Summary: I believe that we have been blessed to live in the greatest nation in all of the world! And, we have been given, by God, almost matchless freedom.


John 8:31-36- 31 To the Jews who had believed him, 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.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I believe that we have been blessed to live in the greatest nation in all of the world! And, we have been given, by God, almost matchless freedom. There’s no other nation on earth that enjoys the kind of nation that we have and on Wednesday, we will celebrate the freedom we so greatly enjoy and so often take for granted. Freedom was without a doubt one of the cornerstones that this country was built upon. We see it continuously in the writings and speeches of the national leaders from the founding of our country. Patrick Henry said, we shall not fight alone. God presides over the destinies of nations and will raise up friends for us. The battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! *We also see this same thread of freedom etched in the words of one of our Presidents in our more recent history. George W. Bush once said after the 911 attacks that a great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. Church, freedom is one of the ideals that has been ingrained on our American conscience and it’s one of the things that I believe we most often fail to understand. As Americans we often talk about freedom, yet we live in a free country without a true understanding of what freedom is. As we move closer to Independence Day, I feel obligated to ask you a serious question this morning. What does it mean to have freedom? *I believe to understand this question we have to apply knowledge of our primary citizenship, not in America, but in the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus answered this same question about freedom with some of His followers 2,000 years ago. He said, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. We know that the gospels are filled with the teachings of Jesus and we are meant to hold to them. Things like, you are the light of the world. Love your enemies. The Great Commandment that says, love God with all your heart, mind and soul. That Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. To also take up your cross and follow Him. So basically, the word disciple literally means follower. It would seem to be impossible to be a true disciple of Jesus and not make a conscious effort to follow Him. What Jesus is saying here, is that in order for us to follow Him we must hold to His teaching. You see, we can only truly follow Jesus when we make the intentional effort to know His Word and then do our best to live in obedience to His word. Even our best efforts sometimes fail and that is why Jesus includes forgiveness for the times when we blow it. The Bible is our handbook for living our lives for Christ. Knowing the Word of Christ is the beginning of following Him. President Andrew Jackson once said, the Bible is the rock on which this republic rest. If one of our Presidents recognized the need for the Word of God to be a part of the nation, don’t you think it is time that we apply this same philosophy to our lives. You see, if you can apply God’s word to your life then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. *In our text today when Jesus speaks here of knowing the truth, He is not speaking of something merely being known like a set of facts and figures, but instead, Jesus is speaking of knowledge as something being done. The truth that Jesus speaks of here is a life changing and transforming experience. You see, in order to know truth, you must first know Jesus Himself. Knowing truth is found in having a deep, personal relationship with the One who is the Truth. When we know the truth, it impacts every area of our lives! It impacts our mind, the means of our logical understanding! It impacts our heart, the means of impacting the emotions! And, it impacts the spirit, the means of impacting eternity! *The teaching in the day of Jesus was essentially that if you were never a slave, you were proclaimed as always being free. This created the difficulty that Jesus had communicating that freedom was far more than just never having been a slave. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual freedom that can only be found in forgiveness with God. You see, through Christ and His shed blood we have been set from the Law of sin and death. We have been set free through Christ. Now, our freedom does not mean to live however we please. 1st Peter 2:16 says, Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. The teaching of Jesus flows out of a surrendering of self and a giving up of who we are to become all Christ wants us to be. It is allowing Jesus to have His way with our lives and realizing our freedom comes at a great cost, and that freedom comes because of the death of Jesus Christ. Verse 34 says, Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. So, Jesus states clearly here that anyone who sins, in a manner of continuous lifestyle, is in bondage to sin. Jesus is literally telling His disciples that living in sin is a matter of personal choice. People who live to please their sinful nature, their desire to do what God forbids, are living with chains on their soul today. *In the Ancient times, it was customary for many people to own slaves. In fact, slave trading was so common that the Roman government regulated nearly every aspect of the slave trade. When a slave was purchased they became a part of the household but were not members of the family. The slaves could be treated in any manner that the owner deemed appropriate and could be thrown out from the house at any time. There was one way that a slave could become a member of the family. The eldest son had the right to free any slave of their choosing, whenever they chose it. The eldest son also had the right to ask the father to adopt the freed slave into the family. Hear what I’m saying this morning. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. The phrase that Jesus used in that last line repeats the word free twice and at first glance it doesn’t seem so important. But I did a word study on both this week and this is what I found. In the original Greek language there is a significant distinction. These two words are similar, but they are not the same. The first word free meant to set free or to be given liberty. This was used often in reference to slaves being set free or prisoners being released from their sentence. This kind of free was a positional or political freedom making the person free to make choices and to be separated from their former owners. The second word free meant to be free in a permanent way. This was a freedom that gave the person the right to be a member of society. It was a granting of citizenship. This word was also used in making a freed slave a member of the family. You see, Jesus sets us free from the chains of sin, but He also gives us citizenship in His kingdom. Our primary citizenship is not in the United States today, but it’s in heaven. You see, Jesus is not satisfied with this level of freedom for us. So, He goes before the Father and asks Him to adopt us into the family. It was never enough for Jesus to give us freedom, His goal was to make us part of His family. *My friends, the deepest desire of Jesus for your life is to give you a different kind of free. The Story of a Son… A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art. The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this." The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift." The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collections. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"

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