Galatians 6 – The Greatness of Grace

As we close the book of Galatians, we are reminded of the greatness of grace. Paul ends chapter 6 saying, “Brothers and sisters, the graceof our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen” (v. 18). I’m so thankful for the grace of God! In chapter 6, we see the grace we have in four areas.

 

Restoration

In verses 1-5 Paul instructs the Galatians on restoring a person who has fallen and on carrying one another’s burdens. How do you respond when others fall? In the body of Christ, we are family. Don’t rejoice, repeat, reveal, or reject… restore!We all have too much junk in our own lives to point fingers. Respond like Jesus responded to the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery. Only someone who is walking in the Spirit can restore the fallen. Restore means to set a broken bone or to mend a broken net. The purpose is healing, restored relationships with God and others. The verdict is out on all of us. No believer is beyond temptation and no believer is beyond restoration.Life is filled with burdens. Be kind to everyone you meet because everyone is having a hard time.If we only knew the battles that people are fighting and the burdens they carry, we would be more understanding and less judgmental.

 

Appreciation

Verse 6 says, “Let the one who is taughtthe word share all his good things with the teacher.” I admit this verse is a little awkward for me to teach. Who is being taught? You. Who is the teacher? Me. The Bible teaches we should support servants of God, pastors, staff, missionaries. This principle comes from Jesus. October is Pastor appreciation month. Let’s take the attention off me. Who teaches you spiritual things? Who has made a difference in your life? Take time this month to thank them for the way they care(d) for you! Apply these verses to your campus pastor, other pastors, your connect group leader and your host home.When you give to others whose ministry has blessed you, you are sowing seed that will reap a spiritual harvest. When you use your resources for sinful purposes you reap a sad harvest.

 

Determination

“For whatever a person sows he will also reap” (v. 7). Verse 7 teaches divine sovereignty and verse 8 teaches human responsibility. You are not going to pull a fast one on God. We all will answer to God for the way we live our life. Choices have consequences. In verse 9 Paul says, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for wewill reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” It is the law of the harvest. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.There is a time between planting and reaping that we can grow tired, weary, and impatient. That is where some of you are in your singleness, marriage, parenting, career, ministry. Hold on! The harvest is coming! Even godly, committed Christians grow weary. The Lord of the Harvest is going to bless the laborers of the harvest if we remember the law of the harvest. Don’t quit! Jesus said pray always and don’t lose heart. “Due season”means your own personal time period. You don’t have to be jealous of others, God has enough blessings to go around.

 

Identification

In verses 11-18, Paul is clear that his identity is in the cross. “But as for me, I will never boastabout anything except the crossof our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14). Paul suffered much for the cause of Christ (2 Cor. 11:24-28). He knew what it was like to be weary, but he was not trying to impress people. He knew his identity was in the cross and in Christ. He had been made a new creation. He was a marked man. He’s saying to the Galatians, You may be confused between following the law or following the Lord, but I know who I am and where I stand. My scars prove the level of my love for Jesus. Now, compare that to the ease with which we live. We know little suffering compared to Jesus and Paul. What are some spiritual marks for Jesus?Love for God and others, fellowship with others, service in the church, warfare, generosity, sharing your faith, unity in the body of Christ, etc. Do these things mark your life?

 

We have learned from our study in Galatians what Christianity is and what it’s not. It’s not about morality or trying to be a good person. Good people still go to hell. It’s not about being moral, keeping rules, or a list of dos and don’ts. It’s not about denominations or religion. It’s not about being American or Jewish. Christianity is all about Jesus. Jesus is God, and He came to love us, save us, heal us and transform us. You can’t earn it. It’s a gift called grace. That is the greatness of grace. Grace is greater than all our sin.

 

Galatians 5 – The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 3

We’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We can plant and water, but God brings the increase. The fruit of the Spirit is of the Spirit. If you focus on the outward without the development of the inward, you will fail. We must walk in the Spirit and allow Him to produce His fruit in us. How the church began is how the church will continue. God poured out His Spirit and they continued steadfastly.

 

Faithfulness

God is trustworthy. He is faithful in His dealings with us. Just like the sunrise happens faithfully every morning, Lamentations 3:23 says His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness! 1 Corinthians 1:9 and 10:13 both say, “God is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “Faithful is He who calls you….” Not only is God faithful, but He rewards faithfulness. Matthew 25:23 says, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant….’” We should always give 100% effort. We are to love God with all our heart. We are to be faithful in our wealth and faithful in our worship. Be faithful to keep your word. Get rid of a get-by attitude. Don’t halfway do anything. God does not require that you BE the best but that you DO your best. You are not worth much if you are not faithful. “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint” (Prov. 25:19).

 

Our culture says unfaithfulness is normal. Faithful Christians shine as lights in the darkness. Be faithful in singleness, in friendships, in marriage – for better or worse. Remember, in marriage you signed up for worse! Culture says to look on the internet and find someone else. Christ says work it out. Be faithful. Parents, be faithful to your kids. Children be faithful to your parents. Be faithful to your employees and employers. Let the word “faithful” describe you in your relationships and workplace.

 

Where would we be today without the faithfulness of God? Hebrews 11:11 says, “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We can have faith – belief in His Word, confidence in who He says He is, assurance that He’ll do what He says He’ll do – and we can be faithful to others, because He is faithful! “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True…” (Rev. 19:11).

 

Gentleness

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” Meekness is not weakness. It is power under control. Meek is another word for gentle. Numbers 12 says that Moses was a meek man, yet he said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Jesus Himself said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Over and over again in Scripture we are told to be gentle. “Let your gentleness be evident to all…” (Phil. 4:5). Do you have a teachable spirit? Are you repentant? It is daily? Are you gentle and sensitive or demanding and harsh?

 

Self-Control  

Self-control only happens when you are surrendered to the Spirit’s control. Otherwise, you are consumed with self-centeredness, self-importance and self-pity. The need for self-control is obvious. We live in a world that is out of control. Eating, drinking, spending, you name it. The answer is to deny ourselves. Galatians 5:24 says, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” People say, “I couldn’t help myself, I am just weak in the flesh.”  The fact is they are strong in the flesh and weak in the Spirit.  Say “no” to your flesh.  The only way to crucify our fleshly, carnal desires is to stop feeding them. Die to selfish ambitions, desires, and opinions. People do what they want to do. What did Paul tell Timothy and Titus? Older men are to be sober minded and self-controlled and to teach younger men to be that. Older women are to teach the younger women to be self-controlled. This is not a talk for teenagers. There is never an age where we do not need self-control.

 

When you think faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, think Jesus. If you are exhausted trying to live the Christian life on your own, the answer is to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to produce His fruit in you!

 

 

 

 

 

Galatians 5 – The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 2

Last week, we contrasted the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the opposite of the works of the flesh. The Lord produces the fruit in us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” The key word is abide. Branches on a vine don’t strain and try harder to produce fruit. The vine provides the life-giving sap and nutrients needed. The branch just has to stay connected to the vine. It’s the same with us! When we stay connected to Him, He will produce organic, genuine spiritual fruit in us.

 

Patience

Who among us does not need more patience? We want everything now. We want fast food, the fast lane, the fast pass, etc. In James 1, we are told to count it all joy when we go through trials because the testing of our faith produces patience and ultimately works in us to make us “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (v. 2-4). Storms will come. They will either make you bitter or better. What makes the difference? The Spirit. In James 5 patience is likened to a farmer waiting for a harvest (v. 7-8). Farmers have to be patient from one season to the next. They till, plant, weed, water, watch and wait. God works in seasons! Some of you can’t wait for the season you are in to be over. Don’t just endure the present season of life, but enjoy it! In due season you shall reap if you faint not. You can’t control what happens, but you can control your response! In Matthew 18:23-35, we read a parable in which a man receives patience, compassion, and forgiveness from his master, but then turns around and does not offer it to his servant. The master was of course angry! Verse 35 tells us that God also does not like when we don’t offer others patience, because He has been so patient with us. Human nature is “I’m not going to be kind to those who are unkind to me,” but God is patient and kind even when we don’t deserve it.

