Good day. I am Brooke Taylor.
We went to Disney a couple of years ago and in God’s divine sovereignty, we walked into Star Wars Weekend at Hollywood Studios. My wife, my three daughters, Miranda, Maren and Audrey. No – the wookie is not related to us. In our household, four in five people love Star Wars (I won’t mention who the one is). We love the original three movies. The three prequels are not nearly as good as the originals but they do provide some interesting back story.
Today we are going to see a prequel of what came before the letter to the Galatians and see the Gospel Paul had taught from the beginning.
Have you ever struggled with your salvation? Wondering does God really accept me? I had a friend at a Christian school who struggled with this. If the chapel speaker at the end of his sermon asked who is not living for Jesus, disobeying their parents, listening to rock music; who needs to recommit their lives to Jesus, who needs to be for certain that you are not going to hell – he would walk the aisle, say the sinners prayer, and recommit his life to Jesus. Why – because he wasn’t sure if his salvation took - was he sincere enough, was he repentant enough, was he doing enough stuff. He was looking for confidence in his prayer, in his walk – in his works. Many of us are susceptible to this kind of insecurity. We think we have trusted in Jesus but cannot help but wonder, “am I doing enough to maintain my salvation, to make sure God is happy with me...” , looking for confidence in things other than Jesus – things we can touch, see, feel, remember, do or said. Yet it is possible to live your entire life like this and NEVER know Jesus.
The church in Galatia had moved away from or fumbled the gospel – no longer relying on Jesus Christ alone but relying upon what they brought to the table – their heritage, obedience to the law, their nationality. They were searching for security and confidence but replacing the confidence that comes in the gospel with an insecurity that comes from a false gospel. So Paul writes Galatians to encourage them to remember the gospel they had received. How did they think their acceptance with God was based on what they had done or were doing anyway? Paul preached one clear, articulate Gospel in Acts 13. If we don’t find security in our own righteousness, in keeping the law or in where we come from where does it come from. Paul gives us three areas that If you have a bible, let us look today at Acts 13:16.
Acts 13:16b-23 “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Mercy of God.
The religious leaders ask Paul if he has something to say. Paul says, “as a matter of fact I do.” I don’t think they comprehended where this conversation was going to go.
Have you ever done that – asked someone a question, asked someone to do something and then as soon as you did you are thinking – OH NO, what have I just done. The religious leaders must have had one of those moments.
For a people who loved their history this was a very familiar account. Paul starts innocently enough but his emphasis is not on the people. You would think it would be –they are the people of Abraham - it is his and their story. But Paul has a different emphasis. This is God’s story – he is the main character. It was God who CHOSE Abraham and Issac and Jacob. God MADE them great, he CARRIED them out of Egypt. He SUSTAINED them and TOLERATED their sinfulness in the wilderness. God DESTROYED the seven nations that occupied the land of promise. He GAVE them judges and a King. He REMOVED Saul and RAISED up David.
Paul recounts this abbreviated history of Israel, challenging their confidence. Paul sees history as God’s story – what he is doing on his mission of redemption. You Can Be Confident that The Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Mercy of God. Gospel Is The Power of God for Salvation for Every Man Woman and Child who Believes in Jesus.
Demonstrating his mercy, his grace. What they thought was theirs to cling to (their heritage, history, their law keeping) is turned on its head – none of those things matter.
There is no suggestion that God was gracious to the people because they kept the law. In fact in most cases, they barely kept any of it. The notion that Israel was made right with God by keeping the law was not only foolish; it was contrary to God’s word. Which is Solomon says in 1 Kings 8:46 – There is no man who does not sin; and Job asks Job How can a man be in the right before God; How then can man be in the right before God, how can he who is born of a woman be pure.
Don’t we sometimes think that God will love us more because of what we have done. Even your best actions are marred by sin. Nothing you have can make you right with God. Are you appealing to your recitation of the sinners prayer, your baptism or even your attendance here today to justify you or are you trusting in the mercy of God.
Paul challenges the audience – and us - Don’t rely on yourself. Our confidence does not rest in where we came from, the decisions we make, or the acts of righteousness you have. Your only hope is found in the mercy of God; a mercy that is demonstrated in a series of promises that God will keep. Your confidence is found in Him alone.
22-29 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.
Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ
In Jewish history, 1 Samuel ends with the King of Israel (Saul) dead and 2 Samuel opens with the King of Israel (David) raised up. David, a man after God’s heart, is promised a reign. Psalm 16:10 God says he will not forget him in the grave or abandon him to sheol. 2 Samuel 7 says that David’s son will receive an eternal Kingdom and Rule; his son will build him a house for the name of YHWH, his son will be stricken for iniquity but God will not leave him. Amos(9) who speaks of a restoration of Israel and a new temple where all the nations will come to; they will have the spirit of God in them, obey all his statutes, David will be their king. The problem – Isaiah 66 says that no sinful person can construct a house for God. Only one can build a house for God – he who is humble and has a contrite spirit and trembles at his word. God describes one who can do all this and it is not Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ
David, it is not Solomon, it is not any one that he has mentioned thus far. Those listening get that – they are still in exile (both physically and spiritually), they have no land, no king. They are waiting.
In other words, there is only one hope for the rescue of dead sinners like the dead names that are mentioned in this text and for you and me. Not works, not the law – the promised son of David. Solomon was not the fulfillment of those things. Paul says confidently it is Jesus who is the promised fulfillment of all those things. Look no further. The unfolding of God’s plan to rescue people from the curse of sin and to build an eternal temple kingdom is being unleashed and it is in Jesus.
This is where your confidence lies. Not in sinful men from the past. Not in your own religious acts. Israel needed a savior. You and I needed a Savior – God sent the seed of Abraham – the seed of the woman to rescue sinners. The Sinless, guiltless son of David. Isaiah says no sinful human being could construct a house for God. Only one can build a house for God – the who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. – that can be only one - JESUS. Why do we so readily think that He is not enough? Scripture says he is the only one who has clean hands and a pure heart – he obeyed all that we could not obey, he had self control to pursue righteousness instead of sin and stands ready to be our advocate, to stand in our place. If he is the only one accepted by God, the only truly righteous one – Why do we want to do it on our own. BE found in him, rest in him. In Jesus, you are already perfectly accepted and loved.
God in his mercy, and sovereign plan gave Israel, gave the world, Jesus, the crucified son of God, the only remedy to make people right with God. What the law could never do for us – He did. The Jewish people did not recognize him. Many in the early church were tempted to ignore him. What about you? Is the promised son of God sufficient for you, your sins, your future?
Our security and confidence is found in who Jesus is, what he has done and that he is the beloved son that the Father always receives. Be confident in that. Yet our security and confidence goes even deeper. Perhaps the GREATEST TEXT OF SCRIPTURE in ALL the Bible follows...
30-37 But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.
Paul says something interesting – God fulfilled the promises of to Israel by – Raising Jesus. This must have blown the mind of those in attendance. I remember being taught that the idea of the resurrection was foreign to Jewish people. Yet, Paul quotes the Psalmist in demonstrating that Christ’s resurrection is the realization of the prophetic word. Paul has the good news to bring to the nations precisely because Jesus was raised from the dead. All the promises of God for a kingdom, a temple, a people whose heart is obedient to the words of God, who reign with him for eternity find their YES and AMEN in the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul quotes and talks about David here because to do so is to think about resurrection. Psalm 16:10 foresees it. God will not let his holy one see corruption. And in doing so, God is not just showing his power to raise the dead but is bringing about the initial construction of a new temple that God is building of rescued and forgiven sinners.
Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Promised Resurrection of Jesus
Ezekiel 37 looks ahead to a glorious day of salvation. Perhaps you even know this story. A valley of dead, dry bones. God says he will speak and their bones will come to life, their graves will be opened and his people will have the spirit of the living God in them and they will live and be placed in their own land, they will now that YHWH is God, he will be their God and they will be his people, they will no longer be defiled, they will no longer backslide, God will cleanse them and justify them once and for all and they will worship in his presence forever and ever with a Davidic King reigning with them and over them and the dwelling place of God will be with and among men. And the Nations will know that He is God and he will dwell in their midst. God is Our Confidence Rests Not In What We Have Done but in the Promised Resurrection of Jesus bringing to fulfillment all of his promises of the past in the resurrection of Jesus. Dead dry bones brought to life. Jesus is the first born of the dead. Why is he raised – to give people all of this. No longer defiled, cleansed, dwelling with him forever.
