Sunday, June 26, 2016

God's love and our duty! - Galatians 2:11-21

God's love and our duty! - Galatians 2:11-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 26, 2016

There are folks who confuse God's love with carte blanche which does not exist anywhere within the pages of Scripture. The love of God for us is founded in the person of Jesus and he was not some quasi mushy-hearted let it go good time fella. God does not wink at our sin in any form nor is he accepting of our halfhearted excuses for deliberately trying to circumnavigate our way into his presence through our own convoluted view of who he is. The Bible makes it plain that the gospel is all about God's love and our duty.

Paul knew this to be absolutely true. While God accepts anyone from any circumstance he does not accept their sin. In fact, God sees it as abhorrent and totally contrary to his holy nature. This is why Paul got so upset with those who were trying to lead the Galatian Christians astray and back into a works oriented faith practice. And Paul was not afraid to stand up to and toe-to-toe with anyone who thought otherwise. Let's discover what Paul says about God's love and our duty…

READ: Galatians 2:11-21

In standing up for the gospel message and that it is by faith alone in Jesus alone…

I. Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise! (Vv. 11-13)

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

  1. For Paul the message of the cross and the empty tomb proved that we could never earn our way into heaven or God's presence and so "When Peter came to Antioch" Paul related that he "opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong." Peter proved his wrongness by his actions. This is just as true today with those who try to doublespeak their way into heaven by making allowances for their ungodly actions, but sometimes actions speak louder than words! Peter was guilty because "Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles." There it is, Peter's past was catching up with him. In this Paul found it necessary to oppose Peter. Peter, through his actions threatened to compromise the gospel message. "Peter’s conduct in Antioch produced a tense face-to-face confrontation between two Christian leaders." (Bible Knowledge Commentary) In fact we discover that "Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group." By golly Peter was very human in his actions, wasn't he? He was just like many of us! He tried to blend in with the "in" crowd instead of taking a stand for his faith. Paul would have none of it and was disgusted that even "The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." How awful that a beautiful soul like Barnabas was being lead into their duplicity! But this is what happens when we willingly compromise our faith for the sake of being accepted by others; we influence others into a weaker faith practice and walk. This is why I am glad that Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise!

  EXAMPLE: "Stand up!" shouted the drill instructor to the young man who lay prone at his feet. "Stand up and be counted, be the man you are meant to be sailor!" Perhaps this is what Jesus is saying to those who say they have placed their faith and trust in him but back away from declaring it when confronted by others. We are to stand up and be the believers we are meant to be in him. The spiritually weakened world needs a strong faith that does not turn back. Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise!

In standing up to those who would try to confuse the gospel message with works or returning back to the law…

II. Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us! (Vv 14-16)

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

  1. There are some things in life that a person should never back away from and one of them is what one believes about Jesus. Paul was adamant about what he believed concerning Jesus and his salvation by faith alone. For Paul it was foundational. Everything else one does in their faith walk comes from the fact that it is faith alone that saves a person. So, Paul continued by telling the Galatians, "When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, 'You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.'" Paul confronted Peter with his past and his present situation. Peter was a Jew, yet his faith was the same as a Gentile's faith! And Peter did not live any longer as a strict Jew; he lived in the freedom of his faith in Jesus, not by the chains of the law! How was it then, that Peter would "force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" What hypocrisy! Paul then got a bit sarcastic in his admonishment of Peter and publically reminds him, "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." If the law could have saved anyone by following all of its rules and regulations then Jesus did not have to come and die for anyone! Paul was intimately aware of this fact because he had been enslaved by his Jewish customs all of his life! Peter should have known this as well! Like Paul Peter had lived his entire life under Jewish law and now was free in his faith of Jesus! This is why he related, "So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Peter was denying his Christian liberty in order to be accepted by his fellow Jews instead of Jesus! Such behavior needed to be exposed and Paul willingly did it because Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us!

