Religion Is Slavery,
Christianity Is Freedom
by Ernest L. Martin,
Edited by David Sielaff, September 2003
Read the accompanying Newsletter for September 2003
The style of this Exposition is different from others produced by FBR. 1 It is primarily a transcript of the most popular lecture we have offered [during the days of FBR]. Some pertinent material has been added to the subject which we think will show in clear language what basic Christianity really is. “I am not religious, but I am a Christian!” This statement may sound strange, but there are fundamental differences between the meanings of the two terms. Actually, there are vast differences!
Religion has been one of the greatest curses ever to afflict mankind. But true Christianity has been and can be the greatest blessing ever bestowed upon man. That is just how different one is from the other. Wars of major proportions have been fought in the name of religion. Need we rehearse them? Those wars are well known throughout history between Christendom and Islam, between Catholics and Protestants in the Protestant Reformation, and even Protestants against Protestants. Even at the present time in Northern Ireland we have conflict going on in the name of religion with one group on one side and another group on the opposing side.
Religion has long been the cause of hatred and animosity between peoples. Even Christ said a time would come when certain people would think they were doing God a service to kill Christians. Most people want to continue in the ways of their ancestors, or with the ways they feel a person should act. But is not religion, or should we say Christianity, supposed to bring love and harmony amongst peoples? On the surface some say they think this to be the case. But in reality religion has brought about just the opposite condition!
First understand what the New Testament meaning of religion really is. We could use a dictionary definition (which would certainly be proper), but it would be better to look at what the New Testament says about religion and look at its definition. The word that is translated “religion” in the Greek is threskeia. It is a word normally applied to external forms of religious belief. For example in Acts 26:5 we read about “the Jews’ religion.” That meant (to a Gentile looking on) what made a Jew to be a Jew. We would recognize that a Jew was circumcised, that he kept certain days, that he would only eat certain types of food, wear certain types of clothes, would not touch particular things at certain times of the month, that various sacrificial services would be performed by him at the Temple, that he had the priesthood, etc., etc. All these are the external trappings that we find associated with Judaism. And that is what we are considering here. We are talking about the matter of religion in the outward form.
Christianity is not external (though it can be, and it should have, an external reaction). Christianity should come from the inside and it is entirely different from the external religious beliefs we normally find around us.
Religion dealing with the external can make you a slave and put you in bondage to man, and to the world system. Christianity can make you free and to have all the good blessings that God through Christ wants you to have. But religion — this threskeia of the New Testament — shows the external forms of approaching God. Religion is what a person does on the outside in the name of God, what he accomplishes, what people see that he does, how he acts, the distinctive ceremonies that he keeps, the doctrines that motivate him to perform his daily affairs, etc. All these things together, when they are put into action, denote the religion that a person has. The example given in Acts 26:5 is to “the Jews’ religion”; people could readily see on the outside what made a person a Jew.
In various parts of the world today we have a variety of religions. Some of us have been to the Middle East. In Jerusalem, for example, we find a hodge-podge of religions being manifested. We can observe the Muslims who do not really believe in Christ as we do, for they believe that Muhammad was the greatest prophet. All of us have heard of Islam, which is Mohammedanism, and its adherents are all over the Middle East. There are also various sects within Islam. If we go to Jerusalem we also find various Christian denominations of different types: Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian, Roman Catholic, and most of the protestant denominations are represented in the city.
How are we able to tell whether a person is a Muslim, a Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian, etc.? It is by their religion. The distinction is discerned by external forms: what they wear, how they act, what they do, their ceremonies, etc. Indeed, it is so easy to be a Muslim! Performing a few external things are all that is necessary: (1) accept Muhammad as the Prophet, (2) bow five times a day and pray toward Mecca, (3) give alms (gifts) to the poor, and a few other things including a pilgrimage to Mecca. These devotions can make one a Muslim.
It is the same with many Christian denominations today, in Jerusalem or here in the United States. They are distinguished by their externals: their use of beads, holding their hands in a particular way in prayer, going to a confessional, being baptized in a particular way, or whatever it may be. It does not take a person too long to see whether a person is a Baptist, a Methodist, Catholic or in the Middle East a Muslim. Again, how is it done? It is by the externals.
These are activities that so many feel are important in the world today. Now let us take “religionists.” Even in the modern Christian church (let us forget the Muslims, now, and even some of the ancient Christian denominations so powerful in the past) in “general Protestantism” or within various fundamentalist groups, most people feel one has to show the externals. There is the feeling that in order to be a Christian one has to pray, to conform, and to be able to show outwardly what one believes. So it is almost essential, as most would have it, that to be a Christian one must join a church. This means that one walks in, shakes hands with the pastor, has his name placed on the roll, and becomes a member of the church. When one goes to church every Sunday or every Sabbath or whenever, it is that action which helps to show that we are members of the church. This is practicing religion. Is there anything wrong in going to church? No. On its own merit, it may be very good but on the other hand, does going to church really show us or anyone else that one is a Christian? Of course the answer is, “No.” It simply shows the externals of religion: sitting there, performing the ceremonies, etc.
Others might say one must be baptized to join the church. Not everybody insists on this, but in some denominations this is the case. Baptism is a Christian rite found exercised in the Gospels; we also find it in the Book of Acts, and in some of the Epistles. Now baptism is by immersion or some would say sprinkling; but whether by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring it is still a physical outward act. True, baptism was intended to show an inner repentance, but still, baptism is an external factor and it represents an outward form of religion. It is possible to be baptized and be one of the finest baptized persons alive and still not be a Christian. One can be put under the water a dry sinner, and come up a wet one!
One can also take the Lord’s Supper, or the Passover as some call it, take the bread, take the wine and still not be a Christian. One can eat only the foods allowed in the Old Testament, keep the 7th day Sabbath, observe holy days, wear particular types of clothes, tithe (1st, 2nd, even 3rd tithes), pay offerings and contributions to the church, and still not be a Christian. Every single one of these actions represents the “externals.” True, it is religion, but is it Christianity?
In fact, the outward requirements of some denominations make a person feel really uncertain about his spiritual relationship to God. If being in a church — an external thing — is essential, what if we miss going on a Sunday, or what if we do not go on a Sabbath? Because of not attending church we may feel guilty! With guilt feelings some say, “Well, we must now perform some kind of penance to make up for it.” And how do they make amends? Usually with more externals. Maybe one feels his baptism was not valid. And what does one have to do? He is baptized again. Even then one may wonder, “Is this new baptism right?” I knew a woman who was baptized six separate times. The reason for this was that she always felt unsure about her baptism. And even near the time of her death she was baptized again because she was really unsure about herself, she always had to go through the externals again. Dependence upon the externals brings doubt!
Look at the 7th day Sabbath. How many people keep it? Or better yet, how many people have broken it on occasion? Or how many who wish to eat only clean foods have eaten a little pork in their soup? All types of problems come up with the externals. Everyone has failed in lots of those things. What this shows, actually, is uncertainty. All of us would be in a state of doubt if we felt that these external actions are essential. True Christianity, however, gives one freedom. It does not give uncertainty like we see around us today in the religions which claim to be Christian. In fact, religion can be dangerous in other ways.
Let us consider the example of a man who was probably the best religionist one could find. According to his own words, he could say he was the best. This man was an individual by the name of Saul. Later on, his name was changed to Paul and he became the Apostle Paul. But he is probably the best example of a religionist to be found in the Bible or anywhere.
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more ...
Paul is saying that if anyone could trust more in the flesh (the externals), he could! Notice what happened,
“… circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.”
• Philippians 3:4–5
Circumcision was an external ceremony commanded by God in the Old Testament in the flesh! Note that Paul once took pride in being of the stock of Israel not the uncultivated vine of the Gentiles. Paul possessed the Abrahamic covenant upon him by birth, by flesh. He could show that he was a Jew and he was proud that he was a Jew. In fact, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the top tribes in ancient Israel. Benjamin was the tribe in which the Temple stood. It was Benjamin, actually, who helped Judah from the time of Solomon to become more properly oriented toward God. So Paul is saying that, “I am not only a Jew, but I am a Benjamite, ‘a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee’” (Philippians 3:5).
