672.) Galatians 6

November 29, 2011

Galatians 6 (English Standard Version)

Bear One Another’s Burdens

1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

“Let the ministers of the Gospel learn from Paul how to deal with those who have sinned.  ‘Brethren,’ he says, ‘if any man be overtaken with a fault, do not aggravate his grief, do not scold him, do not condemn him, but lift him up and gently restore his faith.'”

–Martin Luther

Philippians 4:5 (Contemporary English Version)

Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here.

Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

“If we can overlook our own shortcomings and wrong-doings, we ought to overlook the shortcomings of others in accordance with the words, ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens.'”

–Martin Luther

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3
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5For each will have to bear his own load.

6 One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

This is a basic, though sometimes neglected, spiritual principle.  Those who feed and bless you spiritually should be supported by you financially.  Paul repeated this principle in several other places.  If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? (1 Corinthians 9:11).  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14).  Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).  If you trust them with your spiritual health, you should also trust them to steward the gifts of God’s people (Luke 16:11).

–David Guzik

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Final Warning and Benediction

11See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 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. 13For 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. 14But 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.

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears, two wonders I confess:
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

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Music:

“Take me to the cross again”  by Dave Lubben.

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15For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

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English Standard Version (ESV)    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Galatians 6:14.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3479/3207429015_a8d53db244.jpg
Help to carry . . .     http://www.have-faith-in-god-uk.org/4_step13.gif
the cross.   http://christiandevotions.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/cross-200×141.jpg
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671.) Galatians 5

November 28, 2011

Galatians 5 (English Standard Version)

Christ Has Set Us Free

1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

This verse is the theme verse for the 2012 Daily Texts.

Daily Texts is a devotional with an Old Testament and a New Testament verse for each day.  For nearly 300 years, people around the world have been letting the Word shape their lives by reading these particular verses each year.  I have enjoyed the Daily Texts for many years.

Click  HERE  to order your copy — or multiple copies; they make great Christmas gifts!

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Music:

Chris Armfield sings “For Freedom,” a song he based on this verse.

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2Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.

“Tongue cannot express, nor heart conceive what a terrible thing it is to make Christ worthless.”

–Martin Luther

3I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Paul is explaining that if someone chooses circumcision as a way to please God, then he is under contract, so to speak, to continue in the law.  It shows he distrusts grace, and trusts rather in his own ability to keep the law.  Then Christ does no good for him, since he must first trust Christ.

5For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

See how carefully, how logically, how powerfully Paul has set out his argument?  I bet he was the captain of his high school debate team!  He says:  What does not matter?  Circumcision (law).  What does matter?  Faith working through love (gospel).  He could not make it any clearer!

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7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

“‘Circumcision’ stands for a religion of human achievement, of what man can do by his own good works; ‘Christ’ stands for a religion of divine achievement, of what God has done through the finished work of Christ.  ‘Circumcision” means law, works, and bondage; ‘Christ’ means grace, faith and freedom.  Every person must choose.”

–John Stott

13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

“If you want to know how you ought to love your neighbor, ask yourself how much you love yourself.  If you were to get into trouble or danger, you would be glad to have the love and help of all men.  You do not need any book of instructions to teach you how to love your neighbor.  All you have to do is to look into your own heart, and it will tell you how you ought to love your neighbor as yourself.”

–Martin Luther

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Walk by the Spirit

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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Music:

Here is a fun and funny song to help you remember the fruits of the Spirit!  Thank you, Brian Dunn!

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from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Regardless of who you are, the Spirit works from the same model, Jesus Christ, to produce Christ’s character in you.  The Spirit looks to Christ in order to find the blueprint for your character.  The Spirit will help you experience and practice the same love that Jesus had when He laid down His life for His friends.  The same joy He experienced will now fill you.  The identical peace that guarded the heart of Jesus, even as He was being beaten and mocked, will be the peace that the Spirit works to instill in you.  The patience Jesus had for His most unteachable disciple will be the patience that the Spirit now develops in you.  The kindness Jesus showed toward children and sinners will soften your heart toward others.  There will be a goodness about you that is only explainable by the presence of the Spirit of God.  The Spirit will build the same faithfulness into you that led Jesus to be entirely obedient to His Father.  Christ’s gentleness will be displayed in you.  The Spirit will teach you self-control so that you will have strength to do what is right and to resist temptation.

