Tag Archives: cross

Galatians 4:21-5:1 – Children of the Promise.

Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NRSV)

In this section Paul uses the allegory of Abraham having children by the slave woman, Hagar, and the free woman, Sarah, for the two covenants – the first, the law given on Mount Sinai and the second, corresponding to the covenant from Jerusalem above, given through Jesus.

Were we born into slavery or freedom? Through an act of the flesh, or through faith in God’s promise?

We are all, like Isaac, ‘children of the promise’, born through faith and into freedom.

Paul had known the weight of the Law, he had lived as a very strict Pharisee, but now he had tasted freedom in Christ he could not imagine choosing to be enslaved once again by the law that leads to death. It is no wonder that Paul’s pleas in this letter are so heartfelt and genuine. His pleas touch your spirit, as you touch his heart while reading his letter.

Were we set free to remain free or so that we could choose to go back into slavery? As Paul says, ‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5:1 NRSV). Are we going to be firm and remain living in the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross or are we going to act as if Jesus never died and rose again and return back to slavery?

Heavenly Father, Thank you that I am a child of the promise, and as such I choose to remain in the freedom that Jesus won for me. Help me never to go back voluntarily into a slavery to a system that can condemn me but never save me. Amen.

Galatians 4:1-7 – Children and Heirs.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 NRSV)

In Paul’s letter to the Galatian church he is dealing with Judaizers who were saying to the Gentile Christians that faith in Jesus alone was not enough, but that they also needed to become Jews and live under the law of Moses.

The whole letter is a treatise from Paul calling Jew and Gentile alike back to living by faith, not by works. This is central to the gospel, and the crux is Jesus’ death on the cross. It is not the whole counsel of God on faith, works and their relationship to the rest of the gospel. We need to see things in context, only then will we be good workmen and women when it comes to our handling of the Word of God.

The law of Moses was given to the Jews, yet all it did was reveal the sinfulness of all people. Even throughout the OT time we see that people lived by faith just as Abraham had done. But the law was necessary, at least for a time.

Jesus was born a Jew, ‘of a woman’ as Jewish lineage even today is through the female side of the family. If your mother is a Jew, then you are a Jew. He redeemed everyone under the law (the Jews) first, and then everyone else (the Gentiles) through the blessing of Abraham. We are now all equal children of God!

We are now children of God and this means something, this is one thing that makes being a Christian unique that, ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts’. We are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and what the Holy Spirit says in our hearts to God is ‘Abba, Father!’ We never need to doubt our relationship with Father God because the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, living inside us confirming that relationship both to us and to Father God.

We are now heirs who are old enough to receive our inheritance through what God has done for us.

Father God, help us to grasp what it means to call you Father and to live as children and heirs in the freedom you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galatians 3:6-9 – Blessed to be a Blessing.

Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. (Galatians 3:6-9 NRSV)

In Paul’s argument for righteousness by faith not by works this passage is central! We are justified by faith alone because it has in fact always been that way!

Abraham was righteous because he believed God and put his trust in him, and all who believe are his descendants, whether they are Jew or Gentile. In fact God declared the Gospel even to Abraham when he declared, ‘All Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ Which they are through Jesus death on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.

God made promises to Abraham which he believed, these promises actually had a far greater scope than Abraham could have imagined yet we only receive those promises the same way as he did, by belief and by faith, not by works.

This is another reason why Paul looks to Abraham as the father of faith rather than Moses or anyone else. Moses lived by faith, yet he will always be associated with the law, not with grace. Abraham, on the other hand, predated the law, and the covenants that God made with him were not conditional of works being fulfilled. Abraham’s part was to believe, God’s part was to fulfil what he had promised.

If we are true descendants of Abraham then any works we do will not be to try to make ourselves right with God, but as a result of our belief in God. We will want to do what God wants as a demonstration of our faith in him. After all true obedience to God is an act of faith. It is an outward expression of the faith we have.

Let’s walk in Abraham’s blessing, and as we are blessed through him, so let us be a blessing to others!

Galatians 3:1 – Declaring Christ Crucified.

It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified.(Galatians 3:1 NRSV)

This verse is a challenge! Do we publicly exhibit Jesus Christ as crucified? Or do we try to get around and avoid the insult and scandal of the cross?

At the cross there is peace between men and God, and between men and men. At the cross is forgiveness of sin. At the cross the price for sin was paid.

Do we publicly declare and display that Jesus was crucified or do we hide away?

 Lord Jesus, help me to declare you as crucified publicly and openly. So that others may see you for who you are and for what you have done. Amen!!!

Galatians 2:19-21 – By Faith in Christ Alone.

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:19-21 NRSV)

No one is justified through fulfilling the law, because none of us are capable of fulfilling the law. Jesus fulfilled the law on all counts so did not deserve to die, but he did to break the hold of sin on everyone else.

Each of us was crucified with Christ, not because by doing so makes his death more effective, but because all our sinful nature must die so we can truly live our lives with Jesus, or more correctly so he can now live his life in and through each one of us.

Our whole lives should be lived ‘by faith’ in Jesus who died as a substitutionary sacrifice in our place. If we think, live or act as if anything we do can justify us then we are living hypocritical lives and saying that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was worth nothing and has no power. But this is not true, Christ’s death is totally efficacious in every way and is powerful as here the hold of sin on each of us was broken if we only accept the finished work of the cross in our lives.

We are justified by faith in Christ alone!

Also if we live as if we are justified by our own efforts then we make the gospel of no effect and will not be able to proclaim it with power and authority, if we proclaim it at all!

Heavenly Father, help me always to remember that we are only saved by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and by that alone. Help me never to fall into legalism, the hypocrisy that goes with it and so cheapen your work on the cross. In your name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Psalm 74 – When God Gives No Answers

‘… there is no longer any prophet,
and there is no one among us who knows how long.’ (Psalm 74:9 NRSV)

You may wonder what a psalm is doing in a series from the book Ezekiel, well I read this yesterday as I am working through the Psalms but haven’t read one for a while, and this fitted so perfectly with what I shared yesterday from Ezekiel so I though I would share too.

In this psalm Asaph asks how long Judah, Jerusalem and the temple will be laid waste and over-run by its enemies.  He asks the questions, but there will be no answers.  Why? Because there are no prophets left.  Yesterday I looked at how God condemned the false prophets and prophetesses who were prophesying in Ezekiel’s day.  God was against them and they would experience his wrath (see Ezekiel 13).

This psalm seems to have been written by an eye-witness of the destruction of Jerusalem that Ezekiel (among others) prophesied.  God’s presence had left (see Ezekiel 10), so what had once been God’s land, city and temple were now over-run and destroyed’ and ‘desecrated’ by foreigners.

All the prophets who had been left in Jerusalem and had been prophesying lies were now gone.  God had fulfilled his word!  But this meant that Asaph did not know how long this would last for, he was a priest, not a prophet, and there were now no prophets left for him to go to in order to seek God’s word!

We can see the effect this has on him, he is perplexed and confused, he can only cling on to what God has done in the past and ask God to act again for his people and against the enemy.

I have had times in my Christian life when I have had no answers.  When I was became unwell just over 10 years ago, I was also confused and perplexed, I asked God questions, but got no answers.  Through everything I held onto one thing, no matter how bad things got the Father was with me, whereas the Father had to turn his face away from Jesus when he was on the cross as a consequence of my sin.  Jesus was forsaken by his Father, but I would never be, because of what Jesus had done for me.  That was my only hope at times, but like Asaph it sustained me.

Heavenly Father, help me to be honest with you in prayer, like Asaph was.  If all I have is questions then let me bring them to you.  In dark times help me to cling onto, and praise you for, what you have done, and still be able to ask you to do it again in an uncertain future.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – Ordinary People, Extraordinary God!

‘Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in this world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ ‘  (1 Corinthians 1:26-31. NRSV)

Here’s to everyone who feels ordinary, foolish, weak and low and despised!  Why?  Because you are the people God calls, chooses and uses.

What if you are wise, powerful or high-born?  Well don’t worry because God can use you too!

We have to see God as he is, so that we can see ourselves as we are.  We are ordinary, but God is extraordinary.  We have nothing to boast in save in the Lord himself.

Jesus was active in creation so our physical life originates in him, and he is the source of our spiritual life through the foolishness and weakness of the cross.

We can boast in nothing of ourselves, because there is nothing in us worth boasting about!  But we can boast in everything of Him as he is our ‘righteousness and sanctification and redemption’.

Let’s get our perspective right! ALL OF HIM!

Heavenly Father, help me to see myself as I am, an ordinary created human being, but to see you as you really are, an extraordinary Creator God.  Thank you that everything I need is in you, and help me only ever to boast about you and all that you have done in my life and will do through me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.