Publication: Pastoral Letter, March 2011
Dear Friend in Christ:
I ask you to please take the time to read this entire letter and join me in rededication to Spiritual Liberty in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 makes it crystal clear that liberty comes from beholding the glory of God. Beholding Him, we are transformed into the same image. The liberty that we have is the freedom to know Him, become like Him, and testify to Him. That is a freedom that no man can take from us, but one that we can lose through negligence.
My grandparents, like many of yours, migrated to the United States to find freedom in a unique nation. The liberty that they entered was not a gift from government, but a gift from God. I grew up singing, “My Country ‘tis of Thee, Sweet land of Liberty, of Thee I sing.…Our Father’s God to Thee, Author of Liberty, to Thee we sing.” Our people understood that liberty is a gift from God. Once we fail to behold Him with gratitude for that unspeakable gift, liberty is in decline. It becomes the object of theft.
Years ago, someone broke into our home and stole a few items. It was “wealth redistribution” on a very primal level. But now there are those who are stealing something infinitely more valuable – our freedom – a little bit at a time. We call these thieves “secularists”. They have a right to be secularists, but not a right to take away from us this gift of God.
Secularists are people who either do not believe in God or believe that He should not appear in the “public square”. Secularism is devoid of absolutes and is “Darwinian” in nature – “evolving” morals and ethics. It is highly relativistic and deceptive. “Truth” is whatever the majority wants it to be, or what manipulated opinion polls tell us it is. Secularism is a ship with no ballast, no anchor, and no safe harbor.
Secularism is the womb of socialism. Once God is marginalized, the state becomes god and final arbiter of all things, creating rules that choke the human spirit. Secular socialism has killed more people and babies (hundreds of millions) than any other religion or philosophy in its quest for power over human beings. Secularism has destroyed more lives than terrorists or radical Islamists. When ultimate power is the goal, no means are off the table. (On this subject, I highly recommend Newt Gingrich’s historical studies on God In America and To Save America.)
ROMANS CHAPTER ONE
Romans 1 is a must-read in order to understand the secular path. When a culture does not retain God in its knowledge (education), it corrupts into ingratitude, futility of thought, darkened hearts, mistaking foolishness for wisdom, creature worship, exchanging Truth for lies, sexual perversion, maliciousness, God-hating, parental dishonor, and deserving of death. The Romans 1 description is confirmed by history. Such cultures die from within.
Secularists like to point out the flaws of religion, and there are many, because the people themselves are flawed. Secularists accuse religion of “controlling”. There have been times when religion was too controlling, even brutal. But such occasions were amateurish compared to the control exercised by secularism. Observe the control, or lack of freedom, in the USSR, China, or Cuba. Or, observe the number of laws and regulations coming out of our own government in the United States.
The best way to compare the degree of freedom offered by God versus a secular government is to view the Ten Commandments as compared to the current multitude of laws. The more we will move away from our spiritual liberty in God, who gave us free will, the more we will move into the external controls of humanistic government. Our founders understood this and made freedom of religion and government restraint top priorities. A people governed by God internally, needs less government from other men externally (see First Corinthians 7:23).
JESUS AND FREEDOM
Freedom does not really come from religion_it comes from God, as we behold Him. It came to Israel as He led them out of Egypt. It wasn’t the Jewish religion that made them free; it was God Himself who freed them and then established their religion.
But God moved beyond Israel through Jesus Christ, to bring freedom to all mankind. It was Jesus who said; “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He continued, “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (8:36).
Freedom is first and foremost an inner reality. Jesus said, concerning His Spirit-filled people, “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (see John 7:37). He was speaking of the human spirit empowered by the Holy Spirit. Those so empowered cannot be squelched, even under tyranny. This is why they are so feared by secularists who have martyred so many. But “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the saints.” Witness South Sudan, where genocide has been committed by radical Muslims, but now Sudanese Christians are gaining a political freedom that flowed from Spiritual freedom.
Sometimes it takes a while for internal freedom to become political freedom, but it will come to pass. It is Jesus who sets us free, and eventually the secularists or some other tyranny has to accept it. It may come at great cost, but it comes.
Can a person on trial for truth be more free than the judge who tries them? What about Jesus? Was He more free than Pilate? Of course He was. He was free to obey the Father, free to keep silent and suffer. He did so voluntarily in order to set us free. Was Pilate free? No. He was bound by Rome, the mob, by fear, and other considerations. He was not even free to obey his own conscience, much less his wife’s wise advice.
The Gospel brought freedom across the Mediterranean and into Europe. Entire people groups were released from barbarianism and brutality. The Great Commission had and still has the entire world in mind.
THE REAL CAPTIVITY
If Christ has set us free, then what holds us back from exercising our liberty? When we fail to exercise our liberty in Christ, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. While some are dying to express their spiritual liberty, many of us who have that liberty are already imprisoned by issues of our own choosing. Those issues are:
Sin. We choose the flesh and its desires over the Spirit and God’s desires for us.
Fear. We are intimidated by the popular culture or the potential sacrifice.
Failure to obey the Great Commission. Jesus asked, “Why call me Lord and do not do the things that I say?” (see Luke 6:46).
Silence in the face of danger. Those who often sing loudly inside the church, say very little outside in the world (see Isaiah 56:10.)
All of these and other factors leave room for God-haters to have the playing field and tighten the political chains that will eventually prohibit our free exercise of faith. A high school valedictorian cannot mention God at a graduation ceremony. A football coach cannot pray with his team. A person gets fired for expressing their faith on the job. How did this and other constraints come about? It happened because we were passive in the face of aggressive secularism.
Many Americans are tragically ignorant of their history. Secular educators have intentionally avoided the role of God in our foundations. Students graduate with a degree in historical and profound ignorance. They graduate too often as advocates of a secular society. Thus, with tuitions and taxes paid by Christians, we train our own captors.
THE REAL CAPTIVITY
What can we do to reverse this trend?
- We can become informed – read and listen to those who are informed.
- We can pray for our nation and for God to empower us.
- We can take advantage of opportunities to share our faith.
- We can teach our children the truth, our history, and how to develop strong spirits and minds.
- We can vote for leaders who are sensitive to the Spirit and courageous.
- We can, by the way we live, increase our influence and the power of our testimony.
- We can repent of sin and silence.
- We can give financially to those groups who speak up on our behalf.
I hope that you will do all of the above and spread the liberty that we have in Jesus Christ. If so, we can sing “God Bless America” with renewed fervor, and fulfill the words of Abraham Lincoln, “This nation under God shall have a rebirth of freedom.”
When you pray for us at CSM, or send a financial offering, you are equipping us to equip many multiplied others. Please continue to remember us in your budget this month as we seek to declare truth in this generation. Thanks for your friendship and support_may God bless you this month and always!
P.S. Please plan to be with us at our annual CSM Gatlinburg Conference, May 4-6. Our theme this year is “Translating World View into World Mission,” and our speakers will include Dr. Norman Geisler, Luke Yeghnezar, and Ray Ciervo. For more information, visit us online at www.csmpublishing.org
Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, John, Luke, Isaiah