_________________________

24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Galatians 5:1.   http://www.questiongod.net/files/Gal5_1.jpg
loving your neighbor.   http://www.covlifechurch.net/mediafiles/loving-your-neighbor.jpg
fruit of the Spirit.    http://www.thefeltsource.com/FruitOfTheSpiritLarge.jpg

670.) Galatians 4

November 25, 2011

Galatians 4 (English Standard Version)

Sons and Heirs

1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman,

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Music:

“When the fullness of time had come,”  when everything was perfectly ready, in God’s eyes — Jesus came so we could be reconciled to our loving heavenly Father!  Selah sings “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

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born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

“Let the Law, sin, and the devil cry out against us until their outcry fills heaven and earth.  The Spirit of God outcries them all.  Our feeble groans, ‘Abba, Father,’ will be heard of God sooner than the combined racket of hell, sin, and the Law.”

–Martin Luther

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7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

12Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am,

“All Christians should be able to say something like this, especially to unbelievers, namely, that we are so satisfied with Jesus Christ, with His freedom, joy, and salvation, that we want other people to become like us.”

–John Stott

for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?

Tell Me – by Shel Silverstein
Tell me I’m clever,
Tell me I’m kind,
Tell me I’m talented,
Tell me I’m cute,
Tell me I’m sensitive,
Graceful and wise,
Tell me I’m perfect –
But tell me the truth.

What a powerful line:  Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?  How many times have I counted someone as an “enemy” because he or she told me a truth I did not want to hear — about myself, about my speech or behavior, about someone else?  Lord, give me ears to hear Your truth whenever it comes to me!

17They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Paul is talking about “they,” the Jewish legalists, who insisted that to become a believer in Christ, one had to follow all the rules for becoming a Jew.  He says it is fine to have zeal, but it must be for what is true.  The legalists are often more concerned that you join their group and follow their beliefs, than they are about serving the Lord in grace and peace.  (Remember, Paul himself had been quite a legalist, imprisoning and even killing people to keep them, if you will, good Jews!  He knows just how dangerous a misplaced zeal can be!)

Example of Hagar and Sarah

21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.

So Paul presents the truth through a story all the Jews know very well.  The legalists present themselves as those who are true sons of Abraham.  Well, yes, Paul says, but Abraham had two sons.  Then he asks them:  Which son do you represent?  One son was born to a slavewoman, the result of human manipulation (law).  The other son was born to the wife, the result of God’s miraculous power (grace).   Paul says that those who allow believers only to follow the law end up denying the grace.

24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”

28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

 

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Galatians 4:31

Have you ever stopped to notice that Abraham received the fulfillment of all God’s promises through his son Ishmael? The promises of descendants, nations, and land all came through Ishmael’s children. Ishmael had twelve sons, each son was a prince, and each son became a nation. There was only one thing Isaac gave to the world that Ishmael could not: the Christ. Jesus, the One who would bring redemption to the world, is the descendant of Isaac.

What made the difference between the two sons of Abraham? Ishmael represents humans working in their own strength. The results look productive, but there is no salvation in them, and ultimately they create violence and destruction. Isaac displays the action of God in human life, and the hope of the world is being fulfilled when we allow God to work through our lives. Ishmael is a result of an individual forming his own character, and Isaac is a result of a person allowing God to put his own character in the human heart. We are eternally barren if we attempt to work in our own way.

Have we slipped from the high ground where we let Christ form his character in us, down to the marshy lowlands where we attempt to define our own character? If Christ works in my life, then my focus will rest on him, and I will be open to him. If I am the only one at work in my life, my attention will be completely absorbed in myself, and that is always destructive.

Is your life an occasion for you or an occasion for him? In your answer to that question dwells the difference between light and darkness, between life and death, between God and you.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Abba Father (people).  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/abbafather_t_nv.jpg
Abba Father (stars).  http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Abba-Father.jpg
Sarah and Hagar.    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightinaction/5446417099/in/photostream
Abraham’s legacy chart.   http://markmeynell.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/gal-4-21-31-overview-e1297340852846.png

668.) Galatians 3

November 23, 2011

Galatians 3 (English Standard Version)

By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.

