Absolute Freedom Found Only in Doing the Will of GodIn the Kingdom of God there is absolute freedomI want to make that clear to you.In Gods kingdom, there is no conscript angel. No one gets a summons that they must report at the outer gate there in the New Jerusalem at a certain timeotherwise be considered a traitor, for breaking the military law, or what not.You never see one angel saying to another: Did you get your papers yet? Whats your classification?God never, never drafts anybody, and in all of God Almightys worldin the moral world, the kingdom that is ruled by Himthere isnt one being doing anything that he doesnt want to do.In all of Gods wide dominion, there isnt an angel or a seraphim or an archangel but is happy to be doing what he is doing, and wouldnt be doing anything else if he had it offered to him.The only creatures that are otherwise are the angels that sinned, and the human raceand they got themselves into bondage.They wanted to be free and they became bound. We know that man, instead of freedom, got into bondage.So, my dear friends, the will of God is freedom, the will of God is as broad as the air to the sparrow. The will of God is as big and boundless as the oceans to the minnow, and it is only in the will of God that we find freedom.As soon as we leave the will of God, like the angels that sinned, or the devil, we come down to bondage, and then we punch the clock in and out. It is then that we look over our shoulders and worry about the cops. It is then that we know that we cant do what we want to do, and are forced to do things that we dont want to do.That is what sin did to the human race.The seventh chapter of Romans is one long groan, one long groaning testimony of what it is not to be free.A man wants to do good and he cant.A man doesnt want to do evil, but he is forced to it.Sin has brought us into bondage. And only in the kingdom of God is there complete freedom.I can make a case for the doctrine that you cannot have morality unless you have freedom. There is a good, sound philosophy underneath it, that you cannot even have an idea of morality unless you also have freedom.For, just as soon as we coerce a human will, that human will can be neither good nor badthat will cannot do righteousness as long as it is coerced into it.And the human will, driven to anything, is not doing it freely, and therefore is not doing it morally.The devil and his forces like to spread the word about the chains of religion. When someone turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the devils handcuffs are broken, he shouts, You are not free any moreyou cant live the way you used to. You cant curse and swear and raise the devilyoure not free!He means that we dont wear his handcuffs, and we dont have his collar around our necks. He rages because we have found freedom.
The Bible does not teach Universalism and Second ChanceHumanitarian feelings within the beast lead us to desire the salvation of all. But it is not taught in the Scriptures.You know universalism is a belief in the restitution of all fallen beings to a state of blessedness.Some universalists believe only in the restoration of all human beings to blessednessnot only Christians, but all human beings will be finally saved and blessed.Then there is another kind, a more exhaustive universalism, which teaches not only the restitution of all human beings, but the devil and all the fallen angels. They are very generous and take in everything, every human and every creature that has fallen and sinned against God.Now, this is a dream born of desire, and it springs from humanitarian motives, no doubt.But the Bible specifically states that unless we repent we shall all likewise perish, and it pictures hell where the devil and his angels are, and where all who are not found in the Book of Life are finally consigned.So, the teaching of the Bible is definitely not universalism.Neither does the Bible teach that men will have a second chance, even though the Jehovahs Witnesses (or Russellites) teach it.They say that everybody who dies will have a chance in the future world. Their theory is that when a sinner dies he is sleeping in the earth, body and soul, in a state of deep unconsciousness. Then, when the resurrection comes, he will be raised and given another chance.If he turns down that chance, then he will be annihilated, and cease to be, and there will be no hell.These are some of the errors that thrive on difficult and obscure texts in the Bible. But they cannot stand the bright light of the entire Bible; they cannot stand the teachings of Jesus; they cannot stand the Book of Romans, the Book of Hebrews, the Book of the Revelation.Error cannot stand before God. Heresy cannot possibly stand up under all the light of the Bible. It is a night-blooming plant, and blooms in the shadows of human thought, but as soon as we turn the whole Bible loose on it, it withers and dies.I believe there will be only one text in hell, and it may be cut against the great walls of that terrible placeTRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ARE THY JUDGMENTS, O LORD!Jesus Christ, our Lord, is not going to rule over any who do not willingly submit to His rule. He will not enforce His rule over one human being. But He will force from the unwilling tongues of those lost ones the fact that He is right.You need to know this, so when someone pushes your doorbell with a phonograph record to play, youll be able to smile and say, I know what the Bible teaches, thank you!And quietly close the doornever slam it! Christians dont slam doors. But close it rather crisply!
