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When Government Intrudes Into the Sphere of the Church

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
September 2, 2023 4:00 am

When Government Intrudes Into the Sphere of the Church

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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September 2, 2023 4:00 am

 TWILA BRASE, president, Citizens Council for Health Freedom
JESSE JOHNSON, pastor and author, City of Man, Kingdom of God

Government mandates during the Covid pandemic—“wear a mask, get vaccinated, shut down your church or be fined and arrested”—caused Christians to consider the Biblical line between submission to governing authorities and resisting when the commands go beyond the sphere of their authority.

Over the last several months, we have heard from guests such as pastor Travis Allen and journalist Alex Newman on the increasing authoritarianism in our nation and how Christians should respond.

This weekend in the opening segment, we will be joined by Twila Brase, president of Citizens Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), to discuss rumblings of Covid mandates being instituted this fall and what was behind the mechanisms governing authorities put in place during the pandemic.

Then, Jesse Johnson, pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA and author of City of Man, Kingdom of God: Why Christians Respect, Obey, and Resist Government, joins us for the remaining two segments to explain how Christians need to clearly understand the differing spheres of authority for government and the church.

This will get you thinking Biblically in advance of our upcoming listener event, The Christian Worldview Movie Night on Saturday, September 9 at Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth, MN where we will show The Essential Church documentary film, which chronicles how the pastors of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles and two churches in Canada were fined and/or arrested for gathering their churches to worship during Covid.

The film also shows how Christians throughout history have understood the spheres of authority between the church and the state, and when there was a conflict, they concluded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

RELATED LINK: Twin Cities area listeners may be interested in attending Citizens Council for Health Freedom annual gala on Thu, Sept. 7 in St. Paul, MN.

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We are excited to offer a viewing of this compelling 2-hour documentary for our listening audience on Sat. Sept 9 starting at 6:30 PM at Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth.  A live panel discussion will immediately follow the film.

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When government intrudes into the sphere of the church. That is the topic we'll discuss today, 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 Wheaton, the host. The pandemic—wear a mask, get vaccinated, shut down your church, or be fined and arrested—caused Christians to consider the biblical line between submission to governing authorities and resisting when the commands go beyond the sphere of their authority. Over the last several months, we have heard from guests such as Pastor Travis Allen and journalist Alex Newman on the increasing authoritarianism in our nation and how Christians should respond.

This weekend, in the opening segment, we will be joined by Twyla Brace, president of Citizens Council for Health Freedom, to discuss rumblings of COVID mandates being instituted this fall and what was behind the governing authorities putting mandates in place during the pandemic. Then, Jesse Johnson, pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, and author of City of Man, Kingdom of God, Why Christians Respect, Obey, and Resist Government, joins us for the remaining two segments to explain how Christians need to clearly understand the differing spheres of authority for government and the church. This will get you thinking biblically in advance of our upcoming listener event, the Christian Rule View Movie Night, on Saturday, September 9th at 4th Baptist Church in Plymouth, Minnesota, where we will show the Essential Church documentary film, which chronicles how the pastors of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles and two churches in Canada were fined and or arrested for gathering their churches to worship during COVID.

The film also shows how Christians throughout history have understood the spheres of authority between the church and the state, and when there was a conflict, they concluded, we must obey God rather than men. Now again, the Christian Rule View Movie Night is Saturday, September 9th at 4th Baptist Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The film starts at 630 p.m. There will be a brief intermission for refreshments and a mini dessert, and then there will be a pastor panel discussion after the film at about 845 p.m. You are invited to come for a donation of any amount to the Christian Rule View. You just need to register by going to our website,, or giving us a call toll-free, 1-888-646-2233. We encourage you to invite the elders of your church. If they can't come, DVDs will be available on site and other resources as well. And if you are out of town and can't come to the film in person, we have the DVD available at our website, And just one other brief announcement, we also have the Christian Rule View golf event coming up on Monday, September 18th. If you are interested in participating in that, just go to our website or give us a call. Alright, let's get straight to the interview with Twyla Brace, the President of Citizens Council for Health Freedom.

Twyla, it's so good to have you on the Christian Rule View radio program today. I want to start with a couple paragraphs from an Associated Press article recently that was doing a fact check, or what they call a fact check, on this claim. TSA managers were told on August 15th that by mid-September, they, along with airport employees, will again be required to wear face masks, and by mid-October, the policy will apply to travelers as well.

Further, the managers were told that COVID-19 lockdowns will return by December. So that was the claim, their fact checking. I think people have heard about this. And then they say, AP's assessment, false.

No such announcement was made to TSA managers, an agency spokesperson told the Associated Press. A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, and Prevention, which issued a now expired travel mask mandate in 2021, confirmed that such rumors are, quote, utterly false. In addition to that, President Biden said recently that, quote, I signed off this morning on a proposal we have to present to the Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine that is necessary, that works.

