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Providence Reformed Church
Pastor Schlegel  |  Lodi, California
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"If You Are Christ's - Galatians 3:26-29
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
If we were to summarize the error of the judiazing teachers which is corrected by the inspired apostle in much of the Book of Galatians, it would be that the teachers in Galatia were missing the point. The Lord had instituted the Law under the hand of Moses, and the people of Israel were bound to every minute detail. But the Law had a limited purpose ("a tutor to bring us to Christ" according to verse 24), and the ceremonies of the Law were fulfilled in Christ. Those who were teaching the church had missed the point of the Law and it's ceremonies. This is most clearly shown in these verses (26-29).

In verse 26 and 27, the apostle tells us that believers are children through faith In Christ. This is in stark contrast to what the believers were hearing. They were told that they had to do something (be circumcised) in order to be true children of God. But Paul says that it is by means of faith that we are children. There is an absolute necessity of faith. Not that faith makes anyone a child of God; God Himself does this. But He has ordained faith, not works of the Law or any other works, as the means of receiving adoption. But then we read, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." What do we do with this language? First, the point of the apostle is to show that there are not two (or more) classes of Christian. This addresses one problem: claim of status or prerogative. Second, that one class is shown in the sacrament of baptism ‚Äď not circumcision, or any other rite of the law or relationship to Abraham. There is only one way, and that is through faith. (Notice the words "as many as".) Once again we see the similarity in purpose between circumcision and baptism. Paul is not teaching that baptism guarantees unity with Christ any more than circumcision makes one a true son of Abraham. The water does not save, but if one has what is signified by it, then that one is united with Christ and that one has "put on Christ". Not by the outward administration of the rite (whether circumcision or baptism), but by faith in Him. So no matter what your condition, your history, who and what your parents are, nor who and what your children are, if you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has come, that He has paid for your sins, and that He is Your Savior and Lord, you are truly a child of God! And not only this, but the apostle tells us that we are also free through faith In Christ in verse 28.

The liberation is shown first in there being now neither Jew nor Greek. Not that there is no absolute difference, but that there is no difference which has any bearing on the place of anyone in Christ or before the bar of God's justice. No genetic or racial distinction matters. "He was never the better for being a circumcised Jew, nor never the worse for being an uncircumcised Gentile; both by nature are equally sinners, and stand in need of the justifying righteousness of Christ, and the regenerating grace of the Spirit." - (John Gill) Secondly, there is now neither slave nor free. Social standing is likewise irrelevant to one's reception as a child of God. The slave was less than a full participant in the life of the covenant community, but one's standing has nothing to do with such a life now. Lastly, our freedom is shown in that there is neither male and female. Of course, like the other conditions, this is not an absolute statement. There are obvious and less obvious differences between male and female, but non that matter regarding coming to Christ. Differences of sex mattered under the old covenant (males only were required to appear three times a year, for example), and they matter in the family and the church, but not in coming to Christ by faith. In fact, as the apostle says, we are "one in Christ." And for those who are so united through faith, are free and truly so. There is much talk about freedom and liberty, but unity with Christ and with one another in Christ, means that the Law no longer threatens and we are free from the condemnation of sin. We have put on Christ! We are clothed in His righteousness and take on His ethical likeness.

A blessing of our adoption and liberty in Christ is also that we are heirs with Christ. Verse 29 says that, "you are Abraham's seed". But that phrase is connected to a conditional "if" and it is a big "IF". The apostle is not expressing doubt that they are in Chirst, bit he is expressing that the promised inheritance cannot be acquired apart from faith in Christ. If we are in Christ, then we are "Abraham's seed". Most of us are not the natural and genetic descendants of Abraham, but we are truer children than those who are his sons, but do not believe. So WE are the ones upon whom the blessing falls. You are heirs of all of the blessings: the blessing of justification, of life eternal, and of salvation from sins, and that, according to the promise given by God. So many in the church today have such a low view of the promise and its fulfillment. The promise is not land, the promise is not mere health and wealth, the promise is not merely physical and material. The promise given to Abraham are fulfilled in us as we trust in that Seed and as we become part of that innumerable multitude of the children of Abraham by faith! Their judaizing teachers would have them believe that they must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, or they could not be saved: No, says the apostle, there is no need of that, for if you are Christ's, if you sincerely believe on him, who is the promised seed, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, you therefore become the true seed of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and as such are heirs according to the promise, and consequently are entitled to the great blessings and privileges of it.

Beloved, the story of God's people is often a story of missing the point. Paul's instruction to us is meant to help us not miss the point. Our spiritual heritage is important, but there is nothing, as rich as our heritage may be, which gives us a benefit apart from faith in the Savior. May we never forget this and miss the point of the message of the gospel.

All For Him,

Pastor Schlegel
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Have You Not Seen? Have You Not Heard? - Isaiah 40:12-31
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
In this text, there is a question posed by the prophet: "To whom then will you liken God?" All of mankind must answer the question posed in verse 12 and your answer to the first question determines the answer to the second in verses 13 and 14....
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The Fundamentals of Forgiveness, Part 5 - Psalm 86
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We now turn our attention to Psalm 86 and some selected verses in particular. As always, we need to keep in mind the foundational verse of Ephesians 4:32, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ...
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The Fundamentals of Forgiveness, Part 4 - Isaiah 38:9-20
TUESDAY, JUNE 09, 2015
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
Brothers and Sisters, Regarding the biblical doctrine and practice of forgiveness, we will look at the example of Hezekiah who sought forgiveness from God. In this chapter, Hezekiah experienced the effect of the broken relationship and the Lord's...
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The Fundamentals of Forgiveness, Part 3 - Psalm 130
TUESDAY, JUNE 09, 2015
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
The relationship between the Lord's act of forgiving is directly tied to your obligation to forgive. When considering the biblical doctrine and practice of forgiveness, there is a temporal and causal relationship which bears directly upon what...
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The Fundamentals of Forgiveness, Part 1 - Matthew 6:12-15
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
There is much sloppy thought and practice in regards to the biblical doctrine of forgiveness. One of the most common errors in the church and outside of it is not the withholding of forgiveness, but the idea that all of us are required to forgive...
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What's Love Got To Do WIth It? - I John 4:7-12
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
What is love? There have been many answers offered over the years, but in our current day the answers have become more and more irreconcilable and distant from any biblical foundation. Should we accept the notion that love is merely a...
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The Faithful Shepherd - I Peter 5:1-4
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
In the beginning of I Peter, chapter 5, the apostle provides the church with a "how-to" manual for the execution of the office of elder. The Christ-honoring performance of the calling of elder is not left up to the person called, nor to the...
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Commit the Keeping Of Your Souls To Him - I Peter 4:15-19
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
These verses represent the conclusion of the Apostle Peter's inspired instruction for us in the context of living the pilgrim life. In a sense, he summarizes what he has said before. Repetition is good. He also gives you some final application...
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I Will Not Forget You - Isaiah 49:13-16
Posted by: Providence Reformed Church | more..
At the beginning of this short passage, the prophet enlists the creation to sing the praises of God. His exhortation is based squarely upon what has come before in this chapter and is intended to encourage the Lord's people during some tumultuous...
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