Sermon delivered January 16, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Freedom in Change

John 8:36 This is Jesus speaking. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. That's the only true freedom: if the Son set us free. The sunshine sets us free from the frost of the world. And so the Son of God set us free the sin of the world.

In 1776 Thomas Paine, American Revolution patriot and writer, wrote about the price of freedom: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. A celestial article like Freedom should be highly esteemed." I want you to know that our freedoms as Christians were purchased at great expense. That expense was the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior. His blood saves us. We have enjoyed freedoms here in the United States for many years.

However, those freedoms are fading. And you recognize that. For instance, take some of the ordinances that are now restricting the right of worship here in the United States in our homes.

    But It seems that legislators despise freedom of religion. A number of recent zoning cases have affected the right of worship in private homes.
  1. In Colorado Springs, minister Richard Blanche has been repeatedly cited by the police, by the courts for holding religious meetings in his home in violation of city zoning ordinances.
  2. In Fairhaven, Massachusetts, a local zoning official ruled that Bible studies in the home, if you're going to study the Bible in your home with other people, that is a home occupation and therefore prohibited under the town's property-use ordinances.
  3. In Los Angeles, officials ruled that home-occupancy regulations forbade orthodox Jews from holding prayer meetings in their homes.
  4. In Stratford, Connecticut case, prayer in home Bible studies is penalized while Tupperware parties enjoy the full protection of the Constitution.
It doesn't make sense, does it? You can have a large crowd of people for a Tupperware party, but you can't have a dozen people come by for a prayer meeting service,

We all enjoy freedom, and how long our freedoms last we don't know. But I would like to propose to you today there is a secret to real freedom, and it's found in the Bible. Everybody longs for freedom. Would you like to know the secret of true freedom? "A bird is free in the air. Place a bird in the water and he has lost his liberty. A fish is free in the water, but leave him on the sand and he perishes." Henrietta Mears

Christians are free when they do the will of God and become obedient Him. We are out of our realm when we dabble with sin like a fish on the beach. We will die!

Psalm 119:45 I will walk about in freedom, for (Because) I have sought out your precepts. Why does he walk in freedom? Because he has sought the Lord's precepts. God's precepts are God's directions, His instructions, His rules, His commandments. When we follow God's directions, life is so much easier.

One evening I was sitting on our back porch and we had one of these bug- zappers. Do you know what they are? You plug it in. It's got a bright light bulb inside and a couple layers of screen wire. When the bugs hit that screen you hear a little zippp. That's the cooking sound, I guess, when that bug meets his doom. I sat there, and these bugs, attracted by the light, were just zooming in to their death, being sizzled and zapped and fried and roasted and each one was meeting the same doom. And I thought, those bugs are crazy. They're all a quart low. As stupidity is the greatest cause of anything happening in the world it seems like. Each bug followed the other bugs to their death. Sizzle, Zap, Roast, Fry.... each met the same doom. I thought, they are crazy. Stupidity is the greatest agent for action in the world. Each bug followed other bugs to their scorched death.

Like the world, they followed the crowd and quickly ended up like a pile of char broiled powder. Each tried to see how close they could get to the action. Each seemed to care less about the danger. Brainless Bugs!

And as I watched, I thought about life. How often we chase after the world. We love the bright lights. We crave the excitement. We thrill at the feel of electricity in the air. The wild lights attract us. We go like those bugs to our death. Away from the lights and attractions of sin we have freedom. I would like to submit to you that we have freedom if we seek the precepts of God, if we stay away from the sin and the attractions of the world and cling to Jesus Christ. Only then do we have true freedom. Proverbs 9:6 Leave your foolish way and you will live. Forsake the foolish ways that you have and you will live. In other words, if we cling to God's ways we are going to live. If we forsake the ways of the world.

