July 14, 2015
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
No big ceremony or a license needed or even implied here. Simplicity is awesome. Man made it more complicated. For centuries it was just a contract between families and sometimes a spoils of war situation. Neither government nor church was involved with it unless you were a member of the royal family looking for a spouse.
Everyone has gone crazy over the SCOTUS decision. You prayed, you voted and now you just hand it over to God. Brethren, don’t do weddings anymore and you need not worry about polygamy, polyandry or anything else.
It is the Government’s license whereby you obtain government benefits so allow agents of the government to execute and certify the license. When you say, “By the power invested in me by the State of _____” you are acting as an agent of the State and should follow the laws of the State. Disagree with those laws? Then resign as an agent of the State. It seems very simple to me.
There is nothing in Scripture about the church doing weddings with a pastor as the officiant. It was bad theology around the eighth century that started the whole tradition. Dump tradition and stay on mission as dictated in Matt 28:19.20 and Ephesians 4:11-16. Let the Justice of the Peace do the license part and let the couple say their vows before God and family sans preacher and building like it was done for millennia before the eighth century. If they need a building they can rent a building like the Legion, Elks or whatever. Do it in the park or the backyard even in a barn having a dance afterward. Location is not important to God, only man.
God does not require a license and marriage is official with Him when they “become one flesh.” Even a one night stand is considered a one flesh relationship. (1 Cor 6:15, 16) That means there are already a large number of polygamists in God’s eyes even before it becomes legal in the country. The ceremony is for man, not Him. He is, after all, omnipresent. He does not dwell in what we call God’s house. He resides in the believer so if they say their vows in front of a group of believers they have had a church wedding for they are the Church. It is not a sacrament that must be performed by a pastor in a church.
Indeed, it is so much a tradition that at a marriage of a prostitute to a pimp the lady wore white. Yes, this happened. Not exactly following the symbolism. Many other people who have no church background will go through the marriage guidance classes though not really interested in the information just so they can have a church wedding. They never plan on ever being in church again, unless they divorce and remarry, but they followed the tradition. At least with funerals you will not have to do it again for that person in three to five years.
I also know it can be quite an income generator depending on the size and style of the church as well as the notoriety of the preacher. However, that is still not a reason to hold on to this tradition. I never charged for funerals or anything that I felt was part of my pastoral duties. Like the military, a pastor is salaried and on call 24/7 so an honorarium should not be required. Also, if you are performing the ceremony for families of the members this should be done as a ministry of the church with no funds needed. If you are doing it as an evangelistic outreach that is all the more reason to freely give. The preacher should do it freely and the church should be free as well. It should be a ministry to the Body, not a service provided by a vendor. If you cannot provide this as a free ministry then you should not offer it. Since we need to bail out of this whole thing it doesn’t matter, but I needed to make a point about one of the problems with being in this business.
Check with the Christian Law Association (www.christianlaw.org) as you may need to have a formal church meeting to change your constitution and bylaws and post on your website and bulletin that neither the pastor/staff nor this Church performs weddings of any kind.
One thing I learned in the military is the importance of the mission. You do what you have to do and sacrifice what you must, including your life, for the success of the mission. Why have your pastor go to jail, your Church sued and lose its tax-exempt status and shut down thus ending your mission in failure for a tradition? We should have gotten out of this business centuries ago. Will there be a hill to die on down the road? Very possibly, but this is not that hill. This is a molehill of tradition that needs to be sacrificed to stay spot on mission. Will you let it go in wisdom or foolishly fail the mission?
Just a thought. Sholom! Maranatha!
July 8, 2015
Gen 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
When God made woman “meet” or fit for the man, He meant the deal to be that Adam’s strengths were Eve’s weaknesses and Eve’s strengths were Adam’s weaknesses so that they were stronger together than they would ever be apart. That is why opposites usually attract each other. That is the ideal marriage and so many do not look at that when looking for a marriage partner. It wasn’t all about either partner, but rather both.
