FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE: REDEEMED

Sunday we considered the first of two arguments Paul makes about how we come into God’s favor and receive the Holy Spirit. The first addresses how God dealt with Abraham, the great ancestor of the Jewish people. Abraham was counted righteous because he believed God. The sign of God’s covenant (circumcision) came after Abraham’s conversion. This established the principle of salvation by faith which God established and through it included the Gentiles.

 This week, Paul goes after the law the people of God received through Moses. They built their lives around their reception of and adherence to the law of God. An interaction with the religious leaders says it all. They were debating who people thought Jesus was and one of them said, “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:49) While they thought not knowing the law brought judgment, Paul says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse.” (Gal. 3:10)

 Paul masterfully undercuts their pride and self-righteousness as caretakers of the law of God. But he doesn’t stop there; he points them to Jesus, who redeemed them from God’s curse by becoming a curse for them. This is the gospel! Christ did this for you! Come Sunday ready to worship!

 ~Pastor Tim

Tim Locke
Faith Working Through Love: Redeemed from the Curse

Sunday we moved back into Galatians to examine the apostle’s argument that we are brought into the family of God by faith. The focus of his discussion is on a believer’s reception of the Holy Spirit, which comes through faith and not by obedience (works of the law). Having begun by the Spirit, we are made perfect—“completed”—by the Spirit, not by means of the flesh. He says it this way in Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The work of Christ on our behalf was finished on the cross.

This week we will consider the biblical example Paul gives: Abraham. Paul explains how God worked in the life of Abraham through faith. He says, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6 NIV). God made promises to Abraham as an act of grace to be received by faith. Those promises included a blessing to all who, like him, believe—which includes Gentiles. “Those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham” (Galatians 3:9).

It has always been God’s intention to redeem us from the curse of the law through faith. He redeemed us so that we could receive the Spirit along with Abraham by faith. This is crucial to Paul’s challenge to those who would require more than faith.

So come Sunday, and let’s consider God’s work of grace.

Tim Locke
Faith working through love: Spiritual Life

Sunday we will return to the letter to the Galatian churches. Paul writes to them because members of the community were arguing that now that they are believers, they must adhere to Jewish law. They weren’t arguing against salvation by faith, but against faith alone

Paul begins by defending his Apostleship and his teaching. Then, in Galatians 2:15-21, he presents two aspects of the gospel: a person is justified by faith, not the law; life as a believer unites us to Christ, not the law. The section we move to begins his development of these two thoughts.

Paul asks a summary question: “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:3) He actually answers this question in Philippians 1:6, where he writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Here is a summary of the gospel of grace: Grace gets us in; grace keeps us in; grace finishes the work. 

Authentic Christianity is lived by faith in the finished work of Christ; looking to the Holy Spirit to finish the work he began. So join us Sunday and let’s consider what it means to live in the grace of God.

Faith Working Through Love: Life as a living sacrifice

Sunday, we ended our Advent series on Jesus: King of the Poor, by focusing on the humility of God and his opposition to the proud. Jesus shows us God when he divests himself—not of his deity, but of his glory, becoming man and serving his Father. God delights in exalting the lowly, the humble; but he abhors what the world exalts. All glory be to the Father, Son, and Spirit.

This week, Brian Ryu will take us to Romans 12:1-2 where the Apostle Paul calls believers to present themselves to God as living sacrifices.  What does the Apostle Paul mean by living sacrifices, and how does Christ's entering into this world by taking on human flesh help us understanding true worship and living?  Instead of being conformed to this world, we’re called to pursue God’s design and purpose for our lives.  God's design for our lives leads to true life.  His renewal transforms how we think about and live our lives, giving us a perspective different from that of the culture around us, and making us meaningful agents of renewal in our community.

As we begin the new year, let’s consider the work of God in our lives to make us his servants in East Cobb and beyond. Join us for worship on Sunday!

King of the Poor: Humility

Sunday we continued our series on Jesus, King of the Poor. Jesus descended from heaven as an act of God’s mercy, his compassion. Mercy is fundamental to the character of God and it motivates his acts of kindness, including his patience with the sin of mankind.

This Sunday we’ll consider God’s response to the pride of man. Jesus tells a story of a Pharisee and a tax collector who both go to the temple and pray. One man knows that he’s a sinner in need of God’s mercy, the other thinks he’s righteous. Each man prays but only one asks for mercy, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus surprises his audience by saying that this man went home justified. 

What’s surprising is what he says next, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This should astonish us! Politicians, corporations, and the like, honor the humble for photo ops, but God does it because he hates pride. Jesus exalts the poor, the lowly, the outcast, and he delights to do so because he hates pride.

So, come Sunday, and worship the King of the poor.

Tim Locke
King of the Poor: Merciful God

Sunday we continue our series on Jesus, King of the Poor. God sent His Son to the poor, the lowly of society. Why? This past week we considered that He does this because He’s righteous and hates oppression. King David’s reaction to Nathan’s story is mild compared to God’s statement of judgment toward those who oppress! 

This Sunday we'll consider another reason God sent Jesus to the lowly; He's merciful! As Jesus walked the streets of the towns in Israel, the sick, the lame, the lepers, and the like called out to him, "Have mercy on us." The reason? They knew God is merciful and shows compassion on those who ask!

Few stories in the Scriptures illustrate this better than Jonah. You remember the story: God sent Jonah to the Assyrians to warn them of his coming judgment. Jonah runs, unwilling to warn them, so God uses a relationship with a sea-creature to change his mind. He fulfills his calling, and the Assyrians do the unthinkable, they repent. Jonah's upset and God confronts him. Jonah says something that reveals why he ran from God. He says, "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster" (Jonah 4:2).

There it is—God is merciful. God sends Jesus because he is merciful! He sends him to the poor, the lowly, because he's merciful. Join us Sunday and let's consider the mercy of God!

King of the Poor: Righteous King

Last Sunday I tried to demonstrate from Scripture that God loves the poor and sent His Son on a mission of mercy, in large part, to the poor. It’s not that God doesn’t show mercy to the wealthy, but that they don’t think they need his mercy. James says that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. (James 2:5) The question remains, Why? Why does God care so much for the poor?

This Sunday, I’ll offer one answer: God is righteous and hates oppression. The Scripture we’ll launch from is the story Nathan the prophet told David as it illustrates a righteous reaction to oppression. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed as part of his cover up. Nathan confronts him with a fictitious story about a rich man, with many lambs, who took the one and only beloved lamb of a poor man. The rich man served that lamb to his dinner guests with no thought of his oppression. David reacts, declaring the man should pay with his life. Nathan then says, “You are the man.” 

David’s reaction illustrates what every one of us should feel in the face of such unrighteous behavior, but for some reason we overlook such abuses of power almost every day. It also illustrates the righteous anger of God when he looks upon the dealings of men and witnesses our unrighteousness.

So come Sunday and consider with me the righteousness of God!

King of the Poor: David's poor son

As we approach this Christmas season, I want us to focus our attention on the ministry and message of Jesus to the poor. In a recent article, Richard Doster says, "It seems bizarre that somehow, through some tortuous progression in thinking, our celebration of Christ’s birth has spawned Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s strange that our observance of Jesus’ birth — which occurred in a manger among farm animals — now accounts for 30 percent of retail sales, which makes it critical to the national economy." Americans spend over $600 billion on Black Friday alone. (byFaithonline, Nov.23,2018, The path from a lowly manger to Black Friday)

How did we get here when the ministry and message of Jesus is almost exclusively directed to the poor? Consider that as Jesus begins his earthly ministry, he enters the synagogue, opens the scroll of Isaiah, and reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor...liberty to the captives...sight to the blind...to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Maybe a study in the person and work of Christ will challenge our perspective all call us to deeper worship and greater faithfulness as stewards of God's Kingdom!

So come Sunday to consider Jesus, King of the poor!


Faith Working Through Love: Not I...but Christ!

This Sunday we enter the second part of Paul’s argument. The first part is that obedience to the law does not help me become a Christian. "No one is justified by works of the law,” Paul says. His second argument is that the law of God doesn’t call us back now that we’re believers. Paul says, “I died to the law.” This means that once coming to faith, our relationship to the law of God has ended because the law only governs the living. Paul says that he’s died, and therefore the law no longer has jurisdiction over him. This message raised the accusation that Paul was preaching lawless living. The concern is that if Christians aren’t called back to the law of God they will live selfish indulgent lives. 

If Christians, justified by Christ, live selfish indulgent lives, isn’t Paul nullifying the grace of God? Even worse, doesn’t this make Christ the author of sin? Paul’s answer is, “Certainly not!” The life of the believer is joined to the person of Christ. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” The love of Christ governs the heart of the believer not the law of God. The law of God, particularly the ten commandments, still functions to show us the way to love God, but the love of God constrains us. This is why Paul says, “the life I now live…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me."

So come Sunday and hear more about the grace of God through Jesus Christ!

Pastor's CornerTim Lockegala
Faith Working Through Love: Justified

Sunday we considered the danger of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the play acting we do to establish our own righteousness. We haven't kept the rules, so we play the role of "rule keeper" as a display of righteousness. This display distorts the gospel and corrupts the community of faith. Peter could have split the Galatian churches, but Paul confronted him, and the gospel held the day, keeping the church united.

Paul moves immediately from his interaction with Peter to the central issue of how we can be right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. His argument is simple, even though he (and many in his audience) were born in covenant with God as Jews, no one is acquitted because of their obedience to God. He says, "By works of the law no one will be justified.” Both Jews and Gentiles needed to hear this. The pious, religious community needed to hear that their obedience didn’t satisfy God; and the pagan, immoral community needed to know that their sins were truly forgiven in Christ.

The only way to be right with God is by faith in Jesus. He says, "We also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified." Jew and Gentile alike needed this message. You and I need this message. Jesus satisfies the Father’s requirements for us. Whether you grew up in church and live a moral, pious life or you just came to faith, Jesus is the path to God’s acquittal.

So, come Sunday, and consider what it means to be justified by faith.

~Pastor Tim

Tim Locke