Sunday, August 7, 2011

Galatians, Sermons 4 and 5

Over the last two weeks I have been on vacation and on a week long business trip to Florida, so my time has been squeezed. Here is a dual entry from those two weeks. I will comment on this from Lancaster’s book in the next post:
Pastor Paul and Marilyn Hontz have a wonderful family of four children. Two of their daughters, Christy and Amanda, gave the messages for weeks 4 and 5 of this Galatians series. They are both well qualified to do so. Christy and her husband Adam Lipscomb pastor an inner city church in Grand Rapids and Amanda is about to receive her PHD in Biblical studies and is going to be a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University this fall. She is married to John Drury who is a professor of Systematic Theology at IWU.
The video link to these sermons is: 
Galatians 3:1-25 “Bewitched” by Christy Lipscomb 7/24
In Chapter 2, Paul got rip-roaring mad: Christianity is not about following the Law! It’s all about Grace. Paul castigated them: You foolish Galatians! 
Good behavior can’t buy you heaven. After beginning with the Spirit by faith, how can you believe that you need to follow the Law now? John Wesley taught about Justification and Sanctification. Justification is what you need for salvation; sanctification is what happens after that. Willful sin can be overcome. Remarks such as, “I’m only human”, when we sin are weak excuses. Holiness is possible. But who do we picture as embodying holiness? Mother Theresa, Billy Graham; i.e., old people!
We think holiness is not available or attainable. Sanctification is not by works either; it’s by faith. Justification saves us from the guilt of sin. Sanctification saves us from the power of sin. It’s like weeding your garden. Pulling the weed is like justification; pulling up the roots is like holiness.
Galatians 3:6-9 “just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Therefore know that [only] those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, [saying], "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who [are] of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
Genesis 15:6 “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”
Galatians 3:10-12. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed [is] everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God [is] evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them."
A curse is the opposite of blessing. Magic was alive in the Roman world, so the people believed in curses.  Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” 
God cares about your eternal position. Salvation – then holiness. C.S. Lewis told a story about when he had a toothache as a child. He knew his mother would give him medicine that would dull the pain for the night. But he also knew that she’d bring him to the dentist the next day – and that was to be avoided, because he would give you the full treatment!
You can’t pursue holiness in your own strength. Who has made you think that holiness is impossible? Is God strong enough to deal with sin in my life? We believe He can get us to Heaven; but we have a harder time believing that He can get us through our time on earth. He is not half of a Savior. Wesley says that we should look for the Holy Spirit. We should expect Him. Am I missing out on Sanctification?
Galatians 3:26 - 4:7 “Last Will and Testament” by Amanda Drury. 7/31 
Death has a way of revealing carefully kept secrets. The reading of a person’s last will and testament has a way of surprising its potential heirs. Normally, the more people there are to share in a will, the less that each will get. But, as believers sharing in the bounty of Jesus (who is most certainly alive), there is more than enough for everyone.
Every morning, Orthodox Jewish men say as part of their prayers:
"Blessed art thou, oh Lord my God, for not making me a slave, a Gentile, or a woman".
There were separate places on the Temple grounds for each of these individuals, with better allotments for the men. While this appears to support classism, sexism, and racism, the application is somewhat tempered by the fact that the subject is, “who can obey more commandments?” The man is thanking God that males have more obligations in the Torah. (Dennis)
In contrast to this, Amanda affirms that God does not have favorites; that is the background to these verses: 
Galatians 3:26-29 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you [are] Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The scandal of the Gospel is that we are all adopted children of the only Begotten Son. And what is it that we inherit? Heaven. There is more in that one word than can be imagined. But the great thing is that we have the inheritance now. It is said that in the US, there are over 32 billion dollars in unclaimed funds. Why are we not using our inheritance? Here are 4 reasons:
1. We don’t believe God has the best intentions for us.
2. We believe we have to earn it.
3. We believe that we can do anything we want (God has forgiven me, so let’s live it up!)
4. Worry (Amanda could relate to this one, since she recently gave birth to a baby)
How do we counter these negative beliefs? Here are 3 ways:
1. Identifying the Lie. We often believe Satan’s lies that say, “Well that’s just who you are.” or “Follow the rules and you’ll get out of it.”
2. Identify the Truth. We have a full inheritance. Claim as much of it as you can now.
3. Consult the giver of the gift. 
Dennis: As a sideline to this message, Sarah Young has written a delightful daily devotion called “Jesus Calling” that is written from God’s point of view. Here is part of the one for today (August 4):
“Hold My HAND, and walk joyously with Me through this day. Together we will savor the pleasures and endure the difficulties it brings. Be on the lookout for everything that I have prepared for you: stunning scenery, bracing winds of adventure, cozy nooks for resting when you are weary, and much more. I am your Guide, as well as your constant Companion. I know every step of the journey ahead of you, all the way to heaven.”

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