Faith Is, Chapter Fifteen
In this chapter I want to talk to you about freedom. Religion for the most part places people under bondage to rules and regulation and Law. We build fences so high that our people can not escape. In the old days we taught our people that we were the only true church and that you had to be members of our church if you were to make it to heaven. We even had debates with other churches as to who was right and who was wrong. In attending those debates when I was growing up I never could understand the purpose for them because each side tried to prove that they had all the truth and never once did I hear either side say that the other side was right in any of their arguments. It was an attempt of both sides to prove the other side was wrong and they were right.
When I first realized that the Lord had called me to be a teacher I wanted to find out what I really believed and not just what I had been taught. I slowly became aware that much of what I had been taught was very narrow minded and often not what the scripture was really saying. The more I studied the more I became convince that the Lord never intended us to live under Law. I had been told by my father, and many preachers that I sit under, that the Old Law or Old Testament was passed away and now we are living under the New Law of Christ or the New Testament.
I want to share with you this week the truth of this matter of living under Law verses living under the rule of Freedom. The great Apostle Paul had much to say about this in all of his letters but especially his letter to the Churches at Galatia and the Church at Ephesus. Paul didn't waste much time in his letter to the Churches in Galatia but got right to the point. In Gal. 1:6-9 he wrote,
"I marvel that you are
so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another
gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and
would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
I heard this verse of scripture used so many times to indicate that if anyone disagreed with our church they were wrong and were preaching another gospel and were therefore cursed and we should avoid their teaching at all cost. However, this is not what Paul was talking about at all. In Gal. 2:15-21 he made a very strong statement to those who want to live their lives according to Law,
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we (Jews) have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is died in vain."
You may say, "But, Paul, Jesus gave us His Law in what we call the Beatitudes in Math. 5-7!" First of all, you must understand that Jesus came to fulfill the Law or to complete it and to reveal to mankind the love of His Father. He said in Matt. 5:17,
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
In fact, He was living under the ruler ship of the Law and in His teachings He explained what God had in mind when He gave the Law to Moses. And when Jesus went to the cross God nailed the Law, which was against us because of the flesh, to that cross which took it out of the way. Paul said in Col. 2:13-14,
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
Paul was very straight forward with the Galatians when he said in Gal. 3:1-14, (NIV)
" You foolish Galatians! Who
has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as
crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by
observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?
After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have
you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."
There are several things that I want to point out to you here. First, Paul asked them just how they received the Spirit. Let me rephrase that question so that you will understand. Were you born again because you obeyed some law to be born again or was it because you believed what Paul said that you had to believe in order to be saved. He said in Rom. 10:8-10,
"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. "
The point that I want to make to you is that there is nothing that that you can do by human effort to be justified in the Lord's sight. NONTHING!!! You can go to church every time the doors are opened, you can be baptized in water, you can visit the sick, you can do all kinds of things, but none of these things will save you or make you justified before God. All that you have to do to be justified before God is to believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead and open your mouth and confess what you believe.
You may say that this is not what you have been taught and you don't understand how all that you have to do is just believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was raised from the dead by God! On the day of Pentecost Peter told the Jews when they asked him what they had to do said,
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
Just consider the fact that many of those who were listening to Peter were the ones who cried out "Crucify Him!" Most of them had seen and heard Jesus during His ministry. The majority of these people were God's chosen people who had turned their backs on Jesus and didn't accept Him for who He said that He was. So Peter told them that they had to repent and be baptized.
So, just how can anyone just confess that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead and by that be saved? Do you remember the story about the mother of Jesus when the angel Gabriel came to her and told her she had been selected to be the one that would give birth to Jesus and that He would be called the Son of God? Mary said to the angel, "How can this be true because I have never been with a man?" When the angel told her that the Holy Ghost would overshadow her and she would be with child, notice what Mary confessed with her mouth. "Be it done unto me, even as you have spoken!" At the very moment she confessed this, she became pregnant with the Word of God!!!
Well, you may say, "I still don't see how that all I have to do to be saved is to speak it with my mouth?" Have you ever paid close attention to Genesis chapter 1 when God spoke this world into existence? And God said, "Let there be, and there was!" Have you ever wondered why it continually says that God said? Paul understood this when he said in Heb. 11:3,
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
Jesus said in Matt. 12:34-37,
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
Once again Paul said in Rom. 10:8-11,
"The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
How much clearer can it be said. The power to be saved from sin lies within us and is given to us when the Holy Spirit convicts us and gives us the faith to believe. It is just that simple. Someone will say, "Well, I thought we had to work out our own salvation with much fear and trembling!" Isn't that what Paul said in Phil. 2:12?
