Monday, June 5, 2017

Chapter 20: Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience

The Westminster Confession of Faith in Plain Language

1. Christ’s work upon the cross frees believers from the punishment they deserve for breaking God’s Law. It delivers them from slavery to Satan and their own sinfulness and guarantees that no evil in this life can keep them from eternal life. Because of Christ, believers can endure physical harm, sickness, and even death with great hope. They know they will be resurrected to eternal life instead of eternal punishment.

Through Christ, believers can know God personally. They can obey him like they never could before, not because they have to, like slaves who are afraid of being punished, but because they want to, like children who love making their parents happy.

Old Testament believers had these same freedoms, but in the New Testament these freedoms are greater and clearer. New Testament believers no longer have to worship using the burdensome rules and regulations of the ceremonial law (like temple sacrifices, holy days, clothing requirements, strict dietary laws, etc.). Instead New Testament believers can go straight to God in prayer without having to “jump through hoops.” The Holy Spirit also operates in the lives of New Testament believers in more regular and personal ways compared to Old Testament believers.

2. Only God has the right to determine what is right or wrong. No one can require others to obey teachings or rules that go against the Bible, and no human being can add to what Christians are supposed to believe and how they should worship. Those who act as if their man-made rules and regulations come from God throw aside real spiritual freedom. Religious groups or institutions are not allowed to demand blind obedience without explanation or “no questions asked.” When they do, they destroy true spiritual freedom, and they refuse people their God-given responsibility to think for themselves under God’s rule.

3. Those who use the freedom purchased by Christ to justify public or private sin destroy the purpose of spiritual freedom. Our deliverance from bondage to sin and Satan makes us free to serve God and live right without being motivated by fear.

4. God has ordained human authorities and Christ has paid the price for our spiritual freedom so that people can support and protect one another, not tear down and control each other. It is wrong to use “spiritual freedom” to keep churches and states from doing what God created them to do. In some cases, church discipline or legal action can be used against people who try to stir up disorder in the church and society, especially when they ruin the testimony of the church, engage in obviously improper behavior, or when they go against what the Bible clearly teaches about beliefs, worship, and how Christians are supposed to live.

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