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Freedom in Slavery

Wes Peppers


Wes Peppers

Pastor, Traverse City & Kalkaska, Michigan



  • January 28, 2017
    11:30 AM
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Father we thank you so much this morning for the power of your word the power of Christ the Living Christ who doesn't just well in the world but he's promised to dwell in our hearts and Lord Jesus gave all right prayed today that in our own hearts we would also make the decision to give all we would surrender all to you and Lord as you have nothing back from us so may we hold nothing back from you and we asked Father that you would sweetly draw near to us it would see him know your love and that we the experience to transfer me tower of your Grace to change our lives to make us vessels of life that was of truth vessels of hope to all those who are around us and Lord today as we look at some of the elements of religious liberty will by no means exhausted but Father I pray you will give us a little picture of ourselves and of you and of the world you want to reach so we praise you and we thank you and we lift up all those who are sick today that our school down in Jackson we lift up all these requests for there are so many We praise you and thank you we come in Jesus' name and everyone say Amen in 2016 about 90000 Christians were killed around the world because of their faith and of the new this and the last 10 years about 900000 Christians were killed for their faith that averages out to about 1 every 6 minutes are killed for their face oftentimes we don't even begin to imagine what others our brothers and sisters in Christ with their 7th Day Adventists or not are dealing with around the world. I've visited some of them in various countries that I've been to I've heard numerous stories but there are countless stories there are probably in fact so many stories that only God knows them all there are people who have died in solitude and confinement and no 1 else knew about them but the angels of heaven new when they wrote it down they recorded in the book and in this country have had the blessing of religious liberty in man we have the blessing of freedom to worship according to our conscience but you know friends the reality is is that sometimes when you get too much religious liberty it can now almost become a curse in a sense not because of too much religious liberty but too much religious liberty and too much prosperity and too much wealth makes us lazy and it makes us ungrateful for it and it makes us comfortable almost comfortable to the place and when we do hear about it we turn our heads in North Korea under the the dynasty of Kim Jong un I guess is how you say Christianity is seen as a Western based mass delusion there's about 300000 Christians in North Korea and about 70 thousands of South 1000 of those are imprisoned in the labor camps because of their fate. Brutal labor camps I want to tell you a story about a man from Pakistan just some stories about people who have suffered for their faith Samuel Ma she was a simple street cleaner 1 day while cleaning a garden in a certain town a 27 year old Pakistani was accused of deliberately piling garbage against the wall of a mosque a Muslim mosque he was arrested and thrown in jail where he was repeatedly tortured for his faith and while being treated for tuberculosis which he contract in prison a police constable decided to earn a place in heavenly paradise by killing him with a brick cutting hammer deep in the Brazilian rainforest 73 old Lady Dorothy staying Christian lady was used to be used to living among people who wanted her dead she had long been trying to protect peasant laborers from the exploitation by logging firms and ranchers 1 day walking to a meeting of poor farmers near the town a specific town in the area to our men intercepted her on the path she knew what they were going to do taking out her Bible she began reading to them and for a few precious moments they listened before opening fire she was shot multiple times and died on the spot you ever hear about these kind of stories Christian believers slain for their faith in modern western America we often think that these are tales of the past these are things from the dark ages but 90000 Christians last year died these types of deaths for their faith and it seems so far away from us doesn't it seem so far it seems so distant from us I think about the text and Revelation Chapter 14 and verse 13 where the Bible says here it says. Revelation 14 verse 13 then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me right bless it are the dead who die in the Lord from now on yes as the spirit that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them often many times people who die for their faith valiantly who die for their faith courageously who die for their faith faithfully are often by their accusers of course brutally tortured and killed but many times it's been proven that the testimony of their faith Pierce is the conscience of their persecutors and many of them cannot rest until they give their lives over to Christ you understand this around the world in the Muslim nations people by the 10s of thousands are flocking to Christianity and the truth of Scripture many of them are finding the Bible and the 3 angels message and their leaving the Muslim faith and embracing the Christian truth in the admin is messy at the risk of their own life I remember when I was in Malaysia just a few years ago I don't know for 3 or 4 years ago and I was doing a youth conference there a family was telling me about the local 7th Day Adventists pastor now in Malaysia they do not have there's only a limited amount of religious liberty people who are native Malaysians it is required by law for them to be Muslim OK but there are many immigrants from other nations from China from India and from other places those people who are not of Malaysian. Citizens have freedom of religion so in other words a Chinese person can worship as they please they can they can go to other Chinese people and tell them about their faith and convert them to their faith but native Malaysians must be is Muslim and it. It's against the law for them to try to convert anyone else or to be converted to another another