Religious Liberty and the Church

We do not believe in putting too much confidence in impressions; however, we all have them. Recently I came across the notes of a sermon preached by my brother, Marshall, in Australia during the late 1980s. Though I had not heard it, I was aware of the concepts therein, as I was publicly challenged by a number of his elders and deacons denying those things to be really true.

Some people think that the church will continue to sink downwards into more and more apostasy and then, all of a sudden, bang, at the end, it is just going to spring up perfect. That is not the way it works. If you go deeper and deeper into apostasy, the end result is destruction.

God’s great desire is that He might have a pure and glorious church that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27). Each church member has been called to be a steward guarding its spiritual interests, but as Jesus warned, while men slept, an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25).

God has ordained four basic ways to purify the church and protect it from being taken over by the tares.

New Members

The church is to exercise loving and judicious care when accepting new members into the church. “When a person presents himself as a candidate for church membership, we are to examine the fruit of his life, and leave the responsibility of his motive with himself. But great care should be exercised in accepting members into the church; for Satan has his specious devices through which he purposes to crowd false brethren into the church, through whom he can work more successfully to weaken the cause of God.” Evangelism, 313.

Baptism represents a death to sin. By it, the candidate makes a statement that he/she has chosen to leave his/her sinful life behind and walk in newness of life, a life that is in harmony with God’s law. This, according to the New Testament, is the condition of the person who is welcomed into church membership. It needs to be remembered that the church is not a club for saints; it is a hospital for sinners. The person who has not made a decision for baptism and chooses to live in sin should also be welcome to come to church, but that person who is openly living in sin, or one who has violated his/her baptismal vow and continues to live in sin, cannot be a church member.

Church Members

Matthew 18:15–17 spells out clearly the procedure to follow when a brother sins against a brother. If I sin against you, you are to come to me and speak with me about what I have done against you. But, if I will not listen to you, you then are to take one or two more and come and talk to me and say, “Look; what you have done is wrong.” If I still refuse to listen after the first two steps, then the matter is to be taken to the church.

Incidentally, Matthew 18 is not referring to difference of opinion. If you look in the Greek text, Jesus said, “If your brother sin against you.” This is specifically referring to a sin, breaking one of the last six commandments against you. The counsel is to labor with that person. If the sin is never acknowledged, the results will be disastrous. “If the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. In His dealings with His people in the past the Lord shows the necessity of purifying the church from wrongs. One sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 265.

Open sin must not be allowed in the church. That does not mean that the open sinner cannot be saved, but the person who is living in open sin and continues in open sin cannot remain in the church, according to the teaching of Matthew 18.


This is not our favorite way of purifying the church; however, it is one way that God uses. In response to the prayers of his servants, God sends judgments on the church. Elijah prayed because of the sins of the children of Israel and God sent judgments so that it did not rain for three years and 6 months, or 1,260 days, on that land (I Kings 17).

In the early church, judgments came upon Ananias and Sapphira who sold property and then lied saying they had given all of the proceeds to the church while keeping back part of the money for themselves (Acts 5:2). The problem was not that they kept some of the money; they could have offered half or a portion of the proceeds, but they lied. Peter said to them, “You have not lied to men, you have lied to God, because you have lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:4). Ananias immediately fell dead and three hours later his wife came in and told the same lie. Peter said, “The same people that carried your husband out will carry you out.” Immediately she dropped down dead. Verses 5, 7–10.

Ellen White writes about this. She says, “The Spirit of truth revealed to the apostles the real character of these pretenders, and the judgments of God rid the church of this foul blot upon its purity. This signal evidence of the discerning Spirit of Christ in the church was a terror to hypocrites and evildoers. They could not long remain in connection with those who were, in habit and disposition, constant representatives of Christ.” The Great Controversy, 44. This judgment kept unconverted people from joining the church, but it did not prevent them from soul winning and believers were multiplied to the church.

In our own denominational history as Seventh-day Adventists, God has also sent judgments because of backsliding into apostasy.

In 1902, there were two fires that burned down two of the headquarter institutions. Ellen White wrote, “In visions of the night I saw a sword of fire hung out over Battle Creek.

“Brethren, God is in earnest with us. I want to tell you that if after the warnings giving in these burnings the leaders of our people go right on, just as they have done in the past, exalting themselves, God will take the bodies next. Just as surely as He lives, He will speak to them in a language that they cannot fail to understand.” The Publishing Ministry, 171. That is a scary statement, if the lesson is not learned! Next time, it will not be the buildings; it will be the bodies. It is clear by this statement that judgments are not over yet.

