During Tuesday's all-day service in the Hall of Administration, Mr. Rod Meredith explained the intent and meaning of Romans 13 regarding our being "subject unto the higher powers," and how Paul's instruction specifically applies to our present confrontation with the state of California. Here are some excerpted thoughts from the portion of Mr. Meredith's sermon dealing with Romans 13:

   We have been in a genuine crisis. The state was influenced by dissident former members and former ministers — many of whom have left God's church in hate and have been fighting us for months directly and indirectly.

   God's Church was under attack by the Attorney General of California with threats of a change in the government of the Church and the removal of God's apostle whom He called and has worked through these many, many years. Even God's way of life and His laws, as well as His Work, were ultimately at stake. It actually comes down to your and my commitment to the continuance of what we stand for.

   Faith without works is dead and works without faith is dead too. We need both. We just want to do it the right way. As Christians we are to conduct ourselves in an orderly manner. We are not to boo, harrass, shout or otherwise allow our human nature to cause us to react in a wrong manner. This, of course, is not to imply that we should never have emotional content in what we say, do or experience.

   Our current crisis began when a court of the state granted a receiver extensive control over the Church, empowering him to even hire, fire and interfere in ecclesiastical matters, then later dissolved the original, unconstitutional receivership — stating that it was serving no valid purpose and that the exorbitant expense of maintaining it was wrongfully making the Church a victim rather than a beneficiary. Then when the same court reimposed the receivership with a new receiver but with the same extraordinary powers over the Church, it should not surprise anyone that brethren in the Church would want to do whatever they could to help. Coming in for a special church service is something we can do in a free country, on our own property and not in violation of the United States Constitution. We can stand up for our rights and put pressure on them to live by their own laws. They have been going against their — own laws by denying our Constitutional rights!

   There are many guidelines in Romans 12 and 13: We are to "recompense to no man evil for evil," "If it be possible.. live peaceably with all men" and "avenge not yourselves..."

   God is our protector and it is in Him that our victory ultimately lies, as Mr. Herbert Armstrong has said many times. But when there is something we can do within God's law we should do it. In this matter all we are doing is sitting on our own property and showing support for the Church and God's appointed leadership.

   Romans 13:1 says "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." But notice carefully that it doesn't say "obey" every detail of what the higher powers may tell you to do. Be subject to those higher powers, nevertheless. During Nazi Germany there were laws and programs of the state that you as a Christian would have had to refuse to do. Perhaps you in many cases would have quietly, non-violently disobeyed by omission, being subject to the powers that be and any penalties they might impose.

   We are using the law of the land in the present Church/state battle. The law and the provisions of the law can be used legally to thwart what an individual officer of the law wants to have us do when it conflicts with our Constitutional rights. We are now going through the established legal processes — which is our right by law.

   We are going to be subject to the law, but if within the provisions of the law we can stall them, or we can quietly not do something that would infringe on our rights or the rights of another, we may have to do so. This principle goes beyond the bounds of the United States. In other countries our brethren sometimes have to disobey technical rulings to be able to meet on the Sabbath or own a Bible (as in East Germany) — in order to do the most fundamental things to carry out our religious faith.

   But some out of ignorance — or willful guile influenced by the devil — are trying to twist and pervert Romans 13 to say something which they themselves did not believe in times past.

   The Bible shows we are to be subject to the penalty of the law and always honor the men in the office. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil." As a general principle this is true, but what about those in Nazi Germany? Were they producing overriding good? What about the Soviet Union? Living God's way can be difficult or hindered under certain governments. Of course it is true that rulers — even bad ones — keep a certain order and prevent anarchy, but sometimes they pervert their 9ffice and become depraved and despotic, outweighing the good.

   "Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." We must do this because they are generally carrying out the will of God who is really over all. But under a totalitarian regime your conscience might tell you to do something otherwise — keep the Sabbath, etc. Remember Daniel's example where he refused to stop praying inspite of having to go against a direct law of the king. Also the three young men who were thrown into the furnace because they refused to bow down before the golden image.

   We are to obey God rather than man, but we will submit to man and try to honor the nation. If the current confrontation with the state goes the way we think it will and the way we hope it will, we will have actually done many others (outside our church) a service by causing the local or state government to see that they should not violate the obvious intent and purpose of the federal government and the Constitution of the United States of America. We are in a battle for religious freedom which we did not start.

Back To Top

Pastor General's ReportMarch 13, 1979Vol 3 No. 8