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Let Freedom Ring

Conrad Vine
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Conrad Vine

President of Adventist Frontier Missions

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  • October 10, 2015
    11:45 AM
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Vala God. I thank you for the privilege of standing before these your people and father we together come as sinners but we come as the sheep of your pasture asking you as the Good Shepherd to gently lead us today Father we know that there are dangerous parts ahead we know there are values that even that include the the shadow of death but Father we look forward by faith to the day when you lead us all by Still waters in green pastures so today Father speak through me take away anything of me that is not worthy and I pray that my words will be your words and your angels will guard this place that your spirit will delight to be present here today this I ask in Jesus' name. So. Let's start with 1st principles shall we when it comes to religious liberty I want you to assume for minutes there was only Adam and Eve and Adam in the world not leave yet just Adam and when God created Adam the 1st and only relationship that existed in this world was between God and Adam himself the 1st relationship was between Creator and creature and that is why God Jesus said that the 1st in the greatest commandment is you shall love the Lord thy God with the i Heart with all my soul and with all my mind because if we were if I was the only person on planet earth I would still have a relationship with my creator I would still have a Judy before my Creator and I'm still morally accountable before my Creator does that make sense so if there was nobody else in the world except me or anyone in this room here today that commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind would still apply. Now this is not the 1st commandment to be written or expressed in salvation history but it is the 1st commandments that could possibly be because it is the expression of the 1st principle of the existence of any intelligent creature that is and are an expression of his relationship with his creator and when that when Eve was created so the 2nd commandment comes along and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself because God is love he has has created mankind with the inherent freedom to recognize that relationship with his creator or to reject that relationship with his creator Moses said his rights on the verge of Canaan Jews from the $3900.00 said I have set before you life and death blessings and curses now choose life so that you and your children may live so religious liberty is thus the gift of God inherent within the gift of rational existence itself and God has given no man woman or institution the rights or the authority to determine another man's response to God As such any service rendered to God that is not freely given is not in fact given to God for God is love and love and coercion can never go together but something went wrong with that gift of religious liberty and we're going to pick up the story the time of the Roman Empire maybe the start of modern history you might say the Roman empire based on the premise that religion effect society believes that religion was therefore the legitimate concern of the government and the Roman emperors legislated repeatedly on matters of religious liberty in order to uphold the unity of the state and for the 1st 2 centuries after Christ were Christians were minority they argued for religious liberty under Pagan Rome in fact the 1st recorded use of the phrase religious liberty was to tally and who lived in 16228 d. he was the 1st writer to use the words liberal onus religious liberty was 1st raised by Christians living in Pagan Rome. Constantine in 339 d. confirmed the Edict of Milan affirming individual freedom for all and religious liberty only then a few years later in 321 a.d. to pass the 1st ever Sunday legislation by the 5th century we come to or gusting one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time may not agree with everything he said but what he said was magisterial and he argued that the church have the right to persecute heretics to compel them to enter the true church now he argued this from the parable of the banquet 1416 through 24 where after the invited guests declined their invitations the master sent out his servants to compel people to attend Now that word compel and can be either interrupted compelled or persuade but Augustine interrupted that verse as God giving the church the right to compel people to enter the church why because when they enter the church there they find salvation and even if we have to torture you to get you into the church it's for your own good. And one interpretation of Luke 1416 through 24 that the church has the right to compel people through torture if necessary to enter the body of Christ because in the body of Christ they find eternal life that has opened the way for the inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church and in England right come from from the burning of heretics at the stake. In England in Saxon England 700 a.d. the English king inna and 900 a.d. Alfred the Great who kicked the Danes out of England Athelstan King and King Athelstan in 1004 they all passed Sunday laws as part of their national legislation and it was based on the writings of all Gustin that the church is required by the Master Jesus to compel people to enter the church because there they find salvation and those Sunday laws became part of the English common law system and in 676 King Charles the 2nd passed a Sunday law in England prohibiting ordinary work on the Sunday now this relates to us today because that Sunday Lord $676.00 was applied to the 30 American colonies and so Sunday laws became parts of the laws of the 1st American colonies from almost from the get go it was only Rhode Island stablished by Roger Williams that guaranteed religious freedom through the the constitutional separation of church and state but after the American Revolution which as we all know was a victory of English colonists against German mercenaries of George the 2nd. That's a joke by the way after the ing after the English or the American Revolution I should say not the English Revolution at a federal level the 1st Constitution the 1st Amendment to the us Constitution 1791 was a well known phrase as Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or restricting the acts of the free exercise thereof and that is not an absolute right for instance in America you cannot offer your child as a sacrifice. You cannot participate in the Hindu practice of suttee the burning of widows or burning of young wives now you cannot under us federal law parties take some narcotic substances and argue that it's the free exercise of religion so even though this 1st Amendment exists it is not an absolute right it is a negotiated rights that is always balanced against that wide in needs of society it is not an absolute right but both the state and federal law level in America there being continual attempts to impose Sunday laws during the so-called blue laws persecutions of the late 191-872-8218 extension 95 Adventist faced real persecution many were imprisoned many faced a large fines and they were put into forced labor gangs we call these things blue laws they are colonial relics they still exist on the laws of many states of the United States within the United States they have not been repealed and they can be enforced at the discretion of judges we still have blue laws in the United States today they are a relic from colonialism but the Sunday laws do exist in many parts of the states now America kind of was uncertain of itself as most teenagers are as they grow to maturity. So as America grew to maturity as a nation America was debating are we a Christian nation are we not a Christian nation and in $796.00 Congress agreed a treaty with the nation of Tripoli a modern day in the Mediterranean a republic or a Muslim state and in that streety Congress affirms that United States is not built on the Christian faith. But then in 8092 the Supreme Court passed down a decision stating that the u.s. is I quote a Christian nation and court and following that decision of the u.s. Supreme Court in 1902 there was the Chicago world where here just down the road here from 809228093 the House of Representatives up in d.c. voted by 131 to 36 but Sunday was the Christian Sabbath and by 149 to 11 that the 7th day was not the Sabbath this has already been voted by the u.s. House of Representatives during the 50 years after 888 including the Blair Bill of 888 and the Breckenridge bill of 890 more than 145 Sunday bills were presented in the u.s. Congress but by God's grace not one became law but if you want to know what the u.s. House of Representatives things it is still in statutes on the record of the votes the u.s. House of Representatives voted that the 7th day is not the Sabbath and as we look back at Adventist history I am truly grateful for the life ministry people 80 Jones if you don't know the life and history of 80 Jones Please educate yourself by the book by George knights in the a.b.c. it's a life of 80 Jones 80 Jones was a whirlwind for religious liberty and many within the Adventist Church didn't understand him but this gentleman Blair wanted didn't choose a Sunday law in Congress he did a national speaking tour and 80 Jones got a copy of that itinerary and everywhere where Blair went Jones was out the week before blanketing the town with anti Sunday law pamphlets eventually blag got angry who is this 80 Jones guy and if you read through the records of Congress 80 Jones is an Adventist representative argued convincingly on many occasions before select committees of the House of Congress that the government has no business passing Sunday laws the guy was a whirlwind and we today still live in the light of the liberty that he fought for. As we look at the world around us today we think. These things can never happen again as elder steed was sharing with us this morning things are happening in our world today. If we're not careful we're just going to miss it but as lead said this Steve said this morning that the chains are already there they're just not tight let me give an example the pope just recently issued an 6 and cyclical on climate change he issued it on June 18th a share and sack Section 237 where the pope is talking about our common home this is what it says and I quote Sunday like the Jewish Sabbath is meant to be a day which heals our relationship with God with others with ourselves and with the world and quotes that's what the pope said in June this year and on the same day President Obama declared in a White House press release and I quote I welcome his holiness Pope Francis in cyclical and deeply admire the pope's decision to make the case clearly powerfully and with the full moral authority of his position for action on global climate change I believe the United States must be a leader in this effort and the pope's call for climate change action included a call for Sunday worship and in that statement President Obama States of America must be a leader to implement the pope's suggestions in his in cyclical of June this year and in cyclical and encourages the world to keep Sunday these things are happening before our very eyes it's time to switch off n.b.a. and n.f.l. and focus on the coming crisis. So as we think about religious liberty we can understand religious liberty is the individual versus the States our relationship with the state around us we can think of religious liberty in terms of relationship where there is a union of church and states and we can also think of our religious liberty in terms of our relationship with the 70 Adventist Church. So I'm going to address 1st our legitimacy versus the state and if you have your Bibles with me Turn to Romans Chapter 13 in verse one is a famous verse written by the Apostle Paul to the Church of Rome Paul was writing in an era where the Roman emperors were monsters. The Roman Emperors engaged in every form of deviant behavior you could possibly imagine Paul wasn't talking just about general administrators here Paul is talking about men who gauge in every form of perversion and corruption a moral depravity that it is possible to imagine and even you don't even want to imagine and yet he said yes to the Church of Rome he says in Romans 13 verse one says let every person be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God And Paul just a few years later was beheaded by one of those authorities in Rome we learn from this verse here that the state is ordained by God for a purpose to uphold law and order and to avoid Anneke that the god has given the or the states of this world