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What is the Christian’s Duty to God vs. Government? - Part 2

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
March 19, 2022 3:00 am

What is the Christian’s Duty to God vs. Government? - Part 2

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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March 19, 2022 3:00 am

GUEST: NATHAN BUSENITZ, co-author, God vs. Government

As the Covid-19 virus spread across the world, governing authorities mandated shutdowns on businesses, schools, and churches. We were promised that it would be just “two weeks to stop the spread” or “a month to flatten the curve.”

Well, two weeks turned into 24 months of shutdowns, mask mandates, gathering and movement restrictions, and “get-vaccinated-or-else”. And while the virus has retreated for now, just wait for the next variant to arrive and the vise will be tightened again.

One perspective became abundantly clear during the mandated lockdowns—the government views in-person church gathering as “non-essential”. Meanwhile, liquor stores and big box stores like Wal-Mart were allowed to stay open as “essential”. The duplicity and ineffectiveness of the measures was obvious to any discerning observer.

In the midst of all this, a large church with a well-known pastor in Los Angeles (Grace Community Church, John MacArthur) and a small church with a little-known pastor in Edmonton (GraceLife Church, James Coates) came to the same conclusion: they “must obey God rather than men” and reopen their churches in obedience to what Scripture declares, particularly in Hebrews 10:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Both churches (and some others) opened in defiance of government edicts. National media covered the story, certain Christians sniped how these churches were “not loving their neighbor” or were “disobedient to Romans 13”. The government levied threats and fines, even arresting and jailing Pastor Coates for 35 days.

The dust has settled for now, but perhaps the most important result has been the church having to arrive at a deeper understanding of its duty to God vs. government.

Nathan Busenitz, elder at Grace Community Church and co-author of the new book, God vs. Government—Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide, joins us on The Christian Worldview to discuss this increasing relevant issue.
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Related Resource:
God vs. Government  by Nathan Busenitz and James Coates
https://store.thechristianworldview.org/products/godvsgovt

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What is the Christian's duty to God versus government? Today is part two of that topic, right here on the Christian Worldview Radio Program, where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm David Wieckner, host. As the COVID-19 virus spread across the world in 2020, governing authorities made mandated shutdowns on businesses, schools, and churches. We were promised that it would be just, quote, two weeks to stop the spread or, quote, a month to flatten the curve. Well, two weeks turned into 24 months of shutdowns, mask mandates, gathering and movement restrictions, and get vaccinated or else.

And while the virus has retreated for now, just wait for the next variant to arrive and the vice will be tightened again. One perspective became abundantly clear during the mandated lockdowns. The government views in-person church gatherings as non-essential. Meanwhile, liquor stores and big box stores like Walmart were allowed to stay open as essential.

The duplicity and ineffectiveness of these measures was obvious to any discerning observer. In the midst of all this, a large church with a well-known pastor in Los Angeles, that would be Grace Community Church in John MacArthur, and a small church with a little-known pastor in Edmonton, Canada, Grace Life Church in James Coates, arrived at the same conclusion. They must obey God rather than government and reopen their churches in obedience to what Scripture declares, particularly in Hebrews chapter 10 where it says, Faithful, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

That's Hebrews 10, 23 through 25. Both of these churches, and some others, opened in defiance of government edicts. National media covered the story, certain Christian sniped at them how these churches were, quote, not loving their neighbor, or were, quote, disobedient to Romans 13.

The government, for its part, levied threats and fines, even arresting and jailing Pastor Coates for 35 days. We spoke with him last week in the program. The dust has settled for now, but perhaps the most important result has been the church having to arrive at a deeper understanding of its duty before God and government. Nathan Buzanitz, elder at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles and co-author of the new book, God vs. Government, Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide, joins us today on the Christian Real View to discuss this increasingly relevant issue.

Let's get straight to the interview with Nathan Buzanitz. Nathan, thank you for coming back on the Christian Real View radio program. It's been a while since you were on the program, and so I thought it'd be good to start out by reminding us how you came to saving faith. I know you grew up in a home where you had strong Christian parents. I believe your dad was a seminary professor, an elder at the church.

How did you avoid second-generation apathy or rejection that is so common that you see today? I did have the privilege of growing up in a Christian home, and I'm so grateful for that. I grew up in a wonderful church.

