Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Galatians 2:20 A New Year’s Theme

"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am cruci­fied with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:19, 20).

What a sad life it would be if it were always the old year and never the new! Time, of course, does not know the divisions we give it. It is man who rings bells, blows horns, and throws confetti to usher in the new year. We do this because we, of all God’s creatures alone, have an awareness of time. And, we long for times of new beginnings.
Louise Fletcher Tarkington expressed the longings of many when she wrote:
“I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches,
And all our selfish griefs
Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door
And never be put on again.”

In a short time the new year will be on our hands. No thoughtful person can approach such a time without some introspection. We are bound to ask, “What will it mean to me?” “What can I do with it?” These are thoughts which come naturally with each year end.
While we cannot know what the future holds, we do know this, it will largely be what you and I and God make of it.
It is appropriate, therefore, that in this last day of the old year that we plan for the first days and the three hundred and sixty-five successive days of the new year.

One seldom begins a vacation without carefully plotting his intended course of travel. Un­fortunately, too many people do not consider life as an adventure to be carefully mapped out prior to "take-off." As Christians we need to ask ourselves what we expect from life for the coming year and, more im­portantly, what we expect to give to life during the months ahead.
No two people look upon life in exactly the same fashion. Some see it as pessimistically as did Macbeth in William Shakespeare's play by that name when he cried out, "Life ... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying noth­ing." Somewhat less pessimistic, but in much the same vein are the words of the great Seneca, philoso­pher, dramatist, and statesman of ancient Rome, "Life is neither a good nor an evil; it is simply the place where good and evil exist." A more optimistic concept of life was presented to his pupils in Athens some four hundred and twenty-five years prior to Christ's birth by the great Greek philosopher, Socrates, who taught that "The end of life is to be like God, and the soul follow­ing God will be like him." It re­mained for Paul, however, in the words of our text to present the thoroughly Christian teaching of what life for the believer is all about, "... I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20b)

1. The Context Of This Verse. Gal 2:1-20
a. The Objective Reality Of Your Salvation
Michael Bausch tells a great story about archaeologist Howard Carter. In 1922 Carter was completing nearly fifteen years of digging in the famous Valley of the Kings in Egypt. He was hoping to find the royal tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Having found nothing, his days of digging were coming to an end. Money was running out. Then workers discovered sixteen stairs leading into the earth. Thousands of baskets filled with rocks and sand had to be carried away, but eventually a door was found at the end of a long passageway. Carter drilled a small hole in the door and stuck an iron-testing rod into a dark, blank space. He then inserted a candle into the hole and peered in. As his eyes grew accustomed to the light, details emerged into his view, and he saw strange animals, statues, and everywhere the glint of gold. He wrote of that moment, "For the moment, I was struck dumb with amazement."
A partner asked, "Can you see anything?" And Carter's reply was, "Yes, wonderful things.” The Lord gives us some reasons you and I can look into this New Year and see wonderful things. He gives us reasons why we can look forward with anticipation instead of anxiety.
Peter was demonstrating his freedom in Christ by eating with Gentiles but, when "certain men from James" arrived, he withdrew and separated himself from them. He did so because he feared the "party of the circumcision," according to Paul. This should come as no surprise. Peter often had problems with what other people thought about him. He was afraid of doing things that were contrary to public opinion. At one point during his ministry, Jesus told him, in response to what Peter deemed a good idea, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matt 16:23). It was fear that drove Peter to deny the Lord three times before the cock crowed. Then, by the Sea of Galilee, although Jesus penetrated his heart with the question, "Do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15), Peter was concerned about the apostle John and what would happen to him. Here it says that he feared the "party of the circumcision." Even though Peter was a new man in Christ, he still had a tendency to be a man-pleaser, because he feared the disapproval of his peers.
Once again we see that one of the main causes of legalism is people's fear of being disapproved of by their peers. Many Christians succumb to living under the law because they base their sense of identity and approval on how others view them. This was the very thing that was causing trouble in the churches of Galatia. Gentile Christians, who had no history of Judaism, were being seduced by agitators and troublemakers, because these new believers desired that sense of belonging and acceptance that came with Jewish identity markers.
They were missing the greatest treasure of the gospel, the free gracious pardon of God through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. Oh they wouldn’t have denied it directly. They just went about adding things to make you saved. You had to be with their party. You couldn’t associate with gentiles. Do you know the freeness of the grace and mercy of God that there is in Jesus Christ?
I remember talking once with a deacon’s wife who was trying and ever trying to be accepted by God. She couldn’t understand this truth of Justification by faith.
Look at verse 16. Theologically speaking, justification means that Christians are declared righteous before God, because their sins are covered. Emotionally, justification means that Christians no longer have to prove themselves by doing things in order to have God approve of them. At the heart of legalism lies the notion that Christians, although they have been justified in Christ, still have to do something to be approved and accepted. We could say therefore that legalism is Christ plus works. Christians often live this way in relation with God, because this is how they relate to their peers.
How sad and cruel life is to such who do not see the grace and mercy of God in Christ.

