Powers That Be
The Realm of Civil
Who should be subject to
submit himself to the government authorities, for
there is no authority except that which God has
established. The authorities that exist have been
established by God. Romans 13:1
By whom are the powers
that be ordained?
The authorities that
exist have been established by God.
What does one resist that
resists civil authority?
who rebels against the authority is rebelling
against what God has instituted, and those
who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Note That is, they
who rise up against government itself; who seek
anarchy and confusion; who oppose the regular
execution of the laws. It is implied however,
that those laws shall not be such as to violate
the rights of conscience, or oppose the laws of
What are the proper
sphere and work of civil authority?
For rulers hold nor
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. For he is Gods
servant to do you good. But if he do you
wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword
for nothing. He is Gods servant, an
agent of wrath to bring punishment on the
wrongdoer. Verses 3,4.
For whom is the law made?
We also know that law
is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers
and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy
and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers
or mothers, for murderers. 1 Timothy
How are Christians
admonished to respect civil authority?
Remind the people to
be subject to rulers and authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.
Titus 3:1. Who is going to harm you if you
are eager to do good? But even if you should
suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do
not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that
you have. But do this with gentleness and
respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that
those who speak maliciously against your good
behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their
slander. It is better, if it is Gods will,
to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 213-17. This
is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities
are Gods servants, who give their full time
to governing. Give everyone what you owe him; if
revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect;
if honor, then honor. Romans 13:6,7.
The Special Spiritual Realm
In what words does Christ
show that there is another realm outside of
Caesars, or civil government?
Then he said to them, Give
to Caesar what is Caesars and to
God what is Gods.
To whom alone did He say
worship is to be rendered?
Jesus said to him, Away
from me Satan! For it is written: Worship
the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Civil Power Invades Gods
What decree did King
Nebuchadnezzar once make?
As soon as you hear
the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp,
pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall
down and worship the image of the gold that
King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not
fall down and worship will immediately be thrown
into a blazing furnace. Daniel 3:5,6.
Note This decree was
in direct conflict with the second commandment of
Gods law, which forbids making, bowing down
to, and serving images. It was religious
idolatrous, and persecuting in character.
What answer did the three
Hebrew captives give?
Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego replied to the king. O Nebuchadnezzar,
we do not need to defend ourselves before you in
this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing
furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from
it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, we want you to know,
O king, that we will not serve your gods or
worship the image of gold that you have set up.
What did Nebuchadnezzar then
And commanded some of
his strongest soldiers in his army to tie up
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them
into the blazing furnace. Verse 20.
After their miraculous
deliverance, what did Nebuchadnezzar say?
said, Praise be to the God of Shadrach,
Abednego, who has sent his
angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in
him and defiled the kings command and were
willing to give up their lives rather than serve
or worship any other god except their own God.
Note By preserving
these men in the fire, God was demonstrating
before the entire world, through his great
kingdom, that religion is a realm outside the
legitimate sphere of civil authority; and that
every individual should be left free to worship,
or not to worship, according to the dictates of
his own conscience.
How only could the envious
princes complain of Daniel?
Finally these men
said, We will never find any basis for
chargers against this man Daniel unless it has
something to do with the law of his God.
What decree did they prevail
upon the king to make?
administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and
governors have all agreed that the king should
order an edict and enforce the decree that
anyone who prays to any other god or man during
the next thirty days, except to you, O king,
shall be thrown into the lions den.
Note Unlike the
decree of Nebuchadnezzar, this decree forbade the
worship of the true God, and was in direct
conflict with the first commandment of the
Decalogue, which forbids the worship of any other
How did Daniel regard
Now when Daniel
learned that the decree had been published, he
went home to his upstairs room where the windows
opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he
got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks
to his God, just as he had done before.
What was finally done with
So the king gave the
order, and they brought Daniel and threw him
into the lions den. The king said to
Daniel, May your God, whom you serve
continually, rescue you! Verse 16.
What did Darius say when he
came to the lions den?
When he came near the
den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice,
Daniel, servant of the living God, has your
God, whom you serve continually, been able to
rescue you from the lions? Verse 20.
What was Daniels reply?
O king, live forever! My God sent his
angel, and shut the mouths of the lions. They
have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in
his sight. Nor have I done any wrong before you,
O king. Verses 21, 22.
Note Here again was
demonstrated a miracle, wrought in the face of
this great nation, that with the directing,
prescribing, proscribing, or interfering with
religion or its exercise, civil governments can
of the right have nothing whatever to do.
Gods Commands Vs. Mans
What parting command did
Christ give the disciples?
He said to them, Go
into all the world and preach the good news to
What counter command did
the Jews soon give them?
