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April 8, 2020 12:01 am
Scripture instructs us to pray for those in authority over us and to submit to them. Today, Derek Thomas considers these responsibilities and applies them to the COVID-19 crisis.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind. The powers that be all ordained of God is a massive statement is a lot of weight behind it.
Of course, lies the biblical view of Providence. Nothing happens without God willing it to happen when we face difficult and uncertain times like we are now during this global pandemic willing to accept that truth that it is God who ordains governing authorities can be challenging when we disagree with the decisions those governing authorities make so how are we to live in light of your teaching fellow Dr. Derek Thomas with a message from a special online conference.
We hosted on the theme made in the image of God does are being created in the image and likeness of God's manifest itself in obedience to higher authorities and the Lucas classic us here is Romans 13 that 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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment for Lewis are not a terror to good conduct, but to Bob, would you have no fear of the one who is in authority and do what is good and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's rocks on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's Roth but also for the sake of conscience for because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities ministers of God attending to this very thing.
You all what is owed to them taxes to whom taxes are owed revenue to revenue is owed respect to whom respect is owed on the to whom honor is owed want us to address this issue of obeying the authorities. How is it related to the Michael Day Genesis 126 and 27. We are image bearers of God. And we ought to exercise that image in dominion. We are to have dominion over the earth. Dominion brings to mind ideas of rule and government on board and structure and levels of bureaucracy and organization and an expectation of obedience and subjection in expectation of compliance. Paul speaks about governing authorities now we need to remind ourselves of course he speaking about Rome speaking about the Roman Empire is not even speaking about the Roman Empire from Constantine on warts that had a relationship with Christianity work were talking about first century Roman.
Where there is enormous antipathy towards the gospel and the enormous antipathy towards Christianity demands being made to speak of Caesar as God and it's in that context that these tremendous works in the difficult words there. There very difficult words but just in that context that Paul says that every person be subject to the governing authority. Cindy's not alone. That's not just Paul at some Peter in first Peter chapter 2 in verses 13 to 18 be subject to every institution of man for the Lord's sake. Honor the king it raises some fundamental issues in the New Testament turned the ring with access in some degree of difficulty in competition. We recognize levels of authority and we recognize levels of authority as God's doing, and those who hold those positions of authority in the home and in society. Please send an unknown and so on. Local government and state government and and federal government and the structures of the United States. The rules of the highway code 0 speed limit, so do your speed limits and in Texas why why should we obey. Why should we. Why should we conceived levels of authority and structure is a God thing, we might say that this is how God intends the world to be ruled for civilization to take place for law and order rather than anarchy take place while he gives us several reasons. One, the powers that be ordained of God is a massive statement carries a lot of weight.
The powers that be are ordained by God behind it. Of course, lies a biblical view of Providence. The nothing happens without God willing it to happen, that nothing happens without God willing it to happen before it happens. Nothing happens without God willing it to happen in the very way that it happens as a corollary of Romans 828 but all things God works all things together for the good of those who love and that there's nothing outside of the control of the decree of Almighty God. When were in trouble. We we run to Romans 828 and at times this is this an unprecedented time such as this, we run to the cover.
The bubble that says God is in control he's ordered this is got this. I don't have to be afraid. The powers that be are ordained of God.
That's absolutely massive and huge all authority structure is given and ordained by God.
It it's a delegated authority.
In other words, think about Genghis Khan. Stalin picked Putin Donald Trump what we want to know. Of course, where is the exception.
There are exceptions to the obedience that we render the powers that be. But first of all, Paul says you need to see positive that all of history is ordered by God. It's part of the problem of the prophet Habakkuk who's who's bulking up the idea that God is going to use these pagan Apollonian's to do his work.
How can that possibly be. We want to know the exceptions under and there are exceptions, shall directly shock and Abednego their heroes Peter and the apostles and asked for their arrested sent into prison, told the next morning not to preach in the name of Jesus and an MP. Just as we country that we can't obey that we must obey God rather than knowing that there is attention point is a breaking point. Something gets triggered and you say well at this point, the powers that be are asking of me something that I cannot possibly obey without disobeying God Civil War in England in the 1640s at the time of the Westminster assembly ran Ted sends Cavaliere's country is at war with itself Civil War. This disobedience justify disobedience of the Revolutionary war in 1776, a citizen of the United States now. Truth is the majesty never gives up her subjects still have a British passport to 1776, was an act of rebellion against the powers that be in their difficulties here.
I think of Bonhoeffer in prison under the Nazi rate regime, refusing to give obedience to the powers that be writing just days before he is executed by the Nazis. God exists, take up the cross and die.
God comes first. There are exceptions, but Paul wants us to see and and and other New Testament writers wants us to see that there's a principle here that is absolutely fundamental and crucial.
The powers that be of the world in which we live is ordered and governed by God.
Everything this covert, 19 situation. It's all part and parcel of God's extraordinary and mysterious and unfathomable profits.
He gives her another reason that resistance to God's order receives damnation and I think he speaking here of the civil authorities response to resistance rather than an eschatological response which she speaks of a little later in verse five the best of the powers that be. The magistrate became the Emperor. The president for whatever structure of political edifices are suitable for one nation or another he does the power of the sort is power is power to the publisher's power to imprison this power to make life very difficult for you if you're non-compliant and noncompliant where you need to be compliant noncompliant in a situation that isn't I must obey God rather than man in this particular context is another reason why we should be subject to the powers that be exists in verse three that the rulers another Tara to those who do good, but to those who do evil. You don't have to be afraid if you do the right thing. You only need to be afraid to go against the powers, he is another reason in verse 40, he refers to them as God's sovereignty is talking about the powers that be is talking about authority structures within our society, and he refers to them as God's servant of four years ago I was so preaching a series of sermons which later became a book to Reformation trust published called strength for the weary. And it's a was an exposition of the second half of the prophet Isaiah talking about 1/8 century prophet listen to Jerusalem, but he's looking into the future by the power of the Holy Spirit. He sees an event in the future. Several hundred euros in his future where God will raise up the Persian king by the name of Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians because there Judeans are in captivity in Babylon and he sees this and he mentioned Cyrus binding.
I remember preaching that is the time of the election the presidential election in the 2060. It was served just weeks away and I remember posting it wasn't something that I thought about before. In the middle of the summer I pause and I said to would you vote for Cyrus this wicked evil king New Mexico people show no mercy grabbing linings hindering Jan and and would you vote for him.
I think that if someone went a little viral which was somewhat embarrassing but socially shift the principal this this this godless man is still God's servant raised up to do a mysterious walk for the advancement of the kingdom of God. God's plan. God's purpose to build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against dimensions. Another reason and he mentions it in verse five therefore must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience you are informed now it's it's not as if you don't know you, you know you understand this is God's words.
Your conscience is been informed and it's never right to go against conscience, the principle of the Reformation with that with Martin Luther's text to go against their conscience was a very bad thing and an informed conscience a biblically informed conscience goddess taught us that some of the difficult it may be very difficult so that me tell you my thinking here on this issue last Thursday I was served teaching and charlatan acumen to drive. It's about an hour and 1/2 was teaching RTS in Charlotte and beginning the journey I call the chairman of the administration committee and I said we were supposed to have the Lord supper on Sunday morning and there was degree of nervousness now, but the visual and optical people putting their hands in the communion tray and taking a piece of bread and touching all kinds of things and in people getting nervous and I was all for saying we must have faced the church must be strong. We must resist all this nonsense and and we must come out as good Christian soldiers and the chairman of administration, mostly agreed and then a certain driving for the next hour. I listen to the news for an hour on the radio and by the time I reach Charlotte I think had done a complete 180. I taught my class called him on the way home and I said we can't have the Lord supper undersides which, if the narrative is after that, we need to be engaging in social distancing from the hardly ever used before we the church do not want to be the ones who break the law and then spread the disease even further and then the narrative is that we are terrible neighbors know we need to be good neighbors somewhat difficult. This is, I said we need to cancel church I sent to Leslie Postel elixir decision Friday morning. By Friday morning it had gone from groups of 52 groups of 10. In the process. It was apparent that both local and national. It had done a 180 and now there was so an edict of sorts to engage in social distancing. I thought of Romans 13.
Now you ask me do I believe all that and I don't know what I believe but I believe this is a political plot on the part of some segments of society to upset the presidential elections at the end of this year. I have absolutely no idea, but we are way beyond that, the whole world is now humbled by tiny piece of RNA that we can't even see the human eye, it's staggering.
It's terrifying from one point to and we must understand here the term we have to comply. We have no option but to comply. As as Christians, as the church soup for practical thoughts one. Christians don't opt outs of world order structures of authority.
I'm thinking of that famous individual assignments LEDs in the fourth century, and there was an older and younger and he's on a pole of some kind with the platform, probably on the top of the tent he's there for 37 years there, all kinds of questions. That's asceticism of that kind to withdraw from society and and to run away and bury your head in an Monastery or something that's that's not an option for the Christian church to Christians should be the very best citizens and they should be the very best citizens in times of trouble. This is a gospel opportunity. You and I are going to have opportunities in the next few days and weeks, and who knows, perhaps months.
