Jun 08

TRUTH (3)

At times we get tired of hearing the same thing! However, if we take “tiredness” and apply it to the “truth,” there would be no use in teaching the truth! It never changes; therefore, it is always the same. Yes, we may study different parts of the truth, and even learn something new to us, but truth never changes! This is a problem to some, as they desire nothing better than to hear some new thing. However, even this is not new!
When Paul was in Athens, Luke wrote: “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)” (Acts 17:21). The key words are, “to hear some new thing!” Yes, those in Athens “spent their time in nothing else” than “to hear some new thing!” Boy, did Paul tell them something new! They had never heard the truth, in all their hearing of those “new thing(s)” they had never heard that great truth of all truths! That truth, that has the power to make them truly free! Their “cousins” of today have the same “ears” and they are always tuned into that which they perceive as “something” new; not realizing that it is only something old dressed in modern clothes!
These same people, thus-minded, are akin to those early Hebrew Christians, as Paul wrote of them: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (Heb. 5:12-13). Had they heard the truth? Yes! But the writer used the Greek word “palin,” which is translated “again,” as in start over! Could these Hebrews Christians say, “Well, we have already heard this?” Yes, they might have said, “We desire to hear something new!” But, the inspired writer says, no, you are in need that someone teach you again that which you have already heard! They were “babes” in adult’s clothing! The writer gets right to the point, they needed to hear again what is “the first principles of the oracles of God!” They were to go back to the their “beginning,” and start over.
Now, just what were they to study or go back to? The inspired writers said: “the first principles of the oracles of God?” The Greek word translated “first” is “arche” and it means: “beginning, origin,” but Thayer went on to say, “thing that commences.” Could we say, therefore, that the inspired writer is addressing those who have “started” their study, but that they need to go back and study again what is the “beginning” of the principles of the oracles of God?” Yes! This brings us to the words, “the oracles of God.” Many a preacher think that these words refer to the steps of obeying the gospel; however, this is not the case! The writer of the Hebrew letter is addressing the “beginning,” that which came first; thus, he is showing them that they need to go back and study the teaching of the Old Testament, then be convinced that Jesus is the Christ! They needed to go back and be reconvinced that Jesus is the Christ; the very one they had been waiting on to arrive! This is what caused them to obey the gospel; that is they had been once convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Christ! The Old Testament prophecies in this text were to build within them a foundation, upon which their faith could stand! Keep in mind, these Christians were under heavy persecution from their fellow countryman, the Jews! As the writer puts it: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.”
My brethren, please do not be like these Hebrews! But continue your growth in Christ! Stand firm upon the bedrock truth that makes you free! As the apostle wrote in another place: “having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, …” (Eph. 6:13-16).
Finally, determine to grow up in Christ! Don’t be like those who only desire to hear “something” new! Love to hear that which will keep your faith in Christ, as he is revealed is the New Testament and prophecies in the Old Testament!

Frank R, Williams

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Jun 01

TRUTH (2)

