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How Should We Christians Treat the Ruling Authority?
By Miao Xiao
One morning in the early summer, the air was fresh, and the sun was shining brightly. After breakfast, Li Qiang took a hoe and walked forward with his head down. The words of the constable in the village kept rising inside his head: “Our country stipulates that illegal religious gatherings, belief in God and spreading theare not allowed. You’d better behave yourselves. If I find that you still believe in God, have meetings, and spread the gospel, then I will take you all to the Public Security Bureau.” When Li Qiang who had believed in God for many years heard that the atheistic CCP government arrested and persecuted Christians, he was very distressed. However, what made him confused the most was: How should he treat the CCP in accordance with the Lord’s will? He felt confused and was about to fellowship about that with his brothers and sisters. He came to a secret meeting place on a hill with his hoe. As soon as he came in, Brother Liu walked to him happily, and said: “Brother Li, oh good you came. Allow me to introduce you. This is Brother Yu, a witness.” Looking at Brother Yu, Li Qiang had a smile on his face. After greeting each other with a nod, they sat down.
Before Li Qiang sat steadily, elderly Brother Wang said: “It really is tough for us to believe in God. Every time we gather together or preach the gospel, we are at risk of being arrested. If we didn’t have true faith and were not resolved to give up our lives for the Lord, it would be hard to travel down this path.”
Li Qiang nodded and said with a sigh: “Yes, we don’t have any freedom of belief in the Lord at all and we have had to go into hiding all day. Yet, even if we are so careful, many brothers and sisters still have been arrested and imprisoned. A lot of Christians have no homes to return to. Their families have been broken up. However, recently one thing has vexed me. In the, Paul 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). If we put Paul’s words into practice, then we should always obey the ruling regime in everything. But the CCP government is an atheistic regime that opposes the theist. It not only suppresses and persecutes Christianity, but attacks and excludes all religious beliefs. If we obey it and do not attend gatherings, spread the gospel, or bear witness to God, then aren’t we surrendering to Satan in resistance and betrayal of the Lord? Won’t we then become those who are destined to perish? Ah! I really don’t understand this. When it comes to how we treat the ruling authority, what should we do to ensure we’re in accordance with God’s will? Brother Yu, you are a witness. You should have a unique perspective on this problem. Please talk to us about it.”
Then, Brother Hou, sitting opposite, said unhappily: “What is it about this that you do not understand? Paul said, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God’ (Romans 13:1). This proves that the governing regimes of the world have been ordained by God. Therefore, I think that obeying the regimes is obeying the Lord. If we follow Paul’s words in the Bible, is this not obeying God? I think no one would dare condemn us.”
Brother Zhao sort of couldn’t listen, and he looked at Brother Hou and said: “Hey, Brother Hou, according to your perspective, obeying the ruling regime is obeying the Lord. Well, the CCP government suppresses, arrests, and persecutes people who believe in the Lord, and bans us from believing in the Lord and spreading His gospel. You would still obey them? The CCP has labeled the Bible as a book of an evil cult, and classified Christianity house churches as evil cult organizations. Is this not a direct attack and condemnation of God? You will really listen to and obey that? If you do this, then do you still believe in the Lord? Won’t you then become an unbeliever?”
At this time, it was very quiet in the room. Brothers and sisters were all looking at Brother Yu, wanting to listen to his fellowship and expecting the answer.
Brother Yu said smilingly: “Okay, then I’ll talk about my understanding. Because of Paul’s words, some people who believe in the Lord think that the ruling authority has been ordained by God. Thus, obeying the ruling regime is obeying God. Is this view really correct? Is this really in accordance with God’s will? Actually, from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace, God never said that man should obey the ruling regimes. Let’s just take the Age of Law for example. The Egyptian Pharaoh, the sworn enemy of the Israelites, was a ruler. How did God treat him? He prevented the Israelites from leaving Egypt, and God sent disasters down on him. When the Egyptian army was chasing the Israelites, the Red Sea opened up. Then the Egyptian soldiers that chased the Israelites were destroyed; they drowned in the sea. In the Age of Law, all devilish rulers who resisted God were destroyed by Him in the end. Now let’s look at the Age of Grace. Why didn’t the Lordgo to the synagogue to work and preach? Why did the work and preach in the wilderness and among the common people? Because the ruling regime and the religious leaders were resisting God. They all took the Lord as their enemy. This is why the Lord Jesus could only preach and work in the wilderness and among the common people. If the Lord Jesus’ disciples had obeyed the authorities, could they have continued to believe in and follow the Lord? From this, we are able to tell how we should treat the ruling regime in accordance with God’s will. Some people do not discriminate. They cannot see through this thing. When they read Paul’s words in the Bible, they don’t know what to do. Some even think that obeying the ruling regime is obeying the Lord, and that those who rebel against the government rebel against the ordinance of God and ask for punishment. Tell me, isn’t this opinion really really wrong? They’re just too foolish and have no discernment. We all know, ever since the CCP came to power, they’ve been publicly denying, condemning, and blaspheming God. They have labeled the Bible as an evil book and confiscated and burned it! They have declared house churches as cult organizations and captured and persecuted Christians. They also have carried out inhuman tortures and inflict savage harm. It really is unwarranted killing! Their evil behaviors in defiance of God are countless and their sins are many! Why does the CCP hate and persecute those that believe in the true God so much? What is its purpose? It is afraid that the Chinese people will all start believing in and following God. In that case, no one will obey the CCP, be enslaved by it or have to serve it anymore. Therefore, the CCP uses any means to cruelly persecute Christians. It wants to ban God’s work and churches, and turn China into a godless land, so it will secure its place as the dictator for thousands of generations. This is enough to demonstrate that the CCP is the satanic regime that most hates the truth and God.”
Li Qiang slapped his thigh happily, saying: “When you talk like this, my heart is bright and clear! That’s great! Today I have finally discovered: The Chinese Communist Party conducts mass arrests and persecution of Christians, for the sole purpose of banning God’s churches and making China into an atheistic land. It seeks to control the Chinese people forever, lording over its people’s heads. Aren’t these the wicked ambitions of the CCP? Alas, I have believed in the Lord in the house church for years, and I was also arrested and persecuted by the CCP, but I have never discovered its essence of hating and resisting the truth. How foolish and ignorant I am! Brother Yu. Your talk with us today has allowed us to distinguish things clearly and open our eyes. I now understand this matter clearly!”
Brother Wang said: “Thank the Lord! My heart feels like it’s been liberated! In the past, no matter how the CCP arrested or persecuted Christians, I didn’t dare curse them and even prayed for them. I thought they were ordained by the Lord, and failing to obey them was rebelling against and betraying the Lord! Ah! We can’t tell the difference between good and evil and we really are ignorant! Thinking of this now, I can see that we really are standing on the side of Satan. We are praying for Satan to be blessed. Is this not going against God’s will and contradicting Him?”
Brother Liu also said: “Yes. The ruling party of every government is different. How can we not discern? You see, some western countries allow religious freedom. They do not restrict people from believing in God. This is especially true for democratic countries. They have true religious freedom of belief. As long as people do not break the law, the state will not interfere. However, this is not the case in authoritarian states. They only allow people to believe and follow them. It’s truly despicable! We can obey the ruling regimes who do not persecute religious belief, but when it comes to the CCP government, we just can’t obey it. This is my opinion.”
Brother Yu went on to say: “Thank the Lord! God’s enlightenment is what allows us to recognize things like this. Actually, the Lord Jesus revealed this to us long ago. ‘This is an evil generation’ (Luke 11:29). ‘And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’ (John 3:19). The Bible also says: ‘The whole world lies in wickedness’ (1 John 5:19). The Lord Jesus gets to the heart of the matter and reveals the true state and source of this world’s evil darkness. All of humanity lives under Satan’s influence. There is no space for God or the truth to exist. Think back to 2000 years ago, when the Lord Jesus incarnate was born, He was hunted by the Roman government. When the Lord Jesus was preaching and doing His work, He met with resistance and condemnation from Jewish leaders and Roman officials. In the end He was crucified on the cross. Christians also have endured the cruel and inhuman persecution throughout history. Why are humans always rejecting and condemning the truth? Why can’t the will of God be carried out on the earth and throughout the countries of the world? Because Satan has corrupted and controlled all mankind and the whole world lies under the domain of the evil one. The world is ruled by Satan’s evil forces that resist God! Then, if the ruling authority restricts us from believing in God, persecutes Christians and forces us to deny, reject, and betray God, will we have to obey them too?”
Li Qiang thought: We definitely cannot obey them!
Brother Wang put down the Bible in his hand, and said with emotion: “Now, looking at Paul’s words, it’s clear there are problems with them and they are very questionable! Could it be that Paul can’t see through this evil age? He was once arrested and incarcerated for spreading the gospel. According to logic, he should have greater insight into the substance of satanic regime than we do. However, those words that he said really boggle the mind!”
Li Qiang couldn’t help saying: “Alas! Paul’s words really are misleading and harmful. According to Paul’s words, the persecution and slaughter of these saints throughout the ages did not constitute shining testimony to the Lord, but they were asking for punishment because they rebelled against those in authority. In the same way, Paul himself was jailed for spreading the gospel. Is that not futile? Then why did he use his suffering as testimony when he talked to others? Isn’t there an inherent contradiction here? His words really have misled and ruined many pious believers who do not understand the truth.”
Brothers and sisters nodded and said: “Yes. How did we not think of this before?”
Finally Brother Yu said: “We should all know that God allows Satan to corrupt humanity and rule on earth. This is all part of God’s wisdom. The main purpose of God saving humanity is to defeat Satan, and transform those who have been corrupted by Satan into those who obey and worship Him. This is the way to totally defeat and humiliate Satan, and eventually seal its fate. Therefore, God allows Satan to rule on earth and corrupt mankind. He wants to let humans discern Satan for themselves, see its essence, and forsake and hate it. But He never said that man should obey Satan. Furthermore, He definitely never said that rebelling against the satanic regime is asking for punishment. Think about it, isn’t this the truth? Believing in the Lord and spreading the gospel is a mandate from Heaven, but satanic governments stop at nothing to persecute Christians, and resist the spreading of God’s gospel and the carrying out of God’s will. This fully exposes their devilish substance: They hate the truth and are enemies of God. We should know, people are cruelly persecuted by satanic regimes because they adhere to the true way and spread the Lord’s gospel. That is what it means to be persecuted for righteousness and is approved by the Lord. How can we say they’re asking for punishment? The Lord Jesus made it very clear when He once stated: ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is’ (Matthew 5:10). Did Paul not know about what the Lord ? As you can see, his words obviously contradict those of the Lord Jesus! In this matter, should we listen to his words or obey the Lord’s?”
Li Qiang firmly stated: “Obviously, we should obey the Lord’s words! The words ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers’ are Paul’s, not the Lord Jesus.’ What Paul said does not represent how the Lord Jesus felt. The Lord Jesus never said that obeying the authorities is obeying God. I just thought of something. As far as taxation is concerned, the Lord Jesus once said: ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). The Lord Jesus only said that we have to obey the authorities in terms of paying taxes. He never said we should obey all of their orders. He definitely never said that rebelling against them is rebelling against the ordinance of God. Therefore, what Paul said is not at all in line with what the Lord Jesus said. It does not conform to the truth. We cannot use it to guide our behavior. We were created by God and belong to Him. We should always listen to His words and obey His authority in everything, no matter what. This is righteous and just!”
At this moment, elderly Brother Wang said happily: “We believe in the Lord, so we must listen to His words and obey Him. Regardless of whether it’s the ruling authorities or famous figures, if what they say doesn’t conform to the Lord’s words, we will not listen. Just as what it’s written in the Bible: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29). In this way, through this short gathering, brothers and sisters smiled.
On his way home, Li Qiang silently thanked the Lord for arranging Brother Yu to come here. Many years of his confusion have finally been resolved!
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