October 9, 2023

In his book, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, Eric Metaxas writes:

We often hear about people who “need no introduction” but, if ever someone did need one, it is William Wilberforce because we are talking about a man who changed the world … There is hardly a soul alive today who is not horrified and offended by the very idea of human slavery. We seethe with moral indignation at it and we cannot fathom how anyone or any culture ever countenanced it. But in the world which Wilberforce was born, the opposite was true. Slavery was accepted just as much as birth and marriage and death.

The idea of ending slavery was so completely out of the question at the time that Wilberforce lived that he and the abolitionists could not even mention it publicly. They focused on the lesser idea of abolishing the slave trade – on the buying and selling of human beings – but never dared speak of emancipation, of ending slavery itself. Their secret and cherished hope was that once the slave trade had been abolished, it would then become possible to move toward emancipation. But first they must fight the abolition of the slave trade; and that battle – brutal and heartbreaking – would take twenty years…

In the thick of the battle for abolition, one of its many dedicated opponents, Lord Melbourne, was outraged that Wilberforce dared inflict his Christian values about slavery and human equality on British society. “Things have come to a pretty pass,” he famously thundered, “When one should permit one’s religion to invade public life.”

[However, that is exactly what Wilberforce did] because in 1785, at age twenty-six and at the height of his political career, something profound and dramatic happened to him. He got saved and, when he did, he saw things as he had never seen them before, things that we take for granted today… He saw that all men and women are created equal by God, in His image, and are therefore sacred… He saw that one must love one’s neighbor as oneself and that we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us… [and it led him to do everything he could to free his fellow man from bondage].

No politician has ever used his faith to a greater result for all of humanity, and that is why, in his day, Wilberforce was a moral hero far more than a political one. He exemplified Jesus’ words when He told the disciples in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

The reason I mention this is because this week we are coming to our final sermon in the series on the government. Over the past few months, we have talked about several issues such as:
  • Civil Disobedience in History
  • Civil Disobedience in the Bible
  • The Biblical Purpose of Government
  • How We Can Impact the Government for Christ

However, the best way to wrap up this discussion is to look at the life of someone who exemplified these principles personally and that is William Wilberforce.

He found the world emersed in slavery but he did not ignore the problem. He decided to do something about it by speaking out on this issue as a member of the government. Historians tell us that, when he was converted, he considered doing something else because he wanted to go into ministry until John Newton (the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”) changed his mind. He told him that he could do more for Christ right where he was and the rest, as they say, is history.

Such an act would cost him his health and some of his friends. He would also have to give up much of his fortune in the struggle but he thought it was worth it because he saw it as his way to be a light for Christ which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

Please join us this Sunday morning as we study the amazing story of William Wilberforce. The service will begin at 9:30 and it will be recorded and loaded on our You Tube Channel later for any who were not able to attend in person. – Jeremy Cagle