Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is It Wrong For Christians To Defend Themselves?

Is It Wrong For Christians To Defend Themselves?

Q. My question for you is about those who are alive during the 7 year tribulation. It is my understanding that during this time there will be much persecution for those who are Christians, especially from the anti Christ himself and his government.

My question is … Will it be wrong for Christians to defend themselves, their families, and even their homes during this time? I know that we are supposed to be willing to die for our faith but it would be very hard for me to let someone else abuse, torture, or even kill my wife for her faith without taking violent actions against them to prevent it. What does the bible say about this matter if anything?

A. Although several Bible verses advise us to obey our leaders and the laws of our governments, there seems to be one authorized exception. In three different incidents, believers have deliberately disobeyed orders to either worship another god or cease spreading the word about our God. They are the fiery furnace incident in Daniel 3, the lion’s den in Daniel 6, and Peter and John’s refusal to stop preaching the Gospel in Acts 4.

From this we can conclude that there is no prohibition against committing acts of civil disobedience when they involve our right to worship God. Through out history, the people of God, whether Jew of Christian have been willing to give up homes and property rather than deny God. Hebrews 10:32-34 speaks of believers enduring persecution and joyfully accepting the confiscation of property. We’re taught not to love this life so much that we fear leaving it behind in favor of the next one.

A lot of this is hypothetical to us, especially in the West. But during the Great Tribulation persecution, death threats, and property confiscation could become a regular occurrence again, just like it was at the beginning of the Church Age.

It’s natural to resist this kind of treatment, but not at the expense of denying our faith. Those confronted with such choices during the Great Tribulation will have to weigh the pain and terror of a violent death against the benefits of an express ticket to eternity.

Is Civil Disobedience OK?

Q. Thank you so much for the time you have given to Bible Study and the ministry you are doing today. Many are benefiting from your knowledge. May God bless you richly.

I have a question: What does Scripture have to say about Christians rebelling against a repressive government?

A. The only time Biblical figures refused to obey their leaders was when obeying violated God’s Law. For example, Daniel’s 3 friends refused to worship the statue (Daniel 3), Daniel himself refused to stop praying to God (Daniel 6), and Peter and John disobeyed the High Priest’s order to stop preaching the Gospel (Acts 4:18-20).

What About Christian Activism?

Q. What are the bible’s thoughts on this? Christians who try to change our society through government or “Christian activism”. They say Christians who don’t participate, are just being lazy, apathetic, etc. That we must “get out there” on the street and change our world for Christ by “getting involved”. They usually are big into political parties, “get out the vote”, rallies, etc.

I used to be one of these but I have lost faith in this method, I personally feel it has failed and is failing. I don’t see any changes that have come about by Christian activism.

What does The bible have to say about this, not based on feelings etc. but pure biblical truth.

A. In general the Bible advises us to submit to governing authorities, reminding us that they’ve been ordained by God. (Romans 13:1-7) Jesus admonished His followers to pay their taxes to Rome as well as their tithes to God. (Matt. 22:15-22) I haven’t found anything for or against the kind of activism you mention, working within the system to bring about change.

However, there is Biblical precedent for civil disobedience when a government institutes laws or regulations that oppose God’s law. Daniel’s three friends refused to obey the King’s order to worship a statue of him and received God’s protection (Daniel 3). Daniel himself openly prayed to God in violation of an ordinance passed specifically to trap him, and also received God’s protection (Daniel 6). Peter and John twice refused to obey the Sanhedrin’s order to stop preaching the gospel (Acts 4:17 & 5:29).

In none of these cases did those who disobeyed have the opportunity to help prevent these unjust laws and orders from being enacted. But I think that their examples can be used to justify both legal efforts to prevent the enactment of civil laws that oppose God’s law, such as political activism, and non-violent disobedience of such laws if enacted.

I do think that believers who want to enter the political spectrum should first seek to determine that it’s God’s will for them to do so just as believers who want to enter the mission field would do. (Romans 12:1-2)

Doing What Is Right Vs. Unjust Governments

Q. How do we as Christians resolve the conflict of what we know to be right and just according to the bible, Romans 13 vs 1-7 and ruling authority which is not Christian and in some cases antithetical, potentially hostile or down right deadly?

Cases in point, Dr. King’s protests regarding unfair laws and political practices which unfairly discriminated against Blacks in America during the 1960’s. Christians who will be living under the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation.

A. This is a tough one. The only cases of civil disobedience in the Bible that seemed to have the approval of God took place in Daniel 3 & 6 and in Acts 3-4. All involved governments who were trying to suppress or outlaw the worship of God.

In Daniel 3 it was the associates of Daniel who refused to bow down before the statue on pain of death. In chapter 6 it was Daniel disobeying the order to pray only to the Persian King, and in Acts 3-4 it was Peter and John refusing to obey the High Priest’s command to stop preaching about Jesus.

Paul wrote that all governing authorities are established by God and should be obeyed (Romans 13:1). Earlier he said that in so far as it depends on us to live at peace with everyone. We are not to take revenge, even on God’s behalf. He can do that Himself and will when He’s ready. We’re to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21)

The notion that God needs or even wants our help in making the world a better place comes from the minds of men. This world is hopelessly corrupt and beyond repair because the hearts of those who populate it are that way (Jere. 17:9). It’s the next one that will be perfect.

Although He called Israel to be the agency of His judgment against the nations of Canaan, to my knowledge God has never called the Church to a similar task. The job He’s given us is to preach the gospel and demonstrate by our behavior how different we are from the world, so that our example will draw men to Him. Anything else is a vain attempt to make ourselves seem more important than we are in His plan.

I think Dr. King’s commitment to non-violence was consistent with the Biblical examples I cited, and prophecy tells us that there will be a lot more of the same during the End Times, as people are once again martyred for refusing to renounce their faith.


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