Freedom To Serve


Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / July 03, 2016

Our twentieth annual Songs Of Light will be next Sunday Evening.

Our Summer Youth Retreat (Camp 2:52) is now just two weeks away - - July 17-22.


We have all heard the statement, “FREEDOM in never FREE”.

There is nothing hard to understand about this statement of truth - - it is what we might call a truism.

From a nationalistic point of view we realize that many have paid a great price for the freedom(s) we enjoy.

The fifty-six men whose signatures appear on our nation’s Declaration Of Independence, labored from the premise that they might well be “signing their lives away”.   None of them were forced to sign - - all of them did so willingly.

Each one of them was keenly aware that this Declaration document would bring hardships and trouble.

It is safe to say that all fifty-six men who signed The Declaration recognized that there would be a high price to pay.

One of the signatories, John Hancock, was in born in Massachusetts as the son of a preacher.  At the age of seven, his father and mother, struggling financially, sent him to live with his childless and exceedingly rich uncle, Thomas Hancock.

Thus, John grew up with all the privileges of a child of a shipping tycoon, attending Boston Latin School and afterwards graduating from Harvard University.  He then began to learn his uncle’s business, which included traveling to England.

With a twist of irony, while in England, John Hanccock attended the coronation of King George III.

In 1764 his uncle died and he inherited his business with loads of cash and a gorgeous home on Beacon Hill.

He became an overnight millionaire and he wasn’t yet thirty years old.

In 1766 he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature.   A few years later, one of his ships, aptly named Liberty,

was seized by the British and Hancock was promptly accused of smuggling cargo without paying the proper duty (taxes).

John Adams successfully defended him in a court of law, but his ship was seized again and forced to fly the British flag.

A riot ensued and the ship was burned.   On July 4, 1776, John Hancock was the first The Declaration Of Independence.

Attesting to both his flamboyance and courage is his very large and very readable signature (he excelled at penmanship).

He declared that he signed his name in LARGE LETTERS so that King George could read his signature without spectacles.

We could continue and give additional details about the fate and misfortunes of other signers.

But, this is not a history class.  We’ve not assembled on this 3rd of July for an academic lecture on our founding fathers.

We are here to worship God and we are here to ponder the oracles of God.

Yet, as a church, it is only fitting that we give serious thought as to the importance of this word FREEDOM.

Freedom and Liberty are not just words that are highlighted in our country’s founding documents.

Long before 1776, these words and these concepts were etched into the fabric of the New Testament.

Open your Bibles to Jn.8:31-36 as we read together some of the words of Jesus.

Jesus therefore was saying to the Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word,

then you are truly disciples of Mine;  and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’

They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone;

how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free’?  Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you,

Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  And the slave does not remain in the house forever;


From a Biblical point of view, we also realize that a great price was paid for our freedom.

As Christians we bask in the FREEDOM WE HAVE IN CHRIST JESUS.

Specifically, in Christ we have been freed from the bondage of sin and death.

In his epistle to the church at Rome, Paul writes at length as the problem of sin.

He reminds us all, “All are under sin … there is none righteous, not even one” / Rom.3:9-10

The seriousness of this sin problem is underscored in Rom.6:23a, “the wages of sin is DEATH…”.

This is not physical death, but spiritual death - - which is separation from God.

Isaiah writes (Isa.59:2):  you iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,

And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.

From the standpoint of the holiness of God, the only remedy for SIN is a perfect sacrifice.

Rom.6:23b clarifies God’s remedy:  for the wages of sin is death,


Rom.3:23-25a elaborates on God’s marvelous plan to remedy man’s sinfulness - -

All have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God,

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.

Here in these three shorts verses we are introduced to the building blocks of freedom in Christ.

In Christ we have received JUSTIFICATION.

This is a legal and judicial verdict.  It is best understood by Paul’s words in 2Cor.5:21 - -

(God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In Christ we have REDEMPTION.  This concept is summed up in a few words in Eph.1:7a - -

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins…

In Christ we have PROPITIATION.  i.e., we are able to satisfy God’s holiness by the sacrifice of Christ.

On this topic, John’s words are quite lucid (1Jn.4:9-10) - - By this the love of God was manifested in us,

that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The marvel of this great act of atonement is magnified by Paul in both Rom.3:23 & 6:23, where he

declares that this justification, redemption and propitiation is a GIFT BY HIS GRACE - - the FREE gift of God.

The grandeur of these theological delights is encapsulated by Paul in Rom.8:1-3a - -

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in

Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the law could not do, weak as it

was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin…

These wonderful acts of atonement by God on our behalf took place when God brought forth THE NEW COVENANT.

In 1Cor.15:56-57 Paul writes, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law;

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In case you need further clarification, Paul states it this way in Gal.3:13 - -

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…

Thus Paul speaks of the New Covenant with these words (Heb.10:19-20) - -

Since, therefore, brethren we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh… 

Thus far, Biblically-speaking, we have addressed the vertical aspect of Christian Freedom.

We are made FREE in Christ Jesus - - We owed a debt we could not pay … He paid a debt He did not owe.

I want to close this morning by encouraging us to

think from a Biblical perspective about the horizontal dimension of Christian freedom.

Freedom is not born in a vacuum and neither is it nourished in a vacuum.

There is a duty or an obligation that comes with freedom.  This is especially true of Christian freedom.

One of our supreme court justices, Clarence Thomas, recently gave a commencement address at  Hillsdale College,

[If you want to read something truly inspirational, read Clarence Thomas’ memoir:  My Grandfather’s Son.]

In reflecting on his childhood, Thomas, writes:

“We were obligated to be good neighbors so that the neighborhood would thrive…

There could be no freedom without each of us discharging our responsibilities.”

This biblical concept is found scattered throughout many famous speechs.

In his Gettyburg address, President Lincoln, wrote:  “from these honored dead

we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

One of President Kennedy’s speeches included these seemingly forgotten words:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Let’s return now to a few Scriptures and then we will close in prayer.

The point I’m trying to make is simply this:  true freedom in Christ ignites an obligation to serve others.

Paul writes in Gal.5:13 - -

 for you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh.

Peter says something very similar in 1Pet.2:16 - -

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.


James, the brother of the Lord, penned what we might call The New Testament Emancipation Proclamation.

This is recorded in Acts 15:23f.  In vs.28, James writes,

for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials…

James gives an eye-opening revelation of freedom in Christ Jesus.

But this same James begins his epistle (Js.1:1) by speaking of himself as “a bond-servant of God”.

Freedom is never free.

In a very real sense, as Christians, we are enslaved by the freedom we have in Christ Jesus.

Paul knew this very well and writes in 1Cor.9:19 - -

Though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.

So as we celebrate this 4th of July, and every day that we enjoy the freedom we have in Christ Jesus,

we dare sit idly by wrapped up in our own selfish world caught up in a world of egoistic and myopic concerns.

As the church of the living God we are to be a city set on a hill (Mt.5:14) - - not a fortress walled off from

heartaches and hurts of the rest of the world, but a beacon of light to the world to help guide and aid others.

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