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Galatians (5 of 13) The Gospel Of Grace Is Received By Faith

3:1-14 The Gospel Of Grace Is Received By Faith

Memory Verse: Galatians 3:6

3:1-5 Paul’s Examines Faith And Works

  • 3:1 Paul comes back to the problem of the Galatian churches. Their problem is that they are not obeying the truth of the gospel. They left the truth that was first delivered to them and started to believe in a false gospel—a message that can only bring condemnation. Paul calls them foolish because they have made foolish conclusions even though when they heard the gospel, Jesus was evidently set forth and crucified before their eyes—they heard a clear, passionate and powerful presentation of the truth.
    Galatians 1:6-7; 2:4
  • 3:2-3 Paul ask them several rhetorical questions to help them better understand the problem. He asked them: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by works or faith? The answer to the question is obviously “faith” and so he continues saying that he wonders if they are so foolish to believe they can begin in the Holy Spirit by faith and then be made perfect by the works of the flesh. It seems that the Galatians were humble enough to know they were saved because of faith but fearful enough to think that they must keep the law to stay saved and be sanctified. Paul is trying to combat this thinking. He wants them to know we are saved by faith and we are sanctified by faith—not by human effort.
  • 3:4 Paul then causes them to remember all the things they have already suffered for the sake of the gospel of grace. If they are now leaving this gospel then they suffered all those things in vain. He wants them to remember their commitment to the truth and the price they paid for it.
  • 3:5 Finally, Paul brings God into the argument. Does God ministers to you the Holy Spirit by works or faith? Are the miracles done by works or faith? Does God work among us because of our obedience to the law or because of our faith? The Galatians are not Jews, so they didn’t have the same connection to the law as a Jews did. They didn’t know it as well as the Jews. Therefore, Paul is using all of these arguments to cause them to realize that they became Christians by faith and they should continue living for God by faith—not letting the false teachers confuse them and think they must also keep the law.

3:6-9 Paul Exemplifies Abraham’s Faith

  • 3:6-8 Paul uses the Old Testament example of Abraham—the father of the Jews—to show that He even agrees with this truth. Abraham believed God’s promise and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham was justified by faith. Then Paul says that those who are “of faith” are the children of Abraham. What he means is those who are justified by faith are those who are partakers of the promise of the gospel of grace first preached to Abraham—not those of physical birth. This is pivotal in understanding God’s plan of salvation. God knew that He was going to justify man through faith (because of the death and resurrection of Jesus), therefore, He preached the gospel to Abraham saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed”. So the condition for salvation has always been faith and never works.
    Genesis 12:1-3; 15:6
  • 3:9 He concludes that anyone who is “of faith” are the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham. They “are blessed with faithful Abraham”. This is important to remember and a point that Paul will return to later in this letter to the Galatian believers.

3:10-12 Paul Exposes The Law’s Curse

  • 3:10 The law has a major curse that is often overlooked when people are trusting in it as their way of salvation. It requires that your obey everything written in it. That means you have to be perfect. The law demands perfection. If you don’t obey all the things that are written in the book of the law then you are cursed. If you keep all of the law, but you are disobedient in just one point, then you are guilty of all the law. The law is strict. The law offers no mercy. The law says you are 100% obedient or 100% disobedient.
    Deuteronomy 27:26; James 2:10; Romans 3:23
  • 3:11 Paul makes himself extremely clear: “The law cannot justify you.” It doesn’t matter how hard you try the law will condemn you. If you have already failed once, you are under the curse of the law. You are marked as disobedient—a sinner. But there is hope. It is called “faith”. From the Old Testament through the New Testament “the just shall live by faith.” God has provided a way that can redeem us.
    Habakkuk 2:4
  • 3:12 The “law” or “faith” as a means of salvation are opposites. Therefore, you have to choose one or the other. You cannot choose both. The law is not of faith and faith is not of the law. “Law” stands for trusting in any human effort to be made righteous. “Faith” stands for trusting in Jesus’ effort to be made righteous. We cannot trust in Jesus and our own works at the same time. You can only trust in one. If you trust in the law you must live by the law and this can only bring condemnation. On the contrary, salvation if a gift given to us by God and received by faith. We don’t receive salvation by merit or because we earned it. If it is because we earned it then it is of works and not of grace. That is the whole purpose of the law, to show us that we can’t earn salvation and we fall short of the standard of perfect. It points us to grace and grace says, “By faith”.
    Romans 11:6; Leviticus 18:5

3:13-14 Paul Elevates Christ’s Redemption

  • 3:13 Paul finally gets to the main point: “We couldn’t but Jesus could”. Jesus did everything that we couldn’t do. It was Jesus who redeemed us from the curse of the law. After studying the law, you will come to the conclusion that you are cursed. You are doomed to die and to be separated from God for all eternity. But Jesus was willing to pay the price to purchase you. Your price was death. So He died in your place. Jesus was perfect, completely obeying law, but he was made a curse for us by dyeing on the cross, thus redeeming us from the curse of the law. Now we are made prefect in Christ.
    Romans 5:8; 6:23; Deuteronomy 21:23
  • 3:14 Why did Christ do this? First, that through Him we (Gentiles) could receive the blessings of Abraham: salvation by grace through faith. He knew we couldn’t be saved by the law (we didn’t even know the law) and this was His plan all along. Second, He did this so that we could receive the Holy Spirit through faith. The Holy Spirit is making us holy by faith. We are saved and sanctified by faith. Today, we can live for God by faith.