faith and so there was the story of the pastor the family was telling me it was actually their local pastor who had been faithful to his post who was requested by a Muslim family to give Bible studies to them. Native Malaysians in so he did it in secret he secretly was given a bible studies in his home and then the morning came when someone found him someone had found out that he was giving had turned him in and they came into his house and he had been brutally killed brutally murdered a 7th Day Adventist minister and the Lesia brutally killed oftentimes we don't hear of these stories but this is the reality of the rest of the world that we live you understand this is the reality of a sin sick world when Satan is on a warpath to destroy God's people and the truth and the faith of Jesus understand what faith gone for people who are faithful to their post and then people who have given their lives and as and the life that they lived without Christ is worse to them than death and they're willing to go to the grave for Jesus Amen I think of that text and Revelation also Chapter 12 and verse. And we find here Revelation 12 and verse. I know this verse by heart notes slip in me here is a person leaven and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and notice the rest of the Texas was very powerful and they did not love their lives to what to the death now most people imagine that tax to be describing martyrdom right they died for their faith but in actuality of that if you read the text very carefully it says that they did not love their lives to the death in other words they lived for Jesus and then they loved not their lives up to the point of death they died to self up to the point of death and friends of me tell you today if we die to self every day if we die to self and we are crucified with Christ and we have that experience of conversion and the injured willing spirit of God the ill doing Christ in our hearts who drives out sin and drives out the love of the world if we have this experience upon our knees every day if we make the conscious choice to give our hearts wholly to him every single day then friends at the end of our life whether a face with persecution or difficulty or trial or death we will have no problem dying for Jesus because we who die for Jesus have also lived for him amen and in dying to self we find life we find life and Jesus says I have the power to lay down my life and he did it out of unselfish love for you and I and he says but I also have the power to take it up again have you think as exciting news and not only does he have the power to take up his own life again but he has the power to take up the men the Apostle Paul said to live as Christ but to die is want it is gain it is gain. If we die in Christ we are secure just not too long ago I think it was last year or even maybe the previous year or I'm sorry not last year but yeah it was last year or maybe maybe 2015 in Russia a law was approved by President Vladimir Putin effectively lumping Christians with terrorists on July 20th I believe was last year article didn't quite Save the Last year 2015 and it's causing the country to wonder if it's returning to its top to toe I say that totalitarian THANK YOU regime and reduce is part of Russia's campaign against terrorist activities but legislations allow authorities to target either legal hols churches and worshippers who are not part of state registered the nominations the new laws now makes it illegal to share one's faith in residential locations creating a serious problem for house churches matter only that but he also passed another law that violates religious freedom and which if you are even a state registered church you cannot even share your own faith in your own church the only church is exempt from that is the Russian Orthodox were closely tied now to Roman Catholicism we're going to this according to it's the law increases penalties against the I'm just reading you the article found those guilty of extremis activities according to it's used by Russian prosecutors extremists as to is defined as those who incite religious discord and who promote their belief system as being superior to all others those found guilty of extremist activities face a prison sentence of 6 to 10 years or a fine of up to 4 years of income. That's what happened do you understand and I'm just getting off the subject for 1 second here do you understand friends that at the end of time 7th Day Adventists will be labeled as terrorists and some people are going to say to me why do you why do you scare the people I'd rather scare you and tell you the truth than to be caught at the end of time and you shake me by the chest and choke me saying Why don't you tell me the truth so I'm going to be faithful to my post this morning and I'm not going to withhold the counsel of gone from you but at the end of time 7 to Agnes are going to be viewed as terrorists because we're going to clean to the Bible the Bible only the Bible is a Radek hating it they just did a study from Barnow finding that 74 percent of the lineaments believe that the truth as whatever you decide for yourself 74 percent there is no solid truth and it's becoming more popular in Christianity even in Roman Catholicism that to cling to the Bible in the Bible only is considered extremism radicalism and almost near insanity and yet this is what thousands and millions of Christians died for in the past you understand and as we get closer to the end of time we will be targeted as those. As those terrorists and so today because of the modern media in our nation because of social media and many other things people turn a blind eye you're not going to hear about the Christians dying for their faith on N.B.C. News you're not going to hear it on C.B.S. News you're not going to hear of most news networks and whether they're conservative or not because they don't want people to know interest Han just a few years ago about 3 years ago 5000 Christians were murdered brutally by Buddhist monks in India brutally murdered and so this is the situation that we're facing here in our world and this is why as 7th Day Adventists we believe in and advocate very strongly the concept of religious liberty Now don't misunderstand friends religious liberty as far as administering