By Dr. Mark Creech
One of the most interesting passages of Scripture to me is found in John 10:9. “I am the door,” says Jesus. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Certainly this verse in the Bible is referring primarily to the saving of the soul. Christ is the door to personal redemption. He alone provides the entrance into the kingdom of God. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross makes people free from the enslaving power of sin – free from its penalty of death and judgment. Jesus also said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath sent me…to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). To move into a personal relationship with Jesus is to experience a life that can never be fettered by any earthly bond.
But the liberty that Christ provides to the human heart also translates into an external one. The phrase in John 10:9 where Jesus says, “will go in and out and find pasture,” is actually a reference to liberty. In ancient days, if a man could go in and out of the city he lived without fear, it meant the ruler had the affairs of the nation under control. It was only when a city was under siege its citizens couldn’t freely “go in and out”.
It is most unfortunate that many people are unaware that the moral ethic of civil liberty and the Christian reality of spiritual liberty are interlocked. Thus, wherever Christianity has thrived, civil liberty has also greatly expanded.
The very spark – the flame – the passionate fires of the American Revolution were fed by the view that if Christ sacrificed His life to set men free to live for Him, where did any potentate get his justification forcing men to live and die for him. Thus the cry of many in the American colonies was, “No King, but King Jesus!”
Psalm 2, which prophetically speaks of Christ, makes this connection between the Son of God and the hope of freedom for any nation. It reads, “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are my Son, Today have I begotten you. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Psalm 2:7-12).
Over recent decades this connection between the principles of Christianity and the principles of civil government, which were once widely accepted in America, have slowly eroded. Despite the desired end of advocates for a greater freedom that requires a separation of God from government – a mythological separation of church and state that even our nation’s Founders would have rejected – the United States is less united and has less liberty both internally and externally because of our refusal to “Kiss the Son” – to bow humbly to His Lordship.
In fact, a form of slavery flourishes. Men and women, even our children are held sway – captives and serfs of alcohol, drugs, sexual perversions, pornography, and gambling. Liberty has been exchanged for license and true freedom lost in the process. People are trapped in bad marriages with no hope of things getting better. Our government is chained to its debt. What is more, as evil increases the rights of the righteous decrease. Our nation is in bondage to its many problems with no seeming way out.
In his book, The Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll recalls the sense of freedom he had when as a teenager he first received his driver’s license and was given the keys to his dad’s car. He writes:
“Tell you what, son…you can have the car for two hours, all on your own.” Only four words, but how wonderful: ‘All on your own.’
I thanked him…My pulse rate must have shot up to 180 as I backed out of the driveway and roared off. While cruising along ‘all on my own,’ I begin to think wild stuff – like, ‘This car can probably do 100 miles an hour. I could go to Galveston and back twice in two hours if I averaged 100 miles an hour. I can fly down the Gulf Freeway and even run a few lights. After all, nobody’s here to say ‘Don’t!’ We’re talking dangerous, crazy thoughts! But you know what? I didn’t do any of them. I don’t believe I drove above the speed limit. In fact, I distinctly remember turning into the driveway early….I had my dad’s car all to myself with a full gas tank in a context of total privacy and freedom, but I didn’t go crazy. Why? My relationship with my dad…was so strong that I couldn’t, even though I had a license and nobody was in the car to restrain me. Over a period of time, there had developed a sense of trust, a deep love relationship that held me in restraint.”
It is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ that sets the stage for liberty to be established and grow. Freedom can neither be known nor sustained without that deep love relationship with Him that holds us in restraint and causes us to use our liberty with wisdom.
Christ is the door to salvation and liberty. Today America needs Jesus Christ more than ever before.
The celebration of Independence Day rings a bit hollow if it’s only about the recognition of our nation’s history, the display of fireworks, picnics where the kids throw the Frisbee, while Dad is grilling out and Mom is worried about the potato salad getting “iffy.”
Why not choose to rejoice in freedom’s greatest realization this July 4th by turning from sin and to Jesus Christ? Indeed, He is the door to personal salvation and liberty. In Him is also the very hope of national freedom lived and sustained.