Faith, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ The Blessing of Freedom

 

Originally published April 10, 2008

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Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be a Christian in other parts of the world?

Indonesia, Nigeria- Christians are slaughtered for not conforming to Islamic law. In Nigeria, since the year 2000, thousands have been put to death.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, North Africa, Mauritania, Iran, the Comorros Islands, Sudan- Direct persecution by the state is written into the legal code. Any non-Islamic or dissident Islamic religious expression is forbidden. Any Saudi who seeks to leave Islam faces the strong possibility of execution.

Egypt- The Coptic Church (which is somewhat similar to Catholicism in its roots and practices) has been the target of church burnings and local massacres.

Pakistan- In 1997, the Christian town of Shantinagar, was effectively leveled.

China, Vietnam, Laos, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan- Generally, there is freedom to worship in state-controlled religious bodies, but any religious expression outside of these bodies is strenuously controlled or suppressed.

The Roman Catholic Church is outlawed because it accepts the authority of the Pope, who is from outside the country. Priests and bishops have been imprisoned. Hundreds of Protestant leaders of the underground church have been arrested and sentenced to jail and labor camps.

North Korea- Nearly every free exercise of religion is viciously repressed, and thousands of people have been sent labor camps for practicing their faith.

Burma- An organization called the State Law and Order Restoration Council brutally oppresses tribal minorities, which, in large part, are comprised of Christians. Their tactics include: massacre, rape, forced labor, and the use of children to clear minefields.

(Information from: “Insights on Law and Society: A Magazine for Teachers of Civics, Government, History & Law”, Vol. 7.3 (Spring 2007); Published by the American Bar Association)

United States-
Christianity is protected under the Constitution and is the majority religion in this country. We even have the right to legal redress if our religious liberties are infringed upon.

We can worship publicly with no fear of government, military, or other attacks.

We do not have civil rights (such as the right to vote, work, or own property) taken away from us simply because we embrace Christianity.

We have the right to proselytize (as long as we’re not harassing anyone), advertise and spread our religion.

“Persecution” is usually limited to people hurting our feelings when we witness to them, and social issues that offend our sensibilities.

We have beautiful, comfortable churches (as well as Christian schools, organizations and stores), complete with heat and air conditioning; comfortable pews; nurseries; indoor plumbing; Bibles, music, and materials in our own language; musical instruments; technology; and paid, and frequently seminary-trained, pastors and staff.

So what are we doing with all these blessings? Have we gotten so used to freedom and opportunity that we consider them a birthright rather than a precious gift from God that He has the prerogative to revoke if He chooses? He did it with the Israelites time and time again in the Old Testament: They obeyed God. He blessed them. After a while, they got comfortable with all the blessings and became lazy. They strayed away from God. He gave them over to oppressive rulers. They cried out in repentance. He delivered them and blessed them, and the cycle started all over again.

What will it take to shake us out of our complacency, humble us in gratitude for the opportunities God has given us, and motivate us to use the freedom with which He has blessed us to build His kingdom?

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required;
and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Luke 12:48b
Gospel, Old Testament, Salvation, Sunday School, Types and Shadows

Joe & Moe: Delivery Boys (Part 2) ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 2-9-14

 sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 6 ~ Feb. 2-8
Exodus 10-29
Joe & Moe: Delivery Boys (Part 2)

Moses: Deliverance from Bondage  Last week we took a look at how Joseph was a type (symbol) of Christ: deliverance through forgiveness of sin. Just as Joseph was able to deliver his family from the famine to a new, abundant life through forgiving their sin, so Christ delivers us from the “famine” of the old life of sin by forgiving us of that sin and giving us a new and abundant life.

Today, we’re taking a look at another “delivery boy,” Moses, and examining how the events in his life demonstrate Christ’s delivering us from the bondage of sin, just as Moses delivered the Israelites from their bondage to slavery.

As Moses delivered Israel from the bondage of slavery, so Christ delivers us from the bondage of sin. Deliverance/redemption from bondage is not easy or lighthearted. It is a battle for the freedom of another person, and that freedom must be purchased with blood and struggle.

Exodus 11-12
Bondage: Before God sets us free.