  EXAMPLE: It is easy to try to blend in to the world around us. It is in our human nature not to stand out in any way in order to protect ourselves. In doing so we begin to acquiesce or compromise our faith around others in order to be liked. We also begin to justify our sinfulness. Peter had begun to do this very thing and in doing so he was telling new believers that it was Jesus plus something else. Our faith is never Jesus plus anything else. Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us!

Being justified is one thing but afterwards there is more to life and this is why…

III. Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus! (Vv. 17-21)

If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

  1. Now Paul knew the arguments the Judaizers would put forward: Namely that Paul was promoting sin. So Paul bluntly related, "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?" Of course it did not so Paul vehemently retorts, "Absolutely not!" On the contrary, "If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker." If any believer would return to the law after trusting Christ alone for salvation, that law would only demonstrate that he was a sinner, a lawbreaker. Going back to a works oriented faith would have destroyed his witness as a Christian and proven that his faith was worthless and that Paul was a lawbreaker! Yet Paul knew that it was "through the law" that he had "died to the law so that [he] might live for God" alone! Paul had come to Christ by dying to the law, why would he return to that which was no longer any good for anyone? Paul comes back to what he knew to be true and reminds the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Paul's life was now completely found in Jesus. In fact he tells them, "The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates, "It is then faith and not works or legal obedience that releases divine power to live a Christian life." For Paul this was the Christian life, this was what faith meant, therefore Paul did "not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" And Jesus did not die for noting, he died to set us free from the law that we might live for him! Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: In our day and age we have begun to equate our faith with feelings and this is a dangerous thing to do. Old habits die hard. Peter had fallen back into what he knew instead of relying on his faith. By doing so he had nullified his faith and had begun to rely on how he felt about himself as he desperately tried to appease others. Peter had returned to a worthless ritual instead of living faith. Paul would have none of it and told Peter so to his face. For Paul it did not matter what others thought of him only what they thought of Jesus. Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

Conclusion:

Paul was willing to stand up to anyone who would say otherwise! Paul knew it is only our faith in Jesus that justifies us!  Paul knew it was our duty to live for Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Set apart! - Galatians 2:1-10

Set apart! - Galatians 2:1-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 19, 2016

What do you do when folks spread awful rumors about you that are not true? What do you do as a believer when others spread unfounded rumors and lies about Jesus or your brothers and sisters in Christ? Recently the local media did a story about a "Christian" pastor who related that Christians are to be accepting of anyone and that this was what Jesus preached. Sounds good until you realize that the pastor was gay and was saying that the message of Jesus meant inclusion of ungodly lifestyles, which it does not ever. The good news is not about everybody getting along and accepting each other's perverted proclivities. We are set apart to preach the good news that God has sent Jesus to save those who are lost in sin and separated from God.

Paul fully understood that and knew that if people tried to add to the good news or to take away from the simple gospel message they were to be thoroughly condemned. Pau knew this to be true because he had once been part of those who tried to destroy the early church of Jesus. He was one of those in all out warfare against the gospel message, Jesus, and his body the church. Yet God had other plans for Paul and Jesus set him apart for a special purpose. Let's discover what that was…

READ: Galatians 2:1-10

We live in a culture where everyone thinks their little darling is "special" when in fact while for you that may true, it may not be correct in the real world. Not everyone is "special" nor is everyone cut out to excel in sports, education, science, or industry. Few of us will impact or be remembered by more than just few folks and even then after a few short years, our passing will have no consequence whatsoever. Yet, those who are called by Christ are set apart by God and we learn that…

