Galatians 5:1

It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free; continue to stand firm, therefore, and do not be loaded down again w/ a yoke of slavery.

In the previous section of Galatians that we looked at together we saw the Holy Spirit’s insistence that as Children of the promise we are born of the Free woman (30, 31) — born of the Spirit and we stand in contradistinction to those who belong to the bondwoman and who are enslaved to the law.

In this next section the Apostle emphasizes that difference again by explicitly stating that the consequence of being released is Freedom accompanied with the injunction to not go back to those things that scream bondage and will, if returned to, deliver one back to that former bondage.

Now as the issue of Freedom has come front and center here we would do well to ask just exactly what kind of ‘Freedom’ is spoken of here. What does the Holy Spirit mean here when He speaks of Freedom?

To answer that perhaps we would do well to explore what it is we are Freed (delivered) from and what it is we we are delivered to.

In the context of this letter to the Galatians clearly Freedom means first to be delivered from the vain attempt to use a law system, that is absent of proclaiming Christ, as a means of salvation. The Judaizers were insisting that the ceremonial law that had been fulfilled with the coming and faithfulness of Christ remained in effect. They insisted on circumcision and many other of the Jewish accouterments that the death of Christ had made obsolete and retrograde.

The Galatians have peace and access (Romans 5:1-2) with God only because of their union with the Christ and His finished work (Romans 6). They are free from the wrong use of the Law that the Judaizers are seeking to foist upon them.

We have said repeatedly that the problem here in Galatians is with the desire to embrace a obviated ceremonial law. But we should hasten to add that we move back to bondage anytime we try to use God’s law in any of its senses as a means to catapult into God’s presence and favor apart from relying on His introduction on our behalf (forensic righteousness) and without our union with our ascended Lord.

In this Freedom that comes from the deliverance from the law we have a freedom from the nagging fear and accusing conscience that our performance is not what the law requires. As the Galatians were delivered from a salvation that was connected with their personal adherence to the ceremonial law so when we consider the implications of that truth we realize that, being completely and irrevocably saved, we are free from seeking to acquire a salvation based upon a performance that isn’t exclusively based upon Christ’s performance for us.

As Freemen we are not awake with night sweats that our performance is inadequate to what is required. Correspondingly, as freemen we no longer try to deceive ourselves that our lack performance really provides an obedience that measures up to God’s standard apart from Christ’s righteousness. We have been set free from both the despair that comes with the realization that our performance is not adequate (There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus) and the self-righteous delusion that our performance is adequate.

However not only is it the case that we have been freed from, but it is also the case that we have been freed to. The freedom is not only negative but it is also positive.

As the Apostle will go into a bit later in the letter we have been freed to walk and live in the Spirit, and so produce the fruit of the Spirit. Having been covered with Christ and united to Christ we are free from the compulsory service that comes from being a slave and delivered to the delight that comes from cheerful service that issues from a son. We have been set free from trying to use obedience to attain an uncertain salvation and set free to serve in gratitude from a salvation that is already present and can’t be recalled.

We might also say here that because of this deliverance that has issued in freedom that Christians should be people who do not carry the kind of psychological baggage that comes with being in bondage. Having been set free we are free from guilt and having been set free from guilt we no longer live our lives trying to alleviate ourselves by self-atonement that expresses itself in a host of different ways, nor do we allow ourselves to be manipulated by guilt that we no longer have. Having been set free by Christ we no longer do shame, or alienation or despair or fear, or any number of the other psychological consequences that come with not yet being freed from our sin and united to Christ. These things no longer should master us. All of these things belong to the children of the bondwoman. It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free.

From what we see from the Galatians though we understand that retaining this unbridled freedom is work. We must be constantly reminded that ‘we are not to be loaded down again with a yoke of slavery’ (5:1b). We must persevere in the fight against spiritual re-enslavement.

As Calvin said, the heart is an idol factory and each one of those manufactured Idols seek to enslave again the person who creates them. There is something about the fallen human creature that he fears the kind of freedom that Christ offers. Perhaps it is the fear that comes with the realization that this master cannot be manipulated. The spiritual slavery that comes with other false gods can be alluring if only because in all of these bondages there is a false sense that the Idol that is holding the keys to the slaves bondage can be manipulated by certain behaviors, incantations, or ritual. In the Christian faith we are spiritually free but that brings with it the reality of a God that cannot be manipulated. In our Christian freedom we must be satisfied with a free God who cannot be manipulated and who is free to do with us as He desires.

