Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Gospel Freedom in Christ

Galatians 2:1

  • Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.

Paul went up to Jerusalem again to discuss with the other apostles about the Gentile salvation and their requirements in the kingdom of God. 

The legalism was slipping into the Gentile churches, restricting their freedom in Jesus. The Jewish Christians, especially those who were converted from Pharisaism, demanded that it was necessary to circumcise the Gentile believers and to order them to keep the law of Moses (Acts15:5).

Does this sound familiar? Even now, many of us who are Gentile believers are trying to keep the law of Moses or the traditions that the denomination to which each of us belong to impose upon us. 

But Peter stood up and said to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. (Acts 15:7)
  • “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 
  • And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 
  • and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

Peter goes on to say (Acts 15:10, 11),
  • Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 
  • But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

And James, one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church, gave this message to the Gentile believers,

Acts 15:19-21
  • Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 
  • but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 
  • For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

The Gentile believers were confused as to what they should do as Christians, should they be circumcised, keep the Sabbath, and not wear clothes made of wool and linen mixed together (Deuteronomy 22:11)?

We have the freedom in Christ to believe God and to serve Him and our neighbours, even those whom we don't like.

Should we do QT, pray, fast, read the Bible and witness to others out of obligation and duty? Because good Christians should do these things? Because we are saved by doing QT, praying, fasting, reading the Bible and witness to others about the gospel?

No, we're saved through the grace of Jesus. 

However, I don't mean that we shouldn't do QT, pray, fast, read the Bible and witness. I do all these things but what I mean is that we have the freedom in Christ. Do you feel guilty when you don't do QT, pray, fast, read the Bible or witness? Then we have not been perfected by the grace of Jesus in freedom. We do QT, pray, fast, read the Bible and witness out of our heart in Jesus. 

And aside from these external manifestations of our faith, the truth of the matter is that we should focus on tarrying in Jesus and live out of that focus in Jesus. Our love for Jesus should be the motivation to make us do all these other activities and external manifestations of our faith in God.

  • For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)

We must not confuse the faith with the results of faith.

We must not confuse the Holy Spirit with the fruit of the Spirit.

An unbeliever may have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (maybe in their idols, but not in God), gentleness and self-control in their flesh and in a worldly way. But they do not have the Holy Spirit. Because we cannot work to gain the Holy Spirit, but we receive the gift of the friendship of the Holy Spirit by faith alone.

We receive the Holy Spirit first, then we have the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Yes, against the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law. The Spirit guides our heart and bears fruit that is repentant, faithful, loving, kind, gentle, peaceful, good, patient, and joyful. 

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