I. Paul was set apart to preach the good news to the gentiles! (Vv. 1-5)

Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

  1. Last week I mentioned that it was Barnabas who finally took Paul to meet the other Apostles and here Paul writes that again "Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas." Paul defended his calling to the apostolic ministry and now he writes about how they were unified in the gospel. We are introduced to Titus who would later become one of the early church's first pastors. Paul writes, "I took Titus along also." But why would Paul go now? He continues, "I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles." There has been a lot of debate on the identification of this trip Paul took to Jerusalem with Barnabas, a Jewish believer, and Titus, a Gentile believer. The Book of Acts mentions five Jerusalem visits made by Paul after his conversion. I do not believe it truly matters however the reason was obvious for Paul, he was headed to convert Gentiles. Paul admits that he "did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain." Paul went because God directed him to, not because the Jerusalem leaders had summoned him. He went privately in order to discuss with them God's calling him to preach to Gentiles instead of just Jews. I believe he did not want to be hindered by any Jewish constraints that did away with faith alone. The Judaizers, those who would burden new converts with Jewish legalism were active. And now we understand why Paul also brought along Titus, "Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek", a gentile! He writes that "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." Acts 15:1 relates that these ungodly men had followed Paul before and were trying to teach new converts, "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." This was wrong! Paul stood firm and relates, "We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you." Paul was set apart to preach the good news to the gentiles!

  EXAMPLE: Paul is remembered because Paul made an impact with his life. Paul had been very successful and we learned that he had been "advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of [his] own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of [his] fathers." (Galatians 1:14) Yet this was not how Paul would impact future generations. What he had done in the past was no longer of any importance. What he did from now on would influence people well into the future! This is true for anyone who is transformed by their faith in Jesus. I have known auto mechanics, businessmen, scientists, teachers, lawyers, doctors, builders, and very common folk who were changed by their faith and have tremendously influenced future generations. If you claim Christ, you are set apart to proclaim Christ. Paul was set apart to preach the good news to the gentiles!

Lest we forget the good news is not some means so you can have a happier life, it is the very words of God given to us through him in Jesus! Unlike and contrary to what liberal theologians and pastors would have you think the gospel message is a life-changing one. And it was specifically because of this that…

II. Paul was set apart by God! (Vv. 6-10)

As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

  1. When Paul went to Jerusalem to speak with the other apostles and leaders it was simply to inform them of God calling him to preach the good news to the gentiles. And he wanted the Galatians to know that "As for those who seemed to be important" (the Apostles and leadership) "whatever they were makes no difference to me". Paul wanted his readers to fully understand that God came to save them not by their outward appearance nor by anything they could do, rather, he tells them that "God does not judge by external appearance [and] those men added nothing to my message." The early church realized Paul being set apart by God! Paul was not awed by the past or present stations of James, Peter, and John. We discover that they fully endorsed Paul’s message and received him as an equal in proclaiming the gospel and so Paul writes, "On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews." The leadership had no problem with Paul's ministry because they had seen for themselves the success Paul had in winning the Gentiles to Jesus! "For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles." Seeing believes and they were not so narrow-minded that they would have refused to see God working in Paul's life and also seeing Titus had shown them the truth of God's calling of Paul to preach the good news to anyone! In fact, Paul related that "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews." Therefore the disciples finally came to see something special in Paul's ministry and Paul relates that "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Not only would these offerings ease suffering, but it would also demonstrate genuine concern on the part of Gentile Christians for Jewish Christians thus promoting unity and love among believers and help prevent the heresies which were undermining the Galatians. Paul was set apart by God!

  EXAMPLE: The good news is the message given us from God! Why would anyone want to add to it or take away from it, yet there have always been those who are jealous, who are not transformed, who do not care about the cause of Christ and who do everything they can to water the message down or circumnavigate it. They try to turn people "to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all"! All they want to do is throw people into confusion and "pervert the gospel of Christ", like Paul related earlier. If God calls each of who have believed, which I believe he does, then why would we allow anyone to pervert the message of God? Paul was one not to set by and allow anyone to pervert such an important message! The reason was obvious to him: Paul was set apart by God!

Conclusion:

Paul was set apart to preach the good news to the gentiles! Paul was set apart by God!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Paul's past, present, and future! - Galatians 1:11-24

Paul's past, present, and future! - Galatians 1:11-24
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 12, 2016

Everyone who comes to Jesus has a personal testimony they can relate to others. I came to the Lord one night at work after a co-worker and friend challenged me to read the Gospel of John. I went out at lunch, purchased a Bible, and begin reading it. I could not put it down. The next evening I accepted Christ on my own in between a couple of noisy greasy machines.

