First Baptist Church of Minneola
- Last week we heard Paul point out the troubling matter of the dangerous turning to the Judaisers who demanded circumcision. Thereafter, Paul summarized some of his themes such as faith, Spirit, righteousness, hope, and love.We spent a good amount of time on the phrase, “faith working through love.” “Faith working through love” occupies much of Pauls discussion through the rest of this book.However, Paul choses to remind the Galatians, one more time, of their history which he shared with theme.ILL - Ever take up a sport in school? I tried to get into gymnastics. It didn’t work out for me so well. I didn’t make, or did I care for the other sports. However, gymnastics seemed like something I might be able to do. So, I asked what was involved.Kevin, my friend who was also interested, was in pretty good shape. He made gymnastics look pretty easy. Perhaps it was because Kevin made it look easy that I thought, “I can do this too!”I’d get on the rings and do a bunch of dislocates which really impressed the gym teacher charged with the gymnastics program. However, I had difficulty with the horse and pretty much everything else demanded more than I was able to deliver.I started out pretty good on the rings, but by the end of my time of testing, I had to admit that I really didn’t have what it took to take up the sport of gymnastics.There is a lesson in this. Sometimes we get off to a good start, but then we don’t have sustaining power. This happens to Christians too. Following a profession of faith, many fall away. Recall the parable of the sower of the seed? Jesus says these type of people are rootless and will not endure.Paul is concerned this is happening with the Galatians:You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?The Galatians had a great start, but something is going wrong. The were not running well, with strength, nor heading toward a glorious finish.Is that where you are? Did you hear the gospel with joy and get off to a good start, but overtime run out of gas? Has something come in your way making it difficult for you to run the race with endurance?TRANS — Let’s put on our running shoes and take a look at our fist point.Entering Race v.7-8You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.The flag goes down, the kickoff airs the ball, the bell rings, all sports have a beginning.The Christian race starts with conversion. At the finish line comes final judgement.The prize is “the crown of life” which is eternal life:Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.The course is the way of the gospel. God freed sinners from bondage by sending Jesus to die in our stead.Therefore:The life of a Christian is a gospel race.What does it mean to run the gospel race?Paul provides that answer by asking,”who hindered you from obeying the truth?”The gospel race is then, obedience to how we run the race.TRANS - Now that we have the basic, that we get entering the race, to what are we racing? How might the race appear?Ending Race vv.9 & 12Accepted because of Jesus’ perfection, we enter the race. Jesus qualifies the Christian. Through the gospel we are free to run:It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.ILL - I loved to ride my mountain bike as fast as I could. I’d get a thrill going swiftly among the trees. The near wipe outs pumped adrenaline into my system which kept me going.Running for a cause is a great way to raise money. I entered the 5K run for the American Heart association some years back. Each passing moment had me closer to the finish line. My body sweat and my heart pounded.One thing I know about these two sporting experiences, I’d never made it having a backpack strapped to my body. Additional weight would make tight corners on the bike or going the entire 5K impossible.Unaddressed sin is just like that, makes the race impossible. Weight like love of money, lust of the eyes, pride of life, covetousness, or an unforgiving spirit weigh down the Christian.What is the Bible’s instruction for running the race? Get ride of the unnecessary weight:Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,Your sin, but also, sin of others hinders the race.That is what’s happening to the Galatians. Others or on the track making the race difficult. Agitators are in their way causing them to get off track.Paul sees what is happing, sees the Galatians getting off course. Paul’s clear that God isn’t undermining his own racers. God will put a twisted turn in the track every now and then, but never hinders us from sharing the gospel. Paul says it like this:This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.It is the little group of agitators, the Judizers, who mess up the whole race. The got on the track and make running impossible. They made lots of noise, got in the way, and maybe even caused psychical pain. Paul notes that their is no way for the Galatians to finish the race unless they get through, over, or around the influence of the agitators.Note what Paul says in v.9:A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.Paul wants the Galatians to see the source of their agitation and wants them to deal with the problem. The proverb is one Paul used in a similar way in another occasion:Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.Paul is pretty upset about the bad influence of the agitators as we hear in his voice in v.12:I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.We all need to examine what we carry around from time to time. Problems running the Christian race occur when we don’t address sin.Sin can take our energy, vitality, and cause us to feel like everything is a struggle.An examination of our live might reveal people who hinder our obedience to the truth. “A little leaven” can mess up everything it touches. A bad influence can mess us our ability to run the race. Sometimes we need to put some distance between ourselves and others. We may even need to address the person head on and tell them they are weighing us down.TRANS - We enter and run freely run the race. We start to run and rightly deal with unnecessary weight. We run faster than ever with the confidence and energy God gives us to live a gospel-rooted life.Super easy sailing right? Well, not necessarily. What does v.11 have to tell us about this?Exacting Race v.11Joining Jesus winning team does not mean challenges on the way to the finish line go away. In my observation, the faster I move forward, the more pushback I get.Consider Paul’s tagline for race running:But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.Paul abandons everything to run the gospel race.Talk about pushback, just look at Paul’s life during his race.But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.Persecution is not a simple distraction, it serious pushback. It’s hostile hinderances!You might remove hostility from your home, within your family, and at church. However, hostility come, also, from the outside. Even without weight of sin holding you back, the crowds will be there and they will try to get in the way.Paul does not tell us pushback goes away if you are faithful to follow the gospel path.The way to remove all pushback is to stop obeying God.If the offense of the cross is removed, the pushback will stop. But removing the offense of the cross destroys the gospel. Paul knows that he must talk about the sin that separates people from God and that the only solution is found in Jesus. Paul must talk about the shed blood of the cross.TRANS - Ready, set, go we enter and run the race facing all the twits and turns along the way. We enter a race we know has an end. We accept that it is a difficult race, but are resolved to obey God and finish strong. But, what about resting to catch our breath? Let’s look at running and resting, a balanced life.Easy Race v.10Don’t worry about what others say, think, or do. Don’t lose hope because of what the world is attempting to make you thing about the church, Christianity, or even the next generation. God is in control and still coming again.Running the race the way the Bible teaches tells us we can do so with confidence:I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.God protects, provides, empowers, and keeps us going. God knows we need to rest along the way. God wants us to remain steadfast:Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.God wants us to run the race for the duration of our lives. It is God’s place to deal with those who want to prevent us from racing. That is why Paul tells us in v.10:I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.Paul might not know everyone responsible for the mess made among the Galatians, but he is certain that God knows the responsible party.The Bible teaches us complete confidence in God’s ability to contend with those who wish us harm or those who get in our way as we run the race.Alone, we’d never finish the race. Who could finish without God? But, because of grace we can endure the race. Sure we get off track, stumble and fall, and sometimes go backward. However, grace never fails and the one who gets back in the race can run with the same confidence Paul reminds us all runners have in Christ Jesus.Actually, it’s pretty hard to mess this up if you consider Paul’s word to the Philippians:For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.Paul says the same thing a little differently to the Corinthians:so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.Again, Paul conveys the same thought to the Thessalonians:Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.We can start well, yet not finish all that well. Alone, this can happen, but don’t worry, it won’t. Alone, we will not finish, and won’t. However, because of grace, this won’t happen as we’ve noted, God make His promise to keep the one whom He loves.We run confidently. Nothing says we must run super fast or pass up others. We run to race, but more or less like a great sprinter who knows to pace themselves, to stop to breath, and take in water as necessary.This way, we do race, but we rest confidently in the Lord. If we fall back, God will once again give us His hand and help us continue along the gospel track.TRANS - Enter, end, exacting, and easy race. We start, see the finish, survey the twists and turns, and know it’s something we can and will finish.Let’s wrap up this message.Race because of Jesus (Conclusion)Along the way we learn to rest in the grace and God works to empower us to endure.When struggling, we know to trust more in God who is working in us for His good pleasure; grace brings us home.We might mess us, however the true Christian does not stop:Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.We run with focus on Jesus who, at the finish line, is rooting for us all:Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Jesus was the first to cross the finish line. Looking to him is the way through this life.Jesus holds your prize and is waiting to give you your crown of life.Like Paul one day we will say:I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.(end)
1 Corinthians 5:6–7NASB95
1 Corinthians 15:58NASB95
1 Corinthians 1:7–9NASB95
1 Thessalonians 5:24NASB95
2 Timothy 4:7–8NASB95
- What a Friend We Have in Jesus
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