Sunday, August 16, 2015

Should We Interpret Scripture Experientially Or Literally?

I Don't At All Agree With Roman 13: 1-7

Question : I don't at all agree with Roman 13: 1-7. I don't know of any Government in the world who is led by God, most of them do many unjust things all the time, and get away with it. I don't believe the rules hold no terror for those who do evil, because there is much injustice and I am an example of it. And I don't believe I should submit to any Government who ask me to do things which are contrary to my Christian beliefs. And there are many governments in the world that are doing illegal things themselves and therefore are not example to us at all. I think this passage should not be taken literally. God bless you!

Answer : Greetings in Jesus mighty name! Rom 13:1-7 says like this, "1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor."

We must understand that when God says, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities," it includes all Christians who are both citizens of the nation where they live and also citizens of heaven where God rules over the entire universe. So as a Christian soul, we are first subject to God and under Him we are subject to the government He has put us under. Then God says, "for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Seeing some of the governments around the world we may think naturally that this is not true, but when the Word of God says it, whether we understand it or not, first we need to accept what God says and then ask Him to make us understand how something that He has told is true. In other words, never doubt God's word and then ask God how? You will never get the answer from God because God always says, 'first trust me and I will tell you all the secret things that you do not know or understand.' (Jer 33:3). Only by faith you can please God and get an answer and deep understanding about the Bible (Heb 11:6).

The governmental rulers might be God's strange servants because we do not usually understand how, but still they are God's servants according to Him and that includes all the public servants from top of the line government servants to the bottom level of work like garbage men and dog catchers in their hierarchy. We know that our forefather Adam fell in to sin and all of us have become sinners (Rom 5:12). In other words, we are all not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are born as sinners with sin nature from birth onwards (Psa 51:5, NLT). So there is none righteous, no not one and that includes all the government rulers who are elected, monarchy, an oligarchy (i.e., ruled by a few), republic, democracy and other forms of government (Eccl 7:20, LB; Rom 3:23). So if we consider the public servants according to the truth that no man is perfectly righteous and does not sin, there is none who can be elected as public representatives to keep law and order. So God chooses the broken human vessels with sin nature and tries to bring the best out of them. So we cannot directly blame all these government servants, leaders and kings around the world as totally evil. Some nations have better light of truth and the atmosphere around them that might help them fear God and live in a better way than other nations which has only little light of the gospel of Christ because of following its own tradition and religions which are actually demonic blinders to keep a nation and its people in darkness (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2-3; Psa 33:12).

Which government is the best kind? Based on what we have seen already every form of government is good as long as people who rule over it stay true to their calling that God has given them. As these governmental servants of God are highly influenced by demonic realm because of lack of light within them, they would start well and soon succumb in to deceptive, tyrannical, vicious, or even cruel way of treating people under them because in their unsaved state they tend to dig in to earthly, sensual and even demonic wisdom to make themselves be misled in to envy, self-seeking, confusion and every evil thing to destroy others and themselves (Jam 3:14-16). Pride rules over these sons of men once they start to prosper greatly and then comes the fall (Psa 10:4; Oba 1:3; Pro 13:10; 16:18; Isa 13:11). Usually in our times the dominant thinking is that if we have democracy, that is the best way to rule a country. But the same democracy that can be successful in certain big nations will lead to chaos, confusion, regionalism, tribalism, lordship and will set people group against people group to destroy themselves because of their upbringing and past traditions that divides them (Matt 24:7). So whatever form of government God has set will be the best for that part of the world in its possible background and setting. Except theocracy of the one world under God through one King Jesus ruling all over the world, all other forms of government are only alternatives set by God until God's best for mankind will be displayed through Jesus for a thousand years directly under Him (Rev 20:4).

