- When were all of these governments established by God?
They were established at Creation in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. The fall of man affected the way these governments function, but it did not create them.
- May these governments decide to take on new assignments or jurisdictions?
No, because these governments derive their authority from the Lord Jesus, they cannot take on new assignments or jurisdictions without relinquishing their authority since they would be disobeying Christ.
- What does it mean that these governments have separate powers or spheres?
The separation of powers means that each government must only exercise its authority in the limited jurisdiction assigned to it by God. Civil governments may not regulate how or when the church gathers for worship or how families provide for themselves or educate children. Neither may parents take to themselves the authority over the sacraments, and the church may not legislate or execute criminal justice.
- Are there not times when one government is abusing its authority and another government may legitimately intervene?
Yes, for example, when a crime, as defined by Scripture, has been committed in a family or church, civil government must intervene. Likewise, when a family or civil government is in unrepentant sin, ministers of the church must teach, exhort, rebuke, and censure.
- Are there cases of overlapping jurisdictions or authority?
Yes, there are occasional instances where there may be legitimate overlap in jurisdiction. In those cases of overlapping authority, governments must protect their God-given jurisdictions vigorously and work through the challenges, respecting other governments as equals before God.
- Will all of these governments last forever?
No. While individuals in Christ have everlasting life and the nations will bring their glory into the New Jerusalem, these governments along with marriage and family will be transfigured into something far more glorious, and it is the church alone, as the Bride of Christ, that will last forever.