It will likely be recommended that everybody get it, no matter whether they've gotten it before or not. So Twyla, we're hearing rumblings of the return to life as it dystopianly was during COVID and the lockdowns and the mandates, the mask mandates, the vaccine mandates, all these things. What do you know about whether pandemic mandates are returning to this country?

The Cleveland Clinic did a study that included more than 50,000 of their own employees. And they discovered that the more shots a person had, the more likely they are to get COVID. The more shots, the higher the risk of getting COVID. So these are just things you have to know, no matter what Biden might be trying to do with vaccinations. Now, I think the whole thing about masks and vaccinations and the whole thing about a mandate, I like what attorney Jeff Childers said about this. And I think it's the most succinct way to say it. He doesn't think that this is likely.

And he has this blog called Coffee and COVID, and I'd encourage everyone to get it. But I don't think it's likely for four reasons. First, the legislative environment is completely different, right? Now we got all these members of Congress.

It's run by the Republicans in the House. Number two, the social and legal environment is completely different. As you know, there have been lawsuits, lots and lots of lawsuits on a whole variety of things from Ivermectin to masking to the vaccines. And then the Supreme Court has said certain things like large employers aren't required to vaccinate, despite what Biden had said, right? Number three, they don't have an emergency to justify bypassing legislation and ramming things through.

In other words, they don't have an emergency to have an issue emergency use authorizations. And then number four is they lack the tools they had the first time around. And the other thing that they don't have, and this is me speaking, is they don't have the element of surprise. And that element of surprise caused all sorts of fear in the American people. I don't know how premeditated all of this was, but the fact of the matter is, once they saw an opportunity to shut down the American public or to try, they took advantage of it. I don't think they knew whether it would work or not, and it did.

And then they just kept it going. So they don't have that either. And so I think it will be much more difficult for them to actually do these kind of mandates in the future without something huge happening. As you look back on this period of time, what are the three or four most important takeaways that you have observed during the coming out of the COVID pandemic? It can be a worldview issue, your perception of how people think or how government operates or how organizations like the CDC and NIH operate.

It could be to do with a vaccine. It's a very broad question intentionally to get your takeaways from what took place to us. People who are afraid are easy to control, causing the loss of their lives, their relationships, their businesses, their income, and even schooling for their children.

They're just willing to give it all up because they were afraid. Another thing that I would say is that truth can be hard to find when government and the media join together to create a false narrative based on fear. And then the unwitting public just believes it, and they don't actually go looking to see if there's something else out there that's true. And then ultimately, you have to understand that the government cannot be trusted.

It's not here to help you, to protect your safety, to tell you the truth, or to save your life. And in fact, it might purposefully be doing the exact opposite. And so it's unfortunate, but I do also think that people have to remember that we have a government of, for, and by the people, and too many people have forgotten that and have not lived that way and looked to the government in Washington, D.C., or in their state capitol for everything, when the fact of the matter is that you should never want that kind of power over your free life.

And the governor of Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves, put out an amazing statement that just made me want to applaud. One of the things that he said was, in the first days of national unity, it seemed ridiculous to assume that bureaucrats and experts were trying to seize power. Now, it seems ridiculous to assume that they wouldn't try it again. The simple answer to the question being posed by experts is no, we will not return to widespread masking or COVID rules. People have a right to make their own decisions to decide how much risk they tolerate. And no matter what pronouncements come down from the Biden-Fauci administration, we will go to school, we will go to church, we will go to work, and we will play sports.

We will live in self-determination, not top-down fear. That's very well said. And that segues well into the next question here, that many Christians and political conservatives say that COVID was a manufactured crisis. Whether it was intentionally released or accidentally released, it was taken advantage of, like, this is an opportunity, a crisis, don't waste an opportunity on this crisis. It was released to take authoritarian control over people and populations, condition people for the global reset of the World Economic Forum. Alex Newman has talked about that on our program and so forth, that this vaccine passport, which you've discussed extensively, they want to get that so they can really control people where you can travel, what you can buy, what you can sell, where you can go.

Even for depopulation purposes, just out there, you'll hear those on the left saying, well, this is too many people in the world. So as you look back again, do you think the controlling mechanisms that were put in place by the government and others in authority were purely about saving people's lives, as they said? Or were there nefarious authoritarian purposes to it all? Well, I do think that the email that has now been unredacted and made available to the public, where it shows that Fauci knew right from the very beginning that the scientists were concerned that this did not look like something that could naturally evolve. It looked like it was manipulated. But the other thing is that I look at when the pandemic planning began, I look at the fact that the CDC put out a model state emergency health powers act right after 9-11.