F. F. Bruce writes: 'Whoever after the coming of Christ pleads the validity of the law, denies the saving significance of the death of Jesus Christ and nullifies God's grace' (H.J. Schoeps) ...For there are two ways of nullifying God's grace, or receiving it 'in vain': one, by receiving it and then going on as though it made no difference by continuing to live 'under law', and the other, by receiving it and then going on as though it made no difference, by continuing to sin 'that grace may abound' (Rom. 6:1). In neither way does Paul nullify the grace of God: he refuses to return to legal bondage but at the same time he repudiates the suggestion that freedom from law means freedom to sin...had the works of the law been sufficient to achieve this end, the death of Christ was superfluous.

In 1901 Professor Max Muller, Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, said this in his speech to the British and Foreign Bible Society:
"I may say that in my forty years fulfilling my obligations as Professor of Sanskrit... I have dedicated myself to the study of the holy books of the East as much as any other person in the world. And I venture to say of this collection, what I have found to be the key-note, the one agreement of all of these so-called holy books of the East -- whether the Veda of the Brahmins, the Puran of the Siva and Vishnu, the Koran of the Muslims, the Zend Avesta of the Zoroastrians -- that the key-note, the one agreement, which one sees throughout all of these, is that salvation is through works. They all teach that salvation must be purchased and that the purchase price is one's own works and merit. Our own holy book from the East, our Bible, is from beginning to end a protest against this doctrine. Good works are, to be sure, required in this holy book from the East, indeed, demanded more emphatically than in any other of these holy books, but they are only the outpouring of a thankful heart. They are only a thankoffering, only the fruit of our faith. They are never the ransom price of the true disciple of Christ.' Let us not shut our eyes to what is noble and true, and what is sound in those other holy books, but let us teach the Hindus and the Muslims and the Buddhists, that there is only one holy book of the East, in which they can put their trust in that weighty hour in which they must cross alone into the invisible world. It is that book that contains the certainly true message, worthy of all acceptance, that is valid for all mankind, men, women and children and not merely us Christians, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." [Cited in Bavinck, GD, iii, 553n.

