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:
Galatians is in the Bible to alert us: our most basic moral instincts, that we unconsciously import into our Christianity, are all wrong. – Ray Ortlund
The gospel differs from the law in that whereas the law proclaims what must be done or not be done (and therefore does no more than explain what sin is), the gospel proclaims that sins have been forgiven and that everything has been fulfilled. — Martin Luther, First Lectures on Galatians
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 1:13-18
Praise to the Lord - Adoration
Come, Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted - Confession
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts - Grace
He Leadeth Me - Response
The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done - Communion
David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, is one of my favorite people to read. He writes on a wide range of topics but has recently begun writing much more about virtue, character, purpose and meaning in life. In this piecehe says, "a lot of what I’m doing are sermons without explicit reference to scripture." He then goes on to say the following about the yearnings we experience. "A strength of theology is that it’s hard to understand human behavior if you don’t think people have souls; if you reduce them to evolutionary pressures or utilitarian drives, it’s hard to account for how people actually behave when they’re yearning for some piece of transcendence, which happens all the time when they think leading a life of meaning is more important than leading a life of money and power.... If you don’t have some understanding of the soul’s yearning, then you’re not getting reality right."
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we need to be forgiven. We have tried to work off our guilt and shame; to pile up good deeds that outweigh our sins. We have tried to change through our own efforts. When this doesn’t work, we turn to denial and distraction, leaving some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed. Forgive us for thinking we could save ourselves rather than resting in the merits of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Words of Grace
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:21-24
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – Galatians 2:11-16
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
1. A surprising twist (v. 11-13)
2. An unusual response (v. 14-15)
3. The heart of the gospel (v. 15-16)
Sometimes we need a story to help us understand something, to make it seem real, to help it connect with our lived experience. Thankfully that's just what we find in Galatians 2:11-16. Again we find Peter making a mess of things. This isn't the first time as any cursory reading of the gospels makes clear. One might be tempted to think, "Man when will Peter ever get it right?" Well I think that's the sneaky question we are meant to ask. However, Peter and Paul's response teach us that we never graduate from our need for the gospel.
In fact, Paul teaches us something central about gospel freedom as a lived experience. It is a continual realignment process with the truth of the Gospel (v. 14). Notice Paul doesn't confront Peter primarily about his behavior, though it's wrong. He opposes Peter with the gospel of grace, the good news. In doing so, Paul humbles Peter and gives hope at the very same time. Therefore, Gospel freedom comes from walking in line with the truth of the gospel, applying free grace to every aspect of our lived experience. Why is that important? Because without it we will look for some other basis upon which to justify our existence.
It is this very problem to which Paul speaks for the first time about justification - to be declared righteous (v. 16). He says there are only two options. Justification by works of the law - living to earn favor, which will never work. Or justification by faith in Christ, which leads to forgiveness and freedom. Peter's error was to justify his existence based on something other than Christ. The question for you and me is how do we allow our culture or race or successes to create distance between us and others; to show we are somebody? Or perhaps even better, why are we tempted to do that? The answer is we've forgotten the gospel. We have forgotten that in Christ we are free, we have the love and approval of the one whose opinion really matters.
- 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 do you tend to respond to wrong or sinful behavior?
- What does Paul's response to Peter teach us about seeing through sinful or wrong behavior to the heart?
- What do the contrasts in v. 16 teach us about justification?
- What resources do we discover in the gospel that can radically change our relationships with people very different from us?
Confession of Faith: The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 101
Q. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, [which is, Hallowed be your name,) we pray, that God would enable us and others to glorify him in all that whereby he makes himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.