January 7, 2007 Series: Galatians
Topic: Gospel Passage: Galatians 3:6–3:14
Men are a unique animal. There seems to be something about men in that most men like to fix things. I am like that. If something breaks, I refuse to call anyone to help whether it be a plumber or some other specialized worker. My track record has shown that I in fact accomplish one or two things with this mentality...I either break it worse...or I fix it in a McGyver sort of way. It stays together for a short time until it blows up.
I have the same problem with directions. I am not talking about asking for directions, I'll obviously never do that, I'm talking about the directions or instructions that sometimes come with the things you get. There are directions for electronics, directions for toys, and large booklets for items like furniture that need to be put together. I confess, I never read them.
My modus operandi is to in fact try and figure it out myself. This usually will work with toys, it sometimes works with electronics, and it almost never works with furniture. But that doesn't stop me. I'll try to build it, play with it, use it in any and every way I can before I humble myself to look at the directions. Sometimes this proves successful, most of the time I end of swearing.
I think a lot of UNCHURCHED people approach Christianity that way. They really have no clue what Christianity is, what it is supposed to look like, etc. because they have never really looked at the manual. They talk about contradictions in the Bible, but can't show you a single one. They tell you Jesus' was married but can't seem to find that part in the Bible. Every Christian they know is a hypocrite but they can't tell you what a Christian is supposed to look it. They've based their assumptions on experiences they've had which often prove negative.
I think that is also how a lot of CHURCHED people approach their faith. Very few people know their faith because very few people have ever really read the Bible. They complain that it is boring, too difficult, etc. but really, their just too lazy. But their a Christian. They can't tell you too much about Jesus but they'll tell you what good Christians do or not do. Of course, don't ask them to go into the scriptures to defend any one of their rules but it sure makes them feel good to be "saved."
Now I know this sounds negative but I believe this is the truth. We don't know our Bibles. Many of us are just as defenseless as these Galatians who were duped by a bunch of Jews who knew a few verses about circumcision and Abraham. But Paul knows better. He challenges them USING SCRIPTURE. First he appealed to their own experience, and now he will appeal to their own ability to READ.
I hope that when you have a question, a concern, or a misunderstanding about this church or the leadership, you don't claiming "we're doing it wrong" without Scripture.
The Judaizers find their strength, their authority, and ultimately their pride in the fact that they are descended from Abraham. When Paul says THOSE OF FAITH, In essence, this is a direct challenge to the claims of Jews who declare that the promise and blessing was given to Abraham-the father of the Hebrews. In other words, if you were a literal SON of Abraham, you were given the blessings of God. In fact, Paul declares that literal descent is not what is important, but descent by FAITH EXAMPLE...SON of FAITH
PAUL GOES RIGHT INTO THE SCRIPTURES...
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: cï»¿ "Fear not, Abram, I am dï»¿your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2 But Abram said, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continueï»¿4 childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and eï»¿a member of my household will be my heir." 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; fï»¿your very own sonï»¿1 shall be your heir." 5 And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and gï»¿number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, hï»¿ "So shall your offspring be." 6 And iï»¿he believed the Lord, and jï»¿he counted it to him as righteousness.[i]
The Jews have blindly taken pride in their "club membership card" much like our "fire insurance card". They have a cultural identity that is more important than their spiritual identity. They're title as "covenant people" became more important than the truth. BEING JEWISH became more important than LIVING FAITHFULLY.
It reminds me of the girls I used to coach in soccer who wanted so desperately to get that Varsity uniform. There was a strange phenomena that would occur during tryouts. We would have extensive tryouts for nearly 100 girls. There were so many that we had to make them wear specific colors per class, then write numbers all over there arms, backs, and faces in order to be able to identify them. They were all competing for three different teams. In truth, many of them were competing for one team-varsity. So, I would extend these tryouts out as long as I could because I knew that the motivation to compete during tryouts was an ideal time to really push them. Then the teams would be made, the C-team, JV, and Varsity labels would be applied...and they would stop.
Paul begins by showing them that their circumcision means nothing. Their cultural pride, their titles, ares misplaced because Abraham was saved by faith NOT by circumcision.
It should not be overlooked that Paul referred to Scripture speaking as though God were speaking. What the Bible says, God says. At this church, we believe in the absolute and total inspiration and authority of Scripture. What the Bible says, God says. A lot of people don't like this statement because they think it is too narrow minded or strict. They say things like, according to your interpretation and other things like that. For me, this is very burden lifting. It was the catholic priests who, when Martin Luther wanted to translate the Bible into a common language, thought that the scriptures were too complex for the "common man". I don't believe so. I believe they are clear. Following what God says has little to do with understanding what He says.
But I know what the Bible says, God says.
We also believe in the power of scripture. The scripture here is personified as "seeing". This brings to life the verse in Hebrew 4.12 which says that the Word of God is living and active, searching our hearts, bodies, and souls. In John 1 it says that the Word becomes flesh. 1Thessalonians 2.13 says it also. The words from the scripture are God's words. This is not some book, some dead pile paper, this is Jesus
WHAT WAS PREACHED?
PAUL GOES INTO SCRIPTURE TO SHOW WHERE THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED....
Now mï»¿the Lord saidï»¿2 to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 nï»¿And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 oï»¿I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and pï»¿in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." ï»¿3[iv]
Paul argues that the justification of the Gentiles was declared some 2000 years ago to Abraham. This came before CIRCUMCISION and it came before the MOSAIC LAW.
Second, we see that story of scripture didn't start when Jesus was laid in that manger. The Bible is ONE BIG story with ONE MESSAGE. The Bible is replete with references of disciples "going into the Scriptures" and preaching Jesus. Every prophet and every story in some way points to God's plan to save the world. God pointed toward Jesus in Genesis 3 and he points toward him here in Genesis 15.
I think it is crucial to view the Bible as ONE big narrative story. Like any story, there is a conflict, two opposing (but not equal) forces, rising and falling action, a climax (perhaps an Anti-climax), and an eventual resolution. It is a story of FORMATION, DEFORMATION, REFORMATION and final PERFECTION. Scripture is NOT a recorded of isolated and unrelated might acts of Go, but a sustained narrative. From beginning to the end, there is a single plan of salvation.
- § The OLD TESTAMENT is pointing toward Jesus Coming
- § The NEW TESTAMENT is pointing toward Jesus' Return
Paul here now shifts from the POSITIVE of FAITH to the NEGATIVE of LAW
Paul AGAIN GOES INTO SCRIPTURE,
Deuteronomy 27:26 to show that the Law demanded perfection and that a curse was attached to failure to keep any part of it.
Obeying the law is not some buffet of morality where you can pick and choose what you want to follow or not. Paul tells the Jews that if you are going to live your life according to the law, then you are obligated to obey ALL of it, not just the parts that are easy.
There are 613 Jewish laws given in the Torah. According to tradition, of these 613 commandments, 248 are mitzvot aseh ("positive commandments" commands to perform certain actions) and 365 are mitzvot lo taaseh ("negative commandments
17 But if you call yourself a Jew [CHRISTIAN] and dï»¿rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are eï»¿a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law fï»¿the embodiment of gï»¿knowledge and truth- 21 hï»¿you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery [OR LUST]? You who abhor idols, do you iï»¿rob temples [OR FIND YOUR SECURITY IN SOMETHING OTHER THAN JESUS]? 23 You who jï»¿boast in the law kï»¿dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, lï»¿as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed mï»¿among the Gentiles because of you."
25 For circumcision indeed is of value nï»¿if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if oï»¿a man who is uncircumcised keeps pï»¿the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law qï»¿will condemn you who have rï»¿the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For sï»¿no one is a Jew [CHRISTIAN] tï»¿who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew [CHRISTIAN] is one uï»¿inwardly, and vï»¿circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. wï»¿His praise is not from man but from God.
That's a good question for us...Are we Christians INWARDLY, or just OUTWARDLY. What do we think about more? The moment we begin to focus on the keeping a law of behavior (good or bad), we have lost sight of the gospel of grace and adopted a life of works which will CAN ONLY lead to pride or despair.
I think sometimes point to Jesus in the same way that the Jews pointed to Abraham. We claim the title of CHRISTIAN but really don't know or live the Gospel because it is much easier to hold on to our circumcision for the world to see.
We may not have 613 "laws" but we certainly have our own Christian law, spoken or unspoken. I believe this probably why a lot of the people I converse with who are not "churched" think Christians are hypocrites. The only way you can be a hypocrite is to say one thing and do another. In other words, ALL THEY HEAR about the CHURCH is the declaration of the list of behaviors you must do, beliefs you must hold, people you must vote for, BEFORE, the name of Jesus ever crosses their lips. Then you or some other Christians fails to do them and suddenly your looped in with them. IMAGINE if they just heard what Paul told the jailer...Acts 16.30
11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." ï»¿ 12 But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them."
There is a vast difference between "doing" and "believing"! Nobody was ever saved by doing the Law, because nobody can ever fully obey the Law.Quoting again from the Old Testament book of Leviticus Paul proved that If you are saved by the LAW then DO IT...ALL OF IT. You can't just have FAITH in the LAW. It's one or the other...WORK or RECEIVE.
Martin Luther reminds us that we must have faith....we can do nothing.
There is a righteousness which Paul calls "the righteousness of faith." God
imputes it to us apart from our works - in other words, it is passive
righteousness... So then, have we nothing to do to obtain this righteousness?
No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing
nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only - that
Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to
become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation! Now
God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place. So
now we may certainly think, "Although I still sin, I don't despair, because Christ
lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life." In that righteousness
I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a
sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life,
another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God.
- Martin Luther
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"- 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might vï»¿come to the Gentiles, so that wï»¿we might receive xï»¿the promised Spirit through faith.
Christ literally, "bought us" out of slavery by becoming a curse for us. He freed us from the dominion of the Mosaic law because we could not free ourselves. We stood condemned and he became our substitute. Jesus died for us, not as an example, but as the payment for a debt too big for us to handle. THAT is the blessing to the SONS of Abraham, through faith, FREEDOM in Jesus Christ.
And the Lord said to me, xï»¿ "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a yï»¿homer and a lethechï»¿3 of barley. 3 And I said to her, "You must zï»¿dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you." 4 For the children of Israel zï»¿shall dwell many days aï»¿without king or prince, bï»¿without sacrifice or cï»¿pillar, without dï»¿ephod or eï»¿household gods. 5 Afterward fï»¿the children of Israel shall return and gï»¿seek the Lord their God, and hï»¿David their king, iï»¿and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the jï»¿latter days.
Our God bought us, our God loved us, our God redeemed us who are not worthy and who still try to play the whore with other man. But he is not giving up. He is patient.