Galatians 3-4, Psalm 6
Martin Luther was a Catholic monk. While in the monastery he had been trying to kill all of his fleshly desires and get rid of his sinful desires. He adhered to a rigid personal life and tried to observe all the works the church put upon him as they were trying to be perfected in the flesh. He was troubled and guilt-ridden, until the verse in Habakkuk 2:4, "the just shall live by faith" repeated in Galatians 3:11 set him free. He began the Reformation with absolute purity in the Word of God which brought about absolute freedom. Does the Lutheran church still resemble this? Calvary Chapel was founded by Chuck Smith in the 1960's as the Jesus Movement. Like Martin Luther, it was founded on the pure message of God's Word. We must ask ourselves 50 years later are we still as reliant on the purity of God's Word or have we allowed legalism to creep in as we slacked off. The story of Rip Van Winkle is set by Washington Irving surrounding the period before and after the American Revolutionary War. After a night of drinking he falls asleep for twenty years only to wake up and find that his whole world has changed. If we in the church allow ourselves to fall asleep and lose the passion that first drove us to our pure desire to follow Christ, we, like Rip Van Winkle will awaken to a church that doesn't resemble what it did at first.
Paul says in Galatians 3:3, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?" Grace is not grace if we start adding rules and regulations outside of God's Word to it. Every genuine revival seems to end up with man trying to perfect it in the flesh. What starts in purity ends in a desire to organize and form a bunch of committees, ministries, hire outside consultants, etc. First put forward by Vance Havner, he described the cycle of the rise and fall of churches and movements as starting with a man, which becomes a movement, which turns into a machine and ultimately becomes a monument devoid of it's initial life. Paul goes on to explain that though we were all under the slavery of the law, unable to fulfill it all, continuously showing us how sinful we truly are, we have now found freedom in Christ. He says in Galatians 3:25, "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (or law). He then describes this freedom in 4:6-7, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." The term Abbameans Daddy, it is a term of a close personal bond.
So we must all ask ourselves, "where are we personally in our walk, and is our church becoming something it wasn't?" Jesus says to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4-5, "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,". We must all examine ourselves and see if in this dynamic walk with God if we are moving forward or backsliding. If so we need to get back into that pure reading of God's Word, back into prayer, worship, fellowship, etc and experience personal revival. Also, in our churches, we are the church, not spectators. Some, when they come to Christ may realize that their church is so far from the pure Word of God and adheres more to man made tradition and church doctrine, which is decades or centuries old, compelling them to leave. Adding to or taking away from God's Word is serious. John wrote in Revelation 22:18-19, "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." For those of us who go to a Bible based church that adheres to the purity of God's Word, if you see it slowly changing, remember you are not a spectator but part of that body. Don't leave the minute something disturbs you, every church has it's issues, seek to bring about revival so that you and everyone can experience the excitement God desires for His children.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: