First Baptist Church of Minneola
Boasting: A Good Thing
- INTRO - This is our last message from our series, “Grace and Power.”Today is our 26th exposition from the book of Galatians.The journey from start to finish never strayed far from the central focus of this letter.In the very last verses of this letter, Paul presses the argument of the letter with great force.If there were a central verse to Paul’s focused argument, it has to be v.14:But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.The letter to the Galatians is wrapped in the call to boast in the cross of Christ.Christians know about the cross. The ancient way people were punished was horrific.Take away the sort of sentimentalism associated with the cross and all that is left is a device of intimidation and torture.Far be it that we glory in the electric chair, the guillotine, or a firing squad.Boasting in a means of execution should be considered sickening.However, here we are called to boast in a means of execution far worse than anything considered for use today. The cross was inhumane, gruesome, and hideous.What really then does our text mean?Add to that we don’t usually consider boasting a good thing. If done, certainly we don’t say something like, “I sure love that guillotine.” Or, “Isn’t that electric chair great!”What then is this “boasting?”To Christians, “boasting” is a way we make our confidence known.We boast to make hope in Jesus known.When we boast, people hear our joy, see our excitement, and know what we celebrate.People boast in things that will make them happy.ILL - A cruise is a bargain among vacations. We live close to the port and don’t need to fly in, rent a car, or stay in a hotel. Cruises are fun and it’s nice to slip away to someplace very different where everything in every day is fully handled.People going on a cruises look forward to going. When Jennifer and I cruise, we count down the days.We boast about it because it makes us happy to know what is coming our way.We might boast about things that will make us happy such as a new car, painting our house, or how fast a new computer works. We even boast in other people such as our great spouses, funny comedians, or excellent athletes.Sometimes we boast in ourselves such as expressing confidence because of our experience, training, qualifications, talent, or gift. Sometimes that is real and sometimes that is our imagination. LOLTRANS - Considering all this, lets look at what Paul says about boasting only in the cross. Let’s understand why Paul says the cross is our source of goodness. Let’s grasp why the cross secures our future with God.Circumcision Matters Little Nowadays vv.11-13Some do not boast in the cross. That, sometimes, includes Christians. These sort of believers claim the cross, but fail Christ by not living the cross.Peter was guilty of that attitude when he learned Jesus was going to Jerusalem to be convicted of crime rather than taking over the city. Peter the “Rock” wanted Jesus to get a crown, but not hang on the cross.Like Peter, Paul notes the Galatians boated in themselves instead of the cross. Peter wanted his plans and the Galatians had their way to get things done. Both cared little for putting pride aside.Look at our text:See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.Paul emphatically, “large letters” communicates the Judaizers are only concerned with their own interests.Their plan, “make a good showing” means getting Galatians circumcised so they “look like” good little Jews. They didn’t want anyone accusing them of fraternizing with Gentiles.Paul communicates the Judaizers are missing the point of the cross.Instead of loosing their life in service to the church, they want to save their way of doing things. Recall the Gospel call:For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.The church is Jesus’ workforce in the world, yet, like Judaizers that didn’t treat the cross like the trail to trod, most Christians treat faith like a get out of jail free card and God like a get anything grandfather.ILL - Today our world faces a pandemic. It’s not always easy to understand why these things happen?God once acted in a way the Bible helps us to understand. God said, go into the world and preach my message.Instead, the church didn’t want to leave Jerusalem. God said, go to the city, surrounding area, and the world with this message. And, the church didn’t budge.Then God allowed Stephen to be killed and persecution to break out:Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.It took God’s heavy hand. After 9/11 the church started meeting often to pray. And, that fizzled.Seems God is calling us to get with His program. I think the coronavirus is too BIG a thing for God to waste. This is God’s plan to see us go out and evangelize the world!In 165 AD and 251 AD two other plages killed many people. The Roman Empire was perishing, their doctors fleeing, and priests forsook their temples.However, Christians cared for the sick and dying. Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria encouraged the early church writing:“Most of of our brothers showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy.” -Bishop Dionysius of AlexandriaGod has much work to do. We have our work too. If we trust God and obey His Word, he will cause our service to accomplish His wise and good purposes.TRANS - So, circumcision is sort of like Christians who only want to do church their own way. They don’t work well with others, but do have their own idea of religion.How might someone fix themselves if they are in this condition? What is necessary to grasp what God is doing in the world and productively see fruit, and I’m talking every one of us, seeing people we know turn to Jesus, join the church, and become soul winners.Let’s see what Paul has to say on that in our next point.Cross Matters Lots Now v.14Paul highlights the difference between himself and the Judaizers. Paul speaks of the tool that killed Jesus while the Judaizers place trust in circumcision. Look again at v.14:But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.Why does Paul say this? Paul understand that the cross is what it takes to kill the real plague. He notes the killing of the world and himself at the cross.Do you know the mortality rate of everyone that can hear my voice is 100%? Yep, if you can hear me I garuntee you will die. I don’t know when or how, but it’s true that everyone living dies one day.So what is more deadly than the world? The cross. It is the most effective killing thing put to use. It is God’s own weapon, not vindictively, but loving utilized. God used the cross to deliver a blow to this fallen world and one day it will die.The cross kills by crucifying the sinful part of us. It mortifies our sin. It puts to death the “deeds of the body” as Paul said to the Romans.That is what this text means and at the same time, as Paul has us to understand:Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.For Christians, the crucifixion already took place even while we continue to put to death the part that remains—we mortify.TRANS - Okay, so religious “stuff” is not really necessary. It might be nice, or it might be flat out wrong, but in all only the cross matters. Aside of that, really nothing else is important; at least by comparison.Sound a bit like God wants us to get the “rules” instead of making our own?Where might God be going with this? Let’s take a look in our next point.Creation Means Life Anew v.15So if death is not the real reason for the cross, and God has more in mind than crucifixion, what might that be?Look at v.15:For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.ILL - For years Baptist churches all looked the same. You knew you were in a Baptist church because the big Bible was set just in front of a pulpit and the baptismal was usually just to the back of where the choir sat. Pews lined the meeting area, and if the church grew enough, they’d build a “Fellowship Hall.”Number of baptisms and mission trips impressed members as they reached more people for Jesus. All was good.But, with time the people forgot how to get those numbers. The numbers themselves, like the Big Bible, the Fellowship Hall, and the choir were what it was about. Instead of reaching people for Jesus, the main thing was keeping stuff just as it was.Today most of those churches are gone or on their way out. At the same time, new Baptist churches care little about big show Bibles and having a building to show off, and are again finding ways to bring people to Jesus where the are led in baptism and actively doing missions both local and in other places.What is the difference between the two? All points to what matters just like circumcision and the cross.Revelation tells us that Christ is “the beginning of God’s creation” (Rv 3:13) and that He is making all things new (Rv 21:5). One day all this “stuff” along with our opportunity to share Jesus with the lost will be no more.How is it that God brings into reality the new creation?He is doing it by His Spirit. New creation is starting in God’s people by His Spirit as we bear the Fruit of the Spirit. Christians infused with God’s own Spirit are part of God’s plan to recreate creation.The cross:is saving us from “the present evil age” (1:4).opened the door to the Holy Spirit (3:1-5). makes way for Abraham’s blessing (3:10-14).began the adoption process (4:1-7). gives freedom (4:21-5:1).The cross of Jesus enables the presence of God. Do you see it?The cross is all that matters in all of creation!TRANS - So far in this text Paul points out the fruitlessness of the flesh and the wistfulness of this world. We noted circumcision matters little and nothing in the world compares to the cross.In this topic we noted that the new world, new life, all comes together in Christ in the new creation.It’s time for some Bible assurance. Let’s look at the promise in our next verse.Conciliation Message Loves Anyone v.16Take a look at our verse:And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.God’s children get to break in the new world.ILL - In 1990 I purchased my first ever brand new car. I had used cars and even some used really low mileage cars, but the Chevrolet Beretta was my first ever car with 1 mile on the odometer.I worked for a Chevrolet dealership at the time and even had the privilege of peeling the plastic of the seats and carpet. Oh, the smell was wonderful. For a good amount of time that car smelled new.As