Truth is one of those words which stands alone! It does not fall into the words, “half-truth,” or nearly “truth;” but is limited to one body of truth; the gospel of Christ! When Jesus said, to those disciples which believed on him: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The “truth” of which Jesus speaks, is equal to “the teaching of Christ,” of which John wrote: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Have you ever thought, that the “truth” is equal to “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ,” and “the teaching of Christ” is equal to “the gospel of Christ?” That which is equal to the same thing, is equal to each other! For instance, 2+2=4 and 1+3=4; therefore, 2+2 is equal to 1+3!
The word “abideth” is a most important word; it means: “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” No matter which words you would like to use, each one is saying the same thing; one must start, by obeying, with the idea of “abiding in,” as in the present tense! There was a time that we did not “abideth” in the truth, we were, as Paul writes the Romans: “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness” (Rom. 6:20). Therefore, when we did not “abideth” in “the teaching of Christ,” we “were the servants of sin,” and not only so, but we were “free from righteousness!” Now we have been introduced to another word, which is equal to “the teaching of Christ,” and it is the word “righteousness.” The word “righteousness” comes from the Greek word “dikaiosune” and means: “justification!” This gives us another word, that is equal to the “truth” (John 8:32), “the gospel of Christ,” (Rom. 1:16), “the teaching of Christ,” (2 John 9), “righteousness” and it is the word “justification.” Is it not true, that Jesus could have used any of these words and meant the same thing! The result being freedom from sin! Before concluding this part of our article, please read: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17). Salvation, being made free from sin, is found i
0n the words “that form of doctrine” and is also equal to the other words noted above. More over, there is no freedom from sin, no salvation, outside “that form of doctrine.” The Greek word is “tupos” and among other things, is “a statue,” and “a model.” It is a completed “statue,” or a completed “model.” To add anything to it, would change the “statue” into something else! It would be “another” of a different kind, as Paul wrote of the Galatians: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). Now notice what Paul wrote next: “Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (verse 7). The two key words are “not and “another.” The Greek word for “not” is “ou” and is “the absolutely negative,” and goes with “another” which is the Greek “allos” and means: “another.” Therefore, Paul is saying there absolutely is no other gospel that is the same as the gospel of Christ!
Precious are the words of Jesus: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus is addressing the subject of salvation! Freedom from sins committed, in the past. It is not salvation from sins one will commit in the future! But it does put one in the state of being able to be forgiven of such sins; by repenting, confessing, and asking God’s forgiveness! Knowing the truth is one of life’s greatest blessings! But it is limited to the “truth” of which Jesus spoke! Just as it is limited to “the gospel of Christ,” to “the teaching of Christ,” to words of “righteousness,” and to the word of “justification!”
Friends, “truth” means “truth,” and “truth” is not subject to change! The moment “truth” is changed, altered, it is no longer the “truth!” Bible “truth” is not like the truth of men! Years ago, I purchased an old set of encyclopedias and what was written in them was written as truth, but a new set of encyclopedias reveals things learned between the time the of the old one and the new; truth as seen by men is subject to change! But God is Omniscient! There is no: 1) half-truth; 2) home truth; 3) not an atom of truth; and 4) that is the literal truth, in “the truth” of which Jesus spoke! Recall the words of the “wise man of the Old Testament,” as he wrote: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; …” But let us not forget the second half of this verse: buy “also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Pro. 23:23).
Thanks be to God who has given us “the truth” by which we can be saved!

Frank R. Williams

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May 24

TRUTH (1)

The word “truth” is a most interesting word in any language! Here are a few words from other languages which mean truth: 1) the Latin word is “veritas;” 2) the Danish is ‘”sandhed;” 3) the Italian is: verità’;” 4) the French is: “vérité;” 5) the Dutch word is “waarheid; and 6) the Russian word is: “истина.” There we have a few words that equals our English word “truth!” You should have noticed that the Latin and the Italian word for “truth” are nearly the same.
Now, here are a few “nearby words of ‘truth:” 1) trustworthiness; 2) trusty; 3) truthful; 4) truthfully; and 5) “truthfulness.” Also, notice these “related terms of ‘truth:” 1) half-truth; 2) home truth; 3) gospel truth; 4) not an atom of truth; and 5) that is the literal truth. Now, having looked at the word “truth” in different languages, “nearby words of truth,” and “related terms of truth,” it is time to get at the word “truth” as used by Jesus when speaking to his disciples: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). It is most important that we pay attention to the context in which Jesus is speaking. First, Jesus is addressing “those Jews which believed on him;” second, Jesus used words that identify the “true” disciple: “if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” third, Jesus sets forth those who will know the truth as he spoke to his “disciples”: “And ye shall know the truth;” and fourth, Jesus reveals the result of knowing the “truth,” when he said: “and the truth shall make you free.” With this we turn our attention to the word “truth” itself!
Jesus’ words imply another truth; the people he was speaking to did not know the “truth” of which he spoke! As he said: “If ye continue in my word;” with this Jesus limited the context to these people. For he said: “And ye shall know the truth!” Hearing nothing else, some of those before him objected to his words: “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed;” Here they are declaring that their “freedom” was in being physical descendants of Abraham’s seed!” Here they were declaring their own “freedom” without the “truth” of which Jesus is speaking! They farther said: “and were never in bondage to any man.” With these words, the unbelieving Jews lied as they said: “how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (John 8:33). This brings us to the question, “What is the context of the truth of which Jesus is speaking?”
Truth may be used in several different contexts and it is ever clear that Jesus and the unbelieving Jews had a difference of mind, of context: 1) we “were never in bondage to any man,” clearly revealing that they were speaking of physical freedom and even their words were not true; 2) Jesus revealed a great truth, which all mankind should take notice of, they said: we “were never in bondage to any man” but Jesus said: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Question: Where these unbelieving Jews under Roman rule? The answer is “yes!” They obeyed the Romans; thus, Jesus lets it be known that they were then, the servants of the Romans. When Jesus said in like manner: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” he clearly was not speaking of physical freedom but spiritual! Freedom from sin, which is the greatest freedom man may have! But, like these unbelieving Jews, so many today are willing to address “freedom” in the context of the physical and not in the spiritual context. Their own spiritual state, wherein Jesus said: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Thus, Jesus has identified their spiritual state, wherein they stood, at the time Jesus spoke: they were “the servant of sin!’
There are at least two ways the word freedom maybe used: 1) physical and 2) spiritual! Spiritual being the greater! In which of these was Jesus addressing, when he said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free?” Jesus was clearly speaking of the “spiritual” freedom! “Truth” as used by Jesus was in a context of making mankind free from sin! With this, Jesus said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Those unbelieving Jews were not going to receive the “truth,” of which Jesus spoke when he said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
No, the “truth” of which Jesus spoke, was to those Jews which “believed” on him! They were to receive the “truth,” the power to free them, free them from sin! So, what were they to receive? They were to receive the “truth;” which is equal to the gospel of Christ, of which Paul said of it: “the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). It took place on that great Pentecost day, wherein Luke wrote: “Then they that gladly received his (Peter’s) word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” The term “word” is here used to equal the “truth,” and the “gospel of Christ! For each, is another way of saying the same thing; and is the power to make one “free;” free from sin, when believed and obeyed!

