How Christians should submit to the government’s law


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JEFF SESSIONS CITES ROMANS, CALLING BELIEVERS TO OBEY GOVERNMENT — DOES HE HAVE A POINT?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, recently, Jeff Sessions was asked to come and address the Southern Baptist Convention. When he did, he quoted the apostle Paul, Roman 13:1-7, which overall instructs Christians to submit to the government. This really opened up Pandora’s box with critics of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions saying that is the same scripture that certain individuals used to justify things like the Nazi regime.

Harry, let me ask you a question: if you were living back in the 1700’s during the American Revolution, no doubt, there were probably times where you had certain people saying that those living in this new country of America — which was still under the king’s rule — should be submitting to the king of England and not engaging in a revolution.

DR. REEDER: We just celebrated our July the Fourth holidays. Were the Christians who participated in the Revolution — the Christian patriots — were they sinning against God? And, by the way, many of the Tories were actually believers in America that quoted this and said, “We can’t rebel against the king.”

PAUL AND PETER AGREE ON THIS POINT IN MIRRORED WRITINGS

Peter, almost verbatim, says the same thing when he’s writing in 1 Peter 2:13-17. In fact, he even goes on to say that we are to be subject to every human institution and to those in authority, as Paul does, and to those who are ruling over us, for the governing authorities are established over us by a sovereign God and they are there, called to be ministers of God.

One of the things that is being stated in this is that government is an act of God post-fall that has been given as a blessing of common grace to punish evil, restrain evil and to promote what is good and that is the role of the government. The government is not the church and, by the way, the church is not the government. The government has an intersection with the church and the church speaks to the government and its members participate in the government.

THE GOVERNMENT IS GOD-GIVEN TO KEEP ORDER AFTER THE FALL OF MAN

And how is it that Christians live their lives? Well, we who have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of life, we who are sojourners and exiles as we fulfill our mission to be ambassadors for Christ, we see ourselves answering to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, but that does not promote anarchy in our life — that promotes order in our life and that our call is to be in subjection to every human institution.

Are there exceptions? Absolutely, but don’t start with the qualifiers; start with the principle. The principle is, before I was a Christian, it’s all about me and I do what I want for myself. Now that I’m a Christian, it’s all about Jesus and I do what He wants and He tells me. The direction of my life is to be submissive. Churches are submissive to one another, Christians are submissive to one another, members are submissive to elders, I’m submissive to my employer, I’m submissive to the civil magistrate — that is the direction that we are called to live.

THERE ARE CASES WHERE LAWS ARE NOT JUST

Are there qualifiers? Absolutely. Notice the text does not say that every law is just or that every governing authority is just but it simply says that it’s there by God’s sovereign appointment. My initial response is to be in submission.

Are there times in the Bible that my submission is to be forfeited because of the government’s law — the law itself? When they told John and Peter they couldn’t preach in the name of Jesus, well, now we got a conflict. King Jesus says go and preach the Gospel and they just passed a law on me that I can’t preach the Gospel. And so, what did they say? “We must obey God rather than man.” Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to the king’s image and commit idolatry, but they were still submissive — they willingly took their punishment.

THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR HAD BELIEVERS UNITED UNDER THEIR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, NOT INDIVIDUAL CHAOS

Concerning the Revolution, you’ll notice it was not a collection of guerilla and it was not an act of vigilantism. They established a government in America which they were submissive to, which then informed the government that was exercising tyranny against them that this government in America would not submit to that government. In other words, the Christians were obedient to the governing authority in America which declared to the tyrannical government that was attempting to coerce and control through the mechanism of taxation without representation that they would not do it.

Therefore, it was not an act of individual revolution; they were submissive to the government that had been established in the colonies that then said to the government that would control them, “We no longer will allow you to oppress and take away people’s God-given inalienable rights.”

The same thing would be true in a Nazi Germany. Yes, did Hitler quote this text to try to control Christians? Yes, but Christians could say, “Yes, we will be in submission to the government but, when you exercise your laws, if your laws cause us to transgress the law of God, then we must obey God rather than man.”

IN NAZI GERMANY, THE LAWS WERE UNJUST AND THIS VERSE WOULD NOT HAVE APPLIED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I remember in the book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom wrote where she was challenged by a Nazi officer quoting this verse saying you are to obey the governing authorities. In that kind of situation, would it be proper for a Christian like Corrie Ten Boom to perhaps take an officer like that to Colossians 4 where it says, “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you, too, have a Master in Heaven whom you have to answer.”

DR. REEDER: That’s moving from the civil government to the civil relationships in society but the principle would be the same. What I would say is go back to the Romans 13, “You’re a minister of God,” God called you to imprison people just because they are made in the image of God and reside in a certain ethnicity?

For Corrie Ten Boom, when they come and said, “Do you have any Jews in your house?” is it okay for her to say no? Absolutely it was okay because the whole question was, “Do you have Jews in your house that we can imprison and exterminate?” and that answer is no. She also realizes that here is a law that stands against the law of God, “You shalt not murder.”

WE MAY BE CALLED TO CIVILLY DISOBEY AND SUFFER CONSEQUENCES IN OUR WORLD TODAY

At the moment, my country is guilty of allowing the murder of unborn infants. If they ever get to the point that they tell me, “You have to pay for it. You have to participate in it directly,” then I tell them, “No, I will not,” and I’ll have to be ready to take the punishment for it. In fact, I am called of God not to obey an unjust law. I actually have a moral duty before God to disobey that law in the context of being submissive to governing authorities.

When Sessions quotes that text, that text is rightly quoted but its right application always realizes that, if that governing authority has an unjust law, then Christians, in submission to that authority, are under obligation to the Lord, the Giver of the supremacy of the Ten Commandments and the Law of God that we cannot disobey the commandments of God within a nation. Yet we don’t do that in terms of personal rebellion; we do that under authority and, ultimately, under the authority of Christ, Who is our King, in which our citizenship ultimately lies.

WE HAVE BEEN LEFT A LEGACY OF OBEDIENT CHRISTIANS TO FOLLOW

When Peter wrote his text that’s parallel to Paul’s text, it’s interesting that he also adds directly, “Honor the king,” and the king at that time is a lascivious, immoral, ungodly, unconscionably evil person, Nero, who in just a few years is going to kill the man that’s writing this “Honor the king and honor the emperor,” Peter, and will also decree the death of Paul who also said the governing authorities are to be obeyed and who, in their submission, went to death for King Jesus because of their faithfulness to the call of Christ to spread the Gospel of His Kingdom throughout the world. Of course, history is full of those who have followed their steps of martyrdom.

The rule of believers is you move from the rule of self and the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ and now the rule of Christ in our life and it’s manifested in our submission to God-ordained authorities, always declaring the supremacy of our obedience to Christ. If those rulers take upon themselves the authority to tell us to disobey Christ, then we must obey God rather than man.

COMING UP TOMORROW: LEADERSHIP BLOOMING IN ARMED FORCES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of “Today in Perspective,” I want to take you to a blog by Chris Bollinger. In this blog, he notes that there are certain members of a certain branch of our military who share a unique quality.

DR. REEDER: And are being called upon in a disproportionate measure for leadership in our country and there may be a reason why this is happening that we can explore tomorrow.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

2 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

2 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

3 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn