500 years ago, it was illegal in England to possess a copy of the Bible in the English language. Hard to believe, but it is true. William Tyndale famously wanted the plowboy to know the Bible, so he illegally translated the Bible into English. And for all his work, he was executed by the governing authorities. But Tyndale resisted the governing authorities because he believed he must obey God rather than men.
As we have been studying Romans 13 and learning about God’s gracious gift of authority, our spirits have known that there might be times when our obedience to God forces us to disobey the governing authorities. This is most clearly demonstrated by the apostles refusal to stop preaching in the name of Jesus in Acts 5. Peter explained his defiance by saying, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Christian Resistance, the idea that the people of God sometimes have to resist the governing authorities in order to be obedience to God, fills biblical history. Moses, Shadrach, Esther, Daniel, Jeremiah, and the apostles all resisted the governing authorities in order to obey God. And Christian Resistance fills the pages of history with examples like Tyndale, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King Jr.
But how can we know that we have come to that point when we must resist the governing authorities in order to obey God? And if we have reached that point, how do we carry out that resistance? Fortunately for us, Christians have been thinking and writing about this very question for hundreds of years. And certain principles do guide this most difficult decision: (1) Christian Resistance is based upon a clear command of God that we can identify from Scripture, (2) Christian Resistance submits to authority even as it resists authority, (3) Christian Resistance is not about selfish gain, (4) Christian Resistance is willing to suffer personally, (5) Christian Resistance is committed to godly behavior even as they resist the governing authorities, and (6) Christian Resistance is a last resort after all other means have been exhausted.
To learn more about Christian Resistance, listen to or watch the full sermon, “Christian Resistance.”