Freedom from my ideas: You can’t make this stuff up


My Dad likes to fake you out.

“Watch out! There’s a spider there.”

“Look out! Don’t fall off the ledge.”

“Whoa, whoa, I’m going to drop this cup…”

It’s rarely true. He’s silly. It’s his way of making you smile, helping you step out of the seriousness of life to laugh for a moment (and to distract me from technology, which he thinks I spend far too much time on. It’s a blog, Dad. They call it a b-l-o-g.) He’s actually really great, most of the time. 😉

Paul wants the Galatians to know that the Word he preached to them was very different, far removed from the other “gospels” they have heard and are currently hearing and submitting to. He’s not playing them. Being silly has its time and place, but Paul wants the Galatians to know that trading in one True Gospel for another is far from funny.

Read Galatians 1:11-12 below or in your Bibles:

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 

“…the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.”

In essence: I can’t make this stuff up.

This is Truth with a capital T. The Greek here is kata anthrópon or not from humans, whoever those humans might be, no matter how classy or well spoken, no matter your relationship to them – the True Gospel comes from God and God alone.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us a little about the way God thinks and why we might make some stuff up to make ourselves feel better:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

But listen, even Isaiah 55 starts with this invitation in verse one:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

We may not understand everything God is doing, but letting Him be in charge of what is Gospel and what isn’t is always to our benefit. God acknowledges that there will be mysteries, and we don’t have to fill in the gaps with explanations and suggestions. He will.

Look to the next verses of Galatians 1:13-24. Paul begins to remind the Galatians of his story, written by God across the span of Paul’s life thus far. This is to remind the Galatians of the authority and authenticity he has in sharing the Gospel from that road to Damascus day onward.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

He’s not making this stuff up. This isn’t a fairytale gospel. I think another point that Paul is making, intentionally or unintentionally is this:

We are meant to be livers of the Gospel, not keepers of the Gospel.

This is one way people know we are not making stuff up. Paul identifies to the Galatians that there are people who do a lot of talking about the way they think things should be and then there are people out there walking the walk of faith.
We’ll mess up, we’ll be inauthentic and incongruent at times, but Paul gives his testimony to the Galatians so that they can see that he isn’t just talking, he’s walking. Sometimes, we will be called to do this too.
This world has a million questions about God and the Gospel, just like we do, maybe more so. The Spirit leads and we share the simple Truth of Christ Jesus in His Word and also in His Work in our lives.
Living the Gospel doesn’t save us. Only Jesus saves. But this is God’s way – sending the Gospel, not from humans, but to humans, because He tenderly loves them enough to work in the visible, you and me.
I can’t make this stuff up. 😉
Discussion questions:

What unknowns or questions do you have for God? Some of my unknowns include –

How does the Trinity work exactly? What is the deal with souls when we die and are waiting for Jesus’s return, how does that work? Babies – why would we ever lose them to death, to illness, to anything? What are yours?

When someone presents a different gospel to us, something that doesn’t seem quite right, how can we respond according to 1 Peter 3:15?

Set the world ablaze

Yesterday, we talked about making waves.

Today we’re going to talk about setting a blaze.

Read James 3:5-8, below:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Notice the connecting piece between our segment yesterday and what we are studying today. One tiny verse –

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

Write that verse out somewhere if you can. What is the connection between the tongue and boasting? How does the tongue find trouble on it’s own sometimes without our help? Our friend, the tongue, needs to be steered or bridled.

James points out another reality – our tongues can also set the world ablaze. The Greek word for unrighteousness in our translation is adikias, from the root word adikia, meaning unrighteousness, but also injustice, and hurt. That hits the nail on the head. How is our tongue down right hurtful sometimes? Fires can be glorious and also destructive.

Let’s look at another passage that speaks similarly about waves and wind, selfish words, and growing out of them.

Ephesians 4:14-16:

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We are not tossed by waves, but we are driven by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. In Christ, we are not left to idle in a sea of doubt and chaos. We have Hope. Let us start a fire, a fire for Christ, firm in the Holy Spirit and the Word that we are given!

God’s Word says that 2 things ignite – truth and love. So we can ask ourself this question before we open our mouth…

Am I speaking truth in love?

It sounds too simple. But God knows that it’s just so easy for us to speak one without the other.

Am I speaking truth with no love?
Am I speaking love with no truth?

Brothers and sisters, if we are aiming for setting the world on fire for Christ, we are intended to speak both as one.

I fail miserably at this. Dear children, pick up your toys! Dear husband, plan a date night! So many necessary commands, that definitely speak truth. I unfortunately forget to include the love. It’s easy when we are in a conversation with a friend about their struggle with sexual sin to speak only love and care – “It’s ok! It’s no big deal!” – without the truth that they so desperately need in order to see Christ’s forgiveness and love.

Where do you have the hardest time sharing truth with love and love with truth?

We’re in this together. Reread James 3:8 and hear the comfort there…

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

Did you find it? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Dear friend, you are not the first, nor will you be the last, to struggle with tongue taming. It’s a daily work of sanctification. Christ’s mercy was given to us on the cross. It works in us every day, to set fires that point to His Life, rather than death and destruction. We will daily struggle with this, but it’s a good work, a good walk with our Savior who knows boundless grace.

Work that good Grace in us today, Lord. Truth in love and love in truth – we leave it at Your feet every day. Set some fires around us in Your name, for Your glory. Amen.

 

Discussion:

What areas of your life do you struggle with your tongue the most?

What examples can you point to of speaking the truth without love?

What examples can you point to of speaking love without the truth?

 

I hope you’ll join us for Good Gifts Live at its special time today, 2pm CST, on the I Love My Shepherd Facebook page. The topic for tonight is I Am Covered. Find out more tonight, and if you can’t be with us live, catch the archive tomorrow morning right here or on the I Love My Shepherd Youtube channel.

Hearers, Believers, and Doers


In this week’s video lesson we discuss being hearers, believers, and doers and the difference between each. How do Paul and James intersect on this subject and what does Reformer Martin Luther have to do with it all?

What passive work of Christ and what active work of Faith can be found in hearing, believing, and doing?

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vainOn the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 1 Corinthians 15:10-11

This weekend, share ways you hear, believe, and do by the Grace of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. Tag #ilovemyshepherd so we can see, share, and be encouraged together!

 

Notes: