Pastor Harold Brokke and his wife Cathy Brokke have served the Lord Jesus as counselors to countless missionaries all over the world. Harold is a former President of Bethany Fellowship International, the community that established and runs the renowned Bethany House Publishers. Presently Pastor Brokke serves the Bethany Missionary Church as Senior Pastor Emeritus. Cathy was the Director of Bethany Fellowship Missions for many years. Both live in Minneapolis. God has called Harold to minister to people and communities around the world on Bible Prophecy and sanctification through the Message of the Cross.
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YOU SHALL BE FREE INDEED!
Pastor Harold Brokke
Freedom is one of those precious words that we often find in the Scriptures. For instance, concerning the great statements of divine truth which Jesus taught, we are told, "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Because the Holy Spirit has come to apply that truth, the Word of God also says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Moreover, Paul states triumphantly concerning the Cross and freedom: "For freedom did Christ set us free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). Thus when we believe in, and act on, the truth, freedom comes--freedom from the old manner of life, and freedom from the bondage and power of sin.
2. HOW TO OBTAIN FREEDOM?
How, then, do we obtain this freedom in the Lord Jesus? Our salvation is made up of two great phases which we shall present under two propositions. The first is this: There is something dead in us which must live; the second is, There is something living in us which must die.
Something dead in us must live
The first of these propositions is also first in our experience: Something has died out in every man. It is a spiritual death, which God spoke of as the judgment connected with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He said to Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
This death was accomplished in Adam's spirit, where he lost living fellowship with God. Eternal life left his spirit; fear and guile entered instead. It is on this basis that Paul says to the Ephesians, "And you did he make alive when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins." When a man turns from sin and receives the blood of Christ as a basis for his acceptance, God makes this declaration to the repentant man: "He that hath the Son hath the life" (1 John 5:12). Man's spirit is made alive. That which was dead lives and begins a blessed fellowship with the Father of spirits.
Something alive in us must die
The second proposition, however, deals with another problem, which faces the Christian himself. It is this: There is something living in us which needs to die. One of His greatest statements was, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
This is not a complicated statement when we realize that the cross which Jesus spoke of was an instrument of death, indicating that this self-life, this independent existence and disposition which came alive in us at the Fall, must die in us. Christ died on the Cross as a representative sin-offering; this is the provisional basis for our death with Him. Thus we must accept our death in Jesus, just as we accept our life in Him.
The plain statement of Scripture is this: "Ye are dead," (Colossians 3:3) and "our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away, that henceforth we should not be in bondage to sin" (Romans 6:6).
Some people object to such a teaching; but, as any orthodox Christian knows, there is no doctrine so universally accepted among us as the doctrine of a corrupt life in the believer which ought to die. They all agree that it will die. The great issue of the Christian Church is: When will it die? The Gospel to the Christian is indeed good news when it says, "Ye are dead" (Colossians 3:3).
The highest and most glorious testimony is found fromt he lips of Paul when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20 R.V.). Paul found that fulness of experience where, in the first place, th dead spirit in him began to live in Christ, and where secondly, the living, rebellious disposition in him was crucified with His Lord, so that he lived a life of union and fellowship with Christ.
How is this second phase of our salvation received? We must lay down our lives by faith just where Jesus laid His life down for us-on the cross-in an absolute, irrevocable surrender. The Spirit of God, who made Jesus' death a once-for-all death, can make His death ours in a crisis, and then this crisis can be followed by a victorious process of resurrection-life. The command of Scripture to believers is just as plain as God's command, repent, to unbelievers.
What is that command to believers? "Even so reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11 R.V.). This can be the testimony of anyone who has accepted his death to sin and to the world, and has become a partaker of the life and holiness of the risen Lord Jesus.
As new creatures in Christ, we can be filled and led by the Holy Spirit; also, with the Holy Spirit upon us, we are enabled to be effective witnesses of Christ in this present evil world.
3. HOW TO MAINTAIN FREEDOM?
After we have received this liberty and freedom from sin, we must live it out day by day. There are three things to learn which will help us to have and maintain freedom in Christ.
According to our faith
First, the fact and the sense of freedom is according to our faith in the truth. This is very vividly illustrated in the later years of Jacob. Ten of his sons had seen their younger brother Joseph coming toward them on the hills of Dothan and they plotted an schemed his death. But because of the intercession of Reuben and Judah, he was not killed but just sold to the Ishmaelites and brought down to Egypt. Then, in order to justify this evil in the eyes of their father, the brothers brought him Joseph's coat, full of the blood of a he-goat. Then Jacob concluded: "An evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces" (Genesis 37:33).
Yet the brothers had told their father a lie. Then their father did something just as damaging-he believed a lie.
