Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"A Place at the Table" - Doug Rehberg

In 1999 Dean Kamen founded a company in Bedford, New Hampshire to build a new transportation device. Two years later it was unveiled on Good Morning America, called “the Segway” or the “Segway Personal Transporter”.

You’ve probably seen them being used by big city police forces. Or you may remember when President George W. Bush did a face plant as he was riding one. The concept is simple. It lives up to its name. The Segway moves a person, or now a robot, from place to place without the passenger having to expend much energy.

It’s the perfect name because Segway comes from the common word “segue” which means to transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruptions. In fact, segue comes from the Latin word “sequor” which means “to follow”. Thus, a non-sequitur means something which does not follow.

I say all of this to introduce what I will be preaching over the next three worship experiences at Hebron – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. What I’m hoping you will see in each of these messages: “Seeing What Most Miss”, “A Place at the Table”, and “Having New Years E.A.R.S.” is a clear and effortless connection to our study of Galatians. What Matthew, Luke, and John tell us in each of the preaching texts fits seamlessly with what Paul tells the Galatians in both halves of his letter.

It’s been a treat for me to try to juggle the Galatians series with the Christmas narratives. What I’ve found is there’s no juggling needed. Everything fits as a unified whole. In fact, as the full scope of the Christmas narratives can’t be understood without the Passion Narratives (i.e. Jesus’ last days), you can’t fully appreciate what Paul tells the Galatians without seeing the segue between Jesus’ birth and death. It’s these segues that will be the focus over the next week and a half.

In preparation for each message you may wish to consider the following:

Christmas Eve: “Seeing What Most Miss” Matthew 2:1-11

  1. How do the wise men illustrate the power of divine grace?
  2. What similarities exist between the wise men and their behavior and a Christian’s walk with Christ?
  3. How do the wise men prove that spiritual sight is all God’s doing?
  4. How is their obedience to divine revelation instructive for living the Christian life?

Christmas Day: “A Place at the Table”

  1. How do Jesus’ words in Luke 22:15,16 capture the essence of Christmas?
  2. How does Jesus replace the altar with the table?
  3. What parallels can you draw between the tabernacle’s description in Exodus 25:10-30 and the Last Supper and the Cross?
  4. How is religion defined by an altar and the Gospel defined as a table?
  5. How is Jesus’ finished work the end of the law as Paul says in Galatians?

New Years Day: “Having New Years E.A.R.S.” John 1:1-18

  1. How can we tell that John’s Gospel is the last to be written?
  2. What conclusions are being made about Jesus in John’s description of the Incarnation.
  3. What four doctrines can you find in John’s account of Jesus’ birth that are fleshed out in Paul’s letter to the Galatians? (Hint: Each doctrine is hinted at in our title – E.A.R.S.)
  4. How does John 1:1-18 get us right back to Galatians 4?
I hope to see all of you on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"A Broken Hallelujah" - Scott Parsons

My wife and daughters love the Nutcracker. They have seen it several times and get excited anytime a new version or rendition comes out. It is a yearly tradition in our family. Unfortunately, I find the Nutcracker to be dreadfully boring and a waste of time. I actually think I have made a reasonable attempt to like it. I even took Kim to New York to see the New York Ballet Company perform it. It was apparently well done. Kim really enjoyed it. I experienced a good nap after intermission. I know I ought to like and enjoy it. I just don’t. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it, or don’t enjoy ballet, but for whatever reason I just can’t get into it. 

I know that many people feel the same way about Christmas in general. The reality of Christmas is great and glorious, but our personal experience never measures up to our expectations. Most people who struggle with Christmas treat it like I do the Nutcracker…you know you ought to like and enjoy it, but you just don’t. So usually the solution is to avoid it as much as possible but work to have a good attitude about it when you can’t.

I think part of the problem is that many of us have unwittingly traded the biblical view of Christmas for a cultural one. We glamorize and sanitize Christmas to the point that the true reality of Christmas gets lost. The coming of Jesus was neither glamorous nor exciting. The reality was harsh and difficult. The problems and struggles that the participants of the Luke 2 narrative were going through did not go away because of the events of that night. And yet, the angel claims to bring the shepherds a message of good news that will bring them great joy. Maybe part of our struggle to find joy at Christmas is that we have begun to focus on personal or cultural expectations of Christmas rather than the good news that Jesus actually came to bring. I would encourage you to carefully read through Luke 2:1-20 prior to Sunday, and then ask Jesus to prepare your heart to be challenged and encouraged by the good news that is truly Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"What's in a Name?" - Doug Rehberg

Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy was the second most senior member of the Senate of the United States when he died in 2009. He was also the fourth longest-serving Senator in the history of this country.

