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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
I pray you are utilizing your Bible, as you’re following along with us in the study of God’s Word. In other words, I’m asking you to search the Scriptures and not depend so much on what you’ve heard in the past or thought you heard in order to understand what the Bible truly says and does not say in some cases. (Acts 17:10-12)
Now I know some people are going to disagree with something I’ve said every now and then and I really don’t mind if they choose to do so, as long as whatever they have a problem with is based solely on Scripture – rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). I’ve informed all my students from the “get-go,” and I’ve reminded this group many times, if you can show me where I’ve erred in my teaching while using this book – go for it! But if someone is going to be disagreeable strictly because they say, “tradition holds…,” my denomination teaches the subject differently, or they heard someone somewhere preach it another way, then all I have to say is you’re walking on thin ice.
All my Bible lessons are as true to the Word of God as I can consciously prepare them and minus my opinion. Moreover, the people in this study who know me personally know one of my sincerest prayers is never to publish a Bible lesson with an “untruth” in it. To accomplish this from week to week I depend on prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance (John 16:12-15; Titus 2:7-8).
I answered the call to teach God’s Word 20 years ago because in my younger days I was misled by my church group. They were “twisting” God’s Truths found in the Bible and teaching the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:6-13). Many of the Grace Age Doctrines weren’t being taught at all. Of course I was totally unaware of all this until I decided to open the Bible myself and I started studying it; something this denomination told us we didn’t have to do they would tell us what the Scriptures say.
In June 1971 Pete Townsend wrote a song for the rock group The Who and the title of this song expresses my thoughts on this subject thoroughly, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Because I was misled for many years, because so many things I was taught by my church while growing up were NOT true to God’s Word, when given the opportunity to teach this book I made a promise to my Savior. I promised Him that wherever people gather to listen to me they would hear the Truth of His Word, and I have dedicated my life to this effort.
Why? Because where you spend eternity hangs in the balance.
The Lord Jesus Christ warns people NOT to base their Eternal Salvation on: good works alone, a church denomination, convenience, emotions, baptism, confirmation, religious traditions, or because you prayed the sinner’s prayer. Far too many people believe there are “many paths to heaven.” There are far too many people who have based their salvation on the wrong thing and this because they are not being taught the fundamental Church Age Doctrines and the Apostle Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16).
Scripture says Salvation is of God! The only thing the Creator God asks of men and women is to believe that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for their sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). You and I have no other obligation in this process despite what you may have been told: For by grace you have been saved (because I tithe regularly, I joined the right church, this feels right, because I was baptized in a specific way, this is how mom and dad did it, I prayed the sinner’s prayer – NO. What does this book say – you have been saved) through faith (alone); and that not of yourselves, it is the (what) gift of God; (Ephesians 2:8).
I don’t know about your gifts but I don’t have to do anything for mine; they’re given out of love freely and unconditionally. This is how God’s Grace works for sinners (Romans 5:8). One day each Believer will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to see if our lives lined up with the Word of Truth. Therefore, every Believer should examine their lives, in light of Scripture: Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Thanks for being here today.
Last week in verse 1, Paul stated that human government has Divine authority. Verse 2 emphasizes Divine consequences to those who oppose or resist what God has ordained.
Please open your Bible at Romans chapter 13:3. Let’s read some Scripture together.
Be Subject to Government
3: For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
4: for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
5: Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
6: For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7: Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
I pointed out in the previous lesson that Christians aren’t much different than non-Christians in their attitudes and responses toward governing authorities. I didn’t do this to be judgmental. That’s God’s department. This report is based solely upon “observation.” Compliance to the laws enacted by the civil authorities is (reluctantly) given but (full) cooperation is not.
I’ll cite one example. At a time when steep tax increases and deep spending cuts appear to be the only options available to decrease the federal deficit, the IRS going after all the tax-cheats and deadbeats would seem to be a “no-brainer.” However, this isn’t being done. According to a recent Washington Post article, the IRS estimates that $400 billion in federal income taxes go uncollected each and every year. If you think only the unsaved are responsible for this irresponsible behavior, you’d be mistaken.
