March - Reading 21

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good morning -

    The reading in Romans today has been the center of much debate, submitting to the authority of the state. Paul's conviction is that all authority comes from a soveriegn God and no government head is established without God's knowledge and admission. This is an interesting concept and will probably continue to be debated until the return of Christ.
    Remember in Matthew 4:8-9, Satan was able to offer Christ all the nations of the world. Further, we read in Acts 4:19, and 5:29 that the apostles firmly believed that we are to follow God and not men. Later in 1Peter 2:13-17, we will see Peter reconfirming what Paul has said in Romans. The scriptures set a fine line for us to walk. We do not want the world to despise us and accuse us of rebellion, yet at the same time all authority rests in God. I believe the New Testament past the Gospels is clarifying what Christ said in Matthew 22:21, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Also in John 19:11 when Christ stood before Pilate He says, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

    The reading in Matthew is probably very familiar to most people in our culture. The mocking of Christ, the torture before the crucifixion, and the violent disrespectful nature of the people involved are the pinnacle of the drama of the Gospels. Today we will read the climax of the story. One point I want to mention however. Notice in Matthew's account in verse 34, the wine and gall mixture is offered to Christ as a sedative which He refused. Mark claims it was refused outright, Luke claims it was offered as a mock, and John does not mention the event.

    May God bless you

    - Clint

    [ March 21, 2003, 07:42 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson – 1/22/06

    Romans 13

    To be a good Christian, one must be a good citizen. It sounds simple enough on the surface, even elementary. The concept is extremely important both to the church and the individual members of the church. Being a good citizen includes recognizing governmental authority over many aspects of our lives. It is, therefore, a concept that many Christians have a great deal of trouble accepting.

    Our primary allegiance belongs to God, Whom we have been adopted by through His Son, Jesus Christ. This leaves us with the question of what duty we may owe to earthly authorities. Paul addresses the question headlong in today’s Passage. Of course, Paul had in mind his initial audience of the church in Rome, but the implications of these imperatives are relevant even today. The Roman Christians, particularly the Jewish Christians, had a history of zealousness, an outward rebellion towards the Roman government of the day. Planned insurgencies and acts of terrorism were a normal practice among many of the more radical of them. Others who were less zealous may have had questions about paying taxes to a pagan government that used that revenue to initiate programs counter to their beliefs.

    The first seven verses of chapter 13 are nestled between two lengthy Passages on the subject of love and it is fitting that they are situated where they are. Part of the church’s mission is to reach out to the world and part of doing so involves putting on a good face for the world. From the onset of Christianity, we have taught that as adopted sons of God we are members of a higher kingdom. Pilate questioned Jesus about this and was answered that the kingdom to which we belong is not of this world. Pilate found no cause to crucify Christ because He and His movement were no threat to the Roman Empire.

    Granted, there is a line that the government can cross which may call our allegiance to God into jeopardy. The Scriptures have numerous accounts of civil disobedience and even outright lawlessness cited (take Peter’s jailbreak, for instance). Acts 5:29 shows Peter and the other Apostles standing boldly before the Sanhedrin proclaiming that they were to obey God rather than men. Paul himself before his conversion oversaw the martyrdom of saints. Yet for all this, we are given the command today to submit.

    Romans 13:1-7 Loyalty to the State

    While the translation rendered “higher powers” or “government” has been the subject of some debate over the years, it is generally accepted that the intention is “civil authority.” The command is to be submissive to them. This is the same term used for children to parents and wives to husbands in Colossians 3. It is not slave-like obedience but a recognition of authority. We, as Christians, recognize the authority they have because we know that God is the root of all authority.

    This is a difficult concept for the limited mind of man to grasp. However, if we accept the premise that God is sovereign and totally in control, we must also accept the premise that every leader who comes to power is done by His knowledge. The concept is not unique to the New Testament. God raised up Pharaoh to display His power. He raised up the Assyrians and the Babylonians to punish a rebellious Israel. He raised up Cyrus to liberate the Jews at the end of the exile. God will use the Christian and the pagan ruler to implement His purpose. Therefore, to not submit to the civil authority is to not submit to the will of a sovereign God.

    The word “ordinance” or appointment” in verse 2 demonstrates that not only is God aware of who comes to power, but that He has put the authority they have in their control. God ordained three major institutions: the family, the church, and the government. Each has its purpose in His plan for the world at large. “Damnation” or “judgment” in verse 2 may mean spiritual condemnation but more likely refers to secular punishment from the governing authorities.

    The purpose of governing authorities is to keep order in our world and in our society. Paul states that they are not established for those who do good but for those who do evil. For those who do the worst evils, the government “bears the sword,” a euphemism for the authority the government has to carry out capital punishment or go to war. There was no moral question on the subject of capital punishment for Paul. God had given the government the sword.

    For those who are not believers, fear is the motivation for good citizenship. The fact that the government can punish its citizens is still the primary deterrent for most crime. For the Christian, there is the matter of conscience. Since God instituted the government, our compliance with it is a matter of obedience to God’s will. The state is not eternal as God is eternal, nor is it redemptive as the church is, but it is God’s way of keeping order among the lawless.

    Recognizing that the governmental leader is an ordained agent of God also explains why we must pay taxes. We pay taxes to the government because it is God’s servant (verse 4), the same term used for deacon in the Scriptures! They are also God’s ministers (verse 6), the term used for those who render a religious service such as a priest.

    It was not long after Paul wrote this Letter that Nero began his onslaught against Christians who refused the implementation of Emperor worship. Nonetheless, confidence in the government as an institution remained unshaken as Peter wrote from “Babylon” these same instructions to the church.

    Romans 13:8-10 Love to the Neighbor

    While the debt we owe in taxes can be fulfilled by payment, there is one debt that never goes away. That is the debt of love we owe to every person. As good citizens who are to put a good face on the church, we are obligated to pay all of our debts in full. Some interpret the imperative of verse 8 as meaning that we are not to go into debt. Others see it as referring to fulfilling all of our contracts. Either interpretation holds weight.

    The debt of love to our neighbor, however, is a debt we incur through being the sons of the Almighty God, Who loved mankind enough to send His Son. The “law” in verse 8 is the Mosaic Law that Jesus Christ fulfilled. The love we have for our neighbor, the Christian and non-Christian, is rooted in that fulfillment.

    Paul goes on to list a few of the Commandments concerning our love of neighbor. When Christ was questioned concerning the most important commandments, loving one’s neighbor as oneself ranked second. James called this the “royal law.” The Mosaic Law in its simplest form commanded that no one was to do any harm to his neighbor. To do no ill to one’s neighbor requires the love that we are given by the Holy Spirit to in turn give to mankind, the same love that brought the Son of God to earth for us.

    Romans 13:11-14 Living in this Crucial Time

    The word “that” in verse 11 is in relation to “this” in verse 9. Thus Paul is expressing that our continual debt of love to our neighbor is met by two things: the fulfillment of the Law and our recognition of the nearness of eternity. We live in the time between the first and second coming of Christ but the New Testament audiences were always assured that the time was near. So, too, must we view the time as near.

    A conviction on the part of the believer will prompt an upright life of good citizenship and love of one's neighbor. Before the Gospel man lived in darkness but now we have been made aware that we should be pure. Thus, the time is upon us that we should awaken to the dawn of light brought to us through the Gospel of Christ. The time of our final reward, our salvation from spiritual death is upon us. Each day brings our glorification nearer.

    Paul continues the metaphor in verse 12 telling us that the night, the time of the Gospel between the comings, is nearly over and now is the time that we are to put on our “armor of light.” This armor is the instrument that God has armed the Christian with to stave off the forces of evil in this world. The armor of light is represented by our good conduct in society and towards our fellow man. The “acts of darkness” are those things that diminish our image in society. It is the duty of each and every Christian to be an ambassador for the Kingdom to which we owe our first allegiance.

    We are to conduct ourselves in a becoming manner when in this world. We are not to be involved in public disorder such as rioting. We are not to be involved in personal disorder such as drunkenness. The word “chambering” in verse 13 refers to immodest sexual behavior. Such was the mark of much of the pagan Roman world as it is of our own society. Wantonness is a related concept referring to an unabashed lack of restraint. Strife relates to contentious behavior and envying, in this instance, has to do with the zealous passion that grows out of strife. It is that unhealthy competition that rejoices in the defeat of its opponent.

    Already the Christian has been told to put on the armor of light but now that armor is called Christ. We are to imitate His example, His spirit. We are to become like Him. He was temperate, chaste, humble, and meek. It is these aspects of His character we are to emulate. To not put on Christ, our armor of light, leaves us prone to give in to the desires and lusts of our flesh. To not put Him on makes us bad citizens and terrible emissaries for our Lord. To not become Christlike makes us at odds with our purpose as an institution, to bring lost souls to God.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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