Jesus controls everything. Ephesians 1:22 says, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” What a comfort to know that our Savior rules everything.
However, Jesus himself said that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Instead, Jesus rules in the hearts of his people by his Word. We are citizens of the kingdom of God through faith, but we are also citizens of the state. Jesus rules by placing earthly authorities over us (Romans 13:1). These authorities are not perfect, so there will always be a tension between our two citizenships.
What are the possible conflicts that can arise for a Christian as a citizen of both kingdoms?
Citizens of the state
God established all authority. Therefore, to rebel against the government is rebellion against God.
Read Romans 13:1-7.
What are the state’s responsibilities to us?
Read Luke 20:22-25; 1 Peter 2:13-17; and 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
What are our responsibilities to the state?
Luke 20:22-25. Remember Jesus says this in the context of a government that used some tax dollars to support violent treatment of people. Also remember, it was this government that ordered the slaughter of infants in Matthew 2:16-18.
1 Peter 2:13-17. How do the words “for the Lord’s sake” (v. 13) help in carrying out our responsibilities?
1 Timothy 2:1-4
Citizens of the church
Every believer in Jesus is a member of the holy Christian church. It is called holy because each member is cleansed by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 5:27). It is called Christian because it is built on Jesus as our cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-7). It is called church (meaning “to be called out”) because we have been called out of darkness and into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). This church is invisible because Jesus rules in hearts. The church carries out its mission to make disciples by proclaiming the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).
Read Ephesians 4:1-17.
What are our responsibilities in the church?
What does God do for his church?
The church uses the gospel as its tool to carry out its mission to make disciples of all nations. The church is governed by God’s Word. The state uses the sword (i.e. punishment) as its tool to accomplish its mission of maintaining order and protecting its citizenry. The state is governed by reason.
For what reasons do you think the separation of church and state is wise?
Read more about the relationship between church and state in Civil Government: God’s Other Kingdom. A new small group Bible study based on the book is also available. Northwestern Publishing House, nph.net; 800-662-6022.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord