One of the greatest blessings is hearing BC (Before Christ) and AC (After Christ) testimonies. Nothing puts tears into the eyes and down the cheeks like testimonies of God’s great grace.
Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Battery System of America and Dallas Seminary board member, has such a story. For many years he drank hard and worked hard. But then he found freedom from alcohol through his relationship with Christ. He tells his story on Interstate’s website: “The good news is that ‘the truth shall make you free,’ and Jesus Christ is the Truth. So I accepted Him just as the Bible teaches: as my Lord and Savior, as God’s own begotten Son who died as payment for my sins. In Him is the forgiveness of sins and the power of self-control in being freed from the bondage of sin.”
The phrase Norm quotes, “The truth shall make you free,” comes from John 8, where Jesus was talking to Jews. He told them, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin…. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
In his first public ministry appearance, Jesus read from the prophecy about Messiah in Isaiah 61 of freeing captives. He then boldly told his audience that the prediction was coming true before their very eyes. Two thousand years have authenticated His message with the evidence of transformed lives. The power of Christ continues to take people enslaved to sin and self and set them free to be “free indeed.”
The metaphors of addiction and slavery as well as those of release and freedom touch us in a deep place. Innately we react against slavery. And one of the most sickening forms of literal captivity in our day is human trafficking. Sometimes we think of it as happening “over there somewhere.” Yet the U.S. and other wealthy countries are prime destinations for thousands of men, women, and children exploited for profit. My own home state of Texas has the highest human-trafficking arrest rate of any in the U.S., with people forced or manipulated to work against their wills as slaves and prostitutes.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that a growing number of our alumni and students are reaching out to slavery’s victims. Men and women who have, themselves, found freedom in Christ are working to set free those caught in physical bondage. And in doing so, they find opportunity to model and then tell of the One who sets free in every way.
In the pages of this issue of Kindred Spirit you’ll meet some of these courageous servants. And you’ll read words from DTS professor Dr. Stephen Bramer about how Amos teaches that concern for others’ freedom should be a hallmark characteristic of God’s people. You will also find a reminder from the late Hampton Keathley III (ThM, 1966) that freedom in Christ means freedom to choose slavery, as we are called to be slaves to one another in love.
Every Christ-follower has a “before” and “after” story. The story we all have in common is “once dead,” and now “alive in Him.” Our Lord is the great Emancipator! Having been freed by Him, our job is to take the good news to others, and to preach the Word—and live the Word so that others, holding to His teaching, may find they too can be free at last.