3 reasons the King gives his servants freedom

http://www.youtube.com/embed/T0PceQ2CbnkPastor Jeff Struecker

Now, we’re going to talk about freedom today, and we’re going to talk about freedom from John chapter three. If you’ve been with us for a couple of weeks, we’re studying through the book of John, and in John chapter three, a religious leader by the name of Nicodemus sits down and has a spiritual conversation with Jesus. And Jesus describes what it looks like to be free. 


He says, “If you really want to be free, then you’re going to need to be born again.” And he blows Nicodemus’ mind, meaning you can’t be religious enough to be free from sin. After this, there’s a conversation between John the Baptist’s disciples and John the Baptist. They say, “Hey John, we need you to know that there’s some guys that are going and leaving us, and they’re going to talk to Jesus. They’re leaving us, John, and they’re going to Jesus. And John, your crowd is getting smaller, and Jesus’s crowd is getting bigger.”


And John the Baptist makes one of the boldest (and I think one of the best) statements anywhere recorded in the Bible. In John chapter three, verse 30, John the Baptist says, “He [Jesus] must increase, and I must decrease.” He was telling his disciples, “I’m free from the need to be a big shot. I’m here to make sure that people hear about Jesus, not about John.” 


Today picks up the conversation where this leaves off. What we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about is freedom. And when I talk about freedom, I’m not talking about moving-out-of-your-parents’-house-for-the-first-time kind of freedom. I’m not describing quitting-the-job-with-that-boss-who’s-a-jerk kind of freedom. I’m not even talking about free-from-this-mountain-of-debt-that’s-been-hanging-over-your-shoulders freedom. I’m talking about something much bigger than that. I’m talking about the kind of freedom that sets you free at the soul level, the kind of freedom that you can’t buy and you can’t earn.


I’m talking about being free from yourself, and this kind of freedom can only be given to you as a gift. You can’t work hard enough, you can’t be religious enough to earn that kind of freedom. So today, here’s what I really want you to understand from the Bible: There are three reasons why the King, King Jesus, gives his servants freedom, and he gives it away as a gift; you can’t earn it.


3 reasons the King gives his servants freedom


Authority without limit 


You see, reason number one is because the King and only the King has authority without limits. Now, please understand this big theological concept. What it’s saying is that there are no boundaries that Jesus cannot cross. There’s no territory that Jesus cannot invade. There is no part of your life that Jesus cannot speak to and work in and change. And if we’re going to pick the conversation up, we’re going to hear what John the Baptist says to his disciples next. John chapter three, verse 31. He starts to have a conversation with them, and he’s trying to settle what it looks like to live for Jesus instead of living for yourself, what it looks like to be free from yourself. 


John 3:31 The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth is earthly and speaks in earthly terms. The one who comes from heaven is above all.


John chapter three describes what it looks like to be above all. And I’m just going to tell you, when you see one phrase appear twice in the same Bible verse, that’s a really big deal. You see, the Bible repeats itself to stress something to you. You have the same term, “above all”, at the beginning of verse 31 and at the end of verse 31. And John doesn’t want us to miss that Jesus is above everything… and I mean everything that’s going wrong in your life. He’s bigger than your problems, and he’s greater than your challenges. 


When John talks about Jesus being above all, he uses an active phrase, and that active phrase in the Bible means that he never stops. He is always (always has been, always will be) above all the things that are going on in your life, all the things that are happening around the world.


And sometimes when you face problems, it doesn’t feel like Jesus has got it all under control. Sometimes when you’re struggling with doubts or fears or wrestling with even temptation, it feels like maybe he’s not totally in control. What the Bible is describing for us today is divine authority. Jesus has all authority. Now, kings back in Bible times, Prime Ministers and Presidents today, have authority for their land, and where their border ends, that’s where their authority ends. Everything on the other side of the national boundary, they have no authority over. 


The Bible is making a bold statement about King Jesus. It says he’s a king. It says that he has authority. But it says that he has ALL authority. For the past couple of years, I’ve been reading books by a 19th century/early 20th century politician, believe it or not, by the name of Abraham Kuyper.


Now, Kuyper didn’t begin in politics. Kuyper was Dutch, and he started off as a Dutch pastor and theologian. Kuyper started to see the way that his country was functioning, and as a pastor and a theologian, he didn’t like what he was seeing. And so, Abraham Kuyper decided, “I want somebody to do something about the direction that my country is going, but it’s not happening. So I’m going to reluctantly throw my name into the hat. I’m going to reluctantly go run for politics myself.” 


