Throughout our lives, we have experienced the protection of God as He sent His angels to watch over us.
Most of us can relate to this truth as we have all experienced being saved by mere inches from near fatal car accidents.
The following are three accidents that could have maimed or killed our three children.
Ellsworth, Nebraska 1957
Imagine our shock and fear when we walked into the kitchen and saw our oldest son, Steve, who had just learned to crawl, sitting beside a cupboard; the door open and a paper bag of mouse poison in his hands.
Not yet saliva soaked, we knew he had not yet put it in his mouth. How we thanked God that He had spared our son from something too awful to think about.
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania 1960
Fast forward about three years. We’re now living in an old farm house type parsonage with two floors and a basement. Dan, our second son, was scooting around in his stroller one morning. Less than a year old, he was not yet able to sit up without some support.
One morning Pat, and I were in the front room when suddenly we heard a terrible clatter of something falling down the cellar steps. Pat sprang into action and with a heart that had almost stopped beating from fear, she saw the cellar door open. She knew instinctively what had happened. Dan, sitting in his stroller had gotten the door open and he had scooted through the door. The stroller had gone crashing down the steps to the cement basement floor with our precious son.
Instead, this is what she saw. Daniel, sitting precariously on the second or third step from the top, swaying back and forth. The steps, built like a ladder, had no side walls. Dan could have slipped through the steps or fallen over either way or backward to the cement floor about twenty feet below.
Instantly she was holding on to our little boy and lifting him to safety. Below on the cellar floor, the metal stroller lay bent and unusable.
As the stroller had flipped forward, Dan had flipped out of the seat and on to a step, the second or third step from the top, There God’s angels had kept him safe in their arms until Pat could come to his rescue. You can be sure we shed many tears of joy and thanksgiving and you can be sure we fixed that door so that could never happen again.
Leola, Pennsylvania 1971
Lois was in third grade. She loved to play with her big brothers and they loved playing with her. One day they made a swing by throwing a rope over a large tree in our front yard and fastening a seat to it. Then the boys put Lois on it and began pulling her up to give her a ride.
Suddenly Pat and I heard a blood-curdling scream and ran to the front door to find Lois lying on her back in the front yard. The rope had broken. The boys felt terrible. They had tested the swing first and were sure it was safe.
Quickly we lifted Lois on to our ironing board and got her to our chiropractor who took some x-rays and found a cracked bone. Thankfully again, there was no serious permanent damage and after several painful weeks of recovery, she was back to normal.
Surely “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them.” Psalm 34:7
Two Greek words used to describe Christians are doulos and mathetes. Doulos, meaning a slave, is the second most common word describing Christians in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The word occurs more than one hundred times, second only to mathetes, which means disciple. Most of our English translations of the New Testament translate the word doulos as servant, rather than slave for the word slave seems too extreme and perhaps politically incorrect.
Another Greek word, diakonos, is also translated servant. This word is used in the New Testament to refer to deacons, or servants of the church.
However, a doulos is lower in rank than a servant. A doulos is bought for a price and is bound to serve his master. We douloi, (plural for doulos) have been purchased by the shed blood of Christ. I Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that we are bound for life to serve Christ. Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that to totally sacrifice our lives for Christ is our only reasonable service in the light of His extreme sacrifice for us.
The New Testament, especially Romans and Galatians, speaks repeatedly about our freedom in Christ. For the Jews, the freedom of which it speaks is freedom from the oppressive form of Judaism with all its rules and regulations that the Pharisees had placed upon the Jews. That oppression continues today for not only Jews, but multitudes of people around the world who live under the bondage of religion. Satan is a cruel taskmaster and false religions are his major tools with which he keeps his slaves in bondage to him.
When sinners come to Christ today and discover their freedom in Christ, it often tends to intoxicate them and carry them away from the purpose of that freedom, that of serving Christ. Instead, they think that their new-found freedom in Christ gives them freedom and license to continue in sin. They mistakenly believe their security in Christ which the Bible so clearly teaches in Romans 8, as well as other Scriptures, gives them freedom to selfishly indulge themselves in the lusts of the flesh without risking their salvation.
Peter warns us about misusing this new-found freedom in Christ in I Peter 2: 9-16. There he explains to us that we are a peculiar, purchased people who have been called out of the darkness and bondage of sin into the marvelous light of the Gospel to exhibit to the world a life of victory over sin. Yes, verse 16 tells us we live lives of freedom in Christ. We’re not in bondage to the rules and regulations of religion. We’ve found true freedom as douloi (slaves of Christ.)
In the following series of studies in Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, you will read of Paul’s burden to free the Galatian church from those who were attempting to bring these young Christians back under the slavery of religion.