2006-12-03 - Daniel
Installment 31 - Daniel 3 - Conclusion
The Christian's Civic Duty
Conclusion: D. K. Campbell wrote on the Christian's civic responsibility in BibliothecaaScra.
My concluding comments are adapted from his article.
We are commanded to civil obedience. And there are very few situations in which our responsibility to God means disobedience to government. There are a number of factors tied to our responsibility to civic authority. The first is civic. Campbell notes:
"In logical order the first civic responsibility enjoined upon Christians in the Word of God is respect for the men who exercise civil authority. Peter commanded his readers, "Honor the king" (1 Pet 2:17)." 7
"Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."
Remember, as with the command to honor parents, the issue here isn't whether the person deserves respect - but rather our attitude towards others in obedience to God. And even though we are a republic, which is certainly different from the governments of Daniel's time, or even the world of the New Testament, the principles remain the same.
Second, we have a responsibility to obedience. Again quoting Campbell:
"The natural outgrowth of a proper respect for civil authorities as God-ordained will be obedience to them and their regulations. This second principle of Christian civic responsibility, however, is specifically commanded in the Scriptures. Paul declared unequivocally, "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers" (Rom 13:1). ...
Third, we have a responsibility to support our government.
"The Scriptural injunctions are very plain on this point, emphasizing the duty of the citizen to contribute financially to the support of his government. In this regard the Apostle Paul commanded the Romans, "Render to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom ... " (Rom 13:7). The noun translated 'dues' comes from the verb meaning to owe and consequently means debts or those things which are owed. The specific obligations mentioned here are material. The word translated 'tribute' applies to the taxes paid by a subject nation, either on a per capita basis or on the basis of property assessments or both. The word translated 'custom' relates to the normal levies and taxes assessed for the support of the civil government, in particular custom duties on goods imported or exported. Paul's injunction agrees exactly with the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" ... (Matt 22:21)." 9
But when the time comes to stand against the demands of government, we must be prepared to accept the consequences. We stand knowing that God will keep us, but He will do so for our benefit, not necessarily for our comfort. Let me close with Dr. McGee's words.
"Now these three Hebrew children are back in Nebuchadnezzar's favor. Twice they had the sentence of death upon them, twice they had been miraculously delivered and twice they have been promoted. In the same way the Lord Jesus is able to keep his own in the world today. That ought to be a comforting thought to many of us. He said in John 10:27-28: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." And again in John 17:11 - "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." He continued, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]" (John 17:15). In Hebrews 7:25 we read: "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." And finally, Paul wrote, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed untohim against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12). My friend, you and I are living in a world today in which we are going to have trouble. Some of God's children do get into a fiery furnace, but He is able to keep them even there, and He is able to bring them out of it. We simply do not trust the Lord like we should - we do not have the faith of these three Hebrew children." 10
Let us pray for the desire to have the courage and to be filled with the Spirit to empower it.
7 Campbell, D. K., "Content of Christian Civic Responsibility,"
Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 111, Number 444, Dallas Theological Seminary,
Dallas, TX, October 1954, p. 352-356.
Personal Application: Let us examine our life in light of our priorities. Has there been a time we should have stood for God when we didn't? Are we facing something where we will have to make a choice? Let us be prepared at all times to be God's ambassadors to a fallen world.
Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us to live as ambassadors of the gospel and Your kingdom, representing Your light in a world of darkness.