Man Will Have to Account to God for His Moral ChoicesIt was the belief in the accountability of man to his Maker that made America great at one time, and in those days the Senate was not composed of half-baked comedians, but of strong, noble statesmen who carried the weight of the nation on their shoulders.One of those great leaders of America was Daniel Webster, whose oratory and blazing eyes used to hold the Senate spellbound. When he stood and talked, he did not indulge in silly quips and funny remarks.Someone asked Daniel Webster: Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought that has ever entered your mind?He replied: The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my accountability to my Maker!Such menmen who are able to confess their daily responsibility to God cannot be bought and corrupted. They wouldnt have to be ashamed to have their telephone calls read back to them.They werent worried about what people thought so much as about the fact that they were accountable to God.Men are free to decide their own moral choices, but they are also under the necessity to account to God for those choices. That makes them both free, and also boundfor they are bound to come to judgment and give an account of the deeds done in the body.You have probably heard the concept that every man stands only before the bar of his own reason and of his own conscience.Now this is the infamous relativity of morals that is being taught in many of our universities and colleges. Our young folks are taught that each man is a law unto himself, and that good is whatever brings social approval, and that evil is whatever brings social disapproval.The answer to that, of course, is very simple. If that were true, there would be as many moral codes as there are human beings, and each one of us would be our own witness, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer!God is not going to make man accountable to himself; neither is He going to make you and me accountable to the law, finally, or to human society, finally.We are accountable to the One who gave us being. We are accountable to the One out of whose heart we were loved, and who laid His laws upon us.I have known only a few Christians who would be hard on themselves in matters of Christian discipline.I know that if I am going to be a judge and jury and witness and prosecutor and executioner, Ill lose my ax! I wouldnt cut off my own head. So, God is not going to make this man accountable to himself, finally.You know, the idea of mans accountability only to himself is so silly as scarcely to be worthy of consideration!
The World Has an Inadequate Concept of JudgmentSome have tried to deny the basic concept of judgment. In your high school days, no doubt, you read Emersons famous essays. I think Compensation was the one that contained his doctrine that there is no such thing as a judgmentthat everything is judged now and sentenced, and rewarded or punished now.This is not the universal belief, nor the belief of the Old Testament, nor the teaching of the New Testament. It is not the teaching of the church; it was hatched out of the head of the very great man who lived in Concord, Massachusetts.The knowledge that we are accountable to God makes Christians and makes men and makes character and makes nations. And it is the absence of this belief that makes false, spineless Christians, and churches without any meaning in them.Theres a young man in our Sunday school now who went to church down in Indiana, and belonged to a denomination that used to preach holiness of life. He said he had been back there recently, and they talked about books, and your dreams, and the effect they have on your life.And do you know the topic when our friend was there? Peptic Ulcers. Now, believe that or not, that was the religious topic of the day. The church has backslidden and is down to talking about peptic ulcers. I would get an ulcer myself if I had to stay around a church like that.Now, brethren, when we backslide from the truth and run away from the Word of God and build up our own notions out of our own head, there is no telling what fools God will make of us and how far well go and how silly it will all be.In Detroit some years ago, some of our Alliance preachers were walking down a street, and passed a church. The sermon subject was on the board in front of the church, and it was announced that on the following Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. the Reverend Doctor would preach on the theme Who Killed Cock Robin?You see, the old Greeks had an idea, that whom the gods would destroy they first make madthat is, drive them crazy. And when we cease to believe in the judgment of God the judgment of God begins to fall, and you never know what that church will get into next or where it will go!I warn you that you should never underestimate the ability of human beings to get mixed up and confused. If a man with an eloquent tongue were to come to some of us and preach mans accountability to himself alone, some silly people would accept it, forgetting that it has no basis anywhere.How can a man be accountable to himself?To his conscience? I ask: to whom is his conscience accountable?How can I be my own prosecutor, my own witness on the prosecuting side, my own prosecuting attorney, my own judge, my own jailer and my own executioner? This is all very silly. It may be very poetic and very dreamy and sound very learned and mysticalbut it is all ridiculous!It is an inadequate concept of judgment.
