Biblical Role of Government - Part 1
Why Do We Have Governments?
Biblical Role of Government: VIDEO 1 | VIDEO 2 | VIDEO 3
The following is based on some of the points made in the above video. This is the first video in a three part series:
To understand why government is needed, we fist need to understand the character of humanity.
A few days after the beginning God was there... and Adam was there. There was no one else. God gave Adam just one rule:
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and tend it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die.” - Genesis 2:15-17
Later that same day, God created a helper for Adam. Her name was Eve. It was Adam's responsibility to explain God's one rule to Eve, and ensure she obeyed that one rule. We know what happened. Adam disobeyed God, he ate from the tree, and that brought sin, corruption and death into the world. This is called The Fall. All of humanity does the same today. We choose to disobey God. We choose wickedness (human wisdom) over what is good (God). This is foundational to understanding why governments exist, and why Biblical governments are organized the way they are.
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” - Mark 10:18
There is no righteous person, not even one; there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks out God; they have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, there is not even one.” - Romans 3:10b-12
All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;” - Isaiah 53:6
There is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind to see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. - Psalm 53:1b-3
Purpose of Government
God gave us government as the means to carry out (execute) justice, or as 1st Peter says, "for the punishment of evildoers."
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. - 1 Peter 2:13-14
Government exists because we, all humans, are by nature self-centered law-breakers. On our own we tend toward wickedness and evil. (Tap here to take the Good Person Test.) Government restrains that evil by punishing evildoers.
What Prevents Government From Becoming Evil?
There is a saying attributed to William Pitt the Elder, Primer Minister of England from 1766-1778: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He came to this conclusion based on his observations of human nature. So, how does a Biblical government deals with this?
Government must be accountable to God and to the people it governs. The above video describes how this was accomplished in Mose's day, for example.
Biblical government distributes power (checks and balances), so that no one person or group can dominate. This was the way the U.S. government was set up under the Constitution as ratified in 1788.
There are three branches of government: the legislative makes laws and approves appointments made by executive; the judicial determines if laws are legal and if they have been violated; and the executive approves and enforces the laws.
Originally government leaders were selected by various means that were designed to prevent domination by one person or group, including domination by popular vote:
- House of representatives selected by popular vote.
- Senators appointed by State Legislatures
- President selected by the Electoral College
- Judges selected by the executive (the president) and confirmed by the legislative (the Senate)
Because of our fallen nature and propensity toward evil, this distribution of power and authority is required if we are to have good government that fulfills the purpose of executing justice.
Now, my brothers, I want to speak about the Gospel which I have previously preached to you, which you accepted, in which you are at present standing, and by which, if you remain faithful to the message I gave you, your salvation is being worked out—unless, of course, your faith had no meaning behind it at all.
For I passed on to you Corinthians first of all the message I had myself received—that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold. He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve, and subsequently he was seen simultaneously by over five hundred Christians, of whom the majority are still alive, though some have since died. He was then seen by James, then by all the messengers. And last of all, as if to one born abnormally late, he appeared to me! - 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
This is the Gospel... the Good News of Jesus Christ
This is Good News for you. Without Jesus and the cross, there would be no hope. No future. No life.