The Declaration of Independence Earl Knopf Pastor SVCC 6.30.19AM Galatians 5:1–6 (NIV84) 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Prayer We have been set free from the bondage of sin. Can I get an Amen! We have a tough time thinking about having once been in bondage to sin. We, after all, are Free Born Americans where we can do as we want, so people think. Do you have the right in America to kill someone? Do you have the right to do anything you please without punishment? America has made sin legal, but we are still not fearful to indulge if we are in Christ. We cannot partake of homosexuality, nor can we kill children in the womb. No, punishment is to be upon all American’s, no matter whether they be maybe saved or not because we have rules and a great set of commands to live by. Most often, we tend to take a command given to be just the condensed version. In other words men take love your neighbor and stop there so they do attempt to love their neighbor’s mate because they only hear love. They live Not in the bible, which is the only way to live, but in self. Americans are being driven to allow the things that God says are appalling. A new commercial for Amiovig, that is a drug for Headaches, shows two men sitting together watching TV in a very compromising situation. We are being force fed the desires of Capitol Hill, entertainment hill, and that of Satan’s hill. We must stop being passive and start being active in what our country desires. One day an old man was casually walking along a country lane with his dog and his mule. Suddenly a speeding pick-up truck careened around the corner, knocking the man, his mule, and his dog into the ditch. The old man decided to sue the driver of the truck, seeking to recoup the cost of the damages. While the old man was on the stand, the counsel for the defense cross-examined the man by asking a simple question: "I want you to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the following question: Did you or did you not say at the time of the accident that you were 'perfectly fine'"? And the man said, "Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road … " And the counsel for defense said, "Stop, stop, I asked you, tell me 'yes' or 'no', did you say you were 'perfectly fine' at the time of the accident?" "Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and … " The defense attorney appealed to the judge. "Your honor," he said, "the man is not answering the question. Would you please insist that he answer the question?" The judge said, "Well, he obviously wants to tell us something. Let him speak." So the man said, "Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and this truck came around the corner far too fast, knocked us into the ditch. The driver stopped, got out of his truck, saw my dog was badly injured, went back to his truck, got his rifle, and he shot it. Then he saw that my mule had broken his leg, so he shot it. Then he said, 'How are you?' And I said, 'I'm perfectly fine.'" How might you answer? We have a great parchment that is signed by all of the first signers of the Declaration of Independence, even if it meant death or destruction of their wealth, and it goes like this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Our preamble says a great amount, but people only hear that they are free to do as they want. The only thing people remember is that we are free to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness all my way. That means to so many that they can do as they want and if the law is against them, then change the law so they can do as they please. That preamble is what is to make us free, and yet we are to be free also from tyranny? It says that we give the consent to the governing body to hold that government unto accountability. Today, we seem to have to pay homage to the ones in power, when the Preamble makes it clear that the power is to be within us the People. The Government must give homage to us and do as we desire. We are not to be like Ms. Nancy who said that we need to pass this bill to see how it works. Dr. George McLeod of Scotland once defined a Confucian as “one who pays occasional visits to the shrines of his ancestors.” This is commendable and therapeutic, provided one does not reminisce too long or become mesmerized by past glory. On July 4, 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. We need to reexamine the vision and philosophy of those who fashioned a dream there in Philadelphia. When citizenship seems purchasable, political power influenced, and the image of America distorted, let us view our country with clearer hearts. All that is great for a country to stand firm upon and we also must return to the glory of that Preamble because that preamble tells us to hold the glory of God in esteem, as we must kneel to the glory of the word not for the glory of the world. We must approach the throne of Grace with love and service to the King of Kings and that the King of Kings is the only one all-powerful, yet is all knowing and all wise. He makes no decision that is to hurt us or put us under bondage again. Yet, we are under obligation to obey Him and His commands are not burdensome. We must give our service to God and not to the world. You are free from one and a slave to the other, depending on whom you serve. 1. It is for Freedom The great song that we sing on occasion is “There is Power in the Blood” and the first verse goes: “Would you be free from your burden of sin? There's power in the blood, power in the blood Would you o'er evil the victory win? There's wonderful power in the blood” God wants us to be slaves of His righteousness so we can be free from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14–15 (NIV84) 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. We are free from the slavery of sin and the destination of hell. We have that freedom from the life and liberty of Christ not of a Constitutional gift. We can approach God with confidence today. God could not be approached in the Old Testament except through the priests. Today, we are the priests of God and we must act like it. Also, we have the right to enter the inner sanctuary because it is wide open to all who believe. Ephesians 3:12 (NIV84) 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I am free today from my burden of sin because Christ has forgiven them all. We are under the blood of Christ and can certainly approach God directly. How can we approach Him, We are priests of God- as I have said already that we are; therefore, since the curtain is gone, we can enter boldly to pray and leave our sins upon the altar of His forgiveness. Revelation 1:6 (NIV84) 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. The priests that were appointed of old, would go into the Holy of Holies once a year. We can go in anytime we want. We all now have access directly to God. We are free to access our worship directly into the inner sanctuary of God. We are a kingdom of priests, but we have no legalism that needs to be satisfied so we can enter the glory of God. We just need to fully be in faith to be fully alive and at the beck and call of our God. 2. Obligation to obey the Law When Paul is talking about obeying circumcision or not, he is saying that if we go back to desiring our own laws of righteousness, then we are obligated to obey not just them, but all the laws as set forth in the Old Testament. We must once more sacrifice sheep and cattle upon an altar. We must adhere to the bible’s dietary laws of Old and that idea of repentance through a priest only. Hum, I think that is done in at least one church yet today. Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence we find a summary sentence which places everything in perspective: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This is a unique creed. The signers believed something very special was happening and that God would see them through. It was a new and courageous covenant, men mutually pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor! This is breathtaking and inconceivable in the fermentation of today’s world. Have we forgotten the high price some of our founding Fathers paid for their freedom? Have we forgotten that nine signers of the Declaration of Independence did not survive the war? Many lost their homes and fortunes. Thomas Nelson of Virginia directed bombardment of his own mansion at Yorktown. It was occupied by Cornwallis. Nelson also undertook to raise $2 million to repay the French fleet for its assistance. The war notes he redeemed cost him his fortune. He died in poverty. This was his sacred honor. Francis Lewis, a wealthy New York trader, lost everything he had. His wife was thrown into prison and died shortly after her release. Richard Stockton of New Jersey, a Princeton graduate, lost his wealth, property, and magnificent library. He was imprisoned and died following the war. These illustrations of sacred honor should suffice to remind us that the Fourth of July commemorates a costly freedom, one that documented the rhetoric of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. All paid some and some paid all but there is none that have not paid any, that is so true concerning those that saw before them a great nation. That nation is now bouncing opinions off the statue of Liberty to create a new statue that stands for the desecration of our moral compass. They see the Statue as a woman who can be a man or a homosexual as well as out of that promiscuity, she has the right to murder her children in the womb. If the ideas of liberty of today had been tossed around in congress in 1776, those men would have been impeached for sure, but probably shot in their tracks. Our nation of men and women who loved the Lord then, would not have taken kindly to such rules, so why should we do so today? Romans 3:25–26 (NIV84) 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. The idea that we must come to Christ to get to God is so true in that passage. God used Christ to justify us back to Himself. God used His own Son to redeem the hell that men turned this world into. It is no longer I who lives but it is Christ, Who lives within me. 3. Faith is expressed by love For God so loved the world that He gave us His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish. That is a powerful love story. God did not have to sacrifice His Son to make us free from the penalty of hell, but because He loves His creation, He is not willing to sell it out to Satan. Luke 4:17–19 (ESV) 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Freedom from captivity is a great statement. We were captive to sin but now that we have a way of escaping the penalty of it, we can live free but technically as slaves to righteousness. He proclaimed Liberty to all who will believe. We must obey His commands because anyone who loves God will do as He desires. We no longer need to be afraid of death because death has been defeated. We are free from its punitive conviction. I love the speech of Martin Luther King, who said, “We are free, free at last, praise God we are free at last.” Now I know he was talking about the civil rights movement of the 60’s, but we can apply that same premise to our eternal souls. We are “free at last- free at last- praise God I am free at last” as I am given everlasting life because Christ died in our place. He created the faith of our salvation through His resurrection. Satan could not hold Him and since Satan could not hold Him in the throngs of death, we are free at last to be free from his tyranny and subversion of God’s love and moral laws of love. We must love righteousness and because of that righteousness, we are free from obedience to sin. Praise God, I am free at last. Ephesians 2:15–22 (NIV84) 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Now, the understanding that we are built together as one new dwelling in which God lives also by His Spirit, makes us free to obey Him and only Him. Through that, we have independence from the horrors of hell. We have taken an oath of faith that includes our confession of Him to all who will listen. We have repented into the love of Christ and will no longer live for the world. We then are made over brand new because we have pledged a good conscience toward God, in our baptism by immersion. God, through the Son, has cut out the old man from us and made us brand new in Christ. Christ has circumcised our hearts to be the heart for God and not for the world. He has done this by our willing spirit to be immersed into the watery grave of Baptism. It is our desire to be baptized and that for freedom from our sins and to live in newness of life. Baptism is our declaration of Independence from this world to live in the next. Colossians 2:11–15 (NIV84) 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. The war has already been won and we need to stand tall in the victory. The victory of Jesus standing on the glory of His sentence of Satan into hell for eternity. Satan hates that sentence and is doing all he can to try and unseat Jesus from the seat of judgment. Now, my friends, are you free today to shout free at last in victory over the sentence of death that Satan endures. As the team comes to sing, I ask you to come and give Him your pledge of allegiance by mouth and then by washing the body into newness of life. We are at liberty from the tyranny of the world and in full liberty to obey the risen Christ. He is your flag of glory to wave to the world.
