Thank God for Freedom!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Cherry Ridge Baptist Church - July 3, 2011
*On July 4th, 1776, 235 years ago, the Declaration of Independence stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
*235 years later, God has blessed us to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. By God’s grace and the sacrificial courage of our soldiers, we have liberated hundreds of millions of people around the world. We have also built more hospitals, sent more money for the poor and sent more missionaries than any other country.
*We still have the greatest freedom in the world. We can pretty much go where we want to go and do what we want to do. And we’ve got more “stuff” than just about anyone else.
*But in the land of the free, it’s safe to say that well over 100 million people are not really free, because they don’t know Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can truly set them free. Christians, thank God for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ!
1. Thank first God for the strength of Christian freedom.
*God’s freedom is Heaven sent and Heaven bound. The Lord reminded us of this great truth in vs. 21-23:
21. Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.''
22. So the (unbelieving Jewish leaders) said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, `Where I go you cannot come'?''
23. And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”
*Jesus came into this world from His home in Heaven. After He rose from the dead that is where He returned. So the freedom He gives is Heaven sent and Heaven bound. This makes Christ’s freedom unique. The world can’t give it and the world can’t take it away.
*In vs. 35&36, Jesus said:
35. “A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
36. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
*This means Christ’s freedom is ever present and everlasting! It is both eternal and internal.
-I can be trapped in a paralyzed body for 40 years like Joni Eareckson Tada, and still be free in Christ.
-I can be locked up in chains and thrown in the deepest dungeon, but have the Heaven-sent, Heaven-bound freedom of Jesus Christ.
*Thank first God for the strength of Christian freedom!
2. And thank God for the safety of Christian freedom.
*God’s freedom delivers us from the greatest danger. Jesus showed us this danger in vs. 24 where He gave this warning to those unbelieving Jews: “I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
*Die in your sins: That is the worst way to die, cut-off from God’s mercy in a place called hell, suffering forever with no hope of escape.
*What good does it do to live in this great, free country, if you only wind up in hell? -- And that is where you will surely wind up, if you don’t trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. You will die in your sins, if you do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah who died for you and rose again from the dead.
*Francis Newport lived in England from 1620 to 1708. He was a soldier and politician who served in many offices, including Parliament. He was part of English nobility with the title, First Earl of Bradford.
*Newport was also well-known as an atheist. He even served as the head of an English club for infidels. But on his deathbed, Sir Francis Newport said, “You need not tell me there is no hell, for I already feel my soul slipping into its fires! Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever.”
*He also wailed in anguish, “Oh, that I could lie for a thousand years upon the fire that is never quenched, to purchase the favor of God and be united to Him again. But it is a fruitless wish. Millions and millions of years will bring me no nearer the end of my torments than one poor hour. Oh, eternity, eternity forever and forever! Oh, the insufferable pangs of Hell!” (1)
*This is the greatest danger you will ever face. But we don’t have to die in our sins. If you put your trust in Jesus Christ He will surely save you. Jesus will deliver you from the greatest danger!
*Thank God for the safety of Christian freedom.
3. And thank God for the security of Christian freedom.
*God’s freedom is secure because it is protected by a perfect leader, our Savior Jesus Christ. We see Him in vs. 25-29:
25. Then they said to Him, "Who are You?'' And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.
26. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.''
27. They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.
28. Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.
29. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.''
*What an amazing thing for any man to say: “I always do the things that please My Heavenly Father.” The only man who could ever say that is Jesus Christ. What a man! -- What a leader!
*Many people in our country are greatly concerned about the leadership we have in Washington today, and I am certainly one of those people. In fact, I am more concerned about our country right now than in any time in my life.
*But even a quick look back at our history reveals scandals galore:
-In 1777, Silas Deane was accused of mismanagement and treason while ambassador to France. That same year a group called the Conway Cabal conspired to remove George Washington as commander of the Continental Army.
-In 1804, Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr was later tried for conspiracy and treason.
-In 1831, a sex scandal called the Petticoat Affair resulted in the resignation of much of Andrew Jackson’s cabinet.
-Grant’s administration was filled with scandal. The first major scandal in 1869 involved 2 men trying to corner the gold market. Another scandal during Grant's presidency was the Whiskey Ring. In 1875, many government employees were discovered pocketing whiskey taxes.
-Warren Harding’s presidency was struck by many scandals including The Teapot Dome. In 1922 Harding's Secretary of the Interior was convicted of taking kick-backs for oil rights in Wyoming.
*Add to that Watergate, the Monica Lewinsky affair and our former governor in prison. And with all of this, I am just skimming the surface. (2)
*The truth is that God surely brought together a group of extraordinary men to help give birth to the United States, men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
-The truth is that down through the years we have always had some good leaders and some very bad leaders.
-The truth is that there are many thousands of good, Godly men and women serving our country today -- especially in our military.
*But America has never had, and will never have a perfect leader. There is only one: Jesus Christ! And if you are a Christian, Jesus is your perfect leader.
*Jesus is the only man who could ever say, “I always do those things that please My Heavenly Father.” Think about that: never sinning even once in thought or word or deed. No one could ever convict Jesus of sin.
*James Merritt points out:
-His best friends could not convict Jesus of sin. John said about the Lord Jesus: "You know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin." (1 John 3:5) And critical, negative Peter said that Jesus was "a Lamb without blemish, and without spot, who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth." (1 Peter 1:19; 2:22)
*Jesus’ best friends could not convict him of sin, and His bitter foes could not convict him of sin.
