This past Sunday Pr. Ibrahim dealt with the Confession chapter 21, on Christian Liberty and the conscience. The framers of the confession place this chapter right after the one on the Gospel. It is only because of the Gospel that we are set free. Christ is the great liberator. Many years ago, Dr. John Stott said, When we talk to sinners about the Gospel we should talk to them about freedom. They need to be set free because they are enslaved to sin.
In the Confession, we are given 10 particulars, expressed in the negative, that we are set free from: guilt of sin, wrath of God, curse of the Law, this present evil world, bondage to Satan, dominion of sin, evil of afflictions, fear and sting of death, and everlasting damnation. We ought to consistently reflect on these. We are free indeed; there is no one who is freer than the child of God. The Confession follows it up with positives. We are set free from – and we are set free for. We could put it this way: we are set free from sin and self-worship to Christ and God-worship.
The first thing the Confession focuses on from a positive standpoint is our free access to God through prayer. Someone could argue, Everybody prays. Doesn’t every major religion place a significant stress on prayer? In one sense, yes. The Muslim prays facing Mecca five times a day. The Buddhist prays, sitting on his floor mat facing the Buddha. The Jews pray at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Roman Catholics pray with the rosary and recite their Hail Mary’s. Yet here’s the question: Is that real praying? It is a slavish form of praying. The prayer of slaves, not sons marks their prayers.
Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount distinguishes between false, pagan type of praying, a hypocritical praying and true prayer. He doesn’t want Christians to be praying with a dead, slavish formality. A Christian prays differently. He prays by the Spirit, in the Spirit (Romans 8). We have liberty; we go to the throne of grace as children, not as slaves. We don’t go to God to gain merit, but to pray. We come any time and any where because we are in Christ.
Another reason we are free is because of forgiveness of sin. We can go to God because we have been forgiven of our sins and accepted in Christ. He doctrine of justification sets us free – from guilt and sin. It is why the writer of Hebrews could say, We go boldly to the throne of grace. The reason why most people don’t want to pray, or can’t pray, is because sin and shame cripples them, like chains and shackles. Isn’t it true when we sin against God we don’t want to talk to Him. When we sin, we pull away from the prayer closet like our first parents. When they sinned they ran away from God. But because of this blood-bought privilege in Christ we now have freedom. We don’t have to fear rejection, a cold shoulder, an angry face. There is no closed door; it is wide open to fellowship with our Savior and our God. One thing we can shout from the rooftops, We are free!