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Heidelberg Catechism Meditations (337)

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September 29 - LD 39, Day 6: God-Given Authority

Tuesday the 29th of September

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Hebrews 13:17a “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:”

We must never forget that God alone rules. He clothes parents with that authority and with all the responsibilities that come with that position. God rules by parents in the sphere of the home.

God gives authority to office bearers in the Church. That is also emphasized repeatedly by Scripture, Heb 13:17 and I Thess 5:13 being just two examples. Ecclesiastical affairs are under their supervision, and no one may interfere with that.

God is the one who gives authority to the magistrate as well. When we understand that, then we will receive the instruction of Rom 13:1-2, “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.” The apostle wrote this, not about a Christian, but a pagan government, with ungodly rulers. Nevertheless, for God’s sake, we are required to honour and submit to them. That call to subjection is unconditional.

There is a difference between subjection and obedience. When those in authority require of us disobedience to God, we may not obey them. We obey God rather than men. But even when obedience to God requires disobedience to an ungodly magistrate, we submit to the magistrate, subjecting ourselves willingly to the punishment of our disobedience for God’s sake, remembering the words of I Pet 2:19: “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”

If we keep these things in mind, then it will be much easier for us to serve God with proper gratitude of heart. Christ our Savior reigns. He reigns over us in our family relationships. He reigns over us in the Church. He reigns over us in the workplace and in the state. The purpose in it all, His purpose, is to gather His Church, preserve and protect her, unto the final realization of His perfected kingdom. We serve the Lord Christ!

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