In fact, I grew up at Grace Community Church under the teaching ministry of John MacArthur, and in a home where my dad did serve at the Master's Seminary, so I was very well taught. I think the reality is that for any sinner, whether they grow up in a Christian home or not, it is the work of the Spirit of God taking the truth of His Word and applying it to each individual heart. So it's the recognition that the Christian faith is not something that you inherit by being born into a Christian family. You're not Christian because your parents are Christian or because you are in a Christian environment. You're only Christian because the truth of the gospel has pierced your conscience, pierced your heart, and the Holy Spirit has taken that truth, and He's used it to transform you and to deliver you from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Christ and to create a new creature in Christ so that you are now a new creation. It's the recognition that saving faith is something that must take place on an individual level. For me, living in an environment like that, growing up in an environment like that, I was surrounded by that truth. So I think it's that emphasis on this has to be an individual and personal work of God in each heart that moves it from, oh, I'm just a Christian because I grew up in a Christian home, to no, the Lord saved me from the wretchedness of my self-righteousness when the truth of the gospel became real for me through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the truth of His Word, and I was born again.

What age was that, Nathan? Yeah, so as a very young child, I knew the truth of the gospel and affirmed it, but I don't think it was really tested until I was in my junior high and high school years. It was in those years that I came to really understand the implications of the gospel. I grew up and went to Christian schools for many years, but then went to a public high school, and the Lord used that experience to really test my faith, to demonstrate in my own heart that this was genuinely a conviction of mine and not something that I just believed because my parents believed it.

So I would put that right around age 13 or 14, when the truth of the gospel really became real for me. Nathan Buzanitz is our guest today on the Christian Real View Radio program, he's the co-author of God vs. Government, and we're doing part two of this topic today. Last week we had his co-author on James Coates, the pastor from Canada who was imprisoned, and the topic is What is the Christian's Duty to God vs. Government? So let's get into that pressing issue now, Nathan, and I'd like to go to a very well-known passage of Scripture, Romans 13, I think the first seven or eight verses there, and just have you briefly explain the various sections, I divided it into three parts. So I'm just going to read a couple of verses, and I'd like you to comment on what this passage means, and then we'll get more into the depths of it as you explain how it played out with Grace Community Church during the COVID mandates and the lockdowns and how your church responded and so forth, that's told in the book, God vs. Government. The first couple of verses of Romans 13 say, Is it correct to understand that God has directly ordained our current leadership, let's say of America, that really is motivated and leads in a way that is directly rebellious against Him?

And if so, the question is, why would He do that? God is sovereign over all things. He is on His throne, and He appoints all governing authority. In fact, in the book, we get into a section where we talk through biblical principles, and one of those biblical principles is the principle of sovereign appointment, that God appoints governing authorities, and He raises up human rulers to accomplish His sovereign purposes. God is working all things together for His glory and for the good of believers. In fact, a little earlier in Romans, in Romans 8-28, we have that great promise that God works all things together for the good of those who know Him, who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. So, yes, the Scripture teaches that God is sovereign, it teaches that God is the one who ordains and appoints those who are in positions of authority, and He sovereignly orchestrates all things, including those things that happen within the context of a fallen world. He uses all of those things within His sovereign purposes to direct all things to His supreme glory and to accomplish all things for the good of His people.

Now, let's go on to the next couple verses in Romans 13, starting in verse 3. Now, that seems to be in more of a way that the government should operate. It praises good and it punishes evil, but our society today has this backwards. Christians are punished for not participating in what God calls evil, like so-called homosexual weddings, or the government doesn't punish those who violate the social order. You write about it in the book, about the riots and the looting, what took place in the summer of 2020, that there wasn't a whole lot of consequence for that.

Defund the police. There's a constant deception coming from governing authorities, constant lying, the mischaracterization of the January 6th protest at the Capitol as being an insurrection. There were no weapons, there was no overtaking of government there, so there's a constant deception, lying, promoting of what is sinful by government. So what do Christians do when governing authorities are doing exactly the opposite of what they're called to do here in Romans 13? Well, I really think that these verses underscore the accountability that governing authorities have before God. So even going back to the verses you read earlier, because God is the one who appoints every governing official to that position of authority, those governing officials are ultimately accountable to Him for the way in which they govern. And those verses that you just read, they really illustrate the way that God intends for government to function, that government when it's properly functioning, it exists to uphold the good and to protect the righteous within the context of society. And when governing authorities fail to do that, the one to whom they are accountable and the one to whom they will one day give an account is God Himself. And so this passage is not just an instruction for believers to have a submissive attitude towards government, which of course we should. It's also a reminder to governing authorities that they have an authority above them to whom they will one day answer. Nathan Bousness with us today here on The Christian Real View, the co-author of God vs. Government.