Righteousness Through Faith Earl Knopf Pastor SVCC 7.7.19AM Romans 1:28–32 (NIV84) 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 3:21–28 (NIV84) 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Prayer It is amazing how people today sin and invent ways of sinning. Let me explain that it has always been that way. If it had not, then what Paul says in the opening verses that I read from Romans 1 would not be as an exhaustive list of sins. I think he covers every possible sin. They are written to show us that we are sinner’s and that we have need of a solution to those sins. Sin is in each person’s life and shows us this set of sins to show us we are separated from God. We are doing the same today but are able to do them faster and easier due to the electronic era. Sin is not something new, as it started in the garden and escalated with Cain and Abel. People invent ways of sinning and that children do not obey their parents. Today the children are inventing ways of doing evil on social media. They can entertain illicit sex and talk in a manner unbecoming of God all without parental consent or knowledge. Sin is running rampant from the congressional manner of even authorizing sin. They have made laws to allow abortion and have catered to the homosexual. The constituents even shout to make more laws to allow them free access to sin and then free from guilt as they are not breaking the law of the Land. All have forgotten that the law of the Land must be in harmony with God. Man has turned in a majority from God to themselves as God of their life. We can only preach the Cross to them for faith and faith is the victory. Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it. So is bread, but you have to eat it. So is water, but you have to drink it. So how do we accept this gift? Not by a feeling, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come upon me with a strong feeling of some kind. Rather, faith comes when we take God at his word. Faith comes only by our acknowledgement of the gift of God and then to obey all that is commanded. It is how we walk that narrow road of Christianity that counts. Peter tells us that even baptism is a pledge of a good conscience toward God. That means we have repented and now know we are forgiven so we pledge that good conscience toward God. Then, we obey in life and we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit by our obedience to the commands of God to assist us. We must hear the word of God and it comes to us from the Prophets and the Law. We must read from the beginning of Romans until this verse that says but. It then says there is a righteousness that is apart from the Law. I just had a 37-minute telephone conversation with a lady that called me by mistake. I did not get the call at first, so I called it back later when I saw the number. She was a wounded veteran and had a hard time talking and even understanding. I told her about faith that is the victory, but she was hard upon her Catholic indoctrination. She had been married to a man who was Catholic, so she had to convert and go through indoctrination classes. She could get over the legalistic viewpoints that were indoctrinated in her. She kept saying she was leaving the denomination, but she did not seem to leave the legalism. Faith is the victory and is our righteousness. We learned it even in the Old Testament. 1. The Law and the Prophets Testify We can find so many scriptures of Christ in the Old Testament. In fact, God tells us that Christ did the works of Creation with Him as well as the Holy Spirit who we find hovering over the waters during creation. Right from the beginning God said there would be a Saviour. Genesis 3:15 (NIV84) 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The Law and the Prophets tell us of the great Saviour that was to come. Just read Isaiah 6, 7, and especially 9 where we find the child that was to be born unto us. Legalism came into the Law through men who wanted to decide they were saved by what they did. Grace is of works not as a gift to the legalists. People for some reason love laws and legalist rules to somehow make them feel saved or even religious. Sometimes we tend to be amazed (and even snicker) at the minutia of Pharisaic legalism. We tend to forget, however, that sandwiched among our country’s sound and workable statutes, there are hundreds of cockeyed ordinances that remain to clutter up our law books because the powers-that-be—from state legislators to town fathers have not gotten around to repealing them. For instance, in Amarillo, Texas, it is against the law to take a bath on the main street during banking hours. In Portland, Oregon, it is illegal to wear roller skates in public restrooms. In Halethorpe, Maryland, a kiss lasting more than a second is an illegal act. The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that down through history man has been inclined to live by and enforce the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. We must know there is nothing we can do in this life that God will look upon and tell us we are justified apart from faith. The law was meant to show man he was a sinner and had need of a Saviour. Romans 4:6 (NIV84) 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: I certainly think that Abraham shows us that faith is better than sacrifice and legalism. He believed God and was credited as righteousness about 90 years before he was told to circumcise himself. Circumcision was not a requirement for faith, but the Pharisee made it part of salvation. It was only a show of the promise and that the promise was for those of Abraham. Romans 4:9–10 (NIV84) 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! We find some in the Old Testament that we see as a type of Christ. Joseph was the first to me and was the most profound. He typified Christ in everything that he did. He did not get angry over those that persecuted him and then even forgave them, even though he spent time in prison. We cannot read the Old Testament and not see the life of Christ. The three Hebrew were in the fire and a fourth man was seen walking around. It was the Christ. A whole pack of lions were in the cave with Daniel, but they were not hungry until the Satraps and their families were thrown in. David was chosen to be the King and served well even though he sinned. His throne will be the throne on which the Saviour will sit during the Millennial reign. 