Sunday, February 21, 2021

795. Paul: One Gospel, One Covenant - There Is No Longer Jew and Gentile

Continuing to review nuggets of grace from the Apostle Paul, we’re in the book of Galatians and the first part of Ephesians. Paul emphasizes grace over works as he refers to an (unearned) inheritance received in Christ, where believers are no longer viewed as Jews and Gentile, slave or free, male or female. We are all one in Christ, where there is one gospel message of grace for all. The previous covenant from Mt. Sinai brought spiritual bondage but we’ve all been brought into a new and different covenant, where we’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance—resulting in freedom in Christ.



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Sunday, February 14, 2021

794. Paul: One Gospel for All - Don’t Set Aside Grace in Exchange for Works

When Paul came to the knowledge of Christ’s saving grace, he spent several years being taught the gospel message by God through revelation, and declared how he had not received this from men. He spent much of his time proclaiming this good news of grace to both Jews and Gentiles. Paul came down hard on those who were preaching “another gospel” and even went so far as to say that anyone who was teaching something different than the gospel of grace … let them be accursed. And what was that different gospel? Paul reveals to the Galatian churches it involved mixing law with grace.

Things haven’t changed much in the past 2,000 years. Although the rules and regulations are tweaked based upon religious brands and cultural changes, the Christian religious system often weakens the message by emphasizing a works-based message while putting grace on the shelf. Grace may be used as a selling point, but watch out for the fine print.



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Sunday, February 07, 2021

793. Paul’s Proclamation: Justified by Believing (16th Anniversary Program)

We reminisce just a little bit as we look back on 16 years of doing the Growing in Grace podcast … And then we jump back into Paul’s declarations about the gospel of grace through faith. We’re in Romans 10 this week, where Paul continues his consistent flow of the message in his letter, pointing out how Christ became the end of the law (works) for all who believe. He compares how Moses wrote about righteousness through a law that required people to actually do it (but all fell short).

That is contrasted with righteousness which is based upon faith, not works—confessing a word of faith by mouthing Jesus as Lord and believing with the heart God raised Him from the dead, resulting in righteousness (or justification) and salvation. And over and over again, Paul reveals it works the same for both Jew and Greek: Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Be aware of a works-based message being thrown into the mix with requirements which are made to put the responsibility upon you regarding salvation or God’s acceptance.



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Sunday, January 31, 2021

792. Paul’s Proclamation: Dead to the Law - No Condemnation

In Romans 7 and 8, Paul explains how the Jews had formerly been in a marriage relationship with the law of commandments, where Moses served as the best man at the ceremony. But they were made to die to the law through the body of Christ and became free to marry another (Jesus). The law of works never brought a reduction of sin, but resulted in the arousal of sinful passions, bearing fruit to death. Now having been freed from the law, they could begin serving in the newness of the Spirit and not through the old way of writings and letters. The end result would be no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

And yet, many Jewish believers struggled with grasping these truths, wrestling with letting go of a law which couldn’t bring life or righteousness, tempted to pursue the fleshly way of works through a stone tablet ministry which left them in condemnation. And what about Gentiles? How would these (formerly) unclean people fit into the message of Jesus … and would they be required to apply the law? Paul explains the Gentiles would receive righteousness without even pursuing it—because of faith. Whereas the Jews would fall short of righteousness because they were seeking it not by faith, but by works.



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Sunday, January 24, 2021

791. Paul’s Proclamation: God Justifies the Ungodly - by Blood

Paul repeatedly makes the case in his letters for the gospel of grace, opposing a works-based gospel for justification. This week, we’re in Romans, where Paul explained that believers now have peace with God. Why? Because we’ve changed our behavior in order to make ourselves acceptable? No, that road will leave people disoriented and confused, unsure of where they stand with God. We have peace because we’ve been justified by faith through the Lord Jesus Christ—He is the only door by which we enter. Faith. Not works.

Christ died for people at their weakest point and demonstrated His love by dying for the ungodly, bringing justification by His blood and reconciling us to Himself, saved from His wrath and saved by His life. The good news of this grace is what motivated Paul to encourage believers with this hope … and went against nearly all of the other religious messages to which they had been exposed. Now that we’re under grace and not a works-based religious system, we have a new motivation and purpose for producing good works.



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Sunday, January 17, 2021

790. Paul’s Proclamation: Justified by Faith, Apart From Works

Many of the early Jewish church leaders were teaching a different gospel than what the Apostle Paul would deliver after he was taught for several years—not by man—but by revelation from God. It seemed to be a natural assumption by many in the Jewish community of believers to “mix” the old law with faith in Jesus in order to attain a place of righteousness and justification. Paul would declare over and over that the old law of commands was brought to an end and replaced with faith (in Christ) apart from works. 

We’ve recently spent many weeks in a series about Paul and James, highlighting the struggles in the early church and how Paul was battling to free people from a perverted gospel being communicated to both Jew and Gentile. Now we’ll be looking at some of Paul’s letters and passages which specifically make the case for salvation and right standing with God, received as a gift, apart from the works of the law inside of a new and better covenant. The “work” was performed by Jesus and His blood sealed the deal.



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Sunday, January 10, 2021

789. Paul Persecuted - for Teaching Against the Law and the Temple

It’s often assumed Paul was persecuted because he believed in Jesus. But the bulk of Paul’s persecution came from Jews who opposed his teachings about salvation and righteousness coming by faith alone, apart from works, and that Jews had been freed and redeemed from the Mosaic law through the finished work of Jesus. Even the early church leadership (James and others) believed there was a different gospel for Jew and Gentile, and many believing Jews still assumed Gentiles were considered unclean—as the law declared. Keep them away from the temple so it wouldn’t be defiled!

During the early decades after the resurrection, when the church was still growing in their knowledge of the truth, even the apostles didn’t completely understand the fullness of the gospel, although God’s Spirit would reveal things to them … often from what we call the Old Testament—the only Scriptures they could reference. Paul and some of his companions were a major force in sharing the more complete truth of what was accomplished through the blood of the cross—for both Jew and Gentile.

The church today continues to struggle with a mixed message of faith and religious rules, while trying to establish theology and doctrine based upon their own assumptions about the Bible writings. Just as in the early years of the church, we’re not growing in the knowledge of “the Bible,” but we’re all growing in the knowledge of the truth found in the Person of Jesus Christ, as we receive it from the Holy Spirit.



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