Frank R. Williams

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May 17

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (10)

In this last article addressing the thoughts and attitudes toward the Bible and Christianity. Having looked at the first six Presidents and what they thought about the Bible and Christianity. We also looked at Benjamin Franklin. It is time that we look more at those of the time who never served as President. One name that comes to mind, who was a “founding father,” is that of John Jay.
Jay was born December 12, 1745 and died on May 17, 1829. However, between these two dates, Jay served this nation well and in several ways! It is the case that when we are thinking about the “founding fathers” of this nation, we think of those who helped bring independence to the Colonies and create a Constitution, that would bring democracy to the new nation! John Jay was one of them! First, he attended Columbia University. The name Columbia University brings us to a very important question: “Why were the Ivy League Schools started?” In answering this question, it will allow us to get a better idea of what the mind of the “founding fathers” was set on. Therefore, the question: “Why were the Ivy League Schools started?”
Here is a statement that will help us understand the reason for these schools. Their story, in brief, is etched in the entry way to Harvard Yard: “After God had carried us safely to New England, and we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government; one of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance learning, and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.” It was not lawyers and the like that was in the minds of those who started these schools now known as the “Ivy League Schools.” It took but eighteen years from the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, that they, being the most educated people of their day, founded the first and the perhaps the most famous Ivy League Schools. Just a note, to bring us back to the present, these schools are no longer thus minded!
One writer put it this way: “Harvard College’s first presidents and tutors insisted that there could be no true knowledge or wisdom without Jesus Christ, and but for their passionate Christian convictions, there would have been no Harvard.” (“The Forerunner,” By Editorial Staff, Published April 6, 2008). Today, we do not hear such things as: “it would surprise most to learn that almost every Ivy League school was established primarily to train ministers of the gospel – and to evangelize the Atlantic seaboard.” (ibid). Now, you are asking why are we writing about Harvard and not Columbia University? As Columbia was the school of John Jay, the “founding fathers” of whom we write. What was true of one of the now “Ivy League Schools” was also true of Columbia! This is the school of learning where John Jay was a student!
Jay after attending Columbia, practiced law and established a good reputation in New York. He was elected to serve as delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses! Jay with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison let it be known that they were not arguing for the creation of a new and more powerful system of government, but one that was balanced! They explained their proposes in the “Federalist Papers,” in a series of not less than eighty-five articles and five of them were written by John Jay!
Harvard’s Rules and Precepts adopted in 1646 included the following essentials: “Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life. Seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, every one shall seriously by prayer in secret seek wisdom of Him. Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that they be ready to give an account of their proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of languages and logic, and in practical and spiritual truths….”
With the above in mind, we turn our attention to John Jay. Here is one quote from him: “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” (1784). Here is a quote that is most interesting: ““I do not recollect to have had more than two conversations with atheists about their tenents. The first was this: I was at a large party, of which were several of that description. They spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. I took no part in the conversation. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ. I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did.” (In 1811, in a letter to John Bristed). Before concluding this long article, one more quote will serve us well: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. National prosperity can neither be obtained nor preserved without the favor of Providence.” (October 12, 1816).
Finally, let it be known, that John Jay, in 1789, after Jay declined George Washington’s offer of the position of Secretary of State, the president offered him the new opportunity of becoming Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, which Jay accepted!
It is very important that we have some idea of the thoughts and attitudes of our “founding fathers” toward the Bible and Christianity! The one thought that I call your attention to, is that one thought that ran through many of our “founding fathers;” it is here well stated: “So it was natural for the early Americans to turn to the Bible for guidance as to how to make civil law. This was the standard for law beginning with the Mayflower Compact all the way through the constitutions of all 50 states. By the way, what was the stated purpose of the Pilgrims as expressed in the Mayflower Compact? Contrary to revisionist history, their purpose was not to find religious freedom – they already had found religious freedom in Holland. Their purpose is clearly stated as being for the “Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith.”

Frank R. Williams

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May 11

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (9)

Were the words, “founding fathers,” limited to those who served as President, were there others who could rightfully be called “founding fathers?” If so, just who were they? The answer is, “Yes,” there were others who are rightfully called “founding fathers,” who never served as President! Therefore, who were these men?
If you are a student of history, and every American should be, then you would know or should know of those who rightfully are called “founding fathers.” However, there may not be total agreement on this subject! Well, this is alright! The first thing that we need to do is to learn how these men might be so identified. One person put it this way: “The United States of America was a collaboration among several brilliant men, focusing on enlightenment and the concept of equality for all men, regardless of birth. We use the term “Founding Fathers” to refer to the men who shaped the concept and destiny of America, including diplomats, inventors, soldiers, and philosophers.” Each of these men had a unique contribution to the concept of a democratic republican government by the people, for the people. Working together, these leaders determined a workable frame of government that is now a model. Just for a moment, stop and think what these men did and how they finally came together and gave to us a government unlike any that had been seen before!
Here is a list of those who are considered “founding fathers;” we have already noted the first six Presidents; therefore, our search will look elsewhere. Richard B. Morris, a historian in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key “founding fathers”: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Could there be others that belong on this list, “Yes!”
Now, turning our attention to Benjamin Franklin, we ask our question, “What were his views about the Bible and Christianity? Frist he was: a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). He was well known for writing Poor Richard’s Almanac. Is there a Biblical verse that says this? In general, he wrote: “Here is my Creed, I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe.. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting it Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them.” (Benjamin Franklin His Autobiography 1706 – 1757).
Now on Jesus, he wrote: “Well, as for Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best of the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts to his Divinity; tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think needless to busy myself with it now, where I expect soon as Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.” (ibid).
Benjamin Franklin may be better known for a saying of which he may not have said. What is it: “God helps those who help themselves?” However, it is quoted in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757. Is there a verse that has these words in it? No! Do they express a New Testament principle? You can go in search for the answer yourself! (2 Thess. 3:10-14). It is said, that the phrase originated in ancient Greece and may originally have been proverbial. It is illustrated by two of Aesop’s Fables and a similar sentiment is found in ancient Greek drama. Although it has been commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Before concluding this article, there is a question the reader needs to consider. Have you noticed anything in common among those we have studied? This answer will be looked at when this series of articles is completed.

Frank R. Williams

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May 04

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (8)

