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Which Shall We Obey? The Civil Government or God's?
Good News Magazine
August 1979
Volume: Vol XXVI, No. 7
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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Which Shall We Obey? The Civil Government or God's?
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

Certain dissident voices have been raised, since Jan. 3, deceiving God's people about obeying the government of man!

   DO WE UNDERSTAND that the GOVERNMENT OF GOD once ruled the entire earth?
   Do we understand that Satan's major thrust is to turn us against the GOVERNMENT OF God? That government is based on THE LAW OF GOD, and the LAW OF GOD is predominant in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation?
   Do we REALLY understand that THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD is at this moment being administered on the earth in ONE PLACE ONLY — in the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD? Do we realize that GOD HIMSELF raised up this era of His Church, even though He used His chosen apostle — and that it is NOT, in any way, the government of MAN?
   Do we realize that the one prime point Satan uses to keep YOU out of God's Kingdom is to attack THE LAW OF GOD, which is the foundation of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD?
   Do you realize that the civil governments of man, masterminded by Satan, have ALWAYS fought against the government of GOD?
   There comes a time when you have to decide WHERE ARE YOUR LOYALTIES. One such time was Jan. 3 and immediately following. Some very few ministers shouted out words to the effect that "WE MUST OBEY THE GOVERNMENT OF MAN, NOT the CHURCH OF GOD!"
   In the history of mankind on earth we have come down to the FINAL QUESTION: WHO IS LORD? — CAESAR OR CHRIST?
   You have to decide — even as the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the scribes had to decide between Barabbas and CHRIST! There is today just ONE CHURCH ONLY where the GOVERNMENT Of GOD is being administered — and that is in the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD!
   It's time we GET THIS STRAIGHT! Satan has been using some to teach you FALSELY!
   What was Jesus' teaching? What was His EXAMPLE? Some have been putting a TWIST on that and causing division in God's Church.
   Take time to UNDERSTAND your position in relation to the GOVERNMENT OF MAN and also your relationship to the GOVERNMENT OF GOD!

God's government on earth before Adam

   The government of GOD did once rule the earth. This was before Adam was created! God placed a super archangel, the cherub LUCIFER, on the throne of the whole world, then inhabited by angels! How long GOD'S GOVERNMENT was administered we do not know. But this Lucifer, the highest, most powerful and mighty being God could create, next to Himself, was PERFECT in all his ways, UNTIL iniquity (LAW TRANSGRESSION) was found in him (Ezek. 28:15). Now he is SATAN the DEVIL! And he is deceiving some of God's simple and trusting people on this very matter of GOVERNMENT!
   Many times recently I have mentioned that if you tune in your TV set on a movie that is two thirds over, not knowing what went before and led up to the point you tuned in, you do not really understand what you are seeing.

God's government rejected

   So take time to get this exceedingly brief BACKGROUND. After Lucifer had become SATAN the archdeceiver, God created the first humans — Adam and Eve. They rejected the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, and God drove them out of Eden and barred them and all humans to be born from and after them from access to God (Gen. 3:22-24), except the VERY FEW God has specially called.
   For some 6,000 years mankind has lived under GOVERNMENTS OF MAN influenced by SATAN and CUT OFF FROM GOD!
   Yet, even so, man, in his personal life, is commanded to BE SUBJECT TO (not always to OBEY) the government of man. It is true that the New Testament tells us that, in the regular course of each person's life, he is to be SUBJECT TO the human civil laws and governmental powers over him. The Church of God has always taught that.
   But being "subject to" does not of itself mean "OBEY." When it comes to killing in war, a drafted man may be "SUBJECT TO" man's law by submitting to the PENALTY of man's law! Thus he may "BE SUBJECT TO" the law of man, while OBEYING GOD rather than man.

Jesus Christ's example

   Now look to the example set and the teaching of Jesus. He said (Matt. 22:21), "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which ARE Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
   HUMAN GOVERNMENT has ALWAYS persecuted God and those who follow God's ways. In Jesus' day, Judea was part of the Roman Empire. Although the Roman government kept a small contingent of soldiers there and a Roman governor or local king, they delegated all the more minor administration of Roman government to the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees. So the Pharisees actually were the government of MAN.
   When they sought to take Jesus and put Him to death, He escaped among the crowd — because His time to be crucified had not yet come. Jesus did not meekly turn the other cheek and say: "Here I am. Take me and destroy me." You read in Matthew 12:14, "Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, HOW THEY MIGHT DESTROY HIM!"
   This is precisely what happened on Jan. 2 this year, 1979, in secret in the chambers of Judge Jerry Pacht in Los Angeles, Calif. It was a secret council on HOW HUMAN GOVERNMENT COULD DESTROY the very Church of the living God!

