Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

The Agony of Change
(Part 4)

We all know the power of being upset. I doubt there is a single one of us who has not been upset at something. Sometimes people get upset for reasons that do not merit such a powerful emotional reaction. Sometimes we all get upset because something that really matters happens.

The key to being properly upset is being honest with yourself. When you are upset, are you emotionally reacting to yourself, or are you focusing on concern for others? What is your motive? Are your emotions actually about you, or are they about helping others?

When those emotions are about you and your personal concerns, those emotions will betray you. Those emotions will deceive you as they justify actions that should cause you shame. Years later you will look back and wonder how you could ever do such things. You will be amazed later when you realize that you thought it was about God when it was actually about you.

Nothing is more likely to upset us than helping a person escape an addiction only to witness the same person return to a form of the same addiction. Your concern is not for "all the work I did." It is for the needless tragedy the addicted person is certain to experience.

If you understand that form of "being upset," you understand Paul being upset in his letter to gentile Galatian Christians. Please take your Bibles, turn to Galatians, and follow with me.

  1. Let's begin with a brief review of our past lessons.

    1. We noted how much it took to convince the Jewish apostle Peter to share salvation in Jesus Christ with a gentile audience. (Acts 10)
    2. We noted the reaction of Jewish Christian leaders and "the circumcision" to Peter's decision to even associate with (have a meal with) gentiles. (Acts 11:1-17)
    3. We noted the resentment of some Jewish Christians (the circumcision group) because gentiles were becoming Christians before being proselytes to Judaism. (Acts 15:1,2)
    4. We noted the Jerusalem council's devotion to forming an appropriate response to the concern. (Acts 15:5-29)
    5. We noted the problem these Jewish Christians caused by lying about Paul's work. (Acts 21:17-22)
    6. We noted the responses to those lies. (Acts 21:23-26)
    7. Add to these things this understanding:
      1. There were a group of baptized Jewish believers who devoted themselves to creating confusion among gentiles believers who responded to Jesus Christ.
        1. They were convinced that their work was God's work.
        2. They did not oppose gentiles becoming Christians IF they became Jewish proselytes first.
        3. They insisted on the importance of circumcision.
      2. They especially made Paul's life miserable by doing two things.
        1. They devoted themselves to destroying Paul's reputation as a Christian.
        2. They devoted themselves to destroying Paul's work with gentile people.
        3. They were convinced this was the proper, godly thing to do!

  2. The opening of Galatians suggests (pointedly) how upset Paul was.

    1. Paul typically opened a writing to even a deeply troubled congregation with messages of encouragement. (See Romans 1:7-15; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:3-8; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12).
      1. No such encouragement is found in the Galatians opening.
      2. Paul immediately begins discussing his disappointment and their problem.
      3. Obviously, Paul did not like what happened!
    2. Look at a brief flow of Paul's thoughts in his communication with gentile converts to Christ.
      1. First, he expressed his disappointment in 1:6-10.
      2. Second, he declared his commission from God to teach the gentiles (God's commission is superior to the Judiazers' concern). (1:11-17)
      3. Third, he discussed the reason for his first visit to Jerusalem. (1:18-24)
      4. Fourth, he discussed the reason for his visit to Jerusalem 14 years after his conversion, and the leadership's response to his work with gentiles. (2:1-10)
      5. Fifth, he affirmed (a) his spiritual stature by his confrontation with Peter (Cephas) concerning gentiles, and (b) affirmed salvation is through Jesus Christ. (2:11-21)
      6. Sixth, the vehicle for righteousness in God has always been faith in God. (3:1-14).
      7. Seventh, God's covenant is based on Jesus Christ, not the law. (3:15-22)
      8. Eighth, the purpose of the law was to lead people to Jesus Christ. (3:23-29)
      9. Ninth, Paul's first illustration was to emphasize the ineffectiveness of law. (4:1-7)
      10. Tenth, Paul's urgings: (4:8-20)
        1. Salvation is not found by changing "systems" (going from the "system" of idolatry to the "system" of Judaism).
        2. Paul's affirmation of a personal relationship and concern for them.
      11. Eleventh, Paul's second illustration was to emphasize salvation is through Christ. (4:21-31)
        [Paul's transition: "Because you are, as gentile Christians, free from the Jewish system and the law, does not mean you are free to live as you please."]
      12. Twelfth, Christ did not free you to become the slaves of a different system. (5:1-12)
        1. You were freed to choose to serve others. (5:13-15)
        2. You were freed to escape your old lifestyle and accept a new lifestyle. (5:16-24)
        3. You were freed to be guided by God's Spirit instead of self-centered passions. (5:25, 26)
      13. Thirteenth, Paul's admonitions about appropriate Christian conflict in regard to proper treatment of others (a) who are tempted, (b) who are deceived about the purpose of physical existence, and (c) who think spirituality is primarily a physical consideration. (6:1-16)

  3. Things I ask you to note.

    1. The Judaizing teachers, Jews who believed in Jesus and were baptized, successfully created doubt and confusion among gentile converts.
      1. They were the "experts" who knew the way God worked chronologically before these gentiles became Christians.
        1. "We know more than you know so we must be right."
        2. "You should not trust Paul--he used to be one of us!"
        3. "Admit your ignorance and trust our history!"
        4. "We know what we are talking about!"
      2. Paul's message, though from God, was quite different.
        1. Jewish Christians like Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Aquilia, and Priscilla were the exceptions among Jewish converts, not the typical majority.
        2. The teaching that God, from the time of Abraham (and before), prepared to provide a solution through Jesus Christ rather than through the Jewish nation, was strange to most Jewish people.
        3. It was easy to believably declare Paul and his message of faith being superior to the law false, because that concept was foreign to the Jewish concept, even among most Jewish Christians.
      3. Please understand that from the beginning of Christianity there was conflict and difficulty because Christianity meant change.
        1. If your concept of early Christianity was this ideal existence where every Christian was at peace and in harmony with all other Christians, I urge you to listen to scripture and change your concept.
        2. The conflict between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians is one of the dominant themes of the New Testament.
          1. What God wanted was for all to be saved in Christ.
          2. However, that is not what many people wanted.
          3. If it was suggested that God produced salvation through Jesus Christ in ways they (people) did not like or want, many were offended.
          4. The fact that this concept came from God meant almost nothing to many.
          5. People's preferences too often are more powerful than God's revelation--and that includes people today!
    2. The solution:
      1. The solution today is the same as the solution was in the first century: mutual love and respect.
        1. Neither are simple; both are extremely difficult.
        2. I may not agree with you, but I am your brother, not the judge of your eternal destiny.
      2. If you are in Christ, I must kindly respect you because you are in God's family--not my family.
      3. We are siblings to each other, and neither of us is the other's parent.
      4. When believers in Christ who have repented and been baptized treat other believers in Christ who have repented and been baptized with hate, false accusations, and contempt, the whole family of God suffers.
      5. When Christians treat Christians with contempt, we ridicule ourselves in the eyes of those who are not in Christ--we destroy our credibility and are looked upon with contempt.

  4. I would like to close with some readings--would you listen and silently pray for God's family.

    Galatians 5:13-15, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another."

    Romans 14:13-23, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."

    Romans 15:1-6, "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Romans 12:9-16, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation."

    1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, "Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need."

    John 13:12-17, "So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them."
Help us make it obvious that the church is composed of people who seek to be God's family who respect and love others. You do not have control over everyone. Yet, only you control yourself. In all circumstances and situations, control yourself.

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