Freedom of Conscience

1 Corinthians

Freedom of Conscience

October 30th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM

1 Corinthians 10:23-32

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
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FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 10:23-32

10-30-55    7:30 p.m.

 

 

Now, in the tenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, we left off this morning at the twenty-second verse.  Now let’s start tonight at the twenty-third verse, and we go through to the end of the chapter – the first Corinthian letter and the tenth chapter.

Do you want to read it – all of us?  All right, hurry up and find it; can’t wait on you very long now. Corinthians. Corinthians, the tenth chapter.  We’ll read my text together.  All of us have it?  Now we’re starting at the twenty-third verse.  All right, everybody together:

 

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat asking no question for conscience’ sake; 

For, "the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof."

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake.

But if any man say unto you, "This is offered in sacrifice unto idols," eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof."

"Conscience," I say, not thine own, but of the other. For why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 

Give none offense, neither to the Jews nor to the Gentiles nor to the church of God,

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

[1 Corinthians 10:23-33]

 

Now, my sermon tonight out of that passage.  And you can’t preach everything; you just have to take a little part of it.  And as we go along, even though it seems that it takes forever to go through this book, yet I’m not going nearly, nearly as slow as one could.  There is like an ocean in the Book.  You never dip it out.  You never plumb its depths.

Now, out of this passage tonight, I’m taking a subject and a text that is something that doubtless nobody ever would think of taking.  It’s in the twenty-ninth verse, and it’s the question Paul asks: "Why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?" and it is a rhetorical question.  The answer is:  Well, it isn’t.  It isn’t. God made it that way – that it isn’t.

Now, this is the thought.  This is what the apostle is saying.  He is saying all through this chapter, the ninth and the – started at the eighth.  The eighth and the ninth and the tenth chapters, those three chapters – the whole thing – he’s talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols which was a big problem in his day.

Now, in the eleventh chapter, where we begin next Sunday morning, why, he starts in another thing: the problems they were having in the church, how to dress in church.  That’ll be an interesting subject for the preacher – my, my:  how to dress in church, how the women ought to dress.  Brother, if a preacher wants to get in all kinds of difficulty, why just let him try to tell the women anything much less how to dress.

Well, anyway, that’s what we get into next Sunday, and we won’t think about that terrible thing that lies ahead until next Sunday comes.  Back here, we’ve got today.  He’s talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols which I say was a tremendous thing that they faced at that time.

Now, the subject, the whole purpose of what Paul was writing, is this:  That a Christian is free.  He is at liberty.  God in Christ has set him free and made him free.  But, says Paul, for the sake of a weaker man – for the conscience sake of another man – we will voluntarily abridge our freedom [1 Corinthians 8:4-9].  We will voluntarily not eat that meat [1 Corinthians 8:10-13].  Though Paul says an idol’s not anything [1 Corinthians 8:4], and a sacrifice to an idol’s not anything [1 Corinthians 8:8], and that meat is just as good as any other meat if it isn’t spoiled – you can eat that meat and it’s all right to eat that meat and everything [1 Corinthians 10:25-27] – but, he says, if there’s a man over here who says: "That meat has been sacrificed to idols" – that is, that bullock was killed there on an altar and the inside and the fat was burned to the god, and then the meat was cooked and sold or given away – and your partaking of it to him, it was an awful sin because that’s the way they worshiped the god – they ate a communal meal the meat of which had been sacrificed to the god – now Paul said for that man’s sake, you ought not to eat.  Whatever it is you do that hurts him, why, don’t do it [1 Corinthians 8:9-13, 10:24, 28-33].

Now, I’ve already preached on that part of it.  That’s the reason that I say tonight we’re going to do something that usually you wouldn’t think about doing.  I’m going to preach on the first part of it:  that a man in Christ is free – that God in Christ hath made us free.

The answer to his rhetorical question: "Why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?"  It isn’t.  I am absolutely free and unaccountable to any man who ever lived, who lives, or ever shall live.  If we abridge our freedom, we do it voluntarily.  And that’s what Paul is saying: You don’t have to; you’re free, but what we do for another man we do voluntarily.  We abridge our liberties.  We constrict what otherwise we might do for him who is weaker and might be hurt by what we do [1 Corinthians 8:13].

Now, this thing of liberty, of freedom of conscience and religion, answerable to no man, to no church, to no hierarchy, to no institution – answerable alone to God:  Paul got to talking about that same thing in reference to eating meats also.  In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Romans, in the fourth verse of that fourteenth chapter, Paul asks another rhetorical question: "Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth" [Romans 14:4].

Now, he repeats the same thing in the tenth verse:  "Why dost thou judge thy brother? Or else why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" [Romans 14:10].  Then he repeats it again in the twelfth verse: "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" [Romans 14:12].

Now, that’s the same thing he’s talking about here:  "Why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?" [1 Corinthians 10:29]. Paul says and the premise of this whole thing that he’s writing about is this:  that we are accountable only to God.  We’re not accountable in our souls to anybody in this earth: nobody – no family member, no institution, no church, no anything anywhere, anytime!  Our accountability is to God alone, and every man in conscience and in soul is absolutely free.  He is at liberty.

Now, that means that there can never be any coercion in a man’s religion.  There can never be any forcing of a man’s moral or religious convictions.  He is free to choose, believe or not believe, to love or to hate, to come or to go [Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15; Matthew 19:16-22].  That’s the great difference between Mohammed and Jesus Christ.  Mohammed advised his followers to propagate the faith of Islam by the sword, and they propagated Mohammedanism by the sword, by force, by coercion, by armies, and by battle.

Christ wills no convert if that convert cannot be won unaided by violence or by force.  It is the Spirit of Christ that a man who comes to Him must come voluntarily.  He must come by his own soul’s decision [John 1:11-12].  It can never be a thing of coercion or of force.

Now, that has not been the record of the Christian church, and wherever the Christian church, the people of God, wherever they have departed from that spirit of soul liberty, of absolute freedom in religion and in choice – wherever Christian people, God’s people, have departed from that great God-given freedom and liberty, it is a sorry and tragic page in the history of God’s people.  When you go back there and turn through those pages of history, some of the darkest, most tragic stains upon and in this earth are written by the people of the Lord.

It seems to me that God’s people – Christ’s people, the church people – can be the most violently intolerant and the most maliciously vindictive, the most terrible in persecution of any people in the world.  Isn’t that a strange development?  For example, in my studying in preparing this sermon tonight, this week I came across a letter of a prelate to one of his under – he was an under-minister.  I don’t like to call it because you say, well –

I read his letter to one of his under ministers, and this under minister had been converted and was preaching the evangelical faith.  And this is the letter that his superior wrote to him.  Now, you listen to this:

 

May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost damn you.  May the holy angels damn you.  May all the prophets, priests, and children of God damn you.

May you be damned in your working or sleeping, in your eating or drinking, your standing or sitting, your walking or running.  May you be damned in your seed and progeny, your bloodletting and blood withholding.

May you be damned in your hands and feet, your speech and silence, in your brain and all members of your body.  May you be damned and eternally burned unless you repent and make restitution.

 

That is typical of the people of God.  And I don’t mean typical that [it] was written fifty years ago by an American prelate.  I don’t mean typical of just a little piece of the story of history. I mean the whole story: coercion and violence in religion!  You read the story of the burning of John Hus.  Who burned John Hus?  Religious people.   You read the story of the burning of Savonarola [Girolamo Savonarola].  Who burned Savonarola?  God’s people.  You read the story of the burning of Hubmaier [Balthasar Hubmaier], a great Baptist preacher four hundred and some odd years ago in the Vienna square.  Who burned him?  Religious people!  And they took his wife the next day because she would not recant her Baptist faith and drowned her in the blue waters of the Danube River – except they’re not very blue.

 The sorriest story in France is the story of the massacre of the Huguenots, and in my humble judgment and persuasion, the curse of God is on France and will always be.  I don’t think God will ever forgive the burning of the Huguenots, the massacre of the Huguenots.  It destroyed that great middle mercantile class in France, and they have been a degenerate nation ever since and are today.  You could fight a war with a flea as good as you could fight a war with France.  She has no moral integrity today, yesterday, or tomorrow.  It’s the curse of God for burning and massacring those Huguenots!

God never forgave Israel for the sins of Manasseh [2 Kings 21:1-18].  God said, "I will not forgive."  There are some things God doesn’t overlook.  They’re written in His Book with a pen of iron, and they stay written there.  Not only these things coming from the great established church, but in Geneva, Calvin – John Calvin – burned Servetus [Michael Servetus] because he was a heretic; that is, he didn’t believe like John Calvin.  John Calvin had him burned.  They burned Servetus in Geneva because he didn’t believe like John Calvin.  In Zurich, Switzerland, they drowned Felix Manz in the waters of the Lamont River.  The Reformed Church did it because he was a Baptist.  He liked water he said, so they drowned him in the river.

