Faith Working Through Love: Restore

The Galatians were biting and fighting one another. Probably not overt fights, but tribal conflicts that centered on “who’s righteous” and “who’s clean.” This was the fruit of their “conceit” or vainglory (weightless weight). Their treatment of each other was based on their view of themselves as superior or inferior.

Can you imagine sinning in that kind of culture of evaluation and judgment? A culture like that would not allow for confession or honesty from sinners saved by grace. That’s the context of Paul’s next statement, “if anyone is caught in any transgression.” How do we respond to brothers and sisters who are captured by sin?

Join us Sunday and consider how a culture of grace affects our battle against the flesh.

Tim Locke
Grace Working Through Love: Spirit vs Self

The peace of the churches in Galatia are being torn apart by false teaching about the gospel, but there is more at play. The false teaching was a power play from some who would maintain their status in the religious community. They probably didn’t go about this knowing they were in error and motivated by selfish ambition, but they were nevertheless. 

Paul ends this section with a strong admonition, “Don’t be conceited.” Paul warns that exaggerated self-conception has dangerous results: provocation and envy. Whether we’re in the place of power (provocation) or in the place of weakness (envy), if pride clouds our vision the result will be that we “bite and devour” others. 

Paul’s direction is simple, walk in the Spirit. Churches like ours often struggle to live missionally because our self-righteousness creates a culture of “cleanness” that excludes those deemed unclean (or outside the boundaries of who we are as a group). Only as we walk in the Spirit and live in the humility of the gospel will we build a gospel centered community that ministers God’s grace to others.

So come Sunday and seek to understand with me Paul’s direction.

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Bearing Fruit

Believers know that obedience to God is part of what it means to be a child of God. The Apostle John says, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) Jesus himself says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (John 15:10) We dare not separate obedience from faith; we dare not teach a distortion of grace that fails to lead to obedience.

The Apostle Paul does not separate faith from obedience but argues that faith alone makes us right with God through the obedience (righteousness) of another. He further argues that obedience, even for believers, is not something they can produce through their efforts to obey the law of God. The Spirit who gave us new-life is one who bears the fruit of righteousness in our lives. Jesus himself said, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The works of the flesh are the product of the sinful desires of the flesh while the fruit of the Spirit is the product of the righteousness of the Spirit.

So, join us Sunday as we consider the work of the Spirit in our lives to bear fruit to God.

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Fruit of the Spirit

Throughout Galatians, the Apostle Paul is making an argument that true life in the Spirit is obedience to Christ, and not the law. One can't earn or work for a right relationship with God and also declare that he trusts wholly in Christ. You can't have both in the economy of God. Similarly, in vv. 19-24, Paul is making the argument that works of the flesh are antithetical to the fruit of the Spirit. They are incompatible. The Spirit's fruit grows and emerges in those who wholly trust in Christ and live in obedience to God's way of doing things. How is fruit being borne in your life and in the life of ECPC?

Brian Ryu
Faith Working Through Love: What Happened to Your Joy?

The power of the Gospel gives eternal life to all who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the exchange of his righteousness for their unrighteousness. At the same time we are given a new identity. Daily we choose to live out of this new creation or out of the old identity. 

There are signs of whether we are living out of our new identity in Christ or not.  These signs are gifts from God to direct our hearts to repentance and joy in Jesus when we believe.

Join us this Sunday as we again look at the letter to the Galatians to see:

  • Who we are,

  • Who seeks to give us a false identity, and

  • Who we are to believe.

Paul Owens
Faith Working Through Love: Walk by the Spirit

Sunday we began to consider what Paul means by “walk by the Spirit.” Paul says that the Spirit is transforming us into the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). He does this in part by leading us to repentance. He gently exposes the desires of our flesh, desires that manifest themselves in the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). In kindness, he leads us until by grace, we turn from our desires.

But that’s not all, Paul says the Spirit desires. Paul is careful here in the grammar not to say that the Spirit has “lusts” but he indicates, as the ESV translates, that the Spirit has desires. The Spirit of God delights in all that is good and glorious. The Spirit delights in God. Christ has sent His Spirit so that you would know the love of God for the Son. He is sent to guide you into truth. He is sent to lead you into a knowledge of God and faith in the goodness of God.

The Spirit reveals Christ to us and our affection, trust, and hope in Him grows, crowding out the desires of our flesh. So come Sunday and consider with me the work of the Spirit to bear the fruit of grace in our lives.

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Walk in the Spirit

Sunday we’ll continue to consider what it means to “walk by the Spirit.” For the apostle, the Spirit is the answer to our flesh, not the law. God has given us the Spirit of His Son, who delights in the Father and the Son. He desires to fulfill the word of God and glorify the Son of God. Paul says that the Spirit’s desires are contrary to the desires of the flesh. It’s those desires that are within us as God’s children, indwelt by God’s Spirit.

This is why Paul ends the letter saying, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) As we are, “created in Christ Jesus for good works,” and, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” our spirit delights in the desires of the Spirit. In him, we find our true identity, purpose, and joy. As we grow in his delight, the delights of this world and of our flesh wane like the setting sun.

So come Sunday and consider our life in the Spirit of God

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Freedom's Use

Since salvation is by grace though faith, we’re not in danger of losing the gift of God, but we are in danger of surrendering our freedom. This is why Paul begins this chapter urging us to “stand firm” and “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)

We can surrender our freedom two ways. First, we surrender by placing ourselves under the curse of the law believing that our obedience contributes to our salvation. We often refer to this as legalism or more broadly, moralism (5:2-12). Second, we surrender our freedom by indulging our flesh becoming enslaved to our sinful desires (5:13-15). Paul makes this case more strongly in Romans 6. This is often referred to as antinomianism or “against the law.”

So how do we avoid losing our freedom by surrendering to our flesh? Impose the law! No, the law has no power to transform hearts. Paul’s answer? “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (5:16)

So join us Sunday as we consider the work of the Spirit to transform our lives into loving servants of God.

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Scandal

Want to be free from worry? Want to be free from fear? Want to be free from the consumer culture we experience in America? Become a minimalist. Minimalism doesn’t mean having stuff is wrong, but the meaning that we attach to stuff is binding. This trend in American culture seeks to address the greed, covetousness, and personal identity built around material possessions. But notice that it promises the very thing Christ offers in the gospel: freedom. It presents a subtle alternative to the cross work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Paul says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9) This proverbial saying captures Paul’s concern for the Galatian believers and for us. Those troubling them were affecting their obedience to the truth of grace, and that of the church. Paul asks the question, “who hindered you?” The word “hindered” carries the idea of throwing up obstacles, distractions, diversions, and distortions. 

The leaven is the false teaching, but how can we separate the teaching from the teacher? Those persuading believers that freedom comes in obedience to Jewish law (or other cultural alternatives) were to be confronted (like Peter, Gal. 2:11-14) and Paul does just that. 

Living in the grace of God and the work of his Spirit, is radically transformative. It will lead you to build your life around Christ and not possessions, but not out of a man-made quest for freedom. An identity in the gospel will make you love people not things. So come Sunday, and let’s discuss.

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Fallen From Grace

Sunday we will continue our series through Galatians. We’re moving from the Apostle Paul’s theological argument to his applications. This week we’ll consider the seriousness of turning to traditions of men or the law of God to prove or improve our standing with God. Paul presents the binary options of law or grace, faith or works. It reminds me of Jesus’ thought that you can’t serve God and money, you have to choose.

The challenge is that my life doesn’t always function this way. I would argue that I’m trusting in Christ alone by faith alone in grace alone, but then I find myself defending my performance as proof of my self-righteousness. In those moments I’m not glorying in the grace of God through Jesus, rather I’m glorying in my performance. My desire is to live in the grace of God, but I often fall away from grace.

The binary choice calls me in that moment of self awareness to repent and look to Christ for grace. So join us Sunday, and consider the struggle to live in the grace provide through Jesus.

Tim Locke