In Paul's second letter to Timothy he writes, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17) My prayer for this ministry is that by rightly dividing the Scriptures, I might be able to facilitate all those aspects of the Scriptures to the benefit of all those who visit this website.


The mission of this ministry is to be consistent with Jesus' original command to his disciples: "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" Matthew 28:18-20

Personal Disclosure

I am a fellow traveler who doesn't have all the answers and still makes many mistakes. However, I am desperately in love with Jesus Christ, the one and only King of kings, and I am so amazed that he knows exactly who I am and yet still died on the cross for me, then rose from the dead and called me to be His follower!

God's Message To You

"Dear Child,

I wanted you to know just how much I loved you so I sent my only Son, Jesus, to tell you and show you. If you make the decision to believe in Him, then you and I will be able to spend eternity together! I Love You!" (John 3:16 paraphrase)


“Here there is no unanchored liberalism—freedom to think without commitment.

Here there is no encrusted dogmatism—commitment without freedom to think.

Here is vibrant evangelicalism—freedom to think within the bounds laid down by Scripture.”

Dr. Vernon Grounds

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Does God's Truth Matter?

(Audio version; Music--"What Faith Can Do" by: Kutless and "Take This City" by: Everfound)


Just when you think the behavior of our culture can’t sink any lower, some new insanity is introduced that drags the culture down to new depths. The latest foolishness in a long list of mind-numbing foolishness is the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement seeks to advance the notion that the rights and desires of black people, including black criminals, supersedes the rights and desires of any other people group—no matter what. While the ire of the group targets white people in general, they have focused the majority of their vitriol toward white law enforcement officers because officers simply will not allow criminals, of any color, to be criminals. However, the movement isn’t satisfied to simply verbalize their obvious disdain for police officers who investigate and detain criminals, they have advocated the murder of white police officers. And, unfortunately, they have succeeded in doing that in many communities across America. So our culture is racing toward a new low that seeks to elevate a race of people, including criminals within that race, over the governance of an orderly society. But what if the governance of an orderly society is precisely God’s purpose behind all governments? What is the truth behind God’s role in government and our relationship to that government? Do black lives matter? The answer is obviously, yes! But the real question that needs to be answered is, Does God’s Truth Matter?

            A little more than a year ago, a young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri stole some things from a convenience store and assaulted the store’s owner. He and his friend then left the convenience store and arrogantly walked down the middle of the street where they were confronted by a police officer who asked them to move to the sidewalk. At the time of this initial contact, the police officer had no idea that Brown had just robbed a store and assaulted the owner. But it didn’t matter because Brown not only refused to comply with the officer’s request but assaulted the police officer who in turn shot and killed Brown. The police officer was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing but that didn’t matter to the crowds of people in Ferguson who embraced the opportunity to revolt against the local government. The people spent days looting and destroying their own city all because they believed Brown was wrongfully killed by an over-zealous police force. The events of that evening and the riotous days that followed gave birth to a movement called Black Lives Matter. Since it’s inception, it has advocated the killing of white police officers as retribution for some perceived injustice by law enforcement against blacks. Unfortunately, black criminals answered the clarion call of this movement and many white police officers around the United States have been assassinated in cold blood. In response, people have tried to combat the Black Lives Matter movement with words by insisting that White Lives Matter; Police Lives Matter; All Lives Matter, but this movement cares little about real justice or God’s truth. Instead, its adherents are domestic terrorists who want to throw off the shackles of what they perceive to be an unjust and oppressive government. And their way of doing that is to kill innocent police officers because they dare to do their jobs of enforcing the laws that govern us to keep us safe and maintain an orderly society. I would like to suggest that there’s really only one way to solve the rift that has been created in our society by those who seem bent on creating anarchy in order to satisfy their own sinful desires—submit to the authority that has been placed over us.

If you’re in the mood for a fight in mixed company, bring up the subject of politics or social decay! Democrat, Republican, Independent, Occupy Wall Street, The Tea Party, Taxes, Homosexuality, Abortion, Racism, etc.—need I continue? Pick a topic and you can start a fight. Add to these things the political dynamics at home, school and/or work and we shouldn't be surprised that our lives are marked with conflict and strife. At its core, I submit that these conflicts are a struggle against authority. For example, the political party in the minority struggles against the political party in the majority because of the relative shift in the majority holder’s authority to make policy. At home, husbands and wives struggle to find a balance in who is the final authority in matters affecting their home and family. At school, students resist the authority of teachers and administrators because they feel rules are often arbitrary and infringe on their personal rights to do as they please. At work, labor resists the authority of management because labor believes management is lining their pockets using the sweat and blood of labor. If you’re still not convinced, let’s go back a few years when God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree in the Garden but from the tree in the middle of the Garden they were not allowed to eat. The first rebellion against the ultimate Authority served to lay the foundation for all subsequent rebellions to our present struggles with authority.

Being oppressed in some way by our own government is really nothing new. It’s certainly worse in some parts of the world than it is in others. Keep in mind though that we aren’t experiencing anything God didn’t generally warn us about when humanity first insisted on being ruled by a human king as opposed to God and his appointed prophets. When the Israelites insisted on having an earthly king rule over them, the prophet Samuel warned them that the king they insisted on having would eventually drive them to cry out to God for relief from that same king (1 Sam 8:10-18). Nevertheless, God granted their request but He did not relinquish His sovereignty over humanity. Instead, He accomplishes His sovereign will through human governments even if those governments appear to be evil in every way. It is therefore, the duty of humanity to submit our lives in obedience to those whom God has placed in authority over us. However, it seems clear that there are some within America who not only reject that authority but have set themselves up as their own authority in opposition to those whom God has placed in that position. Not surprisingly, death and mayhem have ensued. So how should we relate to those who are in authority over us?

Let me give you a hypothetical situation: You’re the founding pastor of a number of church plants. About 25 years ago, the founder of your movement was brutally murdered by government officials over some trumped up charges. Now, you find yourself under arrest by that same government and in jail for being too public with your preaching. While in jail, you’re given the opportunity to communicate with your congregations. Here’s your chance. What would you write? Maybe something like this:

“Dear brothers and sisters, as you know, I am writing to you from jail where I stand accused for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Haven’t I warned you that the end times will soon be upon us? Can there be any clearer indication that the end times have in fact arrived when our once great government would imprison its own citizens for preaching the gospel? Brothers and sisters, the time has come to lay aside your Bibles, take up arms and oppose this evil government! Certainly you can no longer be justified in paying taxes to support a government that oppresses its own citizens. It is time to revolt in the name of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who, as you know, fell victim to this very same evil government! Spread the word! #ChristianLivesMatter!”

Is that the kind of letter you would write, or is it a bit over-zealous for your liking? Then how about something like this:

Subject Text

Romans 13:1-7

1“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”


The letter to the Romans is often referred to as Paul’s greatest theological treatise. But Paul isn’t instructing them in some abstract concepts from an ivory tower somewhere untouched by the realities being faced by the Christians in Rome. Instead, he is giving them instruction on how they should conduct themselves in relation to believers and unbelievers alike but especially in relation to those in authority over them. Keep in mind, in addition to being Jewish, Paul was a Roman citizen! Paul wrote this particular letter while in Corinth preparing for his trip to Jerusalem. Does it seem like Paul is being a bit naïve or idealistic in his instructions? I mean, he’s not even in Rome at this point so how would he know what the people there are experiencing from the local government! Unlikely! I’m sure it didn’t escape his attention that Rome was the same government that crucified Jesus. Instead, he was reinforcing a Biblical truth about submission and respect for authority. That begs this question: Does God’s Truth Matter? Why should Christians submit to authority in general and civil governments more specifically? Let’s let Paul answer the question.

Text Analysis

1“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

            Paul’s imperative in v. 1 can be difficult to accept when we are under the rule of a government we perceive to be ungodly at best and downright evil at worst. No matter how many times you read our Subject Text, Paul does not qualify his imperative in v. 1 so we better make sure we know exactly what Paul is and is not saying. There is ample Biblical evidence to support his statement. For example, Daniel 2:21 says “He [God] sets up kings and deposes them.” Clearer still is the interchange between Pontius Pilate and Jesus in John 19:10-11; “‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realize that I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’” But even with ample Biblical support, v.1 is still a stumbling block for many when they consider governing authorities such as Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini. They insist that there has to be some exception to rule. But Paul makes no exceptions. Brutal regimes existed long before these evil men and yet God’s sovereignty and glory were always ultimately displayed for all to see. Pharaoh’s bitter enslavement of Israel and subsequent refusal to release them from their bondage inevitably led God to demonstrate his overwhelming saving power by emancipating Israel and destroying the Egyptian army. King Herod’s order to kill all the boys two years old or younger in Bethlehem and its surrounding regions in an attempt to kill Jesus only served to further fulfill the prophecies about Jesus as the coming Messiah. At times, Emperor Nero lined the streets of Rome with crucified Christians set on fire as street lights. Yet despite Nero’s best efforts to wipe out Christianity in the 1st century, he simply managed to drive the roots of the early Church’s faith even deeper. The logical mistake is to assume Paul’s statement means that all governments are intrinsically good. Instead, while government may be a servant of God, it often fills that role unwittingly and unwillingly. Ultimately though, God doesn’t ask you to consider whether or not governing authorities are worthy of submission but simply that we submit to them as His established servants to maintain an orderly society and advance the public good.

            “Christians, like everyone else, are to submit to the governing authorities. Allegiance to God does not negate responsibility to secular authority. In Paul’s day all those serving as public officials probably were unbelievers. That is to make no difference for the Christian because there is no authority apart from that which God has established. He alone is the sole source of authority, and it has pleased him to delegate authority to those in charge of the public well-being. Paul clearly stated that ‘the authorities that exist have been established by God.’…It is important to remember that government is God’s way of maintaining the public good and directing the affairs of the state.”[1]

2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

            Paul’s conclusion in v. 2 seems immediately obvious. If we go back to the story I told you about at the beginning about the deadly interaction between Michael Brown and a Ferguson police officer, you don’t have to like it but Brown got exactly what he deserved and he has only himself to blame. He broke the law by robbing a convenience store and assaulting the owner. He then exacerbated his criminal behavior be opposing and eventually assaulting a police officer who merely asked him to stop walking down the middle of the street. Rebellion has some extremely serious consequences. Satan rebelled against God’s ruling authority and we all know what’s ultimately in store for him. Adam rebelled against God in the garden and death entered the world. Continued rebellion is evidenced in our society by our burgeoning prisons.

            “Rebelling against what God has instituted will bring the judgment of God, more than likely through the rulers themselves. While we are painfully (shamefully) aware of the fist we raise against God in some areas of life, it is sometimes hard to see it here. If an earthquake destroys a town, or disease ravages our body, or a deranged person violates our personal or property rights, we can rest in the sovereignty of God more easily than we can when a twenty-something police officer pulls us over for rolling through a stop sign. We looked both ways, we slowed almost completely to a stop, we have a (reasonably) good driving record, we were under the influence of nothing—and yet we still got a ticket.

            Paul says that to rebel against that ticket is to rebel against what God has instituted. If we rebel against it loudly enough, or aggressively enough, or persistently enough, we may be punished with an additional fine for disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer’s duty, or touching (assaulting) a police officer.

            The fact that ‘governing authorities’ are human authorities—sinners just like us—is perhaps what makes it so difficult. Earthquakes and natural disasters have no will. Disease and congenital deformities have no will. Deranged assailants have a will, but one that is obviously deserving of pity. But when an otherwise competent individual, set apart from us by nothing but a gold badge, asserts his or her authority over us, it is hard to see God in that blue suit. But God says he is there, and to resist him is to invite his blue-suited judgment.”[2]

But is all rebellion condemned by God? The answer is no. Since governing authorities are established servants of God, it is logical to insist that God is therefore the highest authority. Consequently, opposing orders that conflict with God’s requirements is not condemned by God. For example, in Acts 4:19, Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin where they are ordered to stop preaching the gospel. Here’s what Peter says: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” Now Peter’s not talking about disobeying them in all things, but simply in the things that contradict God’s requirements. For example, the government can legalize abortion and homosexuality but Christians must condemn the practices as being contradictory to God instruction. The government may mandate the oppression and persecution of Jews and Christians but that mandate is obviously illegitimate because of God’s regard for His Chosen People and the Body of Christ. “The government can demand respect, obedience, taxes, and honor from its citizens inasmuch as God appoints government to protect people. When a government demands allegiance that conflicts with a believer’s loyalty to God, Christians must respond in a different way. Believers should never allow the government to force them to disobey God. Jesus and his apostles never disobeyed the government for personal reasons; when they disobeyed, they were following their higher loyalty to God (Acts 5:29). Their disobedience was not cheap; they were threatened, beaten, thrown into jail, tortured, and executed for their convictions. If we are compelled to disobey, we must be ready to accept the consequences.”[3] Let me tell you the story of Ivan Moiseyev:

“Ivan Moiseyev was an 18 year-old Private in the Soviet Red Army. The Communists were endlessly calling him to headquarters for talks, trying to ‘re-educate’ him, to talk him out of his faith in God.  On this day, however, one of Ivan’s commanding officers was determined to succeed. Major Gidenko was the head of the Political Directive Committee and he was certain he could break Ivan. When Ivan entered his office and was seated, the Major said to him;

‘Moiseyev, you don’t look like a poor pupil to me. Why are you not learning the correct answers?’

‘Sometimes there is a difference between correct answers and true ones,’ Ivan answered. ‘Sometimes God will not allow me to give the correct answers.’

The Major interrupted; ‘Yes, yes, I know all about the Christian teaching. But what has that got to do with being a soldier? Do you disagree with the teaching of the glorious Red Army?’

‘No sir,’ answered Ivan.

‘But you do not accept the principles of scientific atheism upon which is based our entire Soviet state and the military power of the army?’ Said the Major.

Resolutely, Ivan said; ‘I cannot accept what I know to be untrue. Everything else I can gladly accept.’

For his continued refusal to recant, the Major order him to stand overnight outside the barracks. Since it was expected to be 13 degrees below zero, before private Moiseyev was dismissed, Major Gidenko stopped him and said;

‘You will obey my instructions in summer uniform.’

Private Moiseyev was then dismissed. He would stand outside every night for 12 nights. During the day, he would still preach to the comrades in his barracks. Many came to faith after seeing his courage. His continued rebellion, however, would cost him his life. At age 20, his dead body was pulled from the river. He had been beaten, stabbed and was finally drowned. Soviet Colonel, Malsin, said;

‘Moiseyev died with difficulty. He fought with death, but he died a Christian.’”[4]

3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Private Moiseyev is a great example of someone who found a balance between rebellion and submission. Note that he was always respectful and honoring in his speech and followed every order except the one that contradicted God’s order to share the gospel. In short, not all rebellion is condemned by God. Nevertheless, all rebellion has its consequences and sometimes those consequences can be dire—as in the case of Private Moiseyev. But that’s the exception not the rule. In general, those who submit to the governing authorities live in relative peace. What Paul is saying in vv. 3-4 is that we don’t have to be afraid of those in authority over us because they are put there for our benefit. If, however, we break the laws that have been established for the benefit of society at large then those in authority are well within their right to take any and all action necessary to re-establish compliance and order for the benefit of all. In other words, submission is necessary to avoid punishment. Here’s a quick test: What would be your immediate reaction if you were served with an IRS audit notice? Panic or ambivalence? What about this: What’s the first thing you do when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror? After that initial wave of panic passes, you look at your speedometer don’t you? Were you speeding or not? What was the speed limit anyway? Wait a minute were you driving faster than anyone else? Let me ask you this, would you have the same reaction if you always obeyed the speed limit? (I’ve heard it said that the right foot is the last part of the body to be saved!) Here’s the principle that Paul’s trying to convey: Honest, law-abiding citizens generally don’t have anything to fear from governing authorities. Government is God’s way of protecting law-abiding citizens from the chaos and anarchy created by lawbreakers. Fundamentally, that means government is charged with establishing proper social boundaries and appropriate consequences for those who cross those boundaries. Paul’s reference to “bear the sword” conveys the idea that government has the God ordained authority to dispense earthly justice.

I assume many if not all of you have heard the term “legislate morality.” That’s what many people think the government is doing during its legislative process and its subsequent enforcement of social boundaries. However, people often miss the point when they insist that “Government can’t legislate morality!” It is true that there is no law that can make a person moral. Nevertheless, laws are introduced to battle immorality. It’s true that there is no law to make people love each other. Therefore, laws are introduced to keep people from killing each other. It’s true that no law can make people honest. Therefore laws are introduced to keep people from stealing. In essence, government isn’t there to make people good but to keep people from evil. To a limited degree, government’s authority to dispense earthly justice does that.

            “Paul, of course, was not naïve about the rule of Rome. He had himself been mistreated and beaten by Roman officials. He knew full well that ‘Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate’ and that the rulers of this age had crucified the Lord of glory. Furthermore, earlier in Romans he had already spoken of the tribulation, distress, persecution, and sword (Rom 8:35) which Christians faced, and he knew full well that this could come from the State. Yet at the time when Paul wrote, the Roman government could be seen as a positive force for good. Governments, even oppressive governments, by their nature seek to prevent the evils of indiscriminate murder, riot, thievery, as well as general instability and chaos, and good acts do at times meet with their approval and praise. As a result Paul asserts that the state ‘…is God’s servant for your good.’”[5]

5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Is the threat of punishment enough? According to Paul in v. 5, not only has God ordained government as an external protection, he has likewise given us a conscience as an internal protection. That can be a bit confusing but here’s what Paul is saying: Fear of punishment can’t be the only motivation for doing good. Submission merely out of fear is as incomplete as the desire for sexual purity simply out of fear of contracting AIDS. Considering the proliferation of AIDS in our world, that motivation isn’t working very well. Submission based on fear is an external force and is a minimum standard for all people—including unbelievers. Paul is insisting on something more here—the desire to maintain a pure and undefiled conscience. The standard set by the conscience is personal and hopefully higher than the standard set by government. But, you might be asking, how does the failure to submit to authorities affect our conscience? On one level our conscience is disturbed when we rebel against authorities, because we know they are appointed servants of God and we are in fact rebelling against God. More specifically, however, our conscience is the God-given mechanism to alert us to transgressions. Did you know that the government has established the Government Conscience Fund? It’s for people to send in money anonymously to clear their conscience if they have cheated the government in some way. At one point they received an anonymous letter accompanied by a check. The letter read; “The enclosed check is for money that I owe you for taxes I didn’t pay. I have been losing sleep over the matter. If I continue to lose sleep, I’ll send the rest.”

“The word ‘conscience’ ([Gk] syneidesis) usually refers to that faculty within human beings that informs us of the morality of our actions after they have taken place. But the word can be used more broadly, and this seems to be the case here. Syneidesis here refers to our consciousness of God and his will for us. Because we understand that God has appointed secular rulers, we must submit to them.”[6]

6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”

If you hate paying taxes then you are in very good company. But Paul’s instruction in vv. 6-7 should at least soften our view on paying taxes even if it doesn’t change that view altogether. In order to support the institution ordained by God, it is necessary for us to pay taxes. Paul may be including this material because of the growing resistance in the middle 50’s to paying taxes, which would eventually lead to a tax revolt in A.D. 58. More importantly, however, Paul is trying to demonstrate that the payment of taxes is not unbiblical because taxes support those God placed in authority over us for our benefit. Interestingly, in earlier verses, Paul uses the more common Greek word, διάκονος, meaning, “servant” when he is speaking of government authorities. But in v. 6 he changes to, λειτουργοὶ, which is used in the Old Testament in its Hebrew form for those who served in the temple of God. Servants of the temple were paid out a fund from the contributions of the rest of the population—a simple form of taxation. Through this change in terminology, Paul is making the analogy that taxation to pay government authorities is similar to the principle of paying servants of God’s temple. Both are full-time servants of God and have no other means of financial support. Whatever Paul’s precise motivation may have been with respect to paying taxes, Paul is implying that the service rendered by government authorities ultimately obligates those who are served to some form of repayment. Paul follows that with a more general principle of paying everyone what is due them, whether that is revenue, respect or honor. The only debt in our lives that should ever be outstanding is the debt to love one another—that should always be a debt that can never be fully repaid in our lifetime.

