You have completed our trek through
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Most of what you will get in this review
should familiar. We won’t hit every
point. This is a 10,000-foot flyover.
We begin with the Galatians.
is no other gospel. It’s Christ and
Christ alone. There is no Jesus
Plus formula for salvation.
I have died to all of the rules. I could never live up to all of the
rules. My disobedience, my missing the
mark, my sin all had to die. It
did. It all died in Christ.
am crucified with Christ. Christ
lives in me.
We may butt heads sometimes, but when
we do, it should be as iron
sharpening iron, not an insistence on our own way. Stick to what we have in common—Christ Jesus
is the way to salvation. It’s all about the grace that we know in Christ.
Paul continued his chastisement of the
Galatians shifting to the interrogative.
Did you receive your salvation by obedience to the law or by receiving
the good news? How have you been so
been said that it is easier to fool someone than to convince them that they
have been fooled. There might just be some truth in that statement.
So then, how will the righteous
live? The righteous
will live by faith.
You can’t read Galatians without
But when the
fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born
under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption as sons.
challenges the Galatians to stick to the one and only gospel. He asked, Have I now become your enemy by
telling you the truth?
don’t buy the snake oil. As we continue into the last chapter,
Paul uses metaphor to make his appeal to the fidelity of the gospel.
were running a good race. Who cut you off?
is a whole bunch of chastisement in this letter, but it is also home to the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
gives some encouragement near the end of the letter. He charged the Galatians
and us not to grow weary in doing good. A
harvest is coming. Hang in there.
wraps us his letter with an affirmation and a challenge. He will never boast except in the cross of Jesus.
So too, he challenges us to the same standard.
there we have the 10,000-foot flyover of the letter to the Galatians. It’s on to the Ephesians.
is only one place to begin this letter.
It is with the spiritual blessings that we know in Christ Jesus. In him, we are blessed beyond measure.
prayed that these believers in Ephesus would know all of these blessings. That prayer is for us as well.
then we come to words that carried through all four of these letters. They are by grace through faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so
that no one can boast.
where we anchor ourselves when it come to salvation. It is 100% the gift of God. Our discipleship is another story
altogether. We have much to do in the
areas of love, faith, obedience, service, worship, and so much more in response
to this gift, but we must know with certainty that our salvation is totally the
gift of God.
response brings us out of division into unity.
We are one in the Spirit. Christ
has made us one. We have a diversity of
gifts and responses to grace, but we are to be of one accord in the Spirit of
have professed Jesus as Lord must undergo a paradigm shift, a renewal of the
mind, an exchange of old thinking for new thinking. We are no longer people governed by rules,
but people ruled by love.
whole identity is in God. We are indeed his
we know that we are living the Christian life?
One way is to ask this question.
Do I speak the truth in a spirit of love? Speaking the truth in love is a
benchmark of our Christian maturity.
the truth without love is easy. It is
people what the world calls love without the truth is not so hard either. That’s the vending machine.
able to speak the truth and do it in a spirit of love takes Christian
maturity. It’s no picnic.
we come to words that challenge us to live in response to the grace that we
Live a life worthy of the calling that you
that worthy life involves unity. We should live in accord with
each other. We may have to practice some
patience, gentleness, humility and other Christlike traits and qualities, but
we must remember that our response to this gift of grace should be the best
response we can muster.
response to grace, we strive to hit the target. That could be strict obedience
to the law. It could be pure love. We know that love will not harm others so in
most cases, you might not be able to tell the difference, but God will show us
want to please God, we had better aim at the target and do our best to hit it.
words from God that we read in Leviticus and that were repeated by some of the
apostles should ring true.
because I am holy.
been saved from sin and death so we can live completely for God. He will show us our targets.
does that mean? It means that we have
eyes to see opportunities all around us. God
wants us to make the most of the opportunities.
these opportunities exist in a world ruled by sin. We must be wise. We must use the sound mind
that God gave us.
target-rich environment, but we must hit the targets at which we take aim.
wraps up this letter with some counsel for families. Love,
respect, obedience, and remembering who the parent is when things get stressful.
This is still excellent counsel for this century.
Finally, we get the full armor of God.
But, let’s put on the armor-all of it.
