Last Sunday we saw how Paul helped the Galatians understand their new identity as freed slaves who are now sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. This week we will see Paul take a turn from the position of a theological teacher to the position of a concerned, caring Pastor who attempts to confront this new body of believers with a significant issue that is plaguing this church.
Until this point in Galatians, Paul has been laying out a very detailed and intricate argument to the Galatians about their justification--about how they were made right with God. And the language and imagery of justification is that of a courtroom: it’s judge and defendant; it’s guilty or not guilty. What we saw at the end of the last message is that Paul begins to make a shift. He begins to add this new language and this new imagery of family. He says in Galatians 3:26, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
Walking through the letter to the Galatians has shown us the incredible blessings of the gospel. The gospel gives you an entirely new identity and community. In accepting the gospel, you become a child of God and part of a global family. The gospel also reconciles you to your past. The unattached become attached. The homeless find a home. The insignificant find significance.
We are sorry for the inconvenience, but due to technical audio and visual technical difficulties this weeks sermon will be unavailable.
Are you skeptical about your potential to change? Maybe you have followed Jesus for a long time and experienced only superficial and skin deep change. You have traded in a few bad behaviors and replaced some old hangups; but other than that, your heart remains untouched. This next segment of Galatians begins to explain how the gospel digs below the surface and transforms not only our behaviors but our hearts.
When we read the scriptures we see that Jesus really loves and cares about the unity of His church. In fact, if you read his high priestly prayer in John 17, the main thing he was praying about was that his people would be one, that they would be united. However, when we come to this week’s passage in Galatians, we see that there was quite a bit of disunity and conflict in the early church about how Gentile believers should relate to the law. What we will see in this first part of Galatians chapter two is that the basis of our unity as Christians is the gospel. We live in a culture right now where everything is so divided and polarized; unfortunately, that mindset has crept into the church. However, as followers of Jesus, we need to remember that we have been called to unity, and again our unity is in Jesus and in the gospel.
There is a temptation every Christian faces. It is a temptation to know and repeat the correct words of the gospel, but lose its meaning. The gospel is not mysterious. Yet there is something inside of us that subtly pushes against its essence. This is what happened to the Christians in Galatia. To the apostle Paul’s shock, they had quickly turned away from the gospel. The gospel is not only the message that saves us, but it is also the power to change us.
In this message, we kick off a new series on the book of Galatians, From Shackles to Sonship. In this first message, we see that the apostle Paul is really worked up and angry with the believers in Galatia. The reason he is so worked up is that false teachers have come into the churches and have taught a "different" gospel, which according to Paul is no gospel at all. In fact, Paul goes on to claim in the first couple of verses from Chapter 1 that there is only one gospel, and it’s the "Jesus plus nothing" gospel.
In Brave New World, the citizenry of a futuristic London move constantly to and fro from one activity and sensual experience to the next. They rarely, if ever, think about the true meaning of their lives. All the old books have been done away with. Real emotion and ideals are purged. Those who control things perpetuate this lifestyle with easy pleasures and crass commercialism. This picture unnervingly mirrors modern day America. Ask someone how they are doing and often you hear the words, "I am so busy," or "I feel overwhelmed." "Busy" has become the favorite new self-descriptor. Why do we jam as many activities or as much work as we can in one day? Why are Americans sleeping so much less per night? What are we afraid of? To these questions and very modern realities, the Bible offers a new way of seeing and experiencing the world.
The dystopia of Huxley’s famous novel Brave New World is unfolding in our 21st century world. One author found an eerie parallel in the ways we have become "enslaved by a compulsion for easy pleasure without accountability." In the novel, the residents in a futuristic London take a highly powerful pleasure drug called Soma. They take it to avoid any and every hint of stress or painful feelings. People are happy, but it is a cheap, conditioned happiness. This Brave New World is here today in the form of new pleasure drugs that are destroying lives, families, and communities. The story of the Bible offers a refreshing alternative on how to face pain and find comfort.
*Disclaimer: The audio recording for this message was lost so you will only hear the audio from the camera. Sorry for the inconvenience.
