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God in Government

Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:5-7, Romans 13:1-7
Date: 10/09/2004 
How are Christians to relate to politics, elections, and the government? The perfect government is the kingdom of God. How do we relate to earthly governments? We should be thankful for laws, safety and services. All governments have waste and corruption, some more than others. We should pray for our government leadership.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Now, you'll probably think that the subject for today's message, God in Government, is because we are in the midst of a very intense election time. Well you'd be right if that's what you were thinking. It did come to mind, and I thought it would be appropriate to talk about it, because I run into a lot of questions during this season. Of course, we have elections every couple of years and big ones every four years. Dealing with, how do we as Christians relate, interact, respond, the earthly governments, the political process. And I'm surprised sometimes and even shocked at the big divergence of opinions that you would find among people who all claim to read the Bible and worship the same Jesus, when it comes to political ideas, wow, how different we can be. And then I'm also surprised that people say, “Well, you know, religion’s very volatile and so is politics, and don't ever mix the two.” That's considered by some very bad taste. You could talk about what your church is and what your religion is, but you dare ask somebody their political views, that's personal. And I don't find support for that in logic or the Bible.

First I should maybe start by telling you, there really is no Biblical mandate that we are not to understand or discuss politics because it is the environment in which we as Christians live in this earthly kingdom and need to know how to move and share our heavenly convictions. You need to have some understanding about the government and how we relate to these things as Christians. It's not a contradiction. But there are still people who say that politics and religion don't mix. I will agree with you that they are two of the most volatile subjects. And let's face it; most of the wars in the world are fought because of politics or religion, usually a combination of the two. And so it shouldn't surprise us that people have very strong feelings about politics. To begin with, I thought maybe I'll talk about the ideal government. I want to talk to you about what the perfect government would be. The perfect government is the kingdom of God. The perfect government was in heaven before sin. Of course it's still perfect there. And it will be back in heaven after sin when everything is governed by God. On Earth, there have been some governments that very nearly represented this. When it was a theocracy. Now, of course, you've got a variety. You've got a monarchy; you've got a dictatorism, which is a despot in power.

You've got a republic, which technically we are a republic. People say we are a democracy. We have a democratic process, but America is a republic. But in the Old Testament God had a theocracy. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, and you've got God speaking audibly to a nation, that’s a theocracy. When you’ve got God speaking through a prophet, and you've got a pillar of fire during the night and a pillar of cloud during the day, and he's saying, “Go here, go there, do this, do that. Here's how you're supposed to be governed,” and so forth. The ultimate power in government was the Lord. And that's where you get theos, theology, and it was God. So it was a theocracy. In the New Testament, you get a taste of that. After the Holy Spirit was poured out, the initial government in the church was somewhat of a theocracy, in that, yes, there were church leaders.

Jesus had the apostles, and there were different ones that were appointed, but the apostles would pray and they would say, “The Holy Spirit said it is, the Holy Spirit said do that, the Holy Spirit said, don't go here, or don't go there.” And you can hear Paul and the apostles referring to this divine leadership in the early church that it seems a little thinner in our day and age. But let's face it; even though Christians are ambassadors of a better world, we cannot really live with this out of this world mentality. We live in this world. And we need to know how to relate to these earthly governments. Maybe it would be good to begin by saying what is the purpose of government? I want you to notice, back in a time of theocracy, Deuteronomy 19:12, if somebody murdered somebody else, it said, “Then the elders of the city will deliver [this guilty party] over to the hand of the avenger of blood.” If you murdered one of my family members, the law of the land was that I was the avenger of blood, and I'd get even. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

The only time that you had some protection is if you could flee to one of these cities of refuge. There was a time when you read through the book of Judges, where it says, “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” From tribe to tribe, it seemed like every clan leader, every tribal leader, sort of had his own way of doing things. They had their own customs and their own laws. And they had drifted a little bit from what the Lord had given Moses. But that's sort of a dangerous government, when everybody is doing what's right in his own eyes. Finally, under the last judge, and they got into a lot of trouble during that time, the people had become frustrated with their king, and they wanted another king. I Samuel 8:5, the people came to Samuel the prophet. “They said, Make us a king to judge us, like all the nations.” We want to be like the other nations. God had wanted to be their king. But they had drifted too far from that ideal and now they needed to find some other way. They said, “Well, give us a king like the other nations.” I Samuel 8:7, “And the Lord said to Samuel, head the voice of the people and all they say to you. For they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me.” See, the land wasn't really run by the judges.

