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The Truth Shall Make You Free



"THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE"

CHAPTER I

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IT WAS the 22nd day of the month Ethanim, the month which the Romans called October. Great were the multitudes that thronged the areas for the common people in the temple of Jerusalem. The seven-day feast of the harvest ingathering had just been celebrated, the most joyous event of the year to the people of the nation. Its celebration was a happy expression of the people's conviction that there would be freedom from want for at least the year to come.

Today was the eighth day. The people had not yet dispersed to their homes throughout Palestine and other provinces of the Roman Empire, because this eighth day was a further day of festive gathering, a sabbath of refraining from work, and hence a holiday. It was called the "last day, that great day of the feast". That morning one of the temple priests had gone forth, trailed by a rejoicing multitude waving branches of palm and other trees, and had fetched water from the fountain of Siloam. The golden pitcher of water was brought into the temple's court of the priests amid the shouts

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of the worshipers and the sound of cymbals and trumpets, and was then poured over the great copper altar of sacrifice. The ceremony recalled the time when their forefathers dwelt in tabernacles in the wilderness for forty years and divine power caused water to issue forth miraculously from a flinty rock to refresh the thirst-crazed people. More than this, now the seedtime of the farmers was approaching, and the offering of Siloam's water to the God who had performed that miracle was a petition for his blessings of the rain upon the seed sown. The due season of the year for the early rain was at hand. The people looked to the great Rainmaker to keep them free from want.

Pontius Pilate was then Rome's governor of its province of Judea. During the great feasts of these Judeans it was his custom as procurator to remove from Caesarea, on the Mediterranean seacoast, and to come up to Jerusalem and reside there. Pilate had taken up his duties in Judea some six years previously, in A.D. 26. His family name, or cognomen, suggests that he was descended from a freedman, who had been given the pileus or cap of liberty.

From the household of Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor, Pilate came, to govern for ten years, trying to keep the Pax Romana in Palestine. He little understood the Jews. Under him they appeared to enjoy freedom of religion. This, however, was not without a struggle, for Pilate quarreled with them almost continuously. Hence they did not altogether enjoy freedom

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from fear. They remembered how at the very beginning of his administration Pilate had transferred the headquarters of his army from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Of course, the soldiers took with them their standards bearing the image of the emperor and brought them into the hallowed city, whose God had given his people the command: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them."1 Cautiously the soldiers took in their standards by night.

No former governor had attempted such a thing which to the Jews was a desecration of the sacred city. Their rage and indignation were great on discovering those flags or image-bearing standards in the midst of Jerusalem. In large crowds they streamed down to Pilate, then at Caesarea, and implored him to remove the images. The fifth day of the discussions Pilate treacherously planted soldiers in places of concealment. At a given signal he caused them to surround the petitioning Jews and to put them to death if they refused to break off their entreaties. This only made them stronger in their determination. They declared themselves ready to die rather than to give in to such idolatrous encroachment upon the sacred realm of worship. Only then did Pilate yield and order the military standards cleared out of

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Jerusalem and returned to Caesarea. Yet later he caused some inscribed shields to be hung up in Jerusalem, and it was finally by order from Emperor Tiberius himself that those things esteemed defiling were removed from the city. These and other unwise moves stood out as sore spots in the struggle for freedom of worship according to the dictates of Jewish conscience. Continual vigilance was the price of their liberty from defilement.

Now another thing had appeared to disturb, and that from their own midst. A man had suddenly risen up from Galilee. "A Nazarene" they called him. For this reason the "holier than thou" religious leaders despised him. It was known he had been baptized in Jordan river. It was thought that he had thereby acknowledged himself to be a sinner. For three years he had gone about Palestine, tramping from place to place and preaching and teaching in the synagogues, in the homes of the people, in the mountains, at the seaside, and in the temple. Indeed he was in the temple this very day.

The whole nation was in a ferment religiously. This unusual man from "Galilee of the Gentiles" had come out for the worship of God clean and pure, not only from Gentile defilements such as image-bearing standards and inscribed shields, but also from all religion. He had taken issue with the religious practices of the Jewish elders, scribes, Levites, priests, Sadducees and Pharisees. A number of these were members of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court, having power

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over the Jews which was limited only by the Roman governor. These high-ranking men were strong advocates for what one of them called "the Jews' religion", or "Judaism". They were ever on the lookout for false prophets, subject to trial before the Sanhedrin.