Then they called
them in again and commanded them not to speak or
teach at all in the name of Jesus. Acts
What reply did Peter and
But Peter and John
replied, Judge for yourselves whether it
is right in Gods sight to obey you rather
than God. For we cannot help speaking about what
we have seen and heard. Verses 19,20.
For continuing to preach,
what befell the apostles?
Then the high
priest and all his associates, who were members
of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They
arrested the apostles and put them in the public
What did an angel of
God then do?
During the night an
angel of the Lord opened the door of the jail
and brought them out. God and stand in the
temple courts, he said, and tell the
people the full message of this new life.
Note Here once
again is demonstrated the fact that men have no
right to interfere with the free exercise of
religion, and that when the laws of men conflict
with the law and Word of God, we are to obey the
latter, whatever the consequences may be.
When the apostles were
called before the council again, what question
did the high priest ask them?
We gave you
strict orders not to teach in this name,
he said. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with
your teaching and are determined to make us
guilty of this mans blood.
What reply did the
Peter and the other
apostles replied: We must obey God rather
than men! Verse 29.
is to be rendered to all human governments, in
subordination to the will of God. These
governments are a recognized necessity, in the
nature of the case, and their existence is
manifestly in accordance with the divine will.
Hence the presumption is always in favor of the
authority of civil law; and any refusal to obey,
must be based on the moral proof that obedience
will be sin
. It is obvious to need
discussion, that the law of God, the great
principle of obedience, is supreme, and that
we ought to obey God, rather than men,
in any case of conflict between human law and the
James H. Fairchild,
Moral Philosophy (1869 ed.), pp. 178-181.
Who is higher than the
If you see the poor
oppressed in a district, and justice and rights
denied, do not be surprised at such things; for
one official is eyed by a higher one, and over
them both are others higher still.
Note In attempting
to defend the right of civil government to
enforce religious observances by law, some still
ask, Shall we not obey the powers that be?
We answer, Yes, when they are in harmony
with the higher powers that be. God made His law
for the entire universe. He is to be recognized,
His law honored, before all the great men and the
highest earthly powers.
refused to bow down to Haman, what decree did
Haman succeed in having the king issue?
sent by couriers to all the kings provinces
with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate
all the Jews young and old, woman and
children on a single day, the
thirteenth day of the twelve month, the month of
Adar, and to plunder their goods.
Note God has
placed the sword (civil authority) in the hands
of Caesar (civil government) for the punishment
of evildoers; but when the sword is raised to
slay the innocent, as in the case of the
children of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16); or to enforce
idolatrous worship, as in the case of the
three Hebrews (Daniel 3); or to prohibit the
worship of the true God, as in the case of
Daniel (Daniel 6); or to slay all Gods
people, as in the time of Easter; or to enforce
the observance of a false sabbath, as in the
case of all Sunday laws, it is an abuse of
civil authority, and not a proper or justifiable
use of it; and God honors those who, under such
circumstances, in the face of persecution,
oppression, and death, remain loyal and true to
Him. God is above all earthly rulers, and
His law above all human laws. He made us, and we
therefore owe allegiance to Him before any
earthly power, potentate, or tribunal.
Responsibility to God Alone
What is religion?
The recognition of
God as an object of worship, love and obedience.
- Webster. Other definitions
equally good are: The duty which we owe to
our Creator, and the manner of discharging it.
Mans personal relation of faith and
obedience to God.
In religious things,
who alone should we call Father?
And do not call
anyone on earth father, for
you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
When tempted to bow to
Satan, what did Christ say?
Jesus said to him, Away
from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship
the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Matthew 4:10. (See Deuteronomy 6:13;
To who alone, then, is
each one accountable in religion?
So then, each of us
will give an account of himself to God.
What do those do,
therefore, who make men accountable to them in
They put themselves in
the place of God. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.)
Why, in religious
matters, did Christ say men should not be called
are you to be called teacher, for you
have one Teacher, the Christ.
To who, then, as
servants, are we responsible in matters of faith
Who are you to
judge someone elses servant? Too his own
master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for
the Lord is able to make him stand.
Whose servants are we
not to be?
You were bought at
a price; do not become slaves of men.
1 Corinthians 7:23.
methods ever tend to one end to make men
the slaves of men, and thus separate them
from God, destroy faith in God, and to expose men
to temptation and sin. Christs work is to
set men free, to renew faith, and to lead to
willing and loyal obedience to God.
At The Judgment Seat
Where must all appear
to render their account?
For we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
that each one may receive what is due him for the
things done while in the body, whether good or
2 Corinthians 5:10.
Note Inasmuch, then, as religion is an
individual matter, and each individual must give
account of himself to God, it follows that there
should be no human constraint or compulsion in
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