It seemed very opportunistic to me. It was like six weeks exactly after 9-11. And they asked every state to empower the health departments in an emergency, in a health emergency. So I look at that, and then I look at the fact that I think it was in the year 2000 that they started holding nearly annual meetings to cover a variety of these topics, like what to do with misinformation, how to get people to take vaccines, how to prevent them from traveling, all of these things that we experienced. They came together internationally, and a lot of the government agencies were at those meetings. They came together to discuss how to do this.

And one of the things apparently that they said was you would never be able to lock down people because they would never actually agree to that. But apparently, they found a way. All they needed was enough fear to actually make it happen. I feel like it was certainly an opportunity that was taken. But what to think about the fact that Fauci knew from the very beginning, the scientists were telling him that this isn't a natural sequence.

This virus doesn't have a natural sequence in it. Then that makes you think, well, why would they not actually announce that? And then when they knew that ivermectin was certainly safe and effective, and they've known that for years, why did they say it wasn't?

So there are so many parts about this that make you think that if it wasn't originally planned, it was certainly a huge opportunity for them to do what they wanted to do. Certainly was. Twyla Brace with us today on The Christian Real View. She is the co-founder and president of Citizens Council for Health Freedom.

They have their annual event coming up in St. Paul, Minnesota on Thursday, September 7th. You can find out more at I'm going to ask you about that in just a second.

But one more question that's actually unrelated to COVID because you and I had talked some this summer. I was due to get my driver's license renewed. And there are a lot of options for driver's license now. When I was growing up, you just went to get your driver's license. You know, they're just one kind of license you could get. Well, now there are about three different kinds of licenses you can get. I don't remember the names of them all. I'm sure you will. But I called you because I remember you saying something about that.

There was one in particular you said, get this one, don't get these other two. Just briefly inform all of us or listeners as to which one driver's license you recommend and why. So I recommend that if you have the opportunity in your state, that you choose a standard driver's license instead of a real ID. And the standard driver's license will be stamped with the words not for federal purposes or not for federal identification. And you want that one because you do not want to be adding to the number of people who have a real ID. The real ID is a national ID. And once too many people have the real ID, you can expect the federal government to just mandate it across the country. And it is not mandated, no matter what those signs at the airport say to you, it is not mandated. You can use a passport to fly. You can use about 16 different types of identification, military. And if you're in the United States and you have an enhanced driver's license, you can use that.

But the whole idea here is not to accept, not to take the real ID. Because this is a way to let the federal government control everything about you, to know every place that you use it, and they're moving to digitize it. As a matter of fact, there's a brand new rule that just came out where they're saying that driver's licenses that are digital, they're going to allow them to be effective whenever that final date for real ID is. They will allow the digital ones to work as well. And so they're moving the entire identification system across this country into digital ID. And that will be just like China, where they can track everything that you do, every dollar that you spend will be all available to the government to track. And we must stop that and not let that happen. So do not take the real ID.

Take a standard driver's license, and then just go get your passport for when you have to fly. Good advice. Thank you for that, Twyla. So final question for you is just tell us about your upcoming Citizens Council for Health Freedom event on Thursday, September 7th. I know you have Fox News's Pete Hegseth coming, who's actually a Minnesota native.

Tell us more about that event. Yeah, we're excited to have Pete. The last time I heard him speak, he was just on fire for freedom, for Christianity, for his children and his grandchildren.

So I'm very excited to have him. Our event is called Our Fight to Stay Free. That's the topic that he'll be talking about. This is an event to raise funds for everything that we do to fight for the patient and the doctor to be free from the government, free to work together, free from the health plans and those controls and to move our entire country back to health freedom like it used to be. The event, as you said, is Thursday, September 7th. Dinner begins right at 6.30 p.m. You can register at We will have a very fun live auction.

People have called it a hoot, actually, who have been there before. We would love it if you would come and join us to support us in this way. I'm sure some of our listeners in this area of the upper Midwest will likely want to come to that and certainly bid on those homemade cupcakes that you auctioned off last year, Twyla.

Those looked very, very good. Anyway, I hope the event goes well for you and Citizens' Council for Health Freedom. Thank you so much, as always, for coming on The Christian Rule of Your Radio Program.

All of God's best and grace to you, Twyla. Thank you, David. All right, you can find out more about Citizens' Council for Health Freedom and the excellent work they do and also their upcoming event on Thursday, September 7th by going to our website, Next, after this break, we'll hear from Jesse Johnson about how the authoritarianism of the COVID pandemic was a crisis that shouldn't go to waste for Christians in the church. In other words, the church needs to understand the differing spheres of authority for the state and the church. You are listening to The Christian Rule of Your Radio Program.

