Freedom and the Seeker-Friendly Church

Posted on 07/06/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning, and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch!

If you're a first-time visitor, we want to welcome you and invite you to stick around after the service so we can get to know you better.

Last week I announced our intention of starting a live praise and worship service every Thursday at 7:00 pm Second Life time. If you didn't tell us whether you'd be able to come, please take a moment right now to click one of the overheads which are located to the right and the left of the stage. It will take only a few seconds to let us know if you can make it, and if not, what times would be possible for you.

Let's all stand to our feet and get started this morning with prayer.

Lord God, we welcome you into this place. Holy Spirit, you are our guest of honor. In fact, you are our director here today. I ask that everything we do and say here today would be in line with your will and your desires, and that it would all glorify Jesus.

Lord, we want to pray for Sarah Jane, that you give her guidance, and that you give her peace. As she goes through changes in her life, we ask that you give her the courage to let go of everything in her past and present and future, and surrender it all into your perfect hands. And as she loses her life for you, your Word says that she will find true life. We pray for Godly vision, so she can see things through your eyes, and put all of her trust and hope in you alone.

We also pray again for Paulie's friend SJ. We ask for support and strength, and that you will guide her and reveal to her your will.

*** other prayer, listen to the audio to hear ***

Let's remain standing and worship God with our giving.

Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door, and give as the Lord leads.

Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's continue this time of worship with song.


I'm so glad Jesus set me free (x3)

Singing Glory, Hallelujah
     Jesus set me free!

I'm so glad...
Satan had me bound...
Religion had me bound...
I'm so glad...


I'm Set free to worship
I'm set free to praise him
I'm set free to rejoice
     around God's throne
I'll laugh, I'll dance,
     I'll shout, I'll sing
Hallelujah, praise the Lord,
     let the heavens ring
Set free to worship
     I'm set free


Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

There is peace, there is love
There is joy (there is joy)

It is for freedom He's set us free
It is for freedom He's set us free

I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free! (I'm free! I'm free!)
I'm free

We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty
We will walk, Lord
We will walk in Your freedom, walk in Your liberty

We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty
We will dance, Lord
We will dance in Your freedom, dance in Your liberty

We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty
We will jump, Lord
We will jump in Your freedom, jump in Your liberty

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
Where the Spirit of the Lord is

*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction/transition ***

The title of today's message is "Freedom and the Seeker-Friendly Church."

As you know, Friday was Independence Day, the day America celebrates her freedom, bought by the blood of brave heroes who risked and layed down their lives so we could live in the freedom we have today.

Throughout history, freedom has always come at the price of blood. Breaking the bonds of tyrants, dictators, terrorists, and other enemies of liberty, our heroes throughout history are those who have selflessly given everything they had, even their own lives, so others could have a freedom they would not even live to enjoy.

One of the strongest desires is the desire for freedom. Once you've tasted freedom, losing that freedom is one of the most unbearable things you could experience.

Even before they had tasted freedom themselves, those in bondage tasted it nonetheless. They did so in the same spirit that was behind the penning of the Declaration of Independence, the Emmancapation Proclomation, and the battles to overthrow Hitler and bring freedom to those targeted by the Holocaust.

But the military heroes are not the only ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others.

Men and women of the Faith have given their lives, refusing to deny their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and refusing to stop spreading the message of freedom in Jesus through reconciliation to God.

And, of course, our greatest example of self-sacrifice for the freedom of others is Jesus, who left his glory and majesty in heaven and lived among us as a man, embracing the cross and its shame, enduring torture by men he had created to worship him, and taking upon himself the blame and punishment for all of our sins, the Holy, sinless Lamb of God, who willingly became the sacrifice for the sinful human race.

Here's what Jesus said about freedom in John 8:31-36:

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Now these people, along with the rest of those who were awaiting the coming Messiah, had a problem, a misunderstanding of what Jesus came to do.

Notice here that when Jesus says the truth will set them free, they replied by saying they have never been in bondage to anyone. You see, they thought that freedom was earthly, and believed that Jesus was going to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and bring them freedom from unfair political rule.

But Jesus was speaking a totally different language. When he said "Freedom," he meant something totally different from what those listening chose to hear.

So they asked him, "How can you say that we will be made free?"

Perhaps you live in the greatest country on earth, and enjoy unprecedented freedom. Perhaps you are very troubled, as you see more and more of that freedom removed by the political process. Perhaps you live under great oppression. Perhaps you are a slave to your debtors. Perhaps you're even hearing this from behind bars, and most of your freedoms have been taken away.