Of course, they don’t seek God for the right mate and also ignore parental and even friend’s advice and then wonder why it falls apart. Love is blind and hormones are insane. Not good to rely on your judgment alone. Others can see your blind spot and keep you from disaster if you let them tell you the truth and you really listen. Due to the high divorce rates of marriage for love, I could almost go back to parental selected marriages.
When He tells a Christian to not marry an unbeliever and they do or a person that only started going to church when the dating started they are asking for trouble and usually get it. Amos said it best, “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Consult the Creator and if you can’t figure out each one’s strengths and weaknesses there are tests out there to help you. If you both have the same weaknesses it will be difficult to overcome situations those weaknesses cause if at least one is not strong in that area. Much like a non-swimmer jumping in to help someone drowning. You normally end up dredging two bodies.
If both of you are strong in the same areas then there will be undue competition to be the one handling the situation much like one man pushing the car from the back and another pushing if from the front at the same time. Direction is determined by which one tires first and a marriage like that will likewise be tiring.
God has someone for you if you are meant to marry, but He also knows who would be better off single so let Him tell you about that. There is no sense in you ruining your life and another person’s life if you are best alone. Parents fussing about grand-kids or all of your peers being married are not good reasons to be married. Being in a hurry or settling may also make you miss the best God had for you and cause the one He had for you to also miss the best.
Control your hormones, let others point out the blind spots while you wait on God and you will have a much better marriage experience.
July 5, 2015
I just read an article entitled, “Rejecting God-Ordained Leadership in the Church.” The writer was suggesting that we should not resist even ungodly leadership in the Church because God will deal with them. Having seen the abuse of pastors by congregations, I could easily amen this. I think I understand his point as God dealt with Saul, Phineas and Hophni and even with Ananais and Sapphira for lying to God’s man. He used this verse as his proof text.
“And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” – 1 Samuel 8:7
I don’t think the passage used is applicable in all cases or even for Ananias and Sapphira. You definitely do not want to be a hindrance and lead a rebellion against a pastor that is doing a good work just because he preached something you did not like because it went against your pet viewpoint or nailed your secret sin. God will indeed deal with you about that. Unless the pastor is teaching heresy or involved in some sin you don’t have much ground for seeking his removal, but you can always remove yourself from that church. If you leave, do it in a Christian manner.
On the flip side, I know men who love to use that article’s concept saying “Don’t go up against God’s man” or “Touch not my anointed” to get away with rude comments and less than righteous actions. They wound people and split churches and make neighborhoods distrust anyone from their church. When addressed biblically through Matt 18 or 1 Ti 5:19, they attack the people bringing the grievance as carnal or trying to control the church. If they proceed to 1 Ti 5:20 it can be a rough time even if the erring pastor does leave or is removed.
When a man is truly called of God and in His will then he need not fear any Absalom or Diotrephes. But it is the duty of the people to remove a leader who is not leading as an under-shepherd, but as a Lord over the flock. This is for the sake of the Church, the lambs and the world that is watching. If a man is removed unjustly then God will take care of that man and the ones responsible. Sometimes the removal is a reward by God for being faithful in a hard place and His judgment on the church writing Mene Mene Tekel or Ichabod on the doorposts.
You do not want to touch God’s anointed, but we have far too many self-anointed and man anointed, even well intended, men that are scattering the flock as much as the wolves. Sometimes it takes much discernment to know who is who and often it does not require much at all. It just takes courage to deal with the situation. It needs to be handled correctly and with meekness, but failure to handle it is not biblical or healthy for the Church. Maranatha!
June 23, 2015
Pro 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
In a world where one must have a resume that glistens like gold this becomes very difficult to follow be it in a secular or ministry career. If you are seeking to be real in some places you have no hope of an interview as they like gaudy or showy resumes while other like bare bones. If you have been around for awhile even your bare bones will look like a Brontosaurus display.
Indeed, the more articles you read on resumes and interviews the more clueless you become. I am a WYSIWYG kind of guy. I don’t do gimmicks or mind games. Things that to me are just part of the J O B really excite some people. Some are more interested in your social skills than technical knowledge. Having had at least three jobs where in the interview I felt like I was in a different career field or realized I was being hired for issues not even in the job description I can testify that is true.
Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what is on your resume because the job is already meant for someone else, but they have to go through the motions so that it does not look like pre-selection. I once applied for a position where the interviewer passed over four more highly qualified people to get to the person the job had been promised to before the slot was even created. Good ol’ boy and girl scenarios still exist.
My best advice is just be yourself in your resume and interview. As one of my professors told me, “Never over promise and under perform.” Trying to be more than you are might get you the job, but that promise of performance will not keep it for you. They will want the performance.
Keep your style as your style is not and should not be the same as anyone else. If you are like everyone else you will not stand out. Someone out there will love your style and if you are trying to be someone else you will miss your moment.
Be polite, respectful, but real. Let your references speak your praises more loudly than you do. There is still a place in an exaggerated world for humility. It may be “hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way”, but you’re not perfect. Dents in your shiny armor show you have been in the battle and survived and not just out of boot camp. Trying to hide them out of some sort of pride issue is worse than humbly admitting they exist. Be confident about your abilities and achievements, but not prideful. Solomon’s exhortation is still good to follow and can b
May 30, 2015
Today, I attended the funeral of a man I often called the Apostle of Love. Ralph Lee Jones was one of the most humble men I have ever known. He was always joyful. Love and kindness surrounded him like an aura. You met him and he was your friend forever. When he spoke to me it as if he were my father giving me loving advice and encouragement. Everyone was honey or darlin’ to him and that made us even more feel like loved children in his presence.
What made me call him the Apostle of Love was the care he gave his beloved wife, Ollie, for so many years. He cared for her at home after she became comatose. He sang to her, prayed with her and took such good care of her that she never once had a bed sore. That is so awesome. So many would have just put her in a nursing home and moved on with their life, but Ollie was his life right after Jesus Christ, his Lord.
He loved his children best by loving the Lord and their mother. His life exemplified love as a verb, not a noun as was said in the sermon. He was the epitome of a devoted husband and father. He set the bar very high for the rest of us. I don’t expect but a very few will ever attain it. In a world of divorce and desertion he stood as a rock by his wife. His biography should be published and made a required reading for those planning on marriage or being counselors.
He served his country as well as a sailor and postal carrier. He also served His Lord in similar capacities. Indeed, each person he encountered received verbal cards and letters from Christ delivered with a smile and love in his eyes. He was God’s mailman to many who needed encouragement.
As a culinary specialist in the Navy, he fed the bodies of hungry men, but he also had been a licensed minister and for nearly all his life he fed the hungry souls of men and women with the Bread of Life. As he was well skilled in the art of Navy chow he also was skilled in feeding the soul. Brother Ralph knew if the bread needed to be served with butter, honey or needed toasted. He knew when they could only handle a crumb, a slice or needed the whole loaf. He did that with such a humble heart that when I complimented him on his service to the Lord, tears came to his eyes and he said he hoped he had done some small thing to serve His Lord. He really had no idea how much he had touched so many lives. One of his favorite songs was sung today, “Stars in My Crown”. It is good that he now has a perfect body because his crown might weigh near a ton or two with all the stars he must have in it.
That was one of the many things that endeared him to people. He made you feel like you were doing him a favor by allowing him to minister to you. I had never encountered that before. He lived a simple life of love and was thrilled to be simply loving all he met. I would not be surprised if the Apostle John waited in line to see Brother Ralph when he arrived in Glory. They had so much in common.
It was fitting that it was a an overcast day with rain. When a powerful prayer warrior like Brother Ralph goes home it is no surprise for earth to weep. Indeed, I shed a few tears as his accolades were being spoken by the family and the pastor. Yet, while we weep here Heaven rejoices to welcome home a faithful saint. I don’t know if there was a parade Ralph participated when he came back from the Navy, but there were angelic shouts of glory to God when he was carried through the pearly gates and delivered into the arms of Jesus!!
The tombstone will say Ralph Lee Jones August 25th,1932 – May 26th, 2015, but he has touched so many lives that he will live for many more decades here and eternally with Jesus.
Fair skies and smooth seas, my Brother! We will miss you, but we are glad you safely arrived at your eternal home port! See you soon! Maranatha!!!
February 28, 2015
Those who know me are aware that most of ministry for the last forty years has been free of charge. I do not ever ask for personal donations. God has more than supplied my needs over the years as well as giving me a wonderful wife that is frugal and financially adept.
I do ask that if anything I have written or done has blessed your life to please consider sending Moises Rocacorba a donation. He needs some property because the church God gave him is growing out of its current facilities. Land is hard to find and expensive by Philippine standards. What we would consider a dream price is not such a dream there. He needs $10K for a piece of land. For us, we might have to pay much more for the same size lot.
What impressed me about him when met was that he was happy to receive $10 a month support. He is a very humble man doing a great work. He would appreciate anything. Out of his support, he supports other pastors and missionaries that are building churches and winning souls in that country. He has a school as well as other ministries. He is worthy.
He once told me that the Philippinos are appreciative of the American military, missionaries and McDonalds. ;-) I told him that last M was not a true benefit to his people. We could have done better.
Again, if I have been a blessing in any way please consider a donation no matter how small. Thank you and may God bless you for your kindness.
Send your donation to
Independent Baptist Missions For Asians
Acct – Moises Rocacorba
103 Masonic Park Rd/PO Box 912
Marietta, OH 45750
They can give you a tax receipt.
February 22, 2015
- I am a soldier in the army of my God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer. The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
- I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.
- I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity.
- I will either retire in this army at the rapture or die in this army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out. I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable.
- If my God needs me, I am there. If He needs me in Sunday school, to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults or just sit and learn He can use me because I am there!
- I am a soldier; I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp.
- I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom! No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
- When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all of my needs. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. Devils cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me.
- Governments cannot silence me and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my commander calls me from this battlefield, He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in the army, and I am marching claiming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around. I am a soldier, marching heaven bound. Here I stand! I will not turn around. Will you stand with me?
The big question is, which part of the service are you in?
THINK ABOUT IT – Keep looking up to God and know He is truly and always looking down at you!-Author Unknown
- Active Duty: Serving the Lord faithfully, daily and on duty 24/7?
- Reserve status: Serving only when called upon or twice a year, Christmas and Easter?
- Guard status: Backing up the Active Duty group?
- AWOL! Absent with out the Lord?
February 22, 2015
I am basically an optimistic person, but after 30+ years of ministry I have learned to be a realistic optimist. I know what age I am living in and that it takes more than pithy sayings and upbeat prose that we daily receive in e-mails to survive in the spiritual war raging around us. I am going to balance out the “Top Ten below or give the rest of the story like Paul Harvey says.
THE TOP TEN PREDICTIONS UNTIL HE RETURNS
1. The Bible will still have the answers, (but fewer will read it.)
2. Prayer will still work (but many will be said in ritual or lust and unheeded.)
3. The Holy Spirit will still move (if not quenched, grieved or resisted.)
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people (but most are ungrateful and stiff-necked. )
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching (but fewer will want to hear it.)
6. There will still be singing of praise (but much of it will be in a worldly manner exciting the flesh but not the spirit. )
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people (but few will seek them desiring material things more.)
8. There will still be room at the Cross- (but more preachers will deny the need for such a bloody religion.)
9. Jesus will still love you, (but only true for the Christian should He return this year.)
10. Jesus will still save the lost, (but fewer will come to Him because of the false gospels being preached.)
–Author Unknown- (Ron Shultz)
Now while all that may sound negative to some, you must remember that life is both positive and negative. Let the Power of Positive Thinking be abandoned. Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven and lost most of His “seeker” congregations when He let the loaves and fishes digest and then went on to spiritual meat. Most could not handle the milk of the Word but the meat of it really sent them packing to where He even asked Peter if he and the rest of the twelve were leaving as well.