Did all the “founding fathers” believe in the Bible; did they all believe in Christianity? The answer is, “No!” Just as you could go into any town across America today and ask the question and the answer would be the same; be it in the early years of America or today. Therefore, no one should be surprised to learn that not all the “founding fathers” all believed in the Bible, or that all of them believed in Christianity!
Just as we learned in the last article that James Madison was one who did not hold the Bible as from God. What Madison did believe was that there should be a “separation of church and state.” What were some of the reasons that several of the “founding fathers” expressed the view of “separation of church and state?” We have noted that Thomas Jefferson was one such! Keep in mind, that one of the major issues of the time was that the new government should not be under “church” control. This was a major thought expressed, for this was one thing they had left the countries they came from; as the Roman Catholic Church ruled much of the world and the same was true of the Church of England, in controlling the English government. In England the king was the head of the Church of England and this was one thing they had hoped to have left behind. Thus, “the separation of church and state!”
Now, let us look at the sixth President of the United States of America! John Quincy Adams served as President from 1825 – 1829; he was a statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and a diarist. He also served as: Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825, Adams also served as an ambassador, and represented Massachusetts as a United States Senator and as a member of the United States House of Representative, during his long diplomatic and political career! He was the son of John and Abigail Adams. Before getting to the thoughts of John Quincy Adams and his beliefs regarding Christianity, let us notice the thoughts of John Leland and his objection to the new Constitution, it was that it did not sufficiently secure, his view was, “if a Majority of Congress with the President favour one System more than another, they may oblige all others to pay to the support of their System as much as they please.” This well expresses the concern of many at that time. Though they may not have uttered the words, “separation of church and state,” they did not want a “state church!”
Before getting back to John Quincy Adams and his thoughts on Christianity and Bible, please notice the thoughts of George Washington and John Adams, the first and second Presidents. They were firm believers in the importance of religion for republican government. As citizens of Virginia and Massachusetts, they had what would not even be considered today! What was it? Both were very sympathetic to a general religious tax being paid by the citizens of their respective states to the churches of their choice! Yes, they believed that churches should receive tax money from the states. However, they did not believe this on a national level!
Turning our attention to a few quotes of the sixth President of the United States of America, as regarding Christianity, they were as follows:
1) “The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this — it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the precepts of Christianity.” (in a letter to an autograph collector, Apr. 27, 1837)
2) “The Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth … it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six -hundred years before.” (in an oration at Newburyport, Jul. 4, 1837)
3) “I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong.” (in a letter to John Adams, his father, Aug. 1, 1826)
From these three quotes it is easy to see that Christianity was important to John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States of América! It is also easy to note that he saw Christianity as a corner stone in governing America!
Here is a quote that all should note and emulate into their lives: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” (John Quincy Adams). It seems to me that these words express the true qualities of a leader!
One must keep in mind, that “the founding fathers” were yet building a nation, even through she had the sixth President in office.

Frank R. Williams

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Apr 27

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (7)

Just how far removed from the revolutionary war do we go until those who served this nation are no longer considered to be part of that group of leaders, are no longer part of the “founding fathers?” The Constitution became the authority by which America would be governed; it is the base, the foundation of law! Those who worked on it, for sure, are correctly called “the founding fathers!” Also those who served this nation in giving the Constitution.
Just a brief look at the events that produced our Constitution and how it became the legal body of law for the United States of America is here given. The Continental Congress met in Philadelphia with the Declaration of Independence would also rightly belong in that group of these men who are called “the founding fathers!” The Continental Congress selected a committee to produce a draft of the “Declaration of Independence” from England. The group of men appointed were: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. It should be noted that two of these men would serve as President of the United States of America and they are John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
With this bit of history, we are ready to look at the thoughts of the fourth President of America. He was, of course, James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836), who was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat, philosopher, and one of the “Founding Fathers” of our great Nation. He served as President from 1809 to 1817; a total of eight years! Here is a most important point about Madison; he was nicknamed “Father of the Constitution” later in life for his important contribution to the creation of the Constitution! Before continuing, it should be called to the readers attention that he was co-writer of the Federalist Papers.
Now, what were the thoughts and views of Madison on the Bible? Not only was Madison known as the “Father of the Constitution,” but he was also known as the “defender of religious freedom!” Madison said: “all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion.” He was baptized (More than likely he was sprinkled.) an Anglican but studied under both a Presbyterian educator and the president of the College of New Jersey (which is now Princeton University) and who embraced the Presbyterian Faith and logic alike. However, there is little information about his religion. Most historians have found little indication of his religious leanings after he left college, there are scholars who indicate he learned toward “deism.” Still others maintain that Madison accepted Christian tenets and formed his outlook on life with a Christian world view. Therefore, the conclusion is reached that Madison’s own beliefs embraced “religious liberty!”
Therefore, though our fourth President does not help our search for what the “founders” thought about the Bible and Christianity, his embrace of “religious liberty” is very important to our study. The person who believes in Christianity and who embraces “the teaching of Christ,” but Madison’s strong belief that there should be no “state religion,” is also very important to our study! The Christian has no use for a “state religion;” thus, it might be said that the Christian does believe in a “separation of state and church,” but these words do not mean what is generally put forth when such words are used! If these words are used to say that there should be no “state church,” then the Christian agrees! On the other hand, if these words are used to say that “the state (government) should reject and have nothing to do with Christianity,” then the Christian disagrees!
The question might be asked, “Why include a ‘founding father’ who did not believe in the Bible and who had little to nothing to say about the Christianity?” It is a matter of honesty! If a person only looks at one side of the subject, he is dishonest and this we refuse to be! It has never been the case that the “founding fathers” were all believers in the Bible, nor has it been the case that we believed that all the “founding fathers” made a claim of being Christians! Our aim is to honestly show that the majority of our “founding fathers” did believe in the Bible and had good things to say about Christianity and the Bible; and show that this nation was founded upon the precepts and principles of the New Testament!

