Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Torn – Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces" (BOOK REVIEW)



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Today's Review 



I was given this book to read and review.  Periodically I will do a book review for Multnomah Books.

Here's my review:
I admittedly went into reading this book cautiously because I wasn't familiar with the author and wasn't thrilled with some people who had endorsed this book.  However, the subject matter got my attention, "Torn – Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces."  This is something I could relate toAs I read this book, you see that the subject matter is primarily the sovereignty of God in suffering.  While the book starts with the "Why God?" question, it does a good job of getting us off the "why" question and onto "who" - who will you trust during trials and suffering?  Basically, he really never answered the "why question," but the way in which he didn't answer it is, in my opinion, the right way. I agree with him not getting caught up in the "why, why, why?" question and moving on to who are you going to trust through this trial?  I have seen many try to answer the "why question" and were unable to do so to my satisfaction or anyone else's.  It's the WRONG question to be asking!  The author then goes on to, "who are you going to trust" and "how are you going to trust him?" 

This book is pretty basic on the subject of suffering, but it does a good job overall.  I think this book would benefit many new Christians who think that now that they are following Jesus, they will never have another problem again – Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!  I am so appreciative of this subject being properly dealt with where anyone reading it can understand it. 

While this book uses a lot of scriptures (well over 100), most of them are not directly shown in the text or in a footnote.  So, I found myself turning to the notes in the back of the book constantly.  I much more prefer the text being right there in the chapter or at least footnoted on the bottom of the page.  Also, some of the passages need a little closer examination from the context of what was written. He also seems to try to sound "cool" by referencing secular material, movies, etc.  Being cool in my eyes or more importantly the Lord's this is not necessary, but it may go along with the fact that the author is pastor of a mega-church in Las Vegas - just my observation.

My overall rating for this book is so-so.  For the new believer or someone taught (erroneously) that we are not to suffer as Christians, I would give this 4-5 stars.  For anyone who has been in the Bible (rightly dividing the word of God) for any length of time, this book has little to offer. 

I have no doubt this book will minister to some, and to that end I pray the Lord uses it.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

NOTE: I have not stopped writing devotions on Galatians or other subjects.  It just takes time, so as we move in and then pass the holidays I hope to send out more devotions and spiritual nuggets of truth from the Bible and men of God.

In His Service,
Jim

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Devotion: Preparation is Vital

Today's devotional nugget:

I read this today and just felt it was too good to keep to myself so I'm sharing it with you all :-)  - Jim

David kills the lion
"Preparation is Vital" by A.W. Tozer

Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." --1 Samuel 17:37

David kills the bear
The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before or the month before or the year before....

Preparation is vital. The rule is, prepare or fail. Luck and bluster will do for a while, but the law will catch up with us sooner or later, usually sooner....

It did not take Moses long to lead the children of Israel out through the Red Sea to deliverance and freedom; but his fittedness to lead them out was the result of years of hard discipline. It took David only a few minutes to dispose of Goliath; but he had beaten the giant long before in the person of the lion and the bear....

David kills Goliath
Preparation is vital. Let this be noted by everyone. We can seek God today and get prepared to meet temptation tomorrow; but if we meet the enemy without first having met God, the outcome is not conjectural; the issue is already decided. We can only lose.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Love and Concern for Those Departing the Way of Grace"

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"Love and Concern
for Those Departing the Way of Grace"

Gal. 4:12-16    Lesson 22, 10-16-11 

12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.
13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.
16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.

Paul is pleading with the Galatians to join him in rejecting the law as a means of being justified with God. Paul was a Jew by natural birth, but he had forsaken the law as a means of being reconciled to God. Therefore, he was living like a Gentile in that sense. He's saying, "be like me (free from the law) because that's the way you really are." See 1 Corinthians 9:21

The Galatians' tendencies toward legalism hadn't affected Paul. He was going to continue in grace.

Paul was in essence saying, "Why are you dropping out of the university of grace, and enrolling again in the kindergarten of the Law?"

13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first [visit].

What this "physical infirmity" was is not made clear in the Bible (though many think they know what it was), so I chose to leave it as is. I don't know what it was, but it was a "physical infirmity" of some sort. That is enough information for me to know that when the Galatians first met Paul his outward appearance was not good, but they didn't let that factor in.

Question: Do we allow someone's appearance affect how open we are to hear them?

Paul also said he was not eloquent in speech (see 1 Cor. 2:1). Historians usually say he was short and balding. Not quite your picture of most modern day tele-evangelists. We as a people can be really shallow when appearance factors into our receiving from someone. We do this with: Physical attractiveness, height, weight, speaking voice, charisma, etc. We may miss out on hearing from a man of God because of such thinking.