One day a number of scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to this wonder-working preacher from Galilee with the question: "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the ciders by not washing their hands before meals?" To this he retorted: "Why do you, too, transgress God's commands for the sake of your tradition? God said, 'Honour thy father and thy mother'; and 'Let him who reviles father or mother be put to death'; but you say: 'If a man says to his father or mother, "This thing is consecrated, otherwise you should have received it from me," he shall be absolved from honouring his father'; and so you have rendered futile God's word for the sake of your tradition." Then this Galilean made bold to call them religious hypocrites and to apply against them a verse from God's prophet Isaiah. He said: "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, 'This people honours me with their lips, while their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, while giving as doctrines the mere precepts of men.'"1

On another occasion this Galilean openly taught the people from a mountainside and ex-

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posed religion and its widely advertised works of charity, self-inflicted fasts and other exhibitions. He said: "Beware of doing your good actions in the sight of men, to attract their gaze; if you do, there is no reward for you with your Father who is in heaven. When you give in charity, do not blow a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and streets in order that their praises may be sung by men. I solemnly tell you that they have received in full their reward. But when you are giving in charity, let not your left hand perceive what your right hand is doing, that your charities may be in secret; and your Father — He who sees in secret — will recompense you.

"And when praying, you must not be like the hypocrites. They are fond of standing and praying in the synagogues or at the corners of the wider streets, in order that men may see them. I solemnly tell you that they have received in full their reward. But you, whenever you pray, go into your own room and shut the door: then pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father — He who sees in secret — will recompense you. And when praying, do not use needless repetitions as the heathen do, for they expect to be listened to because of their multitude of words. Do not, then, imitate them; for your Father knows what things you need before ever you ask him. . . .

"When you fast, do not assume gloomy looks as the hypocrites do; for they disfigure their faces that it may be evident to men that they

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are fasting. I tell you in truth that they have received in full their reward. But, whenever you fast, pour perfume on your hair and wash your face, that it may not be apparent to men that you are fasting, but to your Father who is in secret; and your Father — He who sees in secret  — will recompense you."1

Such speech was decidedly antireligious to the high priests, scribes, and Pharisees of Jerusalem and the members of their Supreme Court. To them, it was unreligious conduct when this Galilean performed miraculous cures of sick and afflicted people on the weekly rest-day, the sabbath. The common people heard him gladly. This fact robbed the religious leaders of their freedom from fear; more so when the people came to look upon this ambulating teacher as one of God's prophets. The question then arose, and was openly discussed, as to whether this was the mighty Prince that was foretold to come, the Messiah, whom Greek-speaking Jews at that time called "Christ". It was hoped that the Messiah, or Christ, would destroy the yoke of Rome from off the necks of those who worshiped the Most High God. He was to set up the kingdom of God, which would be a blessing to men and women of all nations, the Gentiles, and would usher in a free world without end. Now on that "great day of the feast" the people who listened to the Galilean teaching at the temple were heard to discuss among themselves. Some said: "Of a truth this is the Prophet"; that is,

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the prophet who should arise after Moses and be like Moses. Others said: "This is the Christ."1

The religious leaders began to think that freedom of speech was not a good thing for this bold young man, who was "not yet fifty years old", only thirty-three years old, in fact. They wanted to kill him, but were afraid to lay hands upon him because of the people. How they despised the people for listening to him! They called such people am ha-arets (people of the earth) and said they were unworthy of a resurrection to life eternal. That day, while the Galilean was instructing the people, they said: "This people who knoweth not the law are cursed." So the chief priests and Pharisees sent out officers of the law to arrest him at the temple and break up his preaching in public. The officers were more honest than their religious dictators and came back without the preacher. Asked why, they replied: "Never man spake like this man."

"This man" did not ask the political or the religious rulers for the right or guarantee of the freedom of speech to preach the message he gave. He already possessed that right as a right given to him by the One who had sent him to preach and teach "the kingdom of heaven". That One, he said, was his Father above. No one could, therefore, properly interfere with his right of freedom of speech for the Kingdom. Fear of death — that he did not have; for he said: "When ye have lifted up the Son of man,

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then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me."1

Why did this Galilean speak thus boldly, with complete freedom from fear of religionists who attempted to mob him, to arrest him and to kill him? There he stands, speaking in the temple to those believing on him. Listen to him! Hear for yourself his own answer to the question: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE."

Here is the secret of the Galilean's courage to speak out plainly against religion and religious hypocrites and their sins. He had the truth, and knew it, and spoke the truth uncompromisingly for the sake of the freedom of the people. He recognized that the religious leaders and their dupes were in a worse bondage than they realized, a bondage to their worst adversary, the Devil. Some of these religionists objected and said that they were the seed or descendants of the faithful patriarch Abraham and hence were never in bondage; and how, then, could the Galilean make them free?

The Galilean answered: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. ... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak

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that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. ... Ye do the deeds of your father." Thereupon the self-righteous religionists slurred the Galilean's birth and said: "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." They trusted in the "fatherhood of God", at least for their nation out of all the nations.

Who needed to be told the truth more than they, that they might realize their bondage and learn the path to freedom? Therefore the Galilean, this one named Jesus, said straightforwardly to the religionists: "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."

