Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Two Kingdoms 10/21/2012
In our ongoing discussion about the pros and cons of the Minnesota Marriage amendment, I wish to add to the dialogue. Since all us have a basis of why we think what we think, why we say what we say and why we do what we do, it is needful to present the basis for the convictions on which we as Christians stand: The Bible is the Word of God and it is reality, or Truth. It is the revelation or self disclosing of God, the Maker of heaven and earth, Who revealed Himself in the New Testament through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I present two Scripture references for our consideration in this discussion in which we together will explore the question: What is relationship between the church and the state/government? The definition of church would be the true church of Jesus Christ, of which He alone is the originator and sustainer, and which is evidenced in this world through love for God and love for one another in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. When the word religion is used as a generalization to describe Christianity , it is misleading, for religion is mankind's effort to approach Godon our own basis, whereas Christianity is the spiritual kingdom of believers who have received that which has been established by God's coming to mankind through becoming human (Jesus Christ) in order to redeem us. Not all who name the name of Christ are representatives of His spiritual kingdom.

In the first reference, Jesus points to the reality that in His first advent to earth, He did not come to establish an earthly rule, for his kingdom is not of this world. The second reference, which is written after the death and resurrection of Jesus, teaches as to where governmental authority originated and of its jurisdiction in this world.

John 18:33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
34 Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?"
35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?"
36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."
37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."
38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

ESV Romans 13:1 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.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Through these two references it is seen that there are two kingdoms that have been established by God, a spiritual kingdom and an earthly kingdom. Within the earthly kingdom we recognize that in this there is a certain amount of idealism, for God knew that governments were not going to be without fault, for we are sinful human beings. He established the ideal of government, the main functions of which are to promote justice and to punish evil. God never gives the state the right to do wrong according to its own definition of good and evil. The state (its God appointed authorities) is held accountable to serve as God's minister of justice.

All this presupposes that the government is operating in concert with God's desires. Even a brief knowledge of history reveals to us that by far the opposite has been true, in that governments have not operated mindful of the fact that ultimately they are responsible and accountable to the one who has given them the authority and responsibility to govern.

The Mosaic Law (Ten Commandments) and natural law (the inner voice of conscience) are the governing laws which enable people to love and care for one another within this earthly kingdom even if one has not entered into the spiritual kingdom through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ rules His spiritual kingdom and He does this through love which He displayed through His life and which He teaches through His Word, the Holy Bible. This love is to be the preeminent characteristic of all those who name the name of Christ as their Saviour and Lord. This love for God and neighbor motivates Christians to be thankful for their leaders, to pray for their leaders, and to be honest, obedient and caring citizens in this world, so that, as much as possible, we may live peaceful and quiet lives in a godly and dignified manner. This life lived is pleasing to God our Saviour who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Throughout the ages, when natural law and the voice of consciense have become darkened in the leaders of nations, the revelation of God has been left aside as they ruled, and as a result human beings have not been treated as those bearing the image of their Maker.. In the same token, when religion has preempted the true church of Christ, those who have protested against that religion's dogmas have been silenced in one way or another.

Therefore, God in His wisdom has ordained governments for the purpose that they would bear rule as his representatives in order to promote justice and punish the law breakers, and this leadership is to be founded, promoted and protected through the teachings of His Word. The church of Jesus Christ is the light of the world and the salt of the earth, which, when lived in its biblical reality brings glory to its Creator, to the end that souls would yield their allegiance to Jesus Christ. When freedom of conscience of the church as enlightened by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible is threatened by the state, the church has the duty to express the will of its Authority, Jesus Christ, which can be done through witnessing of the Truth. And this is not done through shouting, name calling, hateful interactions, but it is done public expression of one's convictions, through prayer for our leaders, through forums such as this to exchange our convictions, and by extending grace to all even as we have and do receive grace.

May we who are all created in the image of God continue to treat one another with the respect which is due every human being, may we extend respect by hearing the other out, and may we continue to have the courage as well as the freedom to share with them that which is the revelation of God as written in His Holy Bible. And may we do this in the way that Jesus did when He was walking here among the sinful, broken, struggling, discouraged, and, yes, proud people of 2000 years ago.

In His Grace,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 21 Oct 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
God's Two Kingdoms 10/14/2012
Dear friends,

May the abundant grace of God, the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us now and always. Amen.

As we near the election day for our country in which leaders will be elected for their terms of service to our country and decisions will be made which will determine the course of our future, we as citizens of the United States have become quite interested in the political process that is largely dominating the discussions both in public and in private today. Therefore it is good for us to prayerfully review the fundamental truths that Scripture teaches concerning the relationship between the church and the state and what it means for us today.

