Thursday, August 30, 2018

Galatians 4

Today's reading...
Galatians 4:1–31 (NLT)
1Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had.
2They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set.
3And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world.
4But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.
5God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.
6And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
7Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
8Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.
9So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?
10You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.
11I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.
12Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws. You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you.
13Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News.
14But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself.
15Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible.
16Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?
17Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them.
18If someone is eager to do good things for you, that’s all right; but let them do it all the time, not just when I’m with you.
19Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.
20I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you.
21Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?
22The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife.
23The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.
24These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them.
25And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law.
26But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother.
27As Isaiah said, “Rejoice, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into a joyful shout, you who have never been in labor! For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband!”
28And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac.
29But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.
30But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”

31So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Then you are also an heir, and all of Christ’s riches are yours (Eph. 1:3)! A child must wait until maturity to inherit the family wealth, but God’s children can have His wealth now (Phil. 4:19).

Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Then you are free! A child is in bondage and must be guarded by adults, but a grown son or daughter enjoys freedom. To live under Law is to be a slave, and God wants His children to enjoy their freedom in Christ.

Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Then you can become like Him as you yield to the Spirit (v. 19; 2 Cor. 3:18).

Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Then your citizenship is secure in heaven because you are a child of promise (vv. 21–31; Gen. 16). You were born free!

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Galatians 3

Today's reading...
Galatians 3:1–29 (NLT)
1Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.
2Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.
3How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
4Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
5I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
6In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
7The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.
8What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”
9So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
10But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”
11So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
12This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”
13But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
14Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
15Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case.
16God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.
17This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise.
18For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.
19Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
20Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.
21Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it.
22But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
23Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
25And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
28There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Examination (1–14). It does us good to examine ourselves to make sure our spiritual experience is valid (2 Cor. 13:5). Do you have the Spirit living within? (See Rom. 8:9.) If you began in the Spirit (which is the only way to begin), are you trying to continue in the power of the flesh? Like Abraham, were you saved by faith; and are you now, like Abraham, walking by faith?

Explanation (15–25). The Judaizers wanted the Galatians to go back to Moses, but that was not far enough. We must go back to Abraham where the promise started. The law did not annul the promise; the law was given to reveal sin and prepare the way for Christ to come and fulfill the promise. The law is a tutor, not a savior; a mirror, not a cleanser.

Exhortation (26–29). Beware! A false gospel robs you of salvation and of membership in the family of God where all believers are one in Christ. It robs you of your spiritual riches as an heir of the promise. Are you rejoicing in the freedom you have in Christ?
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Galatians 2

Today's reading...
Galatians 2:1–21 (NLT)
1Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too.
2I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing.
3And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile.
4Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations.
5But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.
6And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.)
7Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews.
8For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles.
9In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews.
10Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do.
11But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.
12When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.
13As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
14When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?
15“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles.
16Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
17But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!
18Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down.
19For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.
20My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

21I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

The runner (1–5). Paul saw himself as a man running a race, and he was sure he was on the right track and headed for the right goal. The Judaizers were trying to move the church into bondage and get them on a detour (5:7; Acts 15).

The steward (6–10). God has committed the gospel to His people, and we must guard it and share it with others. God is not looking for popular celebrities; He is looking for faithful stewards (1 Cor. 4:1–2).

The watchman (11–13). Paul was not afraid to confront the apostle Peter when Peter moved away from the truth of the gospel. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!” said Wendell Phillips, and that applies to our spiritual liberty as well.

The destroyer (14–21). Jesus destroyed the law by fulfilling it (Matt. 5:17–20). His death tore the temple veil (Luke 23:44–45) and removed the wall between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14–18). To go back to Moses is to rebuild what Jesus tore down and say that He did not really save us when we trusted Him.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Galatians 1

Today's reading...
Galatians 1:1–24 (NLT)
1This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
2All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.
3May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
4Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.
5All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
6I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News
7but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
8Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.
9I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
10Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
11Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning.
12I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
13You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it.
14I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
15But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him
16to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.
17Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
18Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days.
19The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother.
20I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.
21After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia.
22And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally.
23All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!”
24And they praised God because of me.

To Paul, the gospel was much more than a message he preached: it was a miracle he had experienced (vv. 1–5). The gospel is “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) and it brings freedom. Christ died “that He might deliver us” (v. 4). When Paul trusted Christ, he became a free man. The shackles of sin and legalistic religion were broken!

But the gospel was also a treasure that Paul guarded (vv. 6–17). Paul did not invent the gospel or learn it from others; God gave it to him (1 Cor. 15:1–11). There is no other gospel. To add to this message, take from it, or substitute another message is to destroy it. No wonder Paul attacked those who attacked the gospel; when you lose the gospel, you lose everything.

The gospel is a tie that binds God’s people together (vv. 18–24). Saul the enemy became Paul the brother, and he was able to fellowship with people he once had persecuted. Christians may disagree on minor matters of interpretation and organization, but they agree on the message of the gospel.

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)