TRANSCENSION WITHOUT REVOLT:
A Balanced Prophetic
Application of Romans 13
May 17, 2012
Greetings to everyone on the Circle, and at such a time.
It is laid on my heart to add a new line of instruction to my approach through this ministry. Many of the teachings that develop as full-fledged articles originate out of basic inspirational conversations the Lord initiates in response to questions you raise about different issues. Sometimes they spring forth as conversations within our own family. A simple question will be asked, and as I answer, before anyone knows it, the seed for a new teaching has come forth and I end up giving a teaching lecture from the Spirit.
It takes time to develop these seed thoughts into the “feature length” articles and treatises you have come to know through this ministry. And sometimes, in the course of that development, the “freshness” of the original seed may wilt a bit with the time lapse (which could be weeks or even a month or more). Also, sometimes there are enough different discussions over a short period of time on different issues that it is not possible to develop them all into articles, yet their importance is outstanding and would profit everyone.
So, today I am launching a sub-avenue of teaching appropriately called “Conversations.” Through this avenue, I am simply going to release to all of you any “seed” correspondence that I deem to be significant enough in substance that an entire article could or should be developed from it—though it might not happen. I will pass on these conversations with little or no comment, leaving you to listen in as “flies on the wall” and to enter into the spirit of the discussion as you read, for whatever profit the Spirit may have for you in it.
Today’s first conversational teaching comes in response to a question by Ray Ashmore stemming from the last “feature length” article, True Dominion released late last month (which by the way also grew out of a seed conversation and is at the bottom of this string today). Ray asks a vital question about our relationship to human government in light of the teaching on our role as kingdom advancing people. And I must tell you that much more is consuming me about this topic than is written in this conversation. So prepare for more on this. But for now, be edified and strengthened in your understanding of these things.
Blessings to all of you,
First Love Ministry
From: Ray Ashmore
Well written, Chris. Would you please give me your view of Romans 13 in the light of the insight God has given you here? Blessings, Ray.
Hi Ray. Nice to hear from you.
Commenting on Romans 13 in context of comprehending true dominion is a tall order. Various layers and dimensions of reality have to be taken into consideration. Don’t know how far I’ll get but let me throw out a few points.
The concept of human government is a mixed concept under the knowledge of good and evil. It is both good and bad, both in nature and in execution. It is good from the standpoint that it brings order to disorder (that is, it puts a check on absolute lawless behavior.) To that end it is ordained of God. But it is bad from the standpoint that it only exists as a “necessary evil.” It exists only with reference to that which is bad, and otherwise would not exist at all in a world of pure good. (“The law is made only for lawbreakers.”)
Distinguishing and rightly appropriating ourselves relative to this dualistic nature of government is what is difficult and has to be worked out “with fear and trembling.” In recognizing the divinely ordained “good” function of government as a limited reflection of divine goodness, we are not to be subject to it as our ultimate reference of what is good, something found only in God beyond man.
At the same time, recognizing the “bad” nature of government as a necessary evil (and usually unrighteously executed), we are not to be found in revolt against it. Here is the challenge then, to “transcend without revolt.”
The government of God, being good in essence and not just in reflection, transcends human government for true goodness. It surpasses it. It “outgrows” it. Under this reality, the increase of divine government in an individual or a people will eventually lead that individual or people into a position of conflict with human government which is limitedly “good” by reflection only.
The problem is that such “outgrowth” and “transcension” looks like “revolt.” But it is not. It is of an entirely different spirit. And this has always been the problem. Transcendent obedience has always looked like disobedience. Grace has always appeared as lawlessness. And only the Spirit can tell the difference.
The tension between obedience to law as the reflection of good and transcendence of law into pure goodness is best illustrated in the teachings of Christ. On one hand he exhorts obedience to those who “sit in Moses’ seat,” as is consistent with all of God’s exhortations against the spirit of rebellion. Yet in the next breath he says, “But do not do as they do.” He also says, “Your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (who sit in Moses’ seat.)”
Such exceeding righteousness was demonstrated in the overturning of the tables of the moneychangers, something that otherwise appears as an act of lawlessness and revolt. All the acts of the prophets in contest with kings past and kings to come (e.g., Rev. 11) are acts of transcendent righteousness—but appear as acts of revolt.
It is into this larger spectrum of understanding that we have to form our appreciation of Romans 13 as well as I Peter 2. We need to understand the two dimensions of obedience, the differential in the maturity factor between them, and how to place these teachings accordingly. Romans 13 speaks only to the side of Christ’s teaching that says, “Obey those who sit in Moses’ seat.” That is as far as it goes. It deals with the problem of the spirit of rebellion in the immature. It is written to relatively new Christians coming out of lives of sin.
Romans 13 does not address the transcendent end of the spectrum that exposes and enters into mature prophetic conflict with corrupt human government. It speaks only to the concept of government as ordained in theory as good, but not in actual practice (“do not as they do”).
In practice, not all who serve as ministers for the public good do so for the public good, contrary to Paul’s broad theoretical generalization here. And it is against such that those who live by maturer transcendent goodness will be found in conflict (as was Paul himself), in apparent contradiction to Romans 13.
As we get closer to the manifestation of the kingdom of God and the ripening of the mature harvest, we are going to see more and more transcension of the Romans 13 message develop in the prophetic community. Things will begin to look more and more like Revelation 11. The church is, after all, expected to stand up to “the beast”—which is nonetheless ordained by God.
But again, there will have to be a working out of all this, divorcing immature rebellion on the part of some from the mature transcendence of beast-like governmental authority on the part of others. There will be mixture.
I hope these thoughts will reasonably paint my understanding of Romans 13 to you. If you want something more clarified, let me know.
so much, Chris, for your response. I've read through it
initially but will have to plow through several more times
before your understanding trickles into my cranium and
takes root (mixing metaphors). I've wondered just how to
reconcile Romans 13 with the Kingdom and I think you've
given me important insight.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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