Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Priestly Role: Praying for those in Authority

This message is part of a sermon series. For the rest of the sermon series go to  A Royal Priesthood


1 Timothy 2:1-7

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to 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, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."

In our first discussion, we looked at prayer as our communication with God as His children in Christ Jesus. The Bible assures us that “He who did not spare His only Son, but offered Him for us, would He deny us anything which we ask of Him?” So we are enjoined to pray, believe and we receive as we ask. But Paul here exhorts us to pray for all men especially for those in authority. Does this include the wicked rulers? Should I spend my time both in the public and in the private to pray for those whose rules have caused me so much head and heart ache?

We are to pray “for kings and for all that are in authority.” When we come together in a public service we usually pray for those who are in authority; but are we as much concerned about remembering them before God when we kneel alone in His presence? I am quite sure of this: If we prayed more for those at the head of the country and in other positions of responsibility we would feel less ready to criticize them; we would be more disposed to recognize the heavy burdens resting upon them, and to understand how easy it is to make mistakes in times of crisis. Our rulers need divine wisdom that they might govern well in subjection to Him who is earth’s rightful King. As we pray earnestly for them we are furthering our own best interests, because as the affairs of nations are ordered according to the will of God His people find living conditions more comfortable and more enjoyable. So we are told to pray “for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Other passages in the Scripture confirm the fact that God is waiting for our prayers to make even the most wicked and hard-hearted rulers to be instruments in His hands in bringing peace and prosperity to our lands. In Second Chronicles 7:14 God says: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”(NKJV) What a great promise of revival, prosperity and godliness if and only if, we who are Christians should realize that the only priests that our lands have are we who are known of God.

I am not in any way suggesting that USA is a godly nation but we can see the hand of God at work in the nation because Christians through the ages have always taken the challenge of prayer for the rulers and the government very seriously. Such moves have often been reflected in their national life. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, the President of United States of America declared Thursday, April 30, 1863 a day of National humiliation, fasting and prayer. In 1952, President Truman established one day a year as a National Day of Prayer. One hundred and twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan declared 1983 the year of the Bible. In 1988, President Reagan designated the first Thursday in May of each year as the National Day of Prayer. They all recognized the need for God, prayer and Bible in their National life. The prayer of the saints can move God and change men. We should rather than criticize our rulers, pray for them. America is the only nation that I know has a day dedicated to thanksgiving to God.

Christians are to be examples to others of subjection to government. When difficulties arise and differences come up that divide people and set one group against another, we should be characterized by quiet restful confidence in God as we refer those things to Him in prayer. God told Israel, when they were scattered among the nations of the earth, to pray for the peace of the different lands in which they dwelt. This is a responsibility that rests upon us as believers today.

Paul now begins one of the declarations in this passage to support the call for prayer for all men on those in authority.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour”

The Apostle uses the beautiful term –”God our Saviour” – a number of times, in this Epistle. Here he uses it to remind us of “how precious it is to think of our connection with God”. In our unsaved state we knew Him as God the Judge, but now since we have come to know Him as revealed in Christ, He has become God our Saviour.

The relationship between the saved and the Saviour is that of love. Love finds its fulfilment in service, in obedience and in seeking to keep the relationship. We keep our relationship as we daily communicate with God in prayer and we serve Him in obedience as we seek to save the lost by pointing out Christ to them. We obey Him as we do what He has exhorted us to do – pray for all men and for kings and those in authority!

Again, the Apostle declares a very definite reason why we should pray for all men. God our Saviour wills, that is, He desires to have, all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. I hope we believe that. I find that some of our brethren do not seem to believe that God desires that all men be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth. Some of us speak as though there are some men whom God has brought into existence for whom there is no possibility of salvation, because they are not among the elect. That would negate our most popular Bible verse: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, the WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) Thank God that we can go to men everywhere and tell them “there is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed”

Read: Does God Desire all to be saved by John Piper

No matter how far they have drifted from God; no matter what their sins may be; no matter what their positions may be in life; whether slaves or kings, they do not need to peer into the book of divine decrees in order to find out whether or not they are of the chosen or elect. If they come in all their sins and guilt, confessing their iniquities and trusting in Christ, then they may have the assurance from His Word that they are saved. We can well say “whosoever wills are the elect, and whosoever won’t are the non-elect” It is the desire of God that all men should be saved.

Does this mean then that there is no need to talk of salvation and condemnation since God’s desire is that all men be saved? What then is the need for the priestly work of the Christian? Does he really need to pray and confront men with his Gospel of Salvation? As we take the last look at this passage next week we shall discuss the limitations of this “desire” But let us remember, God expects us to pray for all men, kings and rulers and those in authority whether they are good or bad. They are a part of God’s universal declaration of “whosoever will”. May the Lord help us as we work together with the Holy Spirit to change peoples, kings and governments of this world to the glory of God!

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