Monday, February 23, 2009

Galatians - Week 4 Just Do It !

Galatians 2:1-10

Paul has been preaching, teaching, and planting churches for fourteen years. He didn't wait to be elected, ordained, finish school, have all the details perfectly laid out before him, didn't ask Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends if this was right or confirm with his family. Once Paul met the resurrected, glorious, victorious King Jesus (Acts 9:4) his life was forever changed. He immediately began preaching the gospel and didn't slow down to chat with anyone, he just did it. Paul's calling was to preach to the gentiles (non-Jews) while the apostles in Jerusalem shared the gospel with the Jewish people.

#1 Sometimes we need to "just do it". I am not saying that we should forgo advice or wise counsel. I am not advocating rushing into anything without seeking God's will through prayer, fasting, and scripture reading. What I am saying is that sometimes God speaks so clearly to us as to His will for our lives that we need no further confirmation. Put down the arms of disobedience, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

Through revelation (Galatians 2:1-2) the Holy Spirit calls Paul to meet with the church leaders to:


1. Build unity. Up to this point the church in Jerusalem had been primarily focused on reaching the Jews....Paul was focused on reaching the Gentiles, each had been doing there own ministry.
2. Allow Paul to share his ministry with the church, up to this point the church in Jerusalem didn't really know what Paul was teaching or preaching.
3. Provide encouragement to each other. These two varying ministries could have been a source of division among the early church but through God's grace this meeting solidified the church and its missional approach to both gentiles and Jews in a general sense.

Paul takes with him Titus and Barnabas, two of his closet friends and partners in the gospel ministry.

Titus is a young, hip, Greek pastor (Titus 1:4-5) who loves Jesus, loves people, and shares the gospel to those in the Greek culture of Crete. Titus was a dependable, trusted friend of Paul who traveled with Paul on several trips (Titus 1:5, Galatians 2:3) and was sent to help straighten out the troubles in Corinth(2 Corinthians 7:6).

Paul also took Barnabas with him to Jerusalem. There are typically two types of people in this world:

1. Those who are always down, something bad has always just happened to them, things could not get any worse, nothing every goes their way. These are the people I lovingly refer to as "dream slayers" you know, you just won 300 million dollars and they quickly point out with a glum face that after taxes it is only a paltry 275 million?

2. Then there are those who people love, are naturally drawn to, those who are full of life, energy, joy, enthusiasm, and are great encouragers. Barnabas is the later. He was a great encourager...his name actually means "Son of Encouragement." His real name was Joseph but because of his great heart and gift of exhortation they nicknamed him Barnabas.

Barnabas was the first to sell his possessions and give the money to the church(Acts4:36-37). When none of the Christians wanted to let Paul into their small group(Acts9:26-27) - can you imagine the scene? Guys, I want to introduce you to Paul....yes that Paul....I know, I know but I think everything is OK...he's cool now." When no one wanted Paul in their small group it was Barnabas who welcomed Paul in, loved him, and encouraged others to welcome Paul and to love Paul and it was Barnabas who convinced them that Paul was a changed man in the Lord Jesus. Without Barnabas and his encouragement and love we might not have most of our New Testament today.

Galatians 2:2-4 So Paul, Titus, and Barnabas go to Jerusalem to visit with the church leaders so that Paul can share with his fellow workers his ministry. Paul subjects himself to the accountability of others to make sure that what he has been preaching is true and correct and is in accordance with scripture. Each of us need both fellowship and accountability with one another as we daily seek to serve Jesus.

Now remember, Paul is writing to the churches in Galatia, how some have infiltrated the ranks and are distorting the gospel and Paul shares with the Galatians that the same thing happened in Jerusalem and goes on to share how he dealt with it there (Galatians 2:2-6). Paul shared his ministry in private with those who were in leadership....."This is what I have been doing over the past fourteen years...this is what I have been preaching..... 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve." Apparently while Paul and the church leaders were meeting there were some who insisted that in order to receive the gospel, to be saved Gentiles must first convert to Judaism and that meant being circumcised and being bound to the law.

It goes without saying that Titus wasn't too keen on this idea from a Biblical or physical perspective (Galatians 2:3)..."you want to do what with that knife? Paul, is that why you brought me here? I'm going down to the Starbucks for a caramel macchiato while you guys has this one out."

Why was this happening?

Some people are scared and freak out completely when they hear that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. That His death on the cross has paid for all sins of the past, the present, and the future for those who accept, believe, and confess Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord. This means that for those in Jesus there is complete freedom.

Freedom from: Sin - God no longer holds our sins against us - we are forgiven completely and eternally.
The Law - Before Jesus each of us were measured against God's law yet the law has never given life, it only condemns us, shows us how imperfect we are, and how desperate we are in trying to be good.
Death - The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and the reality is that we all deserve death for what we have done (sins of commission), what we have not done that we should have (sins of omission), and what we have thought. Yet God in His great love has given us eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Religious people don't like the idea of people reading the scriptures for themselves, straying to far from traditions, moving away from the rituals, and forgoing the motions and appearance holiness. Paul states in Galatians 2:4 "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." The goal of religious people isn't to share the gospel, isn't to bring others to an eternal, life changing relationship with Jesus, but to make others think like they do, to validate in their minds that what they are doing is right, and to make others slaves.

Sometimes this opposition comes from well meaning, sincere, Christians who have unsound doctrine, the may have salvation but have never really read the word or studied the word for themselves. Their agendas are tradition based and emotionally charged but still Biblically un-sound.


Here is an example:
Anyone grow up in a small church? Witness a church split? I have seen people come unglued over a change in the bulletin, a change in the order of worship...dare I say in the style of music? I once witnessed a deacon walk out of a church service because someone was playing an acoustic guitar while singing about the power of the blood of Jesus. All of this as if the bulletin, the order of worship, or the style of music were somehow holy?

Galatians 2:5-6 Paul isn't having any of this...."speak to the hand, I know my Bible and this isn't what it says..." He almost seems to say.

#2 You and I must be experts of the word. How in the world are we to keep to a pure gospel? Jesus addresses this very issue in Matthew 13:18-23. Some receive the word and it is quickly taken away. Some receive the word and it lasts for a while and then other things come in and crowd it out, and others receive the word, understand it and their lives bear an abundant life as a result of it (not homes, cars, and bling). You and I must know our Bibles, must read them, pray over them, memorize them so that all the thorns of this world that are trying to come in and crowd out the gospel are cut away by the sword of the word.

Paul wasn't having any of this and Titus certainly wasn't convinced not by their words or by their appearance (Galatians 2:6). God is not impressed with outward appearances in dress or in motions or actions of holiness as He searches the heart and the motives(1 Chronicles 28:9).

Once the leaders hear Paul, see him rightly handle God's word, and see that he is not intimidated by others it is pretty clear that God has called Paul as an apostle, and they recognize Paul's calling and they accept Paul as a fellow apostle and they welcome Paul as an apostle. So Paul shares this with the churches in Galatia to back up his testimony, which many are questioning and attacking.

#3 Don't let ministry get in the way of serving, helping, and loving people. The church sees Paul, they hear his testimony, listen to his theology, and are convinced that the grace of God is upon him and that he has been called by Jesus to preach and plant churches among the gentiles. Through the process they make one request of Paul....don't let your ministry get in the way of helping others(Galatians 2:10). That sounds like a very strange thing for them to say doesn't it? I mean what has Paul been doing now for fourteen years? Preaching, teaching, serving, giving, loving.


I think this is a warning that we would all do well to hear. You see, you and I can get so busy with church, meetings, committees, fellowships, Bible Fellowship, we can become so self-absorbed that we can easily forget that outside these four walls there is a world of people, 6.5 billion who are hurting, suffering, dying. Many without food, clean water, clean clothes, and many without Jesus. Where is your heart for people this morning? When was the last time you stepped up and stepped out of your comfort zone to reach beyond the four church walls into the world to help those in need? Let us pray that we never get so busy with ministry that we forget to help those around us and in our city who need us.