Jesus pondered whether there would even be faith on the earth when He returned, which does make one wonder how many mega-churches will exist at that time and if they do how many of the clientele will actually be going with Him. It would not hard to be see that for every person in a mega-church there are far more saints suffering persecution and death around the world. While we suffer the drive to church and the too hot/cold atmosphere of our grand edifices the true Church is being bathed in blood and built upon its only foundation the Cross of Christ. Yes, there are at least some saved folks here in America/The West but most are fat, dumb and happy but misguided or our lands would be in far better shape spiritually then they are.
We are in an a age of apostasy not some golden age of revival and we must approach the positive side of these “predictions” in that light or many will become discouraged and fall by the wayside when they don’t see the “new wave” of the “new apostolic reformation” or get the “holy laughter” or just see the numbers of their congregations flux constantly or steadily shrink. Indeed, there are more “positive” preachers setting up people for a fall than for a blessing.
It has been said that War is Hell and indeed it is hellish but nothing like the War Against Hell that we are in daily. Carnal war will only cause a loss of possessions or at worse physical life. Losses in the War Against Hell are eternal. Those losses will be far greater for the unbeliever than the Believer but that should not be a source of comfort to encourage slothfulness, naivete, and binges of being AWOL or on extended periods of R&R. It should be a source of comfort that inspires the spirit to seek fewer personal losses and compel us to cry out for fewer losses of souls to the enemy.
As much as I would hate to see it perhaps the only way to true revival of the US/West is by the way of persecution. We have had way too many blessings and squandered them on carnal priorities and platforms. “Must I carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease while other fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?” Are we soldiers of the Cross or CEOs that face eternal loss? It is time for Churches to quit being a business and get back to our Father’s business or we shall truly hate the bottom line when the Founder and Owner of the Church returns.
Oh, that the cry might be, “So say we all!” Maranatha!
February 20, 2015
Some have suggested that the able bodied poor should perform some sort of work or community service to receive benefits. Of course, others have opposed it. FDR created the CCC and WPA which were pretty much working welfare programs. Indeed, it was a fulltime job and not easy labor.
Lev_19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Deu_24:21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
God provided for the poor, but they had to go into the fields and harvest it. The gleanings were not gathered up in a basket and handed to them.
Ruth_2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Ruth_2:7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
This lady was to be an ancestor of Christ and yet she worked the field in her poverty.
Ruth_2:16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
Even when Boaz was starting to love her and he had his people increase what she could glean he did not hand it to her. She still had to work to get the extra blessing.
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Notice he did not say those who could not work. Truly disabled people and the elderly would be provided for since they could not work. Widows over 60 who had no relatives were cared for by the Church and other poor in the culture sought alms. True, we are not a people who find begging appealing, but we have many beggars in this country. I was often asked for money even as I was walking into my job or on my way to perform jail ministry.
Many will not work because they do not like the salary they receive for the type of work they are able to do. There was a time I worked for $2.25 an hour. I took whatever I could get because I had a wife and two kids to support. I could not afford to be picky. There was a time I could afford to work or afford to die, but I could not afford to be unemployed regardless of the salary. I have gone to work with 102 degree fever because I could not afford to lose out on a day’s pay. I have even endured persecution at a job because I needed the money until I could find another job. I was never able to afford quitting a job until I found another one.
If you are receiving public benefits, I see no reason why you cannot perform some sort of labor to give back to the public who is helping you. It will help you as well when you can look back at the end of the day or end of a project and feel a sense of accomplishment rather than sitting on the couch doing nothing and being depressed because of your situation. It may also help you land a job because the employer knows you have been working and able to take instructions and accomplish tasks. He has a referral from the supervisor with glowing reviews. Working for your benefits can only help you, not hurt you.
We also need to adjust our system so that the person is encouraged to get off the welfare program and progress, not stay on it and stagnate. It should be an help, not a solution. Indeed, it should be just enough to maintain you until you can get a job and thrive, not something on which you can learn to survive. People were designed to thrive, not just survive. Even in Paradise, God had Adam and Eve working. The difference before the Fall is that they enjoyed it. Since then, it has been difficult to find our ideal career so most of us long for wealth to where we can quit or retire to do nothing. One person said that we rust out quicker than we wear out so our dream is really a nightmare. We just don’t know it. People who are busy in retirement are happier than those who just vegetate on the couch. Work is good for us so we should not deny the poor the opportunity to work.
February 9, 2015
The argument over Grace versus Law or a mixture like Graw or Lace has been going on for centuries. That is to be expected because there was such a radical change between the Old and New Covenant it was bound to bring about controversy. The Jews who had been under the Old for so many centuries could not grasp a concept of God changing it. The Gentiles who had never been under it could not comprehend the hang ups the Jews had over having a new relationship with God without a lot of rituals. Besides, why in the world would you want to pass up a ham sandwich or be tied to so many rituals?
We see the conflict and merging pains of the Jew/Gentile church in Romans 14 and 15. Gentiles come to the Lord’s Supper with a dish that was not traditionally washed with a pork roast on it. Jews not touching even a good pot roast because they heard that Lycinius bought it at the vendor who got his daily rations from the temple of Zeus. Both eyed each other with suspicion. The Jews were bunch of Pharisees to Linus and Avril gasped at the blatant lack of holiness of those pagans in the midst.
Those chapters are often taught incorrectly and abused by people trying to justify some sin or get people to back off a “gray” area. Many times they are taught with an attitude of, “Weaker brother, grow up.” That was the title of an article in a major evangelical magazine some years back. Paul is saying in those chapters, “Stronger brother give up your liberty.” If liberty needs to be given up until a weaker brother comes to understanding and strength then so be it. If he never grows up, then for the sake of peace and love then surrender your liberty until death.
Nothing Paul spoke about in those chapters had anything to do with gray areas. Indeed, he was saying the Gentiles had it right in principle, but terribly wrong in practice. Indeed, all days are God’s days and all meats are lawful, but don’t force your liberty on the weaker brother. He also told the Jews to not judge the Gentiles. Indeed, if they thought the Gentiles were the weaker brothers than they were also to walk in love with them. Shoving a ham sandwich in the face of your Jewish brother shouting, “Eat up! You’re under grace” is not loving or the way to teach. Calling your Gentile brother a stinking law breaking pagan is not going to convince him to change his opinion of the ham sandwich or you. Loving, but truthful, dialog and respect will go a long way.
All of this was going on long after the Jerusalem Council made its decree on what was required of the Gentiles. Four things were to be avoided; fornication, idolatry, things strangled and blood. That’s it. No other points of the Law or Jewish traditions, not even the Sabbath. That should be the last word on the issue for Gentiles. They had a chance to drop the hammer. Many of them were going about saying you cannot be saved unless you believe on Christ plus be circumcised and keep the Law. If James had pronounced that we should be pork free and living in tabernacles once a year then those who want to have Grace and Law merged would have some legal precedence. He said not a word of any of that and yet through the centuries the same questions and battles keep coming up.
We live in an age like many others because as one of my professors said, “Human nature has not changed since the Fall and will not change until after the Millennium.” Humans tend to be active pendulums swinging from one side to the other instead of finding balance. This is why we have those who are stuck in a dead orthodoxy and others practicing wildfire pietism. One cannot allow the Spirit to breathe His life into the Word of God so that letter does not kill and the other wants to dump all doctrine and sound interpretation for subjective feelings in the name of love allowing the Holy Spirit to have free rein. Sometimes the spirit that is having a free rein is their human spirit or even a dark spirit posing as an angel of light. God is a god of balance and the Word and the Holy Spirit work in tandem. The Spirit will never contradict the Word that He was a part of writing and the Word will never hobble the work of the Holy Spirit. It is very difficult to find balance these days.
