On July 4th, 1776, the Constitution of the United States did not yet exist. There was not yet any Bill of Rights. The Articles of Confederation had not yet been drawn up. The thirteen colonies of America were completely free.
In America, Independence day is the anniversary of when thirteen colonies unanimously declared their freedom as independent States from Great Britain. Underneath the throne of the British sovereign was believed to be the very stone that Jacob slept on at Bethel (Gen 28:19).
Many believed the British empire to be God’s kingdom on earth, and for some, having the stone of Jacob representing God’s house on earth proved it.
If God is working through any one nation today then he is not working through the church the Body of Christ, which has no national boundaries (Col 3:11). Those who thought the British empire was God’s empire were rejecting how God works in the dispensation of the grace of God.
Every place that rejects God’s grace, the rejection of freedom naturally follows.
America’s Declared Independence
When the Americans declared independence they were standing against any perceived divine institution in the British crown.
America was populated, among others, by seekers of religious freedom who did not require any authority from Jacob’s stone (called the Stone of Destiny) under Britain’s throne.
The descendents of those religious dissidents signed the Declaration of Independence.
They rejected the idea that Britain was God’s nation to rule the world as revived Israel. They stood on a right to be free from the rules, contracts, and boundaries of the English empire.
Though most of the American independents did not fully understand the gospel of the grace of God, they declared unanimously that God was dispensing liberty to all men.
Our Declaration of God’s Grace
Similarly, two thousand years ago Paul made a declaration of independence in his thirteen epistles.
According to the dispensation of God’s grace, God offered salvation independent from Israel’s laws, covenants, and boundaries. The gospel of God’s grace is salvation in liberty.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul declared the fall of the only nation God ever ordained, Israel, and declared salvation to all the world by God’s grace without distinction.
Where grace reigned, there was liberty (Rom 5:21; Gal 5:1). Where the dispensation of the grace of God was rejected, people were put back under the bondage of Jacob’s sons and Israel’s laws (Gal 2:4; Gal 4:9; Gal 5:1-4).
Paul taught that Christ made us free. If to live is Christ, then if we cannot live free in Christ, then to die is gain (Phil 1:21). Without liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free, Christ died in vain (Gal 2:21), and our own life in Christ is vain (1 Cor 15:14).
Only within the framework of God’s grace does it make sense to cry “give me liberty or give me death”! Where God’s grace is rejected, so is liberty. Liberty stands where God’s grace is preached.
Thank God for His Grace
The pure preaching of God’s grace by Paul was short lived in church history as many began to turn away from him during his own lifetime (2 Tim 4:15). Liberty in the church became hidden under apostolic tradition, centralized church authority, religious politics, and ideas about being spiritual Israel.
Likewise, the American declaration was short lived, as American’s own rejection of God’s grace led to more and more laws, manifest destiny, expansion of powers, and the eventual degradation of freedom.
Freedom is a grace doctrine. Preaching the grace of God is preaching liberty in Christ Jesus. If liberty is to be preserved so must the pure preaching of God’s grace.
A celebration of true independence in our country that began with thirteen colonies should start with a celebration of the liberty granted us in Christ first recorded in Paul’s thirteen epistles.
Thank God for freedom, thank God for his dispensation of grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.