I have formulated a number of questions which we will use to guide our study, a study which I hope to place on this blog for the next four weeks. Here are the questions that are before us as Christians, but not before us only, but which are before all the citizens in the United States of America. In today's discussion, we will begin with the first question. If you have your own questions, please reply to this blog and I will include them at a later date. The questions that I have placed will not necessarily be addressed in the order that they are in here, but will be answered as the flow of our discussion dictates.

May we be in prayer as we enter into this discussion. Here is the first question which is then followed by other questions whose answers will be drawn off of the first question.

What is the relationship between the church and the state?

Is it God's intention that the civil government be controlled by the church?

Do we have like, dual citizenship, heavenly and earthly?

How does the kingdom of God relate to the kingdoms of this world?

How do we determine whether to vote, how to vote on issues, who to vote for and so on?

Does the civil government have the inherent right to intervene in the affairs of the church?

Are we as Christians to be involved in the government? Should we hold public office?

Is it ever lawful to resist a government that is promoting evil? If so, what are we permitted to do?

What are ways that we have been called as Christians to have a godly effect on our civil government?

We will now consider the opening question "What is the relationship between the church and the state?"

We do so by placing what is the clearest teaching in the New Testament concerning this question above, the first two verses of Romans chapter 13.

ESV Romans 13:1 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.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

All governments are ordained of God and all those who have been called upon to rule in His behalf are to do so as His representative. These rulers are not autonomous, but receive their authority from God. Government operates as a vehicle of governing for God, and if a government declares its independence from God, it then begins to be under human/self rule. It will soon dominate its people as opposed to serving them.

The primary purpose of government is to reward good and to restrain evil so that humanity will continue: To protect, to support and to maintain human life, animal life, property and the life of the planet. To regulate agreements, to protects one's neighbor's property as well as one's own and so on.

In creation God gave commands to the first created beings. Penal sanctions were placed upon them after they fell. They did not physically die immediately, but they did die spiritually at that time. He banished them from the Garden of Eden and placed the cherubim with the flaming sword to keep Adam and Eve from reentering the Garden. Adam and Even were given the first duty in the Garden before the fall of tending or governing over the creation. (Genesis 1-3)

We are subject to our government. This is civil obedience. Jesus taught this, Paul taught this (our text) Peter taught this also. We are not to be an unruly citizen, but to be model citizens within our government and our nation. This was written in the light of the evil times that Paul was living in, and in fact, he was killed by this government later on.

A similar question was asked of Jesus when He was on earth to the one before us concerning the relationship between the church and the state. Here is the portion of scripture that it is found in.

Matthew 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Pharisees and Herodians come together, even though they have totally opposite views. The Pharisees uphold Jewish tradition and the Herodians follow Herod and they are in opposition to another. They flatter Jesus in verse 16 so that they can accomplish their goal to entangle him.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

Jesus asks them for a coin....and tells them....

If Caesar is on the coin, give it back to him. Give the things of God unto God. When you look at the coin and see the image of Caesar on it, give it back to Him. He in a sense is asking them, when you look at me, what do you see? Do you see the image of God in me? No, they do not, for they do not see God. If they would see God in Him, they would hear Him. In other words, give back to God what belongs to God. They do not recognize God in Jesus.

KJV 1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
KJV 1 Peter 2:14 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.
KJV 1 Peter 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants1 of God.
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

If one disobeys the authority that God has ordained, one is disobeying God, for all powers are from God and are ordained by God. God has given all this authority through Christ, and Christ has been throned as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It is as if Christ is the prime minister of the New Testament.

Under Christ, we have kings, parents, policemen, school teachers, government officials and so on who are all under his authority. All the authority they have is given by Christ. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

The opposite of this is to participate in disobedience without just cause. There is in this world a context of evil, which is defined in biblical terms as lawlessness and the lowest form of human corruption is seen in this disobedience. It was lawlessness that plunged the world into sin, it was cosmic treason that was committed.

Adam and Eve told God: "We will not have you rule over us, we will not obey your laws." In the final accounting, sin is a political matter in the sense that it is related to government, for God is the ultimate Governor of our lives.

Our first question of "What is the relationship between the church and the state" is answered by the first two verses of Romans 13....

ESV Romans 13:1 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.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

We will proceed with this discussion next time. In the meantime, we have questions forming in our mind like, "but what if? "you mean we obey the government in all things?' and so on. Let us be patient and allow the Bible to teach us as we trust God in and through His Word as seek to have our questions answered.

In the love of Christ and under His protection, I leave you....

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 14 Oct 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Two Kingdoms 10/21/2012
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob