Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Freedom #22: Freedom vs. Anarchy

The world’s understanding of freedom is the liberty to do whatever one wishes with no restrictions, no accountability, no negative consequences and no one confronting them regarding their actions.    That’s what Israel thought during the time of the Judges, but as you read the final chapters of that book, you see that it was not freedom, but anarchy. The reason for the anarchy is found in Judges 21:25.  “Everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.”    Jesus declared in John 8:34 that “the man who sins is a slave to sin.”  In verse 36 of the same chapter we learn that true freedom comes only in knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord.    Christians are the ONLY free people on the face of the earth.  We know nothing of  bondage, except as we remember our past when we were slaves to sin.     

Liberal socialist preachers who promoted The Christian Liberation Movement a generation ago, believed that the Gospel was not one of saving souls from sin and hell; but delivering the masses from poverty by destroying Capitalism and ushering in Socialism.    Actually this dangerous false philosophy has been around since Bible times.  The Apostle Peter warned of it in II Peter 2:9-22 where he described these false teachers as promising freedom, when they themselves were slaves of sin.    

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN LIBERTY?    

Christian liberty is the freedom from the power of sin to enslave us.  That freedom is found only in Christ who perfectly fulfilled God’s Law and then paid the death penalty for us sinners who are unable to live it.  Through faith in Christ, God has justified us by imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to our account.    Thus Christian freedom is freedom from the depressing awareness that we fail to measure up to God’s moral standard. 

Furthermore, Christian freedom is freedom from  the burden of the religious ceremonialism of the Old Testament, with its animal sacrifices,  observance of Sabbaths and holy days.  Read Colossians 2 for a better understanding of this wonderful freedom.     As Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in us, we are free to live in the Spirit as He lives the life of Christ through us.  See Romans 8:1-4.     

THE NEED FOR GOD’S MORAL LAWS    

The unconverted carnal man needs laws; not simply to show him he has sinned.  He already knows that,  for his conscience convicts him when he does wrong. But God’s Laws show the awfulness of his sins, in that he has defied God and is deserving of death, God’s penalty for sin.    The natural man needs punishment severe enough to control his behavior. He lacks the inward control of character.  The unconverted religionist can’t imagine life without laws and punishment to control his passions.     On the other hand, the believer has the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, living within him, restraining him from doing wrong.  II Thessalonians 2:7     

The Judaizers who troubled the Galatian Christians thought Paul was discarding God’s Law.  They did not understand that, for the Christian, God’s Law is written on our hearts and that we delight in His Law, just as the Old Testament saints did, as recorded in Psalm 40:7-8    

WE DON’T REACT TO A CODE OF LAWS    

Christian freedom is not to be used as an occasion  or opportunity  to be a libertine, living a licentious life, casting off restraint and doing whatever comes naturally and harming others;  but as Galatians 5:13 teaches,  Christian freedom is the freedom and power we are given to do right as we walk under the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit and thus glorify God.   

WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE FOR OBEYING GOD’S LAWS?    

There has never been a change in God’s moral Law.  The only change is in our motives for obeying them.  As the slave in Exodus 21:1-6, our motive for obeying our Master is our love for Him.  May God help you to know Christ as your Savior and may you live a joyful, surrendered life to Him as the world around you continues to live in anarchy to Almighty God.

August 21, 2007 Posted by | Freedom | Comments Off on Freedom #22: Freedom vs. Anarchy

Lost and Found #5: Our Heavenly Father

In the story of the Prodigal son found in Luke 15, we see three major characters: the prodigal son, the loving, forgiving father and the bitter elder brother.  In our last article we discussed the prodigal son.  In this article we want to concentrate our attention on the amazing, kind, loving, gracious,  forgiving father.  He, a type of our Heavenly Father,  is a picture of what we as earthly fathers should be.   

In the last article we looked at the younger son, who dared to demand his inheritance before his father had died.  He lived as though his father were already dead.  He took his inheritance and squandered it in riotous living, ending up as an outcast of society, even as a hog, eating their food when he could find it.  The prodigal son had sunk about as low as any man can go.  No more parties with his friends. No money. no friends and now he was on the skid row of life. His life of freedom from his father had turned into crushing bondage.    

Then he began to think.  The Bible says he came to himself.  That is, he began to realize who he was and that God had made him for a purpose.  He came to the first step of repentance, coming to himself.  Up to that time he was living an insane life with not a thought of anything but his own pleasure.    

The Bible says in Jeremiah 51:7 that the whole world is insane apart from God.  The sinner lives in his make-believe world, thinking he is in the real world.    No, he is not in the real world.  Only the Christian knows anything about the real world.  The insane live in the world of  television soap operas, and rock concerts.  They talk about their “reality” programs.”  Actually they are living in sheer insanity.  Many lost people  spend their time in drinking and sexual immorality and drugs. They think they are living it up.  Actually they are living in vanity.

