Benjamin Franklin said: “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.”
Baptists have always been guardians of Liberty.
Pastor George W. Truett (1867-1944) cited the American historian George Bancroft as having said, “Freedom of conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first the trophy of the Baptists.”
Truett also quoted the English philosopher John Locke’s statement, “The Baptists were the first propounders of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.”
In 1611-12, Thomas Helwys, who started the first Baptist church in England, published the first book-length defense of religious liberty in English. In A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity, Helwys calls for complete liberty of conscience for all people. One excerpt gives you the substance...
“The magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with religion or matters of conscience, to force or compel men to this or that form of religion or doctrine: but to leave religion free, to every man’s conscience, and to handle only civil transgressions (Rom 13), injuries and wrongs of man against man, for Christ only is the king and lawgiver of the church and conscience (James 4:12)” .
Baptist Faith and Message, 2000.
“God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.... The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.”
George W. Truett’s famous 1920 speech on religious liberty from the steps of the U.S. Capitol was an influential event for many 20th-century political and religious leaders. The First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor spoke to 15,000 people—many of whom were Southern Baptists in town for the SBC annual meeting, along with members of Congress, cabinet officials, and Supreme Court justices.
Truett told those assembled, “It is not the prerogative of any power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to compel men to conform to any religious creed or form of worship, or to pay taxes for the support of a religious organization to which they do not believe. God wants free worshipers and no other kind.”
When we talk of Religious freedom it is more than the “freedom to worship” at church. It means people shouldn’t have to go against their conscience, core values, or beliefs in order to conform to culture or government.
The recognition of Religious freedom protects people’s right to live, speak, and act according to their beliefs peacefully and publicly.
It protects them at work, in class, at social activities, or in public events in general.
How will you live if (as Benjamin Franklin said) religious liberty is lost?
There may be a great encouragement in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel went into exile as a young man in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar forced the King of Judah, Jehoiakim to submit to the new Babylonian kingdom. Daniel’s ministry continued into the third year of Cyrus (Dan 10:1) When Persia conquered Babylon in 539, Daniel was again given a position of authority (about 536 B.C.). Daniel, therefore, ministered for a period of about sixty-nine years under two occupations!
Note: If he were about sixteen at the time of captivity, he would have been eighty-five when he made his last prophecy.
How will you live out your liberty? Daniel would tell us… if you are going to live out your liberty...
1. You need to resolve to be Holy when the whole world is against it.
*Daniel and his friends stood alone when he was (they were) young. 16 years old.
Dan 1:1-7 Describes the captivity of Jerusalem. The King of Babylon had come against it. GOd’s people had rebelled, and Dan 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.”
-In 605 B.C., after Daniel was taken captive to his new homeland, the values all around him immediately changed.
Religiously: The decrees of the God of Israel that Daniel held so sacred were now trash. He was commanded to eat food from the king’s table that had been sacrificed to idols, and according to Hebrew law, was unclean to eat. His religious majority was no longer assumed. The articles of the temple had been carried to Babylon. v2.
Politically: the cultural and social climate changed, as Nebuchadnezzar, a king with had no accountability to God, created an environment of idolatry and paganism.
Practically: Daniel’s name was changed, along with 3 of his Hebrew friends, to strip them of their Hebrew identity, to re-name them as the property of Babylon.
Educationally: he was forced into a university to learn a new language and a new worldview that was contrary to that of the Scriptures.
“You can’t live on the world’s diet and expect to bear heaven’s fruit!
What was his response?
“Resolved”: is a word describing the putting of a sword into a sheath or a crown on a head. Something is being put in place to be kept there. It means to establish a law. Or to put a memorial stone in place, so that something will be remembered perpetually.
Daniel resolved…not to be defiled...
“Defile”: to make unclean. To violate the dietary laws made him unclean. It is not just the outward conformity… it is the inward issues of obedience in the heart. It means to be holy--A vessel usable in the hands of God.
Matthew 7:13-14 ““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
John 15:18-19 ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
2. You have to resolve to stand with God rather than bow with the world.
*Daniel and his friends stood alone when they were grown.
Daniel’s peers were against him and turned the king against him. Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden statue...The King confronts Daniel's friends and says when the trumpet sounds, you will bow… (3:15) “who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Daniel 3:17-18 “...our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Dan 3:24-25 “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.””
John 18:36 “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.””
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
3. You are going to have to resolve to obey God openly even when it will be done illegally.
Daniel stood alone when he was old.
Cyrus had captured Babylon, and now the Persians were in charge. God’s hand was on this man. Dan 6:3 “Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” But because he was a faithful man, they could not find anything against him.
They proposed a law in Dan 6:7 “All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.”
Read 6:10ff… "when Daniel knew..."!!!!
Ill: Coach Joe Kennedy—School officials at Bremerton High School (BHS) suspended (and later fired)football coach Joe Kennedy because he prayed a brief, quiet prayer after football games.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority in the ruling, declared,
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.
Gorsuch noted that the coach “prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters” and “while his students were otherwise occupied.”
It would be wrong to treat everything public school teachers and coaches say and do as speech subject to government control, he wrote. If that were the case, “a school could fire a Muslim teacher for wearing a headscarf in the classroom or prohibit a Christian aide from praying quietly over her lunch in the cafeteria,” he wrote.
He closed by writing that: “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head.”
Paul Understood this:
2 Cor 11:24-26 “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. …in danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;”
2 Tim 4:16-18 “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Jesus confirmed this:
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
When God is on your side, you will never stand alone.
Martin Luther understood this: A mighty Fortress is our God...
And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth: Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.
The majority of the New Testament was written to and for people suffering persecution because they stood for Christ and didn’t bow to the world(Acts 8:1).
1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,”
One of the key passages of civil obedience, Romans 13:4–5 “for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
Religious liberty is the recognition that you answer to God for your conscience. You live that way. You act that way. You make decisions that way. You take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ because your identity is in Him. Your citizenship is in heaven first... Your whole life then is going to be the expression of obedience to God above all earthly powers… right there in the context of where God has called you.
What will you do when liberty is taken away?
You need to resolve to be Holy when the whole world is against it.
You have to resolve to stand with God rather than bow with the world.
You need to resolve to obey God openly even when it will be illegally
Faith of the Free
Faith of the larger liberty, source of the light expanding, law of the church that is to be, old bondage notwithstanding: faith of the free! By thee we live — by all thou givest and shalt give our loyalty commanding.
Heroes of faith in every age, far-seeing, self-denying, wrought an increasing heritage, monarch and creed defying. Faith of the free! In thy dear name the costly heritage we claim: their living and their dying.
Faith for the people everywhere, whatever their oppression, of all who make the world more fair, living their confession: faith of the free! Whate’er our plight, thy law, thy liberty, thy light shall be our blest possession.
because If anyone is in Christ he IS free.
Rom 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”