Christlike Submission to Authority

by Mike Ratliff

2019 ended with the start of the Impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As that farce played out the Covid-19 pandemic farce began to be played out. Oh, the disease is real, but the political reaction to it is without a doubt bizarre. Many things this year have troubled me greatly. One of those was the reaction by many Christians when the fake bad news about the pandemic started being blasted out to us constantly in the Spring. I witnessed many who before all this started professed to have a very strong faith and walk before the Lord Jesus Christ, but these same people’s faith seemed to evaporate and be replaced by a vapid fear when things got rough. Yes we had to deal with that at the very same time that we are in the midst of one of the most nasty election years I have ever seen. The demonstrations, riots, and all those liberal mayors, governors and judges siding with the rioters just caused me to retreat into my prayer closet. I contacted some of my closest Christian friends and relatives about this as well. Are we at the end? What is going on? I was reminded by some of those close to me about all those posts I have written about how God is always working to cleanse His Church and that process can seem very severe to us.

One very surprising thing that has arisen out of this was how the governor of California and the local governments there have worked very hard to shut down all the churches there, disallowing all worship services. They have sued Grace Community Church several times because they refuse to submit to this as have others. I challenged many of my readers at that time to look closely at those “Christian leaders” who sided with the government in California in this and those who supported John MacArthur and the other pastors who have made up their minds to obey God rather than man. God uses these things to reveal who are truly His and those who only pretend to be.

When this election year started I was at a different place spiritually than I am now. I was focused on getting rid of the liberals in office and getting solid conservatives in office everywhere. I even told myself that would make all the difference. However, as things just got worse and worse God seemed to have done a rework in my heart because I really am not focused on the political stuff at all anymore. No, but I really am paying close attention to the growing apostasy in our churches. It was bad at the end of the year, but it is much worse now. Several years ago, at CRN, we were duking it out daily against the leaders of the Seeker Sensitive movement and the Emergent moment then along came something called the New Evangelism coupled with something I could not quite grasp. It was called New Calvinism. The leaders of it called themselves Young, Restless and Reformed. Before this, those who were reformed in their theology were solidly behind us in standing against the devastation done by the Seeker Sensitive people and the Emergents. However, when New Calvinism came along it was like the bottom dropped out. The New Evangelism just took off and no one seemed to be willing to stand against it. That was when Stephen Furtick, for example, started Elevation Church and the Elephant Room came into being with James MacDonald. I felt like we suddenly were dealing with a pack of clowns.

What happened? Last night a good friend sent me an article about Herman Bavinck. Who? Right, I had never heard of him. Here is the link to the article. This man lived in the late 19th and early 20th Century and was a colleague of Abraham Kuyper. Both he and Kuyper are referred to as neo-Calvinists. Sound familiar? When I read that part of the article it was like the light went on. I read the rest of it and saw that Bavinick wanted to normalize relationships between Christians and Muslims and Catholics. He was all about not being seen as divisive and not being stringent about the Truth. Well there you go. His works were not published into English until 2002. When did New Calvinism come along? It was just a few short years after that. Now we have this very thing running wild in our seminaries and denominations just like a plague. If we stand against any of these liberals what happens? Who is the bad guy? It is always the one(s) who stand firm on God’s Truth alone as the Truth while refusing to budge from that stance. When we do this we are called divisive, and mean-spirited, but, in fact, we are the ones who being obedient to what we are commanded to do in God’s Word.

Yes, the election is important, but this is vital. God is in the midst of cleansing His Church. Let us pray that those who are behind the liberalization of the visible Church get what’s coming to them very soon. I am positive that those who have conformed to the Bavinick model think that John MacArthur is doing a terrible thing by simply obeying God.

On another note, pay close attention to the Gospel Coalition. It is run by Tim Keller who has buddied up to the BLM, social justice paradigm. Some of his writers have begun attacking solid Christian writers and commentators who have been revealing the outright lies published by TGC. Be carful who you listen to.

As far as the political stuff goes never forget that God is sovereign. He is in complete control of His creation. Elected officials, monarchs, despots, dictators, senators, representatives, judges, mayors, and dog catchers are all in their positions because God elected them to be there.

What about Hitler? What about Stalin? What about King Henry VIII? What about Bloody Mary? Yes, all of them reigned because God ordained it to be so. God is in control of our governments. He is the one who will allow wars and persecution. He is the one who is going to allow His people to be horribly persecuted and killed during the Tribulation. When ungodly people reign over us, how are we to behave as Christians? Are we to hate the President and not serve him? Not according to Peter in his first epistle. Instead, we are to be subject to the government that God has placed over us. What about when they do ungodly things like forbidding worship, Bible reading, witnessing, preaching, and meetings? This is exactly what is happening in China  and California right now. However, there are probably more Christians in China than there are people in the United States. They are underground for the most part. They meet in house churches always running the risk of arrest. Isn’t this defying the government that God has placed over them?

27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29 (NASB) 

The dividing line over obeying the government over us or not is very well defined. We are to obey the authorities over us in every case except where there is a conflict between it and God’s commands. God tells us to share the gospel with everyone. Some governments try to stop this. Is it wrong to defy the government here? No it isn’t because God’s commands take precedence. Has God anywhere commanded His people to despise and refuse to serve and honor the elected officials over us? No, not at all. We are not to do that. In fact, we are to simply obey God in all things giving quiet respect to all whom God has placed over us. Peter and John’s refusal to stop preaching was perfectly in line with God’s will. On the other hand, if they had acquiesced, giving in to the pressure to stop preaching, they would have been obedient to the government, but disobedient to God. That is wrong and sin every time. Yes, there are some elected officials that I do not care for. There are some I would like to see God take out somehow, but I cannot do anything but obey Him in these things. I must give quiet respect to the authorities He has placed over me while remaining completely obedient to Him. Lastly, why would we think it a strange thing that God would allow ungodly people to reign over His people? Don’t we need cleansing through suffering? Doesn’t this humble us and prepare us for eternity? Isn’t our witness as we go through fiery trials what God uses to draw people to Himself? Let’s stop with the temporally focused resentment against those who are in office and will be in office. Instead let’s obey God in all things, submitting to the authorities He has placed over us in all things except where God has commanded us otherwise.

Soli Deo Gloria!


3 thoughts on “Christlike Submission to Authority

  1. Peter said to obey every ordinance of man. In Texas, the governor’s decree to wear masks are nothing more than a lawless man’s decree – he is in violation of the state constitution, as the state supreme ruled in April. As Paul was willing to protest his unjust whipping, so we are justified in protesting unlawful actions of our government. It’s not the same as rebelling against the government when it commands us to disobey Christ.

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  2. I agree with you Mike. In this current climate of overtly aberrant and Godless political anarchy, as well as the seemingly wholesale acceptance and practice of the idolatry of false worship that is so prevalent in the countless Neo-evangelical churches in this nation, we must focus on the truth that God is sovereign and His will for we the redeemed of Christ is perfect for our instruction, exhortation, admonition, and supremely, for our maturity in Christ. Persecution and trials will “prove” to us our trust and faith in God’s sovereign control of our lives and all that we will encounter. We are “approved” in our own spirits as faithful by the resulting endurance we learn during these times of testing. James 1:1-27.

    Your statement, “God uses these things to reveal who are truly His and those who only pretend to be” is a reminder for each of us to not lose sight of the object of our worship and our position in Him. Terribly hard times for the redeemed of Christ are here; fearful times that can make us tremble. And yet still we desire to prove ourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

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