Preaching the Straight Testimony

God purifies His church through the preaching of the straight testimony. This is also referred to in Revelation 3:14–22.

“The searching testimony of the Spirit of God will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God’s people should come nearer to Him. … Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God. The plain, straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 676.

These four methods are God’s true ways for maintaining and purifying the church and there is going to be a pure church when Jesus comes. We just read it in Ephesians 5:27 and you can read the same thing in Revelation 19:7, 8 and also in I John 3.

There is also another method being used. It is more popular than any of the four methods previously mentioned, but it is a counterfeit and produces the exact opposite result. People think that it will purify the church, but because it involves apostasy, it leads the church astray every time. Throughout the ages, church legislation and persecution have been the most popular method used to try to preserve and purify the church.

Whenever the church has tried to maintain church order by giving power to its hierarchy or ruling group to control its members, it has always, without exception, led to apostasy and persecution. This was the condition of the church in the days of Jesus. The leaders had assumed such great authority over the members that if they professed faith in Jesus, they were disfellowshipped (John 9). However, this control did not keep the church pure, protecting it from the abuse of sin. In fact, it did just the opposite. It protected the church from receiving the straight testimony which God sent to them through John the Baptist, His Son and the apostles, in order for it to become pure. It was the hierarchy, the leaders, who prevented the people from accepting Jesus. They had such a strong hold on the people that the only way they could receive the straight testimony was for the power of the hierarchy to be broken.

Ellen White said, “Through their reverence for tradition and their blind faith in a corrupt priesthood, the people were enslaved. These chains Christ must break. The character of the priests, rulers, and Pharisees must be more fully exposed.” The Desire of Ages, 611, 612. “For a time it had seemed that the people of Galilee would receive Jesus as the Messiah, and that the power of the hierarchy in that region would be broken.” Ibid., 395. It was impossible to accept Jesus as the Messiah unless first, the power of the hierarchy was broken.

This same experience was repeated during the Dark Ages. Never before or since has the church assumed more control, resulting in greater persecution. The more the church exercised control through its leadership, the more it sank into apostasy. In 1414, a church council was called to eradicate apostasy and bring in reformation. It was decided to depose one of the popes who was corrupt and also to burn John Huss at the stake. Persecution was the council’s favorite way in their attempt to purify the church.

During the Protestant Reformation the reformers sought to break the power of the hierarchy over the people in the same way that Jesus did in His ministry, but those who blindly yielded reverence to the church leadership rejected the Protestant Reformation. Ellen White wrote concerning Wycliffe, the morning star of the reformation, “He fearlessly arraigned the hierarchy before the national council and demanded a reform of the enormous abuses sanctioned by the church.” The Great Controversy, 89. She goes on to say, “The fears of the hierarchy were roused, and persecution was opened against the disciples of the gospel.” Ibid., 97. That happened in England. The same thing happened in Germany. The church sought to intimidate with threats and cajole the Protestant leaders to once again accept the hierarchy with promises, but they realized that, “The re-establishment of the Romish hierarchy … would infallibly bring back the ancient abuses.” The Great Controversy, 199.

Concerning the future, Ellen White writes, “When the leading churches of the United States, … will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.” Ibid., 445. During the Dark Ages the church controlled the state and therefore anything done against the church became a civil crime. The image will do the same. One of the chief differences between the Protestants and the Romanists was the way in which the church was structured, but things are changing.

“There is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy. … The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon liberty of conscience which has been so dearly purchased.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 380.

Hierarchicalism always leads to religious persecution and a curtailment of religious liberty, because it denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ in practice. By profession the church acknowledges it, but in practice, it is denied. God ordained that there should be judicious administration and shepherd-like leadership for the furtherance of the gospel, but never at any time were lines of control given to human authority.

The Bible says, “He [Jesus Christ] is the head of the body.” Colossians 1:18. The body is the church. Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have preeminence. Whenever a person assumes undue authority in the church, which authority belongs only to Christ, the church is automatically brought into apostasy because Christ is always the head.

The usurping of authority is the sin of the beast power. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God [hierarchy] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:3.