Review Questions

  • What was the answer to Paul’s rhetorical questions?
  • Why did Paul use Abraham as an example?
  • What is the curse of the law?
  • How did Jesus redeem us?
  • We are saved and sanctified by what?
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Survey Trip Info (All In One Place)

This post puts all the links to the info about “survey trips” on this blog into one place for your convenience.


ARTICLES

Survey Trip Basics (1 of 4) Objective & Goals

Survey Trip Basics (2 of 4) Implementation & To Do’s

Survey Trip Basics (3 of 4) Research

Survey Trip Basics (4 of 4) Questions


Survey Trip (1 of 3) Pre-trip Survey & Transportation

Survey Trip (2 of 3) Places to Visit

Survey Trip (3 of 3) Chinese Cities


AUDIO

Questions: Survey Trip – The following are questions that I sent in to Austin Gardner to be answered on his “Leadership with Vision” podcast. He answers these questions in the podcast.


CATEGORY

CATEGORY ARCHIVES: SURVEY – My “survey” thoughts on different places I have been that I jotted down.

CategoryBanner_Galatians

Galatians (4 of 13) Paul Confronts Peter’s Hypocrisy

2:11-21 Paul Confronts Peter’s Hypocrisy

Memory Verse: Galatians 2:16, 20

2:11-13 Peter’s Hypocrisy

  • 2:11 Paul, Peter and the other apostles realized they were teaching the same true gospel, were unified because of it and agreed on their different missions from God to reach the Gentiles and Jews. But when Peter came to Antioch, Paul withstood Peter to the face—meaning that he called him out for doing something wrong. Paul was claiming that Peter was to be blamed for doing something wrong. What was this apostle’s wrong-doing?
  • 2:12a Peter ate with the Gentiles. To us this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But at that time it was a big deal because Peter was a Jew. The Old Testament had several “ceremonial” and “clean” laws that a Jew was supposed to follow, including their eating habits. This also resulted in many traditions that Jews made up over the years. There was a separation between the Jews and the Gentiles, because the Gentiles didn’t follow their laws or traditions and were “unclean”. Then something happened. Jesus came and broke down this wall of separation and everything changed. No longer would the Jews have to follow these “ceremonial” and “clean” laws and no longer was their a difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. Thus, a practical application of this new reality for Peter was that he started eating with the Gentiles. This was good. But the problem, as Pauls notes, is not that he started to eat with the Gentiles, it is that he stopped. When certain Jewish men came from James he withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles.
    Mark 7:14-23; Acts 117-9; 10:34-35
  • 2:12b Peter separated himself from the Gentiles because he feared the criticism of the false teachers (them which were of the circumcision). As we have studied, not everyone believed in Jesus and many Jews thought that you had to add keeping the ceremonial and clean laws to faith in Jesus for salvation. Peter obviously didn’t believe this false gospel, but instead of standing in the truth, he cowardly withdrew. Peter believed the true gospel, but was acting like he didn’t. Peter was a hypocrite—he claimed to believe the real gospel but his own behavior did not conform to it.
  • 2:13 The second problem was that Peter’s influence caused the other Jews to follow his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, who worked with Paul and Titus—(a Gentile), also followed his hypocrisy. Remember: Our actions effect other people’s actions.

2:14-16a Paul’s Confrontation

  • 2:14a Paul understood one important truth: the gospel changes our worldview—meaning that according to the truth of the gospel we are to walk uprightly or in accordance to it. At salvation, every believer already has a previous world-view (based on culture, upraising, school, etc.) in which they interpret the world and the things around them. But also at salvation, the truth of the gospel should become our new world-view and we start to interpret everything according to it. This will have drastic changes in our lives. Paul realized Peter was using his Jewish-world-view instead of his gospel-world-view.
  • 2:14b-16a Paul ask Peter a question that points out his hypocrisy: If you are a Jew and live like a Gentile, then why are you asking the Gentiles to live like the Jews? Then Paul points Peter back to the truth of the gospel that he seems to have forgotten. Both of them are Jews by nature, but even their nationality and obedience to the law couldn’t save them. Their own salvation had nothing to do with their race, culture, laws or customs, but it was only through believing in Jesus that they were saved. Thus, why is Peter basing who he can eat with, associate with or have a relationship with based on race, culture, laws and customs when his own salvation is not based on those things. He is reminding Peter that their own relationship with God had nothing to do with what they did, but in whom they believed. It wasn’t about works, it was about grace. It wasn’t about keeping the laws anymore, it was about living out the freedom that Jesus gave. Peter doesn’t have to fear because of other people’s criticism or approval because he is already justified—he is already righteous before God and accepted by Him. He has God’s approval.

2:16b-21 Truth Explained

  • 2:16b Justification By Faith: As Paul is reminding Peter of the gospel, he boldly and clearly declares what the true gospel is: justification by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot be justified by the works of the law. No person will ever be justified by the works of the law.
  • 2:17-18 Implications: Paul explains that if being “justified by Christ” wasn’t true then they are all sinners because they aren’t living by the law and Christ would be the minister of sin since they are following His teachings. On the other-hand, if they rebuild this false system of salvation by the law that they destroyed by preaching the gospel of grace, they would be found as transgressor—sinners, lawbreakers.
  • 2:19a The Law Kills: Paul says that through the law he is dead to the law. Several were trusting in the law for their salvation. They believed their works could justify them. But what Paul is saying is that the more he tried to obey the law, one truth became clear: the law could not justify—it died to him as a way of redemption. All of the “cleanings” and the “ceremonies” were not enough to take away his sins and make him righteous.
  • 2:19b God Saves: Since Paul was no longer trusting in his own works of keeping the law for his salvation, he could believe in Jesus for redemption and really start to live for God.
  • 2:20 New Identity: Believers are dead to the law (or any works we do to try to earn God’s acceptance and salvation) because we were crucified with Christ. The penalty was paid in full by Christ and applied to our account by faith. Nevertheless, we live, not us but Christ lives inside of us—meaning we have a new identity in Christ. We live out this new identity in our current bodies by the faith of the Son of God, not by the works of the law (new worldview). We are justified by faith and we live by faith. It was Jesus’ love and personal sacrifice that changed everything, and it is what motivates us to serve Him.
  • 2:21 Only Grace: This whole system of salvation is based on the wonderful grace of God. Paul says he doesn’t want to frustrate the grace of God and clearly says if righteousness came by the law, then Christ died in vain. He is reminding Peter that he can’t mix law and grace, therefore, he needs to walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.

Review Questions

  • What was Peter’s wrong-doing?
  • Peter’s influence caused what?
  • The truth of the gospel should become our new what?
  • What are we justified by?
  • Can we mix law and grace? Why?
CategoryBanner_Galatians

Galatians (3 of 13) The Gospel Of Grace Results In Liberty

2:1-10 The Gospel Of Grace Results In Liberty

Memory Verse: Galatians 2:4-5

2:1-5 Paul Defends The Liberty Of The Gospel Of Grace

  • 2:1 After Paul tells us about his early years in 1:16-14 he picks up here in chapter 2 starting 14 years later. At this time he went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus.
  • 2:2 Paul, by revelation of God, goes to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church there. He was going to discuss the gospel that he was preaching among the gentiles and to report all that God was doing. Paul knew the gospel he was preaching was the true gospel, but there were false teachers entering the church and teaching false things. The gospel radically changed how things worked in the Jewish system, mainly that of including gentiles, but also not requiring believers to keep the law. The gospel freed people from the law, it didn’t bind them to it. Paul didn’t want there to be conflict that would cause a divide in the church because people didn’t understand the full application of the gospel. He didn’t want his ministry to be ruined because of this lack of understanding, so he met with leaders to discuss all of this.
  • 2:3-4a Paul uses Titus as an example. He is a Greek not a Jew. Therefore, he didn’t get circumcised as a child like the Jewish children did. Paul says Titus wasn’t compelled or forced by anyone in Jerusalem to get circumcised after believing the gospel of grace to be seen as a real Christian. The message was clear: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. There are no external behaviors that we can add to our faith in Jesus that are required to be saved. This is where the false teachers were wrong: they believed that the new gentile Christians had to become Jewish—that is, they had to adhere to certain external cultural behaviors now that they believed in Jesus or they weren’t really Christians (legalism). Therefore, since Titus didn’t get circumcised, he warns us that we cannot add on anything to faith in Jesus for salvation (such as baptism, speaking in tongues, standards).
  • The Misunderstanding: Many Jews didn’t understand the purpose of the law. They thought they could be made holy through trying to keep the law. But the law was given to show them that they couldn’t be made holy on their own. The parts of the law that dealt with offering gifts and sacrifices or deal with meats, drinks, divers washings, and carnal ordinances were imposed on them until the time of reformation—the time of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled what the law couldn’t do, make us holy and thus we don’t need the law anymore—it has been fulfilled.
    Hebrews 9:9-10
  • The Liberty: Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been made holy, not through the things that we do or by keeping special ceremonial laws in the Old Testament. They were given to point us to Jesus, not to do to make us holy. Now, we are in Christ, and in Him we have liberty. We are no longer a slave to the law, because Jesus has freed us from it. Therefore, we have no obligation to keep any of the ceremonials laws of the Old Testament or any Jewish traditions or cultural mandates.
    Colossians 1:22, 2:16
  • 2:4b-5 Paul also shows us the attitude we are to have towards false teachers. In the first chapter he tells us they should be accursed—that is because they preached a damning message they themselves should be damned. Here he says the false believers came into the church to spy on their liberty in Jesus and try to bring them back into bondage—to take away the liberty that Jesus brought and make them slaves again to the law. To these type of false brethren Paul said that he didn’t give them any of his time. Instead he guarded the gospel truth so that it would continue on unto the Galatian churches. He spent his time teaching and preserving the gospel. We should do the same. We are not to entertain those who preach a false gospel, spend time arguing with them or even give them consideration about teaching another gospel. The gospel is not up for debate and we are not to waste time debating it with those who don’t believe it. If you know someone is part of a cult or teaches heresy, then you should not give them any time (not in church, your house, small group, etc) but only declare the truth to them (if they want to listen). In this circumstance, this is a one-way conversation that only tolerates one message: faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
    Galatians 1:8-9

