Christians are pretty susceptible to catching a case of "Gospel Amnesia" and forgetting that they don't have to earn God's love.
Morning. My name is David Sorn. Lead pastor here at Renovation Church.
Often I like to start with an embarrassing confession about myself, but today, I’d like to start with an embarrassing confession about my parents.
So hopefully they don’t watch the video online later.
Both my parents grew up in homes where their parents faithfully watched Soap Operas every day.
Back in the day, before Cable Television and the internet, Soap Operas, believe it or not, were actually popular.
My parents both grew up in a home where both their parents happened to watch “As the World Turns” every day.
I looked this up, because I couldn’t believe it, but it actually started in 1956!
And if you know the Sorn’s, you’d know that we are creatures of habit.
And my parents, who grew up watching the show, just…(embarrassingly) kept watching it.
And they’d tape it every day.
So while I’d be trying to build forts by the couch, create a massive lego tower, or whatever growing up, it seemed like “As the World Turns” was always on in the background.
And…I may have seen an episode or too as a young kid. :/
And Soap Operas, if you’ve ever seen one, are infamous for ridiculous plot lines.
Yes we know that character burned to death in a horrific house fire, but what you didn’t know is they never found the body! And now they’re back!!
It’s like Murdoch on Mygyver or something
And one of my favorite Soap Opera plot lines was when characters got Amnesia.
Which on Soap Operas is about as common as the common cold.
Seriously, like once every 6 months, a different character would get in a car accident, fall of a cliff, or fall in a well, and wake up with amnesia!
And they’d forget everything!
Who they were married to, who they were, they just…in a moment, forgot it all!
And yet…I believe that most Christians get a case of amnesia…even more ridiculous.
Let’s take a look at what I mean
This morning we will be continuing in our “Gift Vs. Reward” series where we are verse-by-verse teaching through the Book of Galatians.
By the way, next week, we’ll start our break from Galatians for Easter.
And then the week after we’re starting a really intriguing series called “Illusions”
It’s going to be on the illusion of sin. How sin often looks really good at first, but then when you bite into it…it’s rotten.
And we’re going to start off the first week of that series on April 7th (week after Easter) by talking about the Illusion of Sex. – Sexual sin that is.
It’s going to be a great message…but just a heads up to parents, it will be PG-13.
Our services are designed anyway for 6th graders on up, and I’m not going to say anything crazy, but we will be talking about sex in church. Now you know.
We are now six weeks into our Galatians series, which we will rejoin in early summer…but if you’re visiting for the 1st time today…
Galatians is a letter in the Bible that the Apostle Paul wrote.
He wrote it to one of the earliest churches in Christianity…that he personally started.
He wrote it Because a group of people came in after him and started telling the people in Galatians that if they really wanted to be saved (Forgiven by God, given heaven)….then they had to believe in Jesus AND be a really good person.
Paul writes to them, saying, that’s not true, Jesus has told us that salvation is only by faith alone in Jesus.
It’s a gift you open, not a reward you earn.
So let’s get into Chapter 3 actually today J
We’re going to look at 5 verses, and Paul’s going to ask a bunch of rhetorical questions, and his point is in the answers to those questions.
By the way, chapter 3 is kind of a whole new section of Galatians.
We’ve switched from Paul’s argument of why his Gospel was true unlike the new people in town.
And now he’s going to be making a theological argument about how AND why we are actually saved by faith & not by works.
If you want to follow along today…Bible under every chair
Let’s read through our 5 verses, then we’ll unpack it.
(Galatians 3:1-5) - NIV
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
So Paul starts out by boldly calling the Galatians foolish.
In fact, he even jokes that they must have been bewitched or something because their thinking is THAT illogical!
The implications of the Gospel to Paul are clear, and yet they’re not getting it.
By the way, whenever Paul talks about the Gospel, or we say the word the “Gospel”
The Gospel is the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and if we confess our sins and believe in Him as our Savior, then we will be Saved.
And we’re going to see that the Galatians must have a serious case of Gospel Amnesia because apparently they’ve forgotten everything about it.
Paul starts working out his argument in verse 2
(Galatians 3:2) – NIV
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
Firstly, can I just say how smart Paul is?