Who knows under Reagan of opportunities, not just to speak to the Lord's people, but to speak to others members of the family members of the public who are afraid are all kinds of conspiracy theories and if you listen to the news 24 seven you know when I was growing up. The news came on the 6 o'clock it was a 15 minute program and that and that was that you would be here anymore news until the next day now it now you can listen to 24 seven and filled the entire day listening to the news and ended paranoia comes up. I had moments of paranoia. In the last 24 hours since I flew down here to Orlando absolutely but we need to be good citizens. This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that we are Christians the setting. What is the worst case scenario for me person, but I contract this disease that I die by dissent and I'm being serious about is that I get to see Jesus. Of course it's different for different context and different family sites have grown up and raised a family of God took me home in the next few weeks.
Hallelujah, it would be difficult for my wife to be difficult for my children but it's a good thing in this Christians free. We have an opportunity what what is it that gives us that hope. What is it that gives us the confidence what is it that enables us to be calm.
Christians don't panic. Christians don't panic ever God is in control. This is been ordered by God to have this on the agenda from the very beginning I can tell you where were going I don't know what the next few weeks or months and will track one thing I'm absolutely sure this is an opportunity for us to be the best kind of citizens ever 30 we need to pray for our leaders. It's what Timothy exhorts us to do in first Timothy chapter 2, and I urge that supplications present to sessions thanksgivings be made for all people for Kings all in high positions. The governance of our states United States different structures for those in Europe, or those in Asia are those in Australia. Whatever it is we need to pray for elitist difficult difficult decisions. Monumental decisions are being made that may have catastrophic implications and that may be universe before we pull ourselves out of it again. Pray that God would give them wisdom and courage and discernment in the next few days and weeks and lastly however difficult it is. It is my belief from passages like this one in Romans 13 and passages in first Peter chapter 2, however difficult it is to comply with the authorities. We need to comply. Someone asked me in the last few days where live streaming our services and and were attempting to lifestream a whole lot of other things. So this will classes and saw and they said could regather as as groups of families in the neighborhood gathering someone's house to watch the live stream and then have them brunch afterwards and I said how many people are you thinking about and this additional 40 or 50 people and I said no you have to be good citizens. Whether you believe it or not, whether you think the social distancing is the right response will not. It is currently what is upon us and this Christians as those who love the Lord Jesus someone to give a testimony to the sweetness of the gospel in times of need. We have to comply. This is not I think an instance where to disobey would be saying I need to obey God rather than men are. You may come back to me and say doesn't the Bible say we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, dear friends, there are Christians all over the world long before covert, 19 meeting in small small groups in secret underground churches. For example, an end and yes there on numbers but they're not in great numbers. They can possibly be in great numbers because it would get them into trouble. And if this event teaches us anything at all, teaches us to think one we really do need to pray for our brothers and sisters, for whom this is the norm remaining of the week they been in it for decades for the entirety of their life's and this incident will teach us. I think to pray for these brothers and sisters but also in the second place when we get back to normality. I pray God that we will get back to normality a wonderful church will be.
I don't mean the virtual church. That's a wonderful thing and said good things of blessing that we live in this day and age, for that's possible but I'm talking about physically meeting together, as the Lord's people fellowship and pain together worshiping together a wonderful life will be a God so granted is a man in there like Dr. Thomas. I along with so many of you I know I long for that day when we can be together again is the body of Christ, we must gathering together on the Lord's, they don't wait.
This is a unique time in history. We are thankful for Dr. Derek Thomas is clear biblical perspective you're listening to Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb and all we care, we are bringing you highlights of our recent online conference event that was unlike any we've ever presented because of the code 19 crisis. We had to cancel the physical conference and take it all online and I so admire my colleagues here at regular ministries without blinking an eye worked hard to make that happen. Each of the messages from this online event revolved around our theme made in the image of God but we were also able to address the very real implications of the modern day. How does the fact that everyone is made in the image of God affect our decision-making during a worldwide pandemic would like to help you continue studying these questions with a book written by our founder Dr. RC Sproul is titled the hunger for significance seeing the image of God in man in it. Dr. scroll sheds light on every person's dignity and worth and how we as believers can love and serve one another so contact us today with your donation of any amount to look at her ministries and will be happy to send you this book again. It's titled, the hunger for significance seeing the image of God. You can make your request when you go online to Renewing Your Mind.org or call us at 800-435-4343 before you go today. I'd just like to mention that there we here at regular ministries are doing all we can to be a help to you and your family as you deal with the very real anxieties of these uncertain times.
We know that studying God's word is our ultimate source to calm her fears. That's why we made our entire library of teaching material available to you to stream free of charge during this crisis, you can begin exploring full teaching series by Dr. scroll and are teaching fellows when you go to legionnaire.org tomorrow will return with another message on this theme made in the image of God. Dr. Bert Parsons will provide his pastoral perspective as he talks about how those of us in the body of Christ can really roll up our sleeves and care for one another in the midst of next Thursday right here on Renewing Your Mind