or 13 civil matters that is in the material side of life and we are to obey the law wherever we live including paying our taxes and we are to pray for our civic leaders 1st Timothy Chapter 2 verses one through 2 says we are to pray for those in positions of authority we are to pray for our rulers whether we vote for them or not we are to pray for them but throughout her history rulers from Nimrod's to Nebuchadnezzar to Nero to to Napoleon or to the Nazis have sought to extend their God ordained limits on civil authority for the state and they've sought to legislate on religious matters in areas where God has given no state you're 30 to legislate to turn to Jeremiah $25.00 and verse 11 this is the prophecy that God's people would be captives in Babylon for 70 years. And having prophesied that they will be captive for 70 years in Jeremiah Chapter 25 and verse 11 this is what God says to his people in Jerusalem and Judah the remaining 2 tribes that have yet to go into captivity Jeremiah Chapter 25 all read verse 11 says that this whole land of the land of Judah shall become a ruin and a waste and these nations that is the people of Judah shall serve the king of Babylon for 70 years so the prophet Jeremiah God revealed that his people were to serve king the king of Babylon then we could measure for an exile period of 70 years and yet whenever you can as it came to power in $605.00 b.c. any concrete Jerusalem and took the 1st wave of of captives off to Jerusalem a few years later he had the dream of the statue we're all familiar with the story Daniel 2 and then in Daniel 3 now you can as it decides that his kingdom is going to last forever just Despite what God says and he's going to build a statue of gold from head to toe he sought to rule the world in civil and religious matters now he can as a sort to be the religion the ruler in the religion of the world and of the religion of the world and then he can as a sort to restrict religious liberty to return to Daniel 3 you find what happens I'm sure many of us are familiar with the story that the trumpets were blown and the furnace were fired up and most of the crowd fell down and worshiped including we presume representatives from the Judean kingdom of Jerusalem. I mean those famous verses and Daniel 3 verses 16 through 18 the 3 Hebrews Shadrack me 2nd Abednego they are answered the king who demands know why they would not bow down to that statue. They say Oh never you couldn't as verse 16 we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter if our God whom we serve is able to loot to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand Oking let him deliver us but if not be it known to you Ok that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you set up in so many say a man. Beautiful words. And so the king threw them into the fire and he looks in the fire and the 3 Hebrews are walking around in the fire they have been consumed by the flames and with them there is a 4th being is angelic being the king recognizes this is a almost a divine being in the in the flames and the story goes on in verse $24.00 can there be can as are said was it not 3 man that we through bound into the fire they answered the king true king and he replied but I see form an unbound walking in the middle of the fire and they are not hurt and the 4th has the appearance of a god and so God commanded the Israelites when you go into captivity you are to serve and you can answer for 70 years and when they got into captivity and the king to modern to bow down in force worship those 3 Hebrews refused to buy our So the question was What did when God said Obey maybe Knesset for 70 years did you also mean in matters of religion absolutely not because Jesus to deliver those 3 Hebrews in the fiery furnace and affirmed the principle that no authority has the right to legislate on religious matters yes you are to serve the king of Babylon in civil matters but no you are not to bow down and false washer and verse $28.00 when the king pulls him out of the fire. He says. And then he can as a said Blessed be the gods of Shadrach commission Abednego who has sent his angel and delivered his serpent servants who trusted in him they disobeyed the king's command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own Now the King James Version says that they change the king's word notice there is God confirmed in the story that's never you can as a had demanded obedience where he had no right to command before the principle of religious liberty the 1st gift inherent in intelligent existence even the king's command must change when we turn to Daniel 6 this other encounter between faithful child of God in the States we find the situation is reversed in Daniel 3 find that false worship is commanded was in Daniel 6 you find that true worship is forbidden and Daniel Chapter 6 The story of Daniel in the Lion's Den many of us are familiar with the story when the Babylonian Empire collapsed the middle Persians took over Daniel was asked to be the prime minister he was blameless in all that he did you might say he was the perfect politician and the other administrators didn't like him because he wasn't corrupt and so they sought every way they could to catch it to trap Daniel and finally they decided but the only way to hurt Daniel was by encouraging the king to forbid the true worship of the living God And so they said to the king in verse 6 said Ok Darius live forever Daniel 6 verse 7 all the presidents of the kingdom the prefects and satraps the councils in the governance are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict that whoever prays to any one divine or human for 30 days except you shall be thrown into a den of lions now working and stablished the interdict and sign the document so that it cannot be changed according to the law of the Medes and Persians which cannot be revoked therefore can Darius signed the document and the interdict. The genius of this attack on Daniel was that those who are attacking Daniel could say to the King this is not about religious liberty at all the principle is at stake is whether we are nation of moral not because of Daniel can flout the law or publicly as the prime minister and you can open his window 3 times a day and break the law then anybody can break the law this is not a question so much of religious liberty they might say this is that we are a nation of law and if the prime minister can openly flout