Yesterday morning, as I prayed for our Sunday gathering, I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I thought about all the servants at CLF. The joy that our people take in serving each other and making Sundays happen so that we can gather to worship Jesus together is simply remarkable to me. As I quoted to the church on Sunday from Philippians 1, the people of CLF are “partners in the gospel” and I am extremely grateful to be your pastor.
Now, onto the sermon…I’m really excited to study Paul’s books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians this year. It’s a daunting task to complete these in a calendar year, but I’m really excited about this condensed look at the gospel and it’s effect our lives.
After I preached on Sunday, I was really convicted about being too sarcastic about #blessed. I’m sorry if that offended many of you who have used that phrase sincerely. I overreacted to the cultural language that we’re using in America right now, where everyone is #blessed. I wish that I would’ve made that more clear.
From the cutting room floor:
One thing I could not expound on much in the sermon is that Paul’s passion in Galatians, is not “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13) but rather, how we are actually made right before God. To put it in theological terms…Paul is concerned about our justification in the beginning of the book, more than he is about our sanctification. This is really important. Paul’s concern is that we cannot add human performance into the free gift of God’s grace through Christ. If we add our work to God’s grace, we would surely earn salvation and it would not be a gift. And it we add our performance to God’s grace, we would surely have something to brag about. For a really good explanation of the similarities and differences of justification (being made right with God by faith through grace) and sanctification (the process by which God makes us more and more like Jesus), click on this link to the blog post: Ryle: “Justification and Sanctification”.
The other issue I could not spend a ton of time expounding on, was the potential “gospels” of our day. I tried to summarize them in the way that Paul will moving forward in Galatians, with “man’s gospel” and “God’s gospel”. Here are a list of resources that I found helpful in my research:
- “How to distinguish between the Gospel and False Gospels”
- “Which counterfeit gospels are most prevalent today?”
One thing about this that I was stirred by is this question by Philip Ryken: “What would a church look like that does’t make the gospel the centerpiece of life?” Read his reply as he also quotes Raymond Ortlund Jr.:
- “What makes these other gospels so dangerous is that the things they offer are all beneficial. It is good to be prosperous, to have a happy home, and to be well behaved. Yet as good as all these things are, they are not the good news. When they become for us a sort of gospel, then we are in danger of turning away from the only gospel there is. Raymond Ortlund Jr. has tried to imagine the church without the gospel. ‘What might our evangelicalism, without the evangel, look like?” he asks. “We would have to replace the centrality of the gospel with something else, naturally. So what might take the place of the gospel in our sermons and books and cassette tapes and Sunday school classes and home Bible studies and, above all, in our hearts?’ Ortlund lists a number of possibilities:
- ‘a passionate devotion to the pro-life cause’
- ‘a confident manipulation of modern managerial techniques’
- ‘a drive toward church growth’
- ‘a deep concern for the institution of the family’
- ‘a clever appeal to consumerism by offering a sort of cost-free Christianity Lite’
- ‘a sympathetic, empathetic, thickly-honeyed cultivation of interpersonal relationships’
- ‘a determination to take America back to its Christian roots through political power’
- ‘a warm affirmation of self-esteem’.
In other words, the church without the gospel would look very much the way the evangelical church looks at this very moment. We cannot simply assume that we have the gospel.”
Quotes I left out:
I attempt to use the best recommended commentaries on each book but this week, because it was condensed, I really only used Philip Ryken’s commentary on Galatians. You can find it by clicking here.
Here’s a sampling:
- “Paul’s epistle to the Galatians has been called the Magna Carta of Christian liberty. Its theme verse is a declaration of independence: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16).
- “Luther could even imagine having this confidence when facing the devil himself: “When the devil accuses us and says: ‘You are a sinner; therefore you are damned,’ then we can answer him and say: ‘Because you say that I am a sinner, therefore I shall be righteous and be saved.’ ‘No,’ says the devil, ‘you will be damned.’ ‘No,’ I say, ‘for I take refuge in Christ, who has given Himself for my sins.’”
- “The gospel is not about what we do for God; it is about what God has done for us. God the Father is the one who came up with the gospel plan. God the Son is the one who made the willing sacrifice, in keeping with the Father’s will. God the Father is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. Together the Father and the Son accomplished our salvation through the cross; together they announce it to the world through the teaching of the apostles; and together they apply it to our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
- “there is a clear and present danger that the devil may take away from us the pure doctrine of faith and may substitute for it the doctrines of works and of human traditions. It is very necessary, therefore, that this doctrine of faith be continually read and heard in public.”
- “The good news of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is the only gospel there is. Anyone who says anything different—Paul doesn’t care who—deserves to go to hell! There is no other gospel, there has never been any other gospel, and there never will be any other gospel.”
From the “squirrel” category:
I’m a pretty random thinker and I can get easily distracted. So here are some things that really don’t add anything to what I’ve just written:
- I’ve refrained my joy but…”how bout them Cowboys!” Ok…I’m done…we’ll get killed this week & my 23 year drought without a Super Bowl victory will continue. And yes…I’m a pessimist.
- Quote I read this morning that really described the Christian life in a wonderful way by Scott Sauls: “God’s first calling on our lives is to be loved, forgiven, received, redeemed and restored,” he offered. “From that place, it should lead us into a healthy, life-giving community among other people who are chasing after knowing Christ better and wanting to be deeply conformed together into the likeness of Christ together. And finally, as a community, head out into the world to make a life-giving impact on the places where we live and work and play.”
That’s all for now…may Jesus overwhelm you with His grace toward you this week.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.