 

Kindness

“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). We live in an age of rage. Just listen to the news or look at social media and public discourse. Christians are to be different! God produces His fruit in us, which is grounded in His character. Titus 3:4-5 says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy….” Psalm 145, Hebrews 11:4, Luke 6:35-36, Romans 2:4, and Ephesians 2:7 also speak of God’s kindness. We are commanded to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave [us]” (Eph. 4:32). It’s an amazing thing that God would love and seek those who were against Him. We don’t forgive people because they deserve it, but because God forgave us when we did not deserve it. Apart from the grace of God, we get preoccupied with our problem, our plans, and our pleasure. Everyone’s favorite subject is self. Look for opportunities to show simple expressions of kindness. Mark Twain said, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read.”

 

Goodness

The “fruit” of goodness is not feeling good, looking good, being good, or doing good. Romans 3:12 says, “There is none good, no not one.” In ourselves we have no good thing, but the Lord is good! James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift is from Him. Romans 12:2 says His will is good and Micah 6:8 says He has shown us what is good. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)! Jesus went about doing good and that is what we are called to do. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are the body of Christ. John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.” People remember kindness. You remember teachers, employers, and employees who showed you kindness, right? Patience, kindness, and goodness should start at home, with the people you are around most. Stay connected to the Vine and let God produce His fruit in you.

Galatians 5b – The Fruit of the Spirit

We are in a series studying the book of Galatians. Today, we are going to begin looking at the fruit of the Spirit. In chapter 5, Paul contrasts for us the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. He says, “these are opposed to each other…” (v. 17). The key for us as believers is found in verses 16 and 25 when he says, “walk by the Spirit” and “live by the Spirit.”“The works of the flesh are obvious” (v. 19).These are the types of things that mark the lifestyleof non-believers.We as Christians still have the propensity to lapse into those things in our unredeemed flesh. Our flesh will not be redeemed until we receive our heavenly home and a glorified body. The question is, are we regularly practicing these things or is the fruit of the Spirit growing in us?

 

Life under the law, under legalism, produces these vices: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar (v. 19-21). Life under the Spirit produces these virtues:love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and such things (v. 22-23).The “deeds” of the flesh are plural. A person does not commit all these sins at the same time. The fruitof the Spirit is singular. It comes as a total package. Not every believer has every gift of the Spirit, but every believer has all the fruit the Spirit.

 

Fruit is an image seen throughout Scripture. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine, you arethe branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” The key is abide. The branches are not straining harder. Some of you are trying to live the Christian life in your own strength. The key is to abide in the life, the source of the vine. The fruit is not produced byus but inus.

 

Let’s look at the first three virtues Paul lists. The first is love. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.  The greatest evidence that the Spirit lives in you is not performing signs and wonders, or speaking in tongues. The greatest evidence is love. Man’s love is based on attraction or earning it. But Deuteronomy 7:7-8 makes it clear that the love of God has nothing to do with our merit.God’s love takes the initiative. It does not ignore the needs of a brother. It forgives with or without apology. It is more than an emotion or feeling. It is a decision that we make and an action that we take.This love is the permanent priority of the Christian life.

 

Love and joyare linked.“This is my commandment that you love one another that your joy may be full.” Joy is not happiness. Joy does not depend on circumstances. The joy of the Christian is unique because it is based on salvation. David prayed, “restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12). 1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you lovehim; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvationof your souls.” Joy to the world the Lord has come! The gospel is good news. Real joy is based on salvation. Man’s guilt plus God’s grace leads to eternal gratitude.

 

Joy and peaceare also connected. Numbers 6:26 says the Lord will give you peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “God will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.” Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always” and verse 7 says, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” As Christians we can have peace with God and peace with others. Peace is found in God. Man’s problem is we are alienated from God. There is no peace apart from God. Jesus said in John 16:33,“I have told you these things, so that in meyou may have peace.”He is the Prince of Peace.

How do we know if we are walking in the Spirit or in the flesh?It is not mystical. It is obvious. Paul gives two lists for us to use to examine our lives. When you look into the mirror of God’s word, do you see more of yourself in the vices or the virtues? Is Jesus producing His fruit in you or are you trying to live the Christian life on your own?If you are looking for love, joy, and peace, it is found in Jesus.

 

 

 

Life ‘18

On September 15, from 9:00 a.m. – noon, we’ve planned a day you do not want to miss! It’s called Life ‘18 and this week on the blog I want to personally invite you to join us. Tammy and I will be sharing twice, the worship teams from all our campuses will be leading us in worship, and you’ll have the opportunity to attend a breakout session on a topic that interests you. Breakout topics include:

  • Marriage
  • Family Scheduling
  • Telling Others About Jesus
  • Your Role in Reaching the Nations
  • Maximizing Your Morning Routine
  • Racial Reconciliation
  • How to Read Your Bible
  • Prayer and Fasting
  • Dealing with Grief

Georgia doesn’t play football until Saturday evening, so you’ll have plenty of time to get home, grab your chips and dip, and watch the game.  We really believe this will be an uplifting and encouraging day for all who attend!

If you have not registered, click here to sign up now.

This Sunday, I’m excited to be back with you and to continue our study through the book of Galatians. A new schoolyear has started, and there’s no better time to make Sunday mornings a priority in your weekly routine. Make plans now to be in church Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then!

 

Galatians 5 – Called to Liberty

Jesus came to set us free. In John 8 Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (v. 33, 36). As we begin Galatians 5, we’ll see this same theme. Let’s look at five questions as we go through this chapter.

 

Are You Standing?

“For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (v. 1). Paul goes on to say that it makes no difference if a person is circumcised or not. His point being that works do not get us to Heaven. Are you standing in Christ and His finished work on the cross or are you trusting in your own good works? Paul is telling them not to focus on being moral, religious, spiritual, or good. Focus on Jesus because the closer you get to Him, He makes you spiritual, moral, and good. He changes you. It’s not about you being good. It’s about Him being good. It’s not about you pleasing God. It’s about Him pleasing God. It’s not about what you can do. It’s about what He can do through and in you. Stand firm in what He’s already accomplished! Stand on the words of Jesus – “It is finished.”

 

Are You Falling?

“You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace” (v. 4). Falling from grace does not mean you lose your salvation. Hell is not mentioned in this context. It means they went back to the law. It means they have substituted regulations for a relationship. Alienated means to become distant. The Bible warns us of the danger of backsliding. It speaks of backsliding, being lukewarm, and losing your first love. It is possible for a believer to turn back. We have all heard stories and know of people who quit. The Christian life is pictured here as running a race. One day you will die and cross the finish line. Make sure you finish well.

 

Are You Running?

Paul tells the Galatians, “You were running well. Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth?” (v. 7). We’ve all seen Christians who get off course on doctrine. That’s what’s happened here. Someone cut in on them and cut them off. Someone hindered their progress. Maybe you were running well but something happened. Maybe you believed a false teaching. Maybe someone disappointed you or other professing Christians turned you off. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus not other people! People will let us down. False teachers will come and teach things contradictory to what the Bible says. That’s why it’s so important that we know the truth!

 

Are You Serving?

In verse 13, Paul says we are to use our freedom to serve one another through love. We don’t want to do anything that would hurt others or hinder the work of God. We want to help others and honor the work of God. Don’t use your freedom to sin, but use your freedom to serve. Think about it – This is how you have a good marriage. This is how you have good relationships. Joy is not found in others serving you, but in you serving others. Love motivates us to serve. Are you serving others or yourself?

 

Are You Walking?

Paul concludes this section reminding them to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh (v. 16-17). The struggle is real! In Romans 7, Paul says, “I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate… For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (v.15-24). There is only one person who put death in its place!  You don’t have an alcohol, drug, addiction, gossip, pride, pornography, lust, jealousy, selfishness problem, you have a Jesus problem. We need Jesus! Being right with God is not about trying harder but in trusting Jesus. Are you walking in the Spirit or trying to do things on your own?

 

 

 

Galatians 4: Adopted by God

In chapter 3 we saw that Father Abraham had many sons! Jews and Gentiles are sons of Abraham by faith not works. When we put our faith in God, He adopts us into His family.

