Sunday, June 5, 2016
My oldest son is Andrew. His brother, Peter, is 3 ½ years younger, but the two of them have always been close. When Andrew's wife gave birth to their first born, Peter thought he did not like kids, especially babies. Then there was Sophia Elaine Coll. From the very first Peter was smitten.
That new, little baby changed him. He now had a relationship with a person. Now, it is always a joy to watch Peter interact with his nephew and niece. They love him and he loves them.
Before Pete was born we called him Pete Rose. Anybody remember who Pete Rose was? We called him Pete Rose because if he was a boy his name would be Peter William and if a girl he would have been Rose Ellen. We planned to call him Peter and insist on Peter and not Pete, as we had with Andrew, but when Pete was born he was Pete. It fit him. As a baby, he was Pete. Alicia did not want to call Bennet Bubba, until she met him. He is a Bubba and has been since he was born.
What people need most in life is to be loved. We need to have people who will love us for who we are, not for what we can do for them. What most people do not understand is that God offers the love they need as a free gift. We, however, go looking to fulfill the need for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. We cry out in a lot of different ways, “Please love me.”
If we would accept the love of God, we would be freed from the power of this need and be able to love others as God intended us to love them, with no strings attached, to love them as they are. Think about this as we read this next portion of Paul's letter to the churches of Galatia.
Pick up with me in Galatians 2 verse 19.
19 "For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. 20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. 21 "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations shall be blessed in you." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. 10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them." 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, " The righteous man shall live by faith. " 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" — 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. 19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. NASB
When Eve turned away from God and began thinking of herself, she gave in to the temptation to do what God had commanded she not do. She broke the Law. The law was there to protect her, but she decided she knew better than God what she needed and turned away from Him.
She and Adam tried to cover themselves and hid from God because they were ashamed. They pulled away from the only one who could help them. They pulled away from the love that God offered. He proved to them that He still loved them by going after them.
In Christ, God has come to seek us. He gave a promise to Abraham and Abraham believed God and received the promise. Paul is saying that anyone who puts their faith in God will be blessed and receive the promise as well.
What if Pete had refused to come to the hospital and refused to hold baby Sophia? He would have missed out on having a relationship with a beautiful person. A person who loves him unconditionally and who he loves as well.
In the same way, when we refuse to trust God, to spend time with Him, to love Him, and treat Him the way He deserves to be treated, we miss out on knowing the one person who loves us most and who can do the most for us. This is what sin is all about. This is what redemption is all about. God, in Christ, is reconciling the world to Himself.
The blessing promised to Abraham and his descendants has been fulfilled through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He delivered Himself up for us as Paul put it in our passage for today.
You do not come to know God by obedience to the rules, the law. You come to know Him as you put your faith in Him and He comes to live within you. You receive the Spirit of God.
The Spirit is not some thing. He is God. HE is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus said to the woman at the well God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth.
You can know the rules without knowing God. You cannot know God without coming to know the rules. Jesus said that on the day of judgment many would ask why they were cast out and Jesus told them they had called Him Lord, but they had not done those things that He asked them to do. They had not loved God or loved other people. They were only seeking what they felt they needed for themselves.
When you meet God and understand that He loves you and that He is your Lord, you begin to see that the love that you seek is given freely to you. When you accept His love and He moves into your heart through the Promise of the Spirit, He begins to lead you and teach you. You begin to see Him as a real person and not some far off distant God that has little meaning for your own life.
Following rules is dull and dry. But when you come to experience the love of the God who gave the rules, the rules are no longer a burden to be avoided, but become the means to living out a relationship with this great, loving God who created us.
It is the Spirit, the Presence of God Himself, who gives us abundant, eternal life. It is the Spirit through whom Paul could say that Christ lives in me. We die with Christ to the flesh, the self, and begin allowing Christ to live through us.
This is our purpose in life. When we spend time with God we change. In a much smaller sense, when Peter spent time with baby Sophia, he was changed. He fell in love with her and he has never been the same since.
When we spend time with Our Lord Jesus Christ we are changed. We are given life. We are reconnected to the life of God through the Holy Spirit. We die to self and live to God. We are born of the Spirit and we become new creatures in Christ.
The promise is fulfilled in us who believe. We accept the gift of life, the gift of salvation by putting our faith in God. This was the blessing promised to Abraham because God spoke to Him and He believed. He followed where God led him because he had come to trust God.
We are given the righteousness of Christ and we begin to follow Him and to live according to His plan and His purpose. We begin to understand the law that was given. It is not to stifle us, but to help us to know God. It is our tutor to bring us to Christ.
The promise of God is fulfilled in you when you put your faith in God.
Later on Paul will talk more about walking in the Spirit. He will help us to see the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. We need to know who we are listening to and who we are putting our trust in.
The promise is for me and for you. The promise of God to those who believe. We are forgiven and we are loved by our Lord. Our Creator will lead us through the Word and the Spirit to be His disciples, His bond-servants.
Trust Him. Seek Him. Live no longer for yourself. Live for God. Allow Christ to live through you, to love others, to bring about change to the world, to those around you. Have you received the promise of the Spirit? Seek Him. Walk with Him.