Author: Paul A. Bartz
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The topic of defense has been a hot issue in America. The threat of a nuclear holocaust has made the question a burning issue. How are we to go about defense? Do we need one? Should we even have a national defense? Many people have many approaches to the question. This study will examine Scriptures and see if there is a clear biblical answer to the question: Does a nation have the right to defense?
Before we can answer that question, we have to come to a biblical understanding of what a nation is, and upon what it is founded. We see nations rise by revolution, by succession, and by the freeing of colonies. These all are actions of men. Is there any involvement of God? Does the Bible have anything to say about government? Read Romans 13:1-7. According to verse 1, who has established government? Where does this verse say government draws its authority to govern? If God has established government, and granted it authority to govern, then Scriptures can speak to the proper limits and bounds of that authority. Before we develop this theme farther, let us look at our responsibility toward government.
Turn to 1 Peter 2:13. What is the will of God toward us concerning government? Is this the same as Romans 13:1? There is a limitation. What is it? (Hint: Acts 5:29). Does this give us the right to fight an ungodly government? Discuss: was the Roman government friendly or hostile to Christians?
Perhaps we would do well to clarify Acts 5:29 with 4:19. How does the latter differ from the former? Can we lay down a principle on the basis of these two verses? If we disobey the government, what are we doing (Acts 13:2, 1 Peter 2:15)? Romans 13:5 gives us two good reasons for obeying the law. What are they? I found three reasons listed in 1 Peter 2:5. Discuss what reasons a Christian has for obedience to the law, according to these Scriptures.
When government is in the wrong, God calls for revolution, right? Look at 1 Peter 2:19. This passage speaks about slaves dealing with owners. Do you think it is a general principle as well? Keep in mind the original lie against Christ, which has often been successfully repeated against His followers, Luke 23:2. This is another reason for being “good citizens.”
So, what do we owe the government? Read Luke 20:22. It is always a good idea to read the context of every verse. How does this passage apply? What else do we owe the government? See Romans 13:6- 7. Have you ever considered your taxes as offering to support the ministers of the Lord before? Government may not always be just or godly, but it is nonetheless from God. Discuss why God might allow an unjust government. Can there be any purpose? When we face the questions of government gone wrong, is there any comfort in Daniel 2:21? Now look at Romans 13:3-4. These are the responsibilities of government. List them. Can we extend these responsibilities to defense, without stretching Scripture?
If we look in the Old Testament, we can get an even clearer idea of Scripture’s position on this. Many times, Scripture speaks of sending the armies of Israel out to fight, particularly in Joshua. Look at Numbers 1:2-3. What does that refer to? It seems that a military is taken for granted as a fact of life. What do you see in I Samuel 14:52? Would it be fair to call this the first draft? The prophets are full of references to God using nations and their military might to do His will, even when they were unaware that it was God who molded them. The most striking example of this is seen in Isaiah 45:1. This passage is really amazing when you realize that it was penned over 100 years before Cyrus was even born!
Let us return to Romans 13. What are the responsibilities of government again? Notice the sword in verse 4. What does that refer to? The subject of capital punishment is another study, but what else may a sword be used for? Can aggression be considered lawlessness? Is there a benefit (minister to you for good) in national defense?
It is important that we never confuse our politics and our religion. Our politics should be guided (ruled) by our faith, but we cannot connect the two as though there was always only one Christian position or one Christian nation. Nations cannot be Christians, only individuals can. We may love our country, and seek God’s blessings on her, but can we ever assume that God is always on our side? What problems in America might God not be on the country’s side (agree with national policy) about?
Now is the time for discussion. Does a nation have a right to defense? Might nuclear weapons reasonably be part of that defense today? What ethical position might we consider responsible to both God and man? Don’t cut this part of your discussion (or thinking) short. The future may present you with political choices that ask the same question, and being prepared is always part of the Christian’s duty as a good citizen, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.
1985 Bible Science Newsletter.
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