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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 5

How in the world do I live out my Christian life?  What principles does God’s Word give me to make significant strides in following Jesus?  We are camping on Galatians 2:19-21 to see what “keys” are there that can help us.

We have seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The law brings death and I have died to it. The second key is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.” The third key that impacts me here is this: There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20). I have not ceased to exist. But now I can live a new life by faith in the Son of God.  The fourth key that I see in this passage is: I have been paid for! Please notice the expression in verse 20- “the Son of God . . . who loved me and gave himself for me.” Theologians refer to this as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement! [We get paid by the big words].

The last key that I notice in this passage is found in verse 21- “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”  The principle I see here is I can never pay back God for my salvation — nor should I try to!  Salvation is a free gift of the grace of God in giving Jesus for my sins.  Gifts are to be received — and given thanks for.  But never paid for by the recipient!

I suspect that many believers live out their lives trying to repay God.  And that’s not the Christian life!  In perhaps their best-intentioned response to the grace of God, they nullify it.  They live as if righteousness could be gained through the law.  And the awful conclusion to that perspective is . . . Christ died for nothing!

Motivation is everything, and the reason I should live for the Lord is a grateful heart that wants to show my appreciation every day for His saving me.  My best good deeds are not good enough to pay for my sins.  But Jesus did for me what I could never do for myself.  Payback or praise?  It’s my choice.  And yours.

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 4

Here in Galatians 2:19-21 we learn a number of truths that will help us navigate this thing called the Christian life.  These “keys” are not automatic or easy.  But they are essential IF I am to live out my new life in Jesus.  Let’s look at our text once more:

What have we seen so far?  We’ve seen that the first key in verse 19 is that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The law brings death and I have died to it. The second key is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  The third key that impacts me here is this: There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20). I have not ceased to exist.  But now I can live a new life by faith in the Son of God.

There is a fourth key that I see in this passage and it is this:  I have been paid for!  Please notice the expression in verse 20- “the Son of God . . . who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Theologians refer to this as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement!  [We get paid by the big words].

Notice two truths in this expression “He gave Himself for me”:  First, He gave Himself.  Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (Jn. 10:18).  Jesus voluntarily sacrificed Himself for me.  Notice also that the verse says “He gave Himself for me.”  Jesus’ death on the cross was intensely personal and specific.  It is hard to believe — but we must — that the Second Person of the Trinity had me in mind when He went to Calvary!

If this is indeed true — His death was voluntary and it was for me — how could I ever doubt His love for me?  How could I ever look at my life as insignificant?  How is it that I can choose at any one moment to live for myself, instead of for Him?

But we do, don’t we?  Today’s challenge: Focus today on Jesus’ giving of Himself for you.  Thank Him for His sacrifice.  And ask Him not how you can repay Him (an impossibility), but how you can moment by moment live for His glory.  Today. (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 3

Principles, not keys, to victory in the Christian life might be a better way to describe what we are studying for the next few days.  The truths that I see in Galatians 2:19-21 will help the believer in Jesus understand some aspects of living for Him.

Here is our text:

We’ve seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The second key that we’ve noticed is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”

The third key that impacts me here is this:  There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20).  There was a movement years ago called “the Victorious Christian Life” movement.  Some in that movement suggested that Christ now lives His life through us — and we are to be passive channels through whom He lives.  There is certainly some truth to that perspective, but understood wrongly (I believe) can lead to static, passive Christians who don’t take responsibility for their lives.  This kind of Let Go and Let God mentality runs counter to such challenges as Peter’s when he writes, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Pe. 1).

There is a NEW ME who is to strategically and aggressively live out what it means to be a new creature in Christ!  This is not sanctification by the flesh (which Paul addresses throughout the book of Galatians), but an active dependence on God the Holy Spirit to help us follow hard after God.

Today’s challenge: Are you ready to count your NEW SELF ALIVE today? What additives do you need to focus on in your life in obedience to Peter’s challenge in 2 Peter 1? (to be continued)

[For those who are interested, the Victorious Christian Life Movement (sometimes called the Keswick Movement) is evaluated here.  A primary source critiquing it is found here.]

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 2

Like many of you I am somewhat skeptical of “keys to victory in the Christian life” or some such programs.  On the other hand, I’m extremely grateful for good directions that help me — step by step — to get something important accomplished.

For example, I was glad to have the SEVENTY-TWO PAGE booklet showing me how to put together the play set for my grandchildren!  True, none of the boards were marked and each had to be measured to make sure I was using the correct one for the next step, but I got it put together AFTER THREE WEEKS  of following the directions!

In some ways the Christian life is a bit easier!  We are looking at several well-known verses in Galatians 2 and asking, what truths are here that will help me live out the Christian life?  Here is our text:

We have already seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law.  Paul says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”  We die to the law as a way of salvation.  It was never intended to be so.  We die to our self-efforts at redemption.

The second key that I see this morning is that the old me is dead!  We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  I am to so identify myself with Christ that it is as if I were on the cross with Him, not as some kind of co-redeemer, but as a criminal who couldn’t live up to the law and deserved to die!  That’s what the law did for me.  It showed me my sin and my need of a Savior.

Have you ever been embarrassed at a Christian funeral? I have.  The believers there were rejoicing and laughing and, well, being very unfuneral-like in their celebration of their saved loved one’s homegoing!  Funerals are no laughing matter.  But if the funeral is a mere step to eternal life, then . . .

