Let Freedom Ring
July is a month in which we Americans celebrate Independence. For Christians, Independence is a word rich with meaning. In Christ Jesus we have been made free from the penalty of sin; no longer do we have to fear the eternal punishment awaiting the sinner. We have also been made free from the bondage to sin; never again do we have to practice sin and live in the misery it brings into our lives.
The month of July is particularly special to Baptists, for Independence from England marked the beginning of change in attitudes toward us by fellow believers who happened to be members of churches that received the endorsement of the State. Yes, well meaning but misguided people had introduced Baptist believers to their jails and stocks, not to mention whipping posts, right here in the colonies. But with the establishment of the new Nation called the United States of America that began to change.
One reflection of changing attitudes here in the new Nation was a document ,added to the Constitution (that organized a "new nation under God"), called the Bill of Rights. The very first article of the Bill of Rights, which you hear the press proclaim as establishing their rights, also made it possible for people to be free from religious persecution by governmental authority in the United States. Article One is only one sentence long, but it is filled with meaning:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.
You will notice that nowhere in this sentence does the words "separation of church and state" occur. Neither does it occur anywhere else in the Constitution, or any of the other parts of the Bill of Rights. Simply put, the Bill of Rights was to establish the rights of citizens by imposing limitations on government, not to establish the rights of government by restricting citizens. But that is exactly what happens when government attempts to intrude into the activities of people who are freely seeking to serve God or when the government says you must be less of an American citizen because your votes and opinions are framed by such things as the Ten Commandments or the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. It is governments responsibility to stay out of religion, not religions responsibility to stay out of government.
The term "separation of church and state" occurs in communist documents because a repressive society does not want the voice of Christendom heard in its streets, marketplaces, and halls of government. The state that sins, by condoning evils such as homosexuality and abortion; that turns the criminal free and fails to give its citizenry justice in its courts; that ignores or perverts the documents that establish its boundaries as it ignores the God whose word establishes the laws of civilization, must seek to repress the Christian. Let us pray that things will not go so far in our land, but America will remember that it was Christian leaders serving the One True God that brought it into being.
As word went out through the colonies that the Declaration of Independence had been signed, church bells were rung all across the land as men heard the glad news. It was the church bells of America that were the true liberty bells, even as it is the Lord Jesus who is founder of all true liberty. The day the church bells are silenced. The day the voice of the servant of God is denied in the halls of government, independence will be lost, liberty will be no more. It is good for the nation that true liberty should be proclaimed and the sound of God's precepts heard in the halls of Congress. It is good for the nation when men acknowledge that "the soul that sinneth it shall die" but the man who puts his trust in the Lord shall find "life...and life more abundantly." Let freedom ring!
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113