Why does Paul emphasize his Pharisaism? Because the Pharisees were the most strict people in keeping the externals of the law. And Paul was very zealous. “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:6). Persecuting what? Paul persecuted the church, the ekklesia! That is what religion can do! Religion can persecute other people. It has been responsible for doing it time and time again. Religion brought on persecution in the time of the apostles, in the time of the Romans, in the time of the Mohammedans; in the time of the Protestant Reformation, and it is doing it right now in the 20th century in many places on earth!
Religion persecutes! Christianity never does! It cannot, when true Christianity is put into action. But the practice of religion caused Paul (before his conversion) to breathe out “threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).
Indeed, it was the exercise of religion that caused Jesus Christ to be crucified! This is an absolute fact! Christ was not killed because He practiced the fruit of the Holy Spirit. No one thought of executing Him because He showed love to people, for giving them mercy, or bringing healing and comfort. No, not at all. The trouble was, Christ often did those acts of goodness at the wrong times on the calendar of the Jews and without consulting the constituted authorities who sat “in Moses’ seat.” He was not showing deference to the externals of religion which existed among the people at the time. “The Jews sought the more to kill him, because he had broken the sabbath” (John 5:18). To them, it was the outward keeping of the law that was important. “This man is not of God, because he keeps not the sabbath day” (John 9:16). And true enough, Christ was not observing the weekly sabbath as Moses had commanded. He defended His disciples when they violated the sabbath rules of Moses (Matthew 12:1–8). He even vindicated David for his disobedience to one of the holiest of ceremonial laws in the Old Testament (Mark 2:25–26) and David did his transgressing on the sabbath day!
Christ, however, was not one who paid much attention to strict ceremonial laws ordained for the Mosaic dispensation. He remained in Galilee for the Passover season when Moses commanded Him and all Israelite males to be in Jerusalem (John 6:1–71). He did not show up on time at the Feast of Tabernacles, yet the law required otherwise (John 7:1–14). He did not throw stones at the woman caught in adultery (a capital offense under Moses), though this was commanded in the law (John 8:5, 11). He openly ate with sinners, while most religiously devout people at that time (and even today) would never have done it (Matthew 9:13). “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19).
In spite of all these actions that caused the religious people of the time, especially the religious leaders, to raise their eyebrows, we are told most emphatically that Christ never sinned once (1 Peter 2:22). After all, cannot the creator of the universe do as He pleases without being called into question by His created beings even if they are the “holiest” of religious authorities (including Moses himself — though Moses would have known better)? Christ had the power to change Moses if He wished (Deuteronomy 18:15–19), and He did!
Christ placed the showing of love and mercy on a much higher plane than any outward religious activity. He showed this in His parable about the Good Samaritan. Here was an account of a Jew who fell among thieves and was beaten severely, nigh unto death. But along comes one of the top religious authorities in the nation, one who was ordained to look after the spiritual and physical welfare of the people. He saw his fellow countryman at the point of death, but he passed on and left him to suffer. Then came along a Levite, a lesser religious authority. He also saw that the man was very near death but he went on his way without offering any help. What callousness! It seems almost like the parable could not be expressing a real event because no decent person would normally fail to help a fellow countryman, and one in the same “church,” if he was in such a condition.
But the fact is, there was a very good reason why the Priest and the Levite did not rush down to help the man. You see, they put “spiritual” responsibilities before “moral” duties to their fellowman. Had they helped the man and he died, they would have been restricted from doing their ordained religious activities for a period of seven days (Numbers 19:11–16). They would have been cut off from “helping” other people with “spiritual” matters because to touch a dead man would have made them ritualistically “unclean.” They put the performance of their external religious activities ahead of helping someone in need.
But what happened? Along came a Samaritan. These people were normally enemies of the Jews, but they also went by the same external requirements commanded by the Mosaic law. The Samaritan saw his fellow human in need. He rushed to help him. The fact that the injured man happened to be a Jew made no difference to him. He did not give a hoot if his action caused him to be “unclean” for seven days had the man died. The Samaritan put moral principle ahead of religious duty and Christ commended the actions of the man. The first two religious authorities were practicing their religion, and they left the man to die. The Samaritan was showing mercy and love, and he was practicing a proper type of Christian attitude. Christ said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice [religious duties]” (Matthew 12:7).