b. The Subjective Reality Of Your Salvation
It was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. " I will dwell in them, and walk in them." Lev. 26 : 12 ; 2 Cor. 6: 16.
It was Foretold by Christ Himself, but when He began to reveal the mystery in the words, " He . . . dwelleth in me and I IN HIM," John 6 : 56, His disciples could not grasp His meaning. And why ? " The Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7 : 39. And we shall be just as impotent as they to grasp the glorious fact that Christ actually, literally, really indwells the true Christian, if Jesus is not enthroned in our hearts, and unless the Holy Spirit takes of His things and reveals them unto us.
Listen to our Lord's words spoken on that memorable eve in the upper room. Listen simply, and as though you had never heard before. " At that day"—when the Spirit is given—"ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me and I IN YOU." John 14 : to, " Abide in Me and I IN YOU." John 15 : 4. " He that abideth in Me and I IN HIM." John i<; : 5. " That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them and I IN THEM." John 17 : 26.
The Lover of our souls will not rest content with mere exterior contact with the objects of His love. He must dwell within the heart that returns His affection.
It is Developed in the Epistles, especially of Paul, to whom its unfolding was entrusted. " If Christ be IN YOU, the body is dead because of sin" Rom. 8 ; lo. " Know ye not that Jesus Christ IS IN YOU." 2 Cor. 13 : 5. " Christ LIVETH IN ME." Gal. 2 : 20. " That Christ may DWELL IN YOUR HEART by faith." Eph. 3 : 17
" Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory" Col. 1 : 27
Dr. Alexander Maclaren, the prince of expositors : " Let me say in the plainest, simplest, strongest way I can, that the dwelling of Christ in the believing heart is to be regarded as being a plain, literal fact. . . . It is not to be weakened down into any notion of participation in His like-ness, following His example or the like. A dead Plato may so influence his followers, but that is not how a living Christ influences His disciples. . . . This indwelling may be a per- manent and unbroken one. . . . Oh ! what a contrast to that idea of a perpetual unbroken inhabitation of Jesus in our spirit and to our consciousness is presented by our ordinary life ! We might with unbroken blessedness possess Him in our hearts, and instead we have only visits short and far between. God means and wishes that Christ may continuously dwell in our hearts. Does He to your own consciousness dwell in yours ? "

2. The Challenge Of This Verse
A Decision
I used to think that the blue mountains were something big. I remember standing at the scenic lookout and wondering. I hate heights, getting on a step ladder gives me the willies, and the Three sisters lookout or the scenic railway at Katoomba.. wow that was too much. Until I went to Colorado. Now those are mountains. They start at 5000’ and they grow up another 14,000’ That’s 19,000’ or 6000 metres. . The blue mountains at 3000’ 1000 metres for you folk under 40, are tiny little hills by comparison.

You need to make a decision. Will you accept the righteousness by faith the God offers in Jesus Christ, a perfect righteousness, accounted to you for free? Or will you stick with your own righteousness, decrepit and faulty as it is?
No condemnation now I dread: Jesus, and all in Him is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach th' eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Will you accept the indwelling Christ to empower your day by day living? Or will you stand with your own meagre New Year’s resolutions that wont cut it in the end, and will last you about as long as it takes to get home today?
Its your decision. What will you do about it?

A Dilemma
You see the bottom line is I am weak but He Is strong!
Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I am weak because of my sinful nature. There are things I do I don’t want to do. They affect others. They affect me.
It’s a dilemma you don’t have to live with.

Some one wrote:
Once there lived another man within me,
Child of earth and slave of Satan he,
But I nailed him to the cross of Jesus
And that man is nothing now to me.
Now another man is living in me,
And I count his blessed life is mine.
I have died to all my own life,
I have risen to all his life divine.

A Dynamic
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
John 14:17 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Dr. A. B. Simpson, the great preacher, poet and missionary leader ;
" I am crucified with Jesus,
And the Cross hath set me free ;
I have risen again with Jesus,
And He lives and reigns in me.
'' Mystery hid from ancient ages,
But at length to faith made plain,
Christ in me, the Hope of Glory ;
Tell it o'er and o'er again."

He states in prose his experience of this glorious truth " It is the great secret, a secret -which has been to me, 0, so -wonderful. A good many years ago I came to Him burdened with guilt and fear ; I took that simple secret, and it took away all my fear and sin. Years passed on, and I found sin overcame me, and my temptations were too strong for me. I came to Him a second time, and He whispered to me, ' Christ in you,' and I had victory, rest, and such sweet blessing ever since."
3. The Common sense Of This Verse.
John 12:20 The corn of wheat And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. John 15:5 The Vine and the Branch
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. A car only moves if it has a driver in it.
The tea and the teabag transforming plain water into something refreshing.
" 0 to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
0 to be lost in Thee,
0 that it may be no more I
But Christ that lives in me"

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