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Two kingdoms
October 22, 2012
by Pastor Orval Wirkkala, Apostolic Lutheran Church, Kingston

In the ongoing discussion about the pros and cons of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, I wish to add to the dialogue.

Since all of us have a basis of why we think what we think, it is needful to present the basis for the convictions on which we as Christians stand: The Bible is the Word of God and it is reality, or Truth. It is the revelation or self disclosing of God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who revealed Himself in the New Testament through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I present two Scripture references for our consideration in this discussion of what the relationship between the church and the state/government should be. The definition of church would be the true church of Jesus Christ, of which He alone is the originator and sustainer, and which is evidenced in this world through love for God and love for one another in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

When the word religion is used as a generalization to describe Christianity, it is misleading, for religion is mankind’s effort to approach God on our own basis, whereas Christianity is the spiritual kingdom of believers who have received that which has been established by God’s coming to mankind through becoming human (Jesus Christ) in order to redeem us. Not all who name the name of Christ are representatives of His spiritual kingdom.

In the first reference, from John, chapter 18, Jesus points to the reality that in His first advent to earth, He did not come to establish an earthly rule, for his kingdom is not of this world.

John 18:36-37 “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world. . . . For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’”

The second reference, from Romans, chapter 13, is written after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and teaches where governmental authority originated and of its jurisdiction in this world.

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Through these two references it is seen that there are two kingdoms that have been established by God, a spiritual kingdom and an earthly kingdom. God knew that governments were not going to be without fault, for we are sinful human beings. He established the ideal of government, the main functions of which are to promote justice and to punish evil.

But God never gives the state the right to do wrong according to its own definition of good and evil. The state is held accountable to serve as God’s minister of justice.

Jesus Christ rules His spiritual kingdom and He does this through love, which He displayed through His life and death and which He today teaches through His Word, the Holy Bible. This love for God and neighbor motivates Christians to be thankful for their leaders, to pray for their leaders, and to be honest, obedient, and caring citizens in this world, so that, as much as possible, we may live peaceful and quiet lives in a godly and dignified manner.

Throughout the ages, when natural law and the voice of consciense have become darkened in the leaders of nations, the revelation of God has been left aside as they ruled, and as a result, human beings have not been treated as those bearing the image of their Maker. Therefore, God in His wisdom has ordained governments for the purpose that they would bear rule as his representatives in order to promote justice and punish the law breakers, and this leadership is to be founded, promoted. and protected through the teachings of His Word.

The church of Jesus Christ is the light of the world and the salt of the earth, which, when lived in its biblical reality brings glory to its Creator, to the end that souls would yield their allegiance to Jesus Christ. When freedom of conscience of the church as enlightened by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible is threatened by the state, the church has the duty to express the will of its living Authority, Jesus Christ, which can be done through witnessing of the Truth.

And this is not done through shouting, name calling, or hateful interactions, but it is done through public expression of one’s convictions, through prayer for our leaders, through forums such as this to exchange our convictions, and by extending grace to all.