In November of 1962 Ted Kennedy was elected in a special election held to fill the seat his brother vacated to become the 35th President of the United States. And it was a few months before the beginning of that Senate run when a famous exchange occurred at the Kennedy compound in Palm Beach, Florida.

JFK, RFK, and their father, Joe, were sitting around discussing Teddy’s future. Teddy really didn’t like the odds of running for the seat against fellow Democrat Edward “Eddie” McCormack, Jr. His main concern was that his name would be a liability. He felt that the people of Massachusetts would think he was simply trying to capitalize on his sibling’s glory. And, according to one source, he felt that he needed to change his name to run a fair race.

So his brother, the President, asks, “What name are you going to ask for?” “Well,” Teddy said, “I think I’ll keep my first name. After all, I’m used to responding to it. But for the last name I think I’d like Roosevelt.”

This week we are in Matthew, chapter one where the writer, at the outset, features forty-eight names. Now much has been made of the significance of this genealogy and the others found in Scripture. Much has been made of the fact that both Matthew and Luke open with one. But for our purposes this Sunday, it’s only the last name in this genealogy that matters.

For the last fourteen weeks we’ve been studying Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and throughout we’ve seen the prominence of Jesus’ name. In fact, the glorious Gospel itself is predicated on the name of Jesus. But this Sunday we want to examine four particular aspects of Jesus’ name that are first uttered by the angel who speaks to Joseph in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Someone has said that if every annunciation of Christ was thoroughly examined and understood, the life and mission of Jesus would be far more easily apprehended. That’s what we are going to seek to do this Sunday. This is the third Sunday of Advent (which means “coming”) and we will examine the angel’s announcement to Joseph. Interestingly, it’s a message that is totally consistent with Advent, for it speaks not only of the reason for Christ’s first coming, but His second  as well.

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “What’s in a Name?” you may wish to consider the following:
  1. Read Matthew 1:18-25 and Joshua 1:1-9
  2. What is the relationship between Joshua and Jesus?
  3. Why does the angel address Joseph as the son of David?
  4. What do the names: Joseph, David, Joshua, and Arden mean?
  5. How is God’s view of Joseph as David’s son, rather than the son of Jacob, consistent with the rest of the angel’s message?
  6. What are the similarities and the differences between Joshua and Jesus?
  7. What are the similarities and differences in the deliverance both men offer?
  8. What does the angel’s message in verse 21 mean?
  9. How does God’s message to Paul in Acts 18:10 mirror the angel’s message to Joseph in verse 21?
  10. How does the angel’s message take away the root of all fear?
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"The Law and the Christian" - Doug Rehberg

This Sunday morning we come to the 14th and final message in our series, “The Rescue”, a study of the first half of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. At first blush it may seem strange to stop a series in the middle of a letter, but when you examine every one of Paul’s letters you find that they are always divided into two parts; and the order is always CRUCIAL!

Paul always begins with what Jesus Christ has done for the Christian. In theological parlance this is called “the Indicative”. In every one of his letters Paul begins by detailing what the Gospel indicates that God has done, through Christ, for the believer. Another way of putting it is that the indicative fully indicates our new identity as justified sinners. This is what Paul does in the first half of his letter to the Galatians. The truth is, he never moves on from the indicative until he has nailed down the truth of the Gospel in every possible way.

Once he has well established what Christ has already done for us, and he’s labored the point that we are spiritually alive and in a vital relationship with the living God through the finished work of Jesus Christ in His active and passive obedience, Paul then moves on to “the Imperative” section of his letter. Another way of describing the second half of Paul’s letters is to say that they are the “so what” or the “therefores.”  In other words, because of our identity in Christ and our inheritance in Christ, he details how we should then live. What does it mean to live out what God, in Christ, has put into us? In the case of his letter to the Galatians, this will be the focus of our next series, “Freedom”. The “Freedom” series will commence on January 8 with a message entitled “Adoption” from Galatians 3:26-4:7.

