TEXT: JOHN 8:31-36; ROMANS 3:19-28; REV. 14:6-7
GOD GIVES FREEDOM IN THE WORD MADE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh;


Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  We all want to be free and we do our best to get there – free from worry – free from sickness – free from pressure.  Certainly next year…will have more freedom from so many depressing developments in the world and in our culture and the constraints of so many cares and from such a crazy calendar.  One can speak of political freedom and of religious freedom and of personal freedom.   Concerning personal freedom - surely retirement will free us up from so many expectations – or not - as many seniors relate!  There are also self-made little prisons of missed opportunities – recurring thoughts that accuse us – vocational shortcomings – apprehension of life passing us by – your know, all that we should be doing.  We all want to be free and we do our best to get there. 


“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  They (the Jews who had believed in him) answered him, “we are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.   How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  They had never been enslaved -to anyone - except of course – to Pharaoh and to Nebuchadnezzar and even as they protest – to Caesar.  Revision of history has always been at work – also in regard to what freedom really is and to how much freedom we actually have.


Free hand outs are not free – someone has to pay.  Free love is not free – the chains of broken hearts and lives leave their binding effect.  Free thinking is not free.  Mankind reasons in the same old self-seeking, self-glorifying ways of bygone generations.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind (Eccl. 1:14).

REFORMATION – OCTOBER 26, 2014
TEXT: JOHN 8:31-36; ROMANS 3:19-28; REV. 14:6-7
GOD GIVES FREEDOM IN THE WORD MADE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh;


Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  We all want to be free and we do our best to get there – free from worry – free from sickness – free from pressure.  Certainly next year…will have more freedom from so many depressing developments in the world and in our culture and the constraints of so many cares and from such a crazy calendar.  One can speak of political freedom and of religious freedom and of personal freedom.   Concerning personal freedom - surely retirement will free us up from so many expectations – or not - as many seniors relate!  There are also self-made little prisons of missed opportunities – recurring thoughts that accuse us – vocational shortcomings – apprehension of life passing us by – your know, all that we should be doing.  We all want to be free and we do our best to get there. 


“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  They (the Jews who had believed in him) answered him, “we are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.   How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  They had never been enslaved -to anyone - except of course – to Pharaoh and to Nebuchadnezzar and even as they protest – to Caesar.  Revision of history has always been at work – also in regard to what freedom really is and to how much freedom we actually have.


Free hand outs are not free – someone has to pay.  Free love is not free – the chains of broken hearts and lives leave their binding effect.  Free thinking is not free.  Mankind reasons in the same old self-seeking, self-glorifying ways of bygone generations.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind (Eccl. 1:14).


We all want to be free and we do our best to get there.  Greek society valued freedom from tyrants and freedom from external foes.  They also recognized how easily extreme freedom can turn into extreme slavery (Plato Ep8, 3543).  Without protecting law they understood that freedom would degenerate to the whim of an individual or the mood of the moment (as is seen in contemporary culture).  The Stoics taught that the person was truly liberated who strove to internally take charge of matters to consciously and deliberately gain life and happiness.


Jesus and His apostles agree with none of these views of freedom.  They taught that even by retreating inwardly man is not free.  They taught that man’s existence is threatened not only by dangers from the outside but chiefly by self-lordship on the inside.  To take one’s life in hand as the Stoics encouraged was really to grab on to a sinking ship.  Everyone who commits sin will die, no matter how free-thinking or free-wheeling they imagine themselves to be.


Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  Because of sin freedom is not the same as doing what we want to do when we want to do it!  True freedom is sometimes doing what we don’t want to do when we don’t want to do it!  Yet it is not the Stoic idea of organizing our inner strength to overcome outer threats.  Nor is it the medieval idea of doing enough outward penance to overcome our inner failings.  Luther’s fasting and self-whipping and lying on the monastery’s frigid floor until his health was threatened could not give him freedom.  Nor could prayer after prayer after prayer that he offered!  The more he sought to please God perfectly the more clearly he saw his imperfect fear and love and trust in God.


Jesus answered the protesting Jews – “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  Jesus and His apostles used the word “freedom” to mean freedom from sin (Romans 6:18-23; John 8:31-36) and freedom from the law (Romans 7 & 8; Galatians 2:4; 4:21-31; 5:1, 13) and freedom from death (Romans 6:21; 8:21).  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”


If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Beloved, true freedom in this dying world comes from the living and active Word of God – from our abiding in it.  Yet everyday different words so strongly abide in me – words of self-seeking – self-preservation – and self-deception.  If I just keep plugging away – if I keep working on improving – improving my attitude – improving my assigned actions (sermons and studies and visits and pastoral conversations and family provision and financial attention and daily prayer (you have your own list) improving my accomplishments – then – up ahead – there must be freedom.  I will finally get it right and fashion myself to please myself and God.  O what slavery percolates within us –to ignore God and be our own little master – or conversely to marshal our efforts to the point where we might finally arrive at admirable autonomy before God – (Ahh – now I’ve arrived!)


Our sin carries falsehood and death within it.  Therefore God calls out to wake us up from self-deception even as he called out to wake Luther up.  He warns us through strikes of lightning.  He warns us through airliners that disappear.  He warns us through Ebola and ISIS and earthquakes.  He warns us through bodily pain and personal disappointment.  He warns us through those who love us.  He seeks to cut open our dull hearts with His law.  He seeks to shut us up – to silence our idols – secular and spiritual and selfie idols.  As St. Paul wrote, the law speaks – so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 


Dr. Martin Luther was a man whose mouth God stopped.  He was a man who then saw himself as answerable to God and totally unable to pray or pay or perform himself into a right relationship with God.  He was a priest to whom God made painfully clear that all have sinned and fall short of the gory of God.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 


Then God set him free! God set Luther free in Christ to help set others free in Christ by proclaiming the eternal gospel to those who dwell on earth!  In doing so He used what have been called the “two biggest little words” in Scripture. 


But nowBut now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets (the entire Old Testament) bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  Under the law all the world is answerable to God whether it knows it or not!  But now the righteousness of God has been manifested (made known/revealed/declared) apart from the law – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  This text trumpets the momentous turning of the eons!  This text trumpets the new age of life restored!  God’s promise of rescue and release has been fulfilled!  The entire Old Testament Torah was kept by Christ!  The Christian is free from any undertaking to be in a right relationship to God through legalistic means of thoughts, words, or deeds.  Oh, God’s grace affects our thoughts and words and deeds but they always fall short.  They do not carry the day – Jesus carries the day as He carries us!


But now truth is more than a body of truth it is a body – a person – God in the flesh – Christ Jesus Himself!  If you abide in my word…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  That is “if you continue in God’s spoken and written word you will know the incarnate word!  He is freedom in the flesh!


But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  Dear Christian – this is the truth that caused the Reformation!  It is the truth by which God always and continually reforms His church!  This gift of God’s grace – the eternal gospel - comes through the blood of Christ.  As St. Paul wrote; “whom God put forward as a propitiation to be received by faith.”  The word propitiation means sacrifice – a bloody offering that satisfies the righteous wrath of God.  The hour of God’s judgment came against Him who made heaven and earth!  To set us free the Son of God was sacrificed as the most shackled man in human history!  Every sin of every enslaved heart was chained to Him, including yours, past present and future.  The prison house of the sin of the world enclosed Him on Calvary!  He became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) – to restore our broken oneness with.     


But now it is finished – our redemption – your redemption!  God…loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.  It is His kingdom that the risen Christ lavished upon you when He baptized you into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:1-4).     Beloved of God - your sure and certain hope is that you have been made free by the free One!  It is that very freedom from sin, death and hell that He speaks to you this morning!  He with the Father and the Holy Spirit is our Mighty Fortress!  The one little Word that can fell Satan is the Word made flesh.  He comes among you to feed you the very body He offered on the cross!  He gives you to drink of the New Testament of His blood for the forgiveness of your sins!  As God promises the New Covenant – the New Testament - through the prophet Jeremiah He said of it – I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more (Jer. 31:31-34).  But now – no more – does God remember sin in Christ.


What freedom!  What gracious, undeserved, freedom!  You are totally free to stop remembering past sins as if they are still hanging over your head!  You are free to stop trying to be your own master!  You are free to stop trying to make yourself more righteous.  That’s what God led Martin Luther to see 497 years ago when he posted 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg.  Jesus has enough righteousness for the whole world and He covers you with it as He covers you with Himself as a gift – received in faith!  None of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned! 


But now you are free to open your mouth to confess your sins for His blood cleanses you from all sin (1 John 1:7).  But now you are free to praise God – to tell the next generation that this is God – just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  You are free to follow Christ and not the false freedoms of the world.  You are free to abide in the Word of God and not be chained to your fickle feelings!  But now you are even free not to fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  The freedom Jesus gives you reaches beyond the grave.  Death could not hold Him nor can it hold you.  If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  In the name of Jesus, AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a