Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Jesus, Rescue Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1:1-12 (NASB). From This Evil Age Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age, i.e. that he might deliver us from all manner of evil which is in the world, in order that we might be holy, unlike the world, because we are becoming like Christ. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). He rescued us from the power (or control) of sin and Satan over our lives so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but so we would be slaves to righteousness. “…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation…” (2 Pet. 2:9). “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” (Jude 1:24). He is able to deliver! We do not have to live in sin any longer! We should no longer walk according to the flesh. Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24). He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). When we believe in Jesus Christ, and we come to know him as Lord and Savior of our lives, we put off our old lives of living for sin and self, we are made new in the attitude of our minds via the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, and we put on the new self in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, God “condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (See: Ro. 8:3-4). This is God’s grace, to free us from the power of sin over our lives and to free us to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Amen! A Different Gospel 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! A “different gospel” which is the most prevalent in the church today, particularly here in America, is a gospel of false grace which teaches its adherents that all they have to do is “believe,” although belief is not usually explained, or that they just have to pray a prayer to “receive Christ,” though often that is not really explained, either, or is only partially. And then they tell them they are guaranteed eternal life. Part of what they teach is the true gospel, i.e. that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, that he was resurrected to give us new lives in Christ, that he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, and that one day he is coming back to take us to be with him forever. Yet, they leave out the part that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for if we conduct our lives according to the flesh, we will die, but if, by the Spirit we put to death (present, not just past tense) the deeds of the flesh, we will live. If we want to live with Christ forever, we must first of all die to sin. Another “different gospel,” though, which is not so popular, but which some people have taken ahold of, is the gospel of sinless perfection. They believe that once you are saved you must never sin again or else you are not truly saved. Although I do believe that salvation requires that we die to sin so that we might live to righteousness, I don’t believe it teaches that sinless perfection is required or that we are not saved at all, or that we lose our salvation every time we sin. In 1 John 2:1-2 John wrote to his “dear children,” i.e. to true followers of Christ, that they might not sin, but if any of them did sin, they were to know that they had an advocate (comforter, helper, and intercessor) with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. So, what does this mean? It means that we are not saved by our own righteousness, and it is only through the blood of Christ that we are even able to be made righteous. The righteousness of Christ stands in for us, and is our defense. We are not condemned to die if we should sin. Yet, if we conduct our lives according the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we will die. But, if by the Spirit we put to death (present, not just past tense) the deeds of the flesh, then we will live. I believe it all comes down to our understanding of salvation and what that means, and I believe that is where a lot of people get hung up. It helps if we understand that we, who are in Christ Jesus by faith, have been saved (past), we are being saved (present tense - progressive action), and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns for his bride. And, it helps, too, if we understand that the kind of belief that saves us is present tense, which is, by the very nature of what that means, continuous and progressive in nature, i.e. we are not guaranteed eternal life with God based on past belief. It does not say "to all those who at one time believed," but it says, "to those believing," meaning we must continue in the faith, we must abide in Christ, we must continue in his word, etc. In other words, our salvation and our faith are progressive and are not complete until Jesus Christ returns. Yet, we don't lose our salvation if we should sin at some point nor are we given free license to sin without guilt and without remorse just because of God's grace to us. A true Biblical understanding of God's grace to us and of our salvation is half-way in between these two opposing beliefs. It says that it is possible for a believer in Jesus Christ to sin (1 Jn. 2:1, as well as the whole of the epistles), but that we are not called to sin but to holiness, and thus we must conduct our lives in a manner worthy of the calling we have received. We must surrender to the cross, and submit ourselves to Christ, and we must obey Christ, yet it teaches that daily we put to death the deeds of the body, and we throw off the sins which easily entangle us so we can run the race. We resist Satan, and flee temptation, and draw near to God, but if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin. We, who conduct our lives no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, are no longer under condemnation. Not of Humans 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. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. This point that Paul made here is essential to us following Christ and not humans. We have to be students of the Word of God, and not of the teachings of human beings. If we are following a preacher, someone who calls himself or herself a “prophet,” or a particular theology or denomination, then we are in danger of following after a gospel of men, rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We can’t pull a few scriptures out of context and build entire belief systems around those few scriptures. We have to compare scripture with scripture, and look at the whole of the New Testament, in context, to see what it is teaching with regard to our salvation, and then we have to reconcile, by the Spirit within us, those scriptures which seem to contradict one another, because they do fit with each other. I have found that going to the Greek, which I know everyone cannot do, has been very helpful, because our English translations don’t always pick up the verb tenses in the Greek, which can make a huge difference in interpretation. [I sometimes use biblehub.com, and I look at the interlinear, but I rely upon the Holy Spirit to show me what it all means.] The modern church of today here in America is so focused around human thinking, reasoning, and human philosophies and business marketing schemes for how to grow their churches and draw in large crowds of the unsaved people of this world. Thus, they often reject the teachings of scripture because the teachings are too hard, i.e. they require death to sin so we might live to righteousness. This makes fleshly humans uncomfortable and it is offensive to them. The church of today is big on not offending people, so they dilute the gospel of Christ in order to make it more appealing to the flesh, and to make it more desirable to those who are listening. Instead of holiness being taught, we are being taught tolerance. Instead of the Word of God being taught, in many cases, books written by mere humans are being taught, some of which are evil, and are intended to lead people away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ. “Worship” services have become more about entertaining the masses so that they will like what they experienced and will want to return. Jesus, in his death on the cross for our sins, rescued us from sin and death, and provided the way of escape for us so that we can no longer be under the control of Satan and sin, but we can now to be slaves to righteousness. Jesus said that if we (anyone) want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. We must walk no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and we must, by the Spirit, put to death (present tense) the deeds of our flesh. So, if you have been walking according to the flesh, I pray you will surrender your life to Jesus today. We can’t do this in our own flesh, but only in the power and working of the Spirit within us. Jesus, Rescue Me / An Original Work / September 18, 2011 Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39 Jesus, rescue me today. Listen while I bow and pray. I need Your help to obey You; Live for You always. Meet me in my hour of need, Lord, As I pray to You. Help me walk in fellowship, Lord, Living in Your truth. Jesus, how I long for You to Change my heart anew. Father, God, my heart’s desire Is to live for You this hour In Your Holy Spirit’s power Living in me now. Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord, Guiding me each day. Help me to show love and kindness To the lost, I pray. Father, teach me to love others As You love always. Holy Spirit come in pow’r. Revive our hearts in this hour. Change our hearts to be like You, Lord; Live for You each day. Help us to forsake our sins, Lord, As we humbly pray. Teach us how to live for You, Lord, Obey You always. Holy Spirit come in power, Revive us today.