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Romans 13:1 Refers to Church Governance; It Has Nothing to Do with Civil Government

Editor’s Note: Many Christians today say Romans 13:1-4 proclaims that all government is put in place by God and that governmental leaders are God’s emissaries who must be obeyed. Here in Central, Rev. Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church has continued to hold church services despite an emergency order by Gov. John Bel Edwards banning traditional church services. The order is of questionable validity because it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the terms of the emergency powers law, which specifically says no emergency order can lawfully violate the Bill of Rights. Nevertheless, some have criticized Rev. Spell for allegedly defying the governor’s order. Rev. Spell has been arrested twice, charged with violating the governor’s orders, and placed under house arrest by Judge Fred Crifasi. He is being forced to wear an ankle bracelet that monitors his activities. Despite this, Rev. Spell has continued to leave home to hold church services. He could be sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for preaching in his church. This article is taken from Rev. Spell’s sermon on the meaning of Romans 13:1-4.

The epistle of Paul to the church at Rome, the book of Romans in chapter number 13. Let’s look at verse numbers 1 and 2. 

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be ordained are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” 

Verse number 4, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” 

The United States of America, founded 244 years ago, was built on the principle of freedom of religion. 

Yet, today for the first time in the history of our great nation, we are facing a government that is taking away Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly.  Ironically, some Christians would have us  believe that government is always to be obeyed, even to the point of violating the First Amendment and they cite Romans 13:1-4 as proof.

However, we state tonight unequivocally that Romans 13:1-4 is 100 percent addressing church governance. In no way, shape, or form does it deal with civil government!

In Romans, Paul tells us that every soul is be subject unto the higher powers and all powers that are high are ordained of God in the church of the living God. He said there is no power ordained in God’s true church but that which is derived and given by God. Then he said when you resist these powers that are the ordinances of God, you shall receive damnation of your soul. He is speaking about the church.

Paul said in verse number 4, which I believe is the crux and factually, scripturally, apologetically explains this chapter, 

“For the minister of God is to thee for good, and he beareth not the sword of the spirit in vain…” 

Ephesians the 6th chapter tells you that we have spiritual armor all of these are defensive but there is only one offensive weapon and that is the sword of the spirit. 

We have, but one weapon against our enemy, Satan — hell’s chief demon — and that is the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick…” That means it’s alive – there is nothing dead about this book. It’s living, it’s breathing, it’s authentic, it’s inspired by God. 

II Timothy 3:16, “For all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” This was not inspired by men. This was not inspired by a board. This was not inspired by an heavenly council, or a trinity, but this book was inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness. 

In Isaiah 9:6, the Bible tells you, For unto us a child is born, unto a son is given, the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace and the King of Kings. The government shall be upon his shoulder. Isaiah 9:7, Of the increase of his government there shall be no end. 

Romans 13:1-4 is 100 percent about church government. Now I can see why that some people get confused, because there are about 600 Biblical versions of your Bible. There are no original manuscripts of the Bible because the original manuscripts were either written on animal skin or papyrus, and they have not survived. 

Someone read to me just today, Romans 13:1-2 from a bad version, “Obey the government for God is the one that hath put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.” That is a lie! “So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God and punishment will follow” That is a misinterpretation of the scripture! 

That is a travesty! Any man that adds to the Word, God will add to you the plagues of this Book. Whosoever taketh from the Word, God will take his name out of the book of Life. These laws in Romans 13 are not dealing with government from the land but with the government from God. 

If you’ll read that scripture to mean civil government, then you have to believe that Adolf Hitler was ordained of God to murder 50 million people, but he was not ordained of God! He was satanic, demonized heathen from hell! 

If you believe that Romans 13:1-2 deals with what I’m doing and breaking some governor’s dictatorial law and some falsehood against me going to church and practicing my First Amendment rights. Then you have agree that Joseph Stalin, who was one of the greatest murderers in the history of the world, was ordaineds of God. But Josef Stalin was not ordained of God! 

Neither was Pol Pot, neither was Ho Chi Minh, neither was Mao Tse Tung, neither was any other these of these dictators. 

