Monday, July 22, 2019

Overview of Romans

euangelion is a Greek word that means Good News. In the first century it was a common word used in everyday life whenever news qualified as good. Like someone saying, “That’s good to hear.”

When the angel announced Jesus’ birth, he said: Luke 2:10-11 Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

The same word is also translated Gospel, which came from the old English word: godspell. Back then, the god part of the word was pronounced goad, which was Old English for good. The word spell meant a message with influential powers like a wizard’s spell, referring to a captivating story. It evolved to meaning good message or good news. The “d” was eventually dropped and the word became gohspel or gospel.

When the King James Bible was being translated, that was the word they primarily used for euangelion. But when Old English was no longer spoken, the word gospel lost its original meaning and slipped into use as merely a religious term.

In the NT, the writers added an article in front of euangelionthe – which made it definite good news, defining good news – the best good news. This news was uniquely good. In regular conversation, Greek speaking people would still ask: do you know any good news? But in Christian circles the question was asked: do you know the good news?

1Cor 15:1-5 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared

In a nutshell that is the message of the Good News, the Gospel. So, when NT writers wrote or teachers spoke the word euangelion they meant the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  

To explain the Good News, Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome. Rom 1:1-4 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 

In each city to which Paul ministered, his message was always the same: God had a plan. This is what He did to fulfill that plan and here’s how that plan applies to you. Now that you know, God would like you to believe it and receive the relationship it provides. Then, once you enter into that relationship, here’s how you live. But ministry to Rome was different. He hadn’t been there.

He told them: Rom 15:22-26 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you; but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you whenever I go to Spain—for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while— but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 

So, if we can imagine this, he was writing to a people who were strangers to him. He knew they met in house churches, were organized in some fashion and understood something of the Christian message, enough to be called Believers (Saints), but he didn’t really know if they knew what he felt they needed to know.

He was certain they knew Jesus had died, but did they understand why Jesus died? Did they recognize the price Jesus’ death paid? Did they know what was accomplished because He died? If they had received that salvation did they know what it meant to live as a Christian? Did they grasp what God committed Himself to do on their behalf?

So, to lay out his teaching, Paul began with his theme: Rom 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." 

In a world where the people lived under the daily influence of oppressive powers of the government, of pagan cults, of military forces, of a hedonistic society, not to mention the emptiness of life without God, was there a counter power that could deliver them from the burden of this oppressiveness while still living under the oppression and also place them into a personal relationship with God Himself?

To the Corinthians, Paul had written: 1Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

Because of that cross God was willing to exercise His power to save everyone who believes. The word saved means delivered. Delivered carries the idea of being set free from what oppresses or controls us. Which, to oppressed people, would tell them God’s power must be greater than any other power if it could free them from the burden of their oppression and give them a new life to live. So, if God’s power could do that, and somehow that power was contained within the Gospel, how could the power of that Gospel be released?

The Chinese developed gunpowder in the 900s. Some believe the discovery was by accident when the ingredients got mixed together and a spark exploded them. If so, that explosion gave gunpowder its mission – to blow things up. They found application in warfare but also in fireworks. In either, there was an anticipated result – the potential of an explosion. What was necessary was the igniter. The gunpowder was ready to release its power. All it needed was a spark.

The power of God, imbedded in the Gospel message, was waiting for the spark to be released. In Bible terms, the spark was faith – not just faith that the story was true, but faith in what God would do because the story was true. That power was the potential of a life-changing experience.

1Cor 2:4 My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 

Paul didn’t want to persuade people to believe the message, he wanted them to ultimately believe in the God of the Message. The power was not the information but what God would bring about when they believed.

The word power is quite expansive in what it can refer to:
  • Explosive power to initiate a dramatic effect. Like dynamite.
  • On-going power to generate the life it produces. Like a dynamo or generator.
  • Energizing power to enable the life to accomplish what God intends. Like connecting to a battery or plugging into the wall outlet.

