"God is acquainted with every man. Could our eyes be opened we would see that eternal justice is at work in our world. A powerful influence, not under man's control, is working. Man may fancy that he is directing matters, but there are higher than human influences at work. The servants of God know that He is working to counteract Satan's plans. Those who know not God cannot comprehend His movements. There is at work a wheel within a wheel. Apparently the complication of machinery is so intricate that man can see only a complete entanglement. But the divine hand, as seen by the prophet Ezekiel [Eze1:15-28], is placed upon the wheels, and every part moves in complete harmony, each doing its specified work, yet with individual freedom of action " (Ms 13, 1898.) And so it is with the church of God in the earth. No one man heads the work. As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole. "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,...and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is no tone member, but many. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?...there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18-19,25-27).
"Let us cease looking at the failings of others. Let us cease speaking of their evil traits of character. When the Lord told Peter what to do, he turned and asked, 'Lord, what shall this man do?' The Lord answered, 'What is that to thee? follow thou Me.'...It is our business to follow Christ and then we can counsel others. What we want is individual religion, personal piety." (RH 04-16-89.)
"Religion is 'the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it'. Liberty is 'the state of being exempt from the domination of others, or from restricting circumstances. In ethics and philosophy, the power in any rational agent to make his choices and decide his conduct for himself, spontaneously and voluntarily, in accordance with reasons or motives'. Religious liberty, therefore, is man's exemption from the domination of others, or from restricting circumstances: man's freedom to make his choices and decide his conduct for himself, spontaneously and voluntarily: in his duty to his Creator, and in the manner of discharging that duty.
"Since God has created man, in the nature of things the first of all relationships is that to God; and the first of all duties could be nothing but duty to God. Suppose a time when there was only one intelligent creature in the universe. He was created: and his relationship to his Creator, his duty to his Creator, is the only one that could possibly be. That is the first of all relationships that can possibly be. Therefore it is written that 'the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one Lord: and Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.' All there is of any soul is first due to God; because it all came from God. This, therefore, is the first of all commandments, not because it is the first one that was ever given by spoken word, or that was ever written out; but because it is the first that could possibly be. And this because it is the expression of the first principle of the existence of any intelligent creature. The principle was there, inherent in the existence of the first intelligent creature, in the first moment of his existence; and there the principle abides eternally, unmodified and unfading.
"Now, though that is the first of all possible relationships, and the first of all duties; though that relationship and duty are inherent in the very existence of intelligent creatures; yet even in that inherent obligation, God has created every intelligent creature free--free to recognize that obligation or not, free to discharge that duty or not, just as he chooses. Accordingly it is written: 'Choose you this day whom ye will serve.' 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' Thus it is absolutely true that in religion--in the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it-- God has created man entirely 'exempt from the domination of others and from restricting circumstances'; has made him free 'to make his choice, and decide his conduct for himself, spontaneously and voluntarily'. Thus religious liberty is the gift of God, inherent in the gift of rational existence itself.
"Any service as to God that is not freely chosen by him who renders it is not service to God. There can be no virtue in it; there can be none of God in it. Any service rendered as to God that is not freely chosen on the part of him who renders it cannot be of God; because 'God is love': and love and compulsion, love and force, love and oppression, never can go together. Therefore any duty, any obligation, anything, offered or rendered as to God that is not of the individual's own freely chosen choice, can neither be of God nor to God. Accordingly when the Lord created whatever creature-- angel or man-- in order that that creature should be happy in the service of God, and in order that there should be virtue in rendering service or worship to God, He created him free to choose to do so. And this is individuality, and the divine right of it. God created man free. When man by sin was separated and lost from that freedom, Christ came to restore him fully to it. The way of God and of Christ, therefore, is the way of liberty. And the work of God through Christ with mankind in the whole history of the world has been to make plain this way and to give to man the absolute assurance of this 'soul liberty' which is the only true liberty. Whom the Son makes free is free indeed.
