As Between Individuals
FROM the Scriptures it is plain that the divine right of individuality in religion stands supreme in the presence of autocratic monarchy; in the presence of any decree, statute, or law, of any government; in the presence of the church in control of the civil power; and in the presence of the church itself, even within the membership of the church.
There is just one other possible relationship—that of the individual to the individual. But when it is plain and positive by the word of God that no autocracy, no government of law, no church in control of civil power, and no church within the circle of its own membership, has any authority, jurisdiction, or right, in matters religious in the presence of the supreme and absolute right of the individual, then it is certain that no individual can ever have any authority, jurisdiction, or right over another individual in things religious.
Though this is plain in itself it is well to study at least some of the Scriptures on this, as well as on each of the other phases of this subject.
Faith is the gift of God, and to the individual. Jesus Christ is both the Author and the Finisher of faith. This being so, it lies in the nature of things that never by any possibility in righteousness can anybody but Christ have any authority, jurisdiction, or right, respecting the exercise of faith which is the vital element of religion. Christ being both the Author and the Finisher of faith, to Him alone belongs the sole sovereignty and jurisdiction in all things relating to faith and to the exercise of faith, which is religion.
Accordingly the Scriptures say, "Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God." Rom. 14:22. Faith being the gift of God, and Christ being the Author and the Finisher of it, it is impossible, for any one to owe to any but God in Christ any responsibility in matters of faith or the exercise thereof, which is religion. And this is the ground and surety of complete individuality in religion.
Therefore, the word of God stands written to individual believers forever, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations": not to judge his doubtful thoughts; not for decisions of doubts; not to "judge him"; not to "despise him"; "for God hath received him." Rom. 14: 1-3.
Please let there be noted forever, and forever regarded, that the reason, divinely given, as to why no Christian can ever "dispute" with or "decide" for or "judge," or "despise" another, is that "God hath received him".
"God hath received him" therefore, "receive ye" him.
"God hath received him" upon his faith, therefore, "receive ye" him upon his faith.
Even though he be "weak in the faith," yet "God hath received him"; therefore, even though he be still "weak in the faith," "receive ye him."
Even though he be "weak in the faith," it is "the faith" in which he is weak. And in that faith and by that faith he is saved. That faith is the gift of God, given to save the soul; and whosoever is in that faith, even though he be weak, has the salvation of God which is by faith. Of that faith, Jesus Christ is the Author and the Finisher; and whosoever is in that faith has Christ working in him to finish the blessed work of that faith unto the eternal salvation of the soul. That faith, the individual is to hold unto God the giver of it, and in Christ, the Author and Finisher of it. The faith being the gift of God through Christ, he who has it, has it only unto God in Christ; and in that faith his responsibility is solely to God in Christ.
Therefore, "him that is weak in the faith receive YE, . . . for God hath received HIM." God being the giver of "the faith" through Christ, the Author and Finisher of faith, the responsibility of every one "in the faith" is to God in Christ. Therefore, "him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations, not for decisions of doubts," not to "despise him," not to "judge him"; for, since "God hath received him" "in the faith," and since "in the faith" he is responsible to God only, "Who art thou that judgest another mans servant?" Verse 4. This is impossible in righteousness even though he be a man's servant; how much more, when he is God's servant, received and accepted of God "in the faith?"
Who then, art thou that judgest God's servant, received of Him "in the faith?" "To his own Master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand." And when "God hath received" "in the faith" one whom you and I will not receive "in the faith," then, where shall we appear? The question is not then between us and him, but between God and us. Our difference is then with God, and we have entered into judgment with God. But when we enter into judgment with God over His having received "in the faith," one whom we will not receive "in the faith," then it is certain that we cannot stand in that judgment; because we ourselves are not "in the faith."
And when God will hold up, and will make to stand "in the faith," him whom you and I will not receive him, whom you and I will not hold up nor try to make to stand, then that one is altogether safe with God "in the faith." And even though he be "weak in the faith," yet God is able to hold him up and to make him stand, and "he shall be holden up" and made to stand by God who has received him "in the faith" of which God is the giver, and Christ the Author and Finisher. And as for you and me, in all this matter, "let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
Another item that demonstrates the perfect individuality of man in things religious, follows immediately the words already quoted, thus: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Verse 5.
This Scripture does not say that all days are alike; but only that some "esteemeth every day alike." The Scriptures are perfectly plain upon the truth that all days are not alike: that there is a day that God has made peculiarly his own, and for man's eternal good has set it apart from all other days. That day is "the Sabbath of the Lord thy God."
And though this is true by the word of God, yet as to the observance or non- observance of that day the word of the Lord explicitly declares, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." And in this declaration he has again confirmed the perfect supremacy and absolute right of individuality in religion.
And, by the way, this item touches a matter that is everywhere rife today: the matter of the compulsory observance of a sabbath or day of rest. But in all things pertaining to the observance or regarding of a day, the word of God to all people is, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day regardeth it unto the Lord: and he that regardeth not the day to the Lord, he doth not regard it." Verse 6.
Any day regarded or observed nor to the Lord is not truly regarded or observed at all; for then there is nothing in it truly to regard. It is God who has selected, distinguished, and set apart, the day. The observance of the day pertains, therefore, to God; and lies only between God and the individual in faith and conscience. Therefore any observance of a sabbath or rest day enforced by law, by statute, by police, by court, by prosecution, or by persecution, is, in the first instance, a direct invasion of the province of God and of the realm of faith and conscience in the individual; and in the second instance is not even the observance of the day, and never can be, because it is not of persuasion in the mind.
God has appointed his own chosen and sanctified day to be observed; that is true. He calls upon all people to observe it, that is true. But in the observance or regarding of this day, the word of God thus explicitly declares that it is wholly an individual matter: "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." And when any man is not fully persuaded in his own mind, and therefore does not observe the day to the Lord, his responsibility for this is to God alone, and not to any man, nor to any set of men, nor to any law, or government, or power, on earth.
Following this item there is made an appeal in behalf of the recognition of perfect individuality in religion—this in view of the awful fact of the judgment of Christ and of God. This appeal runs thus: "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." Verses 10,11.
Every one of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ and of God, there to be each judged by Him. How then can it be possible ever in righteousness, that one of us can be called to be judged by another, or by any or all others, in the things of religion? that is, in the things in which we are to answer at the judgment seat of Christ.
No, no. "One is your Master, even Christ, and all ve are brethren." And, "He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?" James 4:11.
Thus, that there is to be a judgment-seat of Christ and of God where all must appear, each to answer for "the deeds done in the body"—this is one of the mightiest guaranties of perfect individuality in religion, and one of the strongest possible pleas for the recognition of it by every soul always.
Finally, the whole thought and truth of perfect individuality in religion is splendidly summed up, and powerfully emphasized as well as clearly expressed, in the inspired conclusion,—
"So then every one of us shall give account of HIMSELF to GOD." Verse 12.
Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No Error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I May be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wish to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The Truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action. Selected Messages Bk2, pg. 56
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