One of the things about writing a weekly blog post that has been tough for me is getting it into my weekly routine. If I don’t do this thing on Mondays, more than likely it’s not going to get done. And Mondays are normally a short work day because I try to take at least 1/2 of the day for time off. So, that’s why you didn’t get a musing last week. In this week’s addition, I’ll have a few thoughts from last week’s sermon as well.
Thoughts on Dave Quilla’s sermon:
- But let me talk about yesterday first. When other guys teach God’s word to our church, I get a little giddy. Not because of the week off (those who know me best know that I really want to preach), but because of the joy of true, gospel, church partnership. I love when men who love Jesus, His word and our church preach to our church! It is awesome. And it’s humbling. To be the guy that God called to plant this church and serve as its only senior pastor for the past 15 years is amazing to me. And then to have other men, who step into that pulpit with the same passion for this church as I do, is so cool to me. I’m not sure words can adequately describe it. And when those guys, like Dave Quilla did yesterday, faithfully deliver God’s word to us…I find myself extremely thankful to God for His kindness to me and to us. It’s a special day when guys like this share God’s word with us.
- Dave hit some really critical “heart-level” issues in yesterday’s sermon. For me I was struck by a couple:
- In one point of the sermon Dave said “any additions we make to the gospel for our fellowship with other Christians is out of step with the gospel”. Just think of all the implications of this: music, food, drink (all ones Dave listed)…but what about other areas of “open-handed” doctrine?? Man, that one hit me upside the head. I actually wrote in my notes, “Are doctrinal issues, ‘additions’ to the gospel that I’ve made for my fellowship with other Christians?” At times, I would answer ‘yes’ to this. Challenging.
- In that same part of the sermon, Dave listed things that were out of step with the gospel…fear, hypocrisy, insecurity, legalism…that list is so much to chew on for my soul. I would add anxiety, jealousy, discontentment…As I thought through the items Dave listed, I was stirred because I’ve had a battle with anxiety lately. This is why I love gospel preaching…Dave pointed me to the answer for this…resting in in the finished work of Christ.
- The issue with Peter/Barnabas doing one thing with the Gentiles and then another with the Jews got me thinking about what a teeter-totter this whole fear of man/approval of man thing is. Think about it…you would’ve thought that Peter would’ve learned that lesson when he denied Christ during Jesus’ trial and before the rooster crowed. But here he is again, years later, doing something similar…living for the approval of man. My word, I find myself in the same boat…don’t you? Many times, it feels minutely…struggling with others’ opinions; struggling with anxiety over handling situations; or wanting the applause of man. The answer…resting in the already given approval of Christ and realizing that no one will ever criticize me more than God already did in the cross (it took the Son of God to die for my sin!). See this article to help: The Cross and Criticism
- It struck me after re-reading this text how Peter was adding the food laws to his standards of fellowship. Here’s why it was interesting…the Judaizers were adding circumcision to faith in Jesus as a way to be right with God. And now, in Galatians 2, Peter is adding food laws. What’s next? Dress code; musical preference; chariot-standards…here’s the point: when we start adding to the gospel, where does it end?? It doesn’t. We will always keep adding to the gospel. So, it must stop. And it must stop with faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone. Everything else is additions and will lead us to more additions.
- Dave did a great job yesterday of showing us a real challenge in this justification by faith alone talk…does this mean that after we put our faith in Jesus, we can just keep on sinning?? What is fascinating is that in 2 different texts, Paul actually anticipates this exact question. Notice how he does this:
- “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 5:20-6:4; bold and italics are mine)
- “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:16-20, bold and italics are mine)
- Paul’s answer in both cases is the same…a person who has put their faith in Jesus is actually a new person. They have died and Christ is alive in them. So, continuing to be dominated by sin, cannot keep happening. In Romans, he says, “how can we who died to sin still live in it?” and in Galatians he writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” A new power is at work in the justified Christian…Christ in me, the only hope of glory. Such, such good news! We’ve been freed from the power and domination of sin in our lives through Jesus being alive in us.
- Finally, on Dave’s sermon and this deserves your admiration…the text I gave Dave was actually 2 sermons rolled up in one. It was a hard text and Dave made it look easy. You should know that. It was a lengthy text for Galatians, because we’re attempting to get through 4 books in 2019. And Dave took it on like a champ. Be sure you express your gratitude to him.