 

Who You Are

Paul begins chapter 4 reminding the Galatians of their identity. “When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (v.4-5). The Father sent the Son, all God and all man, to purchase us from the orphanage of sin. God purchased us to redeem us, to set us free, to adopt us as His own son or daughter. He is a good, good father! If you have put your faith in Jesus, you need to remember who you are. You are not who the devil says you are. You are not who your past says you are. Everyone has a past. Maybe you were bound by religion, drugs, alcohol, one bad relationship after another. Don’t allow the past to control your present or ruin your future. Jesus was born under the law and He kept the law. He did what you and I cannot do. I am redeemed, forgiven, free, and my past is under the blood, in Christ. He accepts us and adopts us not based on our weight, height, beauty, intellect, or anything we do or don’t possess, but based on the finished work of His Son Jesus.

 

What You Have

“So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir” (v. 7). Everything you have been searching for and more is found in Jesus. Look at some of the differences between a son and a slave, and notice all that we have as sons of God. A son has a father. A slave has a master. I would crawl up in my father’s arms, sit on his lap in his embrace. Maybe you see God as a cruel master who is making life hard on you just barking out orders. It may be that you had a bad earthly father and it messed up your view of God. Christianity is about a relationship not rules. A son loves. A slave rebels. I wanted to please my dad. I wanted to please my grandfather. Rules without a relationship only leads to rebellion. A son is driven by devotion. A slave is driven by duty. A son loves to go to work. It is the family business. A slave hates to go to work. He has to go to work. He hates his job. If you view the commandments of God and prayer like bondage, it means that you don’t love him. You have the heart of a slave. God wants you to have the heart of a son. He isn’t just after obedience, He wants you to obey with joy! A son is rich. A slave is poor. My grandfather and I were always working outside, but I remember on rainy days we would sing hymns together by the fire. One of his favorites was A Child of the King, which talks about all that we have because of all that our Father has. You don’t have to be a slave to dead religion, to your past, to the opinions of others, or to sin. Realize what you have in Jesus. Everything Christ has we have because we are coheirs with Him (Rom. 8:17).

 

Where You Are Going

In verse 9 Paul asks the Galatians, “How can you turn back again?” Everyone is either going forward or backward. You can’t live life looking in a rearview mirror. In verses 22-24 Paul references Sarah and Hagar. Hagar’s son Ishmael was born through the power of the flesh, but Sarah’s son Isaac was born through the power of the promise God had given. The Apostle Paul is saying that turning back to the law is like attempting to fulfill the promise of God through the flesh. In verse 27 he goes on to say Sarah will be more fruitful than Hagar. God chose the one with no potential to accomplish his promise. That is the good news of the gospel. God doesn’t need any potential from you to work His miracle in you. You may come from the most jacked-up past, your resume may be one failure after another, but God can still bring about his promise in you. The gospel is not, “Change and I’ll accept you.” The gospel is “Admit that you are a sinner in need of change and I will accept you and adopt you into my family.”

 

With Christ, we can wait with confident hope, knowing the same God who worked miracles for Abraham and Sarah will work miracles in and through us. We can confidently know who we are, what we have, and where we are going, because we have been adopted into His family.

 

 

 

Galatians 3 – Justification by Faith

As we continue through Galatians 3, Paul continues to elaborate on the true Gospel. The key verse is verse 11: “Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.” The just shall live by faith. We are saved by grace and not by works.

 

Personal Experience

Salvation was meant to be personal. It is not about your parents’ or grandparents’ religion. It is about a personal relationship with God. In verses 1-4, Paul calls the Galatians out for turning to dead religion, versus a living relationship. They started out under grace but were guilty of backsliding into legalism. He reminds them that it was before their eyes that “Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” They saw Jesus for themselves. Paul preached Christ and Him crucified. They received the Spirit not by keeping the law, but by believing in Jesus. The real evidence of salvation is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Humanly speaking, it takes a dad and mom, male and female, for a child to be conceived and born. Spiritually speaking, it takes the Spirit of God and the Word of God for a person to be born again. We could never do enough works to save ourselves. Paul reminds the Galatians of their story – they did not receive the Spirit by keeping the law. They received the Spirit when they believed.

