Sunday, March 27, 2011

Freedom Series "Crucified with Christ" Gal. 2:15-21

v. 15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles [both are in need of salvation], knowing that a man [person] is not justified by the works of the law but by [means of] faith IN Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

1. "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law" Justification is an either-or, it is NOT a both-and! It is either justification by works or justification by faith. It can't be both!

2. "but by faith IN Jesus Christ" Justification is by CHRIST ALONE! No merit or labor of your own! Even the FAITH is not ours but given to us by God!!! Otherwise we could boast of OUR FAITH!

Note: Sadly, many do boast on THEIR FAITH (thus giving themselves credit). Ephesians 2:8, 9 clearly shows that we can't boast in the grace or in the faith as they are gifts of God.

Justification is an ACT of God.

Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ. In Justification, God declares the believing sinner righteous.

I like Ray Pritchard’s definition of Justification: The word “justify” means to “declare righteous.” It refers to a verdict from the judge that allows a defendant to go free. It means that the defendant is declared not guilty, innocent of all charges, and there is no record against him in the eyes of the law. If you are justified, your record is clean and clear and you are free to go. To be justified is the opposite of being condemned. If you apply that truth in the spiritual realm, it looks like this: Justification is that act of God whereby he acquits guilty sinners (that is, he declares them innocent), on the basis of the death of Christ. This gift of justification is received solely on the basis of faith wholly apart from good works of any kind. Justified sinners are thus pardoned, acquitted, set free, accepted by God, and treated as righteous.

If this be true [and God's word says it is so], observing the Jewish laws cannot justify us, why should we still obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws?

We know that Paul was not saying the Law is bad, because in another letter he wrote, “the Law is holy” (Romans 7:12).

Instead, he is saying that the Law can never make us acceptable to God.

The Law still has an important role to play in the life of a Christian.

The Law:

(1) guards us from sin by giving us standards for behavior;

(2) convicts us of sin, leaving us the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness;

(3) drives us to trust in the sufficiency of Christ, because we can never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.

v. 17-19 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we (Jews) ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! [or GOD FORBID] For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor [when we sin it’s not the fault of a faulty Gospel, but it’s ours]. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

To imply this message, allows Paul (or any believer) to go back to their old way of life, and even sinning (continuously as a way of life) is IMPOSSIBLE.

Because we have all been infected by sin, we cannot keep God’s laws perfectly. Fortunately, God has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts. Even though we know this truth, we must guard against the temptation of using service, good deeds, charitable giving, or any other effort as a substitute for faith. All the law has done was to show his own helplessness.

So verse 19 ends with... For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. DIED to LAW, thus LIVE to GOD.

Now that I have "died to the law" the outcome of that?

v. 20 I have been (past tense-positionally) crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me [CHANGING MY DESIRES – MY WANT TO’S]; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. "I have been (past tense-positionally) crucified with Christ..."

That is why I'm dead to the law (which includes self-acheivement/merit for favor with God), because I died with Christ, I identify with His death and also with His life! He is my life!!! Legally, God looks at us as if we had died with Christ. Because our sins died with Him, we are no longer condemned (Colossians 2:13-15).

Being “Crucified with Christ” implies a RADICAL transformation within the believer.

Paul realized that on the cross, a "great exchange" occurred. He gave Jesus his old, try-to-be-right-before-God-by-the-law life, and it was crucified on the cross. also with His life! He is my life!!! “…NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, but CHRIST lives in me…” (See Colossians 1:27)

If you truly are a Christian, then you must see and believe that Jesus gave His life for your life – Christ came to live in him. So your life isn't your own anymore, it belongs to Jesus Christ! We doesn't own our life (that life died); we are simply "managing" the new life Jesus gave us.

THOUGHT: Are you a believer? If so do you recognize the “GREAT EXCHANGE” that took place for YOU on the cross? Are you aware that as we have been crucified with Christ, so we no longer live for ourselves (self-centered) but for Christ?

Our Christian life began when, in unity with Him, we died to our old life (see Romans 6:5-11). And yet the focus of Christianity is not dying, but living. Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:5). “…the life which I now live [it’s new - All different in a good way now] in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

What can we say except thank you Jesus, thank you for your love for me and thank you for given your life for me!

v. 21 I do not set aside [to make void] the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Salvation is only by the GRACE OF GOD and work of Christ ON THE CROSS.

Believers today many still are in danger of acting as if Christ died needlessly.

How? By their own brand of Christian legalism, they are giving people extra laws to obey. By believing they can earn God’s favor by what they do, they are not trusting completely in Christ’s work on the cross.

If we could be saved by being good, then Christ did not have to die. But the cross is the only way to salvation.

CONCLUSION: To say salvation can be obtained by any human effort is an INSULT to the GRACE OF GOD and to the CROSS OF CHRIST, for it declares both to be unnecessary.

All that is required of us to be JUSTIFIED, therefore, is to acknowledge OUR SIN and OUR HELPLESSNESS, to REPENT of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and to put OUR WHOLE TRUST and CONFIDENCE in Jesus Christ to save us.

We conclude this week and this chapter.

Next week we start chapter 3 Invite others to join us here or on our Facebook group.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paul Takes a Stand (No More Racism) - Galatians 2:11-14

In verses RED is actual verse,
BLUE is my inserted thoughts for clarity,
and Green is the Greek meaning, not always seen in English.

v. 11-12

Now when Peter had come to Antioch [third largest city in the Roman Empire with a half million people] at this time , I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed [this shows us Paul’s Apostolic authority]; for before certain men came from James, he would eat [love/agape feast] with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew (Gk. Hupostello – In the imperfect tense meant gradually) and separated (Gk. Aphorizo – Complete and final separation) himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.


Peter came to Antioch and, at first, he was enjoying 
fellowship with his Gentile brothers disregarding the
old taboos. He shared the common meal with his 
Gentile brothers.  It was all cool and good to eat
together until some strictly Jewish Christians from
Jerusalem came across Peter in Antioch.  Then, 
Peter “withdrewin the Greek it meant he 
gradually pulled away from eating with the
Gentiles. Also, the word “separatedin the Greek 
meant a final separation from eating with Gentile 
Peter let them (Jewish believers) get to him and he 
FEARED them.  Knowing they did NOT approve 
of a Jew EVER eating with a Gentile 
(even if both are saved – hmm!)
Peer pressure (in the form of FEAR) got the best of
Peter, so to speak, folded under the pressure (fear).
THOUGHT: Do we let the “fear of man” influence us 
in how we act or who we hang out with.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare.”

Peter knew Gentiles could be saved – Acts 10, and in

Acts 15:9 he stated that God had “…put no

difference between us (Jews) and them (Gentiles).

So his behavior of no longer eating with Gentiles was

nothing short of being hypocritical.

v. 13-14

And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward (lit. walking straight) about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all [public rebuke, not private], "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles [Peter no longer observed Jewish food regulations] and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?


Paul could not allow Peter to do this. It was hypocritical
on Peter’s part, and because of Peter’s role (influence)
in the early church, his hypocritical actions could lead 
others astray.
Although Peter was a leader of the church, he was 
acting like a hypocrite.  He knew better, yet he was 
driven by fear of what others would think. 
Paul knew that he had to confront Peter before his
actions damaged the church.  
Paul did not wait to correct Peter.  It made no 
difference to Paul that it was “one of the pillars”
of the church – Peter!  
It was wrong, and that was all that mattered to him. 
A famous name can never justify an infamous 
action to the point that other Jews believers
followed Peter’s (poor) example, and
EVEN Barnabas was influenced. (v. 13)
THOUGHT: Today, we see many high-profile 
ministers who are almost considered above 
correction.  The name of the minister or fame
of a Christian does not make them exempt from 
living Christ-like.  We need to stand for the
truth regardless of who it is that is promoting error.
With the acceptance of Christians being either 
Jewish believers (plus keeping the law and traditions)
and also of Gentile believers being Christian
(but not required to keep the law and Jewish traditions),
resulted in two distinct classes of Christians
(Jew believer more looking down on Gentile believer)
in the church.  Not a good thing.  This is a real problem
today, too.
Example: I see Jewish believers (original branch) acting 
like they’re one up on Gentile believers (grafted into 
the branch).  I think it’s great to see Jewish believers, 
but that doesn’t make them one up as believers 
because they are Jewish.  Also, people do this regarding
tongues or no tongues, water baptism sprinkled or 
immersed, etc, etc.  We will have varying views on
“non-essentials”areas, but we do need to stop making
these distinctions points of division, or acting like one is
a better Christian than another because of his
NON-ESSENTIAL beliefs.  
It could not be right that the Gentiles come to God 
by grace and Jews come to him by the law. For Paul
there was only one reality - GRACE.
A church ceases to be Christians if it contains
s (or race) distinctions.
Three practical truths we learn from this passage are:
1. Great leaders can fall - May God help us to test every 
message we hear by His Word, and help us from
exalting ANY human leader above measure.
2. God’s grace means no second-class Christians - 
May we never distinguish in the body of Christ 
those of different social status, race, or anything else.
3. Standing for the Gospel can be lonely – Paul stood
alone here.  History shows many great Christian 
leaders stood alone.

So, we conclude this week’s lesson

on Galatians.

This coming weekend we will cover

Galatians 2:15-21 (conclude chapter 2).

