One of the things Paul was trying to make clear to the Galatians church was that they needed to be taught by God and led by the Holy Spirit to understand the truth. The challenge they were facing at this time was they had some men come to them who were supposed to be Christians, but these man were teaching them what was essentially a form of Christianity and Judaism combined.
They were being told by these men that if they were to follow God, they had to be circumcised and taught to follow the law of Moses.
But this is not what Paul had taught them when he and Barnabas first opened the gospel of Jesus Christ up to the Galatians. And we see in these two verses that in his own early Christian walk, Paul sought confirmation of what he was teaching in order to check that he was not making an error in what he believed and then taught to others. Continue reading “Test Your Faith”
One of the things all Christians need to do is to examine themselves and try to understand who it is they are listening to and learning from because the gospel truth is not from men, but from God.
There is only one truth of the New Covenant, just as there is only one God and Father, One Christ who is the Son of God and Saviour of all mankind. But in this world we do not see this same oneness of mind, spirit and purpose. This is especially true in the church today, for the church is widely splintered in a multitude of sects, denominations and groups, all of whom claim to be Christians, but who frequently disagree on what is the fundamental truth of the New Covenant.
That is why it is important to examine yourself and determine from whom you are learning. Is the quality of the doctrine and teachings that you accept and believe really the truth, or is it a concoction of teachings, some of which are true and some of which are not, for the purpose of bringing you under the dominion and bondage of men rather than into the freedom of Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Gospel Truth Is Not From Men”
These verses in Galatians chapter 1 really set the scene for this whole letter. The essence of this whole book is to instruct a church that has rejected the gospel of freedom in Jesus Christ and accepted a different gospel, which is a mishmash of law and bondage.
Paul is frustrated, astonished and amazed that the Galatians church has been torn apart by false teaching and lies from people who are supposed to be representing Jesus Christ. False teachers had come among the Galatians and are leading them back into bondage, and Paul is quite clearly horrified by it.
He says they have been taken captive by accepting a different gospel, and then makes the point that there is not, and cannot be a different gospel. There is only ONE gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Anything else, anything that purports to be a different gospel is a lie and will not lead to freedom, but to bondage.
Today I commence my studies in the book of Galatians. As a brief overview of this amazing letter from the Apostle Paul to the church if the Galatians, it is worthwhile just noting what Paul wrote in his first few introductory words.
These few verses really tell a story and set the tone for the rest of Paul’s letter. And it is not a good story as far as the church of the Galatians is concerned.
So let’s just examine his opening words and see where Paul is coming from and what he intends to speak about to the Galatians.
It is a common thing among Christians to think less of themselves than they should. By this I mean that many Christians seem to be constantly aware of sin and sinning and a great many live in guilt and self-condemnation.
But here we see an interesting comment from Paul that shows a very different mindset than we see today.
And it is not easy to pick out because even the Bible translators have either missed it, not believed it or chosen to soften the truth of this verse, for they have modified the true meaning of the Greek word into something less than what Paul was talking about: Perfection.
When you went to school, (or if you are still attending), there were always tests and examinations to ensure you were competent in the subject being studied. I am sure we all groaned about the litany of pop quizzes, tests and exams when they came along, but they were being done for our good.
Generally, at least in my own experience, as we approached the end of year examinations, we would test our knowledge by doing exams from previous years so we could understand the types of questions likely to be asked. By this process we could examine ourselves to see whether our knowledge was going to be adequate to gain a passing mark, or if we needed to do more work.
Likewise, in the scriptures, we are told in many and various places that we will be tested for the sake of what we believe. But here in 2 Corinthians 13:5-8, we are being told to “test ourselves” and to “examine our faith” to ensure we are holding fast to the truth of the faith that is in Jesus Christ. So let us look at that process and see what needs to be done to meet the test.
As Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians, he gives them fair warnings about sin and the consequences of continuing in sin.
He also advises them that the Lord is in the people and He is powerful in them, both to overcome sin and also to deal with the weaknesses of His people. But He will also be powerful in dealing with those who choose to continue in sin.
So how can this knowledge in these short verses help us today? In many ways, if we take the time to listen to His words and take heed, for too often the church today has lost it’s power. But even so, Christ is still powerful in His people and He continues to deal with them to bring them to the place He wants them to be.
In my last few posts I have spoken a lot about the state of the modern church in many of it’s parts. How it seems to take advantage of the people who come into the church and how many of the teachers, preachers, pastors and ministers seem to be in it for what they can get out of it.
And while these things are true, it is not the case across the whole church, for there are many who are in ministry for the right reasons. They have a desire for the work of the Lord and to help disciple and call people to Christ for THEIR benefit and not for selfish and self-serving reasons.
Such people are following the footsteps that Paul speaks of in this last section of 2 Corinthians 12. And importantly we see that in his work, Paul ensured that the churches were not left to their own devices, to fall into error. Instead he ensured that those who had made a start in the Lord received continuing teaching, counselling and follow-up so that they remained on the straight and narrow. Continue reading “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
One of the great things we see in Paul was that he chose to make the gospel free to all those to whom he preached. He did not put any burdens upon any of the early churches because he did not want to burden them in any way. His aim always was to ensure there was no cost associated with preaching the gospel so that no-one could accuse him of feathering his own nest or lining his own pockets.
Clearly this was not the case with some of the other teachers and preachers of Paul’s day. He specifically refers in this section to some “superlative” apostles or, in some translations, “super” apostles who were going into the churches and preaching for profit.
And as much as I hate to say it, how many of the churches today, especially the big televangelist organisations, are doing the very thing Paul was preaching against? Too many!
Paul boasts in this section of scripture. But his boasts are not like the boasts of most men.
Here we see Paul boasting of his weaknesses and failings, not his strengths or achievements, as most men would do. Paul understood that all of the things he did well, all of his learning and the work he had done in the name of Jesus, were not really his work. The work he did and the things he achieved were done through the power of the Lord and by the working of the Holy Spirit in him.
And so if all the strong things, the good things and the achievements he made were done by the Lord, then all that is left are the weaknesses, the failures, the mistakes and the frailties. It is these he boasted of, not because he was proud of them, but rather because the Lord had shown him that, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”