We still find that kind of thinking today in Evangelicalism. There is still a sense that by pursuing certain behaviors, incantations, or rituals we can manipulate God into doing what we want. As freemen we are not satisfied with a free God.

Quotes From The California Judicial Tyranny Front

We’re happy. We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

Lloyd Porter,
Member Board of Directors — California Teachers Association
Reacting to a recent California Appellate Court Decision on Homeschooling

I have public school teacher friends. I don’t want to say anything that would communicate a blanket disrespect for all government school teachers but when I read this kind of thing my blood vessels begin to pop.

“No matter what the setting?”

What a blinking idiot.

So, Mr. Porter, according to his own words, believes, if the setting required a gulag or concentration camp environment for educating children that would be preferable over parents teaching their own children in a safe and happy home as long as the gulag was equipped with ‘credentialed teachers’? Mr. Porter believes that inner city schools with paint falling off the walls and gangs hustling protection money is preferred over a home environment as long as they are stocked with ‘credentialed teachers’?

‘Foolish,’ is to kind of a word for this kind of blinkered thinking.

Forget about thinking that Mr. Porter is concerned about the poor wayward children of California. This is purely about job security. Unions exist in order to protect jobs and any judicial ruling that requires children who are not in Government schools to be forced into government schools is a reason for the Mr. Porters of California to rejoice since it means job protection, more teacher jobs and thus greater union muscle. The Mr. Porters of California don’t give a rat’s hind quarters about the children. All they are concerned about is keeping their government make work jobs.

“I’m kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep.I’m ready. I have damn good arguments.”

Debbie Schwarzer
Homeschooling Mom of Los Altos, Ca.

Debbie I admire your spunk but allow me to suggest that for every good argument you have you purchase two cases of shells for your favorite weapon of choice. If any truancy officer were to show up on my doorstep, with the intent of taking my children away without moral cause, he damn well better show up locked and loaded.

Debbie, you don’t seem to realize that some of these people don’t care about your good arguments. It isn’t about arguments. It is about raw judicial tyranny. It is about who has the money. If court cases were decided on the merit of ‘damn good arguments’ we wouldn’t get as many damn stupid decisions that we get.

Allow me to round off this section with an admission that when we acknowledge and make provision for the God given duty that parents have to educate their children there will be rare instances where parents are irresponsible and neglect their children. The question at this point is though whether we would prefer running the risk of having a few parents be irresponsible with their children’s education or whether we would prefer running the risk of having the state be irresponsible with children’s education. Given the quality of education in America I think the risk of an occasional parent neglecting their children’s education is substantially far less than the risk that obtains in the neglect that goes on every day in America’s educational concentration camps that we euphemistically call ’schools’ in this nation.

I can’t imagine how badly I would be frothing at the mouth if I lived in California right now. The reason that I am frothing at the mouth is that education is religious. If California home schooled children were to be forced into these government schools (an eventuality I don’t really see happening) they would be at the same time being forced to be trained in a pagan religion. Christians are supposed to be raising Christians. When we send our covenant seed to government school, whether we are forced to or whether we do so voluntarily, we are raising them to be non-Christians. This we cannot do, no matter what the consequences. We must obey God rather then men.

Finally we have a quote from the Honorable H. Walter Croskey.

“Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”

“Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply.”

“A primary purpose of the education system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism, and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.”

Justice H. Walter Trotskey
Writing for the majority in the 3-0 ruling

What we see in the last snippet is what this is all about. In addition to the teachers unions wanting job security, the ideological issue that predominates the resistance to home schooling by our elites is the danger that a non-brainwashed remnant poses to the secular humanist control that builds good citizens into little jack booted patriots who are loyal to the state and nation so that our Fascist project that we call ‘public welfare’ doesn’t get overturned or even challenged.

Naturally the question that begs being asked when it comes to training children into good citizenship is the question; ‘By whose standard or by what standard are we going measure what ‘good citizenship’ is.’ I will guarantee you that the standard for epistemologically self conscious Christians who are homeschooling their children as what it means to train children into good citizenship is going to be unrecognizable to H. Walter Trotskey’s standard for what it means to train children into good citizenship.

