Sunday, November 19, 2006

Obeying the Laws of the Land

WELCOME

SCRIPTURE READING

Titus 3:1 & 2

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

PRAYER

INTRODUCTION

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the scriptures which define who we are supposed to be as the body of Christ, and how we are supposed to operate.

This new sermon series will coincide with the formation of our constitution and bylaws to better explain why it is written, as well as the way it is written.

I believe that through examining the Holy Bible, we will be able to see and understand the way things have to be for us to function effectively within the legal system of our society.

The first of our sermon series is entitled, “Obeying the laws of the land”.

This can sometimes seem to be a catch 22 for those who follow the word of God, because sometimes the laws of the land are not very godly.

For example, Daniel was in a bad situation.

The laws of his land stated that only the king could be worshipped.

Daniel faithfully prayed to God daily, and no law was going to keep him from praying to God.

God did not expect Daniel to obey a law like this.

Obviously Daniel was caught and had to pay the price for placing God first in his life, but because Daniel was obedient to the word of God, God protected Daniel from the consequences of his obedience.

Again, the same time period, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, disobeyed the law which commanded all to worship an idol.

This would have been a direct disobedience to the Word of God, so they refused.

Again, God saved them from the consequences of their obedience to His Word over the laws of men which disobeyed God.

In both cases, these men did observe, and submit to the authority in the land, but did not obey what directly contradicted God’s Holy Word.

God has given us a gift called common sense.

And we can determine with our intelligences whether or not something is offensive to God or not. We then determine whether or not we are going to obey.

Some examples, if our land decides that abortion is legal, does that make it OK for us?

No, because that directly disobeys God’s Word, such as;

Psalm 100:3

“Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his…”

Exodus 20:13 – Literal Translation from Hebrew

“Thou shalt not murder.”

Psalms 139:13 – 16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place
.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be
.”

We know from scriptures that God has made us, has known us before He made us, and that we are His from before we are born. That the days we live have been ordained (set aside) a certain number for us to live and that He is our Author.

Abortion, the murder of the unborn is against the Word of God.

P.s. So is the killing of abortion doctors.

Psalms 11:5

“The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.”

So as long as the laws do not contradict the Word of God, we are to obey and submit to them.

When we do, just as in the many examples throughout the Bible, God will make a way for us.

AUTHORSHIP

It has never been debated that anyone other than Paul wrote this letter to Titus.

The two men had been longtime associates, and Paul introducing himself at the beginning of this letter with “apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1) was for the sake of believers in the churches of Crete who did not know him.

This was next to the last letter that Paul would write.

Paul’s last letter was “The Acts of the Apostles”, or the book of Acts.

Most of these letters were named centuries later, so many of the books of the Bible have a few differing titles.

This letter to Titus was a lot like the two letters Paul had written to Timothy and was much for the same purpose, to encourage and strengthen a young pastor whom he had discipled.

In our scripture reading today we see an instruction to Titus with a list of seven qualities that he as a Christian man was supposed to posses.

Duties that were vital to his serving Jesus Christ.

The list consisted of the following seven qualities that we too should posses as servants of Jesus Christ.

Remembering that this letter was to encourage and build up, we too can look at its contents and know that it was preserved for us as well to be encouraged and lifted up.

  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities.

This duty, which is given to us in the Holy Scriptures of God, pertains to our attitude and conduct when it comes to our secular government.

We see in the letter that Paul does not mention any particular type of government, just to be subject to rulers and authorities.

This instruction serves many purposes.

a) We are the body of Christ, and we are to be an example of Christ to the unsaved world.

We are called out of the world to be different, and a light, so that those who do not know Christ will be drawn to Him through us.

What example of the Kingdom of God do we give if we are lawbreakers?

How many times in your life have you heard someone who is not a Christian say about a professing Christian, “They are no different than me!”

We are a witness whether we want to be or not.

