The Sweetness of Seduction

This captures the idea of sweet seduction, wouldn’t you say?!?

WOW! It’s already Tuesday! However, it’s also time for SUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNDAY REVIEWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

Seduce: to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty; to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises; to carry out the physical seduction of: entice to sexual intercourse; to attract or to lure.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word “seduce” is quite interesting. The idea that someone can actually lure others to something that leads to disobedience or disloyalty seems so far-fetched. However, Paul the apostle didn’t think so. After all, Judaizers had infiltrated the churches in the region of Galatia and he was completely amazed at how quickly they abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ which he preached to them.

Now take this into account: Paul was not upset that they turned on his preaching. He was upset because they had deserted the Good News of Jesus Christ who is all-sufficient unto salvation. No other thing is necessary nor is anyone else necessary for you to be saved except to place your faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. But Judaizers were preaching a different message than Paul. They were saying that in addition to placing your faith in Jesus Christ, you should also live according to the Mosaic Law.

Now there’s a two-fold reason for the Judaizers teaching this. First, they believed that the Gospel was to them. This is true. Even Paul the apostle says that the Gospel is for “the Jew first, and then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, 17). This in turn caused a racism of sorts. After all, if you wanted to trust in Jesus Christ, who was Jewish, you would have to live like the Jews lived, and that is according to the Mosaic Law. Certainly the Gentiles would understand the necessity of this rule. Second, the Judaizers taught this because it would allow them to remain in control not only of the religious right, but also of the people. Think about it: they were the ones telling the Galatians that Paul may have had the story right to begin with, but they knew the rest of the story. Paul didn’t tell them the full scope of what salvation looks like. It looks like faith in Jesus Christ plus the keeping of the Mosaic Law in order to find favor with God.

Herein lies the problem: Paul’s Gospel message was that all one had to do was to place their faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone unto salvation. There are no other added requirements. The Law (we will find out later) was simply to point people to the Good News of Jesus Christ. And what is that Good News? “Christ died according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised again according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). This is all. That’s it. Jesus Christ + Nothing = Everything.

Sunday evening marked yet another piece to the saga of Joseph. He had moved his father, Jacob, and all of his family to the region in Goshen under Egypt’s rule. Continuing the story we see that what man meant for evil, God meant for good. After all, Joseph was in the most prominent position in Egypt just under the Pharaoh. He was in charge of everything that Pharaoh owned. During the time of Genesis 47:11-31, the famine in the land was in full force. People were coming from every where to buy food from Egypt. Through good, shrewd (not in an evil sense, but in a good sense) business practices, Joseph was able to buy all of the land of Egypt for the Pharaoh. He literally owned the entire country! People came to buy food for their animals and their families because starvation was a very read thing. And what did Joseph do?

Joseph knew that God had blessed him and his family with the position that he held. He in turn took the blessings that God had given to him and gave blessing to those who came for food. He gave them seed for their animals and families to grow crops. The Pharaoh would receive 1/5 of whatever was harvested and the families would be able to keep 4/5 of all that was harvested. No one was hungry. The land was used properly. The Pharaoh knew that he had a great businessman on his side. God blessed. And Jacob was now a fulfilled man because he was with his son, Joseph. Joseph was a fulfilled man because he did what God wanted him to do.

Remembering 9/11

As I am writing this article this morning, I am remembering those who perished on September 11, 2001. Do you still remember where you were on that day? I was at the Criswell College in Dallas, Texas in a classroom full of preachers. We were sitting and listening to our professor, Dr. David Allen. All of a sudden, minutes after the first plane flew into the World Trade Center building in New York City, an employee of the College came in and said that class was dismissed and all students and faculty were urged immediately to leave the building and go home. He reported to us that the plane had hit the building. Not too many minutes later my entire class was in the Holy Grounds Coffee Shop and we were all huddled around a little black and white television set when the second plane hit. At that point, tears began to stream down the faces of some our students. Hearts were pounding realizing that this was no accident but it was an intentional strike against the very heart of the United States of America. Then the third plane went down in Pennsylvania and the fourth at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Terror filled the air, but there was something else that filled the air.

Just as we were being ordered to leave the College, we began to pray out loud. Several students prayed. Faculty who were still in the building prayed with us. Administration was urging us to leave at one point but then they prayed as well. As prayer filled the air, one-by-one we prayed that God’s blessings would be upon the families of those affected by this terrorist act. Then, what seemed so out of place at the time, a faculty member prayed God’s blessings on the families of the terrorists. We prayed in agreement. As difficult as it was, we prayed in agreement.

We prayed that God would somehow reach those families with the Good News of Jesus Christ who truly is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. We prayed that salvation would come to each and every one of their children, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews. We prayed that we in America would be able to forgive those men for what they had done. It was difficult to pray such a thing. However, after we finished praying, our professor quoted a verse that has stuck with me ever since: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Over the last eleven years, whenever I think of what happened on that day, I have to remind myself what it is that God has done through His precious Son, Jesus Christ. By His death according to the Scriptures our old man has been put to death. By His burial our old man has been left behind. By His resurrection our new man has come to life – life that is eternal and abundant. If for no other reason than what Jesus Christ has done for us, we ought to forgive these homicide terrorists. If for no other reason, we ought to pray for those who seek to harm us. If for no other reason, we ought to turn the other cheek and sing praises to our God; for to suffer for His name’s sake is but for a while, then we have eternity with Him.

September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten. Those who perished that day will not be forgotten. Let us not forget what sacrifice was made by Jesus Christ. This sacrifice was not just for us, but for everyone, including those would-be homicide bombers and terrorists. To Him be the glory for the great things He has done.

Legalism: The #1 Killer of the Gospel Message

This coming Sunday we are going to deal with the number one killer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Legalism. The brand of legalism that Paul was addressing was not that of mere rules and regulations. Some could make a case that some “spiritual disciplines” are some what legalistic. Consider what I am saying here: If a person misses reading the Bible one morning or evening because he has been too busy throughout the day, he may feel as if he is out of favor with God. What happens if he forgets to pray before his meals on any given day – especially a Sunday? Then he will know that he’s lost favor with God. This is the type of legalism with which Paul is dealing. It is the legalism that says that Jesus Christ’s death according to the Scriptures, His burial and His resurrection according to the Scriptures is inadequate. In addition, this type of legalism says that even the enabling power of the Holy Spirit is inadequate because he couldn’t make this man read his Bible or pray before his meals.

What Paul the apostle is getting at is very simple: Anything that deviates from the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit is wrong and should be strongly opposed. It’s what Tullian Tchividjian said in the very title of one of his books: Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Conversely, Jesus + Something = Nothing! If one believes he loses favor with God every time he doesn’t hold to some rule or regulation, than Jesus Christ is insufficient and the man becomes enslaved to this type of legalism. Our worth is not based on what we do but rather on what Jesus Christ has already accomplished and finished for us.

Now this doesn’t give us license to sin and live our lives in such a manner that is sinful. Nor does salvation in Jesus Christ give us the right to be legalistic and try to force others to live according to the Law of the Scriptures or rules and regulations that supersede the Bible that we as men make up. What Jesus Christ accomplished for us gives us liberty to live our lives and not have the fear of being unacceptable to God. Paul says it this way:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live int he flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

Short, sweet, and to the point! Can’t get any better than that!

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