            “It is a striking fact that the discussion builds up to its climax on the subject of paying taxes. This is unlikely to be accidental…Nowhere else does Paul include such instruction in any of his letters, and there must have been a reason for his doing so here. Those listening to his letter read out in Rome itself would know well enough what the reason was—the abuses, particularly of indirect taxation, which were causing increasing unrest in the capital at that very time…

            But Paul does not hesitate to undergird this policy of political prudence with firm theological assertion. The authorities in their function of levying taxes are ‘ministers of God’; taxes could be regarded as the secular equivalent of the offerings and sacrifices brought to the alter; within the state as ordered by God, tax officials are the equivalent of priests within the cult!...The boundary that separated the cult (of Israel) from the daily business of living in a busy city has been broken down…In his final exhortation Paul echoes the traditional Jewish commendation of reverence for the king (Prov 24:21), drawing on the inherited wisdom of his native faith to give guidance to the newly redefined people of God still living under alien and potentially repressive rulers.”[7]


            As always, Paul didn’t just hand down instruction from some ivory tower, he practiced what he preached. Of course it is always easy to opine on the virtues of good citizenship when we are living at ease with the State. But what happens when we are at odds with the State? What should we do if the State treats us unfairly either in perception or in reality? When Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Rome, he wasn’t immediately at odds with the Roman government. But it was only a few years after he penned our Subject Text that he would be writing letters to various other churches he founded from a Roman prison cell. So Paul wrote this letter probably knowing that a Roman prison cell with his name on it awaited him some day for preaching the Gospel, which gives Paul’s instruction that much more credibility.

            For those of you who believe you are entitled to resist and even assault the governing authorities who have been ordained by God to rule over us because you believe you have been treated unfairly, you are treading on thin ice because you aren’t just opposing an earthly authority, you are opposing an authority ordained by God and are consequently opposing God. You do nothing more than bring judgment on yourselves. If that describes you, it is time for you to set aside your sinful desires, repent of your sinful behavior and seek forgiveness first from God but also from any of the authorities that rule over you that you have in some way harmed or offended.

            Nevertheless, I assume that most of you are law-abiding citizens who are prepared to submit, willingly or grudgingly, to the authorities ordained by God to govern you. You follow all the laws including paying all your taxes as well as everything else that might be due. You want nothing to do with the State so you do as you’re told so the State leaves you alone. I want to challenge you to do more because Paul instructs us to do more.

            To put action to what we say we believe, a few years after Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he wrote a letter to Timothy with these instructions:

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim 2:1-2).”

            This past week, I had the privilege of praying with and for a group of law enforcement officers and some of their staff. They were all very grateful while some of them even wept. We forget that even though they “bear the sword,” they are still human beings who can be discouraged, who are often scared (even though they don’t show it), and who can be emotionally and psychologically wounded. They don’t demand allegiance but certainly appreciate when someone recognizes that they are risking their lives for the public’s safety. They do it out of duty and the oath they have taken even though some may even reject that they have been ordained by God to do so. I want to challenge you this week to reach out to a public servant but especially a law enforcement officer given the hateful climate toward law enforcement officers created by the Black Lives Matter movement and pray for them; thank them; encourage them. Let them know that you appreciate their service and acknowledge their authority as something ordained by God for your benefit.

To summarize our lesson, if we accept the premise that God is sovereign and the final Authority over our lives, then we have a duty to humble ourselves in submission to those God has placed in authority over our lives (except, of course, in the case where an authority contravenes the authority and instruction of God). In view of the Biblical evidence, are there areas in your life where you are resisting, or perhaps rebelling, against legitimate authority in your life, instead insisting on your personal rights or having your own way? What will you do? It may be hard to swallow but I’ve given you the truth directly from God’s word. All the remains now is to answer, Does God’s Truth Matter?

[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans—The New American Commentary, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1995), p. 243.
[2] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans—Holman New Testament Commentary, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2000), p. 393.
[3] Bruce Barton, Philip Comfort, Grant Osborne, Linda K. Taylor, and Dave Veerman, Life Application New Testament Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), pp. 626-627.
[4] dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks, (Tulsa, OK: Albury Publishing, 1999), pp. 30-35.
[5] Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans—The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012), p. 497.
[6] Douglas J. Moo, Romans—The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 423.
[7] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9-16—Word Biblical Commentary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988), p. 772.