Religions, on the other hand, focus on the externals, and they are normally organized in order to perform their distinctive ceremonies and customs. The trouble with organizations today, and most religions, is that many want to stay in their own religion and keep their own religious customs and they do not want to look outside the door, that is ... their own door. They are willing, it seems, to show love to everybody inside their own organization. But what about that someone who is “out yonder”? The Good Samaritan was “good” because he abandoned his own religious scruples, even those external commands ordained by God in order to help his enemy when he was in need.
True Christianity will reach out beyond all religious forms, beyond every type of religion in this world. True Christianity looks right out into the whole world itself, and it sees people eyeball to eyeball, through the agency of love, through peace, through joy, through longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and through showing mercy to fellow humans. Christianity is faith in God, faith in Christ. It represents meekness. It shows temperance! These are the things that really indicate whether or not one is a Christian. It is not whether you have joined a church, whether you have been baptized, are taking the Lord’s Supper regularly, keeping the Sabbath, holy days, or anything like that. Christianity does not depend on whether you are part of a particular sect or denomination. No, it is not the works (on the outside) that count. It was the need to perform these outward religious duties that made the Pharisees so religious, AND SO WRONG!
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of anise and cumin, and have omitted the weighty matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”
• Matthew 23:23–25
The Pharisees were more interested in the “outside of the platter,” the externals of paying the minutest of tithes. They were very religious, while missing the whole point of what true righteousness really is. True, they should have paid their tithes (which were ordained to be kept back at that time), but there were far more important virtues to be kept than those outward requirements. In actual fact, all the battery of external religious practices (even those which were formerly ordained of God) can cause one to be “exclusive.” They can cause one to hate other people.
But look at the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit! With the Spirit in full action, we could never hate a person. Keeping the attributes of the Spirit the way that God wants will leave us freedom to love everybody, to have joy with everybody, to have mercy on everybody, to show meekness and temperance to oneself, all of these beautiful relationships can be manifested through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, working to the glory of Jesus Christ and God the Father!
The fact is, when one removes all physical distinctions between peoples in a religious sense, even religion ceases! And if one gets rid of religious differences of the outward kind, and focuses on the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22, “fruit” is singular in Greek), then all religious animosity stops dead in its tracks. Since many religious beliefs are intimately connected with political or social institutions, even those differences can lose much of their power for hatred and for war.
Just imagine what would happen. Look at a few denominations, but it could apply to all. What if all Baptists would place their doctrinal stand on water baptism (and the other external ceremonies peculiar to them) on a lower level of importance (or having no importance whatever in gaining a salvation in Christ), then many of their arguments with the Methodists would have long ago ceased. 2 Of course, the Methodists would have to place all their particular external doctrines on the same level of unimportance relative to salvation, which comes by grace and without any religious works. All other denominations would have to do the same. Even the Roman Catholics would have to place their outward religious customs on a much lower level (along with the Baptists, Methodists, and with those of us at ASK) in relation to the essential teachings of Christianity which are based on love, mercy and faith.
True, if people wanted to carry on with their traditional customs, then let
them and all should have complete freedom to do so, just as the Pharisees of old
could have kept on with their strict ways had they also shown the higher virtues
in their lives. No one should even have to give up any of his cherished opinions
on external ceremonies. All could be maintained but others should have the right
to their own customs as well. I do not have the slightest doubt that Christ
would honor such things (1 Corinthians 9:20–21). What He is interested in are
not the externals but the fruit of the Holy Spirit in action among all those who
claim to be Christians. When this occurs, then a true freedom can spring forth
within ourselves and among all peoples we come in contact with. If this could be
extended to all in the world, then a harmony would emerge that would be truly
wonderful and beneficial. And that is the manner for Christ to be honored in the
way of true Christianity.
