March 18, 2007 Series: Galatians
Topic: Gospel Passage: Galatians 6:11–6:18
March 18, 2007
Why are you here? What is the chief end or great purpose for man's life? This was a question that we discussed in my AP literature class the other day. The discussion actually began as a discussion about happiness? What ensures happiness? What creates unhappiness? Why or how do we obtain happiness when do we become unhappy? The students identified all kinds of sources for happiness, good family, bad family, successful career, power, lack power, prestige, isolation, money, or just a nice car.
It wasn't long before the discussion evolved into something of a spiritual debate about the ultimate purpose and meaning of man's life. I guess it got there because I suggested that the I thought one reason people are ultimately unhappy was because they were not secure or satisfied. The students suggested that perhaps they weren't secure because they didn't have whatever "stuff" they needed to make them feel secure and their search was a continual pursuit for something to satisfy.
I suggested that underlying their unhappiness and insecurity was confusion or complete absence of meaning and purpose for the world and their own life. Essentially, this void in one's life makes someone unhappy. Their "happiness" is predicated on their ability to find something in this world to give them joy-usually quite temporary.
Another student reminded us that any cursory examination of lottery winners would reveal that money does not guarantee happiness. There are plenty of people who win, inherit, or earn large sums of money but clearly are not happy. Divorce, alcoholism, or any number of tragedies that plague the rich and famous quickly prove that money does not automatically make people happy. My suggestion, in this conversation with my AP students, was that ultimately, if one does not have genuine purpose or meaning in their lives, money will not change that. In fact, it may only exacerbate the process by which someone tries to find meaning by buying and experimenting with anything and everything. In other words, their search for the Holy Grail of Happiness is well-funded but not any closer to the goal.
Neverthless, many people THINK happiness comes by way of money, power, prestige-especially those who don't have it, ...but the question always begged is, "what will you do with that money, power, and prestige?" Boris Becker, the famous tennis player, when he achieved #1 status in the Tennis world, he was asked what it felt like. His response was, "I wish that someone would have told me that when you get to the top, there is no one there." Tennis or prestige was his goal...and it ended up an empty one.
Well, back to our discussion. As we continued to talk about why people are happy or unhappy, one very bright student indicated that everyone has their own purpose and that unhappiness occurs when people do not fulfill their life-purposes. She implied and later confirmed that these purposes were given by God-or some other supreme omniscient being. I asked if she meant that all people were born with a "positive" purpose or if guys like Hitler lived out their "negative" purposes that they were destined for. Did he just go way off course, or was he destined in a sense to do what he did? She said he went off course. She stated that "statistics" prove...most people are unhappy, and in essence admitted that a majority of people have lost their direction in life. They don't know what they are here.
Then I asked, what I thought was a simple question, why do/did people go off course? Immediately a number of students said that it is as a result of the environment--nurturing. In other words, their life-circumstances cause them to go off course. So I asked, what makes bad "life-circumstances". They indicated it was a messed up family, a terrible tragedy like rape, or the like-BASCIALLY OTHER PEOPLE. So then I asked, well, what made these PEOPLE making these BAD environments, go off course. Why did they begin to go off course? They didn't have an answer. Of course the bible does, it is called sin.
This is not a sermon about happiness, just as that discussion was not really about happiness. It's a sermon about brokenness, repair, and true joy. We've been studying the book called Galatians where the author basically lays out two ways to live your life. He does not use "happiness" as the great determiner of which one is right or wrong BUT rather LIFE and DEATH, FREEDOM and BONDAGE, SIN and RIGHTEOUSNESS, GUILT and INNOCENCE, WRATH and LOVE, FRIENDSHIP and HOSTILITY.
It's about a letter from a guy to some brothers decrying their attempt to fix what is broken through their own efforts. They simply do not understand that their happiness is not about a feeling, it's about a condition. I really struggled with what book of the Bible to go through. There are 66 books to choose from and we didn't select Galatians because it was short. We picked Galatians because it speaks about God's way of finding meaning, purpose, and hope as opposed to man's way. God's way is called the GOSPEL; man's way is called RELIGION.
The Gospel YELLS, it does not whisper
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
In essence, the entire book of Galatians is full of LARGE LETTERS that make much of God's provision and little of man's attempts. It is a letter that makes much of Power of the Gospel to Transform someoneand of the weakness Moral Reformation to save anyone. Paul ends this letter with a challenge, a final warning, a charge to take these words seriously. It's as if Paul writes the original email with ALL CAPS.