We're going to tell you how you can get this book today for a gift of any amount to The Christian Real View. Now let's just do one last part of this passage from Romans 13 before we get into the story of what happened at Grace Community Church during the COVID lockdowns and our role, our duty, the Christian duty to God versus government. Verse 5, Romans 13, Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, as you just mentioned, 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. What does that phrase in there mean, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing? I think it's as simple as saying that God established human government as a structure within society so that governing officials would function in a way that again would go back to promoting the good and protecting the righteous. And when they serve in that way, when they operate according to God's design for government, they really are functioning as, they've been deputized with God's authority to do that. So in that sense they are functioning as servants of God in again accomplishing the purpose for which He has sovereignly ordained them. You know that last verse that you read about rendering honor to whom honor and all of those things, I really think that even points back to Matthew 22 verse 21 where Jesus said, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's, which underscores this principle of what we call spheres of authority that Romans 13 applies to the governing authorities operating within their proper jurisdiction. And we render to them the submission that they are due within that sphere of authority. But ultimately, we render to God the things that are God's, which brings us back to the thesis of our book, which Acts 5 29, there may be times when we have to obey God rather than men, our obedience to God sometimes requires us to disobey the government. Yes, and we will get into some of those things.

The subtitle of your book is, Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide. And that's what happened. We're going to get into that story now. Nathan Boozness is our guest today here on the Christian Real View, the co-author of God versus Government. Two years ago to this weekend, Grace Church shut down, stopped in-person services due to the government California mandate during COVID. I was out at Shepherds Conference that year, the big men's pastors elders conference at your church that takes place every year. The very next weekend, that's when church, in-person church stopped at Grace Community Church. And that continued for 19 weeks, all the way till July 26th. So 19 weeks without services, people at the church, members of the church started attending on their own.

They didn't wait 19 weeks to come back, but there was no official services until July 26th. And in the book, you talk about the fact that the church was unclear about how deadly this virus was. You know, this is a new thing, COVID, no one knew what it was like, and so out of an abundance of caution that the church was closed down. So is the implication there if the virus had been more deadly than it turned out to be?

In other words, it was being overstated by governing authorities, will the church have continued to comply with the government mandate? In other words, did you just reach a conclusion that, look, the governing authorities are telling us something that's not as dangerous as they say it is, therefore we're going to start meeting again? Situations like pandemics or plagues, which have occurred throughout church history, this isn't the first time that Christians have had to think through these kinds of situations.

Obviously, there were some unique things about COVID-19. But in any of these kinds of situations, there is an element of wisdom that elders have to apply as they consider what is happening in real time in an effort to protect and shepherd their people. Our elder team was simply exercising that wisdom in asking the question, okay, as we apply these biblical principles, and the main biblical principle was Hebrews 10, 24, and 25, that we as believers are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We're not to fall into a pattern of forsaking, gathering for church. We believe that we can have a temporary hiatus if there's an emergency that demands it, but as a general pattern, this isn't something that should characterize us as Christians. And so as elders wanting to meet, wanting to be faithful to that command in Hebrews 10, we did take a temporary hiatus to assess the situation, and upon realizing that the situation was not as severe as the initial projections had made it sound, our elders became convinced for that and a number of other reasons that we needed to start meeting again.

Had the situation been more severe, I think our elders would have exercised, again, principles of biblical wisdom in assessing that situation and thinking through, okay, how can we, in faithfulness to Hebrews 10, 24, and 25, restore the gathering of believers in a way that shepherds our people effectively and doesn't put them at risk. The book is God vs. Government. One of the co-authors, Nathan Buzanitz, is with us today here on The Christian Worldview.

You can get the book for a gift of any amount to The Christian Worldview. Just get in contact with us the usual ways. You can order at our website, thechristianworldview.org, or call us toll-free, 1-888-646-2233.

Rosie will take your call. Okay, we need to pause for a moment. You are listening to The Christian Worldview. I'm David Wheaton. Are you signed up for The Christian Worldview weekly email or our annual print letter?

