Freedom Is Never Free

Bible Book: Galatians  5 : 1
Subject: Freedom; Independence Day; America

We live in a free country. Our freedom is no accident. It is God-given. However, it has been preserved by brave men and women who have sacrificed their very lives so that we might remain free. With all of my heart I pray that we might continue to enjoy this great freedom -- which our children and grandchildren may know and experience the joy and blessedness of the freedom that we have known -- "that we might stand fast in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free."

There are three things that I want us to consider this morning as we think about our freedom and as we hold dear to our hearts the memory of those who have fought and died for the love of this great land.

I. The Cost Of Our Freedom

Freedom is never free. The freedom that we enjoy as Americans has been purchased at the cost of the lives of our forefathers. The coming of the Pilgrim fathers was prompted by one overarching compulsion -- to escape the soul bondage under which they were forced to live during the reign of Henry VIII of England. And though they came by way of Holland, their basic motive was to establish a society where no man would be forced to violate his conscience by giving support to something in which he did not believe.

Beginning in Jamestown in 1607, there was structured into the framework of Americanism the story of legions of American patriots who believed in God and followed Jesus Christ with the unswerving conviction that man, created in God's own image, was to be subservient to no one save God only. They loved liberty more than life and were even willing to die rather than be forced to live under the dictatorial and hellish coalition of church and state. In 1620 the Pilgrims set up the basic principles of Americanism -- this was to be a land of liberty, of soul freedom where each and every citizen could worship and serve God according to his own conscience. In 1776 the issue was clearly drawn between the continued freedom of these Americans or a cruel and depressive dictatorship. On July 4, 1776, the Congress of the 13 states issued their Declaration of Independence from England. Old Ben Franklin stood up in the company of men who were about to affix their signatures to that document, and he said, "This is a great risk, for if we sign our names and lose in our cause, then our identity will be known and all will be lost." That immortal 56 who stood in old Independence Hall in Philadelphia risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor -- everything was put down in that signature.

We well remember the stories of Boston, Concord, Paul Revere and the old North Church. This Declaration, along with the Bill of Rights, passed in 1791 is the most precious gifts ever given to a free people. They are the foundation stones upon which our nation was founded.

And may I say that not only did it cost much to purchase the freedom of our nation, but also it has cost much to keep our freedom. Consider the chilling winter at Valley Forge and bloodstained fields of Saratoga. Remember Pearl Harbor and Midway and Normandy. Then there was Pusan and Pork Chop Hill. And in the 60s and the 70s we recall the names of Danang and Saigon and the Mekong Delta. And even more recently, the involvement of our own troops in Desert Storm. The pages of American history are red with the blood of those who have paid the supreme sacrifice to preserve our freedom.

On April 18, 1942, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led a flight of 16 B-25's from the deck of the carrier Hornet for the first air raid on the Japanese mainland. He and his men left their names in large print on the list of American heroes and patriots. Each plane carried five men, a crew of 80 in all. The unique thing about this raid was that each man was a volunteer and had been told there would be no place to which to return. These 80 Americans volunteered for a one-way mission, being told they would have to crash land on the Japanese mainland or at sea. That is the spirit, which gave us our freedom. My hometown was honored to have a man who flew with Doolittle's boys in that bold and brave raid over Japan. When he came home from the war he was given a hero's welcome. I didn't understand it all then, but I have a deep appreciation for it now. You say, "Preacher, this sermon sounds like it's going to be full of syrupy sentimentalism (patriotism). Well, I want you to know that I don't make any apology for being a patriot -- rocked in the cradle and dyed in the wool. And may I say that love of country is not only a natural sentiment in every true heart, but it is right in the sight of God.

In Psalm 137 we find the words of one who was loyal both to God and his native land. Listen to what he said: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." I like that! You see, I'm reminded that Cornwallis gave Washington his sword at Yorktown and 10,000 redcoats laid down their arms. The British flag fell and up went the Stars and Stripes. And that is the reason we call this country the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I thank God that I am a concentrated, double- distilled, triple-extracted, 24-carat, 100 percent American. This republic that was founded on a constitution has taught the world that liberty can exist without license and authority without tyranny. But it has all come at a great cost.

Perhaps this cost is best expressed by the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McRae. This is a poem that depicts the ultimate sacrifice of those who have died for their country.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, Though poppies grow

In Flanders fields."

II. The Condition Of Our Freedom

I believe that the condition of our freedom needs to be honesty surveyed at this juncture in our history. And I fear that our freedom is in a weakened condition; our freedom is in jeopardy. We need to see it like it is and tell it like it is. We must not live under a delusion.

I'm reminded of the verbose professor who was trying to tell a man that he had a flat tire on his car. He said, "Your pneumatic contrivance has ceased to function."

The motorist was dumbfounded. He said, "Er--what?" "I say your tubular air container has lost its rotundity." Motorist -- "I don't understand."

Professor -- "The elastic fabric surrounding the circular frame whose successive revolutions bear you onward has not retained its roundness."

Small boy on curb, "Aw, mister, you got a flat tire."

So I want to shoot straight from the hip and mention some things that have placed our freedom in jeopardy.

A. The Loss of Values

Values are the building blocks and mortar that keep our entire civilization together. They are our priorities. In other words, they are those things that we put at the top of every list we make no matter what the subject. The primary doctrine that dominates the academy in the public square today is the doctrine of "political correctness." This doctrine holds that all differences in ideas, values, and lifestyles are equally valid and that any attempt to prefer one to the other is an act of prejudice. In political correctness, tolerance is the main virtue and God and the principles of the holy Scripture are minimized, and man and his lifestyle, whatever it may be, is exalted. All of this has resulted in the revision of history in our textbooks, the teaching of values clarification, and the suggestion that in our churches we no longer talk about sin, but rather we talk about ethical dysfunction.

I read an article recently where it says now political correctness dictates that we say "full-figured" instead of "matronly" and "undocumented residence" in place of "illegal alien." We should avoid "Dutch treat" because it implies that people from Holland are tightwads and "siesta" because it gives the impression that Latin Americans are lazy. And the homosexual is someone who has simply chosen an "alternative lifestyle." Now, if we bring this political correctness into the pulpit, I can't preach on Lot because he is homophobic. I can't preach on Moses because he was a legalist. I can't preach on Samson because he was unkind to foreigners. I can't preach on Hosea because he tried to impose his own narrow moral values on his wife. And that pretty well takes care of the Old Testament. Is there anything left in the New Testament that I can preach? In fact, you don't have to look at very much television to see how our values are being destroyed through the doctrine of political correctness.

America was founded upon the principles of the Christian faith. Benjamin Franklin once remarked, "Whosoever will introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world." And, indeed, Christian principles are at the heart of our nation. But there is an insidious attack on these principles -- an overt aggressive war. And the media and entertainment industry is leading the attack to replace Christian moral values with its own immoral values. Now, let me tell you who controls the media and entertainment industries.

A 1991 survey was taken among the top leaders of the media industry and from a sampling of "average Americans." And I want you to notice the startling differences.

1. 85 percent of Americans still believe that adultery is wrong. Less than 50 percent of Hollywood executives believe that adultery is wrong.

2. Only 4 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation. Almost 45 percent of the leaders in the media industry have no religious affiliation.

3. Over 76 percent of Americans believe that homosexuality is wrong. Only 20 percent of Hollywood executives believe that homosexuality is wrong.

4. Less than 60 percent of Americans believe that abortion is right. Almost 97 percent of Hollywood executives believe that abortion is right.

5. Of 104 industry executives who were surveyed, only 7 said they attended a church regularly. Three- fourths of them admitted they are liberal and lean toward the left.

As I read these alarming statistics, I thought of the words of Psalm 11, which says, "For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privately shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

B. The Loss Of Truth

Political correctness advocates also tell us that truth really isn't objective at all. It depends on our point of view. One person's truth is supposed to be just as good or reliable as another's.

Now, let me illustrate this. The official seal of Harvard University shows a shield on which is inscribed the single Latin word "Veritas." According to Harvard Veritas Forum, which is sponsored by several Christian organizations in the Cambridge area, the seal originally contained the motto "Veritas Christo Et Ecclesiae" (truth for Christ and the church) and a quotation from John 8: "And Jesus said, if you hold to my teaching you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." There are three books on this seal. Originally two of them were open and one was turned face down to imply that human reason had limitations. Today's seal omits any reference to Christ, the church, or John 8:31-32. It still depicts three books, but now all three of them are open, suggesting that we can know everything. Today Harvard proclaims just "Veritas." Veritas for nothing, which can mean VERITAS for anything, which, as human experience instructs us, can turn out to be the death of veritas. God said, "I am who I am" not "I am what you believe I am." Christianity isn't true because it works; it works because it's true. But, unfortunately, in our society our freedom is jeopardized because of the loss of truth.

C. The Loss Of Moral Literacy

Honor and virtue are increasingly rare commodities. Cheating and lying have become acceptable, especially in school, because our children believe that with few exceptions "everybody's doing it." Sadly, they may be right. In a 1995 article for Reader's Digest, Daniel R. Levine notes that "Who's Who Among American High School Students" polled more than 3000 high school juniors and seniors who were at the top of their class. 78 percent admitted cheating and 89 percent admitted cheating was common at their schools. Now, these numbers alone are disturbing, but even more alarming are the attitude. There is no remorse. For students, cheating is a way of life. Many schools are not only doing a poor job of teaching the three R's, but we're failing to teach our children the difference between right and wrong. Observers have characterized this problem as "a hole in the moral ozone" or "moral illiteracy."

D. The Loss Of Empathy

A related problem is the loss of empathy. I am not talking about what President Clinton meant when he recently said to the nation, "I feel your pain." By empathy I am referring to the ability to transcend our own immediate concerns to understand other human beings -- to see the world from their perspectives without surrendering our own. Let me give you an example. In the summer of 1994 Mohammed Jaberipour, age 49, was working a route in south Philadelphia in a Mister Softy ice cream truck when a 16-year-old tried to extort money. Jaberipour refused and the youth shot him. As the father of three lay dying, neighborhood teenagers laughed and mocked his agony in a rap song they composed on the spot, which they entitled "They Killed Mr. Softy." Another ice cream truck driver came upon the scene and he told the Philadelphia "Daily News," "It wasn't human. People were laughing and asking me for ice cream. I was crying...they were acting as though a cat had died, not a human being." A commentary on this incident in the Philadelphia newspaper said, "We have increasingly become a nation of citizens who watch anything and everything as if it was a show." People who laugh at a dying man have no sense that a stranger can suffer as they do. "--the loss of empathy."

E. The Loss Of Family

The breakdown of the family is now even cited by the government as the real root cause of rising rates of substance abuse, teen suicide, abortion, academic failure, welfare dependency and violent crime. But the bad news is that this time bomb isn't ticking -- it has already exploded and we're experiencing the fallout. Here are just two of the casualty reports.

Nearly one-third of all children are now born to single mothers. If this trend continues, in 20 years nearly half of all children born in our nation will be illegitimate.

The national crime rate has tripled in the space of 30 years and observers warn that we are breeding a whole new group of "super predators" -- youths who commit violent acts with absolutely no sense of remorse or respect for human life, who, according to one prosecutor, "kill or maim on impulse without any intelligible motive."

It's no wonder that for the first time in decades almost all the experts on the right and the left in psychology, sociology, social work and law enforcement agree: Our children need capable, responsible parents who have made a lifelong commitment to each other within the specific institution of marriage. This is because children need stability and constancy in their lives. They need the thousands of little moral and practical lessons that are taught in the context of daily family life. And above all, they need the love that only a mother and father can give.

F. The Loss Of Faith

Although millions of us still attend church and profess to believe in a Creator, God is still a far- off, vague, impersonal deity. He is not as He should be, the most important guiding force in our daily lives. In one way, this is more shocking than if we had become atheists. Atheists deny God and His authority. We accept Him, but we refuse to take Him seriously. Now, there are other problems that I could touch on, but I think you see the condition of our freedom, that it is in great jeopardy. But let's continue now.

III. The Continuation Of Our Freedom

It's not too late to save our great land. Now, let me just give you a list of things to do.

A. Praise The Lord For Our Heritage

We have a rich and godly heritage as a nation and we must be thankful for it.

B. We Need To Adjust Our Priorities

The priorities of most Americans today are prosperity and pleasure. We must readjust our priorities to think of protecting our freedom, not just indulging in prosperity and pleasure.

C. We Must Participate In Government

We have a responsibility to become involved.

D. We Must Maintain Persistent Vigilance In Prayer

God's people can pray. Pray for the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court justices, the governor, the mayor, those who lead us in government. If we do not pray, nothing else we do is going to make much difference. But if we do pray, whatever else we do will make a decided difference in the life of the nation.

E. We Must Proclaim the Truth Of The Gospel

The philosophy of political correctness is an idea. The religion of the New Age is an idea. Communism is an idea. And you cannot kill an idea with a bullet. The only thing that will shoot down an idea is a better idea. And that better idea is not capitalism, as good as that may be. It is Jesus Christ.

Remember, Benjamin Franklin said, "He who introduces into the affairs of men the principle of primitive Christianity will revolutionize the world." And that is what the body of Christ must do. Our greatest export ought to be the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to preach Christ, as we never have before. You cannot kill an idea unless you use a better idea.

Suppose this room were full of darkness. How could we get the darkness out of this auditorium? Could we take a shovel and shovel it out? Could we take a broomstick and beat it out? Could we take a ballot and vote it out? Could we take a bullet and shoot it out? No, but we could turn on the light, couldn't we? I tell you, we need to turn on the light. We need to proclaim Jesus as we have never proclaimed Him before. He is the way and the truth and the life. As the Way, He leads us aright. As the Truth, He sets us free. And as the Life, He gives us victory over all the power of the enemy.
F. We Must Strengthen The Church


Some people have a very casual attitude toward the church. But what a history the church of Christ, in spite of its failings, has had! How filled with heroism, romance, indomitable perseverance and promise of ultimate and unselfish success. No continuous organized movement has ever had a mission, a life history, and a conquest over difficulties, and idealism comparable to that of the Christian church. No organization has ever done so much in molding human society and individual character. The church bears in her body the stigmata of Christ. She has been baptized by the blood of martyrs and glorified by the deeds of supreme devotion and sacrifice. She has been the mother of saints and sages and heroes, builder of cathedrals and shrines and institutions of sacred learning, inspirer of art and poetry, upholder of morality and social order, and pioneer of new and daring enterprises. She has met with indifference and opposition, but the gates of hell have not prevailed against her. And so if you have not identified yourself with a church, I would encourage you to do so, so that the church may be strengthened. And as we do these things we can insure the continuation of our freedom, and those who have died for our country will not have died in vain.