Freedom in Jesus

Matthew Henry on Colossians Chapter 2…

“He takes occasion hence to warn them again: “Wherefore, if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances? Colossians 2:20. If as Christians you are dead to the observances of the ceremonial law, why are you subject to them? Such observances as, Touch not, taste not, handle not,” Colossians 2:21,22. Under the law there was a ceremonial pollution contracted by touching a dead body, or any thing offered to an idol or by tasting any forbidden meats, &c., which all are to perish with the using, having no intrinsic worth in themselves to support them, and those who used them saw them perishing and passing away or, which tend to corrupt the Christian faith, having no other authority than the traditions and injunctions of men.–Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility. They thought themselves wiser than their neighbours, in observing the law of Moses together with the gospel of Christ, that they might be sure in the one, at least, to be in the right but, alas! it was but a show of wisdom, a mere invention and pretence. So they seem to neglect the body, by abstaining from such and such meats, and mortifying their bodily pleasures and appetites but there is nothing of true devotion in these things, for the gospel teaches us to worship God in spirit and truth and not by ritual observances, and through the mediation of Christ alone and not of any angels. Observe,

1. Christians are freed by Christ from the ritual observances of Moses’s law, and delivered from that yoke of bondage which God himself had laid upon them.

2. Subjection to ordinances, or human appointments in the worship of God, is highly blamable, and contrary to the freedom and liberty of the gospel. The apostle requires Christians to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ hath made them free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage, Galatians 5:1. And the imposition of them is invading the authority of Christ, the head of the church, and introducing another law of commandments contained in ordinances, when Christ has abolished the old one, Ephesians 2:15.

3. Such things have only a show of wisdom, but are really folly. It is true wisdom to keep close to the appointments of the gospel, and an entire subjection to Christ, the only head of the church.”

The Law of Love

A quote from the book, “Mountains Of Spices,” by Hannah Hurnard:

“I am love,” said the King very clearly. “If you want to see the pattern of true love, look at me for I am the expression of the law of love on which the universe is founded. And the very first characteristic of true love, as I have manifested it, is willingness to accept all other human beings, just as they are, however blemished and marred by sin they may be, and to acknowledge oneness with them in their sin and need. To acknowledge also that every human heart needs both to love and to be loved, and that herein lies the very root of the oneness of mankind. For unless you sons and daughters of men are loved and also love all others besides yourselves, you cannot become what you are destined to be, the sons and daughters of the God Who is Love.”

He ceased speaking, and at that moment a company of the King’s servants who had just approached the Mountain of Pomegranates in order to gather a store of the beautiful fruit, broke forth into singing as they began their work on a nearby slope. These are the words of their song:

Love is oneness— oh, how sweet
    To obey this law,
The unlovely we may meet
    Need our love the more
Make us one, O love, we plead,
With men’s sorrow and their need.

We are one in needing love,
    (Let us true love show)
Only love’s sun from above
    Makes our spirits grow.
“Love us!” this is our heart’s need,
“Let us love”— and live indeed!

We are also one in this,
    We must love or die,
Loving others is true bliss,
    Self-love is a lie!
Love of self is inward strife,
Love turned outward is true life.

Let us love and fruitful be,
    Love is God’s own breath,
Love will kindle love and see
    New life born from death.
Nowhere is a heaven more sweet
Than where loving spirits meet.

When the song had ended, the King pointed out over the wide landscape and towards the Black Mountain and said:

“See how plainly the law of the universe is demonstrated in all that love has created, and how everything which the Creator’s hand has formed and fashioned, when it obeys the law of its being, shares with others and acknowledges its oneness with the need of all. Behold how this law is indeed written in everything around you.”

So Grace and Glory looked.

Down in the valley far below were the green pastures where the flocks were grazing. She pictured all the myriad little blades of grass giving themselves freely to nourish the flocks and herds. She remembered the unnumbered wild flowers giving forth their sweetness and beauty and perfume even in places where there was no eye to see them, no onlooker to appreciate them, ready to be trampled down and broken, or else to bloom their whole life long without receiving praise or recompense. Then she looked at the trees of love growing all around them as they sat up there on the mountain, saw how laden they were with fruit which others were to pluck and enjoy, finding all the meaning of their existence in the ministry/service of giving.

She looked up at the sun shining overhead, shedding its light and warmth so freely upon all, on the evil and on the good, on the unjust as well as the just, on all alike! She saw that in its self-giving and self-sharing and in its willingness to enter into and become one with all who would open to receive its light and warmth, it was indeed the great symbol of perfect love. She looked at the streamlets all hurrying to go lower and lower and to give themselves to refresh all thirsty things along their banks. Everywhere she looked she saw nature exulting to give and to share with others, and, by thus doing, to become one with them.

Then she began to think of the many creatures who break this law of the universe; the beasts of prey, always seeking for themselves and giving nothing but to their own young; the parasites and the wild vines which had ruined Black Mountain. And she realized how destructive everything is when it will not remain in harmony with the law of love and oneness. She realized, too, that this same law was indeed written in every part of her own nature. “It is happy to love,” she thought, “and it is healthy too. It is utter misery to withhold love and to live only and always for oneself alone. I see that it is exactly as he says. Love must express itself in giving; must find a way to become one with others, just as he found a way to give his own life to us and thereby to become one with us! And all the misery down there in the valley really is because the inhabitants are breaking this law of their existence without realizing it.”

