The Church: Heading Forward by Going Backward
At the time when the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians, he was addressing the churches in Galatia. Their problem was they had begun with the Spirit, but now they were trying to attain their goal by human effort. Since the Bible is applicable to the Church for the entire time it (Church) continues to exist throughout its history; who do you think the book of Galatians is addressing today?
The first thing we need to understand is; what is meant by beginning with the Spirit verses trying with human effort? As we read deeper into Galatians we discover one verse that answers this question and summarizes the entirety of this book. Look at Gal. 5: 4. It says: 'You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.' Also this verse is a perfect description, for far too long now, of the history of Christendom in this Country. And when I say Christendom, I am not including the cults. They are in their own category all together. Here is what this verse means: If we insist on justifying ourselves before God by trying to keep the law, we will be separated from Christ, we will have fallen away from grace. This does not mean we have lost our salvation; it means we have shifted the focus of our faith back to ourselves and away from Christ where it belongs. I now have faith in myself instead of having faith in Christ. He hasn't gone anywhere; he's just waiting for you to again, put your faith back in him.
When you fall away from something; you have to fall to something. When we fall away from grace, all that's left for us to fall to, is law. This happens automatically. If we are not under grace then automatically we are under law. Rom. 11: 6 says: 'And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.' If grace is not being taught overtly in our churches, then law is being taught, whether one realizes it or not. And this is the subtlety of what has happened in our churches; it has not been realized. Who can argue against what we witness in our churches all the time. What comes from the pulpit in all its forms, what sermons are put forth in all their variety of styles, boils down to this one theme: what I should be doing for God. Instead of my Christianity being about Jesus, it has become about me. We as Christians have come out of a performance based world. So we are already set up and eager to carry this over into our Christianity, no problem. Just watch me and see if I don't outread you, outworship you, outpray you, outattend you, outwhatever you.
The good news however, is that the church of today, as of recent, is starting to come back to from whence it came. It is starting to come back to an understanding of the Gospel as the Apostles understood it. The Apostles understood that law and grace could not be mixed. In his awareness of Satan's schemes to plant seeds of confusion, the Apostle Paul addresses this issue in his writings. Other than the scripture from Galatians, he states in Rom 6:14 'For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law but under grace.' The meaning being if you want to be under law then sin will be your master. He says in 1 Cor. 15: 56 'the power of sin is the law.' Why would we want to be under a law, that is going to keep sin powerful in our life. In the Gospels Jesus gives us an illustration through parables why we can't mix law and grace. You can't sew a patch from a new garment to an old one. You can't put new wine into old wineskins, without ruining both. You can't mix the "Old Covenant" which represents the law, with the "New Covenant" which represents grace; if you do both are ruined.
Bad teaching has prevailed; the Spirit however is moving through men. Their understanding of the Gospel is on par with the Apostles. I have heard many styles and techniques that are as varied as their personalities. These men are like (I emphasize like) modern day prophets to the Church. They are putting forth what they know to be true. They are putting forth the meaning of the Gospel as revealed to them by the Spirit. However, it is only through the avenue of humility that their common message of grace can be understood and received. If their message is not being understood and received it is because of a pride issue in some form or another. The scripture tells us that God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud. The reason why God resists the proud is because the proud resist him.
It says in Rom. 5:2: 'through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.' Evidently there is an introductory phase, a middle phase, and an ending phase to our understanding of the grace of God. I think the church of today is still stuck in the introductory phase. I don't hear them telling us like Titus 2:11-12 tells us: 'For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. It is the grace of God that is the true motivation for not wanting to sin, not the law.
Let us get on board and not resist what God is wanting to instill in our hearts. If you are living a life in which you feel alienated from God; you may want to look to the source of your teaching that you are relying on. If it is even in the most subtle of ways coming from a law based system; it only takes a little leaven to work through the whole batch of dough.
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