Saturday, August 31, 2013

All the promises of God find their "Yes" in Jesus.

Galatians 3:16
  • Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

God made promises to Abraham and to his offspring, namely, Jesus Christ.

God's promises find their yes in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Therefore, we who are in Christ receive the promises of God in Jesus.

Therefore, we must reside in Jesus. We must remain in Jesus.

We are in Jesus positionally. Therefore, we have God's promises.

We receive the promised land that is to come (Genesis 12:7). According to Revelation, the heaven will come down to meet the earth, and the kingdom of God will be established permanently. 

Revelation 21:2-4
  • I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 

  • And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 

  • ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

God is not just their God but He is our God. He is my God and your God (Genesis 17:7).

We are favoured by God in Jesus because God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through his offspring, namely Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Genesis 22:18).

Yes, to summarise, You and I receive the promised land of the Kingdom of God, and God is your God and my God forever, and you and I are blessed blissfully by God, and all of these promises are completely and perfectly kept in Jesus, and in Him alone. Amen. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

We are blessed in Jesus

Galatians 3:15
  • To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.

Once the contract has been signed, no one cancels it or changes it. If even a man-made contract is honoured like this where no one cancels it or changes it because it has been signed, how much more will God's contract be more honoured and carried out exactly as God promised in His word?

Genesis 3:15
  • and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

"Your offspring" refers to Jesus. God's blessings come to us in Jesus.

We, who are in Jesus, are blessed along with Abraham because of God's promise already given to Abraham a long, long time ago.

How can I receive the blessings of God? By being in Jesus.

Once you believe in Jesus and trust in Jesus and follow Jesus and obey Jesus, you are in Jesus.

All the blessings of God come to you in Jesus.

In Jesus, we are blessed. Hallelujah!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guided by the Holy Spirit

Galatians 3:14

  • He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Jesus redeemed us so that all the blessings that were given to Abraham might come to us through Jesus Christ, so that by faith we might receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit came to us when we believed in Jesus by faith. The blessings of Abraham were transferred to us as well.

We are not guided by the impersonal law of Moses but rather by the person of the Holy Spirit.

Let us be guided by Him!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jesus was accursed so that we would be blessed by God

Galatians 3:13

  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

The law brings us a curse, and we were accursed because of our breaking of the law. We had a big problem and needed a solution. However, we had no solution in ourselves because there has never been anything we could do to undo all the sins we have committed in the past, and additionally, we commit new sins every day.

To solve that problem, God Himself became a man, Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life by keeping the law perfectly as a Jew. He was the perfect lamb of God, a sacrificial lamb for the sins of all people. 

Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, and bore the curse of the law. Our curse was transferred to Jesus on the cross, and that is the redemption we have in Jesus.

We have been redeemed, i.e. freed from the bondage of the law and its curse by the sacrificial lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

There is no more curse for everyone who is in Jesus.

We have been set free from the curse of the law. The law has no power over us but rather the Holy Spirit becomes the power for us and leads us to Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Blessed be the Lord who bore our curse so that we would be blessed, i.e. happy in Him. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God is not a tame lion as C. S. Lewis put it.

Galatians 3:12
  • But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them."

The law is not of faith because by practising the law, we mistakenly believe that we deserve salvation of God.

One may think, "Of course, I should be saved because I do all these good things." That person is deluded, not regarding all the failures he has committed in his heart such as his evil, selfish thoughts, hidden motives and adulterous images of one's mind.

Yes, the law is of the external whereas faith is of the internal. Internal faith may produce external fruits whereas practising the external law may not produce any internal faith at all.

A robot can keep the law. However, a robot cannot have faith.

A person can keep the law but he may not have any faith at all.

The law and faith are very different. They are completely mutually exclusive.

God delights in faith of His people, His children. He does not delight in selfishly motivated people who keep His law to their own glory, honour and power.

Pharisees tried to keep the law of God with hidden motives of gaining glory out of the people of Israel. This practice was condemned by God.

Matthew 23:27, 28, 33

  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 

  • So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

  • "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

So it is about our hidden motives and the root of our hearts. Are they rooted in God's word and trust in the person and work of Jesus for us?

Or, do we have hidden motives? Are we using God for our own selfish ambition and motives? 

Are we regarding him as a Genie of the lamp?

Then, we have not come to know the God of the Bible.

I recommend the books of the Prophets. There, you shall see the God of the Bible. You'll find God who is not to be messed with by anyone including kings, emperors and presidents. He is truly not a tame lion as C. S. Lewis put it. 

But in the end, He wants the best for us. That is why he would allow suffering and pain in our paths to heaven. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

In this world we are like Jesus (1 John 4:17)

Galatians 3:11
  • Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Now it is evident that not a single person is found righteous in the sight of God by trying to keep the law with one's own exerted effort because a person who lives by trusting God's power, wisdom, grace, mercy, and love is declared righteous in the sight of God.

We see this principle played out in our own lives. For example, any person can work really hard for someone else's parents for their acceptance and love. However, that kind of hard work doesn't make one to become the child of someone else's parents. 

The only condition for a person to become a child of any parents is to be born into that family. Likewise, we need to be born again spiritually and we're born into God's family. We become children of God. 

Additionally, you can be adopted into a family to become a child of those parents. And that is also what happened to us who put their faith in Jesus. 

Ephesians 1:5 
  • God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

So we weren't justified on the basis of our hard work and self-exerted effort. Rather, we were justified because we had faith in God, even His Son, Jesus Christ. 

By faith, we have been born again and adopted into God's family. 

It would be super ludicrous for a child to work really hard to please their parents in order to become their child, right? Because that child is already a child of their parents.

It is the same with us when we try to justify ourselves by working really hard to please God in order to be saved by God and become His child.

We become His child, solely by believing in Jesus that He took my sins away and trusting in His grace for my whole being.

Children take after their parents. Likewise, we, His children, take after Jesus Christ. 

