Taken from “The Door to Salvation and Liberty”
A sermon on Christ’s declaration: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
By Rev. Mark Creech
United States history records the building of a transcontinental railway that united our great nation by rail from the Atlantic to the Pacific. During construction, there were financial struggles until finally the promoters secured enough funds. There was much excitement when the work was resumed. Finally the day came when the last rail was to be laid on the border between New Mexico and Colorado. It was planned as a great event. A special order was sent to California for a laurel wood tie and two silver spikes – one for Colorado and one for New Mexico. The Governor of both states was invited. They were to drive the two silver spikes into the laurel wood tie, thus completing the work of construction, making a way of transportation from coast to coast and binding together the two states.
As the Governors drove the two silver spikes into the laurel wood tie, the crowd thundered in applause and cheers, while a tapped telegraph wire bore the news in a flash. It was a tremendous feat and accomplishment.
A little more than two millennia ago, spikes were driven not into a laurel tie, but into a cursed tree and through the hands and feet of the Son of God. They were not spikes of silver, but of iron and hammered while heaven and earth looked on the spectacle. When the last spike was driven, a shout went up from all creation – a way bridging the vast expanse between man and God had been secured. There was a way open now straight from heaven to earth. A means of access to the very throne of God was completed. It was finished. The last spike driven through the hands of Christ on the Cross was a reconciling death. It was a peacemaking transaction, where man’s indebtedness of sin was paid in full. Christ voluntarily yielded his feet and hands to those spikes so that he might be the door to our redemption.
Now, whosoever will may come, “enter in” and “be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.”
No more desert. No more barrenness. God, as a shepherd leads us safely in green pastures. And those who enter the sheepfold “shall go in and out.” That means liberty, liberty, blessed liberty!!!
If we didn’t know better from other references of Scripture and from knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic idiom, we might suppose this text referred to entering and leaving salvation itself. Nevertheless, this is not what Christ means. To be able to go in and out means security. The Psalmist writes: “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (Ps. 121:5-8). In Christ’s day, when a man could go in and out without fear it meant that his country was at peace and that the ruler had the affairs of the nation under control. It was only when the city was under siege that citizens could not go in and out with liberty.
Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross makes people free – free from the enslaving power of sin – free from sin’s penalty, which is death and judgment. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath sent me…to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Lk. 4:18). Christ gives an internal freedom. But the liberty Christ gives is not just an internal freedom, but also an external one.
Unfortunately, many Christians today have forgotten or were unaware that the moral ethic of civil liberty and the Christian reality of spiritual liberty are interlocked. Wherever Christianity has become a vital force in the world, freedom and liberty have expanded. The principles that shaped stable democratic republics in the West grew out of the hearts of those who embraced the internal liberty they knew in Christ.
This was the spark – the flame – the beacon light of the American idea. The driving force behind the American Revolution was if Christ would die to set men free to live for him – where did the King get off forcing men to live and die for him? Thus the cry of many in the American colonies: “No King, but King Jesus!”
In 1851, when Daniel Webster was reviewing the history of our nation, he affirmed this connection between the spiritual and the civil. “Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected,” he wrote, “let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passions or blind fanaticism…On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.”
More than a hundred years following Webster, Charles Malik, one time Ambassador to the United Nations from Lebanon, said: “The good (in the United States) would never had come into being without the blessing and the power of Jesus Christ…I know how embarrassing this matter is to politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and cynics: but, whatever these honored men think, the irrefutable truth is that the soul of America is at its best and highest Christian.”
Yes, Christ himself, his sacrifice on the Cross and a personal knowledge of him as redeemer and Lord is the very basis of all true liberty.