14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

They received Paul as an angel/messenger of God, as if Paul's words were straight from Christ Jesus (which in a real sense they were as Paul was the Lord's spokesman). What matters most is the message, not the messenger.

As we see in verse 14, instead of turning from him in disgust, as might have been expected, the Galatians had given most earnest heed to Paul's testimony for JESUS and had accepted the SAVIOUR with an enthusiasm that knew no bounds. They received Paul, prostrated with pain and weakness as he was, as an angel of GOD, as the personal representative of the Son of GOD Himself. How ingloriously, then, did their present apostasy contradict their early zeal for CHRIST!

15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? (or What happened to all your joy?) For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 

Legalism causes people to lose their joy. This is what happened to the Galatians. The NIV translates this phrase as, "What happened to all your joy?"

Their former state of JOY was caused by the fact that they responded to the doctrines of the grace of God in Christ.

Next, this verse talks about Paul's eyes. Whatever happened to Paul likely affected his eyes, and at one time they would have done anything for him, even given him their own eyes (if that were possible). This was the depth of their affection toward the one who had brought them the liberating message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, but now they had turned away from him.

Note: Another possibility for this text is that Paul does not literally mean by these statements that there was something wrong with his eyes. Just as today when someone says, "I'd give my right arm for them," that doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the other person's right arm. This is just a way of expressing an individual's commitment to another person, even to the point of sacrificing a valuable part of his own body for the benefit of the one he loves. Likewise, Paul may just be saying that these Galatians were at one time willing to do anything for Paul; what had changed?
16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Those (Galatian believers) who had once been so very close and thankful for the message of liberty (grace) are now looking at him as an enemy for telling them the truth (in love).

They had become hostile to Paul.

"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" How typical is this reaction to wholesome admonition of the attitude of men and women today! Regardless of how much he may need it, the average person resents correction. The servant of CHRIST dare not change his course with every shift in the wind of popular favor.

The truth isn't always welcomed, but it truly is love to tell a person the truth regardless of whether he welcomes it or not.

Question: Will you stand for truth even when those closest to you are going in the path of error?


A must listen to song here!




Until next time, walk in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Galatians 4:8-11 “Back to Slaves – How Can it Be!!??”


Good place to reflect – I have taught 20 lessons on Galatians (then took a month off). 

This message is going to be dealing with "legalism" as have many others, as this was the Galatian believer's problem.

I thought it would be good to start off with a good clear definition of what legalism is, and then ask ourselves 2 questions as we start back in our Galatians study (verse by verse).

Legalism defined: Legalism...is essentially any attempt to improve on what God has done for us by adding things that we do for Him... It is any attempt to earn approval from God with our imperfect actions, rather than accepting and being pleased with the approval that He freely offers us because Jesus has earned it for us with his perfect sacrifice. Legalism is always doomed to failure because we are imperfect and the God that we seek to impress is perfect. It robs us of peace and joy.  (Definition by Mike Taylor)

I think the following statement by Jerry Bridges on legalism is worth our attention.
"Legalism insists on conformity to manmade religious rules and requirements, which are often unspoken, but are nevertheless very real… There are far too many instances within Christendom where our traditions and rules are, in practice, more important than God’s commands."

The question we must ask ourselves.
1. How many of us still have not come out of legalism?
2. How many of us are slipping back into legalism?

Legalism is always a step backward in your walk in Christ. 

On the positive, praise be to God for those who are free and staying free, AMEN!

Now, let's look at today's passage:

8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.  Galatians 4:8-11

8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.    

When they were ignorant sinners (before salvation), they had served their false pagan gods (really demons). As it states in 1 Cor. 10:20, “…what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.”

9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn [turn is in present tense, meaning in the act of turning] again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

Here we are now looking at the Galatian believers (saved).

Knowing God is not your great accomplishment, but the Lord’s doing. Our knowing God is conditioned upon His prior knowledge of us. Paul makes sort of a correction to his first few words, and to make sure there is no misunderstanding, he makes it clear  “rather are known by God.”  God has taken the initiative in grace to incorporate them into His family. We should be excited, not just that we have come to know God, but that God knows us!!! (also see 1 John 4:10)

Then, they go backwards to the weak and beggarly elements and become slaves again!!!
They were giving up the power of the Gospel for the weakness of law.

How were they doing this?  
By putting themselves under the law. Then, it goes into specifics in verse 10:

10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.   See Rom. 14:5-8

"One of the tragedies of legalism is that it gives the appearance of spiritual maturity when, in reality, it leads the believer back into a 'second childhood' of Christian experience." (Wiersbe)

We are not to legislate religious observances for each other.   This is the way of legalism!
No doubt the Judaizers were trying to convince the Galatians that their salvation was not complete unless they honored Jewish holy days.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!  If you think you are saving your soul or growing in God’s grace by religious observances, then you are guilty of legalism!