1 Corinthians 1:8
  • He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:15, 16, 17
  • If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

  • God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

  • This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Children of God who are led by the Spirit, and NOT by the law

Galatians 3:10
  • For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

One of the easiest and fastest way to be under a curse is to rely on one's own works of the law. Yes, if I or you rely on our own works of the law, we are, by definition, already under a curse since anyone who does not continue to keep the whole law perfectly and completely is cursed.

Therefore, everyone is under a curse since no person can keep the law perfectly (except Jesus who actually kept the law perfectly). 

It is such a foolish thing to rely on our own works of the law since we cannot keep it perfectly. We'll always fail at some point of the law. 

Additionally, we need to get our curse to be taken care of, and Jesus took the curse for us on the cross. 

Now, we are free from the bondage of the law and we are led by the Holy Spirit. We now rely on the Holy Spirit for our salvation and sanctification.

The Holy Spirit leads and guides us in what we should do and how we should go about it.

The law has no place in leading us since the role of the law is ended with having led us to Christ. 

Galatians 3:24
  • So the law was our tutor until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.

This doesn't mean that we are now free to sin because we are not slaves of sin either. We are not the slaves of the law or sin. We're rather the slaves of Jesus Christ. We are the slaves of the Holy Spirit.

The definition of the slave in this sense is that we hear the word of God, and obey His word willingly and completely. 

The keeping of the law and obedience are different. The keeping of the law is done with our own works and we get the credit for it. However, obedience originates from faith in God and holding God's word above other people's word.

Galatians 5:16-18
  • So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 

  • For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 

  • But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Romans 8:14
  • For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Faith in Jesus heals the sick, casts out demons, silences the storm and raises the dead.

Galatians 3:9
  • So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The letter to Galatians drives home the importance of faith for receiving specific divine blessings, i.e. salvation, sanctification, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

People tend to think in terms of the world system, i.e. "You gotta work hard to earn blessings." This is not true in God's system of blessings. Because it is not those who work hard to earn His blessings that are blessed, but it is those who believe His word and produce fruit in accordance to their faith that are blessed.

Just as Abraham believed God and received Isaac after many years of waiting on God, and later again offering his son to God and receiving him back.

Faith is not easy. Faith is costly. It does not take much faith to believe something we've already seen. For example, it is not hard to believe that a car exists because many of us already know that there are many cars on the road and some of us own one.

However, it'd be more difficult for someone who lived in the Amazon jungle all their life and have been told about a moving vehicle called a car to believe there is such a thing as a car.

Likewise, it is easy to trust in a doctor's word that he can cure the illness with right medications than to believe in a computer engineer's word that he can cure the same illness.

Therefore, we tend to easily believe in something we've already seen or trust in someone we already know to be trustworthy.

However, just because we haven't seen something doesn't mean that something does not exist, just as in the case of a person who lived in the Amazon jungle all their life and has never seen a car.

Also, just as a doctor is certified and trusted to diagnose and treat diseases, so we believe in someone who's got good credentials.

How about God? We haven't seen him with our own eyes. However, there are many who testify of His work and presence down the history. Historically, Jesus came to the earth 2000 years ago. And that is where we get our BC and AD. BC is "before Christ" and AD is "Anno Domini" which means "in the year of the Lord"

Therefore, 2013AD means in the 2013th year of the Lord Jesus. The history records the person and work of our Lord Jesus.

We haven't seen Jesus, yet we know from others' witnesses and testimony that He indeed came to the earth to save sinners, even us.

Secondly, Jesus' words are trustworthy. He spoke to us about God. Jesus only said things that His Father taught him to speak.

Jesus' words are powerful. He healed the sick, cast out demons, silenced the storm and raised the dead with His word.

Therefore, we know we have faith when we truly believe He is who He says He is and trust His word completely without wavering.

Hebrews 11:6

  • And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

James 1:5-8
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

God is bigger, wiser and much more powerful than Satan (setting the record straight)

Galatians 3:8
  • And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All nations will be blessed through you.”

All nations on the earth are blessed through Abraham, and especially through the likeness of his faith.

This is the good news that God will bless people on the basis of faith.

Don't get me wrong. There is the general grace which extends to all people. For example, the sun and the rain in its season. We've been given the gift of life and free will to live and think. 

However, there is the specific grace that only extends to those who have faith in Jesus.

These blessings include salvation, sanctification, the gift of the friendship of the Holy Spirit, kingdom of God, heaven, eternal life, and seating on the throne with Jesus in heaven.

It is very important for us to remember that these specific blessings extend only to those who have faith in Jesus. 

And how do we have faith? And how can our faith grow?
  • Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

And how do we become more like Jesus? How do we become holy?
  • Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

What is our weapon against the devils?
  • Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:18)

So the centrality of the word of God cannot be overemphasized. The word of God is vital in our spiritual maturity and growth.

The word of God grows our faith, make us become holy and slays demons in our path of life.

Read the word, and be nourished, courageous and holy, and defend yourself against the devils, and actually slay them with your sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!!

I read about 30 chapters of Jeremiah today (not to boast, but to show the benefit of it). It was good. I feel spiritually satisfied. Satan seems scary but God is bigger and wiser and much more powerful than Satan. Amen.

Isaiah 40:21-23

  • Do you not know?
  • Have you not heard?

  • Has it not been told you from the beginning?
  • Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

  • He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
  • and its people are like grasshoppers.

  • He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
  • and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

  • HE brings princes to naught
  • and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

Take up the whole armour of God

Galatians 3:7
  • Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

If we have faith, we are children of Abraham and we are blessed along with him.

He is the father of many nations including us, Gentiles. God justified him on the basis of his faith in God.

Likewise, we are justified in God's sight on the basis of our faith in God.

Therefore, we are, by faith, descendants (or children) of Abraham and the promises of God also apply to us because of our faith in God now.

Additionally, we know that we have entered the kingdom of Light in which righteousness dwells and our King is Jesus Christ.

We once were under the reign of Satan who is the prince of the kingdom of darkness who works in all people who have not yet been translated to the kingdom of light through faith by grace of Jesus Christ.

We are in the middle of a spiritual warfare and this is a warfare of faith. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, principalities, powers of this dark world, and spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realm.