Finally, I must tell you that I am no more committed to protecting a public welfare that is committed to advancing an explicitly anti-Christ agenda then I would be committed to protecting the public welfare of an Aztec culture where human sacrifice was considered instrumental to their way of life.

On Honesty in Subscription to Creeds

“It (Subscription) is certainly a transaction which ought to be entered upon with much deep deliberation and humble prayer; and in which, if a man be bound to be sincere in anything, he is bound to be honest to his God, honest to himself, and honest to the church which he joins. For myself, I know of no transaction in which insincerity is more justly chargeable with the dreadful sin of “lying to the Holy Ghost” than in this. It is truly humiliating and distressing to know that in some churches it has gradually become customary to consider articles of faith as merely articles of peace: in other words, as articles which he who subscribes is not considered as professing to believe, but as merely engaging not to oppose at least in any public or offensive manner.”

Samuel Miller, 1769-1850
Doctrinal Integrity, pp. 59-60

The Canons of Dort open with statements that clearly articulate what is believed. After they are finished with the affirmations though they go on to write sections that delineate what is rejected because of what is affirmed. The men at Dort realized that every affirmation implies a rejection of its corresponding opposite. One finds the same kind of thing in the Belgic Confession of Faith. For example more then once the Confession, having made an explicit point will go on to say something like… ‘therefore we detest the errors of the ana-baptists,’ or ‘therefore we reject and abhor the errors of the Manichees.’ Similarly, when one reads the Heidelberg catechism with a close eye one realizes that certain segments are being written explicitly to contradict either Lutheran or Roman Catholic doctrines.

All of these documents are interested in defending the truth against error. We however, suggesting these documents are just ‘faith traditions’ no longer think there is a necessity to define the faith by rejecting what is not faith. Now, I realize that there is a necessity to be as broad and charitable as possible for fear of over restricting what lies within the circle of orthodoxy. I must wonder though if the modern danger we are facing is really the danger of being to narrow in our interpretations. Is it not instead the case that our generational error du jour is our proneness to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with everybody who shows up regardless of which Jesus they follow. The Reformed Church today has room for the Feminist Jesus, the Jesus in the American Flag (you know, kind of like a ‘pig in a blanket’), the ana-baptist Jesus, the Jesus whose Lordship is quarantined, the Pentecostal Jesus (whose followers seemed to have swallowed the Holy Ghost — feathers and all), and my personal favorite, the make him up as you go Jesus.

The very purpose of Confessional documents is to avoid this game of ‘pin the tail of meaning on Jesus’ that we see everywhere about us. Yet despite living in the kind of climate described above what we want to do is dilute the form of subscription in the Christian Reformed Church. This is like the one or two people who made it alive out of the Jim Jones compound in Guyana insisting that the Kool Aid needs to have more punch power the next time it gets served up.

I know… I know….

We live in a kinder and gentler time.

I have often noticed it to be the case that the people who remind me of that most frequently are the people who can afford to be kinder and gentler because their positions are in the ascendancy. Its easy for someone to admonish people to be kinder and gentler when the ones doing that admonishing are the ones having their way.

One must wonder what is afoot in the CRC. Recently we find out that it is proposed that in the projected new Psalter the Belgic Confession of Faith and the Canon’s of Dort won’t be included. Then we hear news of a proposed dilution in the force of the ‘Form of Subscription.’ If things keep going like this one won’t be surprised if one hears CRC ministers saying things like ‘Calvinism is like dry ice — to touch it is to be burned.”

Ok… so the latter would never happen but you take my point.

Professors, Libraries, Sons and Toys — A Parable

One there were two professors. One of them was a Sociologist while the other was a Physicist. They both had fine libraries in which they each took great pleasure. Each respected the other’s library but preferred their own library and each even thought their own library superior to the other. Each of the professors had one son and each of the sons had a grand toy collection. The son of the Sociologist’s toy collection revealed his preference for interactive games while the son of the Physicist’s toy collection revealed his preference for Lego blocks. The boys who were occasional playmates thought their opposite numbers collection was ‘OK’ to visit and play with once in a while, but like their fathers, they each preferred their own collection and each believed their collection was superior to the other.

Let those who have ears to hear, hear the parable of the Professors and their libraries and the sons and their toys.

