CHRIST said, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47. Not if any man believe I judge him not; but “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not.” This is so far from the practice of the professed Christian world that I have seen people who thought they were Christians, and I do not dispute but what they were so far as they knew, who would not believe that that statement was in the Bible when it was read directly from the Bible. When the Lord Jesus judges nobody for not believing, how can men judge anybody for not believing? and above all, how can those who profess to be the Lord’s people judge anybody for not doing or believing what Jesus said.
Jesus said, “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14:24. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.”  Hebrews 1:1, 2. God speaks to us in these last days by his Son. When God does not judge a man who hears his word and does not believe, is not that sufficient example for men? and above all, is it not a sufficient example for people who profess to know God, and to fear him? and does it not forbid every Christian forever, to sanction any law which would require anybody to observe any law which would require anybody to observe any day, or subject that man to judgment if he does not observe any day?
“If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him.” “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” When the words of God, as they were spoken by Jesus, are presented to a man, and he rejects them, he rejects eternal life; and when he rejects eternal life, by that very act he chooses eternal death. Then who brings him to eternal death? Who counts him worthy of death? None but himself, and God is forever cleared.
When Paul and Silas were at Antioch they preached to the people, and were besought by the Gentiles that the same things might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Acts 13. But when the unbelieving Jews saw the Gentiles coming in crowds they opposed the preaching, “contradicting and blaspheming.” Then Paul and Barnabas said, “I was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.“
Who judged those people unworthy of everlasting life?—Themselves. Who then sentenced them to everlasting death?—Only themselves. Thus it is ever with the preaching of the word of God in truth. That word is the word of eternal life. He who preaches that word in sincerity presents to every soul who hears him, eternal life. Whoever rejects the word, whoever rejects the preaching, rejects eternal life; and in so doing passes upon himself, by his own choice, the sentence of eternal death.
Now, ought it not to be enough for any man, however vindictive, to know that his fellowman has rejected eternal life and is subject to eternal death? Ought not this to be enough to satisfy to satisfy the average preacher, without his feeling himself called upon to punish by law and fine and imprisonment those who choose to reject their preaching and refuse to observe the Sunday? Is not eternal death penalty enough upon such people without their being subjected to condemnation and misery the little time they may be able to live in this world? Surely it would seem that this should be enough to satisfy anybody with a spirit any less vindictive than that of Satan himself.
And it is enough to restrain even from thinking ill of such persons, all who have a vestige of the Spirit of the tenderness or pity of the Lord. “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” It is not condemnation but salvation, that men need. Men are already doubly, and over and over, condemned for not obeying the word of the Lord. Further condemnation can do them no good. And it must be a spirit that is only and thoroughly vindictive that will insist on condemning them yet more. Yet such and only such is precisely the spirit that is the spring and impulse of Sunday laws or any other laws favoring religious things.
But such is not the Spirit of Christ nor of God. God is the Author and the Respecter of Liberty. The Spirit of the Lord is the Spirit of liberty; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” God made man free to choose liberty and happiness; for in order to have liberty and happiness, liberty and happiness must be chosen. And if a man chooses this apart form God, the Lord still respects the freedom of the choice: and so does everybody else who is of God, and who has any of the Spirit of God.
Salvation, not condemnation, is what all people need. The Lord Jesus came to the world and gave himself a sacrifice on the cross that men might have salvation, and not condemnation. “As he is so are we in this world.” Christians are here in the place of Christ to carry forward the work of Christ. His work was not to condemn the world but to save the world. This is the work of Christians, and nothing else if. The moment the spirit of condemning anybody is found in the heart of anybody who professes to be a Christian, that moment that person can know that he is departing from Christianity. And the moment the spirit of condemnation is entertained and indulged by anybody who professes to be a Christian, that moment he can know that he has departed from Christianity, and that his profession of being a Christian is hypocrisy and fraud.
The Christian must recognize and respect the rights of men which God has established. Not to do so, is not to be a Christian. And not to do so declares that man to be not a Christian, whatever his profession may be.
These things are worth thinking about just now. It will require Christian faith and Christian courage in these days not to judge your brother for not observing a Sabbath, and especially for not observing Sunday as a Sabbath. It requires Christian courage in these days not to set at naught your brother for doing this, that, or the other, on Sunday, and not fine him, nor put him in jail, nor bring him to the chain-gang. In scores of cases in the last eleven years, people have been put in jail, and judged worthy of the chain-gang, by men, for not observing the day which the law said should be observed as the Sabbath, when they had observed a day in harmony with their conscience and the Word of God.
God calls upon you to regard the human rights which he has established; and never to aid by law or any other way in forcing any man to observe a day which you think is right; and never to judge any man for not observing such a day. Christianity is a sensible thing.
The world, and even the professed Christian world, nmay not grasp these principles of human rights; but God will have a people who will recognize Christianity in all its length, and breadth, and height, and depth, and who will live genuine Christly lives before the world in such a way that the world shall realize what Christianity is, as really as they did in the days of Jesus Christ himself on earth.
The glory of God which belongs to the Christian is to enlighten the whole world, and the world will yet see what Christianity is. A. T. J.