Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #993 MP3 Audio File Video File

As Americans Whom Must We Submit To?

(Romans 13)

Delivered 01/05/20

I need to begin this morning by saying something that I say frequently, but it is something you must particularly hear in our study this morning. You, all of you—every one of you—are called to be Bereans:

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:10-11 ESV

Being a Berean means that you choose not to believe anything that you hear without first studying it out for yourself. Please question what I say, think it through, study it out, and see if what I'm saying lines up with Scripture. If it does, believe it; if it doesn't, discard it. Then confront me with what you see as my error.

For our study this morning I want to look at the subject of submission. As Americans, Who Must We Submit To? To answer this question, many would point to Romans 13:1-7 and tell us that we must submit to all civil authorities.

Romans 13 presents a few problems. One writer says: "These seven verses have caused more unhappiness and misery in the Christian East and West than any other seven verses in the New Testament." Others have so struggled with the perceived and overwhelming absolutes that they feel forced to claim that this section was not really Pauline at all but was instead a later interpolation. We can, therefore, ignore it.

The majority of Christians believe that this text is calling for submission to the State of Rome, and thus it is a call for Christians to submit to all civil government. Bob Deffinbaugh writes, "There is no reason for the Christian to fear government for its purpose is to punish evil-doers and to reward those who do good. Since the Christian is to practice what is good and avoid evil, there should be no conflict between the Christian and government." Is he serious? We are constantly in conflict with a government that is devoid of any spiritual values.

The view that this applies today to our civil government is reinforced by some translations. The Good News Bible says at Romans 13:1: "Everyone must obey the state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God." Some Bibles have subheadings for each chapter. One of them at Romans 13 says, "Submission to the State." Another says, "Be Subject To Government." Now those words are not part of the Scripture, but because they are in the Bible, many think they are inspired. But they are just someone's opinion of what Romans 13 says. But does it? The context raises serious doubts for me. Because the surrounding content is all about love, why, then, does Paul inject seven verses on submission to civil government?

There is another view out there that is held by some Christians. It portends that this text is referring to the leaders and authorities of the Church. But do church leaders have the power of the sword? I see no indication of this is Scripture. Or do they collect taxes? I don't see this text talking about Church leaders.

There are some Preterists who believe that Romans 13 is calling for the transition saints to submit to the government of Rome until the return of Christ, at which time Rome's authority is crushed, and the believer is under King Yeshua only:

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 1 Corinthians 15:24 ESV

The assumption is that if all rule, authority, and power are abolished, there are no authorities over Christians. The next verse helps us understand what he is talking about:

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV

From this we see that the rule, authority, and power that are abolished are those that are enemies of Christ. This is not saying that after the Second Coming, the Christian's only authority is Christ. There is still authority and submission in the Kingdom of God.

This position concludes that this text does not apply to us; it only applies to the transition saints. I agree with them that this text applies to us. But I do not think that this was calling transition saints to obey Rome. Such an approach does not fit the context.

Here is my position: Romans 13:1-7 is referring to the Synagogue rulers in Rome. This is the view put forth by Mark Nanos in his book, The Mystery of Romans.

I think that in order to understand Romans 12-15, we need to have an understanding of the Jewish synagogue in Rome. By the time of Christ, it was the synagogue and not the Temple that was the central institution for Jewish worship. This makes sense because even the Jews living in Israel would only go to Jerusalem three times a year

(and most went only one time), but they went to their synagogue every Sabbath.

When you think of the church in Rome, what comes to your mind? Do you think of them meeting in a church building similar to our church buildings? I want to suggest to you that in Rome the church met in a synagogue. Both Jews and Gentiles met in the synagogue to worship Yahweh.

When Saul was persecuting Christians, where did he find them? At the local Church? No, he found them in the synagogues (Acts 9:1-2). The Jews who believed in Yeshua would go to the synagogue on the Sabbath just as they had always done, and the believing Gentiles would join them.

Evidence indicates that in Rome, Christianity and Judaism shared a common heritage and were probably inseparable before A.D. 60 and perhaps even until the middle of the second century. Robert Goldenberg asserts that it is increasingly accepted among scholars that "at the end of the 1st century CE there were not yet two separate religions called 'Judaism' and 'Christianity.'" Outside of the synagogue environment, the early Christians would have had little opportunity to learn the Scriptures.

In Rome, Jew and Gentiles were meeting in the synagogue, and Gentile believers were being tempted to look down on unbelieving Jews because they viewed them as excluded from God's purposes. The Gentile believers were beginning to look at the unbelieving Jews in the synagogue with disdain because they rejected and crucified the Messiah.

