We hear much these days about “human rights”. It seems as if new ones are invented every day: the right to abortion, the right to marry a person of one’s own sex, the right to free “expression”, to free education, free health care, free support, free everything, the right to have one’s choice of gender respected, etc. These “rights”, we know, are merely devices for one group to get what it wants.
Real rights are those which come from God, and they include the right to receive justice from the government, the right to own, enjoy and dispose of our property, and to be left alone in the lawful use of it. We have the right to life, unless we commit a capital crime. We have the right to manage our own affairs (unless we are incapable of doing so; or we are minor children, soldiers, or prisoners).
All these true rights are just claims which we have on other men, by the ordination of God; and if they are infringed upon or denied; we have a right to recourse via the courts. We also have a duty to respect the rights of others; so that they have a similar claim upon us. Every right which any man possesses implies a duty on the part of others to accord him that right, and to respect it. This is one of the foundations of civil society; and without it, what we call civilization would soon be reduced to a violent chaos.
When imaginary rights are claimed, and supported by the government, inevitably it means a violation of the true rights which come from God; because by implication they create a correlative legal duty on our parts to respect them. This is an infringement on our right of liberty, because every human law imposes legal limits upon that liberty. For example, if someone claims a right to build a house on our land, (whether we want them to or not) because they have a “right” to shelter; and the government makes a law protecting that supposed new right; then our right to property will be compromised. We will be obliged, from that time on, to open our property to everyone; which violates the exclusive nature of property. The effect is to deprive us of our property; for its very nature is exclusive.
Human rights are not absolute: God alone has absolute rights. For example, our right to the exclusive use of our property is limited in many ways because we are ultimately only His stewards, responsible to Him for our use of it; and we are obligated to make use of it in such a manner that His rights are respected, and that He receives a return on his investment. Human rights are therefore always limited by the parameters which God has set forth in His Word. To refuse a poor man a piece of bread is to violate the right of God which requires us to share the good things that He has given us with those who are destitute.
Our rights are really privileges graciously granted by God that men might live together in peace and reciprocal relationship. This is because we can have no claim at all upon the Author of our being. Mankind was created by Him, which placed us infinitely in His debt. We are further indebted to Him, in that He allows us to live, though all of us have sinned against Him continuously from the day that we were born! Those who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, owe Him an even greater debt; for they have been rescued from the eternal punishment which was absolutely due to them because of their sins! No, we have no claims upon God, and so no absolute rights — only privileges. We have rights only in respect to our relationships with other human beings.
God has absolute rights. Most people have never thought about this great fact. God has a right to demand anything He pleases from us, to give life, and to take it, whenever it pleases Him. He has the exclusive right to be worshiped. He has the right to demand perfect and perpetual obedience to His laws — every single one of them. He has the right to judge, to reward and punish us. He has the right to use us by His providence in any way He pleases, to accomplish His designs. He has the right to choose the place and time and circumstances of our birth and of our death. He has the right to make us tall or short, thin or heavy, wise or unwise, rich or poor, homely or handsome. He has the right to either afflict us, or to give us an easy and comfortable life. He even claims the right to determine who will be the recipients of His saving grace, and who will not.
This is the way it is. This is what it means that He is God; and what it means that we are creatures of God. It is the inescapable reality which we must all learn to accept. For to contest these rights by complaining of His providence or by refusing to acknowledge them is very sinful. God is serious about upholding His own rights. He will not hold us guiltless. Judgment is certain, and God’s wrath against sinners is terrible!
But He is a benevolent God; and wishes well to everyone. He gives us laws and upholds them because it is necessary that He govern us. If He did not punish sin as it deserves and reward the righteous; who would respect His government? What would hinder the strong from inflicting pain upon the weak? Moreover, to live in sin is the worst punishment that we can inflict upon ourselves; for it brings the pangs of conscience and makes us miserable; both in this life, and in that which is to come. God takes no pleasure in the sinner’s sin, in his unhappiness, or in punishing Him; but He must punish, for He is holy. What gives Him joy is when a sinner repents of His sin and turns to Him in faith.
As God is accountable only to Himself, only He can defend His rights. It is His Divine prerogative. He would not be God if He allowed his goodness to be affronted, His honor offended, His justice violated, His kindness abused forever. There must be a day of reckoning.
That day comes to each of us when we die. It may come for you tomorrow. Are you ready? Are you going to ride out the flood of God’s judgment in the ark of safety? Or will you be overwhelmed and destroyed by that flood of wrath? Only you can know the answer to that question. You can know it! You can know that you are Jesus Christ’s. Do you know Him?
Now is the time to examine your heart and be sure, while the breath is still in your body, and your mind is yet capable of understanding. You — we all — are living on borrowed time. We do not know when the time appointed for our departure from this world will come; but it will be soon. Depend upon it, a year or ten or twenty is nothing compared to eternity! Even if you live that long, it will be gone before you know it. Be ready! Be sure!
Sinner, it is time to render to God His rights; and though it may be late in life for you, it is not too late. Surrender your life to Him. Stop foolishly doing things your own way! What good has it done you? What happiness has it brought you? And whatever happiness you may have now will soon come to an end. What will you have to comfort you then? You must then leave behind everything that is dear to you: will not that be painful? And yet it will be nothing to the eternal wrath that you have treasured up for yourself!
You have heaven to gain! Yes, heaven; for Christ gives that unspeakable gift to all who trust Him. He is willing to save you if you are willing to be saved on His terms. All that He requires is that you believe in his goodness, mercy and grace, and power to save. He will forgive your sins. You are unworthy; but so are we all! If only the worthy were saved, none of us would be; but Christ has pledged Himself to save an innumerable multitude. Why not you?
I beg you to have pity on yourself, and come empty-handed to the cross. That is the only rule that He insists upon. You must acknowledge that you have nothing to boast of. You have no worthiness, no righteousness of your own. Let Him clothe you in His! He gives His righteousness to us! He took our sins upon Himself, and was punished in our place. He took away the sins of the world. God will never hold you accountable for sins that have already been punished in our substitute. His rights have been upheld — He is satisfied. There is free and full forgiveness for even the worst sinner.
Come to Christ. He will receive you. Don’t put it off! It may be too late! Are you willing to miss out on the single greatest — the most important — offer ever made? Such a generous offer is not to be despised. Stop provoking the One who holds your life in His hand, before it is too late! You are in great danger every moment! I beg you, in Christ’s name, be reconciled to God — now, today! The choice of life and death is before you. Choose life!
Howard Douglas King
February 28, 2019