Sometimes God calls us to do His will and our calling is crystal clear....you know what He has commanded you to do, salvation, church membership, service, missions, whatever it is would you please put down your arms of disobedience and just do it? You won't have any peace in your heart until you do.

Each of us need to be an expert of the word. In an always connected world it is increasingly easier for the thorns to grow in our hearts and to choke out the good news of the gospel. Examine the scriptures for yourself...what do they say? Many many man people have died so that you and I could have a copy of the Bible in our own language to read for ourselves. Will you read it?

Don't let ministry get in the way of helping people. Our teaching, preaching is in vain if it does not transform our hearts and call us to action in repentance of our sins and in motion to extend the light of Jesus to those in a dark world.

ONE is moving on up - this Sunday!

God has richly blessed our class with many new couples...so much so that for the past several weeks we have had to steal chairs away from other rooms to accommodate our people, thanks Shaun and Joel.

This Sunday we are all set to move to our new, larger room - 2220-2222.



Be there this Sunday as we enjoy breakfast, continue our study in the book of Galatians, and fellowship in our new room.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ONE is looking for a few Rockstars

ONE is looking for a few Rockstars.

I know what you are thinking...I am not talented, I can't sing, play an instrument....none of that matters (KidRock has made an entire career out of yelling).

Here is what we are looking for:

1. Couples who love Jesus and want to serve
2. Couples who have been praying about how to help and are looking to get plugged in
3. Couples who can step up and lead by example

Through God's grace our class has been blessed with many new, wonderful couples. Our goal and prayer is that everyone who attends ONE feels loved, connects, and grows in their relationship with Jesus. In order to do that we need to make sure that we have proper leadership in place not only to meet the needs of the class today but also to meet the needs as the class continues to grow.

Here is what we need: Care Group Leaders/Couples

Here are the requirements:

1. Minimum commitment for the remainder of 2009
2. Be a leader by example in lifestyle in your marriage and in your walk with Jesus
3. Consistent attendance in class
4. Attendance to all leadership meetings
5. Participation in class functions
6. Be accountable to others

Here is the job description of a Care Group Leader/Couple:

Time commitment is about 2 hours per week. Your focus is to love those assigned to your care group. Facilitate weekly prayer requests in class, pray weekly for those assigned to you, follow up with anyone on a weekly basis who isn't able to attend, and coordinate bi-monthly care group fellowship events (doesn't have to be elaborate, dinner, movie night, etc.).

Would you like to audition for one of our open spots? Think you have what it takes and that God is leading you in this direction? Want more information?

Then send me an email at bjnotbk@gmail.com

Blessings!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Galatians - Week 3 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry


Galatians 1:9-24

"9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 24And they praised God because of me."

False teachers (pop stars, politicians, liberal theologians, educators, sociologists, psychologists and the Oprahs of the day) have infiltrated the church and are causing trouble. Their teaching is throwing the church into confusion...into a terrible identity crisis so much so that they don't know what to believe and they have turned from what they did believe, Jesus saves, to something more comforting to their flesh - reliance on self. Not only have the Galatians turned away from Jesus but in the process they have thrown their beloved pastor, Paul under the bus.

I love music and can tolerate almost anything. As a kid I grew up listening to the "old country" music but I have to admit I am not a big fan of the "new country" music...You know, "I'd walk a mile through a field of wildflowers just to check you for ticks" music? In fact I hate the new country music and if you like it then repent...buy some Johnny Cash and go and listen no more.

Galatians 1:9-12 reads like a country song gone bad. Paul is accused of being a people pleaser and making up the gospel. Paul's is accused of receiving his information from various untrustworthy sources and what little he knows as being taught to him by men and his testimony is attacked and deeply questioned. The only thing I couldn't find in this text was a line about the Galatians kicking his dog. You add that and you've got yourself a smash hit. So now we begin to see some of the sarcasm and anger and passion come out as Paul begins to respond to each of these allegations.

Galatians 1:9-10

#1 - Paul the people pleaser?

Paul asks the question...."Does it look like what I am doing is trying to make others happy? Do you really think so? Don't you think there are better ways to make people happy than to preach Christ crucified? Jesus saves? Jesus is the only way to heaven? I just said (Galatians 1:8-9) if anyone preaches anything other than Jesus saves then let them be eternally cursed...let them go to hell. Does this sound really sound like I am trying to win friends and influence people? Wouldn't free bass boats and firetruck rides be a better approach? Wouldn't Paul be more successful if he focused on the positive and downplayed the negative...sort of like a Joel Osteen of the middle east?

Paul is not a life coach. Paul is a preacher of the gospel, a man's man, a dude and His life is marked with the marks of Jesus (Galatians 6:17).

Paul was (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
Put in prison over and over
Flogged an uncounted number of times
Faced death over and over
Received 39 lashes from the Jews 5 times
Beaten with rods 3 times
Stoned one time
Shipwrecked 3 times
Spent a day and night in the sea
And was in continual danger from rivers, robbers, his own people, Gentiles
Was in danger in the city, in the country, at sea, from false brothers
Was weary and in pain often, without sleep
Often hungry and thirsty, cold and naked
And continually concerned about the health of all of the churches

Paul considered anything he gained personally a loss and everything else as trash if it wasn't Jesus (Philippians 3:8). "Don't question my motives!" Paul seems to shout back...."For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2 Corinthians 2:2).

Shakespeare wrote in his play As You Like it..."All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players..." and each of us play out our lives on this stage called life. Who do you perform for? Who is your target audience? What demographics are you trying to reach? Are we performing for family? Friends? The opinions of others? Or are we doing everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

#2 Paul the author of unpopular fiction?

Did you just make that up? That was the accusation that was being leveled against Paul...that he just made the gospel up. That Jesus being born of a virgin, living a sinless life, dying in our place for our sins giving each of us forgiveness and eternal life was nothing more than make believe, a fable, fiction, folklore. There are many non-believers who have accused Christians of creating God in man's image. Those who travel along the evolutionary highway would argue that somewhere along the way we conceived of religion as a way to make it through the harsh realities of natural selection and survival of the fittest and that religion is a coping mechanism we evolved into to satisfy the electrical impulses and chemical emissions within our brains.

Paul's response is...."Are you kidding me? Do you really think if I were going to make up my own religion I would choose....God becoming man, living a perfect life, being executed as a common criminal, and then rising from the dead? Is that the religion you think I would make up?"

Throughout history there have been many people who have started their own religion and it usually looks something like this - man is god, sex plays a heavy part of the religion, food, wine, ritual all play an important part which to many many people is much more appealing to eat all you want, have sex with whoever you want, drink like a sailor and face no consequences. Some examples include the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Sevier County.

So Paul defends the uniqueness and the reliability of the gospel. Paul goes on to say that he did not make this up, didn't come across this idea on the Internet, didn't Google it, didn't pull it from some online chat room, and he wasn't taught it by another man (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul's source? He received it directly from Jesus.

Paul was doing his own thing, had no desire for Jesus, was going his own way when Jesus came after him, chased him down, got into Paul's grill and revealed Himself as glorious, victorious ultimate fighting King Jesus (Acts 9:4). From that point on Saul the destroyer, the persecutor became Paul the preacher and church planter, man's man aka "the Dude."

#3 Paul's testimony questioned and attacked

Galatians 1:13-16 Paul gives us his testimony which is a great model for us. Paul begins by telling us what his life was like before Jesus...I hated Jesus, I tried everything in my power to destroy His church. Paul tells us..this is how Jesus saved me...he called me before I was born, had plans for me, and even though I had my own plans...Jesus rescued me. And Paul tells of how Jesus saving him and changing him has impacted the purpose for his life....he now preaches to the gentiles.

God has a plan for each of us. First to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Have you accepted that you are imperfect, a sinner, in need of help? In need of a savior? Do you believe that Jesus is God, that He died on the cross for your sins and have you confessed Him as Savior and Lord of your life? Secondly, for those who have received Jesus He has given each of us spiritual gifts of preaching, teaching, exhortation, hospitality and many more to do good works He has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Do you know your gifts? Are you using them?