Legalism caters to the flesh, leads to pride (look at what I’M DOING) and really makes an outward observance replace the work that the Lord wants done in our hearts.

11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored [literally "to labor to the point of exhaustion"] for you in vain.

What we proclaim from our heart of the Lord, even if people don’t listen, is never wasted in His eyes. But how often are we afraid for the person falling backwards?  In the human sense it would be in vain (wasted time). 

Were these converts under Paul's ministry in Christ going to go from having faith in Christ for salvation to putting themselves under the law and legalism in their walk with God? To do so would be a step backwards.
   
Closing Illustration – The religious John Wesley, becomes the Christian John Wesley!  
     John Wesley was an honor graduate of Oxford University, an ordained clergyman in the Church of England and orthodox in theology. He was active in practical good works, regularly visiting the inmates of prisons and workhouses in London and helping distribute food and clothing to slum children and orphans. He studied the Bible diligently and attended numerous Sunday services, as well as various other services during the week. He generously gave offerings to the church and alms to the poor. He prayed and fasted and lived an exemplary moral life. He even spent several years as a missionary to American Indians in what was then the  British colony of Georgia. Yet, upon returning to England, he confessed in his journal, “I who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God.” Later reflecting on his preconversion condition, he said, “l had even then the faith of a servant, though not that of a son.” Wesley tirelessly did everything he could to live a life acceptable to God, yet he knew something vital was missing. It was not until he went “very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street” one evening that he discovered and claimed true Christian life. “I felt my heart strangely warmed,” he wrote. “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”  He was no longer just a servant. Now, he was a son!

  Closing thought:
Whatever leads one away from sole reliance on Christ,
whether based on good intentions (or not), is of disastrous results.


Enjoy this 10 minute video on
 Legalism and what Christianity is really about!

As we close, I encourage you to grow in the Grace and Liberty only found through Jesus Christ!


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Please also check out this new 33 minute movie 180
 (dealing with Holocaust and Abortion) a must for all!   
Warning: Due to some graphic footage of the Holocaust
 some footage may not be appropriate for children - Thanks!



Sunday, August 14, 2011

“ONCE SLAVES, BUT NOW SONS” Freedom Series - Galatians 4:1-7


We made it! We are in chapter 4 (part 20) and I plan to do a study every two weeks during the summer, then in the fall we will go back to a weekly study and do so until we finish Galatians. - Jim


1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements (basic principles- comparable to learning your ABC’s) of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Verses 1-3 cover man’s condition under the law (SLAVES)

1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child (Gk. Nepios – child, infant or immature one), does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all.

It is important to learn our ABC’s (by the Law), but the man who sits in the library and cites the ABC’s instead of reading the great literature that surrounds him, is showing how immature and ignorant he is – this is NOT a God thing!

2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Even though promised one day to be sons, as long as we were under the LAW BEFORE CHRIST came we were under guardians, tutors of the law and were in BONDAGE, but when Christ came we are free from bondage of the law and now are heirs (sons – by Adoption)

3 Even so we (or “so also in our case”), when we were children, were in bondage under the elements (basic principles- comparable to learning your ABC’s) of the world.

This was like going from childhood (under the Law) to adulthood (growing in Christ) THEN BACK to childhood /immaturity – legalistic bondage.

It is never God’s will that we go backward!

Verses 4-7 cover man’s condition in Christ (SONS - which is far better)

4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son (shows preexistence of Christ), born of a woman (Jesus in his humanity), born under the law (a Jew),

(vs 4) "fullness of time came" – This refers to that time when the world was providentially ready for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ (approx. 2000 years ago). The entrance of Jesus into the physical realm was not a random thing occurring at a haphazard time.

5 to redeem (to set free by paying a price) those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gk. Huios).

Note: The Greek word for a child or infant (Gk. Nepios v. 1) is different than son or adult son (Gk. Huios).

Jesus redeemed us (PAID THE PRICE TO SET US FREE), not to makes us slaves but SONS!

6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!”

ABBA (in an Aramaic word) was equivalent to our calling our father “Daddy” or “PAPA” – this is when the relationship is special.

(Example: When my grandchildren (regardless of age) call me PAPA, those are the most beautiful words they can say).

So, as SONS, God looks for the day when we can call him Dad, Daddy, Papa. For one to address their father with the word “ABBA” is not so much associated with infancy (baby talk) as it is with INTIMACY.

It was used by Jesus – Mark 14:36 and as a proof of God’s Spirit in our life (also see Romans 8:14-16). These words “Abba” (daddy, papa) are the instinctive cries of a heart that has been touched by the Holy Spirit. It is the unique cry of a heart of a son of God (believers).