-Pilate's wife said, "Have nothing to do with that just Man." (Mt. 27:19)
-Pilate himself said, "I find no fault in Him at all." (Jn. 18:38)
-Judas said, "I have betrayed innocent blood." (Mt. 27:4)
*The thief on the cross, who had previously blasphemed and cursed Jesus, said, "This man has done nothing wrong." (Lk. 23:41) The centurion who oversaw his crucifixion, said, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" (Lk. 23:47)
*But much better than these witnesses, the Heavenly Father did not convict Jesus of sin. -- At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and at the end, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (3)
*Christians, our real freedom is protected by a perfect leader. Thank God for the security of Christian freedom.
4. And thank God for the sacrifice of Christian freedom.
*God’s freedom came at the highest cost. The Lord reminds us in vs. 28: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.’”
*“When you lift up the Son of Man.” -- Of course, the Lord was talking about dying on the cross for our sins, sacrificing His life for us.
*Patrick Henry was one of the sparks of the American Revolution. He is still remembered for the passionate words, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
*Patrick Henry spoke those words to the Virginia House on March 23, 1775.
-Here is a little more of what Patrick said on that day:
-“If we wish to be free . . . we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
-Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us (2 Chron. 32:8). The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone (Eccl. 9:11); it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
-Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace (Jer. 6:14). The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? (Matt. 20:6) What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (4)
*This is the spirit that gave birth to our free nation. Now 233 years later, over 1,250,000 men and women have died to preserve this freedom. We should never forget their sacrifice. We must appreciate the price that was paid to make us free.
*But the death of Jesus Christ stands alone. God the Son became a man to die on the cross for our sins. No one else could have died to take away the eternal death we deserved. So Hebrews 2 tells us:
9. We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
14. Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
15. and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
*Our freedom came at the highest cost! -- Thank God that Jesus was willing to become a man and make the ultimate sacrifice for us!
5. And thank God for the source of Christian freedom.
*God’s freedom is based on truth we can trust, -- the Bible, the Word of God. Jesus stressed God’s truth in vs. 30-32:
30. As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.
31. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.''
*It is so easy to be deceived. The unbelieving Jews in this story were certainly deceived. In vs. 33 they answered Him, “We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Then in vs. 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”
*Bruce Shields explains: “They did not understand that they were slaves and they needed Jesus to be free. Everyone who sins is a slave.
-We are born into this sin which enslaves us.
-We are in bondage from birth, and this bondage robs us of our life.
*Slavery to sin leads to spiritual and eternal death.
-It robs us of our liberty, for we do what our master instructs us.
*Sin instructs us to turn from our Father in heaven and from the Word of God.
-When we do this, we cannot have happiness in our lives.
-For without God there is no love, peace or happiness, only darkness. (5)
*Human slavery is a terrible thing. It is one of the greatest scourges in our history. In 2004, Mary and I got to visit Washington D.C. On that trip I realized like never before the terrible plague slavery was on our country. It happened when we were visiting George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. What opened my eyes was the fact that just a few yards from Washington’s grave is a memorial to the unmarked graves of 150 slaves.
*Think how horrible it would be to be a slave: No freedom, -- no choices.
-Forced to serve every whim of perhaps the cruelest master.
-Never knowing when you would be beaten or abused.
-Never knowing when your wife or children would be sold away from you.
*Slavery is a terrible thing. And it still goes on in parts of the world today. In 2002, the CIA reported that over 700,000 women and children are sold into slavery every year. (6)
*A much sadder truth is that most of the world today is in spiritual bondage, and they don’t even know it.
*Can you imagine being a slave and not even knowing it?
-That was the condition of those unbelieving Jews, because they had been deceived by Satan. And you can be sure that Satan is doing every thing he can to deceive people today. John 8:44 tells us that the devil is the father of lies. Through false friends, false religions and false messages on radio and TV, Satan tries to deceive as many people as he possibly can.
*Some of you here today are falling for his lies right now, because he is so good at it. And you are a slave to sin, but Jesus wants to set you free.
-By the grace of God we can know the truth! -- You will find it in the Bible.
*Listen to two of our former Presidents:
-George Washington said, “It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible.”
-Ronald Reagan said, “Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today --- if only we would read and believe. (7)
*Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
*Think about the amazing life-changing power that comes from knowing the truth.
-But we must understand that knowing the truth doesn’t just mean knowing the facts about Jesus. -- It means knowing Him in a personal way.
*God gives us the Bible, the written truth that can set us free when we put our trust in His Son Jesus Christ. --Jesus is the Living Truth who sets us free.
-We have to know Jesus in a personal way, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. -- Do you know Him?
*Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus will forgive your sins and give you eternal life, if you will turn to Him, and trust Him as Savior and Lord.
*Let Jesus give you the freedom that only He can give.
-You can do that right now as we go to God in prayer.
*Then you too can thank God for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ!
1. Information found at Sermonillustrations.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Newport,_1st_Earl_of_Bradford
2. Information found at:
3. ChristianGlobe.com sermon “Nobody's Perfect -- Except Jesus” by James Merritt - Hebrews 4:15-16
4. http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=54 (Scripture references added by Wall Builders)
5. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Independence Day - Free from the Bondage of Sin!” by Bruce Shields - John 8:31-36 - 2005
6. "Women for Sale" by Michael J. Weiss, LADIES' HOME JOURNAL, June 2002, p. 131. (Found in email from Sermons.com)
7. SermonCentral illustration contributed by Lynn Floyd