 

Biblical Examples

After reminding the Galatians of their own salvation experience, Paul then turns to the Scriptures. We should never judge the Bible based on our experience. We judge our experience based on the Bible. The Judaizers wanted to go back to Moses, but Paul takes them back even further. Abraham, who lived over 430 years before the law was even given (v. 17), believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (v. 6). In verse 10 Paul says that “all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed.” Why was the law given in the first place? To create the frustration so we would see our need for Christ. It informs us of our sin, it does not save us from our sin. The law is not cafeteria-style; we can’t pick and choose. We have to keep all of it and breaking even one commandment makes us guilty. We are all guilty! The good news is that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (v. 13). Jesus purchased our freedom. Jesus paid a high price to redeem us. Grace is free but it was not cheap. Our debt was not just forgiven. It was paid. “For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law.” (v. 21). But as we’ve seen with Abraham, God’s plan is based on a promise, not the law. God made a promise to Abraham (Abraham did not make any promises to God), before the law was given. The law did not invalidate that promise (v. 17). God’s plan is based on Him and what He’s done, not on us and what we do. No one can obey enough, give enough, be baptized enough, take the Lord’s Supper enough, or work enough to be saved.

 

Relational Equality

Justification by faith is seen also in relational equality. Paul closes out the chapter saying, “through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” (v. 26). The law created distinctions and differences, but Jesus came to unite not divide. Race (Jew or Greek), social status (slave or free), gender (male and female) are distinctions under the law that are made one in Christ (v. 28). We are all equally children of God.  There is no hierarchy. Think about your own children. You love your sons and daughters equally. The last verse of the chapter says, “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (v. 29). The law could not make you an heir, but the promise can. It is not about what we have to do to be saved, but about how much Jesus has done! Salvation is a free gift.

 

In conclusion, justification by faith is seen in:

  • Personal Experience – You receive the Holy Spirit by believing, not by keeping the law. Have you received the Holy Spirit?
  • Biblical Examples – 430 years before Moses gave the law, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ?
  • Relational Equality – We are all one in Christ Jesus. The law cannot change the human heart and tear down racial and social barriers, but Jesus can. We are family! Are you a part of God’s family?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galatians 2 – Freedom in Christ

Last week, in Galatians 1, we saw that there was another gospel that was being taught to the Galatians, even though there is only one true gospel. The true gospel is about a relationship. The false gospel is about rules.  In chapter 2, we will see the effects of the true gospel and freedom in Christ.

 

Creates Unity

Paul begins chapter 2 explaining how he met privately with the leaders of the church to be sure he had not been running in vain (v. 3). He explains, “false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in ChristJesus in order to enslave us” (v. 5). Wherever Paul went, false teachers followed, trying to create unrest in the church and discredit his message and ministry. Paul had a private meeting with church leaders. He wanted a united front before he went to the whole assembly. Paul said we are all running a race and we need to be sure we are on the right track, headed in the right direction.

 

It was clear to the leaders that Titus was saved but had never been circumcised. Circumcision had lost its spiritual meaning. It was something external their parents did for them. Baptism today is an outward expression of an inward conversion. It loses meaning if it is only something outward that your parents did for you as a baby. It has to be personal. In the New Testament people believed and were baptized, in that order. Verse 6 is clear that “God does not show favoritism.” There is no Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised. God is looking for faithful servants. Every member in God’s family is important, accepted, loved, and called to minister to different people. “Remember the poor” (v. 10) is the practical application.

 

Confronts Hypocrisy

In verses 11-14 Paul explains that he confronted Peter over his hypocrisy. Peter was eating pork with Gentiles until Jews came from Jerusalem. He gave in to peer pressure.At every age there is the pressure to give in, compromise, and go along. Do you have any hypocrisy in your life? Do you act one way on Sunday and another on Monday? One way at home and another on a business trip? Paul confronts Peter to his face. He did not say it behind his back. If you have something to say, say it to the person’s face. We are all accountable to one another. Your lifestyle has a ripple effect. Even Barnabas was influenced.

