by Keith Barnhart, Pastor, Edgewood Baptist Church
In 1776, the 13 British colonies in North American protested the limitations placed on them by the king of England and engaged in a struggle that gave birth to a brand new republic. The infant nation soon adopted the now famous document known as the Declaration of Independence. On July 4 we celebrate Independence Day with picnics and fireworks. We have long ago forgotten what it cost the signers of that Declaration. One such person was Richard Stockton.
Stockton was a prominent lawyer and a wealthy landowner. Because he supported the Revolutionary war efforts, he and his family were driven from their home. That home was sacked and burned. Stockton was imprisoned for several years and subjected to harsh treatment that broke his health. He died a pauper at the age of 51. Yet few Americans remember this hero who paid such a high price for the cause of liberty. His sacrifice is largely forgotten.
Almost 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” proclaiming the believer’s “declaration of independence.” All of humanity was under the tyranny of sin and death. But Christ, the sinless One, took our place on Calvary and died for our sins. Having satisfied God’s righteous demands, He now sets free for eternity all who trust in Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
Have we become so familiar with the gospel that we fail to appreciate what our salvation cost the Savior? We rejoice in the spiritual freedom we enjoy by faith in the sin-canceling death of Jesus, but do we realize at least to some small degree the price He paid? Are we truly grateful to Jesus for all He sacrificed to set us free spiritually?
The apostle Paul wrote, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” (Galatians 3:13, NLT). Romans 8 assures us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (8:1-2, NLT). Galatians 5:1 urges all who have been redeemed to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”
The founding fathers of the U.S. loved the concept of individual freedom, but they did not have in mind a permissive lifestyle that allows us to do anything we please. True freedom can never be enjoyed by people who refuse to fear God. The psalmist said, “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). We are responsible to God, because He has created us in love.
We are thankful to God for any freedom we enjoy in our country. But above all, believers everywhere can praise Him for the freedom that is found in Christ. Recommit yourself to living as one of God’s people. That’s the way to enjoy true freedom.