"He Breaks the Chains!" First John 1:5-10
Why we call the Gospel "Good News":
Good morning sinners! Have I got good news for you! Jesus is able to break the chains that bind you! To whom do I speak? To all of us, to everyone who hears my voice. On what authority? On the authority of the angel who spoke to the shepherds long ago: "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:10)."
The Bible teaches that we are all sinners. Paul says in Romans that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." John said it even more plainly: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
Our sins bind us like chains, powerful chains which we cannot break. We are unable to free ourselves. We are like the woman Jesus met in the synagogue. She had been bound for 18 years, unable to stand up. Jesus explains that Satan had bound her, but Jesus put his hands on her, broke her chains, and set her free!
Godís Good News is that Christ can set us free!
Luke tells us that Satanís chains were no match for Jesus; he set the woman free!
Jesus tells his disciples that the truth will set them free. We need not wonder how truth can set us free. We have but to remember that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." Jesus Himself is the truth who sets us free when we repent and trust Him.
This was Charles Wesleyís Great Affirmation in Song:
No hymn writer ever said it better than Charles Wesley, the "sweet singer of Methodism" and brother of John Wesley. We may worship 100 years and never sing the gospel more profoundly than when we sing, "And can it be..." My heart pounds within me every time I sing the words, "My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed thee." Here is what God desires every person to experience: having our chains fall off, knowing that our heart is free of Satanís control, and rising in joy to go forth and follow the Master!
The Great Result of this Freedom for Wesley:
Wesley tells in this same hymn the great result of being set free: There is no longer any inward condemnation. We know that Jesus is our Savior and we are now alive in Him. We have shed the filthy rags of sin and God has robed us in the righteousness of Jesus. And we no longer fear death for we have the assurance that a crown awaits us in heaven!
What He Requires of Us:
And how may we obtain this precious freedom? By meeting Godís requirements. We must admit we are sinners and confess our sins. We must trust His power to cleanse us from our sins. We must rise and go forth to walk in the light. And we must begin to enjoy fellowship with one another.
What will it take to get us to trust Him to break our chains?
What will it take to get you to trust Jesus? It took the tragic death of his cousin, Dee Williams, for my son Matt to trust Jesus. Now he is free and following Christ as he prepares for the ministry.
A former jet pilot, Danny Cox, tells how the technique for ejecting pilots out of jet planes came about. The first plan did not work. Some pilots would keep a grip on the seat keeping the parachute trapped between the seat and the pilotís back. So engineers came up with a webbed strap with one end attached to the front edge of the seat and the other on a take-up reel behind the headrest. Two seconds after ejection, the electronic reel would take up the slack and force the pilot forward out of his seat, thus freeing the parachute. The pilots needed that device to launch them out of their chairs. Now, the question is, what will it take to launch you out of yours?
A few words of a song have been on my mind lately, since I heard Joni Eareckson Tada sing them in her testimony. You remember that Joni is the artist, author, and speaker who has been a paraplegic since breaking her neck, diving into a pool, in her late teens. One of her best friends was a girl named Jackie; they played on the hockey team together. After losing a close game one night, as they were riding the bus home, crying, they began to remember that they were Christians, and started singing, "Man of Sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came, Ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah, what a Savior." After her accident Joni was surprised one night to have her friend Jackie slip into the hospital after hours, crawl in the hospital bed with her, hold her paralyzed hand up in the air, and begin to sing, "Man of Sorrows. . . ." Joniís faith in Godís goodness was restored that night. She began to believe again that God is good no matter if you are free to roam about or if you are imprisoned to a wheelchair.
Years later Joni heard from a friend that tragedy had befallen her friend Jackie. She and her husband had separated. Their son Joshua was dead. A troubled teenager, he had been running with the wrong crowd, making bad grades, and dabbling in drugs. Then one night he left a suicide note in the street mailbox, set himself on fire, and his dadís house burned down around him. Soon Joni found her friend Jackie and they sang that song together, "Man of Sorrows. . . ." Joni says that recently Jackie told her that she has peace now. She said, "Joni, Iíve got this cross around my neck. Itís the one my son gave me. Every time I start to feel desperate, like I canít make it, like Iím in a prison, then I hold onto that cross." I think you will agree with me that Joni and Jackie have allowed Jesus to break their chains and set them free. The only question that remains is this: will you trust Him to break your chains?
Has not God done enough to cause us to get up and go to Christ? He sent His Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins. He suffered, bled, and died for you and me. Is that not enough to launch us out of our seats?
His invitation is clear: "Come unto me." He does not say come to church, or come to good behavior, or come to some solution which suits you, he says, "Come to me." So only Jesus can break our chains when we are willing to say, "Jesus, I cannot help myself; I come to you in faith. Have your way with my life." Then, and only then, will He break your chains!
No one has said it any plainer than John. First, he made it clear in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave us one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Then he made it clear in his first letter: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (First John 1:9)."
Now, right where you are, you can go to Him and trust Him to set you free! Will you allow His sacrifice for you to launch you from your seat so that you can ask Him to break your chains?
You can go to Him just as you are!
A sermon by Walter Albritton preached at Trinity United Methodist Church January 28, 2001