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  • Nov 04 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


Chp 13 & 14 are one package = they cover the First Missionary Journey of Paul & Barnabas. Chp 13 = the first half.

In chp 13, P&B&(John Mark) started from Antioch church in Syria, sailed to Cyprus – their first mission field. The began in the east end and went to the west end (Salamos -> Pathos) – like from NYC to LA if it were the US.

From the west end, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There, John Mark left them, but the other two continued on to the other Antioch. Then, Paul preached (last week) and his sermon is the same as my sermon:

  1. Jesus died for our sins
  2. On the third day, he rose again for our justification
  3. He is alive today and sitting in heaven on the right hand of God and interceding for us
  4. The justification of sins (declaration of righteousness) is based entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus

Today’s sermon = the response of the people to this message.

Also today, we are showing our reaction / response to the Word of God.

v. 42-45

“42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

  • some are filled with jealousy
  • others are filled with joy in the HS

When they heard this sermon of Paul, the people wanted to hear more. So the news spread throughout the whole city of Antioch in Pisidia. So, on the next Sabbath, almost the WHOLE city gathered to hear the Word of God – most of them were Gentiles.

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy

Jealousy, you know, is a dangerous sin – it can consist of one or more emotions: helplessness, spite, rivalry, disgust, etc… It is a consuming desire for the other person to be a loser / failure / unhappy “like me.”

When I’m jealous of somebody, look at myself – I’m already a failure, miserable, and ruined. Jealousy is one of the strong weapons that Satan is using to destroy our Christian character.

Ask yourself, when you see SOMEONE ELSE benefiting, or winning, or succeeding, where I cannot, can I rejoice with them?

Actually, jealousy is a more common reaction – but how tragic this is when our emotions cause us to stop God’s work. So, IF that person is impacting someone’s life for Christ, REJOICE! no matter who is in the spotlight.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or in vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

“I’m free from jealousy ~ I’m free from envy~”

Light & Life

v. 46-48

“46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of **eternal life**, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a **light** for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were *appointed* for **eternal life** believed.”

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

“Appointed” is a military word – chosen, arranged, predestined (theologically)

  • v. 46: They reject eternal life because they do not like it
  • v. 48: They receive eternal life because they were chosen / ordained / elected for eternal life

This means:

  • If we are saved, we are saved because **GOD** elected us before the Creation of the world.
  • But, if not, then it is because **WE** reject the grace of God.

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

God’s logic is not the same as man’s, it is higher.

Isaiah 59:5 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts are higher than yours.”

Yes, we must believe in predestination – we believe in the sovereign will of God.

Romans 8:30 “Those he knew, he predestined; those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified.”

“God knew us before the Creation of the world… in his love, he predestined us to be called children of God.”

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved… not by works, this is the gift of God, so that nobody can boast of his salvation.”

But, nowhere does it say that God predestined anybody to be destroyed. Rather, he wants ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. He does not want ANYONE to perish. He is not happy with the destruction of any sinner.

Yes, we must believe the doctrine of predestination – but we must also know that this doctrine is ONLY applied to the “elect” – only to the saved.

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

  • There are two sides to every coin:
    • if this, then that;
    • if not this, then not that

But God’s logic is NOT limited to two sides of a coin.

Now about “eternal life.” Let me make it more clear. What is it? What are its characteristics? How can we get it? How can we know we’ve got it?

Eternal life: The gift of God

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This means, this life is a gift of God. Also, this gift is in contrast to death that is the natural result of sin. This gift comes only through Jesus Christ. This gift comes only to those who believe in Christ – the Resurrection and the Life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

But also, we must understand that life in Hell has NO END. There is no finish to it.

But, it is a mistake to understand this “Eternal life” as an unending sequence of years.

Greek “eternal life”: aionia zoi (αιώνια ζωή)

Eternal life is independent of time – it can function beyond the boundaries of time as well as within the boundaries of time. Therefore, eternal life is something we Christians experience NOW! Now and here!

Now and here!

We receive eternal life AS SOON AS we believe in Christ!

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ *has* eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes in him who sent me *has* eternal life – he *has* crossed over from death to life.” (Present perfect tense)

John 6:47? “Truly, he who believes *has* everlasting life.” (present tense)

The focus of eternal life is NOT on our future – but on our CURRENT standing in Jesus Christ. This pertains to the present.

Why? Because the purpose of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification was to provide eternal life to human beings. The Bible definitely mentions this as in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”

Eternal life = knowledge

There is no knowledge of God without the Son. He came as the visual revelation of the invisible God.

Jesus says, “He who sees me, sees God.”

It is through Jesus that God reveals himself to the elect.

Another important point:

This eternal life (knowledge about God and the Son) is relational knowledge – this is not just an intelligence briefing.

On the final judgment day, there will be some who claim to have followed Christ – but never had any relationship with him. To those false claimers, he will say, “I never knew you! Away from me!”

This experiential, relational knowledge of Christ = so important. This is why it was Paul’s FINAL goal.

Of course, Paul knew Christ more than me, more than you, but this was still his ultimate goal.

Phil 3:10-11 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

This is good news (gospel) – Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Believe and accept this good news!

This is good news!

Imagine, if good news is very difficult, many people could not understand it. But this news is good for ALL people – short, simple, easy to understand. Old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, all can understand.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 John 5:10-11 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

v. 47

“47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” “

If you have eternal life, then you are the light of the world.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor can a lamp be hidden – rather it is put on a stand. Therefore, let your light SHINE before men.”

“You are a chosen people; a royal priesthood; a holy nation; a people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.”

v. 49-52

“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God is like seed – it is scattered and spread.

Our hearts that receive it are like soil – the earth that receives it.

The seed is always the same, but the field is often different.

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

  1. Hard field – birds come and eat the seed away
  2. Rocky field – seed can’t take root
  3. Thorny field – seed takes root, but the thorns choke it to death
  4. Good field – seed takes root and can produce a harvest of 100 times that which was planted

Which field is your heart?

In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul, this seed is spreading – the same seed – but the fields are all different.

Also, in Antioch here, the same word, the same seed, was preached by Paul – but the reception was so different.

  • one group received it with joy
  • the other group rejected it, persecuted them, and expelled them from the region

Remember, P&B were set apart by the HS, sent by the HS, filled with the HS, but they encountered hardships, sufferings, persecution (v. 50). Yes, even those set apart, sent, filled with the HS, can encounter these hardships. Why? Because they preach the gospel.

Some Christians may say, “There was only persecution at that time – but not in Korea, in America, there isn’t that kind of thing any longer.”

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

Preaching the gospel = persecution (literally like two sides of the same coin)

Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me – rejoice and be glad because great will be your reward in heaven.”

The last verse: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the HS.”

Imagine – if you give money, clothes, etc, things the people want, they will not persecute you. Only preaching the gospel = followed by persecution.

But, at the same time:

Preaching the gospel = great joy (like a three-sided coin)

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

You know, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. If you believe this, why are you not willing to taste a SMALL suffering for his glory, for the benefit of others?

If we really believe that Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life, we should preach the gospel.

If you are children of God, you are coheirs with Christ. If you share in his sufferings, you share in his glory. But our present sufferings are incomparable with the glory that is to be revealed. The best is yet to come!

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

  • Sep 30 / 2018
  • Comments Off on If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)

Download Notes in a .MD file

If you are Christian, BE Christian!

Acts 11:19-30 (Pastor Heo)

11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.


There were at least three steps on the ladder to preach to the Gentiles.

  1. Chp 8: Philip preached to the Samaritans (half-Jews)
  2. Chp 10: Peter preached to the Gentiles (Cornelius + family and friends) – but it was Cornelius who took the initiative – he sought the church and was ALREADY a God-fearer – ready to be saved.
  3. Chp 11: In Antioch, the gospel was preached openly and publicly to Gentiles. The gospel is finally launched on its worldwide mission.

Christianity took the most important turning point in church mission history in these three – Philip, Peter, Antioch.

We don’t know the names of the people from Antioch who took the gospel to the Gentiles – they go down in history as nameless pioneers of Christ. Nobody remembered this courageous act – but God does.

Their names may not be written in human history, but their names are written in God’s book of life.

Challenge:

When you do something at church or for church, do not do it to be recognized by man – do it to be recognized by God – because his memory lasts for eternity, but man’s memory lasts but a short while.

v. 19-22

“11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.”

Chp 7 – Stephen was killed

  • As a result, great persecution broke out
  • Because of this, only the apostles and a few leaders remained in Jerusalem
  • All the others scattered – mostly throughout Palestine

Chp 8 – Philip preached to the Samaritans

  • The mother church heard, and sent Peter and John there
  • At the same time, the gospel spread throughout the land to many other places
  • At first, they preached only to Jews.

But later, some from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and preached to the Greeks.

  • God was so happy with them, he worked through them, and a great number of people turned to the Lord.
  • The mother church heard this news
  • So, they sent Barnabas to confirm the news and witness this new work.

The most important place in this story is Antioch. At that time in history, there were at least 16 Antiochs – and even in the Bible there are 2.

  1. Antioch in Syria (this one)
  2. Antioch in Pisidia

The Antioch of Syria was the capital of Syria, 300 miles north of Jerusalem – beyond Palestine and 50 miles in from the Mediterranean.

At that time, the biggest three cities in the world:

  1. Rome
  2. Alexandria
  3. Antioch (this one)
    • Metropolitan – but corrupt
    • It was famous for chariot racing and deliberate pursuit of pleasure (like Las Vegas today) – luxurious immorality.
    • It was most famous for Daphene (a god with whom a mortal fell in love) idol worship.

But in this dark place, the gospel began to shine. We must understand that there is nowhere in the world that the gospel cannot shine. No stronghold of Satan that the gospel cannot destroy.

So in church history, Antioch is very meaningful. There are at least 4 “world records” here:

  1. The FIRST place the gospel was preached to the Gentiles openly and deliberately
  2. The FIRST place the believers were called “Christians” (nickname)
    • At first, this was a contemptuous nickname
  3. The FIRST local church which collected special offerings to help Jewish believers in Judea in time of famine
  4. The FIRST local church which dispatched missionaries to the Gentiles (Barnabas and Saul)

“I am Antioch”

Our Antioch church is named after THIS Antioch church.

v. 23-26

“11:23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

(Tarsus is Saul’s hometown)

Remember, when the Jerusalem church heard about Antioch, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate it and confirm the new converts.

The mother church did not send one of the 12 apostles, but it is by the providence and grace of God that Barnabas was sent – he was the most suitable choice. (v. 24)

Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement” (open-minded), native of Cyprus – he was a blend of Roman, Greek, Jewish culture. And when he arrived he rejoiced to see the grace of God in this Gentile city. He was so happy to welcome new believers into the church.

Actually, he had TOO MUCH to do – so he needed help. At this moment, Barnabas could have asked to the mother church to send somebody to him to help him – or he could have sent a messenger to Jerusalem to get someone. But he didn’t, he himself went personally to Tarsus to bring Saul specifically.

Several years earlier, Barnabas had stood up for Saul and supported him when the other believers doubted him. Some time later, men tried to kill Saul, so he escaped to his hometown, Tarsus. And up to now, several years have passed – and there is no real record of what he did. But we can be sure he must have preached the gospel in his hometown faithfully and Barnabas remembered him in his mind.

The right mind has the ability to see the right person at the right time for the right purpose.

Barnabas must have realized that if he worked with Saul he would sink into the place of secondary importance.

v. 26

“26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Barnabas is first)

v. 30

“30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” (Barnabas is first – the leader)

Chp 13:1

“13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.” (Barnabas first, Saul last)

But Barnabas’ name disappears in chp 16, and Paul’s name goes on to the last sentence of this book.

From Chp 13:43 we can see this change:

“43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.”

Barnabas to Paul was like John the Baptist to Jesus: “He must become greater and I must become less.”

Actually, I HOPE that you also will do likewise to ME. And Children to your parents as well. We must raise up people / leaders greater than we are.

v. 11:27

“27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.”

Interestingly, this title was not given in Jerusalem or Samaria. This title was given by non-Christians.

There were many terms:

  • Brother & sisters,
  • saints,
  • disciples,
  • the church, etc

The believers had no idea to call themselves “Christians” – this is mixed “Christ” + “ian”

  • “Christ” (Greek) = “Messiah” (Hebrew)
  • “ian” (Latin suffix) = belonging to the party of

To them, the believers could not apply the divine name to themselves. At that time, the term “Messiah” was a term of divinity – so if they took it for themselves, it would be considered very blasphemous.

So the outsiders nicknamed them “Christians” because at that time, this was a name of ridicule, contempt, etc.

To outsiders, the lifestyle of Christians was too high – they could not understand their moral standards. It was too high to follow. Even in poverty, persecution, they responded with joy, thanksgiving, blessings. Why? Because they always focused on heaven, not this world. So, many people called them “crazy.”

Even in Korean, sometimes outsiders call you, “예수쟁이”. Who can be called a “Christian” by outsiders?

Paul said, “If I live, I live to Christ. If I die, I die to Christ. Whether I live or die, I belong to Christ.” He MUST be called a “Christian” by outsiders.

Are you a Christian? BE a Christian.

Personal experience

About 15 years ago (in Turkey?), I had trouble in a mission conference. I went shopping and the seller tried to explain something to me, but his words were strange.

  • I said, “Truly?”
  • He looked at me very solemnly and said, “I AM MUSLIM.”

This short sentence gave me much meaning. “Muslims NEVER tell lies, etc”.

He was SO proud of being Muslim. Our pride in being Christian must be higher.

“I am CHRISTIAN.”

This should give so many meanings.

“I am honest, don’t lie, bless when cursed, etc.”

  • George Folks and his followers trembled whenever they opened the Bible. They were called “Quakers” 퀘이커 교도?
    • At that time, there were so many Puritans, these were called Quakers.
  • Methodists also – due to their very strict pursuit of holiness – became “Methodists”

Conclusion

Alexander the Great: one day in his army there was another “Alexander.” (Like we have many Aarons, Davids, Johns, Pauls, etc). He was famous for his timidity.

But we know Alexander the Great conquered the world at age 23. He called the soldier to himself,

“Are you named after me?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“If you’re named Alexander, BE an Alexander! Or change your name!”

Fortunately, our Lord Christ, full of mercy, love, compassion, does not say this to us. But he does challenge, encourage, and empower us to BE who we are.

If you are Christian~ BE Christian~ let others KNOW who you are through your lifestyle!

Because “Christian” lifestyle is the visible representation of Christ to those who cannot see.

“God bless you Christians.”

Let’s pray.

  • May 04 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Christian’s Magna Carta (Galatians 1:1-24)
Galatians: Justified by Faith, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Christian’s Magna Carta (Galatians 1:1-24)

05.04

05.04.2014

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

1 Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead– 2 and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

No Other Gospel
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul Called by God
11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

 


The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty.
Magna Carta? = “The Great Charter”

  • established in 13th century in medieval England – signed by King John & the barons (leaders under the king, ruling England under a feudal system).
  • This Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in medieval England. The US Constitution is based partly upon it.

King John had all authority in England. So then why agree to this document that gave privileges to the people? At that time, England owned land in France and the king relied on the barons to provide money and men to defend those lands in France.

As long as they were successful abroad, the barons were happy to give money and men to the wars. But, King John wasn’t that successful. The barons weren’t happy about that. But King John insisted upon more and more men and money.

The King used to consult with the barons before raising the taxes and demanding men. John didn’t do that. Eventually the barons rebelled and took over the city of London.

This could have led to a great civil war in England. John realized he had to do something and signed this charter – it gave promises and privileges to the people and stopped his abuse of power.

This was a great charter for the people in England.

The letter the Galatians is a great charter for the people of heaven (including us and all Christians).

Martin Luther called this letter his betrothed – his Katy Van Vora. He considered this letter as precious as his wife.

Luther also loved the letter of Romans – he was a monk in a monastery, and was troubled greatly by the first chapter of Romans – speaking of the righteousness of God as being revealed from heaven. Many priests thought this was God’s wrath against sinners. Luther confessed he was angry with God because of this verse. He thought the gospel was an extension of the Law – that God was still an angry God, Jesus was just a more righteous Moses.

Luther struggled with this for a long time, but God revealed later that the righteousness was not an active righteousness that we must do and get – but a passive righteousness that God bestows upon unrighteous sinners. To those who are guilty, simply by believing in the person, death, atonement, resurrection of Jesus, God declared us to be righteous. “It’s as if God has given us a robe of righteousness.”

This changed everything for Luther – that God wasn’t angry, but that he received him as a son.

Similarly, he continued his study in the book of Galatians – God declares those who are guilty to be free from guilt. Jesus takes his righteousness and gives it to us as our righteousness (”The Great Exchange”). So this is a “Great Charter” for us as Christians (and sinners).

“Your blood has washed away our sins, Jesus, thank you.”

It’s our understanding of this and growth in the knowledge of this that helps us to persevere and grow in the Christian life.

Now, who are the Galatians?

Paul and Barnabas.
Paul – immediately after his conversion, began preaching all over. After numerous threats to his life, he went to Damascus, and kept preaching.

Antioch

While Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch, they were called to go on a missionary journey (the First Journey – Acts 13:14).
Recap: Acts 13:14 – on the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and the rulers invited them to bring a word of encouragement. Paul began to remind them of the history of Israel – how they were chosen through Abraham – God had led them through Egypt – led them out of Egypt, into the land of Canaan – God gave them judges up to the time of Samuel – they asked for a king, received King Saul, then King David. “From David’s line, a Messiah (ruler) would come – and in due time, Jesus, born of a virgin came to redeem those under the Law.” It is Jesus he’s preaching.

John the Baptist came first, preparing the way, that they all should look to the One to come after.

Paul later shows how the leaders rejected Jesus, didn’t accept him as their Messiah – “but God raised him from the dead according to many promises in the Scriptures” (Psalm 2, Psalm 16:10) – This together with other promises were seen to be fulfilled in Christ.

Paul gives this history and says, “I want you to know that through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. Everyone is proclaimed justified and free from guilt from everything.” The Law was not enough to cleanse from guilt (only expose it) – but the Grace of God, through belief in Jesus IS sufficient to cleanse from guilt.

Paul said, “Take care that what the prophets say does not happen to you – ‘Look you scoffers, you mockers, I’m going to do something among you that you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you.’”

The “God worshipers” – non-Jews – had at that time joined with the Jews and listened with the Jews in the synagogues. Many of the Jews and these “God worshiping” Gentiles received Jesus and Paul and Barnabas were invited back to preach again the second Sabbath. Pretty much the whole city turned up, but the few Jews who didn’t believe stood up and poisoned the minds of the others and caused the leaders to expel the two of them from Antioch. They brushed off the dust from their sandals – to show that they were not guilty of neglecting to share the gospel – and the continued on.

(These are the cities of Galatia)

Iconia

After Antioch, they went to Iconia. They preached in the synagogues. Some believed and received it joyfully. Others rejected it and poisoned the minds of the people against them. Paul and Barnabas stayed there for a time and God showed his power through them with signs and wonders. Eventually, they had to flee because of the plot to kill them.

Lystra

Next, Lystra. Here, Paul saw a man, lame from birth – who had FAITH. He said, “Stand up” and he did – “WOAH!” The people thought Paul and Barnabas were gods – or at least angels – and tried to worship them. They denied it, and tore their clothes and said, “Stop this! Turn AWAY from your idolatry and to the living God!” These people were pagans with no religious background – so he couldn’t show them Jesus in the Scriptures. So, he rather pointed them toward the Providence of God – this is the God they are preaching. For a time, the people believed. But again the Jews from the neighboring towns came and stood up the people. (Just shows how fickle people are. One minute listening and loving it, the next, stoning him and dragging him out of the city.)

Derby

The two then went on to Derby – many people believed. Then, they backtracked to all of their previous cities. They established churches, and appointed elders and told them they’d have to suffer hardships for the Kingdom of God. They knew Paul had risked his life to bring the good news of the gospel to them. They’d seen the power of God, received the Holy Spirit, and HOPEFULLY been established firmly.

Unfortunately, the Jews had been continually trying to get the people away from Jesus and back toward Moses and the Law of Moses. They would come into the churches and say, “Yeah, good for you, believe in Jesus BUT you better get circumcised as well…”

Some came from Jerusalem – without the authority of the church in Jerusalem – and said that the new believers would all have to adhere to the Law of Moses.

Paul and Barnabas said:

JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING

Jesus + nothing else saves you.

The Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, did not need to follow the Law, just stay away from strangled food, food with blood in its veins, food sacrificed to idols, and sexual immorality.

Peter was one of the main guys who testified during this time – remember he’d already been sent to the house of Cornelius the Gentile and they received the Holy Spirit and were shown to be fully accepted just as the Jews. Peter presented this to the church in Jerusalem and James led the church to agree and accept it. (Interesting that later Peter kind of backslides from this testimony and Paul must confront him.)

Interesting that throughout these towns, the Jews had gone in to these towns and churches and said basically, “Yeah, Paul ain’t nothing. We are the TRUE apostles. You guys better get back to the Law of Moses, yo!”

Paul begins his letter here by saying “Hey guys! Remember me? APOSTLE. Not by men but through the revelation of Christ.”

Remember that Christ himself – the Risen Christ – had given Paul the revelation, the mission, the apostleship, and so on. So, Paul emphasizes that right from the beginning. And Paul emphasizes that there are “other brothers” with him who recognize his apostleship. He continues that he is astounded that the churches had listened so easily, so readily to those Jews who would twist and pervert the gospel. Paul is so worked up that he basically cursed them (twice!). “Look guys, I’m not trying to please men, but God. If I were trying to please men, I wouldn’t be a witness of Christ.” So, why you going back to that powerless/pointless Law? That’s just a step along the way to revealing the truth of JESUS. He’s the substance. Don’t go backward…

Later in the epistle, he shows through argument and demonstrations that it is ONLY by faith that they are saved and justified. They need to continue to believe in Christ. And you know what? If you love Jesus, you WILL fulfill the Law – almost unconsciously – because the Law IS love for Jesus.

As we continue through Galatians, let’s pray that God will open our eyes to see what God has done and accomplished through Jesus.

Martin Luther has said we need to continue to remember and refresh our minds about the “beautiful basics” of the gospel – FAITH IN CHRIST.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen