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Civil Disobedience

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 6, 2020 8:00 am

Civil Disobedience

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 6, 2020 8:00 am

It doesnt happen every day for us, but it started happening right away for the early apostles. God tells you to do something, and the state says you cant. What do you do? What are your options? What are the issues?

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It doesn't happen every day for us but it started happening right away for the early apostles, God tells you to do something in the state says you can't. What do you do, what are your options. What are the issues today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce considers the authority of the state the authority of God and the option of civil disobedience relevant to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly today.

Dr. Boyce talks about what we should do when God and government disagree he lays out the four options we have for handling that conflict and makes a case for one that could get us into trouble. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce were studying. The fourth chapter of acts, and you may recall from our last study that as we got to the end of it.

We turn to this great verse, verse 12 of the chapter. Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Spent a bit of time talking about that unique name of Jesus Christ and its authority.

And as we began to talk about that we saw. Even though it came toward the end of our study that that is actually the theme of the chapter and it ties together with the miracle recorded in chapter 3, what we have in chapter 4 builds on that previous story because God had worked through Peter John. It was with him in the healing of a crippled beggar and the leaders of the people who are unhappy with the performance of a miracle threatening to unleash power which they couldn't control arrested Peter and John put them in prison overnight and then hold them before the Sanhedrin in the morning and demanded an authoritative tone's by what power or name did you do this name. Of course, stands for authority and that's what the word power means by what authority was the authoritative power by which you accomplish this miracle and they answered it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that is, by his authority.

Then we saw that Peter will undoubtedly perceive the connection between the two brought it to bear on them and what was a brilliant testimony before the suggest body of man and said there is no other name given under heaven. Among men, whereby you must be saved. In other words, the same power and authority that was instrumental in the healing of this proposal is the power that you need in order to be healed of the crippling effect of sin because you are all sinners now. Same theme carries through into the section that were looking at tonight is actually a fourfold sequence. They say by what power or name did you do this that's the question Peter and John reply in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

That's the answer Peter as he begins to speak of the gospel says there is no other name by which you can be healed.

And that's the application and then in the passage that which we come tonight. There's the response of the Sanhedrin.

They say well we can deny that he was healed, would be a laughing stock in Jerusalem. If we tried to do that. But at least we can exercise our authority so they turn to Peter and John and said well whatever you do don't preach or teach any longer in that name. So the issue is joint issue is one of authority. You say the authority of Jesus Christ, to heal the crippling now Sanhedrin the states. The highest power in the land sets itself against the authority of Jesus Christ and they say don't do it. And of course Peter and John reply as we know because we know the story you judge yourselves whether it's right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.

But as far as where concerns we cannot but help speaking about what we have seen and heard him so they do that's ascetic interesting to look at the reaction of the Sanhedrin to these men because they certainly created a problem for these leaders, Jesus. Before that I created the problem about here were more of them just the same way express the problem they had when they looked on them and as it says in verse 13 verse begins our passage. They realize they were unschooled, ordinary man out in mean they were utterly ignorant was a sort of education that went on in the synagogue. Certainly Peter and John have that know the both Peter and John later wrote letters which we have in our New Testament than they bear the marks of unique literary flourishes.

John especially is an exceptional literary achievement and Peter's letter so the breeze with a certain vibrancy and that certainly indicates that they were not utterly unlearn it. Moreover, they had spent three years in the best seminary that this world is ever seen.

They had been traveling around with the master himself and he had taught them not only by precept as he unfolded the Scriptures to them and taught his own understanding of what God requires of us power to approach them. Not only that he lived it all out a model but before them and they live with them. All that time and slow learners are slow to understand even slower to measure up to the character that Christ set as a model, but they were on the way and they had three good years so doesn't mean that they weren't worded or educated in that way. It just meant that they had not been to the rabbinic schools.

