“For such freedom Christ set us free.”—Gal. 5:1.
1. What did the sight-seeing Russian ambassador see up above on the Washington Railroad Station?
THE freedom of the city was being extended to the Russian ambassador, no travel restrictions being placed upon him. This being his first presence in Washington, D.C., he was taking a leisurely sight-seeing tour, visiting places of interest. As he approached the Union Terminal Railroad Station, which looks down the length of Delaware Avenue to the National Capitol, he glanced up. There, up above the central arch of the front portico, he saw engraved the words: “THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.”—JOHN 8:32.
2, 3. (a) What could the Russian ambassador have thought at the sight of those words? (b) The words seen by the ambassador were from what book, and copies of this book had been shipped into Russia by what Society in 1946?
2 Whether the Soviet ambassador thought those words were taken from some American political document or educational document, we will not say. Whether he agreed with those words, we will not say.
3 He could have thought of how his people tried to free themselves from slavery to a false religious system during their Bolshevik revolution of the year 1917. Yet, by such violent action against the clergy of the Russian State Church, those revolutionists did not get the truth that makes men free. Understandably not, for those words at which the Russian ambassador gazed were quoted from a book thousands of copies of which the Soviet Union had authorized to be shipped into the country in 1946, shortly after World War II, and for the first time in many decades. The facts on this were given out in the annual report of the American Bible Society made at its New York city Bible House, to the effect that a shipment had been made containing 5,000 New Testaments and 100,000 copies of the Gospels in Russian and 500 copies of the New Testament in the ancient Greek, these Greek Testaments to be distributed among theological students. An acknowledgment of this gift had been made by Archbishop Alexi of the Russian Orthodox Church of Moscow.a
4, 5. (a) The words quoted were from whom? (b) Why might the ambassador and also educators and scientists agree with the words?
4 So the words on the portico of the Washington Railroad Station were quoted from the Gospel of the Christian apostle John, chapter eight and Joh 8 verse thirty-two. They were the words of the appointed founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ. The Russian ambassador might have agreed with the words quoted, for they were taken by themselves, apart from their connection with Jesus Christ.
5 Educators will agree that knowledge of the truth in its abstract sense frees one from the bondage of ignorance and superstition and deception. College and university students are out on their campuses fighting for intellectual and academic freedom to pursue their quest for knowledge unhindered by church traditions and the control of clergymen. The secular scientists are trying to learn more and more about the creation, its laws, its forces, its order and arrangements and features, the age of our universe and how far into boundless space it extends itself. All the truth gained in these realms of knowledge sets man free at least to some extent, as these worldly truth seekers claim.
6. Knowledge of such secular truth brings with it what danger, and so what has actually resulted to its possessors?
6 We are not afraid of the truth. Along with others, we highly value the truths gathered in these various fields and the freedom of mind that they bring. We are glad that they have been shared with us. However, knowledge of such secular truth brings a danger. Such secular truth may be put to a wrong use and be used to lead its possessors into a new bondage. Today, in this twentieth century, scientists abound as never before, and most political governments of the day are aiding in the endeavor to produce more scientists for the good of the country. Admittedly the scientists have learned truths about the things of creation, but it has made them free in only a relative sense, liberating them from slavery to many false theories or slavery to ignorance of certain facts. Yet, along with that, there has come an enslavement of scientists and their followers, an enslavement to science itself, making it an idol to be worshiped like the sacred cow of the Hindus of India.
7. Feeling their power, what do scientists try to do, and what threat does this pose as warned of by a scientific writer?
7 Feeling their power, the scientists try to subject others to a slavery to the scientific group, subjecting even the political governments to a dependence upon secular science. The scientists would make themselves a priesthood of this new idolatry, a thing that is warned against in the book issued in 1965 entitled “The New Priesthood,” by the distinguished scientist Ralph E. Lapp, author also of the book Man and Space. This “new priesthood,” namely, “the scientific elite,” presents a threat to democracy, for the scientists have a specialized knowledge that “gives them truly formidable authority in the councils of political power.” So the question arises, Does democracy face a takeover by the scientific technologists of today?
8. What other professional group tries to set itself up as a priesthood, and how has it influenced a disregard of Christian conscience?
8 Not only that question worries liberty-loving people, but now, too, the medical doctors try to set themselves up as a priesthood of public health and compel all citizens to submit to its medical opinions and yield to its medical treatment against the will and desire of the patient, under force, and contrary to the patient’s constitutional rights and privileges. Exceptionally is this so today when medical doctors appeal to judges of the law and influence them to rule that Jehovah’s witnesses must have their minor children contaminated with a blood transfusion contrary to God’s law on the sanctity of blood. Yes, this medical priesthood prevails upon judges to override the conscientious religious belief even of adult witnesses of Jehovah and by arbitrary judicial ruling force a gross violation of God’s sacred law on these Christian adults who are entitled to equal freedom of religion with Roman Catholics and Christian Scientists.b The medical priesthood would now persuade the lawmaking body of the nation, the Parliament or the Congress, to pass a law requiring patients who adhere to God’s law on the sacredness of blood to submit to a blood transfusion if the doctor or the hospital thinks it necessary.
9. (a) To what type of political government have some men long looked for freedom? (b) What government of this type was set up more recently in North America, and under what Declaration?
9 As long as two thousand years ago men looked to democracy to give them freedom. Political democracy was born in ancient pagan Greece before the days of Jesus Christ, but it was democracy for only the free citizens of the land, as a large section of the population was made up of slaves. More recently, in the year 1775 of our Common Era the thirteen British colonies in North America began a revolution to establish themselves as an independent democratic nation. The following year, on July 4, a Declaration of Independence was signed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the second paragraph it says these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . . ”
10. (a) How was the main composer of that Declaration at disagreement privately with those words in paragraph two? (b) When was abolition of slavery announced as applying in America?
10 The composing of this Declaration was assigned to Thomas Jefferson of the colony of Virginia, and the language of the Declaration is practically all Jefferson’s. In the light of this man’s home life, the question arises, Who was Jefferson that he should be writing a declaration about the unalienable right of liberty that was to be enjoyed or pursued by all men who are created equal? Why, Jefferson himself was then a slave owner! In fact, eighty-seven years passed by before the American president, on January 1, 1863, announced an abolishing of slavery in certain parts of the United States of America.—The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8, pages 561, 562; Volume 10, page 271.
11. What has been said and published recently as to the success of the French Revolution in giving democratic freedom?
11 The American Revolution was followed by the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. Now, after more than a century and a half of republican government in France, there appears an article in the New York Times Magazine, as written by a Frenchman, Jean-François Revel, under date of November 7, 1965. On page 29, as headlines to Revel’s article, appear the words: “The French Revolution Has Been Lost: Eyeing France today, a Frenchman says democracy there is only skin-deep and usually has been.” Then Revel’s article proceeds to state the facts in proof of it.c
12, 13. (a) What did the Bolshevik leader think was necessary for the success of the Communist revolution in Russia? (b) After much work to remove this obstacle to success, what question arises?
12 In the year 1917, amid the horror of World War I, there broke out the Russian revolution by which the Communist Bolsheviki came to political power under their leader Vladimir Ilich Lenin. This man had no faith in God, especially the God taught by the Russian Orthodox Church. Believing that the religion of Christendom was the opium of the people, Lenin said: “Our revolution will never succeed until the myth of God is removed from the mind of man.” Apparently the Russian Communist revolution has broken down belief in God in the minds of the majority of people in both Russia and satellite countries. The attitude of the younger generation of Communists is expressed in the answer of a twenty-year-old boy who was interviewed by a bureau chief of the magazine Newsweek, as reported in the magazine’s issue of April 16, 1956, page 54. After answering the question, “Is it difficult for you to adjust academically?” he was asked, “And the Bible?” At this he laughed and answered: “Nobody but Jehovah’s Witnesses read the Bible.”
13 However, after all such removal of God from the minds of the people, can the Russian revolutionists boast of success?
14. After an examination into democratic and republican governments, what must we conclude as to the freedom gained, and what question do we ask on Jesus’ statement about freedom?
14 After an examination into “people’s republics” and popular democratic governments of men from the days of ancient Greece, honest hearts have to admit one thing: republican, popular or democratic government has failed to bring liberty in its most vital aspects. This is true even of the most enlightened and most progressive countries, having the highest educational standards and social provisions and using the most fully the services of scientists and doctors of law, philosophy, medicine and theology. The modern enlightenment and worldly progress of the nations have set men free to an extent that falls far short of the freedom of which Jesus Christ spoke. This explains why dissatisfaction, unrest and turbulence are increasing on earth today. What, then, is the truth that Jesus Christ said would make us free?
THE TRUTH THAT SETS FREE
15, 16. (a) What did the station building designers omit about Jesus’ words, and this in agreement with what dislike? (b) Why is there such a dislike, as shown in John 8:28-32?
15 Jesus’ words as engraved above the entrance of the Washington Railroad Station were carved there without their context. The station building designers ignored the context of Jesus’ words. Men in general do not like to accept the context of those words. Why? Because Jesus limits the application of his words to those who become his disciples, and these followers of his must fulfill a certain proviso or condition. Take note of this as we read John, chapter eight, verses twenty-eight through thirty-two:
16 “Therefore Jesus said: ‘When once you have lifted up the Son of man [upon a stake of execution to die], then you will know that I am he [the promised Messiah or Christ], and that I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.’ As he was speaking these things, many put faith in him. And so Jesus went on to say to the Jews that had believed him: ‘If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
17. To whom were Jesus’ words not said, and upon what did one’s gaining of the freedom mentioned depend?
17 Take note! The freedom that the truth brings about is dependent upon a big IF. Jesus said: “If you remain in my word.” If they did this, they would prove themselves to be real disciples of Jesus; then, as he said to his listeners, “you are really my disciples.” In that case they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. These words were not said to the pagan physical scientists or to the pagan philosophers and educators of that day. The words were said to people at Jerusalem who “put faith in him,” who “believed him.” They had faith, they believed that God his heavenly Father had sent him to earth to perform a Messianic work in behalf of the kingdom of God, with blessings for all mankind. Having begun to believe and put faith in him, they had to decide whether they would remain in his words, in his teaching, and learn all the rest of the truth. If they did so, then his promise to them would be fulfilled, that they would know the truth and be set free by the truth.
18. What is this truth here spoken of, and why can we not expect to get it from scientists and educators today?
18 The truth that does this is not truth in general, such as is learned by worldly people. It is the truth that comes from a certain source and through a certain channel of instruction. The source is the One who sent Jesus Christ to earth as a Teacher, and that one is the heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Concerning him, Jesus said: “Just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28) God’s channel of instruction is, therefore, his Son Jesus Christ. That is why it is necessary to remain in the word or teaching of Jesus in order to know the truth and be set free by such truth. So we cannot expect today to get this freedom-giving truth from or through the physical scientists and worldly educators and philosophers of this twentieth century. Because we have not got it from them and cannot get it from them, the whole world of mankind has not won real freedom through them. The real freedom is something that they can never give us. What is it?
19, 20. (a) Why were the pride and religious feelings of his listeners hurt by Jesus’ words about knowing the truth and being set free? (b) Who did Jesus say was a slave needing to be freed?
19 What this freedom is came to light in the further conversation that Jesus Christ had with his listeners. By birth they were descendants from a free man, the patriarch Abraham, who was the friend of God and whom God brought out of Mesopotamia and into the Promised Land of Palestine. (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-7; 2 Chron. 20:7; Jas. 2:23) When Abraham’s descendants sojourned in Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them, Jehovah God freed them from Egyptian bondage and brought them into the Promised Land. Through God’s prophets they got the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, from the first book thereof, Genesis, to the last and thirty-ninth book thereof, Malachi; and these set forth the only true worship of God at that time. So when Jesus spoke to them about knowing the truth by remaining in his word and being set free by the truth, it hurt their pride and religious feelings. Hence we read:
20 “They replied to him: ‘We are Abraham’s offspring and never have we been slaves to anybody. How is it you say, “You will become free”?’ Jesus answered them: ‘Most truly I say to you, Every doer of sin is a slave of sin. Moreover, the slave does not remain in the household forever; the son remains forever. Therefore if the Son sets you free, you will be actually free. I know that you are Abraham’s offspring; but you are seeking to kill me, because my word makes no progress among you. What things I have seen with my Father I speak.’”—John 8:33-38.
21. From what things was the freedom to be, and how did Jewish listeners to Jesus show that they were slaves?
21 Ah, here it comes to light that the freedom of which Jesus spoke was the freedom from sin. This meant also the freedom from death, for “the wages sin pays is death.” (Rom. 6:23) Those listeners of Jesus might pride themselves on being natural descendants of Abraham; but if any of them were not wanting Jesus’ word to make further progress in them and if they wanted to kill him by lifting him up on a stake of execution to die, they were not free offspring of Abraham. They were not sons of the heavenly Father, Jehovah God. They were certainly the slaves of sin to a very low degree, and they indeed needed to be set free.
22. (a) What did Jesus’ listeners need to remember about Abraham’s children? (b) So now what danger was there with regard to the Jews?
22 Those Jews who were proud of their descent from Abraham needed to remember that Abraham had two sons, first one by a slave girl, Hagar, and then one by a free woman, his wife Sarah. Later the slave girl’s son Ishmael, was dismissed from Abraham’s household; but the free woman’s son, Isaac, remained in Abraham’s household and became his heir and also heir of the promise that Jehovah God made to Abraham. Likewise, the Jewish descendants of Abraham were but slaves toward God, not sons. Jesus was a Son of God and was free. There was, therefore, the danger that the slavelike Jews would not remain in God’s household forever but would be dismissed, cast off like Ishmael. Jesus as a free and faithful Son of God would properly be retained and would remain in God’s household forever. So he could set the Jews free.
23. Only by what course could those Jews be set free?
23 Only by accepting the word of truth through Jesus and letting it make progress among them could they be set free and become free sons of God and abide forever in God’s household, enjoying everlasting life. They need to have the Son of God free them by his truth and the sacrifice of himself as a ransom for them.
THE SLAVERY OF ALL MANKIND
24. Why does our dying state prove that we are sinners, and by what means only can we be freed for life?
24 Who today can prove that he is not a slave of sin and receiving in himself the wages that sin pays, namely, death? Lenin has had those wages paid to him in full; he is dead, which proves that he was a slave of sin. Too bad for him if God and resurrection of the dead were only a myth! All mankind born from the sinful first man (Adam) have been born sinners. That is why they have been under the condemnation of death. We have all needed to be freed from sin and its penalty of death. The Son of God and his truth are the only means by which we can be set free and gain eternal life as free children of the Most High God.—Rom. 5:12-18.
25. How did Paul describe his own physical and spiritual state in Romans 7:19-25?
25 The Christian apostle Paul described his own physical and spiritual state when he wrote these words to the early Christian congregation in Rome: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. If, now, what I do not wish is what I do, the one working it out is no longer I, but the sin dwelling in me. I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.”—Rom. 7:19-25.
26. In the case of whom else must that state as described be true just as fully, if not more so?
26 Now, if that was true of the Christian apostle Paul, who had seen the resurrected Jesus Christ and who had received so abundantly the gifts of God’s holy spirit, it is just as fully true in the case of each and every one of us, if not more so!
27. (a) To what form of worship did the Jews become enslaved? (b) What kind of woman, therefore, was their capital city Jerusalem like?
27 Along with that enslavement to inborn sin and its penalty of death, the world of mankind has become enslaved to a system of false religious worship. The Jews had been liberated from ancient Egypt and had been given the sacred pronouncements of God in the thirty-nine books of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. Yet they became slaves to a system of deceptive, hypocritical religious worship, which the Holy Bible calls Judaism. (Rom. 3:1, 2; Gal. 1:11-16) Just like the one-time Jewish Pharisee Paul, all the Jews needed to be delivered from that enslaving system of Judaism. Only the truth through Jesus Christ could do this, as it did in the case of Paul. Furthermore, God’s own Law given to the Jews through the prophet Moses condemned those Jews to death as sinners unable to keep God’s perfect Law. For this reason they could be cursed by God. Hence the Law served as a yoke on them, that they could not carry by themselves. It proved them to be slaves of sin and deserving of death. The addition of Judaism made the slavery worse! As a result their capital city Jerusalem was not a mother of free children, but was like a slave woman, in bondage with her children. What was the worship to give them liberty?
28. (a) What, then, was the worship that would give them liberty? (b) Like the son of what woman did those accepting that worship become, and what did Paul show they now needed to do?
28 It was the worship of the one living and true God Jehovah through his Son Jesus Christ. Some Jews accepted and remained in the truth that came through Jesus Christ, letting it make progress among them. Those were the ones who learned the truth that set them free. These gained the pure, true worship that gives liberty! These were no longer children of a slave woman, but were children of a free woman, God’s free spiritual organization. They were like Isaac the son of the free woman Sarah, Abraham’s wife. The thing now to do was to remain free, fighting to keep freedom. Hence the apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christians who were acquainted with Judaism: “Wherefore, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman. For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”—Gal. 4:31; 5:1.
29. (a) In spite of what privileges had the Jews come into a religious slavery? (b) Why more so did the Gentiles need to be set free, and when did the Son of God begin to set them free?
29 Those words were specially fitting for natural, circumcised Jews who had been brought out of Judaism into the liberty-giving worship of true Christianity. The Jews had come into a religious slavery in spite of their having the Law of Jehovah God and being in a national covenant with him. How much more was it true that all the non-Jews, the uncircumcised Gentiles, who did not have God’s law, were in a religious slavery! So if the Jews needed liberation, how much more so did the Gentiles need to be set free? Why so? Because the Gentiles were in bondage to a larger religious organization, namely, Babylon the Great, which is the worldwide empire of false religion. Such Gentiles, in slavery to false gods, really to demons, needed to be turned away from such idolatry to serve the living God, Jehovah, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was first three and a half years after his resurrection from the dead that the Son of God began to set such Gentiles free. That was when he sent his apostle Peter to the Mediterranean seaport of Caesarea to convert the household of the Italian centurion Cornelius.—Acts 10:1 to 11:18.
30. (a) So what do those freed Gentiles now need to do? (b) Why does this slavery include the people of Christendom?
30 Thus for freedom from the international religious harlot, Babylon the Great, Christ set the Gentiles free. Therefore, these also need to stand fast in the liberty-giving worship and not let themselves become confined again in a yoke of religious slavery. This slavery includes the churchgoing people of Christendom. Christendom was established in the fourth century, in the days of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and she took in the territories of present-day Portugal and Spain. While still holding the pagan office of Pontifex Maximus, Emperor Constantine called together the council of Nicaea in Asia Minor; and, after the bishops had wrangled for weeks, he decided in favor of what is Christendom’s most important religious doctrine. This is the trinity, the belief that there are God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Ghost and yet there are not three Gods but only one God in three Persons. In this doctrine Christendom apes the pagans or heathen.
CHRISTENDOM AN UNFREE PART OF THIS WORLD
31. How did Christendom not really gain but thus come into bondage, as shown by M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia?
31 Christendom may have thought that she gained something by submitting to the domination of the Roman Pontifex and by accepting the support of the political state. Yet she came into bondage that led to continual difficulties between Church and State, down till today. Says M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 2:
Numerous, however, in various points of view, as were the advantages accruing to it from this change, it soon began to suffer from being brought into close contact with the fostering influence of secular power. The simplicity of the Gospel was corrupted; pompous rites and ceremonies were introduced; worldly honors and emoluments were conferred on the teachers of Christianity; and the kingdom of Christ in a great measure converted into a kingdom of this world.—Page 488.
32. (a) In view of what Jesus told Pilate, why is Christendom no part of Christ’s kingdom? (b) Who can set churchgoing people free from Christendom?
32 However, Jesus Christ plainly said to Governor Pontius Pilate, who was a representative of the Roman Pontifex Maximus Tiberius Caesar, this: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) Therefore, Christendom, which has refused Christian liberty and independence in favor of religious union with the State and dependence on the State, is no part of Christ’s kingdom. Consequently, the churchgoing people of Christendom, with its confusion of divisive religious sects, need to be freed from bondage to Christendom. Christendom is the most prominent and powerful part of Babylon the Great. Not modern-day science or worldly education, but only Christ’s truth can free them!
a See the article “Bible Society Ships Gospels to Russia,” as published in the New York Times under date of March 21, 1947.
b See The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 17 of 1929 edition, under the heading “LIBERTY, Religious,” and its comments on page 349 regarding “the right of absolute equality of all religions before the law.”
c Confirmatory of this is the later article appearing in the New York Times Magazine under date of May 29, 1966, under the title “France is No Longer a Democracy.” as written by François Mitterand. With regard to government stability, Mitterand says: “We see it as part and parcel of a democratic framework, with the powers of decision in the hands of the people. This is not the case today: now the voters are merely called upon once every seven years to vote on whether or not they want to keep their leader.”—Page 56.