It was supposed to be run by the Lord. And so, finally, they said, “We don't want to be run by the Lord. We want a government we can see. We want leaders that we can go to and we're sure that they're listening. Make us a king. We want someone to lead us into battle.” It used to make them nervous when they went into battle with trumpets, marching around walls, and shouting. They wondered what's going to happen. So kind of theocracy leadership made them nervous. They wanted a more carnal leadership they could see. “Make us a king like the other governments.” So the purpose of this government was, for one thing, protection, to execute judgment. They needed an army. They needed magistrates and police and things to maintain the laws. And it was basically to implement the laws of the land. Now if you have your Bibles, turn with me to Romans. Paul addresses this in some detail here. Romans 13:1, well, you know I could even start with Romans 12:18. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” I'm talking about Romans 12:18. Verse 19, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves,” renumber, they had the avenger blood. He’s saying God will take care of that. And he has an instrument in the government to take care of breaking of laws or inappropriate treatment. “Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine, and I will repay says the Lord.” And then he goes down to chapter 13:1, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.”

Christians should obey the laws of the land, as long as those laws do not violate a law of God. “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Generally speaking, Paul is saying that the authority that is given to government, God permits for maintenance in the world. Have you ever been to a country that did not have government, but anarchy was in control? It turns into a very bloodthirsty, survival of the fittest mentality, and whoever has the power rules. Whoever has the guns or the weapons, they're the ones in control. When Alexander the great died, he died from a fever. Some think it was from drinking, or malaria, or a combination of two. In one of his lucid spells his wife Roxanne asked him, “Who will rule in your place?” And he said, “The strongest.” Because their son was still too young. And that's exactly what happened. Generals all began to fight amongst themselves and there was anarchy for years and the kingdom was split into four parts. So without authority appointed by God there’s anarchy. Karen and I just went to New Guinea.

They are still going through an evolution of government there. And a lot of lovely people there, but there's also a lot of crime. And some of you heard our little talk, we gave during prayer meeting. Everywhere we went they had police cars in front of us and behind us because they were concerned for our safety. They don't have a booming tourist industry even though it's a beautiful country because of the safety issues. Our hotel had barbed wire all around it and security guards that went around with bows and arrows. It's kind of disconcerting when you see somebody dressed up in a uniform with a bow and arrow. And one of the security guards there said that he had already killed two of what they call rascals. They're sort of the criminal element in the country. They call them rascals. That had come over the walls. And they don't ask any questions. You cross the wall and you get killed, there will be no trial. There's no investigation. That's it. It's kind of brutal. We went to the University. They had razor wire all around the University, and electric fence, because they had had so many problems. And we heard stories; a couple of the students or professors got accosted by some of the criminal element. And if they're not killed, sometimes they're beaten, robbed, of course. And there are serious problems.

Times like that, you know, if you're driving too fast and you see a policeman you're not happy are you? But if you're in an environment like that you get. I've gotten lost before, wrong part. I remember I was in Houston one day and trying to find my hotel. I took a wrong turn and I ended up getting off the freeway and I was going through a bad part of town. Problem was there weren't stoplights, it was a stop sign. And every street I had to stop and there's all these drug, seedy people on the corner. And they're kind of looking in my windows like, “What are you doing here? We can tell you're lost.” I know that's what they were thinking. And then a police car behind me. I felt so much better. It's a whole different thing. And so, you’d be surprised, you'd be thankful for the government authorities when you want protection from anarchy, or danger. Times like that we're glad that there are laws. “For there's no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, who resists the authority,” whoever resists the authority, “resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Now there are varying degrees of laws, and varying degrees of punishment. If you break the speeding law, you'll get a speeding ticket.

You just need to be prepared to pay the penalty. And if you want to break a more serious law, tax fraud, you could go to prison. Larceny, you could go to jail. There's different kinds of laws and different penalties for what those laws are. “They'll bring judgment on themselves, for rulers are not a terror to those who work good, but to evil.” He's speaking in general terms. We all know that there have been some evil rulers, but generally speaking laws are there to protect law-abiding citizens. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? “Do what is good and you’ll have praise of the same.” If you’re driving the speed limit you don’t sweat when you see the Highway Patrolman, do you? It’s when you’re always speeding that you see the Highway Patrolman. And some of you, you’ll be at a stop light, you see the Highway Patrolman, you hit for your brakes anyway.

It’s instinctive, right foot off the gas and hit the brakes. Don’t ask me how I know about these emotions. “For he is God’s minister to you for good, but if you do evil be afraid,” notice this, “He does not bear the sword,” they didn’t have guns back then, they used the sword. That was their billyclub. “He does not bear the sword in vain, for he is God’s minister, an avenger, to execute wrath on those who practice evil.” And so one of the primary purposes of government was to enforce civil behavior. Meaning orderly behavior so that the community can function and there could be some safety, for people to operate. I’ll tell you, it’s no fun at all when you live in. I was in Johannesburg, Africa. They have carjackings every day, unless things have improved since I was there. Downtown Johannesburg, it’s just really scary. The prisons are just overflowing. That government, since apartheid, has gone through; they've got new freedoms, but they've also got serious problems now. When I drove around the outskirts, the suburbs, so many of the homes not only have, all the homes have fences, maybe wire razor or glass, alarm systems. If you want to be in a business that makes money there around Johannesburg, be in the alarm business. Many of the homes have personal security guards 24-hours a day.

