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24 Sept: Correcting A Brother/Sister in Christ
Acts 2:11,14 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” “But when I saw that they were not straight-forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all . . .”
Matt 16:21-23 “From that time Jesus began to show His disciple that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things and be killed and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
There are a number of points in Jesus’ words which are important but today I want to look at the interaction between Jesus and Peter. Jesus is describing to His apostles what is going to happen which includes the information that He is going to be raised on the third day. This information seems to be overlooked and all they can hear is Jesus’ warning regarding His suffering So Peter speaks out as he is accustomed to doing and gets chastised by the Lord.
Jesus says that He is the way, the truth and the life and 2 Tim 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for teaching and training. Any and all teachings which veer off from this is false teachings and must be stopped. Even Peter, as a leader and apostle of Jesus, cannot be allowed to go against God’s will.
When actions or teachings go against what Jesus and Scripture teaches then we must stand up for the truth.
Titus 3:9-11 “But avoid foolish controversies . . . for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
2 Tim 3:1-5 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant . . . holding a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as these.”
1 Cor 5:11 “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”
Jesus Himself taught us that we must not let sin go unchecked in our brothers and sisters’ lives: Matt 18:15-17 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
When a sin is personal and within a person’s lifestyle then we need to approach the situation gently and carefully. But when the sins affect or influence other brothers then it needs to be handled in such a way that everyone is put on notice that such ungodly behavior will not be tolerated. Even Jesus said that if a brother will not change and will not listen then he is to be with-drawn from.
1 Tim 5:20 “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest will be fearful of sinning.”
Remember: Acts 2:11,14 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” “But when I saw that they were not straight-forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all . . .”
In our society we sometimes see the need to make an example of someone so that others will be deterred from engaging in similar wrong doing and this applies to God’s family as well. Paul tells the Thessalonians that if a person is not working then he is not eating and they are to stop being busybodies and to get to work. Then he tells them this: 2 Thess 3:14,15 “If anyone does not obey our instructions in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet, do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
He also tells us in his letter to Timothy: 2 Tim 2:24-26 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” And then in Galatians Paul tells us this:
Gal 6:1 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” There is an old saying: ‘There but for the grace of God go I.” A second saying tells us not to judge a man before we have walked a mile in his moccasins. In other words, we are correcting a brother out of love because we care about TRUTH and we care about our brother or sister.
I want to finish up with Romans 15:1-3, 5,6 “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.” “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.”
Why does Scripture teach us to correct those who are teaching wrong or behaving in an ungodly fashion – because we care about the truth and because we care about those who will stand condemned because of their error.
How does Scripture teach us to correct? We do so by bringing their error to their attention and if they do not correct then we have nothing anymore to do with them. This is done so that they can see the seriousness of their sin and so that they do not lead any other brothers/sisters down the path of sin. We need to stand up for the truth of God and His Scriptures but we need to do so in a loving fashion.
17 Sept: Justification (salvation) by Faith or Works
In Galatians 2 & 3 one of the major discussions is how our justification is achieved through our faith, not by our own self-righteousness works under the law. Paul explains to us the function of the Law: Rom 7:7, 13 “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed, I would not have known what sin was except for through the law.” “Did that which is good then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” In other words, the law’s purpose was to bring recognition to us about sin being in our lives. And Galatians springboards off of this:
Gal 3:21-27 “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? Far from it! For if a law had been given that was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has confined everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
23 Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, being confined for the faith that was destined to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our guardian to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Paul is telling us here that our relationship with the Father is based on our faith in Jesus Christ and not how good we obey God’s laws. I think it is important that we realize that we can be in relationship with God because He desires it and has made it possible.
Our relationship with Him is possible because He took the necessary actions to bridge that gap that exists between us because of our sins.
Rom 3:21-26 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (Heb 10:4 “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” This was a temporary fix.) – to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” God has brought justification and salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of His only Son.
Rom 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Mtt 5:17 “Jesus said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
In fulfilling the Law Jesus paid the price for us: Gal 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
In His fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, Jesus obtained our eternal salvation. No more were priests required to offer sacrifices and enter the holy place (Hebrews 10:8–14). Jesus has done that for us, once and for all. By grace through faith, we are made right with God: Col 2:14 “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Paul is clear that the believer in Christ is no longer under the Law: He substituted Himself in our place and upon the cross and took the punishment that is justly ours so that we are no longer under the curse of the Law. In doing so, He fulfilled and upheld the requirements of the Law. This means that instead of following the Mosaical law we are free to obey the law of Christ - which is to love God with all of our being!
Jesus tells us that if we love Him then we will keep His commandments: John 8:31 “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really my disciples.” John 14:15,21 “Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. “Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show Myself to them”. 1 John 5:2-3 “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands”
John 12:44-48 “Now Jesus cried out and said, “The one who believes in Me, does not believe only in Me, but also in Him who sent Me. 45 And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day.”
We need to realize that loving Christ is serving/obeying Christ. Rejecting Christ in the way we live brings condemnation and punishment:
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Rom 2:8 “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” 2 Tim 4:8 “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”
We can have a relationship with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit if we love and obey Him. This is possible because of the bridge that God provides for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we reject Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer than there is waiting for us an eternity that will be filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth. If we DO accept Jesus, we will live the remainder of our days, today and onward and throughout eternity in God’s love.
Finding and Living According to God’s Truth
Rev 22:18,19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Clearly John is writing about condemnation regarding those who pervert what is said in his book. But Paul addresses this issue also but in a larger context: Gal 1:6-8 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.”
Paul, here, is speaking specifically about the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. But I do not think it at all too far-fetched to say that if any of God’s inspired scriptures are perverted then so will that person’s eternal future. Paul writes in Colossians: Col 1:10 “And we pray this so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”. Acts 17:11 “ Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
If we are going to respond to our calling and if we are going to imitate Jesus Christ, then we are going to have to hear, believe, know and understand what it is that is expected of us. It is God’s holy word that will lead us to that obedience: John 20:30 “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Rom 15:4 and 1 Cor 10:11 tells us “ For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” 2 Tim 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is inspired to teach, correct, and train us for righteousness. It is imperative that if we are to avoid hearing those words of condemnation – ‘depart from Me for I never knew you’ – then we must be closely connected to the Word of God and therefore our Savior.
On a continuation of this idea, Paul writes Gal 1:9,10 “As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Here’s a thought that came up in my study: is it possible that we are guilty of trying to please man – namely, OURSELVES ??? Christ says that if they persecuted Me, then they will persecute you. And we are also told that we should pick up our cross and follow Him. Is there much evidence in our lives that we are living a sacrificial and God-serving lifestyle? Or, are we in many ways guilty of living according to the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life spoken of in 1 John 2:15????
In Galatians Paul goes on to say: Gal 1:13-24 “For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when He . . . was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 But I did not see another one of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which are in Christ; 23 but they only kept hearing, ‘The man who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.’ 24 And they were glorifying God because of me.”
Paul knew that he had been chosen for a task – a task for service and not for honor; for battle and not for ease! The last verse explains in a nut-shell the purpose of his mission and his life – to bring glory to God. Isn't that what Jesus says is our purpose???
Matt 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Col. 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
These verses speaks to our calling as I shared with you last week!!!
Gal 1:16-21 “I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days. . . . . 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
Notice Paul’s response in his conversation: First, he went to Arabia. In his time there he would have been away from distractions and fleshly temptations where others would have interfered with his new-found faith. How many passages in the New Testament tell us of Jesus taking whole nights to be away from even His small inner circle to be with His Father.
Paul new the importance of “KNOWING” God. Paul tells us here that he was advancing ahead of many Jewish leaders in his training – now he seeks to do the same in his Christian understanding. HOW MUCH TIME ARE WE SPENDING AND HOW MUCH EFFORT ARE WE PUTTING INTO GETTING TO KNOW OUR LORD AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT HE HAS CALLED US TO??? Doesn't Rom 12:2 tell us to be transformed “by the renewing of our minds? Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is".
Next Paul went to Damascus. Paul had originally been on his way there to destroy the church. He is approaching people who KNEW his hurtful past and was willing to confront them and to convince them of his new “LIFE”. How many people in our past have we harmed, degraded and/or damaged with our words and deeds? Do we have the courage to go to them with the love of Christ operating in our hearts and lives?
His next destination was Jerusalem. Here he is meeting people and leaders of the church. He is meeting those who will have a major impact on how the church world-wide will accept him. He is also meeting all those Jewish friends, and now adversaries, who he at one time had their respect and esteem and now their hate and anger. How have we done meeting people of our past and convincing them of our faithful-calling that we now live for? Do we find ourselves courageous or embarrassed to bring the message of salvation to them. Do we love them enough to truly want them to find the new life that we have found???
His final destination is to Syria and Cilicia. This is where Tarsus, his childhood town, is. Here are his boyhood friends and family. Jesus Himself said that prophets in not without honor except in his town and his home. Are there people in our lives with whom we refuse to speak the message of Christ to? Do we allow our own uncomfortableness, for any and all reasons, to interfere with our passion about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? If we are going to find, follow and live according to God’s word then we must live like Jesus did. In Luke 9 a list of followers come to Jesus with reasons why they cannot immediately go with Him. In essence Jesus tells them that their discipleship with Him must be their first priority.
We need to make sure that our lives reflect the true teachings of the Lord. By His own words He taught that the two greatest commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor. Our greatest compliance with these two commandments will be found in knowing the truth, living the truth and teaching the truth!!!
Heb 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together but let us encourage one another…”