Yesterday we discussed Part 4 of “God’s Authority Over Every Area of Our Lives” from The Kingdom Agenda by Dr. Tony Evans, and the chapter entitled “The Authority of the Kingdom Agenda“. We are continuing that study today. What follows are excerpts from his book in the chapter The Authority of the Kingdom Agenda.
The Government’s Respect to Biblical Authority:
A final way that God’s kingdom agenda is established is by the culture’s respect for biblical authority. God’s Word forms the standard not only for personal righteousness, but also for national obedience.
Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Even non-Christian cultures can be a nice place to live if they’re operating by righteous principles. That doesn’t mean every government leader has to be a Christian. That will never happen. That’s why I used the word “respect” for this section instead of commitment. A non-Christian government will not be committed to God’s Word. But there are certain principles God has established that will benefit a society if they are followed, even if the leaders don’t know God.
Paul told us in 1 Timothy 2:2 to pray for our leaders and those in authority “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” We need to pray that leaders will become sensitive to God’s way of doing things, because a culture can be a reasonable place to live if it is informed by biblical principles.
The Bible says that God sets up and deposes kings (see Daniel 2:21). David said, “I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings” (Psalm 119:46). David knew that society must run by God’s rules. In fact, Deuteronomy 17:19 says that the king of Israel was required to read God’s Word each and every day. A nation is going to stand or fall based on whether God’s rules have permeated the culture.
That’s why our public education system is in trouble. It is trying to do the impossible—impart information without ethics. You cannot have a separation between information and ethics, because if people do not have moral guidelines by which to measure the data, they will create their own guidelines and inject them into the curriculum.
The issue is never teaching morality versus teaching no morality, but whose morality will be taught. The schools as a whole used to teach God’s morality. That’s why there used to be a time when the Ten Commandments were posted on the school wall. It was in recognition of the fact that there were basic rules of life to be honored, rules that acknowledged God’s view of life.
But governments are not merely supposed to acknowledge God’s principles for life. Even though many don’t know it, our governmental leaders are also religious leaders. A politician may toss God’s name into the discussion every now and then to get a vote, but that’s not what I mean by saying governmental leaders are religious leaders. And I don’t mean that they are supposed to try to take over the church or anything like that. I’m talking about Paul’s statement in Romans 13:4 that governmental authority is “a minister of God to you for good.” The Greek word for “minister” is a religious term. It means “one who acts on God’s behalf.” So although leaders serve in the civil realm, they are still God’s ministers.
That is, our leaders are to uphold and carry out God’s standard in the civil arena. For instance, the Bible forbids murder. When a murder is committed, a minister, in this case called a judge, must impose appropriate punishment on the murderer. Whether or not the judge acknowledges it, the rule being imposed—“You shall not murder”—is God’s rule. The reason He gave it is that we are made in His image. So when a person commits murder, he has in reality attacked God. When that happens, God has His ministers act on His behalf in punishing the offender. Judges may not even realize they are acting as God’s ministers when they impose a sentence for a crime such as murder, but the Bible says that’s what they are doing.
Another way rulers respect biblical authority and rule according to God’s guidelines is by deterring evil. Men must fear judgment if their evil inclinations are to be kept in check. Romans 13:3 implies that officials must be able to distinguish between good and evil so they can punish the evil and reward the good. But there’s only one way we can know the difference between good and evil. There must be a universal standard (see tomorrow’s post for more about this). Otherwise we’re lost, because what is good and right to one person may not be good to another person. We need a standard that will govern everybody. And since government belongs to God, it can only operate properly when it functions according to God’s forever standard, His Word.
This is where our culture is so schizophrenic. While so many are busy trying to drive God and biblical principles out of the public arena, our culture’s laws are still, for the most part, based on a biblical frame of reference. However, many times our public officials wind up rewarding evil and punishing or ignoring what is good. America at the beginning of the twenty-first century is a classic example of what happens in a society that rejects God’s rules and tries to live by man’s rules.
The result is moral and spiritual chaos. We have to live by God’s Book, because if we don’t, we’ll live by somebody else’s book. And you and I won’t like the results. When governments operate under the theocratic rule of God by reflecting biblical principles, they will begin to reflect His already existing rule to their citizens. Citizens will either be ruled by the Word of God, or by the word of men seeking to imitate God.