When does being free necessarily mean rejecting governmental authority?

When does being free necessarily mean rejecting governmental authority

At face value, the plain teaching of Scripture is that we should obey those in authority over us.  For example, the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Christians who lived in Rome, the most powerful empire the world had ever known:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” [Romans 13:1-8].

This seems plain enough.  However, some time before Paul wrote this, the Apostles Peter and John had been imprisoned for preaching by the Jewish Sanhedrin, who had national authority over all religious matters.  The Book of Acts tells the story:

“17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public gaol. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the gaol and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.”
[Acts 5:17:35]

Peter and the other Apostles were clear.  In the event of a conflict between the requirement to obey God, or the requirement to obey human authority, they had a clear imperative to obey God, even if that meant disobeying this human authority.  Their justification for doing so what that the authority of Jesus who is now exalted by no less a person than God Himself to rule as a prince seated on His throne at the right-hand side of God gives Him far greater authority than human authority.  Jesus is now the ultimate Ruler of the Universe.

Like dictatorial authorities everywhere who seek to control the narrative, the Sanhedrin were furious.  The rabbi Gamaliel counselled the Sanhedrin to consider their actions carefully; most dictatorships are not so thoughtful.

This tendency of rulers to expand their rule until they take away the freedom of those they rule was very well described by the prophet Samuel to the elders of Israel well over a thousand years earlier:

“. . . all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”  [1 Samuel 8:4-22].

We become slaves of our rulers, and we do so because we delude ourselves into thinking that our rulers will fight our battles for us.  We think, ‘they will fix our problems’.  So, we give over our wealth, our assets, our people and eventually our voices and thoughts and rights, and find ourselves slaves, unable to escape without great hardship or being hunted down, as slaves are hunted who seek to escape their cruel masters.

But how do we square this warning about the loss of freedom, or the Apostles’ boldness before the rulers of their day, insisting that they had the right to preach Christ, with St. Paul’s teaching to obey those in authority, a teaching that St. Peter himself echoes in his first letter:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.” [1 Peter 2:13-17]

Both St Paul and St Peter qualify the duty or distinguishing characteristic of the authority: to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.  This places morality and ethics at the heart of what it is to govern.  If you had asked St Peter or St Paul whose morality they were referring to, for morality is something that human beings have no common agreement about, they would have immediately have said something like, ‘the morality of Scripture as understood and taught by Jesus, of course.’

The reason St. Peter and his fellow Apostles opposed the Sanhedrin was that the Sanhedrin were seeking to prevent any news of the resurrection from being discussed.  That was hiding the truth.  The Sanhedrin also sought to hide their own culpability in the crucifixion of Jesus: ‘whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.’ Peter was clear: truth and accountability were principles that could not be ignored, for these were matters over which Jesus was the final authority, both of the Apostles as well as the Sanhedrin.

I hope the reader will have seen the applicability of this Biblical understanding of human authority to our present-day context.  Western governments are abandoning Judaeo-Christian values, i.e. Biblical teaching and truth, and are embracing every kind of self-delusion. They increasingly enslave the minds of their populace into accepting what is either simply untrue or is, to use the understandably severe Biblical term, abominations.

The latest overreach by government, to insist that all employees of the NHS have the Covid-19 vaccine, despite the suppressed truth that the mRNA vaccines increase transmission of the virus, injures a significant number of people, i.e. the number of severe injuries are possibly or probably  greater than the lives saved by the vaccine, that vaccinating people who already have natural immunity compromises their immunity, and that forcing it on people was never discussed when the vaccines were first introduced.  Had they been, then people would have rejected he idea out of hand in favour of research into treatments, for which there are many, all of which are actively suppressed by state medical authorities.

If there were ever an example of government medical enslavement, persuading themselves that they are doing right when by any rational assessment they are not, this has to be a textbook case.  Patients have a ‘right’ to be protected from the unvaccinated – never mind that the vaccinated are in fact much more hazardous, as they spread the virus more easily because of their higher and more persistent viral load.   

This is but one example of many issues: so called abortion rights, LGBTQixx? so called rights, transgender ‘rights’ and the ‘right’ to due.  In every case, the ‘right’ is a mislabelling for what is in fact a ‘wrong’, a ‘wrong’ that requires suppression of facts in order to be accepted as a ‘right’.

There is already in the academic literature discussion about requiring parents to have to apply for a license to bring up their own children, a license that presumably would be revoked if the parents thought ‘incorrectly’, just as adopting parents have been denied the chance to adopt because of their Christian faith and Biblical principles, or indeed parents who have had their children taken into care because they were home schooling the children to avoid them being saturated in the anti-Biblical propaganda in the state school system.

The impulse for the governors to enslave the governed is enduring, strong and persistent, and always emerges when Biblical truth, morality and ethical principles are abandoned. 

To hold true to Biblical morality is now to be regarded as someone who commits the ultimate unforgivable sin of discrimination.   Never mind the medical, psychological, economic, societal and intergenerational harms that result from this New Morality, it is deemed discriminatory to even think about any such issues. 

These trends are not going to go away.  This is part of a determined effort to reject not only God and His Christ but to also rid society of every vestige of Biblical influence, to take us back to paganism, only this time our gods are none other than we ourselves, or at least those who lord it over us.

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

‘Come out of her, my people,’[b]
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;[
I will never mourn.’
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”
[Revelation 18:4-8]

Our Risen Lord has foreseen all of this and has commanded His people to separate.  What this means exactly and how we are to do it is an interesting question, but nevertheless there is a great succession coming, where those who will not be slaves say to their rulers, as Moses did three and a half thousand years ago: ’Let my people go!’

The Risen Christ has made it abundantly clear: Western civilisation, built on Christianity, will not endure once the West has abandoned that which gave it life.  Since the West has abandoned Christianity, it would seem its fall is only a matter of time.

We will soon be reaching a moment in history where you either follow Christ, or submit to the System, but you cannot do both. God bless you all,

Graham Ford

President – Jesus Christ for Muslims