When I speak of Paul's past, present, and future of course what I am talking about is his personal testimony. It is perhaps the most famous Christian testimony there is and Paul uses it on several occasions in his letters in order to get across the particular lesson he wanted his readers to learn. So this morning as we look at Paul's past, present, and future let's learn from his testimony in order that we may gain some insight in using our own.

READ: Galatians 1:11-24

There are those in our world today that think the Bible is just one of many good books that can help us be better people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures were not given to us so we might be better people; rather, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit so that we would have God's eternal truth and know the way of salvation. Paul absolutely understood this and in his personal testimony he relates that…

I. Knowing about the truth of God is different from believing the truth of God! (Vv. 11-14)

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

  1. Paul begins this section by writing, "I want you to know". He did not want them to feel, he did not want them to emote, and he did not want them to get in touch with their inner selves; he wanted them to completely understand "that the gospel", the good news he "preached" was "Not something that man made up." There were those who evidently were trying to discredit Paul by lying and saying that he had made up what he was teaching the church about Jesus! There are those today that would have you believe that the good news was just a made up story or that what Paul teaches is not what Jesus taught! They would have you equate Jesus' message with a good way to live perhaps that some good people wrote about Jesus, but not the actual words of Jesus. It is not just a good way to live. Paul fully understood what, whom, and why he had placed his faith and trust in Jesus because Paul was nobody's fool. Paul bluntly tells them, "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Paul had met Jesus on the road to Damascus and then was personally instructed by Jesus; not Peter nor any other disciple. In fact, he had been on the fast track to be one of the best educated Pharisees alive! He reminds them, "For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers." He had been taught by one of the most highly respected Jewish rabbis of his day, Gamaliel. He had been extremely passionate for his Judaism! He had been under personal orders to go to Damascus and persecute the church there when he met Jesus and was changed! Paul had been a spiritual smart aleck but he soon learned that knowing about the truth of God is different from believing the truth of God!

  EXAMPLE: You can know all about how an airplane works. You can even be the best Microsoft Flight pilot there is and know how to fly any kind of aircraft on a computer or tablet but you are not a pilot. You can know all about the ailerons, the flaps, the stick, lift and trust but until you actually fly an airplane you do not know what it means to fly an airplane! The same is true concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and Paul understood this after experiencing it for himself. Knowing about the truth of God is different from believing the truth of God!

Far from just another way to live life, the truth of God as found in Jesus spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, and physically changes a person. There is no going back if you truly have believed. In fact, Paul relates in his personal testimony that…

II. The truth of God changes lives forever! (Vv. 15-17)

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

  1. It was not man's wisdom nor had anything Paul had garnered on his own that had saved him. Paul would later write in amazement, "Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8 NIV) and here some of that same amazement seeps out as he writes, "But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace". Paul was constantly humbled by the fact God saw fit to save someone like him who had mistreated his church simply out of his mercy for Paul as a sinner! He would marvel, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV) Paul also understood that God the Father "was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles". Paul's life was changed and God displayed himself in Paul through Jesus just as he does with all who trust Jesus! That is what God does! Again, Paul reiterates the fact that his life had been so changed by Jesus that he "did not consult any man, nor did [he] go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before" he had been made an Apostle by Jesus! But instead he "went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus." I doubt that Paul went there to evangelize the lost but rather to be away from anyone and alone with the Lord for his personal study, meditation, and to receive further instruction. Paul's life had been totally turned upside down. Paul now understood that "those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30 NIV) Paul now understood that the truth of God changes lives forever!