I was a little bit like going to the University. It was sort of a ticket to doing well in Judaism was an open door to success if he wanted to be somebody that everyone looked up to. If you wanted to have the austerity of the judge. If you wanted to have the force and power of a political figure, Congressman or Sen. The president well you had gone through the rabbinic schools because this was a theocracy always on the wrong they still consider themselves a theocracy and God gave the knowledge of his way through the Scriptures are not required rabbinic understanding looked at these two men. John ain't been fishermen before they had begun to follow this itinerant rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. They had gone to the schools.

Yet these two fishermen. These rather rough characters by the standards of the Sanhedrin. These men stood there without wavering in the slightest. Before these powerful man in the day the kind of testimony we have just read about in the first portion of the chapter rulers and elders of the people that we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, and this is the answer. He was healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, saw the that's where they really got boulders that, there whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, and this is how this man stands before you completely healed and then they quoted the 118 song the stone you builders rejected has become the capstone and they left it all up in the brilliant testimony there is salvation in no one else, and I guess they were just a little bit against as they saw the audacity and the boldness of these two fishermen. They were ready overpower them, you know, the mighty will do that if they can with the unfortunate no rule over them like a steamroller and that's what they were prepared to go but these men were not the kind of men that were going to get run over. And so they looked at them and says that they were astonished, astonished at their courage and I think also they were a bit dismayed doesn't use that word but I think I was part of it because it says that they took note that they had been with Jesus you know that at first I got sure sounds from the reading of this that it dawned on them a little bit in the interrogation as a began to look at them intently that we've seen these guys before.

These were two of the ones that were hanging around Jesus, whom we crucified just as they said that Jesus all in a troublemaker he wants.

Why was unschooled to know the law you misinterpreted it all the time yet to be done away with such people always have to be done away with their dangerous and we did, but not here they are again. His disciples had their acting just like him say no wonder they were astonished and as I suggest dismayed when we going to do here.

We thought just a matter of a few short weeks ago. Two months ago that we had stamped this thing out. We had crucified Jesus and that was the end of that medical was asked whether stories about the resurrection he had said he was going to be raised from the dead. It is true we have been able to find his body and so far as we know who was opened in the tomb was empty and all that but there must be some explanation of that we do but we thought we had put that down and out. They are going about their preaching all of this again or they're doing it courageously just the way Jesus did about that. Well, what they did is what the state always does just exercises authority. They said this was their response. Don't do it anymore. It's interesting if you look at this thing grammatically there something here that you wouldn't do in good writing have to look at verse 16. They said everybody living in Jerusalem knows that they done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. That is the miracle but to stop now.

What is there and that taxes the word it is a pronoun and it's indefinite but to stop it now. The new international version says this thing but to stop it from spreading any further among people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this night know what is referred to normally you would take it to the last main idea are now that would be the miracle to stop this miracle from spreading forward as it probably is what they're thinking of that people are already talking about the miracle thing was spreading.

They really are concerned about is the gospel is the preaching of the resurrection and hardly know what it is that they're trying to repress or condemn this referred to it as it will getting around anymore.

Let's contained in this question right now. Let's do everything we can and so will they put them out while they debated what it was they were going to do at this point they bring them back in. I guess they line them up and then they put on all their clerical robes and looked as austere as possible, and in very small and serious tones. They said don't do it anymore and Peter gives his response.

You know that's the same way today we mentioned it last week when we were talking about the power of the state, the state is naked power.

That's all. The state has how it's true, as were going to say because I want to talk a bit about civil disobedience because that's what they did they disobey the states.

It is true that the power and authority.

The state has delegated authority is given to the state from God, the way an exercise that is by the naked force of arms all the state has see you can send representatives to Washington and the pass laws of all that you can say well we have a representative form of government that's good.