Abraham Kuyper not only ran for politics, but he became the Prime Minister of Holland. And one day he was delivering a speech. That speech was at the commencement, the first and the opening ceremonies for the University of Amsterdam. The Prime Minister of the country, a former pastor and theologian made a bold declaration about King Jesus. Listen to Abraham Kuyper’s words. He said:


 “There is not of this universe one square inch that the Lord Jesus Christ does not point his finger at and declare, ‘It is mine’. There’s not one inch of this universe that Jesus does not point his finger at and declare, ‘That belongs to me, and she belongs to me, and he, as messed up as he is, is mine.'” 


And Christians, I think I need you to understand this, because when you say your prayers tonight, I need you to pray with bold assurance. I need you to pray to the one who, above all, has authority without limit. I need you to remember that every problem that you have is certainly in his hands. I need you to remember that he can handle whatever it is that you’re struggling with, the suffering and the doubts and the fears. He’s got it all in the palm of his hand. I need you to pray like that tonight. And when you get up tomorrow, I need you to live like he has all authority, and I need you to live like he’s also got you in the palm of his hand.


He’s got all authority in his hand, and he’s got you in the palm of his hand. So, you can be free from doubt. You may not be free from struggles. You may not be free from suffering, but you can be free from wondering whether or not the King of the universe has got everything under control. 


Love without measure  


Let me tell you what John tells us next in John chapter three. He describes, not only is he a king with authority beyond limit, but he is also a king that loves you without measure. This picks up now in John chapter three, and what he’s going to describe for us starting in verse 32 is unconditional love. And let me just be frank with you; unconditional love can really be hard for us humans to understand, because this entire world that we live in really demonstrates love based on being a good person, being a good girl, and “When you’re a bad boy, I don’t love you.” —love with conditions.


But the Bible describes for us what it looks like when you experience unconditional love, love without measure. It picks up for us in verse 32. 


John 3:32-35 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, and yet no one accepts his testimony. The one who has accepted his testimony has affirmed that God is true. For the one whom God sent speaks God’s words, since he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands.


Right there in those verses you see the Father who loves the Son. You see the Son who sends the Spirit, and by sending the Spirit, the Son is showing you how much he loves you.


This is what love without limits looks like. In verse 32 you see God offering a gift, and the way that this gift works is that you have to accept the gift. Now, I got a gift card in the mail. But let’s say that I was going to give this gift card to you. Let’s say that this gift card is the largest, greatest single gift any human being has ever given to another human being. This is the most powerful, the most expensive, the most precious gift. It wouldn’t come from Starbucks, but you know what I mean. This would be the most precious, powerful gift, the most expensive elaborate gift any human being has ever seen, and I want to give this gift to you. I’m freely giving this gift to you with absolutely no restrictions, no conditions. I want you to have this because I love you. 


And now you have a responsibility. Before this gift is actually passed, you have to do something next. What is it? You have to accept the gift. And what the Bible is describing here is what it looks like when God’s people say, “I really do believe that the greatest gift any human being will ever receive is the gift of God’s love, and I really believe that he is showering his love on me. But I also believe that I have to accept that gift. And if I don’t accept that gift, it doesn’t go to waste, but I don’t receive the benefits of it.” 


See, what John is describing for us is Jesus’ message, and Jesus is saying, “I didn’t come to judge you. I didn’t come to condemn you. I came to set you free. And it’s a gift you can’t buy. And I want you to have it, but you still have to accept it. I’m trying to prove to you that this precious, invaluable gift is yours, but you have to reach out and accept it.”


And maybe you’ve heard about Jesus and you’ve intellectually believed that there really is a guy by the name of Jesus who lived a long time ago and died on a hill outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. But for you, Jesus is no different than George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela. He’s a guy you read about in a book, but he’s not real to you. 


What God is offering you today through the power of his Holy Spirit and the love of his Son, Jesus, is the gift of eternal life. And he’s saying, “It’s right here for you, and I want you to have it, but you’ve got to reach out and accept it. And if you will accept it, not only do you get the gift of eternal life, but you get the gift of love without measure,” which blows most of our minds. 


You see, what I’m describing here with this gift card, I did this on purpose is because the Bible is describing what it looks like to really believe. How would you measure unmeasurable love? What tool would you use? What ruler could you take out to measure the unmeasurable, unconditional love of God who says to you, “No matter how bad you mess up, I’m not going to love you any less”? 


