In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders of the United States made an amazing statement:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, . . .”
Now, as then, this statement is still amazing. Why? Because that is not the way man normally thinks. We have seen that in Hitler’s Germany, and in Kenya there is on-going proof that the tribes do not consider each other to be created equal. In Rwanda, we have seen the denial of this truth resulting in genocide; and I could go on with countless other examples in just in the last two centuries alone.
The above quote remains a stunning statement of a truth that the Founders understood and accepted as not only true, but self-evidently true. They considered the truth of the statement so plainly evident that it brooked no argument among men, and that the world had no choice but to acknowledge that truth. Moreover, there are other truths they plainly acknowledged as being self-evident as well:
“that they are endowed by their Creator . . .”
Clearly and undeniably, the Founders wanted everyone to know that it is foolish to deny that man is a created being, and man has a Creator, Who clearly and plainly made everyone equal. Yet, in enumerating the ways in which man is created equal, of necessity they left off some of the more amazing things our Creator did in making man equal. Now, it is understandable that they left off a further declaration of these things as the Declaration of Independence is a political and legal document asserting the right of a people to be a free and independent entity in and among the nations of the world. However, it is the things beyond that deserve our focus, as they are more delightful than the LORD God simply creating us equal to one another.
In many discussions I have had over the years concerning the above statement in the Declaration of Independence, invariably someone will endeavor to point out that, though all men are “created” equal, they certainly don’t stay that way. They will focus on financial ability, physical talents, station in life, etc., etc. and point out that there is no equality between individuals after they are born and begin to live in this world. However, that assertion is to miss the point of the statement the Founders made. The assertion of the Founders did not concern itself with what we call the “tangibles” of this world. Rather, the statement addresses the far more important intangibles of the law. Under the law, we are all created equal, and are all equally accountable for our actions and behavior. The issues of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are issues that can be judged under the law, and are not, and cannot be judged by physical possessions or station in life. What constitutes liberty and pursuit of happiness to one, is not the same as it is to another. Yet under the law, both are entitled to have differing stations in life, and still be counted as equal one to the other.
However, our equality before the LORD God who created us, does not stop there. I find it funny that in religion, the very idea and truth espoused in the Declaration of Independence, is denied by the vast majority of religions. Moreover, I find this true even among the vast majority of so-called Christian religions. On the one hand the adherents of those systems of belief will acknowledge the Declaration of Independence and its statements, but on the other, they routinely set them aside in their doctrines and system of belief.
How? Through such ideas as the concept of clergy and laity, inculcating into their followers the idea that they are not qualified to understand the Scriptures on their own (which sounds just like the Dark Ages), and promoting the idea that salvation is attainable through different means in the different periods of this world’s history. If we think about those teachings, and then compare them to what the Declaration of Independence states is “self-evident” we see a dichotomy of thought. Plainly, all men cannot be equal if there exists such a thing as clergy and laity, the closure of Scripture to all but the specially trained, and the idea that somehow salvation is different during the different periods of earth’s history. To hold to such things is to be like the pigs in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, where all the animals were equal, but the pigs were more equal than the others.
In examining this disjunction, one of the plainest departures from the Scripture and the concept espoused in the Declaration of Independence concerning the equality of all men, is on the issue of salvation and its availability throughout all history. In the Scripture, the following statement is made concerning faith, grace and works, and their relationship.
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:13-17)
Though it is a New Testament passage, it harkens back to Abraham and brings to the fore how Abraham was justified before God. In so doing, it also states that everyone else after him is justified the very same way – by grace through faith, without works. This is confirmed by other Scripture as well:
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-8)
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:6)
Thus, if it is all by grace through faith from Abraham onward as the Scripture states, that only leaves the question of the requirement levied upon those prior to Abraham. In this, the Scripture ties several individuals together by the common thread of salvation by grace through faith. The first of these individuals is Noah, which the Scripture plainly states that Noah’s standing before the LORD was based on grace:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9)
Seeing how it is that Noah stood before God, we can go back further and look to Abel’s standing before God as well, and examine what the Scripture states about that.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4)
In understanding this, we see plainly that the instrument of faith was how Abel knew to offer the particular sacrifice that he did; while Cain could not or would not understand why the LORD required the particular offering He did as a part of worship. Hence, applying what we are told in Ephesians, that salvation is by grace through faith, we can clearly see that Abel and Noah both had the same requirement levied upon them as we have upon us – that we are to be justified before God by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of redemption.
We can also look briefly at Enoch and Job and their testimonies of knowing God by faith in Christ to come.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:25-27)
So then, it is plain that if Abel had faith and Enoch had faith, and salvation is by grace through faith, so that the grace Noah found was through faith. Since it is the case with these men, then we can surely state that Job knew Christ as his Redeemer through faith as well.
Here then we have an unbroken line of testimony that grace came through faith then as now, and throughout the entire history since the fall, grace has always come through faith in the Messiah. The only difference between then and now is the tense in which they looked to Christ. They trusted in the promise of the Redeemer to come, and we look back at the Redeemer having already come. In both cases it requires faith to perceive the truth of the promise of God; that our redemption and reconciliation comes through the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.
Why then did the LORD God do this? If we look back to the passage from Romans, chapter 4, we find this statement:
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, . . .(Romans 4:16)
In summation, the end of this is: that it is of faith, so that it can be by grace, without the law so that the promise will be sure to all who come to God through Christ Jesus, as verses 13 through 15 state:
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:13-15)
In returning to the passage from the Declaration of Independence, which states “that all men are created equal. . .” we can also see that all men remain equal in the sight of Almighty God throughout all our lives, with all of us having equal opportunity to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, by grace through faith, with no one having any greater burden of justification placed upon them than upon anyone else who has ever lived, or ever will live. Moreover, because it is this way, that is, dependent upon the work of Christ and not any one of us, we can have full assurance of the certainty of our salvation, if we come by faith depending upon His grace.
In short, the LORD God insured a level playing field. We were created equal, and we remain equal in the sight of God, and the salvation of all is the same, from the time of man’s fall to the end of this earth.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)
What a difference between the way man thinks and the religious systems man creates, and the way the LORD God does things.