The Liberator Has Come

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The Liberator has come. Jesus Christ, Lord of creation and redemption, gathered all His enemies in one nail-driven hand and routed them. Then He made a spectacle of them. He shackled them and dragged them bruised and stumbling behind cartloads of plunder taken from their own tents (see 2 Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 2:15). And we’re free.

—Mark Buchanan,
Things Unseen

A Door Has Swung Open

 

door-to-paradise-7He has done it. With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been kept chained up. We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access.

In listening to Jesus, we discover whose voice it is that has echoed around the hearts and minds of the human race all along.

–N. T. Wright

The freedom of obedience

Looking up towards the lighObedience. The most thrilling word in the world; a very thunderclap of a word. Why do these fools fancy that the soul is only free when it disagrees with the common command? Even the mobs who rise to burn and destroy owe all their grandeur and terror, and a sort of authority, not to their anger, but to their agreement. Why should mere disagreement make us feel free?

—G. K. Chesterton
“The Surprise”

Published in: on 02/25/2016 at 12:00  Leave a Comment  
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Freedom to serve

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This verse has long fascinated me. “O Lord, truly I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds” (Psa. 116:16). The psalmist makes a intriguing connection between bondage and freedom. He claims to be a “servant” yet “loosed.” Is this not the beautiful paradox of the Christian? Loosed, but bound. Free, but still a captive. Released to be ruled by Love. The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

No other peace

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This is certain,
that there is no peace
but in the will of God.
God’s will is our peace
and there is no other peace.
God’s peace is perfect
freedom and there is
no other freedom.

–Henry Ernest Hardy

Set free

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The gospel is God’s declaration
that all the prisoners taken
in his war against human sin
may leave their cell and return
to their true home. 

–Karl Barth

Published in: on 11/14/2014 at 13:39  Leave a Comment  
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Freedom

LookingWe have freedom to the degree that the master whom we obey grants it to us in return for our obedience. We do well to choose a master in terms of how much freedom we get for how much obedience…

To obey the dictates of our own consciences leaves us freedom from the sense of moral guilt, but not the freedom to gratify our own strongest appetites.

To obey our strongest appetites for drink, sex, power, revenge, or whatever leaves us the freedom of an animal to take what we want when we want it, but not the freedom of a human being to be human.

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The old prayer speaks of God “in whose service is perfect freedom.” The paradox is not as opaque as it sounds. It means that to obey Love itself, which above all else wishes us well, leaves us the freedom to be the best and gladdest that we have it in us to become. The only freedom Love denies us is the freedom to destroy ourselves ultimately.

–Frederick Buechner
Beyond Words

He seeks to release us

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Of course, in our incomplete world God’s gentle offer and demand press upon us as fearful things, almost threatening. But God’s offer and demand are neither fearful nor threatening. God in his gentle love longs to set us free from the prison we have stumbled into—the loveless prison where we refuse both the offer and the demand of forgiveness. We are like a frightened bird before him, shrinking away lest this demand crush us completely. But when we eventually yield—when he corners us and finally takes us in his hand—we find to our astonishment that he is infinitely gentle and that his only aim is to release us from our prison, to set us free to be the people he made us to be.

But when we fly out into the sunshine, how can we not then offer the same gentle gift of freedom, of forgiveness, to those around us? That is the truth of the resurrection, turned into prayer, turned into forgiveness and remission of debts, turned into love. It is constantly surprising, constantly full of hope, constantly coming to us from God’s future to shape us into the people through whom God can carry out his work in the world.

–N. T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

Truth that liberates

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This [is] . . . the most liberating declaration ever uttered: “If you abide in My word,” said Jesus, “You are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32). Free from narrow-mindedness and parochial bias; free from denominational supposition; free from received opinions and traditional ignorance; free from shackles restraining redeemed intellectual curiosity and redeemed imagination; free from cant and shibboleth and prescribed terms of speech. Free to begin thinking like a Christian!

Free to enter wholly
into all those good things
that the loving heavenly Father
welcomes believers to enjoy.