wonderful as it is having the pleasure of breaking in a brand new car, nothing compares to our opportunity of breaking in the new creation. Think about it. The brand new Earth is going to be ours!But, heres the other part. We don’t break in the world alone; we share the new creation with other people. Perhaps I need to help clarify what this means to us at this point in your life?See, we already embody the new creation as we are new creations! The new us is the same new us that will live in the new creation. Only by being made new are we qualified to enter the new world.What is the assurance? The church, that is you and other Christians.We have the responsibility of telling others about this news. We tell people about the promise of the world of peace, of mercy, as Paul says, “walk by this rule.”We are part of the assurance because God lives in us and we love other people with the love God gives us.Peace and mercy is found where? In the cross. What human being does not want peace and mercy?The good news is that both are purchased for people by God at the cross, promised for the new creation, and the deposit is available right now!See what the Bible has to say about this in Romans:Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,TRANS - Circumcision, cross, creation, and conciliation are all part of the message of Galatians.Circumcision is out, the cross in, creation waits, and conciliation is currently available to those who ask.In our next point I want you to consider the visible, tangible reminders of how much Jesus suffered for people.Calmness Marks Loved Ones Always v.17Do you boast in the cross?What are you willing to suffer so others might know Jesus?We noted the cross is part of the assurance of God’s promise.Do you know that suffering is proof of your association with Christ Jesus?Suffering for the cross was the attitude of Paul. Look at what he says in v.17:From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.What does Paul mean? Was it that he was loosing hair, his nose was not perfect, or what?Ever know someone who says the have crosses to bear? Maybe they’ve got a difficult relative with whom they must contend? Perhaps they work for someone who is hard to please? Maybe they don’t like the way the look, talk, or that they lack a talent they always wanted to master?News for you, personal dissatisfaction is not a mark of Jesus. However, personal sacrifices that make you suffer are.Paul points to real seeable reminders of his suffering for Jesus in order to share the gospel.Do you have a mark of Jesus in your life? Is your witness for Jesus costly in some way that people will recognize it?Not asking you to prove, but if someone saw it would they recognize it a sacrificing for the Jesus you claim to share?Here is another way you can test yourself.If a friend looked at your calendar, would they you give lots to time to sharing Jesus. Or, if someone asked your friend and neighbors, would they say you share Jesus Christ with them and other people?I don’t want you to miss the BIG point—the Christian life is sacrificial and it will be painful. At the same time, we are at peace with our live because the Holy Sprit fills, God’s Word instructs, the church encourages, and we receive the message with joy.TRANS - Circumcision not a thing, cross is everything, creation anew is coming, conciliation is what everybody really wants, and a calm composer for those who truly believe because they embody the truth and live for Jesus.Let’s bring this message and this series to a close with a very lovely final verse.Compassionateness Makes Love Known v.18You probably already know that the book of Galatians is written for grace. It opened with grace:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,and in this last verse it ends with grace:The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.But, as we’ve seen, grace is not cheap. Grace pushes us to live a gospel-rooted life of sharing the good news with people.A grace rooted life boasts in the cross of Jesus and nothing else in the believers life gives us so much energy and fills our days.Is your life rooted in grace that is found only at the cross?Are you looking everyday to the cross for all good things and toward your life in eternity?For those that say “yes” verse 18 is something you can say is yours.But, to those who might not wondering, “How can I have this grace today?” I have good news.Jesus Christ died to save sinners and all of us need what He has to give.Jesus offers forgiveness of sins, that is, all your sin all time through your entire life past present and future.How does this happen.The Bible says God forgives those who believe that Jesus died to set them free and all that you need to do is ask.God’s grace is the most costly gift given, and costly above all measure, but is free to all who will believe.If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, won’t you believe and ask Him to forgive and save you today?Pray to God and say, “I am a sinner and I believe that Jesus died for me covering my sin with what He did on the cross. Please forgive me and save me. I believe Jesus and want to call you Lord forever, Amen(end)
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