Pastor Brian Jones|
On this day the United States celebrates the 229th anniversary of its declared independence. For many, fireworks, whiskey and wild music will seem indispensable accompaniments to the commemoration of this historic event which paved the way to social, political, economic, and above all religious freedom for millions in the past two centuries and more. As Americans we would do well to celebrate our joys soberly on this day, and reflect on the nature, cost and source of true freedom. Many in our world recognize that liberty is an imperiled heritage, and that its gradual erosion is coming about in the name of freedom, but not in its substance or essence. Jesus declared that "The truth shall make you free.’ He also revealed that He is "The Way, and the Truth, and the Life." Therefore, true liberty, soul-liberty, is indissolubly joined to personal union with God on the terms that He has specified. The following meditation, taken from the masterwork, The Desire of Ages, sets forth the truth on this question as clearly as one can find it stated anywhere outside the Bible, and it is thoroughly rooted in Scripture, from which it derives its effectiveness.
"Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ sets us ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ Rom. 8:2.
"In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan's control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.
"The only condition upon which the freedom of man is possible is that of becoming one with Christ. ‘The truth shall make you free;’ and Christ is the truth. Sin can triumph only by enfeebling the mind, and destroying the liberty of the soul. Subjection to God is restoration to one's self,--to the true glory and dignity of man. The divine law, to which we are brought into subjection, is ‘the law of liberty.’ James 2:12.
"The words of Paul reveal the true dignity and honor of the Christian life: ‘Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all,’ ‘not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.’ 1 Cor. 9:19; 10:33.
"In matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another's mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.’ No one has a right to merge his own individuality in that of another. In all matters where principle is involved, ‘let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.’ Rom. 14:12, 5. In Christ's kingdom there is no lordly oppression, no compulsion of manner. The angels of heaven do not come to the earth to rule, and to exact homage, but as messengers of mercy, to co-operate with men in uplifting humanity." -- The Desire of Ages, pp. 466,550
If any readers in West Virginia wish to have a copy of this book, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will provide you with a free copy, without obligation on your part.
Brian D. Jones was the pastor of Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Gassaway, Glenville and Spencer, West Virginia. He died September 3, 2008.