Paul wants the Romans to know that power would have the same effect on anyone who believes. But to assure them that the effect can affect anyone, he had to explain that the need for that effect applied to everyone as well. Before he could offer them the privilege of what the Gospel provided, he had to show them why they needed it in the first place.

Rom 1:18-25 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  

Who would do such a thing? They did. They all, at one time in their lives, had relegated God to the unnecessary role of a mere bystander, or worse, an enemy to reject, resist or deny. They had all wanted no part of God at some point. So all of them were guilty.

Rom 3:22-23 there is no distinction, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

Paul used a term that painted a picture. Since everyone was familiar with archery, the image of an archer shooting an arrow at a target and missing it – falling short – was what they were doing with God. His target was the conditions He expected for a relationship with Him – godliness and righteousness. Their actions and attitudes proved they were neither godly nor righteous. Missing the target is called sin.

Paul needed them to know sin was so serious to God that it carried consequences. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

The consequence of missing the target was God’s wrath. But the message of Romans told them there also was a solution.

Rom 5:8-9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 

Paul told them Jesus took the wrath of God reserved for them upon Himself and if they would accept His death as the means of God’s forgiveness, He would then present them to God as justified – just-as-if-they’d-never-sinned. So, though the wrath remained in effect for everyone else, they would personally be delivered from that wrath.

But there was more. Rom 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 

Free from wrath and delivered from an empty life, God would give them a new life which He would empower them to live. They no longer had to live a sin-dominated life.

Rom 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 
Rom 6:4 as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 
Rom 6:12-13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God

But realizing there will be struggles because they remained in an oppressive world and would stumble on occasions, Paul told them God’s ultimate provision.

Rom 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 
Rom 7:20-21 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 
What’s the provision? Rom 7:24-25 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The same Lord that died for them, who released them from the wrath of God, who presented them justified before God, also empowered them to live the life He gave them.

Therefore: Rom 8:1 There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

Now you can understand the concept of John 8:36 If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. Free from the wrath of God, free from the dominance of sin, free from the burden of oppression, free from condemnation. Free to live a full and abundant life.

So, if I am freed from God’s wrath, delivered from the burdens within my difficult life and given a new life by the power wrapped up in the Gospel, guaranteed by God’s eternal love, how do I maintain this life? Rom 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

I renew myself regularly to the truth of what Jesus has done and live in the joy of the freedom He provides.
  • When I get overwhelmed, I remind myself I’ve been set free.
  • When I stumble and fall, I remember there is no condemnation but a hand reaching down to lift me up.
  • When I feel oppressed, I remember He who has begun this great work in me will see that it does what He promised it would do.

Can you imagine the joy of the Roman believers after reading this letter from Paul? That they can be oppressed but not beyond the strength God provides? That not only do they have a new way to live but a new reason to live? Can you feel the hope these words gave them? All because Jesus came, died, was buried, rose again and lives forever to guarantee that what the Gospel says is true.

Rom 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

  1. Because the Bible is relevant, reliable and relatable, what Paul wrote to the Romans applies to us today.
  2. All the conditions, concerns and opportunities within this letter are as much for us as they were for the Romans.
  3. The same power he described is still contained within the Gospel message along with the same potential of result.
  4. The question remains: will we allow the Power of God to deliver us from the burden of our oppression and the sin that dominates our lives?

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Word of God: Reliable, Relevant, Relatable

There was an accident at a construction site. A man was hit in the head by a beam and it sliced off his ear. They looked around till they found the ear and asked the guy if it was his. He said, “No, my ear had a pencil behind it.”

Of course, the pencil behind the ear was temporary information. But, how many times have we tried to make life decisions with temporary information? A steel worker leaning into the wind to hold his balance is making a life decision based on temporary information. A driver racing through a yellow light is making a life decision based on temporary information. Marrying someone for their youthful looks is making a life decision based on temporary information.

The movie Hidden Figures follows the lives of three ladies who calculate for NASA. In one frustrating scene, when one of the ladies is finished with a day-long calculation the director takes her work and immediately throws it in the trash. He said it was already obsolete. Information was changing so quickly what they worked on the last hour may no longer be usable. It was all temporary information until someone decided it was a go.