Obedience is the fountain of genuine freedom. When I was a boy I found that I had a lot more freedom when I obeyed my mother than when I did not. I stood many times with my nose in the corner (it seems like there were a lot of corners in that house), and you have plenty of time to think when your nose is in the corner. I seemed to value my freedoms more when I was standing with my nose in the corner. There was nothing to look at. I guess I did a lot of thinking that brought me to where I am today, in those corners. Even in that one-room church school in Indiana, I remember standing in the corner. I never did anything wrong, of course, but I will tell you that obedience gives you a lot more freedom. It was also a good place to think about life. Obedience brings freedom.

    America is not an obedient nation. We are drifting so far and so fast from the bible, it makes you quiver. We are a land filled with selfishness and sin. Most great civilizations last about two hundred years. Rome did better than that, but most don't. And they proceed through this classic sequence:
  1. From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
  2. From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage -
  3. From Courage to Liberty -
  4. From Liberty to Abundance -
  5. From Abundance to Selfishness -
  6. From Selfishness to Complacency -
  7. From Complacency to Apathy -
  8. From Apathy to Dependency -
  9. From Dependency once again into bondage.
It's about how it happens.

A few years ago, this wonderful United States of ours experienced its two- hundredth birthday. How much longer this nation can last, I don't know. I guess that depends on us and our offspring. But apparently nations and people can't stand prosperity very long. The above cycle is not inevitable -- it depends on us and our offspring. Alexander Fraser Tyler (1748-1813) in The Decline and Fall of The Athenian Republic.

There are symptoms that our American freedoms are about to change. This past summer the Papacy issued an apostolic letter calling all Catholics to faithfulness in Sunday worship. In a previous statement he said nations should enforce Sunday rest by legislation with punishment to offenders. That's pretty serious, isn't it?

First of all it is unscriptural to say that Sunday should be kept due to the resurrection of Jesus. The Seventh day is the Sabbath and therefore the birthday of the world. Can you change your birthday? I was born on a Monday. Would someone like to make a motion that I was born on a Tuesday and we could vote on it? Would that change the day of my birth? Could we all vote that you were born on Sunday if you were born on the seventh day? NO! You can't change the birthday of the world. Sabbath cannot be changed.

Compelling people to attend church is immoral. God wants worship to come from the heart. John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command. In other words, God wants our worship to come from the heart, from love. That's the motivation. It's love.

The final crisis is looming like a dark apocalyptic storm cloud that is approaching over the western horizon.

I'm going to talk a little bit about Y2K. Is Y2k mentioned in the Bible? Well, hardly. But look at II Timothy 3:1 But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. The King James says, "perilous times shall come." Dangerous, Hazardous, Unstable, Unsafe times in the last days. It's bad times.

Could Y2K bring on this final crisis? I don't know. I doubt if much will happen, but it could. I read in the Signwatch magazine, which is put out by the Seventh-day Adventist church. It says, "In a worst case scenario there will be no electricity anywhere in North America or the rest of the world on January 1, 2000. All grocery stores will empty out within a week. Huge masses of people will have no income, no water..., no food..., no heat... No gasoline. There will be rioting in the large cities..."

Y2K could be the day the world shuts down. Laid low by two measly digits in computer codes. At midnight New Years eve the world could turn into a technological pumpkin. Could you pump water? Can you cook without electricity? These conditions could bring on a national state of confusion thus precipitating the time when we cannot buy or sell. All these things could happen. WE don't know.

Is Y2k predicted in the Bible? Computer problems are not mentioned because they did not exist, at least not that we know of. Some people think they did exist prior to the flood, but no remains have been dug up. (There was a simple calculator discovered in a Greek shipwreck in the Mediterranean, but no others have been found.)

COULD ASTEROIDS bring the last day perplexity?

Let's look in Luke 21. Here's another sign of the last days. I believe that these two verses are not totally fulfilled yet. Luke 21:25,26. There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Now, I don't think this prophecy is totally fulfilled: parts of it.