I'm David Wheaton. God's truth is enduringly true throughout all the generations. It transcends culture. The church is always going to be an embattled people. If it's swimming with the tide, it's not being the Church of Jesus Christ.

Look to the past, learn from the past, because the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. That was from the just-released documentary The Essential Church, which chronicles how three churches followed God's command to gather during the pandemic rather than comply with arbitrary government mandates. Normal retail is $12.99 plus shipping for this two-hour film. For a limited time, you can order the DVD for a donation of any amount to The Christian Rule of You. Order at or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401 Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Scripture commands that children are to be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Offering biblically sound resources for children is one of our top ministry priorities. At our store at, you will find carefully selected children's Bibles and books along with video and audio resources. Check out the Bible infographics for kids books, Little Pilgrim's Progress, and the popular Adam Raccoon set. Theo is a 15-episode video series addressing key doctrines of the faith that is a must-see for children and adults. Satan and the world are bent on capturing the heart and mind of your child.

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I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website,, where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry. Our topic today is when government intrudes into the sphere of the church, and our guest now is Jesse Johnson, the pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia. Jesse, you have a new book titled The City of Man, Kingdom of God, Why Christians Respect, Obey, and Resist Government, and I want to just start out with a quote from page 12 of the book. You said, but for me, COVID-19 exposed the most glaring deficiency in the church, one that was not ecclesiological but theological. American Christians lacked a biblical understanding of how churches should relate to government. This has been a topic over the last many years now with COVID, after the death of George Floyd here in Minneapolis.

You write about this in the book. We've come to a point in our country where Christians are having to examine their allegiances to God versus government and what the Bible calls for. How did we get to this point, and why did it take until now to really make an examination of this for Christians? Well, I think we got to the point because the U.S. basically has always functionally had what I'll call the Lutheran understanding of church and state, which is basically obey government at all times unless the government tells you to sin. That's been just the normal way American evangelicals have always approached this topic, and that has worked in our American history because there have not been times, for the most part, where the government has commanded us or called us to do something sinful or forbidden doing something that our consciences compel us to do, and that's been true through most of American history. The reason Americans kind of bought into that view of the relationship between church and state, I studied the Puritans.

They understood that government had more of a limited role. They understood Romans 13 to teach that you obey government when the government is fulfilling its function in the world, which is very different than saying obey it unless it tells you to sin, rather obey it when it is fulfilling its God-appointed function. In most of American history, there's likely not a lot of daylight between those two, but COVID brought out that the government did begin regulating churches and telling you how many songs you could sing and where you could sit. In our case in Northern Virginia, they were telling us what instruments you could play and what instruments you couldn't play in church, but is it the government's role to regulate what instruments you use when you worship the Lord?

The Puritans make pretty compelling theological arguments that really go all the way back to Augustine that says the government cannot regulate those things. I'd like to ask about the process your church went through during COVID. The film The Essential Church was just released, and that chronicles what happened to Grace Community Church, which you're well familiar with in Southern California, and also a couple of pastors, James Coates, Tim Stevens, up in Canada, the problems they had with government in defying the government mandates. The government put these mandates in place ostensibly for churches to keep people safe from getting sick with COVID. They wanted people to either not go to church to close down, but if they did allow you to go to church, in your case, I'd like you to explain what the process was.

But there were things like, yeah, sit every other pew, park in every other parking space, don't use wind instruments, you can't sing. The government also does things like has health and building codes inside churches for how your HVAC system needs to be and what kind of fire alarms. Churches seem to comply with those things with government because they're safety measures to keep people safe. So what was the process your church went through during this time of COVID in light of the mandates that it sounds like you were receiving? And how were those to be differentiated from other quote-unquote safety mandates that the government puts on churches aside from just catching a virus?

Yeah, that's a great question. In our area, the government ordered churches closed along with everything else. And we complied because if a hurricane is coming, you cancel church. If a storm is coming, you can cancel church with a clear conscience. And that's what the government did. They said a storm is coming, a tsunami of illness is going to take over our country and we don't know what's there. And so for the good of the country, everybody shut down.

And of course we did. But then as the weeks gave by, as 15 days became several weeks and started to enter into its second and then its third month, it became pretty clear that the restrictions they gave us were not proportionate to what was actually happening. The disease was targeting certain demographics, not others. And the government restrictions then started to get lifted on shopping malls and on movie theaters and on casinos. But then when they were lifting it in the rest of society, they began to clamp down even harder on churches. And this became very evident in the wake of the George Floyd murder. You see these riots in the streets in Washington, D.C., where all the stores are boarded up. And you start to see political leaders out there at the riots. You see the mayor of D.C. not just at the riots, but then telling everybody how important it is to not travel, to not leave the district. And then she flies off to a funeral and then she comes back and she's not following her own restrictions while she's making restrictions on churches even more severe.

