Sermon series: What Does Jesus Do For Us?
The American Civil war was a military conflict between the Union and the Confederate States of America. It was a war that lasted four long years, from April 12, 1861 to May 26, 1865. The Civil War is sometimes called the War Between the States, or the War for Southern Independence. While the war took more than 600,000 lives and destroyed property valued at $5 billion, it also led to freedom for some 4 million black slaves.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, on a hill outside Jerusalem, another victory was won. This was a victory in which the one life paid for the freedom of millions. His name was Jesus, and He gave His life to set captives free from slavery to sin.
Our text deals, then, with this reality, that Jesus died for you and me. He died to set us free. Open with me this morning to Colossians 1:13-14
Paul continues to encourage these Christians to remember all they are and have in Jesus. He is reminded them of the truth that his found in Jesus, as opposed to the heresy being taught by the false teachers who had infiltrated the church.
Paul points out four things every believer has received from God, through Jesus.
Notice, four things Jesus did for me:
I. He rescued me
Deliverance from the authority or empire of darkness.
The word "Deliver" is the same word used by our Lord in Matthew 6:13 in the Lord's Prayer, "deliver us from the evil one." Second Peter 2:9 says God is able to deliver the godly out of temptation. It means to rescue. The Greek word means to draw to oneself, as a lifeguard would reach out to someone who was drowning and draw someone to himself.
One hymn writer put it this way:
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love lifted me,
Love lifted me.
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.
(Baptist Hymnal pg. 456)
Authority - power - it means arbitrary power or tyranny, unrestrained, lawless power of a capricious ruler. This describes the power of darkness. This refers to the tyrannical rule of Satan and his demons over the unsaved.
Paul tells the church at Ephesus that before they were saved they were children of disobedience, who walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience. The Bible tells us that anyone who does not have Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is a slave to sin.
Proverbs 5:22: A wicked man's iniquities entrap him; he is entangled in the ropes of his own sin.
John 8:34: Jesus says, "I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin."
Many people are deceived into thinking that they are free agents - free to do whatever they will. But Scripture says those outside of Christ are slaves to sin.
Existentialism, the underlying philosophical tenant of postmodernism, stresses the individual's position as self-determining agent, responsible for his own choices without any consideration of the past or the future. But the Bible teaches us that only in Christ do we have the freedom to make a choice as to whether or not we will sin. Before we come to Christ, we are slaves to sin, in bondage. The most insidious thing about this is we don't know it then.
Picture the person who is enslaved, serving a cruel and heartless master, but has been deceived into believing he is serving himself. Try as you may to convince him that he is enslaved, he will swear to you that he is free, all the while being led down the pathway of doom.
Paul describes them well in 2 Timothy 2 where he instructs Timothy on how to deal with those who are blinded to the truth: "With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and that may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."
So we see that people outside of Christ, those who do not know Jesus, try as they will, cannot escape bondage to sin.
It was Jesus, the Savior, who brought salvation. When we turn to Him in faith, He breaks the chains of sin and sets us free. He draws us to Himself, rescuing us from the authority and power of darkness. He rescues us from the power of Satan and sin.
That's why we say, "Jesus saves."
But not only did He rescue me from the slavery to sin, He reestablished me. He translated me.
II. He reestablished me
To remove me from one place and situation to another.
This word, translated "transferred," means to be transplanted, to be uprooted from one place and firmly planted or established in another place. God transplanted me. He took me from sinking sand and placed my feet on solid ground. He took me out from under the authority of sin and put me in His kingdom.
Jesus is the one who rescued me, and He is the one who reestablished me, moving me from the empire or rule of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love. He changed my destiny and He changed my citizenship.
The old hymn says:
In loving kindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame,
Through grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand, He lifted me
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light
O praise His name He lifted me.
(Baptist Hymnal pg. 542)
He did not rescue me to leave me. He rescued me to place me in His kingdom, not only to give me liberty, but to give me the opportunity to live in that freedom.
It is more than a change of citizenship. It is a change of opportunity and circumstances. Thousands of people each year immigrate into the United States, seeking a better life. They don't simply want to be liberated from the citizenship of their former country, they want the opportunity to live and enjoy life in this country.