One of the bridges Paul builds between the indicative and the imperative in Galatians is the use of two words at the end of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 – “guardian” (Gal. 3:25) and “adoption” (Gal. 4:5). We are going to have much to say about both words in our “Freedom” series, but for now the first word – guardian (or as the NIV poorly translates it - “put in charge”) is critical to our understanding of Paul’s teaching on the law and the Christian.

Remember the question he asks in 3:21, “Is the law of God contrary to the promises of God?” In other words, “What good is the law for the Christian who’s been saved by grace?” How do the law and the Gospel fit together?

While many think they don’t, Paul isn’t one of them. In fact, in Sunday’s text – Galatians 3:19-29, Paul lays out (1) the purpose of the law for the Christian, (2) the privilege of the law, (3) the passion of the law, and (4) the pairing of the law. Unlike many commentators, the Apostle Paul upholds the law as vital in the life of every growing Christian; BUT, in a way that is entirely different than the way the law was in force prior to a Christian’s regeneration.

On Sunday we will look at the role of the law prior to our conversion. Second, the extraordinary gift God has given to every Christian to walk in step with the law. And finally, the inexorable link between the law of God and love of God that is on full display at Calvary.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. What three purposes of the law did Luther teach?
  2. How can the law be comforting?
  3. What does Paul mean when he says that “the law was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come…?”
  4. What does Paul mean in verse 23 when he says “We were held captive under the law…until the coming faith was rewarded.”?
  5. What does Paul mean in verse 24 when he calls the law, “our guardian until Christ came”?
  6. Didn’t people in the Old Testament have faith?
  7. What changes in faith after Christ comes?
  8. How does Romans 8:1 & 2 inform us?
  9. Read Exodus 33:17-34:7.
  10. How does God demonstrate to all the world that He is both the God of love and the God of justice?
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"The Law and the Promise" - Doug Rehberg

Do you know the name of Flossi Holloway?  Last year on November 26, 2015 she hung up her apron after a 40-year-old promise to feed the people of Farrell, PA.  For over 40 years Flossi would cook a buffet meal the week of Thanksgiving and invite her community.  Last year, at 83, with the meal behind her,  she said, “The Lord has blessed me tremendously, but when you feel under the weather, it’s time to quit.”

Last year she fed more than 70 guests, down from her typical gatherings of more than 300.  Her son Berry said, “Momma kept going even when her house burned down in 2008.  The reason she did it is simple; she had made a promise".

About 40 years ago her daughter Carlotta got sick.  Flossi vowed that if the good Lord enabled her to live she would feed Farrell on Thanksgiving week each year.  Carlotta’s condition improved and ever since Holloway’s guests said her food was even better than her vow.

After Carlotta died in 2000, Holloway cooked on.  When her son Armond passed in 2003 Flossi continued to keep her promise.  Though Flossi lovingly paid for each yearly feast, when others found out about her tradition, money would pour in from churches, businesses, social organizations, and individuals.  Last year donations came from as far away as California.

Last year’s dinner consisted of turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni salad, sweet potatoes, tossed salads, and for the kids, crates of juice cartons. 

As the years past, Flossi’s family and friends worked the buffet line and took dinners to community members who couldn’t make it to the buffet.  Her son said, “What my mother did for over 40 years was a blessing; a gift to the community.  It’s humbling to see a woman so small with such a big heart.”

Think of it.  Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for others for 40 years with no regard for payment, or even a thank you!  It’s a lot like God’s promise to Abraham, but of course, He’s never stopped honoring it.

One of the greatest distinctions between Paul and his critics in Galatia is that those critics were propounding a religion of works that were a necessary supplement to God’s promise, but Paul never did.  They were championing a religion that required cooperative effort on the part of God and the believer, but the Gospel Paul proclaims requires no such thing.  Rather, in the Gospel it’s all God’s doing and none of our doing.

So you say, “What about the law?  Why does God give us the law, if He doesn’t expect us to keep it?”  Those are good questions.  And they were some of the same questions the false teachers were planting in the minds of the Galatians.  So what does Paul do?  Does he duck them?  No, he faces them head on in Galatians 3:10-22.

This Sunday is Communion and the first Sunday of Advent.  It’s also the Sunday we get to see how the whole Bible hangs together in Jesus Christ.  What Paul sets before us in Galatians 3:10-22 is profound, life-altering truth that we will seek to dig into deeply.

What Paul tells us is that the promise of God to Abraham in no way supplants the law He gives Moses 430 years later.  Quite the contrary, the Law of God and the Promise of God are completely complimentary.  In fact, as we will see on Sunday, in God’s perfect plan you can’t have one without the other.

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “The Law and the Promise,” you may wish to consider the following:

1.      How is Jesus the fulfillment of every promise God ever makes?

2.      How many times does God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2, 3 reappear in Genesis?

3.      How is the Gospel represented to Abraham as noted in Galatians 3:8?

4.      What’s the point of Paul’s use of the illustration in verse 15?

5.      How critical is Genesis 15 to understanding what Paul is saying in Galatians 3:15-22?

6.      When did God ratify His promise to Abraham?

7.      What’s the significance of the plural – (offsprings) and the singular – (offspring) in verse 16?

8.      How is God’s ratification of His promise in Genesis 15 a foreshadowing of the cross?

9.      Why does God give us the law?

10.  How do the Law and the Promise fit together?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"The Substitute" - Doug Rehberg

Eric Alexander of Glasgow, Scotland, once wrote: “There is little doubt that Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the greatest preacher the English speaking world has seen in the 20th century. Those of us who have had the privilege of hearing him will not easily forget the sense of awe which came upon one’s soul as he was gripped by the glory of the Gospel, and God spoke with such power through him. Yet it was not the man who lingered in the mind, nor was the lasting impression one of human gifts and intellectual abilities, or personal magnetism. Rather, it was the power of truth, the greatness of God, the poverty of man, and the glorious relevance and authority of Holy Scripture which left an indelible mark on his hearers.”

In the fall of 1963 Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached a series of sermons at Westminster Chapel in London on the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:14, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” Interestingly, in this nine-week series entitled, “The Cross”, he preached nine messages and the sixth one was preached less than 48 hours after John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. He entitled it, “He Is Our Peace”. Instead of doing what many preachers would do, he proceeded with his message rather than interrupting it to give a special address of John Kennedy and his life. He continued his series on Galatians without ignoring the events of Dallas or the impact of the young President’s death. Instead, he incorporated Kennedy’s death into his message noting that there’s only one thing that can reconcile men to God and each other and that’s the murder of Jesus Christ.

Lloyd-Jones concluded his sermon this way: “Stop thinking in terms of nations, think of yourself first. Is that old pride there, is this the thing that governs you? I pray that God may show us to ourselves in the light of the cross of Christ, that all our ugly pride may go, and that we may see our utter hopelessness and helplessness. I pray that we may look up to Him who loved us so dearly, that He even gave His life voluntarily in order that we might be rescued and saved, reconciled to God, and reconciled to our fellow men and women. God forbid that I should glory in anything save in the death on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This week we will seek to glory in the cross. Our text this Sunday is Galatians 3:10-14 – five verses that are said to be so offensive that many Bible commentators seek to explain them away. The problem is they can’t! To explain away what Paul is saying here is to obscure the Gospel at best and corrupt it at worst. As Joachim Jeremias once said, “It is offensive. Yet Paul meant every word of it, so we must come to terms with a passage like this.” We will see to do so this Sunday.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. Read II Corinthians 5:21. How does this text relate to Galatians 3:10-14?
  2. Do you agree that the cross is the single most recognizable symbol in all of human history?
  3. What was Constantine’s view of the cross?
  4. How do verses 10 & 11 set forth the “why” of the cross?
  5. How does the law bring a curse on those who are under it?
  6. How does verse 13 set forth the “what” of the cross, i.e. what takes place there?
  7. What does it mean that Jesus Christ became a curse for us?
  8. How is Jesus being a curse good news for us?
  9. How does verse 14 set for the “how” of the cross, i.e. how it relates to us?
  10. What does John Stott mean when he says, “Substitution is the essence of Christianity”?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Hearing with Power" - Doug Rehberg

Last week I heard an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. The woman being interviewed was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the author of a book on lessons learned from hospice patients. By definition a hospice patient is one for whom the medical community is prescribing only palliative care. The typical hospice patient lives for only a few months under such care.

So Terry Gross asks this woman, “What lessons have you learned from those who are living at the end of their lives?” And the woman replies that there are many, but among them is the incredible ability to gain peace in the midst of arguably the most difficult challenge of life.

I don’t remember too much about this interview, except when the author turns the tables on Terry Gross. The woman is recounting how many of the patients have found rest and peace in practices of prayer and the singing of hymns. In the midst of her description Gross interrupts her and asks something like, “Are you serious? Prayer and hymns?” To which the woman replies, “Well, how do you handle serious stress, Terry? How do you gain a sense of peace in the midst of withering circumstances?” Terry Gross is caught off guard - she’s usually the one who asks the questions. But within seconds she recovers and says, “I do breathing exercises.”

Now I want you to know that I’m all for breathing. You can’t last too long without it! I’ve even been to childbirth classes where we “coaches” were trained to distinguish between shallow breathing and cleansing breaths – both of which are deployed in the trials and tribulation of labor. But, come on Terry! We’re talking about the appropriation of spiritual power as you near death and you want to talk about controlling your breathing and slowing down your heart rate? Please!

If Terry Gross were a Christian and Paul had heard the interview, he might say, “O you dear idiot Terry! At a time when you should be lifting your eyes from yourself to Him and His, you’re stuck on you!”

If you were with us last week you know that we crossed into Galatians 3 and looked carefully at what Paul says in Galatians 3:1-5. Here at the beginning of chapter 3, Paul highlights two fundamental resources that the Holy Spirit makes available to every Christian – the Cross and the Scriptures. Last week we looked at what he had to say about the Cross. In verse 1 Paul says, “It was before your own eyes that Jesus was placarded as crucified.” In other words, the Holy Spirit can perfectly portray before every one of our eyes the good news of the Cross. Paul’s argument is that they’ve forgotten what He’s shown them already.

But there’s more that the Holy Spirit can do in the life of the Christian and that has to do with our ears. Look what he says in verse 2, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” You see, what Paul is saying is that the Holy Spirit not only shows us Jesus, He speaks to us all about Him.

We are going to talk about hearing this week in a message entitled, “Hearing with Power”, based on Galatians 3:1-9. In preparation for the message you may wish to consider the following:
  1. In a word, what’s the Bible all about?
  2. Why is verse 8 so astounding?
  3. How does John 5:39 inform our understanding of verse 8?
  4. What do you make of Paul’s personification of the Scripture in verse 8?
  5. How does Paul define the Gospel in that eight-word quote spoken to Abraham?
  6. How many of Jesus’ recorded words in the Gospels are Scripture quotes?
  7. Do you think that Jesus thought the Scriptures to be man-made or God-breathed?
  8. What do you make of II Corinthians 1:20?
  9. How does Galatians 1:8 relate to our view of Scripture?
  10. Do you think it’s possible to understand the Gospel without the Scriptures? How about the Scriptures without the Gospel?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

"Seeing with Power" - Doug Rehberg

A few weeks ago my wife commented that my sermon that week was unusual because of the volume of quotations. She said to me, “You don’t usually have so many words from so many other people.” What I didn’t tell her was there was a long one that I left out!

It’s a quotation that I’ve cited before. In fact, it’s one I quoted at length about fifteen years ago with the disclaimer that the rule of thumb in preaching is never use a long quotation. But because these words are a benchmark in understanding the Gospel, I’ll give it to you verbatim. It’s from the great British expositor of the last century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ commentary on Romans 6:1 where Paul says, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Lloyd-Jones writes:

There is a sense in which the doctrine of justification by faith only is a very dangerous doctrine; dangerous, I mean, in the sense that it can be misunderstood. It exposes a man to this particular charge. People listening to it may say, “Ah, there is a man who does not encourage us to live a good life, he seems to say that there is no value in our works, he says that ‘all our righteousness are as filthy rags’…. Therefore what he is saying is that it does not matter what you do, sin as much as you like.” …There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of “justification by faith only” can be dangerous, and likewise with the message that salvation is entirely of grace….I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel. Nobody has ever brought this charge against the Church of Rome, but it was brought frequently against Martin Luther; indeed that was precisely what the Church of Rome said about the preaching of Martin Luther. They said, “This man who was a priest has changed the doctrine in order to justify his own marriage and his own lust” …and so on. “This man”, they said, “is an antinomian; and that is heresy.” That is the very charge they brought against him. It was also brought against George Whitefield two hundred years ago. It is the charge that formal dead Christianity – if there is such a thing – has always brought against this startling, staggering message, that God “justifies the ungodly”, and that we are saved, not by anything we do, but in spite of it, entirely and only by the grace of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That is my comment; and it is a very important comment for preachers. I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is offered in the New Testament to the ungodly, to the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are enemies of God. There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

