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With all of the excitement surrounding Timothy McVeigh, there is a lot of dispute going on in the media regarding the death penalty. Is it murder? Is it un-Christian? Many “churches” deny the right of the government to enforce it. The Bible teaches that God Himself instituted the death penalty. He delegates the right to kill to the proper authorities. It was a lawful practice during the Patriarchal age, the Mosaical age, and the Christian age. During the Patriarchal age, God said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” He gives a reason for it, “For in the image of God He made man.” Under the Mosaical age God said this, “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Ex. 21:12). But murder wasn’t the only reason to put a man to death. The “death penalty” was to be practiced in cases of Bestiality (Ex. 22:19), adultery (Deut. 22:23,24), rebellious sons (Deut. 21:18-21) etc.. Some were “deserving of death.” (Deut. 21:22). But how does God view the death penalty today? He tells us. You see, Only God has the right to take life. This has always been the case. But, just as in the Patriarchal and Mosaical ages, God delegates that right to certain ones in our age-the Christian age. Paul said of the “governing authorities” in Romans 13:4,“he does not bear the sword in vain.” Read Romans 13:1-7 to find reasons why God gave this authority to the government. What is a sword? The receivers of this letter didn’t understand a sword to be something to lead a parade with, or a child’s toy, or an artifact to be displayed in a museum. To them, the sword was an instrument of death (Acts 12:2), something used to kill people; to run them thru or to remove their head. When Paul said “he does not bear the sword in vain,” he meant, he does not kill them in vain. God gave them the right to kill, not to murder, but to kill. There is a difference. Just as under the old law, there were, and are, some deserving of death. Paul recognized this in Acts 25:11, “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not refuse to die.” Why not Paul? You’re a Christian, why don’t you refuse to die? As a Christian, you should oppose the death penalty being practiced on anyone including yourself. But Paul didn’t oppose it! He recognized three things. 1) God has given the authorities the right to put to death those who deserve it. 2) There are some who deserve it. 3) He was not one who deserved it. The Bible speaks of many beneficial reasons for the death penalty. Study for yourself. We must realize that God has given the governing authorities in this age the right to impose the death penalty upon any person who is deserving of it.
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