We are Gods Free People

Series: Preacher: Date: July 21, 2002 Scripture Reference: Psalm 116

Guest Speaker – Dr. Dale Smith

Chicago Historical Society & Moody Church.

Dwight L. Moody — boys and girls — aristocratic church — church board — take a month “Did you follow our suggestions?” — “And what did the Lord say?”

“He told me not to feel bad about it, because he has been trying to get into this church himself for the last twenty-five years!”

Moody and Charles Spurgeon — Moody admired Spurgeon — cigar in his mouth.

“How could you, a man of God, smoke that?”

“The same way you, a man of God, could be that fat.”

John Harper– near Glasgow, Scotland, — Harper Memorial Church. — Baptist minister ae 17 — started several churches — revival at Moody Church, winter of 1911– invited back April 11, 1912, –S.S. Titanic — daughter, Nana, ae 6 – daughter to lifeboat. “Women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats first!” life jacket – man on S.S. Carpathia

1st time “Are you saved?” — “No.” Harper Acts 15:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” waves separated 2nd Harper repeated, “Are you saved?” — “No, I can’t honestly say that I am.” Harper quoted from Acts — Harper sank — “There, alone in the night, with two miles of water beneath me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.”

Harper – free to act in faith as he believed his Lord called him to do!

The Psalms – liturgy of the 2nd Temple, post exile

Some early, even Davidic, most collected later

Exile Babylon also Egypt

The Egyptian Hallel – Psalm 6 — used at great festivals, Passover, tabernacles, weeks

Passover Psalm 113-114 pre meal; Psalm 115-118 post sedar

Psalm 116 originally a simple recovery thanksgiving?

Review Passover — Egypt, Joshua, decline, Hezikiah, Josiah, return — stress is deuteronomic covenant, a covenant with a whole people or nation to be a witness

Christian use — New covenant, mass – v.13 the cup of salvation used by priest before cup in Mass, v.17 after reading Martyrology at Prime

Lets turn to text –

1 “I love the Lord BECAUSE He has heard my voice”.
Because he first loved me -Frederick Whitfield’s “Oh How I love Jesus’

2 Therefore call as long as I live — future construction
“He has given me a hearing whenever I have cried to Him” NEB
“He bends down to listen to me when I call” JB

3 Death & Sorrow personal, tribal, national, eternal

4 I invoked the name of the Lord, in the name of Jehovah I call=POWER of name
“Yehwah rescue me!” JB
“O Lord, save me” NIV
“Save my life” NASB
“Deliver my soul” CEV

5 God is gracious Righteous but merciful

6 Defends the simple, simple hearted, little ones (Amer Stand)
I was brought low — saved me

7 Kindly NIV too little, bountifully literally conferred benefits.

8 Whatever the problem it’s solved by the Lord

9 Walk habitually before the Lord in the land of the living

Septuigent & early Latin texts break here give remainder another number

Let’s break and reflect on testimony

God acted to deliver a New Covenant, made possible by God’s mercy.

He is righteous can not fellowship with unrighteous and remain God

but He became man lived a perfect life and

voluntarily died and was raised on the third day.

All who ask will be saved if they call Jesus Lord.

So we respond, acknowledge mercy,

unless the Lord acts you die but God acted

Jesus came and died that the world might be saved.

This is a community of the New Covenant, we follow the Lordship of Christ,

if you don’t follow yet we invite you do so,

talk to the Lord, the psalmist promised he would bend down to hear you if you do.

Verse 10 2 Corinthians 4:13 is best translation

After noting the power is in God not in men, Paul says “I believed therefore I have spoken”

v. 11 I was afflicted and believed all men were liars or

JB men are not dependable

NEB How faithless all men are.

Confirmed in Romans 3:4 Mankind can not be depended upon but God can be.

12 Therefore what do I owe God in response to His benefit or bounty unto me?

13 Will lift the cup & call on the Lord’s name WORSHIP – brings us here — one of the purposes of our church

14 Fulfill vows – give the Lord that which was promised to Him – ancient keep the law, that was the old covenant, to day we covenant to follow Christ.

15 Precious — Sheol severed contact with God therefore costly to God another interpretation from Wis 3:1-8 is faithful are like Gold purified in fire and so costly. I prefer the loss is costly to God – made for fellowship, if not in fellowship God is hurt.

16 Servant, child of servant, so wholly owned but Freed by God

17-19 Sacrifice, pay vows presence of people, in courts, in your midst o Jerusalem, that is in the center of things.

What does it mean to be freed by God, what is it that we have vowed to do, what does it mean to accept the Lordship of Christ?

