PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO GOD ALONE
WHAT is religion?
"The recognition of God as an object of worship, love, and obedience."—WEBsTER. Other definitions equally good are: "The duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it." "Man's personal relation of faith and obedience to God."
In religious things, whom alone should we call Father?
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Matthew 23:9.
When tempted to bow to Satan, what did Christ reply?
"Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is writ- ten, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Matthew 4:10. (See Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:30.)
To whom alone, then, is each one accountable in religion?
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:12.
NOTE.-With this agree the words of Washington in his reply to the Vir- ginia Baptists, in 1789: "Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be pro- tected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own con- science."—Writings of George Washington (J. C. Fitzpatrick, ed.), vol. 30, p. 321.
What do those do, therefore, who make men accountable to them in religious affairs?
They put themselves in the place of God. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.)
Why, in religious matters, did Christ say men should not be called masters?
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ." Matthew 23:10.
NoTE.—Every one, therefore, who acts as master in Christ's church, or lords it over God's heritage (1 Peter 5:3), puts himself in the place of Christ.
To whom, then, as servants, are we responsible in matters of faith and worship?
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to'his own master he standeth or falleth." Romans 14:4.
Whose servants are we not to be?
"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." 1 Corinthians 7:23.
NOTE.—"Satan's methods ever tend to one end,—to make men the slaves of men," and thus separate them from God, destroy faith in God, and so expose men to temptation and sin. Christ's work is to set men free, to renew faith, and to lead to willing and loyal obedience to God. Says Luther:
"Concerning God's Word and eternal matters God does not permit such a submission of one man to another . . . because faith, submission, and hu- mility is the real worship which . . . should not be rendered to any creature, . . . since to trust any creature in things pertaining to eternal life means the same as giving honor to a created being, an honor which belongs to God alone."—Translated from MARTIN LUTHER, Letter to the Emperor Charles V, April 28, 1521, in his Sammtlich Schriften (Walch. ed.), vol. 15, col. 1897.
AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT
Where must all finally appear to render up their account?
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in 'his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10.
NoTE.—Inasmuch, then, as religion is an individual matter, and each in- dividual must give account of himself to God, it follows that there should be no human constraint nor compulsion in religious affairs.
DARE to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known! P. P. Buss