 And the story of the Puritans and the Separatists in New England is a sorry story in some respects, and the story of the Christian people in Virginia is anything except one to be proud of: persecuting by violence and by dungeon and by scourge and whip, trying to make people conform to a certain set of doctrines and beliefs.

 According to the Book – and I’m just saying tonight, I’m just preaching that first premise of Paul – according to the Book, God has made every man in conscience free, and he’s not to be judged by any other man, whatever he believes, whatever it is.  We are free before God [Romans 14:2-8].

If Robert G. Ingersoll were living today and were to come to Dallas and speak his infidelity again, we ought not to try to hush him.  We ought not to try to persecute him.  We ought not to try to put him to death.  God gave him that liberty.  That’s a God-given privilege and prerogative: without coercion for a man to believe what he wants to believe. 

The only hedging of that tremendous gift of God lies in public morals concerning which your state has to legislate:  murder, theft, violence – all of those things the state has to govern if a conscience can be so created.  The state can govern polygamy, for example, out in the Mormon state and country of Utah.  But those things lie in the province of a great public conscience where the great domain, the welfare, is concerned.  But as for a man’s religion or his no religion, as for a man’s belief or his no belief, as for a man’s faith or his no faith, under no conditions at any time has God made it that he is to be forced to do other than what in his own heart and in his own soul he chooses to do and to believe.  That’s full liberty of religion without coercion from any other hand or law or state or man.  We are in conscience free answerable only unto God.

If you don’t want to come to church, there ought to be no law in the land to make you come to church.  If you want to raise your children to be out and out atheists and infidels, there ought to be no law in the land to stop you.  If you want to teach your children to curse God, there ought to be no law in the land to stop you from teaching your children to curse God.  You’re absolutely free to do as you please – absolutely free.  God made us that way.

"Well, Preacher, the way you’re goin’ at that, you’d think that there’s kind of a premium for a fellow to turn aside from the great faith, from the tenets of Christ and the religion and the commandments of Jesus."  No, sir.  No, sir.  ‘Cause that’s what my sermon’s about.  This is just telling you something about religious freedom, that’s all. That’s what my sermon’s about.  Every man is at liberty to believe or not to believe, to be baptized or not to be baptized, to choose Christ yea or nay.  He’s at liberty – God made him that way – but I don’t mean by that that atheism and infidelity is as good as a devout, humble faith in Christ.  I don’t mean by that that outside the church is as good as in the church; that outside of Christ is as fine as in Christ; that for a man to curse God is as blessed as to love God.  No, sir.  I don’t believe anything like that [Romans 6:1-2].

I think the truth that every man in this earth ought to love and to follow, I think the truth is very constricted and very narrow.  I don’t think it’s just piece there or maybe there, or hedged there, or in a great, great borderline yonder.  I think it is very narrow, and I think it is very constricted.

I think it is as narrow and constricted as the multiplication table itself.  Two plus two does not equal three and nine-tenths, and it doesn’t equal four and six-eighths.  It doesn’t even equal four and a fraction or four underneath.  Two plus two equals four, and that’s all.

That’s the whole truth of God, and that’s the way it is in all of the truth of God.  We don’t just go live in an approximation of it nor is it a thing that a man may choose or not choose.  The thing is a revelation of God, and we’re not to be broad minded concerning it.

A man ought to be a Christian.  A man ought to be saved.  A man ought to ask God to forgive his sins.  A man ought to be baptized.  He ought to be in the church.  A man ought to do these things.  He’s at liberty not to do them, but he ought to do them, and we’re not broad minded in what a man ought to do.

This is what I copied out of Spurgeon.  Some people think that it doesn’t matter what doctrines you believe, that it is immaterial what church you attend, that all denominations are alike and that infidelity is little less valuable than faith if only sincere.  "Well," says Spurgeon:

 

I dislike Mrs. Bigotry above almost all people in the world, and I never give her any compliment or praise; but there’s another woman

– I don’t know why he makes females out of them –

but there’s another woman I hate equally as much, and that is Mrs. Latitudinarianism.