Until that time of Theocracy gets established by God under Jesus and his saints, we are expected by God to submit to the local government God has put us under (1 Peter 2:13-17). But when we are forced to do things against our own conscience and the revealed will of God from the Bible, we have the choice to overrule the governments word to obey God's word (Acts 4:19-20). That is why Jesus clearly revealed to those who wanted to know whether they as God's people in God's nation of Israel should pay taxes to the tyrannical Roman government that ruled over them or not, they asked Jesus, "22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent." (Luke 20:22-26). In other words Jesus was saying to the Jews, as God has set that Roman government over the Jewish nation during that contemporary time, pay to Caesar's government which controls the whole economy what is due to them and also give to God His one tenth as a sign that God is feeding and providing their sustenance of life and security for them through these governments which is ruled over sovereignly by God from heaven.

The Bible says, "Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good." (Prov 14:22). So all politicians who start devising evil go astray in deceit, and therefore despise the mercy and truth of God for a lie. Hence God is very much involved day to day in this world by judging evil men who rise up either by fear or some other downfall or some simple chastisement to provoke them to repent or else face more severe judgment which might even end in death if they continue in stubborn rebellion (Prov 16:4, ISV; John 5:17). God is angry against the wicked who continues in the government every day with his wicked intention, and is not willing to change when God speaks to him through various circumstances of his life (Psa 7:11; Ezek 18:23). Even though "...every morning God brings to justice His light and He never fails [to uphold His righteous judgment], the unjust knows no shame [to turn back from evil ways and repent]." (Zep 3:5). Such outright prideful and rebellious people in the human government who give no glory to God have been judged by God in the past times, for example the king Herod who lived just some 2000 years ago in the first century AD was not spared as he once boasted that “I am a god” and an angel apparently killed him on the spot (Acts 12:20-25).

So God knows how to judge these strange governmental servants He has appointed, and it is our duty to submit to them willingly unless or otherwise it is directly in opposition to God's command of our Christian belief (Acts 1:8; 4:18-20). In such a scenario where we are pressured by our local government to disobey God, we have the freedom to overrule the authority of the government and keep sticking to the command of God for the Glory of God. We should also be ready to face the consequence for standing in faith even if God doesn't show up to rescue us for our belief (Dan 3:14-18), at such times even the death of the saints for their belief will bring much Glory to God and it will cause the unbelievers to know the reality of God and His righteousness which will bring fear in their heart to turn to the true God who have created them (Rev 12:11; 6:9-11; 13:10; 1 Peter 3:14-17).

I believe that you should never interpret Scripture by your experience, but instead stick to the plain interpretation of the Scripture, and stick to it in faith even when things around you may not fall in line to the expectation of your belief. God who sees it all will be pleased with your faith (Heb 11:6), and you will come under the favor of God and He will start to show more and more strong on your behalf because of finding your heart loyal to Him in all circumstances (2 Chron 16:9). So the bottom line is, we should take Rom 13:1-7 literally even though it does not line up favorable to us in our actual experience, because all great faith is proved before God and others in unfavorable circumstances only in nearly all the circumstances of our life. We might miss God's best for us and fail His test for us if we do not take God and His word literally (Dan 6:10-28; 1 Kings 8:30).

The government of the world need not be an example for us to submit to its authority because we submit to the local government or earthly kingdom only in obedience to the Word of God, it is up to God to judge them where and when He wants them to be judged for their wrong doing (1 Cor 4:5). If we believe in the righteous judgment of our Lord God, then we must give all judgment in to His hands and judge nothing before His time comes to judge and avenge for the wrong doing of the political leaders and kings who are in authority put there by God (Rom 12:19; Deut 32:35; Heb 10:30).

Four things are expected of us by God to give to our government : taxes for staying in a particular country by birth or by the required payment to get the rights legally, customs duties levied by a government on imported goods, fear of breaking the law of the land and honor people by supporting a government by voting for them or praising their good works. Each country differs in all these four aspects, some show more mercy to immigrants, while others show nothing to such people in need. So as a Christian it is better for us to follow these four expectation of God than to criticize about it when it is not favorable towards us or our situation, and thus lose our eternal reward which is the only most important thing that we should live for in this earthly life.

So may we uphold God's strange servants in the governmental authority and submit to the government and law and order for the sake of the Lord (Rom 13:1) and may we pray for their well being so that we can worship and serve God under it in peace (1 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Jer 29:7).

Much Blessings.....


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