In Chapters 12-15, it seems that Paul is specifically addressing the Gentile believers. He wants them to treat the non-believing Jews in the synagogue with love so that they may be won to Christ. Nothing in chapters 12 or 13 supports the idea that Paul has switched his focus in chapter 13 to discuss the Christian's relationship to civil government. The beginning of Chapter 13 has traditionally been regarded as an abrupt transition from what came before because it lacks a conjunction or a joining particle. There is also a change to the third person. But Paul wrote this as though there was no major transition in topic from the issues he was addressing in chapter 12. The thematic links between 13:1-7 and its surrounding verses is important.

The words, "evil," "good," "wrath," and "vengeance" appear in these seven verses and in the surrounding context of 12:9-21 and 13:8-10. In 12:9-21, he is talking about love (e.g. loving each other and loving our enemies). Then, in 13:8, he returns to the issue of love and the law of love, "The Ten Commandments." And I think that 13:1-7 is still talking about the Christian Gentiles need to love the stumbling. In other words, he has in mind those Jews that have not yet trusted in Messiah, those with whom the Gentiles associate with in the synagogue. They in particular those unsaved Jews who are ruling in the synagogue. They must love and submit to them even though they may view them as enemies.

So, in 13:1-7 the issue is still love. This fits nicely with the surrounding context. Paul is calling for love and unity in the synagogue for the sake of the elect Jews that have not yet come to Christ. Paul is calling on the Gentile believers to be good witnesses to his unsaved brothers that they may be won to Christ.

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. Romans 13:1 ESV

Commenting on this verse Tom Holland writes, "Recently, an alternative understanding of 'authority/ies' in Romans 13 has been put forward. It is argued that local churches did not always separate from the local synagogues perhaps because they afforded protection to the believers, and that this was the situation in Rome... This historical setting has been used to argue that the 'governing authorities' of v.1 are not representatives of the Roman state but of the synagogue...This recently argued understanding has Paul pleading for the Gentile believers to accept the authority of the Jewish leadership of the synagogue because God has appointed it."

"Every person"—is the Greek pas psuche which means "all life!" "Be subject"—is from the Greek word hupotasso which is a military term meaning "to line up, to take your orders." It's in the present imperative middle, which means "to habitually be in subjection" to "The governing authorities"—this comes from huperecho which means "to be above, superior," and the word "authorities" is the Greek word exousia which means "power, ability, privilege."

So, everyone is to submit to those in authority. Why? "For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." "For" gives us the reason for submission.

Most people see this as speaking of civil government. I don't, but the principle is universal. All human authority is delegated and ministerial. This includes the authority of parents, employers, policemen, teachers, church leaders, or any other authority. Anyone who is in a place of authority has had it delegated to him by God. The sovereign Lord who decrees every event in time has put in place all authority:

Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; Daniel 2:20-21 ESV

Yahweh sets up and removes kings:

You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, Daniel 2:37 ESV
The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.' Daniel 4:17 ESV

Yahweh rules over mankind and sets up its rulers:

that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. Daniel 4:25 ESV
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, What have you done?" Daniel 4:35 ESV

Yahweh's will is never frustrated; He does as He pleases. He sets up godly and ungodly men to serve His purpose:

It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave. But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, declares the LORD, until I have consumed it by his hand. Jeremiah 27:5-8 ESV

All authorities, good and bad, are put in place by the sovereign Yahweh and we are called to submit to them:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. Isaiah 45:1-4 ESV

So, we see that "there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." Now that we understand that, let's talk about Authority and Submission:

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. Romans 13:1 ESV

Just because someone is in authority over us does not mean that he is better than us, or smarter than us, or more qualified than us. Subordination involves no degradation. In other words, a person is not dishonored by being subject to someone else.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

The word "head" is from the Greek word kephale, which means "government or authority." Authority and subordination have nothing to do with essence. They strictly deal with function. In essence and nature, Christ and Yahweh are equal; but by Yahweh's design, the function of the Son demanded that He submit to the Father in a beautiful act of humiliation.

In marriage, for the sake of function, the woman is to take the place of submission. The man does not have to be smarter or have better sense to be in authority—we all know that he usually is not. But he is the authority in the home because God made him the authority. There is no dishonor for the woman to be in subjection to the man.

In government, why do we have to submit to those in authority? Is it because they are better than everyone else? No! It is because there has to be authority and submission or there will be anarchy, something which no society can long survive.

In the church, God has called the pastors/elders to lead, and the people to submit. This is not because the elders are better or more spiritual than you; we are all equal in Christ. There is no clergy/laity division in the church. Pastors are leaders among equals. They are in authority simply because God has called them to lead. It is simply a matter of function.

What is the importance of submission? Most Christians do not think rebellion is any big deal. We resist authority and do not give it a second thought. How about you? Is your life characterized by submission or by rebellion? How would you respond if you found out that a Christian friend of yours was involved in witchcraft or idolatry? Would it concern you? Would you talk to him about it?

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." 1 Samuel 15:23 ESV

Why is submission so hard for us? Pride! What was the first sin? In the Garden of Eden the first sin was pride. The temptation of the serpent came with these words: "You will be like God." The temptation to be like God is greater than we think; we all face it. We resist being subject to law. We squirm when we are placed under too much authority. We love to be free—free of restraints, free of accountability.

Our quest to be like God is a quest to be above law. It is the quest for autonomy. Autonomy means literally "self-law." A person who seeks to be utterly autonomous is a person who seeks to be a law unto himself. He is answerable to no one:

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5 ESV

By nature we are all rebels, and our pride causes us to rebel against authority. We do not want anyone telling us what to do, especially someone who is not as smart as we are. But I want you to see that submission is the mark of a Spirit-controlled believer:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV

The word "filled" here is pleroo. It means "to be controlled by." Submission is the mark of a Spirit-controlled believer. In order to overcome our pride, which causes rebellion, we must be controlled by the Spirit. But how are we controlled by the Spirit? I believe the answer is clear if we look at a parallel passage:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:16-18 ESV

The results are the same in both passages, and so I think it is safe to say that in order for us to be controlled by the Spirit, we must have Christ's Word dwelling in us. As we study God's Word and submit to its teaching, the Spirit will empower and control our lives.

Rebellion is a serious sin against God because all power is ordained by God, and we are to submit to it. When I think of submission to church leaders, I think of Bob Donohoo. I'll never forget Bob and his attitude of submission. He is truly a Spirit-controlled man. The first time he visited the church, he spoke to all the pastors. The next week he invited Cathy and me over for dinner and asked me to bring a doctrinal statement and a financial statement.

We spent the evening being questioned, and we went over those statements with a fine-tooth comb. Several weeks later, when this couple put in an application to join the church, Bob told me that he was so thorough in his questioning because they understood that in joining a church, they were putting themselves under the authority of its leaders.

Bob was a student at Regent University. Before signing up for a Wednesday evening class, he came to the pastors to see if we had any objections to it because it would require that he miss our Wednesday evening church meeting. Bob understood the principles of authority and submission, and he was greatly used of God in ministry.

David was aware that all authority came from God, and therefore, he was submissive to it. In 1 Samuel 24:1-12, David has the opportunity to kill Saul when Saul comes into a cave in which David is hiding. But he does not. Although David had already been anointed King, he still viewed Saul as in authority. Saul was a sinful man, but David continued to see him as the Lord's anointed. May the Spirit of God instruct us from the examples in His Word, and may we have the heart of David and his spirit of submission to authority.

When I am in a store and I see a door with a sign that reads "Employees only," I do not enter. Not because entering would break some law. I do not enter because the governing authority of that store has said that I am not to enter. And I am called to obey and not resist the authority of the store owner. Similarly, I am called to obey the rules of my neighbor when I am on his property or in his house. We are to obey those who govern our various situations. This includes my neighbor on his property, the security guard at the mall, and the shopkeeper in his store. Christians make the best citizens because they strive to live in submission to authority.

The grandfather of Communism, Georg Hegel, argues that government is divinely sanctioned to do anything it pleases and that God requires people to submit regardless of natural standards of justice. This argument has been used by virtually every tyrant since the first century, including Adolf Hitler. And so we have to ask whether there are limits to submission? Sure there are. Of primary consideration is that we are never to violate Scripture in order to submit to anyone. A clear example is found in Acts 5.

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. But Peter and the apostles answered, We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:28-29 ESV

As Christians, no earthly law can exceed the Word of God. When the two clash, God always wins. And when the governing authority extends its reach beyond its defined role, I believe it has become an enemy of God. This is true whether the ruler is the king or a group of neighbors acting as the local faction that is democracy. And it is even true when the ruler is the owner of the store or your neighbor in his backyard.

So, there are limits to authority. Clearly a father has authority in his home, but does this give him power to abuse his wife and children? Of course not. While on the job, an employer has authority over his employees, but does this give him power to control their private lives? No. Although a pastor has overseer authority in the church, does this give him power to tell employers in his church how to run their businesses? Of course not. All human authority is limited. No man has unlimited authority over the lives of other men.

