Going Backwards

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Monday, April 28, 2014, 9:56 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “My Heart’s Desire” - http://originalworks.info/my-hearts-desire/. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 4:8-20 (NIV).

To Rescue Us

Paul wrote this letter to all the churches in Galatia. He began with his customary greetings, and then he stated that Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil (wicked; sinful) age (time period), according to the will of God the Father. In other words, we are not saved merely so we can go to heaven one day. Jesus Christ died for our sins to deliver us from slavery (bondage) to sin in the here and now so that “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Co. 5:15; cf. Eph. 4:17-24). We are not only set free from the control of sin over our lives, but we are free to serve, obey, love, and worship our Lord in the Spirit of God, and to walk in his righteousness and in his truth – all in the power of the Spirit of God within us.

Yet, there was a problem Paul had to address with the believers. Although the Galatians had been saved via the true gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by the apostles, they were deserting what they had first been taught, and they were turning to another gospel, which was really no gospel at all, and which was about to bring them back underneath slavery. What they were beginning to accept as gospel was man-made, not the gospel as received by revelation from Jesus Christ. The Galatian believers had begun with the Spirit, but now they were trying to attain their goal through human effort. God did not give them his Spirit because they followed a set of rules, or because they went through various forms of religion, or because they followed the ways and teachings of humans. No, he gave them his Spirit because they believed in Christ, via submitting themselves to the cross of Christ.

Weak and Miserable Forces

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

When we did not know Christ, we were slaves to sin, prone to idolatry, worshiping what our hands have made, and we were under the curse and penalty of the law. We were destined to spend eternity without God in eternal punishment, and to die still in our sins. Many operated under the notion that they could earn their way to heaven via good works or through following a set of religious guidelines. Yet, because of God’s great love for us, he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so that we could be set free, not only of the punishment of sin, but of the control of sin over our lives. As well, he released us from the law’s curse, from trying to gain God through human effort, and he set us free to now live under the control of the Spirit of God, crucified with Christ, dead to sin, but alive to God.

So, the question for all of us here is, “Have we or are we presently turning back to those forces (powers of influence) over our lives which have no power to set the sinner free, and which can give us no hope for our future, but which will only enslave us once again?” For each one of us, those “forces” may take on a different form, but they all have the same root. They have as their basis human effort, human thinking and reasoning, the teachings and philosophies of humankind, but absent or lacking (weak) in the word of truth, the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the power and working of the Spirit of God in human lives.

By Telling the Truth

I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

The truth is that we need to examine everything we hear against the teachings of Christ, and that of the apostles, to see if what we are being taught is in line with the word of truth. Much of what is being taught in today’s modern church movement, in particular here in America, has the appearance of truth and of godly wisdom, but much of it is not based in the word of God at all, but is based solely or mostly in the philosophies of human beings, many of whom have broken away from the true gospel to follow man-made religion, which is not the gospel as taught in scripture. And, I am not speaking merely of legalists here, either, for much of today’s liberated church movement, which focuses largely on the grace of God, has also fallen prey to following a man-made gospel, and not the gospel of Christ.

Just because something smells good, looks good and even tastes good does not mean it is good. It can be filled with all kinds of harmful ingredients, passing itself off as one thing, while it is truly something else. Much of today’s modern church movement comes straight out of Marketing 101 classes, as taught by humans on how to start and to grow your own businesses. Much of what is being taught, as well, comes out of books written by humans, and is based on humanistic feel-good messages, and not on the word of truth. The hard truths of scripture are often avoided all together, scriptures purposefully taken out of context and taught to mean something other than the original context, and parts of verses removed so as to delete the parts we don’t like and that don’t say what we want to hear. And, so the truth of scripture and its messengers have become our enemy because they tell us the truth, but the feel-good messages make us feel better.

Fine to Be Zealous

Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Much of what is being passed off as the gospel of salvation these days is attractive because its messengers are enthusiastic, passionate, eager, friendly and seemingly concerned and caring about people’s needs, and many of them truly are. A good number of them are doing exactly what all of us should be doing, and what many who hold more to doctrine and to the foundations of scripture are sometimes lacking in, and that is they are passionately involved in ministering to the needs of the people of their communities, and they are not all in-grown, just concerned for the people of their own congregations. Even many who adhere to false religions put true followers of Christ to shame in their passion and zeal for what they believe and practice, and in particular in their commitment to spread their beliefs to others. So, many false religions are growing much faster than Christianity is here in America, as well as these false gospels based in humanism are also growing by leaps and bounds.

So, we must be cautioned here against falling prey to what looks good or feels good, or even seems right, but we should test everything against the word of truth. What many of these zealous leaders of the false (diluted) gospel want is for us to be followers of them over and above us being followers of Christ and seekers of truth. Some of them may even lord it over their people, giving the impression that they alone are to be God’s voice to the people, and that is dangerous! As well, some of them may even be taught in their training classes to avoid those who have much knowledge of scripture or who have strong spiritual convictions with regard to the word of truth, because they don’t want their people to question what they are being taught, and they may fear the people might find out the truth. This was certainly behind the Judaizers’ attempts to discredit Paul, so that they could continue to have a hold on the people. So, don’t believe everything that sounds good, but test everything to make sure that what you are following is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

ONLY IN HIM / An Original Work / February 19, 2014

Based off Isaiah 30

Woe to those who look to man’s help;
Who turn away from Jesus Christ;
Forming an alliance not in step with God;
Making their own plans, and praying not.

Willing not to listen to truth,
They close their ears to what is right.
Pleasing words are all that they’ll hear;
Feel good messages that bring cheer.

Trust in your Lord; turn from your sin.
Put your faith now ONLY IN HIM.
Do not turn to idols. They’ll not satisfy.
Jesus will save you. That’s why He died.

Your Lord will be gracious to you.
He cares all about you, ‘tis true.
He forgives you all of your sin
When you give your life up to Him.

Oh, how truly gracious He’ll be
When you bow to Him on your knees;
Turning now from your sin; walking in his ways.
He’ll lead and guide you all of your days.

Now you will sing praises to Him.
He delivered you from your sin.
You’ll tell others now of His grace,
So they may see Christ face-to-face.

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