Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday 1/6/2013 Message “Legalism Vs Grace”

Legalism Vs Grace
Galatians 5:2-6
06 Jan. 2013


Gal.5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
To keep us on the same page of music; we must remember that Paul is writing this letter to the Galatian believers; not non-Christians. 
The problem is that the Judaizers (false teachers) had taken control and were teaching that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ plus the keeping of the Law.
The book of Galatians isn't addressing the issue of "loss of salvation" as some have tried to say.

No, Paul is comparing the benefits of salvation by contrasting the Law to God’s Grace.

Salvation is gained by God’s grace alone.

Throughout Galatians, Paul has confirmed that there is only one way to heaven; and that it is by means of God's grace and not man's feeble attempts of good works and keeping the Law.
Here Paul is once again contrasting grace and the Law to show that there is only one means of salvation.
Sermon in a nutshell: You must accept one and reject the other.
It is either law or grace; works or faith; self-righteousness or the righteousness of God through Christ; circumcision or Jesus Christ.

What the Galatians are in danger of, is not losing their salvation: But of substituting the gift of grace for a salvation by works of the Law.

Paul’s warning is that Christ is becoming of no effect to them.

Two week from now; when we look at verse 7 we will compare the definition of "fallen" in verse 4 to verse 7 and it will become clearer that Paul is not telling them that they are in danger of losing their salvation! 

By trying to put themselves under the law; they are throwing their personal bond with Christ under the bus!
That means they are being hindered or pulled off course and fruitless in their Christian walk.
Paul’s argument has always been; if you could do anything to earn salvation then Christ death was for naught.
As a SBC we believe and teach that salvation is totally by God's grace and not by one’s own works.  
We are to stand on the word of God alone: Ephesians 2:8-9: 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Remember our study in Galatians 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."

How about Paul letter to Titus 3:5: He (Jesus Christ) saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit
As I shared with a former member: The promise of salvation by one’s good works is an empty promise; because we are not capable to saving anyone, not even ourselves.
Ask yourself what is the benefits of grace for the believer
Read verse 5: For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
1st looking at verse 5; we find that Christ’s grace provides us with real hope for righteousness.
Why is that important because only the righteous shall dwell with the Heavenly Father?

The apostle Paul has shown that the hope for the true believer is Christ’s righteousness not one’s own righteousness. 

For the legalist; it is all about working their way to righteousness; there is they have an eternal search for; what enough good works…

Believers are justified (meaning; declared "not guilty") before God the moment they trusted in Christ as their Savior.

We as believers receive the attributes of the Savior righteousness by faith when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

2ndly verse 5 seen to agree that those living under the law have no assurance that God will declare them righteous.

Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:21 He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus Christ) to be sin on our behalf; that we might become (put on) the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
3rdly Paul tells us that through grace we don't have to hope in our own abilities to be righteous; because the Holy Spirit begins the transformation of the new believer into the likeness of Jesus Christ: Beloved we will be completely righteous when Christ returns for His own.

Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

In contrast with the legalists; who trust in their good works, the Christian trust is in God’s grace by faith (not works) and so we eagerly await the finish work of our salvation when the righteousness for which we hope will be fully realized.
At the coming of Christ all believers will be completely conformed unto all the requirements of God's Devine will. 

The legalist has; a "hope-so" based faith that is established on having done enough to earn their salvation.

The believer has a "relationship based hope" knowing that God is working in them daily until Christ comes to take us home.

Hear me; as believers, we are to have a “know-so” faith manifesting itself in the knowledge of Christ in our daily lives.

Verse 6 is a part of our assurance that faith manifests itself in the believer's daily life!  6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Paul simply points out that circumcision conveys no spiritual blessing it just ties one to the Law.

1st) Circumcision and dietary requirements of the Law have nothing to do with a person's personal relationship with God as they are works of the flesh.

2nd) What God is seeking is our personal trust and commitment to Jesus Christ for their salvation.

When we put our faith in Christ; such faith will always manifest itself in our behavior and lead us into good works.

Good works that are a living faith expresses itself in love!  As Paul says: "but faith working through love"

Someone wrote: Love does not add anything to faith, but simply gives it a base to operate from.

Our faith is based on Christ’s love and His works through love; and such love is encouraged by God’s grace, not by the law.

Scripture say in 1 John 4:19: We love him, because he first loved us.

How do we apply all this to our lives in 2013: We are to share Christ’s love with believers and non-believers alike!

We are to share that it is God who first loved us and gave His only begotten Son for us and for, the-who-so-ever.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sermon 30 Dec. 2012

The Gift of Christmas That Keeps on Giving

Galatians 5:1 ~ 30 Dec. 2012

Let me start by reading Galatians 5:1 NKJV - Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage … Let’s pray

This verse at first may not sound very Christmassy, but this time of the year people are always asking:  What did you get for Christmas?  When I am in my best pastoral mode my answer is; I got closer to the Lord and the freedom He brings.

 Well as I studied Galatians 5:1 Paul’s statement stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made you free; it caused me to think about the gifts of the 1st Christmas.

 Inside the Bethlehem stable we can see the spiritual Christmas tree.

Looking under this spiritual Christmas tree of life we can see the gift of Christ’s liberating grace wrapped with loving care.

We see that God has wrapped Himself in the baby Jesus; and the gift of freedom that frees us from the yoke of bondage!

 Two weeks ago we looked at chapter 5:1 as the conclusion of chapter 4; but today we see it as a stand-alone verse.

 As the children of Promise have been liberated by God through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s gift of grace.

 As I read and reread verse 1 this is how I translated and punctuated it that I might share it with us today: “Because Christ’s freedom has set us free; we are to stand-fast and not returnagainto a yoke of slavery!”

That about captures this 1st Christmas message in a nutshell

Paul’s theme has always been Christ’s gift of grace and the freedoms it brings.

Let’s focus on the 4 freedom gifts the 1st Christmas brought

1st of all we need to think back to our study in Gal. 4:4–5 recalling that God sent forth His son to redeem those who were under the law  

 We are all are born into sin and all born under the Law

 That means that all mankind needs to be redeemed; so looking under the spiritual Christmas tree of life we find that the 1st Christmas brought us God … wrapped in a baby … clothed with the gift of “redemption and lease.”

 We have been redeemed and released from the power of sin.

No one will ever understand the full impact of Christian freedoms unless they are aware of the entrapment of humanity.

In our humanity we are trapped by our sinful nature that leads us to an eternal life apart from God.

 Back in Romans 8:22 Paul said; “creation groans and labors.”

 Beloved God response to the needs of His created was a cosmic birth of freedom!

 What God did was to wrap Himself in His Son; born of a virgin, hung on a cross, to reveal the suffering heart of God; on that first Christmas Day.

Did I hear and Amen? I know this is heavy, but we are talking about God’s gift of Spiritual Freedom here!

 It started with the fall of Adam; there mankind’s sin caused pain in the heart of God and put tears in His eyes.

Today all are born in bondage to sin and only by the gift of grace can one be set free.

Church, until one receives God’s crucified Son as Lord and Savior by faith they can never be released from their sins; because no one is good enough on their own; it takes God’s gift of grace!

  2ndly the 1st Christmas brought us the gift of Reconciliation with God.

There is no greater bondage than that of being shut up in oneself and shut off from God’s love!    The world needs to wake up … Guns don’t kill, but those estranged from God do

 The 1st Christmas brings mankind an ongoing chance to be reconciled with God, through the simple act of faith in Christ.

3rdly the 1st Christmas brought us the gift of new vision.
When Jesus preached His opening sermon at Nazareth, He took for His text Isaiah 61:1–2!

You all may know that, but did you know that Jesus inserts into his message a verse from the Servant Song of Isaiah 42:7, “to open blind eyes.”

Look at John 9:39 there Jesus says to the man born blind: For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

Christ has blesses us with a new vision; we who were blind now have a new vision for 2013 and beyond.

We see that all human beings are spiritual creatures, with physical bodies, and in Christ there is unlimited potential for spiritual growth.

But to grow spiritually one must use their new vision; the old is washed away.

As the children of promise we are to reach-out to the unredeemed: The spiritually blind cannot see that their greatest need is redemption.

The world is depraved and drowning in immoral darkness; there is light that can only be seen with new vision.

Now that we have focused on the freedoms of release, reconciliation, and our new vision let’s look at the final gift of that 1st Christmas: God placed beneath our spiritual Christmas tree; the gift of belonging.

Recalling the words of Gal. 4:7:“You are no longer a servant but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”

On that 1st Christmas God placed the gift of belonging.

We are walking in a new life of belonging; Like the song says: Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

Beloved, if I know anything it is the pain of not belonging.

There is no greater pain that not belonging, praying to belong.  Looking in all the wrong places in a million strange faces and knowing you don’t belong.

It was only when I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior did I find my family. Prayer: Today Lord, I want to pray for those who have not gone to the spiritual Christmas tree and opened your gifts of redemption, reconciliation, new vision, and belonging.

Saturday, December 15, 2012