Galatians 1:17-21 Paul continues his testimony showing what limited exposure he has had with the apostles in that he did not visit with anyone from the church for three years after Jesus revealed Himself. After three years he was finally able to meet Peter and James for 15 days and left again to preach the gospel.

Galatians 1:22-24 Paul points to not only his own words but to the reaction of the church in light of the wonderful work Jesus has done in Paul's life. Most people could not have recognized Paul if they had saw him but they had hear of his former way of life and were deeply afraid of him, of being beaten by him and arrested by him and now the same people who were once afraid of him rejoice over his testimony and praise God over his changed life in Jesus.

Does your life...my life point other to Jesus? What does our testimony really testify to? How much we like cars...sports....how great a treasure Golden Coral is? Or does it show the world that Jesus is our greatest treasure and our highest hope?

St. Francis once said..."preach the gospel always and if necessary use words." 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." And I wonder...when was the last time someone asked you? I know most of us are probably ready to give an answer but nobody's asking...why?

Could it be that our lives look no different than those without Jesus? That our lives testify that our great treasure is electronics and money, and our hobbies?

They say that if you play a country song backwards you get your dog lives, you truck gets unstuck from the mud, your wife still leaves but your best friend stays, and you are sober.

Paul was not a people pleaser...he worked to please God by preaching only Jesus. Who do you aim to please?

Paul did not make the gospel up. He did not pick it up from someone else and he was not taught it by another. Jesus revealed all things to Paul with the specific command to share the good news with the gentiles. Where do you get your theology from? Books? Other people? Or the Bible?

Paul has given us his testimony as proof that what he says is true and as a result of the dramatic heart and life change through Jesus others are encouraged and praise Jesus. What do people say about God when they look at your life?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Galatians - Week 2 - True Gospel vs. False Gospel

Galatians 1:3-9

"3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"


If we take a step back, slow down for a bit, get our heads out of the Internet, out of the television, get our minds off of Monday and our stomachs off of lunch....if we can look beyond ourselves, our holy needs, our holy wants, and our holy desires and look and observe and take note of all that is around us it doesn't take long for us to come to the conclusion that the age in which we live is evil.

It doesn't take long for us to realize that something has gone terribly wrong, that things aren't suppose to be this way. Through observation of world events we quickly understand that this present age is full of heartbreak, sickness, tragedy, and death. Statistics tell us that this year alone at least 50 million people will die, about one hundred per minute, close to 6000 during our one hour class on Sunday. Most of those dying will not peacefully drift off into the eternal at a ripe old age...in fact most will die young, with terrible pain through some illness, by starvation, or at the hands of some calamity either caused by another man or some freak event of nature.

We are surrounded on every side by corruption and self-serving greed as is evident by all the news channels as story after story after story of fraud, lies, and deceit pour in from a parade of business men, bankers, financiers, investors, and corrupt politicians...all related to the economic crisis.

We live in an evil age of temptation where every year in America the pornographers make over 400 moves a month. It has been estimated that more money is spent yearly on pornography than all monies spent on the NBA, NFL, and MLB combined. The temptation is great and it effects men and women, alike dragging people into a secret world of addiction where the largest viewers are children under the age of thirteen.

It would be OK for most of us, and for most of us these things...the deaths in Iraq, the earthquakes, the ice storms in Kentucky, the child abduction, rapes, murders, lying, stealing, are OK as for most of us these things are "out there." They don't directly effect us.

Yet some of you don't have that luxury. You have seen the effects of this present evil age up close and it is very personal. You have seen loved ones sick with illness, dying with cancer. You have witnessed the devastation of your family through divorce, you have endured and undergone injustice after injustice after injustice as others have violated you and evil, injustice, and sin are all too real a reality for you not just some ethereal, philosophical, or moral talk coming from a pulpit Sunday mornings.

If you have looked around and if your conclusion is that something isn't right...something has gone horribly wrong....you are right.

