What is this?
These Sabbath School lesson outlines aid Sabbath School teachers & members in their weekly study
& preparation for Sabbath School classes.
Join the Discussion
Use the form at the bottom of the page to share with other readers your thoughts about this lesson.
Sabbath School Lessons on Religion in Relationships
Read the Quarterly Online
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
What about Ellen White?
to learn why I generally do not cite Ellen G. White in the lessons.
Looking for old Sabbath School lessons?
Sabbath School lesson study outlines from previous quarters are saved in the Sabbath School lesson archive
Got questions or comments?
Go to our contact form
and drop us a note.
SabbathSchoolLessons.com operates like grace: it is free, but not without cost.
We're counting on your ongoing financial support to help us continue providing these
lessons to Sabbath School teachers and members around the world. You may cancel your monthly contribution at any time.
Get these Sabbath School lessons by e-mail! Subscribe to the Bible Study of the Week mailing list:
Subscribe in a reader
Lesson 7: Respect for Authorities *
Introduction: In the United States, we have important elections
coming up this November. Unlike many other democracies, we have only
two major political parties. A very interesting fact has come out of
the two-party system. Polling shows that Christians who attend church
regularly overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans. People
who do not attend church regularly, or not at all, generally identify
themselves as Democrats. This raises some very interesting questions.
If the righteous primarily identify with one political party, should
this translate into party political activity? Or, is the involvement
of religion in politics a bad thing? How does God want us to act when
it comes to politics? Does the Bible speak to the issue of Christians
and politics? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!
- Who Decides?
- Read Psalms 75:6-7. Who is the ultimate decision maker in
elections? Who decides on who is the governor of a
- Read Romans 13:1-2. Who does Paul say decides who rules a
country? (God establishes the authority.)
- If God decides who is in charge of a country, what reason
is there to vote or be involved in politics?
- Who decides whether a person will go to heaven? (John
5:21-22 - Jesus.)
- Who works on a person's heart to follow God? (John
16:7-8 - The Holy Spirit.)
- If God decides who goes to heaven, and God persuades
people to follow Him, what reason is there to be involved
in bringing people to God?
- If you say that God decides who goes to heaven, God
decides who runs a country, and God is the one who works
on a person's heart, then the best thing for you to do is
go back to bed, right?
- Let's go back to Romans 13 and read verses 6-7. What does
Romans 13:6-7 say about fulfilling our obligations to our
government? (It says Christians should fulfill their civic
- In a democracy, is there an obligation to vote?
- Is there an obligation to participate in
choosing our leaders?
- Read Proverbs 29:2. What should you do if you
want to help those around you? (This text tells
us that the righteousness of our rulers can have
a significant impact on the quality of life.)
- How do you reconcile the need for you to choose
righteous rulers when God chooses the ruler? (I think
in a democracy this is very much like free-will. God
has the power and authority to decide who will rule,
but He generally lets us decide. Certainly, we are
partners with God in selecting the authorities.)
- Read Proverbs 8:12-16. How do rulers make laws which are
just? (According to these verses, they do it by having
- Christian, if you live in a country where you can
influence who governs you, and you know that wise,
righteous leaders make the country better, do you have a
moral obligation to help wise, righteous leaders get
elected to office? (I think this means that if we have an
opportunity to influence who is the ruler, God wants us to
chose righteous rulers. This is part of our civic duty -
which like paying taxes is also a moral duty.)
- Read Titus 3:1-2. When we undertake our duty to help
select wise and righteous leaders, what should we avoid?
- If we agree that Christians in a democracy have an
opportunity and an obligation to support righteous
candidates and public officials, how should we show that
support? (Titus shows us that we should be honest, polite
- Jesus' Example
- Read John 18:33 & 36. The charges laid against Jesus are
found in Luke 23:2-3. The Jewish leaders charged Jesus
with being a king who is in rebellion against the rules of
Rome. Would it have been appropriate, according to Paul,
for the human side of Jesus to have rebelled against the
- Would your answer change if I told you that the Roman
leaders were not wise or righteous?
- Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world. Why did
He say that? (He was fending off the charge that He
was rebelling against Rome.)
- This text, "My Kingdom is not of this world" is often
used to argue that Christians should not be involved
in trying to influence the selection of our leaders.
Do you think that is a proper use of this text? (Yes
and no. No, because Jesus' followers could change the
government only if they revolted. Jesus was not
leading an earthly revolt. He made this statement to
show these charges were false. In the sense of
defending against criminal charges, this text has
nothing to do with democracies where people have both
the opportunity and the duty to influence the
selection of leaders. At the same time, Jesus reminds
us that our first calling is to the Kingdom of Heaven
and not an earthly kingdom.)
- Read Ephesians 6:11-12. Against what authority is our
primary struggle? (Spiritual forces. Jesus' primary
struggle was against Satan and his forces, not against the
rulers of Rome.)
- If our political positions create conflicts in our church,
how should we resolve the conflict? (Jesus' example and
Ephesians 6 teach us that our primary citizenship is our
citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Our primary
"political" opponent is Satan. This means that we should
not create conflict in our churches over partisan
political positions. We should not sacrifice the heavenly
for the earthly. At the same time, political issues may
involve serious spiritual issues.)
- Real Leaders
- Read Genesis 41:14-16. What positive character trait do we
see in Joseph? (He is humble. If we had been in prison,
and we got "our break" to show Pharaoh "our stuff," we
might not want to mention that God was really the source
of our power.)
- Read Genesis 41:38-41. In the verses we skipped over, we
learn that Pharaoh had a dream, Joseph's God interpreted
it, and told Pharaoh what it meant. It meant that Egypt
would ultimately have a famine, and Joseph told Pharaoh
how to survive the famine. What position did Joseph now
hold in Egypt? (He was the number two guy: he was "prime
- The famine comes and Egypt is prepared because it followed
the advice of God as given to Joseph. Read Genesis 41:56 -42:2. Why did God use Egypt to save His people (Jacob and
family) instead of using Jacob and family to save Egypt?
- Why would God promote one of His followers to be a
ruler of a pagan country so that the pagan country
could save the surrounding nations from starvation?
(This is a fascinating issue. God inserts "His man"
into a pagan culture to save "His Church" and the
surrounding people. The government had resources
that were greater than the resources of the church.
Although God has the ultimate power and authority, we
see from this story that God used the resources of
Egypt to do His will.)
- What lesson does this teach us about one aspect of
the church and state working together? (God uses the
state to do things that He decides can be best done
- Is the state always evil? Or, is it a tool to be used
by God for His righteous purposes? (Remember our
first text - Psalms 75:6-7? God is in charge of
everything. He decides what and who He will use to
further His goals.)
- Friend, if you have the opportunity and ability to
influence who governs your country, you have a moral duty
to promote righteous and wise leaders. God calls us to
serve Him in all aspects of our life. Will you heed His
- Next week: Christ's Other Sheep.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.