7 Therefore you are no longer a slave (under the Law) but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (See Romans 8:17)

You are given the right to your inheritance once you go from child to adult.

When you think of it, what a tragedy to be bound by the law AND sin (again AFTER being saved). To be set free in Christ (Salvation/Grace), and thus, to move onto to maturity, only to have the Judaizers lead you back to under Law/legalism instead of growing in the GRACE and in the KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST.

Legalism is NEVER a step toward MATURITY but backwards.

In Closing:
Praise be to God; no longer is your relationship to God determined by your race, rank, or role. No longer are you shut up in the prison house of sin. No longer are you under the curse of the law. We are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

AMEN
!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Desiring God (10 Part DVD Series)

Periodically (once ever month or so) I will be reviewing a book for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. This is my third review I hope you find it helpful.

We will be back to Galatians in a few days (chapter 4).

I was very excited about the opportunity of reviewing the 10-part video series by John Piper on “Desiring God.” In one statement, the goal of the video (as with the book by the same title) is for you to come to understand the statement: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him," Which Piper calls “Christian Hedonism.” To that end, the video succeeded.

Being that I have never read the book from cover to cover (350+ pages), I thought this would be a great way of getting the book in video form, but that turned out to not exactly be the case. The video series is basically ten 30-minute (or less) sessions on the same subject as his book but in much less detail. Up to now, I have read many articles, skimmed the book, and listened to audio messages on the subject by Piper, but the video series has motivated me to read the book since I now know the book is much more thorough teaching on the subject. Note: I am reading the book now, it is very good.

It’s a good video series in a lecture style teaching. He walks you through the basics on the statement:"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him," which Piper calls “Christian Hedonism.” I would recommend it for people you can’t get to read the book (yet), and for those who are new to the whole idea of “Christian Hedonism.” I believe the video will be quite liberating to those people and aid in a closer relationship with the Lord.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this DVD from Multnomah in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You Are All One In Christ Jesus - Gal. 3:26-29

REVIEW:
We can't preach the message of grace until we've preached the standards of God because grace means nothing until people understand that they've broken the law, and have NO hope of keeping it (100 % guilty before God).

The day that you fell on your knees before Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior, the law had done its work. You saw your sin, you came to Christ.

In a nutshell, these verses plainly explain:
1. The purpose of the Law (convict us).
2. The ONLY way to Christ (faith).

Today’s lesson:

Galatians 3:26-29
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

26 For you are all sons (Gk. Huios – Someone of full age) of God through faith in Christ Jesus.


Sadly, some translate this “children” instead of “sons.” The better translation is definitely “sons.” We are now sons (maturing, full-aged sons) and no longer needing a “tutor” (the law), but able to come to Jesus. We have gone from child/infant to a full-aged son.

Note: The Greek word for a child or infant (Gk. Nepios) is different than son (Gk. Huios). Who is he addressing here? Then he qualifies who it is (those sons of God)“…through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse, these words are only meant for the believer (one who puts faith in Christ). This verse is NOT to be taken out of its context (as some have done) and teach Universal Sonship. Those ONLY are “…sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

ALL that are sons, are sons THROUGH FAITH (not works, laws, etc.) in Christ Jesus. Shortly, in v. 28, we will see that there are no distinctions.

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

There are many ways baptism might and has been interpreted. But to stay in the flow of what the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul, I believe this is talking about our receiving salvation at the new birth (baptized into the body of Christ (i.e, placed). Greek Scholar Kenneth Wuest states: “The reference cannot be to water baptism, for that never put a believing sinner in Christ.” Also, it says in I Cor. 11:12 - For by one Spirit (Holy Spirit) we (believers) were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

We are baptized (immersed) into the Body of Christ. This happens at salvation (before we have even had a chance to be water baptized (which we are commanded to do AFTER salvation). We don’t come out covered in water, but covered and washed by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ).



We have “PUT ON” Christ. We have changed from spiritually filthy garments (Isa. 64:6) and put on new garments (we’re clean). We HAVE “put on Christ” and are new creations (II Cor. 5:17, 21 also see Eph. 4:24 & Eph. 6:14).

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Part of a good prayer for a Religious Jew went like this:
“I thank thee, God, that I am a Jew, not a Gentile, a man, not a woman; and a freeman, and not a slave.”

All three of those things are addressed in this passage.
1. RACIAL PREJUDICE
2. SOCIAL STANDING
3. SEXUAL DISTINCTION

Verse 28 spells out the implications of being in Christ.

As far as our standing before God is concerned, all human distinctions are done away with in Christ. This frees the Christian from seeking a superior spiritual status by striving to change his social, economic, ethnic, or sexual status. In Christ, human distinctions of man’s worth are abolished, thus, giving all Christians equality before God.