We are either going to be witnessing poor behavior and give the name we are called by a bad reputation, or we can live an exemplary life and in doing so give glory and honor and praise to the name we are called by for making us that way.

b) The devil is watching.

He is not called the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, for nothing! Revelation 12:10.

The devil looks for any reason to attack and slander the name of Christ and His church so that those who are not involved in the body of Christ will see no reason to get involved, because, “They are no different than the world.”

The devil tried to use this trick on Jesus, and believe me; he will try and use it on you.

On one of the many occasions in the Bible when the Jewish leaders tried to maneuver Jesus into heresy or treason, the Pharisees and Herodians approached Jesus with the law of the land.

Matthew 22:15 – 22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" 21 "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

You see, the devil wants to trap you too in legalism.

Now, many will try to say; “If you want to follow the Word of God word for word you are a legalist.”

But following God’s word and believing what it says to be the truth of God is not legalism.

Taking God’s word, and turning it into mans laws, and demanding it to be followed as God’s word is true legalism.

Who were the legalists in the Holy Scriptures?

The Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Why?

Here’s an example.

God’s Holy Word says, “It is not lawful to work on the Sabbath, and you must keep it Holy.”

Man takes this Holy Word and says, “If you walk more than one mile you have broke the Sabbath.”

Jesus healed a man and was attacked for working on the Sabbath!

True legalism is taking the Holy Word of God, making man’s laws and expecting them to be followed.

We are not being legalistic because we want to adhere to the teachings of the Holy Bible, we are being obedient.

Now, Jesus did not suggest that the tax was fair or that it would be used for good purposes.

Everyone, including Jesus, was fully aware that Caesar claimed to be god and that Jews considered his likeness on the coin to be a form of Idolatry.

Yet Jesus declared clearly that the tax should be paid.

On another occasion Jesus said that even He was not exempt from obeying the laws of the land!

Matthew 17:24 – 27

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"

25 "Yes, he does," he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"

26 "From others," Peter answered.

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him.

27 "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."

Jesus says that we are not to offend, because if we offend, we can not minister God’s word.

We also see from the scripture Jesus showed us how God provided for their need.

Now at this time the disciples had been traveling with Jesus and they had collected alms and tithes and had money, but Jesus did not have the tax paid with their money because He wanted to show that God will provide in times of need, and when we are obedient to God’s word, and subject to the authorities and rulers, He will provide.

So we are SUBJECT to authorities and rulers of the land.

  1. We are to be obedient to human authorities.

The only exception to this would be if the authorities and rulers were to command us to do something that is against the commands of God.

If it does not go against the commands of God, we are to be obedient.

The Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council in Jerusalem, ordered Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”

The apostles replied to this command with, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18 – 20; Acts 5:40 – 42.)

So unless it contradicts God’s Holy Word we are to obey the rulers and authorities. Why? Because God’s word says so.

This brings us to where we are in our process of becoming a Church.

First of all, the church is us.

Anyone who belongs to Christ is in the “Church”.

The church is the body of Christ, and Jesus promises that “He will build His church”.

And He does, through the Holy Spirit by bringing others to believe on Him.

So we are already recognized by God as a church because we are a body of believers.

But the word of God tells us we are subject to rulers and authorities, and we are to obey them.

This brings us to the process.

First of all, we would like to have a building, a meeting place for us to have worship services and meet and function out of as a base of Christian operations if you will.

For us as a body of believers to have a building, we must first be recognized by the State of Michigan as a body of believers.

And the first step of this process was the development of the Articles of Incorporation.

These articles of incorporation give substance to an entity.

The entity is this body of believers.

Our articles of incorporation give a name to this collection of believers, which is the House of Faith Ministries.

These articles have been written, and submitted to the State of Michigan, which has received, accepted and filed into their official paperwork our existence.

The House of Faith Ministries was a ministry Terri and I started years ago, and we financially supported missionaries and other Christian organizations, but a as we move from ministry to church, the DBA which was filed years ago for the ministry wouldn’t apply to the church, so this is why the articles had to be filed.