This is one of the reasons I love reading the Bible, and it’s frustrating when people cast it as if it’s a bunch of fairytales
It’s brilliant thinking!
Last week Paul astutely points out that if we can get into heaven by being a good person, then God would have never let Jesus die. His death would be pointless then.
And once again Paul has another brilliant point in chapter 3
Here’s what Paul’s asking the Galatians: “When you received the Spirit of God, was it because you A) obeyed the works of the law (were a really good person) or B) believed in Jesus.
A little background: The Bible tells us that as soon as you believe in Jesus as your Savior, that the Holy Spirit comes and dwells with you
That’s God living in and moving in you. (As the H.S. is part of the trinity)
(Romans 8:9) – NIV
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
So then, Paul is saying this, “Ok, if the Holy Spirit living in you (and thus God moving in you/changing you) is a sign of you being a Christian, when did that happen exactly?”
Which is THE question.
Because if these people in Galatia think they get saved/forgiven/get to go heaven from being a good person (accomplishing a bunch of Holy laws), why in the world did God give them the sign of his forgiveness?
2 Cor calls the H.S. our deposit or what is to come
If you could get saved by being a good person (going to church a lot…not murdering people….etc.) how would the Holy Spirit know when to come? Would it be like when you achieved some certain level of goodness?
But it doesn’t work that way!
These Galatians had the Holy Spirit come in as soon as they believed in Jesus!
Therefore they were saved by their faith!
Let’s look at verse 3 again
(Galatians 3:3) – NIV
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Paul’s saying…hey, you guys got this at first! You knew that Jesus was forgiving you as a gift. Simply because you believed!
You didn’t have to impress Him and be good enough to earn his love..
If you began this way…why are you now trying to live in a way that is completely contrary!
You’re now trying to earn his love by the acts of your flesh…by trying to be “good enough”
And it’s crazy! It’s like you forgot all about the Gospel!
What, do you have Gospel Amnesia or something?
Think about this way.
What if there was a man before a judge who has been given the choice of paying $100 or serving 90 days in jail. The man doesn’t have any money, but does have a wife who can’t work & five hungry children at home who are depending on him and him alone.
He tells such a heartwrenching story that the courtroom spectators are moved with pity and take up a collection to help pay the man’s fine. (a GIFT to Him)
Although it is unlike him, even the judge chips in.
Altogether they raise $99.95. Even though they are only five cents short, the judge declares that the entire $100 must be paid, and orders the bailiff to take the man to jail.
The man dejectedly walks out of the courtroom, thrusting his hands deep into his pockets...where he finds—A nickel! Elated, he rushes back into the courtroom and slaps it on the bar before the judge, declaring “I’m free, I’m free!”
Now let me ask you, in that man’s mind, what saved him"? The $99.95, or the five cents?
And that’s the sort of thinking we let our Gospel amnesia trick us into thinking is okay.
See…on the cross…Jesus Paid it all for you.
He paid everything. Everything.
He finished the work. And he’s not going to divide his glory and praise with us.
Jesus is never going to be 90% your Savior. He’s your Savior.
See, Jesus is like the guy you go out to lunch with, and he always pays.
You know what I’m talking about?
Like, you have that battle with your friends
“No I’ll pay!” “No I’ll pay!” “Well, what if I pay half?” “Can I just give the tip?”
Well, why do you just want to give the tip?
So you can feel good about contributing something!
And in our faith, we’re okay with Jesus helping us out, but we want to at least give the tip!
And as the years go by in our faith, we tend to fall back into the thinking we had before we met Jesus.
That we had to earn our way.
Yeah, we know it’s by faith we are saved, but if God’s really going to love me….then I better do “this”
But you can have ZERO part in earning absolutely any part of your salvation!!
If we could have a part in it, we would be forever boasting about that part in heaven.
But we can’t do anything.
Like we said last week, no one is sneaking into the throne room of God by building their ladder of moral goodness all the way to heaven.
The Bible philosophically shows the argument that “to get to heaven by being “Good enough”” is a false idea. And it shows it to be false again and again…and yet it’s an idea that dominates thought in America
Which shows we probably need to read less Twilight and more of the Bible.
