Friday, February 15, 2008

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: I heard a great man say that he believed in the separation of church and state but not in the separation of God and government. I agree with that statement. Government has a place in God’s plan.

1. When our government does not clearly, seriously violate God’s laws, we should be subject to that government (Romans 13:1-2).

2. When our government clearly, seriously violates God’s laws, we have three choices:

A. Be subject, but work within the system to change ungodly laws. For instance, we can work to elect godly officials who will appoint godly judges.

B. Engage in non-violent civil disobedience to accelerate change or to maintain a clean conscience and be obedient to God (Acts 4:19-20, 5:29).

C. Overthrow the government. This rebellion should only occur in the most serious cases. For instance, our government does not require abortions; rather, it now only allows them. Thus, Christians in America do not advocate a revolution. In contrast, to require abortions would be much more serious. Obviously, during World War II the government of Adolf Hitler should have been overthrown. In 1776 the men who led the revolution in America said that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were "unalienable rights." They said, "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it." They overthrew the governing authorities from England.

3. Governments that function under God’s authority have the right to kill (Romans 13:3-4). Rulers are both a terror to evil people (deterrent) and God’s avengers to execute wrath on evil people (justice). Bearing the sword has implications both for capital punishment and just warfare.

4. We should pay taxes to whom they are due (Romans 13:6). Fair taxes are important for social justice.

5. We should recognize the separation of church and state (Romans 13:7). Churches and church officials should speak clearly and publicly about issues that are both political and spiritual, but they should not endorse candidates. Some of the issues dealt with by candidates are not spiritual in nature, and those non-spiritual issues must also be considered by voters. Churches and church officials should only be concerned with spiritual issues in their official public pronouncements. They should not endorse particular candidates. The decision to vote for a particular candidate involves more than that candidate’s stand on spiritual issues, although the candidate’s stand on spiritual issues is the most important consideration.

Conclusion: Government is a God-given institution. It should not be ignored. We should be good stewards of our citizenship and be salt and light in our communities. Government, however, is not a panacea. It will not solve all the spiritual problems in our communities.