Thursday, September 8, 2011

Galatians 6:1-18 in Sermons 8 and 9

This final chapter of Galatians was covered by two speakers: Brandon Bruce, who is the pastor of Faith Wesleyan Church in Lansing, Michigan and the son of Lynn Bruce, a pastor at Central Wesleyan in Holland. The final installment was given by Dave Ward, who also spoke on Sermon 6. 
To build upon the sailing analogy from the last few posts, this last chapter of Galatians is a good safe harbor to end the voyage. We can let down the sails and throw out the anchor. 
Brandon Bruce. Sermon 8: “Can I fully Live for Jesus and Still Have a Life?”
God has entrusted me with a spiritual responsibility to assist those who are caught up in sin. Galatians 6:8 “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2  “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” It will cost us something to get involved in the lives of the broken. If we are to reach the unreached or help friends who are struggling, we need to listen to them and share the hope that is within us so they can have it too.”
Dave Ward. Sermon 9: “No Reason to Quit; No Reason to Boast”
If you are running in a race, you will be tempted to quit before you are finished. You’ll get tired and want to just stop. But Paul is urging us in chapter 6 to not give up; he is wanting us to finish well. There are 4 temptations that Satan will use to get us to quit:
1. I can get away with cheating. Gal 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” When I (Dave) was in high school, many of us in class would act differently when the teacher’s back was turned. But God is always watching us. “Where can I escape from your Presence?”
2. I won’t have to pay the price. St. Augustine said, “Sin is its own punishment.” God knows what is good and not good for us; He made a list of His recommendations - it's called The Commandments (Torah - mine). Galatians 6:8 “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
3. Pleasure is worth the Price. We are short sighted; Our sin is under constant observation and there is a price to pay. Yes, if you are in the Messiah, then there is forgiveness, but there still is a price to pay. The 12 step program mentions confession a lot, though its references to God are quite oblique. Still, we need to continue confession to the Biblical God to make sure the slate is cleared.
4. The Reward is Not Worth the Price. We can get tired of doing the right things. Dave used an analogy of picking peaches in the hot sun. We might be tempted to give up before the basket is full. Rather than burn out, it would be better for us to sit down and eat one of the peaches. It will revive us and give us strength and remind is why we are working; otherwise we’ll be tempted to abandon the task that Messiah has given us. Take that one taste and multiply it by eternity so that we will stay connected. Ask God to allow us to taste the fruit we are producing.
The second half of this last section is about the cause of boasting. We boast because we love other people’s opinions about us. We care too much about our image, success, and what other’s think about us. (mine: Carly Simon’s song: “You’re So Vain” comes to mind). Whenever we brag, it is a reminder that we need to die to the world (because we don’t need it); and we need to suffer the world’s death to us (It doesn’t need me). We have no good reason to boast.
Galatians 6:14-15 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”
Transformation is what counts. We are freed up to live for what counts and what lasts.
When a person experiences a new creation, their entire life is reconfigured, with the Messiah in the middle. Have you experienced such a transformation?
One final quote from Tom Lancaster’s book The Holy Epistle to the Galatians:
NKJV: Galatians 6:16 “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy [be] upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
NIV: “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.”
page 275 “...ever since the early church, this verse has been understood to mean that the Jewish people are no longer the Israel of God, but from now on, only Christians are the true Israel of God. It feeds replacement theology where Christianity is the new eschatological Israel. As Justin Martyr explained to Trypho the Jew in the early second century: “For we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ are the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Isaac, and Abraham. (Dialogue 11)”
“In other words, according to church interpretations, the Jews are no longer the Israel of God; now the Church is the true Israel. That is not what Paul was saying. Paul did not suggest that Christians have replaced the Jews as the new Israel. Neither was he making a distinction between Jews and Gentiles in Galatians 6:16. Instead, in Paul’s theology, Gentile believers have come to be, through association with Messiah, part of a larger Israel, the Israel of God.  Galatians 6:13-14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”

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