And so it became very clear this is no longer about an illness. This is about controlling a certain part of the population and regulating the worship of the church. And that's what government is not allowed to do. Now, you asked about fire alarms and such. Fire alarms don't regulate church worship. Building occupancy doesn't regulate church worship.

Building occupancy says, hey, in our county, both the grocery stores and the movie theaters and the churches need a certain number of exits and parking spots for a certain number of seats. And that's commonly agreed upon and it facilitates safe worship. It doesn't restrict it. The COVID regulations turned that on its head. The COVID regulations became shopping malls and movie theaters and casinos can open at this capacity, but churches at a much, much less capacity. Concerts can have whatever instruments they want, but not churches and all these other things that begin to be regulating the church worship. And that's where the government has not been allowed to do by God. God has never given the government the authority in the church age anyway, the authority to regulate the worship of God's people. Jesse Johnson is our guest today here on the Christian Real View radio program, the pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Virginia. We have links to his church's preaching at our website, He's also the author of City of Man, Kingdom of God.

And that's the book we're discussing and the topic we're discussing today here on the program. Jesse, explain when and why government was instituted. You go back into the early parts of scripture and government wasn't there at the very beginning in Genesis chapter one.

So tell us when government was instituted and the four things it was originally created to protect. The government comes into the world after the flood. And, you know, there's a big Christian nationalist argument now that says the government would have been there even in a pre-fall world. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, they would have had children and they would have had competing interests and there would have been government to regulate that.

And that's really a deification of government because that's not what you see in the Bible. Before the flood, there was extreme chaos and anarchy in the world. The world was ruled by violence.

There was no government. There was no checking of sin. You know, when Cain murdered Abel, he wasn't brought before a magistrate. He was brought before God who banished him and forbid other people from harming him.

He was marked so he wouldn't be harmed. And of course, in that environment, the world was overrun by violence. Oh, after the flood, God re-establishes order on the earth, re-establishes the family with Noah, tells them to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, you know, restates the creation mandate. But this time there's going to be government. This time there's going to be human institution that will check evil, that will bear the sword to punish evildoers, that will whoever sheds man's blood by man's hand shall his blood be shed. In that phrase, you know, now it's man's hands that will be enforcing things. When you look at that section of scripture, Genesis 8 and 9, you see a few different components wrapped up in this launching of government.

You see the establishment of the family to protect children, to protect marriage. You see the food source introduced there, where now all of the animals are given to mankind to eat. You have worship in there that Noah gets off and sacrifices animals to God. And now the nations are going to expand.

They're going to, after the Tower of Babel, scatter. But there's this idea that worship is built into the DNA of how people are supposed to relate to God. And so God gives government not to regulate worship, but to protect people's ability to worship. And you can even make an argument for religious freedom from there, and a lot of Baptists have done that. And then finally, God gives government to check evil and protect human life.

And that's the commando who sheds man's blood by man's hand shall his blood be shed. And so when you start to go through the Bible now, you're going to see governments all over the world that have that function given to them. They're regulating the food source, you know, trade and all that.

They're regulating the family, giving laws that allow property to be passed down and children to be protected. They're protecting the freedom of worship, and of course, they're keeping the peace and punishing crime. And that's true of Israel. That's true of non-Israelite governments. That's true of the pagan nations in the Old Testament. Even their governments function well when they do those things. And you get to the church age, the church is now going to not have one government, but transcend the world, bringing the gospel inside lots of other different nations with their own governments.

Jesse Johnson with us today on the Christian worldview. As you mentioned, those four things, why government was instituted to protect the freedom of worship, to protect the family structure, to protect the food supply, and to protect life. We think of our current government right now in the United States that, well, even during COVID, we talked about the first one, they weren't protecting the freedom to worship. They certainly do not protect the family. They're trying to redefine God's definition of the family. They're not protecting necessarily the food supply.

We won't get into the weeds on that right now, but they're trying to destroy farming in light of this, quote, unquote, climate emergency that farming is a big contributor to carbon release. And they certainly don't protect life from a standpoint of children in the womb. So it seems that our government has really been flipped on what it should actually be doing and is going directly against God's will. Now, in light of that, you get into in your book explaining some of the historical understandings of how Christians should relate to the state. I'm just going to ask you just to talk about two different eras. One was during the Reformation time in England with the king there and believers like John Bunyan and how the state was trying to interfere with preaching and what they could preach and so forth.

Could you talk briefly about that? And then the follow up to that is also the Revolutionary War, or maybe better term, the War for Independence, which took place in early American history. Christians at that time, you had a government of Great Britain, who was, you know, according to the Declaration of Independence, was usurping, going way beyond what they had promised, and a war broke out as a result of it. And Christians joined in to push back against, I would say, was the governing authority at the time of the British government.