  EXAMPLE: I am puzzled by those who would make excuses for others who claim Christ but they do not live or act like it. The Scripture directly teaches us that when a person comes to Jesus by faith they are changed completely, forever. Paul would declare, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Jesus taught that no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again! (John 3:3) Paul would therefore write that believers "are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9 NIV) Paul had experienced this transformation for himself this is exactly why he knew that the truth of God changes lives forever!

There are far too many folks who think that just coming to church, enjoying worship, and going home "filled" is all there is to their Christianity. They are wrong. After salvation one enters into the body of Christ and then is expected to be about their Master's business. Paul understood this and shares that…

III. The truth of God calls one to action! (Vv. 18-24)

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they praised God because of me.

  1. Maturity in the Lord does not happen overnight. Far too often because we live in a time of instant gratification when everyone expects everything to happen immediately there are those who think deep discipleship comes as soon as they come to Christ. It does not. It comes with hard work in learning more about Jesus through constant study, daily prayer, and life's successes and failures. It is a life that is lived in the Lord not sitting on one's behind! Paul took the time to learn and "Then after three years", he writes, "I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days." In fact, Paul relates that he "saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother." Interestingly Luke writes that "When [Paul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple." (Acts 9:26 NIV) And Luke relates that it would finally be wonderful Barnabas who would befriend Paul and introduce him to the other apostles! Perhaps the Judaizers were spreading the lie that Paul either taught something different than the other disciples or that he had not met with them. This was simply not true and he writes, "I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie." However, Paul was not content to sit back and bask in the presence of the Apostles or stay in Jerusalem: "Later [he] went to Syria and Cilicia." Sadly, ungodly lies often race faster than the truth does and because Paul "was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.'" Yet after his hard work and his willingness to serve Jesus, Paul exclaimed, "they praised God because of me." Paul related through his own testimony that the truth of God calls one to action!

  EXAMPLE: We are not all called to missions or intense ministry but we are all called to service. We are all called to go and share the good news of Jesus with those God sends our way. We are called to daily seek to serve Jesus and to do otherwise is a wasted life in the Lord! Think these are harsh words? Think about Paul. He was born into a very well off family of traders; he came from Tarsus on the coast. He was a disciple of one of the preeminent rabbis of his day and on the fast track to be a respected pillar of the Sanhedrin. And then he met Jesus while entrusted to destroy the church of the one he met. He then became the premiere Apostle to the gentiles and wrote most of the New Testament. Paul would many years later tell the Ephesians, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts 20:24 NIV) The truth of God calls one to action!

Conclusion:

Knowing about the truth of God is different from believing the truth of God! The truth of God changes you forever! The truth of God calls one to action!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

The scolding! - Galatians 1:6-10

The scolding! - Galatians 1:6-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 5, 2016

What would you do if a family member or friend was about to join a cult that would cause them and their family a lot of distress? Sometimes there is nothing one can do because most folks are often unwilling to admit they are wrong and especially about what they believe about God or their spirituality. I have learned in the 30 plus years of pastoring that you can often have the answers, know all the counter arguments, and even understand how to witness to someone involved in a heretical situation but it often does little to sway them unless you are willing to go the extra mile and be there each time they need to be confronted or have their questions answered. Sometimes what works best is a direct confrontation, maybe even a personal scolding.

Paul was deeply concerned for what the church at Galatia had fallen into. After accepting the good news of Jesus as Messiah, they had readily forsaken the truth and supplanted it with false doctrine that added to the grace of God through faith alone. He now enters into the subject matter of his letter and opens it with a direct confrontation. Let's discover how Paul scolded them to get their attention...

READ: Galatians 1:6-10

No one likes to be scolded or told they are wrong, especially concerning their faith yet Paul does just that. Paul felt deeply about where this church was headed and he wanted them to know he was thoroughly dissatisfied with them and in fact...

