First Baptist Church of Minneola
What Matters Most? 3/8 FBC
- INTRO — Here we are nearing the end of a study of the book of Galatians. The book might be broken by taking chapters 1 & 2 “the apostle of freedom,” chapters 3 & 4 “the gospel of freedom,” and now we start chapters 5 & 6 “the life of freedom.”Two conditions threaten Christianity: 1) legalism & 2) license. The 1st is to denial of freedom and the 2nd is to perversion of freedom.Freedom is the clear call of this book because God wants His children to be free. In our first verse today Paul communicates:It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.The enemy, the yoke of slavery’s name is legalism. Legalism is taking what is good and treating it as if it is essential. When Christians take something of value and make it into something ultimate freedom is lost to legalism.To switch this up, we keep freedom by holding tight to what God tells us is essential; this keeps everything else as is should be.ILL — I know churches that make too much out of every little thing. I grew up in a church that cared a great deal for keeping the church calendar. I attended a church that really got into counting everything; people, baptisms, money, and visitors.What happens to churches when doing events and counting things becomes overly important? That is, what happens when churches forget the reason for events and reaching people?We stopped counting things when we noted the focus on numbers seemed to outweigh reaching people with love. That is why we purposefully ask who we need to contact each week. It’s not the number of contacts that matters as much as the love we show others by doing so.Legalism is pretty much present in any group of Christians. Often is goes unnoticed for some time. If we are honest, we’ll admit the reason is because we all have a little legalism lurking someplace in our heats.When legalism takes hold, Christians lose sight of the more important matters; begin to insist that good things are super important. This results in people becoming suspicious of others who do or think differently.Recall we’ve noted the Judaizers are attempting to convince the Galatians circumcision is required. The book of Acts tells us what the Galatians might had heard:Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”The agitators reasoning convinced some to get circumcised!TRANS - We already looked at v.1 so, let’s begin by looking at vv.2-4.Losing all sight (vv.2-4)Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.Paul’s language is very stern. He speaks with full authority warning people to choose between Jesus and the law.When we lose sight of what really counts, legalism takes hold.Paul clearly says lose sight, then you lose Christ! Lose the benefit of the blood and Jesus is no longer in view when seeking spiritual blessings in wrong places.Paul insists that circumcision reaps no spiritual benefit. He speaks clearly stating they should go the whole way and become Jews embracing the entire Law.Paul adds, if you do this, you forsake the covenant purchased with the blood of Jesus; all that is left is what the OT provides. As v.4 notes, “you have fallen from grace.”A fall from grace results in losing sight of Jesus and all that matters under the new covenant. All that is left for the person that tries to do all Jesus does for people is left with only their own initiatives, own value, own understanding. A fall from grace leaves a person responsible for their own sin no longer qualified to what Jesus offers. All that is left is sin and self.The obvious sign of falling from grace is lack of joy in living.In the 18th century at the University of Oxford began the Methodist movement. Men such as John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield would meet to study the Bible. They named their group the “Holy Club.” Thy were strict and their methods increased their zeal for God. However, all their devotion and striving caused them to lose sight of what matters most.The Holy Club know little about grace. They were birthed and maintained by human effort. The group know little of assurance and salvation. The meetings produced little in the way of joy.George Whitefield noted he’d become sidetracked; he lost sight of what ultimately counted stating, “God showed me that I must be born again, or be damned! I learned that a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament, and yet not be a Christian.”TRANS - We talked about losing sight. I want us to move on to another point. However, I am switching it up and we will look at v.6 before discussing v.5.Labeling as seen (v.6)Paul is clear about what really counts:For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.“faith working through love” is what the Bible ultimately labels as that which is seen in the lives of Christians.In one way it surprises us to see “working” because Paul tells them works of the flesh are a sure sign of falling from grace. For Paul, circumcision doesn’t matter! As far as what is seen in a Christian life, circumcision does not matter.The Galatians might say, “Paul are you serious. Circumcision does not matter?” Paul, however, is not focused on the now but rather has an eternal mindset. Paul’s thinking is not just Jews, but how God looks to all persons; Jews, Gentiles, and even us.This is BIG. Paul is thinking, “How’s what we do going to figure into the day of judgement?” A mere mental man or woman, those who do “things” don’t understand justification by faith.The Christian is not made ready for the last day by what is done, but by what was done for us and how we respond to that by living a life of faith. That is how Paul can say “works done by faith.”Works done by any other means will not matter to God. Lack to work means nothing to God.God is interested in our works and those works must be done in faith.Works done do not include baptism, political views, church affiliation, choice of TV shows, or a view on end times doctrine. Like the Bible believing Galatians, we might be tempted to see other things as ultimately important, but God is only interested in a life of faith that leads to Spirit led accomplishments.ILL - I’ve heard much argument about is the church going to be raptured or will we be here to see the greatest number of people ever turn to Jesus. I’ve heard arguments about Calvinism, Congregationalism, and Presbyterianism. I’ve heard so many meaningless arguments among Christians. However, how you vote, if you are a teetotaler, if you hold six-day or old earth creationism views matters not compared to fleshing out faith working through love.Pre trib rapture, post trib rapture, mid trib rapture, or no view rapture as weaker argument does not matter when compared to faith working through love.Now, all these things are important and you should care about all of these matters. The issues are important, but only when they promote faith and produce love. If not, we gain nothing and do not love:And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.We must at all times keep judgement day in mind.It is our biggest day, but also a day that keeps all the rest in proper perspective.We might ask, about anything we say or believe, “What good will this do in the last day?” When we apply the faith through love test to all of our lives, we do not fall into the trap of legalism and know true freedom.TRANS - We’ve noted that when we loose sight of what matters, we fall from grace. However, when we see what doe matter, we flesh out our faith leading others to believe and love one another. In our final point we address living towards the future.Living to see (v.5)Final judgement does not have to stress you out. Living so see your ultimate future can bring freedom and open you up to living a much more spirit-filled life.Consider how free Paul expresses this life is:For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.It is that relationship with God that counts most. Paul calls that relationship righteousness.A right relationship with God is righteousness.Paul says we are waiting for the hope of righteousness, not that we wait to be righteous. A Christian is already “right” with God because of Jesus. But, don’t mix this up.Taking something and saying, “This will make my relationship with God better” can lead to a dangerous place. What puts us in a right relationship is faith in Jesus and you don’t need “more” than Jesus.So, “Living to see” how then, do we live in light of what really matters?Only God can start our relationship with Him and only God can improve that relationship.So, we wait as we expect to see, in faith, trusting in God.Live by faith through the Spirit trusting on God.Look at what differs the legalist from the person of works done in faith. The legalist is not filled with hope, nor waiting on God to work, nor trusting in Jesus and His promises while relying on the power of the Spirit.The legalist is someone who worries instead of waiting, who strives instead of resting, who trust in themselves instead of Christ’s sufficiency.TRANS - We’ve looked at loosing sight, labeling what is seen, and living to see. Let’s wrap up our time.What Matters to Us?What counts to you?What about the last day?To what do you devote your time and energy?In what do you hope?What are you doing to see others become more accomplished?A gospel rooted life knows that “faith working through love” is what counts most.Faith working through love is what will matter on Judgement Day.Is “faith working through love” what matters most to you. It will then, but what about now?(end)
1 Corinthians 13:3NASB95
- Whiter Than Snow
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