I hope that as we have used and continue to speak about the gospel, you know what I am talking about. Many people believe that the gospel is simply the four first books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books are called the gospels because they tell the story same story of Jesus from four different perspectives. Mark is quite specific in the first verse of his gospel saying exactly what he is writing down, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
So the gospel is in fact a story and a message, and it is a message that distinguishes itself from all other religions.
- In Greek the word for Gospel is EVANGELION. The root word, "ev-angel" was news of a great historical event that changed the listener's condition and required a response-such as the victory in a war of the ascension of a new king.
- In the case of the gospel of Jesus, the gospel is the news of what God had done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history. (1Cor 15)
- The gospel is not ADVICE about what we must do to reach God
- Salvation is not something we can ACHIEVE
- It is a set of facts we ACCEPT as and then respond accordingly.
The facts are:
The Bible tells us we are lost, broken, rejected, condemned, under the wrath of God, - obligated but incapable of saving ourselves, enslaved to sin, indebted more than we could ever pay, guilty before a holy God, and sentenced to die. Then he sends Jesus, who loves us by giving up everything for us, he fixes us, shields us from God's wrath, empowers us, frees us, pays our debt, lives a perfect life whose credit he gives to us, reconciles us with our creator, and helps us live a joyful life now AND in the future. THAT IS THE GOSPEL..
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
ALL OF OUR LIVES are not about RELIGION, CHURCH, GOOD DEEDS, MAKING A BETTER WORLD, BRINGING DEMOCRACY TO THE COMMUNISTS..It's about Jesus.
ALL OF THE PROBLEMS we have center on some type of denial, replacement, or perversion of JESUS CHRIST! Our marriages, our parenting, our jobs, our joy, our purpose, our habitual sin, our meaningless lives, our feelings of worthlessness, our feelings of guilt, our pain, ALL OF IT.
ALL OF THE BOOK OF GALATIANS, all the LARGE LETTERS, are about admonishing people to have their lives be about JESUS versus themselves. Not because it is a "good idea", but because it is the only truth, the only person that can give us meaning. It makes sense that Jesus Christ is mentioned at least 45 timesin the Galatian letter, which means that one third of the verses contain some reference to Him. The person of Jesus Christ captivated Paul, and it was Christ who made the Cross glorious to him.
I pray it becomes the same for us. That Jesus captivates you. That your own efforts and power PALE in the shadow of the cross-here are some of Paul's LARGE LETTERS?
Galatians 1.3-4 - JESUS GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME TO DELIVER ME
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself or our sins to deliver me from the present evil age...
Galatians 2.16- JESUS MAKES ME INNOCENT
...we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and no by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (trans.. no person is made right before God by being a good Christian)
Galatians 2.20-21 - JESUS LOVES ME, JESUS DIES FOR ME, AND LIVES IN ME
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who love me, and gave himself for me. For if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Galatians 3.3 - THE SPIRIT OF JESUS PERFECTS ME
Are you foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Galatians 3.13 - JESUS PAYS MY DEBIT and JESUS BECOMES MY CURSE
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.'
Galatians 3.26 - JESUS BRINGS ME INTO THE FAMILY
...for in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith.
Galatians 4.5 - JESUS REDEEMS ME and HELPS ME RELATE TO GOD as DADDY
[Christ died to] redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son in your hearts crying, ,"Abba Father!"
Galatians 5.1 - JESUS FREES ME
For freedom Christ set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5.24 - JESUS HELPS ME TO OBEY
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
Paul's argument IF everything is not about Jesus then it is all about YOU and your pride. When it becomes about you, you replace the rightful place of Jesus as Savior and put something else in its place "more satisfying" than Jesus. Something else becomes your source for all of those things. In GALATIA, and in our world today, man's gospel is the gospel of religion.
DON'T CONFUSE RELIGION and the GOSPEL. The GOSPEL is a faith about Jesus. RELIGION, in its most negative sense, all about Man-his traditions, his rituals, and ultimately his own doctrines based on his subjective self! In search of happiness, man finds meaning and purpose apart from God and predictably does not find happiness.
The teachers of Man's Gospel
In Galatians, the purveyors of man's gospels are legalists, the Pharisees. Let's be careful pounding on them too much on the Pharisees because we still have people who are Pharisaical today. Yes, the Pharisees and others were responsible for the death of Jesus, but they aren't much different than us today. They were: moral, read the Bible and were committed to it, educated, very prayerful-so everyone could see them, regular givers to the church, Law-abiding, involved politically, had disciples, waiting for the messiah, had religious traditions they followed religiously, and overall had the appearance of righteousness...IT IS EASY TO BECOME A PHARISEE and BELIEVE that you are doing the RIGHT THING.
