The Limits of Civil Obedience, Part 6 (A Christian Manifesto Today Episode #46)

Welcome to A Christian Manifesto Today episode #46. 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 Romans 13:1-4 which reads: “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. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Our Christian Manifesto Today quote today is from John Knox. He said: “A man with God is always in the majority.”

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 6):

In contrast to the countries named [previously] where there was success for the Reformation—in each case involving various forms of civil disobedience or armed rebellion—one can think of where the Reformation was exterminated by force because of the lack of such protection:

Hungary: The Reformation had great initial success. But when the Turks pulled out of the country, the Roman Catholic authorities had unchecked power and used it to eliminate the Reformation—largely by killing off just about all of the Protestants.

France: The Huguenots were most successful in numbers and position. But on St. Bartholomew’s Day (1572), lacking protection, the Reformation was broken in France by the mass assassination of most of its leadership.

Spain: There was a small Reformation movement among the monks of Seville. Lacking any protection, they were totally eliminated by martyrdom.

Thus, in almost every place where the Reformation flourished there was not only religious noncompliance; there was civil disobedience as well.

It was in this setting that Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) wrote his Lex Rex: or The Law and the Prince (1644). What is the concept in Lex Rex? Very simply: The law is king, and if the king and the government disobey the law they are to be disobeyed. And the law is founded on the Law of God. Lex Rex was outlawed in both England and Scotland. The parliament of Scotland was meeting in order to condemn Samuel Rutherford to death for his views, and the only reason he was not executed as a civil rebel is because he died first.

In his classic work, Lex Rex, Rutherford set forth the proper Christian response to nonbiblical acts by the state. Rutherford, a Presbyterian, was one of the Scottish commissioners at the Westminster Assembly in London (1643-1647) and later became Rector at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The book Lex Rex, in a society of landed classes and monarchy, created an immediate controversy.

The governing authorities were concerned about Lex Rex because of its attack on the undergirding foundation of seventeenth century political government in Europe—“the divine right of kings.” This doctrine held that the king or state ruled as God’s appointed regent and, this being so, the king’s word was law. Placed against this position was Rutherford’s assertion that the basic premise of civil government and, therefore, law, must be based on God’s Law as given in the Bible. As such, Rutherford argued, all men, even the king, are under the Law and not above it. This concept was considered political rebellion and punishable as treason.

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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