How do I experience the freedom Paul promised in Galatians? Freedom from anxiety, crippling fear, or enslaving sins. How do I come alive in the way God wants for me? Is freedom just a nice platitude Christians wave about meaninglessly? Or can it be a reality? I believe it can be a reality, but it means getting Jesus deep into us--into our bones. To do that, we have to first go backwards.
We are all shaped by our past and for most of us, the primary shaper was our family of origin. Our moms. Our dads. Our grandparents and siblings. We inherit much more than wealth or things. As the saying goes, Jesus might live in our hearts, but grandpa lives in our bones.
In this series, we will gently unpack some of these "soul-shaping" characteristics passed down through families--realities like generational sins, relational patterns, scripts, and generational blessings. The freedom promised to us in Galatians empowers us not only to face our past, but to grow from it--not only in self-awareness, but in turning from destructive to life-giving patterns that can bless the generations after us.
When we think about investments, we are told to think about the long haul and not the quick return. We want to make sure we have enough when it comes time to draw from what we have invested. That means we expect there to be a greater return than what we put in. Psalm 90 looks at our lives as investments and looks very carefully at the maturity dates.
Do you remember the annoying kid in your grade school that went on and on endlessly extolling his or her virtues? Or maybe you were that kid? Adults need just as much validation, but are typically more discreet. Paul talks quite a bit about boasting in this concluding chapter of Galatians. He brings together all his major themes around the concept of a boast--or your source of glory. His narrative assumes we all must find our boast in something. Yet for the follower of Jesus, the cross-centered life turns everything upside down.
In the last message, Pastor Chris walked us through Galatians Chapter 5 where we saw what the impact of a spirit led life looks like. As we move forward in our Galatians series, we see that Paul still has some instructions for the Galatians in regards to how they live their lives. Paul takes a narrower focus and shows us how gospel-centered living impacts the relationships we have with those around us.
Is there such a thing as a "normal Christian life"? At first take, that sounds dull, boring, and predictable. Yet, when you drill down into the stories of "normal Christians," you will find just the opposite. The journeys believers can take are unique, creative, and adventurous. At the same time, there are areas of common experience. Every believer experiences a conflict, a struggle, and a battle within themselves. We are tempted to think this inner conflict is unique to us and not part of every Christian’s pathway. In this next edition of Galatians, Paul explains the source of the struggle and paints a picture of what a victory--a transformed character--looks like.
The cry for freedom against tyranny has produced some of history’s most unforgettable moments. The cries from William Wallace, Patrick Henry, and Martin Luther King are seared into our memories from movies, news reels, and classrooms. Paul, too, made an appeal for Christians to embrace, enjoy, and stand firm in their freedom. Unlike the earth-bound call for freedom, rejection of Gospel freedom has eternal consequences. In this next turn in Galatians, Paul gives a warning, lays out a diagnostic test, and makes his final appeal.
It has often been pointed out that there are two types of people: there are iPhone people and there are Android people; there are Coke people and Pepsi people; there are iOS people and Windows people. What we are going to see in this passage in Galatians is that the Apostle Paul also says there are two types of people: Ishmael's people and Isaac's people. There are flesh people and there are Spirit people, and there are slave people and there are free people. Paul’s question to the Galatians, and his question to us, is which person are you going to be? Are you going to move back into slavery under the law or are you going to live free in Christ?
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.