Do invite people to join us at:

or on FB go to the group: “Galatians Study”

Comments welcome!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Galatians - Freedom series – “Freedom Fighter" Gal. 2:1-10

Breakdown of materials in Galatians:
Chapters 1 & 2: Paul tells of his own experience.
Chapters 3 & 4: Doctrinal position of the Gospel of Grace.
Chapters 5 & 6: Application of the Gospel of Grace.

As we go into Galatians 2:1-10 I encourage you to read Acts 15:1-35, as they are sharing the same time period and should add to your understanding of this Galatians study.

We can call Paul a “Freedom Fighter” as he was not going to allow false teaching (Judaizers – A mixture of law and grace for salvation) to come into Galatia. Paul would fight to keep this gospel from being corrupted by legalism.

Defending the Gospel
Verse 1 - Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.

Jerusalem was “like” the headquarters (Bible Belt) of Christianity. Paul was led to speak to the Christian leadership there, but needed to be careful not to say too little and seem to be abandoning his principle beliefs, and not to say too much and seem to be at variance with the leadership there.

God's timing is best – How would you handle it if God kept you some place (or from some place) for 14 years while you’re wanting to go – All in His timing!

[name means “son of encouragement] was one of Paul’s closest friends (see Acts 9:26-28).

In Acts 13:1-Acts 14:28, after his return from Arabia to public preaching, who did he look for but his friend Barnabas! We see Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey – they were a team!

THOUGHT: Don’t we all need “Barnabas – Encouragers” in our life!
Maybe you also need to be a Barnabas/Encourager to someone else!

Brief thought on Titus: Titus was a Gentile believer. Apparently, he came to Christ through Paul’s ministry. (See Titus 1:4)

Verse 2 - And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.

Paul went by the Spirit's leading to Jerusalem and got together with the Christian spiritual leaders there to clarify the issue of, whether Jew or Gentile, salvation is by Christ alone and that salvation does not require a Gentile believer to be circumcised. Now all believers are on the same page – Salvation comes through the grace of God!

Verse 3 - Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

It’s quite possible Paul took Titus to Jerusalem to show the fruit of an uncircumcised Gentile believer. Since salvation was not by any works, he did NOT need to be circumcised.

Verse 4 - And this occurred because of false brethren [fakes - in this case Judaizers, not Christian at all] secretly brought in [crept in, a gradual infilteration] to spy out [with a critical and hostile intent] our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage,

This is the typical pattern of false brothers.
False Brethren --> Secret Spy --> Take away liberty --> Result: Bondage

We have these in almost all churches today. They may act like a Christian, but inwardly their motive is to infilterate and destroy our gospel-given FREEDOM! Be on the alert for them!

Those who try to add any works (circumcision/law) to salvation are ultimately taking away our liberty/freedom we have in Christ and bringing us into bondage!

THOUGHT: Has the peace and joy in your Christian walk disappeared and been replaced by a peaceless/joyless “have to do” works orientated salvation? Check to make sure you didn’t allow some false teaching into your life. This may be the first time you have recognized it!

Verse 5 - to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Any wavering here and the gospel of grace would have been hurt or gone.
Basically, he didn’t allow false teaching for even an hour
[not for anytime].

THOUGHT: Do we see a works salvation being preached around us? If we do, we shouldn’t put up with it for a second!

Note: We are NOT talking about FRUIT that will follow a true conversion

Verse 6 - But from those who seemed to be something [James, Peter and John] - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

The wording here seems strong, but Paul was not meaning disrespect for Jerusalem church leaders, but taking them off their “superstar”status [still a problem today], clearly stating God doesn’t have any favorites. Paul had the truth (just like them). They were leaders in the Church [Jerusalem] but they didn’t change Paul or his message. The gospel of truth is the same everywhere!

THOUGHT: I see this “superstar” image among many ministers. We need to get past that and respect their gifting from God, but still see them as people just like you and me.

Verse 7 - But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised [Gentiles] had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised [Jews] was to Peter.

All this is indicating a calling to a certain group of people. Peter, by God’s direction, was primarily called to preach Jesus Christ to the Jews; whereas, Paul was called primarily to the Gentiles.

Verse 8 - (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),

THOUGHT: All people need to hear the same gospel message, but we may feel led/inclined to reach out specifically to a certain group with that message.

Examples: Inner city, drug addicts, bikers, or any other people group you can think of.

Verse 9 - and when James, Cephas, and John [all ministering to the Jews],who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Gk. Koinonias – carries with it the idea of partnership, being in this together), that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

If you get the “left hand of fellowship” that’s not good. The “right hand of fellowship” is good. That meant they were working together (partnering) for the goal of the evangelizing of all people. Thus, the Christian leadership in Jerusalem gave their approval to Paul’s ministering Jesus Christ to the Gentiles without the requirement of circumcision or keeping the Jewish law.

