Galatians #3 – There’s Freedom for YOU! (Galatians 2:1-10)

Galatians #3 – There’s Freedom for YOU! (Galatians 2:1-10)

– All right if you got a Bible, go to the book of Galatians, we’re in chapter two, and some of you are church veterans. How many church veterans, you’ve been to church, a very long time, a lot of options, thanks for coming back. Some of you are brand new. There’s actually some folks, first time they’ve ever been in church today. I was just talking briefly with my youngest daughter upfront and she was working in kids’ ministry in the first service. And a little girl showed up, first time in her entire life she’d ever set foot in a church. And so everybody’s on the spectrum, and what I didn’t know, and maybe what you don’t know is that different people, different churches, do things differently. I didn’t know this cause I grew up in a Roman Catholic church. And so, and I didn’t have a bad experience, I have nothing to complain about. But it was, it was a little, it was a little dull, there was an older gal on an organ. There was a song or two, nobody really got that excited. There was a bit of aerobics, it was kind of a calisthenic, like kneel, and then stand, and then sit, and we do the sign of the cross and the sermon was not very long. We fixed that here at the Trinity Church but, Some of you would ask, “How long was it?” I don’t know exactly, but I remember as a kid, it was about the perfect length for a nap. That’s what I do remember about the sermon. And I just thought, “Well, that’s how everybody does it.” Until I, in college, started going to what I’ll call, an evangelical Bible-based church, and it was different. The service was longer, and everybody brought their Bible, and they would say, “Open your Bibles.” People opened their Bibles and they took notes. It was more like a lecture in a class, and rather than an organ, they had a keyboard and guy played keys and people sang a few songs, still kind of chill about the whole thing. But I thought, “Okay, this is cool, a little different.” But you know, all is fine. And then one Sunday, as a college student, my church got together with another church I didn’t know anything about, and we got together. So we’re gonna do a joint worship service, why show up? The other church brought the sound system. It was woofers up to what Paul calls the third heaven. It was all the way up to Jesus, all the monitors and Maine, and it was like, “Wow!” Okay, and the band took the stage and the band rocked! It was… I was like, “This is amazing!” And you could just feel the bass, I remember it was just, I felt like I was in a fight with a very weak man for 15 or 20 minutes. Umh! Umh! Umh! And the people sang, and they cheered, and they clap. And some people were raising their hands, and other people were kneeling and crying, I thought, “Wow, we’ve found the varsity team here. These people are really into this!” And they were so excited. And I remember at the end going, “Okay, I’ve kinda had these three experiences, even within a few months of each other.” Like Catholic church, chill church, and what I’ll call the charismatic church. And I was like, “Which one’s right? Which one’s best?” What’s the answer? Yeah, yeah. Everybody that I met in each group, they hated sin, they loved Jesus, they believed the Bible. They just did things differently. Now that I’ve been a Christian for a while, wow I’ve seen a lot of different expressions of church! I’ll never forget, there was one Sunday I got brought up to preach at a church, and they said, “Okay, here’s the schedule.” Usually a schedule has hour and minute, this church had second! You’re up at second 37! I was like, “Really, I gotta nail the sec? What the heck?” And then they said, “Oh, and by the way, different band members are in different locations. So the bass players in this campus, the drummers in this campus, they’re all on ears. They’re playing to a click and the metronome, and everything needs to be to the second.” And they said, “So this is the second you need to stop preaching.” I said, “Why did I get this call? I’m obviously not the guy for this job. I feel like if I start a sermon and ended on the same day, I’m a big boy, I did a good job.” And so compare that kind of specificity, it’s wrong really, like a finely tuned watch. I was in India some years ago, and they said, “Oh, you’re preaching in a church tomorrow morning.” I said, “When?” They said, “We told you, in the morning.” I was like, “Any, do you have a number?” They’re like, “No, in the morning.” I’m like, “Okay, I don’t know. I’ll get up, have chai and wait.” So I get up, and they come pick me up and we go to the church and I was like, “Where’s the church?” They’re like, “It’s right there.” We meet under the tree” “Under the tree! That’s amazing, okay. Where are the chairs?” “Oh, we sit on the ground.” I said, “Some of us are Americans, we can’t get up.” You know, that’s not our thing. And so I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and I finally asked like, “When do we start?” They said, quote, when everyone gets here. Really? “Yeah, some of our people are older, some are pregnant, some are young, some are late. And what happens is, we wait for them all to get here and we don’t start church till everybody shows up.” Can you imagine if we did that? No, no, no. Maybe one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, I was preaching in a stadium when it came time for the offering, 5,000 people. I kid you not, the band started playing the conga. And the people did the conga line to bring forth their offering. Okay, ’cause God loves a cheerful giver, Amen and so. The point is, the different Christians and churches do things differently. And that can be a perfectly good thing or it can be a very complicated thing. And that leads me to our discussion today; the distinction, the differentiation between what I’ll call gospel, the message of the Bible, and culture, the methods of people on the earth. And so there is a difference and a distinction between gospel and culture. And that’s the heart of what’s going on in this book of Galatians, okay? So he starts here, “Then after 14 years.” So it’s written by this guy named Paul, he was a religious terrorist, he’s harassing Christians, he’s murdering, arresting Christians. And then Jesus comes down from heaven, knocks him literally off his high horse, blinds him, saves him, tells him, “It’s not about what you do, it’s about what I do.” And so his whole understanding shifts from, “Life is about what I do for God, to life is about what God and Jesus Christ did for me.” And he just has this radical transformation. And he goes from a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of Christ, and then 14 years later, so he’s now been a Christian for a while, “I went up again to Jerusalem,” and Jerusalem was kinda like headquarters, mothership. It’s the home office. You got to go there to make sure you’re doing everything according to the leadership. “With Barnabas,” some of you know this, what’s Barnabas’ name mean? Encouragement, son of encouragement. Any of you know someone with a gift of encouragement? We love them, right? They’re like, “You’re gonna do great. I believe in you. You’re amazing. I’m praying for you. You’re gonna have a breakthrough. You’re gonna get to the next level.” Some of you have the gift of discouragement. And you’re annoyed by those people because they’re so joyful and optimistic and hopeful. That’s Barnabas, he’s the son of encouragement. “Taking Titus,” He’s another leader, “Along with me. I went up because of a revelation,” We’ll understand, explain, unpack that word, you’re welcome. “And set before them, though privately before those who seem to be influential, the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run my race in vain.” Gospel, culture, revelation. Gospel, he says, is the message that comes down from heaven. The gospel is the good news. In that day, when there was a King and he ruled over a kingdom and he had a decree or an edict to send forth, “Good news, good news, good news.” He would send out a herald and the herald would go literally through the streets, “There’s an edict from the King, there’s an edict from the King. We have gospel, we have a gospel We have good news, we have good news.” Everyone would stop what they’re doing, they would assemble. And then the edict or the decree, the good news, the gospel would be read well. Well Jesus Christ is a King, and he rules over an eternal kingdom, and he sends messengers to the earth, to herald the coming of his message, and the message of the gospel is this, “Jesus Christ is God. Our planet has been visited by its creator! That all sin can be forgiven through Jesus Christ. That all burdens can be lifted through Jesus Christ. That all condemnation can be removed through Jesus Christ. That all shame can be removed once, and forever through Jesus Christ. That your relationship with God can be restored through Jesus Christ.” Your ticket to heaven could be punched through Jesus Christ. It’s just good news, it never ends, Amen. And it’s all about Jesus, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the gospel. The gospel comes down from heaven. The gospel is the only perfect message on the earth. Everything else has some part of human contribution, speculation or error. This is God’s message. This is God’s word to God’s world. This is the message of salvation from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And it comes to the culture. And so every culture on the earth, doesn’t come down from God, it comes up from us. Culture is how we organize life, make meaning of it. We have traditions, we speak languages. We wear certain clothes, we have certain modes of music that we prefer. We have our styles and preferences. And what happens is that the gospel goes into a culture, and then there’s a conflict over, which is gospel, which is culture. And what Paul is saying here is that in addition, God gave him a revelation, and the revelation was that God wanted to do something extraordinary, and that was have the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had existed amongst the Jewish people as a nation and a culture for a few thousand years, that God was going to move that gospel out of that culture, into what the Bible calls, Gentile cultures. That’s us, we’re Gentiles, right? We’re Gentiles. And he does this through a revelation. Let me say this, we believe that God does reveal Himself first and foremost, through the word of God. And that this is the proverbial Supreme Court of highest authority, but there are lower and lesser courts of additional communication that God chooses to use. And God revealed this to Paul. And I want you to see that God communicated this revelation to Paul, and then he went to Jerusalem to have it confirmed by leaders. How many of you feel like God told you something? Get it confirmed by Godly leadership. It’s because Satan could do counterfeit signs, wonders and miracles to even deceive the elect, if that were possible. The Bible says that whatever God creates, Satan counterfeit. So when you received something, you need to take it to leadership and say, “Is this a real, or is this a fraud? Is this from God, or is this deceptive from my enemy?” And so he gets a revelation, he brings it to leadership. Leadership confirms what God has communicated, and then the enemies criticize it. That’s the way that it works. Now, let me say this, when it comes to revelation, we believe here at our church, that God can instill, does speak in supernatural ways. Sometimes God could speak audibly, He did to me, when I was 19 years old. He said, “Preach the Bible, marry Grace, train men plant churches.” And I brought it to my pastor and the church, and they confirmed that that was God’s communication. There are other times that God speaks through a human messenger, or sometimes He speaks through an angel, or sometimes He speaks through a dream. Where you’re asleep, and you kind of see like a film, God revealing the future to you. Sometimes God communicates through a vision, and that’s where you’re awake, but again, it’s like watching a film of the future. This is all my experience. I’ll give you two examples of how this works. One, first that comes to mind, some years ago, I was preaching in London, a stadium event, and I get down off the stage and I went, taking the backstage, and I look over and just sort of out in the crowd, there’s a couple of young girls, maybe in their twenties, they’re visiting. They’ve got their backs to me, they don’t see me, I don’t see them. And I felt like God spoke to me and said, “You need to go talk to her.” I was like, “Okay.” So I tell the guys like, “Yeah, I don’t wanna go over there, I wanna go talk to that girl over there.” He’s like, “Well, do you know her?” I was like, “No, I don’t her.” “What is it?” “No, I need to talk to her.” He’s like, “Okay.” He takes me over there, I tap her on the shoulder, “Excuse me ma’am, I hate to interrupt you in your conversation.” I said, “I just feel like I’m supposed to say something to you. I feel like God has something to communicate. And I need you to confirm whether or not it’s from God.” I said, “Your parents love the Lord and they love you. And I know it was hard growing up.” I’m just sort of paraphrasing what I said. “I know it was hard growing up in a pastor’s home as a pastor’s kid with a lot of pressure.” And I said, “But when you rebelled and you started dating that boy, that was really a deadly decision for you. He’s a bad guy.” And I said, “Now that you’ve moved in with him, you’ve brought a lot of shame on your parents. And I know it’s damaged your reputation, and I know it’s harmed your relationship, but I also know that that guy is abusing you, and he’s very dangerous and you wanna leave, but you’re scared, and you’re wondering if your parents will receive you. I need you to know that God has already done a work in their hearts, they have forgiven you, and they would love to have you come home and be safe.” She looked at me, she’s like, “How did you know?” I was like, “I have no idea.” I deliver the mail, I don’t write the mail. I got nothing. I said, “Would you confirm that?” So she started crying, she’s like, “That’s my life.” I got a letter from her dad, not shortly thereafter. I didn’t know him at all. Not long after, sends me a nice letter, told me the whole story. “Yeah, we were kinda rule-based, legalistic, punitive, high-control parents. She rebelled, started dating a bad guy, moved in with a bad guy, we were devastated. And then we realized that we weren’t loving and gracious toward her. And now she was wondering if she came back home because he was abusing her, whether or not she would get from law and condemnation and punishment, and ‘I told you so and rub your nose in it’, or grace and love and forgiveness and mercy, like the prodigal guy.” And he said, “So praise God, my daughter’s home.” He told me the whole story in the letter. God loves people. God knows things about people that no one else knows. God sometimes has things to say to people that will unlock the destiny of their life, and free them up into the future that God has for them. And we believe that God still does this. I’ll do one more example of a revelation. So next week we start school of rock, where a developmental culture is a worship department, musical department here at the church. Some of you say, “Why is it that way?” Cause most of the cultures are contractor cultures. We hire musicians who aren’t part of the church to lead worship. We’re not a contractor culture, we’re developmental culture, everybody volunteers, and we develop talent. And the reason we did this was because of a revelation. When we were first organizing the church a couple of years ago, I was praying, “Lord, what do you want for worship?” Cause I’m not singing, I mean, I’m not saying nobody wants that. And so I prayed and I went to bed one night, and I literally had a dream, I had a prophetic dream. And I was in my office at the church, and I heard singing in my dream. So I walked over to the window, and I looked down and what I saw was the backyard, like it looks now. It was all cleaned up, it looked good. If you were here at the beginning, it was a prison yard, that’s what I say. It was the perfect place for inmates to smoke cigarettes and pump dumbbells. I mean, that’s exactly what the backyard was, where the kids were. But I saw in the dream, it was all cleaned up, like it is now, and I heard music and I looked out, and kind of in a circle, there were older musicians that were good with their instrument, and they were very smiling and happy, and they were helping younger and newer musicians, figure out how to play their instrument. And I looked over and leading it, in my dream was Pastor Dustin. He lived out of state at the time. I was just getting to know him. We had local candidates that I thought maybe one of them would be the higher. So I called Pastor Dustin. I was like, “So what would your vision be for the worship department?” He’s like, “Well, I’d rather do developmental culture, not contractor culture. I’d like the more seasoned musicians to raise up the new musicians. I’m a dad. I run a music Academy. I love teaching people how to play instruments. And so I think something like a school of rock or maybe a music…” I was like, “I’ve seen this.” Amen! Like I’ve seen this. I was like, “Guess what? You’re the guy!” Because sometimes God wants to tell us what he has for us in the future, to free us with passion, to pursue it with great boldness. And what Paul says is, he says, “I got a revelation” And let me just tell you this. This is a massive revelation. The revelation was that the Jewish people, who gave us the Old Testament and Jesus Christ, and were the carriers of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that, that good news, following the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, was going to leave Jewish culture, and go into all the Gentile cultures. If this hadn’t happened, Christianity as a global phenomenon does not exist. Had this not happened, we would not have the New Testament in multiple languages. Had this not happened, the church in America would not exist. Had this not happened, you and I would not be here today. And we certainly wouldn’t be talking and singing about Jesus, Amen. And so this is a significant moment in the history of the world. And here’s what happens. When the gospel goes from one culture to another culture, there’s a debate as to what was cultural and what was gospel. Let me say this, I’ll give you an analogy. There’s a buddy of mine some years ago, he loves old school wood boats. And he said, “Yeah, I love my wood boats.” He said, “But the problem with a wood boat is, barnacles are always trying to attach and to fix themselves to the whole of the boat.” And they’re little, they don’t look like a big deal, but boy, if you don’t deal with it, what do you get over time? A lot of barnacles. And he said, “Eventually, they could start to eat the wood.” And over time, enough barnacles will produce drag on the boat, slow it down. But over time, enough barnacles could actually sink the boat. They’re gonna eat enough wood, and add enough weight that eventually they sink the boat. Here’s what happens. The gospel of Jesus Christ lives in a culture or subculture. This can be your ethnic heritage. This could be your political party. This can be your systematic theology. I just offended all the nerds. But if all you do is read people who went to the same schools and quote the same authors, eventually you’ll find that your boat is just literally stuck in one body of water, gathering barnacle after barnacle, after barnacle, after barnacle, after barnacle. And what happens here is God takes it out of Jewish culture, where it has been sitting for 2,000 years. Lots of barnacles, pulls it out of the water, and the question is, we’re gonna go drop it over in this new water source of Gentile culture. Do we need to keep all the barnacles on the boat? Or do we need to scrape the hull? That’s the fight in Galatians. Paul’s saying, “Let’s scrape the hull.” A lot of the religious folks are like, “Those are our barnacles.” That was my grandpa’s barnacle, that was my mom’s barnacle, that was my aunt Sally’s barnacle. I met Jesus at camp, and I put a camp barnacle on there, don’t scrape it off the hull. And so there’s a big fight over what is barnacle, and what is boat, does this make sense to you? This still happens, right? This still happens. We do this all the time. Well, we love it, Jesus, we do it this way. You just do it the way we do it. No, we wanna do it differently. Umh! Now this happens generationally. This is why sometimes young people have to go plant new churches, because the old church is an old wineskins, so many barnacles on the boat. Older folks, aren’t willing to scrape the hull and say, “Well, do we need all of this?” We’re only three years old, almost three years old, will be three years old in August. We’ve already got our traditions. I mean, some of you, you’re sitting in the same place you sit every week. You’re like, “This is my seat.” If we changed the seating you’ll be like, “Oh, have I joined another religion?” No, “We just changed the seats!” So here’s what I’m gonna tell you, that we are going to make changes. What? I don’t know. When? I don’t know. It’ll be exciting. We won’t let you know, So you can’t form a committee to oppose it. but I will tell you this, change comes. At some point, we gotta just scrape the barnacles off the boat and get back to the hull. Now that being said, there are three options when it comes to gospel and culture. Here are the three, and this is the heart of the debate in Galatians, and it’s the heart of the debate in every church. Number one, multiple gospels for multiple cultures. Now you get your Jesus, they get their Jesus, whatever works for you. We have this today. So the Mormons have got there Jesus, Jehovah’s Witnesses have got their Jesus, different religious spirits, up in Sedona they got their own Jesus. Everybody’s got their version of Jesus, their picture of Jesus, their understand, you have your G you know what, there’s only one Jesus. And you can’t make Jesus into someone you want Him to be, He’s trying to make you into the person He wants you to be. One gospel and one culture for everyone. All right, well you have one. I love Jesus. He was Jewish, adopt all of the Jewish culture. How many of you don’t wanna do that? You’re like, “Can we do pork?” “No more!” No pork. “And you gotta be circumcised.” You’re like, “Oh, that’s my worst two things to hear right there.” And so what happens is the fight is over do you have to be Jewish to be with Jesus? Some of you said, no very quickly, that was fascinating. But what happens is when there’s one gospel and one culture for everyone, it’s like those nations that don’t have a separation of church and state. Muslim nations tend to work this way. So in Iran, right this last week, because I know you’re all thinking about Iran, So I brought it up. But in Iran this last week, there were people who went to a public exercise class, and got arrested by the religious leaders, because they were not wearing clothing that was approved by the religious leaders. How many of you are like, “They wear clothing to exercise class? That would be amazing.” I mean, and what happens is, the cultural issues and the message, it’s all one of the same, it’s all or nothing. That’s what they’re arguing for. You wanna be with Jesus, He was Jewish. You gotta be Jewish, Or three, one gospel for every culture. That’s what Paul is arguing for. That’s what Paul is fighting for. So you know what? It doesn’t matter what nation you belong to. Doesn’t matter what people group you descent from. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or what political affiliation you prefer. The message of Jesus is timeless, perfect, unchanging. And it comes into every single culture, to sort of have a conflict with that culture, and where there’s a conflict, between the word and the world, or between the gospel and the culture, God expects the culture to alter itself to the culture of the kingdom of God. And that’s what’s going on. So let me say this though. It’s a lot easier to see barnacles on somebody else’s boat. Amen. Some of you are like, “This is a great sermon. I’m gonna send it to my religious friends.” You know what, not if they don’t send it to you first, ’cause we all need the others. See how many of you have had a cross cultural experience and you realize, “Oh, okay, Christians in different countries,” maybe you’re on a mission trip, they do things differently, but they love Jesus and that’s okay. That’s okay, that’s how their family does it. Here’s what I wanna tell you. Don’t let your preferences become your prejudices. “I prefer it this way. Therefore Godly people agree with me.” And I’ll tell you what happens sometimes. There’s a difference between the grace of God. And the means of grace, we hit this last week. Means of grace is how the Holy Spirit brings the grace of God to you. How many of you, there is a song that came on the radio, and it just intersected with something you were experiencing in your soul, and it was a little meeting between you and the Holy spirit, and it meant a lot to you. And you can then say, “Therefore, we always have to sing that song. I love that song. I cried in my prayers, and I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus in the prayers. That’s how miraculous it was. That was a means of grace for you, there are other means of grace for other people. This is why some people are like, “I went to camp and my whole life changed in camp.” Everybody let’s go to camp! No, the grace of God was at camp. Everybody to get to the grace of God. And that may or may not be in camp. That may or may not be with your song. That may or not may not be with your conference, or your book or your podcast or your experience. Praise God for the grace that you received, but God may have another means of grace for someone else. And these people they’re like, “We learned the Bible in Jewish culture, we met the Lord in Jewish culture. we went to synagogue, we got circumcised, we celebrated the holidays. We experienced so much of God’s goodness, we want everyone to experience this.” God’s graces for them as well. And the same God who met you, will meet them, the same. God who changed you will change them. Now let me say this, it’s easier to find barnacles on somebody else’s boat. You’ve got barnacles on your boat. Mode of worship, style of church, theological expectations, translation of the Bible. And let me say this, America has created its own version of Jesus. I call it life coach Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is Lord. America thinks that Jesus is life coach. He’s not in charge, you get to decide your dreams, your hopes, your values, your goals, your objectives, what you want to accomplish. And when you feel like you need a little pep talk, go to your life coach and get a little inspiration. America’s got life coach Jesus. The Valley has country-club Christianity. I said it, I’ll say it again. Just to be like, “He’s very offensive, that’s a spiritual gift.” Okay, so when I pulled off the highway this morning and I drove down the street, I passed the little sign that said, “America’s most livable city.” Which is like, “Well, until you go to heaven, hang out here and intern.” And so what happens is people come here, that’s why we’re one of the fastest growing cities and counties in America. People come here either to retire, or to try and live a vacation lifestyle. And you know what? We don’t retire from Christianity. And we don’t take vacations from Jesus. Now people do, people do, I’ve heard people say, “Oh yeah, we’re taking a year off.” What! You don’t do that with air. How was this a good idea? But that country club Christianity, is that the church is there, if I need it and I have no obligations and I have no participation, if I need it, I go there. But it’s not really important to me. It’s not vital to me. And people will always say this, “That see Christianity is country club, yeah, I don’t really need to go.” Number one, that’s not true, Amen. Some people are like, “Why just read the Bible and study for myself?” Well, it’s written to groups of people, so you probably find a group of people. Like Galatians is to the church at Galicia, not to Tom, who’s at home on a podcast. That’s not what it meant, all by himself. In addition, number two, it’s not always about you. What about them? Maybe you don’t need to be there, but maybe somebody else needs you to be there. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Cause it’s a family. Okay? I’m just telling you, every culture tries to pull the message of Jesus down, rather than letting the message of Jesus pull the culture up. There’s always that gravity that we’re fighting. You’ve got it, I’ve got it, We’ve got it. And in their day, there is as a case study, our culture is different, but the issue is the same. It was literally what I’ll call, the old covenant versus the new covenant, or the Old Testament versus the New Testament. Galatians 2:3, “But even Titus,” he’s one of the leaders, spiritual son to Paul, “Who was with me was not forced to be circumcised though he was a Greek.” Okay, this weird. Imagine you’re Titus, you’re like, “Good news, you’re gonna be in the Bible.” “Awesome, I’m going to be in the Bible? Cool, what’s it going to say?” “You’re uncircumcised!” “Really, that’s my thing? That’s my claim to fame.” Like, “I’m Titus, the uncircumcised.” Do we gotta send this out to the nations? It’s got steel in 2,000 years, best mark and we’re making fun of this, like, how about we’re like, Titus, the handsome. Titus, the humble, Titus, the witty. Titus, the smart. Nope, Titus the uncircumcised. That’s what we’re gonna write this on. So let’s talk about that. Okay, so where does circumcision begin in the Old Testament? Some of you don’t know that’s, okay? It starts with a guy named Abraham. Was he Jewish or Gentile? Gentile. He received grace from God, trusted by faith in God. And then he was an old man, who circumcised himself with Flint rocks. This is the best seat in the house to see the faces of the men right now, I’m just telling you how this is. Every guy, every guy looks, horrified! You’re like, “Oh my gosh, they don’t have flint rocks.” Do they? We’re not doing this, no, we’re not. And then what he did is, he circumcised all the other male members of his household. Some of you’re like, “Oh!” So now you know what the debate is, So if you were Jewish, this is what you did. Now you’re a Gentile, what they’re telling you is, you gotta get circumcised. Now the Gentile guys had a meeting, and it was unanimous. There was not a dissenting vote, first time in church history, everybody was in agreement on everything. And so the debate is, is it Jesus that saves, or Jesus plus something else? That’s the issue. They were saying, Jesus plus circumcision. And we’ll say, we can look at them and we can say, “Oh, that’s kind of silly.” Well, for some of us, it’s Jesus plus speaking in tongues. Or Jesus plus the right confession of faith. Or Jesus plus the right systematic theology Or