The Church And The State
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
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. Will 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 need be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 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. Romans 13:1-7
The United States Government believes in the separation of church and state with the Catholics, but not the Baptists. Let me give you an example. If Mr. Noriega came to the First Baptist Church of Hammond seeking asylum, the government would break down the doors of the building to get to him. But, he went to the Catholic embassy in Panama, and our government did nothing to get to him. Why? Because our government respects separation of church and state with the Catholics, but not with other people.
Let me make eleven observations regarding this matter of the separation of the church and the state.
1. There are two kingdoms.
Again, the Devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; Matthew 4:8
The words kingdoms of the world shows us that there is a kingdom of the world.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36
Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, so that means there have to be two kingdoms on this earth. There is the kingdom of this world and there is the kingdom of our God. God set it up this way. These two kingdoms have two different kings, the kings of the world and Jesus, our King.
2. We live in both and are to be subject to both.
They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. Matthew 22:21
The Roman Empire was the kingdom of this world under which they lived at that time. Jesus commanded them to give to God's kingdom what was His and to give to Caesar's kingdom what was his.
3. Each is to allow the other to exist and operate. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are just as separate as the government of Canada and the government of the United States. These two kingdoms have no more right to try to control each other than we have to control Canada, or Canada has to control us.
It is more than just the church not influencing the state, and it is more than the state not running the church. They are two separate kingdoms. Neither is answerable to the other, and neither is supposed to operate or run the other. The kingdom of God is not to do anything to hinder the operation of the government, nor is the government to do anything to hinder the operation of God's kingdom. It is not the church's business what the government does, and it is not the government's business what the church does. They are two kingdoms operating with two different kings, two different philosophies, two different constitutions, and two different theories.
4. There are naturally two great threats. One threat is the state controlling the church, and the other is the church controlling the state. There are countries in this world where the church controls the state, and there are countries in this world where the state controls the church.
5. There are two great ideologies that embody these threats.
(1) Communism. Communism is complete control of the church by the state.
(2) Catholicism. Catholicism is complete control of the state by the church.
These two ideologies are equally deadly and dangerous. Communism is as deadly and dangerous as Catholicism, and Catholicism is as deadly and dangerous as Communism. Both are trying to bring these kingdoms together. The Bible says these are two separate kingdoms and are not to come together.
To whatever degree a country is communistic, by that same degree the state controls the church. The state is trying to control the church in America today, because America is going communistic. The philosophy of Communism is as prevalent in America today as it was in Russia 35-40 years ago.
To whatever degree a nation is Catholic, by that same degree the church controls the state. If a nation is completely Catholic, the church completely controls the state. If a nation is completely communistic, the state completely controls the church. Show me any country in this world where the Catholics are a great majority, and I will show you a country where the church keeps a thumb on the state.
When the Reformation came, the Protestants continued controlling the state. Martin Luther for the most part controlled the government of much of Germany. John Calvin did the same in Geneva. Why? Because they came out of the Catholic church over doctrine, but not over the issue of the separation of church and state. The Reformation was not actually an evangelistic endeavor. These reformers took over the churches in parts of these countries and they controlled the politics and ran the cities. Why? Because they got it from their mother, Catholicism.
America used to believe this, which is why we did not have a Catholic president until the mid 1960's. We did not want the Pope running the country. Even the unsaved people were aware of that in those days. We knew how it was in other places in the world, and we did not want it to be that way here in America.
6. Each has its own area of authority. What is a government supposed to do for its people?
(1) Protect our person.
(2) Protect our property.
(3) Protect our freedom.
Those are the only three things the government is to do. The government was not started to educate our children. It is not the church's job to protect our property, that is the government's responsibility. Government education is of the Devil. It was never intended by God for the government to train our children. It is the job of the home and the church. For decades the churches trained the children. The government took over the education later on, but it was not a part of our founding.
The church's job is to do God's work. It is not the government's job to interfere with God's work. It is not the church's job to interfere with the police department. It is not the government's job to interfere with the Christian school. The kingdom of God is to spread the Gospel and do the work of God through the local churches without interference from the kingdom of this world.
7. We are to honor both. When the Mayor of Hammond comes to the First Baptist Church, he should be more intimidated than I am, because I head a more important kingdom than he does. I do not think I am important, but I think my office is important. I happen to fill the most important job in the world as a pastor of a church in the kingdom that is not of this world.
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change. Proverbs 24:21
The king's kingdom and the Lord's kingdom are not to be interwoven, or mixed up, but we are to honor both.
8. There is a priority to our allegiance. Sometimes Christian people say, "Well the Bible says we are always supposed to obey the government." That is not in the Bible. The Lord never says to always obey the government.
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 the good works, but to the evil. Will 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. Romans 13:1-4
This passage refers to powers in the plural. The higher powers are God. God sets up the powers. The higher the power, the more the subjection. God is the one who ordained the whole thing. He is the architect of it all. He is the highest power, so our main allegiance is to be to Him. God ordains others to deter us from the evil. There is nothing wrong with having a police department, a Governor, a President, or a Mayor, but they are lower powers than God.
As a preacher, I am His minister. There are areas where people are to obey me as their pastor, but, if there is a conflict between the pastor and God, God is the highest power. The same is true with the secular rulers, such as mayors, governors, or city councilmen. Our major allegiance is to the Highest Power and as long as other powers do not conflict with the Highest Power, than we are supposed to be obedient to the other powers as well.
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. Romans 13:6, 7
God says we are to obey the higher powers, but our first allegiance is to the highest power. If there is a conflict between the lower powers, the higher the power, the more the allegiance. Let me illustrate.
