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[thoughts] Fellow Helpers to the Truth (November 3-9, 2008)

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  • Mark Roth
    Thoughts for the Week Mark Roth http://www.anabaptists.org/clp/youth/ ... This edition goes out today to 4099 subscribers. Thank you! ... FELLOW HELPERS TO THE
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2008
      Thoughts for the Week
      Mark Roth

      This edition goes out today to 4099 subscribers. Thank you!

      (Galatians 2:11-21)


      Of which am I more afraid: watering down truth or watering down love?

      Does my presence in a group make spiritual compromise more or less likely?

      If I had the choice, which would I rather be: wrong or corrected?

      So what is my disposition toward sin and shortcoming in my life?

      "In me, today, oh Savior mine,
      Not my life, but Thine."
      Will I pray that each day?

      TO LIVE, DIE

      Christianity has its paradoxes. You cannot experience victory unless
      you surrender. You cannot know fulfilment unless you are emptied
      of self. You cannot live unless you die.

      We cannot follow Jesus without giving up self. Following Jesus
      requires that I quit following myself. But we must not confuse mere
      self-denial with following Jesus. Self-denial can easily become a
      substitute for following Jesus. We are called to deny self *and*
      follow Jesus. That involves living the Not I But Christ principle
      expressed in Galatians 2:20.

      Until I die to myself and Christ lives His life through me, I cannot
      have peace with others. The cross bridges the chasm between God
      and me, and between my brother and me. And it doesn't just span
      that division, it actually joins those which previously were separate
      from and at odds with each other.


      Confrontation strikes most of us as a very difficult and harsh
      concept. We would rather take a variety of other approaches to
      problems and disagreements. Sometimes we would rather just
      swallow our fears, cautions and differing points of view; we just
      don't say a thing about the matter. Other times we settle for talking
      to others, but definitely not to the person in question. Once in a
      while we might soothe the anti-gossip mechanism in our conscience
      by talking to the ministry; after all, that's why they were ordained!
      Maybe we settle for writing an honest (maybe even scathing) but
      anonymous letter. Some might even address the matter indirectly in
      a topic or Bible study. Who knows, we might even get brave and
      talk to the person about the matter, but not very directly, giving
      preference to hinting, joking or beating around the bush. But outright
      confrontation? Well...................

      Our lesson text records an Apostle-to-Apostle confrontation -- in
      public! Paul withstood Peter. That means Paul resisted and opposed
      Peter. "To the face." In other words, face-to-face, in person. Was this
      a personal something? Did Paul have it in for Peter? Was this a
      power grab on Paul's part? Was Paul acting irresponsibly and
      arrogantly? NO!

      Why, then, did Paul confront Peter? The issue was the hypocritical,
      inconsistent, men-fearing practice of a certain doctrine. Peter had
      become caught up in it, and had carried with him Barnabas and other
      local Jews. Paul tells us that Peter "was to be blamed." The Greek
      word here translated "blamed" is used two other times in the New
      Testament. Both of those times it is translated "condemn" (1 John
      3:20,21). This public attitude on Peter's part was publicly poisoning
      the rest of the church and its leadership; therefore, he needed public
      confrontation and correction.

      I believe God calls on His people to openly confront, exhort and
      admonish one another in love, meekness and all due consideration.
      We must face the issues and problems before us without stooping to
      gossip, evasiveness or personal assault.

      (written in early 1993)


      Galatians 2:16 says it three times: works justify no one. So we got
      the message loud and clear. But where do we go from here? If
      works don't bring us salvation, or at least contribute significantly to
      it, then why bother with them?

      Twice Galatians 2:16 stresses that salvation comes by faith. That's
      wonderful! But if we receive redemption only and solely through
      faith, why should we bother with good works?

      "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
      works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
      When others see the good works that result from the redemptive
      work of Christ in our lives, they give glory to God. This verse also
      indicates that good works are one way in which we can cause our
      light to shine in this dark world.

      "Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every
      good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).
      Those who live in a way that fits with the Christian profession they
      make will be very productive when it comes to producing good fruit.
      Good works are the sweet, delightful, healthful fruit of saving faith.

      "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
      and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works"
      (Titus 2:14). Jesus died so that He might redeem and purify us. That
      makes us peculiar; that is, especially unique. He also has in mind
      that we have a burning zeal for doing good things. Thus the good
      works that spring from His redemption further brand us as unusual
      people in this world.

      "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).
      Shall we say that good works give life to faith, or shall we more
      correctly say that good works reveal that our faith is living? I
      imagine the latter its more theologically correct, but either way,
      we see the mutually-dependent relationship between faith and works.
      This verse packs a powerful doctrinal punch despite its brevity.
      Works without faith are empty; faith without works is empty.
      Anyone who tries to divorce the two puts their life in peril!

      "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me
      thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my
      works" (James 2:18). Do you still remember what the question is?
      This verse gives a very logical, reasonable answer: Works allow us
      to demonstrate our faith. The implications of this verse boggle the
      mind: Without works no one can prove his faith!

      "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas
      they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works,
      which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1
      Peter 2:12). This verse brings out two benefits of good works. First
      off, our good works contradict the character assassination indulged
      in by enemies of the cross. Secondly, visible good works cause even
      the heathen to glorify God.

      "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such
      sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). The Jews of the
      Old Testament could offer animal sacrifices to God for His pleasure.
      God doesn't give us that option. However, we can please Him with
      the sacrifices of good works and generosity.

      "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him
      it is sin" (James 4:17). The Christian has a choice: good works or sin.

      There we have it. Faith does not do away with works. In fact, they
      which have in believed in God must "be careful to maintain good
      works" (Titus 3:8).

      (written in mid-2001)


      Faith and works. What a puzzle for so many Christians! They seem
      to believe that these concepts are mutually exclusive, that they just
      cannot coexist. Let me ask you a question that may appear totally
      removed from the issue at hand: Which came first -- the chicken or
      the egg? The chicken, right? Sure, God made her! OK, another
      question: Which would you rather have -- the chicken or the egg?
      Hmm. I would take the chicken because I could then get an egg
      from her; an egg on its own will never produce a chicken. Now
      here's the connection to our topic: the chicken is faith, the egg is
      works. Jesus is the Author (Maker) of our faith. Our faith then
      produces our works. Works alone will never produce faith. I know,
      the analogy does break down eventually because you can't use the
      chicken and the egg very well to show the interdependence of faith
      and works (James 2:17-26).

      Just remember: FAITH WORKS (Galatians 5:6; James 2:17; Acts 26:20;
      Ephesians 2:10) and WORKING FAITH shows our identity (1 Timothy 2:10;
      2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2:14; 3:8; Revelation 2:26).

      (written in early 1993)


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      Mark Roth

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