There is nothing wrong even with outward religion if it is motivated by the principles of Christianity involving love and consideration for others. In fact, proper religion can be good. James said,
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”
• James 1:27
These are the kind of external matters that come from within from the heart. They are engendered by a desire to help people. They are the fruit of the Holy Spirit in action. Note, however, that this “pure religion” of James has nothing to do with ceremonies, customs, and the other physical things that distinguish one denomination from another. Love must predominate in people’s lives, not outward forms.
The biggest difficulty in achieving this among Christians is the attitude of some people (one had better say, most people) who believe that outward religious forms are still vital to the teachings of Christianity and to the attainment of salvation. They still see works as not only important, but necessary. Those who have the “true church” concept, who believe that their denomination is the “only one true church of God” on earth, are the greatest offenders of the breach now in evidence among those who love Christ and the Bible. Such distinctions cause animosities, hatred, exclusivism, feelings of superiority, even messiah complexes for some men and women, and slavery for all who believe it. If “one church” is looked on as the only church, then the authorities in charge of that church will of necessity have full religious control over the people who belong to it if those members are firm believers! Bondage will be the result. Members are threatened with excommunication from the society or even with the prospect of hell-fire or severe judgment from God if one disobeys the men who are supposed to be in charge over them. Fear usually predominates in such a religious environment. 3
The real teachings of Christianity will have none of this! There are presently no mediatorial authorities existing between each of us as individuals and Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul made this abundantly clear. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Christ is one’s direct contact to God the Father! And though Christ is a person’s Lord and King, He is a type of authority that is very different from men in this world who seem bent on ruling over others with an iron fist. Christ is one who is a servant to His disciples not an authoritarian ruler.
“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors [like the Roman emperors]. But you shall not be so, but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that serves. For whether is greater, he that sits at meat, or he that serves? is not he that sits at meat? but I [Jesus Christ] am among you as he that serves.”
• Luke 22:25–27
And though people who love Christ ought to want to serve Him because they love Him, He says that He wants to serve us because He loves us. Imagine! Here is the Lord and Creator of the universe serving us! And more to the point, He explicitly commanded His disciples not to exercise authority over one another. “But you shall not be so.” True, there will be those who can lead and direct, but not in the sense of being in church offices over other Christians. There are no religious mediators over us than Jesus Christ, and even He said He is one’s servant as we are servants to Him. Christians should serve one another not from a sense of duty, but because they have love for one another.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth, I call you. not servants [bondservants or slaves]; for the servant knows not what his lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
• John 15:13–15
What a marvelous concept! Though we know that Christ is truly Lord, that He
is clearly our King, that He has all the authority and power of the universe
(under the Father), Christ still did not wish to treat His disciples as
servants, as a King over slaves! Christ put them on the level of being friends!
No relationship could be better. Being a friend to someone (a close friend) is
better than being a king to them, better than being a lord, better than being a
firstborn son, or even better than being a father. Why? Because some kings,
lords, sons, and even fathers have been guilty of not showing love, mercy, and
consideration. But someone who is a friend will never betray his friend! If he
does, he ceases, of course, to be a true friend. However, if one is a proper
father (as God the Father is), he will show love, mercy, and consideration to
his children. But God is also our friend. This is a free and unshackled
relationship based on mutual regard for one another.
As for me, I am not interested in being a slave of anyone. And thank God, Christ Himself shows I do not even have to be His slave or His bondservant any longer. And this applies to all of us. True, my desire is to serve Him, but this is because I love Him, not because I might be punished if I do not. Christians are considered “freeborn,” not children of the bondservant (Galatians 4:31). In no way does one have to be a slave of men in religious affairs. Indeed, the Christian is no longer a slave of God. We are His freeborn children, His friends! Is it not time that we begin to exercise the freedom that Christ has graciously bestowed upon us?
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
• Galatians 5:1
The insistence of some religionists that all Christians must observe outward religious ceremonies and customs is simply the practice of religion. It has caused hatred, exclusivism, “true church” and messiah complexes, major wars, and slavery to men. All people who feel compelled to keep those things “on the outside of the platter,” are slaves to the system they espouse. But Christians who have as their chief desire the accomplishment of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) are the ones in the habit of practicing real Christianity. This causes love, mercy, respect, consideration for others, and a one-on-one relationship with the Father through Christ. It will also bring peace among individuals and nations. It renders to a person the position of being “freeborn” in the eyes of God. No longer are we the slaves of anyone not even of God Himself! “Henceforth I call you not servants [slaves, bondservants]” (John 15:15). It is not authority that God is interested in, it is love! He is a Father who loves us and He is also our friend! Should we not love Him (and Christ) and be their friends as well? If we will, we can experience what real freedom is, and we can know the full meaning of what represents true Christianity.
