Tag Cloud
: Sorrow : Mothers 1 Peter Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abuse Accounting Activism Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife America Angels Anger Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Borders Born Again Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Celebration Character Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Creation Creator Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deception Defense Delegation Demon Possession Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Fellowship Finances Fire First Coming Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles George Wood Giving Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hardship Harvest Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lamp Law Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Patience Patriotism Peace Pentecost People of God Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Satan Savior Schemes Science Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Trouble Trust Truth Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Volunteer Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast Zion

Weekly Word

Entries in Civil Disobedience (2)

Thursday
Oct062016

Society under Siege: Social Activism

Mt. 28:18-20; John 13:1-8.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 2, 2016.

What is social activism?  It is the tactic of creating social upheaval, and thereby pressuring the government into changing laws and policies.  Ultimately it is about changing society.  The idea of manipulating the people of a nation for political purposes has been around for ages.  However, in the last 2 centuries the fine tuning of changing society has led to books like the anti-Semitic, propaganda text in pre-revolution Russia called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  Another book would be “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky.  We have reached a point where multiple, competing agencies are trying to manipulate society to their own ends.  In the midst of this environment large parts of the Church have been seduced to employ this same tactic in order to achieve a “godly” purpose.  Is this what Jesus wants?  Is it our job to force society to adopt and live by the truth of God?

No godly person ever used this tactic

Technically this first point is made by the absence of Scripture.  I must give credit to the late Dave Hunt who made this point back in the 1980’s.  The absence of godly people organizing a community to cause social upheaval and the approval of God should be glaringly obvious.

We do see many cases of civil disobedience.   So let’s look at some of them.  In Exodus 1:15 and following we have the Pharaoh of Egypt telling two midwives to kill any Hebrew boys who are born.  These midwives were Hebrew themselves and in good conscience could not kill these baby boys.  Thus they lied to Pharaoh.  They basically claimed that the Hebrew women had their babies too quickly for the midwives to intervene.  Notice that in this case there is no organizing of a large group to create social upheaval.  These women aren’t even operating to change the laws of Egypt.  They simply refuse to kill the baby boys out of deference to the commands and nature of the One True God.

Several other cases are seen in the book of Daniel.  The three Hebrew boys refuse to bow down to an image when commanded to do so by the king.  Under threat of death they make the statement that they believed God would save them.  But if not, they still wouldn’t bow down to the idol.  Daniel himself faced a law that commanded the citizens to pray to no one but the king for a period of time.  Daniel refused to obey this law and prayed to the God of Heaven anyway.  Notice that none of them create riots and marches.  They make no attempts to change the laws of the land.  Rather, they obey the dictates of their conscience, regardless of what might happen to them.

Lastly, we see the same thing with the Apostles Peter and John.  They had been preaching about Jesus, when the Sanhedrin commands them to stop. Of course they make the statement that if they have to choose between obeying man or God, they would choose to obey God.

All of these examples are all about individual conscience before God.  The godly of every generation have not necessarily obeyed all the laws of mankind (basically the evil ones).  However, they are not leading protests and social upheaval in order to change society.  They are simply trying to please God over man.  So what should godly people be doing in our culture today?

Our mission is people not societies

This leads us to our first text.  In Matthew 28 we see Jesus explaining that he had been given power and authority over all nations and all heavenly principalities.  With this authority he could have commanded anything.  Yet, he does not give us the mission of taking over the nations of the world.  This may be what Islam teaches.  It may be what communism teaches, but it is not what Christ taught.

Instead he sends his disciples to all the nations in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus and disciple the individuals that respond to it.  We must never forget that our main aim is to disciple those who become Christians.  Our goal is not to take over the governments of this world and neither is it to build crystal cathedrals.  Rather we are called to build people.

So if we get caught up in trying to change or “save” societies we can be in danger of losing the individuals that we were sent to reach in the first place.  What do I mean by that?  When the church focuses on society and trying to change or perfect it, then our focus looks for those tools and things that “work” to change society.  When we focus upon the system instead of the people, then people will end up getting crushed.  The mistake is not just in trying to perfect society.  Even our churches can be guilty of trying to build little perfect societies within our church walls.  Evangelism typically ceases to be about discipling a new believer to become more like Jesus, and becomes about forcing an individual to fit into our system.  “Be a good cog.”  This path is dehumanizing, uncaring, and anti-Christ.  There are multiple generations of people who have been crushed by Churches and Christians who are more concerned about a perfect system (i.e. don’t rock the boat) then they are about following and obeying Jesus.  So what would Jesus do if he were here today?

