The Church and Government
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6, 7
When Jesus comes, all human government will rest upon His shoulder and will flow from His authority. Government will increase until the millennium comes, so the millennium will be the perfect time when all government is under Him. During the kingdom age, the throne in Jerusalem shall become all the government. All cities will get their right from the throne of David, from Jesus on the throne. At that time the government shall be upon His shoulder.
In Romans we have a prophesy concerning the deterioration of a civilization. It also describes the deterioration of the fundamental Gospel position before it is forsaken by God. Three times in the first chapter of Romans we find words like, God gave them up, or God gave them over. There comes a time in a country, in a civilization, or in a movement when God gives it up. I want you to notice the stages in this deterioration as they apply to fundamental churches.
1. They hold the truth, but they hold it in unrighteousness.
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Romans 1:18
The first step down for any great movement is when it loses its separation. Its doctrine is sound, but it is not separated from the world. I do not care what group, denomination, or movement it is, the first step down is losing its separation position. Many once great churches are no longer effective for God because they quit taking a stand on the matter of separation.
There was the day when Germany was basically a Christian nation. There was a day when England was the headquarters of fundamental Christianity in the world. There was a day when Chicago, Illinois, was the fundamental headquarters of the United States. What happened? They held the truth, but they lost their position of separation. That began their downward slide. They began to live like the world, talk like the world, dress like the world, sing like the world, walk like the world, watch what the world watched, and go where the world went. The great soul-winning churches in history have been the greatest separated churches in history. Their first step down was when they lost their separation.
2. They lose their shout.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; Romans 1:21a
The Bible says that they glorified Him not as God. What does it mean? They lost their shout. The churches in America that have joy and excitement are usually separated. The quickest way to lose your joy in the Lord is to lose your desire to be separated.
3. They lose their gratitude to God.
The Bible says that we are to enter into His courts with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. When we lose our praise, we will lose our thanksgiving. That is always the next step down.
4. Their foolish heart is darkened.
... . but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1 :21b
It does not say that their foolish mind was darkened. It was their foolish heart that was darkened. They still believe the Bible, but they lose their emotion. They lose their tears. It is sad that even in fundamental circles a separated and excited church is an unusual thing. Some of the deadest churches in America are independent Baptist churches. Why? They lost their separatist position. When you lose your distinctiveness, then you lose your shout, and your thankfulness, and your heart becomes darkened.
5. They begin to think that they are wise.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:22
That is why our schools change. Usually that is the next thing that happens. We decide that we want our schools to become like the heathen schools that we once shunned. We want to use the same textbooks that they use. Man becomes wise and God becomes a fool.
6. They become humanistic.
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Romans 1:23-25
That is humanism. Humanism is when a man thinks he knows more than the Bible. Humanism is when man becomes more important than God. Humanism is when man reasons with himself. That is what formal education often becomes. Nobody knows the truth, but we are all searching for it. That is what modern education teaches. They fight dogmatism and any kind of authority because they do not want to yield themselves to the authority of an omnipotent God.
7. They become immoral.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. Romans 1:26-28
That term reprobate mind means that the mind has gone as rotten as it can go. It means that God has given it up. God will give up the civilization or movement that does not take a stand against immorality. Many churches no longer are a lighthouse for the Gospel because they have lost all semblance of righteousness and accepted the filth of this world. That is why some denominations that once stood for the truths of God's Word now openly accept the homosexual lifestyle.
8. They worship government.
The Bible says that they worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. That is interesting. They worshipped and served the creature. That is government. The last step in the decay is when we come to a point where we hold government in higher regard than we do God. Many churches once held the aim of pleasing God as their goal, but now are so busy trying to please the government that they no longer give God any authority. God, not government, is to be the final authority of the church.
With that in mind, let's consider the matter of authority as it deals with the church. Authority may be claimed by three sources.
1. By strength. When the conqueror conquers, he has authority over the conquered. That is the wrong way to get authority.
2. By surrender of the weak to the strong. Let me illustrate this. Lithuania never chose to be a part of Russia. Lithuania had no choice. Stalin and Russia got power over Lithuania by strength. Strength conquered weakness and that gave authority. In contrast, Texas was also a foreign country. Texas, by treaty, decided to enter into the Union, so Texas voluntarily entered into our country. Lithuania did not voluntarily enter into Russia.
3. Delegated by God. There are four areas where God has delegated authority.
(1) God has given authority to the family to rule itself. The Bible has given the husband the authority over the wife. The Bible also has given the parents the authority over the children. The little unit, called the family, has been given the right by God to rule itself.
(2) God has given authority to the local church to rule itself. The family has no right to rule the church. The church has no right to rule the family. The church has been given the authority by God to govern itself.
(3) God has given business the right to govern itself.
Free enterprise is God's gift. Capitalism is God's gift. It is God's way.
(4) God has given authority to the State. When I refer to the state I am referring to Government as a whole. God has given to the state the authority to govern itself.
God gave the authority to each of these and none of them has a right to usurp that authority. They are not over each other. They are separate from each other. The state has no authority when a parent is obeying God by spanking his child because God has given the family the right to govern itself. God said to spank our children. That command has been given to the family. The state has no right to prevent the family from obeying commands given by God to the mom and dad.
The church has no right to control the state. The church has no right to control business. Each of these are separate entities.
The state has no right to control business. That is what is called the free enterprise system. That is America. When America was founded, the Government did not interfere with business. Business has a way of settling its own problems if it is left alone.
For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; He will save us. Isaiah 33:22
Every local church is supposed to govern itself. There is no great centralized church power. In America, our judges and politicians are basically not church-going people, so they do not understand the church. The state has no right to interfere with the way we serve our God.
There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? James 4:12
A lawgiver is one who gives government the right to exist. A lawgiver is one who gives the home the right to govern itself. God is that lawgiver.
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. Romans 13:1
God gave the state the right to exist. God gave the home the right to exist. God gave the church the right to exist. God gave business the right to exist. All of these are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. Romansl3:2a
If the state resists the power that God has given to the church, they are resisting God. The state is resisting God when it tries to run the home. There is nothing in this country more corrupt than the Welfare Department. They think they own our kids. God has given parents the right to own those kids.
When our son was in Junior High School, he brought home a book the school was requiring him to read. The name of the book was Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. I told him to tell the teacher that he could not read the book. His teacher gave him a substitute book to read called, Catcher in the Rye. I told him that he could not read it either. The next day I went to the principal's office to inform him that my son was not going to read those books.
The principal had me meet with the English committee to come to a satisfactory resolution. I told that committee that my son was not going to read those books. That principal said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said, "Reverend Hyles, when your boy is in our school, he is no longer your boy."
Before I knew it, I was across his desk and had that principal by his collar. I said, "I do not care where he is, he is still my son, not yours!"
That is the attitude of the state. The issue is one kingdom trying to operate another kingdom. God has given each kingdom a right to exist independent of the others. God gives each of these institutions the right to exist.
God is the lawgiver. If the government gives these institutions the right to exist, than the government becomes the lawgiver and has taken the place of God. So, the government become an idol. God is the One who gives the right to the state. God puts up kings and sets down kings.
If any of these four rises up here to give any of the other four the right to exist, it become a lawgiver takes God's place. They make themselves an idol. Not only that, for us to submit to them, makes us idolaters.
If the government tries to get us to license the church, the government has moved itself where God is supposed to be, so a church that allows itself to be licensed by the state is idolatrous, because they have another god. It is not the state that gives the First Baptist Church the right to exist. It is God Who gives the First Baptist Church the right to exist.
We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Truth is education. If we do not educate and teach the truth, we cannot worship. Truth must be taught, so we are to teach our people five days a week at our schools. The state has no power over the school, because the school is a part of our worship and a part of the church. If the state says that our school must be licensed, it has usurped the place where God is supposed to be. The state becomes the lawgiver, giving us the right to exist. The state becomes an idol.
If you try to start a church in many communities in America, you will be told what street you must start it on, how big a sign you can have, and how many parking places you must have per pew. That is the state controlling the church.
God is the lawgiver who gives each of those areas the right to exist and the right not to interfere with any of the others. The state has no right to give a Christian college the right to exist. Many of our colleges are in trouble because they are not controlled by a church, which takes away its right to claim autonomous authority. They do not have the canopy of the local church. They have formed an empire, or a kingdom, outside the four kingdoms God ordained.
The First Baptist Church of Hammond and every other church should determine that no one will give us the right to exist. We already have our right to exist given to us by the only Lawgiver in the universe. So let us be free. It is a matter of being scriptural.
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