Some people, just as their electric gate opened and they drove in, people followed them in and robbed them. So they've got their guards. Just rampant crime. And times like that you're thankful that you've got an element of security and you can walk the streets. And granted we do have crime, and granted there are some parts of town that are safer than other parts of town in every city, but you're thankful for an element of stability. When you travel to some of these countries and see what people put up with when there's virtual anarchy the government. And that often comes from corruption in government. “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath,” not only because you might get in trouble, but also because of what God thinks. Are you going to break the law just because the government won't catch you? But what about God? And that's what He’s saying. “For because of this you pay taxes. For they are God’s ministers, attending continually to this very thing.”

We need to subsidize that stability in government and that’s why you’ve got a military, and that’s why you’ve got police and these various organizations that serve the community, and that’s why we’re taxed. And then He says something that always makes us a little nauseated, “Render therefore to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due,” and let’s talk about taxes next, “custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor is due.” Nobody enjoys paying their taxes, do they? Anyone here enjoy paying their taxes? Oh, guess what? It’s almost April 15. We get to pay our taxes. No, but you know what the alternative is. You think about all that we have because of taxes. I tell you, I’ve lived in some countries of the world, I complain about the taxes in California, but you know what? You don’t want to drive in some of these other countries. The roads are absolutely falling apart. It tears your vehicle to pieces. But as much trouble as they have, I know they’re always under construction, but California’s got pretty good highways.

Matter of fact, take it from me, our highways are better than back East. Middle of the night, Maryland, some little town. I'll come to a red light. There's nobody on the streets. I've got to wait five minutes for the lights to cycle through their whole system because they're not computerized, where, you know California’s computerized. It feels your car’s weight. Did you know that? That's expensive, but I'm sure glad because I'm impatient. You've got to pay for that stuff. And you know, there's just a lot of services. There’s something that is a law of life you just need to accept. Any organization, the bigger it gets, the more it eats, and there's a waste. You just factor in that there is going to be waste. There is going to be some corruption. Where there's money and where there's power you can just say there's going to be corruption. That's why there's no money and have been. We're going to walk on gold there. There's no corruption there either. And so, in this world, you know, in government you've got power in politics there's going to be corruption.

There's influence there, there’s going to be corruption. There's money there, there's going to be corruption. But you know what the alternative is? Anarchy. You could have a dictatorship. And you know, that may be coming according to the prophecy. We might have time to talk about that tonight. “Render therefore, to all their due. Taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear is due. Owe no one anything except to love one another. He who loves is fulfilling the law.” And in the Bible it talks about tax, you go all the way back. Jesus, of course, Matthew 22:21, “Render therefore to Caesar things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's .” Some of us are more fateful paying our taxes than we are returning our tithes. Because we figure we might have to deal with Uncle Sam, but we don't think we're going to have to deal with God.

That's something to consider. In Genesis 47, was Joseph a good man or a bad man? A good man, Spirit filled. Just like Christ in many ways. Here's what Joseph said, during the time of famine, “It will come to pass that in the harvest you will give one-fifth to Pharaoh.” 20% tax, “four-fifths will be your own as seed for the field and your food, for those of your household and for your little ones. So they said, “You’ve saved our lives. Let us find favor in your sight. We will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt that Pharaoh should have one-fifth. Except for the land of the priests.” See, there was even a provision back then for pastoral exemption. And you know, that goes all the way back. I’m very serious. The Levites had an exemption. Here it said the priests in Egypt had an exemption. You know, churches used to have certain tax exemptions. There’s reasons for that. I don’t have time to go into it. Entities that are supposed to be public service, that are not making profit from the public, they’re exempt from the taxes, and that would encourage it.

That makes sense when you think it through. While you’re thinking about the corruption in the government, let me tell you what the wisest man who ever lived said. Solomon, he believed in taxes. You know what happened when Solomon died? The people came to his son and said, “You know, the kingdom has never been more powerful than it is right now.” Think about this. The time of Solomon was the wealthiest, most prosperous time, but at the same time, as soon as Solomon was gone the people came to his son and said, “Man, did he tax us.” The taxes were the worst during the time of Solomon. Now listen to what Solomon says about that. Ecclesiastes 5:8-9, “If you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful, and justice being miscarried throughout the land, don’t be surprised.” Now this is, I think, from the New Living version. I don’t often use that, but it sounds good here. “For every official is under orders from those higher up, and matters of justice only get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Even the king milks the land for his own profit,” and it’s written by a king.

