Bible Truth Makes Free
HOW can the claim be made that Bible truth makes free when some of the Bible’s most devout students, proclaimers and supporters languished in prisons or were exiled as slaves to pagan lands?
The nation of Israel is a typical example of this. As a nation it was the first to champion the Bible, and yet it was reduced to serfdom by the Assyrian and Babylonian hordes who had absolutely no regard for the Bible. Was Bible truth in this case a freeing agent? If so, in what way? The apostle John closed the canon of the Holy Scriptures when he completed the writing of his Gospel and letters and the book Revelation, which, incidentally, tells of the emancipation of the people of God from sin and death during the reign of Christ. Yet, John wrote this inspired book while he was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos in his old age. David, often referred to as a man after God’s own heart, wrote many of the Psalms that praise Jehovah God as the Great Shepherd and Deliverer. Still, David spent many of his years in “hideouts” dodging his enemies. Jeremiah, a faithful prophet and a Bible writer, tells of his experience in a slimy dungeon. Daniel, a prophet and a conscientious student and observer of Biblical law, was tossed as a tidbit to hungry lions. The apostles Peter and Paul wrote much of the Greek Scriptures. They spoke of freedom while they themselves were in iron chains and behind cell blocks. Jesus proclaimed liberty to the captives and the opening of prisons to them that are bound. He himself became a prisoner and was finally staked. In view of the foregoing facts, how can it be claimed that the Bible and its truths make one free?
It is quite obvious from what was just stated that the Bible does not free one from literal prisons or torture chambers, nor does it free one from poverty or temptation. Jesus declared very frankly that “the Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourself faithful even with the danger of death, and I will give you the crown of life”. (Rev. 2:10, NW) “In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12, NW) So, it is quite evident that the Bible does not free one in a physical sense. Then, how does it? It frees one mentally—from worldly cares, fears, anxieties, traditions, superstitions and hopelessness. However, it does not do this miraculously.
The Bible itself is not a “charm” book or a “good luck” piece that by merely having it in one’s own possession will ward off disaster or usher in happiness. The Bible in simple language is God’s Word. And as such it is a sure guide to follow. There is nothing mythical or mysterious about it. Although it is a perfect guide for men, it cannot guide us unless we let it. That is, unless we let its principles influence our lives. Unless we believe and abide by its principles the Book itself is like any other book—inanimate. If we do make it a part of our living it becomes a freeing agent and a tremendous force for good. Its truths brighten our pathway, showing us danger zones and the proper decisions to make on the way to life. It is this truth that sets one free. Jesus emphasized this when he said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NW) Freedom then rests on two factors: knowing God’s Word and remaining in it. Israel’s conduct is a forceful illustration of this fact.
The nation of Israel had God’s Word of truth. They were familiar with its principles. Its kings and priests were obligated to keep it. As long as they remained in harmony with Bible principles they were free as a nation, but when they abandoned these principles for their own ways of doing things they lost this freedom and were reduced to slaves by their enemies. However, there were individuals within the nation of Israel, such as Jeremiah, Daniel, the three Hebrew children, and others, who remained free as individuals even though Israel was reduced to serfdom. They maintained their freedom by not compromising Bible principles. Theirs was a mental freedom. They had peace of mind and joy of heart, a token of God’s approval for integrity. The apostle Paul testifies to this fact, saying: “And the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7, NW) It was because of this soothing, assuring, precious gift of peace, one that “excels all thought”, that Bible writers, supporters and proclaimers could say they were free even though they were languishing away in some filthy prison or exiled on some island for proclaiming its truth. It is this same peace that made them stand fearless before rulers and kings and in the face of death without wavering. This peace comes from knowing the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
This same peace exists in the hearts of those who know the truth of God’s Word today, when men’s hearts are failing them for fear and the end of all things seems to be at hand. This truth with peace that “excels all thought” is still gathered from the same source, the Bible. It continues to make free.
There is great need for Bible truth at this time, because truth is no longer accepted as such. Scientific theory, political philosophy and false religious traditions are the recognized authorities in the field of knowledge. Bible truth has been shelved as fiction. But men’s ways have not brought enlightenment; instead, darkness has settled over the whole earth. True to the prophet Job’s words, men “meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night”. (Job 5:14) And as Isaiah stated: “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isa. 60:2) Mankind’s groping in this mental darkness has caused great unrest and fear. Their only way out is God’s prescribed way, the Bible. They must recognize it to be the Word of God, study it in order to ascertain his direction, and remain in his direction until freedom is ultimately won. There are no short cuts. There is no other way out from this human impasse.
But just how does the Bible free one who has been both mentally and physically enslaved to this world? By extending hope to such a one with its truthful message. “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4, NW) This hope is about the incoming new world of righteousness, wherein righteousness is to dwell. It is concerning God’s kingdom rule that is to do away with sickness, wars and death. A student of God’s Word is greatly relieved when he reads such promises as: “And he [God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away”; (Rev. 21:4, NW) and, “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” And when he reads promises about mankind’s not laboring in vain, nor bringing forth for trouble; about this earth’s being made a glorious footstool under God’s feet; about people’s living on earth forever, never dying, but instead living in perfect health under a perfect government, such Bible truths energize the hearts of the righteous, creating hope and vision, freeing them from the darkness of this present old world and its dismal outlook to a new look that is a vision of the incoming new world with its attending blessings. (Isa. 2:4; 33:24; 2 Pet. 3:13) This truth has a wholesome effect. Bible truth also frees in another way.
RELEASE FROM FALSEHOODS
There are, no doubt, millions of sincere people that belong to religious organizations that believe that their dead relatives or friends are in purgatory or a hell of torment conscious and suffering, and that they could be aided by the prayers of men on earth. Such teaching has caused people much sorrow. How can the Bible set such sincere people free? By revealing the state of the dead. God, who knows the condition of the dead and where they are, sets down in simple phrases in the Bible their exact state. When the truth of the state of the dead is learned, this truth sets free.
For example, the Bible says: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.” Reason for a moment. In order for the dead to suffer they would have to know it. They would have to be conscious, cognizant of their status. But the Bible tells us “the dead know not any thing”. It is impossible for them to be suffering, because they do not know of their condition. They are not conscious of it. They are dead. In fact, the Bible goes on to say that “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest”. (Eccl. 9:5, 10) If there is no work, knowledge or wisdom, how can there be suffering? Impossible. The dead are where Jesus said they were, in their graves awaiting a resurrection. (John 5:28; Ps. 146:4; 115:17) The dead are not suffering in any purgatory, because no such place exists. Nor are they alive in a fiery hell, conscious, enduring painful torment. The Bible very plainly states that the dead are dead, unconscious, in their graves awaiting a day of resurrection. When such truths are learned from God’s Word it opens the prison house of darkness and frees one from superstition, pagan mythological teachings, traditions and falsehood. The Bible does make free.
It is urgent at this time for all to turn to the Bible for a study of its truth and say: “This is what the Bible teaches regarding the distress in the world, the cause of death, hereafter, human destiny, and our only hope”; and not: “This is what my church teaches, or what my teacher believes, or what I think is right.” Human reasonings have led this world into its present fearful, perilous condition.