Neither was Pharaoh. Pharaoh was not ordained and put in power by God. Although God used him, he was not put in power by God because he said to murder all the baby boys that were born from the Hebrew women. But Amram and Jochebed said we are not going to obey your law, king! We’re not going to listen to you, king, you’re a fool. We’re not going to murder our baby. 

If they had obeyed the law of the land, there would not have been a Moses who set 2-½ million slaves free!  There would not be 67 people baptized in Jesus name in the last 61 days in this church if we had obeyed what is described as “the law of the land,” but I have got a law that supersedes this law and that is the law of God. Not to mention the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution!

In Romans 1:7, Paul wrote to the church and said, “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:” In the first 7 verses Paul, in no uncertain terms, makes it clear that this epistle is written to the church that is Rome. The pastor of the church got up and read it to the saints who were in the church. In Romans 1:4, “And declared to be the Son of God with power…” 

The ultimate power is Jesus Christ. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” 

For all power in the church is ordained of God and there is no power but of God. There is no preacher in the pulpit, except God put him there and he doesn’t bear the sword in vain, but he breaks that Bible open and preaches to you from Genesis to Revelation. 

In Genesis, Jesus is the Great Creator, in Exodus, Jesus is the Lamb slain, in Leviticus, Jesus is the Great High Priest, in Numbers, He’s the Great Statistician, Deuteronomy He’s Israel’s One God, Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad. In the book of Joshua, He’s the Captain of the Lord’s Host. In Judges, He’s the Judge of all the earth to the spirits of just men made perfect. In Ruth, He’s the Kinsman Redeemer. In Ezra, He’s the Foundation and Builder. In Nehemiah, He is the Wall Builder. In 1 and 2 Samuel, He’s the Great Prophet Seer. In the book of 1st and 2nd Kings, he’s the King of all kings – there is no king on this earth that has more power than God. 

I want to tell Joseph Stalin, Osama bin Laden, Pol Pott, and Mao Tse Tung – every knee shall bow to King Jesus and every tongue shall confess to King Jesus! 

The law says, not forsaking the assembly of yourselves together as the manner of some is. 

I can’t stop going to church. The Bible said do not forsake the synagoguing, the assembling, the going to the house because this is an important place. 

The devil wants to say it’s not important – let’s go out on the parking lot, let’s get out in our cars and roll up the window like a bunch of movie drive-thru theatres! But I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord! It was his custom, I don’t know what your custom is, but it was Jesus’ custom! 

When Jesus was 2 years old — the Magi came from the Orient who were astronomers, who followed the star to where Jesus was. They asked Herrod, please tell us where the King is so we can go and bring him these gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worship the King. And Herrod said, I’m going to kill this King. And you know what? The king ordered that every boy, 2 years and younger to be murdered! 

But there were some rebellious, anti-government parents by the name of Joseph and Mary who said, we are going to leave this king and we are going to go to Egypt. We’re not going to kill our boy because of some ignorant king by the name of Herrod. Herrod murdered his own boy to keep him from succeeding the throne. 

When you go to church, you are not just taking up space, you’re not just in here with your pretty dress and your curls and your high heels showing off – strutting your stuff. This is your Father’s business! Your Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills! I’m not just in here beating the air, trying to put on a good show. I’m not just in here to give you a good breakfast, I’m not just in here to defy the devil – but I’m doing my Father’s busines! 

Don’t take me outta church! This is my Father’s business! 

Then we hear about him at 30, he wrestled flesh and fasted 40 days in the wilderness. Here came the devil and the devil tried to tempt him but the devil lost! Devil, you have always been defeated, you will always be defeated! And here comes Jesus when he got off of 40 days of fasting in Luke 4:16, “…as his custom was…” according to the law, he went into the house of God to preach the word of God! To preach the gospel unto the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to bind up those that are bruised, He preached deliverance to the captives. 

Devil, I want you to know that no governor can keep Jesus out of church and no governor can keep this man out of church and no governor can keep this church from assembling. 