If not, go to our website, thechristianworldview.org. Pastor James Coates was arrested and sent to prison a couple of weeks ago in Canada. What did he do? He held a church service. And it isn't the government's responsibility to protect us from a virus. What's their responsibility to protect our God-given rights? Two days after that sermon, Pastor James Coates was arrested and imprisoned. He has now co-authored an important book titled God vs. Government, taking a biblical stand when Christ and compliance collide. God vs. Government is 208 pages, soft cover, and retails for $17.99. You can order a copy for a donation of any amount to The Christian Worldview. Go to thechristianworldview.org or call 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331.

That's 1-888-646-2233 or thechristianworldview.org. David Wheaton here, host of The Christian Worldview Radio Program. Listeners are often surprised to learn that we as a ministry pay to broadcast on the radio station, website, or app on which you are listening today. That expense is recouped through listeners like you making a donation or becoming a Christian Worldview partner. Our aim is to have each broadcast outlet fully supported by the listeners of that outlet. If you would like to help us in our mission to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, go to thechristianworldview.org and click on Donate.

You can also call toll free 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Specify how you listen as that helps us decide whether to continue on a given outlet and be sure to select one of our resources as a thank you for your support. Now back to the interview with Nathan Booziness, co-author of God vs. Government. You talk about a statement in chapter 3 of the book, Nathan.

I'll just read it here. The elders meeting on the evening of Thursday, July 23rd. Now we're 19 weeks into this shutdown of the church and we're going to reopen here. And the chairman of the elder board said, Men, we all need to understand that this is a big deal. He looked slowly around the room at the 40 other elders of Grace Community Church who had assembled.

He said, I want to go around the room and ask each of you if you are willing to affirm this statement. At the time, we did not know what the implication or consequences might be. Our church would likely be fined. We might possibly be arrested and put in jail, as James Coates was in Canada.

At the very least, we would face criticism for the stand we were about to take. But we understood obedience to Christ is paramount, even if it meant non-compliance with state and local health restrictions. Now when you did this statement, this made news all over the country. Grace Community Church is of course a prominent church, in part because of John MacArthur being the pastor. He was on CNN, I think in Fox News, and this wasn't the only church who did this, but it was one of the few.

It was the minority and it was a big one. Tell us about behind the scenes of what went into this Grace Community Church statement and what you were trying to express. Rewinding the tape all the way back to March of 2020, we had originally been told that we were going to, we meaning the American people, or at least us in California, we were told that it was going to be a two-week hiatus.

It was 15 days to flatten the curve, and then 15 days expanded into 30 days to stop the spread, and all of a sudden, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. But when it became clear that the situation again was not what we had been told that it was going to be, and there were things that happened in May and June with the protests and everything else that made it clear that there was a bit of a double standard on the part of governing officials, in terms of the way they were applying these health mandates, all of that played into a, okay, we want to open our doors as soon as we are able to do so. And as you had already mentioned, we had people coming back to the church even before we were officially open. It wasn't just our elders who wanted this, it was our congregation who wanted this. But we also understood that by taking the stand that we were going to take, that there would be potential repercussions.

Looking back on it now, it's easy to say we had nothing to worry about, but in the moment, we didn't know how it was going to play out. For our elders, you mentioned Pastor John MacArthur. Pastor John really led by being so courageous, and his courage was built on those biblical convictions. It was a biblically grounded courage by which he said, men, this is what the word of God commands us to do, so this is what we must do. And it was that biblical conviction that enabled all of our elders in unanimity to say, yes, we're willing to stand by this statement, even if it means we're going to be fined, even if it means that some of us might be arrested and put in jail. It was a sobering moment.

It's a moment I'll never forget. Nathan Buzanitz with us today on The Christian Real View, the co-author of the book. We're discussing God versus government taking a biblical stand when Christ and compliance collide. You can order a copy highly recommended for a donation of any amount to The Christian Real View.

Just get in touch with us to order it the usual way through a website or by phone. We'll give those throughout the program today. I want to go fast forward in the book here to page 150, where you write about the response of others, including Christians. So you're going to have a legal challenge to this, and we'll get into that in a second. But in the meantime, there was also a challenge from others in the Christian community that, you know, you're not loving your neighbor if you're opening your church up, because people could get sick and die, and we need to show above all love for a neighbor. You say in page 150, during the lockdown, we were sometimes accused of being a bad testimony to the watching world. We were told that we were not loving our neighbors because we were gathering each Sunday for church.

Next page. You talk about some principles for this. Consequently, we believe it is right to prioritize love for God, the greatest commandment, over love for others, the second greatest commandment. Insofar as a perceived conflict exists between these two priorities, our love for God must have first place. To state this commitment another way, our efforts to fulfill the second greatest commandment must never be at the expense of our duty to the greatest commandment.

And Nathan, when I read that, I thought, that is such an excellent point, because we are hearing that constantly in society from Christians. Oh, we ought to love our neighbor and keep your church closed, that kind of thing. But the greater commandment is to love God first and foremost. So talk about that and why the motivation here, why church is essential, and why it was so important to open up. Because church isn't an optional thing. This is essential, not only for the worship of God, but to be able to help people who are hurting.

Yeah, David, you're absolutely right. Mark 12, 30 and 31 is one of the places in the Gospel where the greatest and the second greatest commandments are listed out. And of course, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. And we did hear a lot of that feedback, like, hey, by having church, you're not loving your neighbor.

And our response to that was at least twofold. The first was what you've already articulated, that we're not going to subjugate the first commandment to the second commandment in a way that would mean we would be unfaithful to the greatest commandment. The greatest commandment is to love God. God has commanded us to meet and to gather, and therefore we must obey Him.

So it was that commitment first and foremost to the greatest commandment, and our belief that the second great commandment could be consistent with that. It became very clear to us that when churches shut down, society got far worse. The protests and riots and all that happened in May and June of 2020, along with all of the other negative effects of the lockdown, social isolation, depression, suicide rates, all of these things. I would see those as directly connected to the absence of the influence of the local church in American society because churches had all shut down.

The absence of the church's influence had a negative impact on American society. The way that the church demonstrates love for neighbor first and foremost is by being a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can we be a witness in the community if we're not assembling, if we're not meeting, if we no longer have that kind of impact? I think by being faithful to meet and by demonstrating to the community around us that we were not afraid of a virus because we're not afraid of death because we have the hope of Jesus Christ.

I think that testimony actually did more to show love for our neighbors than if we had cowered in fear and stayed home. Nathan Booziness with us today on The Christian Worldview, the co-author of God vs. Government, an excellent book, very relevant at this time in human history. You can get it for a donation of any amount to The Christian Worldview.

Just call 1-888-646-2233 or go to thechristianworldview.org. In the book you talk about past examples where Christians have had to obey God versus government. You talk about the Reformers during the time of the Protestant Reformation.

You talked about the English Puritans and also the Scottish Covenanters. Tell us what was going on then where they had similar choices to make as your church did. The Reformation itself, just real briefly, was born out of the conviction that Christ alone is the head of the church, which means that Christ alone has jurisdiction over what happens in the church in terms of what we believe and how we worship. That precludes government from getting involved in those matters because those are matters that belong solely to Christ and Christ has appointed leaders in the church who are accountable to him for how they govern and shepherd his people. So as we move into the 16th and 17th centuries in England, the Anglican Church was under the oversight of the monarch of England.

This goes all the way back to Henry VIII who was appointed the Supreme Head of the Church of England and then his daughter Elizabeth, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. And the English monarchy really was involved in what happened in the churches in England through something called the Book of Common Prayer, which included some things that still felt very Roman Catholic, especially to the Puritans. Over time, the Puritans resisted the use of the Book of Common Prayer because they didn't see those things as being biblical or being faithful to what Christ wants to have happen in the church. Well, in resisting the Book of Common Prayer, they were resisting the English monarchy. They were resisting the influence of secular government and its intrusion into the worship and the liturgy of the church. In resisting that, when we get into the mid 17th century, we have many Puritan pastors who lost their jobs because they refused to use the Book of Common Prayer in church. And in Scotland, we have really an entire nation that came under attack because they were unwilling to use the Book of Common Prayer in the churches of Scotland.

So it was that resistance to government intrusion in England and in Scotland that really marked both the Puritan and the Scottish covenantary movements. Nathan Buznitz again with us, talking about the book he co-authored, God vs. Government. You talk about exceptions to obedience to government.

You list five. And when government orders to do what is wrong, like in the Old Testament, worship the golden image, and they didn't do that, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Number two, another exception, is an order to stop doing what is right. And this would be the situation with Grace Church. The government was telling you to stop meeting as a church.

That's something that the Bible commands us to do, or like praying, like Daniel in the Old Testament. So there's an exception to obedience there. Number three, there's an order that contradicts another level of civil authority. So if we're getting conflicting orders from government. Number four, an order from government to stay silent in the face of evil, there's an exception to obedience there. And number five, an order to turn yourself in, that you don't have to turn yourself on. You can flee oppressive governments if they're oppressing you for reasons that are against your faith based on the word of God. Most people listening would agree with all those.

Those are very clear-cut. New Testament, you see the apostles told not to preach about Jesus, and we must obey God rather than men. I think most Christians would understand that, that we don't have to obey those kinds of commands. But what about issues that are more a matter of God-given liberty? Sort of the right to bodily integrity for yourself or maybe your child.

You know, when your school says you have to get this vaccine to come to school, or else we're going to turn you into social services and maybe have your child taken away. Or what about a situation where government, and this could be coming in the future, that home education or disciplining your children, corporal discipline of your children, that's against the law. Or even the God-given, I believe it's a liberty to defend yourself from someone else, where the government says we're going to confiscate your ability to defend yourself by taking away a firearm that you use to defend yourself and your family. How do you think through those issues when government starts infringing on those kinds of individual liberties? Is there room for disobedience in those things?

Yeah, David, that's a great question. I think there are two principles that apply to those kinds of situations. One is something that we addressed in the book, actually in the previous section, before the section that you just mentioned, and it has to do with the spheres of authority. Again, going back to Matthew 22, 21, where Jesus bifurcated between the sphere of government's authority and the sphere of God's authority, recognizing of course that all of it is under God's authority, but he designated the difference between the secular and the sacred when he said, render to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render to God that which is God's.

Building on that principle, we would see that there are at least three major spheres of authority within society. There's government, there's the church, and there's the family. Government needs to stay within its own jurisdiction in order to be operating in a biblical way. So some of the examples that you mentioned are where government would actually be intruding into the sphere of the family.

That would be an inappropriate intrusion on their part because it is for parents to make decisions about what is right for their children. It's not for government to make those kinds of decisions. The other is the role of conscience, and as Protestant evangelicals, I mean, the principle of conscience has been something that has been part of our heritage going all the way back to the Reformation, when Luther said that he would not go against his conscience. And it's something that's biblical.

It's taught in Romans chapter 14. We are not to violate our conscience. And that fits under that principle of if government commands you to do something that's contrary to the word of God, then you have the right to not comply because we must obey God rather than men. So if government tells you to do something that violates your conscience, and God says do not violate your conscience, Romans 14, then we have biblical justification for not complying on the basis of an appeal to conscience. So it would be spheres of authority and an appeal to conscience.

I think those two principles would help us think through on a case-by-case basis the kinds of questions and scenarios that you brought up. Our guest today is Nathan Buzanitz, the co-author of God vs. Government, also the vice president of the Masters Seminary, taking a biblical stand when Christ and compliance collide. He was right there in the midst of what happened at Grace Community Church. His co-author was James Coates, the pastor in Canada, which we had on previously on the program, who was actually imprisoned for keeping their church open. You can get this book. We have it for you for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View. Just call us toll-free, 1-888-646-2233. Otherwise, the easiest way to order is going to our website, thechristianrealview.org.

Okay, we need to take a brief pause here. You're listening to the Christian Real View radio program. We'd like to help the Christian Real View continue broadcasting on the radio station, website, or app in which you are listening today.

You can support us by going to our website, thechristianrealview.org, or giving us a call, 1-888-646-2233. When it comes to your health care, what are some words you would use to describe your experience with them? Comfort? Peace?

Confidence? Well, at Samaritan Ministries, those are just some of the words our members use frequently when a health care need arises, like these friends. In 2016, we found out that our youngest son, Asher, had cancer. I will just never forget crying in the lobby of the hospital on the phone with the Samaritan Ministries person on the other end who ended the call saying, Let's just pray about this.

When it does hit you and you really wonder what's going to happen, it worked. Interested in becoming part of a growing, caring community of Christians who not only faithfully share each other's medical needs each month, but also support each other with prayer and encouragement. It's affordable and you can join today. If you'd like more information, visit us at SamaritanMinistries.org slash TCW. That's SamaritanMinistries.org slash TCW. What happened to the church? How do you break down American Christianity?

