The Limits of Civil Obedience, Part 3 (A Christian Manifesto Today #43)

Welcome to A Christian Manifesto Today episode #43. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Torch Leadership Foundation.

Pastor and Christian philosopher, Francis A. Schaeffer, warned us and created the war plan that we as Christians need today to deal with a society that is increasingly moving away from God, the Bible, and moral principles. He wrote “A Christian Manifesto” over 33 years ago and its words are just as relevant today as they were back then.

Our Christian Manifesto Today Passage from the Word of God today is 2 Chronicles 19:6-7 which reads: “And [Jehoshaphat] said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”

Our Christian Manifesto Today quote today is from R.C. Sproul. He said: “In America, we have a long history of valuing the concept of the separation of church and state. This idea historically referred to a division of labors between the church and the civil magistrate. However, initially both the church and the state were seen as entities ordained by God and subject to His governance. In that sense, the state was considered to be an entity that was “under God.” What has happened in the past few decades is the obfuscation of this original distinction between church and state, so that today the language we hear of separation of church and state, when carefully exegeted, communicates the idea of the separation of the state from God. In this sense, it’s not merely that the state declares independence from the church, it also declares independence from God and presumes itself to rule with autonomy.”

In this podcast, we are using as our text: “A Christian Manifesto” by Francis A. Schaeffer.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer writes in “The Limits of Civil Obedience” (Part 3):

Through the ages Christians have taken the same position as did the early church in disobeying the state when it commanded what was contrary to God’s Law. William Tyndale (c. 1490-1536), the English translator of the Bible, advocated the supreme authority the Scripture over and against the state and the church. Government authorities continually sought to capture him, but Tyndale was successful in evading them for years. Tyndale was eventually condemned as a heretic, tried and executed on October 6, 1536. John Bunyan (1628-1688) was found guilty of breaking the king’s law. Arrested three times for preaching without a state license and for failing to attend the Church of England, he spent twelve years in an English jail. He wrote many works from this jail cell, including Pilgrim’s Progress.

In almost every place where the Reformation had success there was some form of civil disobedience or armed rebellion:

Netherlands: Catholic Spain had isolated the non-Catholic population both politically and geographically. Thus the Protestants concentrated in what is now Holland which became the last holdout against the Spanish power. The leaders of the revolt established Protestantism as the dominant religious form of the country. The turning point was the battle for Leyden in 1574. The Dutch Protestants fought a very hard and costly battle. When they finally won, the door was open not only for the subsequent political entity of Holland, but also for the successful Dutch Reformation with all its cultural as well as religious results.

Sweden: In 1527 the Vasa family broke away from Denmark as an act of rebellion and established Sweden as a Lutheran country. Later, in 1630, it was the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, a sincere champion of Lutheranism, who marched his army out of Sweden and into Germany against the Emperor to protect Protestant Germany with his force of arms.

Denmark: In 1536 the Protestant party of nobles overthrew the Danish dynasty―an act of “civil disobedience” with accompanying strife. They then set up a new government and a new dynasty and established Lutheranism in the country.

Germany: Luther was protected by the Duke of Saxony against the political and military power of the Emperor. After many wars in which the Duke of Saxony and other German nobles kept the Emperor at bay, the Peace of Augsburg was signed in 1555. In this it was established that the ruler’s religion would determine the religion of his geographical location. Thus the German Reformation won its right to exist. Later, with the rise of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, the Thirty Years War was fought, and out of this came the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 which ratified the 1555 Peace of Augsburg. By this, German Protestantism was protected from the reprisals of the Counter-Reformation.

Switzerland: Bern established reform and Protestantism between 1523 and 1525 by Communal vote. Yet for what is now the Canton of Vaud (where I live), it was Protestant Bern’s military control of this area at that time which gave William Farel his opportunity to preach the gospel in Aigle and Ollon, leading to reformation in French-speaking Switzerland.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s Pray.

* * * * * * * *

Dear friend, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how:

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, continue to stand for the Lord and his Word. God bless you!


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