 

Jesus fulfilled the law.  When he died, the temple veil was torn. The wall between Jew and Gentile has been removed.  To go back to the law is to rebuild what Jesus tore down. Peter himself said in Acts 15 that we are to put no difference between “us” and “them,” but he was acting like there was a difference. The truth is there is only one race, God is the giver of all gifts and talents, He determines where and when you were born, and we are all sinners, dead spiritually apart from Jesus.

 

Cultivates Maturity

In the final verses of this chapter, Paul recaps the truth. Salvation is not found in the law, but in Jesus. Justification is an act of God. At the moment of salvation God declares the sinner righteous, from then on, in Jesus. The guilty is declared not guilty!No believer is more justified than another. If a person could be justified by works, why would God send Jesus to die on the cross? There is a constant battle between the old nature we were born with and the new nature given to us at salvation. We are free in Christ, NOT to do anything we want to do, but to live for Jesus. We are set apart for His purposes.

 

What is the crucified life? The exchanged life? Jesus takes all our sin and gives us all His righteousness.  Jesus takes all our weakness and gives us His strength. In order to live, we have to die. In order to receive, we have to give. In order to be first, we must be last. That is living the crucified life. False teachers have always tried to add somethingto the gospel. Only the true Gospel saves!

 

Galatians 1 – The Gospel

This Sunday, we started a new series in Galatians. I love to walk through books of the Bible and I’m so excited about this one. Martin Luther said Galatians was his epistle. If he could marry a book of the bible this would be his bride. Galatia is modern-day Turkey. Paul went there, started churches, and raised up leaders. Then, false teachers came preaching another gospel. There is only one gospel – the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  In the first two chapters, the word “gospel” is used 10 times.

 

God’s Story

From the very beginning of the book, Paul makes it clear that the gospel is God’s story. In verse 1 he says that he’s an apostle “not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.” In verse 4 he says Jesus “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Christ died for our sins. He was buried and rose on the third day!  Salvation is about God rescuing us. We are born dead in our sins and God brings us from death to life. The only thing we contribute to salvation is that we did all the sinning. Jesus did all the saving! It is not of works less anyone should boast.

 

In verses 6-7 Paul is shocked that the churches were turning away from this truth. He says, “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!” (v. 8).  Again, there is only one gospel! Mormons teach that an angel appeared to Joseph Smith and gave him the book of Mormon. Muslims teach that an angel appeared to Mohamed and gave him the Koran. God knew these things would come, so he had Paul write this verse long before it happened! The other gospel the false teachers were preaching was turning from grace to law, from relationship to rules. The Judaizers said, “We believe in Jesus, but Jesus is not enough.” They were saying that people needed Jesus plus something, grace plus works. In this case, Jesus plus circumcision.

 

How do you get to God? Go to the first story in the Bible. In Genesis 2 and 3, we read about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve that they were free to eat of any tree, but not of that one. Satan deceived them into to thinking they would be like God if they ate from it. The fake gospel focuses on YOU. The real gospel focuses on GOD.  Today, we can get into the mindset, “Real Christians do this and don’t do that.” There is nothing wrong with rules and standards. Rules are good. You GO on green and STOP on red. But, rules are not the heart of the Gospel.  Rules are not the focus. Jesus is the focus. It is not about measuring up, but on what Jesus has already done. His last words were not, “I got it started, now you go finish it.”  His last words were, “It is finished.” Jesus is the only way to God.

 

Paul’s Story

In verses 11-20, Paul shares the message that changed his life. He told his story – his former life, how he met Jesus, and how his life changed. You can be raised in church but not raised in Christ. Paul was religious, but he was dead spiritually. Then, Paul realized that God had a plan for his life from the womb! Jesus taught him and used others to disciple him. All the world religions are about human achievement. The gospel of Jesus is about divine accomplishment. DO vs DONE! Paul had been in legalism and he knew it leads to death. Jesus came to set the captives free.  Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  What the gospel did for Paul, it can do for you.

 

Your Story

Paul closes this chapter saying that people heard his story and glorified God. When is the last time you told your story? Do you have a salvation story? You have no power to save yourself and no power to live the Christian life. Trust in Jesus alone. Say, “God I am all in! I trust you alone to save my soul.”

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