Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Standing On the Promises April 14, 2011

Filed under: Galatians — womenembracingfaith @ 4:39 am
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READING GALATIANS

Please read Galatians 4:8 to 5:12

Galatians was written in the late 40’s, probably 48-49 A.D. The gospels had not been written yet, nor any of the other Pauline letters. It is a defense of the gospel. As we have clearly seen, Paul was trying to show that salvation and eternal life cannot be earned in any way; it is free to those who discover they have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can keep all the laws of the Old Testament, or even the Ten Commandments which Jesus applied to our hearts and thoughts. Paul showed how futile it was to expect any act or ritual to be complete or good enough to earn us the right to be in a relationship with God. He used both their experiences as pagans, (worshiping the gods of their imagination and participating in astrology), and the biblical example of the Old Testament laws to show the futility of ritual or rules providing salvation. This letter is a defense of the good news that God has all along had a purpose and plan for our salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection and what these accomplished. He wanted them to stand firmly on this promise and hope.

To make sure they understood this, he used the Old Testament story of Abraham’s extra-marital sex with Hagar, an Egyptian slave Sarah. Sarah was old and barren. God had promised her a child, but after years of waiting, she decided she’d better add something to that promise. She urged her husband to have an affair with Hagar. A child was born who ended up being thrown out of the family and sent out into the Sinai desert. Paul used this story as an allegory to show that if Sarah had stood firmly on the promises made to her and Abraham this tragedy need not have occurred. Sarah, like us, was free to trust in the promises. He urged them to remember this story which showed the consequences of not trusting in God’s grace. Resentment led to persecution which led to Hagar’s exile and later international strife. If only Sarah had just kept on believing in God’s promise to her. Paul was so worried about the consequences to them if they thought circumcisim should be added to their faith that he got quite emotional. “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” he said (Gal. 5:12). For their own good, he wanted the people in this church to stand firmly on the promise of salvation through faith alone.

“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
…For you were called to freedom, brothers” (Galatians 4:31-5:1; 5:13).

There was an old hymn we sang when I was a child. It had a catchy tune so I loved pounding it out on the piano. The words might stir up your heart to love these promises of life, righteousness, freedom, grace, and hope. It is easier to stand firmly when there is a song in your heart.

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King, Thro’ eternal ages let His praises ring;Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promies of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s Sword, Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall, Listening every moment to the spirit’s call,
Resting in my Saviour as my all in all, Standing on the promises of God.” (R. Kelso Carter, 1849-1928)

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Philippians 3:7-14 April 27, 2010

Filed under: Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 3:08 pm
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“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…

Paul explained what it means to be “in Christ” in another letter.  Here his emphasis is on our applying the righteousness of Christ to our daily lives–that “righteousness from God that depends on faith–” (3:11).  When we sin, and the guilt causes us to despair, we are to remember we are clothed in this perfectness, this life of the Lord Jesus who never sinned.  Practicing this enables us to passionately pursue our goal of knowing God and experiencing his power. 

Then, we can follow Jesus’s example, as well as, put off our own sinful desires, and our selfishness, and put on love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering….. 

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immortality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealously.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14). 

Paul even encouraged them to look at his example of how to live this out. He knew he was not perfect; his only perfectness was found “in Christ.”  God declared Paul righteous. It depended on his faith–the gift of God.  He kept his eyes on his goal of knowing God, and he insisted this was the only way: to be “in Christ.” 

I used to have a sign on my podium reading “Follow me to the library.”  The senior social studies kids weren’t very appreciative.  That just wasn’t on their minds. 

Here, Paul was encouraging his readers to follow his example as he followed Christ Jesus.  Is that what is on your mind?

THINK ABOUT THESE VERSES:  Comparing verses with each other helps us understand and apply them.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:1).

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and coveteousness, which is idolatry….You must put them all away:  anger wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouths…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, …” (Colossians 3:5-12).