D. Scott Meadows
Ordained Servant: November 2022
Also in this issue
by Alan D. Strange
by Andrew J. Miller
by William Edgar
by T. David Gordon
by G. E. Reynolds (1949– )
The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is approaching with another national midterm election. Many exaggerate its importance—pundits to boost ratings, politicians to secure votes. In this article I do not endorse any candidate or party. I would rather proclaim God’s Word for your upbuilding and encouragement and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3).
Please consider some biblical truths to apply, especially, after the election, however it turns out. Whatever the outcome, beware of being too positive or too negative. If you like the results, you may be tempted to think they will solve our nation’s problems. They will not. On the other hand, if you are sorely disappointed, do not yield to a toxic mix of panic, depression, and despair. All is not lost.
What should Christians remember after the election? It will help us all to remember three truths: 1) The Lord Jesus Christ still reigns, 2) The government is still ordained by God, 3) The church is still triumphing in Christ. Let us reflect upon them one at a time.
The Lord Jesus Christ Still Reigns (Acts 2:36; Ps. 2:1–4)
First, the Lord Jesus Christ still reigns. Jesus of Nazareth, once crucified and risen from the dead, has been exalted to heaven’s throne and to the office of Lord and Christ by the absolutely almighty and sovereign God. Jesus Christ is, objectively and eternally, King of kings and Lord of lords, and no wicked powers of earth or hell can change that.
The apostle Peter stressed this in his sermon to the unbelieving Jews on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:36. His dramatic, climactic thesis statement at the end of the sermon is this: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” This is not an exhortation for people to do anything but an announcement about what God has already done. When Peter said, “Let all the house of Israel . . . know,” he is not asking their consent to know. This is just a prefatory comment to what they are about to know, because Peter is about to tell them.
Of course, Scripture affirms that Jesus, even before he completed his mission on earth, was the Son of God, the Christ, and the Lord of lords, but his triumph and glorification took a giant leap forward when he had made atonement for our sins on the cross by dying in our place. His resurrection from the grave, his appearances as the living Savior to his disciples, his ascension to heaven, and his present session there at the Father’s right hand—all these are aspects of his triumph over the powers of hell. Christ’s eternal glorification as the conquering Savior began long ago and is well underway.
Beloved, after the election all of this is still true and real. No politicians or electorate can dethrone the Lord Jesus Christ. “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished” (Prov. 11:21). God even mocks their ridiculous attempts, as Psalm 2 testifies:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Ps. 2:1–4)
Jesus is Lord today in the USA. Jesus was Lord when the Roman Empire was throwing Christians to the lions in the coliseum, during Muslim expansion in the lead-up to the Crusades, when the Roman Catholic Church was torturing our forefathers in the Spanish Inquisition, and when Hitler was tyrannizing Europe. Jesus will remain Lord whatever efforts might be made by all in this country who oppose our biblical faith.
Jesus is Lord. This is our faith, and our joy, and the basis of our confident expectation for the future. After the election it will be helpful to believe this and call it to mind.
This victorious, effective reign of our Lord Jesus has vast implications for life in this world. Let us consider two of them, first, with respect to civil governments, and second, with respect to the ministry and future of the church.
The Government Is Still Ordained by God (Rom. 13:1–7)
The second vital truth to keep in mind, especially after the election, is this. No matter what happens, the civil government after the election will be the exact one which the Lord Jesus Christ himself has ordained. That has always been the case in human history throughout the world, and it will be until “Kingdom Come,” as they say, when Christ returns from heaven. After the election the government is still ordained by God.
I would not be able to say this so surely except for the fact that Scripture teaches it very clearly. In many passages this truth is assumed and implied, but it becomes explicit most famously in Romans 13.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Rom. 13:1–7)
Remember by whom this was written and under what circumstances. Paul the apostle wrote it when Nero was the Emperor of the Roman Empire—the infamous Nero, whose very name is synonymous with cruelty and debauchery. And what counsel does Paul give the Christians about their view of this government and their relationship to it? He tells them to view it as ordained by God and to live as good citizens under its authority, being subject to it and paying taxes and giving honor to whomever these things are due. In general, Christians, the beloved children of God, are morally bound to be subject even to the most wicked rulers, honoring them and supporting their government, in as much as they are not asked to deny the faith or affirm anything against God’s law.
In Paul’s argument, once it is established that whatever civil authorities exist are placed there by God and possess divine authority to carry on the functions of civil government, then it necessarily follows that we Christians must be subject to them, honor them, and pay taxes. Failure in this is to revolt against God himself, Paul says—with Christ’s authority as an apostle, no less. This truth and responsibility will not change after the election.
The third major truth for after the election also follows from the unshakeable sovereign reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it pertains to something much more important than civil government—the church.
The Church Is Still Triumphing in Christ (Matt. 16:18; 2 Cor. 2:14)
Because Jesus is Lord, after the election the church will still be triumphing in Christ. Defying all hostile powers, Jesus boldly proclaimed, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). We all know that the church Jesus has in mind here is not a building or even an organization but a redeemed people, a spiritual body, the elect of God called out from the kingdom of Satan, delivered from the powers of evil, and given life and liberty in Christ for all eternity.
This proclamation is the cosmic battle-cry of our Warrior-King Jesus Christ and a divine prophecy guaranteeing valiant conquest in his long siege against the enemy. It is very emphatic by the use of positive and negative affirmation. “I will build my church,” the risen Lord says, who has received all power in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18). He first said this 2,000 years ago, and He has been building it ever since. He also said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” using an idiomatic expression for the powers of death—a symbol of all that is anti-God, miserable, and under a just curse for its evil. The devil and his minions have fervently opposed the spread of the gospel, the salvation of souls, and the glorification of the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world, and all to no avail. Every single one of the persons for whom Christ died either has been saved already or will be in His time, and the host of Jesus’s faithful disciples has already grown beyond all human measure, including individuals “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
From the little band of one hundred and twenty mentioned in Acts 1, adherents have increased to the point that those who identify as Christians number between two and three billion in our time, far more than any other religion. I would not suggest that all these people are saved. Rather, in a very dramatic way against great opposition, the living, reigning Lord Jesus has been doing battle with the devil and prevailing over him, rescuing from his clutches every single sinner chosen by God from eternity to be saved. Hundreds of millions more people identify as Christians than as Muslims, the second largest religious group. Hindus, secularists, Buddhists, and other religious groups are much, much smaller.
When there were not nearly so many Christians in the world, the apostle Paul in his generation served Christ with good morale and confident hope that the gospel ministry was not in vain. He believed it was accomplishing exactly what Christ intended. That is why Paul could write, “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). Here,
Paul compares the irresistible advance of the gospel, in spite of temporary frustration, to a Roman triumphus (“triumph”) in which the victorious general, along with his proud soldiers, used to lead in triumphal procession the wretched prisoners of war who were thus exposed to public ridicule. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, in loc.)
Nero in Rome might seem impressive as he fumes against the Christians, but God leads his servants in Christ anyway. Our trek is an unstoppable march to victory as the gospel spreads and the well-deserved fame of our Savior becomes more and more widely known. Nero could not do anything to stop it.
Call all this to mind after the election. No matter what, the church is still triumphing in Christ. Many professing Christians seem more concerned about the well-being of the United States than they are about the church, or they think the church’s fortunes rise and fall with religious freedom in the USA. That helps account for their obsession with politics and neglect of worship and fellowship and evangelistic witness. They are far too elated and dejected with various political upheavals.
Does Scripture reveal anything about the destiny of the United States of America? In general, it does. As a political entity it is destined for the trash heap of history, if not before Christ returns, when he returns. That great judgment day is described symbolically in Revelation 14:8, “Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality” (Rev. 14:8) (emphasis mine). We read elsewhere in Revelation that all nations were deceived by her sorceries (18:23), and that includes our beloved nation with all the rest. You see, all that finally matters is that the one holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9), the spiritual Israel which is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it alone, shall be saved. And because Jesus is Lord, it shall.
I sincerely love my country, the United States of America. I have been a patriot from my boyhood, when I had bedroom curtains with themes from the American Revolution. I have held a secret security clearance and performed defense work as an electrical engineer for the US military, and I am glad to have rendered this service. I proudly display an American flag, and I love the national anthem. I know that important issues are at stake in this election. I fully intend to vote, as is my habit even in primaries and local elections. I will not be very happy about certain candidates winning, and I will breathe a sigh of relief if my candidates prevail.
But after the election I will remember that Jesus Christ is Lord, whatever government comes about is ordained by God, and, finally, that the church is continuing in triumph toward an ultimate victory over all our foes. As the hymnwriter said so eloquently,
The church shall never perish! Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, is with her to the end;
Though there be those that hate her, and false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor she ever shall prevail.
’Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
—Thomas Benson Pollock, “The Church’s One Foundation” (1871)
The upcoming election is completely in the hands of God—the God we worship, the God who loves us as his own chosen people, bought by Christ’s blood and preserved for his everlasting kingdom. Keep everything in perspective. We are on the winning side already, and our ultimate victory is assured. Let not your heart be troubled. The Lord reigns. He sets up rulers and casts them down at his good pleasure. He is with his church to the end, to defend, guide, sustain, and cherish her for the praise of the glory of his grace, in this age and the age to come. Be comforted and pray that he will show us his mercy. Amen.
 This article was originally a sermon preached by Pastor Meadows several years ago.
Contact the Editor: Gregory Edward Reynolds
Editorial address: Dr. Gregory Edward Reynolds,
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Electronic mail: email@example.com
Ordained Servant: November 2022
Also in this issue
by Alan D. Strange
by Andrew J. Miller
by William Edgar
by T. David Gordon
by G. E. Reynolds (1949– )
© 2022 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church