the law then anybody can openly flout the law and the kingdom will degenerate into anarchy and chaos the kingdom will come to an end and so Daniel was thrown to the lions but when he came out of that pit in verse $21.00 notice what Daniel says to the king is Ok live forever this is to the king that was thrown into the Lion's Den Ok And he's a gracious man as are Daniel Ok England forever my God sent His angels and shut the lions' mouths so they would not hurt me because notice what he says before him that is before God I was found blameless and before you okaying I have done no wrong Daniel has broken the law but he affirms that before God He was blameless so when the government's presume to legislate on religious matters we are blameless before God when we break the law in order to uphold God's law and then Daniel says before you okaying I was I have done you no harm I have done no wrong so when we break laws that impinge on religious liberty not only are we blameless before God But those countries that impose laws on religious liberty they are actually working against God And when we disobeyed those laws were actually being a blessing to those countries we do those countries no harm when we uphold the law of God before you are kings of Daniel I have done no wrong so any law that touches religion is essentially inviolate. For it is the law of God and not the word of any monarch or the law of any nation that is unchangeable when we come to religious liberty and the union of church and states while the union of church and state goes back a long way and perhaps the most stark example of the union of church and state was the crucifixion of our Savior Jesus Christ if you turn in your Bibles to John Chapter 19 you notice there that what one that when the South when the Jewish religious leaders wanted to Jesus dead they could find no reason for condemning him they hired false witnesses in the force witnesses could not agree with one another and they slapped him and they beat him and they broke every judicial law of their own system and finally they dragged him before pilot and pilot knows that they've handed him over because of envy pilot knows that Jesus is innocent pilot knows that Jesus has done no wrong and that they're motivated not by desire to uphold the law because Jesus is not broken any law but they're motivated by envy and finally one pilot realizes that he has no option humanly speaking but to agree to the crucifixion of Jesus read in John 19 verse 13 of verse 12 the Jews cried out If you release this man John 1000 verse 12 you are no friend of the Emperor everyone who claims to be a king sets him up against the emperor the Emperor was type eeriest he was a sadist and a monster and the chief of the protests or in guy was a guy called Janus who was an anti semite to encourage pilot in his death deprivations within Judea itself and pilot knew that if punch would hear that he is no friend of the Emperor that's in those days you didn't just get a pink slip and you may be beheaded at best. When pilot heard those words verse 13 brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called the stone pavement or in Hebrew god buffer now it was the day of preparation for the Passover and it was about noon and he said to the Jews here is your King and they cried away cried out Away with Him away with him crucify him pilot said ask them shall I crucify your king that's a brilliant question Shai crucify your kings as pilots and the response they backed into a corner the chief priest answered We have no king but the Emperor it was a formal renunciation of the Jews hopes for a Messiah they accepted human all ferrety of the Jewish nation and they abandoned their hope in the Messiah at that moment so the church of its day the Sanhedrin united with the state of its day the Roman state in order to commit to the greatest Kamar crime that has ever occurred on planet Earth as the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior and wherever church and states have been united this union has prevailed proved nothing but a curse for suffering humanity and that is why we as Adventist work for the Separation of Church and State is why I publish magazines like liberty because we recognize from salvation history that when church and state are united there is nothing but evil for God's people and for all people when you're way out today pick up a copy of Liberty there on the back there on the table in the back and learn more about principles of religious liberty. If you turn to Acts 5 verse 2729 of the Apostles speak a very clear principle here it's a principle I learnt from my parents as a young man is a principle that has served me well in life as a principle it will serve us well as we go through the winter of earth's existence accepted 5 in verse 29 where the Sanhedrin of commanding the Apostles not to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and the Apostles respond they say but Peter in Apostles answered verse 29 we must obey God rather than Man it's a simple clear principle but if I'm to obey God It presumes that I actually know what God's will in the matter is does it not I cannot say I must obey God rather than man I know what man's will is but what is God's will so am I taking the time to find God's will for me in my life is easy to quote this verse I must obey God rather than Man if I have no idea what God's will is it's kind of a pointless statement we are as the Bereans were to be more noble than the other Jews of their area we ought to study the scriptures day by day to see whether what you hear leaving this morning is true or not we ought to have an intelligent faith that given not given our answer for what we believe and why we believe and in whom we believe so we can say we obey God rather than man but we need to know what God's will is and when to be searching for that world and searching for that Will is like searching for the pole of great treasure the kingdom of God is not the pearl but it is the experience of searching for it as we search day by day for that pearl of great treasure God brings us insights and wisdom that we would never otherwise have so brothers and sisters us as we live through this coming day this this week this month this year make it your objective to know God's will in your life oftentimes we know what God's will is we just don't want to follow it oftentimes people say Pastor I have a dilemma. I don't know what to do about it and within a couple of seconds you know that they know exactly what God's word on the matter is but they're searching scriptures for a get out clause they've somehow missed when we sit down to read the scriptures before we sit down we should say God whatever you reveal to me now give me the courage to follow through with it because then we are emotionally and spiritually ready to follow through with what God reveals to us and these may be little things but the cumulative impact of little things is a sanctified life when we consider religious liberty in the church and what we say about the church the church is their Claes our. Means those who are being called out of the world in the ancient Greek city states of Athens and Sparta in Corinth when they wanted a city a vote they wouldn't call everybody in the city out to the plains to vote they would call the free man so all the slaves were left in the city all the women were left in the city all the sick were left in the city all the children were left in the city all those who didn't own land were left in the city but it was the free men who were the clay z.-a they were called out because they were leading men of the city and they would make the decision and that word of clays is what Jesus refers to his church us he refers to us as the clays which means we're not slaves to sin that yes we may not be landowners but we are the as with Christ of eternal riches and he leads us with His Spirit to come out of this world in order that we might worship I have the father but then he sends us back into the world to proclaim the everlasting Gospel and so we exist as a community as a church of those who confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we join together for worship for fellowship for instruction in the word for the celebration Lord's are for supper for service to all humanity and the proclamation of the Gospel Christianity is not a soul or religion. It is a community faith and the spiritual got gifts that God gives His Church Romans 12 1st Corinthians 12 through 14 and officials for the 3 classic passages on spiritual gifts make it crystal clear that the church is a mutual community where we have mutual responsibilities one to another where if I use my gifts and use your gifts and if you use your gifts the whole body is strengthened as a result that we live in a mutual body and when we talk about religious liberty visibly the church. This raises interesting questions because we also disfellowshipped people religious liberty normally means freedom for domination for their religion from interference by the state when we think of the phrase religious liberty most people think we want Congress not to make any law regarding Sunday law we think about our faith and our church and the state but religious liberty also affects our relationship with our brothers not sisters and what I mean by this is simply this that we disagree with your Gustin who said you can compel people into the Body of Christ. We uphold the principle of religious liberty which means you are free to enter the Adventist church and you are also free to leave the Adventist Church if so convicted that means as we gather here on this Sabbath morning we do not gather for reasons of social convenience or coersion but we gather because we are convicted disciples of the Lord and Savior of mankind we are here by conviction and God only wants us here by conviction God doesn't want us necessarily here if we're here because we're told we have to be here or we're 15 lose our jobs if we're not here we are disciples of Jesus by conviction not before convenience or coercive reasons we are here because we are converted by the Holy Spirit and convicted of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ and because of the 1st Peter 3 Verse 15 if you turn your Bibles so if in your Bibles to James Peter John 1st Peter chapter 3 and verse 15 right near the end of your Bibles you have James Peter John Jude the revelations are just a few pages back from Revelation in 1st Peter chapter 3 in verse 15 we read there it says 2nd half of the verse 1st Peter 3 in verse 15 Peter says always always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in your to say occasionally or when prepared No we are always to have be able to make a defense you say well I'm not that well prepared well I downloaded an app the other day they shouted at the g.c. session can find it here it's free and here it is it's called. Sharing hope you can download it for free and take it 30 seconds when you get home this afternoon when you download sharing hope it has the entire conflict of ages series on it. And it has a bunch of glow tracts so if you're sitting on a plane on a plane or the coach going to O'Hare or you're in Wal-Mart and someone asks you a question you may not say what you might think I have the answers right now but you have a smartphone you have this up you say Give me your e-mail address and you can send them the web link to an incredible document we can all be prepared and be intentional about sharing our faith and so in terms of religious liberty in our relationship with the church we'd say this we ought to know for ourselves what we believe why we believe it and who we believe and God wants us to be convicted and converted not here by coercion or by convictable convenience but when we talk about religious liberty we also recognize that in the world today we live in a fast changing world this here is the Sharia law now you may not once it for Christmas but it's a great read actually it's like the viscous on steroids and. You can buy it on Amazon for about $35.00 It's called the reliance of the traveler a classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law and it has the official imprint of approval from the leading Arabic universities of the worlds from the University of Damascus from the Mufti of the Jordanian armed forces from the feet Caddick out to me a judge of North America most important from al Assad is the leading Sunni university in the world it's in Cairo. And I read it through a couple summers ago. I'm not going to do it again but this is the fastest growing faith in the world so they say well it would be because if anybody anybody leaves they get killed so if we had only people joining Ivan search we'd also be the fastest growing faith in the world. But as you look through this this is based on the teachings of Mohammed it's called the had teeth this is mostly where the Shari'a comes from the goal of Islam is to bring the whole world them to Sharia Law This is the Sharia law the Shari'a law says a number of things here when it's Ok to punish a Muslim when it's not Ok to punish Muslim one of the reasons why it is not Ok to punish a Muslim I'm going to quote As a Muslim for killing a non muslim that means an Islamic holy law if a Muslim kills you they are blameless in Muslim folk Secondly a father or mother for killing their offspring and there's an honor killing it is a blameless thing in Islamic holy law apostasy from Islam says when a person who is reach puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatize is from Islam he deserves to be killed you may dialogue with him but if he refuses he has to be immediately killed etc etc And there are pages and pages and pages of when you can kill people all that already listed in the the church manual for the fastest growing faith in the world today we are living in a world where people are being denied increasingly basic principles of religious liberty but religious liberty is like a Christmas gift what I mean by that Well Christmas is coming up and I know for many children this is a time of great excitement is it not for me it's a time of trepidation and wonder about my bank account in January. My father used to call my uncle about 3 weeks before Christmas when we living in England his twin brother I'm a twin his twin and we knew what that phone call meant the phone call meant we did have a moratorium on presents this year and as kids we were just distraught by this moratorium on presents and so we'd negotiate for like um not can we spend like $3.00 each on a present and so we give each other a pen or something something like that. But religious liberty is like a Christmas present that is it's no use when it's sitting unpacked if I have a Christmas present this year and I believe I will get one hopefully. I have I trust I well I'm not going to leave it on wrapped sitting under my bed I'm going to open it up because a Christmas present is a beautiful thing but it has to be unwrapped and it has to be experience doesn't it and religious liberty is a bit like that we may say I want my religious liberty and the government to defend with my religious liberty and the pope is working behind the scenes to restrict my really religious liberty all of which is true but we have religious liberty right now in the states do we not and to say I want religious liberty while refusing to use that religious liberty is like having the cost of a Ferrari never wanting to drive it is meaningless so while we may talk about religious liberty as a concept we need to ask ourselves what are our responsibilities as people today who enjoy religious liberty let's open that present of it there are 3 dimensions on explore here one is that as we have live just liberty we live for the last as citizens of the United States we support religious liberty today because we do defend the u.s. Constitution the Bill of Rights in the 1st Amendment and doing so we defend the very best of human civilization Ok I'm a Brit I'm saying this but this is absolutely true you cannot read the Gettysburg Address or the Bill of Rights without being deeply moved inside these some of the finest documents in human history and though I'm not a us citizen yet as I live here I do uphold the Bill of Rights and the 1st Amendment and the u.s. Constitution. And in so doing we defend the inherent dignity of every human being as a created child of God but broader than being us citizens as members of the human race we uphold the un Declaration of Human Rights which states not and I quote Everyone has the right of true freedom of thought conscience and religion This includes the freedom to change his religion or belief and quote that is not a quote that most of the world accepts today but it is in the un Declaration of Human Rights to which the United States is a signatory and as Adventists we support religious right religious liberty today because it is God's inherent gift to his creation and no man has the right to limit God's gift to another man we are told the gift of religious liberty because it is absolutely necessary for us to fulfill our prophetic mission to make disciples of all nations if we're to reap a harvest from every field in the world we need access to the field to sow the seed in every field of the world and so therefore we do work for religious liberty but if you turn to Proverbs 13 verse 8 you see that religious liberty goes beyond us as we live for the last in 70 Adventists today in a world where the cloud the storm clouds are gathering and the mist is gathering and people no longer know their histories are no longer read Bibles in Proverbs Chapter 13 verse 8 sort of Proverbs 31 verse 8 my apologies Proverbs 31 verse 8 notice what the wisest man who ever lived had to say Proverbs 31 a verse states a speak out for those who cannot speak speak for the rights of all the destitute we are not called to be a comfortable middle class church assuming that because we are Ok then everybody else must be Ok as well. We worship God according to our conscience we honor the 1st commandments love the Gaar love Lord thy God of all by heart and soul and mind and in response God says now follow the 2nd commandment which is to love your neighbor as yourself and it's precisely because we uphold the principle of religious liberty that we cannot preach on religious liberty but be silent on segregated or marginalized communities or children who are going to bed hungry or women and girls who are victims of trafficking or be silent while single parents are struggling to make it not through the month but through the day precisely because religious liberty is our spiritual birthright we as Adventists are called to speak up not just about salvation for eternity but to minister to those today who are caught in family breakdown environmental degradation moral chaos systemic social injustice and human trafficking the list could go on I'm not a socialist but we do have responsibilities to our brother and our sister what does this mean in practice Well a number of years ago in Cyprus. There was a lady young girls started coming to church in Nicosia now she was always very quiet and I noticed one Sabbath that she had bruising across her neck like this one but a hands around his throat and so started talking with her like what's going