This is also a danger within the Seventh-day Adventist church as well as in other churches and we need to learn the lessons of history. The Lord foresaw this developing in our own church and sent faithful warnings through Ellen White to our church leaders.

“The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. …

“They are following in the track of Romanism.”

This was being done by exerting a spirit of domination, putting a man or a group of men in the place of God.

“If a man … seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done and he lose his own soul and imperil the souls of others.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 362.

The New Testament church had a simple organization that was efficient, but not hierarchical in nature. There was cooperation, but not control. For example, the apostle Paul tried to cooperate with his brethren, but did not ask permission from the church in Jerusalem to speak or raise up churches in Corinth or Philippi or the other towns that he visited. One of his greatest concerns and sternest warnings was concerning the possibility of undue control being exerted over the local members of the church by some outside force, in fact, the leadership from Jerusalem. Notice, Paul called the elders (plural) of the church at Ephesus and said, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28–31.

Paul’s concern, over which he stressed with great emotional appeal for three years, was that there would arise leaders in this church who would seek to draw attention to themselves and become a controlling power. He told the elders that they, not he, singular, but they, plural, were to be shepherds of the flock, not set above the flock and to keep this from happening. They were to guard the church from the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the wolves from outside and the wolves from the local congregation, and those who were visiting from a conference or some other church.

This had already been demonstrated in the churches that Paul had established in Galatia. Elders had been selected in the local churches (Acts 14:23). These churches were not independent of the body, but they were highly self-directed and self-sustained and locally organized. A situation arose when leading brethren came from the headquarters church in Jerusalem, namely Peter and some other brethren came from James, the two principal leaders at the headquarters, to minister to these churches in Galatia. Now remember, these people in Galatia had been pagan idolaters and had recently converted to the truth of Christianity. Peter and the other men who came had grown up being taught the Scriptures and had never been involved in worshiping idols.

The Galatians had a tremendous amount of respect for these leaders who had come to them from Jerusalem and it had a terrible effect on the whole congregation. Paul was unsparing in his denunciation of the Galatian leaders for allowing the leaders from Jerusalem to bring apostasy into that church. He said to them, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” Galatians 3:1. Notice he does not say, “What has bewitched you?” He says, “Who has bewitched you?” referring to the people who had this influence over them. Paul’s concern was what would happen in the future if the leaders of this church did not protect the church, if they were so weak as to be influenced by these outside forces, by these people from the headquarters church.

Have you ever wondered what Paul would say if he visited our churches today? Is it possible that he would say, “O you foolish churches? Who has influenced you to yield the high standard of truth and practice that was once manifested in your movement?” Paul told the Galatians to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1. That yoke of bondage he referred to was not just circumcision and the law. If you look at the context of this question in Galatians 3:1 you will see that the yoke of bondage was bondage to leadership that had caused them to waver on a point of doctrine and teaching. He goes on to say, “This persuasion does not come from He who called you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. But he who troubles you … [the leadership from Jerusalem] shall bear his judgment. For you, brethren, have been called to liberty.” Galatians 5:8–10, 13. Paul was concerned about the influence that caused them to apostatize. He was very, very fearful of hierarchal forms of church government that would cause people to look to church councils and leaders for direction rather than the Holy Spirit.

The churches were to be grafted to Jesus Christ, cooperating with each other, and not to develop a human organization, a hierarchy.

This is the kind of organizational purity that has to come back into the church in order for the pentecostal blessings to return. Organizational purity and doctrinal purity go hand in hand and cannot be separated. It is not possible to have doctrinal purity with impure organization. Simple organization and church order are set forth in the New Testament Scriptures, ordained for the unity and perfection of the church.

“The man who holds office in the church should stand as a leader, as an advisor and a counselor and helper in carrying the burdens of the work. He should be a leader in offering thanksgiving to God. But he is not appointed to order and command the Lord’s laborers. The Lord is over His heritage. He will lead His people if they will be led of the Lord in the place of assuming a power God has not given them.” Loma Linda Messages, 464.

Ellen White then said to study I Corinthians 12 and 13 and Acts 15 and learn how the church is to be managed and operated. Again, she continued to write and say that many of the great difficulties that have come into our work are because of this very problem, people wanting to control and rule God’s work. As the church began to grow in the latter part of the 19th century, Ellen White began to warn, over and over, against the kingly power that was coming into the Seventh-day Adventist church. She wrote,

“The high-handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 361.