We in the United States of America do not live under a monarchy. We have no king, and there is no single governing official. As Americans, Whom Must We Submit To? The supreme law of the Land is "The Constitution of the United States." Under our laws, every governing official publicly promises to submit to it.

"The Constitution" was adopted on September 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it was ratified by conventions in eleven states. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.

The first ten constitutional amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791 are known as the "Bill of Rights." "The Constitution" has been amended seventeen additional times (for a total of 27 amendments). "The Constitution" guides American society in law and political culture.

Under our laws and form of government, it is the duty of every elected official to obey the U.S. Constitution (and his or her State constitution). The problem in America today is that our political leaders have violated their oaths of office blatantly disobeying the U. S. Constitution—the "supreme Law of the Land. Our government is loading us up with unlawful laws. I do not believe that we have to submit to these laws because they are unconstitutional.

Amendment I— Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sadly, because of bias, this amendment is inconsistently applied when on the one hand, it is legal for you to burn the American flag as an act of free speech, while on the other hand, if you burn the gay pride flag, you can go to jail for hate speech.

Amendment II— A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that U. S. citizens have a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense. This right is currently under attack in Virginia.

As Democrats prepare to take power in Virginia, Gov. Northam vows it is "a new day and a new landscape" in Virginia. He says when Democrats take over the state legislature for the first time in a generation at the start of the new year, the passage of gun violence prevention laws will be a top priority.

Virginia Governor Northam is supporting SB 16 which would ban commonly owned firearms in more than one million Virginia households. This ban would even outlaw sporting weapons such as the Mossberg 930 Snow Goose.

The Governor has requested $4 million and 18 law-enforcement positions to enforce his gun ban—a request that could be the preparatory steps for confiscating the guns which would be banned by SB 16.

Moreover, the Governor is requesting another $3.5 million to enforce gun control that has NOT been passed by the legislature and is NOT even current law in Virginia. There will be universal background checks, one gun a month limitations, so-called red flag gun confiscation orders, and more.

This amounts to treason because Governor Northam vowed to support the Constitution of the United States and Virginia Code 49-1 which outlines the general oath required of officers.

Every person before entering upon the discharge of any function as an officer of this Commonwealth shall take and subscribe the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as Governor according to the best of my ability, (so help me God)."

Let me just say that mass killings of civilians by military dictatorships in the 1900s were more often than not preceded by the confiscation of firearms from targeted populations. This task was made easier by laws requiring the registration and/or licensing of privately-owned weapons. An unarmed population is a citizenry of slaves.

"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms." (Constitutional scholar and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, 1840).

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:2 ESV

Those who apply these verses to civil government say that we must obey every law that our government passes, or we are sinning against God. First of all, I do not believe that these verses are talking about civil government. I do not think that Paul is telling believers to be subject to the Roman government. If he were doing that, why would Rome put him to death?

In the Roman world, Caesar was lord, and he had the power of death. Threats to Roman rule were mercilessly crushed. Everyone in the Roman world knew that the cross had a clear symbolic meaning—Caesar ruled the world, with cruel death as his ultimate, and regular, weapon. The problem, from the standpoint of Roman rule, is that Yeshua did not stay dead. The resurrection demonstrates that the true God has a power utterly superior to that of Caesar. Rome crucified Yeshua. But God raised Him from the dead and made Him LORD! Rome said that Caesar was lord, but Paul taught that Yeshua was Lord:

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, Romans 13:3 ESV

"For rulers are not a terror to good conduct. Is this true of our government? If we do what is good, will our government praise us? How many of you have ever heard of Dr. Burzynski? Stanislaw Burzynski is a biochemist and a physician. He is founder, president, and chairman of the Burzynski Research Institute Inc., based in Houston and Stafford, Texas. Since December 1976, Burzynski has administered peptides and their metabolites, which he calls antineoplastons, as treatments with anti-cancer activity. He has healed many cancer patients with his treatment. He has had his clinic shut down and been dragged into court over and over again by our government. Why? For helping sick people.

The Gerson clinic operates in Mexico because our government will not allow people to heal with vegetable juice and nutrition. The Gersons have healed thousands of people, but their brand of medicine is not allowed in the U.S.

If you grow the wrong kind of plant, the government will arrest you and put you in jail. So, our government says that what God created is evil and cannot be used. And yet our government pushes drugs that cause all kinds of adverse effects. Why? Drug companies control government, and they cannot make any money if you grow your own marijuana. And why is hemp illegal?