Jesus plus the right Bible translation, or Jesus plus baptism, or Jesus plus good works, or Jesus plus tithing, or Jesus plus suffering, or Jesus plus a missions trip. Those may be good things, but they’re not saving things. Everything was finished by Jesus, and he said it on the cross, “It is finished.” That means all the work is done for your salvation. And so what this leads to is, a question regarding what I will call the Old Testament law. The first five books of the Old Testament; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, are called the Books of the Law. If you read them, there are 613 laws. The debate as the gospel goes from the culture of those who are Jewish to those who are Gentile, the question is, what about those 613 laws in the Old Testament? Categorically, back to a church Father Tertullian, a Protestant reformer named Martin Luther, a church confession called the Westminster. These three categories have been one of the ways that God’s people are trying to sort this out. And that is that there are three kinds of laws in the Old Testament, the first is ceremonial. This is the priesthood, circumcision, sacrifices, the temple, do we have those today? Answer? No. You know why? Jesus is our great high priest. The Holy Spirit circumcises our heart. Jesus paid the price for our sins by sacrificing himself on the cross, as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And we don’t need to go to a temple because God, the Holy Spirit makes you the temple of the living God. Number two, civil laws. They were a theocratic government. And today we’re not living under a theocratic government. Romans 13 says, to obey whatever government is over you. And so those laws pertaining to Israel, they are no longer binding upon us. Moral laws; rape, stealing, murder. Do those still apply? Yes. Yes. And that’s why there were 10 commandments, nine of the 10 that are listed in Exodus, are repeated in the New Testament. The only exception is the Sabbath. Because the Sabbath was ceremonial and/or civil law. God wants you to have a day off. He doesn’t care what day it is, just take a day, because he loves you. And so the first two are completed, the third category is still binding. And so it comes down to this issue, Paul brings Titus as a case study. Is Titus a saved Christian believer? Yes or no? Yes. Is he circumcised? No. So Paul brings him to the debate and he’s basically saying, “Okay, is Titus going to heaven or hell.” And they would have to say, “Well, if he’s not circumcised, he’s going to hell” No, ’cause God already circumcised his heart. The Bible is clear that circumcision was pointing to circumcision of the heart. That God would take out your hardest stone, give you a heart of flesh. God’s prophecy to Ezekiel, that he would give you a tender heart toward God, that you would hate sin and love Jesus. And what happens is, there’s these two men, Timothy and Titus. Titus, he was sent to the Jews, and so he was circumcised. Came out to this, Timothy says, “Hey guys, I got two mission trips, I need you to go on one.” “Okay, cool. What’s the difference?” “Well, one of them, you got to get circumcised.” “Oh, I was just hoping for a passport.” Like, “That’s a lot.” Timothy gets circumcised, you know why? He’s going to the Jewish people. You can’t get into the synagogue, you can’t get into the discussion or debate. unless you abide by their rules. So what God says is, through Paul and Timothy, for them to understand grace, you’re gonna need to abide by their laws, to get access, to tell them that their laws are not necessary. And now Titus is going to the Gentiles, do the Gentiles care? No! So he doesn’t have to get circumcised. It’s interesting because in that day to get into Jewish culture was a lot harder than to get into Gentile culture. And I’ll give you a strange analogy. It actually happened some years ago when we’re in the middle East. We went to Israel, and then we went to Turkey. Turkey was Gentile nation, Israel was Jewish nation. I’ll tell you what, And if you tried to get into Israel, wow, they got that thing on lockdown. I mean, you pull up and there’s armed guards, and security checkpoints, and you’re like, “Wow, okay this is a situation.” You go up, you literally take everything off. You go through the scanner. They look at you, armed guard, you’re like, “I’m glad that’s over.” And there’s cameras everywhere. Then they take you to another security checkpoint. And then you pick up your luggage, and then they check your luggage at a security checkpoint. And anytime you’re getting off the bus to go somewhere, particularly in certain neighborhoods, there’s a whole another security checkpoint. The whole thing is on lockdown. It’s hard to get in. That’s how it was with the Jewish people. Gentiles, totally different. So we’re going to, we leave Israel, we’re going to Turkey as a family, and they’ve got the metal detector and I’m in line with grace and the kids, we’ve got all our bags. We’re like, “Hey, do we need to take our shoes off?” Don’t worry about it. “Hey, do we need to empty out?” Hey we got a water bottle, a flame thrower, a car battery. They’re like, “That’s not a problem. Just put it on the conveyor belt.” And they’re like, “Hurry up, come on through, come on through, come out through.” One of my kids… And nothing is beeping. And one of my kids looks down at the metal detector, and says, “Dad, it’s not plugged in.” I kid you not, it was not plugged in! In Paul’s day, that was how the Gentiles operated. In Paul’s day, that’s how the Jewish people operated. And if you wanna preach the love of God, you do what you need to do to get to the people that God loves, Amen. That’s the big issue. But Timothy and Titus one had a circumcised body, the other did not, but they both had a circumcised heart. So my question to you is, do you have a circumcised heart? Have you met the Lord Jesus? Do you hate sin? Do you love Jesus? Has God changed your heart towards sin and Jesus? That’s the issue? That’s the issue. Story continues Galatians 2:4, Christians and counterfeits. “Yet,” what I’ve told you, one of the great themes of Galatians is, God creates, Satan counterfeits. God is building, Satan is breaking. God is bringing freedom, Satan wants slavery. For every action of God, there’s a reaction by the demonic. Yet because of what kind of brothers? That’s crucial. Those are the counterfeits. They’re not real Christians. They’re like Judas Iscariot on Jesus’ team. Judas was the false brother. You’re like, “No, no, he’s one of the disciples. He’s with the other guys. He’s hanging out with Jesus.” No, no. He doesn’t have a circumcised heart. He’s a false brother. False brothers not only came into Jesus’ ministry they come into every ministry. Who slipped in, “False brothers, secretly brought in.” This is all nefarious, covert. “Who’s slipped in to,” what? “To spy.” You know what happens in a war? You send spies in to gain intel. There’s a war between the kingdom of God, and the dark cultures of the earth, and Satan is always sending spies into the church to try and get Intel. It goes on to say, “They spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so they might bring us into slavery.” They wanna control us with their rules and their clipboards and their policies and their procedures and their fears and their punishments and their threats and their expectations. Religious folks. To them we did not yield in submission even for a moment. Paul says, “We didn’t back down one inch,” and praise God he didn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today, Amen. We wouldn’t have freedom in Christ today. We wouldn’t have the Word of God today. We would not have the church as the greatest, most diverse global movement of any sort or kind, into more cultures and languages than any other movement in the history of the world. Because Paul held the line and said, “No, no, no. It’s just Jesus, it’s only Jesus, it’s always Jesus, and Jesus plus anything ruins everything.” “So the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seem to be influential,” he said, I don’t know, they showed up, one guy said he was in charge and other dude had a big hat, they all bowed down to so-and-so. He’s like, “What they were makes no difference to me.” I don’t care, “God shows no partiality.” That’s just another clown in a big hat. “Those I say, who seemed influential, added nothing to me.” So let me tell you here, what is happening in the church. There’s what I will call a governance war. And that is who’s teaching the real gospel, who’s teaching the counterfeit. Paul’s saying it’s Jesus plus nothing, they’re saying it’s Jesus plus something. One is the real, the other is the counterfeit and the people are confused. They’re like, “We’re not sure which is which.” And this is a coup attempt to overthrow the leadership in the church. And let me just say that that is demonic, it is satanic. When the Bible talks of Jesus being our King, and our eternity being in the kingdom, that is an issue of governance, that he governs. And so what happens in heaven, God governs with the angels. One of the angels becomes proud. And he decides, “You know what? I think it’s time for new governance.” So he recruits a third of the heavenly host with him, they become demons, Satan and demons. They literally declare war in God’s kingdom, on God’s governance. They lose that war, they’re cast down the heaven. Satan then brings his battle to Adam because Satan always goes after the leader, he always goes after the head. Adam is the head of the human race. Satan goes after him, tries to usurp God’s governance, and sin enters the world. Jesus shows up to fix the problem that Adam created, He is the head of the new covenant. And Satan goes after him seeking to topple him. “I’ll make you a King and we can reset governance,” as long as you worship me. Peter is the leader to the Jewish people. And so Satan goes after him to topple the governance. Jesus tells Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I’ve prayed for you.” And now here, the apostle Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles, he’s the trailblazer and the mission leader. And what is happening is, Satan is trying to destroy and take down the credibility and governing authority of Paul, to bring in a false gospel that represents the demonic and leads people into slavery for the rest of human history. Everything is at stake here. It’s hard to overstate how significant this is. And what he says is, that if these false brothers, when you will be in slavery, let me say this. This is psychological slavery. God hates me, God doesn’t love me, God is punishing me, God can’t forgive me. God has rejected me, psychological slavery. This can also be spiritual. I don’t think I’m good enough for God, I don’t think I’m good enough for heaven. I don’t think I’m good enough for… In the whole point of grace is, you’re not. It’s a gift. It’s grace. It’s grace, grace, grace, it’s unmerited, it’s undeserved. It’s God lavishly pouring out, for no reason other than He’s good. Let me tell you what this creates. This creates, I want to be careful with this, I was praying about it all week. This creates church hurt. When you have a culture of grace, and then rule-based legalistic, punitive people come in, and they have a list of things that are not God’s list, and they’re going to walk around and judge you and look at you, and look at you and, “Should you dress like that? And how do you educate your kids? And how much do you tithe?” Or, “Do you show up every Sunday?” Or, “Do you sing your songs?” Or, “Do you speak in tongues?” Or, “Do you homeschool your kids?” Or, “Do you do give money to the poor?” The whole temperature of the church changes. All of a sudden people have replaced God as the judge. They’re condemning people, and shaming people for things that God doesn’t have a problem with. I wanna let me just do a little soul surgery. So let me ask two questions. Number one; how many of you grew up in this home? Rule-based, law, punitive, threat, punishment, fear. They took God’s rules and they added a whole bunch of additional rules. And if you broke the rules, wrath came down on you. That creates hurt. How many of you have been in this church? You’re like, “Man, I feel like I got put head first into a wood chipper. The day I blew it, they didn’t come to build me up, they came to beat me up. Even when I disagreed with them and I said that I still loved them, it wasn’t even over something that was in the Bible. It was just their rules. It was their traditions. It was their regulations. It was their requirements.” This leads to church hurt. People then will project that hurt onto God, “Oh God, you must be pretty awful, and God’s people must be pretty dangerous.” This is where we get a lot of devout atheist. This is we get people who are tremendously rebellious. Because they’re thinking, “Well, I don’t like rules, therefore I will rebel against all the rules,” which is to their self-destruction. If you’ve been a leader in a church, or you’ve had a ministry in the church, you have at some point experienced church hurt. What’s going on in Galatia right here is church hurt, because Paul brought a culture of grace, and then these false brothers bring a culture of law. And law is always pounding grace. And people are getting hurt. People are getting hurt. So ’cause I love you, here’s what I need you to know. Forgive, as you’ve been forgiven. Release, as you’ve been released. Bless as you have been blessed, and you will break demonic strongholds and torments in your life and family. You will stop having them between you and God, so that every time you look up, your filter for God is them. And they will get out of the way as you forgive them, and you could see God for who He truly is. You could take your hurts to God and He will heal them, you can take your burdens to God and He will lift them. Because the culture of God’s presence in His kingdom is one of grace. We have a lot of former church leaders, ministry leaders here at our church. We’re actually very leadership heavy. Things are going really well. I’m encouraged. I love you. We’re living in grace and people are healing, And those that have church-hurt are healing and getting back on the field to serve the Lord, Jesus. But this is all a warning to us, that it just takes a few domineering, overbearing personalities who come together, like two barrels on a gun, to send everybody running. So it’s a culture of grace that needs to be preserved. It’s a culture of grace that needs to be preserved. And some of you, I love you. But you think the more rules you have, the more Godly you are. Everything in the Bible we believe, and one of the things we believe is that we’re not to add to or subtract from the Bible. I’ve been doing this job long enough. I can almost smell these people. ‘Cause they immediately act like they’re in authority. “Well, who’s in charge?” Here we go. Here we go. “I have some questions.” Now, actually you’re gonna convene a trial and you’re gonna be a judge? There’s a difference between a question and an interrogation? A question, you’re trying to figure out what the answer is. An interrogation, you’ve already got the SAT and you’re gonna make us take it, and if we miss one question, then you waterboard us. Thanks. I mean, it’s just, “What translation of the Bible do you use?” A good one. “Do you guys believe in homeschool, public school or private school?” “Yes.” “You speak in tongues?” You have a dabadoo some of us do, I don’t know. Just please drink decaf, calm down. “Well, we need to be hardcore.” We are, we’re hardcore about grace.

– [Congregant] Amen.

– So in Jesus’ name. All right, that’s enough of that. All right, so messages and messengers. Galatians 2:7-10; “On the contrary, when they saw,” the Godly religious leaders who were Jewish, “That I’d been trusted with the gospel,” the gospel, same gospel, “To the uncircumcised,” to us Gentiles, “Just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised, work through me for mine to the Gentiles.” I told you God’s grace is three things. It’s what God does for you, in you, and through you. God died on the cross, in your place for your sins. And he rose to forgive sin, and to redeem you. God does a work in you. He gives you a new circumcised heart that loves God. And God does work through you, it’s called fruit. What he’s saying is Jesus did the same work for me, and in me and through me, as he did for Peter. Jesus told me to go help those who are Gentiles, told Peter to go help those who were Jewish, were telling the exact same message about the exact same person, and God’s working through both of us. So celebrate the differences. “And when James,” that’s Jesus’ brother, “Cephas, Peter and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceive the grace,” ’cause that’s the issue. It’s grace You know how you got saved? Grace. You know how you stay safe? Grace. You know how you stay away from sin? Grace. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit at work, to bring you the grace of God and Jesus Christ. “Perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave me the right hand of fellowship,” so they’re endorsing, they’re sanctioning, they’re commissioning, they’re approving Paul’s ministry, “To Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” What he’s saying is, there was a famine at the time among the Jewish people. And he saying, “Well, as Gentiles become Christians, make sure they’re generous toward their Jewish brothers and sisters ’cause they’re having a hard time.” So how do you know whether or not you’re a legalist? How do you know whether or not you’re law-based or grace-based? How do you know whether it’s barnacle or boat? I’m glad you asked, let me give you a few thoughts. Number one, there is a difference between God’s laws and your conscience. God’s laws are for whom? Well, if they’re continuous moral laws, they’re for everybody. Your conscience is for you. Your conscience is not for them. Your conscience is for you. Which means there will be things that the Bible says, that all of God’s people need to agree on. There are other things that we need to abide by our conscience. So I’ll give you an indication. My parents didn’t drink and they had self-control. But prior to that, generations of my family were alcoholics, and it was a horrible mess. So for me, I never drank. Even as a non-Christian, it was just a conscience issue. Like I’m not gonna get into, that’s trouble. And then I started into ministry and my conscience was, “I’m not gonna consume any alcohol.” I didn’t drink any alcohol until I was 30, and my conscience changed. The first service laughed at that. But what can happen is, sometimes you mature and your conscience changes as you mature. So I didn’t drink any alcohol, I went to work at a church, and the first thing that they made me do was sort of sign a little form and on it said, “I will not consume any alcohol.” My conscience had no problem with that. Furthermore, even if my conscience didn’t have a problem with that, if I wanna work under that leadership, I wanna abide by the house rules and honor those, and honor authority for the sake of unity. So I met with one of the leaders and I was like, “Okay, now why do I have to sign this?” And they’re like, “You do wanna drink?” Then I was like, “No I don’t, but are we signing this because this is the conscience of the leadership or is this the Word of God?” What’s the difference? He said, “Well, we believe it’s the word of God, forbids alcohol consumption.” I was like, “Wait a minute, Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine.” He said, “It’s grape juice.” I literally said, I said, “You translate the Bible like you’ve been drinking!” That’s not what it says. I said, “So I have no problem signing and abiding. As long as I can say, this is my conscience, and I honor leadership, not thus sayeth the Lord.” How many of you have a conscience issue? Let me just say this, you need your conscience so keep it, Amen. And that’s God’s way of navigating you from harm and self-destruction, foolishness. But here’s what happens with legalist; I bind you by my conscience. I have issues that I am passionate about. Like, I’ll give you one example. Here’s one of my conscience issues, I can’t watch horror films or psychological thrillers. I’ve seen so much demonic activity, I’m just like, “Ah!” It just freaks me out, I don’t like it But I can’t say, it’s a sin for everyone, because that’s my conscience. That’s not God’s word. Now if you say, “Well, why Pastor Mark, I’ll give you some verses and a pretty good argument.” But at the end of the day, you need to live by your conscience, I need to live by mine, and we all need to live by the word of God. Number two; there are closed-handed issues and open-handed issues. In Galatians, the gospel of grace is closed-handed. Actually circumcision was open-handed. Is it a sin to circumcised? No. Yes or no, either way God apparently didn’t care. So you’re free, but what they tried to do is, take that which was in the open hand and put it in the closed hand. What legalistic people do, what fundamentalistic people do, what religious law-based people do, they start shoving as much as they can in the closed hand. Do you know what liberals do, rebellious people do? They try to shove as much as they can in the open hand. The key is a Christian to say, “These are the things that we believe, and these are the things that we’re flexible on.” So let’s just do this, let’s just pick an issue to fight over. Can we do that? We have nothing else to do. So give me a secondary, let’s just start over here, secondary issue that as Christians we could fight over, open-ended issue. Name it.

– [Congregant] Worship.

– Worship. Worship, right? What songs should we sing? How long should we sing? What should we be Lutherans, Baptists, Charismatics or Pentecostals? Which should we be? Answer? I don’t care. I don’t care, right? What other issue? Middle of the room, what other issue could we argue and fight over, open-end? Predestination doc, doc, damn. You know, we can argue about that? We can argue about school. Should you homeschool your kids? Public school your kids, charter school your kids, private school your kids? Yes, something teach them to read. That’ll help. We had one family come recently. They’re like, “Is it a sin to put your kids in a school?” I was like, “No!” They’re like, “Well, our last church, we decided not to homeschool, and we got busted.” I don’t even know the homeschooler had a police department. Like, “Who busted you?” “Somebody showed up with a clipboard and…” Chase him and tell him about the grace of God. So, okay so how about over here? What issue could we argue and fight over open-handed issue. Pick one. Tongues! Should we speak a tongues? Maybe. And that’s my clear firm answer, right? Some people do. Some people don’t. Praise be to God, whatever. Here’s my thing; if the word of God says it, we believe it closed hand. There’s freedom and flexibility, open it. I get this all the time too. Somebody asked me recently, they’re like, “What is your position on baptism?” I was like, “I’m pro wet?” I don’t know, I didn’t know what the teams are. “Do you sprinkle or submerge?” I was like, “Well, I tend to submerge, but let’s say somebody is in the hospital. I’ll come with a square bottle and try not to kill them.” You know, I don’t know. “What about babies?” I said, “Well, it does seem mean to dunk ’em.” You know, kids like, “Oh, what the heck?” Mom’s like, “They tried to waterboard my baby for Jesus!” All right, how about this one? Principles and methods. God has principles that are unchanging and methods that are ever changing. Principles come down from God, methods come up from culture. So I’ll give you an example. It says in the New Testament, to greet one another with… Okay, so just obey God’s word and make out with your neighbor. One, two, three, I’ll count, one, two. Now some of you dudes are like, “I’m single, this is the best church ever.” No, you But that’s a method, the