July 11: “Freedom of Religion and the Gospel”

8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Chronicles 11:1–12:18
Acts 28:1-31
Psalm 9:1-12
Proverbs 19:1-3

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Acts 28:20-22 (NLT): “(The Apostle Paul said:) ‘I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.’ They replied, ‘We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here. But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.’” 

Reflections from Scripture:

The American experiment is a rare anomaly in earth’s history. Among other “rights,” we have been given the freedom of religion. Yet, John Adams, one of our founding fathers, once gave us a warning regarding our Constitution.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

The reasoning behind this statement is simple: If each citizen has a clear understanding of right and wrong and is compelled by God and their conscience to pursue what is right, then freedoms can be enjoyed, and there will be little need for laws. But if our society loses its understanding of right and wrong and its citizens don’t pursue what is right, then freedoms will be stripped, and the number of laws must increase.

Any open-minded American (or observer from another country) can’t help but notice that American culture is becoming less religious. Riots are taking place in our streets. Authority figures (specifically law enforcement) are targeted. On and on this list could go. Our nation is crumbling around us.

One thing that American Christians should expect is that the words spoken in Acts 28:22 will become all too common in our own culture in the years ahead: “…the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.” The Gospel’s claim that everyone stands guilty before a holy God and must fall at the foot of Jesus’ cross, ask for forgiveness, and then pursue a holy life is offensive and won’t be tolerated.

While we desire freedom of religion and do not want to be persecuted, we realize from Christian history that Christianity has often thrived when it was outlawed. So, while we continue to stand up to protect freedom of religion in our country, we realize that as we lose it (as Christians lose jobs, are targeted, sued, jailed, etc.), there will be a purification within the American church. Only those who are genuine Jesus-followers will be compelled to remain. 

So, how will you respond? If you were to be persecuted for being a Jesus-follower, would you abandon Him, or would you remain? Would you try to conceal your relationship with Jesus and act like the world, or would you publicly pursue holiness? Would you keep quiet about the Gospel, or would you boldly proclaim it to a lost and dying world? Based upon your previous answers, are you doing those things right now?

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the freedom of religion that I currently enjoy here in America. Yet, as I enjoy that privilege, help me to realize that my freedom to share the Gospel and pursue holiness isn’t granted to me by the U.S. Constitution. You are the one who has given it to me. So, help me to chase after You and tell others about You whether or not I have the “freedom” in my country to do so. A lost and dying world needs to hear the Gospel and see people living out its claims. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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