Freedom In Christ

Text: John 8:31-38 — Pastor Don Mossman

Introduction

On Wednesday of this week, October 31, you’ll see no end of little ones dressed up in cute costumes knocking at doors seeking tons of candy.  In downtown Lynden, there will be many little ones going from store to store with the trick-or-treat request.  A number of adults go to downtown Front Street just to see the children and their unique costumes.  We will put on our front light and attract like moths the many neighborhood kids who will be looking for treats.  My wife usually buys many more treats than we will give away, much to my sweet-tooth satisfaction.  Trouble is, I never can find where she hides them.

There is another notable occasion to celebrate on October 31 and is the celebration of the Reformation.  It was that date back in 1517 that a young monk named Martin Luther walked the long street from the Augustinian monastery to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and nailed 95 thesis or statements to the church door that served as a city bulletin board.  They were meant for debate among fellow clergy and university educators.  Luther’s concern was the selling of forgiveness of sin via a piece of paper called an indulgence.  Today we acknowledge the ongoing result of that first step to freedom from human efforts in the realm of salvation.  We celebrate, not with fireworks or trick-or-treating, but with the continuing declaration that we are free from sin, death and the devil in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone as revealed in the Word alone.

A. He was that way because he was free

  1. He was no weak-kneed chicken, that Luther. He was bold.  He was fearless.  He was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He was no one’s slave.  That’s why he wrote, “We tremble not. We fear no ill. They shall not over power us.”
  2. As you look at Luther’s earlier years, freedom was not foremost in his life. He grew up in a strict household, he was poor and I assume somewhat timid.  When he decided to become a Roman Catholic monk, his father almost disowned him.  As a priest he was not free, having to take direct orders from the pope and superiors.  He feared the possible punishment of officials of government and church; he feared the judgement of God upon his sin.
  3. The RCC as well as the government authorities ordered him to take back what he had said and written under threat of death. He was kidnapped for his own safety. You begin to wonder; what kind of freedom is he referring to?  Yet he exclaimed, “We tremble not, we hear no ill, They shall not overpower us?”

B. It was the Word of God that had makes a person free

  1. Now, 500 years after the Reformation, what we need to recognize it is the Word of God that still makes men and women free. John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The message proclaimed is that every individual who believes that Jesus is Lord is free from sin, death and the lasting power of the devil.  Don’t let anyone, or anything try to talk you out of that.  Those are the words of Jesus.  It is his prescription for freedom.  Abide in my Word.  That simply and powerfully means, stay in the Word; read, mark and inwardly digest the Holy Scriptures.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

C. The search for truth

  1. But what kind of truth is that? Truth to you, or truth to me? You don’t just go out and look for truth amid options that society offers. You certainly don’t want to go on TV and pick out one out of the many talking heads that beckon you to their personal understanding of truth.  And if you believe the present political TV ads as to who’s telling the truth, and who is lying, well, it’s enough to make your head spin.  Giuliani: “truth is not always the truth” (It’s someone’s version of it).”

D. Freedom, real freedom, comes from the Word of God.

  1. What is it then that sets you free? “If you abide in my word, Jesus says, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The Word of God, the Bible, points you to Jesus the Savior.  He is the only one who sets us free from sin, death and the devil, who died on the cross to end our slavery to sin (see copy of passages…).  St. Paul boldly proclaims our victory over death1 Cor. 15:15: “O death where is your sting, o grave where is your victory…” It is that saving faith that frees you.  Faith in Jesus, who is going to return soon and take you to heaven.

Conclusion

So, we celebrate this day, not with fireworks as perhaps on July 4, but with the message of the Word.  Luther understood that.  He knew that true freedom is freedom in Christ.  That’s why he was so bold and brave.  Luther was no fool.  He didn’t point to himself; he pointed to Jesus.

With might of ours can naught be done, Soon were our loss effected;

But for us fights the valiant one, Whom God himself elected.

Ask ye who is this?  Jesus Christ it is.  Of Sabaoth Lord,

And there’s none other God; He holds the field forever.

sdg

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