Today’s passage is another good example of why we need to just SLOW down when we read the Bible.
If you read these verses 3 times, you’d probably see this in the passage…
But we tend to just blow through
Totally random, but you know another really we need to stop reading Twilight?
I saw this in the Social Security Website…you know what the #1 Baby names are right now?
Jacob and Bella!
NO offense to Jacob & Bellas.
I’m sure Stephanie Meyer just looked to see what the popular names were before she started writing…like Edward.
I mean…I know nothing about Twilight…anyway…
You know…while we’re slightly off-topic, let me work out a different application of this passage.
If this stuff is all true…If the Gospel is true…and we can really be forgiven of everything we’ve ever done by putting our faith in Jesus…then that oughta be something we tell the world.
And that’s a huge value of this church. We want to REACH a TON of people for Christ.
So we believe that it is the task of every believer to talk about Jesus.
Not necessarily holding up a sign on a street corner, but to the people God has put around you.
And one of the simplest ways to do that is invite someone to church…to hear the Gospel!
And Easter, is one of THE best weeks to do it.
IN FACT, on your chair today when you walked in were TWO invite cards.
I want you to take those right now and put them in your hand…we’re gonna pray for them in a moment…then later, but them in your purse or murse.
As you never know when God might bring it up in Conversation.
But I want you to do more than just leave them in your wallet.
Because I believe that God can seriously use each and every one of you to bring a friend to hear the Gospel.
That Jesus died for every one of us messed up people and wants to forgive us & have a relationship w/ us
Did you know that since we started this church a little over 3 years ago, that over 75 people have given their lives to Christ here on a Sunday morning?!?
The majority of those being people that were brought by friends.
Who is it that God has put in your life (a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, a family member) …that God could use you to help hear of his forgiveness?
In FACT, I want to stop right now…because I want you to hand out both of those cards in the next 7 days…I think it’s pertinent that we pray and ask God for WHO and HOW.
So let’s pause for a moment
Dear God…we want to bring your life to others and see lives transformed…would you just put 2 people on our minds that we could reach out to? We ask that you speak to us now, and we will listen. God speak…
If God put someone on your heart…then by all means, be faithful…and watch Him do AMAZING things this week.
If He hasn’t put anyone on your heart yet…then keep praying.
All right, let’s get back in this
(Galatians 3:4) – NIV
Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain?
The sense of the greek is closer to “Have you “Suffered” so much in vain
And really, it’s back to the whole “Then Christ died for nothing argument” from a few verses ago.
Because Paul is saying, “You’ve suffered for being a Christian! (because these people were persecuted hardcore back then) You’ve already suffered…and what, was that in vain?
Because if you’re trying to win God’s approval by being a good person, then that has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus…so then, why were you even suffering for Jesus?!?
You can tell he’s exacerbated with their poor thinking
Look at verse 5
(Galatians 3:5) – NIV
So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
In other words, so was God doing all this stuff among you (even right at the beginning when you became Christians) because of what you believed or because you somehow earned it?!?
Paul’s actually asking an important theological question.
Does obedience bring blessings or does grace bring obedience??
Put another way: Does it work like A) If you’re a really good person, then God will move in your life, change you, heal you, etc. or B) If you accept God’s grace, that grace will bring change in your life
Two totally different ideas.
So…why does God heal people? Why does he answer prayer? Why does he save people? Why does he give people a loving spouse? Why does he give people children who are a joy? Why does he give people jobs? Why does he give people health? Why does he show up in amazing ways?
Is it because we’re great people? Or is it because we have a great God?
’ll give you a hint: It’s not because we’re awesome.
Jesus said, “If you love me…you’ll obey me.”
See, a loving relationship with God produces obedience. But a obedience never produces a loving relationship.
The people in Galatia had it backwards.
God is moving in us simply because of our faith, not because of what we’re doing.
See, God’s not moving in you, changing you, answering your prayers…because you somehow impressed Him enough.
He’s not looking down say, “Oooo…Well, you read your Bible enough this LAST week…so I guess I’ll have that girl go out on a date with you after all!”
