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Civil Obedience

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 22, 2020 12:01 am

Civil Obedience

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 22, 2020 12:01 am

The deciding ballot in every election is cast by God Himself. Today, R.C. Sproul articulates the relationship between the authority of God and the authority of human government, helping Christians understand their responsibilities before both.

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In a matter of days. Americans will have the great privilege of going to the polls and no matter who you vote for one thing remains true. Remember that the one who cast the deciding ballot in his election was Almighty God. Now people might hear me saying that, therefore God sanctions and endorses and approves of everything that the president does no I don't mean that all or that God turns authority over the present cycle had ruled these people have, you know again that president is as responsible to the law of God as I am, as you are welcome to renewing my Bible is not silent when it comes to matters of church and state. That's why Dr. RC Sproul believed it was important to examine what Scripture tells us about the proper role of government in our lives and our responsibility as citizens if you will, citizens of a particular country and citizens of God's kingdom.

There are times when we are to obey God rather than the state and RC will address that tomorrow is focus today is on the biblical obligation.

You and I have, to be open to civil authority.

Today were going to continue our study of this whole question of how the church and the individual Christian relate to the secular state to the government of the land in which we find ourselves trying to live out the Christian life. In our first message we looked at.

The reason for government in the first place, and the historical beginnings of attendance institution and I'd like to emphasize and reinforce some of the things that we saw in the first lecture by now looking at the New Testament explanation of the origin and the function of government, under God, because this issue is treated rather clearly by the apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of his epistle to the Romans, so let's look at chapter 13 of Romans, which is historically seen as the definitive biblical passage. The locus classic us for the biblical understanding of the nature and task of earthly government. Romans 13 begins with these words, let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Like Paul begins this study of the government with a mandate and admonition and apostolic command where he says let every soul. Let every person be subject or in submission to the governing authorities. So he begins with this overarching mandate set down to the first century Christians for civil obedience. Now before I go any further, let me say that this is not an isolated instance in the New Testament. But Paul is simply reiterating here what he teaches elsewhere.

What is also taught by Peter in his epistles, and by our Lord himself that there is a fundamental obligation of the Christian person to be a model of civil obedience to not be an unruly citizen disrespectful of the governing authorities bring a scofflaw in one's behavior, but we as the people of God are called upon to bend over backwards to be as obedient as we possibly can in good conscience to the powers that be. Now notice that Paul is writing this to people who are under the oppression of the Roman government is telling people to be submissive and be subject to a government that later on is going to execute the apostle Paul and he is not doing this in a blind sense that precludes any possibility of civil disobedience that will be a separate discussion that we will have in this series where we will look at the question of under what circumstances. In what cases and what things have to be present before it is justifiable or even necessary for Christian to disobey the government because there are exceptions in the New Testament itself through the basic mandate of civil obedience. But right now I want us to see that Paul is setting the stage here for explaining why the Christian is supposed to be particularly scrupulous and sensitive to civil obedience and so he begins to set forth his case. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.

Why because there is no authority except from God, how Peter puts it another way, telling us to submit ourselves to the earthly authorities for Christ's sake. What is happening. That means that if God sets an authority between himself and me and God has appointed this person to be in authority over me and I show no respect to that person who is in authority over me.

My disrespect carries beyond that person or that structure to the one who has installed him as the authority over me and what we see here is that in the biblical concept of authority.

There is a hierarchical structure and at the top of the hierarchy is God himself. In the passage that we get here is consistent with biblical Christianity all authority rests.

Ultimately, in God and there is no authority invested in any institution or in any person except through the delegation of that authority from God and other words, only God has inherent or intrinsic authority any authority that I have in my classroom in my business and my family. Whatever is a derived appointed delegated authority that is not intrinsic but extra and sake it is been given by the one who has inherent authority and only God has that and then we remember that in this hierarchy that God the father gives all authority on heaven and earth, to whom the Christ, his son. Remember Jesus as I speak nothing from my own authority, but only that which the father has revealed unto me, and her father has given me all authority on heaven and on earth.

God has enthroned Christ as the King of Kings. That's what we celebrate when we celebrate the ascension that Christ has been raised to the right hand of God and the right hand of God is not simply to the position of law enforcement, but it is the position of government. It is as if Christ is the Prime Minister of the universe, or as the New Testament calls it the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Does that mean that all the kings that may be found in this world have a king that rings over them that all the earthly lords have a superior Lord, to whom they are accountable and the one whom God has appointed as the King of the kings and is the Lord of the Lord is his only begotten son, that we know that there are vast multitudes of people in this world who don't recognize Christ as their king who don't believe in him as their king. When I say where is this thing, I don't see any reigning king because that kingdom is invisible but at the heart of the task of the church is a political task. In this sense, a task of cosmic political proportions because the mandate that Christ gave to his disciples was what you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria that are most parts of the earth witnesses of what the immediate context in which Jesus gave that mandate to his disciples was a discussion about the kingdom.

Jesus was going away going to heaven set his kingdom is not of this world is not visible yet, but he says in my absence. You are to bear witness to the transcendent supernatural truths of his ascension. That's why our first loyalty as Christians must be to our heavenly King, we are called to respect, honor to pray for to be in subjection to our earthly authorities. But the minute we exalt the earthly authority over the authority of Christ. We betrayed him and we have committed treason against the king because his authority is higher than the authority.

The present United States or of the Congress of the United States or of the King of Spain or wherever. So we see in this hierarchy. God is the supreme authority delegates authority for the rule of this world to his son Christ and then under Christ you have kings you have parents you have Masters you have dog catchers you have schoolteacher anybody who's in any situation or level of authority exercises that authority as having been delegated from the King of Kings and so if I am without just cause disobedience to my civil magistrate to the police department to my employer to my schoolteacher to my parents and have no just cause for that refusal to be in submission or subjection. I am by that token disobeying Christ. That's what Peter means when he says we obey the magistrate, for Christ's sake, not because our obedience to the magistrate is good to be any help to Christ in the sense that he doesn't need our help. But the sense that we bear witness to the ultimate seat of cosmic authority when we are in subjection. Now, the opposite of this is to participate in unlawful disobedience without just cause. There is in this world that is fallen, what I call a complex of evil, a context of evil in this complex or context of evil, of which I'm speaking is defined in biblical terms as law less mass lawlessness and the lowest form of human corruption is seen in the spirit of lawlessness. The arch enemy of the Christian faith is defined or described by the moniker the man of lawlessness. It was lawlessness that plunge the world into ruin in the first place because the first sin, which I have said repeatedly was an act of cosmic treason. When Adam and Eve disobeyed the supreme governor of the universe, the Lord of their souls. They entered into a complex of lawlessness, saying, in effect, by their act of disobedience to God. God we will not have you rule over us.

We will not subject ourselves to your law. That's what sin is and that's why said in the final analysis, sin is a political matter, not in the sense of day-to-day politics of elections and all that but in the sense of being related to government because the ultimate governor of our lives is God, and every time I sin I participate in the evil that holds this whole world under its power so that the point that Paul is making and that Peter is making is that your individual decisions of obedience to a particular magistrate, the dogcatcher whoever it is is never ever a simple isolated act.

Each act of obedience or disobedience that we give in this world is connected to the upper level of the transcendent source of all authority, so that's how Paul begins his case or let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God, not notice. He does not say that the powers that be, or that the authorities that are presently in place are godly authorities he says are appointed by God. God raises governments up.

God brings them down in the Old Testament is filled with references to that where when people are rebellious against God, God will punish the people by giving them what corrupt rulers and cause them to struggle in oppression and pain under those corrupt rulers. But God himself is placed there.

Hitler could not of room for five minutes without the providence of God. Now that doesn't mean that Hitler was good or that people shouldn't have been extremely vocal in their opposition to his now are talking about the hidden providence of God. We are supposed to work. According to the revealed law of God and not try to read his mind, but the point is you don't like the current present in the United States. Remember that the one who cast the deciding ballot in his election was Almighty God. Now that could easily be taken if you not listening carefully, people might hear me saying that, therefore God sanctions and endorses and approves of everything that the president does know I don't mean that all or that God turns authority over the presents I got rule. These people have, you will know again that president is as responsible to the law of God as I am, as you are.

Every king is subject to the laws of God and will be judged accordingly and so that president may be totally ungodly and God is put in there for a reason mystery, which we don't know. At the present time, but we do know by reading the Old Testament that he will raise up people. He will bring about.

It was God who sent Israel into captivity because of their rebellion and you remember Habakkuk going into his watchtower being so disturbed by this. How can you God. How can you allow these wicked people Babylonians who are so godless to rule over your own people. How can you do that was God's answer hey I use them as an instrument to chasten my own people to get my people to come back to me and I'm using the more wicked nation to punish the last wicked nation for their sanctification.

Don't worry about the Babylonians Habakkuk. I'll take care of them. They are going to be judged. Right now there instrument in my hand to chasten my own people. That's what always scares me when I hear Christians say in any particular international conflict. God is on our side.

We may not be.

The question is not, is he on our side but are we on his are we obedient to his reign and to his rule and so again, the apostle says that the authorities that exist.

The ones that are there not just the good ones but who's ever in power are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

I will talk more about resistance to evil government and in what sense Paul speaking of resistance here. He's obviously talking as we will see about unlawful resistance against the powers that be.

You might see that beautifully portray in the incidence in the Old Testament where God had called David to be his King while Saul was still in power and Saul in his madness was chasing David all over the desert in order to trap him that he might kill him.

And remember the time he goes to sleep in the cave and David is there and sneaks up on Saul was asleep and David plants is his sword or spear right next to the sleeping slumbering Saul and then leaps Lisa's calling card Saul acceptances.

Whoops, David to kill me while I was asleep, but he didn't else Saul would not have hesitated to kill David. That's what Saul was about the throne of spirit he wanted to kill.

Why didn't David just execute this godless K. He refused to lift his hand against God's anointed is it is evil. Saul is he's looking for. Again, that raises questions and Norma's questions about, is it ever lawful for people to rebel against the appointed government that's not an easy question to answer. We will look at it later on in this study, the hardest things we have is people nevermind as Christians is to obey authority. We bristle anytime we hear somebody say you must do this, you ought to do that we want to say and tell me what to do what I wanted doing and so on. We don't want to be bossed around by the policeman by our boss at our job by the teacher in the classroom.

We want people to empower us to entitle us to know to make suggestions to us rather than give us mandates. That's our nature, their nature is people and again when we look at these things we have to look at them through a certain grid.

I often talk about the Christian life and worldview. What's the difference between the Christian life and worldview and a pagan life and worldview will.

Here's one example of that. How we observe and how we understand this whole business of our responsibility toward authority unless I were a Christian, I certainly wouldn't look at it the way I've been talking that I but being a Christian makes all the difference in the world and how we must hesitate before we willy-nilly live in disobedience to those whom God is put in authority over Sacramento when I was in seminary struggling this I had professors in the classroom who radically denied the truths of Christianity denied the atonement deny the deity of Christ, had no more proper basis for bringing professors and theological seminaries and fly they perjure themselves at their ordination.

I held them in absolute contempt spiritually, but I believe it was my absolute duty in that classroom to treat them with respect because as derelict as they were. They were in the position of authority and I was they were the teacher I was a student at the me I was supposed to believe everything they thought or sluggishly accept their teaching respect of his command.

That's with Dr. RC Sproul with a message from his series of church and state.

This is Renewing Your Mind. I'm we web with me today is the president and CEO of leader ministries Chris Larson and a Chrissy in the series. RC explains how we are to relate to the God ordained authority of the government to end. He provides advice for those under godly and ungodly rulers. But RC never waited into the latest political controversies would you give our listeners an idea of why he felt strongly about that. Well, Lee. In one sense, I agree that he didn't address the specific matters in his teaching, but I would say that all of his teaching was immensely practical because theology done properly, is always going to be practical. In other words, Christians are going to be able to take what the Bible teaches about who God is, who they are, how they are to live in this world and then apply that to their lives so that it makes real impact in terms of the decisions that they are making.

Whether that's valuing human life and all of its stages in ages or personal property or even the ability for Christians to worship God freely. We can understand what the Bible teaches and then apply that to specific situations as their coming up.

I remember sitting in St. Angela's chapel just a few years ago. I guess this was a few presidential elections ago, and even then RC did not endorse any candidate from the pulpit and he was talking about believers and how we are to understand the kingdom of God and he said in his closing remarks in that sermon. Various views have emerged in church history regarding the concept of the kingdom of God.

Some believe the kingdom of God is totally future that it doesn't exist at all. Now, not even in part until the return of Jesus at the end of the age. Others say the kingdom of God already has been completely realized there's nothing left to take place.

I say a pox on both your houses.

Jesus made it clear that is coming into this world sparked a time of crisis. He said if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons than the kingdom of God has come upon you. That's from Luke 11 verse 20 Jesus continued, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you that's in Luke 17 verse 21. RC continues and says we have a king who is already been crowned, so the kingdom of God has been inaugurated though. It will be fully consummated until he returns at the end of the age when every knee will bow before him, his kingdom already exists. He's the king right now and then just listen to the way RC closes as we look at the newspapers every day and watch our televisions. We see and hear all sorts of concern about the presidential election in these United States.

We are electing a president or vice president. Senators and congressmen and approximate since it's very important who sits in the White House, but ultimately the most important matter is not who sits in the White House, but who sits over the White House, the one who sits over the White House is the King of Kings, the Lord of lords and our Savior. That's wonderful, Chris, thank you for joining us today and that we do look forward to tomorrow's addition of Renewing Your Mind.

When RC continues this series on church and state, and he will examine those times were called to disobey the government.

We hope you'll join us Friday for Renewing Your Mind

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