Posted by: Brad Beaman | July 12, 2008

The Gospel: Start and Continue By Faith

                                                                                                                                   

Dance with the one who brung ya. In a sense that was Paul’s message to the Galatians. You became a Christian by faith in Christ and experienced a new birth. In Galations 3:1-5 Paul asks them why switch to human effort to live the Christian life? Faith in Christ brung ya to the dance why switch to striving in the flesh?

Galatians 3:1-5
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

This passage of scripture contains a series of six questions.

There are only two statements.
1. You are foolish.
2. Christ was portrayed before you as crucified.

So why ask all these questions? It was to make them think. They were not thinking reasonably. Paul asks them questions so they will really consider what they have done.

How did you become a Christian? It is salvation by works verses salvation by faith. In verse 2 Paul gets to the central question. Tell me this one thing. How did you become a Christian? When did you receive the Holy Spirit?

When you accepted Jesus Christ in your life the Holy Spirit took up resident in your life. In Romans 8:9 we read; that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

So Paul was asking; how did you become a Christian? It is a multiple choice of two possible answers.

1. By obeying the law
2. By believing what you heard (what they heard Paul says in verse one is a clear presentation of Christ crucified.)

Paul forces the foolish Galatians to think. Do you remember the time you became a Christian? Think back in your experience. It was not by observing the law. Christ did not come into your heart because you did enough good deeds. You do not earn your way to God’s favor.

None of us ever became Christians through our human effort. God reached down. It may be true that some people are better than others. But it is only a matter of one person’s total depravity being better than another’s total depravity. You were not saved by your good works.

It would be like trying to swim across the ocean. Some people with arthritis might not make it 100 yards. A good athlete might make it several miles. All would fall thousands of miles short and end up at the same place at the bottom of the ocean.

It is futile to attempt to reach God on our own efforts. It is foolish to credit yourself with adding to Christ’s work.

Paul portrayed Christ as crucified. God reached down, took on human nature, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life and died on a cross. Salvation is a fee gift of God’s grace which we accept though faith. Think back, how did you become a Christian?

I remember for myself in December of 1981, acknowledging my sin before God, knowing there was nothing I could do, asking God to let Christ’s death on the cross count for me. Jesus Christ came into my heart and God forgave me.

Did you need human effort, good works to become a Christian? Did you merit your salvation by baptism or church membership? No! Paul asks questions with an obvious answer. They were meant to make the Galatians realize how foolish they were. It is not the law or good works that save it is faith in Jesus Christ.

How do you continue the Christian live?

There is a contrast of living by the flesh verses living by the Spirit. In verse 3 Paul really gets to the point. Are you so foolish?

In the Message version of Galatians 3:3 the verse reads:
Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?

We live by faith and must continue on to walk by faith. We don’t live out the Christian live in the flesh. We don’t accomplish God’s will by human effort. You were brought to where you are by spiritual birth. Why revert to human power?

Think for a moment about a World Series Baseball Game. The team is the Galatian Giants. It is the bottom of the ninth and bases are loaded and there are two outs and the Galatians teams all star batter is about to take to the plate. He brought them to this point with his powerful homerun hitting.

Before he goes to bat there walks into the dugout someone from another ball club. He begins to discredit all the things that the coaches had taught this allstar batter. He talks of being a switch hitter, now batting left handed. Somehow it sounds like good advice. Imagine the World Series and this all star batter goes out to the plate and starts batting left handed. Strike one. Strike two.

The team manager, the Apostle Paul goes to talk to him. Are so foolish? Think about it. Did you get here batting right handed or left? Have you hit home runs batting right handed or left handed? He can only hope the questions bring him to reason.

Paul is telling the Galatians. Holy Spirit is sufficient. Don’t revert to striving in human effort. What happened to get the churches of Galatia trusting human effort for living the Christian life? They were running well who cut in on them?

Verse one says who hypnotized you? What does a hypnotist say? Look into my eyes. Paul has painted a portrait of Christ crucified through his preaching. They got their eyes off Christ and put their eyes on the Judiazars who said the flesh is the way to live the Christian life.

If you are driving a car along and everything is fine it would be foolishness to get out and start pushing it around wherever you needed to go. If they could have kept their eyes fixed on Jesus they could have avoided all this foolishness.

In verse five Paul asks where is the power. Is it in faith or law? Are miracles the result of human striving? No. Miracles are the result of a life of faith. Christ in us and living through us. By faith we see the miraculous of the lost save, broken families restored, people hungry for spiritual growth and answered prayer. It’s faith a spiritual dynamic.

These are questions that make us think. Is it faith or works that bring salvation? If you say works you have misunderstood salvation and the cross of Christ. Salvation comes by faith in Christ. Believe in Jesus Christ, He died on the cross for you.

Don’t be foolish. Live by faith. Die daily to self and put Christ on the throne of your life. Christ at the center. That is where we find the power of the Christian life.

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