to Pharaoh, and he was commanded to request that they would be able to go into the wilderness and hold a feast and worship God.

And he made that request nine times, and nine times, and actually 10 times, it was refused. But in Exodus 5 one, one of those instances, it says this. Afterward, Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, let my people go that we may celebrate a feast to me in the wilderness.

We are called out to assemble and to worship God. That's God's ordinance. That's God's jurisdiction. And we know that the three friends of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they refused to bow down to an idol, and they were delivered from a fiery furnace.

They defied that law. Now there are other examples of worship that we're commanded to keep. We're commanded to keep the Lord's supper. We're commanded to go into all the world and baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We're supposed to do all these things. So I was looking at this text. I was thinking, oh man, let me think about examples of worship and prayer, things of serving the Lord. And then there was, oh yeah, there was two other texts that really underlie your relationship to the civil authorities. Acts 4 20, Peter and John are charged not to teach the word of God, not to preach the gospel. And what did they say?

They said, for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard. And Acts 5 29, a very key verse, there were objections to the preaching of the gospel. And here's what it says, but Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than men. We must keep the moral law, keep the good civil laws.

It is the jurisdiction of the state. We must obey the word of God. All that Jesus taught us in the scriptures, all these biblical examples I gave you after I looked them up, it struck me and it should strike you. What are these examples?

I didn't mean for them to be that way, but what are these examples? These are the means of grace. Prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, preaching of the word and worship, including the sacraments. How can we discern God's will for today in a chaotic world, in a world that may become more indeterminable? How can we discern the will of God if we do not engage and use the means of grace God has given to us? Satan wants to say, oh, what's this program?

No, no, let's go do this fun thing. Don't meditate on scripture. Don't pray for these people that you need to pray for.

Just make a quick prayer. Satan wants to starve us. He wants to deny us that avenue to God's grace, but these are the means of grace which we are under God's jurisdiction, which we must always exercise even at great expense to ourselves. These means of grace are solely the jurisdiction of our God and savior. We serve our autonomous God, our almighty God, who has given his life for our salvation.

Let's pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for the fact that you have given us these means of grace. We thank you that you've commanded us to live under this jurisdiction that you have ordered from the beginning of time to the end of time. Lord, may you come and teach us. May you change our hearts to be humble like Daniel was humble, even as Moses was humbled after 40 years in the wilderness. God, let us humble ourselves before you and serve you, for you are God almighty. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-18 20:21:22 / 2024-02-18 20:32:16 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime