September 8, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 8 September 2015
In the first century AD, the Pharisees were one of the three sects among the Jews. Together with the Sadducees, they occupied the primary realm of public influence. The biblical gospels and Acts include numerous references to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and yet, those accounts typically are not favorable because those groups were opposed to the Lord Jesus and the early church. (However, other [Jewish] writings indicate that a significant number of noble persons could be numbered among them).
The Pharisees were primarily concerned with religious observance, yet Jesus chided them (as a collective) for deviating from Scripture to such an extent that any who followed them was in danger of becoming “twice as much” a child of hell, even as they were (Matt 23:15). Jesus further rebuked them as follows: “‘So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt 23:28). Sadly, the experience of many people with organized religion is being told things that just are not biblical (whether it be doctrines of “cheap grace,” legalism, or moralism, for example). Consequently, individuals believe they are angry with God, and do not realize their indignation toward the institutionalized thinking (often with agendas contrary to the Holy Bible) that had indoctrinated them.
A common objection that one encounters in witnessing – to saving faith in Christ Jesus – is that there are too many hypocrites among the church. To this protest, one can agree and assert that each person is accountable to God for their own life, and will be judged accordingly; however, one should not let a hypocrite prevent them from entering the kingdom of heaven. How does this relate to our government and capitol communities?
Many people decline political engagement because they perceive most government officials as corrupt and hypocritical. Even incumbents running for re-election may conscientiously avoid being called a politician, since the word can have a negative connotation. Should one then avoid the depiction as a “Christian” and/or “politician” because there are negative connotations as a consequence of those who are poor representatives of those descriptions?
A better approach is to apply the Word of God to every sphere of life. Define clearly that a Christian is one who trusts in the Lord Jesus for salvation, which is received by God’s grace through faith, and this new life reverses the former direction of one’s being (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:8-9). With regard to government, explain that authorities do not derive their power from the consent of the governed; rather, civil authority is derived from God (cf. Dan 2:21; John 19:10-11), and thus a governing authority is “a minister of God” (Rom 13:4, 6). Dutch minister Abraham Kuyper, whose service in the pastorate led to his interest in politics (and eventually to become a politician), declared truthfully, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
What is much more important than Kuyper’s choice of words is the biblical reality toward which his statement aims. Scripture does not indicate that civil authorities have ultimate authority with regard to the political and social realms. All things belong to God (Rom 11:36; 2 Cor 5:18; Rev 4:11), and thus we have never seen anything that the Lord did not create. Hebrews 1:3 declares that Christ is intimately involved in upholding in existence the very things that occupy our expanse of vision at the moment. “All things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16), which is why God’s people are to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5): including offices, realms, and words that are frequently misunderstood.
Missionary Pastor to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia