July 3, 2016
Luke 10:1-11, 16-2
Under GodTomorrow is the 4th of July. People will be taking the day off from work and going to paradesand fireworks and picnics. But we dare not forget what the 4thof July is about- freedom.Freedom as a nation is not cheap- it has been bought and maintained with a price. But thefreedoms we have as a nation and individuals cannot really be understood outside the context ofour freedom in Christ and His authority.Every school day growing up began by standing with my classmates and saying: “I pledgeallegiance to the flag- of the United States of America- and to the Republic, for which it stands,one nation- “under God”- with liberty and justice for all.” -Under God. Under His authority-under His wisdom and guidance found in the bible.We gather here this morning to see friends and sing praises to God and listen to his word. But wedare not forget that we come here free in Christ- having been set free from the power of sinthrough the sacrifice of God’s own son. Without first pledging our personal lives to the Lordshipof Jesus Christ, living under God ourselves, we are on shaky ground as a nation. Pray.One day, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him: “If you continue in my word, you aretruly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” This nationwas founded on biblical principles.What is the freedom Jesus talked about? Is it a ticket to do whatever we want? No. It is theability and power to do what we should. We cannot do that on our own- only by submitting toGod and His authority can we really be free. Yet, our sinful nature wants to be in control.Campus Crusaders are known to ask those they are witnessing to: “who is on the throne of yourlife? It gets down to who is in charge- who sits on the throne of your life? And how we answerthat question will determine not only our earthly life- but life eternal depending how we chooseto answer.But we are all accountable to God- even those who do not confess Him as Lord. God is God-king of kings and lord of lords whether people or nations acknowledge that or not-but one dayevery knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.So what does it mean to be under God’s authority? First of all, to be under God is a position-likebeing under an umbrella or not- if you are under an umbrella when it is raining- you will staydry- if you aren’t, you will get wet. I John 1:7 is an example: “if we walk in the light, as he is inthe light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us fromall sin.”
The first sign of one being under God’s authority- is a contrite heart- a repentant heart that turnsto God for forgiveness.A contrite heart is a heart that has submitted to God’s word- trusting in what he says to be truth- atrust that obeys. When God says something is a sin- that’s what he means. When he says that weare saved by grace- that’s what he means. In the Garden of Eden, the snake asked Adam andEve-“is that what God really said? Is that what God really meant?” And ever since then, mankindhas been trying to rewrite God’s word to fit our own agendas and our own wants and desires.Being under God’s authority means depending on God’s strength and wisdom- and not our own.The apostle Paul had what he described as a “thorn in the flesh”. We are not told what it was forsure- but it was something that bothered him deeply and he had asked God to remove it threetimes. But God didn’t- and then explained why saying: “my grace is sufficient for you, for mypower is made perfect in weakness.” Depend on me in every circumstance- trust me to be yourstrength. Paul then goes on to say: “when I am weak, then I am strong.”To be under God’s authority leads to obedience. You cannot truly follow God without obeyingHim- trusting even when we do not understand why- but knowing and trusting his love.To be under God’s authority is a position of protection. Many Psalms talk about being under theprotection of God. Psalm 23 is a classic example. When we walk through the valleys of life-weneed not fear with God the Good shepherd by our side. “His rod and His staff comfort me” thePsalmist writes. In other words, the power of God will save us. In the big picture, God hasalready won the battle to save us. On a hill far away- stood an old wooden cross- where theholiness of God and the love of God met in Jesus Christ- and there our sins were paid for in full.And then Jesus rose in victory over death and the power of the devil. Knowing that, we can faceeach day with confidence that whatever happens, everything will be okay.To be under God’s authority is to trust in God’s provision. Think of the people of Israel as theyleft the slavery they had been under in Egypt on their way as free people to the Promised Land.Think about it- not only did they not know how long their journey would be-but they didn’t havemuch time to pack and prepare for the journey. I can only assume the food they brought alongwould not have lasted for more than a week- or a month at most. And when they had nothing left,they had no choice but to trust God to provide. And God was faithful- providing them manna toeat enough for the day- and water in the desert. And yet they complained and wanted more.In contrast, we have been given an abundance of food to eat- clothes to wear- homes to staywarm and dry in- and even cool from the summer heat. We have been blessed- and yet we wantmore like the Israelites. The apostle Paul tells us we need to learn to be content with whatever wehave- and the only way we can be content is to trust God to provide.To be under God is not only to be under the power and word of a holy and righteous, and allpowerful God – is to be under his grace. Satan tries to make us think we have to make God loveus by what we do. But the power of the gospel is that: “We are saved by grace through faith- andnot of our own doing- it is a gift of God so that no one can boast.”
The church at Galatia were obsessed with the outward appearance as evidence of living underGod. They even boasted about it. The Pharisees were as good or better than most at doing that.And Jesus said that they were like white washed tombs- appearing clean on the outside yet beingdead on the inside.Paul said in no uncertain terms- what is important is a new creation- in fact, it is everything! Anew heart- cleansed by grace through the blood of Jesus is the starting place. A life lived underGod will transform us from the inside out.Amazingly, when we live under the authority of God- God entrusts us with the gospel to sharewith others- God, the sower gives us each a bag of seeds- His word- and sends us out to sowthose seeds where ever we go.When Jesus sent out the 70, two by two- he sent them out in Jesus name-to be stewards of thepower of God to do what He does for His glory- not ours.This country was founded by men who were not perfect, but who trusted God who is perfect- andknew that if the newly emerging nation were to survive, it would first have to be a nation underGod.Thomas Jefferson made it clear: “God who gave us life – gave us liberty- and can the liberties ofa nation be thought secure when we have removed it’s basis?”Jesus said to his followers- “if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples- and you willknow the truth- and the truth will make you free.”May this nation continue to be a nation under God. That can only happen when each person, eachfamily, each congregation, city, state- live under God’s authority. To God be the glory- and mayGod bless America. Amen.