fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

The Gospel of Grace


Galations 1:6-24

How well do you know your faith? Can you defend your conviction when false teachers distort Scripture?

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As we start a new study in Galatians, the theme for this week’s lesson harmonizes with events happening this month of June. The Cult Awareness classes, taught by Carl Mickens, begin this week at First Baptist for six weeks. Brenda Lee, author of Out of the Cocoon, will be featured this month on WE TV, where she will be profiled with three other cult survivors. What’s extraordinary about these events is that both Carl and Brenda give their testimony to being ex-Jehovah’s Witness. I have taken Carl’s classes last year and he emphasized the importance of being firmly rooted in your faith. Brenda stresses the same. Unfortunately, many people get caught in the teachings of false doctrine because they were not knowledgeable of Scripture. I must admit, this was my demise 20 years ago when I had become a Jehovah’s Witness (I left the Watchtower organization in 2003). I had little knowledge in Scripture and fell prey to false teachings.

 

This was the problem in the churches in the Galatians region and Paul wrote them a letter to correct their way of thinking. In fact, this letter to the Galatians was probably Paul’s most severe letter because the problem dealt with the gospel that was being preached. Some Christians in those churches were teaching that salvation is attained by works. Jews who converted to Christianity taught that believers must still uphold the law of circumcision to attain salvation. The message of grace was being distorted by this “new” gospel they were preaching.

6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;   7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!  10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

 

During Paul’s first journey to the Galatians churches (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe), he preached that salvation was by grace through faith in Christ alone. However, converts that Paul led to Christ were falling away to false teaching. Paul accused them of turning from the God of grace to another gospel, and their message was perverting the gospel of grace. He denounced them by holding them accountable for their false teachings, which would bring them eternal damnation and separation from God. These were strong words that Paul used; he needed to make the point across that they were in spiritual danger.  Paul then reasoned with them that the gospel he preached did not come from man, but rather a revelation from Jesus Christ. He emphasized the fact that he didn’t consult with people to know the message to preach, but rather the Holy Spirit directed his ministry and the message of the gospel.

11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.   12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.  13For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;  14and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.  15But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased  16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,  17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.  18Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.  19But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.  20(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)  21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  22I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;  23but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”  24And they were glorifying God because of me.

 

Wow! There is so much application for us today. I guess this study really hit home to me because it took me back to a time when I was not very knowledgeable of Scripture. I honestly thought the only way I can ever learn the truth about God is by having someone sit down to teach me; bible book by bible book, verse by verse. But that’s not what Paul was emphasizing to the Galatians. I know better to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me as I read God’s word. I spent 20 years in ignorance and now that I’m no longer subject to false teachings, I make every effort to reinforce my knowledge of the gospel’s divine origin. It’s so easy to get entangled in something we don’t know because it sounds convincing at the moment. This was the issue in the Galatians churches.

 

It’s so important to understand the gospel of grace. So many people know of God’s grace but refuse to accept it as gospel because it’s easier to accept the idea that one should earn their salvation by works. We live in a society where we’re taught that nothing comes free – everything has a price and should be earned. This is why it’s so difficult for some to accept that Salvation can never be earned through any works…it’s a gift…God’s grace. Isn’t it terrible that some people cannot accept a gift from someone without wanting to give them something back in return? Others feel a self-reproach or suspicion when someone does something nice for them for no reason at all. We’re created in His image and He gives to us freely. With that being so, shouldn’t we accept freely and without guilt? This is what the gospel of grace is all about! Accept God’s gift of Grace and reject any teachings or false notions that we must work to earn it. 

 

Thank you, Joyce, for walking us through this lesson.  WWP also thank for your leading us in class these past few weeks and look forwad to your visit again soon! God Bless.

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June 9, 2009 - Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , ,

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for your wonderful lesson on God’s grace. I would like to add that when you are aware of God’s grace and His wonderful watchcare and guidance over you, you want to serve Him, praise Him, and spend time with Him.

    Comment by Willie | June 9, 2009

  2. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:4)

    “You have fallen from grace.” I’d heard those words before and always thought it meant when a Christian committed a personal sin like adultery or rob a bank. I never considered them to apply to me— the goody two-shoed, Bible quoter at the Kingdom Hall working toward salvation in the flesh. But during the time I had left the Watchtower praying intensely that God would “kill the false prophet” in my head (Deut 18:20), He grabbed me with Galatians 5:4 and showed me my sin. God taught me through Paul’s letter that the spiritual alienation I was experiencing was because I had not recognized His grace by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It was then I was able to see my sin of self-righteousness and repent. I cherish that day of amazing grace! Galatians had a powerful affect on me and continues to be the book I recommend first to cultists I encounter.

    Thank you Linda for this important topic. Thank you Lord for your amazing grace!

    Comment by Julie | June 9, 2009


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