Outline of a lesson on Freedom in Christ and the responsibility which comes with that freedom and a discussion of our responsibility to use our gifts as ministers.
Freedom for what?
What is the advantage of freedom?
Illustration: Mel Gibson Braveheart Freedom!!!!
What is so great about being free in America? What have we done with our freedom?
Answer: Freedom is a great thing because when we serve and offer our lives for a great cause out of our own initiative, there is great personal reward. Freedom is only good if we do something worthwhile with it.
Gal 5:1 For freedom we were set free. Notice how Paul appears to repeat himself. He is, in a sense saying, "We are free. Seriously, I mean we are truly free!!!"
Context: Freedom from laws and rules for salvation (v. 2)
You cannot relate but for us older Christians, we are freer than before. We had a more rigid system in the ICOC. We were more rules-oriented. We did things largely because we were expected to.
We have been set free. Free for what? To indulge the sinful nature?
No, we have been made free so that we serve one another (as well as those outside the body of Christ)
We are free. What have we done with this freedom? Many have used our new-found freedom in Christ as license to be less committed.
A common expression in our fellowship: "Freedom in Christ" I have heard this used as a way to tell someone my business is none of your business. There is a grain of truth in this, but many of us have used this as "an opportunity for the flesh." May this never be.
When we are given freedom, then we find out where our hearts are really at. Now we really know why we did what we did. Many of us, when given the opportunity, chose to do a lot less for God. Well, now at least you know the truth of where you were at the whole time! However, you are missing the joy of Christianity.
1 Peter 2:16,17 How does a free man live? He takes responsibility for his actions. He gets to choose to do the right thing. This is where the joy comes from.
Free to serve
Free to submit willingly to your leaders.
"A cover-up for evil." This is what freedom is about for many Americans.
Freedom is wasted on most Americans.
Q: Is freedom wasted on you?
In the past in the ICOC, many felt forced to submit to leaders. That was bad. It made something which is good (willingly offering yourself to someone) into something bad.
When we are over-controlled and later get our freedom, we tend to go wild and to be rebellious.
Let us not swing the pendulum. Instead, let us offer ourselves willingly to support the work of the church and the leaders in the church.
Illustration: Marriage. The marriage relationship is a beautiful thing when each willingly offers him/herself to the other. When it is forced, that is called abuse. Do not let fear of the latter steal from you the beauty of the former.
Summary for 1 Peter 2:16,17 Let us use our freedom as an opportunity to offer ourselves to God, to others and to the work of the church.
1 Cor 9:1,2 9:15-23
Rhetorical Question: Am I not free?
Answer: Yes, of course you are.
What did Paul do with his rights? He gave them up to serve God and to serve the church.
"We did not use our rights." Why? Because in giving up our rights to serve we gain the blessing of God.
v. 15 I would rather die… This was his greatest pleasure. He wanted to make something of his life.
When Paul preached because he was obligated to, he got no blessing from that. This was us (to some extent) before the changes in our churches. Very sad.
Let us put it out there: The greatest joy in life is truly pouring your life into something for God and watching it bear fruit. Think of the greatest human beings who did the most with their lives. All were like this. Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi, Paul, Mother Theresa. All willingly gave up their freedom to become slaves to a worthy cause.
The key is vs. 23 I do this so that I may share in its blessing.
Why do I do what I do?
We got our freedom. We have less rules. No one picking your discipler. No one asking you weekly how your quiet time is. No one telling you how much to give. Cool. Freedom. YIPPEE!!! Now is when you find out where your heart was all along.
Some of us older disciples are flunking this test.
The problem of clergy vs laity
Who of you has been in the ministry? 2 Cor 5:16-21.
Anyone who is a Christian is a minister. Our role as disciples is to be ministers of reconciliation in whatever role we take.
Clergy vs laity has gotten WORSE not better since our changes.
When I travel throughout the world, many are absolutely shocked that I do not work for the church. Why is that? Non-staff have a lot more freedom to get out there and serve. Why has this not been happening in our fellowship (at least not nearly as much as it ought to)?
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 purpose for OT.
For us? The equivalent. God wants us to experience spiritual blessings.
Where do we find this? In serving as a minister.
Ephesians 2:10. What work has God prepared in advance for you to do? Are you doing it?
Praise God we are not saved by works. We are saved by grace.
We are not saved BY works, but we are saved FOR works. Your work is to use your gift to serve God by ministering to the church and outsiders.
1 Pet 4:10 Your work-your ministry-is to use the gift God has given you. This is the main point of this lesson!!!!
Eph 4:11-13. What IS the function of the "paid" ministry? To do the work? No. To prepare us to do the work. Are you holding up your end of the bargain. Your part is to use your gift to build a personal ministry. Do not wait to be asked. Start building a ministry.
We have less staff than ever, yet we expect them to do more than ever. This will not work! Everyone is a minister. We HAVE to get this point.
Many of us are using our gifts, our abilities, our resources to build paneled houses. This is sinful. It is wrong. It will steal all the joy from these possessions. Do NOT pour your time, energy and money into building things for yourself. It will be like pouring gold into a pocket with a hole in it. MANY of us have done this, especially in the past three or four years.
My perspective. We need to discover our gift. We then need to spend the rest of our lives developing that gift into a life-long ministry.
In the past, only two gifts were recognized. The gifts of evangelism and of leadership. Those with other gifts felt dishonored and frustrated.
We have moved on from there, thank God, but many are still not using their gifts.
My own example: I decided about 12 years ago to pursue teaching as a ministry, whether others agreed with this or not. I decided I no longer really cared what others thought about this. I reached the conviction that this is my life’s work.
One response: Who gave you permission to write a book? I ignored that comment.
Who gave you permission to have a teaching group in San Diego?
I ignored that comment as well.
Five years ago we decided to take our entire family to Mexico City for 3 weeks to minister to the church. No one asked us to do this. In fact, if we had asked "permission" it would not have been granted. I am glad we did not ask for permission. What a great joy. I am very glad our church is no longer like this. Amen. However, how many of us are taking advantage of the opportunity to become ministers of reconciliation?
Now, traveling the globe, serving God in a wonderfully fulfilling way.
I have a vision of what my ministry is. I pursue it whether I am supported or not. Why? I really believe this is from God. Period. Whether anyone believes this or not. This has brought me amazing joy.
My wife Jan. Her gift is to organize activities-to make things happen. This is not my gift. In the past year she has:
1. Put on a Tamale sale, raised $800, solicited a gift of $800 more and bought translation equipment for the region.
2. Put on a Christian concert for J. Brian Craig.
3. Put on a "barn dance" for the region.
4. Put on a Valentines Dance for the entire church.
5. Organized, planned and run three AIM classes.
6. Organized the sending of 35 boxes of supplies for the churches in Guatemala and El Salvador.
7. Organized a shoe-box campaign for Christmas items for a school in El Salvador.
Do you get the idea. This is a sister who is using her gifts to serve. That is what 1 Pet 4:10-11 is talking about.
Pour your life into using your gift for God.
A "regular" Christian. Not a leader, but he organized an entire grass-roots system to take up small amounts of money to meet needs in Cambodia and Nigeria. We have a network of 30+ Christians here and several in the countries raising money and simply looking for very needy people who we can help. This is so rewarding, and it has had no help or input from the "leaders." Why should it? They have different gifts.
Parable of the talents. Matthew 25:14-30. Note vs. 21. Come and share your master’s happiness.
Analogy of parents. God is like that with us. Happiness through serving God
You have talents.
If you do not use them to serve God, you are sinning.
If you do, you will experience great happiness.
Remember 1 Peter 4:10-11 Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
If you do not use them to serve God, you will miss out on the great blessing he has for your life. This is your golden opportunity to have what God wants for you.