Explain how those two eras can be helpful for us today. The Puritan era really shows the difference between the idea of what I'm calling the Lutheran view of government, obey government at all times unless it can tell you just to sin, and what became the Puritan view of government, which is obey government when it's operating according to God's design. And you saw that in the Puritan era when the king, King Charles I, for example, starts trying to regulate the worship of people, not just in England, but in Scotland, mandating the use of the Book of Common Prayer. And let's assume the Book of Common Prayer is theologically accurate and legitimate just for the sake of this discussion, and there's nothing wrong in it or bad in it. Is it sinful then to use that book to structure corporate worship? Well, no, it's not sinful. But is it wrong for the government to dictate how churches should worship?

The Puritan answered with, yes, it is, but it has not been given to the king. You know, when the Civil War started in England, they banned churches from meeting at the gates of London. So the churches are meeting at the gates and they were often praying for soldiers in the Civil War. And the government banned that. Is it wrong to pray at a gate for soldiers? Of course not.

You can pray at home for soldiers or you can pray at the gates for other reasons. But it just got to the point where this is not the government's job to do this. They passed the Four Mile Act that said that pastors could administer more than a certain distance from their home. Was it wrong to preach more than four miles from your house?

Of course not. But that is beyond what the God gave the government to do. And so the Puritans are resisting all of those commands and saying it's not given for the government to do these things.

And that was John Bunyan's quarrel. He could preach if he was licensed. And as a Baptist, that would have been very difficult. But, you know, he just said, I'm not doing that. I'm not going to allow the government to regulate who is preaching in the Baptist churches.

I'm not going to do it. He spent a decade plus in jail for that. You see so many examples like that. And of course, the United States was founded with that desire to leave that kind of regulation of worship and go to a new place where there was more freedom in worship. And you mentioned the second component there, the Revolutionary War, the war for independence. I've read Christian arguments arguing against the Revolutionary War or in favor of the Revolutionary War, both ends. In the United States, it's easy to lose sight of how much time had gone by between the founding of the colonies and the Revolutionary War. I mean, you're talking more than 100 years.

You're talking three or four generations. And this gets to the heart of Romans 13. Christians are called to obey the government that checks evil and that collects their taxes. They're the ones that you're supposed to obey. You don't obey a government on the other side of the world that's not collecting your taxes and not checking evil. You obey your government. And so in the American colonies, the colonial governments that were established by the King of England, by the British crown, when those governments that are operating under the right authority are saying the penalties that the colonies are going through is too much, and we're going to start our own government, you can see how at the very least it's a gray area. At the very least, you could see how Christians, according to their conscience, could take either side in the conflict. And American history comes out of that. Of course, we come into a nation that says the government is not going to regulate church. It's not going to regulate worship. There's going to be freedom, according to your conscience, to serve God as you see fit inside of our nation. And that's the nation we have. Pastor Jesse Johnson with us today, author of City of Man, Kingdom of God. Much more coming up. You are listening to the Christian Rule of your radio program.

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I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website,, where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry. Our topic today is when government intrudes into the sphere of the church.

And our guest now is Jesse Johnson, the pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia. Page 34 of your book, you say, a government that redefines marriage, promotes gender ambiguity, or tolerates abortion has ceased to function properly and has failed at one of its most basic tasks. Do you think Christians today are much too inactivistic with regard to what's taking place in our country? Are we too passive when it comes to petitioning government or being vocal and visible out on the streets?

I mean, look what's taking place. 60 plus million babies have been murdered in this country in the last 50 or 60 years. The sexual depravity being imposed on the country in schools, in corporations, and every other way.

Men dressed as women dancing erotically in front of children. It seems that perhaps Christians are just maybe too passive. Should we be more active? How do you see our role in the midst of where we are right now? I completely agree with your description of our society. It continues to crumble more and more into sexual immorality and abortion. And you see this just in the last decade where President Obama, you know, he was elected the first time, was against gay marriage and described abortion as something that should be safe, legal, and rare. We're not talking ancient history here. We're not talking Jimmy Carter. We're talking President Obama not that long ago. And now those very ideas would be just laughed out of the Democratic Party, laughed out of the halls of government.

You know, President Clinton signed an order in the 1990s mandating the military to celebrate June as Pride Month and have a certain number of events on every base and every outpost and all these metrics to match. This had never been repealed. President Bush could have repealed them. He did not.

President Trump could have repealed them. Of course, he embraced that kind of thing. So, yeah, I completely agree that our country has declined in that concept of morality over the last 20 years specifically. That being said, I would blame the culture for that. I would blame sin for that. I wouldn't blame Christians for that. Could Christians speak out more against it?