We live in a culture of rapid changes. The second you take possession of your new car it becomes a used car and loses value. Your phone that was up-to-date yesterday may be out of date today. Something that was new and improved last week may be old and unreliable this week. Two identical products are on the shelf. The price is the same. One is labeled new and improved, which do you buy?

The great, world shaking advance in technology last year has already been replaced this year with something more advanced and greater. Its replacement is already in the queue for next year’s release. Why is the old suddenly unreliable and untrustworthy and no longer acceptable? It’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe.

To train circus elephants to stay put when chained to a stake, they begin when the elephants are young. Baby elephants are tied to a stake in the ground by a chain wrapped around their ankle. Because they have less strength, they can’t pull the stake out, so they stay put. Yet the big elephants that would have no problem pulling the stake out also stay put. Why? They were conditioned to believe with a chain around their ankles, staked to the ground, they were held captive. They accept something that isn’t true as though it is.

We’re taught when we try to hang onto the past we’ll be left behind. I had a computer that worked fine. I had no problems with it doing what I needed it to do. Then I got a notice: we will no longer provide support for this computer. No updates, no security, no fixes, no tech service. In other words, you can keep it but at your own risk. If you want to stay current you must upgrade, otherwise you’re on your own – another word for foolish.

And then we come to church. We open up an ancient book and declare in this book is the answer to the questions and issues of our lives today. Then someone wonders: wait, this book was written for a people and a time in history that no longer exist. How can this book be relevant to my modern life?

In anticipating that question, God had the writer of Hebrews tell us: Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

Living: current – not past but always present. Not what it was but what it is. Not what it said but what it says. The word means always living.

Active: productive in its results. It accomplishes what it intends.

That’s God’s promise: Isa 55:11 My word be which goes forth from My mouth will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 
That was so important, God had Paul repeat it 750 years later: 1Thess 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 

Still, though, how can it claim results after so long? Because the voice of the One Who spoke the Word is still speaking through that Word today.  

There is a fascinating discovery that has taken place in breaking atoms down to their smallest parts. When we grew up the atom was the smallest element to consider with its nucleus comprised of protons and neutrons. We now have quarks.

But there is a modern theory that within all of creation on that atomic level, in everything that exists, there is a vibration within the most minute particle. It’s been called the God particle. I like that. The Bible says when God created all that is, He spoke it into existence. The sound of His voice created waves that made a vibration in everything that exists.

It is His voice that keeps that existence alive. So, the Word that has gone out of His mouth, written down in our Bibles, is as alive now as when He first spoke it, because it carries the vibration of God’s voice.

Col 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 

Which explains: 2Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired [breathed out – there’s the vibration] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 

What God spoke is still being carried on His breath. His Words create life. His life keeps that life alive. So that: the Bible is as reliable today as when first spoken or written. It is as relevant today as it was two, three, four thousand years ago. Though the times have changed, the God who spoke it remains the same, making it as relatable to us today as it has always been.

But our world disagrees. Whether it’s the History Channel, the Smithsonian Channel or the bias of secular politicians, there is a vast network of naysayers who place no credibility in the Bible and consider those of us who do to be at some level of deplorable. What gives them a voice? The title Politician, Scientist or Theologian.

In 1997, 14-year-old Nathan Zohner got 43 out of 50 9th graders to vote in favor of banning dihydrogen monoxide. He said Scientists have proven that dihydrogen monoxide is a primary factor in flooding and storm surge. It was a test he designed to prove how gullible people are to believe misleading information. Dihydrogen monoxide is H2O or water.

Unfortunately, whenever those naysayers speak confidently about that of which they have no understanding, they are able to cause others to discount the Bible as a reliable source for life or to flat-out disbelieve what God has said all together. I have a nephew who is one of those casualties. After watching a series about the Jesus on the History Channel, he announced he no longer believed in the Bible. What little faith he had was now destroyed. Rarely is it the objective of those shows to prove the Bible true but to disprove it.

