Freedom of Speech

There has recently been controversy in the press about our legal right in the UK to ‘freedom of speech’.

Not all countries allow people to express opinions in public. This is not new. In New Testament times the authorities instructed the apostles not to preach about the risen Christ.

Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us!

Acts 5:28

But the apostles, convinced of the truth of their message, refused to comply, saying “We ought to obey God rather than men”

Acts 5:29

We do have rights, even when our speech might upset people.

Nonetheless, there are legal limits on our freedom of speech. UK law prohibits hate speech, and words which would incite terrorism or offensive behaviour. Moreover, words which seem offensive to one person may be innocuous to another. And some people, while insisting on their own right to free speech, resent other people expressing their opinions when they disagree with them.

We should, of course, be sensitive to the effects of our words on other people. But above all, we should avoid offending God by what we say or, indeed, what we do not say. We all have opinions. But God sets the standards of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’: ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

The apostle Paul told believers to be careful what they said, urging them always to encourage and to support spiritually:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers

Ephesians 4:29

So let us all be circumspect in our use of free speech.


There are plans for urban regeneration in Ormskirk. Feedback is invited on proposals to transform the area near Moor Street. Perhaps some people might not welcome these proposed changes. Maybe not many will respond. And the plans may or may not go ahead.

A few miles away near Wigan there has been a lot of regeneration. In the 1930s George Orwell described the area as a ’frightful landscape of slagheaps and belching chimneys’. It would have been dirty and smelly. But now with investment and the power of Nature, there are lakes (flashes), woods, and grass-covered slopes. And there is much wildlife, evidenced by fish and a variety of wild birds.

God made everything ‘very good’. But what a mess we have made of this planet: some parts worse than others. Even more seriously, our disobedience to God (sin) has messed up our morals and characters.

Jesus referred to ‘regeneration’, when telling his followers about his return to rule over God’s kingdom on earth:

…in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life .

Matthew 19:28&29

The earth will then be transformed into a lovely place:

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God .

Isaiah 35:1&2

And true followers of Jesus will have their bodies changed:

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body.

Philippians 3:20&21

This awesome and unprecedented regeneration is certain to happen, because God has said so. We do not need to be consulted. But we have been invited to take part. Surely this is something to welcome and respond to.

Quotes, Hopes and Promises

Storm Christoph swept across Britain. A couple in danger of severe flooding in Manchester said that this trouble came on top of BREXIT and Covid. With a wry smile, they added that they would “hope for the best and open a bottle of wine!” Arnold Schwarzennegger had his first dose of Covid vaccine, and urged everyone to follow suit, saying “Come with me if you want to live.” And America has a new president.

Joe Biden swore to serve America, quoting Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration of 1863. This declaration, which ultimately led to the abolition of slavery in the USA, was his proudest achievement. Lincoln said that his ‘whole soul’ was in it. Referring to his new role, President Biden echoed these sentiments saying that his ‘whole soul’ was ‘in it’. He spoke repeatedly of truth and peace.

The young poet Amanda Gorman spoke passionately about a way forward, and quoted a Bible promise about people sitting peacefully and without fear

under their own vine and fig tree

Micah 4:3-5

The source of unequivocal truth is the Bible:

The entirety of Your word is truth  

Psalm 119:160

The Bible contains an amazing message: hope of eternal life, and freedom from the slavery of ‘sin’. It says of true Christian believers

having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life

Romans 6:22

So, what are our hopes? What will be our legacy? Where is our heart and soul? The Lord Jesus Christ said

I am the way, the truth, and the life

John 14:6 shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these

Mark 12: 29-30

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

John 14:27

If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

John 8:31

We can have absolute truth and the best hope imaginable. If we ‘want to live’ (for ever) we need to love God and follow Jesus. Let us put our ‘whole souls’ into doing that.

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