Free to become conscious, thankful recipients of God’s bounteous grace, wherever one finds it and however it may be mediated to him: as courtesy from a stranger, hospitality from mere acquaintances, civility from a bureaucrat, sportsmanship from a golfing partner, compassion from an emergency-room nurse, diligence from an auto assembly-line worker, not to mention all the other elements of God’s common grace poured out through the blessings of friendship, the immeasurable wealth of love, as well as the restraining power of God that holds back evil’s worst assaults.

–D. Bruce Lockerbie

Image: hpizka

Loved where we are

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Resting in Jesus in not applying a spiritual formula to ourselves as a kind of fix-it. It is the essence of repentance. It is letting our heart tell us where we are in our own story so that Jesus can minister to us out of the Story of his love for us. When in a given moment, we lay down our false self and the smaller story of whatever performance has sustained us, when we give up everything else but him, we experience the freedom of knowing that he simply loves us where we are. We begin just to be, having our identity anchored in him. We begin to experience our spiritual life as the “easy yoke and light burden” Jesus tells us is his experience.

–Brent Curtis & John Eldredge
The Sacred Romance

More than you think

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Truth is more important,
freedom is more complex
and Jesus is more liberating
than you think.

–Tim Keller

Image: Brett Maurer

Published in: on 11/29/2013 at 14:17  Leave a Comment  
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Known, accepted and cherished

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To believe in this Jesus means that we believe ourselves to be known, accepted and cherished by the Father Himself. And what happens to us and in us when we encounter such Divine acceptance? What happens in us when we believe ourselves to be at-home with the Father? Are we plunged into bondage? Are we overwhelmed with fear and anxiety? Are we turned into religious androids? Do we become workaholics, materialists, sexual addicts, murderers, gossips? Are we enslaved to the crowd?

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No. We find ourselves released, set free from the very things that enslaved us. We find a new freedom from the tyranny of work and greed and lust, a new freedom from the need for the approval of peers. We find ourselves at peace and playing golf in the kingdom, filled with joy and hope, free to look into our daughters’ souls and share life with them, free to rest, free to love, free to be who we are. We find ourselves flourishing.

–Baxter Kruger
Home

Artwork: Thomas Kinkade

Nothing to prove

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The gospel frees us
from the relentless pressure
of having to prove ourselves,
for we are already
proven and secure.

–Tim Keller

Image: Stephen Darbishire

Our prison door is open

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Look once again to Jesus Christ in his death upon the cross. Look and try to understand that what he did and suffered he did and suffered for you, for me, for us all. He carried our sin, our captivity and our suffering, and did not carry it in vain. He carried it away. He acted as the captain of us all.

He broke through the ranks of our enemies.
He has already won the battle, our battle.

All we have to do is to follow him, to be victorious with him. Through him, in him we are saved. Our sin no longer has any power over us. Our prison door is open . . . When he, the Son of God, set us free, we are truly free.

–Karl Barth
(1886 – 1968)

Squirrels, dungeons and freedom

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We say, not lightly but very literally, that the truth has made us free. They [the denouncers of dogma] say that it makes us so free that it cannot be the truth.

To them it is like believing in fairyland
to believe in such freedom as we enjoy . . .

It is like accepting a fable about a squirrel in conversation with a mountain to believe in a man who is free to ask or a God who is free to answer. This is a manly and a rational negation, for which I for one shall always show respect. But I decline to show any respect for those who first of all clip the wings and cage the squirrel, rivet the chains and refuse the freedom, close all the doors of the cosmic prison on us with a clang of eternal iron, tell us that our emancipation is a dream and our dungeon a necessity; and then calmly turn round and tell us they have a freer thought and a more liberal theology.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

Only truth makes free

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He is a free man,
whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides.

-William Cowper
(1731 – 1800)

 

Published in: on 03/03/2013 at 1:20  Leave a Comment  
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Finding freedom

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Freedom comes when we encounter God . . . Knowing God, His character, how much He loves us, how trustworthy He is, causes us to worship and take pleasure in Him. We’re now forgiven and can draw near to God. We’re new creations whose core identity is no longer sinner but saint. We have a new appetite within us, a desire for God that is stronger than every other desire, waiting to be discovered and nourished.

