"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 2:16
Faith that saves forms at the seat of one's affections, his inner most thoughts, his passions, the very essence of who he is--the very place no other can touch except God. From this place, faith, having been sparked by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, hears the Word of God, and comes to fruition when the individual, believing, calls upon the name of the Lord. This is the faith (or religion) Rev. Backus spoke of when he said, "religion is ever a matter between God and individuals; and, therefore no man or men can impose any religious test,..."
What are the essential prerogatives of God, and how can we avoid invading them?
Jesus is God, the Son. He, as God, created all. He is our Holy, Righteous, and Just King, Ruler of All. As such, He has all authority to call individuals to Him and into what service He deems to place them. He lifts one up while bringing another down. He alone has the exclusive right to save the souls of men and to give them a measure of faith and grace. By His Divine Will He determines how a man shall serve Him. And in His Holy Word He lays out His plan for all mankind.
We cannnot force another to give his heart to God. The Holy Spirit does the convicting. The Holy Spirit reveals to each individual the glorious grace of God. Yes, we are to tell others. Yes, we are to disciple, but only the Holy Spirit can work in the heart of each person.
Jesus wants people who are willing to die to themselves and live for Him. Such sacrifice and commitment can only come when a person loves Him. A person's will must be passionately and wholly involved to make such a commitment. Another person cannot, by force or by fear, cause you to make such a commitment.
Jesus said that those who believed in Him would be saved. This is a personal belief. No man can impose it upon another. The essential prerogatives of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit--the triune God:
- He is creator and thus has all authority over creation. He alone has exclusive rights to do with creation what He will.
- His is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He alone has exclusive rights to raise up a ruler or take down a ruler. By virtue of His rank He gives another authority.
- He gave to all men the freedom to chose to believe then to leave their old lives behind to follow Him. He provided a way of salvation for all men, that none should perish, and by His Holy Spirit, He calls them unto Him, drawing them into the grace He so richly extends to all, desiring that none should perish. And as the all knowing God, who knows whose heart will be His, He pursues with the intent to win.
- He, as creator, formed each of us in the womb, and determined a purpose for our lives, some for greatness and others for a more humble service. He alone determines this.
Rev. Backus stood for freedom of slaves, not only those forced to work for their masters, but also for those who were enslaved to a religion imposed upon them by church leaders and government. He spoke, knowing of those who were nearly drowned by church leaders who opposed adult baptism. He spoke, knowing of those who had suffered beatings for preaching the true Gospel: that faith alone in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ can save us and not by any works or righteousness we have done.
Today, we have the 'politically correct' telling us how to behave. While the desire to not offend another is honorable, it is flawed when it invades the 'essential prerogatives of our Lord Jesus.' We have the environmentalists testing our loyalties to Mother Nature by our efforts to minimize our carbon footprint. They neglect to acknowledge the Creator and His plan for the earth. While we are to be good stewards of what God has given us, we must never forget that we have no power over Him and His plans.
Today, we have as great a challenge as those who participated in the constitutional debates to remember the rights of the individual.
Jesus told His disciples, "...Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46b-47).
Rev. Backus determined to ensure our country would all for this message to be preached, unhindered by the government. Who today will stand to ensure that freedom remains, unhindered by the government and by those who wish to destroy true Christianity?