Two Kingdoms – Earthly and Heavenly

For our conversation [citizenship, government] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. —Philippians 3:20

The heroes of faith detailed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews were of sundry nationalities, lived in different generations, and died diverse deaths; but they had something in common. Their eyes were enlightened with a spiritual perspective which caused them to confess they were “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” In their pursuit of a heavenly country, their purpose was not to be mindful or overly considerate of their earthly home.Read more

Following Jesus Sincerely and Completely

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
—1 Corinthians 2:13

The subject this quarter is biblical nonresistance or pacifism. There are some differences in the two definitions as pacifism can imply a resistant attitude to war and government— which is contrary to the New Testament teaching of nonresistance. For this writing, pacifism relates to the refusal to bear arms on religious grounds.Read more

Bible Study – Biblical Nonresistance

Scripture Reading: Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and  a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
—Matthew 5:38-41

Summary: The teachings and example of Jesus Christ demonstrate a life of love and nonresistance. Disciples of Christ are called to follow His example and meet evil and injustice with prayer, love, and forgiveness rather than with force and violence. God’s church historically and presently renounces military service .

Definitions: Nonresistance—The policy or practice of not resisting violence or established authority by force, even when tyrannical (dictionary.com).
Pacifism—Refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds (Merriam-Webster).

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Biblical Nonresistance

The Call of Christ to the Law of Love
Jesus Christ instituted a doctrine of love whereby God’s children bear injustice without retaliation and render good for evil. War and the shedding of blood practiced under the Old Testament dispensation are no longer acceptable for God’s people in the dispensation of grace.
A New Covenant

While warfare and the doctrine of an “eye for an eye” were foundational practices for historical Israel, a new covenant was prophesied. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:31). The prophet Micah foretold of a time when God’s people would “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:2-3). These prophecies were fulfilled in the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.Read more

Statement of the Position of the Church of God on War

(Resolution Approved by Ministers of the Church of God in 1948 & 1961)

The ministers of the Church of God assembled at the Annual National Camp meeting (July 21-30, 1961) at Neosho (Monark Springs), Missouri, being aware of the present critical world situation and the urgent need for the Church to reaffirm its position in regard to participation in war, approved and adopted the resolution which had been approved by the ministers of the Church of God at the Oklahoma State Camp meeting in Guthrie, Oklahoma on August 13, 1948, which reads as follows:Read more

Questions and Answers Concerning Self-Defense, Law Enforcement and the Military

How supportive can a Christian be of law enforcement and the military?

As good, Christian citizens it is not hypocritical to appreciate the role and function of law enforcement and the military while not engaging ourselves in combat-type situations where we would have to take someone’s life. Without local and national keepers of the peace, there would be chaos and very little freedom. We experience the freedoms we do because of the sacrifice of people who daily place their lives at stake for our benefit. There are supportive and even spiritual functions that Christians can fill for law enforcement and military personnel. It is important to remember that Christians are citizens of two countries. Our primary service and code of conduct is founded in the spiritual, but that does not preclude appreciation for the other.Read more

Conscientious Objection

Obeying God Rather than Man

A conscientious objector is a person who refuses to serve in the armed forces or bear arms on moral or religious grounds. Historically, many conscientious objectors to war have been imprisoned and even executed when their beliefs conflicted with that of the government.Read more

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Thou shalt not kill. —Exodus 20:13

Some translations use the word “kill,” but the word is better translated “murder” in this passage. Murder is the unlawful, intentional taking of a life with malice.

Right after this command was given, God instructed the Levites to take up the sword and kill people who had turned to idolatry. God was not being contradictory under the law He had just given to Moses, for the killing was administered justice.

While the Bible places great value on human life, this specific command is not the foundation of New Testament, biblical nonresistance.

A Spectacle Unto the World

God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake….  —1 Corinthians 4:9-13

The apostle Paul paints a vivid picture of the trials and suffering of the apostles in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13. It is an encouragement and challenge to devoted ministers of the gospel.

Paul alludes to the Roman practice of bringing gladiators, armed with weapons, into the amphitheaters to fight wild beasts. If the gladiators survived, they were later disarmed and left defenseless before beast and man to be killed. If they escaped, they were eventually forced to contend with another assailant that would bring certain death. Ministers of the gospel may as Paul suffer many trials, persecutions, false accusations, poverty, and sufferings in this life; but it is an honor to be counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.Read more

Biblical Fasting

“When exercised with a pure heart and a right motive, fasting may provide us with a key to unlock doors where other keys have failed; a window opening up new horizons in the unseen world; spiritual weapons of God’s providing, ‘mighty…to the pulling down of strongholds.’” —Arthur Wallis
Old and New Testament Practice

Fasting from food for spiritual benefit was taught and observed by both Old and New Testament saints. Men and women of spiritual renown throughout history have fasted. This list includes Moses the lawgiver, David the king, Elijah the prophet, Esther the queen, Daniel the seer, Anna the prophetess, Jesus the Son of God, and Paul the apostle. Fasting is an avenue of clearing the mind and spirit in humility before God, and it opens the door to a deeper spiritual connection with the Lord. There is no true spiritual benefit to fasting when it is a mere physical observance. Historically, fasting for many people became nothing more than an outward act of piety. Ascetic practices alone have never drawn mankind into a closer relationship with God. In all areas of spiritual devotion, outward manifestations and observances are only as strong as the inward spirit which seeks to please the Lord in humility and holiness. John Wesley said, “Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason, and others have utterly disregarded it.” There is a biblical practice of fasting that is of great benefit to God’s children still today.Read more