by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XX

March, 1941

Number 8.

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

A dear brother says he believes "saluting the flag is of the devil."  Paul says, "Let every soul be subject to the superior authorities; for there is no authority except under God.  Now those which are, are set under God, so that he who is resisting an authority has withstood God's mandate.  Now those who have withstood will be getting judgment for themselves, for magistrates are not a fear to the good act, but to the evil.  Now you do not want to be fearing the authority.  Be doing good, and you will be having applause from it.  For it is God's servant for your good.  Now if you should be doing evil, fear, for it is not wearing the sward futilely.  For it is God's servant, an avenger for indignation to him committing evil, Wherefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of indignation, but because of conscience also.  For because of this you are settling taxes also, for they are God's ministers, perpetuated for this very thing.  Be rendering to all their dues; to whom tax, tax; to whom tribute, tribute; to him fear, fear; to whom honor, honor," Rom. 13:1-7.  

The superior authorities are those who administer civil government.  I am aware of a religious group that claims to be the superior authorities.  But they are mistaken, since we find there will never be a time when the ecclesiastical authority will be over the civil power, until the kingdom of the heavens is establishes on earth.  During the period covered by the Acts of the Apostles, a model of the future kingdom was in existence.  This is why it is said in Heb. 6:5, that some in that day tasted the powers of the coming eon.  In that era Peter rightfully refused to obey the authorities when he was ordered to cease preaching.  But the kingdom did not materialize, and the era in which we live was ushered in.  Saints of this time have no earthly allotment or authority.  Our destiny is in the heavens.   While we wait here, we are to be subject to the superior authorities.  

When the kingdom is established, civil authorities will be subject to the sway of Christ.  But we will have no place in the earthly kingdom.  It is for Israel.  While Israel is thrust aside, and while we are awaiting the actual presence of our Savior, we must recognize the civil authorities as superior to us.  Not only are we told to be subject to them, but Peter, writing to Israelites in dispersion, tells them to do the same.  Hear him: "Be subject to every human creation because of the Lord, whether to the king as a superior, or governors as being sent by him for vengeance on evil doers, yet for the applause of the doers of good; seeing that this is the will of God, by doing good, to be muzzling the ignorance of imprudent men; as free, and not having freedom for a cover of evil, but as slaves of God.  Honor all; be loving the brotherhood; be fearing God; be honoring the king," I Pet. 2:13-17.  This will apply in a special manner, to scattered saints of Israel in the future time of Jacob's trouble.  They must be subject to the civil authorities in the countries where they are living at that time.  

The authorities of the United States government have decreed the flag, and there are times when those under its protection are required to salute it.  The flag is not an idol; it is a symbol of the authority under which we live.  How anyone can enjoy the blessings of the government under the flag, and then believe that saluting that flag is of the devil, is more than I can understand.  Why not say other requirements of the superior authorities are of the devil?  When citizens of any regularly constituted government on earth resist the requirements of that government, they are withstanding God's mandate.  

Saints should understand this, so they will not feel harshly toward their brethren of another government which is at war with their own.  For instance, in both England and Germany, there are precious saints who have, in other years, enjoyed sweet fellowship with each other.  Now, under the teachings of Paul, quoted in this editorial, these very brethren are required by their respective governments, and hence, by God, to take up arms against each other.  If saints in either country should refuse to bear arms, they would be withstanding God's mandate.  

Saints in the United States owe much to certain faithful ones in Germany.  It may be that there will be conflict between the two countries.  If so, some of those very saints will be required to take up arms against us, and some of us will have to do so against them.  Let us remember that each will be doing as God requires.  

Governments in peace times do not interfere with our duty to God, nearly so much as is sometimes imagined.  Civil authorities are singularly unconcerned about anybody's doctrine, unless those authorities are influenced by religious fanatics.  Some governments have suppressed religious bodies that interfere with civil affairs.  This is as it should be.  But Paul gave us the example of attending strictly to the work of promoting the evangel, and letting the management of civil affairs alone.  He taught us, not only by word, but by example, to obey the civil authorities.  When he was sent to Rome in chains, Caesar found no cause of death in him.  He saw that the apostle was interested alone in the promotion of the evangel, and felt no concern in the shifting matters of politics.  Who ever commanded him, with the civil authority be hind such commands, Paul was ready to obey.  The great emperor saw this.  Therefore, while the apostle was held prisoner for two years, as a concession to the Jews, (for a government that has a foreign element must, at times, seek to pacify that element), the emperor gave him privileges that were favorable to the progress of the evangel.  While traditions says he was put to death, neither scripture nor history bears this out.  

Many of the "martyrs" died, not because they obeyed God, but because the disobeyed Him, in withstanding the superior authorities.  Recently some theological students resisted to register for selective military service.  What kind of a theological school is it, that teaches men to disobey God?  These boys felt themselves very important, it seems.  They had reason to believe  provision would be made for conscientious objectors, when it came to drafting them.  But they evidently felt that it was up to them to disobey the superior authorities.  They did not know, of course, that they were withstanding God's mandate, for Paul is very unpopular in the theological schools, I hear.  I don't suppose the boys had been told much that he said.  

None of us know what is in store for our government and its people.  But, whatever comes, let every believer in Universal Reconciliation remember that we have no right to refuse to bear arms if our government tells us to do so.  We don't have to hate anyone against whom we may be required to fight, but we must fight if the superior authorities tell us to fight. 

We have certain privileges—perhaps I should say, duties—in our country.  We have a democracy, and every citizen has the right to cast his ballot for men to hold office.  He also has the right to make constructive criticism of proposed laws, and even of acts of our chief executive.  To exercise these rights—or duties—does not violate the text quoted at the beginning of this editorial.  Rather, such is in keeping with the text.  For this is the way democracy works—by the criticism and suggestion of the people.  But when a law has become a law, we should obey it without even the thought of evasion.  In nothing, great or small, may we withstand the civil magistrate.  

I have been asked if saints may vote in civil elections.  I see no reason why they should not do so.  But this is about as far as they should go.  If they begin to take part in "politics," they can easily become badly smeared.  

After the people have spoken by their ballots, the man elected becomes God's servant, in the sense of the text.  This does not necessarily mean that he is a good man, or that he will be a wise officer.  God does not intend, at all times, to give us good officers.  Sometimes His plans necessitates having bad men in office.  But so long as they are there, they are God's servants, and saints must not resist them, in the sense of rebellion.  

Any government on earth is better than anarchy, such as existed from Adam to the deluge in Noah's time.  It was after the deluge that God instituted civil government.  During that period of anarchy, no person had rights that anyone felt bound to respect.  Life, limb and property were safe only to the extent that a man was able to protect them.  Without civil government, the earth became filled with violence.  This is why I say that any government is better than none. 

While the unbeliever regards civil government as a human institution, and is subject to it either through fear or because of the benefit he receives or expects to receive from it, the believer is supposed to look upon it as of divine origin, and be subject to it because of his loyalty to God.  With him it should be a matter of conscience. 

In the nest issue I expect to discuss "The Holy Spirit and Health,"  in response to requests from several readers.  It is a subject that should be carefully studied in the light of present truth.