Without a doubt the saved as well as the unsaved are responsible for the lawlessness that is sweeping this nation (and the world) like a disease. But this should not be, since Believers have been “set apart” from the world, according to God’s Word. This is what Paul has been teaching us. Believers are called by God to be like Him in behavior and in speech. Furthermore, True Believers, according to Scripture, are citizens of heaven right now (not when we actually arrive on scene) and the Truth is we’re all living in the “here and now” as the Lord Jesus Christ’s ambassadors. (Philippians 3:20)
Generally speaking, an ambassador is “one who serves.” When our Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “we are ambassadors for Christ…” this applies to all Believers. Every true Believer is a servant of the God of this Bible. As lost people, we once “served” sin. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which were bound (enslaved), so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter (of the Law). (Romans7:6; 12:1-2)
Ephesians 2:19-20 affirms the Truth that we are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone – because we are citizens of heaven our lifestyle is to reflect this status and not when the mood strikes, but each and every day. In other words, your status as a Believer and an ambassador for Christ Jesus isn’t something you turn off and on like a kitchen faucet.
The ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him or her authority. Having said that and since Believers have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:4), our primary responsibility is to share Scriptural Truths with others, especially God’s Gospel. In addition, we are to be living lives in accordance with all the Truths He has revealed to us in this book, as we make our way through this world without being of it (John 17:14-16, 18:36).
Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same
We must understand that being in the world but not of it is necessary, if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. How will the unsaved individuals know we are a child of God and a Spiritual light, if our behavior matches theirs?
Other than the written Word, God has chosen to work in this world by using the Body of Christ to spread His message of peace and love (Romans 5:1, 8; Colossians 1:21-22). If God chose to remove (Rapture) His church today, there would be no one left here on earth to speak His Truths to the lost. The Bible would remain behind, of course, but no one would be left to “explain” the Scriptures to others.
The saved and unsaved alike benefit from services government provide such as: ambulance, fire, and police services. If you’ve been in a traffic accident, the sight of an EMT pulling up to assist those in need of medical attention is a comfort and a lifesaver. The National Guard is a blessing when the governor declares a state of emergency. Everyone uses the roads, highways, and interstates for travel. The list of benefits the government provides goes on and on, so we are to render to all what is due them (v7).
As Paul states this means we need to pay our taxes and customs i.e. duties on our goods. The citizens of this nation want what the government provides, but far too many don’t want to pay their fair share for these benefits, as I pointed out earlier. If you should be tempted to not pay your taxes or “fudge” your tax return may you remember the words of Jesus Christ: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:13-17)
Those who should be feared because of their God-given authority should be feared and those who need to be honored as authorities should receive our honor. The word fear here does not mean “terror,” instead it means a conscience regard for those in whose hands God has given governmental authority (control), whether city councilmen or women, governors, judges, kings, mayors, prime ministers, or presidents.
Honor is an attitude of reverence for the person(s) who have been given authority over us. This brings a Bible verse to mind, so we might as well turn to 1 Peter 2:17: Honor all people, love the brotherhood (of saints), fear God, honor the king (or president whom you may never see but whose position you hold in high regard). Believers are and should set the example in rightful behavior across the board.
Although I’m not pleased with our government in Washington, D.C. and many of the laws coming from this nation’s elected law makers, “lo these many years,” I still honor and respect the individuals who have been elected to office, whether that is in congress, the senate, or the oval office. I do so because I understand ultimately they are servants of God in that they are doing His sovereign will, whether they are aware of it or not, or whether they like it or not.
I don’t understand how this works with God, if I’m being honest. But I don’t have to understand it and I don’t have to lie awake at night wondering about the corruption and the mess in Washington, D.C. and what’s going to go wrong next. I rest in the fact that God is on His throne and in control. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8; Psalms 11:4)
I could take the “low-road” and be rude and disrespectful to civil authorities. I could under report my annual income or my baggage in such a way as to avoid income taxes and custom fees. I’d probably get away with it – most of the time. Even if the civil authorities never catch me in one of these wrongs, my conscience before God the Father would be dishonored and my fellowship with Him would be hindered. In addition, my service to others would be adversely affected because God has called me to live by a higher standard. Not only must I comply with the rules of government, I must cooperate in spirit. In doing so, my conscience remains clear, my testimony untainted, my service to others unhindered by sin and guilt, and my fellowship with God as strong as ever. In other words, living in subordination to divinely ordained civil authorities is beneficial to my walk (and yours) with the Lord Jesus Christ and our service to others.
This teaching on subordination has not interrupted Paul’s theme or emphasis, but it’s rather an extension of it. From Romans 12:1 Paul has been teaching us the importance of subordination. We must subordinate our lives to God, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to Him. We must subordinate our interests to the interests of others if we are to walk in love. We must also subordinate our lives to those in authority over us as civil servants.
There is a very important principle to be found in all of Paul’s teachings from Romans 12:1 until present: subordination is a prerequisite for service to God and others and a permanent mindset without which service is either impossible or unfruitful.
(To be continued)
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