2:6-10 Paul’s Message And Calling Are Confirmed

  • 2:6 Because Paul received the gospel by revelation, he was assured that it and the liberty that resulted from it was true. After his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem, Paul’s message didn’t change. They didn’t add anything to the message that Paul was preaching. The message was confirmed by apostles: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. But Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem to get their conformation of the message he was preaching. He was already sure of the message and position. (You can see his confidence in his tone when he talks about the other apostles. Whatever they were made no difference to Paul. He knew God shows no partiality or is a respecter of persons.)
  • 2:7-9 Instead of adding to the message Paul was preaching, because he was preaching the same message that they had preached, they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. They realized that the same God that worked in Peter to become an apostle to the Jews (entrusted with the gospel of the circumcision—Jews) worked in Paul to become an apostle to the Gentiles (entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision—Gentiles). Both sides realized that there was only one gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation, but that they had different callings and agreed for Paul (and those with him) to take the gospel to the Gentiles while they (James, Peter, John, and whoever else was with them) took the gospel to the Jews. We learn a few things from their interaction: (1) There is only one true gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. (2) Unity is based on the true gospel. We need to be united and divided over the gospel. If someone preaches a false gospel we need to separate from them. If someone preaches a true gospel we should work to be united. (3) We accept everyone who believes in the true gospel, who is in Christ. There should be no racial attitudes or prejudice in the church. (4) Even in our unity we have different callings. God gives different abilities and gifts to believers to reach different peoples. We fulfill these callings and are in different locations, but we teach the same gospel, we never change it for a certain people group.
  • 2:10 After they agreed to separate and each go their way preaching the gospel, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem asked one thing of Paul: to remember the poor. Paul was already willing to do this. We should also remember the poor and show mercy.

Review Questions

  • Why did Paul go to Jerusalem?
  • Why was Titus a strong example?
  • What attitude does Paul have towards false teachers?
  • What is the true gospel?
  • What are some things we learn from Paul’s interaction with the other apostles?
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Galatians (2 of 13) Paul’s Life Changing Testimony

1:10-24 Paul’s Life Changing Testimony

Memory Verse: Galatians 1:15-16a

1:10-12, 16b-17a Paul’s Motivation: Man Or God Pleasing?

  • 1:10 Paul is challenging the Galatian churches because they have left the true gospel. He continues by sharing his testimony about how he became a believer, but first he addresses his motive. He asks a rhetorical question: “For do I now persuade men, or God?” The answer is obvious, Paul is seeking the approval of God. Paul’s tone in writing this letter shows us that Paul is not trying to get man’s approval. He has been freed by the gospel and now he lives a life that tries to win God’s approval. He ask the question another way and says, “Do I seek to please men?” Again, the answer is an obvious “No.” Paul then continues to tell them that anyone who lives to please men instead of God cannot be the servant of Christ. Believers cannot live for the approval of men. Our joy, happiness, satisfaction and salvation are all found in God alone. Our desire to live for God comes out of our gratitude for salvation. Thus Paul’s motivation was to please God and to win His approval, therefore He wouldn’t change the truth to unite and please men, but stands against false teaching to please God
    Jeremiah 17:5-8
  • 1:11-13a, 16c-17a Paul confirms to the Galatian churches that the gospel of grace that he is preaching was received directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ—meaning it came directly from the source itself. This is important because Paul is claiming to be an apostle and this establishes his authority. Paul emphasizes: (1) He didn’t receive the gospel from any person. He wasn’t taught the gospel by any person. This gospel is not man’s gospel. (2) He didn’t come to the realization of the gospel on his own. He hated the church of God before his conversion. (3) He didn’t receive the gospel from the other apostles or believers. After his conversion he didn’t talk with anyone or go to Jerusalem to discuss it.
    Acts 9:19

1:13-16 Paul’s Conversion And Calling: God’s Amazing Grace

  • 1:13-14 Before Paul was converted he was an extremely religious man in the Jew’s religion. He was very zealous. He was better at keeping the rules, traditions and morals than those who were his equals. He violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He was filled with a passion to serve God but without the knowledge of the truth. He was so self-righteous and prideful through his moral righteousness that He was blinded to his need for God; and at the same time, so evil and violent that his hands were bloodied with evil works. Paul was the perfect candidate for grace.
  • 1:15-16a There is only one person who could have saved Paul and that was God. God showed His grace to Paul and called him to salvation. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God that makes a way for our sins to be forgiven. Paul was completely undeserving of God’s salvation, but that is what makes it by grace. God chose to save Paul, not because he tried to keep all the rules and God didn’t reject Paul because he murdered Christians, but God called Paul by His grace because it pleased God to do so. Paul responded to the gospel call, repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. This means there is hope for you. It doesn’t matter what you have been trusting in or wether you are the worst of sinners, by God’s grace, you too can be saved. Repent of your religion, rule keeping and sin—turn from everything else and trust solely in the grace of God. He invites you to a personal relationship with Him—no religion, just Jesus.
    Deuteronomy 7:7-8
  • 1:15b Paul says that God separated him from his mother’s womb. This means that ever since Paul was conceived that God had an awesome plan for Paul’s life and everything in Paul’s life has been working towards the fulfillment of that plan. God not only has a plan for Paul’s life but also for your life. God has an amazing plan for your life. God through His grace can use you to do great things, not because you are great, but because He is.
  • 1:16b Not only did God call Paul to salvation, but also called him to service. The gospel of grace completely changed Paul’s life and God wanted him to now use his life to preach Jesus among the heathen. God also wants to use your life to preach Jesus to the world.

