fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Receiving the Gospel


j0438317GALATIONS 2:11-3:25

 

First things First. WELCOME BACK, SANDY! We missed you and praise God that you arrived back safely.

We continue our second week in the study of Galatians. The theme of the study is the acceptance that salvation is obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ and not in works. In his letter, the apostle Paul reproved the Galatians churches (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe) with a strong message because they were turning away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ to a different gospel Paul did not preach.

1Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.  Paul continues to defend the gospel of grace. He relates the details of his visit to Jerusalem after his conversion and offered proof that the message he proclaimed was identical to that of the apostles.

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  This was a period of darkness for the spreading of the gospel because influential believers such as Peter was helping to spread the confusion of the doctrine of salvation and the apostle Paul had strong counsel him. Peter had withdrawn from Gentile (non-Jewish) believers to fellowship with Judaizers, despite knowing they were teaching a different gospel. Peter was guilty of sin by choosing to correlate with men he knew were in error and because of the harm he caused his brothers and sisters in Christ. We do know that Peter did adjust his thinking because he speaks about God’s saving grace and obedience in his first and second letters. We can learn so much from Peter!

16nevertheless 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, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Paul was very knowledgeable of the Law. He was passionate enough to persecute those who opposed it. The purpose of the law was so 1)remind God’s people they were sinners, 2)remind them they needed a savior, 3)foreshadowed the better things to come. Under the law, God’s people were subject to legalism, self-sufficiency, rituals and man-made redemption (which was only temporary). In the NT “In Christ”, believers achieved justification, forgiveness, grace, empowerment and freedom.

By adding good works to the gospel of grace by faith, it devalues and belittles Christ’s death for us. Grace refers to “unmerited favor”. If we are saved by the good works we perform, then Christ’s sacrificial death would not have been needed. 21″I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
More importantly, the gospel of grace opens the way for believers to be in God’s presence. With the Law, God’s people can only approach God through priestly intermediaries. Being we have been redeemed through the blood of Christ, we can enjoy being in God’s presence through prayer, worship and praise. The law could never do this!

19″For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20″I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  By accepting the gospel, Jewish Christians were free from trying to perfectly keep the law while at the same time being condemned by it. Before our conversion to Christ, we lived for ourselves; we were working hard to earn our salvation. However, when Christ lives in us, we become Christlike.
1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  4Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Apparently, this was a message the Galatians took a while to accept because Paul used strong words to reprimand their way of thinking. He also raised thought-provoking questions to help the see the seriousness of their thinking.

Paul continually declared that no one is made right with God by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. Many times we fall prey to sin and yet feel burdened that there’s nothing we can do to make us right with God. That’s true – there’s nothing we can do. But having faith in God’s grace and trust that he will pardon us from sin (once we have repented in our hearts) will make us right. Continuing to strive to attain salvation by works is admitting that we don’t trust in God that He is capable of cleansing us of our sins. Faith in God means that we have total trust in His grace to forgive and redeem us.

Thanks, again Sandy for a great lesson today!

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June 14, 2009 - Posted by | Expressions | , , , , ,

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