NOTE: I’m sure the enemies' dream was to divide the church, but praise be to God they all agreed on the One Gospel message for all people!

Verse 10 - They desired only that we should remember the poor [specifically in Jerusalem], the very thing which I also was eager to do.

They did ask that Paul remember the poor, meaning more specifically the poor in Jerusalem, which was obviously no problem since that was already in the heart of Paul.
(See Romans 15:25-33; I Cor. 16:1-4 and II Cor. 8:9)

THOUGHT: Are you remembering the poor?

Concluding thought:
Please let this letter speak to you and free you from any man-made bondages!

Next week we’ll continue with verse 11.

Please pass this on to others – Thank you!

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Foundations of the Church - Prayer

We will be back to our Galatians series next week, but this week I am bringing you my most listened to sermon and notes. It has touched lives - may it touch yours.

To hear audio sermon on PRAYER go to:

We need to be a "House of PRAYER"
Matthew 21:13 "And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

The greatest reputation of the Lord's House should be the "house of prayer." Churches have reputations as a great singing church, a great preaching church or a great programs church.
But how long has it been since someone referred to a church as a "praying church?"

"Every congregation and all believers everywhere need united agreement in prayer and faith.

True, we can play privately, but we must also come together with the church expecting to find one accord in prayer. The church in Acts began in one accord in prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:1). United prayer was a top priority of the apostles and the people (Acts 6:4; 4:18-33; 12:1-25; 15:1-30). United agreement in prayer is necessary because of who we are.

"The church is dying on its feet because it is not living on its knees.

Prayer simply defined is: Prayer is communication with God. It is communion with Him.

He desires heart to heart communion with us as individuals and as a group.


Acts 1:14 "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication"
Prayer must be a continuing activity in the church.

Acts 1:24 "And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,"
Prayer seeks to know Gods choice.

Acts 2:42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Prayer must be an established, permanent, steadfast and unmovable function of the church.

Acts 3:1 "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer"
Prayer must have a permanent place in the schedule of the church. Prayer must have a priority and not be pushed around or pushed out of the way to make room for something we want to do.

Acts 4:31 "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost"
Prayer is necessary to maintain the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many of these believers were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 6:4 "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."
Prayer is the balance to the Word. The study of the Word prepares the message but through prayer the messenger is prepared.

Acts 6:6 "Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them."
Prayer before we lay hands on others makes sure that Gods hand is on us first.

Acts 7:60 "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Prayer is the way to live but it is also the way to die.

Acts 9:40 "But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up."
Prayer is the means by which miracles take place.

Acts 10:9, 11 "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray and saw heaven opened"
Prayer is the place where we see heavenly visions.

Acts 10:30 "And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,"
Prayer and fasting takes us beyond seeing what is physically seen and we see into the unseen realm of the Spirit.

Acts 12:5 "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
Prayer in the book of Acts church was more than a "name it and claim it" thing but it was a fervent and earnest spiritual warfare of intercession.

Acts 12:12 "he came to the house of Mary the mother of John where many were gathered together praying."
Prayer involves coming together to pray so that we can agree together.

Acts 13:3 "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
Prayer and fasting should be done before we send missionaries, evangelist and anyone that goes out from the church to minister. This would make a difference when we send our youth on a mission trip. Rather than gather around the van and pray as they are driving off, we should have a time of prayer and fasting and then lay hands on them for ministry.

Acts 14:23 "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."
Prayer and fasting should accompany the appointment of every leader in the church.

Acts 16:13,16 "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." "as we went to prayer."
Prayer could be found by the river side or in a house because if believers are there, whatever else might be happening prayer would be a part of it.

Acts 16:25 "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
Prayer and singing go together but singing must never become a substitute for prayer. Singing praises compliments our prayers with the expressions of faith.

Acts 20:36 "And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all."
Prayer was practiced by Paul when he was leaving friends behind.

Acts 22:17-18 "And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance. And saw Him saying unto me, make haste..."
Prayer sometimes gives warnings and directions for our safety. Here Paul was told to leave Jerusalem quickly.

Acts 28:8 "And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him."
Prayer of faith that heals the sick must never lose it's place in the ministry of the church.

Prayer Quotes:

"Prayer is a God ordained means to accomplish God ordained ends." Erwin Lutzer

"Prayer is not convincing God to do something He doesn’t want to do, but laying hold of His highest willingness." Erwin Lutzer Hos. 7:14 (wail but won’t pray)

"Prayer is nothing more than digging out the treasures that God has laid out for us." John Calvin
"The little estimate we put on prayer is evidence from the little time we give to it." E.M. Bounds

John Bunyan’s famous treatise. His definition of prayer is clarifying and helpful. "Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God."

It's time to Pray Church!!!