Whiteness has caused blindness of heart. That message that they're going out and taking the world is not you need to repent of your sin, receive Christ. Instead, the message that you actually have is they are under the weight of racism or sexism or homophobia. The proceeding is from Enemies Within the Church, a two hour documentary film that exposes how social justice ideology is infecting the church. You can order the DVD for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View. Go to TheChristianRealView.org or call 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. That's 1-888-646-2233 or TheChristianRealView.org. Thanks for joining us today on The Christian Real View. I'm David Wheaton. Just a reminder that today's program and past programs are archived at our website, TheChristianRealView.org.

Transcripts are also available. Now back to the interview with Nathan Buzanitz, co-author of God vs. Government. Nathan, I'd like to get your thoughts on what a Christian Real View is. Nathan, I'd like to get your thoughts on what a Christian's recourse is to unjust commands or laws, like with the vaccine mandate. Let's just take an example, a real world example, of what took place in Canada recently where truckers weren't allowed to cross, come into America without having the vaccine. They couldn't come back into the country unless they were vaccinated or they have to quarantine for two weeks, which essentially would just take them out of their work. What is a Christian's recourse in a non-violent, civil disobedience way, in a situation like that?

These Canadian truckers went to Ottawa, they parked their trucks, they blocked traffic, they blocked bridges, they honked their horns. Is that something permissible for the believer, and how far can that be taken when government goes beyond their sphere of authority? As you were just talking about, what should the Christian response, what can it be? When we look at those Biblical passages that talk about the believer's relationship to government and the attitude of submission that we are to have, I think we have to be very careful before we just go out in mass and start protesting. Those passages would be Romans chapter 13, 1 Timothy chapter 2, which commands us to pray for our governmental leaders, Titus chapter 3, which talks about walking in obedience to the government, and 1 Peter chapter 2, which talks about submitting to those who are in various levels of authority above us. When government persecutes us, it is the believer's joy and reward to actually suffer for Christ in the way that Christ himself suffered when he was unjustly arrested and persecuted and ultimately put to death. Rather than immediately shifting into a mode where we say, hey, we have our rights, we have to go protest, believers, when they suffer well for Christ, when they endure the consequences no matter how unjust, that in itself is an act of worship to the Lord and a powerful testimony to the watching world. So in terms of recourse, we do live in countries where we have all sorts of legal means of pursuing justice.

Here in the United States, it's through the legal system. Even when I cannot comply with a certain mandate, the Biblical pattern is always, I'm willing to accept the consequences in a way that is gracious, in a way that is respectful, in a way that suffers well for the sake of Christ. Nathan Bousness with us today, co-author of God vs. Government. I'm just going to read a short paragraph here that is toward the end of the book that your recent message at Shepherd's Conference included about what gives someone the boldness to live for Christ, to obey God rather than men or government during the times in which we live.

It can be scary. There can be, like you mentioned, there can be suffering involved, suffering for Christ. You talk about here, by remembering our God-given mandate, our Christ-centered message, and our Spirit-empowered mission, we can exhibit the same kind of gospel courage that the apostles demonstrated so powerfully in Acts chapter 5, the courage to speak, to stand, and to suffer for Christ. What is your exhortation for Christians today listening, how they can have this boldness and this conviction to live for Christ in a world that's very contrary to them? The answer boils down to remembering the Great Commission that our Lord gave at the end of Matthew, that we are to be witnesses for Him, that we are to go and make disciples. That we are to be really an aroma of the gospel, a light in a dark world, salt and light to the world around us. So it's about remembering who we are, that we are followers of Christ.

Even the word evangelical comes from the Greek word that means gospel. We're about the good news. And so everything that we do, we want it to be an act of worship to the Lord and a testimony of His grace to a watching world. And so our behavior needs to be consistent with that. So I'm going to obey God rather than men because my life is about an act of worship, a sacrifice of worship to Him. And I'm going to respond with gentleness and reverence as 1 Peter 3.15 says, because I want my life to be a testimony to the dark world around me.

And that verse is such a great verse, maybe that's a great way to even end. 1 Peter 3.15, we are to sanctify Christ as Lord of our hearts, that's worship, always being ready to give a defense to anyone who asks about the hope that is in us. That's our witness. And yet we do it with gentleness and reverence.

