The Only Thing of Value

"The only thing of value you have to share with anyone else is what I have done for you."

Learn from the past. God

Bob 2 Pet 3:18(NIV)- But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am amazed by people who think that the Bible is old fashioned and obsolete. It is the most current and relevant book I know of! Here is a case in point. Please objectively compare the problems of the First Century Christians to the problems faced by today's Christians. I double-dog-dare you to find anything that has changed in 2000 years.

Galatians, the church that fell from grace – The book of Galatians was written only 15 years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The teachings of Jesus and even the sound of His voice are still fresh in the memory of some of the Galatian believers. Like many of us when we were new Christians, the enthusiastic Galatian church started off on the right path. They began with a sound understanding of salvation by faith and the supernatural life lived under the control of the Holy Spirit. But in just a few short years the church fell from grace and slipped back into the old Jewish mindset. The church was busy with activities and programs, but they were no longer on intimate terms with God. The members looked good on the outside, but on the inside they were deficient in the things that God really wants to see in His children – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Does this sound like some Christians you know? Paul was very upset that the young church had so quickly fallen from grace!

O foolish Galatians! . . . Having begun in the Holy Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal through human effort? (Gal 3:1,3)

It’s not that the Christian life is difficult, Paul reminds them. It’s impossible . . . until you surrender control of your lives to the Holy Spirit. Church programs and "good works" will never bring you to the place where God God wants you to be . . . because only the Holy Spirit can bring about true change in your life. Paul bluntly calls dead religion a "yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1) and a refusal to accept what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousnes could be gained by the law, Christ died for nothing. (Gal 2:21 NIV)

At one time or another, each of us falls from grace and slips back into dead religion. You can stay stuck for as long as you like – especially if you have a ministry or a position in your church. But if you are homesick for your sweet relationship with the Lord - or if you never really had one to begin with - Galatians is the roadmap showing you the way back home.

Colossians, the church of "Jesus and . . ." - After a good start, the Colossian church decided to "improve" the Gospel message by incorporating additional ideas and concepts from Judaism, pagan cultures, and Greek philosophy. The Colossians operated on the premise that although Jesus did the "heavy lifting" of establishing the new faith, He didn't quite finish the job. So it was their perceived "responsibility" to finish what God had left undone. Their faith was based upon "Jesus AND their new additions." Does this sound like some modern theologians you know? The result was a contaminated religion that watered down and weakened the Gospel message. Paul sternly admonished the Colossians that their faith was based upon Jesus PERIOD! Don't put an "AND" where God put a "PERIOD!"

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends upon human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2:8 NIV)

1 Corinthians, the church that wouldn’t grow up – Paul starts a promising new church at Corinth. But within 3 short years, the body of Christ at Corinth is suffering from massive internal bleeding in the following areas:

Paul is really upset when he hears that the believers in Corinth are acting little different from unbelievers. Instead of growing up in the faith, they have remained baby Christians – still feeding on milk instead of taking in solid spiritual food. Does this sound like any churches you know? The root of the problem, says Paul, is that the Corinthians have remained worldly. Only the outside got wet when they were baptized. It is time for you to grow up, says Paul, and bring your behavior into alignment with God’s standard. In plain language, you need to understand God’s Word and obey it. Oops! There’s that four-letter word that nobody wants to hear – "obey." The Lord put it to me this way:

What good does it do to get baptized in the Spirit if you let the old man stay in control?

To address the overall lack of love, Paul writes the beautiful 13th chapter of Corinthians about agape love. "I don’t care how spiritual you think you are," says Paul. "If you fail at love, you are a zero in God’s eyes," (1 Cor 13:1). Not content to leave it at theory, Paul gives the Corinthians practical advice about what love looks like in terms of their daily relationships, especially at home. Paul knows full well that it’s easy to look good at church or in public. But who you really are is who you are at home.

Have you fallen from grace like the church at Galatia?
Have you tried to "improve" the Gospel message like the church at Colossus?
Have you failed to grow up like the church at Corinth?