In Genesis (Genesis 1:1-25) we read the account of God creating the universe. God spoke and creation came into being, time began. He created the heavens and the earth, the sky and seas, the days and the nights, all the plants and all the living creatures and as He looked upon all that He had created, all that He had spoke into existence He saw that it was good. In fact Genesis 1:1-25, God says six times that His creation is good and so it was. Then God created man (Genesis 1:26-34, Genesis 2:7)in a very personal way. All of creation up to this point had come into existence through the words of God but now, on the sixth day, at the height of creation, God takes His hands and forms man from the dust and breathes life into his nostrils and states that this is "very good" (Genesis 1:31).

There is no sickness, no disease, no death. There are no natural calamities, no sadness, no sin, no separation. So what happened to this paradise? What changed?

Sin entered into the world.

Adam and Eve chose to follow their ways instead of God's commands. They desired to be like God instead of worshiping God and through their rebellion they brought sin into the world, causing separation to come between the man and the woman and between them and God. As a result a curse was placed on everything. Now for the first time death, sickness, calamities, and chaos take effect.

I suppose for someone looking in it might appear that all was lost, that somehow God had miscalculated, that He had gambled on mankind and lost. Yet God did not lose, He did not gamble and He promises Adam and Eve that He will rescue them (and us) from this present evil age as we see the first hint of the good news of Jesus in Genesis 3:15.

Right now there is quite a bit of talk about bailouts. Bailouts for the auto industry, bailouts for the banking industry, the pharmaceutical industry, health care, and the housing industry. The logic goes something like this....that if we do not bail these industries out they will fail which will be devastating and utterly destroy our economy with powerful ramifications for you and I. And while these are real and very serious issues we are facing the truth is that the biggest calamity man has ever known, the greatest threat to our peace and prosperity, our dire emergency, our greatest area of need regarding a bailout was and is from our own sin. Without a bailout plan from God all of us are doomed eternally to die in our own sins. Yet unlike the world, God's economy is of the heart and His currency is the blood of Jesus which He has graciously and liberally poured out to purchase us and to rescue us from this present evil age.

Galatians 1:3-5

At this point some of you are saying to yourselves...."We got it....We know...We have heard this before...hundreds of times...can we move on already?"

If you and I do not get Galatians 1:3-5 nothing else I tell you will matter. If you and I can't grasp and take hold of the work of Jesus at Calvary and what it means for us, the victory it brings, the new life it gives, the freedom we have then we won't understand the rest of the letter. We won't get the Bible, church, money, family, relationship...nothing(Colossians 1:16).

It was God's will from day one that He would rescue us. It is through Jesus giving Himself freely, taking our place on the cross for our sins and taking our sins upon Himself that pays the penalty in full. This payment is a gracious gift of God. God does not have to and is not obligated to us in any way to do anything yet "while we were sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). God loves us in spite of who we have been and who we are. God's gift of Jesus results in peace. Not that we are removed from this evil age but rescued from it! You and I no longer have to live under the slavery of this world, the world's way of lusting with our eyes, lusting with our flesh, and bragging about what we own (1 John 2:16).

We are no longer hostage to every new fad or philosophy on life. We don't have to spend our days drinking from the toilet water and eating the junk food of the world because we have tasted the bread of life and have drank from the living waters and that bread and that water is Jesus and it satisfies our souls! And through all of this God gets the glory forever and ever and there is not one second in eternity past nor in eternity future to come that anyone or anything other than God get the glory! Not you...not me...only God. Amen!

Galatians 1:6-7

Paul is "astonished" (ESV) and he "marvels" (NKJV) that so many in the churches have turned from this great news to some other great news, which is a lie as Jesus Saves is the only great news! So there are some, both men and angels (Galatians 1:7-8) who have infiltrated the church and are preaching another gospel message to cause trouble and to pervert the truth.

Here are some examples:

1. In order to be saved you must believe in Jesus.....so far so good right? And you must convert to Judaism, you must be circumcised, and you must observe all the laws, feasts, customs, and diet restrictions of the Old Testament law which is pleasing to God.

2. In order to be saved you must believe in Jesus...and wear a white shirt and tie and attend church in a white building with a steeple on top.

3. More subtle examples would include but aren't limited to anything that proclaims salvation apart from Jesus. Food from stress, Sex from loneliness, Success from a lack of self-worth, etc.

so how do we spot a false gospel message among the true gospel message (Galatians 1:9)?