That's the conduct that is so counter-cultural that when people see us respond in that way, they're going to ask, how can you do that? And the answer is because of our hope, which is centered on the person who we worship. And that, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Nathan, thank you for coming on the Christian Reel View Radio program today. And thank you for this book. It's very insightful about something that's becoming much more relevant, at least for us in the West as believers. And the biblical foundation that is the thread that runs through the entire book, God vs. Government. Thanks again, and we wish all of God's best and grace to you.

Thank you, David. Well, we hope that interview with Nathan Bousness was helpful to help all of us better understand our duty and role before God vs. Government. Now, if you missed any of the interview, you can go to our website, thechristianreelview.org, where you can hear the audio, or you can download or order a transcript. And again, the book is our new featured resource on the Christian Reel View. Nathan Bousness is the co-author, along with Pastor James Coates. It's titled, God vs. Government, Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide.

It's 208 pages, softcover, retails for $17.99, and you can order it for a donation of any amount to the Christian Reel View. Just go to our website, thechristianreelview.org, or call us toll-free, 1-888-646-2233. Rosie will take your call.

If you don't get someone, you have to leave a voicemail, she will call you back. You can also write to us at Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. And all that information will be given immediately following the program today in just a few minutes. Now, just a few follow-up comments on this topic. When government oversteps, it's God-given authority and purpose. In other words, gets out of its lane and tries to usurp authority that's not its own, that God hasn't given it. There are many options for Christians.

There is prayer. There is written or verbal appeals made to those in authority. There are legal lawsuits.

There's voting. That's a way of trying to express our views to government. There are nonviolent protests, maybe holding a sign on the street or at some rally. And then there are more highly resistant forms of protest, like civil disobedience, like what these two churches we've talked about the last two weeks in the program have done. They just defied the unjust laws that government set down.

Or in a more extreme version was the Canadian truckers, how they drove their trucks in, they blocked traffic, bridges, honked horns, that kind of thing, basically broke the law to try to get their point across to the Canadian government about their unjust mandates on the COVID vaccine. And then finally, there's the ultimate in protest, which is armed resistance. Now, Christians with differing consciences are going to arrive at different conclusions on what is permissible before God. Obviously, early American Christians, some of them at least, concluded that armed resistance to a British king was justifiable.

Or during World War II, Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer concluded trying to assassinate Hitler was the best way to save millions of lives, for which he was hanged, by the way. But we need to keep in mind, whatever we do, that there are consequences from God and also from government. And so we must search the scriptures carefully.

We must act wisely. Ideally, in all but the most extreme situations we are put in, we should strive to live in accordance with what it says in 1 Timothy 2, where Paul writes, First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. That's where we should want to be living our lives as Christians, not to be agitators over everything. Now, I completely understand that certain situations call for different responses, but that passage I think is where we want to live our Christian lives.

The reality is, though, that Christians, no matter what they choose to do to resist government in certain situations, we're going to suffer unjustly, just as the Lord Jesus Christ suffered unjustly. But the good news is, even if we get to the point of suffering so unjustly that we die or are killed, death is no enemy for the believer, but rather it's just the entry into life everlasting with God in heaven. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. What an amazing hope that the true believer has, that this life is not all there is, a much better life.

The perfect life with God in heaven is what's coming ahead. But that's only for those who have received God's offer to be reconciled to Him. God in His grace is offering us to forgive us and to give us eternal life in heaven. And when we receive that gift through putting our faith in the provision that God has provided, which is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who bled and died on the cross, was buried and rose again and ascended into heaven, the Philippian jailer said, What must I do to be saved? And Paul's answer was, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You can find out more about how to do that by going to our website, thechristianworldview.org, and clicking on What Must I Do to Be Saved? Thank you for joining us today on The Christian Worldview. Thanks also to you, our listeners, and Samaritan Ministries for funding today's program.

In just a moment there will be information on how you can hear a replay of today's program, order transcripts and resources, and support this nonprofit radio ministry. Let's remember, we may live in a challenging world where government often goes well beyond its God-ordained authority, but the authority overall is Jesus Christ. He and His word are the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Until next time, think biblically, live accordingly, and stand firm. The mission of The Christian Worldview is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end.

To hear a replay of today's program, order a transcript, or find out What Must I Do to Be Saved? go to thechristianworldview.org or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233. The Christian Worldview is a listener-supported nonprofit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian Worldview partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter, or contact us, visit thechristianworldview.org, call 1-888-646-2233, or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. That's Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. Thanks for listening to The Christian Worldview.
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