Author: Paul A. Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
1. Romans 13:1-7 tells us that the authority of all governments is from God. According to verse 1, where does the government’s authority come from? Is a distinction made between “just” and “unjust” governments? Was the Roman government a “just” or an “unjust” government?
Was it friendly to Christians? Are these mentioned here as factors Christians need to consider when deciding whether to support the government?
2. What is the purpose of government, according to verse 3? What advice are the Christians at Rome given in verse 3? What surprising term (to many, anyway), is the government called in verse 4? We should keep in mind that Paul is speaking this way, under the inspiration of God, of course, even though he lived under the oppressive and anti-Christian Roman government. What important lessons can we draw from these statements of Scripture?
3. Today, a number of church bodies are busy financing “liberation movements” in various places around the world. Was the Roman government at this time one which these church bodies might want to help overthrow in the name of “social justice”? Does it sound as if Paul would support such activity?
4. Compare verses 3 and 4 here with 1 Peter 2:13-14. These two passages have more in common than that they both encourage Christians to submit themselves to the government. What specific purpose of government do they both discuss? What is government’s responsibility toward those who do evil? What is government’s responsibility toward those who do good?
What duties do citizens have toward government and their leaders, according to Romans 13:7? How does this verse indicate that the government’s authority is limited? How does Romans 13:1 indicate that government’s authority is limited? What is the limitation, according to our Lord’s words in Matthew 22:21, on the proper due that government can demand?
5. I Timothy 2:1-3 encourages Christians to pray for their government leaders. Why, according to verses 2 and 3, should we do this? (Hint: there are two reasons listed).
Based on what the purpose of government is as discussed in these passages, how are Christians natural allies of government?
6. Notice, too, that the ultimate purpose of government is not simply to provide for our comfort in a quiet and peaceable life. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 explains the purpose of a quiet and peaceable life. What is it? Are we fulfilling God’s purpose for government and for ourselves if we seek a quiet and peaceable life simply for our own comfort?
Is it likely that when Christians seek comfort and peace over mission, the Lord may try to shake them up by taking away some of their quiet and peace? Do those church activists for “peace” ever seem to have the ultimate goal of missions in mind?
7. Read Titus 3: 1-5. Note the description of our character without Christ in verse 3. Does this kind of life contribute to the peace and quiet of a society? How is such a life changed, according to the following verses?
8. Review back to the stated purposes of government. Is the goal of a peaceable life a limited goal? How is it limited? Of course we know that real peace is more than just a lack of outward hostilities. Can it be said that individuals in a society which has outward peace, secured by good government, may be in line for the blessing of a deeper and more satisfying peace? Based on what we have seen in Scripture, how does this work?
9. Only a person who has a living relationship with God, through Christ Jesus, can be truly peaceable and compassionate from the heart. Note how this theme is especially clear in Titus 3:1-6. Can we then say that the level of peace and quiet in a society is a barometer of Christian influence in society? What, then, does this barometer tell us when there are increases in violence, crime and lawsuits in a nation?
10. When the influence of Christianity fades in a society it becomes a much less pleasant place to live – especially for Christians. Based on what we have learned, who is at fault when Christianity fades in a society? Are western Christians, perhaps, seeing the results of a greater commitment to civil peace and quiet for selfish reasons, rather than for mission outreach?
11. The truth is, the western democracies are mission fields which are very much in need of the Word of God. Christianity may abound in outward form, but the power is gone – which is why parents find it hard to convey their faith to their children. Abortion, murder, rape, theft become more common – drugs become common – and people feel more free to scoff at the Bible. We should not get used to such things. They represent a reversible trend – reversible when Christians once again get about their Father’s business!
While we have a separation of the authority of church and state, Christians living in a democracy have the responsibility to become involved in the activities and policy-making of the government. Their influence in making society a more peaceful and humane place to live, based on God’s order, is ultimately intended to enable the Gospel mission that every Christian has!
Copyright © 1988 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839, Foley, MN 56329