What is the Answer to Legalism?

An Introduction to the Epistle to the Galatians

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

Do You Look Like the Galatians?

An Introduction to 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.

How Can ‘Christ in You’ Propel Your Life?

Roaming through Romans

What is a Christian? In the Letter to Diognetus, which dates back to the second century A.D., an anonymous writer describes a strange people who are in the world but not of the world.
“Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food, and other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the unusual form of their own citizenship. “They live in their own native lands, but as aliens. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.
“They marry and have children just like everyone else, but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws and go beyond the laws in their own lives.”
“They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich.”
“They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor. Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others.”
“When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.” The word “Christian” has lost much of its meaning in our culture. It means “Christ in one.” 1

What Does It Mean to Be In the Spirit?

Roaming through Romans

Port Authority Police Department officers Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin were the last two people rescued from the World Trade Center after the September 11 terrorist attack. For Will Jimeno, that tragic day represents a defining moment in his Christian faith. Jimeno, McLoughlin, and three other officers entered Tower 1 to rescue civilians. But when they got inside, the building collapsed. McLoughlin and Jimeno were pinned under large blocks of concrete rubble and twisted steel. The other three officers were killed. For the next ten hours, Jimeno and his partner fought pain and thirst inside a concrete tomb swirling with dust and smoke. At times, ruptured gas lines would hurl fireballs into the ruins, threatening to burn the two men to death. In another terrifying moment, heat from the fireballs “cooked off” the ammunition inside the firearm of a fallen officer, sending fifteen bullets ricocheting around the chamber.
Jimeno’s hope began to falter. “I was exhausted. I had done everything as a police officer that I could do, and everything as a human being,” he said. “I just knew I was going to die.” Just then, Jimeno saw a figure coming toward him through the rubble. “He wore a glowing white robe and a rope belt,” Jimeno said. “I couldn’t see his face, but I knew it was Jesus.” The vision filled Jimeno with hope. “I had this resurgence of the will to fight,” he said. Turning toward McLoughlin, he yelled, “We’re going to get out of this hellhole!” Several hours later, U.S. Marines and NYPD rescue workers lifted the men out of their concrete prison. The events of that day have given Jimeno a new perspective on the brevity of life. He noted that, even if a person lives to be ninety years old, that’s only a little over thirty-two thousand days. “It’s not that many,” Jimeno said. “You have to do good and do right with the small period you have in between.” 1 Jimeno had a vision of Jesus. The Lord enabled him to momentarily be in the Spirit. Paul references the phrase in the Spirit in Romans 8. What can we learn from Paul about this place called ‘In the Spirit’?

How Can Your Motives Qualify as Righteous Before God?

The Sermon on the Mount primarily addresses the issue of righteousness. Jesus speaks of hungering and thirsting for it (Matt. 5:6); He addresses being persecuted for it (Matt. 5:10); seeking it (Matt. 6:33) and making sure you have the right kind of it (Matt. 5:20). What is one of the keys to insuring ‘right righteousness?’ How can know our ‘works’, the things we try to accomplish for other people, are the right kind of works? The answer is in making sure our motives are pure.

#S2-027: What It Means to Walk After the Spirit and Not the Flesh [Podcast]

Roaming through Romans

There was a man who lived a life of gross sin. After his conversion, one of his old friends said to him, “Bill, I pity you—a man that has been such a high-flier as you. And now you have settled down; you go to church, or stay at home and read the Bible and pray; you never have good times any more.” “But, Bob,” said the man, “you don’t understand. I get drunk every time I want to. I go to the theater every time I want to. I go to the dance when I want to. I play cards and gamble whenever I want to.” “I say, Bill,” said his friend, “I didn’t understand it that way. I thought you had to give up these things to be a Christian.”
“No, Bob,” said Bill, “the Lord took the ‘want to’ out when He saved my soul, and he made me a new creature in Christ Jesus.” 1 What does it mean to not have the ‘want to?’ What does it mean to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh?

This is part 4 of the Series “Roaming through Romans” You can find Part 1, ‘How Romans Can Add Value to Your Life [Podcast],’ Part 2 ‘Why There Is No Condemnation in Christ’, Part 3 ‘Why the Law of the Spirit of Life Sets You Free’ and Part 4, ‘Why Keeping the Law Won’t Get You to Heaven‘ here.

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#S2-020: How Romans Can Add Value to Your Life [Podcast]

Roaming through Romans

Many, when they think of Romans, think of the Roman Road, the road to salvation as this unknown quote reveals. There is a Romans Road that leads to Heaven! But, it is not one of the roads that was built by Caesar’s workmen. It is not posted on any of the 53,000 miles of roads that the Romans built. You will find the “Romans Road to Heaven” clearly marked in the Book of Romans, starting in Romans 3:10. Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament. This small book of sixteen chapters was written by the Apostle Paul while he was at Corinth. He sent it to the Christians at Rome by the hands of Phoebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1.2). But there are many other roads to walk on in this book. Today we’re going to look at some of them and why they matter.

This is Part One of the series entitled ‘Roaming through Romans’. You can find Part Two ‘Why There is No Condemnation in Christ‘ here.

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How We Are Righteous Before God

Today, we are going to talk about a word that you really cannot talk enough about and that is the word ‘righteousness’. Righteousness is a BIG, HUGE Bible word. But there is some confusion that exists about what this word actually is. Some confuse it with holiness but they are two entirely different things. By examining the Word of God on the subject, we can come to a relevant and personal understanding of this big Bible word.