Many people, when beginning to run or operate churches, had very good motives, desiring to do what was right. But, as time went on, they thought that they should be in control and rule so that the church could have prosperity and grow faster. Ellen White said,

“Rule, rule has been their course of action. Satan has had an opportunity of representing himself.” Ibid., 363. “Let me entreat our state conferences and our churches to cease putting their dependence upon men and making flesh their arm. … Our churches are weak because the members are educated to look to and depend upon human resources.” Ibid., 380.

Hierarchicalism leads directly into apostasy and ultimately persecution. How does that happen? When somebody stands up and proclaims a message from God like John the Baptist or one of the prophets or one of the reformers in the 16th century, the hierarchy persecutes the one who protests. It led to the burning of martyrs during the Dark Ages and the imprisonment and death of God’s prophets and messengers throughout history. It also led to the crucifixion of Christ. This very same thing will lead to persecution in any church, including the Seventh-day Adventist church. Initially, the scribes and Pharisees would never have thought they were capable of putting someone to death, but the time came when they reasoned that they had to crucify Jesus in order to preserve the integrity of the church. Caiaphas actually said that if they did not get rid of Jesus they would be wiped out (John 11:47–50). The cross was a last resort after they had tried everything else to stop His ministry. “They regarded themselves as patriots, who were seeking the nation’s salvation.” The Desire of Ages, 541.

Today, we are Protestants and have the heritage of both the Bible and the New Testament church, the Protestant Reformation, and in America, the rich heritage of religious liberty. Concerning this heritage, Ellen White wrote, “This principle we in our day are firmly to maintain. The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His Word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is not to be set aside for a ‘Thus saith the church’ or a ‘Thus saith the state.’ The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.” The Acts of the Apostles, 68, 69.

As standard bearers of the concept of the heritage of religious liberty, we cannot imagine that the Adventist church would ever become persecutors. But if hierarchicalism develops in a church, we have seen what always happens. We think that we could never do anything like the Jewish leaders did or like the Catholic hierarchy did during the Dark Ages, but we have already done it. In one situation a disfellowshiped preacher was first fined, then thrown into prison. What was his crime? He had a sign erected that said, “This is a Seventh Day Adventist church.” Because it was not under the control of the church hierarchy, he was put in prison. This happened in the United States, the land of the free, and this man was only set free after a prolonged court battle.

This proceeding was perpetrated by the General Conference in union with the state and it was financed, by the way, with the tithe money of the members of the church. Whether that man was theologically right or wrong is not the point. The church appealed to the strong arm of the state to enforce its will—its decree. When the authority will be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends, then the church has made an image to the beast. See The Great Controversy, 443.

This may be difficult to hear, but the Seventh-day Adventist church structure has been in the process of building an image to the beast for over twenty years. There have been other people, especially in communist countries, who have found themselves first disfellowshiped and then persecuted by the state in coordination with the church.

This is a testimony by Marshall when giving this sermon: “I personally have traveled to Hungary on several occasions and met with hundreds of disfellowshiped and persecuted brethren of that country. These dear brothers and sisters are true Seventh-day Adventists but simply gave the straight testimony of the involvement of the church in state politics and interdenominational ecumenicalism. Their message was given directly to the church leaders by ordained pastors and committed laymen and the response was, they were all disfellowshiped without a trial—over a thousand of them. Although the review acknowledged that the whole process was illegal, nevertheless, by the total silence of our leaders to even reprimand the offenders of this case, and by the continued barring of all the disfellowshiped members from all official church functions or activities, and by the admitting of the perpetrators of this persecution into the official activities of the General Conference, they have fully condoned their actions as a corporate entity. Now Hungary,” he says, “is just an example. The same thing has happened in Africa and other places. We have been traveling down the same dark road as was traveled by the church in the time of Christ and again during the Dark Ages, disfellowshiping and firing pastors here and there to give many examples, not just in the United States but in Europe, and other countries.”

It was this road—hierarchicalism, leading to persecution—that caused Ellen White to tremble. She said,

“My heart trembles in me when I think what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 406.

“At the time of the first advent of Christ to our world, the men who composed the Sanhedrin exercised their authority in controlling men according to their will. Thus the souls whom Christ had given his life to free from the bondage to Satan were brought under bondage to him in another form.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 361.

The very people that Christ had died to deliver from the bondage of Satan were brought under bondage to him in another form, through the church. That is what will happen just before the Second Coming. It has already happened!

For many years Ellen and James White fought to establish church organization. She stated, “Without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully.” Ibid., 26. Heaven is a place of order and God cannot bless disorganization. However, organization was never intended to become controlling in nature and hinder the preaching of the straight testimony or to persecute those who gave it and dictate how God should direct the work. Organization was never intended for the purpose of wresting the local churches out of the hands of the local members so that they became mere pawns in the hands of the leadership and the ministry. The leadership was to lead by example, prayer and faith, but not by commanding. The organization was not to restrict and control, but only to coordinate and promote the work, the preaching of the gospel and the straight testimony.

The devil fought so hard when James and Ellen White were trying to establish order and organization in the Adventist church that it took about twenty years before they could even become organized. Finally, when it did become organized in 1863 and the devil lost that battle, he switched his tactics to try to make them over-organized so that within four years of organization Ellen White wrote, “I dreamed I was in Battle Creek looking out from the side glass at the door and saw a company marching up to the house, two and two. They looked stern and determined. I knew them well and turned to open the parlor door to receive them, but thought I would look again. The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross [ceremonialism], another a reed [the scepter of a king]. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed made a circle around the house, saying three times: ‘this house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 1, 578. She saw in that vision that the order of church organization had become controlling and persecuting in nature. From that time on she was fought constantly by church officials. Just like all the other prophets who were persecuted during their lifetime, now that she is dead she is revered, but the persecution continues against those who repeat her concerns.

In 1888, God gave the church a message through two young ministers, E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, but the brethren thought that they should not be allowed to give it until they first had their permission. The issue was Christ our Righteousness. Ellen White’s main concern at that time was not about the doctrine, but the issue of organization and control by church organization which was also contained in that message. Referring to Christ our Righteousness, she said, “God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another, and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is ‘Christ our Righteousness.’ Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their mind; for if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls can not be impressed and directed by the great I AM. They will, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another, and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 112.

“The Lord will never sanction the exercise of arbitrary authority. … Yet these things have been manifest in the management of the affairs in connection with the work in Battle Creek. Words cannot express too strongly the offensive character of the disposition to rule or ruin which has for years been revealed, and which has been strengthening by exercise. …

“Plans are set on foot for restricting the liberty of workers. Through these oppressive plans, men who should stand free in God are trammeled by restrictions from those who are only their fellow-laborers. …

“Our people, who talk of religious liberty, have lessons to learn as to what liberty in Christ really is. The Lord has marked the oppression that has been practiced.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1357, 1358.

Here in the United States of America, we are privileged to be living in a country that has been made strong and prosperous because of the principles of religious liberty. The Christian exiles who first fled to America and sought an asylum here from royal oppression and priestly intolerance decided that they were going to found a government in this country upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. It was these principles of civil and religious liberty that are the secret of the prosperit and power of the United States of America. It is these same principles that are the secret for prosperity and peace within the church. In fact, the church is the place where religious liberty needs to start. This liberty is not a license to bring false doctrines into the pulpit or to bring in disorderly elements within the congregation, but religious liberty does give freedom of speech, freedom to dissent, freedom of the press without recourse to the law or defamation of character. When there are doctrinal differences, we need to be able to get together and talk those over, frankly and fairly. Error needs to be called by its right name. The problem is, when any kind of error can be taught within a system, if you tell the truth and you are not in the system, it will be rejected. That is how it was in the days of Jesus, so God chose a different channel through which to work. As it was when Jesus was here the first time, it will be again, right at the end of the world.

In the last days, God is going to work apart from those who have tried to control His work and persecute those whom they could not control. Ellen White described it this way:

“The Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reigns in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 300.

God’s church is going to be purified and perfected again, just like it was in the early church, but it is going to happen through God’s methods. It is not going to happen through the control of ecclesiastical power curtailing religious freedom.

It is predicted in Isaiah 4 that there is coming a time when everyone who is listed among the living in Jerusalem will be holy. You may think yourself too much of a sinner to be part of that group, but there is a way out. Jesus died to take away the guilt of your sins, to take away the power of sin in your life, to deliver you from your old ways and cover you with His robe of righteousness. But, you can only have it in God’s appointed way. When we try to do God’s work in our own way, we end up ruining it. We must learn the lesson of religious liberty if we are going to have a part in God’s final work.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316–788–5559.