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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:4-5 ESV

It seems to me that our government, in violation of the First Amendment, brings wrath on anyone who disagrees with its practices. I do not think Paul is talking about government in these verses:

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Romans 13:6 ESV

Let me ask you a question: Are actions which are sinful for individuals, such as theft, murder, and kidnapping, also sinful even for those who call themselves government? Is it wrong for the government to take from some individuals what belongs to them in order to give it to other individuals to whom it does not belong? Is it wrong for the government to benefit one citizen at the expense of another by doing what a citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime?

Take the parable of the Good Samaritan. He sees someone in need and reaches into his own pocket. He may not have been rich. He may have helped the needy at great sacrifice. He did not rob the next passerby to support the victim of the first robbery. When a government-dependent person sees a needy person, he does not take personal responsibility and act at great sacrifice. He looks to the government who robs the next passerby (taxation), pockets half the money, and hires someone to give the rest to the needy. One act of violence is compounded by another.

The State engages in more theft, murder, and kidnapping than any other group of people, including the criminals from which the State promises to protect us. The State is, without close competition, the greatest thief and mass murderer on the planet.

Now someone might say, "Is it constitutional that we pay income tax?" The federal government rests its authority to collect income tax on the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the federal income tax amendment—which was allegedly ratified in 1913:

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." —The 16th Amendment "The Constitution of the United States of America."

After an extensive year-long, nationwide research project, William J. Benson discovered that the 16th Amendment was not ratified by the requisite three-fourths of the States and that, nevertheless, Secretary of State Philander Knox had fraudulently declared ratification.

The 16th amendment never received enough votes from the States to be ratified. It is, therefore, not actually a legal amendment. This has been ruled on and decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land that cannot be appealed against, said: "The 16th amendment gives the government no new powers of taxation."

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. Romans 13:7 ESV

This is what we are to do: "Pay to all what is owed them." I don't think that I would get much resistance when I say that our country is a mess. The State has way over stepped its bound, and we are being put in bondage to all the rules and regulations that are imposed upon us. But if you are not happy with the state of our government—blame the Church. I believe that the state of our nation is a judgment from God for the sinfulness of the Church.

Let me give you a quote from Biblical Horizons Newsletter, No. 20: "Who Rules the Land?" by James B. Jordan:

The message of the Noahic Covenant is this: Right now, the Church rules the nations of the world. We and we alone have been given power and dominion, and if we don't like the way things are going, we have only ourselves to blame. Unbelieving rulers are puppets, and we are the puppet masters. They dance to our tune and move as we pull the strings. They 'rule' only as we direct them. Right now, they are doing exactly what the Church has told them to do.

This is the True Reality. It is the way things really are. But because of sin, we, in common with all men, suppress the True Reality and believe a myth (Rom. 1:18). We believe that those who wield external power are the rulers of this world, but that simply is not the case.

It is interesting to read Romans 13:1-7 in the light of the Noahic Covenant, as we have understood it. Paul says that every civil authority is established by God. He says that the Roman Caesar is a cause of fear for evil behavior. He says that if the Church does well, the ruler will praise her. He implies that if the Church does wickedly, the ruler will persecute her. Christians are to pay taxes to their slaves (rulers) so that their slaves will be able to do what Christians tell them to do.

What does this mean? It means that when the Church is faithful, God will convert the heart of the ruler and he will rule righteously. Conversely, when the ruler is evil and destructive, this means that the Church has not been pleasing to God. The Church is always in charge of culture, and she has been in charge ever since the Flood. We do not have to take the world and culture over. We already have them. We just have to start using them aright.

This is not something new that comes in with the New Covenant, though the New Covenant puts it into force as never before. When Joseph was faithful, Pharaoh converted. When Daniel was faithful, Nebuchadnezzar converted. It was because Judah was wicked that Nebuchadnezzar conquered her. The picture of the world throughout the Old Testament is that Jerusalem is the center of the world and that the faithfulness or faithlessness of God's priestly nation determines the fate of the whole world. The New Testament presents the same picture—the world's fate rests in the hands of the Church. (

When the Church is faithful, God changes men. We cannot reform the "State" as an action separate from reforming the Church. If the Church is faithful, God will bless her and there will be good rulers.

Notice what Yahweh says to Judah through Nehemiah:

Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:35-37 ESV

This could be said to America today. The rulers that we have are a result of the sin of Yahweh's people. A weak Church is not the victim of an evil society. An evil society is the victim of a weak Church. We will not fix this country through an election, but instead through the Church's honoring of Yahweh through righteousness. We need to work to reform the Church, not the government.

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Berean Bible Church
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Chesapeake, VA 23322