As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fear of... > Galatians 1: 9-11

Picking up Paul's intro in verse 9, he repeats his charge from verse 8.

"As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

Paul is an intriguing writer. I would have loved to have known him if only for his personality. For me this sentence would be breathed out heavily, maybe with a sigh. "I told you before, but just in case you didn't get it, let me say it one more time." Repetition stresses a point. He wants them to get this, to really really get this.

So, what's the big deal? Well what you have to remember is that Paul is preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles . This is nothing new for us; most of us grew up with it our entire lives, but at this time, it was revolutionary. For years, the worship of God had been according to the law. There were set rules, set offerings, set rituals that 'defined' being one of 'His people.' And here's Paul, flipping the world upside down by saying that all of that doesn't matter anymore. Devout Jews were ticked! More than likely they were following him trying to preach a salvation, part grace part works. Allowing for the grace of the cross but requiring the tradition as well.

I can imagine that the charge leveled by these false teachers at Paul is that he is a people-pleaser. They accuse him of twisting the Gospel around to make the Gentiles happy. Paul's rebuke is strong and solid.

"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." (v.10-11)

Basically his response is, "Who am I working for now? Am I not working for God? If I worked to please men, to make men happy, I would no longer be serving Christ."

The classic case of Fear of God vs. Fear of Man. Personally, I struggle with this one alot. If I had a list of weaknesses in my faith, this would most likely be number 2, right behind my prayer life. It is a big struggle and it effects many areas of my own faith most prominent being my readiness to evangelize.

I have met some people who certainly have a gift for sharing the Gospel. In college, one young man told me of how he went to the mall and pretty much flat out asked the cashier if he knew Christ. Turns out he was homosexual and didn't want to have anything to do with God. The cashier looked Jeremy square in the face and said, "You think I'm going to Hell, don't you." Jeremy's response, "Before I met, Christ, so was I." Jeremy, my friend, was able to share the Gospel with this clerk. Me? I would have thanked him kindly for ringing my purchase, and walk away.

Within five minutes of meeting my grandfather, you will hear his testimony and have the Gospel presented. He has no fear, and I love him for it. Telemarketers, I'm sure, want to add him to the 'Do-Not Call' list because calling him gives you the Gospel and sells him nothing. Any conversation, and I mean any conversation, he can turn into an opportunity to share the Gospel. He always carries a bunch of tracts in his pocket as well as invitations to church.

At times, I admit (much to my shame) it can be embarrassing. As he starts off on his usually tract, "Well, let me tell you about the day that changed my life..." in my mind, I think, "Oh no! Not again, can't we just leave? Why do I have to be standing here?" What is that? Fear of man, fear of association.

But who better to be associated with??!?! I am a child of the King, joint-heir with Christ, beloved, forgiven, bought with a price. Yet, somehow, it is still a struggle.

For most of us, sharing the Gospel does not come easily. For some it is like second nature. I long to not be ashamed, to buck the norm and declare God's grace with love. But, I fear man more than I fear God, that is basically what it comes down to. And when you think about who God is and who men are...that's a big thing to say, that somehow I fear puny, finite men to the Almighty, Holy, King of Glory.

Who do you fear?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Definite Truth >Galatians 1:1-8

I love how Paul's opening comments are a sermon all in their own. He is not a writer that beats around the bush. He cuts right to the chase and starts building whatever case he is making from the beginning.

From a quick reading of all 6 chapters, one can tell that, apparently, the church of Galatia was having a difficult time with sticking with the Gospel. False teachers have moved in after Paul and are preaching a works-oriented salvation. Paul is writing this letter to refute that, plain and simple.

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

In the first 5 verses Paul spells out the foundation for his apostleship (Christ) and gives the core of the Gospel (who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present world.) Verse 6 begins his reprimand.

He is amazed that this church has so quickly been swayed in what they have called truth. They have so quickly claimed a new shepherd and forsaken the grace of God. People ask about the two uses of 'another,' one in verse 6 and one in verse 7. They are two different Greek words translated into the same English word. The first use of another carries the idea of being something completely different while the second carries the idea of a different presentation of the same truth. Paul is basically saying, "You have chosen to follow a completely different Gospel, not a different presentation of the true Gospel but a different Gospel altogether! A perverted Gospel."

In verse 8, he levels his charge. He instructs these wayward believers that unless an angel, the brethren with him or he, himself gives them a different Gospel, that they should not believe it. Anyone that preaches a different Gospel should be anathema.

People might interpret this attitude as being one of haughtiness, a 'holier than thou' position. Not so. Paul knew he had the truth. There was not a single doubt in his mind at all. He was passionate about the truth and was willing to take a bold and daring stand for it. In the next few verses you see why, but for right now, I leave you with this challenge.

Every day, the Gospel we know is challenged. We are faced with compromise. Asked to water down the cross, to magnify the grace, to downplay the holiness and to steal the glory. There is only one truth.

Are you standing for it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A 10 Ton Elephant sitting on my hand. :-) That's how I feel when I have writer's block. I know it has been a while since I have written here. Situations of life have been in turmoil :-p There just hasn't seemed to be any time. No excuse, I know. I am starting a verse by verse in Galatians and looking forward to it. With any discipline, I'll be posting those little tidbits daily soon.