Jesus withdrew Himself

   What did Jesus do? Did He "turn the other cheek"? Did He say, "I must under all circumstances OBEY the human government of MAN"? No! The next verse says, "But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence."
   Another time these representatives of the government of MAN sought to take Jesus, in a crowd, to DESTROY Him, but Jesus slipped out among the crowd and escaped from them. WHY? Did not Jesus finally submit to crucifixion? Surely! But He had planned this final crucifixion with God the Father, even before the world was. He escaped from them because His time was not yet come (John 7:6).
   He only submitted to the government of MAN when the time had come that was planned between God and the future Christ even before the world was. Until then, HE RESISTED THE CIVIL GOVERNMENT OF MAN even as His CHURCH has done in our day!
   How did Jesus speak to the representatives of the GOVERNMENT OF MAN?
   He said to them, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" And again: "Woe unto you, ye blind guides... Ye fools and BLIND... Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees... Ye blind guides... Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited sepulchres... Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23:14-33).
   Some would teach you that Jesus was wrong — that He should have "turned the other cheek" and submitted.
   Some asked Jesus regarding obeying MAN'S law or GOD'S law. Jesus said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto GOD the things that are GOD'S.

God's property

   The headquarters buildings and property of the Worldwide Church of God are GOD'S — not Caesar's! The government of the state of California was trying to TAKE OVER and STEAL the campus and buildings that ARE GOD'S! They are deeded in GOD'S NAME! God's NAME is inlaid in prominent letters in the Auditorium, which is the HOUSE OF God!
   Mark you this, and mark it WELL! At no time did God's Church or its Pasadena brethren VIOLATE ANY LAW! Had the government of California, under the action of the attorney general, come to arrest Mr. Stanley Rader or me, on a charge of "pilfering" and "siphoning off millions of dollars to our own use," we would have submitted voluntarily, and then, in court, PROVED that the charge was FALSE! But they did not come with any warrant! We had violated no law! We DID NOT in any manner ATTACK the men representing the state of California.
   Officers from the attorney general's office and deputies came without any definite CHARGES, swooping down without even the legally required advance NOTICE, INVADING GOD'S PROPERTY AND FACILITIES!
   They came on trumped-up baseless charges, on a fishing expedition, to seize books and records, HOPING that they might find some evidence, records or CAUSE to bring definite charges against us! At least that is what they were SUPPOSED to be unexpectedly invading GOD'S premises for!

NO evidence of wrongdoing

   But they found no evidence against either Mr. Rader or myself, because there is no such evidence — no such things were ever done by us!
   When we remember Jesus' statement, Render unto Caesar the things that ARE Caesar's and unto GOD the things that ARE God's — we were 100 percent in OBEDIENCE! We had to protect properties BELONGING TO GOD in order to RENDER UNTO GOD THE GREAT COMMISSION TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED us. We raised no gun, sword or weapon of any kind against the State.
   WE BROKE NO LAW; — but THE STATE DID BREAK THE LAW, and the very Constitution, the basic law of our country, violating its FIRST AMENDMENT! We are NOT "lawbreakers" — but the state of California through its attorney general's office is!

The government of man

   God said to Adam and Eve, in effect: "You have made the decision for all your posterity for the 6,000 years of the time I have allotted to MAN! You have REJECTED my GOVERNMENT; you have rejected me as the Source of basic knowledge. You have rejected me as your GOD and chosen SATAN, WHO NOW SHALL BE THE 'GOD OF THIS WORLD' (II Cor. 4:4).
   "Therefore GO, and form your own governments, your own religions, create your own fund of KNOWLEDGE and devise your own way of disseminating that FALSE knowledge to your oncoming generations!"
   So we have the GOVERNMENT OF MAN, swayed and formed under SATAN THE DEVIL! But remember this: In MAN'S GOVERNMENTS, formed under SATAN'S sway, even Satan knows that in HIS world, if it is to stand at all, there must be laws against breaking SOME of God's Ten Commandments, such as stealing and murder. Satan APPEARS as an "angel of light." He must APPEAR to be righteous before his deceived world!
   So, MAN'S LAWS do protect the majority against evils against itself. Therefore God's teaching to us is this: We, as GOD'S OWN PEOPLE, have come out of this world. We are not part of it. We do not vote or participate in its government in any way. We must live IN it, but we must NOT be OF it. Yet we are to stand loyally back of Christ's chosen apostles in carrying Jesus' Gospel MESSAGE of the KINGDOM of GOD to the world — not to convert the world, but to be a WITNESS FOR ALL NATIONS (Matt. 24:14).

Be subject to Christ

   Meanwhile, though not OF this world, yet living IN it, we are to be SUBJECT, in our individual lives, to its government. Yet we are to be, first of all, SUBJECT TO CHRIST (Eph. 5:24). Where it is a matter of disobeying GOD if we obey man's government, we OBEY GOD, and if need be, suffer whatever PENALTY man's government imposes.
   Should Christians ALWAYS obey MAN rather than God? Millions were put to death, honored in the Bible as the MARTYRS OF JESUS long ago. And, according to Revelation 6:9-11, there will soon be ANOTHER mass martyrdom of God's people.
   But Revelation 12:14 and 3:10 show that this Church shall ESCAPE the soon-coming martyrdom of saints and be taken to a place of SAFETY during the coming GREAT TRIBULATION.
   Let's be sure we obey Christ FIRST!

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Good News MagazineAugust 1979Vol XXVI, No. 7ISSN 0432-0816
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