1:16-14 Paul’s Growth: The Early Years

  • 1:16c-17 Paul knew what God wanted him to do. He did not consult about his conversion or calling with any of the other Apostles because he had direct revelation from God. Instead Paul had a time of growth for at least three years before he met with the others. We are not sure what Paul did, but we know that He was ready for ministry after spending time there. God used that time to grow Paul’s relationship with Him. Even though He was religious before, he never had a personal relationship with God. God wants you to do great things for Him and He wants to do great things through you, but we have to put the importance on our personal relationship with Him. We need to spend time developing this relationship more than just focusing on the works we can do for Him.
  • 1:17-19 He went to Arabia and Damascus. After three years Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and abode with him for fifteen days. He didn’t meet any of the other Apostles except for James, Jesus’ brother. Paul’s message would be confirmed by them because what He was preaching was the same as what they were preaching.
    Luke 24:45-49
  • 1:20 Paul’s testimony before he became a believer was so radical that it would be hard for other believers to believe He really converted. Therefore, he goes so far to say, “Before God, I lie not.” He wants those he is writing to, to understand how serious he is being. He isn’t trying to deceive them and infiltrate their churches to persecuted them more. He wants them to know that the glorious gospel of grace really changed his life.
  • 1:21-24 Afterwards he went to the region of Syria and Cilicia. The christian churches in Judaea didn’t know Paul by face—meaning they didn’t know him personally nor what he looked like; but they did hear of Paul’s life changing testimony. They heard that the one who persecuted the christian churches in the past was now preaching the faith he once destroyed. Because of this the churches responded by glorifying God. If you are a true believer then you also have an amazing testimony. Our stories might be different but the gospel is the same. We all can say we were undeserving sinners called by the grace of God through His Son’s (Jesus) death and resurrection and today by faith we live to serve Him. Every testimony we hear of God’s grace should cause us to glorify Him.

Review Questions

  • What was Paul’s motivation?
  • What is grace?
  • What is Paul’s conversion story?
  • What did God call Paul to do?
  • What happened when others heard Paul’s testimony?
CategoryBanner_PrayerLetters

September 2016 Prayer Letter

August marked our sixth year in China. And this past month was one of our most busy and exciting months in China yet!

Salvation: We saw another young man come to faith in Jesus. It is always a blessing to see God working in the hearts of the people we are ministering to!

Baptisms: We planned a baptism activity for the second Sunday of last month. We hosted it during our normal afternoon service time, but held it at the ocean in a park near our church. We saw seven people follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, one of those being our oldest daughter. There were hundreds of people on the beach that day and many stopped to watched as we publicly baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Church Membership: Also this past month we added seven people to our church membership. God really has blessed over these summer months.

The Baptist Tabernacle: We were privileged to host a group from the Baptist Tabernacle in Carlisle, Ohio. This was the church that I grew up in and that my parents still attend. My youth pastor was also able to make the trip and it was an honor to stand by him and translate the Sunday morning message for Him. God used Him in a major way in my life to bring my to where I am today. This was one of the best groups that we have hosted and we were able to do several outreaches while they were here that were a blessing to the local people.

Family: My parents came with the short-term group and then stayed a few days longer to spend time together with our family. We enjoyed having them hear and the girls loved spending time with their grandma and grandpa.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.

In His Joyful Service,

Mark and family.

CategoryBanner_Galatians

Galatians (1 of 13) The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ

1:1-9 The Gospel Of The Grace Of Christ

Memory Verse: Galatians 1:6-8

1:1-5 Paul Introduces Himself And Greets The Churches

  • 1:1a The book of Galatians opens up with the first word being the name of its author: Paul. Then immediately it gives his position: apostle. The word “apostle” means “messenger.” It refers to the twelve men whom Jesus chose to fulfill this special position which would help lay the foundation of the church. Paul at a different time than the original twelve was also chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle. This means, that as an apostle he had a unique position of authority to teach and edify the churches—they could write scripture.
    Acts 9:1-19
  • 1:1b Paul was not among the original twelve, so he felt a need to defend himself and his position as an apostle. Judas, who was one of the original twelve, forsook Jesus, because he was a false believer. This left the position of the twelfth apostle to be fulfilled. The other apostles decided they would choose another apostle. The requirement was the man would have had to been with them from the baptism of John until the day of Jesus’ accession. They picked two men who met the requirements and prayed asking God for wisdom and cast lots which fell on Matthias and he was chosen as the twelfth apostle. Paul makes it clear that him becoming an apostle was “not of men, neither by man” like Matthias was, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (who raised Jesus from the dead). He is making it clear that his position and authority is equal to that of the original apostles.
    Acts 1:16-26
  • 1:2a Paul includes those traveling with him (all the brethren which are with me), showing they are also in agreeance with what Paul is going to write.
  • 1:2b The audience of the book of Galatians is the churches of Galatia. The province of Galatia was a region of central Asia minor. This letter then was written to the local churches located in that region. It is assumed then that this letter would circulate among the churches there to address the problems address in this book.
  • 1:3-5 Paul greets (grace be to you and peace) the churches with the gospel of grace. This type of greeting shows us four things: (1) The uniqueness of the true gospel—it only comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) The message of the gospel—Jesus gave himself for (in our place) our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. We need to realize that we are in a helpless condition because of our sin and we need to be rescued. Only Jesus can rescue us. (3) The motivation of the gospel—it is all according to the will of God. He decided to love us and send Jesus to rescue us, not because we deserved it but because of grace. Thus He is worthy of glory for ever and ever. (4) Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ—the bases of their relationship is rooted in the same God and the same gospel. The gospel is the foundation of fellowship. Paul wishes nothing more than they understand and continue in the grace and peace offered through the gospel.

1:6-7 Paul Introduces The Main Problem

  • 1:6a Paul marveled that the Galatian believers were so soon removed from the true gospel. He even says that they have deserted God who called them into the grace of Christ. Thus Paul here is clarifying what the true gospel is: God calling a person to the grace of Christ. The grace that Jesus offers is the payment for our sins by his death on the cross and power to be declared righteous through His resurrection. It is “by grace” because He is offering us something that we don’t deserve. We have no merit to offer God for our salvation, but Jesus will give us His merit if we accept it through faith. Thus the true Gospel is by grace through faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
  • 1:6b-7a The Galatian believers turned to another gospel. But there is no other gospel. Any change to the true gospel, whether you add too it or take away from it, will change it into a false message that can only condemn. Accepting this as the only gospel may be extremely hard. It might sound prideful. But the reason this is the only true gospel is because it is the only gospel by grace offered to man by God himself. All other “gospels” are “gospels of works”—meaning they teach the way to become righteous includes works. This gospel of Jesus is truly unique—meaning it teaches the way to become righteous is through faith alone (excluding works). Understanding the uniqueness of the gospel motives us in all we do: (1) our individual salvation depends on it; (2) the salvation of others depend on it because we will be proclaiming it; (3) we can’t live for our selves but live for the glory of God for this great gift of salvation He has given to us.
  • 1:7b The reason the Galatian believers turned away from the true gospel was because there were some people who had entered the church and started giving them trouble. They wanted to confuse them. Their teaching perverted or reversed the gospel of Christ. Instead of teaching the true gospel which says, “Not by works of righteousness, but by faith alone in Jesus for salvation,” they wrongly declared, “not by faith in Jesus alone, but also by works of righteousness for salvation.” They taught the believers to put their confidence in their own works instead of the works of Jesus.
    Titus 3:4-7

1:8-9 Paul Introduces The Punishment Of False Teachers

  • 1:8a-9a Paul warns Galatian believers against false teachers who preach a false gospel. Paul even says that it doesn’t matter what authority a person claims or who the person is (including him, the other apostles, an angel and every else in-between) if they change the gospel of grace as deliver by Paul and the Apostles then they should be accursed. Paul makes the statement so strong that if he ever changed his mind he would be a heretic.
  • 1:8b-9b Thus Paul is making the highest standard or the basis for understanding what truth is and for evaluating who is a real teacher from God—all based on the truth of the gospel as it was originally delivered (that which we have preached unto you / that ye have received). This true gospel is that standard that declares if a person is a true or false believer, a true or false preacher, a true or false church. The apostles don’t verify the gospel, but the gospel verifies them. Today, the standard is the same.
  • 1:8c-9c Finally, the punishment that Paul say for those who preach a false gospel is “to be accursed” which literally means “let him go to hell.” They preach a message of condemnation, thus they themselves will be condemned.

Review Questions

  • Who is the author of Galatians?
  • How does the author greet the churches?
  • What is the main problem the author introduces?
  • What does the author warn against?
  • What is the punishment for false teachers?
CategoryBanner_Marriage

Marriage (11 of 11) How Do I Make My Marriage Work?

How Do I Make My Marriage Work?

Marriage works when both spouses work hard at it. Marriage doesn’t work when both spouses refuse to work hard at it. Marriage is difficult when only one spouse works hard at it and the other doesn’t. Not matter where your marriage is, if you want an honorable, harmonious, healthy and happy marriage then the two people in the marriage have to work hard to make it that way. You can’t control your spouse, but you can do your part in making the marriage what it should be and glorify God in the process.

The Work Of A Believing Husband

  • A Christian husband leads his wife. Even if your wife isn’t a believer or isn’t fulfilling her role as a wife according to the Bible, you are still just as responsible to lead her because you are “heirs together of the grace of life”. The “grace of life” is referring to your marriage—which is meant to be a good thing that God gave us in this life. You are “heirs together” meaning that you are in this marriage together and should be equal partakers of its’ blessings. You are to treat your wife with equal importance and standing within the marriage. Your roles will be different but neither spouse is superior to the other.
    1 Peter 3:7; Ecclesiastes 9:9
  • A Christian husband should live together with his wife “according to knowledge.” This has two possible meanings: (1) You need to know what the Bibles teaches about your role as a husband and live in accordance to it. (2) You are to perceive, discover and learn about your wife so that you can live harmoniously together. This means that you are to be active in detecting and responding to your wife’s feelings, needs, wants and fears.
  • A Christian husband should “give honour” unto the wife as the weaker vessel. The Bible’s use of the word “weaker vessel” is not derogatory as in “less valuable,” but it points to two possibilities: (1) Generally, women were created physically weaker than men. (2) Culturally, men often dominate and exploit women so wives are often more vulnerable. Therefore, a Christian husband is called to highly esteem and love his wife—to use his strength to provide protection, comfort, care and provision for her. He doesn’t become bitter or have the habit of being angrily resentful against her. He doesn’t abuse his wife orally (harsh words, threats, unkindness) or physically (harsh behavior, violence, intimidation), but has a high view of her worth and value and treats her with such.
    Colossians 3:19
  • A Christian husband who doesn’t lead his wife in these ways takes the chance of his prayers being hindered. (1) Individually—his prayers maybe be hindered because of the wickedness in his heart, the Lord may refuse to hear him. (2) Collectively—it is assumed that husbands and wives pray together, therefore a husband who doesn’t lead his wife in this manner is also hindering the time they should be spending together in prayer (you can’t pray together when you are mad or arguing, etc.). (3) Testimonial—if a husbands wife isn’t a believer, but he is praying that she will become one, then his wrong actions are working against his prayers for her to become a believer because his actions don’t match his prayers (a hypocritical testimony).
    Psalm 66:18

