Minister Speaks: Everlasting Freedom
On July 4th every year, we celebrate freedom from the tyranny of the king which was declared by our founding fathers more than 200 years ago. But long before the continental congress penned the document declaring this freedom, another had come to bring an everlasting freedom for all peoples of all nations.
St. Paul writes “For freedom Christ has set you free. Stand firm, therefore. And do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) Jesus, in His death and resurrection on our behalf, has set us free. This is not an earthly, temporal freedom, but a spiritual freedom.
Christ has set us free, not from some sort of human slavery, or tyrannical authority, but from the eternal wrath of God. This freedom He places into our consciences so that we would no longer be afraid of the wrath which is to come on the Last Day.
And in addition to that, He frees us also from bondage to sin, fear of death, and the assaults of the devil. It’s not that these things are gone, any more than the wrath of God himself is gone, but that in Christ we no longer have any fear of them. We’re no longer tormented by them night and day. And this is especially the case for our death.
So the Lord, the Supreme Majesty, is so kindly disposed toward us in Christ, that he protects and helps us and sets us free in such a physical way that our bodies, which are sown in perishability, in dishonor and weakness, are then raised on the Last Day in imperishability, in honor and in power. So it is that death, which is the most powerful and horrible thing in the world, lies conquered, and we are set free.
Christ Himself says “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36) And so it is, for He alone is thrust into the middle between us and all things which would oppress or trouble us. He alone stands in the void between us and death, between us and sin, between us and the devil, and between us and the eternal wrath of God.
He conquers and abolishes these things, and makes satisfaction for our sins, so that they cannot harm us any longer. And in place of sin and death, our Lord Jesus grants us righteousness and eternal life. He changes slavery and the terrors of sin and death into the freedom and comfort of the Gospel which says “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
In this freedom, then, the Christian is set free to serve both God and neighbor without fear and with complete joy. This is the paradox of Christian freedom, that the Christian is both perfectly free and subject to none and at the same time a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all. This is the freedom into which Christ has set us free and placed us.
This freedom to serve is a joyful thing for the Christian. For unlike bondage to sin, death, and devil, which only tear down, destroy, and bring eternal destruction; being bound to serve our neighbor builds up, creates, and brings love and peace and kindness to bear upon all situations, the same loving kindness which caused our Lord Himself to descend from His heavenly throne to set us free. Just as He is free to serve us, so then too, we are free to serve one another.
To close, I’ll leave you with these words from Martin Luther: “Therefore let us learn to place a high value on this freedom of ours; not the emperor, not an angel from heaven, but Christ, the Son of God, through whom all things were created in heaven and earth, obtained it for us by His death, to set us free, not from some physical and temporary slavery but from the spiritual and eternal slavery of those most cruel and invincible tyrants, the Law, sin, death, the devil, etc., and to reconcile us to God the Father.”
Sean Kilgo4 Posts
Sean Kilgo serves as a pastor with the Northeast Kansas Lutheran Partnership. This includes First Lutheran Church in Sabetha, Immanuel Lutheran in Fairview, St. Paul Lutheran in Fairview and Zion Lutheran in Hiawatha.