That was Satan’s tactic in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Gen 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 

The deceit was: You can’t trust God to tell you the truth, or what God said is only partially true, or what I tell you is more accurate then what God said, or let me tell what God really meant to say, or what someone else says is more reliable than what the Bible says.

Have I been affected by this lie? Question: How much of the Bible do you say is true? Some of it? Most of it? All of it? How much does God expect us to say is true?

In the early church, things usually went like this: Paul would visit a community. A group of people there would listen to the Gospel message and believe. Paul would stay for a while or leave one of his men behind to ground them in what it meant to be a believer and give them a pattern by which they could live the Christian life. The church would grow. Then, after he left, deviant teachers would stop by and challenge what Paul had said and give a different message of how Christianity worked. The message would confuse the people. And though some would stay on course, the rest would embrace the lie. Their lives and that church would be ruined.

Because he knew this was likely, he told the Elders from Ephesus: Act 20:28-30 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 

What eventually happened in Ephesus? Rev 2:2-4 To the church in Ephesus: I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 

I believe that by the influence of those wolves, the intensity of the people’s love for the Lord went cold. They lost the value of their relationship with God by no longer holding their beliefs as vital to their lives and shallowed instead of deepened their commitment. They eventually stopped loving the Lord with all their hearts.

How does that happen? By becoming more interested in the provision than the Provider. Only wanting the blessing not the Blesser. Wanting the benefit not the Benefactor. Wanting help but not the Helper. Wanting the effect of God, not the change that comes with that effect.

2Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 

Ears tickled means wanting only to hear things that interest or excite them.

Meaning: they want what temporarily satisfies the moment not what permanently affects the life.

You understand the difference between theory and fact. A fact is provable and reproducible. A theory is simply an opinion. When someone wants their opinion to have greater influence and importance, they begin to teach their opinion as fact. Paul saw these teachers spinning their messages from false theory. And the people bought into it, swallowing the lie hook, line and sinker.

That was James’ warning: James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 

Enticed means lured – like fishing bait.

Something in what they are saying is tantalizing a place within our minds where we want things like that to be true.

So, where is my safeguard?

2Tim 1:13-14 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 

Retain: keep, go over, remind, rehearse the words. I’ll then have a standard by which I can judge the message of the world. Is it what God says or have they twisted what God says to say what they want said.

Every church Paul ministered to faced the same challenge. False teachers who would attack the church by bringing their message into the hearts of the people. It was these attacks that destroyed the faith of the people.
  • Judaizers – change the rules of Christianity. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved was not enough. You had to do more.
  • Gnostics – change who Jesus was. Discounting His authority and minimizing the effectiveness of His power.
  • Pagan Philosophy – contradict all the church believes while providing an alternative method for life.

So, we understand why Paul was so adamant about maintaining confidence in God’s Word. There will always be someone trying to tear down and disavow what God has said.

So, here’s your place to stand: The God who invented life gave us the instructions for how to live that life. He would never want us to make life decisions based on the temporary suggestions of false teachers but lean fully on the eternal truth of His Word which is reliable, relevant and relatable.

  1. There is a reason the Bible is banned in 52 countries around the world and its message minimized in most of the rest.
  2. It represents the ultimate threat to a godless society and the personal desire for a godless life.
  3. By hiding or discounting the Bible, the world is hoping to remove its influence.
  4. Yet, it has remained the foundation of life and godliness to all who believe since the very day God breathed it into existence.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Foundation of Freedom

The signing of the Declaration of Independence did not make us free from Britain. It was only a declaration, an expression of our intentions. It was filing for divorce. The divorce would take place later.

The signing merely set in motion the goal of freedom that would have to be fought for and gained at the defeat of our overlords. Though we measure our independence from July 4, 1776, that independence was not granted by the King of England until September 4, 1783.

