This sermon was preached on July 6, 2014 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
John 8:31-38There is within the soul of every human being a desire to be free. It is natural as we grow from childhood into young adults that we want to be free from the authority of our parents. Those who live under the oppression of their governments want to be free. People who are in bondage to some power in their lives want to get out from under it. The hunger is for soul freedom politically, financially, spiritually, and personally.
The early Pilgrim Fathers came to the New World to escape the soul bondage under which they lived during the reign of Henry VIII of England. They had gone to Holland and then saw the attractiveness of a country where they would have freedom of conscience. In 1607, the Jamestown colony offered freedom from the oppression of both church and state. In 1620, it was established that this would be a land of soul freedom where a person could worship God according to his own choice.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia stood in the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia and read the following resolution: “Resolved – That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally resolved.”
A committee was formed on June 11, 1776 for the purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever the ties with England. The committee was composed of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New York.
On July 1, 1776, Congress reconvened and the following day, the Lee resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies. Immediately, Congress began to consider the Declaration drawn up by the committee. Late in the afternoon of July 4, 1776 the document known as the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted. When it was announced, the church bells rang out over Philadelphia.
On August 2, the Declaration of Independence, written on a sheet of parchment measuring 24 & ½ by 29 & ¾ inches was ready for the signatures of all of the delegates. As the signers of the Declaration of Independence were about to affix their signatures to the document, Ben Franklin said, “This is a great risk for if we sign our names and lose in our cause, then out identity will be known and all will be lost.” But sign they did! The first to sign was John Hancock, the President of the Congress with a bold signature. The others signed according to the geographical location of the states they represented. New Hampshire, the northernmost state, began the list, and Georgia, the southernmost, ended it.
Who were these men? They were patriots. Of the 56 signers 27 had degrees from seminaries. Rev. Charles Witherspoon oversaw the printing of the Bible in 1782. Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress, was responsible for the first translation of the Bible in America and published the Thompson Bible. Benjamin Rush founded the first Bible Society in America, the Philadelphia Bible Society to publish Bibles for the people. The signers were responsible for starting 121 Bibles Societies in eight years so that the young nation would have the Bible in their homes.
Francis Hawkins was responsible for printing the first hymnbook in America.
John Adams and Benjamin Rush sat next to each other during the drafting of the Declaration. Rush leaned over and asked Adams, “John do you think we can really win this conflict?” Adams replied, “Yes, if we repent of our sins and rely on God.” Rush later wrote that in his diary so he could teach others it was possible to be Godly and in politics, that those two were not incompatible. John Adams wrote a letter in 1813 in which he said, “The principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the principles of Christianity. I now avow that I did believe and now believe that those principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the general attributes and characteristics of God.”
Rev. John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration, was president of a little college in New Jersey called Princeton and he had taught nine of the signers. When it came time for him to sign, he paused, and this is what he said: There is a tide in the affairs of me, a nick of time. We perceive it now before us, to hesitate is to consent to our own slavery. That noble instrument upon your table, that insures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning by every pen in this house. He that will not respond to its accents, and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions, is unworthy of the name of free men for on my part, of property, I have some; of reputation, more. That reputation is staked, that property is pledged on the issue of this contest, and although these grey hairs must soon descent into the sepulcher, I would infinitely rather that they decent thither by the hand of the executioner than desert this crisis – this sacred cause of my country.”
The freedoms we enjoy were forged by such men as these. Freedom! What a precious word! In our scripture passage today, Jesus spoke of another kind of soul freedom.
I. THE BONDGAGE THAT ENSLAVES
“Truly, truly, I say unto you, ‘Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (v.34)
Jesus was speaking to his own nation and his own people. They replied, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free?’” Historically, they had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years and later slaves in Babylon. At the time Jesus was speaking they were under oppression to the Romans.
But what they were saying was this: “Our spirit, the Jewish spirit, even though we have been enslaved politically, we have never been in bondage to any man.” The Jewish spirit has been very triumphant. But Jesus was probing them to look deeper into their theology. They were in bondage to the idea that the deliverer would be a military messiah and they could not see him who had come as their Messiah in fulfillment of all of the prophecies.
They were enslaved to an idea. It may be that you are enslaved to the idea that God is not personally interest in you. There are a lot of lonely people who believe this.
Then there is the bondage of the spirit. The spirit of a person can be broken and the power of a sin can control one’s life. That great unseen world of evil is very real and has great influence over people’s lives. It is rooted deeply into the fabric of our nation today. Our leadership does not hold to the great principles of Christianity. It is more important not offend people than it is to not offend God. Our courts and the Supreme Court by their actions are not subject to the Highest Court and make determinations that actually enslave our people. We do believe in the separation of church and state. We believe that every soul is free to make its own choice. But when the state chooses evil we have a right and a responsibility to denounce it.
But more personally, do you desire to be free from some bondage in your life? Is it a past sin of which you do not feel forgiven? Is it an attitude that separates you from others? Is it a continuing sin that you cannot stop?
Jesus said to the Jews of his day, “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, yet you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you.” We do continue in our sins until the Word of the Lord finds its place in our lives.
II. THE TRUTH THAT LIBERATES
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (v.31)
What is the truth that liberates? It is not just information. Very often this verse is used in educational circles, when students are being addressed, “Through your study you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.” That is true, but that is not what Jesus had in mind. It is true that knowing certain facts can liberate the mind from ignorance. But that is not what Jesus was talking about. Nor is it orthodox theology. In fact, these Jews were very orthodox and were defending their faith and thought that they were honoring God.
Jesus, himself, is the truth that liberates. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” He was saying that if they wanted to be free then they must know him.
I don’t know about you, but the longer I live, the freer I feel. The longer that I am a Christian I resist anything that would limit the freedom I have in Christ whether it be in society, in government, or in my personal life. I can see glimpses of how it would have been if sin had not entered the world as through a mirror darkly, but someday I will see it clearly.
III. THE LIBERTY THAT FREES
“I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
Just as our earthly fathers offered guidance, if you had a godly father, our Heavenly Father reveals to us the way to freedom and wholeness.
What is this liberty? Is it political? Yes, that is part of it for as we have seen many of our forefathers were godly men who knew the Bible and wove the principles of Christianity into the fabric of our nation. But many of our citizens are politically free and are enjoying the heritage which Christianity has brought them, but they do not know the Great Liberator.
It was another of those bleak days in February 1832. A young theological student sat in his room at Andover seminary. The shadows of sunset crept into his room as Samuel Francis Smith was looking through some poems that his friend, Lowell Mason, had given him. He came across a patriotic song in a collection of German poems and songs. One tune caught his attention and he began to hum it. He liked the melody, but did not like the words. So he wrote his own words to the melody. He wrote, “My Country, tis of thee, Sweet land of Liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, From every mountain side, Let freedom ring!”
That young theological student knew the freedom that is in Christ and the freedom that has blessed Americans for 238 years since the Declaration of Independence.
At this time we need another declaration. It is a Declaration of Dependence on God. This excerpt from The Declaration of Dependence was adopted by the Jesus Awakening Movement For America in Philadelphia on July 2, 2008.
“WHEN in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to declare their dependence upon God, to proclaim their allegiance to His Word, and to reaffirm their calling as ambassadors of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, an appropriate response to God requires that they should declare before humankind the causes which bind them to this station.
THEREFORE, we, as the citizens of heaven, inheritors of the incorruptible and unending Kingdom of God, children of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, members of the Church, both visible and invisible, under Christ the Head thereof, and Christian citizens of these United States of America, hereby solemnly publish and declare the following:
We declare our dependency on the one true and living God, the Father Almighty, the Sovereign King, who is immortal and eternal, infinitely perfect both in His love and in His holiness, who alone is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, including this nation, and who sustains and sovereignly rules over the United States of America;
We declare our dependency on the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the one true and living God, the Judge of this nation, who being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father Almighty, the one and only way to salvation through faith, and together with whom we are heirs of God’s glory and Kingdom and all that is His;
We declare our dependency on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, divinely equal to God and Jesus Christ, eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son, that has, from time to time in the course of history, including this nation’s, and as sovereignly directed by Christ, in response to the prayers of God’s people, descended upon a group of God’s people at the same time, an outpouring over and above its work of personal regeneration, illumination, and sanctification;
We declare our dependency on the holy Scriptures, the infallible Word of God written in the Old and New Testaments, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and has supreme authority in all matters of faith, life, thought, and conduct, and which promises that if God’s people humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked and sinful ways, then God will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and will restore and heal their land;
ACCORDINGLY, we declare our love for the United States of America, as this nation was formed and created by God, is sustained and sovereignly ruled by Him, and thusly, we, God’s people chosen by Him to live therein, but not of it, are co-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ of all that is God’s, including this nation, and are called by the Word of God to seek its peace, restoration, and prosperity.”
We at Cornerstone Declare it to be so!
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!