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God at Work in the World!

September 7, 2014

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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost                                  Trinity Lutheran Church

7 September 2014                                                                 Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Romans 13:1-6

 

Today, we get to rejoice in a biblical no-brainer. Another way that God is God FOR YOU and for the world. That’s Romans 13:1-6. In these verses we hear how God rolls up His sleeves and goes to work not just in the church BUT ALSO IN THE WORLD. And He does His God-FOR-YOU-work through some of the most unlikely as well as some of the most disrespected and dishonored people in the world! And what is even more incredible is that God uses these folks FOR YOUR BENEFIT — FOR YOUR GOOD. Not for your eternal life benefit and good as He does with the Word and Sacraments in the church via pastors, but a this worldly, earthly, temporal or this life kind of good.

 

God does this for you through the numerous offices of temporal authority that various men and women occupy. Listen again to some snippets from the text: “Governing authorities.” “Established by God.” “God’s servant to do you good.” God’s “agent.”

 

Really? Governing authorities or the office of governing established BY GOD? Is the apostle Paul insane? Obviously he didn’t go to college. Like you, I was taught just the opposite at college! I heard what my suede-jacket-with-patched-elbows-dripping-with-tolerance-and-inclusivity-for-all-rhetoric-Marxist-progressive-utopian-Woodstock-retread-dope-smoking-free-love-ponytail-professors fanatically, infallibly and dogmatically proclaimed from the podium day after day.

 

Like high priests they religiously made sure that their students obeyed the first and foremost principle. And that fundamental principle is this: government, laws, courts, police, contracts, etc. are man made Western constructs or inventions to promote greed for an elitist few and to exercise unjust power over the fringes of society, the poor, the weak and minorities.

 

Since it’s all man made, especially of the Western civilization type, the PhD pony tail-ers asserted that it’s all inherently unjust, evil, and wicked. Consequently, like fanatical doomsday street preachers they inflexibly demanded– and still do — that all of it has to be deconstructed. Torn down. Demolished. To be replaced by what? With some other man made intolerant utopian tyrannical dream that poses as divine. And you’ve seen how that went with Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. and how that’s going today with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Tens, if not hundreds of millions of people have been brutally murdered by such utopian “deconstructionists” and the world edges closer and closer to an apocalyptic totalitarian calamity that probably has never been seen before.

 

The apostle, on the other hand, audaciously preaches the opposite. The biblical position. The way in which God preserves this world and provides some peace. By so doing he opens himself up to venomous ridicule, a ruined reputation (“HE’S LIKE THAT BIBLE THUMPING PHIL ROBERTSON FREAK!”), a jail cell and martyrdom from the progressive ponytail university fundamentalists. St. Paul categorically declares the following with regard to the office of governing authority: “established by God”; “what God has instituted”; “God’s servant.” God’s “agent.”  

 

“God’s servant.” Or “God’s minister.” That tells you that God is at work in the world. How? Through the governing authorities. Why? For what reason? Incredibly – “to do you good.”

 

The governing authorities “do you good” by “commending” those “who do what is right” and by “bearing the sword … as an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Drive within the speed limit. Pay your taxes honestly. Pay off your debts according to the contract. Help and protect life. Pay for your groceries. And the governing authorities will commend you. Break the speed limit. Submit dishonest tax returns. Don’t paying your debt. Hurt, harm, or end someone’s life with a gunshot or knife wound. Bomb a building. Rob a store. And the governing authorities will prosecute and punish you. Commending or punishing – God is at work through them.

 

And you pray for this every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread.” One of the ways God gives you daily bread is through devout and faithful rulers – good government. Imagine living in parts of the world where there is little or no good government. Where devout and faithful rulers are like the T-Rex: extinct. It’s total chaos! In those places it is very difficult if not impossible to live in peace and safety, have a job, or put a meal on the table at least once a day for your family. Most of your day consists in the colossal fear of whether a bomb or a sniper will put an end to you, your family, and community.

 

In connection with the petition, “give us this day our daily bread,” and the “for your good” from the text, we’d better be begging God as individuals, families and this congregation to provide us with good government as well as devout and pious rulers. We need to pray that God will be God for us in the world through the governing authorities. That He will use them as His instruments, His hands and His mouth for our worldly or temporal good. Perhaps you’ve noticed that one of the normal petitions in the Prayer of the Church here at Trinity includes the governing authorities.

 

It goes something like this. We pray that God will give us men and women in positions of authority to be of the highest integrity, not given to bribes, corruption or immorality – that they will protect the innocent, the unborn, the elderly and the poor – that they will prosecute and punish appropriately criminals, terrorists, and anarchists. So that we can live in peace. We pray that way here at Trinity BECAUSE IT IS BIBLICAL AND GOD-PLEASING. It’s the way of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that says: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”           

 

Did you hear that? “Peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” We’ve been blessed by the Lord in this regard. We have, generally speaking, peace and prosperity. Clean water. Good food. Average to bumper crops. Magnificent homes. Expensive cars. Electricity and the marvels of electronics from microwave ovens and computers to I-pads and I-phones. Helpful medicines and competent doctors. Faithful teachers. Well paying jobs. Solid roads. Vacations. Freedom to worship. Safe and crime free communities. And the reason for all this is that the Lord has provided good government – pious and devout rulers – giving what He promises to give in the petition, “give us this day our daily bread.”  

I hope this helps you realize this and that you now receive your daily bread with thanksgiving to God.

 

However, I also need to tell you to wake up and to repent. Repent of what? Turn from what? Of and from your idolatry. Of falsely believing that politics is the end all – that it can do everything – solve every problem – prevent any crisis or disease, even death — that it, in and of itself is divine – that it is salvific – that it saves. Repent and turn from the idolatry that politics or government has the ability to create the true heaven on earth. That politicians are little divinities or little saviors with almighty power to divinely transform, redeem or save the world.

 

The state, the government or the political leader do not replace God! They are not, to quote Depeche Mode’s mega hit, your own personal Jesus! Use Jesus properly. He’s God. God for you on the cross. Shedding His divine blood for your forgiveness and salvation.

 

And so now I must tell you as frankly and as sternly as I can: Jesus is Lord – not the state or any politician! Politics and government are for this life not the next. Jesus alone saves! Politics does not! Jesus is divine. The state is not! Governing authorities are not little divinities. They are “God’s servants,” “God ministers,” God’s “agents.” As such there is only so much that they can do. There is a limit to what they can achieve or accomplish. They are God’s creaturely instruments to commend those who do right but to punish those who do wrong. God at work in the world through them FOR YOU and for the world. “For your good.”

 

Now, as the governing authorities do their vocation faithfully, you are given to “submit” to their authority, that is to say, you order your lives under them as citizens. When they do their work as God’s “servants,” you pay your taxes or revenue as well as paying them “respect and honor.”

 

However, we live in the last days. And as the Scriptures say, the closer we get to the end, the worse things will get. We, as Lutheran Christians, together with many other Christians in this country are now face to face with governing authorities that do not want, in any way, shape or form to live according to Romans 13. They bear their teeth as they flat out refuse to be “God’s servants,” “God ministers,” God’s “agents.” They govern like they are little gods unto themselves absenting the one true God from all of life – from the public town hall as well as your home and conscience.

 

These pretend, false divinities have not only legalized the murder of millions of unborn children, but it has become their most holy sacrament. They will never give it up. Most likely they will force euthanasia in every state like its practiced in the Netherlands. That means that just about every one of you here today could get “put down” if the doctor wants to.

 

In addition, I think it’s safe to say where the end game for marriage is headed. No way will they govern to protect and promote marriage the way it was created in the beginning by God with Adam and Eve. The biblical way of marriage will soon be criminalized and so will Christianity in general. It may soon come to the point that you will be forbidden to practice historic and orthodox Christianity publicly as well as privately.

 

What are you to do? What will you do if the governing authorities outlaw you from coming here to worship on Sundays? What will you do if they put your pastor in jail or send him to some kind of American “Siberian” reeducation camp? Does Romans 13 tell you that you have to do everything the governing authorities demand?

 

The answer is: “No!” When they rule not as “God’s servants,” “God ministers,” God’s “agents,” you must obey God rather than men. When they command you to sin you must obey God and His Word rather than men. That’s exactly what the apostles did in Acts 5. The governing authorities forbad them to preach Jesus! Imagine that. Preachers forbidden to preach Jesus as the Savior of sinners. The apostles disobeyed. The continued to preach and they willingly suffered the consequences. And if you don’t think that can happen in this country, then I’ve got swampland in Arizona I want to sell you.

 

In the 16th century Duke George of Saxony demanded that the Lutherans hand over their Bibles! What do you think the Lutherans did? They passively resisted. They kept their Bibles and Duke George made them suffer for it. In the 20th century Hitler expected all Germans to join the Third Reich’s state church that was simply a puppet of the Nazi’s and therefore was not even Christian. Thousands of German Christians, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Reformed refused. It cost them their homes, their families, their churches, and even their lives.

 

Well, I need to bring this to an end. Let us pray for the governing authorities that they do their vocation as “God’s servants,” “God ministers,” God’s “agents,” for our “good.”   That they preserve and enhance life in this old, dying world as best they can as God’s instruments. That they establish just laws to limit evil and bring some momentary peace. And so that, above all, in such a society you can continue to have a preacher preach the gospel, teach you God’s Word, baptize your children, marry your children, and feed you with Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, so that when you die eternal life and heaven are yours.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

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