While we do not normally discuss politics during our time together, Ecclesiastes 8:2&4 says “Keep the king’s command because of your oath made before God…For the king’s word is authoritative, and who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’” In Ecclesiastes 8, Solomon continues to discuss the vanity of this world and our need for a right relationship with God. An important aspect of our right relationship with God is to recognize His assigned authorities for us while on this planet. In this sermon, we will not discuss every authority, but will focus on these: God’s ultimate authority, His spiritual authority delegated to the Church, and His Civil authority delegated to the Civil Government (e.g., the State).
God’s Ultimate Authority
God’s authority is ultimate. The Lord said through the Prophet Isaiah “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; There is no God but Me” (Is 45:5). We submit to God’s rule and reign and we commit ourselves to seeing His kingdom come and His will be done! God is the ultimate authority because He created the universe. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He created mankind to have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26) to keep it and care for it. Adam and Eve rebelled and sinned against God and brought a curse upon the earth (Genesis 3) bringing the world into futility (Rom 8:20). Psalm 2:8 records a conversation between God the Father and God the Son: “Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.” Psalm 110:1-2 echoes this: “This is the declaration of the Lord to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The Lord will extend Your mighty scepter from Zion.”
Hebrews 1:8 (quoting Psalm 45:6) makes this clear that Jesus Christ is the One to whom authority is bestowed: “But to the Son: ‘Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.” In Daniel 2:44, Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a statute. He told the King: “In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.” Jesus said in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” God has ultimate authority and Jesus is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16).
God’s Spiritual Authority (Church)
God has complete authority over all spiritual matters and He grants authority to the Church to be ambassadors for Christ appealing to everyone to be reconciled to God through the Gospel. There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus (Acts 4:12). For all people, especially Christians, the Church is one of God’s assigned authorities in your life. Men and women should be regularly added to the Church as they are called to surrender to God’s authority over their lives. The Church has a message of redemption. The Church marches into war, not with the weapons of this world (Eph 6:12), but with spiritual weapons “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” God has provided the Church to be His authority on the earth over spiritual matters and to call people to submission and faith.
What is the Church? The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says it well: “A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord.”
Warning to Churches. There is no authority except from God and those that exist are instituted by God (Rom 13:1). The only authority the Church carries is that which comes to it from God. Churches cannot make any commands that are in violation or contradiction with Scripture. Christians are under no compulsion to obey/submit to Churches that are making commands and/or rules that are in violation of Scripture.
God’s Civil Authority (Government)
God has complete authority over all civil matters and He grants authority to Civil Governments to be a terror to evil and to be God’s minister to bear the sword and execute wrath on him who practices sin (see Romans 13:1-7). Rulers must not be a terror to good works but should praise those who do good works. In order to carry this out faithfully, governments cannot arbitrarily determine what they believe is good and evil. Being God’s minister, Governments should be based upon Judeo-Christian values as outlined in Scripture.
Ideally, the government should be filled with Christians who seek to “punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good” (1 Peter 2:14) with the standard for evil and good being the Bible. This does not mean that we need a Baptist government or one that compels religious belief by the sword, but a government that recognizes Jesus is Lord. A government that will call good what God has called good and will call evil what God has called evil and levy the appropriate penalties. If you think that last sentence goes too far, consider what the Lord said in Isaiah 5:20-21, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” John MacArthur said, “When God utters Woe against evil men He sets divine judgment in motion.” How should a Christian interact with the Civil Government? Once again we turn to the BFM 2000: “Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.Warning to Civil Governments. There is no authority except from God and those that exist are instituted by God (Rom 13:1). The only authority the Civil Governments carry is that which comes to it from God. Civil Governments must not make any commands and/or laws that are in violation or contradiction with Scripture. Christians are under no compulsion to submit to laws that are in violation of Scripture or violate one’s conscience. Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”