Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When The Son Made Him Free

When man sees his need for grace, its wings can not fly swiftly enough to him. 

In childhood, I was taught by my uncle and aunt of Christ and held the tender belief of a child. In their home I witnessed a faith pure and free from the pretentious Christianity practiced by most of my countrymen – including my mother and grandfather. When the influence of my second parents reached her, my mother spared no rest until she had brought me back under her guard. For she was set on me being brought up for great seats in the world – earthly heights Christ would be a sure stumbling block to their fulfillment. With tears of a near broken heart, I was taken from my uncle's home and molded in the ways of sin. Truly yes, zealous was the labor of my mother and grandfather to immerse me in all irreverence, indulgences, promiscuity, gluttony, gambling – anything that might quench the tender conscience my uncle and aunt had watchfully nourished in me. Indeed, no Christian parents have ever been so careful to warn their children from the world as my mother was to infect me with it. By the time I was accepted as a student in Cambridge, I was as committed to pleasure and romp as they. My college years only provided more indulgences for the same. During this time, I was also drawn to a field more thrilling and powerful than the wealth and popularity I has thus far enjoyed: politics. Mere days after brushing my fingers against the milestone of my twenty first year, I was elected to the British Parliament – one of the youngest men ever elected. Yet even in this heady office in the great British Empire, I thought nothing of God's hand on me or why He might have given me this station.
All this changed when I took a leisure trip abroad with my friend, Issac Milner. Ready to amuse ourselves while crossing Europe in a carriage, Milner and I fell into conversation on Christ. My curiosity was aroused by the earnestness the usually jesting Isaac would adopt when we spoke on matters of faith. At first they were only musings that tickled the mind, another diversion for a young man enjoying all the world could give. This interest of mind soon turned to influence of heart. In time my conscience begin whispering the truth: my righteousness was as rags before God. Yet the sin that weighed on me most was the black ingratitude of my past life to God for His mercy and goodness though I had hardly acknowledged Him for twenty and six years of living.

What could I do? My conscience refusing me rest, I withdrew from my acts of sin, hoping, praying my measures of reform would grant me mercy before God. I now saw sin as He did: treason against a just God and a crime worthy of death. As a representative in parliament, I knew any king would be just to punish a subject for breaking a royal command. Was a holy, perfect God any less righteous not to expect such obedience from me? Yet my efforts in reforming myself brought no assurance of salvation. The more I sought to humble and distance myself from my sin, the more entangled and knotted its deathly bonds gripped around my heart. I spent hours a day in prayer, meditation of the Scriptures, thought on my soul and yet I still fell woefully short of His holiness. What might I do to make me clean?

I wish I might say a few days of striving to be right before God was enough to open my eyes to my need for a saviour. But alas, my struggle would go on for many months. No preacher, act or condition of heart was enough to cancel the payment of my sin, or even bring Christ closer. But in time, God did what I could not. I saw Jesus. I saw Him as the perfect Son of God and Son of man, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. I saw Him as the One Who knew no sin become sin for me, that I might be made the righteousness of God in Him. I saw Him at the pinnacle of His perfection take on sin and suffer the wrath of God in man's stead. Then with the sentence of sin fully satisfied, God showed His acceptance of Christ by raising Him again and seating His Son at His right hand. I can not describe how the word of God wrought faith in my heart or how the simplicity of the gospel became clear to me. But when it did, I found rest. God required not but believe on His Son.

In years to come, God would take me as a vessel for liberating – physically and spiritually – millions. But it all begin and ended with Jesus. The sin of my youth and the sin of seeking to establish my own righteousness nearly cost me eternity with my holy God. But when I simply rested in the work of Christ, instead of the work of William, my account shifted from sinner to righteous. I pray the same is true for you as well. For if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

In witness to Christ,

William Wilberforce

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