On this Election Day 2020 episode of OFF-AIR with Carmen, Bill invited himself onto the podcast to share A Biblical Look At Government.
In the clip above, Bill describes the primary and secondary purpose of government. To listen to the full episode, click HERE.
He also prepared some notes for you. Download the PDF version.
Biblical Principles of Government
1. God governs all things.
Deut. 10:14 - Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.
Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein
Psalm 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
2. God institutes “the State” after the fall.
Genesis 9:5-6 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
3. Human government (civil government, “the state”) has two purposes:
1) The primary purpose is to restrain evil.
Genesis 3:24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (not human gov’t)
2) The secondary purpose is to promote good.
1 Peter 2:13-14 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 good. Relationship between church & state: The state is the sword of the church, and the church is the conscience of the state.
4. Because government is ordained by God, Christians are to submit to civil authorities.
Romans 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
5. Christians, however, are citizens of two kingdoms.
Matthew 22:17-22 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 22When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (November 1520) “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” (1 Cor. 9:19; Romans 8:8)
6. The power of the kingdom of God must NEVER be confused with the power of the state.
John 18:36 Jesus answered (Pilate), “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Mark 10:42-44 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
7. When government power exceeds its purposes, it is the duty of Christians to resist.
(Exodus 1:17, 20-21 Hebrew midwives)
Daniel 3:18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Acts 5:28-29 “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
8. State power is NOT absolute; good government is limited government, because:
1) Ultimate state power is the ultimate enemy of Jesus and his church. (In both Daniel 7 and Revelation 11-13 and 17, beasts picture political rulers who persecute God’s people)
Revelation 13:17-18 no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. (But this happens gradually as corruption comes in: the more the gov’t tries to make you dependent, especially by competing for your affection and loyalty, the more the state will oppose the family, the church, and other God-ordained institutions –totalitarianism starts with statism of the left or right)
2) Human magistrates are sinners.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 51 “What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
Summary: Human Government is:
• Ordained by God
• Derived from God’s authority
• Limited under God’s sovereignty (NEVER to be viewed as ultimate)
• Designed to restrain evil and promote good
• Distinguished from the kingdom of God
(1) Government cannot redress all wrongs and achieve perfect justice.
Revelation 6:10-11a (fifth seal) They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer. . .
Revelation 6:15-17 (sixth seal) Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on 4 the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
(2) Ultimately, the kingdoms of this world all belong to Christ the King of Kings
Philippians 2:10-11 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Revelation 21:23-26 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
(3) Our political struggle is and must be fought in the theater of spiritual war.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.