It is difficult for us to know what it would be like to live in captivity. When we see stories on television about people who are enslaved in certain parts of this world, we are very grateful to live in the land of the free.
Did it ever occur to you that we can live in freedom and still be in bondage? In John 8:31 and 32, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In other words, He is telling us today that if we will live in His word, study it and interpret life in the light of that Word, we will know the truth, and that truth will set us free.
The Jews, to whom Jesus was speaking, replied, of old said “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” It was true. They were the descendants of Abraham. They were the chosen race and had a freedom in the sense that Abraham was their father and God was their Father. We could interpret those words by saying we are children of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. We have that lineage and are blessed by it. However, at the same time, we can still be held in captivity.
One way in which we are held captive is by our fear of death. Although those of us who know Christ are not afraid to die, many others do not believe in life after death. Their belief is they will live out the years they’ve been given, then die Ð end of story. Yet that is not what the Bible teaches. It tells us that we are eternal beings and will live forever.
I have stood at many bedsides and heard people say, “I’m going to die! I’m going to die!” Yes, we are all going to die, but our Lord tells us, “If you abide in My Word, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The day we die, we will be in good hands. When will it happen? What will it be like? What about the pain and the separation? When we abide in God’s Word, we have Jesus’ promises to depend upon, and we need not fear.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he dies, yet will he live.”
“In my Fathers house are many mansions, if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself.”
None of us want to die. We don’t like the idea of pain. One young mother told me she had only a short time to live. She had two little girls and so many plans for their lives; she didn’t want to die.
One day I stood by her bedside and watched her two toddlers running around in the bedroom. She said, “I carried these children in my body. They are mine. No one else, in all this world, can give them the care that I can. How can I be free from the fear of wondering what will happen to them when I will no longer be here?”
When we abide in God’s Word, we turn it all over to the Lord Jesus. As she did so, her prayer then became, “Jesus, I bore these children and I raised them for the short time I was here. I would love to go on raising them, but I cannot, for you are going to take me home to be with you. And so, Lord, Jesus, I know you will take care of my little girls. But while I am still here, I know you are with me, even as I endure this pain. And when I draw my last breath, you will receive me into your heaven, and I will be with you always.”
I watched her fears vanish as she prayed that prayer, placing her life and her daughters’ lives into God’s hands. Through the years, I have watched Jesus care for those two little girls as that mother prayed. All she had to do was to abide in His Word, and then leave all her cares in God’s hands.
What about the fear of oneÔs children departing from the faith? Here is a couple who raised their son according to the will of God. They took him to church and Sunday school and taught him in the home to do what is right according to the will of God. His parents have taught him how to follow the Savior since he was a little boy. But now he is moving away from the Lord, and he doesn’t go to church anymore.
One day they overhear him mention that he doesn’t know whether he even believed in Jesus Christ anymore. Religion was all right for his father and mother’s generation but he was more learned than they and would not be dishonest enough to say he was a believer. The church had far too many hypocrites; he didn’t want to be one of them.
“We don’t know what to do with our son,” the parents say. “We plead with him to come to church with us, even if it is only on Christmas and Easter, but he gives no sign of faith.” What do they do?
“If you abide in God’s word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Years go by, and the son experiences many things. Then, one day he is back in church! He has come to hear of God’s forgiveness for his hostility to the Word and needs Christ’s strength to overcome his rebellious thoughts. That son became a blessing to his age-old parents.
Those parents planted the seed of God’s Word in their son’s heart. They sang, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong” to him when he was just a babe. The seed of faith went deep into his heart. Now that seed has bloomed and their fifty-year-old son has become a confessing Christian who carries the message Jesus Christ to those in his own life. Those parents didn’t need to fear, for God provided for his spiritual needs by giving him parents who faithfully shared the Word of God with him, even while he was a child.
I say now to you, young fathers and mothers, plant the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of your children. Then leave it to God and claim the promise that “if we abide in His word, we will know the truth, and that truth will set us free.”
What about parents who do not teach their children the Word of God? Parents who don’t take them to Sunday school and church and allow profanity as common language in the home. If these parents don’t meet Jesus until the children are out of the home, is it too late for their children?
If you abide in God’s Word, you will know that, if you confess your sins to your Heavenly Father, He will forgive you. You will also see that someone else, at the proper time, took care of your child spiritually speaking. Your child is God’s child, too.
I have personally witnessed these stories and many, many more. It is true that, if you abide in God’s Word, all will be well.
Death comes with its share of fears. The thought of a son or daughter leaving Christ and the church also carries fear. But take heart, for if you have been in that Word, if you have surrendered your will to Him and confessed that Jesus is God, He will go with us. Though circumstances look bleak, when we put our situation in God hands and leave it there, we find the answer.
That is our message for today. “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will be with you.” Those are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.