In other words, you’re going to see injustice. You’re going to see over taxing. You’re going to see red tape and bureaucracy. Don’t let it bother you. That’s what happens whenever you’ve got a large government. Now what is our responsibility for these things? Well, we’ve already talked about it. As Christians, we’re to obey the laws of the land. We need to pay our taxes. Hey, while I’m on that, nothing wrong with taking advantage of every legal benefit that you can have when you’re paying your taxes. But when you’re deliberately lying, the Bible’s clear enough on bearing false witness and on lying. And if you think, “But, oh it’s too much,” you do what was right and see if God doesn’t bless you for your honesty. You never get ahead through dishonesty, even if you think, “Well, it’s only the government I’m cheating.” God wants us to be faithful, even in those little things. What is our responsibility as citizens in a government? There’s a delicate balance for Christians. For one thing, we are in some respects we have dual citizenship. You know it is possible.

Some people are born in one country, you have automatic citizenship, but their parents are citizens of another and they move back home. Happens with missionary kids all the time. I remember Noah, maybe Seth, Boatwright. Dave and Cindy, they were born in Honduras, they’ve got dual citizenship. A lot of people have that. You have dual citizenship, if you're an American, or wherever you're from, in that as a Christian you're a citizen of heaven, primarily a member of that kingdom, an ambassador, but you are also a citizen of the US and you must obey the laws of this earthly government. We have a responsibility. And one of those is to pray for the leadership. Let me read these to you. Jeremiah 29:7, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive.” We're captives in a foreign land here. “And pray to the Lord for it. For in its peace, you will have peace.”

It is to your advantage that you pray for the country and you pray for the leaders. Do you do that? That doesn't mean whether or not they are of your particular political party. And there have been administrations over the course of my short life that have been harder to pray for it than others, but I prayed for them anyway. And in praying for them, Jeremiah says you're praying for your own peace. And praying that God will give them wisdom and leadership, you're praying for yourself. I Timothy 2:2, “Pray for kings and all who are in authority, that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” You know, another reason we should pray for those in leadership. They're making decisions that affect not only your peace, but your ability to communicate the gospel. Which is going to lead me into my next important point. In your praying for them and in your voting it'll affect your freedom to not only practice your convictions, but to share them. That's why we've got to understand something about the science of the government we live in.

Now during this time it's probably a good idea for us to ask this question. Should a Christian vote? You're shocked probably that I'm even asking that. It would seem the answer is obvious. You'd be surprised the discussion over this subject. Many pastors and religions have taught their people that Christians, and there are whole denominations I won’t name, that teach that Christians should have nothing to do with voting. And some of their logic is, you might vote somebody into office that will make a bad decision and then you become responsible for their bad decision. If you take that kind of thinking to its ultimate conclusion you're going to go crazy. Let me tell you why. You aren't responsible for everything everybody does. For instance, when you buy your food at the local supermarket, whether it's Raley's or Safeway or if you live back East, Piggly Wiggly. I like just saying that. Some of you have been back East. You know they've got a big chain back there, or Kroger. No matter where you buy, they've almost all sell cigarettes and alcohol, don't they? And pork chops.

Well, when you buy your brusselsprouts at that market, are you supporting their alcohol and tobacco sales? You start thinking like that you're going to go crazy. I'll tell you a little later, some of the criteria for making good choices in voting, but your alternative is to not use the Christian influence, the influence for good. And the alternative is, eventually you'll have people that don't have those values in power telling Christians how they ought to live. Now we've already seen some of the backlash of that. I thought it was interesting. I found a survey, voting habits in Chicago 20 years ago. That's actually closer now to 30 years ago. 99% of bar owners voted, 97.5% of gamblers and their employees voted, 29% of Protestants voted, a higher percentage of Catholics (I don't have that), 17% of Protestant ministers voted, 16% of housewives voted. And then what happened during that time is there was a great influx of corruption that came into government. To give you a few quotes from The Spirit of Prophecy, if you don't mind. This is from Biological Sketches, 160, “Shall we vote for prohibition?” she asked. “Yes, to a man everywhere,” she replied. One of the big issues during the days of Ellen White was prohibition and alcohol. And she said everybody should vote because alcohol was just causing such havoc.