Who is in charge of the universe? It is God the Father! Who is next in authority but having an equality with the Father so close that when one sees Him he sees the Father? It is Christ Jesus! And, according to the Bible, who is it that comes third in this divine relationship — and having a oneness with both the Father and with Christ? It is you! There is not the slightest doubt that this is biblical teaching “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). This means that all Christians (individually and collectively) are on a third level — and in some ways, an equal level — with the Father and with Christ. We are now reckoned as being “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) and Christ is in the Father “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:10). This puts all of us on a very high level of esteem in the eyes of God. We are much higher than any of the angels in a potential sense. We are only a little while inferior to the angelic hosts simply because we are still flesh and do not yet have the spiritual wisdom or discernment to take over divine affairs on the mature levels exercised by the Father and Christ. But that time is coming (1 John 3:2)
We are destined to judge even angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). And though they are presently superior to us in some ways — and should be recognized as such (1 Corinthians 11:10), it is not proper for any angel (no matter if he is the highest of the high) to have any mediatorial role between each of us and the Father. Only Christ has that honor (1 Timothy 2:5). In no way should an angel be worshipped (Revelation 22:8–9). Angels, in fact, are to be servants to us. “Are they not all ministering [serving] spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). The word “minister” means “to render service.” And all men or women who claim to be “ministers” are really ones who should be serving the flock, not ruling and showing religious authority over others. Christ was completely against any type of hierarchical government over any member of His church. “Ye shall not be so” (Luke 22:26). If even angels are not in a hierarchical superstructure of authority over us (only Christ Himself is in that position), then Christians should hardly let fellow human beings exercise such erroneous power.
The fact is, Christ already acknowledges us as an extension of divinity, “Ye are gods” (John 10:34). We are already members of the divine family. This means we are as “free” as God Himself is “free” in all matters concerning religious affairs. When the resurrection occurs, we will even be free in all spiritual things, as “free” as God is “free” in all things! It seems proper that Christians begin to accept who they are — freeborn children of God — and start acting like it! Of course, there is no need to be arrogant and egotistical in recognizing one’s position with the Father and Christ. This would be the antithesis of Christian action. The virtues that should be displayed are those of the Spirit — love, goodness, meekness (Galatians 5:22). But there should be strength of resolution and determination. God demanded of Job that he “gird up now your loins like a man” (Job 38:3). Moses may have been meek (as we should be), but he certainly was not weak (Numbers 12:3) There are too many people nowadays that do not take their individual Christian responsibilities seriously — they want the “group” to do it. It should be remembered that groups are made up of individuals, and they are as strong and as effective as the individuals who comprise them. Christ emphasized the individual (Matthew 18:12).
But some are like the Corinthians. They want other men to tell them what to do in religious matters — to dominate them, to make slaves of them.
“For you suffer [allow] fools gladly … [You allow it] if a man bring you into bondage, [you allow it] if a man devours you, [you allow it] if a man take of you, [you allow it] if a man exhalt himself, [you allow it] if a man smite you on the face.”
• 2 Corinthians 11:19–20
Paul would have none of this! And neither should any freeborn son and
daughter of God. “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free”
Ernest L. Martin,
Edited by David Sielaff, September 2003
1 FBR (The Foundation for Biblical Research) was the organization headed by Dr. Martin as Chairman of the Board and primary author and lecturer for the years 1974 until 1985. DWS
2 In fact, those arguments in most cases have already been moderated, and I only give this illustration as an example. ELM
3 For more information on the subject of the "True Church," look at the following ASK articles, "What Is True Fellowship" at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d979701.htm, and "The Dangers of External Religious Actions" at http://askelm.com/news/n020706.htm. DWS
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