"It is true, as the inspired record shows, that autocracy, as illustrated in King Nebuchadnezzar [Dan.3]; that government of the supremacy of law, as illustrated in the Medo-Persian power [Dan.6]; that the union of church and State, as illustrated in the Jewish church and the Roman power united against Christ [John 19]; that the church as such, as illustrated in the church of Israel against the disciples of Christ [book of Acts]; has no right to assert authority or jurisdiction in religion. It is equally, and even more emphatically, true, that, to be at all loyal to God and the right, or true to themselves and to their fellow men, the three Hebrew young men, the man Daniel, the Lord Christ, and apostles of the Lord, must absolutely disregard every such assertion. In each case God's dominion was usurped. In each case the right was being completely thrown over, and the wrong established in its place. In such a case and at such a time could any who knew God or cared for the right, sit still and do nothing? Is allegiance to God, nothing? Shall the wrong only be recognized as having the right to prevail? Shall man never be true-- neither true to God nor to the right, neither true to himself nor to his fellowmen?
"The three Hebrew young men did right when they refused to recognize any right of autocracy in religion. Daniel did right when he refused to recognize any right of civil government of law in religion. The Lord Christ did right when He refused to recognize any right of the church through the civil power to make effective her will. The apostles and disciples of the Lord did right when they refused to recognize any right of the church to decide or to dictate what they should or should not believe and teach. In each of these cases God openly and in mighty miraculous power made perfectly plain to all that these individuals were right. By this it is openly demonstrated not only that they were right, but that they were divinely right. And in each case the story has been written out that all powers and people forever may know that such course is divinely right. And whosoever will stand with God as did each of these in his place, can know it. It is these individuals and such as these, who, in their day and from age to age, have kept alive in the world the honor of God, who have kept alive the right in the world, who have kept alive integrity and true manliness in mankind; yea, it is just these and such as these blessed individuals who have kept the world itself alive.
"God has created all intelligences absolutely free. He made man, equally with other intelligences, to be moral. Freedom of choice is essential to morals. To have made an intelligence unable to choose would have been to make it incapable of freedom. Therefore, He made man, equally with other intelligences, free to choose; and He ever respects that of which He is the Author, the freedom of choice. When, in the exercise of this freedom of choice, an intelligence chooses that his existence, with its consequent faculties and power, shall be spent strictly subject to the will and within the design of the Creator, and so, indeed, with the Creator and in the Creator, this is in the truest sense strictly and truly self-government. And when the service, the worship, and the allegiance, of each intelligence is to be rendered entirely upon his own free choice, this reveals on the part of God, the Supreme and true Governor, the principle of government with the consent of the governed. Thus the divine government as it relates to both the Governor and the governed, the Creator and the creature, is demonstrated as well as revealed to be government of perfect freedom; and of perfect freedom because of perfect individuality.
"Through sin man lost his freedom and therefore his individuality. But in the gift of Christ all was restored. 'He hath sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives.' 'Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.' Christ [Yahshua], therefore, came from Heaven unto the world to bring back to man, and to bring man back to, what man had lost. Individuality was the Creator's supreme gift. In the fall, this was lost. In the gift of Christ the day man sinned, the gift of individuality was restored to man. In the long ages of sinful and imperial despotism from Cain to Tiberius Caesar, men had been so continually and systematically oppressed that they had been robbed of every vestige of individuality. Then Christ came into the world in human flesh as man, and through every phase of human experience established the individuality of man upon its own original and eternal basis. Matthew 25:15. Therefore, without Christianity in its original and native purity there cannot be true individuality. But in the interests of despotism the very name of Christianity was perverted. And through long ages of ecclesiastical imperialistic tyranny men were again systematically robbed of every vestige of individuality. In the Reformation, God again restored men to Christianity and individuality. But Protestantism hardened in forms and creeds; and every form and denomination of Protestants has denied, and done all that it could to destroy, Christian liberty and individuality. And now, through denominational, national, international, and world federation and confederation in religion and of religions, again ecclesiastical imperialistic despotism will work with all worldly power, deceiving signs, and lying wonders, systematically to rob man finally of every vestige of individuality. But Christianity in its supreme gift of individuality, as always before, will now and finally triumph over all. Revelation 15:2, 3." Adapted from Individuality in Religion.