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Should Christians Obey Those in Power in All Things?
By Wu Ming
Early in the morning, the sun slowly rose above the horizon and illuminated all things on earth. How warm and beautiful the scene was! After finishing breakfast, Li Ming, a house church preacher, cheerfully arrived at the meeting place. Seeing there were already many people inside the room, Li Ming greeted all the people first, and then all the people started to settle down. Just when Li Ming was ready to preach, a young sister in her twenties stood up and said politely: “Grandpa Li, I have a question I don’t understand. Before I asked my parents this, but they couldn’t explain it either. So, please can you explain it.” Li Ming said seriously: “OK, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Let’s fellowship together.” The young sister said: “In theit says, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation’ (Romans 13:1-2). But I can’t understand them. The CCP government always repress us house churches’ believing in God. My grandfather was previously arrested by the CCP and suffered a lot just because of his belief in God. If we follow Paul’s words, we should all obey the ruling authority. However, the atheistic CCP is always persecuting religious beliefs and acting as an enemy of God. It not only forbids us from believing in the Lord, but also arrests and persecutes those who spread the to bear witness to God. If we obey it and don’t believe in the Lord or spread His gospel, then aren’t we standing on Satan’s side, resisting and betraying the Lord? When it comes to how to treat the ruling authority, how should we do to ensure we’re in accordance with the Lord’s will?”
Li Ming looked at the brothers and sisters and said happily: “That’s a great question. Paul said, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.’ Just according to these words said by Paul, many brothers and sisters who believe in the Lord think the ruling authority is ordained by God. Therefore, obeying the ruling authority is obeying God; some brothers and sisters think no matter how the ruling authority prevent and restrict religious beliefs, we should obey them; some also say that all those who resist the ruling authority are resisting God. Just think: Are these perspectives correct?”
The brothers and sisters looked at each other, not knowing what to say. Li Ming continued saying with a slight smile: “We should first know that Paul isn’t God or a prophet but just an apostle sent forth to preach the gospel after the great light shining on him. Like many people who follow God, Paul was also a man deeply corrupted by Satan and needed God to save him. Then, is Paul’s word the truth? Can his word represent God? Obviously, it can’t! We believers in God should setas the standard and the behavioral principles and directions. Only such practice is in accordance with God’s will. Since the Age of Law several thousand years ago, has God ever said that we should obey the ruling authority?” Some of the brothers and sisters said: “No!” Some shook their heads. Li Ming said: “It is obvious that these words came from the conception and imagination of Paul and doesn’t conform to . It will be even cleaner after we look back to some historical facts. During the Age of Law, the Israelites did the hard and heavy work for the Egyptian Pharaoh like oxen. At that time, they prayed for God to bring them out of their slavery in Egypt. God heard their prayers and sent Moses to lead them out of the suppression and exploitation of the Pharaoh. However, the Pharaoh wanted to control the Israelites in Egypt and enslave them for him forever. Thus, he tried hard to prevent. If Moses had obeyed the ruling authority, then would he have brought the Israelites out of Egypt? In fact, Moses didn’t listen to the Pharaoh’s words but God’s words. Not only was he not chastised by God because of his resisting the ruling authority, he also led the Israelites out of the Egypt under the guidance of God. Think back to it, is this not the case?” The brothers and sisters looked at each other and nodded.
Li Ming went on saying: “Let’s think of another fact: After the Lordresurrected and ascended to heaven, many disciples and apostles that followed the suffered the persecution of the ruling authority for spreading God’s gospel. For example, Stephen was stoned to death; James was beheaded; John was poisoned; Peter was crucified upside down, etc. Then look upon the present ruling authority of China: Since the gospel of God spread throughout China, they have been furiously condemning and arresting Christians. For many years, countless Christians have been suffering the persecution of them and how many Christians have been forced to leave home, leading the lives of vagabonds, of the homeless. Even many Christians have been persecuted to death. Then, are we going to say that these brothers and sisters who were persecuted suffered chastisement of God because of resisting the ruling authority? If we obey the ruling authority according to Paul’s words, are we not going to be the people conspiring with Satan to resist God? This completely confirms that the words of Paul—Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation—doesn’t conform to the Lord Jesus’ words and the truth. We cannot use it to guide our behavior. As believers in God, we should have God’s words as our standard and act according to God’s words. That accords with God’s will!
Li Ming paused for a moment. Seeing everyone was listening carefully, he went on, “Then how should we treat the ruling authority? The Lord Jesus once said: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Mark 12:17). From His words, we can see that the Lord wants us to obey the authorities in terms of paying taxes. But if they prevent us from believing in and following God, we’ll never obey them. The Lord: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14: 6). Only God can endow us with the truth and lead us onto the right way of life. And only by always practicing according to God’s requirements can we obtain the truth and life. If we can distinguish Paul’s words, then we’ll know how to treat the ruling authority and no longer treat Paul’s words as God’s in obedience. In the past, we were unable to distinguish Paul’s words so that many believers in God were persecuted, imprisoned and tortured but didn’t dare resist. All these is because we were foolish and didn’t understand the truth. Plus, we were created by God, and as a creature, we should always obey the ’s arrangements, no matter what. The Bible says: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29). Regardless of whether one is a ruler, a personage, a great person, or a pastor or elder of the religious world, as long as what they say doesn’t conform to the truth, we’ll never accept or obey them. This is the code of conduct we Christians should have.
After hearing Li Ming’s fellowship, all the brothers and sisters nodded and said: “Amen!” The young sister said happily, “Thank the Lord! Today, after listening to what Grandpa Li explained, I can thoroughly distinguish these words of Paul and have a correct path. In the past, I was unable to distinguish, perplexed by these words all the time. In the future, no matter who the person is, I will treat him according to God’s words.” Everyone said: “Yeah, thank the Lord! Today, we finally understand how to treat the ruling authority.”
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