Christians are Good Citizens

In case you have not noticed, Christians are not in heaven yet. Though our place there is assured, in the meanwhile, God’s people live under the shadow of less than perfect Government.

Outside of the Kingdom of God, there is no perfect form of human government. As Winston Churchill once remarked, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

If ever this was true, it was true for those to whom Paul was writing. At the very epicenter of Roman rule, it is fair to say that there were tensions for the Christians in Rome.

In seeking to outline the one true Gospel, he would have been negligent if he did not also address the concerns and questions of the Roman Christians, such as:

How can someone live holy in an Unholy Empire?
What should be our attitude to those who rule over us?
Should we defy their every suggestion, question their authority, resist them with all our might?
How are we to live in this world?
If we are not of this world, why should we pay taxes to those who are of this world?

The Apostolic Message – Serve Christ in the world that is, not what you wish it to be.

The Gospel works under every form of political government. Whether it be in a democracy or a monarchy, under Marxist communism or the heel of Islam, in the west or the east, the north or the south, Christians are called to be good citizens.

Background: Written sometime between 54 AD and 57AD

The faith of the Roman Christians was well known (1:8), and Paul had desired to visit them for some time (1:13). We know there were great tensions in the city. Claudius had thrown out the Jews from Rome in 49 AD. This was how Aquilla and Priscilla had first met Paul – they had been amongst those thrown out of the city. Christians were regarded as simply a sect of the Jews. The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that the reason for Claudius’ action was rioting “at the instigation of Chrestus” (whom most scholars of antiquity believe to be a reference to Jesus).

Later on, in 58 AD, shortly after Paul writes this letter, there was a revolt against the new taxation.

In the middle of all this, Paul writes to the Christians at Rome these words: (Chapter 13:1-7)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

The principle of Scripture is this: we are commanded to obey the civil authorities unless they command us to do something that God forbids or forbids us from doing something that God commands.

The question to ask is this: If I obey the Government in this matter, am I going against the revealed will of God found in Scripture? If not, then I am commanded to obey.

Sometimes (on rare occasions) it is indeed right to disobey government. Three Scriptural examples:
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Defining Humility and Pride

Tim Challies writes:

It occurred to me recently that I own several books dedicated to the topics of humility and pride (and, many more that deal with them in passing). I began to wonder how each of the authors define their terms and, with a little bit of research, here is what I came up with. You will see that all define humility but not all so clearly define pride.

William Farley (Gospel-Powered Humility)

Humility is the capacity to see myself in God’s light, in the context of his holiness and my sinfulness.

Pride is spiritual blindness, a delusional, inflated view of self. It is unreality on steriods.

Let me also include a worthy quote: “Here is the great paradox: the proud man thinks he is humble, but the humble man thinks he is proud. The humble man sees his arrogance. He sees it clearly, and as a result he aggressively pursues a life of humility, but he doesn’t think of himself as humble. The proud man is completely unaware of his pride. Of all men he is most convinced that he is humble.”

C.J. Mahaney (Humility: True Greatness)

Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon him.

Wayne Mack (Humilty: The Forgotten Virtue)

Humility consists in an attitude wherein we recognize our own insignificance and unworthiness before God and attribute to Him the supreme honor, praise, prerogatives, rights, privileges, worship, devotion, authority, submission, and obedience that He alone deserves. It also involves a natural, habitual tendency to think and behave in a manner that appropriately expresses this attitude.

Andrew Murray (Humility)

Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.


Based on these definitions, it seems that the key to pride is the desire to elevate myself so I can have God’s position and status for myself. It effectively lowers God as it elevates self. Humility, on the other hand, is simply a right assessment of myself that takes into account the infinitely vast gulf between Him and me. Put in those terms it hardly seems like it should be the lifelong battle it is for each of us. And yet we feel its pull every day.

All Hail Him, King of Kings

“Jesus Christ is not a tyrant claiming divine right, He is now head over all things in His church, and He reigns over heaven and earth and hell with the keys of life and death at His belt. Certain princes have been glad to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in His church. If it could be put to the vote whether He should be King in the church, every believing heart would crown Him. We ought to crown Him more gloriously than we do! We would regard no expense too great if we could glorify Christ. Suffering would be pleasure, and loss would be gain, if through that we could surround His brow with brighter crowns and make Him more glorious in the eyes of men and angels. Yes, He shall reign. Long live the King! All hail to You, King Jesus! You souls who love your Lord. Bow at His feet; cover His path with the lilies of your love and the roses of your gratitude: “Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.”

Our Lord Jesus is King in Zion by right of conquest: He has taken the hearts of His people by storm and has defeated their enemies who held them in cruel bondage. In the Red Sea of His own blood, our Redeemer has drowned the Pharaoh of our sins: Shall He not be Lord and King? He has delivered us from sin’s dominion and from the heavy curse of the law: Shall not the Liberator be crowned? We are His portion, whom He has taken out of the hand of the enemy with His sword and with His bow: Who will snatch His conquest from His hand? All hail, King Jesus! We gladly own Your gentle sway! Rule in our hearts forever, You lovely Prince of Peace.”

– C.H. Spurgeon


God raises up both the true and the false prophet for His purposes. Throughout the centuries, the greatest challenge to the people of God has always been the false prophet within the ranks, rather than the military enemy outside. When Israel was right with Yahweh, no weapon formed against them could ever prosper. The clearest sign of God’s judgment is when He allows a people to have its carnal desires; when He gives them what they want but sends leaness to their souls; when He gives them over to the sin they crave (Romans 1) and allows them to embrace false prophets who lead them astray crying “peace,” “peace,” when there is no peace. As Jeremiah found to his own cost, when God’s hand of judgment comes on a people, the false prophet becomes more popular than the true. Its always been this way. When men refuse to embrace His truth, God sends them strong delusion so that they will believe falsehood.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2 Thess 2:9-12

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” – 2 Tim 4:3,4

An Avalanche of Inspiration

After examining a number of passages that attest to Scripture’s inspiration and authority, which fills the whole New Testament; and which includes not only such direct assertions of divinity and infallibility for Scripture as these, but, along with them, an endless variety of expressions of confidence in, and phenomena of use of, Scripture which are irresistible in their teaching when it is once fairly apprehended.

The induction must be broad enough to embrace, and give their full weight to, a great variety of such facts as these: the lofty titles which are given to Scripture, and by which it is cited, such as “Scripture,” “the Scriptures,” even that almost awful title, “the Oracles of God”; the significant formulæ by which it is quoted, “It is written,” “It is spoken,” “It says,” “God says”; such modes of adducing it as betray that to the writer “Scripture says” is equivalent to “God says,” and even its narrative parts are conceived as direct utterances of God; the attribution to Scripture, as such, of divine qualities and acts, as in such phrases as “the Scriptures foresaw”; the ascription of the Scriptures, in whole or in their several parts as occasionally adduced, to the Holy Spirit as their author, while the human writers are treated as merely his media of expression; the reverence and trust shown, and the significance and authority ascribed, to the very words of Scripture; and the general attitude of entire subjection to every declaration of Scripture of whatever kind, which characterizes every line of the New Testament.

The effort to explain away the Bible’s witness to its plenary inspiration reminds one of a man standing safely in his laboratory and elaborately expounding—possibly by the aid of diagrams and mathematical formulæ—how every stone in an avalanche has a defined pathway and may easily be dodged by one of some presence of mind. We may fancy such an elaborate trifler’s triumph as he would analyze the avalanche into its constituent stones, and demonstrate of stone after stone that its pathway is definite, limited, and may easily be avoided.

But avalanches, unfortunately, do not come upon us, stone by stone, one at a time, courteously leaving us opportunity to withdraw from the pathway of each in turn: but all at once, in a roaring mass of destruction.

Just so we may explain away a text or two which teach plenary inspiration, to our own closet satisfaction, dealing with them each without reference to its relation to the others: but these texts of ours, again, unfortunately do not come upon us in this artificial isolation; neither are they few in number. There are scores, hundreds, of them: and they come bursting upon us in one solid mass. Explain them away? We should have to explain away the whole New Testament. What a pity it is that we cannot see and feel the avalanche of texts beneath which we may lie hopelessly buried, as clearly as we may see and feel an avalanche of stones!

Warfield, B. B. (2008). The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Volume 1: Revelation and Inspiration (65–66). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

HT: Dan Phillips

Skeptical about Evolution

Evolution is a theory in crisis. Of course many would NOT want you to know that, but more than 800 Ph.D.-bearing scientists have recently signed a statement expressing skepticism about contemporary evolutionary theory’s claims that random mutation and natural selection account for the complexity of life. These scientists say, “Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”


Mormonism 101

DID YOU KNOW???? …the Jesus of Mormonism is the begotten offspring of an exalted man and one of his many wives who lives on a planet circling a star named Kolob, and his “gospel” is the message of how you, too, can be exalted to godhood.

Excellent Resources by Dr. James White can be found here.

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.

– Kent M. Keith

Witchcraft Exposed (and Defeated)

Galatians 3:1 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (literally, who has put the evil eye on you or brought you under their spell) It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”

Witchcraft is a dark, demonic force. It is easy to recognize in its various outward forms. However, there is a subtle form of witchcraft that this verse in Galatians exposes. Witchcraft, in its overt and visible manifestations seeks to do its damage to the people of God. Yet by stealth and through the means of false teaching, witchcraft also seeks to obscure the message of the cross in the Church.

Paul rebukes the Galatians, saying in so many words, “What’s wrong with you people? Who has brought you under their spell? You saw the cross. It was so very clear to you. What? Can’t you see it anymore?”

Let me state it once again, witchcraft seeks to obscure the message of the cross in the Church.

What Paul writes is intriguing. How could he make this comment, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified”? How could Paul suggest such a thing?

Did Paul forget who it was he was writing to? Did he have some mental aberration and think he was writing to the Christians at Jerusalem and not in Galatia? The Galatian Christians were not at Golgotha to see the Lord crucified.

Ahhh yes, but years later, the Holy Spirit had erected the cross in Galatia through the preaching of the apostle Paul. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul could write that they had seen the cross.

Either Paul was misguided or else there is a truth here that is breathtaking. Obviously, it is the latter. Because Paul had preached the cross, the people had indeed “seen” it. When the cross is rightfully preached, the Holy Spirit goes to work to make it visible to the hearers. That is why the Apostle Paul could scold the Galatian Christians for allowing the enemy, and specifically the power of witchcraft, to obscure the truth of the cross from their eyes.

This is always the tactic of the devil. He seeks to make that amazingly clear portrayal of the cross become cloudy and fuzzy in the hearts and minds of Christians.

When a room is in darkness, we don’t use a vacuum cleaner to get the darkness out. We simply turn on the light.

How do we break the power of witchcraft? Certainly not by performing some elaborate or intricate religious ceremony, or incantation. Certainly not by engaging in speculation or superstition. So when witchcraft has invaded the Church, what do we do? How do we break its grip? How do we remove the darkness? What do we do when a Church has been “bewitched”?

We break the power of witchcraft by the clear preaching and proclamation of the cross and being reminded of all that was achieved and its implications. That’s how! And that is exactly what the Apostle does in his letter to the Galatians.

When the cross is preached, Jesus is publicly portrayed among us as crucified.

Friday Round Up

(1) Some quotes:

Martin Luther on Romans – “It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

“We tend either to ignore the future, because we are so consumed in the drama of the here and now, or to see it as simply a continuation of our present lives, with our loved ones there and sickness and death gone. But in Jesus we see a future that has continuity and discontinuity. In his resurrected life, Jesus has gone before us as a pioneer of the new creation. Perhaps we dread death less from fear than from boredom, thinking the life to come will be an endless postlude to where the action really happens. This is betrayed in how we speak about the “afterlife”: it happens after we’ve lived our lives. The kingdom, then, is like a high-school reunion in which middle-aged people stand around and remember the “good old days.” But Jesus doesn’t promise an “afterlife.” He promises us life—and that everlasting. Your eternity is no more about looking back to this span of time than your life now is about reflecting on kindergarten. The moment you burst through the mud above your grave, you will begin an exciting new mission—one you couldn’t comprehend if someone told you. And those things that seem so important now—whether you’re attractive or wealthy or famous or cancer-free—will be utterly irrelevant.” – Russell Moore

Thus Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going. He first presents an object that occasions some thoughts; these set on fire the affections, and they fume up into the brain, and cloud the understanding, which being thus disabled, Satan now dares a little more declare himself, and boldly solicit the creature to that it would even now have defied. Many who at this day lie in open profaneness, never thought that should have rolled so far from their profession; but Satan beguiled them, poor souls, with their modest beginnings. O Christians, give not place to Satan, no, not an inch, in his first motions. He that is a beggar and a modest one without doors, will command the house if let in. Yield at first, and thou givest away thy strength to resist him in the rest; when the hem is worn the whole garment will ravel out, if it be not mended by timely repentance. — William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:77

The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will. – Jonathan Edwards

No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. The fact that “the Lord reigneth” is indisputable, and it is this fact that arouses the utmost opposition in the unrenewed human heart. – C. H. Spurgeon

Theology is a serious quest for the true knowledge of God, undertaken in response to His self-revelation, illumined by Christian tradition, manifesting a rational inner coherence, issuing in ethical conduct, resonating with the contemporary world and concerned for the greater glory of God. – John Stott

Our sins have been put away. To use the language of the Scriptures…they are completely removed, put behind God’s back, blotted out, remembered no more, and hurled into the depths of the sea. – Jerry Bridges

The wonder of the cross is not the blood, but whose blood and to what purpose. – Donald English

(2) Once again, Ligonier has some excellent deals on right now in this week’s $5 Friday sale. I particularly recommend the “heaven” series on CD. Check out the $5 Ligonier sale here.