The prodigal son came to this realization as he fought for his dinner with the pigs.    It was then that his mind turned to his father.  What did he know about his father?  He knew he was wealthy and generous. He knew that his hired servants were treated well, eating good meals and getting paid more than enough.  As he sat there in the pig pen stinking like the pigs and thinking of home, he realized that he had to return home to his father.  His only alternative was to die of malnutrition and starvation. He knew his father was not vengeful; but that he was gracious and forgiving. He had observed that in his father all his life.      

As he sat there dreaming of home and loved ones, he determined to go home and face his father and the consequences of his sinful rebellion. He had learned that those who walk in pride, God is able to abase.   He was about a low as a person could be.     He hoped that perhaps his father would be so kind as to give him a job as one of the hired servants.  Perhaps over several years, he could be forgiven and get back into the good graces of his father.  Perhaps over the years, he could earn enough money to repay his father for a squandered inheritance.  So the young man, clothed in his filthy rags, started for home.      

He had even memorized the speech of confession he would make to his father. “Father I have sinned against you and against God in Heaven.  I am no more worthy to be called your son.  Please,  make me one of your hired servants?”   His confession was genuine.  It came from a heart that was broken with remorse for his sin. He deserved no intimacy with his father.  He did not even deserve a room in the house.  Perhaps there would be a bed for him out in the servant’s quarters.      Like the Pharisees of that day and the self-righteous today, he thought that he could possibly work his way into the good graces of his father.  That’s what dead religion is.  It is attempting to gain favor with God through our good works and through the sacraments of the church.     

What happened next was incomprehensible to the Pharisees and perhaps it will be difficult for you to grasp.  His father had been going out on the road and watching for him to return.  This had probably been going on for days, perhaps for weeks or months.   Finally, one day the father caught a glimpse of someone off in the distance. As the traveler drew closer, he began to recognize that this was his lost son.  What did he do?      

Let me remind you what the father did not do.  He did not wait for the wayward son to knock on his door.  He did not send a servant to the door and coolly welcome him and tell him to go out to the servant quarters and find a bed for himself.    The father did not think within himself, “I knew he would wake up and come home one of these days.  Now let him go out to the servant quarters.  Let him prove to me how faithful he can be and how hard he can work.  Perhaps some day, I will forgive him and restore him as a second-class son.  But he has blown it.  Things can never again be as they once were. He has shamed and dishonored me. He wasted his inheritance.  I have nothing left for him.”   

No, that’s not what happened.    He gathered up his robes and began to run towards him.  Faster and faster he ran as his heart pounded for joy.    The father ran to him and fell upon him giving him the biggest bear hug he had ever had.  He fell on his neck and kissed him with kisses of acceptance and love. Notice that the prodigal son had not even said a word yet.  The fact that he was coming home, spoke volumes to his father.    

Remember the planned confession he had memorized?  He started out to confess, “Father I have sinned against God and in your sight and am no more worthy to be called your son. “  That’s as far as he got. The father interrupted him.    He called to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him.”  This was like a father’s tuxedo, used only on very special occasions.  Put my ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Bring out the fatted calf and roast it.  We’re going to have a celebration tonight. Call the musicians.  We’re going to have singing and dancing. This is going to be a night to remember,  for this my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and now is found.”  And they began to be merry!    

When this gracious, forgiving father had heard the son confess that he had sinned and was unworthy to be called his son,  he had heard enough.  He did not want to hear his son’s ideas of how he could perhaps earn favor with his father again through his works. He just wanted to pour out his love and grace on his son. The Apostle John in John 1:16 wrote about how God pours out his grace upon us, heaping grace upon grace.  That’s what this father did.  As soon as he heard his son’s confession, he had heard enough. He heaped his gracious gifts on his son:  the restoration of full sonship, the beautiful robe, speaking of the robe of Christ’s  righteousness, the signet ring that gave the son power and authority over his financial affairs, shoes on his feet. (Shoes were only worn by the family.  The servants wore sandals or went bare-footed.)    

The feasting and merriment had only begun.  It only begins when we come as sinners to our Heavenly Father, trusting in the merits of Jesus’ shed blood as the full atonement for our sins. The merriment goes on forever and ever.  Heaven is a place of eternal joy and celebration of God’s gracious gift of salvation.    

It’s too bad the story can’t stop here on a happy note, but there is another son in the family and he is not so happy.  We will deal with him in the next article.     

August 21, 2007 Posted by | LOST and FOUND | Comments Off on Lost and Found #5: Our Heavenly Father