“Only One Way of Being Christian”
Theology Girl-ReformedWomen Bible Studies*
“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:11-21
“The righteousness that most glorifies God does not come from restrictive rule-keeping; it comes from regenerated delight in pursuing Christlikeness. The righteousness that most glorifies God is about spiritual new birth. It reflects His power at work in His people.”1/
“God declared Christ’s work acceptable when He raised Him from the dead and installed Him in the position of authority at His right hand. People of all nations are now made right with God when they exercise God-given faith (that is, when they believe and trust) in what Jesus has done. Exercising that faith unites us with Him and gives us the righteousness we need to be made right with God. We stand before God in Christ, clothed in His righteousness and forgiven on the basis of His atonement. Faith alone in the completed work of Christ is now the way in which people from all nations are made right with God.” “The law defines righteousness and reveals our sinfulness. And then points us to Christ as the solution for sinfulness.” “The righteousness that most glorifies God does not come from restrictive rule-keeping; it comes from regenerated delight in pursuing Christlikeness. The righteousness that most glorifies God is about spiritual new birth. It reflects His power at work in His people.” “Justification unites us with Christ. And union with Christ makes us new creations — free from the external constraint of the law, motivated by the internal principle of holiness, and empowered by God’s Spirit to purse the righteousness that most glorifies God.”2/
“Only one way of being Christian,” the title of this week’s lesson is one we are all familiar with and have heard many times in differing situations. Every one, without exception, has their own interpretation of what it means to be a Christian and how we get there. I will not address those issues here for it would take us several weeks to study but I wanted to bring it to your attention as you think about the practical application of this lesson. Christ has taught us throughout Scripture that man always wants to “climb up” another way to God rather than through His provision in the finished work of Christ. Man truly does “work out many inventions” and I believe that the number one “invention” of man is the falsehood that is propagated throughout the world with its many religions of working up to God and His heaven through man’s efforts and works. It is the lie of the Devil that Adam and Eve were seduced by and it is the same lie today — a man-centered, man-glorifying salvation. The Tower of Babel is well in the world and still being built in the hearts and minds of sinner and saints. The tower? The gospel of works, God plus anything and everything. God has said, “He is not mocked” and whatsoever a man sows that will he reap. It is either Christ’s salvation applied to the believer or it is the filthy rags of man’s own unrighteousness and original sin that will damn his soul. As John Owen so boldly proclaimed, it is the “Idol of Self” and his works that man worships. Man loves to have the glory, the accolades, the praise and worship of other men for the things that he has been “commanded” to do for God’s glory. Believers are not immune to this as well. We want men and women to “think” well of us, not because of the glory it brings to Christ but the glory that it brings to us! We want to be “admired” and exalted in our groups, or families, or churches. We want to be “recognized” as those people who “work” for Christ when God has said that those works have been enabled in us by the work of the Holy Spirit and He gets the praise and adoration for them. We are not to seek glory but to see HIS glory, HIS praise, for what He has done in our lives. We are not to “work” for our salvation (which, is impossible to do in any event, it only damns) and we are not to “work” for the “praise of men” but rather we are to submit to God and His indwelling Holy Spirit to “work the works of God” and that work is to “believe in Him” whom God has sent and to seek His glory and Kingdom first. Peter learned this the hard way. It took a public rebuke. Sometimes it takes a “falling down” for us and sometimes just sitting with God’s Word and meditating upon it and looking truthfully at what and who were are to see the truth of God in our lives. What do we have that we did not receive from Christ? What are we in person or spirituality that we did not receive from Christ? Where are we in life that we did receive from Christ? Mediate upon those thoughts…”we cannot make one hair black or white” and thus how could we ever do anything “good” for God to earn His favor in salvation or take His empowering Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and claim it for our own works? No, because we are His and because we have His indwelling Spirit we are equipped to “work” for Christ and serve the brethren, our neighbor and our enemies in love for His sake. These are things that we must reflect upon so that we do not fall into the error of the “works” crowd and the “wicked” to glorify man rather than our God who has given us so richly the gift of salvation, the blessings of this life and hope for eternity in His glorious presence. What more could we ask? There is no greater gift and you have it, exercise it for His glory and the good of His people. For the praise of His glorious grace, let it be that we learn from this lesson an important one applied in our own lives.”_TG-RW
The above article is based on my book study of “No Other Gospel” [“NOG”] Finding True Freedom in the Message of the Galatians by Carol J. Ruvolo, Chapter #3, Lesson#3, July 30, 2007.
1/[NOG, p.53] Carol is not saying here that this is based on our work of “exercising” but rather this is the outworking of the Holy Spirit in the life of the true believer. They will, because they are “born again” and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them, are given, along with their gift from Christ of faith and salvation, the Holy Spirit with all things necessary to believe, trust and “work out” that salvation “with fear and trembling.” It is God’s sovereign and electing work of “grace,” “preparing their steps” and giving them “everything for life and godliness.” The enabling work of the Holy Spirit in the believer is the “work of God” and thus “when we have done all things that we have been commanded to do, we are still unprofitable servants for we have done what we ought to do.” [Luke 17:10] In other words, the works prepared by God for us to do and all of the outworking of them is for the glory of God and His sovereign design and purpose for our lives. There is no credit to us and no “good works” attributed to us but rather than indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us to live the Christian life and thus Christ, and Christ alone, receives the glory. We are His offspring and it is “in HIM in whom we live and move and have our being.” [Acts 17:28] The only “well done thou good and faithful servant” is the “well done” that the Father has said unto His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, “You are My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased.” [Mark 1:11] _TG-RW
2/ [NOG, p. 55-56]
Key Word: “hypocrisy” Greek: “hoop-ok’-ree-sis” Definition: an answering, an answer, the acting of a stage player, dissimulation, hypocrisy Hebrew: “kho’-nef” Definition: hypocrisy, godlessness, hypocrite, profaneness.
“The hypocrite pretends goodness, but beneath a religious veneer is a malicious or deceitful heart (Matt 22:15-18; cf. 1 Peter 2:1). Though hypocrites justify their religious activity, their hearts are not true to God (Matt 15:7-9, 18-19; cf. Isa 29:13-14). As in the Old Testament a discrepancy exists between outward conformity to religious ritual and the true state of their hearts (Matt 23:25-30; contrast 5:8). Thus, the term “hypocrite” (Matt 24:51) can occur as a synonym for “unfaithful/unbeliever.” Such “hypocrites” hinder others from coming to Christ and even make converts to their godless lifestyle (Matt 23:13, 15; cf. Dan 11:32, 34). Or they deceive others into doctrinal error (1 Tim 4:1-2). Thus hypocrisy is implied as one of the evidences of earthly or demonic wisdom (James 3:13-17).” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology – _TG_RW
Living Coram Deo,
All rights reserved.