Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Passion of Paul / パウロの熱い思い

ガラテヤ人への手紙412, 15, 17-19b, 29bGalatians 4:12, 15, 17-19b, 29b
12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.
15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.   17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19b until Christ is formed in you,
29b born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

There is one message that is ever so clear from this letter of Galatians: Forgiveness is found in Jesus alone.  No other way to deal with the problem of sin can be found. Faith alone!  Whatever conditions you once had, it is no longer there.  You have been healed. You have been forgiven. You have been given the RIGHT to be called a Child of God! Not a slave or a child of a slave.  Set free and now part of the Family of Faith. 

It seems that when Paul came to them, he was afflicted with some form of illness.  The letter suggests it had to do with his eyes. (15b if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.)  It must have been hard for them to look on him with his sick eyes; running, oozing, possibly swollen. But they saw behind that rather hard-to-look-at exterior and saw The Message as Truth.  They saw Paul’s passion. Now, over time, that look had changed as the people started to follow another Gospel—one of slavery to the rules of men. Paul encourages them to set that aside and return to the safety of the Gospel he first preached to them.  He did this because he had a deep passion for the Gospel.

聖書の学び舎において I have read about certain students at a Bible College in South East Asia had recently been expressing their concern that some ethnic  churches are sounding more Confucian than Christian. Their point was that these Christians were in danger of turning their faith into a version of Confucianism, which was what they followed before their conversion to Christ. In their Confucian background, they maintained high moral standards. But they were not able to enter into a personal relationship with God by their moral achievements. In fact, they experienced unresolved guilt for not being able to live up to their own standards. When they first met Christ, they focused on their new-found personal relationship with God the Father, which they enjoyed through faith in Christ by the presence of His Spirit in their lives. But slowly their center of attention changed. They put more and more emphasis on the high moral standards of their Christian faith. They began to lose sight of what God had done for them in Christ and began to concentrate on what they must do to inherit "the good life", which is not a Biblical term! They were especially drawn to the Old Testament's legal codes. Then they formulated those moral laws in the familiar terms of their own Chinese cultural background. So these colleagues shook their heads with concern when they said of some fellow believers, "I'm afraid they sound more Confucian than Christian."

In every real way, that was happening to the Believers in our text this morning! It seemed easy for them in the first century and for us in our present time, to settle for the easy way. Not to grow deeper in our Faith. Not dig deeper into the things of God but rather sit by and let life run its course. Not bother with growing up in the Faith as our Lord would want us. (And is He our Lord?  We say “Lord, Lord!” 

 私たちは「主よ主よ」と言うが・・・But has He taken over in the center of our lives? A good question to ask yourselves this morning. Are we growing closer to Him today than we were yesterday? Are we seeking to please Him and seeking to know Him better? If not, we are not being what He wants us to be. We need to be IN HIM and OBEY Him.

In Paul's day, letters that were written to rebuke someone for misbehavior often ended with a request for a renewal of friendship and a change of behavior. For example, one short papyrus letter from Paul's time reads: "I am surprised that you did not see your way to let me have what I asked you to send by the hand of my friend, especially when I wanted it for a festival. I beg you to buy me a silver seal and send it to me with all speed." Here we see the same form as Paul's letter to the Galatians. First there is an expression of rebuke ("I am surprised . . ."--see Gal 1:6) and a statement of the cause of rebuke ("that you did not see your way to let me have . . ."). Second there is an expression of request ("I beg you . . ."--see Gal 4:12) followed by imperatives ("buy . . . send").(Totally necessary)

In 4:12, Paul turns from rebuke to request: “I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you.” Become like me is the first imperative (totally, absolutely necessary) in this letter. It sets the focus for the rest of the request section of the letter. This personal appeal 個人的な要請 (4:12-20) is followed by a scriptural appeal 聖句の要請 (4:21-31). Then Paul sets forth his authoritative appeal 権威にある要請 (5:1-12) followed by his ethical appeal 民族的な要請 (5:13--6:10).

This morning, we are going to look at this core of Paul’s concern.  It is centered on the fact that he has a deep passion for the Message of the Gospel.  That passion for the Gospel is contagious.  But it is also a passion that can be faked and counterfeited. 

The Holy Bible speaks of passion on both sides of the topic.  Some passion is good and up lifting while other passions destroy and are hurtful.  We want to spend our time today looking at the passion that is God honoring.  A passion for God! The same kind of passion that Jesus had for His Father. Is that kind of passion alive and well in our hearts today? I am afraid, for many in the Church, their passion has dried up or has not been set on fire…yet. ヨハネによる福音書2:17 John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”

神への熱い思いについて何が言えるでしょうか What can be said for passion for God?

Look to the life of David, Samuel, Noah, Enoch, Daniel, and Peter: ダビデ、サムエル、ノア、エノク、ダニエル、ペテロ.

One reality found in these men is that they endured during hard times.  Each of these men had perseverance in the face of trials. For David, when he became King of Israel, his father-in-law, King Saul was out to kill him, yet David retained his passion of the things of the Lord. As for Samuel, his own two priest-sons were rebellious to the things of God yet he remained passionately in love with his God.  Noah, the whole world as he knew it was evil and were against God’s Laws and commands, yet when God called him to build the ark and flooded the whole world, he followed God’s commands with deep devotion and passion. Enoch walked with God and because of his passion for God, God did not allow him to die. Daniel and his three friends faced all sorts of hardships because of their love for God, yet God delivered them. And Peter, at one time even walked on top of the water, doubted and said the wrong things and even denied Jesus, three things, yet God, in His mercy encouraged this tough fisherman to become a pillar of the Church.  And then we have Paul…

Called to serve God in the area of being a Pharisee, Paul (then called Saul) carried out his duties with deep devotion.  He attacked the Believers of The Way with all his heart. Then one day, on the way to do damage to the Believers in Damascus, the Lord met him and changed him forever.

Paul gave his all. His passion for Christ went deeper as he grew more in love with Him. Why?  Here is a clue:
ピリピ人への手紙  Philippians 3:4-9

4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.  7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

あなたの労苦は無駄ではない。第コリント人への手紙 15:58 Your labor is not in vain… 1 Cor 15:58 
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

もしわたしたちが耐え忍ぶなら、報いがある 第テモテの手紙2:12 There is a reward: … 2 Timothy 2:12 

if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us;  

 This deals also with how we respond to His Word in our lives. Endure with a passion for Him!  If we endure, we will reign

結果あなたがたは成長を遂げた、完全なものとなりますヤコブの手紙1:4  The result: you may be mature and complete… James 1:4 

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

コリント人への手紙6:4-12  2 Corinthians 6:4-12 (New International Version)

4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.  

This Christ, whom Paul served, meant everything to him.  Even life itself. His PASSION for knowing Him carried him through all of life’s hardships and Paul came out on the other side-a winner!  A conqueror. 

コリント人への手紙11:24-26 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 (New International Version)

24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (195 times!)  25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

Jesus was the Captain of his life. The Master of his continued existence. The controller of his heart. The satisfier of his soul. Jesus was the Light to his path. The cleanser of his sin. The fulfill-er of his thirst. The direction for his feet.  The meaning of his life. The passion of all that he is, was and ever will be.  Jesus was his!

Don’t you want some of that yourself?  Some of the drive and hunger for the things of God? To feel His pleasure as you walk in Faith in this world? To understand that His passion for you is SO much more than your passion for Him could ever be—BUT, He is looking for that passion to grow in our hearts. Not to allow the things of this world to bring you down. 

Nothing is more important than this 神にある男女のすべての義務 : とこしえに神を愛し主を楽しみとすること To Love God and to enjoy Him forever.
 Until Christ is formed in you… born by the power of the Spirit