The Bulletin
of the
Church of Christ at New Georgia

Tim Johnson, editor

April 17, 2011

 
In This Issue:
A Higher Standard
by Steve Klein

Stay the Course
by Richard Thetford

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A Higher Standard

        The Bible instructs God's people to comply with the laws of the land.  We are to do so even though a government may be corrupt and stand in opposition to truth and righteousness (like the government of Rome in the first century).  Christians must still respect government leaders, pay their taxes, and obey the laws.  Consider these passages:

  • Romans 13:1 -- "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God."

  • Romans 13:7 -- "Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor."

  • 1 Peter 2:13-14 --  "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good."

  However, the law of the land is not the highest standard of authority.  You may have noticed that in Romans 13:1 the apostle Paul taught that civil authorities get their authority from God and only exist because God has so appointed.  God's authority is above all civil authority.   Jesus told Pilate, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:11).

  This brings us to an interesting challenge for us as Christians.  What happens when men make a civil law that is plainly contrary to God's Law?  Peter and the apostles confronted this issue in Acts 5.  The high court of the Jews had commanded them not to teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:28).  Jesus had commanded them to teach in His name (Matthew 28:18-20).  Peter and the other apostles immediately understood that Jesus' authority was greater than that of the Jewish council. They answered and said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). 

  This principle is easy to understand, but many seem to find it hard to apply consistently.  Most Christians can easily see that just because our government has legalized abortion, doesn't mean that the Christian has a right to have an abortion.  But some find it harder to see why legalized drinking, gambling and smoking don't also authorize the Christian to engage in these activities, although each violates plain Bible principles (1 Peter 4:3; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Hebrews 13:5).   Quite a few folks seem to have difficulty understanding why legalizing bankruptcy doesn't allow Christians to willingly renege on a promise they have made to pay back money they have borrowed.  And almost no one seems to really grasp the fact that our constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech does not actually allow the Christian to say whatever comes to mind without first considering whether it is true, kind and helpful (Ephesians 4:25, 29).

  Friends, as Christians we answer to a Higher Authority.  Everything we do must be sanctioned by our Lord!  "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17).  Our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  Let's act like it.

 . -- Steve Klein


Stay the Course

  God has promised us that if we are with Him then He will be with us. Azariah, the prophet of God, spoke to king Asa and said, "The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you', (2 Chronicles 15:2). One can read about King Asa in chapters 14-16 of 2 Chronicles. When Asa sought God, then he was blessed in all that he did. He was able to destroy an Egyptian army of a million men because he sought God first. As a result of his reliance on God, he and the kingdom of Judah enjoyed 35 years of peace. In chapter 16, we learn that God forsook Asa because he began to leave God out of his decisions. In the 41st year of Asa's reign, he became diseased in his feet and still did not seek the Lord's help. Asa died having devoted the first 35 years of his life in faithful service to God, but, unfortunately, the last six years, he fell from God's grace because he no longer relied upon Him.

  The life of king Asa should teach all of us something today. Hanani, the prophet spoke these powerful words: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him..." (2 Chronicles 16:9). We can know that if we will dedicate our life fully and completely to God, then He will prosper us. But, if we choose to put anyone or anything ahead of Him, then we will not prosper. To the loyal Christian, God is our strength, hope, and salvation. Stay the course! Continue to be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). We must be faithful until the very end of our life here on earth in order to receive the crown of righteousness (Revelation 2:10)!

-- Richard Thetford

Via Walking in the Light, Vol. 5, No. 8, February 20, 2011