From the Pastor's Pen

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Freedom is our theme for the month of July. Has to be, doesn’t it?  What would the Fourth of July be without freedom. We would still be colonies belonging to the Crown – Great Britain, that is. The states along the Eastern Seaboard would still be colonies.  Nevada would belong to Spain.   

I for one, celebrate the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America. By the way, we did win the Revolutionary War; the Louisiana Purchase did take place; we did win the Spanish American War.  It’s all good!  We are the United States of America. “Let freedom reign!”  

Now let’s talk about another kind of freedom.  Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).  

What is truth (I feel like Pontius Pilate) and how does it set us free?  What did Jesus mean?  He didn’t mean what the Jews thought He meant. “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”  (John 8:33). 

Just as the Jews misunderstood what Jesus meant by “free,” some people today also misunderstand. Or, at least they misapply the verse.  In fact, the phrase, “The truth shall set you free” has been misapplied to promote a host of freedoms, none of which are what Jesus meant. For example, universities use it on their seals to advocate academic knowledge. Yet, around the world people who know academic truths are still in bondage. So that couldn’t be what Jesus meant.

For many “knowing the truth,” means freedom of expression, creativity, and personal autonomy. I don’t think that is what Jesus meant either! He didn’t die on the cross to guarantee personal freedom of expression.

Truth is not a concept; it is God Himself.  To clarify what He meant, Jesus then told the Jews, “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus meant to imply that freedom is God’s business.   He alone grants true freedom because He alone is the truth!  That’s it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth that sets us free from the bondage of sin.  Let freedom reign, indeed!

You get it, don’t you?  Jesus has set you and me free from slavery to sin, forgiving us by washing us in His blood. That’s it; that’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ – freedom from the shackles of sin. It doesn’t mean that we stop sinning; nor does it mean that we sin more so that grace and truth will multiply!   No, it means with a contrite heart and true repentance we have the gift of grace in Jesus’ forgiving sacrifice, and glorious resurrection. Let freedom reign! Let the fireworks begin!  The Son has set us free. We are free indeed.   Happy Fourth of July and happy eternity in Christ Jesus!

The peace of Christ be yours,
Pastor Hilton