Friday, June 6, 2008

The Kingdom of God Is Not a Democracy

In Acts 4 and 5 we find the apostles and first believers facing persecution for obeying Jesus’ command to preach the gospel. In 4:24, after the apostles had been questioned about their bold proclamation of the gospel and commanded not to speak of Jesus, we find their amazing response as they break out in a prayer of worship to God:

And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them…
The term "Lord" here is "despotes" from which we get “Despot”. For us this term has come to have only negative connotations as we take it to refer to a tyrant or a dictator. At the time, it simply referred to a lord or master—one who had absolute authority over another. With this designation they rejoiced in God’s sovereignty, even as He brought them into persecution for proclaiming the gospel.

In our nation of democratic government and “majority rule” it easy for us to fail to comprehend the fact that God is the absolute ruler of our lives. We do not have a vote on His Word or on His will.

Do we recognize the absolute sovereignty of God over our lives as these early believers did? Are we willing to obey His Word and rejoice in whatever results or consequences He sees fit to bring about?

Throughout this whole account we see how we should respond if we truly have this belief in the sovereignty of God.


When commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

When given strict orders again not to continue teaching in Jesus’ name, Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)


In their prayer as they faced the challenges of persecution, the early believers asked, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence…” (Acts 4:29) When we believe in the sovereignty of God we can proclaim the good news with confidence and boldness trusting Him for the results.


So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:41)
We should note how all this takes place in the context of evangelism in the face of persecution. We must follow the example of the early church in making it our priority to obey our sovereign ruler in proclaiming the message of the gospel.

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