Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
I am amazed at how much hatred is spewed toward leaders today, whether in government or in church. At this moment, I am thinking of two prominent leaders who are always on the lips of people who want to bash them. The first of these two men is our President, Mr. Donald J. Trump.
I remember Mr. Trump prior to his bid for the White House. I became familiar with him during his time hosting the realty TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice”. I looked forward to watching the tasks that each team had to perform, watching the contestants team up with each other to eventually turn on each other in order to win the title of “Celebrity Apprentice”. Mr. Trump, on that show, was a stern business man, but he was always fair in his assessment of which persons needed to leave and which ones could remain.
Even before his stint on reality television, his name was a household word, synonymous with wealth, privilege and business acumen. His name was mentioned in scripted situation comedies and movies. He was well known for good things and some not so good things, but the world loved him because he had money and power. He was his own man and no one could control him. He basically did what he wanted to do and he was respected because of that.
Fast forward to November 2016. The same man, Donald J. Trump, was elected president in one of the most controversial elections to date. He won his bid for president against Hilary Clinton. I admit, I was shocked. I thought that the “dirty pool” that Hilary played during her run would have won her the presidency, but thank God, He spared us from her! Anyway, this man, Donald J. Trump, is the same man that was admired and respected before November 2016. He is doing and has done, since he became president, the same things that he did before and now he is hated for those things. It is the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life. He is a stern business man, so he has been able to create jobs, raise the stock market, and stabilize the economy the way no one else could. He inherited a mess from the former president (who made the mess) and he has done a great job. He has also been great in foreign affairs. I most admire the fact that he moved the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the rightful capitol of the nation of Israel.
The second man whose name is always on the lips of those who want to bash him is Dr. John F. MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Dr. MacArthur is also the Chancellor Emeritus of The Master’s University and Seminary. I became familiar with Dr. MacArthur in the late 1990’s. I listened to some of his sermons on a third party website. I shared the website with my best friend. We both started listening and discussing what we had heard from him, which was much different from what we were hearing in church. At that point, we because restless and discontent with the lack of Biblical teaching we were experiencing in the church we were attending. We both decided that it was time to find a new church. Our spiritual growth began with our introduction to Dr. MacArthur’s teaching via a simple search on the internet that led me to a third party site.
Over the years, I have collected and read most of Dr. MacArthur’s books. My favorite books are “God’s High Calling for Women”, “Charismatic Chaos”, “Strange Fire”, “Divine Design”, “Twelve Unlikely Heroes” and “Twelve Extraordinary Women”. My best friend gifted me with Dr. MacArthur’s commentaries and they have been an incredible blessing to my study of God’s Word over the past six years. I can only think of once when Dr. MacArthur said something that I did not agree with, and it was something very insignificant…nothing to do with salvation or the sufficiency of scripture. I have listened to nearly every sermon that is uploaded onto the Grace To You website, and in so doing, I feel as though I know Dr. MacArthur personally. His teaching style exudes humility and Biblical integrity. I can tell he is a man who loves the LORD and teaching God’s people.
Being a man of integrity in 2019 comes with its challenges, and Dr. MacArthur has had his share. During a conference at his church recently, he made a comment about a woman who is a false teacher, and instead of going to God’s Word to understand the gist of what he was saying, Christians on social media took on the pattern of the world and started raking him over the coals. I guess I am a little biased because I have listened to so much of his teaching that I knew immediately what he meant when he said what he did, and I knew the context from which he drew his opinion, but it appears that many others in Christendom failed to see the truth of God’s Word as the backdrop for Dr. MacArthur’s comments. Astonishing.
I give all this introduction about these two leaders, one in the political realm and one in the body of Christ, to point us back to the scripture where Paul reminds us that these men are only in place because God placed them in their respective roles. Before the beginning of time, God knew that Mr. Trump would be an astute business man. He knew that He could place Mr. Trump in the White House and use him at this time in history to complete his purposes in America, whatever they are. God knew that Dr. MacArthur would be the fifth generation pastor in his family who could be trusted with the Word of God and stand on it regardless of the hatred spewed in his direction. God knew He could trust Dr. MacArthur with the handling and teaching of His Word and with shepherding His people. As believers, it is our job to remember that God is in control of these placements. No man is placed in power without God being in total control of it. And just like the scripture says: when we buck up against that power, we are not bucking up against that person, but we are bucking up against GOD. Not only are we resisting what God has ordained, but we are heaping God’s wrath upon ourselves by doing so. God will be obeyed. We can do it on our own, or we can suffer the consequences of our disobedience.
Paul teaches us in Romans that leaders are only a threat to those who are planning to do evil. There is no need to fear a leader if you are obeying God’s Word and living a holy life. God placing leaders in place is not a consequence for those who are right. Paul plainly says in this text that if you do what is right, then you shall have the “…praise of the same…”
Paul goes on to say that if you do evil, then you ought to be afraid. God does not allow the leaders to yield power for nothing. God can and will use leaders to execute judgment upon those who do evil. In light of that passage, my thought was that I can see how Mr. Trump could possibly be used to execute judgment because he has the power of government at his disposal, but how could Dr. MacArthur execute judgment? Well, Dr. MacArthur is armed with the Word of God which is called the “..sword of the spirit…” in Ephesians 6:17. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word is “…sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…” By teaching God’s Word relentlessly for more than 50 years, Dr. MacArthur exposes the works of darkness and those involved in them. God’s Word being preached pierces the hearts of those who hear and know they are wrong. It reminds me of the story of the first martyr for the faith, a young man named Stephen (Acts 7). As Stephen was being stoned to death, he preached the gospel and the hearers could not bear to hear his words. They grew increasingly angry because of the truth to which they were being exposed. John MacArthur is just the same. He is making those around him who are disobedient to the Word of God angry, and they cannot bear to hear his words, which come directly from THE WORD. Like it or not, that is the wrath of God on the hearer.
Leaders in government and in the body of Christ are to be respected. The respect that they are due has nothing to do with whether we like them or agree with them, but has everything to do with obedience to God’s Word. Do I believe that Mr. Trump is a Christian, my brother in Christ? I would have to say no. But I do know that he is the President of the United States, and according to God’s Word, there is a certain honor and respect to which the holder of that office is entitled. There is no loophole that allows me to disrespect the office of the President just because I do not like the person. There have been several presidents in my lifetime prior to Mr. Trump that I did not care for that much and did not vote for, but because they were in office I respected their position until they were no longer in office.
Do I believe that Dr. MacArthur is a Christian, my brother in Christ? Absolutely I do! I believe that he is grounded in the Word that he teaches; I believe that he labors over the study of God’s Word; I believe that God is pleased with his efforts and his obedience to the Word for more than fifty years.
If you are a Christian, take heed to Paul’s words in Romans 13. If you do, you are rising up against God. God is sovereign, and rising up against God will not end well for you.