Frank R. Williams

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Apr 20

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (6)

The Jefferson Bible! You may have heard of what is called the Jefferson’s Bible but just what is it? Does the Jefferson Bible mean that the third President of the United States of America was a person who embraced Christianity? We know, as it has become a common phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state,” and that this phrase has been etched into our legal system, even though it is not part of the Constitution of America. Therefore, an interest in Jefferson’s spiritual thoughts and what he really thought about the Bible and our nation.
First, just what was the Jefferson Bible? It needs to be noted that Jefferson constructed two religious works: 1) The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1804, but no copies exist today and 2) The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1820. It is most interesting to learn how Jefferson did his work on the second one. He did not write it, but he put it together by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson’s condensed composition is especially notable, for it excluded all the miracles by Jesus along with most of the supernatural events; however, he also removed sections of the four gospel accounts that covered the resurrection and the passages that portrayed Jesus as divine. With this, Jefferson removed the truth that Jesus was the Son of God and the authority behind his moral life! Jefferson’s exclusions reveal a great deal in understanding his view of the New Testament; it was not inspired!
Second, if not inspired, just what was Jefferson’s view of Jesus? The name of the work will reveal what the book was about as he entitled it: “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” Jefferson was seventy-seven years old at the time. By this it is seen that he believed that Jesus’ life and teaching were very valuable to be emulated by Americans! In this work, he arranged the passages in a chronological order, thus, telling the story of Jesus’ life, parables and his moral teachings! While this is good, it also reveals, that Jefferson saw Jesus as a good man with worth while teachings, but he was only a man! This sounds much like a growing number of professors in our universities and colleges today!
With this one can see that Jefferson saw the value and the need for Americans to embrace what he put in the Jefferson Bible! His goal was to clarify the teachings of Jesus, which he believed provided “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man!”
In 1787, Jefferson wrote: “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
Jefferson lived in a world where political rulers routinely established a single faith as the official religion. He promoted religious freedom in order to secure the rights of differing religions and to protect the freedom of an individual to practice the religion of their choosing. It is within this context that we must take Jefferson’s words: ““a wall of separation between church and state!” Yet, he wrote in the front of his personal Bible: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” If only more people today would have this understanding! One more point just here, Jefferson wrote referring to the Bible: ““So strong is my belief, that when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to making men good, wise and happy.”
One more interesting fact, the Govern-ment printing office published a facsimile of the Jefferson Bible in 1904 which was distributed to the two chambers of Congress! Following the elections, each newly elected Senator was presented with a copy of the book until the supply ran out in the 1950’s. With these concluding remarks, it is hoped that the reader will have a better view of Jefferson’s words: “a wall of separation between church and state!” He did not want a state religion but was not opposed to religion and the state!

Frank R. Williams

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Apr 12

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (5)

The third President of the United States was Thomas Jefferson and he served from 1801 – 1809. Jefferson was educated at the College of William and Mary and was described as “the penman” of the America Revolution! He also served as Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781. In 1784, he went to France as a member of a trade commission and a year later, he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister of France. He was in France for five years! It is believed that his greatest achievements while in office as the third President was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803; this more than doubled the size of the United States!
With the above before us, let us turn our attention to what Jefferson thought about the Bible and where it belonged in America. First, let us note that within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church service in the House of Representatives! Did you get that? The “church service” was “in the House of Representatives!” Would this be allowed today? Another interesting point is that throughout his administration, Jefferson permitted church services in the executive branch buildings and the gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers! This action appears to be at odds with his view, that there should be “a wall of separation between church and state.” Just what did Jefferson mean by the words, “a wall of separation between church and state?” He was apparently declaring his opposition, as Madison had done in introducing the Bill of Rights, to a “national” religion. However, he did not have in mind what is set forth today, as it is believed he and Madison were by attending worship services on public property, consciously and deliberately, offering support to religion as a prop for republican government! Let us here go a little further with this thought. Just where did the phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state,” first appear? It was in a letter written by Jefferson, on January 1, 1802, in reply to an address of congratulations from the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association. In his letter, he used for the first time now, so now well-known phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state.” If you would, please notice the order of the words used by Jefferson, he put the word “church” first, followed by the word “state.” Therefore, it appears to me, that he put forth that he was showing, that the “church” should not be setting forth rules and laws for the “state.” Had he used the words in the reverse order, he would have meant, or he would have been showing his concern that the “state” should not be setting rules and laws for the “church!” Today, this has reached the point, of using these two words, “church” and “state,” in the reverse order; in that the “state” has been making rules and laws for the “church!” Neither are right!
Nevertheless, many in the United States, including the courts, have used this phrase to interpret the “Founder’s” intentions regarding the relationship between the government and the “church,” as set forth in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” as declaring a “separation between the church and the state, in the broadest terms! The three key words are “establishment of religion.” First, what does the word “establishment” means? Here is what the word means: “the act of forming something.” Question, does it mean that government, when allowing worship service in a government building or on government land, serves as “the act of forming religion?” The answer is no!
Thomas Jefferson’s religious beliefs are not easy to state but he was religious. He wrote: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” He did not believe in much of the New Testament; nevertheless, Henry S. Randall, a Jefferson biographer, wrote that Jefferson “attended church with as much regularity as most of the members of the congregation — sometimes going alone on horseback, when his family remained at home.”
The final question, does a person who regularly worshiped with a congregation, find it, repulsive, in what he has no belief in, does a person regularly associate with people whom he has nothing in common? The answer to these questions is answered in one word, No!

Frank R. Williams
(Editor’s note, we will have more on Thomas Jefferson in the next article.)

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Apr 06

WHERE DOES THE BIBLE BELONG IN OUR NATION? (4)

The reader may have little interest in knowing what our “founding fathers” thought about the Bible, but there is a need to know! If we do not know where we were, how can we know where we are going? In other words, what was the thinking of our “founding fathers” and the state of our new nation? We all know the world has changed greatly through the passing years, but in what direction did we go; was it for better or worse?
Before moving on, that is away from the thinking of George Washington, to John Adams, there was one thought that appeared in the search, that I would like to call to your attention. I found it really striking! Here is the quote: “Washington’s genius, his greatness, lay in his character. He was, as Chateaubriand said, a ‘hero of an unprecedented kink.’ There has never been a great man quite like Washington before. Washington became a great man and was acclaimed as a classical hero because of the way he conducted himself during times of temptation. It was his moral character that set him off from other men.” We do not have such men today! Then, there were the words of Daniel Webster, “American has furnished to the world the character of Washington. And if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind.” Is there anyone today in the political world that one might write such words about? This is not to demean every elected person today but to show the character of George Washington!
It is time to notice the words of John Adams, who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If one were to question what is wrong with America today, could it be that our leaders today would never use such words to describe our nation! Then, there are these words, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” If America is in trouble today, and she is, could it be because the American people at large, would be fearful that such a thought might be uttered today. At the present time, a growing majority want no part of a nation that would yield itself to be governed by any relationship with Christianity!
Just for the younger folks who might read this article, let it be noted that John Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, judge, diplomat, he also signed the “Bill of Rights,” and was the first Vice-President and the second President of the United States. Adams also said, “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.” Here is an interesting thought from the mind of John Adams, “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!” No, America has never been a Christian nation, she has never been a “Eutopia,” but she has been in her past years a nation that has stood above all others, because her leaders believed and expressed their faith in the greatness of the nation which was built upon the principles of Christianity!
Today, our nation is being tested by the desire of some, that even a cross might be on land owned by this nation. In the mind of some, every time a cross is seen, it must express Christianity! However, could it be, that a cross simply expresses that a loved one died here? In other words, when we see a cross, we do not think of Jesus or Christianity, but death, as in a loved one died here! But those who hate Jesus and Christianity, it never enters their “little” minds that the cross may be no more than a symbol of death.
If only our nation today had such leaders as those in her early years! Those who not only believed in the greatness of Christianity, but in their humble lives lived more closely to the principles of Christianity. They also knew even as they wrote the laws, that would govern this nation, they understood the laws they wrote for a people that believed in the Bible

Frank R. Williams

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