Know the Difference!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We are blessed to live in a Country where freedom is prized. The fact is that our Nation was built upon Judeo-Christian principles. May we all endeavor to guard our freedom.
But, I have observed that Christians sometimes confuse politics with the church. For example, some in the church examine candidates for public office with the same criteria as those appointed to the Office of an Elder or Pastor. Christians need to know their duty to the government and to God.
On the one hand, Christians obey governing authorities, Romans 13:1. God ordained civil authorities for the good and welfare of all people. Christians respect the rule of law and obey civil laws. The Apostle Paul said to do otherwise is to resist God. Paul wrote those words while under the authority of the Roman Empire.
On the other hand, the church must know how to act when man’s law contradicts God’s. When Peter and John were commanded by the government to cease from preaching the truth of Christ, they responded to the leaders, “We must obey God rather than men.” By making that decision, they bore the consequences.
God has established a sphere of rule, a granted authority, to civil government. God has not given over all authority to civil government. Christians confess that Jesus is Lord. The early Christians lost their lives because they refused to confess that Caesar was lord. The church lives under the headship of Christ. He is King and Head of the church. Christ died for His bride, the church. The Apostles’ John and Peter were quick to respond to the leaders of their day because they knew the truth of God!
Jesus gave a commission to the church before He ascended. He declared that He had all authority in heaven and on the earth. He commanded His followers to make followers. He gave the means by which followers were to be made. He said to baptize them in the name of the triune God and to teach everything that He had commanded, Matthew 28:18-20.
The church takes seriously her commission. The church is accountable to God to teach and preach the word. The Apostle Paul commanded Timothy, a Pastor to, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” 2Timothy 4:2
The church is the place where the whole counsel of God is to be taught. There is no eternal value in teaching men and women how to live a better life. God has called His people to a new life. We are new creatures in Christ. We have been changed to live for Him. Jesus said that a follower of His must die to self. He used the cross, an implement of execution to teach disciples that they had to take up their cross daily and follow Him. He wasn’t speaking of bearing our lot in life. He was calling men and women to die to self. Jesus said that to lose one’s life was to save it.
Governments will come and they will go. Praise God that we live in a nation where we are free to worship God and free to live for God. We would do well to learn what it means to follow Him so in the event we are challenged, we will know what is right.
Paul said that there would be times like this. “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
First, Paul spoke to those in the church. He addressed professing Christians. Second, Paul wrote of the last days. The last days began when Christ ascended and will end when He returns. That is, we are living in the last days.
Pastors, let’s not waste time in the church. Teach the truth. Be ready when things are going well and when they aren’t. I believe that this is a time for the church to be the church of God. This is an opportunity to be equipped with the truth of God so that we will know when to obey God rather than men. Are you in a church that teaches the whole counsel of God?