method is kissing. What’s the principle? Greet one another warmly. Which in our culture is knuckles and hand sanitizer. That’s our warm greeting. Principle, method. How about this one? This’ll be fun, at least for me. Maturity and flexibility. The more mature you get, the more flexible you should become, right? Right, because the longer you walk with Jesus, you’re like, “This is gospel, that is culture.” I, you know what? Whatever, Maybe I don’t like the band, maybe Mark’s not funny, whatever. But you know what we’re talking about Jesus, we love Jesus. That’s what I really care about. So some of you think, because you’re getting older, you’re getting more mature. Not unless you’re getting more flexible. As you get older, your body gets less flexible, but your soul should get more flexible. Amen. How many of you are older? And you know what I’m talking about? You’re like, “Yeah, I got out of bed today, but it took an hour and a half and a crane, but I got up. Yeah, I’m not flexible.” As you get older, your body gets less flexible. But if you’re walking, filled with the Holy Spirit, your soul should get more flexible, more flexible. So we have older saints. You’re great. We love you. We’re glad to have you, but just be flexible. You’ve got to be like, “It’s loud.” “That’s what old people always say. That’s how we know who the old people are.” And let me ask you this, when you have grandkids, are they loud? Yes. Are they messy? Yes. Are they expensive? Yes. Do you have to accommodate your whole life around them? Yes. And it’s awesome! Because it’s about them, it’s not about you. And you want them to be free and have joy. And that means it’ll come at an inconvenience to you because of your love for them. As we get older, we should love everybody, like we love our grandkids. And if you don’t love your grandkids, I’m praying for your grandkids. All right, how about this one? The last few, cousins and twins. Does God want churches and Christians to be cousins or twins? Cousins, family, resemblance, not twins. If you walk in, you’re like, “They all drove the same car. They’re all carrying the same Bible. They’re all wearing the same clothes. I think I’m in a cult” There should be diversity, that looks like the kingdom of God. And let me close with this. There’s a difference between school and graduation. So we’re in that graduation season. How many of you have recently graduated? Over here, anybody recently graduate from something? Anybody? No graduates. All dropouts, nobody over here. Okay, I can’t say anything. You graduated, who graduated? Over here? Okay, hi what did you graduate from? A bachelor’s in Sociology, congratulations. Okay, that’s good. Congratulations. You just graduated, what grade? First grade graduation. You graduated, kindergarten. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. How about over here? Anybody graduate recently, recent graduate? Yes. In the back. Fifth grade, okay. So here’s what happens. How many of you are not going to school tomorrow, after you graduated? What did you guys do with your textbook after you graduated? Nothing Holy I’ll tell you that. That’s what you did with it. You know why? ‘Cause you were done. And what it was was there were a series of requirements that needed to be met, and once those graduation requirements are met, what do you do? We literally put you on a stage or put you in a dress and a weird hat, I don’t know why. And then we walk you out, so your parents can all be like, “Thank you, Lord Jesus this is over.” And get a photo, and then someone presents you with a diploma that says you have met your graduation requirements. You have, let me use another word. Fulfilled your graduation requirements, now you are free. You’re free, you don’t have to come back. You don’t have to go back to first grade. You don’t have to go back to third grade. You don’t have to go back to be in your desk at 7:15 in the morning with the number two pencil. Why? You’ve graduated, you’re free. Break the pencil, sleep in, your free. Here’s the point, the law is God’s Old Testament graduation requirements. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Ah! You know what? None of us will ever graduate by our own efforts and works. So Jesus Christ comes. Jesus Christ is God become a human being to do something extraordinary, and that was to go to school for you. And Jesus, guess what? He got straight A’s, He’s valedictorian the universe. Perfect. Never missed a question. Now 613 laws, kept them all meticulously, perfectly. And then what Jesus did, not only did He fulfill your graduation requirements, He also paid all your student loans! Wow! Amen. How some of you now you graduate, but you still got student loans. Not only to Jesus fulfill your graduation requirements. He pays all of your debt past, present, and future to God. You don’t need to suffer. You don’t need to record it. You don’t need to go to purgatory. You don’t need to pay God back And here let me, “Oh, this is awesome. I’m so excited. This is awesome.” Jesus says, “Don’t think I have come,” Matthew five “To abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” I have good news, Jesus Christ is your grade point average. I have good news, Jesus Christ is your transcript. I have good news, Jesus Christ is your graduation certificate. And so now you’re free my friend. You used to live in slavery, but now you’re free to be filled with the spirit and live the fullness of life that God has for you, in relationship with Jesus Christ. Not doing things that you have to do so that God won’t punish you, but doing things because you want to do them, because you love Jesus and you wanna be with Him, and you wanna be like Him, and you wanna be filled with the Spirit! Some of you used to live under condemnation, Jesus fulfilled, and now there is no condemnation in Christ. My friend, you have graduated. There is no reason to go back to condemnation. Some of you lived in addiction and slavery and you were stuck. Jesus Christ fulfilled all of your obligations. You’re now free to leave your sin behind you and press on with the life that God has for you. I want your burdens lifted. I want your legalisms obliterated. I want your shame, eviscerated. I want your condemnation lifted. I want you to live in the environment of God’s grace. I want you to experience the fullness of the spirit of God. And I want you to know that Jesus Christ is amazing that Jesus Christ does what no one else can do. He heals those who otherwise would not be healed. He forgives those who would otherwise not be forgiven. And he has an eternal destiny for you. That is awaiting you and eternal life meets and begins the second that God circumcises your heart. Ah, do you have a circumcised heart? I hate sin. I love Jesus. I’m so excited to walk away from who I was, and walk with the one I wanna become like. Feels like we should have a band or throw a party, Amen. Let’s do that right now. So I’m gonna bring the band up. For those of you that don’t know the Lord Jesus, give your sin to Jesus. Give your future to Jesus. Give your past to Jesus. Give your hopes to Jesus. Give your dreams to Jesus. Give your fears to Jesus, Amen. He will fulfill all that needs to be done for you to be forgiven and reconciled to God. For those of you that have, guess what, you have a circumcised heart. Your new heart wants to sing, wants to throw a party, wants to celebrate. The spirit of God in you wants to lead you into freedom. So I’m gonna pray and we’re gonna sing. Lord God, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We proclaim that truth in the name of Jesus. We Lord God, we pray against the enemy of servants in their works in effects. And we say, the Lord rebuke you for religion. The Lord rebuke you for punishment. The Lord rebuke you for condemnation. The Lord rebuke you for slavery, that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We claim this to be a place for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Holy spirit, we invite you to make this a place of grace, where you set sons and daughters free into the destiny that you intend for them. And we come now to worship in spirit. We come now to worship in grace. We come now to worship in freedom. Not because we have to, but because we want to. And that’s what our circumcised hearts long to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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