ONE CHURCH – Being One
Galatians 1:1-10 (p. 810) June 5, 2016
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live in a world where we could make everyone happy?
Most of us here today really do want people to like us…we really do want to get along with everybody.
When I read the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,live at peace with everyone.” I get the feeling it flows from this same desire.
He’s saying “Rick, don’t look for a fight…don’t automatically get mad when you don’t agree with someone…Rick, don’t be so proud…treat everyone with respect…Don’t be conceited…Don’t repay evil for evil…Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”
If your enemy is hungry, feed them. If they’re thirsty, get them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on their head (Is it wrong I really like that part?). Don’t be overcome by evil…but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)
How does the same godly man, who says he was sent by God…say “Let them be under God’s curse…in fact he repeats it! “I say it again! Let them be under God’s curse.”
Doesn’t sound like he’s trying to make these folks happy…doesn’t sound like “peaceful” dialogue, does it?
So how do we reconcile these two statements that flow from a servant’s heart? How can being one be possible if two parties disagree about the definition of “good news?” The truth is “THEY CAN’T.”
I. JESUS ONLY HAD ONE VISION FOR HIS FOLLOWERS
Have you ever noticed in the New Testament that people and churches seldom disagree or divide when they’re focused on Jesus’ sacrifice and that is the backdrop for how they live their lives.
It’s exactly why Paul starts out with the remembrance…His message is about “Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” (v. 1) Our God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.” (v. 3 & 4)
That’s pretty plainly “the gospel message” which originated in our God and Father. It’s the foundation of people’s salvation…including yours and mine…in fact it’s the only way any person goes to heaven. It’s the main thing…that should always be the main thing in our lives. If we’re brothers and sisters in Christ…It’s what makes us “one.” “A family committed to loving Jesus and others, so our neighbors, community and world can experience good news.”
The word “gospel” as most of you know means “good news.” And whether we’re comfortable with this truth or not…Jesus commissioned those who had experienced this graceful salvation to change their world by sharing it…by living it.
This is His plan…and if your plan prioritizes something above it, or in addition to it, it’s not the gospel…it’s something entirely different. God’s plan isn’t going to ever change, that’s the gospel truth! That’s why the Apostle Paul is so adamant when he says, “Even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse.”
He’s not willing to compromise this vision to win the approval of human beings…he won’t water down to please people…if he does, He won’t be a servant of Christ.
How committed is he to this calling? Let me read you one of my favorite stories from Paul’s life…It’s in Acts Chapter 14…Paul and Barnabas are preaching…Paul sees a lame man listening, and perceives that he believes…so he says “stand up on your feet.” He jumps up (no kidding) and walks around…The crowd goes crazy…they want to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods…calling them “Zeus” and “Hermes.” They tried to offer sacrifices to them…now listen to what happens:
ACTS 14:14-20 (p. 769)
Ministry can be like that…one day the crowd loves you, the next moment they’re influenced to stone you to death…and drag your behind out of town…my favorite part of the story is after the disciples gather around him (praying…concerned…scared) “Paul got up and went back into the city.”
Back into the city!!! How powerful do you think that commitment to the gospel was?
Are you willing to die…so you can share your vision…the gospel…if you’re not willing to die for it…you sure won’t be willing to live unashamedly for it.
It seems to me that those who Paul was writing to in our text in Galatians started with the right foundation…They had experienced God’s call to live in the grace of Christ…but something happened…something, or someone divided and seperated them from the Savior who makes us one…it seems in Galatia
II. THERE WERE GOSPEL HIJACKERS
Let me tell you what I mean. Paul’s message, the good news, was that it didn’t matter whether you were a Jew or whether you were a Gentile (anyone who wasn’t Jewish). “You are not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 2:16)
But some Jewish believers didn’t want to let go of the past…or accept the belief that they were just as sinful as the Gentiles. One of the biggest identifiers of being a Jewish male was the right of circumcision…done to every Jewish male child on the 8th day…Its origin was in the life of Abraham, the Father of the Jewish race…circumcision was an act of obedience to the old covenant…Abraham and his whole household obeyed. I’ll delicately say circumcision means “to cut around.” Why did God ask this? “It was an identifying mark of the covenant of the Law…the old covenant would be replaced with the covenant of Grace…in Christ…the New Covenant…Old Testament, New Testament means the same thing.
Circumcision was an essential to be a faithful Jew…It involved the human body part it did because it pointed to God’s promise to Abraham’s seed. He’s 99 when this happens. And God’s covenant promise was “you will bear a son and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19)
This covenant was so “All people could be blessed” through this lineage. This old covenant was established to prepare the way for a Messiah, a Savior who would come from Abraham’s family line…for “all people,” Jew and Gentile. This covenant, planned before creation,wouldn’t require circumcision or “perfectly obeying God’s law…it would come by Grace through Faith.
A false doctrine began to impact the early Church and it was this: You must first be circumcised and become a Jew…and then you could become a Christian…It divided the Church. It even impacted the Apostle Peter for a time. Satan used this false teaching to stop the Church from being one¨. It greatly affected the Church in Galatia…so much so Paul wrote:
GALATIANS 3:1-10 (p. 811)
God’s word clearly says “All who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.”
This is what our text is talking about when Paul says “Let them be under God’s curse.”
This is why he is so adamant about not letting people hijack the gospel.
[I pick up hitchhikers…not with Kari and the kids in the truck with me, but if I see you broke down or freezing to death in a Speedway parking lot, I’ll give you a ride…I know it’s a little dangerous…I try to be smart because I know a hitchhiker can become a hijacker. They could try and knock me out, and take me and Red (my truck) somewhere against my will…The word hijack means “To seize by force or threat of force.”]
The circumcision bunch was trying to hijack the Church of Christ…by force and the threat of force. They believed the gospel should go in a different direction…They tried to seize the wheel…Paul said, “That’s not really the gospel at all…no way!]
Adding something to God’s plan…makes it your plan and not His. And it always divides the family of God. It always hijacks the vision Jesus has for His people. That vision is that we are to be “A family committed to loving Jesus (Him) and others, so our neighbors community and world can experience good news.”
Let me end with this gospel truth…
III. IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST HAS SET US FREE
In your scripture reading this week I challenge you to read a chapter a day from Paul’s letter to the Galatians…there are only 6, so on the 7th day…you can come back here and worship…In the 5th chapter Paul says this:
GALATIANS 5:1-10 (p. 812)
The reason the gospel is “good news” is that Jesus sets us free…“Our chains are gone.” Our sins are completely forgive…our lives are given purpose and hope…why would we put the chains back on ourselves? Or why would we put them on anyone else?
1. We never really thought we needed that much grace and
2. Other people aren’t good enough for Jesus to save…they need to become good before he’ll rescue them.
We have to decide spiritually if we are abolitionists or slave traders…Do we speak good news…rescue and hope. Or have we forgotten this message? Gotten off track and focused on “circumcision” things…Jesus and this…Jesus and that…I’ve met many who seem to be more passionate and fiery about preferences and opinions than unity and purpose…They might say Jesus is the most important thing but their actions belie that truth…and a little leaven like that in your life or the church changes the whole loaf.
How protective should we be of the gospel of grace?
Look at what Paul says about those who would once again enslave people with “a circumcision message.” “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.”
You know what circumcision is…Paul says If you are going to preach this kind of “works” and “good enough” message…Castration is better. Go the whole way…cut yourselves off from this body.
Not what He desired, but that important!