There's BLESSING For You!!
This is one of the most important things that you will learn in your christian life: Your relationship with God. It establishes all of your other relationships. How you believe God treats you, is what you believe the Godly way is to treat others. So, if you don’t have a proper understanding of your relationship with God, that is also affect all your other relationships... Spouse, Kids, Neighbors, Co-workers, etc. It will cause great pain in your relationships with others.
Really? What kind is it?
Biblically... it's "Grace not works". A relationship that's healthy, joy-filled, encouraging. All other relationships will receive that love, that help, that health, and that joy.
Why do I tell us this?
This is at the heart of the fight in the letter to the Galatian church. Just to clarify before we move on... Don’t go looking for a fight... But if you have to fight, fight for grace! Amen. Fight for love. Fight for relationship. Fight for others.
Paul does this.
Paul moves into a region. And he preaches about Jesus. It's about what Jesus does. And not about what you do. It’s about His perfection. Not your performance. That you can trust Jesus, and He will love you and will have a relationship with you. That's Paul's message. Then Paul starts a church. Everything is going great there. So, he leaves to start another church. But when Paul is away, there comes some false teachers... liars, deceivers (even if they were deceived themselves). And they more or less say, "You know what, we disagree with Paul. We believe that you should have a works-based relationship with God. So, we have brought a list, a manual, and a clip-board... now, we have certified inspectors and we are going to judge you on your performance. We would like for you to judge others. Start scoring yourself and start scoring one another." Once this happened, it changed every relationship in the whole church. It changed every relationship in every family within the church too.
Paul shows up, and he has a conflict on his hands. There is a war on having a grace-based relationship with God and others. The folks in Galatia say it's suppose to be a works-based relationship with God and others.
Paul has this conflict on his hands. A conflict that I will call: "Shepherds, Wolves, and Sheep".
Note the startling word "Foolish"… Mind you, this was read in church!
Can you imagine the elders and congregation gathering around that Sunday: "Oh, we got a letter from our good friend Paul," then they read out-loud Paul's greeting, “Hey, idiot!”
It's what J.B. Phillips, an old bible translator, expressed more beautifully as…
“O, you dear idiots of Galatia.”
Now, to be sure, Paul is not picking on those brothers and sisters in Galatia... nor is he "name calling". What he is doing is trying to get their full attention.
He is saying: “This is crazy! This is not making any sense. You need to wake up!”
Paul is the shepherd. He shows up and preaches. And now he says, “I taught you all about Jesus. How Jesus lived the perfect life... Jesus paid the finial price... Jesus gives the eternal gift. Ok. The relationship with God is grace-based. I told you about Jesus, and you were all looking at Jesus, excited about Jesus, encouraged by Jesus. And then I leave, and then these wolves show up. They are all about works, fear, and judgement. And now you are not looking at Jesus, you're looking at yourself. And you are no longer excited about what Jesus has done, but you're anxious about your performance
What Paul is saying... the reason there has been a strong reversal of mindset is because it’s demonic.
The word "bewitched" is actually a word describing a witch, a member of the occult, or dark magic arts of casting a spell. We might say, "Well, Paul is not actually referring to that"…
BUT, HE IS REFERRING TO THAT. He is. Think abut it with me... Just as the Holy Spirit is at work within the church, so is unholy spirts at work. God creates... but the satan counterfeits. God sends the Holy Spirit to the church. Then the satan sends a different spirit… a spirt of bondage, not freedom, a spirt of lies, not truth, a spirit of works, not a spirit of grace. You know a spirit is demonic when it doesn’t bring grace. And this spirit comes over the Galatian church, and it's as if they are bewitched because they are in a daze-like state... they are confused. It’s like someone who is not themselves. Have you ever seen someone like that? It’s like they are in a coma. And we go, "Wake up! Snap out of it! You're not thinking/acting right. There is something wrong."
It’s a spirit of confusion.
So, there is a shepherd. Then there are the wolves. And he is writing to the sheep. Because the sheep will either follow the wolves or they are going to follow a shepherd. They are going to follow a false spirit or they are going to follow the Holy Spirit. Either they will walk in works or they are going to walk in grace. And their decision will affect all their relationships in life. Much is at stake here!
A couple who is struggling goes to a marriage counselor. They want to talk about WHAT THEY'RE STRUGGLING WITH RIGHT NOW. Right!?
And a good counselor will say, “OK. Let's go back to the beginning of the relationship. What did you two do early on.”
The couple may say, "Well, we prayed. We ate ice-cream. We held hands. And we walked together."
The counselor then asks, “What do you do now?”
The couple being frustrated says, "We just eat Hot-Pockets! Oh, then argue over Fox News!"
Seeing the couple squirm and grunt while in their seats, the counselor responds with: “Well, maybe, just maybe, we go back to sharing ice-cream and prayer walks. We will go back to that because that seemed to be a good start before... you were in love, there was relationship, and both felt blessed. But over the years, you have gotten off course.”
Paul is being like that counselor... He says to the Galatians, “I will ask you one simple question. Let’s go back when you first met Christ.”
Everyone leans in. "Did you receive the Spirit of God by trying to keep the Law or by believing the message of the Gospel? What was it like when you first started your relationship with Jesus? You walked in the Holy Spirit each day, didn't you?"
And that’s the debate... “How do we know who the real Christians are?” Some argue, it's circumcision. In our time, people say, “The real Christians are those who speak in tongues.” Then someone says "Ha! No. The real Christians speak prophecy!" Yet another will say that "The real Christians are those who are free to take a drink." Oh, the you have another who debates, "NO. No. No. The real Christians are those who don’t take a drink at all."The Holy Spirit's presence...it is the mark of the true Christian.
We argue over all of this silliness. Because we are looking for an outward sign of something internal. But there is no outward sign, there is only the inward. Remember, man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks towards the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). If you have the Holy Spirit... it is the mark of the true Christian.
What was it like when you first started your relationship with Jesus? Was it that you did a bunch of work and God sat at His throne looking down and begrudgingly remarked, "I didn’t want come down to those people, but they did all of those things right, so I got to come down.” NO! May it never began that way! So, let it never be that way in you mind or life.
How many of you reading are blessed? Maybe you're blessed with a job, a house, a family, a car(s), food, clean water, etc. Many people are not blessed that way... they live in a mud hut and cook over cow dung. So, did you "deserve" those blessings?
Nope. That is how it works, right? What Paul is saying in our passage is this: "Are you going to say to God, 'Thanks for getting me started, but I got this now?' or 'God, I have my Bible study going now... I have it figured out, so I don’t need to speak with you anymore.' 'I got this figured out... I got my tradition, I got my routine, I got my accountability team. Please God… take the training-wheels off... don’t need the Spirit. Believe me, I got this.” In our actions we most likely respond in one of those ways. And Paul says, "That’s foolish! That’s not how any of this works! You started in the Spirit. So now you will be sustained by the spirit. And guess what? You must finish in the Spirit. It’s the power, and presence of God."
Fun time. Here is an analogy…
Imagine you are on a plane. And there’s a little anxiety. The plane is taking off. You're pushed back in your seat. Everything is fine. No turbulence. The captain comes on over the speaker, “We are cruising at an altitude of 2700 feet. Relax, and enjoy the flight." The seatbelt signs click off. Everything is OK. Kicking back and relax. Oh, now there is nap time. You wake up in 20m feeling refreshed. Then you look over to the middle of the plane. There are three seats... there is just one guy in the middle seat, but no one on the side seats. And this guy is sweating... like he took a shower and forgot to dry off. He is exhausted. And he is panting hard. And he is flapping his arms. "Ehh. Ehh. AHH!" he goes. Up and down he continues to flap his arms like a drunk bird. And you look over and say, "What are you doing?” To which he responds... "I’m helping!""
"First of all, You are not helping" you go. “Yes, I am," he says, "That’s why we are in the air." "Come on folks... Everybody help. Everybody help!”
No. Number one, you are not helping. And two... You got everybody else nervous and uncomfortable. It's getting awkward. Then there is number three, "You're killing yourself for no reason!" Take a chill pill, bro!
When God saves you - by grace, through faith, at baptism in Jesus Christ- God got you. You're on board. You’re in the air. Enjoy the flight. Take a nap, welcome to grace.
But there is some of us reading going, “HaWahh” but I got to keep it in the air, I got to help! We are going to crash... if I don’t…
Hey. We started by the Spirit, and we are sustained by the Spirit, and we will end by the Spirit. It’s never about our works, cause it’s all about God's grace.
Thomas Kilian is an evangelist degreed in Christian Ministries, majoring in General Ministries, Biblical Exposition, and Biblical Studies. He is an 2018 recipient of the Stone-Campbell Promising Scholar Award. Kilian has counseled individuals regarding interpersonal, health, and religious problems
while performing spiritual education activities to the public through speaking and leading discussions. Five years of supplying preaching and lessons to churches across the United States. Mass evangelized, preaching at a conference of 3000 youth in Gambella, Ethiopia upon invitation from Mercy Partners. Cross-cultural evangelized upon entry into South Sudan twice to evangelize with a request from a host of local churches by hosting leadership conferences, youth conferences, and testifying on demand resulting in 63 baptisms in the River Nile. He led Museville Church for a year and a half, preaching, pastoring, and developing training and service programs. He currently evangelizes in the community of Chatham VA., and is creating a universal online adaptive education system for empowering ministers.
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