The Freedom to Correct False Teaching

In our culture today, particularly in the Christian culture, it has become politically incorrect to call out people for their false doctrine. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any false teachers today, there are plenty, it just means the person who goes on the attack is generally the one who suffers the most damage.
I wonder if Paul were around today he would use emails, Twitter or Facebook, text messages and blogs to get his message out? Not sure… It is true that Paul used the technology of his day – the Roman Postal Service – in ways that changed the known world. He was not afraid to transmit truth to the people of God in ways that had never been used before.
His letters were to be received in the same way one would receive letters from Jesus himself. Paul was sent by Jesus and therefore his letters were to be obeyed
 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
So when Paul addressed the Galatians he used his credentials as an Apostle sent from God with authority beyond a local pastor to rebuke and correct God’s people. Paul was anticipating a time when people would fall away from sound doctrine.
Timothy 4:2-4
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
It was happening then and it continues to happen today.
If there were to be an influx of counterfeit $100 bills into a city, local officials would warn shopkeepers and merchants and bank tellers to be on guard. They would also admonish those people to study the real $100 bills so that they night become so familiar they could easily spot the counterfeit. Same goes for $20’s and $10’s. Even small denominations can wreak havoc to a small business should they become fooled.
Would it not be wise to warn our own people at Cypress to beware of counterfeit doctrine?
One of the most deceptive false doctrines we face today is one that says we have freedom to live like we want to live. That we can experiment with sin, we can engage in dangerous behaviors like drinking and drugs, premarital sex, pornography, any of these highly addictive behaviors and not suffer damage to our lives.
This is a lie, it’s from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke. Don’t buy it! It is counterfeit grace, counterfeit freedom. God’s word declares it and we need to warn as many as we can. Paul’s passionate letter to the people of his day should encourage us to be just as passionate towards the people of our day.
Prayer:  Lord open our eyes to see the dangers of living in this present evil age and give us the courage to reject them and keep ourselves untouched by evil.

A Rescue We Cannot Earn

One of my favorite movies is “Saving Private Ryan”
The movie opens in the present day, an elderly World War II veteran and his family visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. The veteran walks around the cemetery and, upon seeing one specific gravestone, collapses to his knees, overwhelmed by emotion.
The veteran flashes back to the morning of June 6, 1944, the beginning of the Normandy Invasion, as American soldiers prepare to land on Omaha Beach. They suffer heavily from their struggle against German infantry, machine gun nests, and artillery fire.
Captain John H. Miller, a company commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, survives the initial landing and assembles a group of his Rangers to penetrate the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach. After the battle, the body of a dead soldier lying face down on the beach, with “S. Ryan” inscribed on the back of his uniform, is shown.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C, at the U.S. War Department, General George Marshall is informed that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family were killed in action and that their mother is to receive all three telegrams on the same day. He learns that the fourth son, Private First Class James Francis Ryan, is a paratrooper and is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. Marshall, after reading Abraham Lincoln’s Bixby letter, orders that Ryan must be found and sent home immediately.
Three days after D-Day, Miller receives orders to find Ryan and bring him back from the front. He assembles six men from his company. The remaining movie focuses on the hunt for Private Ryan and the losses that were incurred to bring him safely home. After the loss of many men Ryan is with Miller as he dies and says his last words, “James … earn this. Earn it.”
The film returns to the present and it is revealed that the veteran is Ryan and the grave he is standing at is Miller’s. Ryan asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life, that he is a “good man” and thus worthy of the sacrifice of Miller and the others.
His wife replies, “You are.” At this point, Ryan stands at attention and delivers a salute toward Miller’s grave.
The same question can be asked to us regarding the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to rescue us. The thing that haunted Ryan was the fact that nothing he could ever do would “earn” the sacrifice that was paid on his behalf. All he could do was live a life that would show his dedication and thankfulness to those who died for him, living a life that honors their memory would have to be enough.
Can we do any less for the hero who rescued us? We are called to honor Him with our obedient lives, remembering the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.
Prayer:  May my obedience to the will of God and to the word of God show forth my thankfulness and love for my savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus Our Hero

We began a new series this week called Freedom. The Apostle Paul wrote the churches in Galatia warning them of a serious doctrinal error being perpetrated by false teachers.
Paul draws from his deep theological database and begins a systematic exposition determined to persuade the Galatians to dismiss the errors of the false teachers and follow the specific teaching of the gospel.
Along the way we get to learn more about the Gospel and grace than we ever thought possible. Because Paul is a genus in the way he presents his arguments.
Even in the opening statement, in the introduction or salutation or whatever you want to call the first part of a letter Paul amazes us with this statement about the rescue of the human race.
Galatians 1:1–5
1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—2 and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
It is a unique description of our salvation not found anywhere else in scripture. It is versed in heroic terms, Jesus our hero has saved us at the cost of his own life. But it was not a mistake or a miscalculation but was the determined will of God the Father.
Jesus was not coerced into this arrangement but was the willing heroic figure, giving his life to free us from slavery to this present evil age.
So why does Paul enter into this picture of the redemptive work of Christ?
It is because of his love for the Galatian believers and for us who are still being deceived by a teaching that says we can somehow earn the right to a relationship with God through our personal effort and hard work.
It can’t be done. Not by keeping the Mosaic Law, not by attending church, not by doing good works or even by giving your own life for others. It is given to us by the grace (unmerited love) of God and received through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
It was true in Paul’s day and is still true today.
The question for us today is this: “Is Jesus your savior?” Do you see him as your hero who died for you in order to rescue you from this present evil age?
Prayer:  May the realization of what Jesus did for me motivate me to live a life of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Daily Devotions 2020