The Hope of Jesus Christ

January 15, 2023

Book: Galatians

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The “Hope of Jesus” we are to proclaim is described in this text — We are to live by faith in the God who loves us and gave himself up for us. It is GRACE

Good Morning!  Do you believe what we just sang? We are in a series called Intentional and Biblical. We’re two weeks in. I encourage you to listen to them if you missed them. Last week, Pastor Kyle gave us a compelling metaphor for this six-week series, The Trellis and the Vine. How many of you heard that? So, this series is about the trellis, the structure that local churches need in place to support the really important thing, the vine, the growth, what God has called us to do as his individual apprentice disciples or as the wiggly people collectively in this church. Today, we’re going to talk about a vine thing. This week in small group, we were visiting about Pastor Kyle’s message about elders and deacons, that trellis work, the structure, and one of the young ladies in our small group said, “so what’s the vine?”. And I said, “well, what do you think?”. She said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself”. And I thought, I can’t improve on that. She stole that from Jesus. And we adapted that from Jesus as our mission of this church. By the way, inside of your bulletin is that little yellow box. Really good to refresh yourself on what we’re to be about in terms of the growth, the vine.

That first value down there I want to talk about this morning. Love the lost and proclaim the hope of Jesus Christ. And I hope this morning we will all be more effective in experiencing that and sharing it with others. I would like us to really ask God this morning to guide our hearts and to eliminate distractions and to graciously, as he always does, do demo on some of the things in all of our lives where we have been askew in what it means to live out and share the hope of Jesus Christ. So there in your seats, just join your heart to mine as we ask God to guide our time this morning. Father God, thank you that you are a father who loves us deeply, who has taken our sin and has removed it from us by the shed blood of Jesus. This morning we pray that you will, through your Word and through your Spirit, guide us in my words and the thoughts of our hearts. We pray that you will keep distractions out. You will just gently help us to remove those underlying thoughts we have that distract from or nullify the beautiful hope of Jesus Christ. So, we would ask that our words and the thoughts in our heart this morning would glorify you greatly, lift Jesus high, and make you smile. Amen.

What is the hope of Jesus Christ? The word is to share and to experience ourselves. Well, I’m tempted to have Kurt play back the worship section of our service so far because it was beautifully encapsulated in what Jamie has had us sing, the Scriptures read, and how Garth prayed. But we’ll look at our passage anyway, it’s the second chapter of Galatians verse 20 and 21. I think I put Galatians 1 on your notes. It’s Galatians 2, if you didn’t bring your workbook, your Bible, I encourage you to grab the one in front of you, we’ll be on page 973. So first, we need to understand what we’re to experience and proclaim the hope of Jesus Christ. And I don’t know a better verse than the first verse in our two-verse set. Here’s the hope we are to proclaim, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live in this flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me”. If you like to fill in blanks, three parts I’m going to suggest to this hope. The hope of Jesus Christ. He loves us. Loving us is that hope. He loves us deeply. Did you catch that in that Psalm’s passage? As a father loves compassionately his kids, that’s how God feels about us. All his kids, no matter how dirty we live. He loves us. Second, he died for us on our behalf as our sin substitute. To make us right with the Father God, did you hear that in the passage from Psalm 103? So far, has He removed our transgressions from us? And third, we are to live in, and he is to live in and through us.

You know, often we talk about how someone becomes right with God, and we talk about a moment in time where they go all in on the shed blood of Jesus for our sin and his resurrection from the dead. It’s kind of like, if you use a match as an illustration, we talk about the moment we struck the match. Some of you may not have a moment like that. You’ve just grown-up trusting Jesus from the cradle. That’s actually how it should be, I believe. But many of us have had a moment where we have experienced the hope of Jesus Christ, that he loved us, he died for us, and he wants to move into us. So, we think about the striking match moment. But Scripture teaches that the hope of Jesus Christ is also burning all the way down the line as we live life for Him. Do you follow the imagery? It’s all the hope of Jesus Christ. It’s being identified in his crucified for us, but it’s also living this life in the flesh, individually and as a church, by faith in the Son of God. Living, day to day, walking with him in the yoke. So now you understand, I hope, what is the hope of Jesus Christ? So, you’re at Dunn Brothers, or you’re in the break room at your work, and somebody says, I know you’re a Christian, you’re really religious, and I don’t know much about this Jesus thing, but I am seeking what is Christianity. What is it all about? Well, you might think about, you might say it this way.  Well Sue, think of a three-legged stool. Now, this isn’t all of what scripture teaches, but this will help you get started. God loves you infinitely. Separated from him, He brought Jesus here, the perfect one to die as your substitute. And He wants to live in and through you and slowly transform you to look like Jesus. That’s really cover to cover the essence of what this book teaches and what I follow.  If they know the scriptures, you could just pull out this verse and go, I’ve been crucified with Christ. I’m identified in his death and resurrection. And it’s not I who live anymore, it’s Christ who lives in me. And every day this life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself up for me. We’re to proclaim this to folks that have not yet experienced that, separated from God.

So, some people would like a tidy little term. So, I’m going to give it to you, grace. The hope of Jesus Christ is grace. You young folks, what did your parents grace you for Christmas? They’re going. He’s kind of weird. When’s the other guy going to teach again? It just means gift. What did your parents give you for Christmas? They love you, and they gave you something. That’s what the hope of Jesus Christ is. This is important. People don’t check out on me. I know maybe you have heard this a thousand times, but we just don’t get it and live in it. It’s a gift. How are we made right with God? It’s Jesus the hope. Our hope, plus nothing on our part equals salvation, being right with God. This is Paul’s message, and I’ll explain why in a moment, he was so adamant to talk about this. Paul starts every single one of his letters within the first few verses with “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”. This is his drumbeat. We’re separated from God. God did something about it. He was crucified for me because he loved me. And I’m going all in on that and living life day to day, with him living in me and through me. And it bothered him greatly when grace was abused. We’ll get to that too. So, it’s a gift, people. The hope of Jesus Christ is free, it’s a gift, it’s a person who did something for us.  Some of you want more than a term. You want an illustration, a word picture. So let me give you the Nelson word picture for grace. So, when I had three little people, I didn’t have my fourth yet. I think my oldest daughter was about 11. My son was 9 and my youngest son was, he would have been 5. They normally were pretty good kids. But I came home, and they were horrible, especially to their mother. I don’t know what got into them. They were horrible. So, I did something I’d never done before. It was about 5:00 in the afternoon, I said, “you get your little butts up that stairs and get in your room and there’s no dinner, and I don’t want to hear a peep out of you till morning”. And they were terrified. I’m a very gentle guy generally, chill. They scooted up those stairs, and they were petrified. About an hour later, Drew and my younger son shared a room, and my oldest daughter had her own. I knock on their two doors real lightly and I said, “I need you guys to come out in the hall a minute”. Those doors opened so slowly. I really think that they thought they were going to go home to be with the Lord, as they say. There in the hallway was a checkered tablecloth I’d put down with place settings, Little Caesars Pizza, their favorite, and their favorite soda. A pizza party in the hall with incorrigible kids. That’s grace. That’s grace. And it cost Jesus way more to provide grace for us incorrigible kids than it did for me for mine. A pizza party in the hall. That’s the hope of Jesus Christ.

Now we’re going to look at Galatians. I got to give you a little context here today. Galatians is an amazing letter. So, pardon me while I set the table for our verses again. Galatians is a letter in the New Testament. The letters are special. Well, it’s all special. But some of the Bible tells stories on purpose. That’s its style of literature. It wants to show us how the relationship of God with a person or those characters develop. That’s the point of narrative. Some of them give us general nuggets of wisdom, you know, like Job and Proverbs. It’s meant to guide us. In certain ways. Others, the prophets, proclaim God’s Word and predicted things. But then we get to the letters. The letter’s purpose is to dissect for us exactly how to apply the hope of Jesus Christ to our daily lives. Words matter, punctuation matters, set and structure matters. It’s like a court reporter’s, a court stenographer’s report. The purpose of the letters is to give us the doctrine we need to live well as God’s little, incorrigible kids. Galatians is the first letter. The first one chronologically, so it’s important. You’re going to find Pastor Kyle and Josh Locke in this series, always in the letters. Because that’s where we’re to find out what does God intend for the trellis, the organization of a church? Do you follow this? So, this is really important for us wiggly people to know. The first letter telling us how to live out and proclaim the hope that is Jesus Christ.

