Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.
Chapter 21, Paragraph 2.
“God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it.…”
1 Corinthians 7:23
Who sets the standard? Who makes the rules that we are to follow? Whose commands ought we to obey?
God alone sets that standard we are to follow. Through Christ alone has our liberty been purchased, and it is to Him alone that we owe our allegiance. As our Savior, Judge, and Lawgiver, God has the prerogative to declare what laws we are to obey.
There is no obligation to obey any other command that is not found in Scripture, or that contradicts Scripture. This is freedom of conscience. Such a freedom should be held most dearly especially by those who align themselves with the Particular Baptists of the past. Such brothers and sisters were persecuted for refusing to observe certain practices, convicted that such practices were not commanded by God. Is it necessary to baptize the children of believers? Baptists do not find such a doctrine contained within Scripture, and may even argue that such a practice is contrary to Scripture. We are therefore freed from following a tradition of men. Other traditions and practices warrant examination as well: are we humbugs if we don’t celebrate Christmas? There are many traditions that upon second thought are not found in Scripture, and have no obligation upon the Christian.
However, such a freedom does not mean that we just flippantly tell others “You’re not the boss of me!” whenever we hear something we don’t like. We have a charge to know what is commanded in God’s word. Studying the Scriptures to see what is commanded should be a characteristic of every believer. Careful consideration should inform our consciences, so we may clearly say that we do not find such commands in Scripture.
Questions to Consider
- Are there any traditions of men that you have felt obligated to obey?