3rd October 2023
Read (Romans 13v2)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Paul knew all too well that earthly rulers could be vindictive and overbearing but he still recognised that all authority found its source in Almighty God. When Paul stood before the Roman governor Felix, the Apostle spoke boldly but respectfully. He understood that it is the Lord who gives power to kings and it is the same Lord who takes it away. Therefore Christians are to submit themselves to earthly authorities without resistance (v2). Why? Because to resist the earthly authorities is to resist what God has appointed (v2).
This resistance can take various forms in our modern age. None of us like paying taxes but we have no Biblical mandate to keep a few quid hidden from His Majesty’s government. Driving at thirty miles per hour is a pain but we have no right under God to travel at whatever speed suits us. Covid restrictions were repressive but even when it broke our heart not being able to see our granny, we still were bound to submit to the authorities.
There are many in today’s age that might call me a government pawn for this stance. Indeed there are a multitude who have made a living out of challenging the government at every turn and crying “conspiracy” over every decision. I have little confidence in the political class of our nation but nevertheless my Lord commands me to honour them and pray for them and so, when possible, I am to willingly submit to the God appointed authorities who currently rule our nation. To do otherwise will meet with the judgement of those authorities and one day the judgement of Almighty God.
Did you notice that I said “when possible”? When is it appropriate for a Christian to resist the authorities? If the government ever requires you to disobey or curse the Lord, then you can and must resist. This resistance must not be violent but no earthly power has the right to cause you to sin.
I’m reminded of a man called Polycarp who many years ago was required to burn incense as an act of worship to the Roman Emperor. No Christian could ever countenance such an action and so Polycarp resisted the authorities and lost his life as a result. He said of Christ "Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked."
May we honour Christ daily as we honour the authorities He has placed over us, but may we raise our voices against our nation’s sin and have the courage to resist wickedness when required.
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.