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Sermon #3340

Church and The State (4)

A Sermon on Romans 13:1-7


Romans 13:1-7 ESV KJV
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. For rulers are not a terror to …

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Sermon Description

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught extensively on church history, specifically on the relationship between church and state. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (4),” Dr. Lloyd-Jones turns his attention to the underlying foundation of the view proposing an alliance between church and state. How do they biblically defend their position? What biblical evidence do they portray to say this alliance is biblically sound and wise? He enters this controversial topic by looking at two specific confessions of faith, the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Confession. The bulk of these confessions’ defense is taken from the Old Testament, with only one direct passage from the New Testament. Pointing to the position of Israel as a nation and Judaism as a religion, proponents of the alliance position maintain no distinction between Israel and the church in this way. Deviating from this position, Dr. Lloyd-Jones advocates for the separation of the church and state, based on the New Testament’s teaching on the kingdom of God. As he handles this delicate discussion, he reminds his listeners of the importance of this new identity of believers: the reality that Christians are now citizens of the kingdom through rebirth and this kingdom consists of citizens from every nation and tongue.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon passage being discussed is Romans 13:1-7 which deals with the Christian's relationship to the state.
  2. The sermon has been approaching this topic from an historical perspective, looking at how the church and state have related over time.
  3. The sermon asks how all of this history came to pass and what the biblical justification is for these relationships.
  4. The sermon argues that there is no justification for the unity of church and state in the New Testament. The passages used to justify it (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, 1 Timothy 2) only speak of the individual Christian's relationship to the state, not the church's.
  5. The argument for the unity of church and state comes from the Old Testament example of Israel where the nation consisted of the same people as the church. However, Israel was a unique case and we cannot apply it directly to the New Testament church.
  6. The New Testament church consists of believers from all nations, not one nation, so it cannot be identified with any state. The church and state have different realms and officers.
  7. Jesus taught that His kingdom is not of this world. We are to render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, showing the distinction between the two realms.
  8. The apostle Paul also taught that our citizenship is in heaven, not any earthly nation. He spoke of the kingdom of God as different from the course of this world.
  9. The book of Revelation shows the contrast between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world.
  10. Not only particular verses but the whole spirit of the New Testament opposes uniting the church and state. The New Testament always contrasts the natural and spiritual. You must be born again to enter God's kingdom.
  11. The argument that Christian rulers can unite the church and state is invalid. Rulers have a different function as heads of state than as Christians. The church should not give them special position or authority.
  12. History shows the tyranny and harm that come from uniting church and state, whether in Catholicism, Protestantism, or free churches. It compromises the gospel and produces hypocrisy.
  13. A state church becomes impractical and absurd when there are many denominations. No one denomination should be favored over others by the state.
  14. We must learn from history and keep to biblical teaching, not carry on unbiblical traditions of our forefathers.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.