He’s not looking down saying, “well, if you only would have shoveled your neighbors driveway last week…then I would have came through for you with that job”
This isn’t Karma we’re talking about, this is Jesus.
But we forget, we get gospel amnesia…and we turn it back into trying to earn his love and blessings.
NO! God moves because of His love for you…and your faith in Him.
When you opened that gift of grace, he adopted you as a son or daughter…and he treats you like one.
You’re his son!!! You’re his daughter!
This is not some credit card rewards program where you try and earn enough points with God to get a nice blessing!
You’re his child and he just wants to bless you.
You don’t have to earn it.
He just loves you. He JUST loves you.
But we’ve got amnesia. We’ve got Gospel amnesia.
In the beginning we had it right. We came to him a mess. Just broken. Knowing we weren’t ever gonna earn our way there. We just needed to believe in Him and be forgiven.
But, for most Christians, something happens as the years go by…
We start to forget what the Gospel really means for us now that we’re already believers.
And it’s not that we would tell anyone that they have to earn their way to heaven to be saved. No, we still get that part…intellectually anyway
But as time goes on…we forget about what the Gospel means for US as believers. It’s Gospel Amnesia.
Some of it’s due to all the good changes that have happened in our lives
For some of us that’s a change in how we speak, treat other people, what we think about, our attitudes, for others it might even mean a freedom from drugs or more…
And as time goes by…we get involved in a little revisionist history…and we steal a little bit of the credit for our changes.
Forgetting that without God…we’d be nothing.
A nobody on the fast track to hell.
But if we just remembered the Gospel…that we can do NOTHING to earn it…then we might not be as susceptible to thinking that God really loves us because of all the good things we do…and how we’re not like that person…or not doing “this sin”
No…the Gospel says…He just loves you.
You’re just His son. You’re just His daughter.
He just loves you.
And even if you started to walk away from Him, and were out laying in a gutter drunk as could be right now…You know what? He’d still love you just as much.
It’s not his hope for you…but his love for you would remain unchanged.
It does not change…it does not fail…it never stops…it never runs out…it’s not based on how good you’re doing at the moment…how drunk you got last week…how lost in lust you are right now…how bitter you are…
He just loves you.
And THAT is what Paul is so passionately saying to the Galatians.
He’s saying, “STOP IT!”
Have you forgotten? Have you got amnesia or something?
Why are you now trying to earn your way to God when he already showed you that he loves you and was moving in you even back when you were completely lost when you first met Him!
He JUST LOVES YOU!
So believers in Jesus, hear me today… if there is any part of you that feels like you’re too sinful for God to talk to you right now….or that He’s too mad at you over what you did…or that He thinks less of you because of it…or that you’re gonna have to make it up to him…
Let me tell you …that that’s a lie.
See, you and I, we’ve spent our whole lives trying to gain everyone else’ approval, haven’t we? Usually to no avail.
What we wouldn’t do to have our parents just be proud of us!
Dang it, just be proud of me!
Look what I did daddy? Oh you’re too busy watching tv.
Here’s my report card: “I’m sorry, I just can’t get all A’s, I’m sorry”
“Well, sorry I’m not good enough to be the athlete, or the artist, or the writer, or the doctor you always wanted me to be.
We spend our whole lives desperately trying to win the approval of others, that when someone like Jesus’ says that we don’t need to earn His love, He’ll just give us all of his love.
We kind of just look around…we don’t even know what to do w/ that!
But many of us can accept his love….AT FIRST!
But before long…we’re right back to what we know best…trying to win his love.
Just like you tried to win your parents love, just like you try to win your friends love, your girlfriend or boyfriends love, or your spouses love, or your children’s love…
We try and earn it.
But YOU DO NOT HAVE TO EARN SOMETHING THAT’S ALREADY BEEN GIVEN TO YOU.
It’s not a reward. It’s a gift.
You know…The good news about amnesia…at least from what I learned watching Soap Operas…is that people often just snap out of it. J
And today…so can you.
So this morning…remember the Gospel like you’re hearing it for the first time.
That today…maybe years into your walk with Jesus…he still loves you just as much as the day you met Him.
And in Him, you are COMPLETELY forgiven, and TRULY loved.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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