Sunday, June 10, 2007

Doing It Doesn't Get It Done
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Doing It Doesn't Get It Done

Intro.: I don't know if I have ever been on a treadmill.

  1. I know that it can be a form of healthy exercise, but it seems like you are getting no where.

  2. I suspect that none of you would disagree with me if I said sin is like a treadmill – it gets us no where.

  3. But you might be surprised that there were times that Paul saw living a good life also being a treadmill – it would get you no where.

  4. Galatians 2:11-21 makes this clear

Read: Galatians 2:11-21


Trans: Galatians was written to a group of Christians who lived in the southern part of what is now Turkey. Written in 48 AD, it is probably the earliest of Paul's NT letters

T.S. Paul's position in Galatians 2:11-21 can be divided into three parts

  1. The Conflict

    1. There seems to be an unwritten rule in the church that there will be no conflict. Yet there was a point early in the history of the church where the result of conflict could have had totally changed the nature of the church.

    2. Took place a bit after Paul's visit to Jerusalem which we discussed last week. Peter came to Antioch to visit Paul shortly before his first missionary trip.

    3. And Paul was confused. When we hear the term “law” we think about a legal system that defines what is right and wrong. To the Jew, the Law meant following the ritual of the Old Testament – what they ate, how they worshiped, and how they practiced their religion. It defined the kind of relationship people were to have with God.

(Ill.) It was about 35 years ago that I started dating Sandra. There were probably times when we started dating that I wished that there was a rule book that defined what I had to do in every situation. It would list the kinds of chocolate, the type of flowers, and the words to say. And if I followed every rule, then I would end up with the girl of my dreams. And that same book would have worked for each of you. And you know the results – it wouldn't work. And just as it would not provide the perfect tools for finding a spouse, so the law could not provide a perfect relationship with God.

    1. But Paul knew that Christ had fulfilled the law – what the law could not do, Christ did.. Our relationship with God was cemented in Christ's death on the cross. It was done, it was completed – nothing that we could do could get us closer to God.

    2. But he was hearing something different from Peter. You see, Peter had begun to call the Gentiles, the Jewish term for those who were not under the law, to obey the law. But it would never work.

  1. The Resolution

    1. Paul had nit nail on the head. What the law could not do, Christ had done.

    2. Paul sums it up in verses 15-16, writing to Peter he says, “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

    3. We have already talked about what Paul meant by the Law, but there are two other words here stand out they are the words “justified” and “faith”.1

(Ill.) Have you ever noticed that the church can be as bad as computer science. In computer science we have a set of words that We have a set of terms that we use regularly that are totally foreign to those on the outside of our discipline. In the church we have similar words. Terms that we can use without thinking about them – but that when we use them will leave other in the dust. If we are going to win those around us Christ, we will want to express our faith in ways that the world can understand – not to water our faith down, but to communicate it to a broken world.

    1. Justification” is one of those words that the church uses too often without defining it. And if we use it too often among those who are not part of the church, we it might frighten them off. At one level justification can be mean that we are aquitted of all our sin, we are accepted by God, we are set right with God, we are saved despite our sin.

(Ill) Most of you know that I have training as a pastor and as a computing professional, and a degree in counseling. But if you go back even further you will find that my first college degree was in chemistry. I have forgotten more chemistry than I knew, but I remember one tool that we used regularly in the my very first high school chemistry class. It was a scale with two plates mounted on a fulcrum. We would put the sample on one side and then put increasingly small weights on the other, till the two sides are level. Our lives are like that scale. On one side is our life – all of it. We can try to put all kinds of good things on the other side, be better, live a good life. But you know what it will never bring that scale into a balanced state. But then we meet Jesus. And immediately, the scale is balanced. We may not immediately see it, we may not immediately feel it, but that scale that was out of balance is now set right. We are justified.

    1. The other word, faith, is also interesting. We too often think of faith as a passive grateful reception of God's mercy.

    2. But that misses the point – faith is an active participation in God's mercy. It is not just a noun (like the English word), but it is an active verb in which we are fully participating. A close English word that might help us understand the meaning of “faith” is “trust”.

    3. And when we experience faith, we are justified.

  1. The Problem

    1. But that leaves problems – when we are justified, we are admitting that we are sinners. Paul asks the question, “does that mean that Christ promotes sin?

    2. Paul answers emphatically, “Absolutely not!

    3. Christ not only justifies us – he also empowers us. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

    4. The Christian faith is a living faith.

    5. Faith allows us to participate in it.

    6. But a living faith also means that God takes us and begins and continues to transform us.

(Ill) Transformation is something that comes to every believer. A. J. Gordon (1836–1895), converted at age fifteen, was a Baptist minister and author, for many years pastor of the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston. He was the founder of what is now know as Gordon College The secret of his powerful ministry is described in his delightful, moving, and hard-to-find book, “When Christ Came to Church.”

In this book, he relates a dream that came to him early in his ministry at Clarendon Street. In this dream he came into his pulpit and stood there at the start of the service. As he began the service, the door opened at the back, and the usher admitted a very fine looking gentleman, brought him down the aisle, and showed him a seat. The man had a very refined face, and there was something very elegant about it. Through the whole service, Gordon couldn’t help noticing him and wondering who he was.

After the service when all the people had gone home, Gordon sought out an usher and asked about the man: “Who is that gentleman you showed in tonight?”

“Oh,” came the reply, “didn’t you know, that was Jesus Christ. He came into the service and asked that He might sit there. Didn’t you realize that?”

Gordon suddenly awoke from his dream, but his ministry was turned upside down from that day. The next time he went into his pulpit, he seemed transformed, refreshed, renewed. He was aware that Jesus was there, in the pew, in the pulpit, in that place.2

    1. A transformed life, is a life that God can use.


1Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 31: The Preachers's Commentary Series, Volume 31: Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians/Colossians/Philemon. The Preacher's Commentary series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.

2Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (380). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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