11:7– God sets His people apart for His glory and His purposes. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8, Romans 8:29-30, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
This “setting apart” is called “consecration.” It wasn’t because there was anything special about Israel itself, but because God was keeping His covenant promise and working out His plan. God made a distinction between Israel and Egypt, and called them out of Egypt, and separated them from Egypt. So, God makes a distinction between unbelievers and those who will be saved, calls us out of the world’s system and ways, and separates us from the world in our identity and being.

11:9-10– Satan doesn’t willingly give up his slaves. (2 Timothy 2:24-26, 1 Corinthians 2:14) 
Look at everything that happened to Pharaoh, and yet he still, at this point, wouldn’t let go of the Israelites. In the same way, Satan holds people in bondage as slaves to himself, to sin. As a slave cannot resist his master, a slave to sin cannot resist his master- sin. Satan will not give his slaves up to Christ without a fight.

2 Timothy 2:24-26: The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

This is why we can’t expect lost people to act like Christians or tell them to clean themselves up. They can’t. They’re slaves. Only Christ can raise them from the “living death” of sin and set them free.

12:1– When God institutes a new covenant, He makes all things new.
God changed everything about Israel’s life, right down to their calendar. This was a completely fresh start: a new time, a new place (the Promised Land), and a new celebration (Passover) for a new covenant and way of life.

When Christ delivers us, we also get a new time (our new life starts at the moment of conversion, and we receive a fresh new future), a new place (Heaven instead of hell) and a new celebration (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) to mark the new covenant and way of life. Those celebrations were a reminder for Israel of how the Lord delivered them from bondage and slavery, and a reminder to us of how God delivers us from the bondage and slavery of sin.

The Key to the Shackles: How God sets us free: The Passover Lamb
Christ in the Passover:

12:5– A lamb without blemish (1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19, James 2:10)
Jesus was to be the sacrifice for our sin. All sacrifices offered to God had to be perfect, pointing to Jesus’ sinlessness. Had he ever sinned, even once, He would not have been an acceptable sacrifice for our sin.

1 Corinthians 5:7b: Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 

1 Peter 1:18-19: you were ransomed …with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 

12:6– The lamb sacrificed at twilight (Luke 23:44-46)
The Passover lamb was sacrificed as the sun was setting. When Jesus died there was darkness over the whole land. Additionally, at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion the lamb was customarily slaughtered at 3 p.m., the same time Jesus died.

12:7,13– Blood on the doorposts and lintel (John 10:7, Romans 5:9,8:1)
Picture a vertical beam perpendicularly meeting a horizontal beam. Now picture the blood of a spotless lamb running down those beams. What comes to mind? The cross.

Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, He will be saved…” How do we enter in to and through Christ? We pass under and through the blood He shed on the cross. Anyone who has passed through the blood and is in Christ is not under the judgment of God.

Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” 

12:8– Eating the flesh (John 6:53-55)
John 6:53-55: So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

12:10, 46– Do not leave the remains until morning. Do not break any of the lamb’s bones. (John 19:31-36)
John 19:31-33,36: Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”

11:5, 12:12-13, 29-31– Death of the firstborn son of the king. (Colossians 1:15,18; Romans 5:10)
Just as the firstborn son of the king had to die in order for Israel to be set free from bondage, so, Jesus, the firstborn Son of our King, the firstborn of Creation, and the firstborn from the dead, had to die to set us free from the bondage of sin.

Freedom
Now that Christ has set us free, we remember his sacrifice through the Lord’s Supper and celebrate our freedom from sin through baptism. The crossing of the Red Sea hints at baptism.

Exodus 14
The “Baptismal Waters” of the Red Sea (Romans 6:4)

God set the Israelites free from the bondage to Egypt and brought them out of Egypt into a new place. With their bondage and slave masters behind them, God brought them to the water and they passed through it. The old slave masters tried to follow them to recapture them, but God washed them away to their death. The Israelites started a brand new life on the other side of the water. It was a testimony of God’s glory to the Egyptians (14:4) and to the Israelites themselves that God is the Lord.

Christ passed through the waters of death- defeating the enemy and breaking his chains that keep us captive- and rose up out of those waters to life on the other side. So, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Our baptism is a testimony of God’s glory to Satan- that he is defeated, to ourselves- that we have passed from death unto life, and to others- that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Additional Resource:
What Does It Mean to Be a Slave to Sin? by GotQuestions.org