God is our Lord in this spiritual war, and we fight with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God with the helmet of salvation and the belt of truth and the shield of faith which can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Ephesians 6:18
  • And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Friday, August 23, 2013

God delights in people who have faith in Him

Galatians 3:6
  • So also Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

It is an innate human desire to deserve things rather than receiving things for nothing.

We often say, "I deserve this and that." And we also say, "You deserve this and that."

And when it comes to the grace of God, we don't really understand it because pretty much nothing in this world is ever free.

We have a desire to work for things and earn them by our own effort. So, when we find that God bestows upon us His unconditional grace, and the only condition is to believe that it's unconditional, we find it hard to believe that.

Abraham believed what God said, and God declared Abraham was righteous, not because of anything good that he had done, but because he believed what God said to him.

Hmm.. So two things must happen. God must say something to us, and we must believe what he said to us. God has indeed declared to us his will and promises in the Bible, and it is our responsibility to believe what he said in the Bible. 

So, we believe God's will and promises, and the important aspect of this belief is that if we truly believe it, we would surely act on it.

For example, Abraham believed that God would surely bless him and make the number of his offspring as the number of the stars at night. Therefore, Abraham could even obey God's command to sacrifice Isaac among other reasons.

Hebrews 11:19
  • Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Therefore, faith is believing God is for me, not against me, and God's commands and promises are trustworthy, even when we don't quite understand his methods and timing.

Many people tend to think that keeping the law makes us righteous. Surprise, surprise, not necessarily. Actually, that is absolutely not true in God's kingdom. Merely, keeping the law with our own effort is dead works. Even someone who doesn't believe in God can obey the law but that doesn't ultimately make them righteous.

Righteousness comes from faith in God's character, commands and promises. Believing that God is good, and His will is perfect. God delights in people who have faith in him, just as Jesus marveled at the Centurion's faith in Matthew 8:10
  • When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

Galatians 3:5
  • So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

This is a rhetorical question from Paul to the Galatians. Of course, the answer is God gives us His Spirit and works miracles among us by hearing with faith.

By believing what he testified, we are saved and given His Spirit, and He works miracles among us.

It seems so easy. It seems easier to believe what He said than do something in the law. However, it can be indeed more difficult to completely trust what He said in the word than, for example, offering a sacrifice in the Old Testament.

Faith is unseen while a sacrifice is seen. You can offer a sacrifice while having evil thoughts and evil heart whereas in faith, you cannot have such attitude toward God. 

So, it is the matter of our heart and spirit aligning with the word of God, and believing his message.

Yes, Jesus has died for me on the cross and took away my sins so that the wrath of God does not abide on me any more but rather I have been translated from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of the Son of God, who is the Lord, Saviour, King and Christ.

Let us walk with the Spirit by being saturated with the word of God in our thought life.

Let us have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Salvation is of the Lord

Galatians 3:4

  • Did you experience so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 

After coming to know Jesus Christ, and experiencing all the blessings of God, Galatians were about to make all these experiences void by becoming, once again, slaves of the law.

We need to make sure whether we are truly believing the gospel and follow Jesus only rather than following our own concept of righteousness that does not come from God, but comes from within ourselves.

It is such a dangerous thing to put confidence in one's own good works as a basis for one's salvation. Any confidence is in the flesh is, by definition, false sense of salvation. Salvation comes from the Lord only, and the basis for our salvation comes from Jesus and His work on the cross for our sins.

Therefore, all the blessings of God come to us freely without measure. We are saints by new birth. We have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places on the right hand of God. The Holy Spirit came to dwell in us.

We live because Jesus Christ lives in us and through us.

Therefore, we must not become slaves of the law again, to boast in our own flesh, our own good deeds. All our good deeds are like filthy menstrual rags before him (Isaiah 64:6). 

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, and thank Him for His grace and mercy for us.

Patience of God in us by the grace of God

Galatians 3:3
  • Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

We started this Christian life by beginning with the work of the Spirit, not by our own work of righteous deeds.

We were sinners by birth and choice, and God saved us and made us into saints by new birth and the Holy Spirit.

We are forever under the grace of God, and not left on our own to figure out how to navigate around this life with our own feeble wisdom and inadequate power.

We must remember,

James 1:17
  • Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 

2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
  • For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Personally, I don't like being weak, and I believe there'd be only a handful of people who may consider weakness as something desirable in oneself.

Yet, this is Jesus' testimony. When we are weak, then we are strong in Jesus because His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

Noah was ridiculed for building a ship in preparation for a worldwide flood. Abraham had to wait for many, many, many years for his first promised child, Isaac, and later had to undergo a trial of giving him up to God. David was chased around by Saul like Jerry is chased by Tom. Joseph was sold, and became a slave and got imprisoned later for attempted adultery he did not commit. Samson's eyes were gouged out and became a slave in a foreign land. Gideon was an ordinary boy. Jacob's thigh bone copped injury after a duel with God's messenger, and limped afterwards. Jeremiah was very sad, and even depressed, looking at the fate of his people, being taken away to a foreign land of Babylon. Job suffered a great deal.

But even in all these calamitous suffering and pain, God worked in their lives and through them, brought about deliverance and salvation and honoured them for their faith.

Noah was delivered with his family.

Abraham received Isaac back.

  • and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:23)

David became the king of Israel.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; who will do all my will.’ (Acts 13:22)

Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt.

  • You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:40, 41)

The number of his enemies he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. (Judges 16:30)

Gideon defeated his enemies with 300. (Judges 7:7, 24, 25)

God restored the fortunes of Job. (Job 42:10, 12, 17)

  • The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.
  • The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning
  • And Job died, an old man and full of days.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Perfected by the Spirit, not flesh!

Galatians 3:2
  • I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Paul asks us this one question. Have we received the Holy Spirit by working hard for it, or just by listening to the message of the gospel and believing it?

The answer is the latter. 

No, we haven't worked hard to receive the Holy Spirit. We did not earn the Holy Spirit's friendship, nor have we paid for His friendship. 

We've received the Holy Spirit by hearing and believing the message about Jesus. That was all we did. 

In the same way, we live this life by hearing and believing, not by working hard to keep our salvation valid. 

Our salvation started with the cross of Jesus, and we received salvation by believing the message of Jesus. 

In the next verse, Paul goes on to say, 
  • "Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)

No, we began by means of the Spirit, so we'll finish by means of the Spirit as well.
  • looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

We are holy in Jesus

Galatians 3:1
  • O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.

This is a strong statement from Paul to Galatians in regards to their current belief about the gospel. 

We may think what is the big deal? We still believe in Jesus and that he died for our sins. It's just that we still need to keep the law to be perfectly righteous.

Paul calls Galatians, "foolish," i.e. anoétos which means "without (proper) thinking." Galatians needed to think properly and believe the true gospel. 

Since Galatians were leaning towards the false gospel of works and essentially it is a system of works where one tries to prove they are Christians by their righteous works rather than by the righteous works (death) done for them by Jesus.

When we rely on our works, we elevate ourselves and glory in ourselves rather than relying on the true Saviour, Jesus, and glorify Him only.

Paul tells, it is as if Galatians had been spellbound by some evil magic. They were led astray into believing that they had to do something to become a Christian, and be saved.

Now the centre of the message of Paul here is to look at the cross of Jesus Christ. Why had he come to the earth 2000 years ago? Why did he die on the cross? Why did he suffer on the cross, dripping blood and water?

It was all for our justification, salvation and sanctification!

We have been justified, meaning being declared righteous in the sight of God, there is no more any fault found in us on the ground of Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross. We have been saved and we will rise again after our physical death and God proved that through the resurrection of Jesus. And lastly, we are sanctified or become holy through belief and faith in Jesus' presence in us whose whole life is to become manifest in us in this life.

We died, was buried and rose from death in Jesus. That is how we were justified, saved, and sanctified. We don't become holy because we obey the law. We've become holy through Jesus' crucifixion, and that is why we obey the commandments of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We have been found in Jesus

Galatians 2:21
  • I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

We nullify the grace of God, if we try to attain righteousness through the law.

Some people think that the grace of God helps us to keep the law. I would still be nullifying the grace of God if I tried to attain righteousness through keeping of the law by the "supposed grace" of God.

No, Paul is adamant in this verse that we don't become righteous by keeping the law. We are righteous because Jesus died for our sins and raised back to life for us.

Jesus had to die because there is no other way for us to become righteous other than through his death.

Therefore, the reason we keep his commandments is not for us to become righteous. But since we are already righteous because of his sacrificial death on the cross, we love Jesus and we keep his commandments. Just as He said, "if you love me, you'll keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

Christ died for definite purpose. He wanted to make us become righteous, clean, spotless, and without blemish before Him.

And we are indeed altogether beautiful in his sight because of Jesus' redemptive death on the cross for us.

We were once slaves of sin but now we have been brought back to God through forgiveness achieved with His precious blood on the cross.

Grace is Jesus' love on the cross. That is the reality in us. That grace changes us because we have truly found who we are. We have been found in Jesus.

Jesus is truly in us. 

By Faith in the Son of God

Galatians 2:20
  • And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Jesus wants us to live the life in our flesh by faith in Him. Jesus desires to manifest Himself in us and through us to meet others and save them.

Jesus loved us and gave himself for us.

How do I know God loves me? Objectively, he willingly sacrificed himself on the cross to save us.

He gave away his life to save my life and entered into his death so that I wouldn't suffer my eternal death in hell.

Jesus is willing to manifest himself in us if we will let him. If we remind ourselves of the truth that He is in us and with us until the end of this age.

He can do much more when we hand over the rein on our lives to Him so that He can more freely guide us in the way we should go, and in turn blessings are sprinkled around our lives.

Let us also remember the sequence of events, Jesus loved us first and then died for us next. Jesus' love for us did not change before he suffered death on the cross. His love for us motivated him to die on the cross in our place for our sins so that we would no longer live for ourselves on our way to hell, but for Him on our way to heaven.

Monday, August 19, 2013

God is living in me and you.

Galatians 2:20
  • I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. 

If I'm still living in my flesh with my own effort and strength, I would still be a slave of sin and Christ would have nothing to do with me. 

I would not have the power to overcome sin and temptation because my flesh and my ego would operate with the lust of the world and flesh to drag me away from God and towards Satan who delights in destroying people in general, and children of God in particular.

Satan may destroy the body or flesh of the children of God, but since the children of God has the Spirit of God in them, Satan cannot destroy the spirit of the man who has been born again in Jesus.

Since, we have been crucified in Jesus and raised to life in Him, and now He lives in each and every one of us, we have the power to overcome sin and temptation, every one of them.

The power is Jesus. Jesus is the power. 

Jesus works in me and you to live out each day. May sufferings come our way, suffers Jesus with us in our dismay. 

So, if it is not I (or my ego) that lives, who is actually living in me? It is Jesus Himself who is actually living in me. The ego is done away with, and Jesus is present in me, and breathing, thinking, feeling, moving, interacting with people around me and you.

God Himself is living in each and every child of God. 

God Himself is living in me and you today, and will be doing so again tomorrow and the day after and so on.

Life Worth Living

Galatians 2:19
  • For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

Through the law, we die to the law. The wages of sin is death. All the demands of the law that have not been met required transgressors to pay for their sin with their death.

We paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross in Jesus. Therefore, the law has been done away with when died with Jesus in Him.

This is why the law has no power over us to guide us in this life any more because our motivation does not stem from keeping the law any longer, but our motivation comes from our desire to love God and love His people we belong to, and to serve our neighbours just as God served us and saved us.

Before the cross of Jesus was available to us, we may have lived to keep each and every precept of the law, in the hope that we may be acceptable in God's eyes. Additionally, even as an unbeliever, we may have lived in such a way that we tried to keep the law that we thought were right and meaningful to us.

Many of us would have been affected by our parent's method of upbringing and the demands of the society at large. So, we were slaves to the expectations and demands of the people around us.

God now freed us from all those human expectations and demands, and allowed us to live freely in Jesus.

We are no longer enslaved by sin because the Holy Spirit is in us to guide us and help us in our troubles and comfort us in our sufferings.

I no longer live to the law because I died to the law in Jesus. Now, I am living to God.

I belong to Jesus. I am only found in Jesus. I live this life in Him.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Grace, Freedom, Love and Holy Spirit

Galatians 2:18
  • For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

If Paul tries to be justified by God through legalism again, he'd be deluding himself, as no person can be and will be justified by anything other than faith in Jesus by God's grace.

Paul preached grace rather than legalism for the salvation of all people.

Salvation by grace through faith alone is the teaching Jesus delivered to His disciples, including Paul. 

If anyone was to start keeping the law of Moses, it would be like rebuilding the old system of the law which was to bring everyone under the law to be condemned. The role of the law was to help everyone realise their inability to keep the whole law, and to convict us of our sins.

Paul tore down the teaching of legalism, and learned grace of God through faith in Jesus.

If Paul tried to continue keeping the law of Moses, he'd still be a trangressor, because no one can keep the law perfectly and completely.

Only Jesus did. Therefore, He is like one of us, human being, yet He's sinless and perfect in His holiness. The God-man Jesus died as a spotless lamb taking away our sins. 

So, let us not be laden with a heavy burden of keeping the law for the sake of keeping the law, but rather let us keep the law of love and the Spirit.

Let us love one another as we can. Let us follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

Let us ask Him for wisdom and knowledge to live each day to His glory and our joy. 

The Law of Moses vs. The Law of the Spirit and Love

Galatians 2:17
  • "But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Absolutely not!

Paul was justified (declared righteous) in Christ. In seeking to be justified in Christ, Paul was no longer enslaved by the dietary restriction of the law, because it was God Himself who declared,

Mark 7:19
  • For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body, purifying all the food.

Acts 10:13
  • Then a voice told him, "Rise, Peter. Kill and eat."

Acts 10:15
  • Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."

Therefore, if Judaisers (Jews who advocated that one needs to keep the law of Moses to be saved) were right, then Jesus would have been promoting sin by making his disciples to associate with the Gentiles and break the law of Moses by eating "unclean" foods.

Paul adamantly refutes such claim by using one of the strongest Greek negative, "Certainly not!"

It is important to remember that the external rites and ceremonies served their purpose in explaining the deeper spiritual meanings, i.e. the person and work of Jesus Christ.

God distinguished between clean and unclean foods when He was giving the law to Moses. This reveals the spiritual reality of the fact that there are people who are clean and unclean. 

We are all born unclean. David said in his psalm 51:5.
  • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
  • and in sin did my mother conceive me.

If Jews by birth were clean, they would not need cleansing for sin to become clean.

However, every human being is unclean because of sin. It is only through the rebirth or washing of regeneration that we become truly spiritually clean in God.

John 3:5
  • Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Ezekiel 36:25-29
  • I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 
  • I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
  • And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 
  • Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 
  • I will save you from all your uncleanness

The law is no longer binding on Christians but the Spirit is. We no longer live according the law of Moses, but the law of Spirit and love.

Romans 8:1-4
  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 
  • because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 
  • For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh
  • in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 13:10
  • Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Salvation is a gift of God from God for us who have been persuaded by Him.

Galatians 2:16
  • yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ
  • so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law
  • because by works of the law no one will be justified.

There is absolutely nothing we can do to merit salvation from God. We cannot make God in debt to us. 

"Works of the law" in the verse above means "I will do something for God, so that he will have to pay me back."

Therefore, if one endeavours to do a lot of things for God, so that He will bless him for all the things he's done for God, that man is utterly and completely deluded.

First of all, everything comes from the Lord, even our good works are wrought by God's grace. 

Romans 11:34-36
  • “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
  • “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
  • For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

James 1:17
  • Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father of lights. With God, there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Secondly, God cannot be bribed. (Deuteronomy 10:17)
  • For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Thirdly, God blesses us, not because we've done something good for Him, but rather because He is good in spite of our evil behaviour. (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)

  • After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, "The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness." NO, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you.
  • It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 
  • Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

Matthew 7:11
  • If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Fourthly, God loves us, not because we first loved Him, but rather God loved us first and saved us when we were utterly sinful and spiritually dead.

1 John 4:19
  • We love because He first loved us.

Romans 5:6-8
  • You see, at just the right time, when we were still weak and powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (us)
  • Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 
  • But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Colossians 2:13
  • And you, who were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our sins

Ephesians 2:5
  • even when we were dead in our trespasses, 
  • made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Greek is pistis. It means "to be persuaded."

Therefore, "having faith in Jesus" means "having been persuaded by Jesus."

If we believe in Jesus at all, it means we have been persuaded by Jesus.

Remember the woman at the well? She had had five husbands, and there was a man she was living with whom she did not consider to be her husband. She was not the most morally exemplary person for us to follow. Yet, in our hearts, we may be just as sinful and spiritually dead as she was.

Let's listen to Jesus' words to her, and her response to Jesus' words.

John 4:17-19
  • The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband';
  • for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly."
  • The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet."

The woman at the well recognised that something was special about the man she met at the well. He knew about her shameful past, yet he was not judgemental towards her, but rather he focused on the crucial matter of this whole conversation, i.e. salvation of her soul.

John 4:25, 26

  • The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 
  • Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Have you been persuaded by Jesus' words? The fact that you have been persuaded by Him means you have faith in Him.

You did nothing to earn that salvation. So, yes, it is a gift.

The woman at the well did nothing to earn that gift. She was a sinner. Even when she was speaking to Jesus, she had a sinful and shameful past. Yet Jesus talked to her, and persuaded her that He was the Christ, Messiah, Saviour of the whole world.

The moment she was persuaded by Jesus, she had faith in Him. She received a gift of knowing Jesus, and received Him as a gift.

We were once separated from God; but now we have been reconciled to God through Jesus

Galatians 2:15
  • We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 

Jews received the divine word of God written down for their instruction, starting with the 5 books of Moses, i.e. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and many prophets and other reciepients of the word of God who recorded them for the salvation of the Jews.

Therefore, the Gentiles were excluded in this covenant that God made with the Jews.

Ephesians 2:12
  • remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Yet you may say, God is biased. Why has God chosen Israel only and not other ethnicities, nations and tribes?

Remember that God did not choose Israel because they were special or more righteous than other nations. No, they were particularly stubborn and stiff-necked.

Deuteronomy 9:4-6
  • After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, "The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness." NO, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you.
  • It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 
  • Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

Deuteronomy 9:13
  • And the LORD said to me, "I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed!

But now after the cross of Jesus Christ, the Gentiles have been reconciled to God through the death and blood of Jesus on the cross.

Colossians 1:20, 21

  • and through Jesus to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
  • Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
  • he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
  •  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

We, both Jews and Gentiles, all now have access to the Father through Jesus in one Spirit.

Ephesians 2:17-19
  • And Jesus came and preached peace to you who were far off (Gentiles) and peace to those who were near (Jews). 
  • For through Jesus we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 
  • So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Romans 2:10, 11
  • but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then also for the Gentile. 
  • For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 2:29
  • No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

John 3:5, 6, 16
  • Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit
  • Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

We are one in Christ

Galatians 2:14
  • But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Continuing from the previous post, Paul points out that Peter and all the other Jewish Christians with them in Antioch were not at all in step with the truth of the gospel.

They were contradicting the truth of the gospel with their hypocrisy. 

Peter, by separating himself from the Gentile Christians, kept the dietary law of Moses again that Christ set aside on the cross.

Colossians 2:13, 14
  • God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 

Colossians 2:16, 17
  • Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 
  • These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Paul told Peter before them all.
  • “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14)

It is surprising that even after Peter, being the leader of the apostles of Jesus, received the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost, and preached boldly about the good news of Jesus, Peter still erred in regards to the truth of the gospel in his own conduct. 

Peter was still steeped deep in the law of Moses. Peter kept the law of Moses pretty much all his life. Even Jesus, during his ministry kept the law of Moses. It was only after the cross of Jesus that the legal demands of the law of Moses was canceled, because of the new covenant that took effect when the precious blood of Jesus was shed on the cross for our sins.

Matthew 26:28
  • for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
  • It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
  • "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
  • No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

But you may say that God promised this new covenant to the Jews only. Really?

Romans 4:16, 17
  • Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
  • As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Therefore, it is very important to remember that we don't come to God with our hands full of our own good works and to-do-lists to gain His approval and love. 

We come to Him empty-handed, no, rather He comes to us who are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17) if not physically, definitely spiritually.

Let us remember that we are one in Christ. One body. One church in God.

We have different roles but we have the same Lord and God, Jesus Christ.

Our value does not depend on who we are, or what we do, but rather we are valuable because we are valuable in the sight of God. 
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Ephesians 2:8, 9
  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 
  • not by works, so that no one can boast.

Hypocrisy vs. Truth of the Gospel

Galatians 2:13

  • And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

As I have written in the previous post, Peter acted hypocritically, not following the truth of the gospel, and he separated himself from the Gentiles so that he can eat with the Jews who still adhered to the strict dietary restrictions of the law of Moses. 

What happened next was that the rest of the Jews who lived in Antioch with other Gentile Christians were led astray and those Jewish Christians in Antioch also separated themselves from the Gentiles and joined the Jews from Jerusalem.

This goes to show how important the leader's role is in setting an example for others to follow, especially in regards to keeping and walking in line with the truth of the gospel.

Peter feared the judgmental attitude of the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, as did the rest of the Jews in Antioch, and finally so did Barnabas. They all contradicted the truth of the gospel. 

The message of the gospel is this. 

Galatians 2:16
  • yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Peter's hypocrisy was that although he did eat with the Gentiles before the circumcision party (Jews) came from Jerusalem. Once they came, he no longer ate with the Gentiles, and followed the dietary law of the Jews.

He is essentially saying through his behaviour that the dietary law is a requirement for a Christian, in addition to faith in Jesus Christ.

This is in total contradiction to the truth of the gospel.

No man is justified (become righteous in the sight of God) by any deed or work one does, but only by faith in God and grace of God.

2 Corinthians 5:18, 19
  • All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself
  • that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not by works of the law, But by faith in Jesus Christ

Galatians 2:11, 12
  • But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
  • For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.

Paul opposed Peter to his face when he was in Antioch. The reason was that he stood condemned, meaning that he was not walking in line with the truth of the gospel. 

Peter was found guilty, contradicting the truth of the gospel with his behaviour.

Peter separated himself from the Gentiles, rather than joining them with the Jews who came from Jerusalem.

Refusing to eat the food prepared by the Gentiles because he feared the view of the Jews from Jerusalem who still strictly followed the dietary restrictions of the law of Moses.

Peter already had a dream, as found in Acts 10:9-16

  • About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 
  • He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 
  • He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 
  • It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 
  • Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
  • “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
  • The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
  • This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

And this is what happened to the Gentiles who heard the gospel from Peter.

Acts 10:44-48
  • While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 
  • And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 
  • For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 
  • “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 
  • And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

We need to remember this all the days of our lives. We are not righteous in the sight of God because of our seemingly righteous works.

Galatians 2:16
  • yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are righteous in the sight of God.

Let Us Remember The Poor

Galatians 2:10
  • Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

When the leaders of the Jerusalem church, James, Peter and John gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, and told them to go to the Gentile to preach the gospel, the Jerusalem leaders only asked Paul and Barnabas to remember this.

  • "Remember the poor"

There have been many conversions and people from many nations who came to Jerusalem jointed the Christian church of Jerusalem. Although many shared their money and resources with the church. Many of the Jewish Christians were still poor. Since the invitation of the gospel was given to everyone and anyone who believed in Jesus were saved. The number of Christians were growing while the church still needed a lot of financial support.

On top of this, now in those days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch where Paul and Barnabus were located and preaching the gospel.

  • And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 
  • So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 
  • And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

When we do the work of the Lord, let us remember the poor. 

Let us remind ourselves of His word in regards to the poor.

Proverbs 19:17
  • Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

Matthew 10:42
  • And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward."

Matthew 25:40
  • "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

2 Corinthians 9:6-12
  • The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 
  • Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 
  • And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
  • As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

  • He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 
  • You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 
  • For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

Proverbs 28:27
  • He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

Hebrews 6:10
  • God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Deuteronomy 15:7, 8
  • “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,
  • but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.

John 3:16
  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God gave us Himself to us, let us be generous and give ourselves to others.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Barnabas, Son of Encouragement

Galatians 2:9
  • and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

James (the Lord Jesus' brother), Cephas (Peter) and John were the leaders of the churches in Jerusalem and around Judea, primarily focusing on the Jews.

Paul recognised that James, Peter and John were the pillars or, in another words, leaders of the Jewish Christians. These apostolic leaders lead the churches of Jerusalem and Judea because the grace that was given to them by the Lord Jesus.

Paul mentioned that James, Peter and John perceived that Paul was given the grace by the Lord Jesus to preach the gospel. That was why they gave Paul the right hand of fellowship to him and Barnabas.

Now, let me talk about Barnabas. He was an associate of Paul, the apostle.

His name is first mentioned in the book of Acts,
  • There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 
  • and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 
  • Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 
  • sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

He was a Levite, a member of the priestly tribe of Israel, and he comes from the island of Cyprus.

It was also Barnabas who took Paul to the apostles in Jerusalem and introduced him to them.
Acts 9:26, 27
  • And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 
  • But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 

When the great persecution arose, and the believers in Jesus were scattered through Judea and beyond. Many believers came to Antioch as well where many heard about Jesus for the first time and were saved.

  •  The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 
  • When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 
  • for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 
  • So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 
  • and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Barnabas was a close associate of Paul, and they traveled together quite often.

Acts 12:25
  • And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

Acts 13:1
  • Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 13:2
  • While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

One time, they went to Cyprus, the homeland of Barnabas.

Acts 13:4-7
  • So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 
  • When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 

  • When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 
  • He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 

It is no wonder that Barnabas had a prominent role in the expansion of Christianity in the Gentile lands, and it is easy to see how the apostles in Jerusalem gave Barnabas the right hand of fellowship along with Paul for their work in the Gentile nations in light of the passages read above.

This was also confirmed by the Holy Spirit's choice to send them to other Gentile regions for the proclamation of the gospel.

Acts 13:2
  • While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

God Works Through Us Just As He Did Through Peter and Paul

Galatians 2:7
  • On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (the Gentiles; most of us), just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (Jews, Israelites)

Paul was primarily sent to the Gentiles of the world. This is what Jesus said when He saved Paul.

  •  "Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’" (Acts 22:21)

Paul preached in the synagogues to convert Jews from Judaism to Christianity. When the Jews refused his preaching and even became abusive, this was what Paul said in effect,
  • And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6)

Peter stayed in Jerusalem, and kept preaching to the Jews although he himself was persecuted by them.

Galatians 2:8
  • (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles)

God was at work both in Peter and Paul; Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles.

It is important to note that God was working through Peter and Paul. It was neither just Peter and Paul working with their own strength and effort, nor was it God working by Himself without human representatives for Him.

It was not even God and men working together, sharing the load. No, God was working through Peter and Paul. So we can say that God was working, and he was doing that through Peter and Paul. So there is a cooperation of Peter and Paul to the grace and wisdom of God supplied to them.

Who have you been sent to today to display the truth of the gospel through your belief and conduct? Let us look around, God has strategically placed people around us in our lives. We have our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Many of them may not know the Lord. 

Well, just as Peter was sent to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles, we have been sent to people around us. The same God works through us when we cooperate with His grace and wisdom supplied to us.

We believe God who worked through Peter and Paul for their apostolic ministry to the Jews and Gentile respectively, also will work through us to the people around us.

Let us remind ourselves of Jesus' great commission to His followers.

Matthew 28:18-20
  • Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
  • Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
  • and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Preservation of the Truth of the Gospel

Galatians 2:6
  • And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.

Paul met Peter, James and John when he came to Jerusalem to discuss with them about the gospel.

It is quite surprising how Paul makes a statement that those influential apostles of Jesus made no difference to him, because Paul himself received apostleship from Jesus and preserved the true gospel of Jesus. Paul preached the gospel to Gentiles, and it was confirmed by the Lord Himself and the Holy Spirit bore witness to it.

Additionally, Paul says that Peter, James and John, though they were influential added nothing to Paul because he preached the true gospel and lived out the true gospel in his own life. Rather, Peter displayed his hypocrisy as in Galatians 2:11-14

  • But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 
  • For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 
  • And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 
  • But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 

 So Paul agrees that Peter (Cephas), James and John were influential. However, whether they were influential or not, the more important issue was the preservation of the truth of the gospel. Peter erred in the instance above. He acted hypocritically.

Therefore, let us learn to preserve the truth of gospel through our belief in it, manifested in our conduct as well. And also, let us seek the truth of the gospel rather than fame and influence in this world. When we seek the truth of the gospel, we may even become famous and influential just as Peter and Paul were.

"God shows no partiality"

Paul reiterates in this statement that the apostleship, ability, gift and influence were all given to the apostles by the grace of God, rather than they were of their own.

God who worked in Peter, James and John also worked in Paul as well. Jesus shows no partiality.

1 Corinthians 12:11
  • All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

The implication is that in this day and age, we need to watch that our own hearts do not idolise famous, influential preachers, pastors and Christians around the world, or in the history of Christianity. We all need to focus on the truth of the gospel rather than men. If we idolise men, we may lose the focus of the truthfulness of the gospel, and we may even accept false theology from other Christians. 

Paul was clear in that he was obsessed with the truth of the gospel, which lead to his biblical discernment of seeing the fact that although Peter may have been more influential than Paul at the time, he could see Peter's hypocrisy when it was practiced right before Paul's eyes. And he was able to confront Peter for it.