Yeah, of course. You know, there's an infinite number of opportunities for evangelism. Part of what's happening in our country is the judgment of God. You know, this is a slide of Romans 1.

Once that kind of sexual morality is embraced in culture, we're given over to worship of the creation rather than the creator. And that's what happens when God judges the nation. Christians can be light. They can speak out against it. They can rescue the unborn.

They can try to put it into child trafficking. They can do so much for good as they're speaking the gospel into a dark world. But that's not a promise that the world will stop being dark. I call the book City of Man, Kingdom of God. It's a riff off of Augustine, who had an incredible observation that even Christians would disagree with today, it seems like. I mean, Augustine's observation is that Rome was at its most secure when it was its most pagan. When Rome began to embrace Christianity is when Rome collapsed. And so this is how Augustine writes City of God.

If you're familiar with that book, he starts with the basic question, are Christians the blame for the decline of the Roman Empire? Because now the Roman Empire is moving away from the pantheon and towards the worship of the triune God. Seems like their borders are crumbling. Their capital, of course, ends up getting moved.

Everything is falling apart. And Augustine argues that there's two different cities that are involved. There's the city of man on earth and there's a city of God in heaven. And the fates of those two are not intertwined. And people misunderstand Augustine.

He's not arguing for some kind of political nihilism or apathy or anything like that. But he is making the point that sometimes the kingdom of God shines brightest and is strongest in the darkest of places. And if you make the goal of the kingdom of God to transform the kingdom of man, you're conflating your kingdom.

There's two different spheres that you've got going on. And there will be Christians that live and thrive in completely godly lives that are honoring the Lord in all they do in a country that is dark and depraved. And it is not their fault the country is dark and depraved. It's people who embrace sin that are kind of steering the truck off the cliff. Jesse Johnson with us today here on The Christian Worldview, the pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Virginia.

We have links to his ministry at our website, On page 39 of your book, City of Man, Kingdom of God, Jesse, you write this, When you believe it is the government that bestows your rights, you look to the government instead of to God as having the final say about the purpose and parameters of your existence. You trust in the government for protection, provision, and prosperity. You look to the government for your paycheck, healthcare, and education. The government becomes the warehouse of your rights, and government programs become the pipeline of your wealth and identity. And if you believe that, you'll be using your life to advocate for all kinds of solutions God did not design government to be capable of producing. I wouldn't know the percentage, but I think there's a large percentage of Americans who have that view of government today, that government is here to be our primary helper, funder, sustainer.

This is a two-part question. How is it possible to change that particular perception of reliance on government? Because it wasn't that at an earlier time in America. It was much more perceived government is to be limited. And second part is, how should pastors be informing their congregants about what is going on with government politically and morally, and not to be so much under the authority of government as to be supported by it?

There's a language shift. When people start appealing to government for privileges of worship or something like that, that's where they're revealing that they are really not understanding the way God made mankind. And the COVID-19 did bring this out big time in our country. When the government withdrew the right to worship, you have governors and stuff that are talking about how they're suspending this right. And you have to appeal and you can use the legal process to try to regain that right. But ultimately, the right to worship didn't come from the government. I mean, that's the big point, that worship predates government. People, because we're in the image of God, have the ability and the so-called right to worship according to conscience prescribed by the word of God. And so government is not the source of that. Therefore, they can't really cut that off. Now, they can make the believer's life miserable and they can drag believers into court and all this, which Jesus says they'll do, of course.

He says you'll be dragged into court. But the right to worship doesn't come from government. And you do see that in a lot of Western countries, where the government sets itself up with this attitude of you can worship when we tell you you can worship. That plays out in a worldview, even to the irreligious, people that think that so many people have their jobs from government, they look to government for their happiness. When there's a problem in life, they blame the government. Global warming, they blame government. Shootings in schools, they blame government. Anything, traffic, they blame government.

Anything that happens. People have this idea that the government is all benevolent, which is, of course, wrong. And they have this idea that government is all powerful, which is also wrong.

But you know what? That appeals to people in government. People who are in government like to think of themselves as powerful and like to think of themselves as good. And when I say that, I don't mean like your typical middle class government worker who's just making a living. I'm talking about when you start into the political world.

It's a tale as old as time. All the way back in Ecclesiastes chapter four, chapter eight, in Ecclesiastes, it describes government leaders that think of themselves as all righteous and all good and all powerful. And that creates an environment very difficult for believers to navigate.

Jesse Johnson again with us today on the Christian worldview. The issue of Christian nationalism has arisen more prominently as a result of government mandates and the demoralizing of our society. People see what's going on morally.

People see the government overreach of government. It's godless. And so they see a mandate in Scripture that Christians have a call to take dominion, to rule in all the different institutions. Government, education, corporations, in every area of life, Christians need to take dominion.

