The Baptist Testimony
Volume 56 Number 2 March/April 2010
The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC Executive Director
One of the most famous documents of American history is the Emancipation Proclamation. This document, which was drafted during the Civil War, specifically designated “that all persons held as slaves … are, and henceforward shall be free.” It was certainly a monumental and defining moment for a nation that was not even one hundred years of age.
An interesting moment occurred when the official copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was brought to President Abraham Lincoln’s office for his signature in the autumn of 1862. After receiving the document from Secretary of State William Seward, President Lincoln took a pen, dipped it in ink and moved his hand to the place for the signature. He held his hand in place there for a few moments then withdrew it and dropped the pen. After a little hesitation he again took the pen and made another attempt, only to once again withdraw.
Lincoln then turned to Mr. Seward and said, “I have been shaking hands since nine o’clock this morning and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the Proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, ‘He hesitated.’” The President then turned to the table, took up the pen again, and firmly wrote “Abraham Lincoln.” Smiling, he then declared, “That will do.”
Long before this historic event an even greater one took place, one that has eternal ramifications. The Son of God came from heaven to emancipate sinners, to free them from the bondage of sin. Jesus promised “therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Lincoln’s courageous commitment to preserve the Union and free the slaves from human bondage pales in comparison to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to set people free from the bondage of sin. “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2) to pay the price for our freedom. It was with joy that our Savior faced the cross in order to please His Father and provide for the emancipation of sinners, a proclamation that was signed with Jesus’ own blood.
We celebrate the reality of this priceless emancipation during this special season of the year. The irony of this season is that like many during Jesus’ earthly ministry, there are those today who say that they are “not in bondage” (John 8:33). They declare this even though with every step they take, you can hear the clanging of their shackles of sin. You hear it by the way people talk and act and rebel against God and His righteous standards.
But the denial by those who choose to remain shackled does not alter the significance of what the Savior has accomplished. The Emancipation Proclamation of the Lamb of God frees its beneficiaries from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10), the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14), the guilt of sin (Romans 8:33), the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13), the fear of man’s persecution (Acts 4:18-20), and the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).
What a joy it is to be emancipated from sin! And what liberty it provides! Jesus Himself declared “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). That liberty becomes reality when a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior.
Believers in Christ are free indeed – you have God’s Word on it! (KEF)