Understanding Church Sovereignty

God is a sovereign God. God is self-governing. From time immemorial until future ages not yet arrived, God has been, is, and always will be God. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. Our Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ, is God in Christ. He and his father are one. The Sovereign Lord has declared in the scriptures the church universal is the bride of Christ. In his eponymously named book John, the Baptist refers to Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and, in the same context, mentions his bride. There are references to the bridegroom in the gospels, Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, and Luke 5:34. A comprehensive discourse of the kingdom of heaven being likened to ten virgins needing to be prepared to meet the bridegroom is carefully told in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

While the Father and the Son have become one in spiritual union, so has the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, become one with his bridge through a spiritual union. This union is holy, inseparable, and eternal. If our Lord is a sovereign God, then his bride, the church, is also sovereign. This sovereign position of the church is a sacred standing of high importance. Lamentably, this understanding has been most misunderstood by modern church leaders because of the insistence of government sanction and approval that is unnecessary as it relates to carrying out the mission and purpose of the church in the earth.

Sovereignty is the power and right of a body, the Body of Christ, to govern itself, without any restrictions or interposition from external bodies or influences. The church has and always will be governed by God insofar as the church of Our Lord in Christ, is not subject to civil law but a law that supersedes and is higher than any law, the law of God. The church is sovereign in that its government is wholly theocratic, governed by God and His Word. This distinguishes this form of government, theocracy, form common from other forms of government.

In a republic form of government, the people retain sovereignty to some extent over the government in that it elects its heads of states and clearly defines its leaders’ requirements and responsibilities to its citizens. In a true republic, no monarch or individual ascends to power through birthright, only through selection or election. A democratic form of government extends a greater sense of sovereignty to its citizens, “the people” insofar as those freedoms are not prohibited by the constitution. The people perform an active role in forming, debating, and ultimately deciding policy. The transfer of the exercise of sovereignty is transferred from the people to a legislative body, whose job is to make laws and enforce those laws solely on behalf of the people they have been entrusted to serve.

In a theocracy, our form of government relies on God’s thoughts, desires, and will, as is clearly stated in our Constitution, the Word of God. As Christian believers, our role is that of ambassadors of the Kingdom of God as human intermediaries that carry out the daily functions of our government. Jesus understood the clear distinction between his earthly residency and his heavenly or otherworldly citizenship.

Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” John 18:36 RSV

For two millennia, the cry of King Jesus has been that his bride becomes fully aware of who she is, regardless of her temporary citizenship with another country, region, or kingdom.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (RSV)

Our position as the church is to be the church in the earth. We desire, always, to establish a peaceful, amiable, productive relationship with local, state, and federal government as God’s Word instructs us to Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. However, in areas of government leadership that directly command the church to do or perform duties that stand in diametrical opposition to our biblical mandates and spiritual convictions, we are required to follow God rather than appeasing government overreach and disregard for the position of Christ and his church.

Respectfully submitted,
Dr. Aaron Lewis