Sermon Notes: The nature and role of government in the bible

4 05 2015

A couple of weeks back we had a church prayer meeting for the upcoming election, and it opened with a short sermon on government in the bible, so I thought, with three days to go until the election, I’d share my notes from it incase they’re helpful.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
– Colossians 1 vv 15-20

“He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” – Luke 20 v 25
Most would say this verse divides the world into a religious domain and a government domain, but God can’t be level with Caesar, He is far above him. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” – Psalm 24 v 1a.

The Bible has government down as useful yet limited.

David is described as a king after God’s own heart whose throne would be established forever. Yet when Israel asked for a King this was a rejection of God’s rule over them.

Governments can do many positive things, for example: advance education, justice, equality, employment opportunities. Yet they can also abuse power, form oppressive regimes, persecute citizens.

We’re called to submit to government: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13 v 1.

Government is limited, firstly by the existence of other human authorities, including church, family and individuals. We should be lobbying government and campaigning against policies that violate God’s teaching. Try Christian Concern or the Evangelical Alliance.

The word government essentially means helmsmanship (“the action or skill of steering a ship or boat.”). This could be of the state, the church, a family or an individual. Government as we think of it would be civil government.

Government is limited, secondly by the means at its disposal. Its only punishment is the removal of someone’s freedom or property. Whereas Jesus said “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’” – John 18 v 36.

Government is limited in the scope and influence God gives to it, for this reason, Christians can legitimately disagree about politics. No government will match up to the rule that we’ll one day live under in a new heaven and earth.

In this country we’re fortunate as Biblical principles still shape a lot of the political landscape.

We need to prayerfully consider our vote and ask God to help us to vote wisely to promote principles of submission to law, accountability of government, equality and justice.

There are many resources to look at political parties’ policies from a Christian perspective. I mentioned some of these in a previous post



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