Perhaps your question is, "How can you set us free when we're already free?" Or maybe your question is, "If you're setting us free, how long will it be before you destroy those who hold us in bondage?" But in either case, your idea of freedom is one of an earthly nature. Freedom to you is the ability to do as you please without having undue limitations placed upon you.

And this type of freedom is a noble aim. I thank God for those who gave their lives to win my freedom, and I thank God for those who pay the price to keep that freedom and who fight for the freedom of others.

But there are two main differences between earthly freedom and the spiritual freedom Jesus came to give.

Earthly freedom can be overthrown no matter what we do, while spiritual freedom remains whether we are masters or slaves.

And earthly freedom, at best, lasts for an individual's lifetime, while spiritual freedom lasts for eternity.

Now, I hope that you appreciate your earthly freedom. Most of us have some level of freedom. At least you have the freedom to access the Internet, most of you through your own computer, and come to this virtual world and meet with other Christians to worship Jesus and study the Holy Bible.

And those of us who live in America, I certainly hope you realize that you live in the freest, most prosperous country on earth.

When the founders of this country established the original government, one of the expressed purposes of founding this nation was to spread the Christian faith. Make no mistake about it, the vast majority of our founding fathers were born-again, Bible-believing Christians. Only three of the fifty-five were possibly Deists, and one of those is very doubtful, while another turned later in life to the truth of the Good News that God does indeed involve himself in the affairs of man.

The great men who are foundation blocks of these great United States had no illusion that Government and Religion need be separated, but instead acknowledged the dire need to not remove the Bible and the Christian Faith from the ruling offices of this land.

What is commonly refered to as "the separation of church and state" is not found as such in the constitution. Instead, we see an effort to secure the freedom of the Church, limiting the government so that it can not constitutionally limit the freedom of religion in any way, including removing it from public office.

The incredible prosperity and freedom we have seen over the decades is a direct result of the type of prosperity and freedom about which we're talking today -- spiritual prosperity and a freedom which comes with a life that is founded upon the written Word of God.

It is the principles of the Holy Scriptures, brought to life in the heart of one who walks with the Savior, that birth wisdom, freedom, and the blessings of God.

Psalm 119:44-45 say,

 44 So shall I keep Your law continually,
         Forever and ever.
 45 And I will walk at liberty,
         For I seek Your precepts.

Our founding fathers realized something very important, something that many with great influence are trying their hardest to erase: they knew and stated that without reliance upon God and a firm foundation in the Scriptures, freedom could not be secured. And it was upon this firm foundation that America was founded -- not upon the greatness of some type of humanistic or socialistic philosophy, not upon the greatness of some type of government or institution, but upon the greatness of the work that Jesus did for us on the cross, and the power of his Holy Word as a firm foundation which can not be shaken.

Political correctness, originally called social Marxism, is a spirit of anti-Christ. It has corrupted our government, and has even poisoned our churches. We don't call ourselves a "seeker friendly" church; not because we're not one, but because of what that term implies. By the definition of a "seeker friendly" church, we are certainly not. But if we were to define, by the Word of God, what really makes a true church "friendly" to the true seeker, then may God continue to refine us in that direction.

Today's "seeker friendly" church is to spiritual freedom what today's "politically correct" government is to earthly freedom. On the outside, it appears to foster it, while on the inside, it is a ravenous wolf, and destroys that which it pretends to promote.

For example, under political correctness, you can be a practicing homosexual, and even insist that everyone else validate your actions as normal and good.

On the other hand, under political correctness, a practicing Christian who has been freed from the bondage of a homosexual lifestyle is not free to say so, at least not in those words. If he claims it is a bondage and Jesus can set you free, he is labeled as a hateful, biggoted extremist. In Canada, he can be charged with a hate crime.

So in that example, political correctness defends bondage while silencing the only voice of true freedom. You are free to sin, but not to speak the truth, even in love, if it brings conviction to those who hear it.

And this is basically the same thing we see happening in our churches, at least those seeking to be "seeker friendly." We water down the gospel in an attempt to not offend anyone. We don't talk about the "blood" of Jesus. We don't talk about a "literal hell" where "sinners" will burn for eternity unless they accept the "blood sacrifice" of Jesus and then repent of their sins.

Those things would offend. Those things might scare someone off.

Well, we shouldn't be surprised. The Bible tells us this is so. In fact, the Apostle Paul described the Christian ministry itself as offensive.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 he says this:

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

So to smell like life to all seekers who pass through, we will have to change our fragrance. The problem is, as this passage says, it is the fragrance of Christ which makes us smell like death to those who are perishing. Therefore, to not smell like death to them, we must not smell like Jesus.