on with your life or who are you and where have you come from and it turned out she was a victim of trafficking Johnson a job adverts in Cyprus for a waitress and I've been put to work in another type of profession and she was an Adventist I took a passport they knew she could leave the country and they gave us Sabbaths off to come and worship God The fact that she was in church was a minor miracle so a couple of us gathered together and said well we have to potluck we'll go home to our homes and she goes back to where she's working and what we're going to do about this do we have a responsibility absolutely so we said to him Look we're going to buy you a ticket a one way ticket to your home country. And when you come to church next week we want you to bring if you can get your passport us or your passport We'll get you out of this country and she was being held there by a local mafia group she was really scared and we became really scabs and we're going to do this and so the following Sabbath afternoon she didn't come to church we drove by and knocked on the door of this place of work and she answered the door and she's I've got my passport so let's get in the car this is what movies we were wearing baseball caps and sunglasses Ok myself and we did not want to be recognized by the mafia the Russian Mafia is very powerful in Cyprus it's where girls are broken into for they get put to work in Western Europe and we put in the car and we drove as fast as we could to the airport we got to the airport there in Sol and said Give us your cell phone we got the sim card out and destroyed it so nobody can trace it back to us and we put on a plane and said never come back here again go back to your parents now I have a daughter and if you ever see my daughter in that position you do the same for me would you we are called to minister to those who are caught up in the evil of this world precisely because we believe in religious liberty if you look in your bulletin you have it'll happen like this on the back of this pamphlet to religious liberty Sabbath there are some practical things everyone in this room can do about religious liberty you may join the real it North American religious liberty association you could donate to the Lake Union Religious Liberty Fund which defines Adventists caught up in south of employment issues you could write your representative in Congress you could go to persecution dot com this afternoon which is the voice of the martyrs website and you can start writing to a prisoner of conscience somewhere in the world today he was educating yourselves about principles of religious liberty and you can stop praying for religious liberty these are practical things everyone in this room can do to uphold religious liberty around the world today. You may want to sponsor a missionary this Christmas say we're not going to have presents we're going to sponsor a missionary working in Iran or Iraq or my mom Mauritania because people vowed while the night worrying that while we have the light let us walk in the light and spread that light sponsor a missionary someone the world today comes evangelistic series that are coming up in this church about the fall of Babel in the fall and the call invites a friend there are many things we can do to promote religious liberty we don't have to be have official titles or degrees or names of letters after our name we are all called to live for the last when we think about religious liberty that we are also called in terms of religious liberty to live with our brothers and sisters and that's often really difficult as in turn to Chapter 5 in verse 135 in verse 13 Paul is talking about Christian Freedom is for freedom of Christ to set you free and he's talking primarily about people who and Jewish Christians who follow Paul ready go they followed him like a bad odor and they were telling the newly converted Gentile Christians now you've accepted Christ great but you need to be circumcised and if somebody would tell me after I've just been baptized I need to be circumcised of the flint knife I'd be thinking twice about my Christian faith Paul's as I wish they'd go the whole way and castrate themselves I mean you get He's kind of angry in the text here but look at the lation 5 in verse 13 Paul says to brothers and sisters to us today as we live the principle of religious liberty with our brothers and sisters he says for you are called to freedom brothers and sisters only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence but through love become slaves one to another so if we are to express religious liberty to the world we are to live for the last if we're to express religious liberty within the 4 walls of this church here today then we have to express that freedom by serving one another in love. And if you take the time and look up the phrase one another or each other in the New Testament you'll discover dozens and dozens and dozens of commands of how you express that love one to another and here is a selection we have to have peace with one another mark 950 we deserve one another Galatians 513 where to show kindly affections one another in on a giving preference once another Romans 1210 we're not to put a stumbling block in front of somebody else Romans 1413 we are to be of the same mind as one another we are not to set our minds on high things but to associate with the humble we are to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord fusions 521 which receive one another just as Christ received us Romans 157 which to bear one another's burdens school ations for 6 to which Be kind to one another tend to hard for giving one another if you fall for to which to speak to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in our hearts to Jesus visions 519 we are to encourage one another daily Hebrews 313 we are not to lights one another we are to bear one another up for giving one Millet cautions 39 we are to build one and not 1st the slogans 511 were to remain in fellowship with one on the 1st verse loans 511 can get lost in this stuff here we are not to speak evil or grumble against one another we're not to dine on the preacher's flesh we call ourselves vegetarians but we dine on his flesh over our Sabbath lunch we are not to speak evil of or grumble about one another James for 1159 we have to love one another fervently with a pure heart 1st beats to $22.00 we're to comfort those who are grieving the loss of loved ones of the promise of the resurrection 1st our slogans for 18 would have compassion upon one of the 1st Peter $38.00 for love will cover a water sings a multitude of sins 1st Peter for a to gain such things there is no law so if we were to ask ourselves how do I live this principle of religious liberty visiting my brothers and sisters I like to challenges all this week think of somebody in this congregation that you know is struggling Can you think of somebody. Can you think of somebody right now who's struggling with lack of finances either a single parent maybe they're struggling with their studies maybe their relative is in hospital maybe the marriage isn't as good on the inside as it appears from the outside can you think of somebody like that right now for some time during this week give that person a call and pray with them send them notes of encouragement don't send a text send a card write it out personally put it in the mail a card is always much more beautiful than a text pray for that person offer to help them with their shopping offer to mow their lawn for them whatever it is serve that person in Love this week and if 300 people here this morning serve 300 other people sometime during this week burying Springs the atmosphere will lift and people will know that we are disciples not because of our doctrines but by the love we have one for another so when you do that this week will you contact just one person just one person and give a word of encouragement given a phone call give them a hug preferably someone of the same gender I hope Ok but whatever it may be and encourage somebody this week live for somebody else live for it with your brothers and sisters and finally we have to live for the last which we live with our brothers and sisters and finally we have to live before God because the bottom line is this religious liberty is a call for each one of us to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ in the final struggle between good and evil the proclamation of the 3 Angels' messages presuppose that whatever other freedoms have been taken away freedoms to buy freedoms to sell freedoms of assembly of speech of fair trial or impartial juries whatever other freedoms are taken away the book Revelation tells us that the freedom to respond to the 3 angels messages is the final freedom and no government can ever take away we can still respond that may be consequences but the essential freedom remains and to a close a probation and that freedom applies to us today today. We are either free to respond to God with verbal confession of our sins with a desire for Jesus to give us victory over our sins. With a call on God to give us the strength to turn away from this way of life to a new way of life that's called repentance today we can often asked Jesus to be a lot of our lives once again all today we can choose when thrown self in our hearts and turn away the offer of God's mercy that comes to us through this pulpit the Bible never says tomorrow is the day of salvation today and now is the our salvation the last appeal in Scripture is this that anyone who wishes to take the water of life as a gift Revelation 2217 and that offer presupposes that we have the ability to reject that offer of mercy or to accept it how will you respond Revelation 320 the saw scripture reading read for us this morning. Behold I stand at the door knock if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come into him and will suck with him and he with Me How do you respond to that invitation of Jesus Christ today. Jesus is coming soon of that I'm convinced he's coming soon and I'll be ready to meet him you say what does it mean to be ready to meet Jesus it means this I stand before you God with no sense of my own goodness but I trust solely and exclusively on the merits of my Savior Jesus Christ are you ready to meet Jesus today have you confess those sins that a cherished and hidden in your lives or would you say that tomorrow is my day of salvation and tomorrow may never come for you will you choose to leave this house of prayer today to eternal destruction or do you choose to put cheese on the throne of your lives how would you respond Joshua's closing words was rather at the end of his life with these he said Choose you this day whom you will serve but as for me and my household we shall serve the Lord I wrote to Jesus and about the age of 13. So these 30 odd years he has done me no wrong so why would I deny him now I'd like to encourage each and every one of you here today that if if there is something in your life that comes which we knew in the Savior today give it up respond to the Spirit speaking to your life today for Jesus is coming soon winter is dawning upon our world night is almost here and we have to go through that night until Jesus returns we need to be ready today so invite you wherever you are to bow your heads and close your eyes I'm going to have a word with our Heavenly Father and Father God. Today we hear your voice speaking to our hearts God We do not want our religious liberty to be a note for God May we use it while we may God Today I pray that we will indeed live for the last we will be a light on a hill that cannot be hid we will be the salt of the earth wherever you places in your vineyard and God Today we would live with brothers and sisters we would express the freedom you've given us as a way or as a reason for serving one another in love or God May we bless someone this week may you touch some of these lives through our words through our witness through our encouragement. And father today with our religious liberty we want to unpack that gift and recognize that our salvation is a gift of grace from you Father we thank you lest any man should boast father asking you now to become be on the throne of our lives cast out those temptations we struggle with give us victory today father by your grace and by your power over those temptations and sins that beset us. Of Father I pray that when Jesus comes again we will be in that glorious crowd of the ages that communion of faith stretching back to Adam singing praises to the Lamb who died and who rose again and who was redeemed each one of us from eternal death to eternal life. Jesus the Lord of our lives today this is our prayer in Jesus name I mean. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon leader visit w w w audio verse or.

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