In the OT temple, the high priest would wear a rope tied around his ankle so that if his sacrifice was not accepted, and God killed him, he could be dragged out. The resurrection proves that the Father, accepted the Son’s sacrifice, not for his sin, but for the sins of others and he Walked out of the grave in victory for you and me.
I remember in junior high, praying to God in earnest – God if you will just let me make the basketball team – then I will know you love me. If she just says yes – I will know you love me. Maybe you have done this – if you just heal my marriage, my son, if you just give that promotion, that job, that boyfriend, if you just...Asking God for signs, that we are loved and accepted. Friend with love and kindness I encourage you today, that if you the resurrection is not a sufficient sign that you are loved and accepted by God – NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY YOUR NEED FOR SECURITY.
Jesus, the first born of the dead, is the initial fulfillment of those words and his resurrection is the downpayment for a global resurrection. Who will be raised with him? Who will share in his victory? How can we be confident that it will be us that he will share the holy and pure blessings of David with. Paul, through the spirit, tells us,...
38-41 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: ‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'
Only in Jesus can we be made right with God, can sins be forgiven. And every man, woman and child who believes in him is freed – literally justified – from everything that they could not be freed by the law of Moses. What are they justified from? From the burden of the law, from the affects of sin, from the penalty of sin, from death itself. Christ took the penalty of our sinful uncleanness upon himself. Our hearts, therefore are cleansed by faith in Christ Through him everyone who believes is declared righteous. Because believers have died with Christ and have become clean no longer have to worry about submitting to decrees such as do not handle, do not taste, do not touch. He was all that for us – we just trust and submit to Him.
The security that is found in God’s mercy, Jesus’ life and death and resurrection comes with a sober prophetic warning. Those who reject this man, reject his sacrifice, reject his Mercy – will perish. No matter how righteous you may think you are, no matter how much you attempt to keep the law, not matter how Jewish or not Jewish you may be. To stand on your own brings a judgment so astonishing, so devastating Paul can barely speak of it. Many people say they love God, some say they love Jesus – think he is a great man. Some have a problem with his life, his miracles, his death, his resurrection. Some like the idea of the gospel – heaven vs. hell, acceptance, identity – but they
shy away from King Jesus. In short they have a problem with the gospel. “if you have a problem with the gospel, you have a problem with Jesus. If you have a problem with Jesus, as your savior, your confidence in salvation, you have no gospel”
Do you see the magnitude of this invitation – who can be freed – EVERYONE. There is no one that is too far removed from God that cannot be rescued through Jesus Christ. No matter what you have done, who have hurt, how evil or wicked you are – there is mercy even for YOU. Do you trust God’s word. Don’t let satan convince you that God will not receive you. If you have never trusted in Jesus as your savior, call out to him for mercy to rescue you from your sins – God will hear you, he will save you to the uttermost. He will change you forever for his glory.
Do you see the certainty in this salvation? There is no need to doubt your salvation or fall back into some kind of self reliance or think that does not love you now that you have done that. Trust the words of Jesus. You are completely justified. You are freed from everything. Nothing can separate you.
Do you see the freedom in the gospel? Obedience to the law, doing good things doesn’t save you. Are they unimportant – absolutely not. You were created and saved for good works Paul tells the church at Ephesus. But they are the fruit and the evidence of the empowering of the spirit, not the means of reconciliation.
Are you trying to make yourself right with God through something you do? Are you relying trusting in your sincerity to pray the sinners prayer or in the time you were baptized? Are you relying purely on your own righteousness – because you think that you are Good enough and smart enough and dog gone it people like you – so God must be ok with you too. Trust God’s word? Your confidence is directly related to God’s infinite mercy, his perfectly kept promises. God is dependable, for your salvation, even to cover your most agregious sins. How do you know – because God did not leave his holy one in the grave, because Jesus was raised from the dead, because Jesus received the sure and perfect and holy promises and in his mercy he shares them with all those who believe in Him alone for their salvation.
As followers of Jesus, our Hope, as the hymn writer says, is built on Nothing Less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. If the weight of the world, the affects of the sins of others or your own sin, has caused you to wonder, did God really accept me, do I need to do more. Remember, Jesus has done it all, his sacrifice has been accepted, he rose from the dead, justified you and promised to raise you as well. Our hope is not in how we keep the law or what good we have done. Our hope is in Jesus, who invites sinners to trust in the mercy of God and be found in and by him. He says you are free and justified. Do you trust him?