What went on between declaration and independence? The Revolutionary War, a war which consisted of more than 1500 conflicts ranging from minor skirmishes to full blown battles. The result? The British surrendered claim to our territory. 6800 soldiers gave their lives on the battlefield. An additional 17,000 or so died of complications from their wounds or disease directly associated with the war.

As we know, freedom isn’t free. There is always a price.

Abraham Clark, one of the patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, understood that it could mean his own death with his name on such a rebellious document. He was prepared for that, but not for the day a British officer announced, “We have captured your sons! They are prisoners of the Crown—locked away on a prison ship, and they will surely die there unless you repent of this foolish rebellion against the king!” The officer handed Clark a letter. “Sign this paper, admit you were wrong and your sons will go free.”

He said, “I was the one who stood with the others to declare the intention of independence not my sons. Shoot me if you must! I’m the one you want! Shoot me and let my sons go free.” The officer pressed the letter against his chest. “No, your sons will remain our prisoners until you sign.” Suddenly, the price of freedom stared him in the face. But, he could not sign, regardless the cost.

Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

It is not the statement of intentions, or the lofty words of a motivational speaker that drives men to sacrifice their lives, but the resolve that what they fight for is worth the price. And as long as men and women are willing to pay that price we will remain free.

One man wrote: This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. Or, as we hear frequently, we are the land of the free because of the brave.

We’ve stood strong against the tyranny of mighty nations and have joined the battle whenever there has been an attack against freedom.

John F. Kennedy: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

But today, the attack against liberty doesn’t come from an outside foe, but within the ranks of our own government. The greatest threat we face today is the movement toward Socialism. No enemy we have fought against has had the potential to dismantle the liberty we possess like the cry to reinvent America and turn it from a Republic into a Socialist nation.

Antonio Gransci said, “Socialism is precisely the religion which must overwhelm Christianity. In the New Order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture by infiltrating schools, universities, churches and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”

The pathway to destroying America has never been from the outside but from within. It starts by changing the message of who we are then replaces it with a different message of what we can become, using a false narrative of the promise of new freedoms.

Paul faced a similar situation in Galatia when he wrote: Gal 1:6-10 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 

They were deserting the Lord to embrace a different message than the one of Grace, leaving what had established them for something they were never designed to be. They were replacing the foundation upon which the Gospel was built.

The foundation is the groundwork that supports the structure built upon it. You cannot change the structure without changing the foundation. Before Zerubbabel could rebuild the Temple he had to first reestablish the foundation – where it was and how it was defined.

Ezra 3:10-11 Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel. They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, "For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 

It was essential he rebuild the Temple on the original foundation because the first Temple was built according to the blueprints of heaven. It was crucial to God’s design.

So, when the first Temple was destroyed, building the second was not a simple task of  just replacing the first but restoring it to where it was before.

Did that matter? Of course. The foundation was a reflection of God’s intentions not the fulfillment of man’s design for worship.

There is a call today for Christians to change their convictions and beliefs which is a demand they reject the foundation upon which Christianity is built.

Jesus taught the importance of the foundation: Luke 6:47-49 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.

Paul described his ministry as foundation work: 1Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ

Paul didn’t create the foundation. He built upon the foundation God had determined was the only one that could sustain life – Jesus Himself.

So you can understand why the Galatians deserting that foundation was such a crime.
  • They were declaring Jesus was no longer relevant.
  • That it didn’t matter what you believed or how you built your life.
  • That our ways are better than God’s ways, our thoughts better than His thoughts.
  • That the will and wishes of the people were more important than God’s boundaries.

We understand boundaries – property lines. We have a designated perimeter to our property as does our neighbor. If we choose to ignore these boundaries and infringe on our neighbor’s property, we are violating the law of the boundary and have trespassed.

When the king of Assyria was boasting of his intentions to capture the northern nation of Israel, he said: Isa 10:13-14 For he has said, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, for I have understanding; and I removed the boundaries of the peoples and plundered their treasures, and like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants, and my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, and as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; and there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped. 

By his definition, removing the boundaries took away their freedom, which gave him the freedom to take them captive and hold them to serve according to his gospel – his message of life.

