PJ Smyth of GodFirst Church in Johannesburg recently preached a sermon called “What Would God Say to the President of South Africa?”
And who should happen to have been in attendance that day?
Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.
The sermon notes can be found here. His three points were as follows:
- I have made you the President of South Africa
- Anticipate submissive and prayerful followership by Christ-following South Africans
- In view of me appointing you, lead confidently and humbly
This comment, speaking of our need to submit to the authorities God has placed over us, really stood out to me:
Check out the progression in 1 Timothy 2: I urge…that prayers be made for kings and all those in authority, (why?) that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness which pleases God our Savior, (why? Because he wants) all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Wow! Did you see it?
Paul wants prayers for governments ultimately because he wants the gospel to advance, because he knows that Governments, like all aspects of creation, ultimately exist to facilitate the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Men and women responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ is the goal of creation. Jesus used the phrase ‘You must be born again’ (John 3).
The Duchess of Huntingdon once asked D.L. Moody why he always seemed to speak on the John 3 text ‘You must be born again’. He replied, ‘Because Madame, you must be born again’. Being born
again means receiving the forgiveness of God, and the lordship of God into your life. Or, to use a phrase that we find so helpful, to begin to ‘put God first’ in your life.
There is another reason Paul ultimately places a higher value on the gospel than on government, because he knows that it is ultimately only the gospel, not merely a government that can produce a truly godly nation. Think it through: The government can outlaw racism, but only the gospel can deal with hatred. The government can ban corruption, but only the gospel can deal with greed. The government might subsidize the poor but only the gospel can make the rich compassionate. The government might ban porn, but only the gospel can deal with lust.
We thank God for the government and Laws of RSA because they keep a lid on sin, but only the gospel can change the heart of a man or woman.
I am in awe of Pastor Smyth’s boldness. Well done.
HT: The Resurgence