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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 3 Part 1)

So many themes.  So little time!  I’ll be going to Word of Life Korea June 7-16 to teach this amazing book of Galatians to students at the Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island.  Please put me on your prayer list!

Thinking our way through this six-chapter letter, we’ve seen three themes in chapter two. Let’s now notice a first major theme in chapter three: the biblical place of rebuke or correction (vv. 1-6)!

No one likes to be rebuked, and few of us want to rebuke anyone else.  But what if the gospel itself is compromised?  What then?  Just leave the judgment to God?  What about those who are misled?

Paul describes the Galatian believers as “foolish” (2x), “bewitched,” and as having “experienced much in vain.” (vv. 1-4).

Note the contrast Paul points out: the works of the law versus believing what they heard; beginning by means of the Spirit versus finishing by means of the flesh.

The Bible says “Open rebuke is better than secret love” (Prov. 27:5).  As a warning in the airport says, “If you see something, say something!”  If you hear the gospel perverted, don’t be silent!

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2018 in Galatians

 

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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 5

Emmaus Bible College’s leadership conference “Iron Sharpens Iron” gives me the opportunity to present several workshops.  We’ve been thinking about my first workshop entitled —

“Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

We’ve noticed the first certainty which is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil. The second certainty is that  God is holy and will judge rightly. Third, we must teach that this life is brief– one must be ready to meet God!  And the fourth certainty that we must keep in mind is that man is still made in the image of God and is capable of incredible acts of kindness and heroism.

There are many other certainties that we could discuss, but the fifth that occurs to us this morning is this: Heaven and hell are real! Hell is not God’s over-reaction to sin, but rather the application of His righteousness to human depravity. We agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “In reality, along with the power to forgive, we have lost the power to condemn.”

The Bible is quite clear that we are not to seek vengeance ourselves, but to leave room for the wrath of God (Rom. 12:19). I’ve studied the wrath of God — and it is a fascinating study. Those in Christ should rejoice that they have been “rescued from God’s wrath” (“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” I Thes. 1:10).

Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” caused the people in that Connecticut church where he was a guest preacher to cling to their wooden pews, lest they fall into hell then and there.  Our society, raised on Stephen King horror films, seems not to be frightened by anything.  But — “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”, says Hebrews 10:31 (KJV).

God allows some human evil to occur.  As the late Paul Little once said, “If he were to stop all evil at midnight tonight, which of us would be left at 12:01?”  We grieve with those who have lost loved ones in terrible, man-made tragedies.  But we rejoice that God is holy and will wrap up history righteously!  And these certainties we must preach!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2018 in heaven and hell

 

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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 4

In a few days I’ll be presenting several workshops at Emmaus Bible College’s leadership conference “Iron Sharpens Iron.” Registration (it’s not too late!) for the conference can be found here. We’ve been thinking about my first workshop entitled —

“Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

The first certainty we’ve noticed is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil. We’ve also seen the second certainty which is: God is holy and will judge rightly.  In our last post we focused on the fact that we must preach and teach that this life is brief– one must be ready to meet God!

The fourth certainty we must keep a grip on is that man is still made in the image of God and is capable of incredible acts of kindness and heroism. In several of the school shootings teachers lost their lives by standing between their students and the shooter.

Biblically, we would say that, although sin has infected man’s being made in the image of God, it has not obliterated it. Man is still able to do good things, but none of those good deeds can bring him salvation.

Sometimes Christians confuse the concepts of total depravity and utter depravity. Total depravity means that every aspect of the human being has been affected by sin. However, the human person is still made in the image of God and can do good, even heroic, things. Utter depravity is the concept that man can only sin, that the image has somehow been completely lost, that unsaved people are incapable of doing anything good.

But the Bible doesn’t teach that unsaved people are incapable of doing anything good. Jesus says, for example, in Luke 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

We can (and should) compliment our unsaved friends when they are good parents, good neighbors, good friends.  But salvation is not a matter of our goodness, is it?  And that’s why they need Jesus.  As we did.

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2018 in image of God

 

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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 3

The upcoming conference at Emmaus Bible College, entitled “Iron Sharpens Iron,” is having me give several workshops/seminars. Registration for the conference can be found here. We’ve been thinking about the workshop —

Workshop #1: “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

We’ve seen the first certainty which is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil.  We’ve also noticed the second certainty which is: God is holy and will judge rightly.

The third certainty which we need to preach and teach is this Life is brief — One must be ready to meet God!  We think of the poor victims in Las Vegas (watching a country music concert) or the young kids at the school in Santa Fe, Texas, and we must ask, “Were they ready to meet God?”  This may seem like a heartless question, but it is not!  If the gospel is true — and it is — and one must receive Jesus as Savior to have one’s sins forgiven, then none of us knows when our time might be up.

The Lord Jesus deals with this issue in Luke 13:1-5.  Notice in the text to the left that He deals with two kinds of terrible evil in our world:  (1)  Victims of a Vicious Crime (vv. 1-3) and (2) Victims of a Violent Accident (vv. 4-5).  There is much here in Jesus’ theodicy (a defense of God’s justice in the face of evil’s reality), but His major point is that we must be ready to meet God!  One never knows when a Pilate will do the unthinkable or a tower might fall on an innocent group of people.

By the way, would you please notice that it is JESUS who brings up the second example of great tragedy, the falling tower!  We should not dodge our unsaved friends when there are news reports of great tragedies.  We should (on occasion) bring up such events to emphasize the uncertainty of life — and how one must be ready to meet the Lord!  Your comments?

Bridge collapse in Florida.

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in evil

 

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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 2

Friends: We are thinking about three workshops that I will give at the upcoming conference at Emmaus Bible College. Registration for the conference can be found here.  Let’s continue our thinking about —

Workshop #1: “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

We’ve seen the first certainty which is: Man is fallen and capable of great evil.  Let’s notice the second certainty which is: God is holy and will judge rightly.

If there is no judgment beyond this world, then absolute despair over the cruelty of this life (and its inhabitants) is quite logical.  If death leads to nothingness, then when Stephen Paddock (the Las Vegas mass murderer) turned one of his guns on himself, he ceased to exist.  He was not immediately cast into a temporary hell, awaiting final judgment before a holy God.  What an awful thought.

But the Bible is quite clear that God is holy and will just rightly!  We must take the long view of life and recognize that God will hold all evildoers responsible at the end of history.  In Psalm 37 the Psalmist challenges us not to fret about evildoers (v. 1). We are to trust in the Lord and do good (v. 3). He will one day vindicate the righteous (v. 6).

We are not to fret when the wicked are successful in their evil schemes, for those who are evil will be destroyed (v. 9). A little while and the wicked will be no more (v. 10). [May I remind you that “be no more” does not mean annihilation in the Bible. It means they will have no more impact on God’s good world].

The Lord laughs at the wicked, knowing their day of judgment is coming (v. 13). The power of the wicked will be broken; “those he curses will be destroyed” (v. 22). “All sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked” (v. 38).  And we must say to all who think otherwise, “You will stand before God’s judgment even if you don’t think you will stand!”

How would you answer this question?

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in evil

 

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My Workshop “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events” (for “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference) Part 1

Friends:  I will be presenting three workshops at the upcoming conference at Emmaus Bible College.  Registration for the conference can be found here.

Workshop #1: “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”

How is the believer to respond to the evil in our world, such as occurred in Parkland, Florida, Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas? What can we Christian leaders say with conviction to God’s people without fear of contradiction that will help them in our broken, violent, destructive world?

Let’s talk about certainty #1 this morning. The first certainty is this: Man is fallen and capable of great evil. This is an obvious point to believers, but many in our world have been duped into thinking that man is basically good (the myth of secular humanism).

The Bible clearly teaches man’s depravity (see Titus 3:3-8 and Isaiah 59:7). Every aspect of who man is has been tainted by sin. We, all of us, are capable of enormous evil.

Not at all what the devil looks like!

The Bible also teaches the reality of a supernatural enemy, the devil. We read in John 10 that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (v. 10). Jesus also teaches us in John 8 that “the devil . . . was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Please pray for me as I prepare for these three workshops!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in evil

 

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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 2 Part 3)

We continue picking out major themes in this great NT epistle of Galatians.  I’m using these posts to guide my study as I prepare to teach the book to students at Word of Life Korea in June.

As we think our way through this six-chapter letter, we’ve seen two themes in chapter two.  Let’s now notice a third theme:  the living out of the Christian life (vv. 19-21)!

The law, though good, only serves to show us our sin and to bring death!  But we then receive LIFE through the Son.  We are crucified with Christ; our old life is over.  We now have Christ living in us (v. 20).

But this is not a passive life.  Paul says, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God . . .” (v. 20).  The idea that Christ lives His life (again) through me has led some believers to a kind of passive, Quaker-like existence.  No!  We are to actively add qualities to our faith (see 2 Pe. 1), to pursue godliness, to now live in the body (v. 20).

Trying to live one’s life by keeping the law means that one is setting aside the grace of God.  If that is how righteousness could be gained, then Christ died for nothing (v. 21)!  No one will be justified by keeping the law — not even the Apostle Peter!

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2018 in Galatians

 

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