So there's that. But in light of what Jesus said in John 1836, my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.

But now my kingdom is from another place. Give us a final exhortation today as we think about the push for Christian nationalism. And it's tempting for patriotism, for Christ to reign in government and our laws to reflect what the Bible says. That's how Christ is going to rule someday.

I believe in the millennium. He's going to reign and purposely put out biblical principles in the law for people to follow. And yet when Christ was actually here in his first advent, that's not the way he told his followers to live in this, quote, city of man. So talk about the bit of a contrast there between Christian nationalism and how Christ actually lived and what he said during his life here on earth. You're exactly right.

Tempting is the right word for it. And especially younger generation guys in their 20s right now, I see them being siphoned off to Christian nationalism very quickly because a sense of it is frustrated. I mean, if I can speak in over generalizations, I think a lot of the college students today and the young guys in their 20s, they look at the boomer generation. They look at guys in their 60s and 70s and they say, hey, you shut down our country. You shut down our schools. You shut down our churches because you were afraid of a virus.

You prioritize yourself. You tank the presidential election. You tanked our economy.

You tanked education. And there's kind of a real sense of anger towards the older generation. And that plays into their political outlook. They look at the political leaders.

And you're seeing this on both the right and the left, by the way. They look at the political leaders that went before and they're like, you guys just, you caved on everything that mattered, everything. And so you're seeing a rise of Christian nationalism on the right and you're seeing a rise of kind of this desire for a more strong kind of one world governmental force on the left also. The temptation is there in both camps to say, you know, the generation went before us, just failed us in every conceivable way.

The solution is to have a stronger government going forward that represents the values that we hold dear. Now, I say that's a temptation on the right, too, because that's not the way God designed the church. The church is not supposed to regulate government and government is not supposed to regulate the church. In this church age, beginning on Pentecost, all the way to the rapture, to the kingdom, the church is a multinational, multiethnic organization.

The New Testament has a remnant theology. We're the diaspora. We're believers that are casted out in the world. We are growing the church. We're making disciples.

We're adding to our numbers day by day. But that's not taking over the government. That is growing the church in an international way. Now, you hope that believers get placed in the government.

You pray for that. You pray for government leaders to come to faith. You want your government to more accurately reflect biblical values.

Of course you do. But that's not Christian nationalism. When you read the books about Christian nationalism, the arguments for Christian nationalism, there's very much in there this idea that the government should be regulating church. They should be rebuking slothful ministers is a phrase that's often used. They should be establishing Christian laws.

They should be making a nation that reflects Christianity. Now, to be clear, there's a moral truth about marriage and about sexual immorality and a moral truth about freedoms that we have that you want government to reflect. That stuff is natural law. You don't have to be a Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman. You don't have to be a Christian to recognize that drag story hour in libraries is immoral and ungodly. But Christians are designed to expose the world to moral law, to natural law.

They're designed to call people to repent to sin and to be baptized and join the church and grow the church, not the government. So I do think there's a distinction between the city of man and the kingdom of God and one that will remain that way until the Lord does come and set up his kingdom. We're not going to set up God's kingdom for him. He's going to come and do that himself. So in a sense, my premillennialism plays into this. I think Christian nationalism is dangerous because it tries to move the kingdom to the church age as opposed to looking forward to the return of Christ.

He's going to return. And that's what the disciples asked at the beginning of Acts one after Jesus taught for 40 days in the kingdom. Their first question to him after 40 days of a kingdom lecture with the Lord is that this time you're going to establish your kingdom. And Jesus said, no, you know, you go into all the world. You preach the gospel of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost parts of the earth. You go do that. It's not for you to know the day and the hour.

That's for him to know. So we look forward to the Lord's return. In the meantime, we call people to repent.

We confront them for sin and we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for coming on the Christian Real View today. I wish all of God's best and grace to you and your family and your church. David, thank you for having me and thank you for all the work you do to help equip the next generation of followers of Christ.

All right. We have Jesse's church, sermons and new book, City of Man, Kingdom of God, linked at We are completely out of time. And just a reminder about the Christian Real View movie night. We're going to be showing the Essential Church on Saturday, September 9th at Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. You are invited to come.

So just go to our website or give us a call to register. And one final most important point. Jesus said, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That's from John chapter three. If you haven't been born again or aren't sure, we urge you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

If you have questions, just give us a call or go to our website and click on the page. What must I do to be saved? Thank you for joining us today on the Christian Real View. Let's remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Until next time, think biblically, live accordingly and stand firm. 1-888-646-2233. The Christian Real View is a listener supported nonprofit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian Real View partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter or contact us. Visit, 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 Real View.
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