Tag Archive for Galatians

Grace, Grace, and more Grace!!!

Have you ever wondered how you can quickly tell the difference between a pastor that teaches the law and one who teaches grace? Listen for whether they teach you how you should act versus what you should believe about the identity of Christ and yourself.

In both Romans and Galatians, the Apostle Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5, which reads, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Later he (or the writer of the letters to Timothy) instructs the young pastor that “the law is good if one uses it properly.” (1 Timothy 1:8)

The law isn’t bad. Paul states in Romans 7 that rather it is holy, righteous and good. It simply needs to be used properly.

In Romans 10:5-13, Paul explains the difference between living by the law and living by faith. In this text, he once again quotes the Law of Moses, “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) This verse, he says, refers to life lived by grace. He then makes the very famous statement, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

A life lived by grace is one that is lived by learning what to BELIEVE and not by learning what to DO. The two stand in direct opposition to each other. Many pastors and teachers disguise the law by calling it “wisdom teaching”. When someone has lives by what they do, they can live a very fruitful life. Moses states this, and Paul reiterates it as being what distinguishes the law from grace. (Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12)

When we live under grace, we learn how to believe. We learn God’s identity as a Being who is loving, kind, just, patient, joyful, good, etc. We learn our identity as beings made of the same substance as God Himself.

When we are in a grace-based relationship with God, we also are loving, kind, just, patient, joyful, good, etc. It is the natural outflow of being “of God”.

In Romans 10, Paul goes on to declare that those who believe will never be put to shame by their belief. He quotes two more Old Testament passages as referring to this relationship with God that is based on grace and belief (faith) rather than on actions (law). He quotes Isaiah 28:16 (in the Greek translation) as saying, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” He also quotes Joel 2:32, which says, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Paul’s conclusion is, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.” (Romans 10:12) Once again notice that there is no racism in Christ.

Why say all this? Why know the difference between a grace-based life and a law-based life? Well, it is very important! Note that a grace-based life is lived from the inside out while a law-based life is lived from the outside in. Jesus has something to say about those who live from the outside in.

Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

A consistent theme in the teachings of Jesus is the importance of what is inside us.

Note how this same teaching of Jesus is described in Luke. “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” Luke 11:39-40

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus ties generosity with the poor to having a clean inside (heart)? It ties back to what I said yesterday about there being no classism in Christ.

Today as we go out, may we live from a place of grace and acceptance. May you come to know and understand the difference between living in condemnation and living in freedom! May you know that you know that you know that you are PERFECT, HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, LOVED, PRICELESS, A REFLECTION OF GOD’S IMAGE, A VESSEL OF GOD’S GLORY, ACCEPTED, CREATIVE, BEAUTIFUL, KIND…..

For your own sake and for the glory of God, BELIEVE!!!!!!!!

No racism, classism or sexism in Christ. Period.

Anytime I write something brilliant, it is usually something that I never knew that I knew. It came through my finger tips as I simply wrote the next thing that I thought the Spirit wanted me to say. Such was the case on my church history final where I observed a list of the three greatest divisions in society which are listed clearly in Scripture as abolished in Christ.

Jesus Christ abolished racism (Jew or Gentile), classism (slave or free), and sexism (male or female). In Christ Jesus, these separations do not exists.

The Apostle Paul teaches that believers are all children of God and clothed with Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:28, he declares, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Unfortunately these divisions still exist in His body – the church of Christ. We, as His sisters and brothers, have not stepped into the freedom that He died for us to gain. Instead the rich are often against the poor and the poor against the rich. The uneducated find the educated clueless and vice versa. We like to hangout in churches with people of like ethnicity, and we often create Jesus in our own image through art, music and worldview. (Consider Jesus as a white European male with blue eyes rather than as the Jewish man that He actually was.) While Jesus and the early New Testament writers called women to a position of freedom, by the second century the church was busily putting them back into the place where paganism, religion and fear had bound them. Jesus saw her as a daughter of Abraham; but by the middle ages, the church didn’t even view her as created in the image of God.*

Today I want to challenge us to step into the freedom Christ has for us. It is most certainly a freedom where “isms” don’t exist!

If you are part of an oppressed race, gender or class, I encourage you to know your value is equally as great as the most exalted race, class or gender on this earth. YOU LACK NOTHING. You are complete in Him. You are as valuable as it is possible for a human being to be. You do not need to become a different color, sex or obtain a different economic status to find your value. YOU ALREADY HAVE YOUR VALUE. You are created in the image of Christ. In Him you are completely complete. YOU ARE PERFECT.

If you belong to a privileged race, class or gender, I challenge you to become aware in your interactions with those who do not share the same privileges. Many of these privileges are subconscious, and most people have no idea that they are even receiving them. I am white. White people are privileged in American society. This is a truth that I know and experience everyday. I am well-educated (with a background as a bit of a redneck). Educated people are privileged in Jersey City, NJ. I am also a woman. However, women are in no way privileged or free in most of the evangelical church.

How do we advocate for ourselves without being so aggressive that we are tuned out by those who don’t want to lose the privileges that society has given them?

How do we advocate for others without patronizing them? (Patronization as defined by helping others because we think we are more capable, valuable, intelligent, able, pure, etc. than they. are)

I propose the solution to the problem is simply in seeing Christ in those around us. Seeing them as having INFINITE VALUE. We will not condescend in our interactions with a homeless person if we see them as PERFECT, BEAUTIFUL, AND COMPLETE. When we give to someone in need, it is a necessity for us to realize that we are giving to an EQUAL.

Today be ONE in Christ. Let the “isms” fade away, as you worship His holiness, meeting all His children in perfect harmony of mind and thought! The blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit unite us!

*General historical references about women taken from my reading of Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition by Barbara J. McHaffie. It is available for purchase on Amazon here. The reference Jesus makes to a daughter of Abraham is found in Luke 13:10-17.

A gift to reflect me and a me to reflect God

A few days ago, someone gave me a Christmas gift. “It reminded me of you,” they said. My interest was immediately piqued. I was about to gain insight into how this person saw me by studying the gift they gave me. Some people view me as a person entirely broken, incompetent and unable to survive life. This person didn’t. Her gift spoke of love, joy and fun. It was truly beautiful.

As I reflected on the experience, I realized that there is a slight commonality between this gift-giving experience and our relationship to God. We have been made in His image. However, I propose that we do not seek to discover who He is by studying ourselves; but rather discover who we are by studying Him. Before the universe became broken through the disobedience of humanity, one could learn about God by studying the goodness of the human race. Now studying humanity may entirely confuse the student of God as to the actual nature of His character.

Jesus calls the attention of His opponents to the fact that Psalm 82:6 calls people “gods”. As Jesus challenges the way these religious people thought, He notes, “If he called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?” (John 10:36)

If you find this saying of Jesus offensive, never fear! So did many of those who heard Him say it the first time!

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? What does it mean for God’s Son, Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, to quote such a Scripture while noting that Scripture CANNOT be set aside. We are not to ignore anything it says!

What does it mean to be called Jesus’ sister or brother? (Hebrews 2:11)

What does it mean to be called God’s daughter or son? (Galatians 3:26 and many other Scriptures)

What does this say about your essence?

What does it say about your potential?

What does it say about YOUR VALUE?

Today as we go about our day, let us rejoice that we are created in the image of God! Capitalize on your creativity! Lean into every good choice that you can! When presented with the opportunity to choose between something good and bad, choose the good. When presented with a choice between the good and the excellent, choose the excellent. Reflect the character of God and rejoice in communion with Him. Come to Him through Christ and dance your way through this day with Him leading the waltz!