Jesus Christ As Judge: A Neglected Bible DoctrineWhat is your concept of Jesus Christ, my brother?If the ten-cent-store Jesus that is being preached by a lot of men, the plastic, painted Christ who has no spine and no justice and is pictured as a soft and pliable friend to everybodyif He is the only Christ there is, then we might as well close our books and bar our doors, and make a bakery or garage out of this church!But that Christ that is being preached and pictured is not the Christ of God, nor the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ we must deal with.The Christ we must deal with has eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished brass, and out of His mouth comes a sharp, two-edged sword.He will be the judge of mankind. And, thank God you can leave your loved ones who have died in His hands, knowing that He Himself suffered, knowing that He knows all, that no mistakes can be made, that there can be no miscarriage of justice, because He knows all that can be known!This is one of the neglected Bible doctrines of our daythat Jesus Christ is the judge of mankind.The Father judges no man. When the Lord, the Son of Man, shall come in the clouds of glory, then shall be gathered unto Him the nations, and He shall separate them.God has given Him judgment, authority, to judge mankind, so that He is both the Judge and Saviour of men.That makes me both love Him and fear Him! I love Him because He is my Saviour and I fear Him because He is my Judge.Human justice does its best, but because it is not all-wise it makes mistakes.But God Almighty is never going to judge the race of mankind and allow a mistake to enter. The judge must be one who has all wisdom.Therefore, I appeal away from St. Paul; I appeal away from Moses and Elijah; I appeal away from all men because no man knows me well enough to judge me, finally. And I dont know you well enough to judge you, finally.I may pass brief judgment upon you on some simple matter, or you on me, but when it comes to the placing of my eternal and everlasting soul some where, I dont want any mistakes made.To be a judge, according to the Scriptures, the judge considers those who are accountable to Him, and accountable to Him not by a law imposed by another, but accountable to Him morally and vitally, rather than merely legally.And in order to be a righteous judge of mankind, the judge has to have all knowledge so there can be no error.In human affairs, many an innocent man has been hanged. Many a life-termer has died in gray pallor behind prison walls while the rascal who actually committed the crime died in his own bed, surrounded by his friends.
It Is Mans Conscience That Puts Hell in JudgmentThe Apostle Paul wrote to Titus and warned him about persons who have a defiled conscience. A seared and calloused conscience leads to defilement and inward corruption.Men and women who are inwardly corrupt, having a defiled conscience, generally can be spotted by their soiled language.I am just as afraid of people with soiled tongues as I am of a man with a communicable disease, for a soiled tongue is an evidence of a deeper disease, an inward corruption.Now, thats how this conscience business works. It smites the inner life, it touches the heart, it isolates, it sets us off all by ourselves.You know, to my mind, that is what will put the hell in judgmentthat each one of us must go alone.Twelve men are led away to be shot. They can get some moral support from each other. Theres another fellow on each side.But isolate them, and lead them one at a time, and that moral support is taken away.It will be the cosmic loneliness of judgment that will put hell in it.Wicked classes of men everywhere can meet and shout and work up steam and take courage from each other.But the lonely soullonely in the universe with only that soul and an angry Godthats the terror of conscience. And thats exactly what the conscience doesit singles a man out!What has happened that we no longer believe in the human conscience?How can conscience be pushed aside?I say that hell has done that by propaganda. The devil has used bubble-headed, dreamy-eyed boys with pseudo-learning, who know just enough to be pitifully ignorant, and they have laughed conscience out of court.These are only men who have just learned sesquipedalian words in order to cover up their own pitiful lack of knowledge, but they have forced the church into a position where it is afraid to admit to conscience.The Bible isnt afraid to admit it. It says, Being convicted by their own conscience they went out one by one.Conscience-stricken, smitten inside, struck by a stroke from heaven, they walked out of there, each of them, down the steps and out to the sidewalk, and sneaked away.Thats what conscience doesthat inner voice, that which talks inside of you!
