FREEDOM OF RELIGION #1
In the beginning years of the sixteenth century, many people said good night England and good morning America. A desire for freedom of religion was the primary reason why a great number of them were willing to launch out on that long, uncertain, and dangerous trans-Atlantic voyage.
A few years later, those people and others who followed ceased to be British colonies and became one of the independent nations of the world. Our fore fathers, established a new government for this young nation; which was set to rest on the foundation of the constitution. In the first amendment of that Constitution, they gave us the right to freedom of religion. So this and many other great freedoms have been ours to enjoy for all these years.
The very fact, that after all these years we continue to enjoy all these freedoms is enough to convince me: That from the beginning of our country until this very day, the majority of its people have been lovers of freedom.
Yes, the people of our nation and many others, are granted the right to freedom of religion. However, we must ask: Is this pleasing in the sight of God?...What saith the scriptures?"They say: God has always invited, admonished, and yea, pleaded with all people to accept him as their only God; but that he has never forced them to do so (Josh. 24:14-15, Mat. 11:28-29, Mat. 23:37, Rev. 3:20. Ezek. 18:23-32).
My readers, inasmuch as they say this, they also say that God has granted unto all, the right to choose. Therefore, we know that it is his will that we grant each other the right to freedom of religion. The parable of the tares and the explanation of it by Jesus, also teaches we are not to force his (religion) teachings upon others (Mat. 13:24-30, 37-43). He said: "Let them grow together until the harvest." Oh yes. God allows us to choose whether we will or will not abide by his teaching. But if we decide to disregard them, then what?
What Saith the Scriptures?
I believe they say we will not receive God's promise of Eternal life. Or in other words, I believe they declare there is no such thing as freedom of religion, for those of us who want to be saved. The purpose of the next few articles will be to show this is true. This I will do by the questions and answer method.
Question #1 - Were the people in the Garden of Eden granted freedom of religion? No. Part of God's religion for those people was "Ye shall not eat the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden" (Gen. 3:3). However, they decided they should have some input, so they gave themselves the privilege of eating the God forbidden fruit. Was that all right with God? No, (Gen. 3:9-24).
According to Gen. 4:1-7 and Heb. 11:4, God instructed Cain and Abel to offer up a sacrifice. A part of his religion was that the offering would be an animal. Now Cain did not refuse to be religious. No, he offered up a sacrifice; but he wanted some freedom. So he set aside part of God's religion or teaching and substituted his own. Yes, he decided that instead of offering an animal, as God said, he would present the fruit of the ground. Did God allow him that freedom? No, (Gen. 4:4-7,Heb. 11:4).
From Gen. 18 and 19, we leam that all the people in Sodom and Gomorrah (save Lot and his family) had become very wicked. Yea, so wicked that God could no longer endure them.
However, before he poured out his wrath upon them, he provided a system of religion by which Lot, his wife and two daughters might escape. They were to flee for their life and look not behind them until they reached the City of Zoar. We sometimes hear it said: "There is One in every crowd." There was one in that crowd of four who decided she had her rights. So she looked back. But did God tolerate her desire for freedom of religion? No, (Gen. 19:26).
A short time after God delivered the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage, he through Moses began to deliver unto them a system of religion. This religion of God's is found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. God in the beginning (through Moses) let them know they would not be given the right to freedom of religion. Yes, he said, you will not rule out any portion of my religion which I have given you and neither shall you add anything unto it (Deut. 4:1-2).
One portion of God's religion for the children of Israel, was that their priests were to be of the family of Aaron (Exod. 28). Yet, Korah and his followers did not want to be fenced in. They wanted some freedom from this part of God's religion. So they demanded that they also might be priests. Did God grant them this freedom of religion? No, (Num. 16:28-33).
Another part of God's religion for them was that the priest would not offer strange fire; but only that which God commanded. Nevertheless, Nadab and Abihu began to sing the old song, "Don't fence me in," Yes, they wanted some freedom, so that they might offer what they thought should be offered. Were they given their freedom of religion? No, (Lev. 10:1-2).
The facts recorded in 1 Samuel, Chapters ten through thirteen, reveal that Saul was to tarry seven days in Gilgal before going to battle. On the seventh day, Samuel was to come and offer up a sacrifice; but for some reason Samuel was detained. So, Saul decided he would offer this sacrifice. God's religion was: Samuel will offer the sacrifice; but Saul appointed himself some freedom of religion. He decided he would offer the sacrifice. Did he get away with it? No, (I Sam. 13:9-14).
Oh no, my readers, (as we have just seen) God's people of old were not granted freedom of religion. In order for them to be acceptable in his sight, they had to comply with his teachings without any changes, subtractions or additions. In other words their slogan had to be, we speak when God speaks and are silent when he is silent.
Yes, that is the way it was for the people who lived under the first two dispensations of time. But what about us? Must we also conform to the teachings of God found in the New Testament without making any changes, subtractions or additions?
First, let me say that since God refused to grant them freedom of religion, well if he has given it unto us, then he is a respecter of person. Yet many scriptures say he is not (Rom. 2:11, Eph. 6:9). Also there are New Testament scriptures which say: As it was with them, so shall it be with us (1 Cor. 10:1-12, Heb. 2:1-4, Heb. 10:28-31, Heb. 12:25, Rev. 22:18-19).
Then too, Luke 17:32 says: "Remember Lot's wife" and Jude verse eleven says Woe unto us if we follow the examples of Cain and Core (Korah) who were lovers of freedom from some parts of God's religion.
By: Tommy Hodge
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