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Exploring Romans

Part 4. Romans 8:31-39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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 Partake - Issues

Government

 

In the UK, when we have a General Election, that is where people vote for their political representatives. After al the votes are counted there will be a government elected! This of course, is not unique to the UK! All people all over the world live under some from of leadership or government.  That government may be democratically elected, a monarchy or even an oppressive dictatorship. 

Whatever kind of government we find ourselves with, we have one!  If there was not a government in place, as hard as it is to imagine, total chaos would reign and people would just do whatever pleases them, regardless of consequences and regardless of other people.  Therefore, regardless of whatever government we live under, what does the Bible say should be our reaction and attitude to the government. 

By government, I mean all levels of government and authority - from local authority to federal government. 

But first of all, lets look at what the Bible has to say about the function of human government, before going on to look at our responsibility to Government and our community.

The Function of Human Government

Paul writing in Romans 13 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour."

Here Paul indicates that there are at least three functions of a human government: protection, punishment and promotion.

  • Protection: From the moment Adam sinned, it was plainly obvious that human civilizations would need some form of restraint and law, in order to protect their citizens - form themselves and others.  We see this clearly in Acts 21, where the Roman soldiers step in to save Paul from being killed by other people in Jerusalem. 
  • Punishment: Paul stipulates that duly appointed government officials and servants are to be considered as servants of God (even if they don't believe in God!) 
  • Promotion: Human government, as thought by Paul, was to promote the broad-spectrum welfare of all the community and not just select groups, where its laws are in effect.

 

Christian Response to Human Government

 

Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 writes: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour,"

The Apostle Peter goes further when writing in 1 Peter 2v13-17 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king."

From these passages of Scripture we see that it is clearly impossible to be simultaneously a solid Christian and a poor citizen.  As Christians we have responsibilities to our government.

  • Firstly we have a responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that God ordains the Government. We see that from Paul's writing in Romans 13 and Paul was writing when the Emperor Nero was in power and systematically persecuting and torturing Christians!  We also see this thinking in the passage from 1 Peter. There is no authority except as given by God.  Even to the most sadistic, dictatorial or atheist governments - they have power only because God has allowed them.  So we are to obey our government!  But it is not to be slavish obedience regardless of what laws are decreed! No!   The exception to this is where obedience to the Government would require the Christian to actively or passively disobey God.  For we read in Acts 4v18-20 that the believer is to live in obedience to God rather than man.
  • Secondly, as much as we probably hate to, we are commanded to pay taxes to the government!  For by doing so, the government can set about ensuring, for example, that the weaker and more vulnerable sections of the community are cared for and protected!
  • Thirdly, and quite possibly, most importantly, Christians are to pray for their leaders, governments and those in authority!  Both Peter and Paul command and recommend it!  To pray for them is to love them and it is also a way for God to shine into the lives of people.  One of the things we are to pray for, is that the government governs righteously, honourably, honestly and with integrity. The Christian, as a citizen, is free to be law-abiding, conscious that they are under submission to Almighty God. It also means giving respect to all members of society from the lowest to the highest!  As Christians, we are to submit ourselves to our Government and be living lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ. This may indeed win some for God, win the recognition of their government as well as influencing Government policy and law.  Whatever government you find yourself under, pray for your leaders even if you thoroughly disagree with some or all of their actions.  They are in power, only because our God has allowed them.  They will answer to Him one day for what they have done with the power given to them by God alone.  God is in control, and He is on the ultimate throne and is the definitive power!

 

Community Responsibility

But just as we have responsibility to our Government, we also have a responsibility for those in our community - both local and global.  We are also to work for social justice and be involved in social action - that's part of our loving of other people.  The oppression and persecution of people is to be anathema to us as Christians, just as it is to our God!  Where a minority is maltreated and discriminated we should be at the forefront of demanding justice for all!  We are to be promoting civil rights and using all aspects of the law to do so.  We are to be working to ensure the poorest members of our community, both local and global, are cared for and the oppressed freed! In your country, this could mean peaceful demonstrations and interacting with your political representatives! 

Look at some of the great reformers or social activists of the past: Wilberforce helping to abolish slavery; or Martin Luther King Jr. at the forefront of ending segregation and racism.  May each one of us, on both a local and international scale, play some small part in ending prejudice, suffering, racism, poverty, bigotry, abuse, oppression and other injustices. 

As John Stott once said: "The reason for our acceptance of social responsibility... is simple uncomplicated compassion.  Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need."

As Jesus of Nazareth once said: "Love God and love other people."

Some questions to help your thinking!

  1. In what way can I influence and encourage my government to promote justice, free the oppressed and take care of the poor?
  2. How can I help my government authorities to protect, punish and promote?
  3. When was the last time I actively prayed for those in authority over me, whether Christian or secular? Thank you.

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POD - Psalm 124

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Psalm 124

 

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 If the LORD had not been on our side - let Israel say:

2 if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us,

3 when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive;

4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us,

5 the raging waters would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

7 We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare;

the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

 

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Exploring Romans

Part 3. Romans 8:18-30

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.


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WISE - Prayer

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Prayer

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I wonder what you think prayer is and how much of it you have experienced? Is your vision and experience of prayer too small? Let us find out together, a small part of prayer!

Prayer is to be at the centre of the relationship between God and the Christian. It is the major interaction and fellowship between God and humans, and of humans communicating with God, both in talking and listening. Prayer is allowing God to be consciously in to all aspects of Christian's life and enjoying God's companionship.

John Calvin, said that part of praying was asking for "what we have learned to be available" in God's love and of His being the infinitesimal good giver. He goes on to say our "only security" is achieved by calling on the Father for His providence out of His infinite mercy.

Prayer is ultimately what humans were made for: conversing with God. Regardless of status or maturity or any other man-made barrier, God is always accessible, through prayer, to all those seeking Him with a contrite heart and a humble spirit. This dynamic relationship enables the Christian to engage in prayer that is both personal and relational.

All prayer consists of a desire or longing to know God better, and that is to be the prime motivation: to know God better and more intimately. Prayer's function is to a constant yearning for God's assistance! It is to be a strengthening of desire towards eternal happiness, holiness and worship and knowledge of God.

God Himself assists us as we pray! Did you know that? He does this by correcting and strengthening the yearning we express. Prayers express desires and thoughts in a contributory way to the journey of the Christian Disciple. Prayer emits our words from ourselves to the God we seek to know, as a response to His reaching out to us.

Through prayer, God is able to comprehend the Christian Disciple regardless of language, grammar or oratory skill as long as the Christian Disciple approaches with a correct attitude. Words however, are not just to be a mental action but also an emotive act, conveying emotions and feeling. Prayer is to convey deep emotions to God, regardless of our language skills. The words spoken in prayer portray our innermost feeling to Him. Because God is personal, He values language and expects His people to talk to Him. Prayer is intimacy with God!

If for some reason, the Christian Disciple is unable to convey their words in prayer, then Romans 8v26, intimates that the Holy Spirit intercedes. Prayer epitomises the Father-child relationship symbolized in the Christian Disciple's relationship with God. It further symbolizes the freedom and peace in prayer, advocated by Jesus to communicate His deepest desires, as in the Lords Prayer (Matthew 6v9-13) and in John 17.

Don't just have your prayer time in the morning or evening and leave it at that. Pray throughout the day as well, asking God for His assistance as you go about your daily life! Go! Pray!

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Pod - Psalm 24

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Psalm 24


1 The earth is Yahweh’s, with its fullness;
the world, and those who dwell therein.

2 For he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the floods.
3 Who may ascend to Yahweh’s hill?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart;
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,
and has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from Yahweh,
righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek your face—even Jacob.

Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, you gates!
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
Yahweh strong and mighty,
Yahweh mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
yes, lift them up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
Yahweh of Armies is the King of glory!
Selah.

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