Galatians

What shirt do you wear?

Galatians 5:2-6

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

This week we studied these words in Bible study. And as I explained part of this to the class, an illustration came to mind:

Imagine you’re going out on a date. Your date is awesome. Perfect. But he tells you: “I’ll only go out with you if you wear this one shade of blue. That’s the kind of shirts I love.”

Well, wanting to have a good date, you find that shade of blue. Except… it’s a shade off. And your date clearly sticks his nose up at you. Do you want to go out with this guy again?

That’s what having a relationship with God based on the law is. If you want to follow rules, you can follow rules. But it’s going to ruin your relationship. You’ll be “alienated from Christ.” And that goes with any kind of law-keeping, from “Thou shalt obey!!!” to “I’m just a nice guy.” Ultimately, it will alienate you from Christ.

But now imagine that you go out with a guy, and have a great time. You clearly are meant for each other. He treats you well. And then he lets you know, “I think you’d look really pretty in blue.”

Well, you want to make this guy happy, right? And he’s not forcing anything on you. What are the chances you wear blue next time you get together? A lot higher?

That’s what a relationship based on the gospel is. We long to please God, because he’s kept all his promises to us. Our relationship isn’t based on trying to please him. He did everything for us. How could we not rejoice in him? How could we not desire to please him — not because it gets him to do anything, but because he’s already that good to us?

– – –

I enjoyed the illustration, and it seemed to help the class understand our relationship to the law a little better.

And then we got to verse twelve, and I was amazed at how many people didn’t know what the word “emasculation” means…

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When I Rejected the Gospel

This is the manuscript of the sermon I actually preached. It’s a good deal shorter and, in my opinion, much clearer on the matter. What do you think?

Galatians 2:11-21

 

11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

 

When I rejected the Gospel

 

Before certain men came from James, [Peter] used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (Galatians 2:12)

I am Peter.

It’s just tradition. It’s the way it’s always been. So what’s the big deal? Just go with it. As far back as anyone can remember, Jews and Gentiles don’t mix. We just don’t eat together. We’re not saying they’re worse than us, it’s just, you know, we don’t eat together. So it’s not that big a deal if I go back to the traditions. I mean, I showed that Gentiles aren’t that bad by eating with them before. And here’s a group of Jews that love their traditions. So I’ll go back and keep the traditions. It’s just easier this way.

Besides, if I don’t keep the traditions, if I don’t go back and do things the old way, they’ll cause all sorts of trouble here. They’ll accuse me of not being a Christian. They’ll say that Christians are supposed to act a certain way. That we’re supposed to keep all those old traditions. And it’s better that I don’t make waves. It’s better that I keep the peace. And it’s just tradition. What does it matter? (more…)

When St. Peter Rejected the Gospel

This is the first version of the sermon – after a third revision. I was displeased with it. I’ll post the final, totally reworked version in a day or two.

 

Galatians 2:11-21

 

11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

 

When St. Peter rejected the Gospel

  1. Why would he?
  2. Who would dare correct him?

(more…)

Sermons that Live

Not for eating, kids. Play-Doh is serious stuff. Only use it to illustrate Scriptural truths.

Sometimes my sermons get… creative.

Last week the sermon was on a section from Galatians that said we can’t add anything to Jesus. He did it all, we did nothing. To expect otherwise would be to expect Play-Doh to help in sculpting itself.

So, the entire sermon I had Play-Doh up there with me, using it to demonstrate and illustrate. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from it.

And then I looked at the text for this week: Galatians! And the main point seemed to be pretty close to what I’d preached on the Sunday previous!  Ack! What to do?! (more…)