v. Church and the Government
Articles 36 to 37:
Article 36 - the Civil Government
We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.(Prov 8:15; Dan 2:21; Jn 19:11; Rom 13:1) He wants the world to be governed by laws and statutes,(Ex 18:20) in order that the lawlessness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order.(Deut 1:16; Deut 16:19; Judg 21:25; Ps 82; Jer 21:12; Jer 22:3; 1 Pet 2:13, 14) For that purpose He has placed the sword in the hand of the government to punish wrongdoers and to protect those who do what is good (Rom 13:4). Their task of restraining and sustaining is not limited to the public order but includes the protection of the church and its ministry in order that *the kingdom of Christ may come, the Word of the gospel may be preached everywhere,(Ps 2; Rom 13:4a; 1 Tim 2:1-4) and God may be honoured and served by everyone, as He requires in His Word.
Moreover, everyone – no matter of what quality, condition, or rank – ought to be subject to the civil officers, pay taxes, hold them in honour and respect, and obey them in all things(Mt 17:27; Mt 22:21; Rom 13:7; Tit 3:1; 1 Pet 2:17) which do not disagree with the Word of God.(Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29) We ought to pray for them, that God may direct them in all their ways and that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim 2:1, 2).
For that reason we condemn the Anabaptists and other rebellious people, and in general all those who reject the authorities and civil officers, subvert justice,(2 Pet 2:10; Jude 8) introduce a communion of goods, and overturn the decency that God has established among men.
Article 37 - the Last Judgment
Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that when the time, ordained by the Lord but unknown to all creatures, has come(Mt 24:36; Mt 25:13; 1 Thess 5:1, 2) and the number of the elect is complete,(Heb 11:39, 40; Rev 6:11) our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly,(Rev 1:7) as He ascended (Acts 1:11), with great glory and majesty.(Mt 24:30; Mt 25:31) He will declare Himself judge of the living and the dead(Mt 25:31-46; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5) and set this old world afire in order to purge it.(2 Pet 3:10-13) Then all people, men, women, and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end, will appear in person before this great Judge.(Deut 7:9-11; Rev 20:12, 13) They will be summoned with the voice of the archangel and with trumpet call of God (1 Thess 4:16).
Those who will have died before that time will arise out of the earth,(Dan 12:2; Jn 5:28, 29) as their spirits are once again united with their own bodies in which they lived. Those who will then be still alive will not die as the others but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye from perishable to imperishable.(1 Cor 15:51, 52; Phil 3:20, 21) Then the books will be opened and the dead will be judged (Rev 20:12) according to what they have done in this world, whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10).(Heb 9:27; Rev 22:12) Indeed, all people will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken (Mt 12:36), which the world regards as mere jest and amusement. The secrets and hypocrisy of men will then be publicly uncovered in the sight of all. Thus for good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to the wicked and evildoers(Mt 11:22; Mt 23:33; Rom 2:5, 6; Heb 10:27; 2 Pet 2:9; Jude 15; Rev 14:7a) but it is a great joy and comfort to the righteous and elect. For then their full redemption will be completed and they will receive the fruits of their labour and of the trouble they have suffered.(Lk 14:14; 2 Thess 1:3-10; 1 Jn 4:17) Their innocence will be known to all and they will see the terrible vengeance God will bring upon the wicked who persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world.(Rev 15:4; Rev 18:20)
The wicked will be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences and will become immortal, but only to be tormented in the eternal fire(Mt 13:41, 42; Mk 9:48; Lk 16:22-28; Rev 21:8) prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41).(Rev 20:10) On the other hand, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honour. The Son of God will acknowledge their names before God His Father (Mt 10:32) and His elect angels.(Rev 3:5) God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev 21:4),(Is 25:8; Rev 7:17) and their cause – at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil authorities – will be recognized as the cause of the Son of God. As a gracious reward, the Lord will grant them to possess glory such as the heart of man could never conceive.(Dan 12:3; Mt 5:12; Mt 13:43; 1 Cor 2:9; Rev 21:9-22:5) Therefore we look forward to that great day with a great longing to enjoy to the full the promises of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22:20).
|Articles 27 - 35|