["A Sermon (No. 15)," by C.H. Spurgeon, March 18, 1855] 

 

Now, the longest word in the English language is anti-latitudinarianism.  Now he says here it’s "Mrs. Latitudinarianism, a well-known character."

I wonder if Spurgeon were preaching here tonight if he’d say that: "Mrs. Latitudinarianism, a well-known character."  Back there in Spurgeon’s day, they used the word "latitudinarian" to refer to a liberal.  We’d call him a modernist today – a fellow that doesn’t believe anything: "Oh, I’ll be there just as well as to be here, and to believe that just as well to believe that – and not much to any of it."

Well, in Spurgeon’s day, they called that latitudinarianism.  Now, he says:  "I don’t have much use for Mrs. Bigotry, but I have even less use for Mrs. Latitudinarianism who has discovered that there isn’t much choice between truth and error."

Now, that’s what we don’t subscribe to.  We say, according to the Word of God that is, God says that in conscience we’re free.  In our souls, we are at liberty.  We are never to be coerced.  What a man does about religion, he must do out of the fullness of his soul and in his own heart.  It must be his choice [John 6:66-71; Romans 14:5].

But at the same time, we say that does not mean that a man is just as well off who’s an infidel as a man who’s a Christian.  It doesn’t mean that a man can be outside the church and be just as fine as he can in the church.  We’re not saying that a man can repudiate God and blaspheme God and be as favored of heaven as a man who gives his life to God.

What we are saying:  that you are free to choose.  It is yours in your soul and your heart.  But we also say that the truth is this:  It’s in God.  It’s in Christ.  Come, come, and accept the great truth and revelation of the Son of God [John 4:14, 6:35].

Well, may I apply that just the best I can for a moment?  May I apply that?  There are many sacred books in the world – many of them – and you can read them, and you are at liberty to embrace their faith and their doctrine.  I have in my library several of them.  The Koran:  You can read the Koran, and you can be a Mohammedan.  You can belong to Islam.  You can read the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedic Hymns or the Upanishads, and you can be a Hindu.  You can read the Dhammapada the sacred writings of "the enlightened one" and follow Gautama the Buddha.  You can read the books of Confucius, and you can be a Confucian.  You are at liberty to do that.

But I say to you, I say to you, that when people believe the Koran, by and by, their civilization is a civilization of the Koran.  When they follow the Upanishads and the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita, their civilization is the civilization of the Hindu.  And when you follow the Dhammapada, you have a civilization of Buddhism; or Confucius, the civilization of Confucianism.

And those civilizations untouched by the Christian religion are like this.  They take their children and they throw them in the Ganges River.  They themselves prostrate themselves before great juggernauts that rule over them and crush them to death.  A man will hang by a hook through his back an interminable years hoping to excite the commiseration of his god.  Untouched by Christian civilization, as in India, when the husband dies and the funeral pyre consumes the body of her husband, she must burn up also in that fire that destroyed the body of her husband.  That’s the civilization untouched by the message of Christ.

Now, we are free.  We are free.  But at the same time, we say the truth lies in the Son of God.  It lies in the revelation of Jesus Christ [John 8:32, 14:6].

Some say, "I am a great devotee of the light of nature.  My god is in the great outdoors, in the stars above, and in the beautiful emerald world below, and I can worship god out there in the light of nature."  Oh, it’s a beautiful thing and the grandest excuse to go fishing on Sunday and to stay away from God’s house in the world.  "Nature’s god: that’s my religion; that’s my religion" [Romans 1:25]. 

Well, ’tis a wonderful thing – ’tis a wonderful thing what God has done.  But – but  before the days of David Livingstone, for example, all of the natives in Africa had the light of nature, but their minds were darkened and filled with superstition, and their lives were lost and blasted.  The light of nature – you could look at the stars forever and at the trees world without end and never know the true God [Romans 10:13-14].  You just couldn’t learn Him.  You couldn’t.  You can’t!

One of the things I came across in the life of David Hume: he was a great Scotch philosopher and historian, and he believed and said that he followed nature’s light.  Well, everybody in Scotland, you know, is religious of some kind or the other.  So in the little Scotch town where he lived, he went to see the preacher.  He went to see the preacher, and it was at night.  And after he got through visiting with the preacher, why, he bid him good night and started out.  And the parson went with him to the door to hold up the lamp, and said, "Mr. Hume, take this lamp.  Take this lamp with you."

