Supporting a righteous magistrate: counting the cost

The following is a transcript of a men’s group I led in July of 2021. It’s been edited for conciseness and clarity.


We’re talking about how to support righteous rulers. And I’m going to assume without making the argument that we understand private persons must sometimes obey God rather than man. There is no authority except what God has put in place, but there are certain cases where an authority that is God-ordained nevertheless tells you to do something that is forbidden by God, or forbids you from doing something that is commanded by God, where like the apostles in Acts 5 we must obey God rather than man. This is not the same as just being a rebellious man and every time an authority commands you, claiming you have to disobey him and obey God rather than man. There’s a misuse of the concept, but there is a proper use also. There is a place for a private person to obey God rather than man. This applies to churches also: there are certain things that the government could tell our church to do or not do that we could have to take a stand and say we will obey God rather than man.

I want to start out by arguing that in the same way, our rulers must sometimes obey God rather than man. This is something we don’t think about nearly as much. My next point will be that we have a duty to support righteous rulers, particularly when they are obeying God rather than man; which will lead us into the fact that there is a significant cost to supporting a righteous ruler. Then we’ll finish up with some applications. That’s pretty ambitious; I want to leave time for us to pray with each other also; so let’s get started.

Like I said, I’m going to take it for granted we all understand that private persons must sometimes obey God rather than man. We can’t in good conscience obey every order of the magistrate. Now it’s not commands that we simply don’t like; it’s things that God has forbidden that they command us to do. And in our country there’s not a whole lot of that–in fact, there’s quite a bit of accommodation to the conscience. For example, some people are convinced that when Jesus and James say “Do not swear,” that it is an absolute condemnation of taking an oath. And so in Indiana you can swear or affirm in the courts of law. Another example of the state’s accommodation to the conscience is, in the state of Indiana you have to be up to date on your vaccines to go to public school–unless you opt out for conscience reasons or other reasons. So again there’s accommodation there.

So actually it’s pretty rare to find a complete lack of accommodation. At my job, it’s been very rare that I have had to actually say, “I’m not willing to do that for conscience reasons.” We shouldn’t be hotheaded and be looking for ways to say no to the authorities that are above us. But yet it does sometimes come up, for private individuals and for churches.

It’s a much harder sell for me to contend, as I am contending tonight, that our rulers must sometimes obey God rather than man. You get into are we a Christian nation or not (a Christian nation meaning we’ve all covenanted together that we will serve God as a nation), and if we’re not a Christian nation then how can we expect our rulers to obey God?

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An appeal to the Indiana State Senate regarding S.B. 1

I signed up to testify at the Indiana State Senate hearing regarding S.B. 1 yesterday. I was there from 1-6pm but my name was not called. I submitted my appeal by email. Here is what I was going to say.


Dear legislators–

I am glad to be a Hoosier. I was born and raised in Fort Wayne; graduated from Northrop High School class of 1993; went out of state for college; moved back with my wife to Muncie and lived there for 8 or 9 years; came to Indianapolis and have lived here the last 10 years.

I am here to oppose S.B. 1 in its current form.

In the Gospel of John, we read this:

“So Pilate said to Him, ‘You do not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…’” (John 19:10-11)

Dear legislators, your authority comes to you from God, and you are responsible to Him for how you exercise that authority.

The Apostle Paul declares that the ruler…

“…is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Rom 13:4)

And Job said:

“I delivered the poor who cried for help,

And the orphan who had no helper.

The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me” (Job 29:12-13).

In S.B. 1 as currently written…

  • the abortionist determines if the abortion is necessary;
  • There is no protection for innocent children conceived in rape or incest; and
  • There is no protection for children who have not yet implanted in their mother’s womb

This bill as written…

  • brings no wrath on the one who practices evil;
  • does not deliver the (innocent baby) orphan who has no helper;
  • is weak and worthless.

This bill must be amended or rewritten to actually protect the weak and helpless unborn babies, and to bring wrath on the one who practices evil. Please, for the sake of these little children made in the image of God, change this bill to actually protect the unborn babies.

I exhort you: do not fear man; but fear God, to whom you will give an account on the great and terrible Day of Judgment for how you protected or failed to protect these little ones. Trust God and do what’s right. You have my support and my prayers in this. Thank you.

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The Last Enemy: Final pastoral words

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of the final session from Febrary 20, 2015, which was a panel discussion involving Pastors Tim and David Bayly and Dr. Adam Spaetti titled, “Final Pastoral Words.” See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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The Last Enemy: A pastoral theology of suffering

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 6 titled For Your Comfort and Salvation: A Pastoral Theology of Suffering, preached by Pastor David Bayly on February 20, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

The conference materials introduced this session as follows:

At the end of the day, the minister’s ability to comfort comes from his own personal experience with suffering. As the theme of suffering permeates the Scriptures, so too, must it permeate our preaching and our ministries. It is the duty of every minister of the Gospel to refuse to play church and to minister as a dying man to dying men.

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The Last Enemy: Cremation

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 5 on cremation, preached by Pastor Tim Bayly on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.

The conference materials introduced this session as follows:

Cremation is an increasingly popular trend in these United States. But can Christians cremate in faith? This seminar will examine the practice of cremation under the lens of Scripture and will provide pastoral strategies for dealing with its increasing popularity.

Introduction: A lot of funerals

My wife’s and my first church out of seminary was in rural Wisconsin. It was in a little town of 1,500, and our manse was next to the church, and you knew they were related to each other because both of them were white with black trim and they were right next to each other. And right behind us was the funeral home–it was one of these situations in a small town where someone owned both the furniture store and the funeral home. And periodically the woman that ran the funeral home would have nobody to bury people, and so she’d ask me to bury them. I had a yoked parish of two churches 8 miles from each other, and my town church, I’d almost say the average age was 85 years old. And I can remember being so depressed that nobody close to my wife’s and my age, with our children, were in those churches–there just weren’t people our age there, especially in the town church–and thinking, Lord, the rest of my life am I just going to be burying people? And so I think in the first three years of ministry I buried 39 people. And a lot of them were people who were indigent or had no church or for some reason the funeral home–either there or over in Portage–would ask me to do these funerals. And so I did a lot of them.

And honestly, my brothers David and Nathan and I agreed we’d rather do ten funerals than one wedding. And pastors usually understand what we mean by that, which is that weddings are so proud–and then you deal with who sits where at the rehearsal–you’ve got divorced people that hate each other’s guts, you’ve got the girlfriend, you’ve got all this stuff. So the combination of pride and the broken homes, it’s like a minefield. But you go into a funeral, and typically funerals are humble.

But then I remember going to a funeral up in Wisconsin Dells, I don’t know why I was there, I don’t know whose funeral it was–but it was in a United Methodist church, and I sat about two-thirds of the way towards the back on the right side. And I sat behind a row of four or six people, three couples who, as we prepared for the service, all they were talking about was gambling and their latest trip to the casino. And so here some friend of theirs was, about to be buried, and I’m sitting behind them, and my hair is standing on end. The godlessness and callousness–I don’t think I’d read Psalm 73 at that point in my life even though I was a pastor, but man, it was Psalm 73. And I realized that America was moving into a different day–that even in the funeral, in the church, right as we’re about to bury someone, there was absolutely no fear of God, none–just callous jocularity about gambling, with couples that were getting close to the end of their own lives.

Then we moved to Bloomington, and the first church we served nobody ever died there–there might have been a couple of funerals, but there weren’t many. It was a middle-aged congregation when I got there. So, very few funerals in Bloomington, and then our church now we might have a death every two years, if that. We go to more funerals than we have. And about five years ago Mary Lee and I bought a piece of property west of town here, and the man that developed it with his wife had cancer, and right after we bought the property he died. And they didn’t have a church, he wasn’t a believer, and they asked me to come and officiate at the funeral. Well I knew what that was, it’s not like a wedding, where the bride’s mother tells you what to do–at a funeral, generally, you tell everybody else what to do–I mean you don’t have to, there’s just a certain pattern, a certain routine, you go through it, and the funeral director tells you which end is the head in the casket. And that’s about all you need to know to do a funeral.

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The Last Enemy: Comfort the grieving

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 4, “Comfort the Grieving: Caring for those who have lost loved ones,” preached by Pastor Tim Bayly on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7.

The conference materials introduced this session as follows:

Grieving is a difficult and complex process. Funerals and visitations present both obstacles and opportunities. Helping those mourning the loss of a loved one is sensitive work, from the hospital bed to the graveside to the days and months and years that follow. Real faith, skill, and wisdom are demanded of God’s ministers at these most sensitive points in their peoples’ lives.

Song: The Warning

About 13 or 14 years ago my brother David told me that I had to listen to this album of the Boston Camerata, and I think at that time I went ahead and bought a couple of CDs. And I don’t know that you said much more than that; but then I was listening to the CDs–now this is Christian church music in colonial America, and as you listen to it I want you to imagine this being what comes out of Nashville and the CCM industry. And I don’t want you to laugh about it–I want you to think, what would it be like if the CCM industry was doing this kind of music?

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The Last Enemy: Strengthen the dying

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 3, “Strengthen the Dying: Walking with your people from sickness to the grave,” preached by Pastor Max Curell on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7.


Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we come to You this morning. We have work to do that You have given to us. We have responsibility that You have placed on us. We have the care of Your people through their lives, and also particularly at the point of their deaths, Father. Help us, O Lord, to be faithful in our work. Forgive us for our failures. Lord, cause us to live by faith, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

My topic this morning is “Strengthen the dying: Walking with our people from sickness to the grave.” And there’s a lot of stuff that happens in those last months, weeks, days, minutes–but I’m going to put it into four different categories this morning, and won’t be able to give more than just an introduction, really, to each of them.

I want to start by telling you the story of the worst crisis professional I’ve ever seen.

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The Last Enemy: Biblical ethics and euthanasia

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 2, “Biblical ethics and euthanasia,” taught by the late Dr. Adam Spaetti on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.


Thank you for that warm welcome, thank you for giving me your attention today.

Before we get started I’m going to pray one more time. Please bow your heads with me.

Father, we do thank You for bringing all of us together as brothers. I pray now, Lord, that You would make this time fruitful, I pray that you would cause me to decrease that you might increase. Please send your Spirit to work through my mouth to build these men up in their work. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

So as it is going to be like drinking from a firehose I debated whether or not to do slides, but I think you’re probably going to need them, because there’s a lot to cover today, so just hang on to your seat–we’re going to go over a lot of material.

As Jake said, I have been a hospitalist. Just a little bit about me: I went to the IU medical school; I’m a born and raised Hoosier, grew up in Evansville, Indiana; graduated from medical school in 2004; did my residency in St Vincent’s hospital in Indianapolis (which is really a top-notch internal medicine residency program, in terms of giving people the freedom to learn good medicine and also to learn to practice ethical medicine. The Catholics, I hate to tell you if you didn’t already know this, are still way ahead of the evangelicals when it comes to medical ethics. It won’t last–they’re eroding too–but for the time it was very good.) I finished up residency in 2007 and was board certified in internal medicine, which is basically primary care just for adults. So people ask me, do you do family practice? and the answer is kind of like, well, sort of–I don’t see kids, I don’t deliver babies, but it is more or less family practice for adults.

After I finished up training, for the first 7 years I worked at Premier Healthcare–I’m still there, but I worked as a hospitalist. Now a hospitalist position is a particular subset of internal medicine where all you do is take care of hospital patients. This came about about 20 years ago in the United States, and it’s pretty much universal across the country now. In the old days if you got sick and went to the hospital, your family doctor would come see you, either in the morning or on his lunch break or in the evening or maybe some combination of the above–but he had an office that he had to work in, and they found that it was very hard to be in two places at once. And so men just started specializing in hospital medicine. And there are good things about the system, there are bad things about the system; but what it meant for me was that I ended up taking care of a lot of people who died. They didn’t die because I took care of them, but it is part of the nature of the work. Everything from little old ladies with devastating strokes, to 19-year-old overdoses–pretty much anybody that walked in the door, I would be involved in their care, and that includes general inpatient problems that ended well–you know, treatment of pneumonia and things like that–as well as the ICU. Not all hospitalists do critical care work, but that was kind of the high point of my training at St. Vincent, and I did it here in Bloomington too and really loved it. I do enjoy critical care quite a bit.

So I was exposed to death and dying a lot through my work as a hospitalist. About five years ago, I also started doing nursing home work on the side. As a hospitalist I’d work a really long week and then I’d be off a week, and during my off week I would take care of nursing home patients. And as you can imagine, dying comes up quite a bit when you’re taking care of nursing home patients as well.

And then about six months ago I took over a primary care office for an elderly physician in town who got sick and needed help, and that’s what I’ve been doing primarily for the last six months, is getting used to office practice. But I still go to the hospital, and I still do my nursing home work. And so at least at this point, I’m one of these members of a dying breed in primary care who goes to all the different locations, and I’m hoping the Lord will make it possible for me to continue that, because I really do enjoy practicing in each of those settings.

So, that’s in a nutshell my exposure to death and dying. That’s how I ended up as a doctor getting invited to speak at a pastors’ conference. And I want to try to lay out for you a little bit what I see as the connection between what you do and what I do. Because what I do is not just medicine. The idea I think a lot of people have is that you’re good in science so you go into medicine–and once upon a time I was good in science, but that really hasn’t been the focus of what I do for many years. Yesterday was actually kind of a nice treat–I had a young girl in my office and I had a slow day, and she had some really weird, unusual symptoms, and I was able to just sit and research things on the computer and look up articles, and it was just like the old days, you know, when I got to be a nerd.

But for the most part, now what I do is manage people. Now what I do is I counsel, I teach, I admonish, I deal with a lot of emotional stress. I’ve never sat down and done the statistics, but if I see 16 people in a day, I would say probably at least 10-12 of them are on medication for depression and anxiety. And so our jobs, I think, are very similar. And that’s actually one of the things I like most about my job, is that there is a pastoral element to it. I could, you know, just do academic medicine and forgo all that–each doctor carves out his own niche–but this is the way I like to practice medicine. And so, in keeping with that, I also get to do similar work, as Jake said, as an elder of this church. And that has equipped me, more than I can ever describe, for the kinds of situations that I deal with in the office, in the hospital, in the nursing home, in working with people.

And so it’s a privilege for me to be here among pastors. I admire the work you do, and to the extent that God lets me participate in the work as well, I feel very excited and very blessed.

I also wanted to show you this picture, not just because my kids are beautiful–they are. Not just because I take great delight in them–I do. But also because I really feel like they’re as much a part of my credentials as my medical training. Nothing has prepared me for dealing with people–for leading people, for teaching people, for disciplining people–like having children. It’s the best training I have had; and so for you young guys in particular out there, my encouragement to you would be, have lots of children and just love them. Because there will be so many situations that come up in the course of being a father that translate into your fatherhood in the church.

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The Last Enemy: A biblical understanding of death

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 1, “The Last Enemy: A biblical understanding of death,” preached by Pastor David Bayly on February 18, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

If you have your Bibles, turn with me in God’s Word to Genesis 3. We’re talking about death, and the Christian response to it. This is not a new subject for Baylys to speak about, although it’s unusual for my brother Tim and me to be the ones speaking about it. I remember year after year, our father going all over the country and even around other places to speak about death and dying–he did so with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross for a number of years at med schools, and also on his own–and I remember traveling with him and how taxing and wearing it was for him to speak about death–and he always did so on the basis of the death that stalked my three brothers who died, two before I was born, one after. And when Dad would go and speak–I remember the last time he did it, by that time I was in seminary myself, so I went with him to Rockford, probably to that big PCA church in Rockford, and he did a weekend seminar on death and dying, and as always happened, all those who had lost children in the last year–in the last decade it seemed–came out and wanted to talk and talk about death. And it was so taxing. I was exhausted from the stories and the grief of these people who came up to Dad. I couldn’t believe that he could take a full weekend of talking to these people. And that was really what he did. He went there to speak, but his real ministry was in between the sessions and just talking to people.

One of the things that my dad would say about death is that death is horrible. And occasionally he would talk about the death of my brother Danny, who had leukemia and died at age 5. Danny was told that there was no hope for him and was brought home from the hospital to die. Because it was such a sensitive thing I never asked Dad what it meant when he said that Danny was brought home from the hospital to die. Danny was Tim’s older brother who was very dear to Tim, they were inseparable for years, and he was brought home to die, and he bled to death on my parents’ bed, as I understand it. Now I don’t know if that means he bled outwardly or inwardly, I don’t know–was it like a hemophilia bleed? Was it an external–I don’t know, but I know it was horrible. And for Dad to revisit those memories time after time was horrible. Death is an enemy. Death is a foe. Now that seems obvious, because Scripture says the last enemy to be destroyed is death, but this evening I think we have to make certain points about death that are essential to proving that death is a foe, and what it means that it’s a foe.

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What if the civil magistrate listened?

Dear brothers,

Some of you have expressed interest in a project I have been working on to create an audio book of a work titled The Revolt of 2020. (The book was written in 2010.) Christians are always saying the civil magistrate should stop being so cowardly and stand up and do what he knows is right. But the premise of the book is, what would happen if the civil magistrate actually did that? I don’t think I’m going too far in saying few of us has counted the cost of what that would mean. And that can’t be right, can it? Being able to look the situation square in the face is essential to being like the men of Issachar, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

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