Focal Passage: John 3:19-21, 8:31-36
The opposing perspectives on slavery between the north and south is, in part, what led to the southern states to secede from the Union and a bloody, brutal war to break out.
Until the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction, slaves were merely free by proclamation. In a practical sense, the liberty that so many longed for remained an elusive reality.
The experience of freed slaves during this terrible time period in our nation’s history can represent what many Christ-followers experience today.
In a spiritual sense many Christians experience the freedom that Jesus talks about in John 8 in name only. How can we experience full freedom, both by proclamation and in practical ways?
I believe the answer to this question can be encouraging for us personally and strengthen our Kingdom influence in the public square.
Jesus proclaims and provides freedom for those that are held in spiritual slavery. Romans 6 makes it clear that sinners, apart from the liberating work of Christ are, “enslaved to sin” (v. 6). Jesus emancipates sinners through his vicarious death and glorious resurrection.
Baptism pictures the connection we share with Christ and those two eternally significant realities. Going down into and coming out of the waters of baptism symbolizes our sharing in this work at salvation. As a result Romans 6:7 becomes a reality for us, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
One of the historical realities that skeptics of Christianity must deal with is the resurrection. While the resurrection itself can be denied, the claims from the earliest Christians must be considered.
For all intents and purposes, Christianity should have died with Jesus. But something made the cowardly disciples courageous even unto death. Something kept the claims of Christ going. Something did happen, Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus alone backed up His claims about God, death, and salvation by rising from the dead.
Other truth-claims from other religious figures are not backed up by this kind of evidence. Therefore, the veracity of those truth claims crumble. The truth of Gospel of Jesus Christ stands upon the firm foundation of the resurrection.
Jesus said in John 8 that we are to “continue” in His Word and “the truth will set you free.” We are to live within the framework of the freedom that Jesus provided us when we shared in His death and resurrection at salvation. Living this way can serve as a sort of personal and evangelistic apologetic. Continuing in the truth will be an effective personal and public proclamation of the reliability of the truth-claims we make. Our lifestyle will preach a message to ourselves and to others.
For many slaves The Civil War stood between them and practical freedom. There is a spiritual battle that is raging that seeks to see Christians remain in bondage. Living according to the freedom that Jesus provides pushes back the darkness and preaches a powerful message, both to ourselves and to others. B&R