Certainly better than the former government doesn't take the will of the people in consideration of all but disobey the laws. The same thing happens happens under any other form of government as the state comes in the form of the policeman or the FBI or somebody from the government and they just didn't force their way by partners are allowed to violate the law that you do violate the law. Well, you're arrested or prosecuted or jailed or whatever may be entered by the force of the gun course that's what they were doing, how they didn't have quite the power that they had in earlier days because they were the subject people at this point that was wrong. That actually had the power to work out an arrangement they supported Robert Lane supported them and when they made a pronouncement that concerned local affairs kind of thing the road really wasn't concerned about the didn't threaten Caesar well then Rome would back him up, and they could carry it out. So they said if you do this anymore. Nap answered us were going to arrest you and all you and of course, is exactly what the Peter John when Ali went on preaching. We come to this chapter we find that they hold again and they said didn't we tell you not to do this and I said well yes it's true that, but we told you right then we were going to obey God rather than doing so they said all right will throw you in jail.

And so they did.

God had to come and rescue them from the prison. But you see that's the way the state operates really is no other power the state's disposal. What changes the world.

We can see as we really appreciate this as Christian people.

What changes the world is not laws enforced by alarmist but you know the lies the citizenry and I comes by God alone. That's why the only real changes that are come in the world are by revival as God works in his people in such a powerful way that they are changed because they are change the moral climate of the country is changed and the laws follow so you don't accomplish the change by passing laws enforcing it because that doesn't change people of all. Now the disciples responded as I said they did and that raises this big question of civil disobedience is a right to disobey the state. I remember some years ago Francis Schaeffer was alive and he published the Christian manifesto and then it he said in clear language that in certain circumstances.

Christians were obliged to disobey the state evangelicals got very upset that I could qualify that little white evangelicals got upset by that because they lived through a period in which black evangelicals disobey the states the sake of civil rights, and they had kinda been against what the Blacks were doing in those days they said Holy See must disobey the state God is established as they don't you know the Romans. It says that God is established is that you should submit to it you to give honor to modern all Latin, so they didn't like it too much but now all of a sudden along comes Francis Schaeffer, he says, look things up declined a great deal and the time may well come in this country perhaps has already, certainly has come. In other countries when students who are serving God rather than man are going to have to disobey the state little white evangelicals didn't like it. And yet you see they were wrong and that because if you ever find yourself saying, in categorical terms, I must do whatever the state says I must do, then you're making the state into your God, because less estate is equivalent with God in expressing always the perfect will of God. It isn't that in different situations of status going to say things that are contrary to what God says and if you're following God, you're going to have to disobey as it raises this whole matter of civil disobedience now may suggest that when we are talking about the relationship between God and Caesar, which is the way the Lord Jesus Christ himself raised it really only are four options that we've seen them in history. One is the option that says well it's God alone, and I deny the authority of Caesar altogether. Mother use as well.

It's the authority of Caesar alone and I deny the authority of God altogether and other people put them together inside welders gone, and Caesar. But Caesar is one. You have to listen to it within the support position, the right one says is God and Caesar.

But God is the one you have to listen to it was interesting to work through those just about take the first one brought along head and authority of Caesar deny that happened in the early church expressed itself in monasticism.

That's really the term for it. It's a term that says his world is so corrupt and his governments are so corrupt that is all of the devil. It is nothing to do with God and the only thing a Christian can do in circumstances like that is retrieved from it. So in the early days of the church. There were people did that they moved out of the cities out into the desert and then because they became something of a curiosity and people flock out see them as were bad days, when the whole lot to say with a television or football games or super balls and an anchorite out the desert became something of an attraction again flock out the desert.

Visit these monastic figures and when they begin to popularly move further out of the desert and further out in the desert eventually got away from it all and some of them got the idea that the way to escape was to climb up on the top of a stone pillar where nobody could get to the one of the very famous man silenced ladies. On top of the pillar for about 40 years living out there. They passed boot up to eliminate it. And that's where the state that's monasticism messing only thing that matters is gone and the authority of Caesar is absolutely illegitimate about course were not so extreme we Americans are very extreme about anything.

We just take things as they come. We compromise right and left and and we don't do that but we do have a form of its kind withdrawal from what we would call civic responsibility.

We say I am not much interested in voting because after all, are all equally bad. None of them stand for anything that's unfortunate and all equally bad, it's the responsibility of Christians assort their way through that and I think that we are seeing revival of civic responsibility among evangelicals and our dad is a very healthy thing, which is that's the way we express withdraw from things now when we talk about the authority of the statement being legitimate authority to have the example of Jesus Christ. Recall that when he was arrested, appear before pilot pilot examined him and eventually condemned in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not once in the entire trial suggested that the authority of pilot was a legitimate suggests that because client was about to commit the tragic error and gross injustice of condemning an utterly righteous man, the very son of God, that therefore because of that pilots authority should be torn from his grasp. Jesus didn't say you know.

We mustn't tolerate injustices like this in the world. We need to rise up in arms against it. Until my followers to do I'm in the situs of the bad world knew better prepare yourself for it raise an army and get people like pilot out of. Never once did that he spoke respectfully to pilot and he acknowledged he had authority.

Pilot said in the course of the trial aren't you answering me. Don't you know I am authority to release your authority to crucify you, Jesus did not say no you don't.

Jesus said yes you do. But he said you have to understand that authority has been given to you from God and therefore he says one who committed the undo has a greater sentence he when he brought that matter of sin into an indicated responsibility and he said you do have authority but it's a delegated authority are given authority by God and therefore you are responsible to God for how you use it.

That's what Christians have to tell the state's legitimate authority is a God-given authority but it is an authority given by God and the state is responsible, even if they do not profess faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. They're going to answer God one day just as we're going to answer somebody will say will.

Doesn't the state have limits on their limits upon the states authority and the answer is yes, of course, there are. We see one of them here in the story when the state tells us that we cannot preach the gospel that we cannot speak of Jesus Christ and we must resist it now. It requires some wisdom sometimes to know how to do that. We have a very unfortunate interpretation in our day of this doctrine of the separation of church and state. Originally, that meant that the state was not to establish or hinder religion, but religion in the practice of it. The free practice of it was certainly protected by the Constitution. But today it is mean that today it has been interpreted in the secular way, as if to say, well, there should be no religion at all and anything that involves the state and so the exercise of religion is been excluded from the public schools and its increasingly under attack in different areas of our national life.

That's an unfortunate thing and when we begin to wrestle with that say how are we going to deal with and it requires a great deal of wisdom.

I think certainly we should press for the right to pray. If we wish in public schools. We certainly have the right to testify.

We certainly have the right to be like any other group to study the Bible as groups of students desire to do in those cases you know have been in our before the Supreme Court to see when the state says all you can be religious, but you must be religious privately very same things going on in Russia and hope we tolerate religion Russia but have to do it privately. You can't do it publicly again even teacher children. That's a private matter and the state is a concern for the family and the children can teach the children usually only a step away from that when our government to say you can't teach in the public schools can't do here. You can't do it. There never say says that we have to disobey. And that's what Peter and John did. I didn't deny the authority of the state. The state had the rights to make whatever judgments it wanted and they appealed that they said it's for you to judge you judge for yourselves whether it's right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. You think in your wisdom that we should obey you rather than obey what God has told us that you must exercise your authority, your punitive power appropriately. You say as far as we're concerned goddess told us to do something and so were going to do it regardless of what you say is another area in which we have to resist the states authority and that has to do with morals. That's an important area because you don't have the gospel without the life that supports it, and of the states as well.

Here's a certain thing you have to do we have to defy it. They were convinced on biblical grounds and abortion is murder, then doctors must resist the state if the state says through the authority of the hospitals that they must do abortion slabs.

I will do it after stand up against it because it's a moral issue in Nazi Germany. The Christians face that some of them, as we know capitulating to the state they probably said what many people say here in this country well you know Romans certain things I should obey so they did not everybody sums that up against the Courtney Muller was one preached against it strongly against the Nazi doctrines that he was imprisoned because he spoke out against the state pastor friend came to him when he was in jail and tried to remonstrate with pride to say that he just wouldn't preach about certain things and preach the gospel but leave out these moral things that you're concerned with that have to do with Jewish people and minorities and all of that just leave that out to let you out prison when all through that many wrap it up by saying Barney Melissa why are you in jail and the mother said to him, why are you in jail saying Muller was right because in that situation to avoid speaking to the moral issue was treason.

The cause of Jesus Christ. So undergoing about these options, the option of God alone is illegitimate as a second option and that is the option that says Caesar alone pushes God out of the picture got understand that because as the option of our day that secularism is not the kind of thing that says as I pointed out a moment ago that you can't practice your religion old short again and you can practice any kind of quirky thing you want to do lenses between consenting adults can be religious mustn't the mustn't bring it out of the closet him anyway. Just keep it there in the reservation because in this world and this real world. Caesar is the only thing that matters has a very foolish thing for any state to do you know even in the Middle Ages when they were very Christian Christian in name only to at least recognize that there was value in being able to appeal to God denies even secularly we have in this country.

What we call a system of checks and balances that is between the various branches of the government. The president can propose programs but the programs don't get underway unless Congress funds them. Congress can pass laws.

Laws don't go anywhere if the Supreme Court declares them unconstitutional. The president can appoint Supreme Court justices, but they Congress can impeach the president and so on. Each branch of the government has checks on the other branches and as we look back to our Constitution and the writing of it back to something that was very wisely constructed. We are greatly blessed having a document like that because our founding fathers recognizing the corruption of the human heart says it's not wise to have all the power in one branch of government. And so we have to have various branches that keep a check on one another. One goes astray to can always handle it.

And so they do. We saw that in Watergate. That's the way it operated.

We recognize that secularly.

We should also recognize it spiritually. You see when you pushed God out of the picture.

You really get into trouble because the three branches of government are there supposed to check one another what happens in all three branches get together to establish a state that has no room for God or for biblical reality of God in the picture.

You can always call the states to accountants. The job of the church to do that. You push brought out your Mercy of your governors. Well, there's 1/3 option and that is the option of recognizing the authority about God and Caesar. But in practice and breath sometimes. Also, in theory, allowing Caesar to be dominant. This is what will entitlement in the case of the trial of Jesus Christ pilot was no Julie didn't know the Jewish God. He certainly wasn't a Christian. He didn't really believe in Jesus Christ. No indication that he had any deep kind of religion already had sort of a pagan superstition because when he saw Christ. The recognizing was dealing with an extraordinary kind of man he was sort of afraid that maybe was one of the dogs you know in the way that Romans and the Greeks thought about those things than he knew that it was bad to get God's angry at you because of get the gods angry after they zapped it when you never know how they're going to do that why mythology install that sort of thing. Here he was about to condemn Jesus and why Jesus was a goner half a block record of God in a tiny little bit of a God.

What if Jesus would zap it and so did every thing he could to try to get Jesus excuse me recognize morals, spiritual something in the universe, but pilots problem you say is that he was far more afraid of Caesar was of any spiritual reality told the story pilot was afraid of three things. We stood before Jesus, he was afraid of Jesus because there was a man who was superior to him in character. He knew that Jesus had something he didn't have as afraid of that, especially if he was a God and then were told to speculate that Pilate was afraid of the people wanted to do the right thing to do. People seem to be so united in their desire to have Jesus crucified. Eventually, you know, gave into them, but most of all, Violet was afraid of Caesar. That's how they got to them in the end they said to him, you know, if you let this man go. You're no friend of Caesar's and he said to himself. Oh my goodness what's if they tell on me to Caesar the right to be afraid. Caesar was no man to monkey around with. In the end, he did get in trouble with Caesar and he was banished he was sent away from his post.

He finally died in some remote area of France somewhere to see was because he put Caesar above God, that Pilate made that dreadful tragic mistake and that is the thing that he is known for and will be known for.

Throughout history, see the first option God alone is monasticism. The second option Caesar alone to secularism. The third option God and Caesar. But Caesar in the dominant position is the position of collards, no one recognizes the authority of God at all.

We dare to subject the authority of God in human authority. And so when we do, it's because collards were afraid.

What man might do wonders what brings us to the fourth option of the fourth option is God and Caesar. But with God dominant and it's what we've been talking about state has a legitimate authority. That's why Paul writes, as he does in Romans 13 chapter he says God is established, the state of the state is established autonomously anymore than you and I are economists were given certain measures of authority elders in the church of authority, parents and the family have authority. Employers have a certain measure of authority.

Police have authority to stay as authority in all kinds authority, but none of that is absolutely because of who we are intrinsically something is given to us by God, and it follows from that follows in the case of the state that the state is responsible to God because God is the ultimate authority and knowing take to recognize the authority of the state have to obey God when ever the two come in conflict and you see that's what Peter and John did.

Because of that they were instrumental in the hands of God. Watching the movement to transform the world is here today. Centuries after the Jewish Sanhedrin passed away.

That's what you and I are called to do were part of something eternal you say.

The question we face is selecting them.

We belong to.

Where's our allegiance. All allegiance to the state.

There's a certain measure of that God will honor where honor still taxes what taxes are due. All that most of all, we are called to be citizens of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and live for him. I was going to do that but I think we need three things we have to know that God is sovereign in life is see if we don't think that if we think the state is sovereign, then were going to tremble before Caesar. Just like Pilate did. Jesus didn't tremble because he know that regardless of what pilot did the will of God would be done. Peter and John did not tremble before the Sanhedrin because they knew regardless of what the Sanhedrin did the will of God would be done in the kingdom of Jesus Christ would prevail. You have to know that God is sovereign. That's the first thing.

Secondly, you have to know the Bible because you see these things seldom confront us in stark black and white terms. Be nice if they did we look to the past stories of the martyrs and seems black-and-white to us but things seldom come that way they can creep in upon us by degrees, secularism is encroaching thing and so we are confronted with the issue that doesn't seem quite black-and-white. It seems gray and we begin to say well there's something to that point of view.

Maybe we ought to listen to it and then little by little, were drawn away. You say, but I trust the sovereignty of God. Yes yes that's good I'm glad you do, but you also have to know the Bible because it's only the Bible clarifies things.

So when the world is doing everything it can to make gray where you see black and white issues where you see things that way. It's only the Holy Spirit through the Bible throws God's light upon our lives then is 1/3 thing.

Not only do we have to know the sovereignty of God, and not only do we have to know the Bible we have to be willing if necessary to sacrifice everything in order to stand for what is right is possible to know the God is sovereign know what's right but when you're confronted by the demand to compromise, say to yourself I just can't. I just can't pay that price ones make a difference. The ones God uses to serve those who are willing and to in many occasions do. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is one who knew that he has told us about it in the blog archipelago is a wonderful little paragraph where he says after he's been analyzing the fact that some of the prisoners who were thrown into the notorious Soviet prison system stood firm while others just fell away to pieces and he says why is it that some could stand up against the interrogation and any rights this the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy passed firmly behind you with the very threshold you say to yourself, my life is over little early to be sure, but there's nothing to be done about it. I shall never return to freedom. I am condemned to die now or a little later but later on, in truth, it will be even harder so the sooner the better. I no longer any property whatsoever. For me, those I love have died, and for them I have died today on my body is useless and alien to me.

Only my spirit, my consciousness remain precious to me when he says, confronted by such a prisoner.

The interrogation will tremble.

Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory stroke course.

But what are we talking about when we talk about getting up friends body possessions in life. When I called to do that. That's not where the battles come that is common little things where you were in school and personal relationships were somebody you comes at you from the world's perspective says well this is what you need to do if you want to get by.

This is what the state says this is what the culture says this is what the word educated distinguished people of the world are saying and that's where you and I have to stay spray our father we think of those who have stood the point of shedding their blood in past agents and we say all praise God for the martyrs of the church. We sometimes blindly think that it would be nice to have martyrs like that today. Perhaps even sometimes think that we would like to be confronted in such a crisis.

And yet, day by day little ways the opportunity to stand Jesus and bear witness passes by, where afraid of what people might say that we might lose our reputation will be laughed at and so we betray our Lord. That's where civil disobedience touches us, give us grace to see the issue clearly and even greater grace.

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