Murray: Civil Government Is Obligated to Conduct
Its Affairs in Accordance with God’s Will
“[It is an error] if it is thought that the Christian revelation, the Bible, does not come to the civil authority with a demand for obedience to its direction and precept as stringent and inescapable as it does to the individual, to the family and to the church. The thesis we must propound as over against such a conception of the relation of the Bible to civil authority is that the Bible is the only infallible rule of conduct for the civil magistrate in the discharge of his magistracy just as it is the only infallible rule in other spheres of human activity.
God alone is sovereign. His authority alone is absolute and universal. All men and spheres are subject to God. The civil magistrate derives his authority from God. Apart from divine institution and sanction, civil government has no right to exist.
“The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1).
Since civil government derives its authority from God, it is responsible to God and therefore obligated to conduct its affairs in accordance with God’s will. The infallible revelation of His will God has deposited in the Scriptures. It will surely be granted that there is much in the Scriptures that has to do with the conduct of civil government. And this simply means that the Word of God bears upon civil authority with all the stringency that belongs to God’s Word.
Furthermore, the Word of God reveals that Christ is Head over all things, that He has been given all authority in heaven and in earth. The civil magistrate is under obligation to acknowledge this headship and therefore to conduct his affairs, not only in subjection to the sovereignty of God but also in subjection to the mediatorial sovereignty of Christ and must therefore obey His will as it is revealed for the discharge of that authority which the civil magistrate exercises in subjection to Christ. Christian world order embraces the state. Otherwise there would be no Christian world order.
To recede from this position or to abandon it, either as conception or as goal, is to reject in principle the sovereignty of God and of His Christ. The goal fixed for us by the Christian revelation is nothing less than a Christian state as well as Christian individuals, Christian families and a Christian church. And this just means that the obligation and task arising from Christ’s kingship and headship are that civil government, within its own well-defined and restricted sphere, must in its constitution and in its legislative and executive functions recognize and obey the authority of God and of His Christ and thus bring all of its functions and actions into accord with the revealed will of God as contained in His Word. We thus see how radical and reconstructive is a philosophy of Christian world order, if we are to face that conception frankly and address ourselves to the responsibility it entails.”
— John Murray, “A Christian World Order”