Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Church and State

Does government play a role and have a responsibility to the church (and therefore ultimately to God)? 

Yes, to the church as well as society in general; which is to reward those who do good and punish those who do harm (wrong). 

Rom 13:3  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

1Pe 2:13  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 

If the government abdicates this role should the church be indifferent or silent? The following indicates otherwise. 

Do we as believers have a role and responsibility toward government? 

Yes. To pray for those who rule over us so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God.

If we neglect this role to faithfully pray for those in authority, we are allowing and even inviting a government that works against rewarding good and punishing evil, to grow and eventually thrive. This is not honoring or pleasing to God, in great part because it brings harm to us (his image bearers) and his creation, as well as dishonors him.

1Tim 2:1  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior...

Is prayer the only thing the church should engage in regarding government?

We have no direct commandment on this but we do have an example in Paul. Whether this is an example we are to follow or simply how one man handled his situation is up for debate. 

However we do have indication he was following God's lead. 

Act 23:11  The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” 

This was after Paul had asserted his political affiliation (i.e. citizen of Rome) to gain a hearing and protection from the government. 

Act 21:39  Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city (i.e. Rome). I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”

Act 22:25-29  But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?”  

When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 

So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 

The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 

So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him. 

Act 23:27  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.

For an extended conversation on the role of government and the believer click here. 

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Grace to you
Jim Deal