Galatians 3:1 (J. B. Phillips)

O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus Christ the crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you?

2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by 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? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

“Although I am a doctor of divinity, and have preached Christ and fought His battles for a long time, I know from personal experience how difficult it is to hold fast to the truth.  I cannot always shake off Satan.  I cannot always apprehend Christ as the Scriptures portray Him.  Sometimes the devil distorts Christ to my vision.  But thank be to God, who keeps us in His Word, in faith, and in prayer.”

–Martin Luther

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7Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

“Faith says to God, “I believe what you say.'”

–Martin Luther

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The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13Christ 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”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The relationship between trusting God and standing righteous before him is that God looks at our faith and counts us righteous.  The reason God can do that for us sinners is that Christ took the punishment for our iniquities on himself.  Already in Isaiah 53:11 this is plain:  “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.”  When God reckons a person righteous because Christ died for him and because he puts his trust in Christ, that is what we call justification by faith and that is the heart of the gospel.

–John Piper

“At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith.  Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”

–Martin Luther

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The Law and the Promise

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions,

The law has two functions.  On the positive side, it reveals the nature and will of God and shows people how to live.  On the negative side, it points out people’s sins and shows them that it is impossible to please God by trying to obey all his laws completely.  God’s promise to Abraham dealt with faith; the law focuses on actions. 

–Life Application Bible notes

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until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels

“Through angels”?  As Stephen said in his speech to the Sanhedrin:

Acts 7:38 (New Living Translation)

Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God’s people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us.

by an intermediary. 20Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

“It enables me to answer the most  basic of all human questions — ‘Who am I?’ and to say, ‘In Christ I am a child of God.  In Christ I am united to all the redeemed people of God, past, present, and future.  In Christ I discover my identity.  In Christ I find my feet.  In Christ I come home.'”

–John Stott

“One in Christ” by Australian artist Lance Stirling

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

At that time, the Rabbis quoted a morning prayer that was popular among many Jews of that day.  In that prayer, a Jewish man would thank God that he was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.  Paul takes each of these categories and shows them to be equal in Jesus.

–William Barclay

29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

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Music:

“The just shall live” — Rich Mullins.  Love this song.

I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

‘Cause You won’t let Your Holy One
No, You won’t let Your Holy One
You won’t let Your Holy One
See corruption in the grave

Because He put His trust in You
Because He put His trust in You
Because He put His trust in You
Many shall be saved

And I know that You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
On the last day

For the Lord looks down on the sons of men
To hear the cries of the innocent
And the guilty will not stand

For the day of reckoning soon will come
And the whole world will see justice done
By the Lord’s almighty hand

So I’m telling you the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

And You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
That You will raise them up
On the last day

And the prayers stand where the fighters fell
And time testifies with the tale that it tells
That the meek shall inherit the earth

And the Church advances on the gates of hell
And she clings to a light that will not be quelled
By the kingdoms of this world

I’m telling you the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

And You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
You will raise them up
On the last day

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Galatians 3:13.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/galatians3_13.jpg
Jesus is the truth.     http://wowproduct.com/images/33407-JesusIsTheTruth.jpg
Have faith in God.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IHVbPtx4tps/TpT5n-n4KWI/AAAAAAAAF_w/ubppDSXcnxY/s1600/faith.gif
Moses holding the tablets of the law.   http://www.supercoloring.com/wp-content/main/2010_02/Moses-holds-the-tablet-of-Law-coloring-page.jpg
Stirling.  http://www.ststeves.org.au/images/ArtatStStephens_EBEE/LancesPainting3.jpg

667.) Galatians 2

November 22, 2011

Galatians 2 (English Standard Version)

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas,

In Galatians 1:18-19, Paul described a trip he made to Jerusalem three years after Jesus met him on the road to Damascus.  Now, he describes a second trip to Jerusalem, fourteen years later.  Remember Paul’s point from Galatians 1.  He demonstrated that his gospel came by a revelation from Jesus, not from man, not even from the apostles in Jerusalem.  Two visits to Jerusalem over 14 years shows that Paul did not sit at the feet of the disciples of Jesus to learn the gospel.

