Tag Archive | "freedom"

The Truth Shall Make You Free

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Other than a child, you will probably have trouble finding someone who has never heard of Adam and Eve.  People all over the world know at least some Biblical names, words or sayings.  One well-known saying from the Bible is “the truth shall make you free.”  These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus and come from John 8:32 (KJV), where we read:

 

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

 

Very often, the second part of this verse is quoted as “the truth will set you free.”  That’s how it’s translated in the NIV.  These words don’t mean the same thing to everyone. 

 

As we try to understand this verse, we should be aware that there is not even general agreement on the meaning of truth.  Some people may tell you that truth for one person is not truth for someone else, or that truth depends on the situation.  Perhaps Pontius Pilate’s thinking was something like that.

 

 
What is Truth?

 

In John 18, we read about the Lord standing before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, waiting to be sentenced.  Pilate asked the Lord several questions.  The one that is perhaps most memorable is recorded in John 18:38:

 

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

 

The Lord never gave Pilate an answer to that question; but He answered it for us even before Pilate asked it.  We find the answer in John 17, where God has recorded for us the words the Lord Jesus prayed shortly before leaving the upper room where He and His disciples ate the Passover meal.  Of course, the Lord knew what Pilate would ask even before he asked it several hours later.  In John 17:17 we find the answer to Pilate’s question:

 

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

 

God’s word is truth, and the Bible is God’s word.  It is God’s word that sanctifies.   However, the Lord Jesus himself is also identified as the Word of God, as in John 1:1-3:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

 

God used the same Greek word (Strong’s number G3056, “logos”) in both John 17:17 and John 1:1 to tell us about the “word.”  Also, if we check a concordance for the word translated in John 17:17 as “sanctify,” we find that it can mean “to separate and dedicate to God,” or “to purify.”  This is what God reveals about the power of His word.  It’s what He does when He uses His word to save a person.  Romans 10:17 is a verse that helps us understand how God uses His word:

 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.    

 

This verse tells us that God uses His word to impart faith to the hearer –if that person is one of God’s elect.  In other words, God uses His word to save people.  They are sanctified by the truth, and it’s in the Bible that we find truth.

 

Free From What?

 

Most of the world doesn’t accept the Bible as the exact word of God.  They don’t accept it as truth.  Even those who think there is at least some truth in the Bible are, in most cases, far from understanding it.  They don’t understand what the Lord meant when He said the truth shall set you free.

 

A number of educational institutions, both famous and not so famous, have used all or some of the verse from which those words are taken  – John 8:32 – as inscriptions on their buildings.  For example, the seal ofJohnsHopkinsUniversityhas the words “Veritas Vos Liberabit.”   That’s Latin for “the truth will set you free.”

 

Johns Hopkins is famous for its scientific research, and science has certainly freed people from much ignorance.  As knowledge has increased and as education has become widely available, life has improved for many people all over the world.  They have been freed from many difficult circumstances to live better lives.  If you ask enough people to explain how the truth can set you free, you are likely to hear something like that as an explanation.

 

Among Christian church members, you may hear that God’s truth frees people from fear or bondage to harmful superstitions, customs or habits.  As an extreme example, we know that among some peoples human sacrifice was considered necessary to appease angry gods.   Such practices are clearly against Biblical teaching.  In many cultures that have been exposed to the Bible, customs and laws have changed to prohibit such things.  Individuals have been helped by the Bible to overcome sinful behavior, such as addictions.  And entire nations benefit when its people understand that they are to be subject to their government – even praying for their leaders, and that bribery causes corruption and is against God’s law. 

 

All of these are ways in which truth has served to free people from difficult circumstances and greatly improve their lives; but is this what the Lord Jesus meant when He spoke of knowing the truth and being made free?  When we find such a statement in the Bible, we can be certain it has a specific meaning that concerns the Gospel or God’s salvation plan.  To understand what that meaning is, we must compare the verse in question with other verses.

 

We can begin by considering verses having the word “free.”  A concordance helps here.  If we check a concordance to find the Greek translated “make free,” as in the words “the truth shall make you free,” we find that it is Strong’s number G1659: “eleutheroo.”  We find that word used in Galatians 5:1:

 

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

 

If you continue reading Galatians 5 after this verse, you find that it concerns freedom from the law.   How are we to understand this freedom? 

 

We must remember that besides the moral laws, the Bible contains numerous ceremonial laws.   They concerned animal sacrifices, trips toJerusalem, and other requirements.  Even the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) must be understood as part of the ceremonial law.  It’s a sign pointing to the Lord Jesus.  Christians are not required to keep any ceremonial laws: they are now free from them.

 

Other verses having the word “eleutheroo” help us understand the most important freedom of all.  In Romans 6:18, we read:

 

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.   

 

God, through His word, makes His elect free from sin.  He frees them from Satan’s kingdom and brings them into thekingdomofGod(Colossians 1:13).  This is the freedom to which the Lord Jesus referred in John 8:36:

 

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

God’s word is truth; but the Lord Jesus is identified as “the Word.”  Therefore, a logical conclusion is that the Lord Jesus makes us free.  And that is what we read in the preceding verse.

 

God’s word can bring many different blessings into our lives, but the most important one is the one we read about in Romans 6:22:

 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

 

We know that when God saved a person, He paid for every sin that person ever committed or would ever commit in his or her entire life.  In that way, God’s children appear before Him as being free from sin.

 

Freedom from sin means freedom from the law’s penalty for sin.  The Bible reveals that this penalty is death.  Even God’s children are subject to physical death.  However, only they inherit everlasting life after death.  For the non-elect, death is the end.  It’s as if they never existed.  That is the penalty for sin under God’s law, and freedom from this penalty is God’s gift to His children.  It is the ultimate freedom, His ultimate gift, and His ultimate blessing.

 

 

Independence Day, The Fourth of July

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In the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, Earth is invaded by aliens with intent to exterminate all mankind.  The United States, devastated by the destruction of its major cities and death of most of its leaders, plans and coordinates a global counter-attack as a last ditch effort to destroy the alien invaders.  The counter-attack occurs on July 4th, Independence Day.

 

In a stirring speech to the ragtag group of pilots – both military and civilian – that are to carry out the American component of the mission, the President – portrayed by Bill Pullman – inspires the troops with the following words:

 

“Perhaps it’s fate that today is July the Fourth, and you will once again fight for our freedom.  Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression.  But from annihilation.  We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.  And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be remembered as an American holiday but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night.  We will not vanish without a fight.  We’re going to live on.  We’re going to survive.  Today, we declare our Independence Day.”

 

Of course, the American offensive is successful and demonstrates to the rest of the world how to defeat the aliens.  In a spectacular “Hollywood ending,” fireworks streak through the sky as the debris from the exploded Mother Ship enters the atmosphere like thousands of shooting stars.

 

The film, whose title is eponymous with the American holiday commemorating the adoption of our Declaration of Independence from England, celebrates freedom – in this instance, freedom from annihilation by malevolent alien beings.  And, freedom is a state of being to which all humankind aspires.  This is just as true in 2012 as it was in 1776.

 

236 years after our American Revolution, much of the world finds itself in the midst of cultural and political revolutions.  In the 23 years following the Tiananmen Square protests, China has witnessed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to grow unabated and has become the driving force in its economy.  Subsequent to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Russia and most of the former Soviet bloc states have embraced democratic principles that have defied recidivism to their authoritarian roots despite economic hardships and uncertainties.

 

And, most recently, the Arab Spring has dramatically changed the face of the Middle East.  Since its inception in December 2010, this revolutionary wave has displaced longstanding leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt.  Civil uprisings have erupted in Syria and Bahrain, along with major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco.  Minor protests have occurred in Arab states including Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Iran.

 

It appears that in every part of the world, people yearn for freedom and self-determination.  But, in words attributed to Thomas Jefferson, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”  And so, as people in most of the rest of the world gain more freedom, Americans must remain on guard against infringements on the freedoms we have historically held dear.

 

As was proved by the Supreme Court decision of last week that upheld the Constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act – otherwise known as Obamacare, our growing federal government can now mandate how citizens spend their money – penalizing those who do not comply.  When considered along with continuing efforts by some in our federal government to limit the right of our citizens to bear arms and the confiscatory nature of our federal and state systems of taxation, Americans should remain cognizant of how rapidly concerns for security can slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.

 

So, as you enjoy a day off from work, perhaps a family barbecue, and a fireworks display, think about what freedom means to you and remain vigilant in its defense.

 

 

 

Free Enterprise?

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Historically, America has always been known as a country with a system of free enterprise, but is this still true?  “Free enterprise” means that a private citizen is at liberty to establish, operate, and earn a profit from some type of business that produces or distributes products, or provides a service.  This capitalist system, as once protected by our government, enabled citizens to put food on the table and make a better life for their children.  Other countries have different types of economies and forms of government.  Interestingly, there is an old saying that claims the best form of government is a benevolent dictator, for he alone regulates his nation and provides for his subjects.

 

Although Robin Hood, a fictional hero, was never crowned king, he did turn the tables on a non-benevolent dictator, a pro tempis despot who ruled Merry Olde England, including Sherwood Forest.  Robin Hood was an earl who, without the king’s permission, had killed a deer roaming the forest.  Under the law, the king owned not only the forest, which should have been public land, but also everything that lived on it.  Robin’s act constituted a crime.  But instead of reaping a punishment, he fled into Sherwood Forest, became an outlaw, joined forces with, and eventually lead also others suffering at the hands of the greedy king.


Angered by the injustices of a system that forced people to starve while the king enjoyed the excesses of his wealth and power, Robin and his band of Merry Men stole from the rich and gave to the poor.  The story ended happily when the rightful king returned from the Crusades and Robin Hood was knighted for his vision and leadership.


This, of course is a fairytale.  In this nation, if you steal from the rich to feed and empower the poor, your ass winds up in jail.  Well, what happens when you try to go the legal route vis a vis free enterprise? Can you, as a free person living in America, start a business without permission from the government?  The answer is “No.”


First, you must apply and be approved for a business license.  Then you are subject to inspection regulations and taxes — all before you have even earned a dime!   In addition, the site upon which you choose to establish your business may require the approval of your neighbors.  You can’t even shoot a deer without permission.  I believe that you can still shoot a moose in Alaska … well, Sarah Palin, for one, does … in order to put meat on your table.  But the majority of Americans live in the “Lower 48.”


So where is all this freedom that our politicians claim that we possess?  Is it simply rhetoric, a bone tossed to the principles upon which this once-great nation was built?   Or is it a placebo, a sugar pill pushed onto angry taxpayers to keep the masses quiet?


The truth of the matter is, that true freedom, like the tale of Robin Hood, is pure fiction.   Freedom of choice and freedom from want exists only in the minds of poets, writers, and of course, the politicians who seek fortune, fame, and power, all at our expense.


The United States of America has changed drastically from what its Founding Fathers envisioned.  The land of the free and the home of the brave is now a caste system, with the tiers of power defined by the wealth that one accumulates.   Wealth has bought, indeed extorted, the keys to the kingdom.   The wealthy heads of Corporate America have bought off our greedy and immoral elected leaders, murdered our tenets, and made virtual slaves of our average citizens.


Between escalating taxes, rising unemployment, whole industries outsourced overseas, and benefits for illegal aliens for which native-born Americans are forced to pay, the average citizen digs himself further into a financial hole even as he works his butt off.


But, never fear.  As  Sean Hannity says at the close of his Fox News program, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 

Independence Day

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I’ll bet I know what you’ll be doing this Fourth of July.  You’ll be at a barbecue, either in your back yard or that of a loved one or a friend.  You’ll be noshing on hot dogs and hamburgers, swilling down a cool brew or two.  You’ll tell a few jokes, laugh at others, and slurp some sweet, juicy watermelon. Finally, you’ll settle in as the sun sinks low to enjoy a dramatic fireworks display.  A moment before those bombs go “bursting in air,” I invite you to do something a bit different this Fourth.  I invite you to meditate upon the true meaning of the holiday and its place in all of our lives.


In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776, representatives from the thirteen original colonies gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Based upon the conviction that all men are created equal and that those men — and women — must have a voice in how they are governed, the infant nation of America was formed.  Our Founding Fathers had taken a stand, and a gigantic leap of faith, in breaking away from England in order to enjoy the freedoms they’d deemed God-given, freedoms for which they, and many others, fought hard.


Since that first Independence Day, this country has seen many wars, too many.  But, we have also seen enormous achievements and great prosperity.  From sea to shining sea, our nation has been blessed by an abundance of resources and the most beautiful and diverse natural “architecture” the world over.  You create what you envision, and so, the concept of Manifest Destiny birthed wagon trains rumbling over our fruited plains, wagon trains laden with brave and hearty pioneers.  Headed into a great unknown, the pioneers were driven solely by their indomitable spirit and the desire to make better lives for themselves and their families. From the forests, the streams and lakes, and the plains, those pioneers carved outposts and farms that bloomed into towns, cities, and eventually, States.  Now fifty in number, each bright star on our flag symbolizes one of our States.  Together, those fifty States forged a large, strong, and proud nation.


History repeats itself, indeed.  We patterned our Constitution, indeed our nation, upon that of France, which had liberated herself from the tyranny of a government that cared not a whit for its people.  However, the emergence of our nation also mimicked that of another country, or rather, an empire.


The Roman Empire was the superpower of its day.   Rich in culture, art, and monetary means and bolstered by a strong army that conquered outlying lands, ancient Rome’s arms stretched deeply into Mesopotamia (the Middle East) and as far as what is now the United Kingdom.  An Emperor presided over this vast and mighty realm, much as our own President heads the U.S. today, and her government boasted a Senate: an official forum in which representatives from Rome’s various city-states determined how their government operated.  The government was Imperial in nature but built upon a Republic whose core principle was, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  This form of government set the standard for future governments the world over.  But despite all her glory, the Roman Empire only survived for approximately 300 years.


Scholars and historians attribute the fall of the Roman Empire to the social, economic, and military changes taking place within her.  Other contributing factors were the moral decay of her people as well as governmental officials whose attitude had become self-serving, downright cruel, and even psychotic (i.e. Nero and Caligula).  Does any of this ring a bell with you — as in the Liberty Bell?  Does it sound at all like the America in which we now live?  Our government has been in existence for 234 years.  Where are we headed in the next 66?


This Fourth of July, as you thrill to the fireballs bursting brilliantly in the sky, you may well consider how many more Fourths you, and your children, and your grandchildren, will spend in this manner, with something to celebrate, something uniquely American.  Consider whether or not you wish to revive the spirit of our Founding Fathers and the pioneers who followed them, driven by their independence, vision, and gumption.  Do you wish to take a stand in how our government is run, or are you content with the status quo?   Do you want this nation to continue, and to flourish, despite the tough times we have faced in recent years?  Or will you watch as we crumble into dust like the Roman Empire?

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