"Oh, no," said David Hume – the man who was infidel in his attitude toward religion and Christ and who said he just lived according to the light of nature.  And it gave the infidel, gave Mr. Hume, the great historian, gave opportunity to just say a little word to the parson.  He said, "No, I don’t need any lamp at all.  Not a lamp."  He said, "I walk according to nature’s light, and see, the moon shines.  The moon shines."  And it was pretty up there, shining. 

So the parson bid him good night and took the light in the house, and David Hume started down the steps.  And just as he started down the steps, a big, dark cloud blotted out the moon, and when he got to the second step, he fell flat on his face and down there on the ground.  And the parson got his lamp again and came rushing out and down the steps where David Hume was lying out there on the ground and said to him, "Oh, Mr. Hume. Mr. Hume, when you can walk by a shining light, why do you try to walk by nature’s uncertain light?"

That’s the truth of God.  You can never find an ultimate in nature.  Never!  Never!  If we ever know God, it lies in the self-revelation of God.  We say, "This is the truth.  This is it."

Oh, I must hasten, I say.  Here’s a man who says, "Preacher, I’m a devotee of science.  I’m a devotee of science."  Oh, that sure sounds learned and intellectual!  "I’m a devotee of science.  I don’t believe anything unless it can be demonstrated to me in a test tube.  I don’t accept anything except as it becomes one of the great laws demonstrable by science."

Well, that’s fine.  That’s fine.  That’s what all the professors who are a certain kind and stripe, that’s what they say; and they pass by the church, and pass by Christ, and pass by the great revelation of God.  They worship science, and they are at the feet of science.  Well, that’s good.  The only thing about it is this: when a man worships science, just exactly what does he follow?  Just exactly what does he accept?  Because the science books today, the textbooks today, won’t be anything like the textbooks ten years from now if we can judge by the past.  Any textbook on science written ten years ago is out of date!  They don’t even live in our world, not this atomic world.  And all the way through, all the way through, science is a changing thing, and you never know quite just exactly what ultimately this final truth may be – not as the scientist Luke said it. 

Medicine is a science.  You doctors here: my soul, they cram into your cranium, they cram so much chemistry and anatomy and physics and, oh, I don’t know what all you fellows got to know when you get to be a physician.  All right, let’s look at you for example.  Let’s look at you.  Let’s look at you. 

When I was a boy – now, this is how medicine has changed even in my long lifetime.  When I was a boy, when I was a boy, every time I got sick, my mama got out the bottle of castor oil and went down to the store and got an orange or two, squoze out that orange juice, put castor oil in it.  The only time as a boy I ever tasted of an orange was when it had castor oil in it.  I thought that was the way oranges tasted.  They had castor oil in them.  And it was years and years before I got over the fact that even the smell of an orange made me gag.

All right, another thing.  When I was a boy, when I was a boy, every spring of the world, every spring that came around, the doctor came out to our house and gave me a course of calomel every spring in the world.  Thank the Lord you youngsters here don’t know what calomel is.  That is the most abominable and terrible and atrocious of all the sick-making medicines in the world.  There’s nothing like it.  Nothing like it.  If the doctor didn’t have any other practice, boy, he’d get him a practice.  He’d make him a practice by giving folks calomel.  Oh!

Did you know, did you know that I – I’m not talking about somebody else – I, in the springtime, I have eaten molasses mixed with sulfur till it nearly got me sick itself?  Did you know that I have drunk sassafras tea to make my blood thin in the springtime?  Did you know that when I went to school, when I went to school, the kids wore Asphidity around their necks to keep off the bugs? 

Oh, the science of medicine!  Did you ever hear this?  A mother sent a little boy to a drugstore to get a nickel’s worth of Asphidity.  So he went up to the druggist and said, "My mama has sent me to get a nickel’s worth of Asphidity."

So the druggist got the little piece of Asphidity and gave it to the boy, and the boy said, "Well, charge it."

So the man said, "Well, to whom, now, do I charge it?  What’s your daddy’s name and address?"

And the boy said, "Charge it to Mr. Ivan Schumonasecky Fifendiecher who lives at 1816 Front Martin Boulevard."

And when the druggist started to write out a nickel’s worth of Asphidity, and he stumbled on that and that long name, he said, "Listen, son.  Take it.  It ain’t worth that much to write it down."

That’s medicine as it used to be.  Now, all of you marvelously trained doctors here tonight, when I even mention those things, why, you just laugh at those old-time doctors that lived in that little country town where I was fetched up and tryin’ to keep me well.  You just laugh at that.  Let me tell you something.  Fifty years from now, these doctors that’ll be doctoring then are going to recount the crazy, inane, unbelievable, indescribable things that you do today and wonder at the colossal ignorance of the medical colleges that taught you to do it like you’re doin’ it now.

Why, that’s science.  That’s science!  And when you follow in that, you got a light to go by that you don’t know where it leads, ’cause it’s not final.  It’s not exhaustive.  It’s still something else and something on.

Dear people, we’re not saved by reason.  We’re not saved by nature’s light.  We’re not saved by science.  We’re not saved by psychology.  We’re not saved by psychiatry.  We’re not saved by institutions.  We’re not saved by learning.  These things are not for the saving of the soul. They help us.  Were it not for our godly, dedicated men in science, I don’t know what would happen to us.  They are seeking ever after the great truth, and these wonderful things they find in human behavior and behaviorism and how to help us in our heads and our hearts and in our bodies and in our institutions, all of that is great.  But God never intended it for the saving of the soul.  God has something else for a man to be saved by.

Well, what is it?  What is it?  It’s not infidelity.  It’s not faithlessness.  It’s not out there beyond the church and beyond God though the Lord hath made us free to choose.  What is this thing that God intended for the saving of our soul and the forgiveness of our sins?  This is it!  This is it!  Listen to the Book:  "There’s salvation in none other, for there’s none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12].  Here it is.  "What must I do to be saved?"  And they said: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:31].  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

I’m not saved by the light of nature.  I’m not saved by infidelity or atheism.  I’m not saved by science and learning.  I am saved by coming to Jesus, by looking to God, by trusting in Him.  It’s somebody who died for us [1 Corinthians 15:3].  It’s that somebody who rose again for us [1 Corinthians 15:4].  It’s that somebody who’s in heaven interceding for us [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25].  It’s that somebody who’s coming again for us [Matthew 24:30; John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Revelation 1:7].   It’s Jesus.  He saves us.  We are saved by a free choice and a free committal of our life to Him [John 1:12, 3:16, 6:37].

While we sing our song tonight, as God would lay upon your heart that appeal of a commitment of your life in faith and in trust to Jesus, would you come and stand by me?  "Here I am, Pastor, and here I come.  Here’s my whole family.  We’re coming tonight."  Or one somebody you, somebody you, anybody you, while we make appeal, while we sing the song, anywhere coming to the Lord, coming to us: "Preacher, out there, no, that’s not for me.  I can choose it out there, but I don’t choose it out there.  I choose it with God.  I choose it with Christ.  I choose it with the people of the Lord.  Here I am, and here I come.  As God shall help me and as God shall lead us, here I am and here I come."  Would you make it tonight?  Would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?

 

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE IN RELIGION

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 10:23-32

10-30-55e

 

I.          Paul’s thought in the passage – as Christians we are free

A.  Our liberty is God-given and not held at the mercy of mankind(1 Corinthians 10:29)

1.  But it is sometimes voluntarily abridged for the sake of others

B.  Same thought in reference to eating meats(Romans 14:4, 10, 12)

C.  We are accountable only to God

1.  Coercion has no part in Christian faith and message of Christ

a. Striking difference between Mohammed and Christ

D.  Where we have departed from that, we have departed from spirit of Christ

1.  The letter of Bishop Ireland

2.  The most tragic murders – those wrought by the church

3.  Even the infidel is not to be coerced

4.  Only public morals a matter of the state

 

II.         We have a God-given right to our beliefs

A.  Every man is at liberty to believe or not to believe

B.  The truth is very narrow, constricted, like multiplication table

C.  Charles Spurgeon – Mrs. Latitudinarianism

 

III.        Application

A.  All the sacred books – free to read, follow, believe

1.  But not all right by any means

2.  Civilization untouched by message of Christ

B.  Light of nature – free to follow

1.  In itself so barren

2.  Africa before Livingston

3.  David Hume

C.  Science – free to follow

1.  But what is science?

2.  Textbooks written ten years ago are out of date

a. Changes in medicine so drastic

3.  We are not saved by reason, science, nature’s light – we are saved by Jesus(Acts 4:12, 16:31)