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What Happens When The Church Is Not Free?

by: Pastor Garrett Lear


“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 KJV). O.K., I confess, I love The Lord Jesus Christ. I love and trust God’s Word (The Holy Bible) pure and unadulterated straight up and in your face! You see I have tested it and I know it is true. I am certainly not the only person in this world who has had this same attitude or a Biblical worldview. I am also not the only American who has loved God and taken Him at His Word either. The Founding Fathers of America did.

I will also confess that I love this land America, my native land…the land of my birth. I must admit, though, that I am struggling with a high degree of disappointment over the direction that this, my favorite country is heading in. When you grow up in a historical town, Lexington Massachusetts, like I did… when you walk by the Minuteman statue practically everyday during your formative years and watch yearly reenactments of The Battle Of Lexington something profound happens to you. My appetite for freedom was whet very early in my life. Also set early in my life was a love for God and to this day, I do not see any conflict between being a devoted Christian and being a true American patriot. Our Founders did not have a conflict between their love for God and their love for America either…for me that is good company to stand with.

The greatest traitors that our country, in fact, the whole world must deal with, are those black hearted people I call “revisionist historians”. They are those pseudo scholars that alter the truth to meet their desired ends. In America, this brood of vipers has kept many of our countrymen from knowing the truth about the founding of this Nation as “One Nation under God”… and what happens when the church is not free.

How many “modern” Americans know that those much maligned and slandered Pilgrim/Puritans who landed at what is now Plymouth Massachusetts signed a sacred covenant with The Lord called The Mayflower Compact (America’s “birth certificate”)? How many know that the primary “slogan” of The War For American Independence (some call the Revolutionary War) was … ”We will have no other king but King Jesus”? How many know that of the majority of the signers of that marvelous cornerstone of American liberty, The Declaration Of American Independence, were devote, baptized, open, consecrated Christians? Let me give you the answer… not many and certainly not enough! What happens when the church is not free?

Today, this country spends billions of dollars on “education” but what have we gotten for these tax-extracted dollars? We have gotten a general population that is ignorant of some of the most important parts of our heritage. One of our founders was empathetic in noting that “ ignorant and free can never be”. Can you see now why I chose the Scripture verse I did to began this writing?

In the town of Lexington is a well preserved (thank God and some patriots) two story colonial house called The Hancock-Clark house named for two great Christians of the founding era…two great patriots, John Hancock and Jonas Clark. Most people are more familiar with Hancock than they are with Clark.

Please allow me to introduce him to you… people meet Pastor Jonas Clark. Are you shocked? You mean some one who was a clergyman, a church leader and a pulpit preacher got involved with “politics” and the cause of liberty? Can you imagine he had the “audacity” to harbor the known “criminals” John Hancock and Samuel Adams in the parsonage (church property)? Just before the British troops arrived in Lexington for that battle of note (“the shot heard around the world”), Pastor Clark delivered a rousing and inspirational message from Judges 6-8 encouraging the local militiamen to (the minutemen) fight fiercely for God and country. He knew what would happen if the church was not free. Now, stay with me, as I further lay out my case.

Is there any one in America today that would say that the church is really like what it was in the first century? Does any one care that it isn’t? I care. If you are a Christian, you will care too! Many will argue that the world is so vastly different than the first century but is it really? Jesus Christ began the church, that He expected to follow Him through the ages, in the Roman Empire. I certainly wouldn’t insult your intelligence to say that those times were the same as ours in areas of technology but do not be deceived, governmentally, socially, morally, behaviorally, they were very similar. I wish it were not so.

The beginning of the true New Testament Church was on The Day of Pentecost as recorded in the Book of Acts. Jesus declared His church (His Father’s House) not be a “ a house of merchandize…but a house of prayer”. He said His Kingdom was not of this world and emphasized the distinctions between His followers and the rest of the population. All of the early church leaders were martyred (killed) for their refusal to put devotion to Caesar (government) above devotion to God. They knew and understood the Ten Commandments (not the Ten Suggestions) and had the mind of Christ in regards to the proper role of civil government. A “mind set” we desperately need today. What happens when the church is not free?

Many casual Bible readers have been put off by the “difficulties” of the Book of Revelation. Let me offer an explanation for its symbolism… the Roman government! If the Apostle John, as the “secretary” for The Holy Sprit writing it, had clearly spelled out what He wanted the readers to do concerning civil disobedience, the Romans would never have let those writings leave the island of Patmos (remind you of any other times in history). Believe it or not the Romans did have “ freedom of religion”… if … you accepted Caesar as God and took a license for your “church”… neither of which, the early New Testament Christians, in good conscience, could or would do! It was considered blasphemy and the way of destroying the truth of The Gospel. They knew what would happen if the church was not free.

It is amazing what one can learn reading someone’s diary. When we read the Bible, we are reading the way the Creator (The One mentioned in The Declaration of American Independence) wants life to be for us. When we read the writings of the Founders of the Plymouth colony and the writings of the Founders of America, we find out how educated these people were in tyranny. They were willing to die (and many did) to avoid it like the black plague. They knew what would happen if the church was not free.

The U.S. Constitution was crafted by men who did not want to repeat the atrocities of the state run church…(they had read about the “whore of Babylon and the mark of the beast”) such as was the case through out Europe and certainly in England. King George was both king of the civil government and head of the Anglican Church. Opposition to George was tantamount, in his thinking, to opposing God… although, he personally cared little what God thought about his actions. He knew what would happen if the church was not free. He did his level best to make sure it was not!

Beginning in the-mid 1770s, preachers began to deliver sermons critical of the abuses of the British rule in the American colonies. Many colonists were stirred up in a similar way that had happened in England with the Puritans/Pilgrims in pre-Plymouth colony days. The truth was told and freedom was prized… but, as with all such situations throughout man’s history, not without a heavy price.

By the time of the War for American Independence, those preachers had a bounty on their heads… and for what? Preaching the truth…opposing tyranny…teaching the colonial citizens to stand up for their God given -freedoms and take responsibility for their walk with Christ. It became a capitol crime and preachers and their families were executed. They knew what would happen if the church was not free.

Most Americans know the famous speech delivered by Virginian Patrick Henry (a very committed Christian and a lawyer)… “Give me liberty or give me death!”. Very few people, however, know why he said it. Henry had witnessed the flogging of a colonist by British troops. He, the young lawyer, inquired as to what this man’s crime was… he was told “preaching with out a license”. King George offered some very handsome rewards for the heads of the members of “ The Black Regiment” … the unlicensed, unregistered, “free church” preachers who knew the proper Biblical relationship between church and state… and who the true Sovereign over the church was. They understood when Jesus said; you can not serve two masters, what He meant. They had read and correctly interpreted Romans chapter 13… God gives us limited civil government… not that government gives us God. They loved and feared The Lord and understood what happens when Jesus Christ is not Sover

Garrett Lear is pastor and lead elder of The Well of Living Water Christian Fellowship in North Hampton, New Hampshire.This article is used with his permission.

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