by Michael McEwen
Mark Liederbach expounded Galatians 5:1 and instructed the boundaries and freedoms of living the Christian life in light of the crucified and resurrected Messiah.
Liederbach, who is the Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Vice President of Student Services, and Dean of Students, illumined to the community of Southeastern the joy of freedom in Christ Paul is communicating to the Galatian church. “This, too, is our joy,” Liederbach shouted to the filled pews of Binkley chapel.
He proceeded in his message saying, “It is commonly misunderstood in American churches today what freedom really is. We must remember that freedom was first a biblical word before it was an American term.” Freedom, indeed, is the effect of a valuable price of sacrifice, and, as Liederbach contended, there is an expected and intended quality of life in light of the sacrifice of Christ.
Reading of the preeminent and cosmic Christ found in Colossians 1:15-20, Liederbach––first in a gentle whisper and then in an awaking tone––said, “Christ is the center, as well as the foundation and end-goal of freedom.” Drawing the hearers to the riches of Scripture, Liederbach cited Philippians 2:8-11 as the revelatory text that discloses the eschatological royalty of Christ where “every knee shall bow” before the exalted King.
Today, the issues of social justice meander the streets of the American culture. Virtually every medium such as television, internet, newspapers, journals, and magazines teem with the issues of social justice. “Knowing the sure, future realities of humanity before the King juxtaposed to culture’s conversations about social injustices, the greatest social injustice in the universe, then, is a people created to worship God who have no desire to bow their knees before their Creator,” sadly remarked Liederbach.
By first outlining the foundation, means, and end-goal of Christian freedom, Liederbach then posed the question to the chapel attendees, “What are we free from and what are we freed to?” Common in many of today’s churches freedom is assumed to be the unrestrained desires of the flesh. Christian Antinomianism tends to be the implied consequences of the redemption through the cross of Christ. Confronting these false ideas in the church, Liederbach allowed the Scriptures to speak for themselves: “The Scriptures teach us also that we are freed from condemnation (Rom 8:1); they instruct the church that we are freed from death and sin (Hebrews 2); lastly, Scripture informs us that we are freed from sin’s power in our lives (Rom 6:6-7).”
Also, the Christian is freed to Christ (John 10:9-10), and like a car, illustrated Liederbach, that has an owner’s manual, “the Scriptures reveal to the church how we are intended to function. Living in any way outside from the creational and redemptive ways of God is to live in the ‘yoke of slavery’ that Paul is writing about in Galatians 5:1.”
Liederbach emphasized throughout his message to Binkley Chapel the “revealed reality and revealed morality” of the Scriptures. In most church contexts, the Bible is merely believed to be “revealed morality,” a list of dos and don’ts. If this is true, Christianity, inevitably, becomes nothing more than a morality to be followed, rather than a “revealed, true reality and revealed morality” that God created his people to live into. Liederbach reminded church leaders that “too easily, we train up tamed moralists who never take chances for the gospel and their Lord; we are to disciple true and free believers to live boldly for their gracious and redeeming Lord.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.