Dont Let the Devil Make A Joke of ConscienceOne way the devil has of getting rid of things is to make jokes about them.There is a legitimate humor, and we all admit that, and I think it is in us by the gift of God. But whenever any humor takes holy things for its object, that humor is devilish at once.One of the sick jokes you hear is that the conscience is that part of you which makes you sorry when you get caught.Now, thats supposed to be funny. Its not funnyits tragic that anybody should yield so to the propaganda of hell as to joke about that which is no joke.There are some things that are not the proper objects of humor, and one of them is conscience.That power of conscience that God has set in the human breast suddenly can isolate a soul, and hang it between heaven and hell, as lonely as if God had never created but one soulthats not a joking matter.The Light that lighted every man that comes into the world is not a joking matter. The eternal, universal Presence of the luminous Christ is not a joking matter.Joke about politics if you must jokethey are usually funny, anyway. But dont joke about God, and dont joke about conscience, nor death nor life, nor love, nor the cross, nor prayer.We have become in our day the greatest bunch of sacrilegious jokesters in the world. I have seen pictures in the paper of people who thought it was a very humorous thing to show a little spotted dog with his paws crossed and his eyes shut, bowing his head as if in prayer.The Bible says, Beware of dogs, and I might add: Beware of the fools who teach dogs to pray.God wants you to have a whole world of pleasant thingsbirds singing in your backyard and kids romping over your lawn, and a thousand things to happen in the day that can be dismissed with a pleasantry. Your sense of humor wont die. Theres plenty to laugh at in the world.But, remember the conscience is always on Gods side-always on Gods side! It judges conduct in the light of the moral law, and as the Scripture says, excuses or accuses.Be sure you dont laugh at something that God takes seriously. Conscience is one of those things!
The Practicing Sinner Must be a Practical AtheistSin is basically an act of moral folly, and the greater the folly, the greater the fool.The notion in this present world that the careless sinner is the smart fellow and the serious-minded Christian is a stupid doltaltogether out of touch with lifejust cannot be made to stand up under scrutiny.I dont see how any man can argue against the fact that sin, in addition to anything else it may be, is always an act of wrong judgment.To commit a sin, a man must for the moment believe that things are different from what they really are. He must confound valueshe must see the moral universe out of focus.He must accept a lie as truth and see truth as a lie. He must ignore the signs on the highway and drive with his eyes shut; he must act as if he had no soul and was not accountable for his moral choices.There are references in the Bible to the devils wiles and his shrewdness. But when he gambled on his ability to unseat the Almighty he was guilty of an act of judgment so bad as to be imbecilic.Any wisdom he had must have deserted him at the time of his first sin, for surely he grossly underestimated the power of God and just as grossly overestimated his own power and ability.It is surprising that the devil in his shrewdness is able to give so many people the idea that sin is something to be proud of.On the contrary, no act is wise that ignores remote consequences, and sin always does that. Sin sees only today, or at most tomorrownever day after tomorrow, the next month or next year.Death and judgment are pushed aside as if they did not exist and the sinner becomes for the time a practical atheist who by his act denies not only the existence of God, but the concept of life after death as well.The sinner is not really the bright rebel he fancies himself to be, and does not realize that he is only imitating others like himself, now long dead. When will he comprehend that he is actually a weak and stupid fellow who must follow along in the long parade of death toward the point of no return?One of our great tasks is to demonstrate to the young people of this generation that there is nothing stupid about righteousness. To do so, we must stop negotiating with evil.We Christians must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices heard, exposing sin as the enemy of the human race and setting forth righteousness and true holiness as the only worthy pursuits for moral beings.I have no doubt that historians will conclude that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it.
The Crooked Foundations Will Betray Mans CivilizationIf God would allow me, it would be great to be an optimist just once in my life when considering the hope of the nations.I would love to get in the pulpit sometime and for thirty or forty minutes just stand here and spout optimism, and tell you that I believe the world is getting better.But I would be a liar if I said it!The nations of the world, strangely, are seeking to make a sound, free world for themselves, and they are promising it to the people.But the hope of the nations is deceitful.In Psalm 82, the Psalmist declares that God is standing among the mighty, that He judgeth among the rulers, and that He is not pleased with what He sees.He sees oppression and injustice and a poverty thats imposed, and He sees an ignorance that cannot be excused, and a darkness that enshrouds the minds of men. And he sees dying, and dying, and dying.Now He says: Ye are as gods, but ye shall die like menbecause you will bring down upon you your social structure. You will bring it down on your heads by the natural law of cause and effect.It will not be as the astronomers sometimes dream, by a sideswipe from some wandering, maverick planet.It will not be as a result of the insects taking over the earth, as some naturalists morbidly prophesy.It will be that man proves himself unfit to live and therefore he must die like man; that he proves himself unfit to build and must watch his superstructure collapse around his ears.Your building, says the Holy Ghost, is worthless. It cant last because all the foundations of humanity are out of plumb. Everyone knows that if you put up a building on a crooked foundation, your building will be in imminent peril of falling.The higher you go, and the heavier your superstructure, the more certain will be the collapse.Now let me remind you from historyand not as a preacherthat injustice and oppression and poverty, ignorance, darkness and dying, are of mans own making.You can take all of the accidents of the world, and all of the adverse forces of nature and include all of the diseases to which mortal flesh is heir, and combine them all together, and you will not have all told and added up as much sheer misery and pain as man imposes upon himself by his wicked deeds.Europe, as an example, has known toil, and tears, many bereavements and losses. But history will record that one little man, inconsequential in looks and build and weight, education and gifts, brought to the continent of Europe more suffering and aggravation and pain in four years time than did 100 years of the combined forces of nature and accident and disease and famine.There is no trust among nations; and, friends, if you cant have trust among nations, you cant have a lasting edifice of any sort!
Jesus, the Lamb of God, Tested On Earth for Thirty-three YearsI think there is a good answer to the question of why Jesus remained on earth during the thirty-three years of His earthly life and ministry.I refer back to the picture in the Book of Exodus where the instructions are given for choosing the Passover lamb.Your lamb shall be without blemish . . . and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.Jesus Christ was here upon the earth, Gods Lamb being tested.You see, they were told they could not take a lamb without testing. They could not simply take a lamb at random and bring it in and slay itbecause they could not be sure it was a perfect lamb.They must choose a lamb without blemish. They had to test those lambs, and keep them around and observe them for four days.Thats what Jesus was doing on earth those thirty and three years. He was being observed by God and men and devils, that He might be shown to be the perfect lamb, that there was no fault in Him, so that even a Pilate could say, I find no fault in this man.Notice that the instructions were: You shall kill it in the evening.Jesus always talked about having the day while He was on earth, but that when He left the earth, it would be night.He warned that the night cometh, when no man can work.It was evening when Jesus was slain, and the sun went into darkness as a kind of symbolic and poetic proof that the night had fallen, when the Lamb of God was slain.All the protection Israel had was this lamb. They shall take of the blood and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses wherein they shall eat it . . . and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.Here are the grass roots of redemption, the fountainhead from which the stream of Christianity flowed. Here we stand beside the great pillar that upholds the Church and we will not be argued away. We do believe in the blood.There seem to be many Christians now who are so squeamish that they only want to talk about pleasant things in religion, and they do not want to talk about the blood.I still believe in the power of the blood of the slain Lamb. And I still believe in its powernot only to protectbut to cleanse.You ask, How can it be? and I must answer, I know not how it can be. How can it be that you can draw oxygen into your lungs by breathing, and the oxygen goes down into your lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream to purify and give life?Certainly I am not going to stop breathing because I cannot explain the mystery of how oxygen nourishes my life. Neither will I turn away from faith in this paschal Lamb. God cannot break His wordand no other lamb needs now to be slain!