One of the most persistent questions I have asked myself over the years is why the New Testament is completely silent about government and changing a nation. It is only recently that I have begun to see that that is not the case. If you are looking at changing a nation through legislation, voting, political parties, etc. you will find the Bible deafeningly silent. However, Jesus and the Apostles give us a clear path to changing nations; it is just not the path we have been lead to expect.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.John 18:33-37
Jesus has recently ridden into Jerusalem to adoring crowds who expect Him to overthrow the Roman Empire. Instead of riding to Herod’s palace and conquering him, Jesus rides into the temple and throws out the money changers. The crowds turn on Him because He does not follow their political and governmental aspirations. Instead He is calling them to repentance. After His arrest, Jesus is asked before Pilate about being a king. Jesus declares that He is a King but that His Kingdom is not of this world. He refuses to lead His followers on a fight for an earthly government. His kingdom is ushered in by the proclamation of the truth not the campaign trail or human legislation.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.2 Timothy 2:4
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.Matthew 28:18-20
Over and over again we are taught to follow the example of Christ. We do not entangle ourselves with campaign promises, political parties, and the like. Our business is to teach the nations in which we reside the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As people are born again we are to teach them to follow the Law of God.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:Acts 26:1-2
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.Acts 26:19-32
When Elijah, Nathan, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul were given the opportunity to speak to kings they always addressed them concerning their own personal sin and need for repentance. We do not find where they addressed public policy or advocated for particular legislation (this did take place with Esther and Nehemiah.) Instead they concerned themselves with the salvation of the government official to whom they were speaking. In Acts 26, Paul’s defense is hardly a defense at all. It is much more of a personal appeal for King Agrippa to come to Christ. Even Paul’s appeal to Caesar was merely a desire to preach the Gospel in Rome.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.1 Timothy 2:1-10
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.Galatians 3:21
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:33
Paul encourages us to pray for our elected officials and then to focus on sharing the Gospel and living holy lives. He does not encourage us to endorse candidates and campaign for their election. This is because no law will change human hearts. There is no government that can rid the human heart of evil. This is exactly what Christ taught as well. We are to live for Christ’s kingdom, not an earthly government.
The Scripture is clear on what human government is and how to change human government. No ungodly government will be righted by Christians ignoring the Kingdom of God for political or legislative pursuits. The Gospel will change the hearts of individuals which will in turn change homes and then communities. It is only through obedience to Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel that any nation will change.