“…FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.” Amen!!!

NOTE:
While looking down upon a woman is wrong, Woman’s lib is wrong, too. Most women at some point in their life were treated disrespectfully by a man (anywhere from infancy to death). Yes, there are a lot of men who are jerks, BUT that does not eradicate God’s roles for a man or a woman. Male and female, husband and wife and their distinct roles are not bad. God made them (male and female, husband and wife) so BEFORE sin entered the world. So don’t say you have been cursed with being a certain sex, or in being married. Those distinctions are of God and good. Sin is the thing that has messed up our roles as male/female and husband/wife.

This is also true in your ethnic background accept it – don’t fight it. This is also true in social realm, too; you need to accept where you are and that you may never be up there with the “Jones” socially. Who cares, accept where you are and let God bless you there.

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

IF one belongs to Christ I (that comes first) THEN one is Abraham’s seed.

If we’re all ONE IN CHRIST, then we, regardless of race, social standing, or sexuality are Abraham’s Seed. What did v. 16 say, but that Christ is Abraham’s seed, now that we are IN CHRIST, we too are by Christ, Abraham’s seed, and thus “…heirs according to the promise.” PTL!

As we are in Christ, the promise is ours. We become heirs of all the promises of God when we are in Christ. This, friends, is according to faith, not law or works.

Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father lead us into all truth, thy Word is truth. If in any area of our lives and beliefs (and traditions) we have been lead astray from your Holy Word (Bible), we ask that you would open our hearts and eyes to see the glorious Good News of Jesus Christ and to obey those wonderful truths. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen!

That brings this week’s teaching to a close. During the summer we will do a lesson every other week.

I look forward to taking you further on this Journey of Faith. I hope you have allowed the law to serve its purpose of showing you your guilt, and driving you to faith in Jesus Christ.


Monday, June 27, 2011

"The Law - A Death Sentence Ended Through Christ" Galatians 3:22-25

22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:22-25

In ending last week’s study in verse 21, the question was asked? Is the law then against the promises of God? Paul's answer was, "CERTAINLY NOT" or "GOD FORBID." While some may have thought or tried to accuse him of being AGAINST the law, Paul said: For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. In other words, there is absolutely no way to be saved by a "law."

The law and the promises are not in conflict because each has a distinct function; they do NOT have the same purpose. The law shows us WE ARE GUILTY before a just and holy God. Whereas, the promise(s) by faith in Jesus Christ shows us SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.

Note:
To put it another way, our main problem is we have wrongly been taught to think the purpose of the law (especially the 10 Commandments) were given for us to keep them, and thus, go to heaven. NO! They were to show us we CAN'T keep the law. By showing us that we are doomed to fail in keeping all the law(s) (See James 2:10), we see that we desperately need to turn to God to save us, as it is not in ourselves to save ourselves.
That brings us to verses 22-25.


Let's take a look at today's passage:

22 But the Scripture [in this case the law] has confined (Gk. Sunkleio) all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Confined in the Greek is an interesting word, Sunkleio – to shut up, to confine [as in a prison].

23 But before faith came (Jesus our Saviour), we were kept under guard (Gk. Phroureo) by the law, kept for the faith (Jesus our Saviour) which would afterward be revealed.

The Greek word “kept” is from “phroureo,” which means “to guard” or "to keep inward under lock and key." Simply put: We were in the custody of the law.

So the law captured us; there was no escape. There was no way to get out from under the law, there was no way to bust out. We were sentenced, we were locked up.

Every man in the world is a prisoner of God's law, waiting on spiritual death row for execution as a law-breaker until the pardon is offered by faith in Jesus Christ.

The law shut them up (as in a prison) with only ONE way to escape, namely, faith in Christ.

24 Therefore the law was our tutor (Gk. – paidagogos) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Paidagogos was a slave whose duty was to discipline boys. The paidagogos was not the teacher (that's didaskalos in the Greek and would have been the word used if this was talking about a teacher), that's a totally different word), he was the guardian of young boys. He was not the boys' teacher, he was their disciplinarian. It's a very important point. Thus, the word refers to a guardian of a child rather than to a teacher or schoolmaster.

This is one of the purposes of the law, to create in lost sinners a sense of guilt and need. The law has performed its purpose: the Savior has come and the "guardian" is no longer needed.

25 But after faith has come (Jesus our Saviour) , we are no longer under a tutor (Gk. – paidagogos).

If there is a point you must grasp out of these lessons it is this. We can't preach the message of grace until we've preached the standards of God because grace means nothing until people understand that they've broken the law, and have NO hope of keeping it (100 % guilty before God).

The day that you fell on your knees before Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior, the law had done its work. You saw your sin, you came to Christ.