In a discussion, she writes a letter to a friend, and this is in Second Selected Messages, 337. James White and Brother Jane [?] Andrews were discussing whether or not Christians should vote and said, “I think it's right that we vote in favor of temperance, men being, temperance men being an office in our city. Instead, of by their silence, running the risk of having intemperant men put into office.” And then here’s pamphlet 0938. “Many deplore the wrongs which they know to exist, but they consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. Every individual exerts an influence in society. In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and vote be on the side of temperance and virtue?” In other words, by our voting we are voting morals, for virtue, for temperance. Now having said that, another question, someone might ask is, “Is there anything wrong with a Christian entering politics?” Now, do you know the word politics comes from two Latin words? The first word, poli, means many. The second, tics, means bloodsucking creatures. Isn't that right?

Well, should a Christian enter politics? You know, I've been thinking about this. Obviously God has had many of His people in the Bible in politics. I mean, David and Solomon, and many of these godly kings were very much in politics. You have of course, Joseph, Prime Minister, in politics. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, Abednigo in politics. You've got Nehemiah in politics. You've got Mordechai and Esther in politics. But let me tell you something, I noticed. And you can come to me later and tell me, I'm sure that there's an exception I’m missing. Most of those that I've just named, if not all, did not pursue it. They were thrust into it. I think that if a person's ambition is for personal glory, don't get into politics. If you want power, don't get into politics. You'll find that those who are involved in service sometimes find themselves thrust into politics. And that was the case in the Bible. You find Moses tending Jethro's sheep, and Amos was taking care of figs, and David was taking care of sheep.

They were all involved in some aspect of service and somehow, by God’s providence, they found themselves in politics. They didn’t go looking for it. People who are looking for glory and power that can be connected with high political office, that’s the wrong motive. It really must be to serve. The other thing you need to consider is, you need to make sure your personal roots are very deeply embedded in the rock, that you are anchored in your convictions, because I don’t know if there is any line of work that will more test your mettle than you get involved in the corruption that often surrounds politics. Because there’s power and because there’s money, there is corruption. You know, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And so, you’ll be surrounded by people who are wanting to use favors and, you know, all kinds of special interests and gifts and silver tongue smiles to try to influence and manipulate and threats. The pressure of people in politics that do end up having some position and influence, the pressures on their integrity are incredible. And that’s why you need to pray for these people, not just pray for your own benefit. Pray because the pressures there are very great. Should a Christian enter politics?

You make sure that the Lord is calling you. You make sure that you’re rooted. And here’s one more thought. I don’t suggest you do it from get go. I, like I said, those in politics in the Bible that did the greatest did something else first. David understood taking care of sheep, as did Moses, as did Joseph. Nehemiah was a butler. I mean, the politicians who I think are often the most successful understand how real people live and work. And don’t go from high school into politics. Find out what real life is like because politics is not real life. Get involved in real life and then serve. And then maybe from the business world or from some other, you know, field of service or labor, then you might find yourself in it. And it might be coming from acting or the business world or even from law. A number of politicians came from law and some of them very good, you know, like Jefferson and some of those others. Some of them not so good. But in any event, I’ve got to be very careful not to be too specific. Isn’t that right? Separation of church and state. How many of you have heard that phrase?

Separation of church and state. There’s a wall of separation between church and state. This is the most misunderstood phrase, probably, in our government jargon. What does that mean? First of all, I think that most of you know, the phrase separation of church and state does not appear in any official government document, Constitution, Amendment. And yet it’s often cited. I remember I went to do an evangelistic meeting in a public high school. Wanted to rent their auditorium. And I was surprised when they came back and they said, “We can’t allow it.” I said, “Why? Nothing is ever happened in there.” They said, “Well, because of separation of church and state.” I said, “What?” “Well, because you're a religious organization, we can't rent you the public high school.” Of course, I investigated because I had done it several places and there's no such law. But it was a myth that even the principal of the school thought. That it would somehow be a violation of separation of church and state if they rent the church, the high school.

Of course, you know that that's absurd because you can find, there are high schools that rent out to churches every Sunday for their services all over town. You've probably heard recently, kids that get sent home from school because they have a T-shirt with a cross on it, or some Christian slogan. The phrase separation of church and state actually was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was a believer in God, but a deist. You need to understand that a deist is not an atheist. They believe in God, they believe in the Almighty and the Sovereign, but they think God is sort of ruling in an absentee mode. It's an interesting belief. There's a letter that Jefferson wrote to a church committee of Danbury Baptists. The reason for the letter is because the Baptists were concerned that the government officials, there were several in the government leadership that were Congregationalists. That was a large denomination. They were concerned that the government leaders were going to enforce their denominational preference on the people. And America's infancy, the new government, was going to become a Congregationalist government. And so they wrote this letter to Jefferson, and it was also having to do with his proclaiming a day of prayer as the other presidents have done and they were worried.