Now that we have obtained recognition as an entity, the House of Faith Ministries, our next step is to be recognized by the State of Michigan as a religious organization.

Now this isn’t just so we don’t have to pay taxes.

We have to be recognized as a religious organization for many reasons.

First of all, you cannot legally give money to an organization that is not classified, and unless that organization is classified as a non-profit, you cannot write off your tithes.

And really, scripturally speaking, you should write off your tithes, because if you do not write off your tithes, at the end of the year you are paying taxes on that money as if you had it and spent it, so you’re paying taxes on money you gave away.

The laws of our land offer you a break, and since we have to obey the rulers and authorities that don’t really help us, we should take advantage of the ones that do.

But we also have to be recognized as a religious organization for other reasons, such as purchasing a building for worship, operating in the community with programs to help other without having to obtain any special licenses or privileges, because they come with the recognition.

So once we have our letter of filing from the State of Michigan showing that our dues were paid for the Articles of Incorporation, we can file for our 501(c)(3) non-profit Religious Organization status.

Another thins that is required for receiving this recognition is the following;

  • A Constitution & Bylaws with certain legal terminology
  • Many different operation policies
  • A statement of faith
  • A description of our ecclesiastical government
  • A membership and membership process

These things will all be explained over the next few weeks in our sermon series where I will show how we are following the legal guidelines needed for our recognition while at the same time obeying the Holy Word of God.

We do not need to step out of God’s Bible and operations described within to obey the laws at this time.

They can both be done, and we are doing it.

We will have sermons over the next few weeks which will show where we are sticking right to scriptural structure of church operation, and we will also examine some of the areas that are required by law, but do not necessarily contradict scripture.

We need to remember another bonus of being recognized as a religious organization, which is the separation of church and state.

We as a church can operate in accordance to the bible without fear of being told how, when or where we can worship God!

I praise God and thank Him for this country we live in and the freedoms we do have.

Next week we will examine our Biblical purpose and calling as a body of believers, and how the scriptures which instruct us in this direction are instilled into the opening of our constitution and bylaws.

Please make sure that you have a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws, and take them home and examine them, look up the scriptures, and hopefully you will find that my work of over 2 years has shown in the structure and organization of the document which is needed for us to be recognized by the State of Michigan as a religious organization.

If you have any questions, you can speak with me. I know that most of your questions will be answered over the next few weeks as we go through our sermon series, it does coincide with the Constitution and Bylaws, and each matter will be discussed and explained.

So, next week we will discuss establishing places of worship, evangelizing here and foreign, the establishing of ministries and committees, and licensing ministers of the gospel, such as is done in denominational churches like ABC with their Certificate in Christian Ministry Program.

Let me close with a final word about the scripture reading today.

To be subject to rulers and authorities.

To be obedient.

To be ready for every good deed.

We must to be ready to do whatever is good.

Galatians 6:9 – 10

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

We are called to be known for consistent aggressive goodness, done NOT simply out of duty but out of love for our Lord and for other people.

The scripture goes on to say in verse 2, to slander no one.

Not even those who may malign you and your name. We must never stoop to maligning those whose sin is detestable.

We are to be peaceable and considerate, which means friendly and peaceful towards the lost rather than quarrelsome and belligerent.

In an ungodly immoral society, it is easy to become angry with those who corrupt it, condemning them and writing them off as hopeless and beyond God’s grace.

But we have no right to become hostile when unbelievers act like unbelievers.

Romans 12:18 tells us “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

If God so limitlessly and unconditionally loved the world that he sent his Son to redeem it, how can we, as sinful recipients of His redeeming grace, be callous and loveless toward those who have not received it yet?

We are to be gentle, not holding grudges but always giving others the benefit of the doubt.

And finally, we read in our scripture reading today, that we are to show true humility toward all men.

Remember your former condition, before Christ and His Holy Spirit changed you from the inside out.

ALTAR CALL.

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