By way of reminder, last week we touched upon the subject of fear, and particularly, any fear that stands in the way or hinders us from doing God’s will or the job that God has given us to do. I spoke on this at the Elmcroft Assisted Living Center on Wednesday, and got a very lively response. It told me that this touches people where they live. “Courage is not the absence; it is the mastery of it.” You remember we learned that God’s presence alleviates fear; an increased awareness of his presence over time will help in moments of doubt, not so much as an emotional support but as a reminder of the resources we have to do God’s work. And lastly, we learned that we can do things which invite the presence of God or which push it out. Indeed, the greatest gift that God can give to you is Himself.
Our subject matter this morning, in the spirit of Independence Day, concerns verses 31-38 wherein Jesus speaks these words: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And again, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Truth and freedom have been American ideals from the earliest days.
I. The foundation of America is based on the value of freedom.
The first official act of Congress was a call for prayer by the Rev. Mr. Jacob Duche, which he offered extemporaneously in Carpenter’s Hall at 9am, September 7, 1774.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the wording for the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, delegates of the Continental Congress voted to accept it. On July 8, 1776, the Declaration was read publicly for the first time outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, accompanied by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...We, Therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”After each had signed, Samuel Adams declared: We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.
John Adams’ proclamation: The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America, to be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival, commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty from one end of the Continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.
Unfortunately, in our day, both truth and freedom have taken on different meanings than they used to embody. Truth used to mean “that which is true under any circumstance in any culture at any time.” Today, truth means “that which works for you.” You have your truth and I have my truth. Freedom used to mean “the right to be a human being as God intended, within the constraints of morality and responsibility.” Today, freedom means “the right to do as we please, so long as it doesn’t hurt another person.” Gone are the restraints of morality, decency, and responsibility.
How far we have come from our foundations! The foundation of America is based on the value of freedom.
- Americans value freedom of religion.
- Americans value freedom of speech.
- Americans value freedom to vote.
- Americans value freedom to choose.
II. Christians value freedom because it is fundamental to the gospel.
A. True disciples of Christ know the fullness of gospel truth by remaining in personal fellowship with him. (31-33)
1. Disciples of Christ continue to hold to Jesus' teachings.
2. Those who no longer remain in personal fellowship with Christ or continue to hold to his teachings cannot rightfully be called disciples.
3. True disciples of Christ know the fullness of gospel truth.
4. Gospel truth sets a person free. [how?]
B. The person who continually commits sin is a slave to sin. (34-38)
1. Sin is a slave master but the gospel sets free.
2. The unbeliever who is still under the power of sin is a slave to sin.
3. The believer who has had the power of sin broken yet submits himself to it again through temptation becomes a slave to sin.
4. The truth about Jesus Christ has the power to set me free from the power of sin.
III. Help others know the truth which sets them free.
A. Knowledge applied enables a person to be set free from the most slave-producing force known to man: sin.
1. Abide in the way of Christ.
2. Apply your mind and heart to the knowledge of Christ. (Prov 1:2-5)
3. You will be set free from sin.
B. Encourage the “seeker” (learner/disciple) who is not a Christian yet to follow Jesus in search of truth.
C. Know the gospel truth which sets people free.
1. “Christ died for sinners and rose again.”
2. Each each word in that sentence is a gospel truth.
D. Reject a return to sin-slavery by committing to live a holy life.
1. You should live and breath the truths of Romans 6.
2. You should live and breath the truths of Galatians 4 and 5.