Christian Liberty

Christian Liberty

John Robertson

John S. Robertson is a high-school teacher formerly of Toronto, Canada, now living in Vancouver. In other articles he has stimulated our thinking; he does so again in this one.

“Give me liberty or give me death.” So cried Patrick Henry, that forensic orator who so fiercely espoused the cause of The American War of Independence. He was merely echoing a thought expressed by the Greek Tragedist, Aeschylus, some 500 years before Christ, when he wrote, “Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny.” Since the dawn of civilization man has risen in rebellion against the forces of tyranny and oppression, and those in our society today who seek to tear apart the very fabric of our culture would have us believe that they are but following the natural and inevitable course of events.

But will this assertion bear the light of scrutiny?

Never, in the long history of human affairs, has revolt been more wide-spread than it is today. Like a giant octopus it has surreptitiously ferreted its way into every branch of human activity and its malevolent tentacles have fastened their sessile suckers upon the human mind at every level. In its more familiar form it is characterized by its slogan, “Doing my thing,” and it has even developed a vocabulary of its own where “The Establishment” is the enemy. One finds it hard to believe that the adherents to this philosophy are revolting against despotism. Are they not, rather, pursuing a plainly selfish course in defiance of the inalienable rights of others? It is certainly not the Christian way which teaches us the selfless life rather than the self-centred one. The most disturbing feature, as far as we Christians are concerned, is its baleful influence on the young people of our assemblies who are bombarded by liberal theology on every hand. One who has turned his back on some of the precious truths held among us for so long had this to say, “We hope by rigorous discipline in the study of the Word in its original languages, and with the proper historical-grammatical principles of interpretation that we may come to a better common understanding of what God’s Holy Word really does teach us.” The truths which he finds need a better understanding, have been handed down by men who learned them on their knees before God, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “Who will guide you into all truth.”

It is true that the desire to have one’s own way is dateless. Indeed, this was the very origin of sin which originated in Heaven, not Eden. When Satan declared, “I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the Most High (Isa. 14:13, 14b), the harmony of the Universe was broken. Restoration of this harmony was made possible when Christ surrendered His will to God, saying, “Not My will, but Thine be done,” and went to the cross. Thus, dear child of God, liberty that comes from this perfect harmony is yours through Christ Jesus.

One has but to read such passages as Romans 1:21-32 and 3:11-33 to realize the utter depravity of man and the fallacy of believing that anything he can do will ever free him from the thralldom of Satan, sin, fear and death. The Psalmist confessed, “Behold, I was shapen in inquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:5). Isaiah 53:6 succinctly suggests the result of following one’s own way, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” How gloriously the prophet adds the remedy for this waywardness, “and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

No, man is not born free but, thank God, he can be set free and the Liberator is Christ Himself. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). One day, in the full plan of God, even creation will be, “brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

What, then, is this “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free?” (Gal. 5:1). In 1 Corinthians 7:22 it is given as a seeming paradox, an incomprehensible conundrum to the natural man, but clear and lucid to the spirit-led saint of God: “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” The word translated servant is the Greek word “doulos” meaning a slave and in another form is translated “bondage.” How, then can we be free, yet a slave? The word translated free is “eleutheros,” but the Apostle prefixes the preposition “apo,” meaning “from,” to this word to get the word “freeman.” Thus the emancipation of the believer from the bondage of Satan, sin, guilt and fear is what is being emphasized here. Read Acts 27:17, 18; Romans 7:24, 25; 8:15; and Hebrews 2:14, 15. Being delivered from those things which separated us from God, we are now brought into that relationship with Him which had been destroyed by Satan. As the strings of the harp respond to the master touch to produce a sweet melliferous symphony, unmarred by any jarring discord, so the freed soul responds to the will of God to produce a life in perfect harmony with Him. There is no conflict for the will of the believer is one with that of God. This, beloved, is God’s will for you. Will you bow with the hymn writer and join in the anthem:

“Sweet will of God,
Still draw me closer,
`Till I am wholly lost in Thee.”