While she still sat pondering upon all this, the King himself began to sing, and these are the words of the song which he taught her up there on the Mountain of Pomegranates:

There is one law by which we live,
    “Love loves to give and give!”
And on this “royal law,” so named,
    The universe itself is framed
No lasting joy is anywhere
    Save in the hearts of those who share,
Life yields a thousandfold and more
To those who practice love’s great law.

That love is far too weak and small
    Which will love some but not all.
If love to one it will decline,
    ‘Tis human love and not divine.
Love cannot be content to rest
    Till the beloved is fully blest.
Love leaps to succor all who fall,
And finds his joy in giving all.

When he had finished this song the King rose to his feet and said, “Now it is time to return to the lovely work of self-giving and sharing.” And with that he pointed to down the the mountain slopes, and then together they went bounding down the mountain on their “hinds’ feet,” down toward the little green carpet far below which was the Valley of Humiliation where their ministry/service of love was so much needed.

Matthew Henry on…Galatians 4:8-11

“In these verses the apostle puts them in mind of what they were before their conversion to the faith of Christ, and what a blessed change their conversion had made upon them; and thence endeavours to convince them of their great weakness in hearkening to those who would bring them under the bondage of the law of Moses.”

“I. He reminds them of their past state and behaviour, and what they were before the gospel was preached to them. Then they knew not God; they were grossly ignorant of the true God, and the way wherein he is to be worshipped: and at that time they were under the worst of slaveries, for they did service to those which by nature were no gods, they were employed in a great number of superstitious and idolatrous services to those who, though they were accounted gods, were yet really no gods, but mere creatures, and perhaps of their own making, and therefore were utterly unable to hear and help them. Note, 1. Those who are ignorant of the true God cannot but be inclined to false gods. Those who forsook the God who made the world, rather than be without gods, worshipped such as they themselves made. 2. Religious worship is due to none but to him who is by nature God; for, when the apostle blames the doing service to such as by nature were no gods, he plainly shows that he only who is by nature God is the proper object of our religious worship.”

“II. He calls upon them to consider the happy change that was made in them by the preaching of the gospel among them. Now they had known God (they were brought to the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ, whereby they were recovered out of the ignorance and bondage under which they before lay) or rather were known of God; this happy change in their state, whereby they were turned from idols to the living God, and through Christ had received the adoption of sons, was not owing to themselves, but to him; it was the effect of his free and rich grace towards them, and as such they ought to account it; and therefore hereby they were laid under the greater obligation to adhere to the liberty wherewith he had made them free. Note, All our acquaintance with God begins with him; we know him, because we are known of him.”

“III. Hence he infers the unreasonableness and madness of their suffering themselves to be brought again into a state of bondage. He speaks of it with surprise and deep concern of mind that such as they should do so: How turn you again, etc., says he, Gal 4:9. “How is it that you, who have been taught to worship God in the gospel way, should not be persuaded to comply with the ceremonial way of worship? that you, who have been acquainted with a dispensation of light, liberty, and love, as that of the gospel is, should now submit to a dispensation of darkness, and bondage, and terror, as that of the law is?” This they had the less reason for, since they had never been under the law of Moses, as the Jews had been; and therefore on this account they were more inexcusable than the Jews themselves, who might be supposed to have some fondness for that which had been of such long standing among them. Besides, what they suffered themselves to be brought into bondage to were but weak and beggarly elements, such things as had no power in them to cleanse the soul, nor to afford any solid satisfaction to the mind, and which were only designed for that state of pupillage under which the church had been, but which had now come to a period; and therefore their weakness and folly were the more aggravated, in submitting to them, and in symbolizing with the Jews in observing their various festivals, here signified by days, and months, and times, and years. Here note, 1. It is possible for those who have made great professions of religion to be afterwards drawn into very great defections from the purity and simplicity of it, for this was the case of these Christians. And, 2. The more mercy God has shown to any, in bringing them into an acquaintance with the gospel, and the liberties and privileges of it, the greater are their sin and folly in suffering themselves to be deprived of them; for this the apostle lays a special stress upon, that after they had known God, or rather were known of him, they desired to be in bondage under the weak and beggarly elements of the law.”

“IV. Hereupon he expresses his fears concerning them, lest he had bestowed on them labour in vain. He had been at a great deal of pains about them, in preaching the gospel to them, and endeavouring to confirm them in the faith and liberty of it; but now they were giving up these, and thereby rendering his labour among them fruitless and ineffectual, and with the thoughts of this he could not but be deeply affected. Note, 1. A great deal of the labour of faithful ministers is labour in vain; and, when it is so, it cannot but be a great grief to those who desire the salvation of souls. Note, 2. The labour of ministers is in vain upon those who begin in the Spirit and end in the flesh, who, though they seem to set out well, yet afterwards turn aside from the way of the gospel. Note, 3. Those will have a great deal to answer for upon whom the faithful ministers of Jesus Christ bestow labour in vain.”

Galatians 4.4-11

4    But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law,
5    that He might redeem the ones under Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6    And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba! Father!
7    So that you no more are a slave, but a son, and if a son, also an heir of God through Christ.
8    But then, indeed, not knowing God, you served as slaves to the ones by nature not being gods.
9    But now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how do you turn again to the weak and poor elements to which you desire again to slave anew?
10    You observe days and months and seasons and years.
11    I fear for you, lest somehow I have labored among you in vain.