In a nutshell, these verses plainly explain:
1. The purpose of the Law (convict us).
2. The ONLY way to Christ (faith).


I would like to close with this example as shared in “Our Daily Bread” written by D. C. Egner

“THE MIRROR, FLASHLIGHT AND PLUMBLINE
Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The law has never saved anyone, and it never will. God did not give it to redeem us from sin, but to show us our need of salvation. That's why the apostle Paul called it "our tutor."In an unforgettable sermon, evangelist Fred Brown used three im­ages to describe the purpose of the law. First, he likened it to the small mirror dentists use. With the mirror they can detect cavities, but they can't drill with it or use it to pull teeth. The mirror reveals the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can't fix the problem.Brown then drew another analogy. He said that the law is also like a flashlight. If the lights go out at night, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement stairs to the electrical box. When you point it toward the fuses, it helps you see the one that is burned out. But after you've removed the bad fuse, you don't insert the flashlight in its place. You put in a new fuse to restore the electricity.In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumbline. Builders check their work by using a weighted string. If this plumbline reveals that the work is not true to the vertical, the plumbline cannot correct it. The builder must get out a hammer and saw.Like the mirror, flashlight, and plumbline, the law points out the problem—sin, but it doesn't provide a solution. The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the law. Only He can save.

That brings this week’s teaching to a close. During the summer we will do a lesson every other week.

I look forward to taking you further on this Journey of Faith. I pray that you are no longer a prisoner to the law.


I hope you have allowed the law to serve its purpose of showing you your guilt, and driving you to faith in Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Purpose of the Law" Freedom Series Galatians 3:19-21

19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

We have learned in the past lesson that our spiritual inheritance is not based on our performance. Our spiritual inheritance is based on God’s promise.

This week’s question:
What purpose does the Law serve, if Christianity is all by promise and faith!!!

I would have to say I went many, many years NOT understanding what the answer to that question was. Here in today's passage we have the answer to that question :-)

Let's take a look at today's passage:




19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator (Moses).

What purpose then does the law serve?
In this passage that is THE BIG QUESTION!
"...It was added because of transgressions..." The Law is to make transgression known.






Why the law?
1. It was added because of transgressions. See Romans 5:20 which says, “the law was added so that the trespass might increase.” The law brings sin to light in our lives with an overwhelming sense of damnation and wrath. You see the law was not designed to lead us in another way, but to point us back to Christ as the only way.

The problem is not the law, but our sinful disobedience that the law brings to light and further exasperates in order to show us how hopeless we are apart from the interposition of divine grace. God always intended to save by grace apart from law. God gave the law in order that it would condemn all, and thus, prepare negatively for redemption on the basis of faith. The law was not given to make alive – Galatians 3:21. The law entered, then, that it might fail. It has by the great mercy of God directed us back toward salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone.

2. The law was added until the seed had come. The law had temporary parameters and limited duration. "...until the Seed (Christ) should come TO WHOM the PROMISE was made..."

The law was only meant to last “until the Seed” (Jesus) had come.






It was not forever to rule us, as the promise was to forever to bless us."

3. The law was not on the same par as the covenant of promise because it was handed down by angels (Acts 7:38, 53 and Hebrews 2:2) with a man (Moses) acting as a go between.






“it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator (Moses).”

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

The purpose of the Law of Moses was not to justify humankind in God's eyes (
2:16). Rather, the law was added after God's promise to Abraham (v. 16, 17) to clarify the issue of sin until Christ the Seed (v. 16) came.

The law was NEVER intended to stop sin in the world or to save you.






But what the law did do was show man his desperate need for God’s grace and a Savior.




It is not enough that something is free—it must also be NECESSARY.



When I see a sale in a store or an ad, it may be a real bargain, but I pass up the purchase because it serves no real usefulness and I don’t see the NEED! The fact that the gift of salvation in Christ is free is not enough to compel men to accept it. Men must first be convinced/convicted by the Holy Spirit of their need of salvation before grace is recognized as a desirable solution.




The Law was given to bring men to the point of recognizing their NEED for grace.

20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
He (God) alone can apply that plan in accordance with the terms He established – promise, faith, and grace rather than law, works, and ceremonies.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! (Gk - me genoito) For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. (See Galatians 2:21)

You can almost hear the Judaizers shouting at Paul, "Is the law then against the promise of God?"

Is the law therefore against the promises of God?
Paul’s answer is absolutely not. Absolutely not” in the Greek is me genoito – it conveys horror and shock at the very concept under consideration. The thought that God’s law and promises are contrary to one another is UNTHINKABLE to Paul. The REAL ISSUE is that the law by nature was NEVER to save.