The Work Of A Believing Wife

  • A Christian wife submits to her husband. Even if your husband isn’t a believer or isn’t fulfilling his role as a husband according to the Bible, you are still just as responsible to submit to him because there is a chance he will be converted by your conduct (even more than your words). Not only does the right actions serve to win over an unbelieving spouse but it can serve to cause a husband who is living out of God’s will to repent.
    1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18
  • A Christian wife’s conduct is to be characterized by: (1) “Chaste”—which means pure, moral and virtuous. Her conduct shouldn’t be characterized with quarreling or sinful activities. (2) “Fear” or respect—which means that she should have an obvious admiration for God and allow it to overflow to also respecting her husband.
  • A Christian wife should focus on inner beauty more than outer beauty because this is what is valuable to God. Outer beauty (braiding your hair, wearing jewelry or nice clothes) is not wrong, but it pales in comparison to the inner beauty of the “hidden man of the heart” or your character because it is incorruptible. This character is to be characterized by a “meek and quiet spirit”. Meek means to be gentle and humble. Quiet means tranquil or untroubled. This type of spirit is means a wife is self-controlled, and submissive in her attitude and actions towards her husband.
  • A Christian wife express her trust in God by submitting to her husband. Holy Women in the Old Testament modeled what this type of wife should be. One example is Sarah, who showed her submission by habitually obeying and respecting her husband. Spiritually, you are Sarah’s daughters if: (1) you do well—you live out your faith in God by properly treating your husband; (2) if you are not afraid with any amazement (terror)—you live out this principle by faith and without fear of harm or mistreatment by your husband, even if he isn’t a believer. If you live with a fearful spirit about submitting to your husband then you will be anxious, apprehensive, judgmental—the opposite of a meek and quiet spirit. (This submission doesn’t include anything contrary to God’s will or word, such as sin, physical harm, etc.)

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Proverbial Wisdom for Husbands: It wasn’t good for man to be alone, so God made him a wife. When a man finds a wife he finds a good thing, and obtains someone who can make him happy. He should recognize the value of his wife, praise her and only look to her for sexual fulfillment and satisfaction.
    Proverbs 5:15-19; 6:28; 18:22; 31:28-29
  • Proverbial Wisdom for Wives: Wives have a choice to make about what kind of wife they want to be, virtuous or shameful, and it will affect their husbands greatly. A virtuous wife has good character, is trustworthy, faithful, prudent, good and becomes her husbands crown—meaning he is proud to publicly honor her because she is part of his success and good reputation. She is a special blessing from God. But a wife that brings shame is a great burden to her husband and her constant quarreling causes increasing damage. She is like a rottenness in the bones of her husband—meaning she causes him pain, irritation and devastation.
    Proverbs 12:4; 19:13-14; 31:11–12, 23
  • What about when marriage doesn’t work? If divorce seems unavoidable, first make a renewed biblical commitment to work as hard as you can to save your marriage and do everything possible to avoid it no matter the eventual outcome.

Review Questions

  • Marriage works when both spouses do what?
  • How does a Christian husband lead his wife?
  • How does a Christian wife submit to her husband?
  • What is the proverbial wisdom for husbands?
  • What is the proverbial wisdom for wives?
CategoryBanner_Marriage

Marriage (10 of 11) How Do I Extend Grace To My Spouse?

How Do I Extend Grace To My Spouse?

Marriage teaches you how to extend grace to sinners—especially your spouse. Each spouse will experience his/her own share of disappointments, defeats and deficiencies from his/her spouse. It is through these experiences that you will be challenged to be a minster of grace—showing favor to your spouse in spite of his/her problems in the same way God extended grace to you through Jesus.

All Of Grace—Experience Grace, Extend Grace

  • Grace is unmerited by the receiver. Mankind was unsuccessful in living up to God’s standard of perfection. We sinned against Him and deserved death and eternal separation from Him. We absolutely failed Him. But God loved us. He didn’t want us to be eternally separated from Him. Therefore, He chose to make a way to save us. We did nothing to merit His love for us, but He choose to show grace—His free and unmerited favor. In marriage, there will be times when your spouse doesn’t live up to your “standard” for him/her and might not deserve you being good to him/her, but like God you should choose to extend grace—showing favor to him/her in spite of his/her failures.
    Ephesians 2:5-8; Romans 3:10-12
  • Grace is costly for the giver. Not only did we not deserve God’s goodness but we were unable to pay for the wrong we did. For God to make a way to save us by grace meant that He would take the responsibility of paying our debt. His Son, Jesus, would have to die in our place to make a way for our sins to be forgiven. Grace is like a gift. God is the Giver. He willingly bears the expense of saving us by sacrificing His Son. By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man. He gave up everything so that we “through His poverty might be rich”. We had no worth or value for God to accept us, but Him choosing to accept us by grace gave us the value and worth that we lacked. In marriage, when your spouse is unable or unwilling to make their wrongs right, you should choose to extend grace to him/her and it might be “costly” because you will have to bear the expense of it.
    Hebrews 2:9; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:9-10
  • Grace is free for the receiver. Just like a gift is received at no cost, salvation is received at no cost. Salvation is not earned. God offers salvation through grace, thus it can only be accepted by faith—meaning we choose to trust in Jesus’ works and not in our own works. By the grace of God we are saved. In marriage, you extend grace to your spouse without expecting anything in return—you aren’t keeping a record of the good things you have done for your spouse and expecting him/her to pay you back.
    Romans 4:16; 11:6

Principles From Biblical Grace

  • Extending grace to your spouse starts with growing in your relationship with Jesus. Grace is part of Jesus’ character. He is gracious. He lived a life that exemplified what it means to willingly show favor toward the unworthy and undeserving without forcing anything to be owed in return for it. As believers, we are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus. This not only prevents believers from being led astray by false teaching, but it deepens our understanding about how to properly live out our faith. Also, the evidence of God’s grace in our lives and the lives of others should cause us to give thanks unto God. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by first cultivating your relationship with Jesus, so that you know how to extend grace like Jesus did.
    2 Peter 1:2, 3:18; 1 Corinthians 1:3-8; 15:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:1
  • Extending grace to your spouse means using the right speech to minister to him/her. As believers, we are to stop sinning and start doing good works as we become more like Jesus. This includes the way that we communicate. We no longer allow “corrupt communication” to come out of our mouths. This kind of talk is offensive, useless and damaging.  We are to intentionally refuse to respond with corrupt communicate. Instead, we are to have “good communication”. This kind of talk is respectful, useful and constructive. It means that you are trying to edify others and minister grace to or benefit the hearer even if he/she doesn’t deserve it. This not only includes “what” we say but also “how” we say it. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by communicating with your spouse in a gracious manner even if he/she responds with corrupt communication. You are to be gracious in what and how you say everything.
    Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; Luke 4:22
  • Extending grace to your spouse means doing more good things for your spouse than he/she deserves and greater than he/she imagines. As believers, we are on the receiving end of many incredible blessing from God. By grace God showed kindness toward us by sacrificing His Son for us; He has loved, forgave, justified and accepted us; He has given us everlasting consolation, good hope and will give us help in the time of need; He has given us eternal life. Therefore, in marriage you should extend grace by treating your spouse so good that it goes above and beyond all that he/she deserves or imagines.
    Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:7; Hebrews 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7

Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense

  • Absolute differences are predetermined characteristics before a person is born and can’t be changed. This includes: gender, time period of birth, body structure, skin color, nationality at birth, certain abilities or talents, parents or relatives and birth order. Your spouse was fearfully and wonderfully made by God, so you should graciously accepting your spouse and his/her “unchangeable characteristics” as God’s creation.
    Psalm 139:13-18
  • Relative differences are a result of a person’s upbringing, culture, relationships or other external factors. These include: personalities, tastes, viewpoints, instincts, ideas and opinions. These aren’t always “right and wrong” differences, but they cause many problems in marriage because it means you have to prefer your spouse over yourself—which is hard to do unless you extend grace. Your spouse doesn’t have to be the same as you, but you should graciously appreciate his/her differences.
  • Moral differences are a result of a person’s relationship with God and understanding of the Bible. This includes: salvation, struggle with sin and spiritual maturity. Your spouse will have many spiritual disappointments, defeats and deficiencies, but you need to remember that all of the goodness in you is only because of God’s grace. He is working all things together for your good and the good of your spouse if you love Him. Therefore, you should graciously build up your spouse and not pridefully tear him/her down.
    1 Corinthians 15:10; Romans 8:28-29

Review Questions

  • What does “grace is unmerited” mean?
  • Grace is costly for who?
  • Grace is free for who?
  • What are three ways we can extend grace?
  • What are three types of differences in marriage?
CategoryBanner_PrayerLetters

August 2016 Prayer Letter

The weather is beautiful today as I write this letter. We are in the middle of “summer break” which only last about six weeks in China. Another month has gone by and God continues to bless the ministry here. Praise His holy name!

Salvation: Last month we reported about how our daughter came to faith in Jesus. The Lord has used her testimony to challenge others in the church about their own situations. The following Sunday the wife of the couple of whom I have done weekly marriage counseling with also came to faith in Jesus. Praise the Lord! We have mentioned them in earlier prayer letters and the Tuesday before she trusted in Jesus we were able to answer many question. You could see she was under conviction. Finally, the following Sunday during one of the services, she trusted in Jesus. Her husband and the church are filled with joy. Thank you for your prayers and praying for them. Please continue to pray, there are more just like her who have attended the church and are hearing the gospel each week but have yet make a decision to put their faith in Jesus.

Planning: We are planning a baptism service in two weeks. We have a handful or so that are planning on getting baptized. We will baptize publicly in the ocean, Lord willing. Also, we are working on our calendar for outreach events for the rest of year. School starts back at the end of this month / the beginning of next, so please pray that we can reach more families for Christ. Finally, next month we will need to renew our visas. We have an opportunities to get a very suitable visa, Lord willing, if everything works out, so please be in prayer with us about that.

Group: Next week, we will be hosting my parents and a group from their church. This is the church that I grew up in and their influence is one of the reason I am in missions today. Please pray for their trip.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.