A couple of weeks ago I mentioned on twitter that I was working on addressing the elections and how Christians should consider the state of our culture, our U.S. Government, the politicians being put forward by the major political parties. I delayed that post because of all of attacks on police, the rioting, and lawlessness. Because of the frantic attempts by some Pastors and celebrity preachers to “speak to the matter” I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cover the issue well enough. That delay has lead to me trying to cover too much in one post at the risk of convoluting and complicating what is essentially a simple matter. As with most things, attempting to address the culture by addressing each of its talking points is a distraction and leads to frustration. That’s not what we are about here at Faithful Stewardship.
Instead, I thought we’d look to God’s Word first and see what God’s Word has already provided us with to address living as citizens of kingdoms in this fallen world. Christians are dual-citizens, in much the same way that we are simultaneously sinner and saint. When God the Holy Spirit breathed life into us, granting us saving faith through the Word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He sealed us with the Promise of the Resurrection that is to come. We’ve been bought by the Blood of Jesus out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Heaven, by faith in His only Son Jesus. We are saints, citizens of Heaven, by faith. However, we wait for the Promise to be delivered, for Christ to be fully revealed in the Last Day when we’ll finally be rid of this temporal, corrupt, fallen world. So, we live out our lives as both citizens of Heaven, and citizens of whichever earthly kingdom God has placed us in. I’m a U.S. Citizen by birth, in the flesh, and I am also a child of God adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven by Grace through Faith. God is indeed sovereign over all, but the kingdoms of this temporal world are fallen and the Kingdom of God is eternal. A day will come in the New Heavens and the New Earth when there will no longer be a separation between the kingdoms, but for now, there is indeed separation. So, as Christians, we need to rightly understand these two kingdoms and how Scripture informs us concerning living out this temporal life as dual citizens.
Romans 13 (ESV)
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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
It is easy in our American context to dismiss the gravity of this chapter of Romans. For a long time, the church has lived in peace under the rule of law here. Indeed, some might be tempted to think of Rome during the Dark Ages, the “holy Roman Empire”. It is important to note that this letter was written at the time of the Roman Empire under the rule of Emperor Nero. This letter to the Romans preceded the height of Nero’s cruelty against Christians, and was no-doubt a source of comfort and guidance and encouragement in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for those who would be martyred.
The following account was written by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Annals published a few years after the event. Tacitus was a young boy living in Rome during the time of the persecutions.
“Therefore, to stop the rumor [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition – repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea, – where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.”
In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the dress of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot. For this cause a feeling of compassion arose towards the sufferers, though guilty and deserving of exemplary capital punishment, because they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but were victims of the ferocity of one man.”
The Apostle Paul was beheaded under the rule of Nero. Every time he writes in the Epistles concerning his chains, his imprisonment, remember the governmental authorities are the ones who imprisoned him and later put him to death. Take care in how you invoke scripture to justify anarchy. the Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen, officially, so he was put to death by beheading. The Apostle Peter was not a Roman citizen, and was also put to death under Nero, but he was crucified. Church traditions maintains that Peter was crucified upside down. What did the Apostle Peter have to say about submission to authority, even one as wicked as Neronian Empire?
1 Peter 2:13-25 (ESV) | Submission to Authority
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 3:8-22 (ESV) | Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
1 Peter 4:12-19 (ESV) | Suffering as a Christian
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
As dual citizens, we understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is eternal, and that is where we will spend eternity through the Promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also know that there exists no authority on earth apart from God, and that He has instituted government on the earth (Honor your Father and Mother). Man has fallen, and sinned, and is corrupt and hostile to God. Here in the U.S., the visible church has fallen into great confusion regarding the kingdoms of earth and the Kingdom of Heaven. It has bought into the lie that the U.S. is somehow in covenant with God like Israel was under the Mosaic covenant, and that simply isn’t true. This isn’t a Christian nation, it is a pagan nation that for a time granted freedom for Church to do its work. I’m sad to report that we haven’t done a good job of it. Regarding this present election cycle, I’d like to close with a couple of points:
- It is our duty as citizens to vote, it is our duty as Christians to vote Biblically. We should be casting our votes in keeping with Biblical standards, not pagan pragmatism. In my opinion, to cast a vote based on the artificially limited options based on the media and lobbyists is dereliction of duties both to the U.S. and to Scripture. That is just my opinion.
- The outcome of this or any election will in no way be an omen to be deciphered concerning God’s Will for the Church or for any of the earthly kingdoms. The world does what it does, and God’s Word on the matter has already been spoken and recorded for us in Scripture. The World hates God, the World stands condemned in sin and unbelief, the Gospel is the power of God to save men and women from this fate. Stop “prophesying” and attempting to divine the Will of God based on the government.
- Scripture has made it clear that before Christ returns everything will get worse, not better. There will be MORE false signs / wonders / teachers, and they will deceive many, even the elect.
- As scary as it may sound, the Church does not need the U.S. to even exist for her to carry out her commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus Christ is in no way waiting to see what the U.S. is going to do for Him to decide when its time to return in power and judgement.
We may revisit this topic from time to time, as this upcoming election season will no doubt be filled with fear mongering and paranoia, and a whole slew of blasphemous “prophecies” as folks try to eisegete the elections and the candidates. Don’t be tossed about by the winds of false doctrine and the spirit of the age. Stand on God’s Word. Keep the Faith, repent and be forgiven, and love our neighbors as yourselves. Pray for strength, pray for mercy, pray for forgiveness, and pray for the LORD to return soon. He is coming soon, and the whole world will know that Jesus Christ is LORD.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,