Just when we’re starting to see Christmas decorations, I give you a post that may be better suited for mid-summer. By theme, perhaps this would find a better fit around the time when we hear Lee Greenwood singing every time we turn on the radio, when fireworks are popping in the sky, and when freedom is the buzzword around the Fourth of July.
Perhaps I’m out of season, but it’s just as much true now as it is then:
If we truly value freedom, then truly we must value the Word of God.
We’re freedom-loving people, and rightly so. It’s in our DNA as Americans. But even more, as the people of God, we’ve learned in Christ that true freedom isn’t a matter of the laws of the land but a matter of a heart that has been set free from sin by Christ.
That’s who we are: those who have been set free by Jesus Christ. We taste it now, having been set free from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin, and we look forward to it in fullness, when we and all of creation will be set free from the presence of sin. Until that day comes, we’re being transformed by God more and more into the likeness of his Son, more and more understanding what it means to be free from sin, more and more living in the freedom that has been purchased for us and that will be given to us in full.
This is true freedom. And it is only found through the Word of God.
In his book The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law (available today under the title Glorious Freedom), Richard Sibbes, a Puritan pastor in England in the early 1600’s, encourages us to both press into this liberty in practice and to chiefly value the source of it, the Word of God. Sibbes writes:
Let us strive more and more every day to have the spiritual liberty in our consciences, to be assured by the Spirit that our sins are forgiven, and to feel a power to subdue the sin that has tyrannized us before. Let us labour more and more every day to find this spiritual liberty, and daily prize more the ordinances of God sanctified to set us at liberty….
If we prize and value outward liberty, as indeed we do naturally, how we should prize the charter of our spiritual liberty, the Word of God, and the promises of salvation.
If we prize and value natural liberty––the liberty we sing of as a nation––if we prize and value freedom in that sense, how much more should we prize the true freedom that we have in Christ? How much more should we prize freedom from sin’s sentence of condemnation, from sin’s grip over our lives? How much more should we prize the freedom that we have now in Christ to do good in the sight of God, and the freedom that is coming when one day we will be set free ultimately from the presence of sin and its effects?
And how much more should we value the source of our knowledge of this freedom and the very power of God to work it in us––the gospel and his Word, the Scriptures?
To answer that, I’ll leave you with the words of Richard Sibbes:
Oh, it is invaluable. There is not the least part of this spiritual liberty that is not worth a thousand worlds. How we should value it and bless God for giving Christ to work this blessed liberty, and for giving his Spirit to apply it to us more and more and to set us more and more at spiritual liberty. For the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost all join in this spiritual liberty. The Father gives the Son, and he gives the Spirit––and all to set us free.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.