Example: The law is like a mirror that helps us see our "dirty faces." James 1:21-25. But you do not wash your face with the mirror. The mirror (the law) doesn’t take the dirt away, it just lets you see you are dirty!

The Law’s purpose was to demonstrate that man is unable to please God by his own works. The Law showed us how imperfect we really are.
The Law leads us to the conclusion that we can never make it on our own.






We eventually see that we need Jesus more than anything.




The law was not designed by God to give eternal life and righteousness. Rather, the law showed humanity's need for the promise of life through faith in Jesus Christ (v. 9; 2:16), having confined all people under their sin (see Rom. 3:23; 6:23).



Closing thoughts:
If a law could have been given that “could impart life,” then Jesus need not have gone to the cross. If law could impart life, then righteousness would have come through law. But, no law could impart life. No law could pay the price of our sin. All the law could do was EXPOSE our sin.




When we finally see ourselves trapped in sin, it is then we can put our trust in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ ALONE!



CONCLUSION:



1. You can never fully appreciate the blessings of God’s grace and mercy until you see yourself against the backdrop of the law.




2. When we see how much the law had enslaved us; we appreciate how fully God’s grace has delivered us.




3. When we see how completely the law had condemned us, we appreciate how freely we’ve been forgiven (through Jesus ONLY).




4. When we see how trapped we were under the law, we appreciate how free we are under God’s grace.



Praise God on June 21, 1975 – I saw my desperate state and need for a Savior – And His name is Jesus Christ.

The law is to reveal sin and cause men to see their need of a savior. Its purpose is not to try to achieve salvation by keeping the law "all under sin." Galatians 3:22.

The law imposes a curse on everyone who does not obey it perfectly, which is to say, everyone. Everyone (NO EXCEPTIONS) who has been declared righteous before God (Jew or Gentile) has come into this relationship through faith in Jesus Christ and not by observing the law.

Question: Have you believed (complete trust and abandonment) on the Lord Jesus Christ?

I also pray that if you have lived a legalistic, works kind of contact with God,
that the Lord will set you free to live a faith-filled, loving relationship with God through our living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

THIS CONCLUDES THIS WEEK’S TEACHING.




I look forward to questions, comments, and testimonies from you.

Monday, June 06, 2011

"The Changeless Promise" Galatians 3:15-18






Galatians 3:15-18
15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but some may ask then what is the purpose of the law??? We will get to that next week. This study is one where we try to keep questions and comments to the weekly passage, but this is an open book study and reading ahead is a good idea as it will answer many, if not all, of your questions. Also, read Romans as it is a great letter that will give many answers to our questions on the law and on grace.

Review:
Paul takes the Old Testament, which the Judaizers claim to believe and study and use to support their view of works, and he turns it around to show them that the Old Testament, in fact, teaches salvation by grace through faith. If you go back through our previous teachings in this series, you will find Paul quoted MANY Old Testament scriptures to prove his points.


Let's take a look at these 4 verses in today's study.


15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men [in a human analogy]:Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.


In Genesis God made a promise to Abraham. This promise, or covenant as Paul called it here for the first time, was unconditional! No ifs, ands, or buts; no strings attached. When Moses delivered the law it contained burdensome requirements, a code of behavior that makes demands and issues threats. Quite a difference between a covenant promise and the law!


I here quote John Macarthur: “ Let me show you the difference [Abraham’s Covenant and Moses’ Law]. To Abraham, God said, "I will. I will. I will." To Moses, He said, "Thou shalt. Thou shalt. Thou shalt, or else." There is quite a difference. The promise set forth a religion for God; the law set forth a religion of man. The promise talked about God's plan, God's grace, God's initiative, God's sovereignty, God's blessing, God's promise. The law talked about man's duty, man's works, man's responsibility, man's behavior, man's obedience. The promise, which stood for grace, had only to be believed; the law, which stood for works, had to be obeyed. They were two different things.


Once a will or covenant (Greek diatheke) has been ratified (with Abraham), it cannot be altered. The covenant God made with Abraham is irrevocable, it can never be annulled or added to. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 4:29


16 Now to Abraham and his Seed (singular) were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds (plural),” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed (singular),” WHO IS CHRIST.

Christians are the spiritual seed of Abraham (see v. 29).

To avoid ANY misinterpretation of the word "seed," this passage clearly brings out that this passage was NOT referring to "seeds" as of MANY, but as of ONE. So NO spiritualizing this to be many seeds. And then it goes even further to say that this Seed is CHRIST, not the Jews, in this passage. So we see the PROMISE was made to Abraham AND Christ. This scripture makes that point clear!

Note: Thank God for the extra clarification of this verse or we would likely have many misinterpretations of who is the "seed."

17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.