It’s this presentation of the Gospel Paul sets forth so powerfully in Galatians 2. With chapter 2 as his backdrop, Paul now turns to chapter 3 where he introduces the power available to every believer. 

Paul’s startling message is that He is the One who not only applies the work of Christ to our lives at the beginning of our walk with Christ (justification), but He continues to apply the work of Christ to us in our progress in the faith (sanctification). Simply put, the way a believer begins to walk in faith is exactly the way he/she must continue to walk.

In preparation for this week’s message, “Seeing with Power” from Galatians 3:1-5, you may wish to consider the following:
  1. Read John 16:4(b)-15. What does this tell us about the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives?
  2. How is Jesus a perfect illustration of the modern hero and the post modern hero??
  3. What is Paul saying to the Galatians when he addresses them as foolish?
  4. How have they been “bewitched”?
  5. What is the relevance of receiving the Holy Spirit (v.2)?
  6. What is the benefit of having received the Holy Spirit by hearing with faith rather than works of the law?
  7. What does Paul mean when he says that they have seen Jesus publicly portrayed as crucified?
  8. What is the principle way in which the Holy Spirit perfects the believer?
  9. How does II Corinthians 3:5-6 fit with our text?
  10. How is Jesus the only hero we need?
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Serious Security" - Doug Rehberg

This week, before moving on to chapter 3 of Galatians, we will spend some time feasting on some leftovers from chapter 2 – specifically Galatians 2:17-21.

This is a sermon I’m inserting into our series, “The Rescue”, not out of a concern raised by others, but out of a concern that arises within me. The simple truth is Galatians 2 is the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ where Paul sets out in an economy of words the essence of our justification and sanctification. It’s all here; and yet, as we get into chapter 3 we will see Paul focusing on our sanctification as a direct result of our justification.

Here’s the issue that biblical justification always raises: If my standing with God, my acceptance and identity is fixed by the finished work of Christ – where does obedience come in? Why can’t I just live any way I want to, without regard for the law of God? That’s the question Paul answers at the beginning of Romans 6. The truth is; it’s the question that justification by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone, always elicits. And while Galatians 3 details the answers, Galatians 2:17-21 establishes the foundation for the answer.

Walking in step (orthopedeo) with the truth of the Gospel means avoiding two errors that lurk on either side of the Gospel – legalism and lovism (or antinomianism).

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “Serious Security”, I’d like to cite a hymn written nearly 250 years ago by a man named William Cowper. The hymn’s title is “Love Constraining to Obedience.” It goes like this:

Chorus: To see the Law by Christ fulfilled, 
To hear His pardoning voice, 
Changes a slave into a child 
And duty into choice.

No strength of nature can suffice 
To serve the Lord aright 
And what she has, she misapplies, 
For want of clearer light.(Repeat chorus)

How long beneath the Law I lay 
In bondage and distress 
I toiled the precept to obey, 
But toiled without success.(Repeat chorus)

Then to abstain from outward sin 
Was more than I could do 
Now if I feel its power within 
I feel I hate it too.(Repeat chorus)

Then all my servile works were done, 
A righteousness to raise 
Now, freely chosen in the Son, 
I freely choose His ways.

What shall I do was then the word,
That I may worthier grow?
What shall I render to the Lord?
Is my inquiry now.

William Cowper (1731-1800) had a sad life. His mother died when he was 6. At the same time, he was sent to a boarding school where he was bullied and beaten.

Later in life he fell in love with his cousin, but her father didn’t approve of the relationship and neither he nor her cousin ever married.

He studied law and earned the position of special counsel of Parliament, but he became so stressed by the assignment that he nearly attempted suicide. As a means of coming to grips with his raging depression he was institutionalized for a time in a private asylum.

