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Independence Day 2004

Freedom in Christ Jesus

Sunday Morning, July 4th, 2004

This is the Fourth of July weekend.

Today we celebrate the Nation's 228th birthday.

228 years seems like a long time, but in comparison with the life of other nations, America is still just an infant Nation, but a Nation that the Lord has wonderfully blessed. And it is fitting that, as we celebrate our Nation's birth, that we celebrate God's goodness and kindness to our Nation as well.

God has blessed America in so many wonderful ways. And listen, for the most part, He's blessed each and every one of us to be born in this great Nation.

Here in America we don't have to worry about whether the stores are going to run out of fruits, vegetables, or meat items. Not only is there enough for everybody, there's also a great variety to choose from.

Yesterday Martha and I were grocery shopping and one lady was complaining; "Well now, there they go again rearranging the shelves." Her dilemma was not lack of funds, or lack of goods, but having to find the right shelf where those goods were displayed. This is a dilemma that many third-world countries would love to face each day. Some people will complain about the price of goods and services in America, but if you lived in some other countries in this world, price wouldn't matter at all, because, in many third-world countries, funds are available, but goods and services are not. In America, for the most part, we don't have to travel a great distance to find bread or milk for our table.

Nor do we have to travel long distances to find fresh water to drink, it flows abundantly from most of our kitchen taps. Did you know that, at one time, there were only two countries in the world where you could drink fresh water from the tap without worrying about getting dysentery or some other sickness or disease? One was America, and the other was Singapore.

Now I can't be sure if this is true today, but it was certainly true just 20 years ago. If you've ever gone overseas for any reason; across the Atlantic or the Pacific, you are cautioned not to drink the water. But in America, fresh water is in abundance, and conveniently flows from our kitchen taps.

God has blessed America in just the sheer beauty of the land itself. The mountains; the valleys, the coasts are all orchestrated by the very hand of God.

In the vast productivity of the land, its fruitfulness and abundance. Our Nation is among the chief leaders in feeding the rest of the world.

And, of course, God has blessed us in the freedom we enjoy in this Land. Our political freedom and our personal freedom.

But there's another freedom that we have today, that our founding fathers were very much aware of, and was instrumental in their striving to build this great Nation.

It is the freedom we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! And this is a freedom that can never be taken away from the believer. It's a freedom that is declared by the Holy Scriptures, declared by the Holy Spirit, and declared by the Lord Jesus Christ.

A. The Truth of the Holy Scriptures declare us free in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 8:32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free)

How does any nation or person find the truth that will set them free?

Certainly, in the Word of God.

The Bible held the truth about the shape of the earth. In a time when people thought that the world was flat and carried on the back of a huge turtle through the universe, Christopher Columbus chose to believe the Bible and grabbed hold of the truth he found in Isaiah 40:22 and discovered America.

Isaiah 40:22

It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,

Job 26:7

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

The earth wasn't flat, it was round. And the earth wasn't being carried at all, it rested upon nothing. And many scientists today that reject the truths of Holy Scripture, laugh at the idea that their predecessors believed that the earth was flat. All the time the Holy Scriptures were testifying to what we know as truth today. But still many scientists today reject the Word of God.

Christopher Columbus believed God's Word, and he discovered America. And so, the Truth of the Bible led Columbus to discover this great land we live in today!

The Truth of the Holy Scriptures inspired the Pilgrims to flee religious persecution in Europe and to seek a place in the new world where they could enjoy religious freedom. These people came to the new world to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church of England looked down its nose at classes. In their thinking some people were better than others and deserved better treatment than others. But the Bible taught the Pilgrims that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34)

Romans 12:9

Let love be without dissimulation.

James 2:8

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,

This wonderful truth was not to be found in the Church of England. But it inspired the Christians there to seek a new home, where they could be free to practice the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. They came to America to found a nation based on biblical principles, and not upon the teachings of the Church of England.

Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The Truth of the Holy Scriptures declared the pilgrims free. And they came to the new world for the very purpose of furthering the Gospel of Christ. And enjoying the freedom that they knew they had in Jesus Christ.

And so the Holy Scriptures declare us free.

B.  The Guidance and Closeness of the Indwelling Holy Spirit that also declares us free.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

No man living under the power of the Spirit of the Lord is drawn to rituals, laws, or ceremonies. And any effort to make oneself righteous before God without Christ is bondage and torment.

Christ came to set us free from the bondage of the Law, and to impart unto us the Holy Spirit. Paul, writing to those Christians still practicing the law and requiring others to practice the law as well, commanding men to be circumcised, to keep the feast days, and to study the law, said

Galatians 5:4-6

4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

The Spirit of God is a spirit of peace, rest, and freedom in Jesus Christ.

The Spirit of God brings a liberty that can be found in no other source.

And so Paul tells us that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

I was preaching one Sunday morning over at the Pope Youth Center where a number of older inmates were being housed. After I finished speaking to a gathering of about 20 young men, one of the older inmates came up to me and he said, “Brother, I'm may be behind bars, but my heart is free free free! There are more people in prison outside these walls than there are inside these walls.” And of course he was speaking of the spiritual liberty he had in Christ! And I tell ya, this gentleman had the Spirit of the Lord all over him.

And so, the wonderful gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit confirms to us that we have been set free in the Lord Jesus Christ.

C.  And finally, the Lord Jesus declares us free in Himself.

John 8:36

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Christ sets people free. Let me give you a couple of examples:

o       In John 3:1-9, we find Nicodemus trapped in religious bondage.

He was a Pharisee who believed that Salvation came by way of keeping the Law of Moses. His worship was an exterior worship. And he came by night to speak to Jesus. And Christ taught him that in order to see the kingdom of God, he must be born again from the inside. He must be born again by the Spirit of God.

Nicodemus believed Christ, and was set free from religious bondage. He was there on Calvary's hill to help take the body of our crucified Christ down from the cross.

o       In John 4:6-28, we find a woman trapped in the bondage of immorality.

She had been married five times, and now was living with a man outside of wedlock. She was trying to find happiness, contentment, security, and satisfaction in man, but her life was still empty, lonely, filled with anxiety, and despair.

Christ's words and his fellowship set her free from her bondage. He gave her a new zeal for life, and a desire to serve Him. And she began telling everyone about her experience with the LORD.

o       In Mark 5:1-15, we find a young man demon possessed.

His life was a miserable day-in and day-out turmoil of pain and suffering.

The Bible says.

Mark 5:3-6

3: ...his dwelling  (was) among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

4: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

5: And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

What a miserable life's existence.

   Nobody to help him.

      Nobody to set him free.

6: But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

Jesus is always ready to deliver us from any and every bondage, as we call upon Him.

Jesus commanded the demons to leave the young man, and it was so.

And the young man went home rejoicing and telling others about how Christ had set him free.

All of these; Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the young man bound by demons; were set free from their burdens by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What he did for them...He can do for you.

John 8:36

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

It is a wonderful thing to celebrate political and personal freedom on the 4th of July.

Political freedom and personal freedom make us FREE citizens of the U.S.

But Spiritual Freedom in Christ Jesus makes us citizens of Heaven, and assures us of eternal life.

How free are you this morning?

Matthew 11:28

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What is it that you're wrestling with this morning?

What burden is so intense and so heavy that it keeps you from enjoying the peace and the freedom that you have in Jesus Christ?

Jesus says...bring your burdens to me, and I will give you rest!

Nicodemus tried to find rest in the Law, but he found only a heavy burden.

The Samaritan woman tried to find rest in human relationships, but she only found heartache, pain, and loneliness.

The demon-possessed man tried to find rest among the tombs, but he only found more pain and suffering.

All of these, and many more, found rest and freedom in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is it that you're trying to find rest and peace in?

Revelations 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

God has richly blessed America, and wants to richly bless you, if you'll only open the door of your heart to Him.

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