Home Church Service 6/12/2021
These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.
“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:18-21 (NASB)
In the United States of America, we are taught from an early age that hard work will get you just about anything you want and need in life. There is a cost attached to everything and nothing is ever free! We do not take handouts or charity because hard work is the only way to get anything or anywhere in life. We call this having a work ethic; hard work and a good work ethic pay be dividends.
In our passage today we find very much the opposite approach when it comes to our salvation and righteousness. For believers we must understand we are Dead, Yet Alive! through our faith in Christ Jesus. Ther is no amount of hard work or work ethic that can ever earn your salvation or righteousness – for it is the free gift to those who believe and trust in Christ Jesus.
We cannot rebuild what has been destroyed, for we have died to the Law and now live to God. We live by faith in Christ, who now lives in us. Christ did not die needlessly for we are Dead, yet Alive! for the One who loves us, gave Himself up for us.
We cannot return to working to earn our way to right standing with God. The old self has dies to be replaced with Christ, in whom we live by faith. We are Dead, Yet Alive! because Christ, the One who loves us, died that we may have right standing with God.
In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is it possible to be Dead, Yet Alive!?”
We are Dead, yet Alive! because of the One who loves us and gave Himself up for us.
1). The first thing we must understand – to be Dead, Yet Alive! there must first be a death – the death of a former life.
We cannot return to a life of dependence on self and hope to find right standing with God.
In this passage, in its original setting, Paul is speaking to Jewish Christians in his letter to the church in Galatia, but this passage has much relevance to gentile believers in the church and Christians today. For the Jewish Christian who has come from life under the Law to justification by faith in Christ, there can be no going back to the old way of doing things. Justification by faith tore down the old sacrificial system of laws and good deeds meant to earn points with God. For the Jewish believer to attempt to return to the legal system as the basis for their relationship with God is to say the death of Christ is not enough.
No one is perfect, justified people will sin, but they move onward and upward. The one who commits the real sin is the one who returns to the law – this is the truly guilty person. People who live under the law are described as lawbreakers more often than they are described as law-keepers for a reason – no one can keep the law perfectly. The best the law can do, what the law was meant to do, is point out their sin and the great need for a Savior.
So, the law is unable to earn God’s approval – it offers only failure and death. Why then is the Law such a hot topic in Scripture? Is there any usefulness in the Law? The law is a necessary instrument so that people can see the ultimate futility in attempting to meet God’s standards in their own strength and by their own means. Thus, the Law points out we deserve death as lawbreakers and points to our only hope – Christ Jesus, who took the death penalty all deserve.
Paul understood there could be no middle ground for him, or anyone else, to live to God. It makes no sense at all, to accept salvation by faith and then turn around and try to earn it through works. No one accepts a gift and then tries to pay the giver for the gift, it ceases to be a gift and becomes a business transaction. It is difficult for the Jewish believer, or anyone for that matter, to put aside personal effort and accept the free gift of Jesus.
As Christians, or Gentile believers, we were never under the Law in the same sense Paul addresses the Jewish Christian. So, how then, do we as Christian break the law of God? When we come to Christ by faith we are justified by that faith, by this act we have removed or destroyed that which is evil – namely the old self. So when we, as Christians, attempt to go back to that old way of life or attempt to earn our salvation through good works, we are breaking the law of God. In addition, we show we do not trust in the work of Christ on the cross and we must do the work ourselves.
We, like Paul, have died to the law. The Greek indicates this is a past action that influences our present reality. Because Christ has completely fulfilled the Law – past tense – it should be influencing our present action, for as imperfect humans we cannot keep the law. There is no riding the fence for Christians, either you accept salvation through faith in Christ or you continue to believe and buy into the lie of salvation based on personal merit, deeds and accomplishments.
Put another way, when we as believers see what God has done for us, we should be driven to do what is pleasing to God. We must see Christ as the One bearing the guilt and punishment for our sin and bow before Him in love and adoration before rising to do His work in appreciation for what He has done. The believer does what is good and what is right, not to win our righteousness or salvation, but to serve God from the deep appreciation of the righteousness and salvation we have already received through faith in Christ.
Our faith in Christ is the key. Our former life must die before we live to God. This is the thrust behind the statement, “I have been crucified with Christ.” When a person comes to understand and believe that Jesus Christ has died for them – that Jesus took the penalty and punishment for them – God credits that person with faith and takes that faith and counts it as that person having died with Christ, with that person now being identified with Christ and with that person already having been punished for sin – all in the death of Christ.
We are Dead, Yet Alive! because of the One who loves us and gave Himself up for us.
2). The second thing we must understand – to be Dead, yet Alive! there must be a life – a new life of Christ within us.
Though we live on in the flesh, we now live by faith in Christ.
As those who have been crucified with Christ – those who are identified with Christ in His death – we still live on in the flesh, here on earth, but a change has occurred. With the death of the old self as new life must take its place – the life of Christ living within believers. We have turned our life over to Christ! Notice the sequence of events in our salvation; we give up our old way of life and turn to Christ for His life; the old self-centered life now becomes the Christ-centered life; the old life with selfish pursuits and desires is filled with the desires and pursuits of Christ, who has filled the emptiness.
There has been a radical cleansing of the old self and now the new self must turn to Christ to be fully empowered by Christ. In our repentance we turned from sin towards Christ and now we must turn from self in the flesh and towards the self now hidden and empowered in Christ. No longer do we need to try and please God through personal merits, deeds and accomplishments, instead we now live a life of faith in Christ, the Son of God, living within us. As believers we continue to live in the bodies that are prone to sin, yet with Christ in charge, we are a new creation, living a new life in faith. This faith is an attitude, it is a lifestyle!
Put another way, the believer has been crucified with Christ, yet we still live upon the earth. However, we are not to be in charge of our lives, by faith we died with Christ, therefore we are to allow Christ to live in and through our body, to control and be in charge of our life. As believers we are to be so at one with Christ it is as if He is walking on the earth in our bodies. As believers we are to have such union and fellowship with Christ, we are but a branch drawing all we need – our very life and nourishment – from Christ Jesus Himself.
As believers we live for God by trusting the grace of God – that is, by trusting Jesus Christ who is God’s righteousness and gives us our righteousness. If a believer puts aside the grace of God and seeks righteousness through personal merit, deeds or accomplishment, then Christ has died for nothing! The believer who teaches or believe that a person can be good enough – that a person can work hard enough through personal merit, deeds or accomplishments – to become righteous and acceptable to God voids and puts away the love and grace of God and makes the death of Christ empty and meaningless.
We are Dead, yet Alive! because of the One who loves us and gave Himself up for us.
Many of us have been taught from an early age we need to work hard and have a good work ethic; this will get us anything and take us anywhere we want in life. Nothing is ever free, there is a cost to everything somewhere. Yes indeed, working hard and having a good work ethic will pay big dividends.
We have learned in this passage that no amount of hard work or work ethic will ever earn our salvation or righteousness for they are the free gift to those who believe and trust in Christ Jesus. We are Dead, Yet Alive! through the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.
So, how then, as believers, do we respond to this passage? What is your response to the truth of the gospel? Perhaps now is a good time to reflect and take an inventory of ourselves. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in reflection. First, “Have I been saved by the grace of God?” The only Gospel that saves is the Gospel of the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. If you are believing in any other gospel, it is a false gospel, and you are being led in a path of destruction. Are you trusting in yourself – in your personal merit, deeds and accomplishments? If so, you are not truly a Christian, a true Christian – a disciple of Christ – is one who trusts in Christ alone. The second question to ask yourself, “Am I trying to mix Law and grace?” By this we mean, are you trying to do something to please God? Grace is believing that God has finished the work for me, and I need to believe and trust in Christ Jesus. Your salvation does not come by faith in Christ plus something: it is faith ALONE in Christ!
Thirdly, ask yourself, “Am I rejoicing in the fact that I am justified by faith in Christ?” Perhaps you have heard it said that to be “justified” means “just as if I’d never sinned” and that is correct. What peace it brings to a believer’s heart knowing we have right standing with God because He has credited the righteousness of Christ to our account! God has not only declared us to have right standing, but He also treats us as if we have never sinned! For those who trust in Christ, we never need to fear judgment because our sins have been judged at the cross of Christ. The fourth question to ask yourself is, “Am I walking in the liberty of grace?” Liberty is not license but rather it is freedom in Christ to enjoy Christ and become all He has created and determined us to become. Yes, there is freedom to do but there is also freedom NOT to do. Not because we have a list of dos and don’ts but because we are no longer under bondage to sin. We do what is good and right because of our love for Christ, not because of the Law or a list of rules we are forced to follow.
The fifth question to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to defend the truth of the Gospel?” Now, this does not mean you go to every church or every Bible study and seek out those who are teaching a false gospel, rather it means we do not fear people when they deny the truths that brought us into salvation and eternal life in Christ. Many people believe we earn salvation by faith in Christ plus something we must do, such as good works; it is our responsibility to speak the truth of the gospel and gently correct false and misleading information. Finally, ask yourself this final question, and this may be the hardest of all to answer honestly, “Am I walking in a manner worth of the truth of the Gospel”? The best way to defend the gospel message is to live a life that speaks of the impact the gospel has had on your life. Your words of defense will fall on deaf ears if your life contradicts what you say. In other words, walk the walk as you talk the talk.
If you have answered no to any of these questions but know you should have answered yes, please feel free to reach out to this ministry or find a solid biblical church in your area. Help is available. If you have not come to Christ for salvation but would like to know more so you can answer yes to these questions, again, please feel free to reach out to this ministry or a church in your area. Help is available.
We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.
Amen and Amen.