In the first part of our new series, Brave New World, we looked at the area of technology. In this message, we look at the topic of sexuality. Like in technology, things in our culture have changed rapidly in recent years in the area of sexuality. In light of that, we want to look at what our current culture believes about sexuality, contrast that with the scriptural view, and then look at which view leads to human flourishing.
In the 20th century, two popular dystopian novels were written: 1984 (by George Orwell) and Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley). Neil Postman, in the foreword to his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, said the following about these books:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture….In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Postman notes that American culture has become much more like Brave New World than 1984, and perhaps he is right. There is currently a narrative in our society of what human flourishing looks like, and increasingly it resembles the dysfunction described in Brave New World. In contrast, the Scriptures paint a narrative of what human flourishing looks like, and it is in direct opposition to the current view. In this series, we will take a fresh look at our society’s narrative of human flourishing and critique it in light of what Jesus and the Scriptures say.
In the last message, Pastor Nick helped us see a remarkable reality--even the tragic consequences of David’s sins did not remove him from receiving God’s unconditional promise. In his suffering, David recognized the fingerprint of God’s mercy and ran to Him rather than from Him. In this message, we see the story of David’s life is drawn to a not so tidy conclusion. The ending of 2 Samuel promises both to puzzle and surprise.
In the last message, we saw the consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba begin to play out. David's son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, which leads to another son, Absalom, killing Amnon in retaliation. Eventually, that leads to Absalom challenging his father for the throne, which forces David to flee Jerusalem. In this message, we will pick up the story, and we'll see three main movements in the story. First, we will see David’s continued exile. Then, we will see Absalom’s downfall and death. Lastly, we will see David’s return to Jerusalem. During this period of David’s life, you really begin to wonder who is really in control. Is it David, Absalom, Joab, or is it God? As well, you wonder if God’s covenant with David will win out and triumph over David’s sin and mistakes.
In the last message, Pastor Rich showed us how God enters into the ugly messes we make. Examining the depth of David’s sins, Rich proved David’s life is a living picture of the amazing grace of God. At the same time, there are consequences to our decisions. In 2 Samuel 12:10 God warned David, “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” The fulfillment of this ominous prophecy begins to unfold in the next part of our story, and speaks to the profound cultural moment in which we live, the fierceness of God’s discipline, and the strangeness of God’s love.
Of all the great leaders of the Old Testament, David is among the greatest. Warrior and king, composer and conqueror, unifier of kingdoms, a man after God’s own heart. So great was David that one of the most well known titles of Jesus would be Son of David. Like almost all the great figures of the Bible, David was a man who struggled and was flawed. However, in the midst of his serious struggles emerges a picture of the surprising grace of God, as God invades David’s mess and invites him into restoration.
The book of 2 Samuel can be divided up into two sections--the first describing David’s rise, and the second outlining his fall. This week, we will look at the last of the chapters which follow his rise and the greatness of his reign. We will see all of the ways that David embodied God’s ideal chosen king. While ultimately David fell short, he did foreshadow the true and better King who is to come.
King David stabilized the kingdom and is enjoying peace. With time for reflection, it does not escape his notice that the tent containing God’s house pales in comparison to his own. Driven by the evident disparity, David hatches a plan with his friend to tip the scales the other way. He is going to build God an amazing house. But God has other plans, and in saying "No" to David, He sets in motion an intimate and surprising human/divine conversation. It is a conversation revealing more grace than David could ever have imagined, a grace that reaches down to us.
Is there something that prevents you from experiencing the blessing of God? Do you have an everyday confidence and awareness that He is alive and working in you? In our journey through 2 Samuel, the fifth chapter marks a significant turning point in the life of David. David’s scope of responsibility grows exponentially and the writer reaffirms why success came to him. That same pathway of blessing is available to you. It is not easy, but it is remarkably simple. Sound interesting?
Last summer we began a journey through the period of Israel’s history described in the book of 1 Samuel. 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book, so we ended last summer very much in the middle of the story. In this series, we continue on this journey through 2 Samuel.