Free At Last
free at last, free at last
1. We will begin our study this hour in Acts 15. We will not end there but it marks the beginning. We will rapidly approach the book of Galatians, but look for context.
(1) In Acts 2 – The church was new and growing. With the growth came problems.
(2) Acts 4 – Leaders of the church were put in prison.
(3) Acts 5 – Somebody lied to the church and especially to God. His wife also.
(4) Acts 6 – Some were being neglected (Grecian widows).
(5) Acts 7 – Powerful preacher is stoned to death.
(6) Acts 8 – Persecution Acts 12 – James, an apostle is put to death.
(7) Acts 10 – Gentiles accepted into the church.
(8) Acts 14 – Church experiences problem of strengthening Christians.
(9) Acts 15 – A whole new problem.
A. A problem the result of growth.
B. Cf. Acts 8 – Samaritan became members of family of God and Jews can’t handle it. Even worse Acts 10 – Gentiles are now members.
C. Church comes together to deal with the problem. A matter of freedom had become a matter of oppression (cf. Hebrews – going back to Judaism).
2. Now we ask you to open your Bible to Galatians 3.
(1) Ephesians and Colossians deal with responsibilities that Christians have.
(2) Galatians = flip side (i.e. freedom we have in Christ).
A. That has been a topic of interest to us as a nation especially in the past year (i.e. Iraq).
B. This time of year (veterans day; Pearl harbor; etc) remind us of the high price of freedom.
C. As great as the freedom we enjoy in America is… The freedom for a Christian supersedes!
(a) No comparison.
(b) I hope you can still remember the great joy, relief, freedom felt that day you obeyed gospel.
(c) I remember it clearly. I thought about it for years. Now my sins were gone!
(d) Wonderful feeling. Freedom! Totally forgiven! I could start over.
3. This hour if you are not a Christian, we remind you that one of the very reasons we come together is to issue the invitation of the Lord to you. FREEDOM!!!
4. For those who are Christians already, I remind you that we often fall into certain traps that take away or dampen the joy of being a Christian. We forget the freedom!
5. This is Paul’s focus in Galatians. (Notice 5:1 – Key verse). Cf. Judaizers.
(1) Paul seems angry (Cf. 1:6-8).
DISCUSSION: IN GALATIANS PAUL IDENTIFIES 3 TRAPS THAT ROB US OF THE JOY AND FREEDOM IN CHRIST.
I. PERFECTIONISM. (Gal. 3:1-3)
· Perfectionism = trying to maintain a perfect performance in order to stay saved. (Preacher, are you saying I don’t have to obey? ANS – NO!)
1. If you believe that your salvation hinges on whether or not you avoid ever making a mistake, you’ve fallen into a trap.
(1) Notice Paul’s comments – (Gal. 3:1-3). That is perfectionism.
(2) You began in the Spirit, and now you are trying to live the perfect life, and now you are thinking that is the key to your achieving your goal! FOOLISH
2. If you think keeping rules and regulations = eternal life, you are wrong!
3. Do not leave here this day thinking I’m saying you need not seek to live a perfect life for Christ!!!
(1) That is the Goal, or should be.
(2) BUT, if you believe that is what is going to save you, I ask you where is Christ in your picture? You, in that scenario, do not have need of Him.
A. You needed Him to wash away your sins and escort you into the church.
B. BUT – Now it is all up to you!!!!! You don’t need Christ perfect sacrifice!
(3) Gal. 3:2 – “Exactly how did you become a Xian?” By being perfect or faith?
4. Verse 3 - You began in the Spirit (i.e. initial obedience to gospel). Upon whom are you relying as you continue?
(1) What say then…continue in sin that grace may abound? NO!
(2) BUT, don’t undermine the grace of God! That is a foolish trap that will rob you of your joy and freedom (burden, frustrated, ever searching, never pleased).
II. Legalism (Read 4:8-11).
1. The Galatian Christians (Gentiles) were being told by some, that they had to keep the Old Law.
2. Notice context. NOT SAYING – “You don’t have obligation to obey God.”
3. Paul is dealing with problem of legalism (adding to God’s law).
(1) Making laws where God has not made a law (if honest most of us if not all have been guilty of this at some point on some issue).
4. Legalism is when you measure your spiritual maturity by laws which God Himself never said anything about.
(1) You will measure you spiritual growth (and of others) by how well keep those perceived laws.
(2) Notice v. 8-11. Weak and miserable principles.
A. Rules, regulations, and rituals that God never said anything about.
5. Legalism will rob a Christian and a congregation of its joy.
(1) Our elders have authority and responsibility to decide expedients.
(2) If or when we expect other congregations to abide like we do in expedient matters we are traveling a path that will rob us and others of joy and free.
(3) Notice verse 9 – “Do you wish to be enslaved again?”
(4) Each of us has a right, even obligation to create a sort of “list” of do’s and don’ts that will help us remain faithful (e.g. certain T.V. programs, recreation, 3 hours of study daily, etc.), BUT when we start checking other peoples lives against our list….
1. Talking of when we allow the expectations of others to control us rather than the word of God.
2. Notice 5:7 – “You ran well. Who hindered you?” (Who cut in?)
(1) You started the race trying only to be like Christ.
(2) NOW you are trying to be like some other person first then Christ.
A. Cf. conservative and liberal labels.
B. Certain preachers, certain circles, certain congregations. If they do it, say it or believe it then that is automatically what I do, say, or believe.
(3) Paul would say, “you were doing so well. Somebody got your eyes off Lord.
3. Remember being a new Christian?
(1) Full of energy, growing, desiring, firm (cf. Aaron Allsbrook).
(2) Not matter what anyone does or says. “I’m going with the Lord.”
(3) In due time, we listen to another man’s prayer to say what we will say. Listen to another man’s teaching to teach what I will teach…
4. There are plenty of good examples in this congregation (Giants), but we do not conform to them. We conform to Christ. Don’t get caught up doing otherwise.
1. Perhaps you have fallen into this rut. Perhaps you Xianity has been robbed of its joy and rightful freedom (by perfectionism, legalism, conformity). Let us suggest four things you can do this hour.
(1) Communicate with and rely upon God. You cannot do it alone.
(2) Thank God for His unconditional love and undying love. You will stumble.
(3) Re-focus on your relationship with the Lord instead of trying to be like some other individual.
(4) Be determined to live by faith!
2. We love God, because He first loved us. There is great joy and freedom in His love. If you are without this joy and freedom, we urge you to come.
 Oultine by Dale Jenkins.