Turn with me to Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia


  • started the work — other people — added to what Paul — difficulties he faced with the Jewish leaders of the early church,



  • he reiterates the doctrine of salvation by faith,



  • chapter 4 he uses the example of the two sons of Abraham verse 30 “What does the scripture say, “cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman”



  • Chapter 5 “For the freedom of Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” and verse 13 & 14 “For you were called to freedom brothers only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.”



  • Paul writing to Corinth on the issue of not mistaking freedom for license



  • Jesus was very clear that he had not come to abolish the law. But he taught a new way of selfless love and he called other to follow him in it.



  • We articulate that lifestyle in our church through



  • our commitments to grow in our understanding of God’s call to us,



  • to support each other through fellowship,



  • to share the message of Christ with the lost, and



  • to serve others in Christ’s name.


But this is language we are comfortable with, sometimes it doesn’t hit us or move us because of its familiarity.

The earliest covenant statement of the community of faith which became Baptist in the 17th century read “As the Lord’s free people, to walk in all His ways, made known or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavors, whatever it might cost them, the Lord assisting them.”

elements Baptist vision

This was a new way God had made known -the reformation belief that the New Covenant was a spiritual one, it was not tied to the Old Covenant of God with all humanity dating from Noah and Abraham.

Human society was not Christian, the civilization of Europe was not the new Jerusalem, God established a covenant – each person needed to accept it.

God’s rule of the world was absolute, it was always a fact,

the church was the covenant people who make God’s rule manifest in the world.


Infant baptism

confusion of good deeds with Christianity

The church is possible by grace but it manifests itself by keeping God’s commandments.

Therefore the church could not be a mixed community,

it was a living community of faithful saints,

struggling as pilgrims to find and do God’s will.

Just like the state church could not properly baptize infants in the 17th century I submit that the majority can not place the whole nation under God, the California judges were right; not for the reasons they gave but because we can not compel people to follow God.

We must live in their midst in such a way as to make them want to follow God.

Our Baptist forbearers were jailed because of their radical beliefs that following God in a covenant relationship was more important that social conventions of piety.

They explicitly rejected the notion of a Christian society – when asked “how shall he prove it warrentable and necessary for magistrates to punish Sabbath breaking, blasphemy, and idolatry” since “the scriptures of the New Testament do speak little in these cases.”

Our forbearers argued it was not the task of the state to use earthly power and confuse people about their relationship with God.

Everyone needed to come to a personal decision and act freely, choosing God for themselves.

This was the community to whom John Robinson preached, “the Lord has more truth yet to break forth out of His holy word.”

As Christians and as Baptist I submit we have a vow to follow God,

giving Him our best endeavors,

whatever it might cost us,

having faith that He will assist us.

– antislavery, universal suffrage, temperance, child protection,

– Charles Finney and New Measures of the 1820s

  • pray for persons by name,


  • share gospel thru home visits,



  • allow women to pray & testify,



  • have invitation after sermon,



  • meet on other than Sunday, etc.


I am not sure what this means for you or for me or for our community here at Redland.

I am sure it means that we have a radical call,

that conventional programs and old methods are not all God expects us to do with our freedom but we need to do them as well.

My best endeavors have not, even with God’s assistance, brought me to the place where I love my fellow man so much that if treading water in the north Atlantic my thoughts would be on their salvation. But I must ask myself what is stopping it, I do not believe it is God’s ability so it must be my willingness.

What is stopping you from following God’s will in working with children, in tithing, in personal devotion, in witnessing though a caring and loving lifestyle? What has God made known to you that your best endeavors have not achieved and what are you gong to do about? God has acted, we have been saved, will we, you and I, with the psalmist keep our vows to follow God?

close with Moody — October 8, 1871– Moody –worst mistake of his life– Farwell Hall, “What then should I do with Jesus.” — conclusion — “Take this text home with you and turn it over in your minds and next Sabbath . . . decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth.” Night of Chicago fire — 3.5 square miles, 1800 buildings, 90,000 people homeless, 300+ dead — “I have never dared to give an audience a week to think over their salvation since.”

As we close this service do you have a decision to make? Maybe it is the first and most fundamental decision, that you will accept the grace of God and follow Christ in all his ways, known and to be made known. If so, I ask you to join me at the front as we sing the next hymn. Perhaps you have a public decision to make about your church home, is God making known to you that He would have you become part of this community of faith, if so I ask that you join me as well when we sing. But I urge all of you to reflect on God’s will for you life and ask Him to assist you in following him in all his ways, whatever it might cost you. Whatever your decision, do it now, as we sing, for we do not know what the future holds in this world but we can be sure about the next.

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