“No matter how good of a girl or a boy you are, it doesn’t make me love you any more. I’m going to shower you with this precious gift of my love, and my love doesn’t come with conditions. I choose to love you, and I’m giving you this gift. All you have to do is just simply reach out and take it.” That’s what love without measure really looks like, and the King and the King alone sets his people free when he gives them love without measure. 


Life without end  


The last verse from John chapter three describes for us life without end. And, y’all, this is something to get excited about. When the King that has authority with no limits wants to shower his love without measure on you, the added benefit is life without end. Here’s how John chapter three ends in verse 36:


John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.


Now, if I could be frank, we’ve got a problem here with the word belief. I’ve been having this fascinating conversation with some of our brothers and sisters from South Africa, and when they described for me the Afrikaans Bible and the way that it describes the word, “believe”, I think it really does a better job than in the English Bible. Because in the English Bible, we hear the word believe and just because of our context in the United States, we tend to think of believe in like a history book.


“I believe there really was a guy by the name of Abraham Lincoln who lived a long time ago. I never met him, but I believe in him.” But what the Bible is really describing in John chapter three, verse 36 is not believe IN, but believe ON. And there is a huge difference between “in” and “on”. See, if I were to put a chair right up here, and if I were to ask you, “Do you believe that this chair will hold your body weight?” you can stand next to the chair and swear until you’re blue in the face, “I believe in that chair,” but you haven’t really believed on the chair until you do what? -until you sit on the chair. That’s when you believed on the chair. And what the Bible is asking people to do is not believe IN Jesus, but believe ON Jesus, to take this step of faith and to say, “If this isn’t real, I’m ruined. I have no hope for the future. But I believe that I’m going to take a step into the unknown and the King of the universe is going to meet me there. I believe that he will meet me right now, and he will change my life turn me into a new man or into a new woman right here right now.” 


It’s what the Bible describes as the abundant life. But you don’t just get the gift of the abundant life with Jesus; you get the gift of eternal life, which is life without end. You see, what the Bible is describing is all of us have been born under the wrath of God, because all of us are sinners. There’s no one righteous. No, not one of us can stand before God and say, “I perfectly followed your law every waking moment of my life.” None of us could stand before God and say that. So, all of us are under the wrath of God, and unless you receive the free gift, unless you just take the gift that the Son is offering you, you remain (John chapter three, verse 36 is very clear on this), you remain under the wrath of God.


But when you receive that gift, when you say, “God, I want that. God, I’m taking that. God, I believe on you that you really do want me to live with you in Heaven forever,” when you received that gift, you have now been transferred from a life of sin and ready for the grave to a life with God in eternity forever. And the door that you pass through that takes you to eternity just happens to be the door of death. 


I wanted to play a video that showed believers from Sudan who had to dive in the water because men with guns came into their community and started shooting the church up just because they were worshiping Jesus. It showed a young woman from Iran who is a Christian, who shared the gospel with her next door neighbor, and the woman that lived next to her became a believer, but because her husband refused to accept it, he murdered his own wife when she came to faith in Christ and then made a public statement, “I will kill whoever it is that led my wife to believe in Jesus.” 


I wanted to show you a man from the Congo who came under attack by men who would do anything to stamp out Christianity. And the reason I wanted to show you this is because just a couple of weeks ago, I got a message from a friend of mine, a pastor in Myanmar who sent me a message and said, “Hey Jeff, I need you to know that last night, my church was attacked. Last night, people came into my church just because we preach Jesus and just because lives are being changed and people are being baptized, and they shot my church up. They destroyed the building and they murdered four people right in the middle of that church service.”


And then this is what my friend, Pastor Joseph, said to me: “Four of my brothers [listen to these words] were set free. Last night, four of my brothers were set free from this world and its difficulties and the problems, and they experienced life without end,” which is waiting for every Christian everywhere on the planet when you turn it all over to the Lord, Jesus Christ. 


I wanted to share with you about the persecuted church because these brothers and sisters have my heart always because of their willingness to stand up and to suffer for the glory of King Jesus, willingness to give their life up, to push back darkness, and to tell their neighbors about the difference Jesus can make. But the other reason I wanted to share this with you is because we in free countries, you that live in South Africa or Australia or Germany or the Philippines or here, you need to measure your freedom against the people that don’t have it, who get up tomorrow and go to church knowing, “I may be killed for just simply declaring that I follow Jesus.”