Category Archives: Freedom in Christ

Real Liberty

What is liberty? As Americans, we have fought for it, and thousands upon thousands have died for it.  But is this real liberty? Some 500 years ago, long before America was a country, reformationist Martin Luther described what real liberty is – and he said that all other kinds of liberty are not even worth mentioning in light of it.

Statue of Liberty 2Our conscience is free and quiet because it no longer has to fear the wrath of God. This is real liberty, compared with which every other kind of liberty is not worth mentioning. Who can adequately express the boon that comes to a person when he has the heart-assurance that God will nevermore be angry with him, but will forever be merciful to him for Christ’s sake? This is indeed a marvelous liberty, to have the sovereign God for our Friend and Father who will defend, maintain, and save us in this life and in the life to come.  As an outgrowth of this liberty, we are at the same time free from the Law, sin, death, the power of the devil, hell, etc. Since the wrath of God has been assuaged by Christ no Law, sin, or death may now accuse and condemn us. These foes of ours will continue to frighten us, but not too much. The worth of our Christian liberty cannot be exaggerated. 

As believers in and followers of  Jesus Christ, may we live in the confidence that in Christ, our conscience is free from the wrath of God.  May death, wrath, and hell not frighten us “too much.”  May we hold our Christian liberty – real liberty – as the most valuable thing we possess.  We need not die for this kind of liberty; Christ already did!

On Deck: Galatians

On Sunday, September 9, I will begin a sermon series on the New Testament book of Galatians.  It’s one of the Apostle Paul’s earliest letters, and it’s written to a group of churches that he planted in Galatia on his first missionary journey.  It’s a letter of passionate correction to followers of Jesus who were being led astray by teachers teaching a warped gospel.  At the beginning of the letter, Paul writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”  And he ends the letter by saying, “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”  Paul usually dictated his letters…but not this one.  This one was just too important.  He had to write this one himself.

Galatians was Martin Luther’s charter of liberty during the Reformation.  Luther’s writings – in turn – brought the truth of salvation by faith to John Wesley’s heart in London on May 24, 1738.  It was Wesley whom God used in such a remarkable way to spearhead revival in the British Isles, leading eventually to the founding of the Methodist Church.  And that revival positively affected the entire English-speaking world.

May God use this study to bring instruction, refreshment, and even revival to us as we study it together.

I’m Back…and Contemplating Preaching in the Buff

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while due to the wedding of my daughter and ALL (and I mean ALL!) that went along with it.  However, I’m slowly recovering from the ALL, and I thought I’d re-enter the blog world today with this intriguing (and somewhat disturbing) church story…

Have you heard about the Whitetail Chapel in Ivor, Virginia?  Maybe I should ask this a different way.  Have you SEEN the story about Whitetail Chapel in Ivor, Virginia?  A recent news story featuring the church revealed that clothing is optional when you attend.  Pastor Allen Parker, a middle-age man with quite a big gut stands in front of the congregation butt-naked and preaches the word in his birthday suit every Sunday morning.

Pastor Allen defends his naked preaching style this way: “Some of the biggest moments in Jesus’ life he was naked.  When he was born he was naked, when he was crucified he was naked and when he arose he left his clothes in the tomb and he was naked. If God made us that way, how can that be wrong?”

The church is part of the Whitetail Nudist Resort, the only year-round nudist resort in Virginia.  Pastor Allen says that his congregation is a family-oriented one and is very involved in helping others.  He says that he’d gladly put his church up against other churches.

Well, they may be caring, but I’m really not interested in having any of his naked parishioners put up against me.  Click here to read and see the full story. If you decide to watch the video, you may want to wait until after you’ve eaten!

God’s Not Mad At Us!

angry_godOne of my favorite Bible teachers is Steve Brown.  He’s been on the radio for years with his daily 15-minute broadcast called, Key Life.  He says “God’s not mad at you!” a lot, and over the years, I’ve begun to actually believe him.  As a recovering legalist, I love it when Steve reminds me of God’s unending grace and love, which is why preaching on Psalm 132 this past Sunday was so good for my soul.