You become a PHARISEE when RELIGION, or CHURCH, becomes more important than JESUS. When you begin to feel GOOD, not because of what Jesus has done, but because of who you are. The difference between someone who is ‘religious' in the negative sense, and someone who is centered on the gospel is that one puts their faith in Jesus and the other follows the Jesus + program. Jesus just isn't enough.
In verses 12-13, Pal describes what these guys are really like:
(1) Men pleasers-do all for the approval of men so that people will be impressed Gal 1.10
- Includes being more concerned with external appearances than internal change
(2) Avoid persecution-they compromise the truth to remain ‘relevant' or ‘inoffensive'.
Religious people avoid that one of two ways.
- They separate from the world so that no one can find them. OR
- They add something to Jesus to avoid persecution at all.
(3) Braggarts-they boast about the number of converts to their merit-religion
- Like being pleasers, they are also hypocrites wanting others to follow a law that they themselves do not follow
Man's Gospel says...
Obey and both God and Man will accept and love you.
23 Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord."
25 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh- 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart."
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
The true Gospel teachers look to Jesus for all things.
(1) God pleasers-do all for the approval of God, who accepts them, and are completely free from the approval of men. They are more interested in the INTERNAL motivation than on what EXTERNAL appearances by say.
(2) Feel the persecution-from both the CHURCH and the WORLD
Religious people avoid that one of two ways.
- They enter from the world so that everyone can find them
- They refuse to compromise the Gospel but adapt the traditions.
(3) Humble-they boast about Jesus
- They do not want people to follow their church, but only see Jesus
- They are not in competition for other Christians
The GOSPEL teachers BOAST IN JESUS ON the CROSS.
In Paul's day, you wouldn't see people wearing little crosses around their neck. In Medieval Europe, that would have been akin to wearing a small guillotine or gallows around your neck for decoration. The cross wasn't something decorative, it wasn't something talked about in conversation, it was a shameful instrument of pain and death-the ultimate in humiliation. It stood for rejection, shame, and defeat.
"Religion" has made the cross some sort of CHRISTIAN VODOO magic, when in fact it is the source of our freedom, power, joy, and salvation . Paul here boasts in the cross, the fact that he died when Jesus died. The false teachers in Galatia love the world, want the prestige, the honor, the big names, the followers....Paul says the WORLD offers nothing for him, no attraction. The Old SELF, which might have been allured by that now desires JESUS above all things.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
THE CROSS GETS BIGGER as we boast about Jesus and we get smaller. The more I study the gospel, what Christ did, who he was, the more I come to know WHO my Lord is and exactly how much He loved/s me . Then I begin to consider who I am...how weak, how unlovely, how really broken and helpless I am, and the cross gets BIGGER and BIGGER
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God
Jesus' mission is our mission. Jesus did not bring "religion" to man, he brought salvation. Our redemption was just the first step in redeeming ALL of creation which fell when we did.
- SIN is resistance to God's authority which ultimately led and leads to a continual unraveling of God's creation. This includes relationships with God, people, ourselves, even creation.
- CHRIST'S Death and Resurrection declared a renewal of all of creation by the re-entry of Gods power and authority.
- HE CONTINUES TO REWEAVE and HEAL hearts, relationships, communities, and practices are healed and rewoven with one another to the degree that they come under the authority of Jesus, through his Word and His Spirit (Psalm 72, Col 1.16-20, Eph 1.9-10)
- ULTIMATELY, all of this is becoming NEW again.
Then I saw ï»¿a new heaven and a new earth, for ï»¿the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw ï»¿the holy city, ï»¿new Jerusalem, ï»¿coming down out of heaven from God, ï»¿prepared ï»¿as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, ï»¿the dwelling placeï»¿ of God is with man. He will ï»¿dwell with them, and they will be his people,ï»¿ and God himself will be with them as their God.ï»¿ 4 ï»¿He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and ï»¿death shall be no more, ï»¿neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5 And ï»¿he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I ï»¿am making all things new."
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
Jesus' experience is our experience. The REFORMING process is a bit painful. We will suffer, but perhaps, not in exactly the same way that Paul did. But think about what Jesus experienced. If, in fact, you submit to Jesus as your Lord, if you accept Jesus as the only way to be right with God, you are going to be rejected, denied, hated, made fun of, abused, attacked.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."