Summary: Preached for Independence Day Sunday (Outline and material adapted from Stephen Trail on Sermon Central: https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/independance-day-stephen-e-trail-sermon-on-freedom-in-christ-202845?ref=SermonSerps)
244 years and one day ago, Declaration of Independence was signed
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Friends, the Declaration of Independence has been and continues to be the model for freedom around the world. America is the longest surviving democratic republic because of the principles that are recorded in this document. There is the reason that over 200 years millions of immigrants have come to our shores. The American dream is fundamentally about the principle of freedom! But make no mistake the American dream of freedom was birthed by those who were seeking religious freedom, people who had been persecuted and driven from their homes came to America to freely practice their religious faith. Find several references to God in this document and it is evident that these men traced their rights to freedom, not to a human government or an earthly monarch but to the Creator and Supreme Judge of the universe. We could learn lessons from their acknowledgments.
I. The Prescription for Freedom (Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples)
Jesus offers real freedom to every person. This freedom begins by believing in Jesus. Notice in Vs. 31 “To the Jews who had believed him”- Jesus is speaking to those who had declared a measure of faith in him so Jesus continued to help them make steps to be genuine disciples of his. Not enough just to believe “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” James 2:19, NIV. Starts with an assent to the truth but then there has to be an acceptance of the truth. I believe it is good to exercise but if I never exercise, what good is my belief? “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22, NIV. Many believe in Jesus but how many are really his disciples- his followers?
To what teaching, to what truth is Jesus talking about here? Really not talking about all of his teachings, not to the whole body of Scripture. Notice these believers reaction to Jesus’ words in Vs. 33- They are thinking of political freedom. Speaking politically, they have a poor understanding of their history. Since their freedom from Egypt, they were enslaved during the time of the Judges, the Exile in Babylon, and the current Roman domination of their land. Speaking spiritually, they forget that their political situation is the result of their spiritual condition. Because they did not follow God and sought after other gods, the Lord caused them to be enslaved. They had other gods before the one true God and the Lord’s jealousy caused them to be enslaved as a nation. Jeremiah considered why all of the bad things were happening to the nation of Israel. God says- “Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways and in the ancient paths. They made them walk in bypaths and on roads not built up. Their land will be laid waste, an object of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads. Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster.”” Jeremiah 18:15-17, NIV. Interesting that they also tried to kill Jeremiah when this was said much like they tried to do to Jesus at the end of John 8:59- picked up stones to stone him.