He wrote back to reassure them that the government was not going to become a denomination. Remember, England, they all come from England, most of them. And while back in England it was the Church of England. And for a while, when the king was Catholic they burned down. I was talking to Doug Lovell and he was reminding me that back in England, their history is very convoluted, when they had a Catholic King they burned down all the Protestant churches, and when they'd get a Protestant king or queen they'd burn down all the Catholic churches. And that's why they're so secular today. And yet in England they still have legally religion mixed in their politics. “God save the Queen.” The Queen is the head of the church. But you know what, they're almost an atheistic country now. The churches are all closing because of that. And so, our government has preserved the interest of the people looking for God instead of being mandated by the government.

Now I've got to save time to make sure you understand the most important points in this. “To the president of the committee,” this is the committee of Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. This is the letter from Jefferson, “The affectionate sentiments and esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express toward me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents in proportion as they have persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.” One sentence. Now here's the sentence, it's another long one; it's a whole paragraph that is relevant. “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinionments [?].” The government cannot dictate your opinions, but we will respond to your actions. That's how government is supposed to operate. He was very wise in that. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that the act,” notice he speaks of sovereign reverence, “the act of the whole American people, which declares that their legislature should make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” Now notice what was in Jefferson's letter in, this is a footnote.

He didn't know whether or not to include it, but it is in his document. “Congress thus inhibited from acts of respecting religion, and the executive authorized only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed, legally where an executive is the legal head of a national church.” The context of the phrase, separation of church and state, was to prevent; the wall he's talking about was not a wall that was to prevent the church from influencing the people. It was a wall to prevent the state from making a national denomination or church. The wall ran one way. It wasn't a two-way wall. They never meant that the people were not to have freedom to speak their religion and to share its tenets. Because there is a day coming when we know that a beast power is going to create religious laws and tell people how to worship, some swing the pendulum too far the other way and assume what that means is, we are supposed to be against any kind of religion or morals in government. I'm going to go on to the next point here and it should give me an opportunity to explain this. Politics and religion. In that grand document that our forefathers set forth, in the Bill of Rights, they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Where do these rights come from? All the rights in the Bill of Rights come from, “we are endowed by our creator.” The idea of separation of church and state was to keep the state out of our church. And you know what's happening? The opposite is happening. We are being told to keep any kind of religious moral influence out of government, but the state is getting more and more into the church. The very thing they wanted to avoid is the very thing that is happening right now. For instance, you know, in the Pledge of Allegiance, where some people went campaigning to take the word “under God” out of the pledge. Well, because we believe in the separation of church and state does not mean that this country wanted to delete the recognition of a divine being from government. Think about that. Why do they pray at the opening of Congress? Why does the president put his hand on a Bible? Talk about separation of church and state. They'll do it again, no matter who gets elected. Why? Why do we have “In God we trust” stamped on our currency? If our founding fathers intended that all recognition of a divine being be deleted from our government, then why was that just woven through the warp and woof [?] of everything in the foundation language? That was not their intention.

In many respects, it was their intention that we should be a godly nation. Our country was founded; initially, you know, when the founding fathers landed here, America was the first communist country. Did you know that? Yeah, the Pilgrims tried to establish a communal living. And it basically was a church state. And everybody was forced to be at church on Sunday. They had Sunday laws, that are still on the books, but that's where they came from. Some of the founding fathers back in the very beginning. And if you weren’t, they were dictating what you should believe. And everybody had a common garden. And you know, within the first couple of years, they almost all starved to death because nobody wanted to work in everybody’s garden. That's what communism is. When nobody had ownership of anything nobody worked, and they almost starved to death. I think, one half of them died in the first two years. Well, gradually, and they began to persecute one of their leaders by the name of Roger Williams, who said, “We are a new country. We don’t want to make the same mistakes we just fled from back in Europe. Let everybody believe what they want. The purpose of the government is to protect the people from crime and to support the police, the magistrates, the army, the judges, so forth. So we're not to tell people what to believe. They gave Roger Williams such a hard time; he had to flee for his life. He lived in the woods for weeks and prayed and slept in logs. The Indians saved him and fed him. And he lived with them for some time.

He eventually ended up in Providence, Rhode Island. That's where it got its name. And he was really the founder of the concept of the separation of church and state. Now let me tell you what Roger Williams did. It was genius that we've forgotten. Our founding fathers knew this. He said, we have Ten Commandments. God put the Ten Commandments on how many tables of stone? Two. Why? Because He cut the first stone too small, He needed one more? Couldn't God have cut a bigger stone and put all 10 on one stone? Why did He use two stones? Because the laws were different. On the first stone were the first four commandments that deal with your personal relationship with God. It is a personal thing. It tells you who He is, what His name is how to reverence His name, when to worship Him, how to worship Him. That's the first stone. That is very personal. A government must never get involved in telling people how to keep the first four commandments. But Roger Williams understood that if the government did not recognize and endorse the last six commandments you had anarchy. Think about it. What happens if the government doesn't respect a parent's right to raise their children, and parental authority? Then you have anarchy. That's right. Or you've got it where the government raises your kids for you. Does that sound familiar? “It takes a village to raise a family.” That's not a village; it takes parents to raise a family, right? Now we're starting to shift away from them. Used to be, you were not even allowed to teach your children.

They had to be in public education. Were starting to shift away from that. Got a phone call the other day. Karen and I are home schooling and San Juan School District was calling and I was afraid to take the call. And they said, “No, we're just sending their records.” And I said, she said, “Where are they going to school?” And I couldn't lie. I said, “We're home schooling.” She said, “Oh, that's fine, we'll send you the records.” I said, “Whew.” I remember a day when that wasn't treated that way. You were treated like some kind of extremist, fanatic, if you home schooled. The commandment that says, “don’t kill.” Is that a good civil commandment? I mean, what happens to your government, if you don't keep that one? The commandment that says, “don’t steal.” Doesn't the government have to respect the honoring of property? If someone can just take your property, because they're bigger than you. That's what happened in the book of Judges. The tribe of Dan went through and took Micah’s stuff, because they wanted it. What happens if you don't respect the law that says, “don't commit adultery”?

Well, then what you have is the disintegration of the marriage institution. And the reason that the government is involved in the marriage institution is for the protection of children and that commitment. Same-sex marriage, and you know why they're making a big deal about adopting children? Because they realize that without children there's no reason to call it marriage. And that's why gays are clamoring to adopt children. I think that's a very tragic thing, personally. When people who are outwardly admitting to be gay, two homosexual men or two lesbian women, are adopting children, in my opinion, they're going to be raised in a very convoluted, bizarre environment. And it's a sick society that's afraid to say that out loud. And that's where we're getting at. “Thou shall not covet.” Well, you know why our medical costs are so high? Because of the rampant deep pockets suits and someone gets bumped from behind in their car and they decide to claim that their neck is almost broken, even though they're really doing fine, so they can sue for thousands of dollars.

Everybody's suing everybody for everything. And it’s covetousness and greed. Well, the law needs to respect “thou shalt not covet.” And this kind of greed, you wouldn't have so many of these problems and high expenses in the medical field with drugs and treatment if it wasn't for people not respecting the idea, covetousness. Those last six commandments, no government can survive that doesn't embrace those. But you watch out if the government starts telling you to obey the first four. Because that's what happened in Daniel 2, sorry Daniel 3, bow down and worship the image. They said, “We can't do that. That's personal.” Or Daniel 6, worshiping another God. It's in the first four commandments we need to worry. That ought to tell you something, the beast power and the last days, he's going to do something with the first four commandments, isn't he? But the government has to obey the last six, and they need to teach it. That's why when they had this whole thing and, where was it, Alabama about the Ten Commandments in the courthouse. First of all, I have no problem with that.

I remember going to public school when we had the Ten Commandments on the wall. You know that they've taken that down, 1963. I was in school back then, when they made the law about prayer in school. And I vaguely remember this little prayer that we used to say. And some schools I went to, public school, they said the Lord's Prayer. Any of you remember that? I see a few hands. That's not allowed now. I do think you get problems with saying, what religion in school. Now I'm almost out of time and I want to tell you who to vote for. Do you understand better about the separation of church and state and what some of these issues are that are becoming confusing? Let me tell you who to vote for. Exodus 18:21, Moses tells us the voting criteria. “Moreover, you shall select from all the people, able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place them to be rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and of tens.” He said, when you're looking for people to lead and administrate, here's the criteria. First of all, you notice, he said, “from the people.”

That's why I said before, someone who goes into politics, they'd better know what the people live like. And I tell anybody who wants go into ministry, go do mission work. Find out what it's really like out there. Before you sit behind a desk and just preach at people in a comfortable church. Go out and do mission work first. You'll be a lot better pastor or evangelist if you live out where the rubber meets the road. Or, if you're going to get into public office then work with the public as a regular citizen for a while. It said, “choose them from among the people.” Another criteria that he gives here, they need to demonstrate leadership, that they can administrate, that they are capable people, and that they have good judgment. Select capable men. Point number three, they need to understand that they are under authority to God. It says, “who fear God.” They need to respect the authority of God and the authority of others. Point number four, they have to have personal integrity, “trustworthy men.” They need to say something and follow through. They need to have, integrity, is the word I'm looking for.

Point number five, not influenced by bribes or special interests. You notice it says, “hating dishonest gain.” Boy that’s something, there's a lot of pressure for those who are in politics to be getting special bribes or privileges or favors or special interests. They need to know how to turn their back on those things that end up being bribery that will blind their vision and their judgment. Now, the Bible tells us that between now and whenever the last government comes, we need to pray that God will guide us in our choice of leaders. I can tell you something about the last earthly government. That last election's going to really be bad. Revelation 13:15, someone's going to come into power, “who's going to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and compel,” or cause, “as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Ultimately, there is going to be a religious power in the world that will be compelling people, it'll have political backing, how to worship. Now think about this friends, as we close.

Because you and I know, and Christians know, that someday there's going to be somebody in politics, who is going to somehow become involved in compelling people to worship the wrong way. We, in our denomination, have often voted for the most irreligious candidate thinking we were buying ourselves time. That's true. I remember back when Kennedy was running. Everybody said, “He's Catholic. He's going to cause the mark of the beast.” And then Carter came along. He had the audacity to say he was a born-again Christian and would not let them drink in the White House. I respect him for that. That's why he only went one term, no alcohol in the White House. And then after Carter, every politician from both parties said that they were born-again because they saw that it got him into office. Of course that gave Christianity a bad name. All those politicians claimed to be born-again.

It's almost like we thought, “Oh, we can't vote for him. He's religious. He probably is in cahoots with the beast.” But you know what the alternative is, you vote for those who have no religion. And so you've got to be careful not to think that way. And the other idea. When you're making intelligent decisions about voting, understand what the issues are. Don't read the headlines. You can go to the various parties and find out what is their platform, what are their positions, where do they stand, what are they voting for on the different issues, and be intelligent. I worry because typically Americans are so susceptible to the media. I mean, we're so easily manipulated by a few images and things that we're manipulated instead of really thinking about what the issues are. I recommend you do that and so you can be intelligent about it. But are we responsible for everything they do? You're responsible for what you vote for. If you know what the ingredients are and then you eat it you’re responsible. See what I'm saying?

Because you know, there are certain things you may not agree with, but you have to vote for the big principles that you agree with. And finally, you are involved in the last election. I talked about the last earthly election, but that's not the last election. There's another election. The Devil’s voting against you, and Jesus is voting for you and you have the tie-breaking vote. You'd better use your voting power. You need to make a decision to accept Jesus. God is ultimately the King. The Bible says in I Timothy 6:15, “Which He will manifest in His own time. He is the blessed and the only potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.” Daniel 7:14, “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, that which will not pass away, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” Now, if you want to be a citizen in that kingdom, in that government, that begins now. Did you know that?

The kingdom of heaven is at hand. We now have Jesus reining in our hearts. Romans, 6:12, “Do not let sin rein in your mortal body, that you should obey it.” Paul says in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know, to whom you present your selves slaves to obey, you are the slaves to the one who you obey.” In other words, you have a choice who you will obey. Vote for God. “You are the slaves of the one you obey, whether sin to death, or obedience to righteousness.” And first and foremost, we are a citizen of that country and a servant of that King. But in the meantime, while we're here, we need to pray God will give us wisdom to be good citizens, that we can practice our convictions, and vote in a way that we can share them with others. Amen? But in order to do that. We need to first make sure He's on the throne of our hearts. So why don’t you turn and we’ll sing our closing hymn, King of My life, I crown Thee Now.

[verse]

You know, on Alexander Graham Bell's tombstone, he wasn't born in America. You know what he wanted put on his tombstone? “Alexander Graham Bell, died United States’ citizen.” He was so proud of that, that he could die a citizen of the US. All the accomplishments and all the inventions, that's what he instructed he wanted put on his tombstone. You know, one of the most important things that you and I could say is a citizen of God's kingdom. In the meantime, we want to be good citizens of this kingdom. And we want to do all we can to cooperate, as long as it never violates our responsibility first to God, to obey the laws of the land, to pray for those in leadership, to do what we can to support good leadership. Amen? I believe you should vote. And then most of all, make sure that our names are registered as citizens of that kingdom. Is that your prayer, friends? Be faithful.

Father in heaven, we are thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, where each one at this time it's able to believe and follow the dictates of our conscience as we are convicted by your word. I pray Lord, that you'll give us that supernatural wisdom that is needed to maintain a balance and understand these important principles, in light of your word, so that we can have morals without compelling people to go against their conscience. Lord, I pray that you'll give us wisdom to be good citizens and especially citizens of your kingdom. Bless each person here so that we can know that our names are written there and that we are among the elect. These things, we asking Jesus name, amen.

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The God of Peace by Doug Batchelor

The God of Peace by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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