The seeker-friendly church also believes we should change the words and presentation of the Gospel so that a kindergartener could understand. The true aim is to change the Gospel so that the carnal mind will both understand and approve of it.

But here's what 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 says about that idea:

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech;
13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Have you ever heard a critic say that the Old Testament is full of murder and hate, and if God is the God of the Old Testament, he must be a very evil God indeed?

A veil lies on their heart. And yet, the Old Testament isn't an elective. It's just as much a vital part of the Holy Scriptures as the New Testament. It shows the image and nature of God, demonstrating his complete holiness and our utter incapability of reaching his holy standards. It shows us our complete hopelessness to ever avoid eternal judgment in our own goodness and by our own efforts.

It shows us our desperate need for a Savior.

If I don't mention sin, if I don't tell you about hell, if I don't let you know that the payment for your sin is death and that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, and if I don't tell you that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spilled his blood as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and that you must turn to him and be washed clean from your sins by his blood, and turn from them to serve the living God; if I don't tell you these things, I'm not seeker friendly.

No, if I don't tell you the whole Gospel, I am seeker hostile. I might make you feel good. I might make you think that Christianity is okay because it is compatible with the fleshly carnal nature. But I am like a tour guide who points his tourists to quicksand and tells them that's the way to a lovely beach.

With sin and fleshly comfort come bondage. With Godly repentance and living life in the Spirit of the Lord come freedom.

With religion and uncertain doctrine come bondage. With acceptance of the complete Gospel and the solid foundation and absolute truth of the Holy Scriptures come freedom.

So let's talk about the crucifixion.

Romans 6:1-7 says,

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

And let's talk about holiness.

Romans 6:22-23 says,

22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My wife and I celebrated the 4th of July, Independence Day, remembering the price that was paid for our earthly freedom. And I hope you celebrate your earthly freedom as well.

But just as political correctness is an enemy of earthly freedom, I hope you see the danger and anti-Christ nature of being politically correct and seeker-friendly in your relations with others.

We are the scent of death to those who perish. But the Spirit of the Living God does the work of drawing the world to Jesus through the unashamed preaching of the full Gospel of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals sin, righteouness, and judgment.

Jesus says this in John 16:7-11:

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

He doesn't say that sin is not doing what you think is right, but says, "of sin, because they do not believe in Me." If you do not believe in Jesus and follow him, you will die in your sin. This is not seeker-friendly, but the Holy Spirit doesn't seem to care.

He then says, "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more." He was pointing out that he IS righteousness, and outside of him, there is no righteousness. This means that outside of Jesus, you can not hope to be made right with God, and the unrighteous, according to Scripture, will spend eternity in the lake of fire. This certainly isn't seeker-friendly, but the Holy Spirit seems to have a better idea.

And finally he says, "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." So the ruler of the world system, the popular way of doing things and looking at the world, the way that seems right to a man but in the end is death, the system of political correctness that makes everyone feel comfortable in his or her bondage and sin; he is judged. His whole kingdom is judged. Speaking of this judgment on all that is outside of Christ is most definitely not seeker-friendly. But just maybe God knows better than we.

Just maybe God has more wisdom than we do. Just maybe God's approach is more perfect than ours is. Just maybe the Holy Spirit is more skilled at bringing the true seeker to Salvation than our books and programs are.

And the more we realize and embrace the fact that God is God and we are dust, the more our pride will melt away, and the more the Holy Spirit will be able to work through and around us to bring in the harvest, and to bring freedom.

The ministry team can come to the front now.

This altar is open. Feel free to get out of your seat and come gather at the front to seek after God.

If you have not entered in by the narrow gate, if you have not come to Jesus and received forgiveness for and cleansing from your sins, then I want to extend a special invitation to you.

If you want to see a miracle, then reach out and grab the greatest miracle you will ever see -- the resurrection of your dead spirit, dead in trespasses and sins, and the transfer of all your dark, wicked sins onto the body of Jesus Christ, as he spilled his blood to wash your sins away.

The Bible tells us that "those who are in Christ are a new creation; old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new." Jesus is your only hope. Don't let your Salvation pass you by.

Just reach out right now and receive him. You might say, "Jesus, I accept your gift of Salvation! Forgive me for my sins, and wash my sins away. I turn from my old life, and choose to follow you!"

And he will work a miracle in your life right now, bringing you out of death into life, out of darkness into his marvelous life; taking you off the path of destruction and setting your feet on the path of everlasting life.

Please feel free to instant message someone on the ministry team for prayer or ministry. And if you are giving your life to Jesus today, let us know.

You're free to go if you need to. If you're new here or are a new Christian, please come see me after the service, so I can get to know you better.

Come to the altar, and let's pray.