The second unique thing about Galatians is, Paul is really ticked off. Oh, and it’s so unusual. Paul usually is this drippy loving guy in his letters. I think it’s Thessalonians, the first letter, he spends two of the first two chapters just loving on these people, encouraging them. He’s calling himself, he’s like a mother, loving on his children. But Galatians, by the time he gets to the third verse, he’s kicking furniture and the dog. You foolish Galatians, who’s cast a spell on you? Are you so foolish, having begun by the hope that’s Jesus Christ, you think you could become mature on your own with chores? How stupid, who’s bewitched you? And then on my favorite, chapter 5 he says, you folks that think you need to add something to faith in Jesus, and in their day, what do you think they added to Jewish people? To faith in Christ? What did you have to do? Circumcision. Bingo. And all through the Book of Acts, there are people wandering around behind Paul going, yeah, what he says is cool, but he missed part of it. Get circumcised and keep the law of Moses. God wrote that law. It wasn’t in pencil, and he didn’t use an eraser. You got to keep it. Paul says about those Judaizers, as he calls them, hey, if cutting off a little skin makes you right with God, why don’t you cut off the whole thing? Think how holy you’ll be then. No, he says it, Chapter 5, verse 12. Hey, this is why they don’t let me teach very much around here. Paul’s really mad, people. Don’t mess with grace, the hope of Jesus Christ.

So, let’s explain a little bit why he’s so mad. First, his story. Paul was born about the time of Jesus in Tarsus. He grew up in a pharisaical home. They loved God, they knew the scriptures, and they obeyed the rules. As a matter of fact, in Philippians, Paul gives his resume. He says, I’m a Hebrew of Hebrews man. I’m the real deal. I’m all in on the Hebrew religion. I’m a Pharisee of Pharisees. You look up Pharisee in the dictionary, you’ll see my picture. I’m a model Pharisee. And then he says, as to the righteousness, being right with God, that’s found in keeping the law, I was blameless, and He meant it. He rigidly kept the rules for 30 plus years, trying to be made right with God. He knew nothing about the hope of Jesus Christ. We meet him in Acts chapter 7. Young man, just over 30 proudly, brilliant, trained by Gamaliel. He’s in the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, that’s the group that killed Jesus. And Stephen in Acts 7 has that marvelous testimony, and they drag them out to stone him. And it says they laid their coats, the stoners, at the feet of a young man named Saul. Many people think he was kind of the young lieutenant. Go get this done, you youngster, you apprentice. And then he ravages the church. You know how it is to be young and idealistic? So, he believes that this new way is corrupting the way to God. And so, he rages around house to house, dragging men and women who follow Jesus, our living hope, off to prison, and heaven knows what else. And then he meets Christ, and he does a 180. You know how this works, right? You grow up in a certain situation, how something just inside you just repels something you know is harmful. Do you know what I’m saying? You know maybe you had a dear relative die of lung cancer from two packs a day, and it bothers you more than others to, you know, go by Saint Mary’s Hospital and see a guy smoking a cigarette through the hole in his trachea. Right? I mean it bothers you worse because you know the impact. Paul’s angry because he lived that, try earned God’s favor with chores for 30 years.

The second reason is he just took a trip. It’s in your bulletin, that little map. It’s so small, you probably can’t see it. But I’ve got to explain this trip. He and Barnabas were sent on a one-year trip throughout Asia Minor to proclaim the good news of the hope of Jesus Christ. Everywhere he went, he hit a wall. Cyprus, Barnabas’s home island, one convert, opposition. Get on Asia Minor, John Mark, their third leg of the stool goes back to Mama in Jerusalem, abandons them. Antioch and Pisidia, initial reaction pretty good. Those rule keeping Judaizers force them out of town. Iconium? They have to leave under cover because they’re going to be stoned. Lystra? He was stoned, many people think to death. Derbe? Some response, by the way, most of the ones responding were Gentiles. And then instead of going back to his sending church, Antioch and Syria, guess what they do? Paul says, we’ve got to go back to those other towns, the ones that tried to kill them. Why? Anybody know? To appoint elders (last week). They needed a trellis to grow. So, Paul retraces his steps. It was a brutal trip. And then when he gets back to Antioch and Syria, he’s greeted with this news from Jerusalem, from well-intended, godly leaders. You tell the Gentiles, Paul, that unless they are circumcised, they cannot be saved. Jesus plus circumcision. So, Acts 15, he and Barnabas go down to Jerusalem and have this incredible meeting, and thankfully they came to a compromise. He gets back to Antioch, and he finds out all these churches on his first missionary journey in Galatia have bailed out on Jesus plus nothing equals salvation. And he is so angry. He defends grace. Would you do me a favor? Would you read or listen to Galatians? I love, there’s a YouTube, if you put ESV on YouTube Galatians, up will come one of these websites and the guy’s got sort of a British accent. I could listen to the guy all day, it’ll take you 12 to 15 minutes to hear the whole book. Please listen to it. Paul’s entire letter is defending grace, God’s pizza party in the hall. The hope of Jesus Christ, crucified with him, living in and through him because of his love and sacrifice for us. So, let’s talk about defending grace. I just want to give you a few nuggets Paul uses to lure you into the text of Galatians. I would encourage you to start calling it gracelations. It’s all about grace, cover to cover.

Gracelations chapters 1 through 4. Here’s three things if you’re taking notes, you can write down. Grace has always been God’s way of hope. It’s always been God’s way. And Paul says in Galatians, let’s go back to your forefather Abraham. You’re a big Abraham guy. Tell me, how was Abraham made right with God? Was it chores? Was it keeping Moses Law? Moses Law came 430 years later; it couldn’t have been that. Was it circumcision? No, actually, that came in Genesis 17. Abraham was made right with God in Genesis 15, years earlier. How? God took him outside one night. Abraham, I don’t think he had any kids, he might have had one. I should have studied that. God says, you see the stars up there Abraham? Yeah. You know that promise I made to you back aways that you’d have lots of kids, special land, and all nations would be blessed through something, someone coming from you? Yeah, I remember it. Do you trust me? I’m going to make your descendants as numerous as those stars. And it says, and Abraham believed God. And God said, we’re right with each other. Salvation comes with believing all God says about himself and what He does. Then you get the Habakkuk toward the back of the Old Testament. And Habakkuk, it says the just, those who are right with God, shall live how? By faith, not by chores. Let’s stop for a moment and answer this question. What’s the purpose of the Ten Commandments? Paul answers that in Galatians 2. He said the Ten Commandments is a tutor, or an escort, to lead us to Jesus. What? You could say this today. An escort in those days took a student to school to be mentored. It was the transportation person. The Old Testament law is a school bus to bring us to the hope of Jesus Christ. You don’t stay on the school bus. I mean, most of you are older in this particular service. Can you imagine if Andre Bocelli, and I don’t know, Celine Dion, had a concert at the Civic Center? Would you like to go to that? So, we all get on the bus, we get up there and we park across from the Civic Center, but nobody will get off the bus. You’re listening to Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli on your cell phone. It’s like the concert. No, we’re just, we’re going to listen to it. Come on, it’s vehicle that bring us to Jesus. It’s the only hope that works.

Paul says in Galatians, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Was it when you kept the law or were circumcised, or was it when you went all in that Jesus loves us and gave himself up for us? And the Galatians, if they were honest, if you read the missionary journey, 1st missionary journey of Paul, Acts 13 and 14, it was when they believed the Gospel of Jesus was their sin substitute, the Holy Spirit came on them in remarkable way. As Jesus promised that in the upper room the night before his death, it’s good that I’m going away personally, guys. And the guys go, yeah right. Nice spin, Rabbi, because when I go away, the helper is going to come and live inside you and help transform you. I’ve been crucified with Christ. The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in him. He lives in me and through me now. That’s the hope of Jesus Christ. He says you who seek to be justified, made right with God by works, don’t you know that the Old Testament says you’ve got to keep all of them perfectly? How’s that working for you? Now, I know some people are students. I used to talk to them about this and they go, isn’t that setting the bar awful high? You have to do this perfectly. So, I give them this illustration. They know it’s coming. If I have any students in here, it’s the turd in God’s Punchbowl. So let me give it to you. Three weeks from today, we have a family meal. I think it’s going to be Famous Dave’s menu, by the way. Back in the gym at noon and you come back there, and I’ve got this massive punch bowl. No, just bottles of water. Today you get my favorite recipe of punch, and you’re all waiting to dive into it. And I get on the mic and go, oh wait a minute, I forgot my secret ingredient. And I come out, and I got a baggie, and I got one little brown thing that looks like a cocoa pebble. In a baggie, and I covered the punch bowl, and I drop it in there, and I mix it up, and I go, okay, we’re ready, dive in. And I’ll pick on one of you, Sue. Sue says, Pastor Tim, what did you put in the punch bowl? And I go, well, it’s my secret ingredient. She goes, yeah, but what is it? Well, if I told you Sue, it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? But, okay, we have a bunny. How many of you are going to drink out of that? No, we don’t take this seriously. A God, a holy God who can’t look on sin. And I don’t care how well you’ve lived. Paul tried to; he was a Pharisee of Pharisees. You’ve got to admit you’ve dropped a few of those in God’s punchbowl. And works, circumcision, keeping rules, doing good things at the very best is diluting that punch with good works. How would a holy God want to drink out of that? It’s just logical this doesn’t work.

