God And Government

I’m sure that one of the greatest influences in how I view government and patriotism was the fact that I grew up knowing that several members of my family served in the military. My grandfather (John “Jack” Collins, pictured right) was undoubtedly the inspiration for the idea of defending and upholding democratic freedom for all people. Others followed and it became a part of our principled duty to serve our country. As a pastor, I’m a big believer that the Bible is “pregnant” with politics (to borrow the words of Pastor Tony Evans). The whole Bible explodes with stories of God’s setting up and taking down kings, rulers, and nations. 

Sometimes I’m shocked at the perfect clarity of the Bible compared to how blindly we miss the obvious. The Bible isn’t the issue. Church fathers correctly taught the “perspicuity” of the Bible.  That is to say, the Bible is to be plainly read and understood. Our relationship to government is one of those areas where I am flatly shocked at how badly some Christians seem to treat this Bible teaching. 

Respecting, even honouring human government, in the words of Wm. Barclay, “is a commandment which runs through the whole New Testament.” He then follows with an impressive list of New Testament passages that teach the mandate to pray for and conscientiously obey the governing authorities. Read them for yourself. SEE Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2, 1 Peter 2:13–17. 

Mr. Phillips makes an equally astounding observation about the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar.  “One of the great lessons of the book of Daniel is that God keeps a firm hand on history. Nebuchadnezzar, mighty king of Babylon, had to learn that “the heavens do rule” (Daniel 4:26). When after a terrible experience this truth was brought home to him, he issued a formal state document in which he asserted: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What are you doing?” (Daniel 4:34–35). The whole of Bible history is intended to reinforce the truth that “the powers that be are ordained of God.”

This Sunday we will visit the last study in our summer series “We Believe.” I’ve had lots of great feedback from my church family about the importance of knowing what we believe. THANKS a ton for coming along with me on this journey. My last sermon in this series will address our final statements of core beliefs. It could be a bumpy ride for some!

(1) WE BELIEVE that civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of society; that those in authority are to be prayed for, conscientiously honoured and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and Prince of the kings of the earth. (2) WE BELIEVE in the entire separation of church and state. (3) WE BELIEVE in religious liberty; that every man has the right to practice and propagate his beliefs.

Our study will focus on Romans 13:1-10. As with many of the Bible’s teachings, there are lots of nuances to be weighed, but Romans 13 should be considered a baseline in shaping the Christian’s worldview about the relationship of God and Government. 

I look forward to seeing you at the 9AM or the 11AM service.

Stay blessed in Him,
Pastor Deric

Great Things are Ahead!

My daughter and family worship at a great church in Orlando, FL, where they live.  They have given us a popular t-shirt that the church had made just before the pandemic to encourage their church family to live in the hope that Jesus offers. (isn’t that prophetic?) It simply reads “Good is ahead.”©

  I love it BUT it’s only partly true.  I believe that it’s true that “good is ahead” for God’s children but I would go further.  “GREAT things are ahead.”  Incomparably, AWESOME things are ahead for the church because . . . . .

. . . . Jesus Christ is coming back again. He said so Himself in John 14:3: “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  The Second Coming of Jesus Christ has been the hope of the church of Jesus Christ for 2022 years!  Next to the subject of faith in the Bible, the second coming of Jesus Christ is the most referenced idea in the Bible. The truth of the return of Jesus to the earth is referred to 1,845 times in Scripture.  1 out of every 30 verses speak about it or fully one-fifth of the Bible speaks about the “end of days” or the second coming.  For every reference to His first coming, there are eight references to His second coming.  For every one reference to His atonement, there are two that refer to His second coming.  Jesus spoke 21 times about His second coming.  And we are told 50 times to be ready when it happens.  (stats quoted by Skip Heitzig: Calvary Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Clearly, the second coming of Jesus Christ is meant to be a major theme in the life of the Christian.  You shouldn’t be surprised then to read that our church includes this belief as a core conviction about our faith.  Belief no. 10, in our statement of beliefs, explains our confidence in His second coming.  It says,

WE BELIEVE in the personal, imminent, bodily, and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ and that as Christians we will be resurrected to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive according to what he has done in the body. WE BELIEVE in the eternal blessedness of the righteous and in the eternal punishment of the wicked. The wicked will be judged at the Great White Throne judgment.

As with all major Bible doctrine, the Bible itself holds a specific warning about guarding this truth.  Apparently, according to Peter, Christians are in danger of losing sight of this vital fact of faith.  We can end up doubting it because we live in a world that scoffs at it as an unreasonable belief, a fairy tale if you will. Peter doesn’t beat around the bush.  He nails it for his ancient audience and for us.  He writes in his second letter, chapter 3, verses 8-10:  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” 

Scoffers, unbelievers, and deniers of the second coming of Jesus Christ will say,  “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

If we are not careful, we can end up doubting the very HOPE to which we cling.  Notice the word “imminent” in our belief statement.  We believe that Jesus could come at any moment.  Jesus, Himself, said that when we see the signs of His coming, we should “lift up our heads, because our redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)  His soon return fills the Christian with hope and expectation because as 2Peter 3:13 says “we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  Great things are ahead for God’s people.

I can’t wait to see you on Sunday morning (maybe!!) at one of our 2 identical services, 9AM or 11AM.  Either way, I know that GREAT things are ahead for you as a follower of Jesus.

Pastor Deric