It is as if Paul is asking...."Are we clear? ARE WE CLEAR!" or "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" (Galatians 1:9)

No matter how good the promises are or how good the message sounds or even who the message comes from it if differs from Jesus Saves it is a false gospel and those who preach it are not to be trusted and are cursed!

Why the urgency of the letter? Why all the passion? Anger? Sarcasm? Because this is a matter of life and death. This is the difference between freedom in the finished work of Jesus or a lifetime of slavery to religion. Heaven and hell and all of eternity hangs in the balance. If we don't get this right nothing else matters.

You and I can believe....

John 3:16
1 Peter 3:18
Acts 4:12
Romans 1:16

Or we can continue to chase after false gospel messages of education, government, fad diets, gadgets, and sham messiahs.

What good news have you been holding fast to? I go to church....I am a good person...I do good things?

Or...I am a sinner, saved by the amazing grace of God, purchased through Jesus who gave Himself to rescue me from this present evil age according to God's will to Him be the glory and only Him, forever and forever.

Amen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Galatians - Week 2 Video Preview

So it is official....ONE is now on YouTube and GodTube.

Here is our first video promotion. Let me know what you think. See you Sunday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where are you coming from? ONE - Survey

Attention - I have extended the date of the survey until the end of the month.

Please take a few minutes and complete the following survey.

Remember that all answers are anonymous and you will not be associated with this survey.

You can access the survey here - [link]

Galatians - Intro


Galatians 1:1-5

"1Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

What is your background? Where do you come from? Were you raised in a solid home, broken home? Were you raised in a religious setting? Did you go to church? Did you attend a big church? Small church? What denomination are you from?

What is the Bible to you? Is it a guidebook, a book of laws and commands? How are we to live out our lives morally here on earth? What is and isn't permissible? How far into the culture can a Christian go?

Who wrote Galatians, this 6 chapter, 149 verse book of the New Testament? What is it and why was it written?

Galatians, in the microcosm, is a letter from a loving pastor, Paul, to a group of churches planted in Asia Minor. In the macrocosm, Galatians is the inspired work of the Holy Spirit working through Paul revealing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ not just to the churches in Galatia but to everyone who opens the Bible and reads it.

Galatians is an important letter, an urgent letter and it is full of anger, disappointment, passion, and sarcasm. What has happened? Why the urgency? Why the anger and disappointment?

Many in Galatia who had previously believed and held fast to "Jesus saves" have now fallen under the spell of a new equation that said...Jesus + = salvation. Paul is "astonished" (Galatians 1:6) at the chain of events and the change of hearts in the congregations of God's people. Paul compares them to those who are under a spell (Galatians 3:1) asking..."Who has bewitched you?" And as one commentator has translated it addresses the Galatians as "my dear idiots" (Galatians 3:1).

The problem is that every time people get a hold of religion they mess it up. People use religion as a tool to push their own agenda and to subdue and control others. The great news that Jesus saves people from their sins has been relegated to one small piece of a religious puzzle that said Jesus plus festivals, tradition, laws, customs equals salvation and what once was freedom in Christ has now become enslavement to the law of Judaism.

But before we go too far into the reason the letter was written let's take a step back and look at the author of the letter.

There is absolutely no doubt as to who the author of Galatians is. Galatians 1:1 clearly states "Paul" and in Galatians 6:11 Paul tells us that he has written this letter himself, with his own hands in very large letters. The great priest, Bible translator, and Christian apologist Jerome was once quoted as saying...."Every time I read the letters of the apostle Paul I hear thunder."

Who was Paul?
Where did he come from?
What was his background?
Why should you and I care what he has to say or card about what he wrote?
Under whose authority is he operating and what are his motives?

Paul was from Tarsus (Acts 22:3-11) he was a Jew, in fact Paul was not just a Jew but was an uber Jew, (Philippians 3:5-6) "circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews." Paul was highly educated in the Pharisaic school and was the prize pupil under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel (name means the glory of the law). Not only did Paul excel in his studies of the Old Testament but he was well acquainted with the current trends in thinking and philosophy prevalent in the Hellenistic culture of his times. On several occasions through his letters, Paul alludes to popular poets, philosophers, and thinkers within the culture (Acts 17:16-34). But Paul wasn't just a scholar...he was an activist who was completely sold out to the law.

The first time we see Paul/Saul he is present at the stoning of Stephen giving full approval (Acts 7:58). Paul continues after Stephen's death in persecuting the church of God (Acts 8:1-3) going from house to house arresting men and women who profess and worship Jesus as Lord.

Paul tells us in his own words (Galatians 1:13-14) that he "persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers." Paul was zealous, an over achiever, he lusted after the law, after following the traditions, customs, festivals of his fathers...in short he was completely consumed in works which pushed him to extreme violence toward the church of God.

Yet something happened, something changed in Paul's life, within his heart.

What could change the path of a violent man? Here is someone who was persecuting and murdering the church, someone who was devoutly religious, buried in thousands of years of tradition, bound by the law, customs, festivals, sacrifices and hell bent on destroying a rag-tag group of men and women who worshiped a man who had just been executed on a Roman cross

What could change the direction of this man's life and move him from persecutor to pastor? What changed Paul from the start pupil of Gamaliel to Paul..rock star, church planter, man's man and apostle to the gentiles?

He met the resurrected Jesus face to face.

Paul was zealously acting out what he believed in his heart to be right, following the law, persecuting anyone who did not follow the law, and doing everything in his power to destroy the church of God and Paul thought what he was doing was pleasing to God (Acts 22:4-5).

Out of nowhere Jesus shows up and knocks Paul to the ground (Acts 22:6-9). "Why are you persecuting me?" Jesus asks. It's as if Jesus is saying...."You think what you are doing is right and pleasing to me but you don't know the truth, you don't know what my work on the cross has done in fulfilling the law, you don't know God and you don't know me."

Upon meeting Jesus the Pharisee formerly known as Saul, the man hell bent on harassing, arresting, beating, and killing Christians, the man on a mission to destroy God's church and anyone who loves, follows, and worships Jesus now is changed forever to Paul, the man who loves, follows, and worships Jesus and who is appointed by Jesus to take the gospel to the very people he once persecuted and to be persecuted even unto his own death because of the gospel message. God now uses Paul's zealous personality, knowledge of the Bible, Greek philosophy, and culture to spread the gospel and to plant and pastor churches.

The letter is written by Paul, the former...
religious zealot
racist
Christian persecuting
church destroying
now converted apostle

Paul is one of the handpicked men who personally saw Jesus and who was called directly by Jesus to spread the gospel message of Jesus and Jesus only saves. Not religion, not the law, not customs, not tradition, not anything you or I do in trying to please God or in reaching up to God but in everything that God has done in reaching down to us, giving us His word so that we might know Him that we might see His glory and majesty revealed and everything Jesus has done in coming down to us, becoming one of us, the God/man, so that He could identify with us, be tempted as we are tempted yet remain sinless through it all and die for us as the onetime, perfect, sinless sacrifice that would appease God's demand that the penalty for our sins be paid so that you and I would be forgiven and so that you and I would be adopted into God's family as children of God, joint heirs with Jesus!

Paul is called not by committee, by vote, by group decision, by a church or by any one man...he is called directly by Jesus and by God the Father and so we should listen as what Paul writes to us is extremely important and carries the highest authority as it comes directly from God (Galatians 1:1).

I don't know what your background is. I don't know where most of you come from, what environment you were raised in, what religious background you grew up in, or where you are at right now. What I do know is that the Bible is God's word, Jesus is God, and it is only through Jesus' finished work on the cross that we are saved.

Why did Paul write this letter? What is the urgency about? Why is it so important for us today?

My prayer is that everything you know about Jesus, God, salvation, the law, freedom be turned upside down and tossed aside if it is not true and if it does not line up with scripture. My prayer is that the shackles of law, custom, traditions of men be removed from our hearts so that we can worship Jesus with joy and in truth and in spirit.

Amen.