When Jesus rescued you, He reestablished you, transplanting you, granting you citizenship in His kingdom, where He reigns.
How did He do that?
III. He redeemed me
To buy back.
God created us and gave us life, but because of Adam's sin we are all born with a sinful nature that has betrayed us. Promising us freedom and joy, it sold us into slavery to sin out of which we could not purchase our freedom.
That's why it says in 1 Peter 1:18-19
"For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish."
With His blood He bought us back from the slavery into which our sin had sold us. That's what it means to be redeemed.
Remember, in the ancient world slavery was an everyday reality. In fact, some of the Christians to whom this letter was written were probably slaves. They understood the concept of being bought and sold. So this idea of being redeemed, or bought back from slavery, was very applicable to their lives.
Booker T. Washington, famous black educator and the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, wrote a famous autobiography entitled, Up from Slavery. He recounts how he came to understand the freedom granted him under the Emancipation Proclamation. He says:
"I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time. As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a cross-roads post-office called Hale's Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are of the plantation and the slave quarters - the latter being the part of the plantation where the slaves had their cabins. My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings." (Washington, Booker T., A.L. Burt Company, New York, 1900, 1901, p. 1.)
He goes on to write about the moment he learned that he was free.
"The most distinct thing that I now recall in connection with the scene was that some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper - the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see. For some minutes there was great rejoicing, and thanksgiving, and wild scenes of ecstasy." (pp. 20-21)
I would venture to say there is no one here who could physically relate to being a slave. But the truth is, at some point in every person's life they are a slave and need to be emancipated from sin. We needed to be redeemed.
Abraham Lincoln, on seeing a slave offered on the block in New Orleans, is said to have commented: "There was a rising hatred inside of me against slavery, and I swore if someday I could do something about it, I would do something about it."
In the same way God hated the slavery into which we had sold ourselves. He was willing to do whatever it took to buy us back, to set us free. He did that when He sent Jesus to the cross.
IV. He released me
To forgive, erase, to send my sins away.
When we place our trust in Jesus, asking Him to forgive us of our sins, God applies the blood of Jesus to our hearts. Those sins that had stained and marked us are erased. They are not simply whitewashed.
Psalm 103:11-12 says: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
He did this by paying the price for my sins. He took upon Himself the penalty of my sins. Those sins that were accounted to me, the judgment I was under, He took. He erased all of the charges against me. He set me free by sending my sins away.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says of the Messiah:
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; for the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
As the Hymn says, "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow."
How does this impact the way we live?
I can live free from the power of sin.
I now live in the kingdom of God under His authority.
Since He bought me, I am His to do as He wills.
I can live free from the penalty, the guilt, and the shame of sin.
There are many Christians who live defeated lives. Burdened down by guilt and shame over long-forgiven sins, they are disabled. They do not live in the joy and freedom that is rightfully theirs because of Calvary. It is not that they have not been set free, it is that they have never grown to understand what freedom really is.
Noted historian Shelby Foote, in his work, The Civil War, writes about the freedom given to slaves in this country. He says:
Ultimately, the black slaves were set free. It became legal as of the first day of 1863, in what has come to be known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
"The word spread," in the words of one historian, "from Capitol Hill out across the city, down into the valleys and fields of Virginia and the Carolinas, and even into the plantations of Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama. 'Slavery Legally Abolished!' read the headlines, and yet something amazing took place. The greater majority of the slaves in the South went right on living as though they were not emancipated. That continued throughout the Reconstruction Period."
"The Negro remained locked in a caste system of 'race etiquette' as rigid as any had known in formal bondage, and that every slave could repeat, with equal validity, what an Alabama slave had mumbled when asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator whose proclamation had gone into effect. 'I don't know nothin' 'bout Abraham Lincoln cep they say he got us free. And I don't know nothin' 'bout that neither.'"
How tragic. A war was fought. A document was signed. Slaves were legally set free. And yet most continued to live out their years, and many of their children some of their years, in fear. Though emancipated, they kept serving the same master throughout their lives.
I wonder this morning if you are living in the joy, the freedom, the power, and the authority available to you as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?