In last week’s post on 2 Corinthians 5, we asked the question ‘Have you ever wondered what believers in Jesus should be involved in? What should our focus be?’ We saw in Second Corinthians that one of our roles is the ministry of reconciliation. According to the Word, every believer has this ministry. What we are endeavoring to learn is what is that ministry and how can we fulfill it? We left off in verse nine showing the strong connection between this ministry and the promised glorified body Jesus has waiting for us.
Have you ever wondered what believers in Jesus should be involved in? What should our focus be? Does the Bible tell us? The scripture says, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 6:33) Why did He tell us this? Why didn’t the Lord just save us and just take us to heaven? There must be a reason. Second Corinthians speaks of the ministry of reconciliation. According to the Word, every believer has this ministry. What is that ministry and how can we fulfill it?
In last week’s blog, we looked at one of the first signs to look for when people are disconnecting from their first love. The scriptures warn us about taking this path. They warn us about abandoning our first love (Revelation 2:4). The Greek word ‘abandon’ means ‘to give up’ or ‘to let go’. Jesus knows where your heart is. He knows if you’re giving up or letting go. Which way are you trending, up or down? In today’s post, we are going to look at the second sign people transmit when they are considering defecting from the from the ranks: boredom. If you’re seeing this sign in yourself, beware.
In the past couple of posts, we addressed the idea of how believers in Paul’s day were abandoning Jesus for another gospel. We defined some of the words Paul used in describing the defection of the Galatians. We looked at the words, ‘I marvel’, ‘turning away’, and ‘so soon’. In today’s post, we are going to look at some of the signs the Word of God warns us about when people consider turning from their first love. When the Bible says people have itching ears, just what exactly does that mean? Let’s take a look at Paul’s admonition to Timothy.
In the Virginia Medical Monthly one doctor tells the story of a woman who grew backward. This woman had grown normally, married, and had three children. Life was grand until the husband and father died when the children were in high school. The mother doubled her devotion to the children. She changed her clothes to those of a girl of twenty, joined in her children’s parties and fun. In a few years, the children noticed that as they grew older their mother was growing younger. Psychiatrists call it “personality regression,” which means “a person walking backward.” Usually, such people stop going backward at a certain age. But not this woman. She slipped backward at the rate of one year for every three or four months of time that went forward. Although she was 61 years old she acted and talked like a 6-year-old. She was sent to a sanitarium, where she insisted on wearing short dresses, playing with toys, and babbling like a child. Then she became like a three-year-old; she spilled her food, crawled on the floor, and cried “Mama.” Backward still farther to the age of one, she drank milk curled up like a tiny baby. Finally, she went back over the line and died. 1 Successful Christian life is a pressing march forward. We can’t stay stationary nor be as Lot’s wife who looked back. If you look back, you slide back. This is what the Galatians did. They looked backward at the law. Instead of looking forward to Jesus.
As a teenager, J. Stephen Conn sensed God calling him to be a preacher. But he felt a certain disadvantage. Because he had been saved when he was 7 years old, he would never be able to hold an audience spellbound with stories of a wicked past. So he asked God for permission to backslide just long enough to get some experience in a life of sin to enhance his preaching later on. Deep within he knew that God would not answer such a request, so he decided just to preach the Bible without a dramatic testimony. Some time later Conn wrote, For the past 11 years I’ve been pastoring a church. I realize now what a great testimony I really have. God not only has the power to deliver from sin, He has the even greater power to keep from sin. God not only saved my soul He saved my entire life! 1 J. Stephen Conn asked for permission to backslide. Some are backsliding without permission. We need to beware of the signs so that we can help encourage and warn others at the same time.
What An Exchange! According to “It Happened in Canada,” during the early days of Northern Ontario’s gold rush (1909), Sandy Mclntyre found what is now the famous mine bearing his name. He sold out for $25 in order to buy some liquor. Years later he still passed his time crying in beverage rooms, while the mine he discovered produced gold worth 230 million dollars. 1 As good as an exchange as this was for the man who bought the mine for $25.00, this is nothing compared to the greatest exchange ever, Jesus exchanging His life for yours. Today, we are picking up from last week’s post with these thoughts on what Jesus exchange meant for our deliverance.
In Palmyra on October 17, 1862, during the war, an informer in the town disappeared and the commander-in-charge ordered ten men to be shot in reprisal. Several men were being detained in Palmyra jail as prisoners-of-war at that time, and ten men were selected from among them. Of this number, one was Wm. T. Humphrey, that father of several children, whose wife pleaded for his release. Because of her physical condition and because Humphrey was the father of several children, the commanding officer struck his name off and substituted the name of Hiram Smith, a young man without a family. Smith gave his consent and stated that perhaps it were better for a single man to die rather than a man with a family. At Mt. Pleasant Church cemetery in Mt. Salem Association is a stone erected with an inscription which reads: “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith. The hero that sleeps beneath the sod here who was shot at Palmyra, Oct. 17, 1862, as a substitute for Wm. T. Humphrey, my father. —G. W. Humphrey” 1. Right out of the gate, Paul addresses the idea of Jesus substitutionary work in his opening remarks to the Galatians. In today’s post, we are going to take a look at three simple letters which spell out the principle of substitution.
Chuck Swindoll shared this story illustrating the foolishness of legalism in his book, ‘The Grace Awakening.’ He said, “I heard about a fellow who attended a legalistic college where students were to live according to very strict rules. They weren’t supposed to do any work on Sundays. None! Guess what? He spied on his wife and caught her hanging out a few articles of clothing she washed on Sunday afternoon. Are you ready? The guy turned in his wife to the authorities! I’ll bet she was fun to live with the next day or two.” 1 Legalism has no pity on people. Legalism makes my opinion your burden, makes my opinion your boundary, makes my opinion your obligation. 2
Legalism teaches that in order to get to heaven, you must obey the law of God and live a good life. In other words, your good deeds will get you into heaven. I once served as a trainer for Evangelism Explosion, taking trainees out into the community once or twice a week, talking to people, and asking the diagnostic questions. Afterward, we correlated the answers we received. Ninety percent of the answers fell into the category of works righteousness. When we asked people what they would say if God were to ask them why He should let them enter heaven, most people replied, “I’ve lived a good life,” “I gave a tithe to the church,” “I worked with the Boy Scouts,” or something along those lines. Their confidence rested on some kind of performance record that they had achieved. Unfortunately, a person’s works are a counterfeit basis for assurance. The Scriptures make very clear that no one is justified by the works of the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11). 1
The essence of legalism is trusting in religious activity rather than trusting in God. It is putting our confidence in a practice rather than in a Person. And without fail this will lead us to love the practice more than the Person.1 Legalism has many faces. Paul’s dealings with the Galatians over this issue was a major theme of his epistle to them. Let’s take a closer look as we continue our study on the Epistle to the Galatians.
Most commentators would agree that quotations from the Jewish Scriptures play a key role in the argumentation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. From there, it is only a short step to the conclusion that the Galatians possessed a fairly broad knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures.1 How’s your knowledge of these same scriptures? In this series on the Epistle to the Galatians, we will take a verse by verse look at Paul’s strong case for justification by faith and how that helps us in our everyday life.