believe and understand is not simply limited to Adventist it's not simply limited to Christians but it is actually a human right that every human being ought to be able to exercise Amen I want to I want to read this to you this comes actually from the our website on religious liberty of our of the they have this church it says the 7 they have missed church strongly believes in for religious freedom for all people a person's conscience not the government should dictate his or her choice to worship or not so religious liberty actually also protects atheists as well and their right to not worship God does not force himself on anyone does he he would have all of us choose intelligently for ourselves he says Come let us reason together but he also says Come in acquaint yourself for me and find peace so friends let me tell you we don't have to worship God doesn't God doesn't force us to worship him but you're not going to find peace anywhere else. You understand that it says we have advocated these so let me just reemphasize this a person's a person's conscience their what their conscience your own mind your own choice is should be protected by law and not the government and should dictate our choice to worship God or not how many are thankful for that freedom you understand that most many people around the world do not have such freedom the government decides for them what they're going to do how they're going to worship and other going to live their lives understand that we're very unique in America and is very much a minority so we have advocated these goals for more than 100 years through our Department of Public Affairs and religious liberty to governments religious agencies and organizations this advocacy takes many forms fighting against laws that would inhibit an individual's freedoms working to obtain the release of individuals prison prison for religious reasons and supporting the rights of individuals fired from their jobs for following their conscience to name a few and so we have an office actually in in Washington D.C. that protects their head. No we have a magazine that gets produced on a pretty regular basis is called Liberty magazine and you have a little a little paper in your bulletin this week about that and 2 weeks ago we took up an offering the loose offering went to religious liberty and what that that offering goes for is actually to send this magazine subscription to world leaders around the globe as sends it to our nation's leaders as well it sends us to our city and our state leaders and this magazine. Deals with issues of religious liberty how many things and this is important to continue to put before our state legislators are in our national legislators and international legislators right and so we send this magazine to multiple people who are not 7th Day Adventist who would benefit from understanding religious liberty in men so they avenues to offend religious liberty for for atheists for Baptists for Methodists for Muslims for Jews for Buddhists we defend all because no government should dictate to us how we will worship a man that's what the whole nation was built upon I mean that they were for that today we were we built upon that because of a corrupt system that would go to the Bible with you this morning for a few minutes and our time is running quickly but I want to just give a little quick study on on persecution can we do that today. Maybe we should do some else can we do that today all right go with me to John chapter of 15 and many of us you know how that you've ever been light laughed at work or your faith maybe what you were eating or or something you said and people criticize you and those kind of things we compared to some of these stories we don't really have it that bad do we we have a pretty good but I want to just I want to just look at this morning the issue of religious liberty and when religious liberty is abused how Christians should respond can we do that so in John Chapter 15 I want to notice what Jesus says here is John Chapter 15 and we're going to start in verse 18 and notice what he says right here are you there if you are say Men All right John 15 verse 18 at the world hates you you know that hated who me before I hated you that's a bit comforting isn't it if the world hates us then it we know that I hated Jesus before us so 1 beautiful thought from that is that we are never what alone I mean we thank you for that this morning we are persecuted on the place and the work place we are persecuted in the home wherever you're persecuted you understand that you're never alone because Jesus said if they hated me if they hate you they had in me before you if you were not of the world the world would love its own so if to think about this just simple logic if Worley people hate you that's actually a good thing why because it means that you are not like them you are not worldly No we don't judge them and we don't you know we don't look down everybody understands us we're spirits of mature Christians but being hated by the world is actually good. In the Christian context you understand that so let me just say the opposite if the world is loving you there's something wrong with your spiritual life period yet because you are not of the world I chose you out of the world therefore the world hates you remember the word that I said to you a servant is not greater than his master if they persecuted me they will also persecute you if they kept my word they will keep yours also but all of these things they will do to you for my name's sake because they do not know Him who sent me so if you are persecuted by the world why would you be discouraged about that because Jesus says if your persecuted by the world it's because you are like me and the world hates me because it hates the light that I bring to their dark deeds that are in darkness you understand and so Jesus says if you're hated rejoice Now listen I want to just because you're hated by the world doesn't mean that you don't still love them you understand you still demonstrate self sacrificing Divine Love that Christ places in your heart for their souls to be 1 to him you understand so you respond with with their hate you respond with Divine Love imagine what a beautiful concept today you're headed by the world it's good