–David Guzik

taking Titus along with me.

In Titus 1:4, Paul calls Titus “a true son in our common faith.”  It is clear that Paul loved and trusted Titus, and regarded him as a valuable co-worker in the faith.

2I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.

Paul’s point is that the leadership in Jerusalem accepted Titus, a Gentile convert, even though he was not circumcised in accord with the Mosaic law. This shows that the Jerusalem leadership accepted Paul’s gospel of grace.

Why would anyone compel someone like Titus to be circumcised? Why was it even an issue? Because circumcision – the cutting away of the male foreskin – was the sign of initiation into the Jewish faith and the Mosaic covenant. If a Gentile man wanted to become a Jew, he would have to be circumcised as an adult. Jewish men were circumcised as babies. Since all Jewish men were circumcised, and most all Gentile men were not, it was an easy way to refer to “those part of the covenant” and to “those outside of the covenant of Moses.”

–David Guzik

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4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

No doubt the “false brothers” thought of themselves as true brothers, upholding what was right and good!  Oh, Lord, give us eyes to see Your truth!

6And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Mark 10:21 (New Living Translation)

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

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Paul Opposes Peter

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Does no one remember that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners?  He broke the law!  So why is Peter afraid to eat with Gentile believers?

14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

“To give a short definition of a Christian:  A Christian is not somebody who has no sin, but somebody against whom God no longer chalks sin, because of his faith in Christ.  This doctrine brings comfort to consciences in serious trouble.”

–Martin Luther

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17But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

How is it a sin to build again a way to God through the Law of Moses?  In many ways, but perhaps the greatest is that it looks at Jesus, hanging on the cross, taking the punishment we deserved, bearing the wrath of God for us, and says to Him, “That’s all very nice, but it isn’t enough.  Your work on the cross won’t be good enough before God until I’m circumcised and eat kosher.”  What an insult to the Son of God!

Of course, this is the great tragedy of legalism.  In trying to be more right with God, they end up being less right with God.  This was exactly the situation of the Pharisees that opposed Jesus so much during His years of earthly ministry.  Paul knew this thinking well, having been a Pharisee himself (Acts 23:6).

–David Guzik

19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

“Blessed is the person who knows how to use this truth in times of distress.  He can talk.  He can say:  ‘Mr. Law, go ahead and accuse me as much as you like.  I know I have committed many sins, and I continue to sin daily.  But that does not bother me.  You have got to shout louder, Mr. Law.  I am deaf, you know.  Talk as much as you like, I am dead to you.  If you want to talk to me about my sins, go and talk to my flesh.  Belabor that, but don’t talk to my conscience.  My conscience is a lady and a queen and has nothing to do with the likes of you, because my conscience lives to Christ under another law, a new and better law, the law of grace.'”

–Martin Luther

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21I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

AN EXCHANGED LIFE

The Christian life is an exchanged life:  Jesus’ life for your life.  When Christ takes control, your life takes on dimensions you would never have known apart from Him.  When you are weak, then Christ demonstrates His strength in your life (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  When you face situations that are beyond your comprehension, you have only to ask, and the infinite wisdom of God is available to you (James 1:5).  When you are faced with humanly impossible situations, God does the impossible (Luke 18:27).  When you encounter people whom you find difficult to love, God expresses His unconditional love through you (1 John 4:7).  When you are at a loss as to what you should pray for someone, the Spirit will guide you in your prayer life (Romans 8:16).  When Christ takes up residence in the life of a believer, “all the fullness of God” is available to that person (Ephesians 3:19).

It is marvelously freeing to know that God controls your life and knows what it can become.  Rather than constantly worrying about what you will face, your great challenge is to continually release every area of your life to God’s control.  The temptation will be to try to do by yourself what only God can do.  Our assignment is to “abide in the vine” and to allow God to do in and through us what only He can do (John 15:5).  Only God can be God.  Allow Him to live out His divine life through you.

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Music:

Steve Green and “Embrace the Cross.”

From your friendly English teacher!  —  Synecdoche (pronounced: si-nek-duh-kee) is a kind of figurative language  in which a part stands for the whole, or vice versa.  Saying “the White House,” to mean the United States government, is an example of synecdoche.  Here, “the cross” stands for Christ and all Christ has done for us to obtain salvation.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Galatians 2:20 (with clouds).    http://www.handofgod.com.au/attachments/Image/Galatians-2-20.jpg
Jewish circumcision.  http://leftcoastvoices.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/circumcision.jpg
“Christ and the Rich young Ruler”  by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911).    http://sententiaenil.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/jesus_-_rich_young_ruler.jpg?w=300&h=231
I am a Christian.    http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lcji1jOJ8W1qf75ino1_500.jpg
Galatians 2:20 (rainbow).   http://inlinethumb04.webshots.com/4355/1071815320034594584S425x425Q85.jpg
Abide in Christ.   http://www.abideinchrist.com/gra/jn15v5b.gif

666.) Galatians 1

November 21, 2011

Galatians 1 (English Standard Version)

Greeting

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,

Paul wrote this book; his authorship of this magnificent letter is virtually unquestioned.

And what a magnificent letter this is! Galatians has been called the “Declaration of Independence of Christian liberty.” The great reformer Martin Luther especially loved this letter; he called Galatians his “Catherine von Bora,” because, he said, “I am married to it.” Leon Morris wrote, “Galatians is a passionate letter, the outpouring of the soul of a preacher on fire for his Lord and deeply committed to bringing his hearers to an understanding of what saving faith is.”

Many scholars believe that Galatians was written in the late 40’s or the early 50’s; an approximate date of 50 A.D. is often given. It seems that Paul wrote this letter before the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Acts 15, because although he mentions several trips to Jerusalem, he makes no mention of the council. Because the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 dealt with the exact issues Paul writes about, it would seem strange if it had already happened, yet he made no mention of it. If it is true that Galatians was written around 50 AD, then Paul would have been a Christian for about 15 years, being converted on the road to Damascus around 35 AD.

–David Guzik

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To the churches of Galatia:

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

“These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.”

–Martin Luther

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No Other Gospel

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble 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 the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

“I am a servant of Christ!”  This is a heavy saying.  We want to maintain good relations with others, especially family members and co-workers who are in our daily lives.  But more important is to maintain a faithful and obedient relationship with Christ.  It is never wise to disobey God in order to keep the peace with people.  Remember Peter in the High Priest’s courtyard, and how he wept once he realized that the opinion of a servant girl had mattered more to him than faithfulness to Jesus!

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Paul Called by God

11For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

The story of Paul’s dramatic conversion is told in Acts 9:1-9.  This painting, “The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus,” is by Hans Speckaert  and is in the Louvre.

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13For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14And 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. 15But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

Martin Luther speaks for Paul:  “Did God call me on account of my holy life?  Or on account of my Pharisaical religion?  Or on account of my prayers, fastings, and works?  Never.  Well, then, it is certain God did not call me on account of my blasphemies, persecutions, oppressions.  What prompted Him to call me?  His grace alone.”

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16was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,

We forget how amazing this fact is!  Paul was raised to hate Gentiles; some rabbis claimed that God made Gentiles only to fuel the fires of Hell.  The “grace and peace” of Christ had really transformed Paul’s heart and mind.

I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter) and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

Paul’s point here regarding his trip to Jerusalem is that he got the gospel from Christ, not from any people — not even the disciples of Christ.

20(In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they glorified God because of me.


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Music:

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  This is my prayer each day for you, my fellow DWELL-ers.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Free to live for Christ.     http://ismaelsilva.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ms_galatians.jpg
Luther(an) rose.    http://www.lcgs.org/images/lutheran%20rose.jpg
Peter weeps.   http://heavenlysprings.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/peter-denies-christ.png?w=277&h=178
Speckaert.  http://www.lib-art.com/imgpaintingthumb/3/7/t39173-conversion-of-st-paul-on-the-road-to-damascus-speckaert-hans.jpg
saved by grace.     http://mormonisminvestigated.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/saved-by-grace.gif
Matthew 5:16.    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/84/matthew516id7.jpg/