Romans – Week 37 Sermon Notes

By October 1, 2017 Sermon Notes

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We need 6 nursery, 6 Super church workers

You have the opportunity to be one of them.

I have no intention to manipulate or pressure you…but let me tell you what I believe to be true.

If we saw the real impact of the time spent with the little ones…virtually everyone in this service would want to work in the other one.

If we could track the movement in the moments…it would transform how we see the moments.

In the moments…sitting in nursery, or teaching a child in super church…it very often seems like nothing is happening.

But the moments are part of God’s movement in the lives of these children…this children will grow and have children. They will choose in ways that lead to God’s life or away from it.

All that is included in the moments right now down there and up there.

I am convinced there is nothing more noteworthy that can be done on the planet than playing with, teaching, loving a child for an hour on Sunday morning. (or other times for that matter)

But it takes “faith eyes” to see what is really happening.

It is like planting a seed in the ground, then standing there looking at the earth and wondering if you just wasted your time because nothing is growing…it is.

Likewise you may not feel like working with the little ones is impacting you…but it is

It will shape you on the inside in profound ways…but you will not be able to measure it week to week.

You can do this if you will.

I am not selling some need I have…I am casting vision for an opportunity you have.

If you qualify (plugged in, age, health)…step into this.

This is the gospel lived out in practical ways…to bless our little ones (and their parents)

  1. Intro:

Has our nation even been as divided as it is now?

Well…there was a Civil War where 620,000 American soldiers were killed by other American Soldiers.

Half of all the war dead in all of America’s wars, came in the Civil War.

Then there was the Vietnam War era. Kent State and Jackson State.

Government has always been a source of division and disagreement.

Because it is made up of people.

But without Government you have failed states and utter human misery…Somalia, Syria, many other places.

Anarchy (without a ruler) is a condition where no government exists.

Anarchists believe this condition is preferable and actively try to bring it about.

-Ironically if they are successful they immediately set themselves up as rulers…unless their fellow anarchists kill them first.

When humans interact a government of some kind will form…it will be relatively benevolent or terribly wicked…but it will form.

How are we to live in a world where Government is necessary and yet often problematic?

Rom. 13:1       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. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For 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. 4 For 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. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6  This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Many have wondered why Paul jumps from his powerful theological explanations of the gospel and his challenging exhortations on loving one another to this section of his letter where he talks politics and taxes?

There is no disconnect…he is showing us the reality of a single-story life.

There is no downstairs of the real world of taxes and politics and floods and wars.

Then the upstairs, the religious world of “my thoughts and prayers are with you”.

The model of our time is that the “Downstairs is real, upstairs is religious”… this of course is nonsense.

Chapters 1-11 speak of the knowledge of the gospel.

Now he is talking about how we are to live in the world of human relationships in light of that knowledge.

One reason this might appear to be a disconnect between the “spiritual” things he has been talking about…salvation, love and the “secular” things here “taxes, laws” is because we have been taught (in subtle and not so subtle ways) that there is the world of “religion” and the world of “reality”

Things like gravity are thought to be “knowledge of reality”

Things like “salvation, Jesus” are in the realm of “religious knowledge” which in the end has little bearing on the real world.

This explains how people’s faith can have such a small impact on their everyday lives…their morality, their word use, their ethics, their business practices, and the like.

Paul has first given us the gospel, the truth of who God is and what he has done.

Now he is giving the implications of that truth.

The gospel is real knowledge…with implications ultimately greater than gravity.

Because the gospel shapes every aspect of our lives…how we treat each other…how we go about our work…how we respond to government and even taxes.

This talk of government and taxes is Paul demonstrating the comprehensive life claims of the Gospel.

Since Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth…then certainly he is Lord of government and authorities, and our responses to them.

Let’s look at the content of this section: 

First (the directive): We are to submit to governing authorities.

Second (the rationale): Because:

  1. They have been established by God
  2. With God’s blessing they punish those who do not obey them.

Then in verse 5 he summarizes by repeating the demand to submit as well as the two reasons why.

Then in verse 6 he gives a practical application…pay taxes.

And in verse 7 a general principle that applies here and in many other circumstances.

-Give everyone what they are “owed” based on the fact that God himself has put people in these positions.

The implication here is to give more than grudging outward recognition…we are to give them…respect, honor.

Because in so doing, we are honoring God…who has placed them there.

  1. Submit to authorities
  2. Because God has established them
  3. They are God’s instruments of human justice

Just as the last section was not a list of “love rules” that we are to check off…but rather it is the application of the gospel in our relationship to others.

So too this section is not a checklist in regards to government…it is an application of the gospel in our relationship to the human authorities we find ourselves under.

Paul does not intend to answer every question that can be asked.

He is demonstrating again and again that the gospel reality informs every single relationship we are in: family, church, work, enemies, and government.

It does not lead to easy, blind application of rules…it leads to changed hearts and minds so that we can appropriately follow the Lord Jesus as we live in complex situations in ways that honor him.