There was a Bible before the United States Constitution, but the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says Congress shall make no law prohibiting religious people from going to church! 

You can pass anything you want, Governor; you can say whatever you want, Mayor – but we are a people who are going to go to church and we’re never going to stop going to church! I’m never going to quit going to church because I’m obeying God’s law! I’ve got to obey God’s law! 

Acts 5:20-21 records a time when the angel of the Lord directed Peter and John – Go stand and preach in the temple to the people. Go stand and preach in the temple to the people. 

Let me tell you what the Bible said – that we ought to obey God rather than men. Brother Preacher, Brother Governor, Brother Socialist, Brother Communist – whoever you are – you might come in here and try and turn this free land, this republic into a Russia or a China, but I’ve got news for you!  The United States of America is a Christian nation that’s built on the Word of God and you can’t have our freedom, you can’t have our liberty!! Hallelujah! Amen! 

Thomas Jefferson, one of our framers, wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association that the first amendment builds a wall of separation between church and state. Although the courts have deviated from Jefferson’s original understanding of this phrase, Jefferson recognized that there was jurisdictional separation between the church and the state. It is our First Amendment jurisprudence – supreme court jurisprudence. The Employment Division vs. Smith in 1990 held that the right to free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law but it wound up saying that the exercise of religion trumps any law of the land! 

Though some silver-tongue elected official will try to tell you that you don’t have the right to go to church, the Bible said, Let them be accursed! He does not have the jurisdiction, he does not have the authority to change the Word and that Word said I will praise thee among the multitude of people, 

Romans 13 was used by the anti-abolitionists to keep slaves in the South enslaved. Romans 13 was used by the Loyalists to King George in England to say we can’t rise up against King George! Daniel, you better obey that law! 

Let me tell you what the Bible said, Daniel you better quit praying – it’s the law of the land! You can’t pray to anybody else for 30 days, you better stop praying Daniel. But you know what Daniel did? He didn’t get behind his computer on a Livestream, he didn’t get in his car and roll up his windows and toot his horn and flash his lights and swish his wipers. Daniel did not go outdoors to appease the governor’s orders, but Daniel went to the same window and he opened it and praised the Lord!

Some of you think I’m not preaching out of the Bible, but you might be convinced before I’m over. The devil knows I’m telling the truth, the devil knows I’m preaching the truth!! 

I’m going to keep on praying. It doesn’t matter if you kill me, it doesn’t matter if you jail me, it doesn’t’ matter if you sue me. 

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” – except there be a pandemic. Except you have a socialist government. Except you have a communist regime in China.  No!

Esther, they’re going to kill the Jews – go ahead and be quiet, you’ll live and everybody else will die. She said, I’ll tell you what – everyone fast and pray and put on your sackcloth and ashes, I’m going into the king, which is not according to the law. Esther 4:16, “…and if I perish, I perish.” But I gotta go in. It doesn’t matter what the law says, I gotta go in, the king might kill me, but I gotta go in. Esther, you can’t break the law, it’s the law of the land. You can’t go in there Esther; they are gonna kill you! What you going to do, Esther? She said, I’m going in – if I perish, I perish! 

What you going to do, Pastor? I’ve gone to preach 23 times already and been subject to arrest 23 times. I’m trying to keep up with Dr. Martin Luther King who was arrested 29 times. Lock me up for good, I’m going to break his record because it doesn’t matter, if I perish, I perish but I gotta keep preaching, I gotta keep preaching, I gotta keep preaching! 

Listen to me, Baton Rouge Police Department, I gotta keep preaching, I gotta keep preaching. Put the handcuffs on me, but I gotta keep preaching! 

St. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” If you don’t get what I’m preaching tonight, no explanation is possible. As to Romans 13:1-2 being about church government but if you have faith, no explanation is necessary. 

Church, you already know you’re not breaking any laws. 1. No laws can be made against what we are doing. 2. Strong suggestions cannot be made and we don’t follow strong suggestions. I follow God’s law – for God’s law is perfect, God’s law is just, God’s law is without fear, without favor, without compromise. 

In Romans 13:1-4 the minister of God has the word of God for which to govern the church. When the king said Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego you better bow your knees, those three stiff-legged boys said, “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” 

This is God’s church; we are God’s people! Let’s have church, let Jesus rule the church. Let them that rule well be worthy of government. Hallelujah. 

Is it lawful authority? I am your governor, I am your sheriff, I am mayor – I command you, “close your doors!” Is it lawful authority? I’m sorry Brother Politician, I’m sorry Brother Preacher, but you and your jurisdictions stop out there at the threshold of that church door. But when you walk in here, this is God’s government and if this is our body and our choice. 

It’s going to get hot for you boys, you better bow. I’m going to give you one more chance. Heat it up seven times hotter. The men who threw them in were scorched. That’s where crispy critters came from. And the three Hebrew boys went in and had a marshmallow roast. And when they got in there, look who’s here – Jesus, the son of God was in there and said, I’ve been waiting on you boys, where y’all been? Well, it took that gutless king a little while to throw us in there – he gave us a second chance. 

If you put me in prison, God’s will be with me in prison. If you take my life – to live is Christ, to die is gain. If you let me preach – God’s with me in the church. But let God arise! 

The sin of lawlessness is working in America right now. The antichrist spirit is trying to take over. That’s why we’ve got confusion. That’s why we’ve got 50 governors with 50 copycat opinions and the White House is saying this, and the Congress is saying that, and judges are saying that, and there is mayhem and there’s chaos. And lifelong friends have stabbed you in the back and turned their backs on you. And marriages are on the rocks and people are losing their sanity, their collective minds. The mystery of iniquity, the sin of lawlessness is working in America. 

We’re not going to shut our doors, it doesn’t matter what you say. Our church is hindering him from taking over America. He wants to do it bad, but you won’t let him! I wish you would stay home and let him, but you just got too much guts, you got too much backbone, you’ve got too much Bible in you! 

For all powers of the church are ordained of God and the power from the pulpit is in the pew and the pew said we cannot stop until we be taken out of the way – Shoop! Raptured! I can see The Morning Advocate the day after the rapture – Defiant Pastor Spell defies gravity! Shoop! Like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. 

Can I tell you, that what the devil means for bad, God means for good. 

John Newton, an former African slave trader, wrote, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. ’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” He wound up saying, “but for love and grace divine, a fall so dreadful had been mine.” 

All powers are ordained of God – in the church, not in our society. Kim Jong-Un in North Korea is not ordained of God – he is a murderous, cutthroat. He is not ordained of God. So all laws of the land are not ordained of God. 

And if you’re going to use Romans 13 to say I can’t go to church and preach right now, then Brother Preacher, you better marry same-sex couples because that’s the law of the land. Brother Preacher, you better murder babies because Roe v. Wade says it’s the law of the land and you can kill them. Don’t you back up on me now preacher, don’t you back up on me now – I’m preaching to you! Romans 13:1-4 is about church governance. 

I don’t fear my government, my government fears me – not because I’m a revolutionary but because my power is ordained of God. That Montgomery mayor, politicians, and law enforcement were afraid of a little 5’7” black woman by the name of Rosa Parks – if we don’t move her she’s going to turn our nation upside down. You better believe she is! 

Everybody else moved, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they didn’t want to get arrested. Everybody else shut their doors, not because it was the right thing to do but they didn’t want to get arrested – and this thing hasn’t stopped vibrating [his ankle bracelet] since I’ve been in this house, but it’s worth having my passport revoked, never being able to purchase a firearm, never being able to cross the borders of America again as a felon – to come and preach under the authority of God! 

Jesus, help our church, help our nation, help America. Didn’t you weep outside of the city of Jerusalem of Israel. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem – you wept like a baby because they wouldn’t listen. I’m weeping for America right now. If you would have known, even thou, in this thy day what belonged to you, America, you would have listened to Jesus, but you wouldn’t listen to Jesus. 

Come on America, wake up tonight, come on church, wake up! 

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