As a result, for the next twenty years Jacob was sorrowful and full of remorse concerning his lost son, Joseph. Everything about Jacob spoke of death, and solemness, and despair.
But the providence of God intervened. Famine came and affected the whole eastern world. In time Joseph's brothers went down to Egypt for food. Joseph knew them, one day made himself known to them, and thus was used to bring them to a state of repentance. At last, back to their father they brought their news and proved to the old man, "Joseph is yet alive." Then in telling words, Scripture describes what happened when Jacob believed the truth: "Then the spirit of Jacob revived" (Genesis 45:27). For twenty years Jacob had lived as though he had a dead son, when all the while the fact was that his son, thriving and abounding, was the very prime minister of Egypt and the savior of the world of that time.
Oh, the power of a lie, and the power of truth! Think of it. A lie-if we believe it-can work in us all the emotions and sympathies and actions that the truth works in us. Too many Christians are like Jacob and refuse to believe God's wonderful news. For instance, one of the great Scripture truths not always believed is this: "Our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin" (Romans 6:6). Far too many confess by life and word that they must always remain bound in sin, and that they never can be free. By so doing, they really insult God and refuse to accept the deliverance already provided for them.
Distinguish between release and renovation
The second necessary basis for continued freedom and faith is this: distinguish between release and renovation. For the sake of illustration, let us think of a building in a rather shabby skid-row section of one of our modern cities. In one part of the building there is a tavern. For many a year they have had a lease on this place. Day after day, night after night, and year after year, it has been a very hot-bed of hell, filled with uncleanness-drunkenness, cursing, swearing, and smoking.
But one day the owner of the area sends a letter of eviction telling the occupants "Your must evacuate within thirty days, for another has obtained the lease to use this area for his own purposes, and already has paid the owner's price." And so, the old manager moves out; the new manager moves in. But the new manager is none other than a gospel who wants to turn the tavern into a place of salvation for all those who will come to hear the Gospel. Yet there is still much need for renovation, even though the building has been released from the old management. Though the antagonism is no more, stains, marks, even odors from the old management are still there.
Even so, one who has obtained his freedom in Jesus Christ must distinguish between release from the old management and renovation under the new. The bondage and power of the old management, "the old man," has been utterly broken at the Cross. We Christians are no longer in bondage to sin. We are free indeed. But yet, God has, so to speak, much spiritual redecorating, much adjusting, even some fumigating to do.
The obedience of faith
Finally, the third necessary basis for continued freedom is contained in the word obedience. In Romans 6:16 we read this very enlightening phrase, "His servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness." This teaches that victory in Christ is related to active obedience day by day. The language of faith is always, "What would'st thou have me to do?" The new covenant contained in Paul's words to the Philippians, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
In a village in the North Central States where the liquor question came up, 5,000 votes were cast against the intrusions of liquor, and 3,000 or so for liquor. Victory, in this matter, was obtained by the 5,000 active voters. But what would have happened on the day of voting if more than 2,000 of these active voters (even though they had been against the intrusion of liquor) had stayed home because of rain? Their passivity would have been the means of endorsing corruption. Only by an act was conviction effective.
Moses, Amaklek, and Joshua
This is also just as true in spiritual matters. If a man is to remain in the freedom of Christ, he must live out his freedom in active obedience to the Word of God. Remember the story of Amalek and Israel (Exodus 17). Joshua was fighting with Amalek in the valley of Rephidim. All his military might seemed to be useless, because this warfare was more than a physical battle. It was a spiritual battle, for an unseen war was going on. Amalek was the tool of Satan, for behind Amalek were the forces of Satan himself. Swords and spears could not defeat such an enemy. Therefore, above the valley up on a hill sat Moses, with the rod of God in his right hand, and Aaron and Hur on both sides holding his hands up. Moses was in the position of the intercessor. As long as he held his hands up, Israel prevailed. If his hands were down, Amalek prevailed. To betray his position, Moses would not have to commit a gross sin. All he would have needed to do would have been to be passive in his ministry of intercession. But Moses was faithful. Israel got the victory.
Today Satan would seek to attack us also in the matter of our own daily victory in Christ Jesus. To lose our freedom we need not backslide, nor go into gross in, nor say a decisive no to God. All we have to do to lose our freedom is be passive. God says that if we "know to do good" (that is, be aggressive against the foe) "and do it not, to [us] it is sin" (James 4:17).
4. FREEDOM CAN BE LOST
Freedom can be lost on the basis of the things that we may do wrong. But it can also be lost on the basis of the things that we do not do as an expression of love toward our new Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. As in the political realm, so in the spiritual realm, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." In the words of the Apostle Paul, "Use not your freedom fro an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one of another" (Galatians 5:13)
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