Chores. If one of you are married and your spouse betrayed your trust in a horrible way, could he or she fix it with chores? I’m going to do these things from now on, so you’ll forgive me and love me. Or would it be to throw themselves on your mercy with a repentant heart and hope in your heart you had mercy to forgive? No, seriously, people. It’s only logical. Fixing a broken relationship with God would require a repentant heart on our part and a lavish mercy on his part, not chores. Paul’s just mad trying to get this into their heads. Grace, God’s pizza party in the hall. The hope of Jesus Christ is constantly attacked, sometimes overtly, by our enemy or culture, sometimes so subtly by our own teaching. We’re little kids, right? Or we have little kids, and they’re failing miserably at something. And you say, let me help you with that. What do you think you’re probably going to hear? I can do it. I can do it. From the get-go, that’s our heart, our flesh. We’re very hesitant to take help. Right? This is pernicious. I want you to turn in your text. Maybe we haven’t looked down here yet because I’ve been looking at you. I want to just read a small section on how scary it is to guard the pizza party in the hall, the hope of Jesus Christ. We’re crucified with Christ. It’s not us who live. It’s Christ living in us and the life we live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave himself up for us. That’s the hope. It’s so hard to hang on to that. Let me just read you a couple of verses. And this is scary in some ways. Paul’s writing. “But when Cephas” that’s Peter, another name for Peter. “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James,” from Jerusalem. Religious people say, Jesus, circumcision, you’ve got to do these things. “He was eating with the Gentiles.” What do you think Peter was eating with the Gentiles? He just had a vision. In Acts chapter 10, kill and eat, Peter. Don’t call the Gentiles unclean. What do you think he was eating with the Gentiles? Pork barbecue, I bet. And they were having a ball. Freedom in Christ, it’s Christ only, the hope of Jesus Christ. “But when certain men from James came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.” He wouldn’t come to the pork barbecues, and the Gentiles were going, so is it Jesus plus not eating pork? I thought it was just Jesus, faith in Jesus. Yeah, Paul says, so did I. “And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” This is pernicious, people. There’s flesh in us that always wants to contribute, to do something to dilute the punch bowl. Paul is going don’t do this. Hang on to grace. God did it all. Look at our next verse, verse 21. “I do not nullify”, you pardon me if it doesn’t match the screen exactly, I can’t get the New American Standard out of my head. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness”, a right relationship with God, “comes through keeping the law, Jesus died for nothing”. I might refer you to the Christmas meditation if you missed it. We got to hang on to this.

Applying grace, so what? Well, first of all, can I encourage you to memorize Galatians 2:20? Not going to take long. It will help you when you sit down with that coworker or colleague, to explain the gospel with gentleness and reverence and accuracy. But the rest of the silhouette comes in chapters five and six. So let me refer back to the pizza party in the hall. So, imagine with me after I leave, pick up all the stuff, the kids go back to their room, and there’s a knock on the boy’s door. And my daughter comes in and says, hey guys, I have an observation. So, we were real brats, and we got a pizza party in the hall, same time tomorrow night. That’s wretched. And that’s what Chapter 5 says. Brothers and sisters, those who have experienced the hope of Jesus Christ don’t live by the flesh. Walk in the Spirit. That’s number one. Live well, by God’s spirit working in us and through us. Second, we all mess up still. We’re incorrigible brats, even following Jesus, because we still have the flesh. Let’s help each other live well and be accountable to each other. That’s what chapter 6 says. When one of you is taken in a fall, you trip up, one of you followers of Jesus, you others around them restore such a one gently for the glory of God. And last, let’s share it with the lost. We’re ambassadors of the hope of Jesus Christ. Let’s share it, church. Let’s share it well. Let’s tell them we have been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer we who live but Christ. God, glorify his name, lives in us. And the life we now live in this flesh, till we’re with him, we live by faith, moment by moment in the Son of God who loves us and gave himself for us. And God’s grateful kid, said Amen.

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