Now of course I certainly believe in the great events that happened in 1833 (falling of the stars: Leonid meteor shower) and 1780 (dark day, moon came up red as blood). In verse 26 "Men" means people, humans everywhere. In verse 25 "Nations" means a world-wide event. More even than the awesome signs in 1833 and 1780. Signs of the times magazine feels that there is a very real possibility that Jesus was predicting comets, asteroids, and/or meteorites impacting our globe. See Signs of the Times, Feb. 1999.

Even the visitation of a small asteroid could create Jesus' dark day. It could stunt harvests, and cool the whole globe. There could be immense waves in the sea: the "tossing" of the sea. The whole population would be shaken to the core. Heart attacks and strokes over these perplexities. People would be yelling "the day of judgment is here."

Luke 17:26,27 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. And it was like that in the days of Lot. Now, I don't know what it was like in the days of Noah. We don't have any records except the Bible of what happened before the flood.

I don't know where the dinosaurs came from or for that matter many of the weird things of nature, but I suspect that the super intelligent antediluvian people experimented with amalgamation (the combination of man and beast). Some of the weird things of nature are hard to describe in any other way. Today we are fiddling with genetic engineering. I believe that just as this characterized the first humans it will characterize the last ones.

Since the cloning of Dolly, research has continued at a fast pace. The University of Massachusetts is trying to combine human cells with Bovine (Cow) cells to produce milk more like human milk. Experiments are underway to clone swine with human beings to provide human body parts for surgery needs in today's operating rooms. Tidings, Jan, 1999

Imagine harvesting hog parts for transplantation into people! You might strongly suspect I am not totally original if I suddenly OINK during a sermon! These are signs of the last days!

I want to share a story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand, and thought that they should adjourn.

Quelling the pandemonium, he heard the cry for immediate adjournment. Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgement is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought and we will proceed."

Rather than fearing what is to come, Christians ought to be faithful till Jesus returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we ought to be lights to the world as we watch the darkening conditions. And that light will only shine as Jesus Christ is in our heart.

A young man who dives to supply exotic fish for aquariums related an interesting fact. He said that one of the most popular aquarium fish is the Shark. He said that if you catch a small shark and confine it in a small aquarium, it will stay a size proportionate to the size of the tank you keep it in. Sharks can be six inches long and yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they have the freedom to grow to their normal length of eight feet.

I've seen the cutest little six-inch Christian sharks who swim around in their little puddle. But I want to tell you, if you hold on Jesus is going to come to take His friends home, He will place us in a larger domain. When He does that We will then be allowed to roam the far reaches of the universe and we're going to grow up. Only then can we have total freedom to become all that He designed us to be.

II Corinthians 4:17 for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. We may be in troubles in this world, but we need to... in verse 18, So that we may fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. I urge you to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ. You can't see Him, but you can focus on Him.

Are you confined in a small puddle today? Is your Christian growth tantamount to a six inch shark? I am thankful for the liberties that we enjoy here in America. I realize that all too soon those precious freedoms will vaporize away like the morning dew.

You can't prepare for the future in the future. Now is the only time to prepare for the future. We need to get filled with Jesus Christ. I urge you to fill up on Jesus every day.

One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit and stopped the whole parade. It ran out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas. Wouldn't it be a tragedy for Seventh-day Adventists like the Standard Oil Company, we ought to be full of gas. We ought to be tanked up on Jesus. Wouldn't it be a tragedy for us to neglect to connect. Especially in these last days, you don't want to run out of spiritual gas. Now is the time to be fully filled with Christ.

Let's go back to the first verse I read at the beginning of this sermon, John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Come to Jesus. Surrender your life to Him. Don't worry about the last days and their troubles. I am not so much concerned about knowing what is coming but in knowing who will be holding my hand when it does come. That's what I am concerned about. I want to be in those everlasting arms. I want you to be in those everlasting arms, too. You can be. Jesus can be your Savior if you give your life to Him.

Opening Hymn:  645  God of our Fathers
Scripture:     Responsive Reading: # 816
Closing Hymn:  469 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms


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