Colossians 2:6-7 - 6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
FCQ. 106 - In whose name are we to pray? In the name of Christ only.
Shorter Catechism Questions:
SCQ. 88 - What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
William Wallace was a Scottish nobleman who led Scotland against England during the Wars of Scottish Independence in A.D. 1297.He became the political leader of all Scots till England defeated the Scottish army in A.D. 1298.Seven years later he was captured by King Edward I, who had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason.
Wallace was an important figure in Scottish history to be sure.But he became a person of international fame in his death.Since he died poems have been written about him.Even Sir Walter Scott wrote about him.Yet, Wallace is best known to us because of the 1995 Academy Award Winning movie Braveheart.Mel Gibson plays Wallace, with flowing long hair and rugged good looks.In what is arguably the most famous scene of the movie, Wallace is being disemboweled when the executioner gives him a chance to recant of his anti-English positions.Wallace turns to the crowd and screams FREEDOM!Robert the Bruce, who was the rightful heir to the Scottish throne, and who had betrayed Wallace (only in the movie), hears the cry and turns from his treasonous ways and leads the Scottish army in a resounding victory over Edward II's troops.
The clarion call for freedom resonates with every culture and it has a special place in American culture.The very foundation of the United States of America includes the principle that freedom (liberty) is a God-given right that no other person can remove (unalienable).Wars have been fought to secure freedom at home and abroad.The refrain of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's was "Let freedom ring." (Not to mention the inscription on the Liberty Bell).So, American culture is all about freedom.Since this is the case, we must ask the following question: what is the freedom Americans are looking for?Philip Ryken gives the following answer to this question:
"Sociologist Robert Belah has concluded that 'freedom is perhaps the most resonant, deeply held American value….Yet freedom turns out to mean being left alone by others, not having other people's values, ideas, or styles of life forced upon one, being free of arbitrary authority in work, family, and political life.'In other words, what Americans really want is the freedom to be left alone."
That is not the freedom that Christ brings to our lives.In Jesus Christ, through faith in him, we receive true, real, glorious freedom.
Jn. 8:36 – Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
I.This Passage (particularly v. 1) Provides a Transition in the Letter.
A.Paul spent chapters 1 and 2 defending his authority as an apostle.
B.He then spends chapters 3 and 4 laying out the doctrine of justification though faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone – nothing else needs to be done in order for God to be at peace with us.
C.In chapters 5 and 6, Paul tells the church how to live out the truth that God's grace is sufficient.
D.In our passage Paul summarizes the whole of the book before applying its truth to everyday life – If Christ has set you free, you are free indeed!
1.The ESV does a better job of translating this verse.
Gal. 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2.In essence Paul is saying, "As you live out your daily life, with all the concerns of life in a fallen world, remember that the reason Christ set you free is so that you could be free." – For freedom Christ has set us free.
3.Why this comment right here?It is seems so obvious.
a.He had just finished explaining how the Christian is a child of freedom according to the promise of the covenant with Abraham, 4:21-31.
b.The Galatians were considering placing themselves back under the ceremonial law (represented by circumcision) that Christ had completely fulfilled in his life death and resurrection.
1)They were considering the idea that the work of Christ needed to be augmented, improved, added to.
2)Paul tells them that Christ didn't set the Christian free so that he could put himself under bondage to his own ideas of freedom.
3)Christ set him free in order for him/her to be free.
4)More on this later.
c.He was about to give us a few "how-tos" that could be used for bondage.
1)It is very easy to grab the things the God gave us as the result of his grace in our lives and make it the means by which we get his approval.
2)Loving the brethren, giving money, etc. can easily be used as the measure for whether God loves us or not.
E.Notice that this is a hill to dye on – Stand fast.
1.Do not move at all from this idea.
2.Die here if you need to.
3.What is the hill? That faith in Christ alone is necessary for a right standing before God and that our salvation is all by God's grace.
"He must be the perfect Savior, or no Savior."William Perkins on Christ
II.What Is This Freedom?What Did Christ Free Us From?
A.Christ has freed us from sin, death, and the devil.
"We are born in sin, and this we are evil by nature.We are destined to die, having been made mortal by God's curse against Adam's sin.Finally, we are tormented by the devil, who tempts us to sin and seeks to drag us down to very pit of hell."Philip Ryken
1.Jesus sets us free from sin, specially its guilt.
a.He did this in the crucifixion.
b.He offered his life as the just price for our sins, so that we would never have to face the wrath of god for ourselves.
2.Christ set us free from death.
a.He did this by his resurrection.
b.On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead with a real, live, glorious, immortal body and if we are in Christ, we too will be raised again to eternal life.
3.Christ has freed us from the devil.
a.Through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has broken Satan's stronghold on humanity.
Heb. 2:14-15 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
b.Satan, though still powerful, has been defeated.
B.In Jesus Christ, we are free to be and to do what God wants me to be and do.
1.There is nothing I have to do to win God's acceptance because I have already been accepted in Jesus Christ.
2.That's really where Gospel holiness comes from:
a.Knowing that we are free to obey by God's grace;
b.And knowing that there is no risk at all that God is going to stop loving us.
3.Archibald Alexander of old Princeton fame was asked once why "Christians commonly are of so diminutive a stature and such feeble strength in their religion."
a.In other words, he was asked why Christians are so wimpy in their Christianity, why is it that they lack in joy and holiness?
b.His answer is that the church is afraid of proclaiming the grace of God (this is from the early 1800's).
"…there is a defect in our belief in the freeness of divine grace. To exercise unshaken confidence in the doctrine of gratuitous pardon is one of the most difficult things in the world; and to preach this doctrine fully without verging towards antinomianism is no easy task, and is therefore seldom done. But Christians cannot but be lean and feeble when deprived of their proper nutriment. It is by faith that the spiritual life is made to grow; and the doctrine of free grace, without any mixture of human merit, is the only true object of faith….Here, I am persuaded, is the root of the evil; and until religious teachers inculcate clearly, fully, and practically, the grace of God as manifested in the Gospel, we shall have no vigorous growth of piety among professing Christians. We must be, as it were, identified with Christ—crucified with Him, and living by Him, and in Him by faith, or rather, have Christ living in us. The covenant of grace must be more clearly and repeatedly expounded in all its rich plenitude of mercy, and in all its absolute freeness."
III.We Tend to Drift toward Bondage Even Though We Have Been Set Free.
A.The Galatians were free in Christ, but they were in danger of going back into slavery, 5:1b.
1.What Paul meant by "yoke of bondage" was the OT ceremonial law, considered as a means of justification – that is, as a means by which one is accepted by God.
a.Some have argued that Paul is not really talking about justification by the grace God here; he talking about what it means to be identified with the people of God.
b.They argue that all Paul is saying is that one doesn't need to be circumcise to be part of the people of God (New Perspectives on Paul, N.T. Wright, James Dunn).
c.But that is not the case at all.
2.The Galatians were being taught that Christ wasn't enough to get them to the end, and that they needed to keep up the good work of obeying the ceremonial law as represented by circumcision, 3:1-4.
B.True, biblical Christianity is Christ + absolutely nothing, 5:2.
1.At the very moment you add something to Christ as the basis for God's approval of you, you have left Christianity because you have left Christ.
2.You have adopted a Christless Christianity.
"He must be the perfect Savior, or no Savior."William Perkins on Christ
3.Paul uses the emphatic "I, Paul" to show that he is serious about this.
a."Guys, this is me, the guy who went through great cost to preach the Gospel to you."
b."This is me, the one who received this message directly from Christ."
c."You know I have your best interest in mind."
d."These false teachers are only looking for converts, for followers.What I want is for you to follow Christ, not me."
C.Once you add something to Christ as the reason why Christ should accept you, you are removing all of Christ from the equation and are now saying that God should accept you solely for what you do, 5:3.
1.When we think of God's approval as dependent on what we do, we are actually saying that we want him to think of us on the basis of his law, all of if.
2.We become a debtor to the law.
a.It is important to notice that Paul says debtor – not fulfiller.
b.To place ourselves in debt to the law is to place ourselves in an impossible position.
3.The Christian is not a debtor to keeping the law; he is a debtor to mercy alone.
"Holiness will never come as the result of someone insisting on adherence to either man-made or even God-made regulations."
D.Notice how grace either is or is not, 5:4.
1.There isn't a little grace and a little our own effort.
2.When we try to supplement God's grace as the basis for our relationship with him we are actually leaving (falling from) grace all together.
"A Christ supplemented is a Christ supplanted."William Hendriksen
E.This ends up being an issue of identity.
1.Are we identified by what we do or by what Christ has done?
2.Do we get our worth from what we do or from Jesus Christ?
"If we get our very identity, our sense of worth, from our political position, then politics is not really about politics, it is about us.Through our cause we are getting a self, our worth. That means we must despise and demonize the opposition.If we get our identity from our ethnicity or socioeconomic status, then we have to feel superior to those of other classes and races.If you are profoundly proud of being an open0minded, tolerant soul, you will be extremely indignant toward people you think are bigots.If you are a very moral person, you will feel very superior to people you think are licentious.And so on.
"There is no way out of this conundrum.The more we love and identify deeply with our family, our class, our race, or our religion, the harder it is to not feel superior or even hostile to other religions, races, etc.So racism, classism, and sexism are not matters of ignorance or a lack of education….The real culture war is taking place inside our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them."Tim Keller in The Reason for God
3.In Christ, we have been freed from bondage/slavery to all these issues and to live without fear of rejection because won't reject us, 5:5.
a.This is a reference to judgment day when Christ will publically vindicate his people – "Well done my good and faithful servant."
b.Grace allows us to live joyfully knowing that our Lord loves us.
IV.Paradoxically, It Is Faith in Christ Alone That Pushes Us to Do and Obey, 5:6.
A.Paul says that this type of faith produces love and love is the final motivator for service.
B.It is not circumcision or the lack thereof that unites us.
C.It is faith in Christ that unites us and produces in us love.
D.So it is not the different things that we do for God or for self that brings us together, but faith in a common Savior.
E.More on a faith that produces this afternoon.
Conclusion – Freedom!Freedom in Christ.Freedom from sin, death, and Satan.Freedom to have joy and peace.Freedom that comes from Christ and him alone.