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Small Group Lesson

[Praise] Share a worship song you like or recently heard with the group. If possible, sing it together before heading into God’s word.


God’s Word

Let Everyone be Subject to the Governing Authorities
Romans 13:1:

[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.

Governing authorities are a gift from God. We have to understand that first of all, everything exists under God’s sovereignty (ultimate governance). The authority to govern which governments and countries hold exists because God intended this authority to exist.

Examples of policies and laws: Taxes (consumption, income, municipal); healthcare systems; age limits on driver’s licenses, alcohol, and tobacco; travel visas; public assistance programs; child allowances; educational institutions, criminal law (e.g. capital punishment), public services, etc.

[Question] Are there any government policies or laws you find it hard to follow right now?

[Question] Are there any government policies or laws which, though unrelated to you directly, you feel are unfair or unjust?

Exceptions
In Romans 13, Christians are commanded to be subject to the government as good citizens. However, with regards to evil forms of government or political leaders that force people to go against what God desires like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hussein, and Pol Pot, it’s very important to know that like the Biblical characters Moses, the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1, Elijah, and the three men in Daniel 3 did, making a judgment with wisdom and choosing to obey God—the ultimate authority—is important. These kinds of governments and political leaders are exceptions, but the Bible does clearly state that when their commands are opposed to God’s commands, we obey God. Acts 5:29:

[29] But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

A Christian's Motives for being Subject to the Government
Others could say being subject to the government as a good citizen is in no way particular to Christians. So in this case, what are the crucial differences between Christians and those who aren’t? Motives. Christians have three:

1. We are subject to governing authorities because God is the ultimate authority
Like we saw above, God is over all things. God is the King over kings and the Lord over lords. Under God’s sovereignty is the government. Romans 13:2 says if a Christian isn’t subject to the government, they’re not being subject to the God who rules over those governments.

[2] Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed….

2. We are subject to governing authorities because we act as God’s servants
Christians must be subject to the government not only to avoid punishment, but also for the sake of their consciences. There are some minor laws which people don’t get caught for breaking, but, fearing the God who knows all things and sees all things, we must work for him as his servants.

3. We are subject to governing authorities in order to share the grace we’ve received with the government
We aren’t subject to the government because it’s perfect. Rather, we do so because we want to show the grace we’ve received. God graciously sent the Son Jesus to be crucified and take away our sin. This is the undeserved grace of God. Grace is the giving of something wonderful to people who don’t deserve to receive it. We also give to the governing authorities this grace we received from God.

[Question] What did you think of these motives a Christian has for being subject to governing authorities? Share your honest feelings and opinions.

{Prayer} Pray that through being subject to the government, choosing God’s will rather than our own feelings or opinions, we can obey from our hearts the God who holds ultimate authority to govern.


God’s Mission

[Question] If what you learned this lesson affects your daily life in some way, what kind of effect would it then in turn have on the non-Christians around you like your family, friends, and coworkers? Discuss together.

[Question] Of these people who aren’t Christians, is there anyone you’d like to understand the church better or listen to a message at church together with? Is there any church event (e.g. Eikaiwa Club, First Steps, special events) they could participate in?

{Prayer} Pray God gives each one of us courage, wisdom, and opportunities in our daily lives, and that he guides the people around us who aren’t Christians.