Sunday, July 3, 2011

あなたには深刻な疑念がある。So, You Have Some Critical Questions…

 It is my intent to be as practical as possible with today’s talk. I know that none of us are following Jewish rules of purification nor are we teaching that we ought to become full Jewish believers in order to become closer to Jesus.

In the past messages, I have been looking at these issues and I feel that it can only get bogged down if we look at it in Jewish eyes only. We need to look at these issues in light of where we are and how we deal or not deal with Scripture in light of how we come to Faith in Jesus.

Paul was having such a hard time. He had just left these early believers in good hands with deep teaching, lots of personal time and energy. He had prayed for them and continues to do that. Yet, something went on in those Churches that really turned the boat over-as it were.

He is upset. He is saddened that these beautiful Believers would turn so quickly from the solid teaching of the Gospel and start to follow teachings that would only drain their spirits of any life at all.

This morning, I’d like us to look at these 14 verses in three sections:
#A-1-5 Five critical questions.
#B- 6-9: Abraham’s example.
#C- 10-14: Examinations and Applications.

#A.  Five Questions.  Verses 1-5. When a teacher comes into a class of students that are rude or otherwise un-teachable, what does the teacher do? He must establish some form of strategy so as to take these---students---and make them learners.  Encourage them to learn. He asks questions. Paul asks five of them.  He really does not wait to hear an answer, as he wants them to come face to face with the realities of their own Faith.

Question One: Who has bewitched you? Who has turned your lights off?  Who has pulled the wool over your heads? Who has tricked you into believing a lie? “Bewitched” sounds like some form of evil magician. Paul is deeply concerned that these new believers have been poisoned by a deep and hideous perversion of the Gospel.  So, he calls them out! “You foolish People!”  “You poor idiotic Galatians!” These people were not unable to think but were unwilling to think! Paul is not being unkind here.  He wants them to wake up! Get your eyes open and see what is going on here!

ILL: Old person sitting in a rocking chair was asked by his grandchild: “What are you doing, Grandpa?” “Sometimes, I sit and think.  Other times, I just sit.”

These people were just sitting there.  No growth-in fact-going backwards! Faith needs to be active.  Challenged. Moving toward a goal of being more and more like Jesus.  When that does not happen, there is sadness and despair and that person begins to doubt everything. Faith needs to be active seeking understanding and for them to grow in their understanding of the New Life they have.  Do not take it for granted! Deeply look at it and see if it is real! These people were hoodwinked!  Bewitched.

During this time in history, a certain idea was flowing around.  Still with us today. Read Count Dracula and you will see it very strongly presented in Easter Europe.  But it had its start here in Turkey (Galatia). The evil eye!  Even in letters of the time would end with “May no one put the evil eye on you. Your friend, George.” Who put the evil eye on you? Who has been tricking you? Paul was saying: Not that long ago, I clearly presented Jesus as crucified!  I even put it on a Billboard! Bigger than life. I explained the pain, I spoke about the separation, I gave the reason, and I gave the result of the Cross. And you put that away from your memory? I presented Him not as a Baby in the Manger, not as a carpenter, not as a preacher, not even an empty tomb, but the Gospel has been plainly shown us in terms of a crucified Savior.  The Main need: Focus on the Cross.

What these people were doing was focusing on anything else BUT the Cross.  How long a robe was, how many feet you could walk on a Sabbath, if you washed your hands, if you were circumcised.  But not the Cross! Since Paul left them, only a short time before, certain people came into their hearing that told them that Paul’s message was good but not good enough. Something was missing!  Has anyone ever said that to you? You are lacking something in your Walk of faith!  THEY said: You need to add this gift to your bundle of Spiritual gifts to really be effective. You need more of something.  THEY said: Jesus is not enough! THEY said: You need this and that. And if you don’t have this and that, the secret things of the Spiritual World, you are not going to be effective in your walk.  THEY said: You are lacking—if you only have Jesus. THEY said: Paul’s teaching was not 100% accurate—not wrong but not just right! THEY said: You need to ADD to the experience of Rebirth.  Add to the experience with more, like keeping these works of the law alive in your lives.  Without these things added into your Spiritual life, God will not accept you.  Outside His Grace. Not fully loved by Him.That is what THEY said!

That is the lie these and many people today fall for.  What else can one do but except the free gift of Christ for salvation? His work on the cross is all that was necessary to make us right before Him.

Question Two: Did you receive the Free gift of Forgiveness by following the Law? Or did that come by believing the Gospel of Jesus? How did your New Life begin? Was it because you followed or not followed the laws and regulations or did it happen when you believed in Jesus? He pushes on. Read Romans 8:9.  Every Believer has the Spirit of God. Ours, not by scoring special points on good behavior but simply casting it all on Jesus.  Depending on Him alone.  With a child like faith. But yet you are looking for something deeper, harder, impossible? Simply Jesus. From start to finish, the Christian life is totally supernatural. 

Question Three: Are you so foolish to begin with the Spirit and leave that for rules? Are you trying to do this Christian life by human effort? Does that really make sense of what you KNOW about the Gospel?

Question Four:  Have you suffered for nothing? Was it peaceful coming to Jesus? Had your family sent you packing when you became a Believer? Family members hated you.  Friends went against you. Ridiculed you for following the Lord? Was that a waste of time?

Question Five: Does God give you His Holy Spirit because you followed the Law or because you Believed the Gospel?  Same as verse 2 but the other way around.  In verse 2, it was the person who gets it and in verse 5, the giver.  Verses 2-5 underscore the foolishness of operating on rules and regulations.  Truth is, it is based on the finished Work of Jesus on the Cross-sins forgiven!

#B.  Abraham's Example. Let’s go deeper than what these people were saying.  They talk about Moses.  The Lawgiver.  Holy Moses. But Paul trumps them by going way back to Abraham.  Gen 15, in fact.  God told Abraham to look up & count the stars.  So many.  God tells him that is the count of his generations!  And that they would bless the whole world. In Gen 15:6, Abraham was counted as justified because He believed the Lord’s Words to him—long before he was circumcised—14 years later. Was Abraham OK with God because he followed the Law. No way.  The Law came 430 years later. Abraham was the Daddy of them all! Father of the Faith. He realized he could do anything about having kids—ESP at his age—yet he believed God and it was counted as righteousness.

We, who have a faith in God, have not taken out our brains and put them under the seat when we believed.  It takes something to understand this great truth—in fact—so much that even a child can do it. 

Mark 10:15 “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

So while the critics were talking about how great their Law was and that Moses was The Man, Paul goes back in their history to the Main Man of faith, Abraham. We are to be children of Abraham. And we are grafted into that family line when we follow in faith.

#C:10-14 Examinations & Applications. When it comes to bringing the message home—to be personal, Paul reminds them-as us-that IF you observe the Law, and miss once, you are dead.  You are cursed.

10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 

Faith is the key.  And were does this Faith come from? The very Hand of God.  It is part of the gifts He gives His children. 
 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 
And that person will not be free—always trying to please God who only wants the heart of the person (Obedience is better than Sacrifice.) 
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. 
Have you ever seen a sign which says: “Bridge out: 1 Kilometer ahead.”  What do you think it means?  Shall we set up a committee to investigate the hidden meaning of that signpost? What could it mean? Maybe it is there to make us question it and for us to realize the bridge is not really out at all.   We could collectively combine our energies and THINK the bridge repaired! No, let’s not be silly! The sign only shows us the reality of what is up ahead.  Same with the Law.  It ONLY shows us that the bridge to the other side is not there.  It does not work! It is not a believable reality. The Bridge does not work!  It only may look like it works but a careful examination will show us that it is lacking something.  What does it lack? Grace. Love. Faith. God’s Plan for salvation.  The only bridge that does work was built from the other side to us.  He made the way possible. His work of dying for you and me was the only way people could get across the river! There is only one way and that way is Jesus.

Luke 18: 9~14 These verses are about building bridges… as two men went up to pray. One man went to God and said, "I am glad I am not like the other guy!  I do this and I do that. I'm a good person. I'm sure You agree!" That man was trying to add bricks to the bridge.  

But the other man, looked down and cried out to God: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Who was made right by God? The one who accepted his guilt and asked for forgiveness out of a broken heart.
How is your bridge? Are you depending upon the one you built; with the things you put into it? Jesus said there is only ONE bridge. Don’t depend on the junk of what you built it with.