Today’s challenge: Are you ready to count yourself DEAD today?  The old me is gone.  Crucified with Jesus.  Now there’s a new me ready to . . .  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 1

I’ve always been a bit leery of “steps” or “keys” to anything important. Some of those approaches sound too much like a timeshare salesperson who wants to sell you a week’s vacation for $20,000.

However, I’m learning that a lot of issues do boil down to several specific decisions or choices that one makes. And breaking down a major topic into doable, incremental steps can be helpful.

So it is in the Christian life. I don’t pretend to have found THE KEYS to living the victorious Christian life, but God’s Word deals with this massive issue directly. And so should we.

The text I want to focus on for a couple of posts is that of Galatians 2:19-21 where we read:

Let’s focus this morning (and in subsequent posts) on several keys to living out the Christian life. I don’t pretend that these are exhaustive, just practical and helpful! The first key I see in this text is that I must have a proper relationship to the law (v. 19). Paul writes, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”

Here we learn that the law brings death, not life! Paul “died to the law” in the sense that he died to the law as a way of salvation by obedience. The law was never given for that purpose and we can never perfectly obey the law.

Notice also that this death must occur before life can become real! Paul writes, “through the law I died to the law.” A knowledge of the law brings conviction of sin and the reality that one cannot buy salvation by one’s own goodness.

Today’s challenge:  Are you trying to live out the Christian life by keeping the law?  Christians should be obedient, but the law was never given to make us righteous.  It was given to make us aware of our need of grace.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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

Going to Korea!  (I wonder if they will use  me in their peace talks?!).  I get to teach the book of Galatians to undergrads at the Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island (see red circle below)!

Working our way through this six-chapter letter, we have noticed the first theme in chapter two, Paul’s sense of accountability to leadership (vv. 1-10).

Let’s now see a second theme: We should oppose any compromise of the gospel!  We get Paul’s report of his confrontation with Cephas [why does Paul refer to Peter with that name?)].  Paul “opposed him to his face”!  What was Cephas’ sin?

The answer is that he was compromising the gospel by not eating with Gentile believers!  Cephas was unduly influenced by some in the “circumcision group” and other Jews (including Barnabas) were “led astray” (v. 13).

This compromise led to “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (v. 14).  The primary point is that of justification.  Is one justified by faith or by the works of the law (v. 16)?

The law brings DEATH (vv. 19-20), but Christ brings LIFE (v. 20).  Trying to be justified by keeping the law means that one “sets aside the grace of God” — and that is something no missionary should ever do!

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Galatians

 

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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 2 Part 1)

Jeju Island, Korea, is a long ways from here (South Carolina)!  But I’m looking forward to teaching the book of Galatians to a group of undergraduate students at the Word of Life Bible Institute there.

We are working our way through this six-chapter letter, noticing the particular themes important to the Apostle Paul.

Here in chapter two, we learn more about Paul’s travels after his conversion.

One theme here is Paul’s sense of accountability to leadership.  After a mysterious 14 years, Paul visits Jerusalem, taking Barnabas and Titus along with him.  After receiving a “revelation,” he meets privately with “those esteemed as leaders” (v. 2).

He presents his understanding of the gospel that he was preaching to the Gentiles and seems somewhat surprised that the Greek Titus was not asked to be circumcised (v. 3).

I can imagine Titus’ relief when he heard that.  But this issue of circumcision becomes a focal point of much of this book of Galatians.

Paul is given “the right hand of fellowship” by the Jerusalem leaders and asked that he would remember the poor in his ministry.  Anyone given you the right hand of fellowship recently?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Galatians

 

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One Hundred Questions about the Book of GALATIANS! (Ch. 2)

I get to teach the book of Galatians to students at Word of Life, Jeju Island, Korea, in June!  So we’re working our way through this incredible epistle on this blog over the next few weeks.

Coming up with as many questions as one can is sometimes a great way to begin such a study.  So here are seventeen questions on Galatians chapter two!  There is no need to try to answer these questions at this point.

Seventeen questions on Galatians chapter two:
1. Where was Paul and what was he doing during those 14 years (v. 1)?
2. Study all you can about Barnabas and Titus (v. 1).
3. Why Paul’s emphasis on receiving a “revelation”? What does he mean (v. 2)?
4. Paul shows respect for “those esteemed as leaders” concerning the gospel he was preaching. Who were those leaders? (v. 2).
5. Why was Titus not compelled to be circumcised? Didn’t Paul circumcise Timothy during one missionary journey (v. 3)?
6. List every use of the word “freedom” or “free” in this epistle of Galatians (v. 4).
7. How do we “preserve” the “truth of the gospel” today (v. 5)?
8. Paul speaks of those “who were held in high esteem.” How did they respond to Paul and his gospel message (vv. 6-7)?
9. Does Paul identify those esteemed leaders in verse 9?
10. How much does God care about the poor, according to verse 10?
11. Any idea why Paul refers to Peter as “Cephas” (vv. 9, 11, 14)?
12. What was Cephas’ sin and how had he compromised the gospel (vv. 11-21)?
13. The Bible speaks of a godly fear, but it also talks about the fear of man. What was Cephas’ fear (v. 12)?
14. “Even Barnabas was led astray” — How had Cephas led Barnabas astray (v. 13)?
15. Summarize the issue of justification in these verses (vv. 11-21).
16. What does Paul mean by asking if Christ promotes sin in verse 17?
17. How do we “die” to the law (v. 19)?

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2018 in Galatians

 

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