Sunday, July 4

Freedom Sunday

Since today is the day Americans celebrate their freedom, I thought I might take a day to celebrate true freedom: the freedom bought for us in Christ. A costly sort of freedom recovered for us--and then some--in the death of the Son of God.

So our hymn for this Sunday is one that celebrates the Divine love that bought us out of our captivity under the "dreadful tyrant".
Enslaved in Sins and Bound in Chains

Enslaved by sin and bound in chains,
Beneath its dreadful tyrant sway,
And doomed to everlasting pains,
We wretched, guilty captives lay.

Nor gold nor gems could buy our peace,
Nor all the world's collected store
Suffice to purchase our release;
A thousand worlds were all too poor.

Jesus, the Lord, the mighty God,
An all sufficient ransom paid.
O matchless price! His precious blood
For vile, rebellious traitors shed.

Jesus the Sacrifice became
To rescue guilty souls from hell;
The spotless, bleeding, dying Lamb
Beneath avenging Justice fell.

Amazing goodness! Love divine!
Oh, may our grateful hearts adore
The matchless grace nor yield to sin
Nor wear its cruel fetters more!
Words: Anne Steele, from Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, 1760.
Music: "Wenn Wir in Hochsten Noten," from the Genevan Psalter, 1547.
(From the Cyber Hymnal)

The sermon is one from John Piper, titled Hagar and Slavery Vs Sarah and Freedom, a look at the analogy found in Galatians 4 between the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Those of us who truly believe are like Isaac, the child of promise, rather than like Ishmael, the son who represented the bondage of the law. It is only the children of promise who are free:
Freedom is what you have when there is opportunity, ability and desire to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. Surely everyone here wants this full freedom -- to have occasion and ability to do what you love to do with the result that you live in perfect joy forever. If that's what you want, then this text is crucial for you, because Paul says the Ishmael-types don't have this freedom but the Isaac-types do....

....But we, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise (Gal. 4:28). We have been born of the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christianity is the miracle of new birth. The hallmark of the Isaac-types is that we have been converted, changed, transformed at the center of our lives so that we desire to rest in God's sovereign grace. We desire to become as little children and receive the power and wisdom and holiness from our all-sufficient Father. We hate the remaining tendencies in us to be proud and to trust in ourselves or other people instead of God. Our delight is in the law of the Lord and our choicest food is to do his will in reliance on his power. This is what it means to be born according to the Spirit. This is what it means to say I no longer live but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20). His passion becomes our passion.

Therefore, Isaac-types have the freedom of desire. We don't labor slavishly under the burden of having to do what we don't want to do. We are free to do what we love to do and to do it forever in perfect joy. For God has caused us to be born again by the Spirit of his Son, and is shaping our desires according to his will.

"For freedom Christ has set us free! Stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
So along with our celebration of the freedom of our nations, let's celebrate that we are part of the only nation that will ever be truly free: the holy nation that belongs to God.

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