January 4, 2019 Brethren Letter
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1-2, RSV).
Today, people will say just about every contemptable, disgraceful word (or phrase), regarding the leader of our nation. Just yesterday, I heard a newly elected member of congress use a very shameful phrase directed at our President. No longer do people just disagree with “policies,” they don’t mind using even the filthiest, vile language in contempt of our President.
Do we as Christians have a responsibility to be respectful toward our nation’s GOVERNING authorities? What exactly does God’s Word have to say about our personal obligations? What about taxes? Does God expect Christians to pay taxes levied by the Government?
Tonight, I’m sending an article written in The Plain Truth, January 1964, entitled, “The Christian Attitude – Respect Government Authority,” that answers those questions. I’ve reduced the article’s size for this letter. I would suggest reading the entire article (found on the CHURCH website) for the rest of what was written.
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,
The Plain Truth
Herman L. Hoeh
WHAT is your duty toward the government under which you live?
Should you resist Supreme Court injunctions?
What about “peaceful demonstrations” and “sit-ins”?
Do you owe respect to officials with whom you may disagree? Should you pay taxes to political office-holders even when they abuse their high offices? Are officials responsible “to the people,” or to God?
What Does Scripture Say?
This generation has grown up in an atmosphere of utter disrespect toward authority. You see it everywhere — both in the home and in public life.
It’s high time to realize there is a JUDGMENT coming. It does make a difference how you act toward those in authority.
YOUR BIBLE explains the relationship of Christians to human governments. But how many of YOU know what it says?
Notice Romans 13:1-7:
“LET EVERY SOUL BE SUBJECT unto the higher powers. For there is NO power but of God: the powers that be ARE ORDAINED OF GOD. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: AND THEY THAT RESIST SHALL RECEIVE TO THEMSELVES DAMNATION!
This is not just Paul speaking. It is Jesus’ directive to Christians for all time, for every generation.
Notice it! “They that resist” — those who refuse to submit to authority — “shall
receive to themselves damnation.”
That’s not just the penalty for assassination or for murdering a policeman who is protecting the peace. That’s the penalty for ANY who RESIST constituted authority…
You are to be SEPARATE FROM the world, although living decently and respectfully in it (John 17:15, 16).
The time to CHANGE this world is at the coming of Christ. And it will take Christ to do it.
Does Government Authority Come from the People?
Government authority and power are ORDAINED OF GOD. They are not derived “from the consent of the governed” — the people. Your Bible says so!
“There is NO authority but of God.” “The authorities that exist are ordained of God.”
Since all authority is ordained of, or allowed by, God, we are to be SUBJECT to human governments. In respecting that authority, we are showing respect to God. Anyone WHO RESISTS THE AUTHORITY OF HUMAN GOVERNMENTS IS ACTUALLY REBELLING AGAINST GOD WHO ORDAINS THAT AUTHORITY. This applies not only to CIVIL authorities, but equally as well to any person in a position of authority, whether a school teacher or a foreman in a factory.
Example of Saul and David
Human beings in authority sometimes serve themselves and the devil, but the OFFICE is ORDAINED OF GOD! You honor the person BECAUSE OF THE OFFICE which he holds, even when his deeds may be evil.
Consider the case of Saul and David. King Saul obtained his position from God, as do all rulers. Saul was disobedient to the Eternal and David knew it. Did David therefore rebel and seek to organize the people to remove him from office?
No, he did not — not even after God had chosen and anointed him to replace Saul as king. Instead, David said this: “The Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die;
or he shall descend into battle and perish. The Eternal forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Eternal’s anointed” (I Sam. 26:9-11).
Notice that David recognized the fact that it is GOD’S RIGHT to put persons out of office. It could not be the people’s right since the people have never been given the right in God’s sight to put such men INTO office in the first place. David respected and honored and submitted to the office which Saul exercised. He left it in GOD’S hands to remove him from office AT THE APPOINTED TIME! Christians must do the same.
God never approves corruption or abuses by office-holders. But it is God, not you, who will judge them. Your obligation is to respect THE AUTHORITY OF THE OFFICE.
Is Submission Always Obedience?
What Peter Commanded
The apostle Peter recognized the importance of Christians’ relationships to human government. He had the courage to preach the truth. Here is what he said: “SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO EVERY ORDINANCE OF MAN FOR THE LORD’S SAKE: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. FOR SO IS THE WILL OF GOD … Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (I Pet. 2:13-17).
Take careful note of his wording. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance.” Peter did NOT say, “OBEY every ordinance.” Of course not, He knew that many human regulations are wrong. God expects all Christians to obey human regulation whenever and wherever possible, and always submit to the penalty in case obedience to human law would be sin. We should never rebel or use violence even if we know human governments are making wrong decisions.
Christians are to be examples of submission to government regulations, no matter how childish or absurd some stipulations may be. “Be subject to principalities and powers … to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of NO man” (Titus 3:1, 2).
Is It Wrong Even to Speak Evil of Officials?
It is a common practice for people to resist government regulations and to accuse office-holders, whether the President or the corner policeman. This supposed “right” of the people is abominably misused. There is a righteous limit to the “freedom” of speech.
The Bible sets that limit by commanding you to refrain from speaking evil of dignitaries. Solomon said you are not to curse officials even in your thoughts (Ecc. 10:20).
It is reproachful to Christ as well as a dishonor to His authority for Christians to hurl or to repeat NEEDLESS ACCUSATIONS against rulers. This, of course, does not mean that you can’t say anything about a man’s mistakes. Rather it means that no gossip or misrepresentation of facts which damage a person’s character or prestige is to be repeated.
Most Christians ought to pray more earnestly that their minds and hearts would be free from slanderous thoughts, NO MATTER HOW MUCH THE PERSON SEEMS TO DESERVE THEM. The righteous Michael the archangel even refused to accuse Satan. He calmly said, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Only the UNGODLY dig up evil to throw needlessly at their enemies (Prov. 16:27).
Is the Payment of Taxes Necessary?
Now comes an often-misunderstood part of this vital message. Should you pay taxes if you are a Christian? If so, why? Paul said that Christians MUST PAY TAXES, CUSTOM DUTIES AND TRIBUTE to those in authority. Why? “For they are God’s ministers,” His servants, “attending continually upon this very thing.”
Because of covetousness, especially when income tax or land tax bills appear, some seize upon the words of Jesus in Matthew 17:24-27 as an excuse for failure to pay taxes. Notice what Jesus really said: Christians, being free and heirs of the Kingdom of God, should not be required to pay tribute to a FOREIGN government, “notwithstanding, lest we should offend them … give unto them” the tax.
Yes, Christ commands you, just as Paul did, to pay taxes. And you should not pay them grudgingly, either. It is the right of leaders to receive remuneration for their duty. But what if officials are not performing their duty properly or are squandering tax money for private ambition? Are you still to pay taxes?
Certainly. You are not the one to judge whether he is worthy of his hire. As long as any person is in office, you are to honor that office by submitting to it. It is so easy to forget that human beings are not the judges of one another — that God is the Judge. Officials are not responsible to the people but to God.
Your responsibility ceases once you have honestly paid the tax or the duty. It is the official’s responsibility to see that he properly administers the money.
Prayer for Officials
It is so easy to forget the benefits of an ordered society — the postal service, and the various agencies of protection, to name a few. So easy to neglect Paul’s admonition that supplications, prayers, intercessions, AND GIVING OF THANKS, be made for all men: for kings, and FOR ALL THAT ARE IN AUTHORITY; that we may lead a life in godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour (I Timothy 2:1-3). . No HUMAN government can be perfect. It may even be required of you by God to suffer unjustly when you have to obey God rather than man. But you must submit to that penalty.
All human history is a record of the tragedy of human governments which God is about to replace by sending Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God and bring us peace and security.
Let’s pray for that day!