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Month: August 2010

Let Freedom Ring: Thoughts on Galatians – Part 3

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:6-8
What could possibly surprise the veteran apostle who traveled across the Roman empire preaching to Jews and Gentiles from all walks of life and belief systems? Surely interacting with people from so many diverse cultures and having many varied experiences would prepare Paul for anything. Yet Galatians 1:6 registers his astonishment on account of the commencement of their sudden defection from the Lord. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon…” reveals both the apostle’s perplexity and the illogical behavior of his Galatian converts. With very little struggle – “so soon” – they were beginning to embrace an aberrant counterfeit of the genuine glad tidings of the Lord Jesus. This was not merely an alternate strain of Christian thought; rather, the Galatians risked losing the truth of Christ entirely by dabbling in a false Gospel.
If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It
New teachers arrived in Galatia propounding a “new and improved” gospel, which differed significantly from the original version that they heard from Paul. True, they had not deleted anything from the message: they apparently still professed to believe in the deity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible. The error lay in what they had added to the glad tidings. They suggested that the Mosaic Law was necessary for justification and sanctification. In other words, salvation depended on faith in Christ plus adherence to the law (especially circumcision and kosher food laws.) Tampering with the Gospel is extremely dangerous. John 17:3 explains the momentous issues involved: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Since its truths bring one into a living relationship with the Lord Himself, altering its tenets destroys the possibility of such a connection. In other words, adding to the gospel transforms it into spiritual cyanide.
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The Joy and Suffering of the Furtherance of the Gospel (1)

Originally published in Precious Seed, Vol. 65 Issue 1 (2010.)
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ holds the answer to the momentous problems facing mankind today. In spite of this, the good news encounters opposition wherever it is proclaimed. The Adversary, Satan blinds men’s minds against it, 2 Cor. 4. 4, the world system allures people away from it, 1 John 2. 15-17, and the flesh rebels against its claims, Gal. 4. 29; 5. 17. The Lord Jesus foretold this sobering situation, saying:

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me, John 15. 18-21.

Paul taught the same principle to his converts, affirming that ‘…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’, 2 Tim. 3. 12; see also Acts 14. 22. Elsewhere he told his ‘child in the faith’, Timothy, to ‘…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’, 2 Tim. 2. 3. John puts it succinctly: ‘Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you’, 1 John 3. 13. Of course, the apostles were not ‘armchair theologians’ who lacked the knowledge of the vicissitudes of real life. They themselves suffered for their identification with Christ and His gospel. For example, Paul’s experience of persecution and hardship for the progress of the glad tidings is clearly set forth in his epistle to the Philippians. What is more, this encouraging letter demonstrates the unassailable joy that the believer possesses in Christ in spite of the difficulties that serving Him brings about in this life.
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Let Freedom Ring: Thoughts on Galatians – Part 2

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5.

After establishing the divine origin of his apostleship, Paul greets the Galatian churches with this beautiful doxology, which sums up the gospel that he defends in this epistle. First, it is one characterized by “grace and peace.” While it is true that these terms were used as salutations in the ancient Jewish world, he is employing them for their theological content, not merely out of literary courtesy. “Grace” is frequently defined as “God’s unmerited favor.” It emphasizes the free gift of God, irrespective of any human merit or contribution. It focuses on the giver, not on the recipient of the gift.
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Let Freedom Ring: Thoughts on Galatians – Part 1

Man intuitively yearns for freedom. Through the ages, numerous thinkers have suggested schemes for human liberty. Examples are readily found in the founding documents of my homeland, the United States; they are choked full of references to liberation from tyranny and oppression. Ironically of all the enslaving powers on earth, man is unable to achieve freedom from his vices and personal passions – things that are symptomatic of sin within the core of his being.
The Magna Carta Of Christian Liberty
Some people think that freedom from indwelling evil is to be attained through religious observance or esoteric disciplines. Due to their human origin, however, the world’s religions are powerless to liberate people from the thraldom of darkness that stems from their sin. In fact, religious people have no assurance of the forgiveness of sins which is a prerequisite for a relationship with the Creator God. Nor do human rites and ceremonies free one from sin’s power. There are many counterfeit paths to freedom, but only a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith can free one from sin’s penalty and power – even from sin’s presence, eventually, when He returns.
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