–Larry Crabb
Shattered Dreams

Freedom not bondage

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Christianity should feel like
“My chains fell off” not
“I better not screw up.”

–Tullian Tchividjian

An easy yoke and a light burden

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The Christian way is the natural way to live; therefore, it is the way of the easy yoke and the light burden. The idea that sin is natural and the Christian way unnatural is a paralysis upon the Christian movement. It is false. God made us “good”. We have made ourselves bad. But the good is good for us, and the bad is bad for us. To be a Christian is not hard—not to be a Christian is hard.

When you live against Christ, you are
living against the grain of the universe.
You are frustrated and unhappy.

Carlyle says: “Sin is, has been , and every shall be the parent of misery.” Conversely goodness is, has been and ever shall be the parent of happiness. To follow Christ is not to follow a law, imposed and unnatural; but it is to follow the law of life—the law of my life, your life, our lives.

You fulfil yourself when you follow Christ.
You frustrate yourself when you follow some other way.

I John 5:3 says: “His commandments are not burdensome.” Why? Because he puts nothing on us? He puts everything on us. He dumps the world and its troubles into our hearts. Then the burden is burdensome? No, for his burden is the same burden that wings are to a bird, sails are to a ship, love is to the heart.

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When I say to an audience just before lunchtime, “Go to lunch,” is that command burdensome? No for their stomachs say the same thing.

What Jesus commands
our inmost nature commends.
It isn’t hard to be a Christian;
it is hard not to be a Christian.

A man came . . . and said, “Mr. Jones I only know one verse of Scripture, but I know that one is true: “the way of the transgressor is hard.” The Christian way is “hard”? It is supernaturally natural—you find Christ and you find yourself; you do his will and his will turns out to be your highest interest. His yoke is easy and his burden is light—for his yoke is my yearning, his burden is my blessing. His will is my freedom.

–E. Stanley Jones
A Song of Ascents
(emphasis added)

The glorious paradox of grace

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Truly I am your servant, Lord . . .
you have freed me from my chains.
–Psalm 116:16 NIV

Here is a fascinating combination!

Freed—but serving.

Loosed—but bound.

Liberty and servitude. How can we put these two opposites together?

The Gospel joins them in a glorious paradox.

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Our chains have been broken, but our hearts are captured by Calvary love. Our bonds have been loosed, but we willingly become bondservants of our Redeemer.

Grace emancipates and captivates.

Charles Wesley said it so well:
          My chains fell off, my heart was free,
          I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Absolute autonomy quickly leads to new tyrannies. It doesn’t take long for total freedom to turn into servitude to new masters and new vices.

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“Liberty too can corrupt, and absolute liberty can corrupt absolutely,” wrote Getrude Himmelfarb.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer underscored this truth: “The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery.”

It is only as the Son makes us free that we shall be free indeed. It is in surrender to Christ that we find freedom. Gripped by grace our hearts take flight. Low at his feet we stand tall. Under His lordship we find liberty.

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It is in belonging to Him that we find ourselves.
It is in obeying Him that we are set free.

Blessed contradiction!

The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Published in: on 01/03/2013 at 20:47  Leave a Comment  
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Our terrible freedom

And because God’s love is uncoercive and treasures our freedom — if above all he wants us to love him, then we must be left free not to love him — we are free to resist it, deny it, crucify it finally, which we do again and again. This is our terrible freedom, which love refuses to overpower so that, in this, the greatest of all powers, God’s power, is itself powerless.

― Frederick Buechner

What God does not forbid

And what God does not forbid but leaves free that must remain free to everyone; and no one is to be obeyed who forbids what God has left free. Rather it is the duty of everyone to fight against such prohibitions with words and deeds, and to do the think in a spirit of defiance.

–Martin Luther

Published in: on 10/30/2011 at 16:39  Leave a Comment  
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What is clearly written

What I nightly wish is that you all keep close to the Bible. Be not wise above that which is written. Enjoin nothing that the Bible does not clearly enjoin. Forbid nothing that it does not clearly forbid.

–John Wesley

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