2. All have sinned As I have just said, David was a man of God, and he committed adultery and murder, yet God loved him and forgave him. Solomon did that which was against God by having hundreds of horses and 600 wives and 300 concubines as well. Yet, God blest him and even gave him great mental agility. Sampson sinned, but God was preached when he caved in the building of the town gathering. Moses sinned, and was denied entrance to the promised land physically but was gathered into glory by his faith. Samuel sinned by not bringing his sons up in the faith. I could go on as well, but I stand before you today as a sinner saved by Grace. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. How many of us here today and to you who hear later, have not “sinned” at least once in their life. That sin disqualifies us from eternal life, and we need something to settle our debts before God. The Blood of Jesus is the only way we can settle our sins. Romans 8 starts out with “For now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Praise the Lord! At a great parliament of religions, held at Chicago many years ago, practically every known religion was represented, and many were the learned discourses delivered. During one session, Dr. Joseph Cook, of Boston, suddenly rose and said: “Gentlemen, I beg to introduce to you a woman with a great sorrow. Blood stains are on her hands, and nothing she has tried will remove them. The blood is that of murder, and nothing will take away the stain. She has been driven to desperation in her distress. Is there anything in your religion that will remove her sin and give her peace?” A hush fell upon the gathering as the speaker turned from one to another for an answer. Not one of the company replied. Raising his eyes heavenwards, Dr. Cook then cried out, “I will ask another question. John, can you tell this woman how to get rid of her awful sin?” The great preacher awaited, as if listening for a reply. Suddenly he cried, “Listen, John speaks: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).” Not a soul broke the silence; the representatives of Eastern religions and Western cults sat dumb. In the face of human need, they were without message of hope. The Gospel of Jesus Christ alone could meet the need. The sin of the race demanded the blood of Calvary. —The Evangelist Sin separates us from God. It started in the garden and we are now cast out of paradise and live in this world. Sin is in all, but we must live for Christ. He alone will clean our sins and wash us all new through the blood. This world is unfair and kills from sin. A drunk runs over a child and kills it, is because of the sin of alcohol. A sinner kills and goes to jail. Accidents take lives but we cannot blame God for them because we left paradise and now live in the world of destruction and death. Even the weather will take lives! When it says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we must know that no one is excused! Even a bad thought, if you would entertain it if possible, is a sin even though nothing happened. Also, if you think something that God calls good as sin, then to you it is a sin. This world and everything in it is going to hell unless a Saviour is given. There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Faith in that blood is our salvation. The blood covers our sins and makes us whole. 3. Saved by faith alone Faith is the victory. Faith is certain of things unseen and sure of our hope. I know God is and Jesus is as well as both have been always and always will be, but I have not seen them face to face. I am certain of that. I know that when I pass from this world, I will be in heaven- which is my hope. Faith is a little boy who ties a rope swing onto a tiny sapling’s branch. Then, noticing that the seat of the swing rests on the ground, he goes to get the garden hose and begins to water the sapling. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works least any man boast. Faith is the only way of salvation. I and all must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died, was buried, and rose again to newness of life and in that faith, we are Saved. Praise the Lord! Law does not save as it only proves our need for a Saviour. Romans 9:30–32 (NIV84) 30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” Righteousness is attained only by faith. In Romans 1:16 we find that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe. It is for the Jew and the gentile. That is the faith that we must have. The Jewish of that day and some even today, stumble over the stumbling stone, which is Jesus the Christ. He is also the chief corner stone and also the capstone and was rejected by those He came to save. They would not have faith and today it is the same for most Jewish. We are saved by faith alone and are then called to obedience to show our faith to others. Galatians 2:16 (NIV84) 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. I think that sums it up. You must put your faith in the blood that was shed upon Calvary for our redemption and reconciliation with God. Now I ask you all as the team comes to sing a song of dedication, do you have faith in what has been done for you or do you think you can do something for Salvation? Come today and give your life to Christ and then do as commanded since now you are a disciple. You must then confess that faith before men. You must then repent of your sinful life unto God, which says you will live for Christ and not for the world. You then wash that old sinful person away, by baptism as you pledge a good conscience toward God.