1st Kings 22:14
Beginning Sunday, September 9th, Lord willing, I will begin a sermon series at Pinecrest entitled, “The Doctrine of Elections; The Ballot and the Bible.” I prayerfully hope that the Lord will use His Word to do His work in the heart of every person that is present.
In preparing for this set of sermons, I took a cue from a friend who a few years ago, preached a sermon on God and Government, and decided to pre-announce his sermon in his local paper. The brother told me that the response they received was beyond what they imagined, as far as people turning out with interest to hear the message. Jumping off of his diving board, this last week I too, took an announcement to the local paper to see if we will have a similar response. I found out, what I really already knew, that I don’t have to wait until Sunday, to have an idea about what some people think. The dear lady behind the counter kindly took our ad, looked at it for a moment, gave a shy smile, and said what is most likely a predominant thought among our society. She said, “When preachers and churches start paying taxes, then can they start speaking about politics.” Then for good measure, she looked at me in a way to imply the question, “what do you think?” or maybe “what do you say about that?” As best I could, I simply said to her, “Come join us Sunday, and we’ll see what the Bible says about that;” and she kindly went her way and I went mine.
It is to her statement and societies belief that Bible believing pastors and preachers need to have a clear response to.
#1. We do not get our permission to preach from the government, we have a directive to preach from scripture. One of the things that a lost society doesn’t understand, and a backslidden Christianity will not say, is that “Church” and “State” are not equal entities playing with each other under some cultural courtesy of fair play. As my favorite preacher used to say, “Rightly understood there is a separation between church and state, but not God and government.” The divine fact is that government is “inferior” to the Bible, and the Bible is “Superior” to the Government.
Let me illustrate. There is a reason children are to obey their parents; the Bible tells them to. When my children obey me, they are not really obeying me, they are obeying the Word of God. That being said, when Christians obey the government, they are not obeying the government, they are obeying the Word of God. In it’s ultimate sense, I pay my taxes, not because the government tells me to pay my taxes, I pay my taxes because the Bible tells me to pay my taxes. I do not obey the ordiances of men, because men have authority in my life, I obey the ordinances of men, because the Bible has authority in my life. When the Word of God directs opposite to the law of man, the law of man is no longer instructor in chief. We must recognize that the government gets it’s authority from God, and therefore is always “inferior” to the scriptures.
Now here is where that leads, and where the world doesn’t like and Christians won’t stand up for. The government does not instruct the Bible, but the Bible does instruct the government. They are not two equals intended to be playing fair with each other in a game of mutual admiration. The Bible is superior to man’s law and is the final authority over every Christians life. Before we obey any law, we look to God’s Word to take our cues. The fact is that there are some cases in which God’s Word would tell us not to obey man’s law. Both cases are in the book of Daniel, and I’ll make them succinct. In the event of Daniel in the lions den, you had the government forbidding Daniel from obedience to God. In the event of the Hebrew children and the fiery furnace, you had the government commanding those young men to disobey God. When taken together what you have is simple and solid guidelines to follow. Anytime man’s law commands a man to disobey God, we do not submit to that law. Anytime man’s law forbids man from obeying God, we do not submit to that law. That being said, we do not pay taxes for permission to preach, or look to have our sermons licensed by a governing agency. Our loyal to the law of man is always subject to our loyalty to the Word of God. Obedience to the laws of the land is to always be filtered through the Word of the Lord.
#2. We don’t get our Material to preach from the governement, we get it from the Bible. As previously said, the government has no say in the scriptures, but the scriptures have a lot to say about the government. Any preacher worth his weight in Bibles merely preaches what the Bible says; and where the Bible speaks on politics, the preacher will speak on politics. Where the Bible addresses government policies, philosophies and decisions, the preacher will address government policies, philosophies and decisions. The preacher only takes his cues from scripture, never from the culture, and he does not have to ask permission to preach it. Now truth be told, he may need to be ready to face the consequences of preaching it. In some places on planet earth it is against the law to preach the Word of God as the Word of God. In such places, I am eternally grateful and stunningly awed by the men who preach it anyway, and endure the consequences. Bible preachers preach the truth regardless of who it hairlips, and without conferring with any government agency.
Preachers do not have to be haughty, arrogant, or spiteful about anything they preach, but they must be loyal to the Word of God in everything they preach. Every man of God, who claims that the Lord has called him into the ministry, and stands behind a pulpit of Biblical proclamation, should genuinely have the same attitude as Micaiah of the Old Testament in 1st Kings 22. “And Micaiah said, Asthe LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.” Regardless of what anyone in any society, culture, or congress says, filling pulpits with that attitude is most definitively a change worth making.