news you're more like Jesus I Ben Now let's go on and struck down to verse 26 Jesus says because but when the helper comes whom I shall send to you from the Father the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the father he will testify of me and you also who. You also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning now he's talking to the 12 but he's also talking to us and Jesus says when you are persecuted when the world hates you for my sake take courage because somebody is coming to your aid who's coming to your aid the Spirit of God the Holy Spirit a man and he will come and draw close to you and your trial he will come close to you in your persecution he will come close you and speak to your heart and He will strengthen you know what Jesus doesn't say is if you are struggling on the job and people are picking on you what you should quit and find yourself another job where people are persecuting you he says no and it may be God's will for you to do that so I'm not saying it's a month or stand but some people say well I want to quit because people treat me well and that my job you know Jesus said My spirit will come and he will help you and he will strengthen you but friends he's not going to strengthen you unless you're asking for him in a daily basis you're on your knees in your pleading with God to strengthen your heart and he says I will strengthen you I will help you and you will bear witness for me and sometimes bearing witness doesn't always mean giving someone of a baptismal tank sometimes it means being the light when there is no other light it means giving some people their final opportunity before their probation closes to receive Christ you may be their only link between heaven and earth or the God of Heaven says you will bear witness of me now drop down to verse chapter 16 verse 1 before he says these things I have spoken to you that you should not be made to stumble Jesus says look you're going to be attacked. You're going to be persecuted he says but I'm sending you have I been left to us or offense but you've got to seek God out you understand and he says I've told you this so you won't stumble so that when you get in that place where you're being attacked you're being cursed security you remember my words when I spoke to you and you will not be made to stumble and then may not be made to doubt he says they will put you out of synagogues Yes The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service How ironic is that a time has passed but it's going to come again and these things they will do to you because they have not known the father or me but these things I have told you that when that time comes you may remember that I told you of them and these things I did not say to you in the beginning because I was with you now drop down to verse 33 I love this verse he says these things I have spoken to you that in me you may have why if I have to be persecuted and we all will be at some point or another if we have to be persecuted I'd rather have the persecution of the world with the peace of Christ than to have the peace of the world and live my life as though there's nothing to else to live for you understand that and he would rather have that experience a man Jesus said I have spoken to these things you may have peace in the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world. Jesus says the very essence of the thing that hates you the world itself that hates you because it hates me he says. There's there's not even a battle between me and then the battle is over. I've already won the battle I have overcome the world through my life in my death of my resurrection He says I have overcome there is no battle to fight there's only faith to clean and we lay hold of the faith of God's divine hand he will give you the strength in the courage of any situation and that I may have thankful for that good morning let's look at. Another verse go with me to Acts chapter 5 Acts Chapter 5 This blows me away earlier this Acts Chapter 5. And going to read verse. Going to read verse 27 and on accept 527 and when they have brought them the talk about the apostles who have been preaching the gospel when they have brought them and set them before the council the high priest asked them saying did we not strickly warn you or command you not to teach in this name and look you feel Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man's blood upon us his blood was already upon them already that incident they were in refusing to recognize that but Peter and the Apostles I mean listen let me ask you a question before we go there what would you say if you were arrested for your faith like some of these other Christians of the rest of the world you were arrested for your faith and you were brought into the court and they said didn't we already tell you to stop preaching this Jesus you fill this city with your doctrine and we've commanded you to stop what do you say or would you say and they said We'll tell you what we're going to do to you we're going to take your home when to take your children when to take your job and even to be cast out on the street and we order you to stop preaching this Christ are you going to respond because that's exactly what they're going to do when the mark of the beast comes. Some people say oh well he's using fear mongering no fear mongering is when you exaggerate the truth I have not exaggerated it because that's what's coming what was Peter's response Peter not just Peter but Peter and the other apostles. Said to them we ought to obey God rather than who rather than men and he goes on and talks about Christ that he's raised him from the dead in verse 32 we are His witnesses to these things and also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who have Bay So what was the response of the of the of the council they were so I rate that they grabbed them and they started to beat them and then they threw them out of the out of the council and look down in verse 40 and they agreed with him and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them they commander they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go so they departed from the presence of the council Check this out rejoicing doing want rejoicing they had just got beaten to a pulp Reed joy seeing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name and I'm not trying to make us feel guilty of this morning but I do want us to understand the seriousness do we love Jesus enough to be beaten for his sake and then to rejoice because we were counted worthy to suffer for him you think Ouachita I don't know I don't know the answer that question well the answer the question is this How much do you live faith weekly faithfully to Christ each day how surrendered are you in your life now and that will in a in a moment's notice tell you how you'd be willing to respond to that question. Most my mind that they would be counted worthy to suffer for his. That blow your mind goeth me to 1st Timothy Chapter 3. 1st Timothy Chapter 3 and we're going to start in verse. 10 whole says wait a minute I think it's 2nd to me forgive me 2nd Timothy verse 10 chapter 3 he says but you have carefully followed my doctrine my manner of life purpose faith long suffering love perseverance prosecution's afflictions which have happened to me to Antioch and I and all these places I don't know whom all the Lord delivered me yes he says in all verse 12 who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer what it's the reality of the Christian life and I hate to say this but it's stated in the book great controversy page 49 I believe it is that if we are not experiencing some form of persecution in our life it's because we're living too much like the world or we're not in the world enough to be having an influence on them we're kind of grovelling ourselves up in our little Abin as bubbles you will suffer persecution evil men and postures will grow worse and worse to see thing and being deceived and so he says you know what it's only going to get worse and it's getting worse $90000.00 Christians last year died he says but you must continue in the things that you have learned and been assured of knowing from whom you have learned them so Paul says that the solution to the persecution that we would receive as a Christian is what to continue living as a Christian I meant to continue in the faith of Jesus to continue in His Word to continue to abide in Him You know how do we respond to these people go quickly with me the book of Romans are you guys bored Amen we shouldn't be war board study the Word of God Amen. Romans Chapter 12 Romans Chapter 12 how do we respond to these people when they're persecuting us verse 17. Romans 1217 repay no 1 evil for evil have regard for good things in the sight of all men if it's possible as much as depends on you live peaceably with all men so that's our goal that's our desire to live peaceably but when that doesn't work out and we are persecuted for our Faith here's how we respond verse 19 Beloved do not of then yourselves but rather give place to wrath for it is written Vengeance is mine says the Lord therefore if your enemy is what hungry feed him if he's thirsty do what give imagery for in doing so you will heap coals of fire upon his said do not overcome be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good a man look in chapter 13 verse 8 he says all no 1 any thing except what friends love for 1 another for he who loves 1 another has fulfilled the Law How do you respond to those who attack you and your own life today think about that question for just a minute how do you respond to those who are persecuting you you shut down from them are you quiet in front of them do you ignore them do you try to get what do you lash back at them Jesus says Paul says oh no man anything but was. Fine love unselfish love and I understand that in some circumstances we have to be removed you know I understand the Lord knows that so I'm not just saying go out and let somebody hitch 10 times and just keep taking and there are circumstances where we have to be removed but expect that our religious liberty at times is going to be abused and it's going to be violated because here's the reality and here's the bottom line. That our religious liberty while we enjoy religious liberty from our governments United States you read Revelation Chapter 13 and we know that liberty is going to be axed at the root yes or no and that's because our religious liberty doesn't come from the 2nd beast power of Revelation 13 it comes from the God of heaven and Revelation 14 and our true religious liberty comes from worshiping Him who made heaven the earth the sea and the springs of water and then. It comes from Him birthing believe in Christ in our hearts and being born again and when we have that freedom in our hearts Jesus says even if you know the truth the truth will set you free and the Son of Man will set you free indeed the freedom that truly is eternal is not from the government but it is from the Christ who dwells within and we can say Amen to that this morning and if we have that freedom in our hearts we need not fear any man any government any entity that would seek to take our life or limb for the cause of the Living Christ Amen on the road Thank with the day for what Jesus does for us and I want to just say I want to 2 more things here please go with me to 1st Peter chapter 4 I love this passage so powerful 1st Peter chapter 4 and notice what he says here in verse 12 1st Peter for verse 12 he says Beloved do not think it's strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happens to you but rejoice To the extent that your protectors of Christ sufferings notice that he does it simply emphasize our sufferings but he says you are protégé king of what Christ suffering so crisis is not sitting on the throne of heaven saying well I hope you have a have a good enough time down there Christ also suffered for our See you understand so we are suffering with him for his glory that others might be saved he says but rejoice that when his lawyers reviewed you may be glad of that sitting joy if you are reproach for the name of Christ watch this blessed are you for the spirit of glory and of God rests on you on his part he is blasphemy MD but on your part he is or 5 This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio. And much more if you would like to know more about audio verse for you would like to listen to more sermon leave visit W.W.W. dot audio Verse dot org.


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