I. Paul condemns their perverted faith! (Vv. 6-7)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

  1. Paul's chief concern was to restore those he had introduced to the gospel back to their original faith. It was very surprising to the apostle that they willingly gave up on their faith which he had so recently entrusted to them. He probably had only been a very short time away from them, perhaps three years, and already Jewish sympathizers had come into the new church trying to pervert the gospel of grace! He bluntly tells them, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ". The one who had called them was of course Jesus himself. Paul was not referring to himself. His concern was their weakened faith. Sometimes reclamation demands a high price and Paul was willing to risk his friendship with the Galatians in order to restore them. They in fact were "turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all." They were leaving the one who had saved them and going back to their old habits of trying to please God through following a set of rules in trying to earn their salvation. It was based on nothing, literally "no gospel at all"! It was obvious to Paul that it was outside influences that were subverting their new-found faith in Christ. He was not unaware and he writes them, "Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ." This is exactly what cults try to do; they love to throw folks into confusion concerning the truth. They try to bend, distort and pervert the gospel. Latter Day Saints rewrote the Bible to suit their perpetrated con on people and declare that there is more than just faith in Jesus, Jehovah's Witnesses rewrote the Bible and added to salvation by faith alone in Jesus alone, and then there are those who claim they are Christian but add to sola fide, faith alone by saying it is Jesus plus works or certain acts of contrition. They all claim a different gospel, throw folks into confusion, and they pervert the good news of Jesus! Paul scolds the Galatians about turning to a different gospel and condemns their perverted faith!

  EXAMPLE: What was once considered perverted just a few years ago is now beginning to be readily accepted; things like homosexuality, transgenderism, sexual relations out of marriage, and the ungodly veneration of animals over human beings. When the shooting of a gorilla is seen as horrendous in order to save a child, something is drastically wrong with society as a whole. More and more public school teachers are having sexual relations with their students. And now we have to excuse anyone's perverted nature and see it as psychologically healthy. The twisting of societal norms is influencing the Christian church as well. The calling of God is no longer seen as sacred nor is the Bible. Paul warned the Galatians that if they accepted the teaching of salvation plus works it would pervert their faith. He was correct and Paul condemns their perverted faith!

Every time Christians allow the society they live in to influence what the Scriptures clearly teach, they are perverting the grace that God has given through Jesus! There are certain scriptural truths that cannot and should now ever be allowed to be perverted. Paul knew this as well and as for the Galatian church…

II. Paul condemns their weakness! (Vv. 8-10)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

  1. Paul was having none of their excuses or their willingness to accept a perverted gospel! He bluntly tells them that "even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" No pastor, minister, or preacher of the true gospel of Jesus is afraid of anyone questioning their message. Either the message speaks the truth or it does not. Either it will stand the scrutiny of men or it won't. And claiming Paul or an angelic messenger would not garner Paul's sympathy for their heresy and he squarely convicts them. In our day and age it does not matter whether it's Islam or Mormonism neither can claim any other message than that of the one Jesus pronounced. In fact, Paul was so vehement in his condemnation of these false prophets he repeats it and reiterates, "As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" This is so contrary to today's philosophy of anything and anyone should be accepted. Inclusiveness is not spiritually satisfactory because there are cannot be many truths and as Peter would declare quite clearly: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12 NIV) so does Paul! Jude would state, "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 1:3-4 NIV) Paul was more than willing to have his own integrity challenged on this issue and tells them, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." This is what anyone who claims Jesus plus something else does; they either want to sooth mankind's guilty conscience or have themselves puffed up in the eyes of others. Paul condemns their weakness!

  EXAMPLE: Never ever put up with someone who claims Christ and then tries to justify their own ungodliness. We have become a community of weak-willed wimps who roll over at the slightest aggression towards our faith. I am not advocating being deliberately obnoxious, but rather we need to stand for what we believe! As Peter reminds, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) Sure we do it with "gentleness and respect" but that does not mean rolling over to the ungodliness of the world! We are to have a clear conscience because "It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." (1 Peter 3:17 NIV) Never excuse evil or you become part of it. This is why Paul condemns the Galatian's weakness!

Conclusion:

Paul condemns their perverted faith! Paul condemns their weakness!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.