Online Worship for Trinity Five, Sunday July 4, 2021
Sermon for Trinity Five – Independence Day 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
My Fellow Americans –
As you well know, today we celebrate a national holiday in our country, a holiday known simply as Independence Day. On this day 244 years ago, July 4, 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, separating the colonies from Great Britain. Thus, our country was born.
We should thank God for the many blessings He has lavished upon the United States of America. This morning, we should think first of the freedom we now exercise – to gather publicly to hear the Word of God and worship the True God without fear of persecution. We should be thankful for the wisdom of our founding fathers, declaring the principle of the separation of church and state, that the government has no right to tell the church what it may believe and teach.
As American Citizens and as Christians, we willingly submit to our government and honor our president – no matter what we happen to think of his personal ideals or politics. Indeed, we should, as the Scriptures before us this morning simply teach.
The Word of God upon which we meditate on this Independence Day is taken from the First Epistle of Peter, Chapter Two, verses 13-17, as follows:
1 Peter 2:13-17
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Who is our King and we His subjects,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Precious Blood –
It has become popular – as a political statement – to declare – “I didn’t vote for him. He’s not my president!” It’s really a non-sensical statement. We all endure the ups and downs of every president and every administration; but not voting for the winning politician does not make an individual an ‘independent citizen.’ We each remain citizens of the United States with all rights and privileges until and unless we renounce that citizenship and leave the country!
It’s become popular for Hollywood Types to stump for their favorite candidate and even suggest that if the other is elected, they will leave the country. In most every case, they are empty words. The benefits of being an American Citizen far outweigh that of many other countries.
So…what if we did not live in the United States of America?
What if we lived in a country whose government killed, tortured, raped and terrorized its citizens and neighbors?
What if we lived in a country where women were beheaded and prayer was illegal for the majority of citizens?
What if the government were to force us to renounce our ethnic heritage or lose everything?
What would God expect of us as Christians, as citizens of His Heavenly Kingdom? Would He expect us to be obedient, to submit to the government and honor our ruler? If you don’t think so, then listen carefully to the words found in 1st Peter, chapter two:
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.
Submit to every ordinance of man, every form of government for the Lord’s sake, whether that be to a king or governor or those sent by them. If I had read those words without telling you their source during the pandemic, would you agree with them? Those words are not merely the opinion of a Galilean fisherman named Simon (Peter); they are the words of God.
God expects us to be good citizens whatever the form of government chosen by our country to keep order!
Maybe you think we should qualify those words. Well, that was then, this is now.
Surely there weren’t heavy handed governors in those days. Surely the government wasn’t nearly as terrible as I have just described when these words were first written, right?
Well, these words were given to Peter to write during one of the worst times in history for Christians. When these words were first written, it was common for Christians to be scourged - simply for gathering to worship.
In fact, it’s quite possible that these words were written during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Nero. Roman Historian Tacitus wrote that Nero covered Christians with the hides of animals to be torn apart by wild dogs. He had them nailed to crosses, and set afire as evening lights.
We don’t face persecution anything like that.
Still, the Lord through the Apostle Peter told those Christians, and tells us as His loyal subjects, to submit to whatever human government we are under – for His sake.
This Scripture says “every human ordinance” that is, “every form of human government.” The Lord Jesus would have us be obedient – moved by the Holy Spirit out of fervent love for Him. Whether that ruler be a supreme ruler like a king or a governor sent by the king.
Now you might wonder, how could the Lord expect them to be submissive to such a government? The Holy Spirit answers that question simply in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (13:1):
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
While men may organize and determine what types of governments they would use, God blesses those arrangements, even appoints them to keep order and offer protection.
God establishes earthly governments to keep order and to rule over earthly things. They are appointed by God to punish lawbreakers. So, if you speed, expect a ticket. If you steal, expect a fine. If you do evil, expect retribution. This is one of the ways God keeps order among men – for their own good!