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Our problem is that we confuse the salvation from sin and the salvation of our souls. To properly understand the salvation of our souls we must understand the difference between our soul and our spirit. We are spirit and we have a soul which is our mind, will and emotions. It is our soul that must be saved and this comes about as we allow our minds to be renewed by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us. Jesus said in John 16,13-14,
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
In all of Paul's letters to the Gentiles his Gospel bypassed the Law and went all the way back to Abraham. Did you know that God introduce the Gospel to Abraham? The Gospel was that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Paul said in Eph. 2:8-9,
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
This is the Gospel summed up in a nut shell, so to speak. God, without any effort on our part, has saved us Himself and has even given us the faith to believe Him so that we can in no way make a boast before God that He has to look at the wonderful deeds that we have done and therefore owes us something. Jesus said in Luke 17:10, (NIV)
"So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."
This is very hard for the carnal mind to accept because of it's ego. It wants to take credit for everything. We hear men all the time brag about how smart they were to figure out some complex problem and never once stop to consider that the Lord gave them the answer. How many times each day do you stop to thank the Lord for giving you the answers to the problems you are faced with?
It's so hard for the carnal mind to realize when the Lord gives it the answer or alerts it to some danger. We have become so carnally minded and so ego minded that we think it strange that God would speak to us and we try to regulate His speaking to His people to times past.
You know that, for all practical purposes, I was taught that when Jesus ascended back to the Father that He and the Father crossed their arms and sit back on the throne and watched to see what we would do. I mean, after all, we had the written word of God so we no longer needed to hear from God but all we have to do is get into the Bible and see what His will for us is. Do you not realize that the printing press was not in existence until 1440. Christians that lived before that time only had, if they were very fortunate, a hand written copy of the Bible. As a result, they had to depend on God to show them the way.
Paul said in Gal. 5:1,
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage!"
He also said in Rom. 6:22,
"But now being made free from sin, you have become servants to God, you
have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
And again in Rom. 8:2,
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
Most of us who have been raised in the Church, especially if we have some years on us, have been taught most of our lives that we constantly have to deal with sin in our lives. We are constantly being made aware of sin every time we go to Church and as a result we have become sin conscious. Every time we pray we ask God to forgive us of all our unforgiven sins. We have very little understanding of righteousness because we have been made so aware of sin that if something happens to us that we think maybe we are dieing we are fearful that maybe we haven't lived good enough to be saved.
Well, I can guarantee you that if you are basing your salvation from sin on how successful you have been at not sinning, you will not be saved! If you could have controlled your life to the point that you never have sinned then you would have something to be proud of and wouldn't need the blood of Jesus to save you.
If you ever receive the revelation that sin has no more dominion over you then you will be free to enjoy this life. Freedom from sin releases the tremendous load on us that we must live up to some standard in order to be saved from sin. Can you today believe what the great Apostle Paul said about law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death? You see, Law has the curse on it that if you brake any one of it's laws you are guilty of the whole Law. But Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:56,
"The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
He also said in Gal. 5:17,
"If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."
How can this be? Because there is no sin in the Spirit. I think you will agree with me that it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to sin! Well, if I am one with the Holy Spirit, and I am, then it is impossible for me to sin because I have been born of God and I am exactly like Him. The real Dave Johnson is spirit because I have been born of God therefore I am spirit and not subject to death. My flesh is something else. It is subject to death and must die because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God because His Kingdom is spirit. If I am walking in the spirit all of the time my flesh will not sin but if I walk in the flesh it will sin. Therefore Paul said in Eph. 5:18,
"Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"
What happens when you become drunk with alcohol? You loose control of yourself and do all kinds of things you wouldn't do other wise. If you are filled with the Spirit there is no room for any other thing to control you and you will always do what is right.
Brethren, don't allow yourselves to be place under the bondage of rules and regulations but relax and set your minds on the things of God and learn to love each other and not give way to a judgmental attitude. Allow other people to be who they are and know they Spirit of God lives in them and it is the Spirits responsibility to teach them of His ways. Isaiah 2:3 says,
"Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."
This is the Sunday that men have chosen to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and have called it Easter. This is a man made celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word Easter is not in the Bible. The only remembrance of this event that Christians are instructed to participate in is when we have communion. Jesus said in Luke 22:19-20,
"And he(Jesus) took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Paul said in 2 Cor. 11:23-26,
"That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come."
As a result of these scriptures and the example of the early church gathering together in Acts 20:7 which says,
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,"
some churches teach that we should have communion every Sunday.
There is nothing wrong with selecting a particular day of the year to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ or by having communion every Sunday. The problem we run into is when we want to make a law saying that this is the only way that God will be pleased with us and that every one who doesn't do it our way is wrong.
It is my opinion that we should take advantage of every opportunity we get to remember what the Lord has done for us. So how ever you choose to celebrate what the Lord has done for us will bring glory to Him.