God said: Isa 10:12 I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness. Because of the threat against His people? No, because of the seriousness of violating the boundaries He had set.

Through Solomon, He wrote: Prov 22:28 Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.

Moving the boundary doesn’t extend freedom it removes freedom. It may increase ground for one but takes away ground from the other.

Educators watched children playing in a school yard at an elementary school. The kids played up against the high fence surrounding the playground. To some, it looked as though the children were imprisoned by the fence and suggested it be removed to give the kids a greater sense of freedom. However, after it was removed, the children moved toward the center of the playground far away from the outer boundary. Why? They lost their security. They needed their fence to define their freedom. Moving the boundaries took away what the boundaries secured.

Someone is always trying to take away the freedom of others under the pretense of expanding freedom. And they always do it the same way: By moving the boundaries.

In his State of the Union Address, President Trump said, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

What is the goal of socialism? To remove the boundaries set by our Constitution and rebuild our civilization on a different foundation.

Their cry is freedom, yet to achieve that freedom they begin by removing freedoms. The pathway of all takeovers is to first remove the ability of the people to fight back. The Second Amendment giving the right to arm ourselves has never been under greater assault. The second is to remove the ability of the people to voice their dissent. The First Amendment giving the right of free speech is now challenged everyday. If you agree with those in charge of the narrative, you can say whatever you wish. If you oppose it, you must be silenced. The third is to force the church into its building and restrict its influence on society, making us and our message non-essential to life.

Jeremiah wrote: Jer 2:31 O generation, heed the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? [No, I have set boundaries. I have provided light to follow Me.] Why do My people say, 'We are free to roam; We will no longer come to You'? 

Because, if freedom is without boundaries, we will live with no obligation to our foundation. And we will lose the freedom granted by that foundation. We will become enslaved to our own passions and desires or captivated by the desires of others who wish to control us. That works in society or in the church.

Gal 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 

What is the price of standing firm?

Ronald Reagan said, “We’re blessed with the opportunity to stand for something—for liberty and freedom and fairness. And these are things worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to.”

Paul’s message to the Galatians: The Grace of Jesus Christ is the treasure of the Good News. Stand in it. Don’t allow anyone to deceive you to follow another Gospel.

The Patriot’s message to America: Liberty is the treasure of America. Stand in it. Don’t allow anyone to deceive you to leave it for another government.

Jesus said: John 8:31, 36 If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 

That’s the foundation of our lives. We stand on the freedom we have in Christ. If anyone tries to take that freedom away, we must resist and stand firm. We must stay the course.

For our nation, we stand on the freedom established when we were founded. If anyone tries to take that freedom away, we must resist and stand firm.

Whatever comes against us, either against our faith or against our nation, we must stay the course, remaining faithful to the liberty upon which both were founded. Allow no one to remove the ancient boundaries our faithful God has set. And though we pay a price to stand firm, we do so, joining the heroes of the past.

A museum in Scotland, displays the sword of the famous Scottish hero and patriot - Wallace. Braveheart was the movie version. A visitor once said, “I don’t see how that sword could win such victories.” The guide replied, “Ah sir, you don’t see the arm that wielded it.”

The Declaration of Independence won no war. Victory came by the arms of brave patriots wielding weapons of deliverance.

The message of the Good News changes no life. Change comes when we see the arms of our Savior stretched out on a cross, sacrificing Himself on our behalf, and we give our lives to Him because of the His love for us.

Last verse of our National Anthem:
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

America: Stand firm. Stay the course.

Church: Stand firm. Stay the course. If the Son has made you free, you are free indeed. 

  1. There is no ultimate freedom apart from Jesus.
  2. A life built upon the foundation of who He is and what He’s done enjoys that freedom secured within the boundary set by Almighty God.
  3. National freedom reflects Biblical freedom in that our freedom also rests within the boundaries of a secure foundation – our Constitution.
  4. If we change either foundation, we will lose, not gain freedom, and any attempt to do so will ultimately fail.