All that leads us to Galatians chapter three, where Paul is actively resisting the Graw they are seeking to bring about in the church due to some folks from Jerusalem teaching this error. These fellows show up in that century’s version of Armanni suits with glowing pedigrees or degrees. People tend to gravitate towards them because they are taught to respect people like that. Unfortunately, many heretics and con artists can play the role and look the part. Paul, from a human perspective, had a hard time competing with that. He did not dress like a bum, but he would not have been a “dress for success” type. Many believe he was a short man and after all he had gone through he would have had many visible scars along with bad eyesight. The other lads waxed eloquent when they spoke and sounded very erudite while Paul admitted he was rude of speech. All this would have been the death knell for the average person’s ministry except Paul had the truth and He was handpicked by Christ. With that background, you don’t quit. He was likely better trained then some of the pretty boys that showed up, but he relied upon the Holy Spirit rather than his own pedigrees that he considered as dung.
Paul wins the Galatians to Christ preaching the gospel of grace. The people were growing in that grace and the church was growing. Usually that is when the gainsayers and the naysayers start showing up. Folks see a work growing and either show up to criticize it or find a way they can get in on it though often they want in on it only to benefit their own agenda or line their pockets. They want to come in and lead, not learn and participate. These lads that came up from Jerusalem were there to bring the Galatians into what they might have called the full gospel. Yes, Jesus saves you by faith, but you must also be circumcised and follow all of the Mosaic law to keep your salvation or to truly grow in sanctification.
Someone asked what a Legalist is and according to Acts 15 it is a Jesus plus anything else gospel. It is not having high standards. High standards are OK unless you make your standards a means of grace to gain favor with God or to keep from losing your salvation. Yes, we are to be sanctified and different from the world, but when you make jean skirts something to avoid there is no biblical principle for that standard. Some people chastise others for using technology like PowerPoint presentations and such and yet use other types of technology. You are crossing into dangerous ground and even over the line into legalism with such a mindset.
The only means of obtaining favor with God is through placing your sins into the hands of Jesus trusting in His vicarious atonement of them by His death, burial and resurrection as the incarnate Son of God. Adding baptism or other rituals including all or some aspects of the Law to that is legalism and you have fallen from the doctrine of grace into something else. You have been bewitched or fascinated by a false representation of the Gospel. (verse 1) You have not lost your salvation, but you have lost the blessing of it and not benefiting from a life of grace.
He asks a very direct question in verse two. Did the Galatians receive Christ by faith or by works of the Law? The obvious answer is by faith. That being true, why in the world are they looking for something else or be willing to take a downgrade? He says that is foolish and vain. It is always good to look back and take stock of where and who we are now compared to the day we were saved. Have we strayed or added to the message because of experiences? Are we growing in grace or have we substituted something for walking in the Spirit’s guidance. Paul sends them back to day one and says look how you received Christ. Look what you have suffered for your faith and now you want to chuck that for a mutilation of the Gospel.
He then points to himself and asks what was the power in my message, Law or Grace? Did I do miracles by following the Law to the letter or by faith? Does anything those lads from Jerusalem say fit anything you have experienced in yourself or seen in my ministry? Hello! Wake up!! Don’t be foolish!
If nothing else, look to the father of the faithful, Abraham. He believed God and he was called righteous. I know that James seems to say that Abraham was justified by works, but that is not what he is saying. Faith should manifest in works, but God cut the covenant with Abram and changed his name to Abraham long before the willingness to sacrifice Isaac. He was saved by faith. The nations are blessed through Abraham because of his faith and we who have faith are blessed with him. Pretty clear to me.
James was dealing with a different issue. Many can say they have faith, but if they do then they will manifest that faith even if it is a weak, mustard seed faith some evidence of that faith will be seen. This is why great care should be taken when leading people to Christ using the “Sinner’s Prayer” at the end of the Roman’s Road. A great many who have said that prayer never manifested anything. Nothing changed in their life. When Jesus truly comes into a life and the Holy Spirit starts working with the person there is going to be some changes. Will there be baby steps and struggles? Yes, but there will be something. I am afraid, we have chalked up many doorstep or jail house conversions when in reality we have made people twice the child of Hell by our capricious salesman approach. (Matt 23:15)
We go now from faith and blessing to curses. Who is cursed? Those who do not continue to do ALL things in the Law, not just a few. Paul’s argument before the Jerusalem Council was why put a burden on the Gentiles that even we Jews were not able to bear? The Law was holy, but since we are not it was a hopeless case to try and fulfill it perfectly. Each year you had to have faith that God would forgive the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement as He promised. Thus, it was faith that saved even under the Old Covenant.
The rich young ruler thought he was keeping the law and then Christ made it evident that the ruler was indeed covetous and idolatrous when faced with the option of following Christ or selling all he had. Paul thought himself righteous and doing a good job of keeping the Law until he had his Romans 7 experience. If by works of the Law no flesh shall be justified before God then what makes people think that tacking it on to the gospel of faith will justify them or increase their sanctification?
The Law has practical value. If you seek to follow it life will be better for you. Indeed, if you follow the dietary law you will be far healthier and may even live a longer life, but it does not gain you any favor with God to bring about justification. If you break one commandment you broke them all. Perfection is required. When you think about sins of commission and omission and as David speaks secret or hidden sins plus the deceitfulness of the human heart you should do cartwheels and be glad for salvation by faith alone. Many who appear to be very righteous and are sure they are doing well will be shocked at the BEMA or the Great White Throne when God shows them their heart as it truly was in life. If it happens at the BEMA, the tears will be washed away. If it happens at the Great White Throne it will disastrous. Those tears will be for eternity. Make sure you know at which session of the Judgment Seat you will appear.
The law is not of faith. That should be game point. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law so why do we insist on dragging it into the Gospel? The covenant was four hundred and fifty years before the Law was given and was not annulled by the Law. It was given to bring us to Christ and to have some insight to God’s holiness, His sovereignty, as well as giving guidelines for social and judicial action. We can still learn many things from the Law, but it will not justify us or make us holy. It is either Law or promise; faith or works. The Law was given because of transgressions to teach us until Christ arrived.
God meditated the covenant between Himself and Abraham. God put him in a deep sleep so that he really had nothing to fulfill in the covenant. It was all of God. The Law came by God, but in reality the people asked for it when they wanted Moses to be the only mediator between them and God. Moses, in that role, was a type of Christ for now there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. The Law was only temporary. It lasted from Moses to Christ. Christ fulfilled it and tore down the wall between us and God by “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Col 2:14) Blotting out or erasing and taking it way should again be game point. We needed a mediator’s help with the Law and Christ became that. Abraham’s seed, not seeds, came and redeemed us.
Had we been able to keep the Law, we would have been saved by Law, but the Law showed us our wickedness and helplessness. It taught us we needed a Redeemer. It’s job was to be a schoolmaster to teach us that need. Once Christ came and we received Him the schoolmaster’s job was done. Indeed, the Law left us all in the same category, sinner. No one could exalt himself or get into Heaven by any other way than to receive pardon by placing faith in the Redeemer and His work. We needed grace and it was available by faith, not by works of the Law.
The promise was made to Abraham, while he was still a Gentile for there were no Jews and Gentiles at that time. There were only humans. God called Abraham to be a father of all the faithful and to bless all nations. His lineage became Israelites via Jacob. The first person to be called a Jew or Yehudi was Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Gentiles basically means nations and at the time of his call, Abram was one man among the nations. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the nations would be blessed by him or that God would save the nations through faith so that they could enter in a relationship with God like the one Abraham experienced. Since Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, once we are baptized into Christ we are all children of God regardless of our ethnic background, gender or social status. We are one in Christ. We were once shut up in the stronghold of the Law but now we are the children of promise by our faith in Christ. Accept no substitutes or adulterations for the promise that was given.
We are free from the Law. Do not return to a yoke of bondage. Do not fall away from a life of grace. Enjoy the richness of relationship that it brings and the freedom from fear. There is much more to discuss, but those issues need another sermon lest like Eutychus someone falls out a window from sleep deprivation. Study and know your freedom. Paul’s epistles fight Graw and Lace all throughout them. Be wise and not foolish. Shalom! Maranatha!!!