Keep in mind the LAW (through Moses) did not come until 430 years LATER and that law CANNOT annul the covenant! The covenant still stands, it was NOT made ineffective by the law. The law did not replace the covenant!!!

The law, which was put into force after 430 years, could not override or annul the standing covenant with Abraham (
see Gen. 15:18).


Thus, stressing the seniority of the Abrahamic covenant over the Mosaic law. For Paul, the law

was not merely a late edition in the history of salvation; rather it was completely different from the covenant God completed with Abraham centuries before.


18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

In this passage we just read, Paul shows the supremacy of the way of GRACE over the way of the LAW.


Our inheritance IN CHRIST is not of the law, if that were the case it would not be of promise. But it was given to Abraham BY PROMISE.


For Paul, it was crucial that this original covenant of promise be distinguished from the law of Moses. The law demands, “Do this!” The promise grants, “Accept this!” Paul drew the two into sharpest antithesis. If law…not promise; if works…not grace.


There is really not a whole lot of commentary or understanding of the original Greek to get this message. It's so clear! We sometimes make the Bible harder to understand than it has to be. This passage is a clear example of this.


Question:
Have you believed (complete trust and abandonment) on the Lord Jesus Christ?

I also pray that if you have lived a legalistic, works kind of contact with God,
that the Lord will set you free to live a faith-filled, loving relationship with God through our living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!!!


For some reason the 3 last blogs from this series are not showing. To view and read them go to:


Galatians 3:1-5: http://biblefood.blogspot.com/2011/04/freedom-series-stop-your-foolishness.html


Galatians 3:6-9: http://biblefood.blogspot.com/2011/05/who-are-sons-of-abraham.html


Galatians 3:10-14: http://biblefood.blogspot.com/2011/05/curse-of-law-freedom-series-gal-310-14.html

THIS CONCLUDES THIS WEEK’S TEACHING.

I look forward to questions, comments, and testimonies from you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My book review: Radical Together

Periodically (once ever month or so) I will be reviewing a book for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. This is my second review I hope you find it helpful. We will be back to Galatians in a few days (chapter 3).

Is it Possible to Be Radical TOGETHER?

I recommend that you read the book “Radical” as a prerequisite to reading “Radical Together” to make it more meaningful. For me, there was a concern that “Radical Together” would be the same book as “Radical” revamped with the word “together.” I’m happy to say I was wrong. It is a rather small book (165 pages including a 6-week discussion guide – which is quite helpful in a group setting).

Personally, I think the delay of a year or more from printing “Radical” to “Radical Together” was good, as author David Platt refers back to people who took his first book “Radical” and applied it to their lives. It also gave him time to explain how his church is doing this “together.” I was very pleased to have David relate how they are applying “Radical Together” in their church. He took this from “theory” to “practical reality.” This book has helped to make it clear and real on how we can be radical together as the church.

In review, I would like to briefly give some quotes from each chapter, that I feel encapsulate the chapter. This is just to give you an idea how good this book really is! I hope this helps in your deciding to read this book.

Chapter One: This chapter hit on how we are settling for those things which are “good,” and thus, missing out on God’s BEST.

Chapter Two: Here we see a balance of “…a gospel that saves us FROM work and saves us TO work.” We were “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” And, “We live radically, not because we have to, but because we want to.”

Chapter Three: Here we see the importance of the Word of God (Bible) in our lives. As the author states, “…if we want to make God’s glory known in the world, then we must make the teaching of God’s Word central in the church.”

Chapter Four: He gets our focus off the “superstars” and “super churches” that we see in many church organizations and, as he puts it, “…I want people in the church to be able to fulfill the purpose for which they were created without being dependent on gifted preachers, nice buildings, and great programs to do it for them.”

Chapter Five: Regarding our desire for the longing of Christ (end of the world as we know it), I like how the author puts it, “…The reality is that Jesus could come back as I write (or as you read) this sentence, and not one of us knows the time when He will come. But we do know this: Jesus hasn’t come back yet, which means there is still work to be done.” *Reviewers note: Whatever your eschatological views are (even if different from the author), don’t let them stop you from reading this book or you will miss out on reading a very life-changing book.

Chapter Six: In this chapter we see we need to get our eyes off of self and centered on God. As the author corrects the problem, he says, “…We organize our churches as if God exists to meet our needs, cater to our comforts, and appeal to our preferences.” Later, he goes on to say, “…I know of no greater motivational tool for the church than a glimpse of the sovereign, holy, majestic God who is worthy of all worship, who is high and lifted up.”

My prayer is that through the instrument of these two books, “Radical” and “Radical Together,” that the Lord will raise up a people sold out to Him!

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Please rate my review at the link below so Water Brook - Multnomah Books can see my reviews are helpful and continue to ask for my reviews - Thanks!