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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who persevere in faith through the trials God has allowed in them said… AMEN
The issues with the Corinthian church were more about self-indulgence, making me happy, don’t waves, the Monty Python bit, oh let’s not fuss about who killed who. If someone gets hurt, too bad, hey, you keep trying to “harsh my mellow” Like people using drugs, let me have my high, don’t worry what other people think. If there was such a thing as marijuana in those days, the Corinthians would be in the back somewhere lighting up, just “leave me alone… let me mellow…”
At least the Galatians were about theology. They were about the Judaizers; in order to be saved one has to jump through hoops; ceremonies, diet, legalism instead of grace. Rhohrs Franzman, who wrote the “Concordia Self-Study Commentary” writes the true Gospel is going to case “upheavel, tension, …” There are those who don’t want the genuine Gospel. The Gospel is very clear, it’s what Jesus teaches, but, in an era of staggering biblical illiteracy, the Gospel is what we want it to be, what makes us happy, what fills my personal paradigm, the picture we want to paint. The Gospel is about the 4 “solas”. Sola Fide, faith alone, Sola gratia grace alone, Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, Sola Christi, Christ alone. That’s it, nothing more. Where in that do you see, ya, but you still shouldn’t eat certain things, you should have this elaborate system of being accepted. Or, Christianity is all about me, my self enhancement, my happiness, my prosperity, how I do everything right. It’s not about all the things that I “do”, the points I score, the works I perform, the tithes I give… It’s not about you, it’s just not!!! Galatians and Corinthians, are an interesting contrast in what Christianity is not about. Why is that important today? Because we see the same old tired arguments being trotted out by people like Joel Osteen, Creflow Dollar, these guys that have no real understanding of grace, faith, Scripture. They hear Jesus and think wow it’s all about me and if I get enough faith, generate it by myself in order to earn my way to all the things I deserve in life than God will give me those things and make me happy. They don’t have an answer when people who are so genuine in their Christian faith are persecuted throughout history and all around the world. There is going to be conflict within the church because it seems that there are always Corinthians “make me happy” and Galatians, “I have to earn my way, jump through hoops”. Both are wrong. Paul is going to lengths to try to get them to understand “it is all about what Jesus does, He gives us the faith to understand what He does and we are only saved through Him, no amount of works we can do will save us. We have versions of both heresies in the world today, rejecting Jesus and making it all about me. We have Paul’s words over and over again to churches in the ancient world, answering the same questions we’re answering today, saying “no you’re uninformed opinion is wrong.” There is conflict in the church, but the conflict mostly comes from those who tend to live in denial of reality, what they want and not what Jesus teaches and get all offended and whiney when someone says no, that’s not what we are in Christ. Franzman writes about Luke 2:34 where Simeon promises that Jesus is appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and that He is a sign who will be opposed. Jesus has proved beyond any doubt, by His teachings, the miracles of healing, controlling the weather, His gifts, His rising from the dead, that He is God. Yet, there are those who continue to oppose Him, or treat Him like a “wax nose” try to shape Him into their, bogus – self serving, world view. Franzman writes: [it is] in no way a contradiction of the fact that it is a divine Word if the growth of the Word brings with it tension and rouses conflict, not only between the church and the world, but also within the world itself.”
In our epistle reading today, Paul is bending over backwards to try to get the Galatians to understand that Christ is far above the rules and hoops of the Judaizers and yet simple enough a child can grasp what Jesus is about. Genuine Christianity is so simple and straight forward an 8 year old can understand it, yet so deep, rich, universal, winsome of breadth and depth an eighty year old can study Christianity his whole life and not grasp the depth and intricacy. What Paul is saying may “look” like works, the things that we do, but Paul writes: “14 far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Meaning I can’t boast in the cross, there was only one who was capable of earning for us our eternal forgiveness and salvation in the Father and that was the Son, Jesus, on the Cross, earning for me what I could never do for myself. Do we do good works? Sure, Paul writes: “8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” The Judaizers, the Corinthians the Osteenians sow and reap to their own flesh, that only brings sin, corruption and death. We sow/plant and reap to the Spirit, He is guiding us, it’s in Him that our life is guided and delivered into eternal life, the life more abundant of the resurrection. Paul writes: “. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We can never boast in the Cross and it is all about what Jesus did for us on the Cross, entirely in and of Him. CFW Walther writes: “Paul when he was still Saul, exerted himself to walk blamelessly according to the Law. When he thought he attained the highest righteousness and holiness, he had become an enemy and a persecutor of Christians.” When we try to do it ourselves we corrupt and turn it into evil, we become an enemy of God instead of His children. Walther writes: “Luther struggled and even wounded himself in his cloister cell in order to become holy by his own power. But all he achieved by this was doubt…” Instead of the hope and promise that Jesus gives us, all we get are doubt and despair when we try to make it about ourselves and our works, it is a losing proposition. Walther: “The order of salvation is not that a person is first holy and then saved; rather, he is first saved and then made holy. ‘We love because He first loved us,’ (1 John 4:19) There is going to be conflict because in the church, in the world, there are people who are about themselves, whether it’s the Corinthians make me happy, give me my way, or the people who “I have to earn everything for myself”, or those who know the truth in Christ is all about Him, what He does and what the Holy Spirit does moving through us. I wrote in this month’s newsletter that conflict is often generated when a church starts to move, when it starts to push against the world and Satan. Satan is not just going to sit around, he will push back, hard. When a church is genuinely pushing against Satan, individuals and the church as a whole will experience conflict and trials. Being faithful to God draws fire from Satan. If that is what we are going through at the present time, we should rejoice, we are being faithful and God will deliver us. We have come a long way, we have a lot to overcome and a long way to go. Faith is about what we are given by the Holy Spirit and trusting what He does through us, where He guides us, what He wants us to know, He provides for us. Through study, sometimes through experience, sometimes trial and hardship. True Christians understand and accept that and are strong because they have the faith that the Holy Spirit imparts to them constantly. Others crash and burn in their faith, as the Corinthians did and too many of the prosperity/name it and claim it of today. The faith they try to generate only sustains them for so long and only through so much that they are willing to endure. If the going gets too tough, well then obviously this Christian thing doesn’t work. Where does that leave them? Doomed to eternal condemnation because they chose to deny Jesus and make it their own way and wouldn’t even accept that they could come back to Jesus in repentance. They just fade into the hopelessness and despair of the world, but not before they rock the boat and cause conflict based on their ignorance. We trust in Christ, His work, His hope and His promise not in our works. The world will subject those who are genuinely in Jesus to trial and tribulation. After Peter and other apostles were beaten by order of the Sanhedrin: “ESV Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Suffering for Him who suffered for us? That’s a good thing and we will be counted worthy.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah