Saturday, February 7, 2009

STANDING FAST versus FALLING AWAY-Galatians 5;1-6

''THEREFORE''.... As in all Paul's church letters this word marks the turning point from doctrine to duty. It gathers into itself the entire doctrinal statement that has preceded, and focuses its full force upon practical day-by-day living. It transmutes the teaching into a practical way of living. CHRISTIAN LIVING is a matter of staying ON SIDE-His Side, with its dearly purchased freedom. It is a matter of resisting every influence that would get us OFF SIDE,back onto Our Side, back to an endless round of self-effort. The sickening failure everywhere evident, in the church, and in the individual, is right here. Our multipled ''activities,'' our fine ''program'' which keeps us so busy--all tends to makke us self-conscious rather than Christ-conscious. We are doing something; we tend to forget what Christ has done and is doing. Even our preaching emphasis upon duty tends to drag us over to Our Side. We talk about the many unsolved problems engulfing society; resultantly, the vast majority of Christian people lose sight of the complete solution of all problems ''in Christ.'' WHAT IS CHRISTIAN LIBERTY / The Christian, born of God, is God's free-born man. He is His Son, His heir; all that God has is his. We read in Romans 8;32-''He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things/'' God has already ''blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ'' [EPHESUS 1;3]. These blessings include His unqualified favor, ''justified from all things,'' the bestowal of His life, the gifts of His Spirit, access to His presence in prayer--everything to be desired. Christian liberty is a life so lived, that these provisions of grace, continue to operate. SAVED BY GRACE INTIALLY, WE MUST BE KEPT BY GRACE CONTIMUALLY. Life imparted by grace, must be sustained by grace. Justified by grace [ROMANS 3;24], we must be sanctified by grace; Standing in grace [ROMANS 5;2], we must walk in grace. We must be taught, trained, and disciplined by grace [Titus 2;11-13]. We are to grow in grace [II. PETER 3;18]. We are to experience the riches of His grace [EPHESUS 1;7, not only now but eternally [EPHESUS 2;7]. In the severest trial His grace proves itself sufficient for us [11. CORINTHIANS 12;9], and as we humble ourselves, He keeps adding more grace [James 4;6]. He calls Himself the God of all grace [1 PETER 5;10], able to make all grace abound toward us, that we may always have all sufficiency for all things [II. Corinthians 9;8]. It is evident that God has a thorough-going program of grace. Grace made us free; grace sustains us in a continuous experience of freedom. This is Christian liberty; staying on His Side, in His favor, where His freeing grace continuously operates. In this freedom we are to ''stand fast'' at all costs. WHAT IS FALLING FROM GRACE / So very many hold a superficial conception of grace. They think of grace as a sort of booster, or bracer, a spiritual vitamin to insure against failure. Do the best you can; God won't fail you; He'll see you through; God helps those who help themselves. Not so. God only has 2 ways of dealing with men, two great principles; law and grace. Grace is God finding a way to set aside the demands of law and our deserts under it, having taken those deserts upon Himself, that He may be free to pour out upon us His goodness anf kindness, even His very life. ''Falling from grace,'' better understood by translating it ''falling away from grace,'' is crossing the line-changing sides-to come under the requirements of law, thereby forfeiting the provisions of grace. Many think of falling from grace as falling into sin, such as drunkenness or some such evil. That is not what falling from grace is, at least initially; however, as we shall soon see, its ultimate result may be something such as that. Falling from grace is giving up God's provisions under grace, as much as to say,''I'd rather depend on what I can do for myself, or on what some one does for me.'' IN THE CASE OF THESE Galatians it was circumcision. This seemed a harmless thing to do, but they had done it because the law prescribed it. Paul says, ''That one thing labels you; you're under the law as a system of life; you've obligated yourselves to keep the whole law; you are severed from Christ; you've served notice on God you are going to do the best you can for yourself; you've cut the supply-line of His grace.'' Today, falling away from grace for many takes the form of depending upon what the church can do for them. they are relying upon church membership--they really and implicitly trust it for their spiritual security. Others depend on water baptism, the Lord's table AND THEIR GOOD DEEDS. If Paul were here today, he would say, to all such, ''Y are severed from Christ; you have left His Side and are busy commending yourselves to GOD... It is all a vain Show.'' What is more, these people, through ignorance of Bible truth, and by reason of the kind of preaching of our day, never really understand God's offered grace and its provision for dealing with them. CHRIST-CONTROLLED or SELF-CONTROLLED This is the issue before us. In terms of practical living we are faced with this Question; ''Do I want Christ to control my life/ Or, do I prefer to run my own life/ That is the choice before us. Life on His Side is, in the provisions of grace, a person-to-person relationship--''I in you''; ''I will dwell in them and walk in them'' [JOHN 15;4; 11. CORINTHIANS 6;16]; the other person is in control. Back on Our Side life becomes a one person affair; that person is thrown upon his own resources. On His Side life is spiritual, with spiritual ideals and aims and experiences that thrill the soul. The fallen-from-grace life, though intensely religious, is a moral life; ''I'' call upon myself to live up to certain standards of conduct that satisfy my religious sense of right and wrong. It is the Romans 7 life as against the Romans 8 life. In Romans 7 the pronoun ''I'' occurs 38 times; ''I'' am trying to live up to a standard set for me, but there is something in ''I'' that foils my best efforts. The attempt ends in a defeatist mood, a sense of wretched failure [7;24]. That mood is seen in church life today. Religious life, a solo effort to solve one's problems, is deadening and discouraging. But ROMANS 8.... Another Person is introduced into human experience, and with Him, a new control--''the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus''; and this control by Him ''has MADE me free'' V.2]. The ''I'' has disappeared; we can now use ''we''-He and I are living a joint life, I in Him [vs. 1] and He in me [vs. 10]. My responsibility, so far removed from the former self-effort, is to so yield to Him that He can realize His life in me. Now life is''we'' living together. How practical this is. IT WORKS.... This becomes more evident when the relationship is carried over into Ephesian truth. a relationship of head and body-He the HEAD, while the believer constitutes the body. THE HEAD IS IN UNDISPUTED CONTROL. THE BODY MAINTAINS AN INSTINCTIVE YIELDEDNESS. Grace has attained a marvelous solution to man's problems; he is free, in the freedom of his Creator-Redeemer living His life in and through man. [to be continued]

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