From last week:
There are some sermons that I know going into a Sunday that I’m going to need to have a few additions as I go into the pulpit. Last Sunday’s sermon was one of those. It wasn’t due to lack of time, it was due to writer’s block (or pastor’s block). For some reason this week, I couldn’t come up with connections/examples to practical, everyday life and also I was drawing a blank on how to practically help our church see the how the historical controversy met the 21st century. So, what I do when that happens is…pray really hard and believe/trust that God loves His people more than me and He will deliver what they need. After preaching the sermon, I’m grateful that the Lord met us and He gave me some insight as I was preaching that made real-life connections.
One of the things that the Lord really helped with was showing us that the controversy that Paul was addressing was where obedience is in the gospel equation. Last Sunday, I made this statement: the Jewish zealots wanted to add obedience to the law of Moses to faith in Christ, to make us free from the power and penalty of sin. One way to simply see this is: Obedience to the law + Faith in Jesus = Freedom from sin and the wrath of God (being right with God). The true equation that Paul is arguing for in Galatians is: Faith Jesus = Freedom from sin and the wrath of God (being right with God). But one question always comes up from this…if a person believes in Jesus, won’t they obey God? And the answer to that is, ‘yes’…but it will be in response to the grace of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit. So, one way we could see this in an equation is Faith Jesus = Freedom from sin and the wrath of God (being right with God) and then God empowers us to obey Him. Obedience (of some sort) will be a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. But, it will not be to gain God’s favor. Paul put it like this in Philippians 2, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Please notice that Paul wrote to “work out” our salvation, not “work for” our salvation. We obey because God loves us and empower us, not so that God will love us. That’s a big difference.
The other issue that continues to get stirred up in Galatians is this question: are we resting in the approval of God or are we seeking approval from man? I think the answer to this question is seen in very practical ways in Galatians. For instance:
- Early in Galatians 2, Paul makes this statement about the apostles, “And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. (Gal. 2:6)” Notice how Paul sees the apostles…influential men, but to him, it didn’t matter. Why would it not matter?? I mean if you or I were before the apostles, we might be “fan-girling” it a little wouldn’t we? A little freaking out; stuttering; not wanting to say the stupid stuff; and making sure we didn’t lie to the Holy Spirit (see Ananias and Sapphira). But Paul…”these men were influential; apostles…no doubt…but what they were mattered not to me.” How could he say this? Because Paul wasn’t seeking their approval because he found all the approval he needed in Jesus’ finished work in his behalf.
- The other example is the one Dave just preached on, but I was going to use it last week in this blog. Peter shows that he wasn’t resting in God’s approval through Jesus because he was trying gain the approval of the Jewish teachers in Antioch. Peter placated to them; tried to appease them; and eventually left fellowship with the Gentile believers. Isn’t this what fear of man does to us? We isolate others and we work for others approval. And it’s out of step with the gospel. We all do it and it’s easy to do.
- In both situations, notice the help…resting in the finished work of Jesus. When we see ourselves through the lens of Jesus’ work, influential folks don’t intimidate us, scare us or add anything to us. Jesus already approves of us more than anyone else ever will. And He’s already forgiven more than anyone else ever will.
From the cheap seats:
- On the NFL Playoffs:
- I’m sorry, but the late missed call in the Saints/Rams game never should’ve happened. That call set the stage for the Rams to win. My opinion has always been that if the refs “caused” a loss, it’s because the team I was cheering for made the game too close. I still feel this way. The Saints wasted too many opportunities.
- In the Kansas City game…I feel bad for Dave Quilla. He’s a genuine Chiefs fan and I hate it when my friends’ teams lose (unless they’re losing to my teams).
- And I’m sorry, but if you’re pulling for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl…you’re doing it wrong.
- On High School sports:
- One of the real highlights in our church for me is having different coaches of different sports and schools attend our church. I love hearing the collaboration and camaraderie. But what’s really fun is when those schools and coaches face off against each other. That happened a couple of weeks ago when UVC and Days Creek squared off at Days Creek and the Wolves won. But then last night, at my house, I got to hang out with James Ellis (head coach at Days Creek) and Brian Ferguson (head coach at UVC) and others. It was so fun hearing these guys talk ‘shop’, show respect for each other, yet really want to win the next game against each other on February 9.
- Another piece of coaching collaboration is when things aren’t going well and to hear coaches pray for each other and support each other. Dane Tornell is coaching the RHS girls varsity basketball team and while their record isn’t great, Dane is really encouraged by how hard his girls are working and how supportive the parents have been. I find myself checking Dane’s scores a lot, reading the articles in the paper and holding him up in prayer often.
I hope and pray that you see and enjoy the goodness of God in the face of Jesus this week.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.