Preserve the Truth of the Gospel with your Life

Galatians 2:5
  • to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Paul did not submit to the false brothers even for a moment. Why? To preserve the truth of the gospel for us.

It is important to notice that Paul was adamantly, even vehemently, opposed the false brothers with the same intensity as they were to Paul, if not more. There's a reason for this. And that reason is to preserve the truthfulness of the gospel. 

The gospel is not merely a set of facts that we believe in when we are first saved. The gospel is the life saving and preserving message of the truth of the person, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And not only should we believe these truths about the Saviour, but also live out these truths in our lives through the Spirit that the Father sent to us when we believed.

Paul could have let the false brothers get the better of him, and let Titus have a circumcision. That would effectively say outwardly that you need to have a circumcision to be truly saved and become a true Christian, just like the rest of the Jews in Israel.

That would effectively result in the masses of Gentiles receiving circumcision to be saved. Not only that, the false brothers also demanded that,

  • But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)

Now the focus has shifted to the circumcision and the law of Moses which no man can keep completely and perfectly. 

James 2:10
  • For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Romans 6:23
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, the false brothers have completely missed the point of the law of Moses, and have forgotten why Jesus came to the earth, lived a perfect, sinless life and died as a perfect, spotless lamb without blemishes on the cross.

Romans 4:25
  • He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Justification means that we are justified or become righteous before God, based on the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us.

In circumcision, we do something to try and make ourselves appear more righteous before God. In the cross, God does something to make us righteous.

In circumcision, we try to get glory for ourselves by our own deeds. In the cross, God gets glory by His own deeds for us.

Paul preserved the truth of the gospel by not submitting to the false demands of the false brothers. 

What demands are put on you from your parents, friends, church or denomination that are contrary to the truth of the gospel?

What demands do you need to not submit in order to preserve the truth of the gospel in your life?

Paul did not yield to circumcision, nor did he yield to the Sabbath keeping or dietary restrictions.

Colossians 2:16, 17
  • Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

What are you enslaved by? Is going to church a chore for you? Do you go to church just because you have to dutifully, rather than you get to enjoy the fellowship of your brothers and sisters, and to love God through personal and corporate worship in one place? 

Do you tithe your money dutifully just because the church says good Christians tithe, therefore you should do as well, being influenced by guilt-provoking messages, rather than giving money out of joy for the Lord who is forever generous towards you?

2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Is Bible reading a chore for you? Do you read your Bible just because you have to? Because that's what good Christians do? Rather than viewing the word of God as a guiding light that is shining in this dark world until the second coming of our Lord Jesus?

  • We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Things can enslave you if you let them. Be completely free in Christ who set us completely free.

Galatians 2:4

  • Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in - who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery.

There were false brothers in the church of Jerusalem, even as there have been, are and will be in churches around the world.

The false brothers are characterised by their insistence on external customs, regulations and laws to justify themselves.

For example, because they received a circumcision, they had a right to be saved. Not remembering that Abraham was called and saved by God before he was circumcised.

We, as human beings, have an innate desire to prove ourselves, have confidence in ourselves through some external ceremonies, and want to be right in our beliefs.

The false brothers' problem was their insistence on getting a "circumcision." Not remembering women did not receive circumcision. Only men did. The circumcision was a sign of something else. Something deeper.

Romans 2:28, 29
  • For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Circumcision refers to the circumcision of the heart, i.e. the uncovering of our heart. The uncovering of the most private, secret, intimate part of our heart before God. Even our shame is exposed to God who sees all our flaws and blemishes, and still accepts us. Not because we are so clean and blameless, but because he is gracious and forgiving.

Romans 5:8
  • but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Therefore, false brothers' belief that one can be right before God by receiving a circumcision is completely missing the point of the circumcision.

Circumcision reminds us that we ought be completely honest before God, exposing even our worst mistakes, flaws, failures, blemishes and shortcomings, including the most gross, filthy, deplorable sins before Him.

Now, if we focus on the circumcision of the flesh rather than the circumcision of the heart, we become slaves to something external, and may completely miss the crux of the matter. 

It would be like looking at the shadow of a person, and be content that we know that person, rather than focusing directly at that person. The shadow of that person can give us a rough idea of who that person is, but not much. It can even be misleading, if that shadow is distorted, and we may have a false idea of that person. It's the same with God, if we only look at external things to figure out who God is, we may completely miss the point of the shadows provided by God for us. Since we cannot see the circumcision of heart (because it is believed by faith), God provided a physical circumcision for Abraham and his descendants.

Colossians 2:17
  • These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 10:1
  • For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities.

We need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened so that we may know what is the true hope to which God has called us, what are the true riches of his glorious gifts and future in us for us, (Ephesians 1:18)

Yes, heaven, and all the glory and honour and happiness that are contained within that heaven with God in God.

So salvation is the gift of God for us. It's received by believing that God is a giver, and not a taker. God is generous. He is not selfish. God demands first and foremost that we trust in Him, and not merely look at the shadows of things to come.

The moment we look away from God, and focus on things like our prayer life, church attendance, bible reading, tithing, witnessing, and all the other things that are not necessarily bad, we completely lost the point of doing these things above.

We focus on God first, thank Him, praise Him, and don't get enslaved to things that are external. If something external becomes not a choice we do voluntarily, then it becomes our slave master to make us miserable, bigoted and judgmental towards other who don't do as we do.

For example, if I focus on attending church regularly, (rather than the reason for attending church, i.e. to worship God and love our brothers and sisters in Christ), I'd look down on other people who don't come to church as regularly as I do. I'd think I'm more spiritual than others because I attend church regularly, while other don't. By this, I've completely lost the point of attending church. I'm no longer a lover of my brothers and sisters, but I've become a judge of their external behaviour.

So, let us tarry in Christ, thank Him and love Him more than anything else so that other things may not snatch our freedom of loving God and loving people from us. 

Galatians 5:1
  • For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.