In this session of Secret Church 20, Pastor David Platt teaches on what Christians can learn from the gospel about government. After reflecting on the gospel and after surveying what the Bible says about God and government in other sessions, this session will filter those truths through the gospel to better understand how we are to respond.
- Gospel Conclusions
- God’s Character
- Offense of Sin
- Sufficiency of Christ
- Personal Response
- Eternal Urgency
- Life Transformation
We’ve seen 64 biblical truths; now let’s draw 12 gospel conclusions that will lead us into practical takeaways. My aim at this point is to add nothing new, but to summarize all we’ve seen under the banner of those core gospel threads that we identified a few hours ago. So this section should go pretty quick here. I just want you to see, based on the gospel and these 64 truths from Scripture, how the gospel specifically relates to government. So think about each of these threads of the gospel and I’ll try to keep it to two truths per thread.
G: What We Can Learn from the Bible about Government and God’s Character?
God is the loving Creator, sovereign King and holy Judge of all.
- God alone, not government, is ultimately worthy of all glory. I trust we’ve clearly seen this throughout these sessions.
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:29–32)
- God alone, not government, is ultimately worthy of all our worship.
- God alone, not government, is ultimately worthy of all our trust.
- God alone, not government, is ultimately worthy of all our affections.
- God alone, not government, is ultimately worthy of all our allegiance.
- To the extent that governments and leaders reflect God’s character, those governments and leaders will be good for citizens.
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the God is the loving Creator, sovereign King and holy Judge of all. people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! (Psalm 72:1–4)
- Envision governments and leaders reflecting God’s love.
- Envision governments and leaders reflecting God’s wisdom.
- Envision governments and leaders reflecting God’s justice.
- Envision governments and leaders reflecting God’s authority.
So to the extent with which government and leaders reflect the character of God, those governments and leaders will be good for citizens. Envision reflecting God’s love, wisdom, justice and His good authority like we’ve in Scripture. Another way to put this gospel conclusion is the more a government reflects the goodness of God and all that means, the better a government will be for its people who are created by God.
O: Offense of Sin
Men and women are wonderfully and uniquely created by God, yet we have rebelled against Him, are separated from Him, and deserve death before Him.
- In a sinful world, government possesses authority from God to do justice. This thread should shape our understanding of government.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1–4)
Government is instituted by God…
- To promote good and punish evil.
- To protect liberty and promote family.
- To affirm equality and fuel prosperity.
- To help the poor and support the oppressed.
These are all purposes God has designed for government under the banner of doing justice. The problem is…
- In a sinful world, government is a battleground of gods that leads to injustice and of idolatry that leads to injustice. In a sinful world, nations rage, and people plot against God, play god, set themselves as god and/or seek other gods. Men and women are wonderfully and uniquely created by God, yet we have rebelled against Him, are separated from Him, and deserve death before Him.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1–3)
- The idolatry of self, sex, money, rights, prominence and power, among all people and particularly among leaders, which…
- Leads to corruption, oppression, discrimination, persecution, and degradation among nations.
Idolatry leads to injustice. This is the problem in a world gone awry. In the sinful world, government is a battleground of gods that leads to injustice, which is why we look to the next gospel thread.
S: What We Can Learn from the Bible about Government and the Sufficiency of Christ
Jesus is God in the flesh, the long-awaited King Who has come to live a perfect and powerful life, to die a sacrificial and substitutionary death and rise from the grave in victory over sin, Satan, and death.
Based on that gospel truth, we conclude that…
- Jesus is the only perfect Leader and He will one day govern over all. This passage powerfully predicts the return of Christ, the only perfect Leader Who will one day govern overall.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11–16)
- Jesus is the only possible Redeemer and He desires the salvation of all people. He’s the only hope for all people and He desires that all people know His salvation.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1–6)
P: Personal Response
- Followers of Jesus possess an entirely new political identity. We see this in Philippians regarding all who repent and believe in Jesus, for all who chose to follow Jesus.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20–21)
- Two passports…
- We are citizens of a temporary country on earth.
- We are citizens of an eternal country in heaven.
Our dual citizenship totally changes the way we live while we are still here.
- Two effects when it comes to government…
- Persecution from government is expected. According to 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”—not that we seek persecution but we expect it. If we are truly following Jesus in this world, it will come to us.
- Opposition to government is possible, meaning it is very possible that followers of Jesus may face a circumstance when they must decide to obey God rather than government. Why? Because in an ultimate sense, followers of Jesus possess an entirely new political identity.
- Followers of Jesus comprise an entirely new political community called the church.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:8–10)
- The church is the most important political community on earth.
- It’s where the nations can see the just governance of God at work. The church is the political outpost on earth made up of ambassadors of the Kingdom who are supposed to love one another, care for one another, teach one another, live alongside one another, all in a way that centers around the King. People will see the goodness of God in the governance, organization, relationships, and use of resources in the church. God help us be a church that displays Your glory like this!
- The church is the most important political community for the Christian. God calls all people in all nations to repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, turning from all idols to declare allegiance to Jesus alone as King and trusting in Jesus alone as Lord of one’s life.
- It’s where the nations must see the just governance of God. Christian, don’t underestimate the high calling you have been given as part of the church of Jesus Christ—the body and bride of Christ—for the display of His glory and goodness to a watching world. The church is the most important community for the Christian and it’s where the nations must see the just governance of God. They need to see Him in us.
E: Eternal Urgency
Hell is the eternal, horrifying destination for all who turn away from Jesus. Heaven is the eternal, satisfying dwelling place of God for all who trust in Jesus.
Put all we’ve seen in Scripture under the umbrella of this gospel thread and we see that…
- Our ultimate hope is in God and His Kingdom, not government in our country.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
- Our ultimate aim is people’s salvation, not political position. We want people’s names to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s what we’re living for because that’s what is going to matter in all of eternity.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day— and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22–27)
L: Life Transformation and What We Can Learn from the Bible about Government
All who believe the gospel are new creations: filled with God’s Spirit, children in God’s family, members of God’s church, and heirs of God’s Kingdom.
As Jesus transforms our lives more and more every day, He calls Christians to…
- Honor government through good works in any nation where we live. This passage tells us to do good.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13–17)
- The church honors God by spreading the gospel to every nation. That’s the commission we’ve been given and it is global in nature, spanning every government, geopolitical entity, and people group on the planet. This is part of what tonight has been about; I hope you’ve seen it.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)
So this is my attempt to summarize how the gospel transforms the way we view government and our lives under government. Twelve gospel conclusions.
Session 5 Discussion Questions
1. What are some examples of ways we are prone to falsely hope in the government?
2. How can governments reflect God’s character?
3. What are some ways we see the depravity of man play out in government?
4. How does the reality that Christ’s Lordship will one day be recognized by all people change our response to government and to persecution?
5. How is Jesus qualified to be the mediator between God and men? Why is this good news?
6. In what ways do followers of Jesus possess an entirely new political identity?
7. Why is the church the most important “political” community on earth?
8. What are the consequences of Christians valuing political position over people’s salvation?
9. What are some ways that Christians honor the government?
10. What is the primary mission God has given the church?