Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Great Sermon Experiment, Week 2

Text 1: Galatians 2:15-21
Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3

The Galatians passage is one of the most famous in the Bible, especially the clincher: "I have been crucified in Christ, and I no longer live. . ."

The connection between the two, I think, is the idea of simple faith - there is no need to worry about the law, about being self-righteous, about earning God's favor. We already have it. So Paul's great statement of "the son of God who loved me" connects with the sinful woman embracing the love of Jesus. Paul's comments about the Law are lived out in the Pharisee Jesus is talking with. The call of the two is to live the life of faithful acceptance that Jesus loves us. End of story.

Some questions to ponder:
1) How do these texts impact you? What emotional response do you have when reading them?
2) What do you see as the central meaning of Luke's story? What is Jesus trying to accomplish with the Pharisee? What is Luke trying to get us to understand?
3) Paul's message here is a wonderful summary of the Gospel. How would you explain his meaning to a friend? co-worker? neighbor? child?
4) Have these texts had any special meaning in your life so far? How have they been a part of your story?
5) Can you think of any good illustrations that open up these texts? Any songs, films, stories you know that speak to the same issues here?


Shad Gates said...

Emotions abound in my heart as I meditate on these verses. God, in his perfection has loved us so much that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us to cover over our sin and allow us to be called sons and daughters of God. WOW! Amazing Love! And Can It Be! Excitement, hope, love, and gratefulness more than anything exude from my inner most being when I contemplate God’s goodness and his grace. These verses impact me because I am the prostitute, I am the Gentile, I am the lawbreaker and I’ve been forgiven much.

To me, the story in Luke equalizes all men and all sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages of sin is death, Period. The one who is entitled to his inheritance (Law abiding Jew) thinks less of his gift than the one to whom it has been given in a place of hopelessness and despair. Yet, we all need salvation equally. James 2:10 says, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. If the Pharisee could only see that his works could not change God’s perspective of him, a sinner. See God is a perfect being. We have come to know him as a God of mercy and grace, but he is also a God of perfect justice. No sin, sickness, nor darkness can dwell in his presence and glory. The law provided a sin covering through the blood of a lamb, but it failed to change a man’s heart. This heart change is what Jesus was talking about with the Pharisee. The change of heart that happens out of gratefulness for the amazing gift Christ gave through his own blood. To those who believe…

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. Romans 8:1-3 Amen, Amen!

The law of the Spirit of Life is greater than the laws known by man. The laws of Science, the laws of physics, the laws of human nature, the laws of sin and death all fall short of the glory of God. We, as God’s children, can take hold of the law of the Spirit of Life and live by it. Free from the bondages of sin and death we are free to live the life that God so desires for us. The Bible has illustrated for us the way a righteous life looks and we’ve received “everything we need for life and godliness.” Continuing in James 2:12-13, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

The simple explanation is this:
We have all done wrong. According to God the price of wrong doing is death. There is nothing we can do to attain forgiveness in our own strength. But, God gave his only Son who was pure and clean to die for our wrong doing. Your belief in him seals your forgiveness forever. Live in gratefulness to God’s love and let your life reflect his good character to others.

The most valuable thing I gained through these verses to apply to my life now is recognizing that I cannot attain to God. He loves me just as I am. There is pressure from all sides to perform, push, excel and increase, but I want to save myself and my energy to live a life pleasing to God through my gratefulness for and my faith in what he has already accomplished. It’s not acceptable to the world, or understood by unbelievers, but it brings me abundant joy! One of my favorite songs by Mercy Me says,

Why would I spend my life longing for the day that it would end..
Why would I spend my time pointing to another man..
Isn't that crazy?

How can I find hope in dying, with promises unseen..
How can I learn your way is better
In everything I'm taught to be..
Isn't that crazy?

I have not been called to the wisdom of this world..
But to a God who's calling out to me..
And even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would be crazy
To choose this world over eternity

And if I boast let me boast
Of filthy rags made clean
And if I glory let me glory
In my Savior's suffering
Isn't that crazy

And as I live this daily life
I trust you for everything
And I will only take a step
When I feel You leading me
Isn't that crazy

Linda Anderson said...

Scattered thoughts for Week 2:

There is so much freedom of heart and mind when we realize His love, and that acceptance is evidenced in our lives. Everyone comes to Christ the same way–broken and humble. Sin is sin, and forgiveness is available and complete for all. And those who receive this desire to serve Christ no matter what the cost.

Simple faith draws us to the only source of our help and when we are seeking Him, we will reach out no matter what it takes. At some point we come to understand that humility is not a negative thing.

I have been reading a great book on the Fruits of the Spirit that will make a great Bible Study or Sunday School series. The chapter on humility explains it as the proper attitude with which to approach God, all other relationships and our circumstances–apply it to every day living. “Rather than originating with us, it flows to us from our union with Christ, and it flows beyond us to bring us into fellowship with others. The secret of this flow - and of our unity with God and others - is humility” [THE FRUITFUL LIFE, Jerry Bridges, page 47] He also says that “a believer who is humble before God will also be humble toward other people” [page 55].

I particularly found this comment worth pondering: “If we are to experience the blessings promised to the humble, we must work out this humility in our daily relationships with others. We must learn to submit to one another, to serve one another, and to honor or prefer one another above ourselves. Remember, the Spirit does not make us humble, but He enables us to humble ourselves. We must learn humility, just as Paul learned contentment, but in our efforts we are assured of the same enabling power he experienced (see Phil 4:11-13)”

In the way of personal experience, I would have to speak of my experience in serving on the Board. In the beginning it was a great learning experience and gave me a venue in which to serve in the church and I was blessed. Over the years my focus changed, I became less patient with others and, rather than simply say that it was time for a change for me, it had to be someone else’s fault that I was no longer effective or supportive of the overall ministry. Had I been more humble before God, I would have exercised more humility in my relationships with others and handled things much differently. In understanding this, one major issue with someone in particular is resolving—not because she has changed (I don’t know if she has or not), but because I have allowed the Spirit to effect change in me and love for a sister in Christ is growing and over-shadowing any negative that once seemed so important. God is good!

Cleaver said...

As I read these passages what first came to mind was what rite do we have to judge others. How many times do I pre determine a situation or pre concieve an opinion about another person just because I can't fit that person into that certain "job description". The rules, (laws), are pre described and don't deviate from them or the Rath of God will come upon you. Scripture makes the point that we who judge will be judged and the last will be first.
This past Sunday we invited another couple for lunch, first time attenders to LCC, (the parents of a co worker) after giving thanks we were discussing scripture and one dominate theme kept arising. That was the need for unity of all churches. The rules and regulation mean little to nothing of we are all united in the One Lord, Our Savior Jesus Christ form whom all things came, and one day will come again, to judge the living and the dead. As we live our physical lives here on earth we must humble ourselvers and give service to others as Christ himself served.