So, it has come to this

Over the past year and a half I have been working with a group of people (about 4 families and a few singles) in Ann Arbor discipling them in their undoubted Catholic Christian faith. At one time there was hopes that this group might be able to form a core group of a fledgling Church but that hasn’t, to date, happened. These folks had been Christians a very long time but had only recently come to the fuller understanding of the Christian faith that is Reformed. I must say that in my 20 plus years of being in the ministry I have never encountered a group of people that were so hungry to understand what it means to be Reformed. They were reading books that many pastors never get to. I was and remain impressed and thankful to God.

When it became apparent that a fledgling Church wasn’t going to work out I advised them on some area ‘Reformed’ churches they might want to investigate. Being a Christian Reformed minister I was somewhat hopeful that the local CRC church might be a place where they could find a home.

After checking many of the area Reformed Churches they finally decided to check out the local CRC congregation. They came back with some very encouraging reports regarding the worship and liturgy of the services they attended and were finding some of the Sunday School classes offered to be encouraging. Eventually they decided to check out the prospective new members classes.

Welcome brick wall.

After one week of attendance one of the men was pulled aside with a request to meet with some of the leadership. Now it should be said that this gentleman is certainly one of the most well read and informed Reformed laymen I have ever known. Indeed it is my opinion that his breadth of knowledge of Scripture and passion for Christ outstrips most of the clergy I meet in this world. He was the one instrumental in teaching this little group the beginnings of Reformed Theology and Worldview and God used him to impact the lives of these families that gathered weekly around God’s Word. It was at this man’s request that I became attached to this little flock and I came to love all of the members of this Wednesday group like they were the family they were. I have known this man only a few years and yet I already count him as one of my closest friends.

It was his breadth of knowledge and his passion for Christ that earned him a meeting with the leadership who expressed to him their concern that he might be a source of friction in their church. In the meeting he sought to allay their fears and thought that all had been settled. That didn’t end up being true. After the following week’s prospective new members class he received a letter which I cite in part,

We do not typically ask new members to sign statements upon joining our congregation. However, we are asking you to sign the following statement because we recognize your intense interest in certain aspects of Reformed Theology. Our concern is that your views and opinions may cause divisions in our congregation. Throughout the years we have established a fellowship of believers from differing traditions of those who follow Jesus Christ. Differences of opinion and interpretation are accepted.

Now understand that nothing had happened to precipitate this letter. My friend had entered into some friendly discussions where some polite disagreements had been registered on both sides but there was nothing that even approximated conflict or friction. In the first meeting my friend made it known that he opposed women in office but as the CRC allows both views to be held he didn’t think that would be an issue. He also made it known in a kind of an offhand way, in the course of a conversation, that he believed in a young earth citing a book by Douglas Kelly as support.

So why this letter? Please understand dear reader that he’s being asked to sign a letter, promising to stay on a short leash, in order to join a Reformed Church, for the danger he represents in having an intense interest in certain aspects of the Reformed Faith. Oh the shame. Oh the disrepute. Oh the horror of such convictions. Next thing you know they’ll be asking a prospective member to leave a deposit if they show up having the Heidelberg catechism memorized.

Now what of the fear of upsetting the different traditions? First, just exactly what ‘different traditions’ are we talking about here? Does this mean that in our Church membership we have Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Wesleyans, and Jehovah Wittinesses who are all following Jesus Christ? Heaven to Murgatroyd … even — we wouldn’t want to upset that apple cart introducing somebody who really took the three forms of unity seriously would we?

Again, the paragraph cited above speaks of differences of opinion and interpretation are allowed… except apparently for a Reformed opinion or interpretation. And what of these differences of opinion and interpretation? Just how different of an opinion or interpretation can one be before one is told that is to different? Can one believe in Arminianism and be a member? Open Theism? Inclusivism?

Yeah, I’m a little pissed. Actually, more then a little. I would cut my right arm off to have this guy in the Church I pastor and what he is getting in another Reformed Church is the right boot of fellowship.

I am even more sizzled over the fact that this group of people can’t find a decent Reformed Church in a huge metropolitan area to Worship in without driving a sizable chunk to get to one.

I have these friends who rightfully are lamenting they can’t find a Reformed Church. I have my daughter in Florida who is living in a large Metropolitan area that can’t find a decent Reformed Church. Every where I go I meet people who say, “We don’t have a good Reformed Church in our area.”