FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions:
- Did anything land with you during worship?
- What did it make you think? How did it make you feel?
- What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word?
- What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. – John Calvin
Christ dwelling in us by his Spirit is a guarantee that we can and will change. – Rankin Wilbourne
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Gal. 3:6-14...The Blessing And The Curse
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Adoration
Friend of Sinners - Confession
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us - Grace
The Gospel is Good News Indeed - Response
My Soul Finds Rest - Communion
According to the church calendar, Wednesday, March 1, (Ash Wednesday) marks the beginning of the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday. Lent (literally "springtime") dates to the 4th century and is often described as a season of preparation analogous to Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness (re: Matt. 4:1-11). In other words, like we do each Lord's Day, it's a season to reflect on what Jesus has done for us and what we could never do for ourselves. It's a time to be humbled by sin and lifted up by grace. Sadly, many traditions have grown up around the season of Lent, which at first may seem plausible but in light of the Gospel are really of no value (Col. 2:20-23). However, if Lent is something you find particularly meaningful then perhaps these words may be of help to you.
"We ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church's springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin's winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. Put another way, Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose unless, by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart's deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him - in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph - we find our truest joy."
While Red Mountain Church will not have an Ash Wednesday service, I wanted to let you know of two options for an Ash Wednesday service in case you would like to attend.
Covenant Presbyterian Church - Ash Wednesday service at 12 Noon
Church of the Advent - Ash Wednesday Services
Also throughout Lent the Church of the Advent is putting on a series of "Lenten Lunches." You can learn more about who is preaching at these lunches here.
Lastly, there are two devotionals that may interest you as you reflect on the gospel in the coming weeks:
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
Redeemer New York Lenten Devotional
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
The King Of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, your love brings life to dead souls, light to darkened minds, and strength to weak wills. Depending on our own strength we stumble; proclaiming our own goodness we sin; glorying in our own righteousness we corrupt everything we touch; indulging in self-pity we blind ourselves to the needs of those around us. Help us to believe and trust that no wrong we have done, and no good we have failed to do, is too great for you to forgive through the merits of Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Words of Grace
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – Galatians 3:1-5
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.
1. Why do we need to go back to the basics of the Gospel again and again? (v. 1,3)
2. How do we go back to the Gospel in a way that will keep us coming back? (v. 2,3; 2:19-20)
Why does the good news of Christianity fall flat with us? Why do we fail to enjoy the promises found in scripture? Why does there so often seem to be a gap between what we believe and our actual enjoyment of those beliefs? These are just some of the questions that lie in back of Paul's direct questioning of the Galatians in verses 1-5.
Paul's questions get at something that lies deep in the human heart...Jesus isn't enough for me. The gospel needs some help. It's up to me to top off what God has started. So Paul asks, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (v. 3) The gospel isn't like college where you graduate with a degree and then it's up to you to make something of yourself. The gospel is about living in communion with Jesus (Rom. 6:1-14).
Chapters 3 and 4 include a series of arguments Paul makes to refute the claims that there is another gospel (1:7) other than the one he and the other apostles are preaching (2:7-9). The first argument is an appeal to the Galatians' own experience, which he calls receiving the Spirit or beginning with the Spirit. (v. 2,3) In other words, to become a Christian, to believe the gospel clearly laid out for us in scripture, is to receive the Spirit, to receive new life (Jn. 3:1-8). Paul appeals to their experience to teach them a truth they have forgotten. The way you enter the Christian life is also how you continue in the Christian life, through faith in Christ. In other words, you never leave the gospel behind. Through his questions, Paul is telling us the gospel not only saves us, it also transforms us!
But there are two powerful influences that argue against the gospel in our daily lives. The first influence is our own ways of thinking that interpret life apart from God, which Paul calls folly. (v. 1,3; Ps. 14:1) The second influence comes from the appeals of others to build your identity on your efforts. (v. 1) So what's the counter to these influences we need to rediscover the gospel?
Paul only minimally (v. 5) describe the Galatians' experience of receiving the Spirit which suggests they both knew what he was referring to. Through the preaching of the gospel they heard the good news and believed it and it forever changed them. They couldn't go on thinking, believing and living their old life. Everything was new now! But what does this new life look like? How can I identity the experience of receiving the Spirit in my life?
Even though Paul doesn't describe the Galatians' experience he did describe his own...his union with Christ! For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. (2:19, 20a) In Christ, Paul has died to the law as a means of life and acceptance, of fulfillment and flourishing. In fact it's only through his union with Christ that he can truly live! It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (2:20) Do you see what Paul is saying? To receive the Spirit, to believe the gospel, is to be rescued in order that you might truly live, in order that you might become who God made you to be in Christ! To believe the Gospel means you are IN Christ and Christ is IN you! You are covered by him, clothed in him. But you are also empowered by him. He is living IN you by his Spirit (Rm. 8:11). If you are in Christ you have a whole new identity! If Christ is in you, you are never alone, you are never without his help and strength. If you are in Christ, you are righteous in him. If Christ is in you, you are being made into what you've already been declared to be, "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24).
Do you see why Paul speaks the way he does? Why he insists you never leave the gospel behind? It is the gospel alone that brings peace and power to the needy sinner at the very same time!
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- How would you describe patterns of thinking or mindsets that undermine the gospel in your life?
- How would you describe the appeals of others or our culture that lead you to rely on your performance for fulfillment, for completeness?
- How would you describe your union with Christ using Paul's description in 2:19-20?
- How does union with Christ address your insecurities and your failures?
Confession of Faith: The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried:
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.