Jesus was not the servant of sin or the Devil and his lies; Jesus was free. Therefore he asked them: "Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Hence they were not free from blindness by the father of lies, but were bound with his murderous spirit.

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Angered by the truth from this One who spoke with perfect freedom from fear, the religionists accused him of having a devil and being in bondage to it. "Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."

Remarkable, this saying; for here is promised everlasting freedom from death, and this by keeping the saying of truth. Are there believing persons now living on earth who will literally experience the fulfillment of this promise? The religionists who heard Jesus rejected the truth of his testimony concerning himself and his Father. "Then took they up stones to cast at





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him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple." To their sin of unbelief of the truth they would add the devilish deed of murder. They soon died in their willing bondage, as Jesus had warned them: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."l

WHAT IS TRUTH?

Today, nineteen centuries removed from the time of the utterance, "The truth shall make you free," the world is not free. Who can honestly contend that it is? The very fact that, in the 1940's, politicians of "Christendom" publish a statement to the world guaranteeing the so-called "Four Freedoms" is a blank admission that the peoples and nations are not free. Nevertheless "Christendom", which, according to her profession of the name "Christian", ought to be free, claims to have continued in the word of Jesus and to be his disciple indeed. The facts belie her claim. Instead of knowing the truth, "Christendom" is a confusion of religions, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, and pagan, and a confusion of political systems, democratic and totalitarian. All are now fearfully groping in darkness for some inter-religious and international arrangement whereby they can all survive and get along together.

This serious plight of "Christendom" stands as a condemnation that her political and religious leaders during the sixteen centuries of her

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existence have not continued till now in the word of Jesus and have not been his disciples indeed. Today, in "Christendom", are fulfilled the words of the ancient prophet: "None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. . . . Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment." 1

The most pressing need of all people who desire life and liberty in a free world is for the truth. To continue in the word of a mere man who speaks out of his own wisdom makes one a disciple of such man, but also leads to bondage. Not so, however, with the word of Jesus. To continue in His word makes us free as his disciples, knowing the truth, because his is not the word of one merely of human origin or possessed of mere human wisdom. He called upon his hearers to be honest and to examine and recognize his real identity and that of his Father. Why? Because, said he, "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."2 That truth is echoed by one of his disciples, who wrote: "This is the true God, and eternal life."3

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Jesus stuck to the word he preached, because it was the truth. He was finally arrested by religionists, held in custody and abused and derided, falsely accused, and then nailed to a tree till lifeless. But he died a free man. He died because he did not choose to fight back with powers that were at his command. He yielded to death because he knew more benefit would result from his death than to fight for further life in the flesh. He died because the interests of the truth concerning himself and his Father would be more fully served by suffering innocently unto death than by continuing to live as a man. As truth cannot for ever be crushed to earth, so neither could this faithful Truth-teller; for his Father duly freed him from death's bonds and ushered him into a freedom as wide as the universe and wherein he will "never see death".

What is his word, or doctrine, wherein we must continue in order to be his disciples and know the truth and be free? We cannot turn to any of the many conflicting religions for His word, because he told the practicers of religion they were guilty of "making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered". Thereafter the religionists killed him, because his word found no place in them. Jesus did not teach like the religionists, who referred to human authorities and traditions of religious men. Hence, "the people were

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astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."1

Jesus revealed the source of his word of truth. He said: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Privately he said to his disciples: "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." Then, joining with his disciples in prayer, he said to his Father: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."2

It is his Father's written Word that is the truth; which was why he repeatedly quoted it as his authority and guide during his earthly life. If we would continue in his word and be his disciples, we must likewise turn to his Father's word of truth. Then we shall come to know the truth and be made free with a God-given freedom that no human or devilish powers can take away. To find life eternal we must know in truth "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent". This knowledge we can rightly acquire only by means of the written Word of God. That Word instructs the truth-seekers and freedom-lovers: "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding." "Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of

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the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?"1

You must buy the truth at the cost of your time and effort spent in searching God's written Word, doing so without religious bias and prejudice. Otherwise you will be like the religious leaders, "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." The divine instruction given through one of Jesus' faithful disciples who continued in His word and came to know the truth is: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

To enable you thus to buy the truth and thereafter continue in it and "sell it not", this book is published. Through all the following pages, this book will continue in His word, and those pages will set out the scriptures in support of the truth, as quoted principally from three versions of the Bible, the Catholic Douay Version (Douay), the King James or Authorized Version (A.V.), and the American Revised Version (A.R.V.). Each such citation of Scripture will set out the particular book of the Holy Scriptures, then the chapter thereof, and then the verse or verses; as, for example, 2 Timothy 3: 7 and 2 Timothy 2:15, for the two scripture texts quoted in the above paragraph. Man's chief and most vital study is God and His purpose. Rightly our consideration begins with him.



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