Psalm 132 deals with a covenant that God made with King David, which led me to spend much of my time last week looking at the different covenants that God has made with His people throughout history.

Bible scholar Wayne Grudem summarizes what a covenant is with respect to covenants made between God and man.  He says: A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.

So, for instance: In Genesis 9, God made a covenant with Noah that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow, and the terms are unchangeable.

Through the cross of Christ, God – once and for all – made a covenant of love and redemption with His people.  In Christ, He showed us His undying love and unchangeable grace and mercy, and this is how we can know for sure that God’s not mad at us.  Here’s what I learned last week about the unending love and mercy of God as displayed through His covenants with us.

1. God’s covenants show a voluntary and unconditional love and commitment to His people.

God has chosen to covenant voluntarily. No one is making Him do it. He has chosen to establish this relationship with us on His own.  The covenants of God are based solely on who He is…not on who we are. God established these covenants as a demonstration of His love, mercy, grace, and kindness.

2. God has never and will never break His covenants with His people no matter what they do or don’t do. Never!

God does makes it clear that He will lovingly discipline us if we are disobedient (Heb. 12; Rev. 3), but it’s also very clear that He will never reject us or withdraw His loving commitment from us.  In Isaiah 49:15, the Lord asks: Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. God’s love and devotion to us is unconditional, and it will never change.

Psalm 132:11 says, The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back. The Israelites sang this psalm as they ascended to Mt. Zion as a reminder that the God they served is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God, and this is something that we need to be reminded of over and over again.

God’s not mad at us!  As a matter of fact, the exact opposite is true.  Nothing we do will ever separate us from the love, mercy, and kindness of God.

Have you received the free gift of salvation that He offers?  If not, what’s holding you back?  Accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus…and then live free! Free because of the covenant that God has made with you. Free because you know that nothing will ever separate you from Him again!

Permission To Be Free

I have a mentor that most of you probably don’t know. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even know that he’s my mentor, but he’s been that for me for over twenty years. He’s a man who lives his life behind a microphone, and for over twenty years I have listened to his daily 15-minute broadcast. His program used to be broadcast on my local Christian radio station until they decided that he was too “outside the box” for them, so they booted him. When I was working with Trans World Radio in Guam back in 1991, I proposed that they pick up his program on the local island-chain Christian radio station, and they did. He’s been on that station now for 17 years. Now days, I have his program on my daily podcast line-up, and I listen to him pretty faithfully that way.

My mentor’s name is Steve Brown, and his ministry is called “Key Life.” He sums up the purpose of his ministry by saying that it exists to communicate to people everywhere that God is not mad at them. He speaks daily about the freedom that we have in Christ, and he desires to give Christians permission to be free.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Steve takes this verse to heart and says that since we’ve been filled with the Spirit of the Lord, we ought to be living in freedom. He says, “Everybody wants to be free in Christ, but very few people realize it. So most of us play a game. We conform to what everybody thinks and what everybody says, and we end up in prison by our own fear.”
I used to live in the prison of my own fear, and it nearly ruined me. Then, a couple of years ago, I hit rock bottom. My fear of failure, my fear of regret, and my fear of losing the things that were most precious to me had totally imprisoned me. I felt hopeless, afraid, and depressed. It was then that the Lord convicted me of the sin of my fear, and it was then that I began to realize that because of the work of Christ on the cross, God actually gives me – and you too – permission to be free. My mentor, Steve, had been telling me this for years, but it took me hitting rock bottom before I understood how locked-up I really was and how miserable I was making life for myself and my family.
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” God, through the work of His Son Jesus (who is perfect love) on the cross, has removed fear from our lives and gives us permission to be free. Hallelujah!
Today I was listening to my mentor, Steve, on my iPod, and he said something to me that was really funny but really profound. He said, “All of Bible theology can be summed up in two statements: Cheer up…you’re a lot worse than you think you are! And cheer up…God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is!” Now that’s freeing!
I’m choosing to live in freedom today. Are you?