Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grace Like Paul Taught It

My Dad told me a many years ago that if I preach grace like Paul taught it, I'll always have to warn people that grace is not a license to sin. Some people from conservative churches say they didn't hear much about grace growing up. I knew about grace. I experienced it more than I heard it, I believe; but I did hear it.

It's critical to me that those who hear me preach regularly hear a lot about grace; and since I love to preach through books, sermons on salvation by grace through faith come around pretty often. Paul is desperate for the Galatians to turn back to reality. Many of the Galatians had spent their lives worship idols. Idols aren't real. Many had spent their lives trying to be justified by law keeping. Justification on the basis of human effort isn't real. These idol worship and "law keepers" had heard clearly that Christ was crucified for them and that what's real is justification through faith in him!

Since they were no longer under the condemnation that comes with transgression of the law, some might have believed that sinning was not a problem. So Paul admonished them. He called them to live lives of service to each other. He warned them not to return to what had brought them disaster before: First, he warned them not to follow the system of salvation that emphasized their own righteousness above faith in Christ. Second, he told them not to return to those ways that were obviously part of the sinful nature. The way of the Spirit is in conflict with the works of the flesh. Spirit led people don't go there.

And he called them to love each other. If you miss that in Galatians 5 and 6, you aren't paying attention. The most obvious evidence that you follow Jesus is that you love your neighbor.

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Gal 5:6).

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Gal 5:14).

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).

"Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation" (Gal 6:15).

Being a new person, particularly seen in your love for others, is the essence of the Christian walk. How are you doing with that? That's Life at Work!

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