If the city of Hammond passed a law stating that we could not soul winning, we would still go soul winning. We are going to keep the law of God. He commands us to go soul winning, so we would go soul winning. If they put is in jail, we would witness to the jailer. That is what Paul did.
Consider a few examples.
* Daniel prayed at a certain time each day in a certain way. They passed a law declaring he could not do it. Daniel decided not to change his prayer life because of a law of man. Daniel broke the law and was put into the lion's den. He was subject to the highest power first and the lesser powers next.
If that law had said not to burn leaves when the wind was blowing from the north, Daniel could have obeyed that law, but when the king exerted authority over the other kingdom, God's man refused to obey it.
* Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego broke the law.
The law said they had to bow down and worship a golden image. The kingdom of God said, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them... Suddenly, there was a conflict between the kingdom of this world that says bow down and worship the image, and the kingdom of God which says not to bow down and worship the image. God says we are to obey His law over this kingdom's law.
The world's kingdom has no right to make a law that is against God's kingdom. The world's kingdom has no right to say who can and who cannot pray. This world's kingdom has no right to say whom you may or may not worship. This world's kingdom has no right to say whether or not you may go soul winning. Only God's kingdom has the right to tell us how to do the work of God.
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:18-20
A law was passed that they could not speak in the name of Jesus. They got over in the other kingdom. Washington has no authority over the program of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, or the schools we operate. It is none of their business. It is none of our business to pass a speed limit law or the fire code. That is the kingdom of this world's business, but the kingdom of the world should pass no laws that have to do with the program of the kingdom of God.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:42
The kingdom of this world said to cease. The kingdom of God said we will not cease. They had passed a law that infringed on the wrong kingdom. The kingdoms of this world had passed a law that had to do with the kingdom that is not of this world, but there was already a law passed by the king of the kingdom of God. He said, Go ye therefore and teach all nations.
The law of the one kingdom said not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. The other kingdom commanded us to speak and teach in the name of Jesus. In cases where you have a direct law in the kingdom of God, and a direct opposite law in the kingdom of this world, we are to obey the kingdom of God over the kingdom of this world.
It is amazing how many Christians criticized Lester Roloff when he was fighting his battles in Corpus Christi. The state of Texas said they would close his homes if he refused to operate them the way the state told him to. Lester Roloff refused to obey their laws because they would have forced him to disobey the laws of God regarding the way his ministry operated. Why have a Christian home if you are forced to operate it like a heathen home? The very purpose was to have a home which was controlled by the kingdom of God. I do not care what the Congress or the Supreme Court says, they have no right to get over into the other kingdom. They are totally separate kingdoms.
The government does not want you to have anybody above them. They want to run your life. I am going to stand up and hold the banner high to save the freedom of the kingdom of God, so that the kingdom of this world will not boss us and destroy our homes and families. Communism is dedicated to the destruction of the American family.
9. The accreditation of church schools is one kingdom ruling the other. The kingdom of this world has no more right to accredit the kingdom that is not of this world than the kingdom that is not of this world has a right to accredit state universities.
Brother Roloff used to go up and down this country warning preachers not to get a license from the government, because it is the kingdom of this world running God's kingdom. The kingdom of this world has no business to run the kingdom of God. None at all. Accreditation of church schools is one kingdom telling the other how to operate.
The fire inspector has the right to come out and inspect our buildings to be sure they are safe because that is part of his responsibility of protecting us. I am for that because I love the young people in those schools. I am more concerned about their safety than he is. He is of the kingdom of this world, and the king of this world is supposed to provide for the safety of our persons.
Whom we choose to teach in our schools is the kingdom of God. What is taught in our schools is the kingdom of God. Nobody in the kingdom of this world has a right to interfere in those matters. Most people do not understand accreditation. The philosophy of accreditation is one kingdom trying to run the other. If you go to an accredited school, you are going to a school that is controlled by the kingdom of this world, which means that they are controlling the kingdom of God.
They want to have a part in training our teachers. Our country is going to the Devil because of the teachers the world has trained. Why would we start Christian schools so they could train our people to be just like theirs? We started Christian schools because we were sick and tired of the government ruining our kids. It is not their business to train our kids. It is their business to keep us safe, protect our property, and keep our freedom. It is not their business to run our schools. Accreditation is a transgression between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.
10. Neither is to tax the other. They are not supposed to tax us, and we are not supposed to tax them. I have as much right to call the City Council and Mayor of Hammond and demand their tithes, as they have to tax the church. We went to court when some of the city fathers wanted to tax our parking garage. The parking garage is as much as part of First Baptist Church as our parking lot across the street. We are not as a church to be forced to pay taxes to the kingdom of this world.
11. Neither should support the other's schools. It is not the job of one kingdom to pay for the schools of the other kingdom; yet, part of our taxes are used to pay the salaries of the heathen, godless people who teach in the public schools. They have no more right to tax me to pay for their kingdom schools than I have a right to tax them to pay for our kingdom schools.
I am unalterably opposed to tuition credit. The kingdom of this world is sneaky. They will offer to give us a $500 allowance, if our child goes to a private school. It sounds good, but who is going to decide which schools qualify and which ones do not? The world's kingdom is going to decide. They will then want to check our schools. We are not putting our school up for governmental approval.
How is the government going to decide what schools are approved? They will have to check out the school, at which point they have entered into the kingdom over which they do not belong. We have invited them, and we have chosen to lose our freedom.
That is the philosophy behind the separation of church and state. It is two different kingdoms, neither of which is supposed to govern the affairs of the other. I believe that there will be people in America who will have to die or go to jail over these issues within the next twenty-five years. This is an important part of the teaching we need to perpetuate among our people, to better help them understand all they need to know about the church.
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