© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Authority of Government

    A. God is ultimate authority - Rom. 13:1
        1. God is omnipotent
        2. God is sovereign - Ps. 75:7; Dan. 4:34
    B. God has instituted human government - Rom. 13:1; Prov. 8:15,16
        1. Not merely "social compact" or "consent of governed" or "will of majority"
        2. Jesus recognized authority of government
            a. Caesar - Matt. 22:15-22
            b. Pilate - Matt. 26:59; 27:1; John 19:11
            c. Herod
            d. High priest
            e. Sanhedrin
    C. Human government answerable to God
        1. servants of God - Rom. 13:6
        2. judged of God for failure to act in God's authority - Ps. 2:2-6,10; Rev. 17-20
    D. Authority of government not dependent on moral character of leadership
    E. Form of government
        1. No particular form of government advocated - theocracy, autocracy, democracy
        2. God is a God of order.
        3. Any form of government better than no government, anarchy, chaos Judges 17:6; 21:25

II. Function of Government

    A. Administration of justice
        1. judge with righteousness - Ps. 72:2
        2. crush the oppressor - Ps. 72:4
        3. rescue from oppression and violence - Ps. 72:14
        4. avenger who brings wrath on those practice evil -Rom. 13:4
        5. punishment of evildoers - I Peter 2:14
        6. use the sword - Rom. 13:4
        7. law and order
        8. government has right and obligation to resist overthrow, punish treason, defend itself
    B. General welfare of citizens
        1. vindicate the afflicted, care for needy - Ps. 72:4
        2. compassion for poor and needy - Ps. 72:13; Jere 22:16
        3. bring peace - Ps. 72:3
        4. praise of those who do right - Rom. 13:3; I Peter 2:14 (moral standards?)
        5. to allow for tranquil and quiet life - I Tim. 2:2
        6. public health and education?
        7. philanthropic activities?

III. Responsibility to Government

    A. Respect and honor toward government - Rom. 13:7
    B. Submit to government - Rom 13:1; Titus 3:1; I Pet. 2:13
    C. Pay taxes to government - Lk. 20:25; Rom. 13:6,7
    D. Pray for government - I Tim. 2:2
    E. Serve in military?
    F. Serve in public office?

IV. Disobedience of Government

    A. Authority of government is not unlimited.
        1. Not blind patriotism, "my country, right or wrong"
        2. Absolute, unqualified subjection due only to absolute, unqualified authority of God.
    B. Human government usurps God's authority when demands subjection to laws contrary to
          God's character and expectations.
    C. Legitimate cause for civil disobedience - Acts 5:29
        1. Not mere personal disagreement with ideology or policies
        2. Biblical examples
            a. Daniel - prayer - Dan. 6
            b. Peter - preaching - Acts 5:27-30
            c. Paul - Acts 16:35-40; Acts 17:7
    D. Resist government, resist God - Rom. 13:2
        1. Is there ever legitimate time to resist, oppose, revolt, rebel, undermine, subvert in insurrection,
            overthrow of government?

V. Some practical questions:

    A. Is there legitimate cause to tax-revolt? American Revolution?
    B. Were European Christians right in defying Nazi authorities?
    C. Is Operation Rescue a legitimate cause for civil disobedience
    D. Should we seek a theocracy that reconstructs the dominion of theonomy?



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