Remember, this passage was written to a church that lived in a world of Emperor worship and has been read (even to this day) by Christians who are struggling with much more than athletes not standing for the National Anthem.

Today somewhere in the world believers are risking their lives even to have a copy of this chapter in their possession.

Today believers are trying to figure out how to apply this passage when government authorities want them dead.

So as we work through this…remember this is not “pie in the sky” “Paul doesn’t understand the real world “stuff.””

Paul understood more than most of us ever will what the stakes are and how difficult it is to live the gospel in daily life.

We are going to work through this passage like this:

The Principle: The providential rule of God over everything.

The Pattern: Submission to them (government) as evidence of submission to him.

The Priority: The Lordship of Jesus trumps all other human relationships.

Principle: The providential rule of God over everything.

God has always used government and those who govern for his purposes.

His desire is that they would govern well, realizing their authority is derived from him and is given to bless people.

1Tim. 2:1   I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

But he has also used governments as his tool to bring judgment not just on individuals but also on other nations…even on his own people

Jeremiah: God told him he was going to use Babylon to judge his people.

-Jeremiah was given the unhappy task of telling his government the news that a wicked and foreign government was coming to destroy them.

-And that God was behind the whole thing.

-No wonder he was called the “weeping prophet.”

-He was badly mistreated for his faithfulness to God to deliver the message.

*By the way when modern day “prophets” declare America’s impending destruction with what seems like “delight” they are far from the real prophets of God…who never delighted in the destruction of people.

He uses even the wicked, for his purposes.

Is. 45:1   “This is what the LORD says to his anointed (servant), to Cyrus(the Persian King who conquered the Babylonians who had conquered Israel), whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him.

Then listen to what Jesus said to the Governor of Judea.

John 19:10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11   Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.

Let’s go back to 13:1

Rom. 13:1   Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

Instead of first asking all the questions like “what about Hitler and Stalin?”

What about oppressive governments now?

Those are great questions…but the starting point for understanding is here.

A knowledge of the sovereignty of God over all of human affairs…that leads to a heart that values him above all else…that leads to a commitment to actions that demonstrate his sovereignty and worth.

When we begin with “knees bowed and hearts surrendered” and confess “Jesus is Lord” then we are positioned to begin to understand…how do we live in a world of competing loyalties?

Prov. 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”

This means my life is to be “The answer is ‘yes” now what is the question?”

That attitude positions us for wisdom.

Foundational principle: begin with the providential rule of God.

Pattern: Submission to them (government) as evidence of submission to him. 

In V. 4 governing officials are called God’s “servants”…word translated is “deacon”

-In the church it is a position of voluntary service for others.

-In the church we serve God on purpose, in government they often serve God unconsciously.

There are many Civil Servant positions in our nation…they are sometimes despised and perhaps there are too many.

It would be helpful if all of those who hold these positions understood what their role actually is in society…civil service

But in verse 6, a word is again translated “servants” this time comes from a Greek word that was used to describe those who served in the Temple…Paul is pushing this example to a whole other level.

Whether they know it or not…they serve God by serving us

As believers we must know this and respond appropriately.

We obey government not just so we will not be punished…that is the fear factor in this.

We obey because of the conscience factor…we have made Jesus Lord so obedience not mere fear of punishment drives our actions.

We do what Jesus said to do…”Give to government what is rightly theirs and to God what is rightly his.”

We pay taxes

We respect uniforms, and positions.

We honor laws and institutions that are there to allow us to live our lives well.

So, vote for who you believe will govern well.

Do what you can legally do to stand against things you believe are wrong or not best.

But unless you are being asked to directly disobey God…you must comply as unto the Lord.

That is clearly what we see in Scripture.

Speed limits and other traffic laws…as unto the Lord.

Taxes, permits…as unto the Lord.

You see this is a “gut check” on what you actually believe about the Lordship of Jesus in everyday life.

It shows up in how we treat others and in how we respond to government.

Priority: The Lordship of Jesus trumps all other human relationships.

Now for the exception clause in obeying authority..

Acts 4:18   Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Ex. 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live

Dan. 3:13   Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” 16   They replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 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. 18 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 you have set up.”

It is important to know they had submitted in every way up to this point…anything that was asked…but this was an inappropriate ask.

When government authorities demand that you disobey God they have stepped out of bounds and cannot be obeyed.

But notice that in Scriptures whenever civil disobedience was practiced people were willing to pay the price of their very lives to obey God.

Peter and John…would eventually pay with their lives.

The midwives…put themselves in mortal danger because of their fear of God.

The king attempted to execute Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for breaking the law…but God rescued them.

But notice their declaration of faith…it was not that God would save them, but that he could.

“The God we serve is able to rescue us from your hand…but even if he does not…we will dishonor him by obeying you.”

*How do we live the Lordship of Jesus in a world of competing loyalties?

Most of the time the real issue is not going to be “will we disobey civil authority or disobey God?”

The issue will be “will we obey God by obeying this legitimate form of authority”

The test for most of us will be…submitting to authority when we just don’t want to.

But clearly if they ask you to disobey God, you must not comply.

Enlisted Oath of office…I will obey the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and Code of Military Justice.

So the oath to obey orders is not absolute…what is absolute?

The authority that gives those officials the authority to issue orders.

What if they give an unlawful order?

Then the military member is required by law to disobey that order.

My Lai:

In 1968 hundreds of civilians were killed by U.S. solders in Vietnam.

It was a terrible event in our history.

The leader, Lt William Caley’s name became well known after the event…but another figure was not as well known.

His name was Hugh Thompson, he was an Army helicopter pilot.

Thompson was outranked by the officers on the ground, but he put his helicopter between them and the fleeing civilians and told them he would shoot the soldiers if they attempted to kill any of the civilians trying to get away.

It was hard to know who were non-combatants and who were combatants…but he saw what was happening, determined it was wrong and made the right choice.

He received a citation and a medal but it was written in a way that hid what really happened…he threw it away.

Back home Thompson was vilified by some…he received death threats…so much for doing right thing.

Later in life, prior to his death in 2006 he was recognized and properly awarded.

Even though it took almost 40 years, at least what he did was recognized.

There are many people who have taken courageous stands against those in authority over them who were never recognized but were punished instead.

Like Dietrich Bonheoffer who stood against the Nazi regime and was executed for it.

The point is that Jesus has priority in our lives…and to obey him does not mean you will be applauded or rewarded in this life for making the good and hard choice.

The exact opposite may occur…our hearts need to be oriented in a way that we will be able say…

“The God we serve is able to rescue us, but even if he does not…we will not dishonor him.”

Conclusion:

I have a friend who is the auditor for the State of MS.

His full-time job is putting people in the government or who are on government contracts who break the law in prison…unfortunately he has plenty of business.

How does this reality (which is repeated in every state and every nation) jibe with what we read in Romans 13?

How is that God wants us to obey wicked men and women?

  1. Paul was not naive or stupid.

So we know what he isn’t saying. That all government leaders are good and moral people.

-In fact he himself had been wrongly imprisoned by the government.

  1. The word Paul used “submit” is not the same as “obey”

-Submit means to be subject to.

-We do not “obey” everything anyone in government tells us.

-If Hitler or our own president said “kill an innocent”…we cannot.

-We submit to authorities as unto the Lord…which means we obey every lawful order.

-There is an order of authority…Christ first.

-He is to be obeyed…always

-Government is to be obeyed, whenever that obedience does not lead to disobeying Christ.

Submission here implies an attitude…we are not to live as rebels but as people under Christ’s authority who when possible follow human authority.

  1. Authority: Let’s talk about authority…that is what the real issue is here.

A Roman officer came to Jesus to ask if he would heal his servant.

Jesus said he would go and heal him.

The officer said, “No need, I understand how authority works…I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me…so just say the word and the disease will obey.”

He understood how authority works and that we are all under authority.

He also, under who Jesus was…and the level of authority he held.

We must understand the authority of Jesus in our lives…in the world itself.

Timothy Leary… was a serial adulterer (5 wives), arrested dozens of times, advocated the use of LSD to expand your mind and human potential.

He is famous for among other things….this quote….”Think for yourself and question authority”

He left ruined lives in the wake of his empty and selfish philosophy and lifestyle.

That quote is a popular one (or was) but what is the fatal flaw in it.

He questioned every authority except for his own mind…”his thinking for himself” became his absolute authority…and the results was horrific.

It is circular reasoning…”think for yourself (be your own authority)…then question authority (does that include your own thoughts)

What is the solution?…”Think for yourself…then submit to the authority of God”

His problem was that he did not question the authority of his own thinking…he believed it absolutely (most people do).

Here is a better quote…”Think for yourself and choose your authority carefully.”

You will believe and obey some authority…popular opinion, current cultural or scientific consensus(if there is such a thing), your own emotions, or God.

Paul is not advocating mindless submission to human authority.

He is declaring in line with the knowledge of the gospel…that we must choose to obey God as our authority by choosing to obey those who he places in authority over us.

Certainly if they make us choose between them and God…we have already chosen God…so there really is no choice…it has been made.

But it is very important to understand that all people, everywhere, all the time are obeying an authority.

All people are sheep, following a shepherd…though some refuse to believe it is so.

We are not mindless sheep, following foolish leaders wherever they may take us.

We are not rebellious sheep, following no one except our own foolish thoughts and emotions.

Psa. 100:3 (we) Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

We yield our lives to his authority…and this reality shows up in the way we interact with the world of people he has put us in….personal relationships, as well as government authorities.

We must continually humble ourselves and submit to the authority (Lordship) of Jesus.

Whether that means we are to yield to subpar human authority, or rebel against demonic human authority and in so doing pay the cost.

In all cases, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

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