The Lord Jesus Christ vs This Present Evil Age
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Galatia was a region of Asia Minor in the general area of modern Turkey. Galatia became a part of the Roman Empire 20 to 65 years before Christ.
On his first missionary journey (about A.D. 46-48), the apostle Paul and Barnabas evangelized the Galatian cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 13-14). Paul revisited the area on his second and third missionary journeys.
Most likely this letter that we begin looking at today was written to the churches Paul had established on his and Barnabases first missionary journey.
They had been sent out from one of the first churches established outside of Palestine: Syrian Antioch.
So much for the history lesson. Read with me the first 5 verses of Galatians 1:
Gal. 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. NASB
A middle school principal came to our St Albans Ministers meeting this week. We invited her and a colleague to share with them and ask if they would be interested in us sponsoring a man to come and give a program about bullying. She is looking into that.
We asked her what she felt the greatest need was at the middle school level. Was there anything we, as ministers working together could do to help?
She shared that one of the biggest problems is with their students spending too much time on social media and not getting their work done. Another related problem is that girls are sharing inappropriate pictures of themselves on social media. When they talk with them about it they say they just want to be loved and accepted.
Perhaps not directly related, she expressed a need for mentors for these children. People who will come and spend time with the children and give them a good role model to follow. Perhaps it is directly related. There was such a program sponsored by a local church, but it has ended for lack of volunteers.
So I ask myself, what could we as a congregation do to help?
Healthy churches, like healthy Christians, have an outward focus. What we used to call carnal Christians are always thinking about themselves and what they want and need. Healthy Christians, those who are walking in the Spirit instead of in the flesh, spend more time thinking about and looking for ways to serve God, to love Him, and to love other people.
One of the ways we become mature in Christ is in spending time praying and asking God to help us think correctly, that is to work at loving God and loving people. We read the Bible, we sing songs, we pray for the needs, and especially the souls of other people. We come to church, not just to get our needs met, but to bring honor to our God and to be a witness of His love for us and for the world. We give to the work of the church, because we understand this is one way we express our love for and our allegiance to God.
We are not spending all our days worrying, but rather, have laid down those burdens at the feet of Jesus and we trust God to meet our needs.
On Wednesday evenings we are looking at the 1st 3 chapters of Genesis. This is the story of our beginnings and is a picture of what life is all about. Eve, the first man Adam named her Eve because she is the mother of all living. Eve looked at the tree of knowledge of good and evil and saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye, and that it would make her wise so she took and ate and shared it with Adam.
Nothing wrong with good food. Nothing wrong with wanting to be wise, is there? Nothing wrong with having things that please the eye. Right? What could be the harm? Why would a loving God withhold something so good from people if He really loved them? If God is good why does He allow so much evil in the world?
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). What does that mean? We all fall short of the perfect, intimate relationship that God desires to have with each one of us. We all have, in various ways, taken the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have all looked at something we knew God did not want for us and we took it anyway. At the time, it seemed good to us, but we knew God had said no, but we did it anyway. And the result was shame and we moved a little further away from God. We hid.
God, when He created us, looked down through time and saw that little girl in middle school in St. Albans, WV. That little girl who was so desperate to be loved that she sold her soul and her body to get what she thought she wanted and needed. That is why God withheld something that seemed so good, so harmless, from Eve. All the evil in the world is our fault and it could have been avoided. Mankind must take responsibility for the evil in the world today. We must each recognize that we are either contributing to the problem or we are contributing to the solution.
How many of our sons and daughters would be in church today if we had been about the business of the kingdom instead of spending our time worrying about how much money is in the treasury? How many souls have been lost because we lingered longer instead of going out and telling others that God loves them and He wants to have a close, intimate relationship with them? This is what we really need. This is the answer to all the problems we face in the present evil age. And we, who claim to know Him, sit in our churches while those around us are dying and going to hell. What are we going to do about it?
What do we get when we ignore God and do what we want to do as Eve did? We isolate ourselves from the world around us because we are afraid of this present evil age. We hide from the only one who can give us what we really need. What is the answer for a world starved for love today?
God is the answer. God came down from His comfortable home, gave up His glory and walked among us as Our Lord Jesus Christ. Why?
What does God want? How will He defeat this present evil age?
He will do it one life at a time. He will speak to you and call you to move closer to Him instead of moving away from Him. He will call you to go and share His love with those who do not know.
Barnabas and Paul left their home church in Antioch to take the message to Galatia.
Eve moved away from God. Adam moved away from God and blamed Eve.
Where was Adam when The Serpent was talking with Eve? Most likely he had just said to Eve, “Be quiet, I am watching the nature channel. Go find us something to eat.” Sorry, I couldn't resist that joke. Not very funny though. Anyway...
Eve moved away. Adam moved away. Everyone... All... Each one of us have moved away from God instead of running to Him. When we are tempted to meet our own needs and think we know what is good for us, we need to move closer to God, not away from Him. We need to accept, to believe, to hold on the the truth that God loves us and that what He wants for us is what is good. He wants to be the center of our life. And that is a good thing for us.
What God wants for us is always what is best for us. What does God want?
Paul started His letter to the churches of Galatia with these words. “3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” NASB
According to the will of our God and Father... God wanted to become a man, to send His Only Begotten Son, so that He could die and deliver us out of this present evil age. The purpose is to reconnect us to God that we might experience His grace and His peace. In the world we have tribulation. In God, we have grace and peace.
Why is there so much evil in the world? Because we, mankind, turned our backs on God. We refused to listen to Him. We decided for ourselves that what God was asking was not for our good and we stopped trusting Him.
What is God's will for us? That we turn toward Him instead of away from Him. When you come to Him and begin to trust Him and to live in an intimate relationship with Him, He will lead you back out into the world to take Him with you to share His grace and His mercy and His peace with others.
God is seeking to win us back to Himself one person at a time. This is what life was supposed to be about... life lived with God.
We all fall short, but the answer is not to try harder, but to run to Him and be held in His loving fatherly arms. Accept Him as Savior and Lord. He has the answers you seek. He has the wisdom that Eve was looking for when she disobeyed. He has what you are looking for today.
We think we know what is good, but only in God will we find true goodness. What seems to us to be harmless will kill us if we are not walking in the presence of God. With out Him the best that this world has to offer falls short of what God says is good. With Him, the worst that we can suffer in this life will be nothing to us for we are protected in the arms of our God who loves us. With Him we can defeat this present evil age and all its evil. Apart from Him we are without hope. We are lost.
Looking for love in all the wrong places.
Until then Eve had known God intimately and enjoyed life with Him. When she listened to the enemy, the flesh, the self, she got shame and fear.
Turn your life over to God. Live your life for Him, not for what He can do for you, but for what He can do through you.
Where are we going as individuals? Where are we headed as a church? What is God calling us to do?
God has defeated this present evil age. The battle was won on the cross.
Are you on the winning side?