THE WEEK OF TRINITY XXII – SUNDAY
LESSON: MATTHEW 18:23‒35
Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Romans 13:3
The Gospel, or the kingdom of God, is nothing else but the estate or regime in which there is nothing but the forgiveness of sins. Where there is a regime in which sins are not forgiven, there is no Gospel or kingdom of God. Therefore, the two kingdoms must be kept clearly apart: the one in which sin is punished, the other in which sin is forgiven; the one in which rights are demanded, the other in which rights are given up. In God’s kingdom where He rules through the Gospel, no rights are demanded, nor does one operate with rights. In God’s kingdom there is nothing but forgiveness, remitting, and donating, no wrath or punishment, nothing but brotherly service and benevolence.
This does not, however, abolish secular law and justice. This parable teaches us nothing about the secular realm; it teaches us only about the kingdom of God. When a secular prince rules his people in such a way that he allows no one to perpetrate an injustice and punishes evildoers, he does well and deserves praise.
We need such a regime, but we cannot get into heaven thereby. The world cannot be saved by its secular government. But secular government is necessary to prevent the world from becoming worse than it is, and to ward off and hinder evil. If there were no secular government, one man would simply swallow up the other man, and no one in the end would be able to retain life, property, wife, or child. To prevent universal destruction and ruin, God has set up the authority of the sword so that evil might be in part restrained, and that the secular authority might establish peace and prevent men from doing each other injustice and wrong. This order of things the Christian must also accept.
PRAYER: We thank and praise You, heavenly Father, for all the blessings which we have been privileged to enjoy in our earthly lives through good government and good rulers. Keep us ever mindful of our duties in the secular realm, for Christ’s sake. Amen.