· The belt of
· The breastplate
fitted—these are your combat boots—with the readiness that comes from the
gospel of peace
· The shield of
faith that extinguishes the arrows of the enemy
· The helmet of
· The sword of
the Spirit which is the word of God.
Now it’s on to the Philippians.
As we begin this letter we must understand that
our salvation is a done deal. God did it
all. Jesus paid it all. It’s all from God so that nobody can boast
about their own salvation.
In our response to this done-deal salvation, we
often find ourselves to be a work in progress. We have a lot of
work to do to live up to the person that God made us to be.
Early in this letter, Paul proffers the
ultimate win-win. For him to die right
now would be fantastic. He would be with
the Lord. Oohrah, hallelujah, amen.
For him to live another day would be another
day that he could take the good news to the lost. It was the best mission—the best commission
win-win. To live is Christ.
To die is gain.
It should be the same for us.
There are other familiar words that we know
from Paul’s letter to the Philippians—every knee will bow and every tongue
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Those are some good words, but we should finish
the sentence—to the glory of God.
We should not expect a forced confession, but
the ultimate expression of the truth:
Jesus Christ is Lord!
This letter brings us to our response to the
gift of God that we call salvation. Paul
tells us to work out our salvation as the most important thing that we do.
Our response to God’s incredible gift of mercy
and grace that we have received through faith is the most important thing we do
for the rest of our days in these bodies on this planet.
We have an abundance of opportunities in which
to respond with love for one another as we live out our salvation.
We are reminded that we are citizens of heaven
and that we go through this life with purpose.
Press on. Don’t lose your
focus. Don’t go native. This world is not our home.
Paul noted to the church in Philippi and others
as well, that so many had made ad hominem attacks on him and he wasn’t playing
But if he were to play the game, he had the best resume of any of his so-called challengers. He just did not regard his religious status
of any value when it came to right standing with the Lord. He considered it as valuable as manure.
It’s Christ, Christ, and only Christ who brings
us to right standing with God.
Paul, writing from prison in whatever form that
looked like, challenged us to be happy, to rejoice, to know the joy of the
Our joy comes from the Lord.
We rejoice in the Lord. We talked
about the source of our joy—our gladness—being the favor of the Lord.
Paul also challenged us not to worry. Don’t be anxious about anything. We can know a peace that comes from God that
goes way beyond what we can understand.
Our job is to go to God in thanksgiving, have
our talk with him, and receive a peace that will guard our hearts and minds in
Paul understood that God made us right with him
but we were not quite there yet. It’s a
done deal but we are still working on our part.
One day, God will finish the good work that he began in us, but for now,
we are still working on it.
So, Paul equipped us with a simple piece of
counsel. Think on good things.
The governing verb here is think. In a world governed by red herrings, nonsequiturs, and other logical fallacies as well as purely emotional appeals, we
are challenged to think.
We are charged to use the sound mind that God
That brings us to the Colossians.
We begin with Christ being the image of the invisible God.
Remember that Jesus told his disciples before he went to the cross, if
you have seen me, then you have seen the Father. Quit asking for what you already have.
After the resurrection, he told Thomas, but he
was speaking to all gathered in the room with him that they believed because
they had seen. Blessed are those who
have not seen yet have believed.
Next, we are reminded that we are redeemed and reconciled.
The work to reconcile the entire creation was accomplished in Christ
Jesus. It’s hard to see now, but the
work of the cross accomplished it.
What comes next is a throwback to the Galatians
and others who were being courted by fancy arguments. Do not be deceived.
There is one gospel and you heard it. Stick to it.
We talked about the law, written codes, and the
invoice for our sin. What we should have
walked away with was that man’s rules must not get in the way of God’s love.
The third chapter of this letter had some
umbrella sort of counsel.
Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it as if you are working for
the Lord, not for men.
Live in love but keep your eyes open for the
tricks of the world. Be a little salty.
How do we wrap this up?
Salvation one hundred percent the gift of God.
Rejoice in the Lord, always.
Be anxious for nothing.
Pray about everything. Start by being thankful.
Think on good things.
It’s what you do with what God gave you not
your titles and accolades that count.
Never lose sight of the fact that we are
working for the Lord.
Put on the full armor of God.
Live in the fruit of the Spirit.
Above all else, put on love
Talk and live grace but be seasoned with salt.
Those should get you through the week.