GOSPEL FREEDOM

FREEDOM FROM ALL FALSE GODS

Jesus said: ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ [John 8:31,32]. Some time later he said to the eleven disciples: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ [John 14:6].

2Corinthians 4:4 teaches us that ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ – that we live in an inescapable blindness, held fast in the darkness of ignorance of God, disempowered from ever seeing and knowing God.

Wherever there are people there are concepts of ‘god’ and these concepts hold people captive. Even the atheists with their concept that there is no such thing as ‘god’ and the agnostics with their concept that if there is such a thing as ‘god’ we can never know that ‘god’, are trapped in these concepts, and by these very concepts prevented from ever knowing the one true God.

Our human concepts of ‘god’ – whether they are our individual, personal ‘god’ concepts, or the ‘god’ concepts taught by religions or cults – all prevent us from seeking and knowing the one true God. We are trapped by these ‘gods’ of our own making: by believing in them we are trapped in our ignorance of the one true God, and we are trapped in the rules, regulations and rituals attributed to these gods we have made.

Paul, writing to people who had escaped from this, described their former bondage this way:

‘Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?’ [Galatians 4:8,9]

When we meet Jesus Christ we are actually meeting the one true God. This is affirmed by the following words of Jesus:

‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also’ [John 8:19].
‘I and the Father are one’ [John 10:30].
‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ [John 12:44-46].
‘… whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me’ [John 13:20].
‘If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him. … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say “Show us the Father”?’ [John 14:7-9].

And the testimony of John:

‘We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.’ [1John 5:20,21].

God, the one true God, whose nature and glory is displayed in the universe he created, and recorded in the words of the Scripture, comes to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and says to us: here I am. This is who I am. Believe in me. Cast aside all your personal conceptions of ‘god’, cast aside all the religious conceptions of ‘god’ you have ever heard, cast aside all that the world says about ‘god’, and believe in me.

This is the meaning of that precise summary of the teaching of Christ recorded by the gospel writers: ‘Repent and believe.’

When we repent [when we throw out our idea of god], and when we believe in Jesus Christ as God we are set free – set free from the deceptions, set free from our ignorance, set free from our dark blindness in which Satan held us captive. Here in Jesus Christ we are redeemed from all false gods; here we are redeemed from the heavy necessity of having to define and find our own god.

In Jesus Christ God has come to us and set us free to know him who alone is God. Let us be sure from this point forward to refuse all idols … all gods formed by our human hands or our human imaginations.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012