If we are obedient to the governing authorities, then we need not fear punishment. In fact, governments will praise those who practice good and honor those who set out to help their fellow citizens.
Government is good, but government is not appointed by God to rule over His Word.
Therefore, if a government seeks to overrule the Word of God and commands that we disobey God, then our Heavenly King overrules. When the rulers of the Jews commanded Peter and the other Apostles to disobey the Lord and stop proclaiming what Jesus had done and accomplished, the Holy Spirit led them to respectfully disobey, saying (Acts 5:29):
“We ought to obey God rather than men.”
It is God pleasing to submit to the government, because our willing obedience also stands as a good example to the nations.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—
It is easy to grumble about the government, isn’t it? Yes, especially when April 15th rolls around and we have to pay taxes. So, we may unwillingly obey, acting like children: “Well, OK, I’ll pay my taxes, but I won’t like it.”
We can debate whether taxes are excessive from time to time; but we may also take for granted what benefits are ours from taxes. Taxes pay for police and fire, improvements to roads, and other beneficial things.
Moreover, the Scriptures tell us that we are to pay our taxes as commanded (Romans 13:7):
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
We should do this because of our Heavenly King, our Lord Jesus. He would have us show our commitment to Him by doing what is right in the eyes of our earthly rulers for this reason – that we silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
The world is always looking for a reason to accuse Christians. People are always looking for justification for their own sins and guilty conscience and often this one fits the bill: “If Christians curse and swear and use foul language, then who are they to tell me it is wrong for me?”
This is the kind of talk that needs to be put to silence, muzzled like a yapping dog. It is put to silence when we, following our Lord, willingly submit and do what is right. It’s put to silence when we do the right thing no matter who is watching and not come off as ‘part-time Christians’ (Christians on Sunday but not the rest of the week).
16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice,
but as bondservants of God.
It’s not that we are slaves to our earthly rulers. We submit to the government; we have freedom and are slaves to no man. We are not bound to an earthly master, for Christ is our King, and He rules over all things.
Christ our King would not have us use our freedom to practice evil.
We who have been set free from sin and death and are being led by the Holy Spirit within us – have not been set free TO SIN, but set free FROM IT to serve our God and Father.
How can we use our freedom to serve God and shut the mouths of ignorant men?
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
How do we muzzle those who would accuse us? It all begins at the foot of the Cross of Christ. When Jesus ascended Calvary, it was to be the one sacrifice for all men.
Jesus’ love knew no bound, it was so great that He was willing to give Himself for all people. We also exhibit the love of Jesus in us when we strive to show respect, to honor all people.
We show the love of Jesus by not playing favorites, but being all things to all men – without joining in their sin. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.”
We honor all people when we see them as those for whom our Savior Jesus, died. The Holy Spirit encouraged Christians in Galatia with these words (6:10):
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all,
especially to those who are of the household of faith.
We are to do good to all, especially to our fellow believers. So, when a fellow believer or the loved one of a fellow believer dies and we host a funeral, we ought to be willing to help, to provide food, comfort and support. We shouldn’t complain about having to provide such things. We don’t just do it so that when our loved one dies people will do the same; but in Christian love for people for whom Christ died.
We are to harbor a special love toward one another, one that looks to help in whatever the need. If we refuse to care for those to whom we are joined by faith, then the world will see and tongues will wag and our witness destroyed. When we love one another as Christ loved us, the world sees, and will come to see that Christ lives in us.
We are also encouraged to use our freedom to show respect to the Lord. Instead of showing disrespect to God by misusing the name of God or of the Savior Jesus, we show that we fear God when we do not join to curse and swear improperly.
If our mouths are filled with filth, then how will people listen when we bring to them the pure Gospel of Christ? Lord, help us to guard our mouths that they may be used to your service.
Finally, honor the king. We would do well to show respect to God’s appointed representatives in government. In doing so, we will be careful not to speak well of their sins, but still honor them as God’s agents for rule in the earthly realm.
In doing so we show that we are obedient servants of the King – Christ our King.