Jesus shows us the way

In John 13:1-8 we see Jesus the night before he is crucified.  It is clear from his actions here that Jesus would not be rioting in the streets and leading a revolution against the government.  It is also clear that he would not be using millions of dollars to subvert the political process.

In these verses we see that Jesus knew that society had it out for him.  He knew that things were only going to get worse politically.  Instead of throwing a temper tantrum and using his power to force change in society, Jesus accepted the reality on the ground and focused on what really mattered.  Is it possible that we could learn to accept the reality that this world will give us difficulty if we want to follow God?  And, can we accept the reality that it will not give us justice?  If a nation dissolves and reforms, or is taken over by another nations, it is not the end of the world.  How many nations today have taken the place of others before them?  Most of the nations fit this parameter.  Now weigh this against the reality that if an individual goes into eternity lost, it is the end of their world.

Thus, we are told that Jesus loved them to the very end.  Can we choose to love people to the very end of our earthly life?  I know that this passage is about Jesus with his closest disciples.  Yet, one of them has surrendered to the devil and is about to betray him.  Jesus even loved Judas to the very end.  On top of this, it is impossible to see Jesus hanging on the cross and not recognize that he loved the world and paid the price for whosoever would believe.  If we sacrifice caring for individuals in order to build the perfect society (whether in the church or in the nation) then we are being foolish.  The Church was not established to create a perfect society.  It was established to provide a family for those who would respond to the call to believe on Jesus.  We are to be a family of imperfect people who have been redeemed and are being saved by Jesus.
Jesus said that the Truth will set you free.  Radicals like to talk about speaking truth to power.  But the truth is they are always heavy on power and light on truth.  Their methods look nothing like Jesus.  Jesus spoke truth into people’s lives.  He combated the lies of the enemy that held them spiritually captive with the love of God’s truth.  “Yes, if you remain in your sins you will die in them.  But, if you turn from your sins and believe me, then you will live eternally.”  Now this does not save everyone, but it is the only door to hope.  The only way to do what Jesus did is by getting down in the nitty gritty of a person’s life.  It takes time and investment to determine the lies a person has believed and counteract them with the truth of God’s word.  It isn’t a quick, easy, perfect process.

The problem with a pragmatic approach is that it rarely asks, “Should we do this.”  Yes, we could go to war against progressives and try to take our nation back for Jesus.  But should we?  At least should that be our focus?  If there is going to be another Spiritual Awakening in America, it will first start because Christians repent of being side-tracked and actually start following Jesus.  Even then, it will be because of the move of God.  It is He who raises up nations and He who puts nations down.  Let us start demonstrating such humility before God that even Jesus himself exercised.   He humbled himself and used his authority and power to accomplish what God asked.  If we will do this then we will hear from the Father the same words He says to His Son.  “Come, sit at my feet until I make your enemies your footstool.”  When Jesus comes back he will take up the governments of the world and hand them over to his saints.  Until then we must humble ourselves and focus on sharing the Gospel, and discipling those who respond in repentance.  Some tools may be powerful.  But at what cost do we use them?  Our country will be torn apart by these competing, social powers unless God has mercy on us.

Social Activism audio

Tuesday
Nov062012

The Virtue of Submission

Today we will be looking at 1 Peter 2:13-17.  In this section Peter goes on to instruct believers in the virtue of submission; especially in light of the previous point that we need to live honorably among unbelievers.  Now any virtue has its proper boundaries and priorities among other virtues.  Thus submission as a virtue is often rejected in the modern era because of evils done in its name.  Some Muslims will kill those who do not accept Islam out of submission to Allah.  There are Christians who have followed pastors into suicidal situations out of submission to the “man of God.”  Submission has also been used as a stick against women to endure physical and emotional abuse.  Thus for many it is a code word for unquestioning obedience.  When they hear the word they immediately shut down and reject whatever follows.

The meaning of submission is literally to take your proper place under an authority.  It is the opposite of rebellion.  With any virtue, it has its place and sometimes runs into conflict with other virtues.  Thus any virtue requires us to think.  We will do best when we think with the mind of Christ and according to the Scriptures because it will save us from the self-justification that is so prevalent with our own thinking.

Submit To Human Government

Because of the false accusations against Christians mentioned in verse 12, Peter goes on to teach believers to take their proper place under human government.  Some of these false accusations were that Christians believed that Jesus was king and were a rebel group against Rome.  There were other accusations as well, which is why Peter is telling them to live in such a way that those false claims will be counteracted.  Our representation of God and Jesus Christ calls for us to have an above board approach to how we live in this life.

Next he gives the scope of “every ordinance” or every human institution and at every level (King to governor).  Governments have laws and delegate authority out to different levels.  The king was the highest authority.  In light of other passages it is clear that "every" here does not exclude exceptions.  However it does apply to every kind of government humans design.  Within godly reason we are to submit to every human government that we find ourselves living under.  So our starting place is simply doing our part to cooperate with the government and obey its laws.

Peter mentions the legitimate function of governments and that is to restrain evil through punishment and encourage good through protection.  The Bible is clear that God allows governments to rise and at his timing causes them to fall.  Believers are to live with a baseline of submission to the human governments not out of agreement with all their actions, or belief that they are good.  Rather, to keep from giving the impression that God’s people are rebels.  God has not told us to take over the kingdoms of this world.  He has told us that he would do that and then hand the kingdom over to the saints.

In verse 16 Peter mentions that they should submit, but as free people.  What does he mean?  True submission should flow from freedom.  Submission is not about slavery.  If we turn it into slavery then we have prostituted what the virtue is meant to be.  Christians have been set free.  However, we are not set free to do evil.  Freedom must never be used to either openly pursue evil things, or secretly pursue them.  Thus believers freely choose to serve the interests of God rather than their own.  Is it not true that our actions sometimes have caused people to say that God is evil?  This is what Peter seeks to avoid.  God, who is the highest authority, asks us to serve these lower authorities as righteously as we can out of respect for how we represent him.

Perhaps it is time to deal with the obvious question, “Is there ever a time not to submit?”  The simple answer is yes.  However, our flesh can abuse the idea that there are exceptions.  When we look to the Bible there are two obvious exceptions that we should mention.  When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh had commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill any Hebrew boys who were born.  These women pretended like they were trying to do the job, but told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women kept having the babies before they could get there to help.  Here we see how virtues can conflict.  Submission is good but killing a baby regardless of its gender is worse.  Even the lie that they tell Pharaoh would be recognized as a lower priority.  This is not situational ethics.  Rather it is recognition that virtues have boundaries.  These ladies properly drew the boundary at taking the life of another or infanticide.  Another situation is found in the book of Acts with Peter and John.  They had been taken by the authorities and commanded to quit teaching and promoting Jesus.  They respond that it is better for them to obey God than men.  Here they have been given a direct command from Jesus.  Go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus.  They would have to disobey God in order to obey their “proper” human authorities.  Thus they refused to comply.  However, notice that they always submitted to the punishment.  Instead of stirring up a revolt against the Jewish leaders or Ceasar they stood and spoke firmly on Jesus and accepted whatever punishments they were given.  Thus submission requires us to think and have a clear understanding of what God wants from us.  It is not unquestioning obedience to human authorities.

Peter goes on in verse 17 to give a series of commands.  Honor all people.  Love fellow believers.  Fear God.  Honor the king.  Notice that honor begins the list and ends it.  Also that honor is directed towards “all people” and also “the king.”  Just because people are lost and do not know God does not mean that we are free to de-value them.  Honor basically means to value them.  We honor or value those in the world with two motivations.  Our actions can adversely affect our fellow Christians.  Love cautions us to not act in a way that would foolishly bring harm and hurt to our fellow brothers.  Thus we should be motivated by love.  However, we should also fear God.  God has often used evil governments or even evil people to chastise those whom he loves.  We are not above doing wrong and when we do God is not always going to use a Christian to rebuke you.  If we fear God then we will honor any authority that we are under knowing that we too need restrained from evil.  It is recognition that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God and that there is value even in fallen people and corrupted institutions.

Further Thoughts

Rebellion must never be romanticized.  There are some who are unable to take their place under any authority.  Their over-powering need to have no authority over them brings pain, suffering, and hurt to themselves and others.

Submission alone must never be the greatest priority.  In our own country men like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized that we can properly refuse authorities for the right reasons.  They rejected violent methods often in the face of violent authorities.  By doing so they gave a clear public testimony that they were doing good.  Even in their “disobedience” they were submitted to the overall rule of law and authority.

Regardless what governance we live under we are to do our best to obey its laws without disobeying God.  We are in a better situation compared to many.  We have precious little excuse.

Lastly, we must beware self-justification.  Our justification must truly be from God himself.  We must operate with the mind of Christ and the direction of God’s Word.  Only then can we properly represent Him to this world.  Pick up your cross and follow Jesus!

Virtue of Submission Audio