Tag Archives: Jesus

Philippians 3:8 – All or Less Than Nothing!

More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8 NRSV)

How much does the Lord Jesus Christ mean to me? Can I say, like Paul says, that ‘everything’ else is a ‘loss’ and give the reason for that being ‘because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’?

If you truly know the Lord Jesus then you will have all your eggs in his basket. It is to be all or nothing or it is worthless. Paul knew that nothing else was worth the ‘value’ of a personal relationship with Jesus. It is that personal, experiential ‘knowing’ that is unique to true Christianity.

The ‘value’ of that is way beyond what we can get with our own righteousness. All that can give us is filthy rags rather than the relationship that Jesus, God’s Anointed One and our Lord gave us.

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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 4:8-20 – Back in Bondage or Living Free

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted. (Galatians 4:8-11 NRSV)

Before we became Christians we were slaves to false gods who were in fact no gods at all. One person’s god might have been alcohol, another’s could be evolution, and someone else’s the false gods of Hinduism or some other religion. On the surface these gods give freedom, but in reality all they bring is slavery, but a slavery that those enslaved cannot see.

Once we have become a Christian we now know God and more importantly, he now knows us. This is as real a relationship as any physical relationship – if anything more real – as we are now spiritually alive and our spirit and the rest of us is now known by the Living God. This is true life and freedom.

Knowing this it is no wonder that Paul is shocked and incredulous that they are turning back to legalism, slavery and bondage instead of living in the permanent Sabbath and Jubilee that is in Christ Jesus.

The spiritual eyes of the Galatians seem to be closed, and so they seem to be back to living solely by natural sight. It is no wonder that Paul is shaking his head in frustration.

It is no wonder that about 10 years later when Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians that he says how he is praying, ‘that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.’ (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIB) It is so important that we pray for spiritual light, life and growth for each other so we don’t turn our back on the great salvation that we have in Jesus!

Heavenly Father, open our eyes to see if we have slipped back into bondage and slavery in our lives, or if we are living in the fullness of all that you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galatians 3:15-29 – Clothed with Christ

… in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29 NRSV)

Faith in Jesus Christ is the greatest leveler that there is! It is ‘through faith’ that we become ‘children of God’ by believing in him and what he has done for us, and in who he is and trusting in him alone. Also when we are baptized we clothe ourselves with Christ, so when God the Father sees us he only sees us in Christ, this means he sees us all the same as he sees each one of us in Christ.

It is because of this that there is no longer any division between us on grounds of race and religion, ‘Jew or Greek’, on grounds of social or economic status, ‘slave or free’, or on grounds of gender, ‘male or female’. We are all of equal standing and importance united in Christ.

As Jesus was Abraham’s offspring and the heir to the promise that God gave to Abraham, so we are now also heirs to those promises as we are now in Christ.

These truths say a massive amount about who we are as Christians, and about how we should live.

Who we are? We are…

  • All equal;
  • A people of promise;
  • A people of faith;
  • In Christ Jesus;
  • Heirs;
  • Under grace not law;
  • Children of God;
  • Free!

How should we live? We should live…

  • Through faith;
  • In unity (though not uniformity);
  • As free people;
  • As God’s friends and family;
  • By grace.

Let’s really get hold of who we are in Christ Jesus, it will transform us both individually and corporately!

Galatians 3:10-14 – Jesus Lived By Faith… So Can We.

Jesus is unique. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law completely. But did Jesus live by works or by faith. Jesus was fully God, but he laid aside all the rights and privileges that were included in that when he became a man. All he did when he was on earth was because he was a man who was untainted by sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit and in conversation with the Father.

As Jesus fulfilled the Law he would not be under the curse for not fulfilling it. Jesus was righteous and Paul quotes, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith’ (Galatians 3:11 NRSV), so Jesus must have lived by faith. What hope does this have for us?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14 NRSV)

This also means  as Jesus lived his life by faith and empowered with the Holy Spirit so can we.

Heavenly Father, help me realise that Jesus lived a life of faith as a man empowered by the Spirit, so I can live a life just like him. Help me to live such a life touching others, doing miracles and revealing you glory. In his 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 3:2 – Receiving the Spirit.

The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2 NRSV)
 

Asking questions is powerful! Here Paul challenges the Galatians on a central point of their faith. He wants to know how they received the Holy Spirit – was it by works or by faith.

This is such a pivotal question, and it is also a rhetorical question, Paul knows that the Galatians really know the answer already, they have just forgotten it!

If we received the Holy Spirit by our own works in fulfilling the law, then Jesus’ death is worth nothing. The Holy Spirit could not indwell us as we could not be filled with him if we still had unclean hearts, and we would not live in the power of the Spirit as all works would continue to be done in our own strength alone.

If we received the Holy Spirit by faith, then Jesus’ death on the cross was effective at cancelling sin. He was also physically resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven from where he sent the Holy Spirit who played a vital part in our accepting Jesus as Saviour. When we were baptized in the Holy Spirit we were empowered to live for God and serve him, and to perform the good works that he had prepared in advance for us to do.

It is not by doing good works that we receive the Holy Spirit, but by receiving the Holy Spirit that we are able to do good works!

Lord Jesus, thank you that baptize us in the Holy Spirit whom we can only receive through faith and believing in your promises. Amen.