After a time he moved to Olney, England, where his pastor was none other than John Newton, the former slave trader and author of Amazing Grace and scores of other hymns. (On Newton’s tombstone in Olney is the following inscription: “John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.”) Newton soon became alarmed over Cowper’s sadness and depression so he suggested that they work together on writing hymns that illustrated Newton’s sermons. Immediately, Newton discovered Cowper’s extraordinary talent for poetry, imagination, and grasp of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In many of the hymns Newton wrote, Cowper made significant contributions. What’s more, William Cowper wrote many hymns of his own that were complied, along with Newton’s, to form several Olney Hymnals.

Interestingly, as he neared death, Cowper became increasingly convinced that he had been predestined to damnation. All confidence of his justification faded as doubts assailed him. In 1800, as discouraged and depressed as ever, he died of heart failure.

Someone has said of Cowper, “It always fascinates to read of a man like Cowper, who is so gifted in writing poetry and composing hymns that uphold the wonderful doctrines of the Christian faith, and yet, struggle so deeply to live them out. However delightful heaven must be for him as he basks in the freedom, acceptance, and love of Christ with no depression or darkness to haunt him.”

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “Serious Security”, you may wish to consider the following:
  1. How do you define legalism?
  2. How is legalism anti-Gospel?
  3. How do you define antinomianism?
  4. How is it anti-Gospel?
  5. How would you define a Christian?
  6. How does Paul define a Christian?
  7. Why is our identity in Christ the necessary ingredient for true obedience?
  8. How is living as a justified sinner more demanding and far-reaching than living by the law?
  9. Someone has said, “The Gospel goes where the rules don’t.” Do you believe that is true?
  10. What does Paul mean in verse 20 when he says that “Christ lives in me”?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Dead Men Walking" - Doug Rehberg

He wrote the Foreward to my book, Leadership Jesus Style (which has received a flurry of interest lately), and nine books of  his own. But among all of Steve Brown’s writings, his latest work is arguably the best – Hidden Agendas (dropping the masks that keep us apart).

What he writes in chapter 6, “Dead Men (and women) Do Tell Tales” is right on target for this Sunday’s message, “Dead Men Walking”. (Interestingly the number six is the one that signifies “man” in biblical numerology and it’s always associated with human insufficiency in Scripture, e.g. 666.) In it he cites several Pauline texts including Romans 6:10-14, I Timothy 1:15, and Galatians 2:20. Every one of them speaks of the same reality. We who believe are not only taken from spiritual death to spiritual life, but we are taken from life lived in the flesh, to life lived in the spirit. In short, everything that Jesus has done is ours. To point it more succinctly, we are in Christ. So let me quote freely from Steve Brown’s Hidden Agendas, chapter 6:

Did you hear about the man in the hospital for emotional problems? He thought he was dead. They tried everything. Freud didn’t work, medication didn’t work, and diet didn’t help. The man was sure he was dead and nobody could convince him otherwise.

Finally, one of the psychiatrists got a bright idea. It wasn’t necessarily good psychology; but then, when that doesn’t work, common sense might. The psychiatrist went to the man and said, “Sam, do dead men bleed?”

“Of course not,” said Sam.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, I’m sure. Everybody knows that dead men don’t bleed.”

That’s when the psychiatrist pulled out a safety pin, opened it, and stuck Sam in the hand. He began to bleed. The psychiatrist thought he had finally fixed the problem until Sam looked at his hand. “Son of a gun,” he said incredulously, “dead men do bleed!”


I got an email this morning from a man who was devastated. He understands grace and he knows that when Christ died, he died for all his sins – past, present, and future – but he said that recently someone he loved said, “Yes, God will always love you but your sin breaks his heart.” I don’t know who that “someone” was, but I hope it wasn’t his mother. I said some rather unkind things about how he had been manipulated and about the “Pharisee” who had manipulated him.

God’s heart was already broken. It has been broken from the foundation of the world. God doesn’t get shocked nor does his heart break every time he sees you sin. The God of the universe doesn’t have such high hopes for you that it breaks his heart when you don’t live up to his expectations. His “expectations” about you were accurate long before you were born. From the foundation of the world, he prepared for Bethlehem. It’s done. You’ve already broken his heart. That’s what the cross is all about. On the cross Christ died for you…but don’t ever forget that you died too.

That brings me to one of the most important memorandums you’ll ever receive. You’re dead! And just so you know, dead men do bleed.

All my Christian life I’ve heard messages on mortifying the flesh so that one is “crucified with Christ.” They told me that it’s hard to die and then suggested certain ways to make it happen – stop smoking, don’t let your mind go to places that are tempting, get rid of your idols, stay up and pray all night, sacrifice for Christ, pick up a cross and follow him, be humble, memorize Scripture, pray a lot, and don’t think of yourself first. And then there are those who go to the extreme of hair shirts, self-flagellation, or living in a desert cave. Others have mutilated themselves or even, I’m told, actually placed themselves on a real cross with friends driving nails through their hands and feet.

Not only is all of that stuff neurotic, it doesn’t work. And it’s not even what the Scripture is saying. But even more important, you’re already dead. As I said in the last chapter, Paul doesn’t give a command in Galatians 2; he is stating a fact. You are crucified with Christ.

The man who thought he was (physically) dead was in fact not physically dead yet. He was going to die (the death rate is 100 percent and the statistic is one out of one), but it hadn’t happened yet. All the hospital’s efforts sought to help him see what was true. He needed to see that he was alive. Paul wants us to see that we’re already dead. We have been crucified with Christ.

So what does it mean to be crucified with Christ? How does one live in that reality? What difference will it make?

That’s what we will be talking about this Sunday as we look at Galatians 2:14-21 and four terms Paul uses to describe our death in Christ. In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. How is anything but “keeping in step with the truth of the Gospel” a lapse into religion? (verse 14)
  2. What do the words “in step” mean?
  3. How does Jesus illustrate what keeping in step with the Gospel mean in Matthew 18:21-35?
  4. What is the definition of “righteousness” in verse 21?
  5. How is it true that our desire for righteousness permeates all we do as human beings?
  6. What does Paul mean in verse 19 when he says, “For through the law I died to the law”?
  7. What does “justification” mean?
  8. How is justifying something or someone a change of perspective rather than a change of facts?
  9. Do you think this is a true statement: “Every person’s problem with sanctification is really just a problem with justification”?
  10. Why is the news, “You’re dead!” good news?

See you Sunday!

Monday, October 10, 2016

"In Step with the Gospel" - Ken Wagoner

Here is what one commentator wrote about Galatians:  “The Church is always in need of hearing the message of Galatians.  No matter what we have experienced, it is our nature recurrently to fall into a system of merit, and to think in terms of achievement and reward.  But here, flowing spontaneously from his head, yet from his heart, Paul expresses the life-transforming, world-changing affirmation of justification by faith.  We are at the mercy of God’s grace, and that mercy encompasses all our sins.”  The book of Galatians is important because in every age it gives answers to these core issues of our hearts: “I have a need to love and be loved,” and “I have a need to be valued.”

Paul’s letter to the Galatians describes the differing thoughts, opinions, and actions on what one must do/be to receive the benefits of a vibrant life with Jesus.  The book makes reference to Acts 15, an important time in the life of the early Christian church, and to the church today.  The message this week is not anything new to long term attendees of Hebron, but as the quote above reminds us, “it is our nature recurrently to fall into a system of merit, and to think in terms of achievement and reward.”

These verses of scripture are so rich, I sometimes fear any attempt I try cannot do justice to God’s intended meaning.  However, I am foolish enough to think at the very least here is a profound truth:
The Gospel governs both our beliefs and our actions.  There is gospel belief (justification by faith alone) and there is gospel action (walking in step with the gospel).  Some belief contradicts the gospel, and some actions contradict the gospel.  I need to have reminders in my life to help me keep the truth of the Gospel in my beliefs and actions.  

Here are some questions to ponder in preparation for our time together this Sunday:
  1. Galatians 2:5 and 2:14 employ the phrase “the truth of the Gospel.”  How would you describe the truth of the Gospel?
  2. Galatians 2:3 and 2:14 also use the word “force.”  What does this word bring to your mind?
  3. Acts 10 describes the interaction between Paul and Cornelius.  What do we learn about legalism, fear, freedom, and peace in this event?
  4. Luke 12:1-4 relates a warning Jesus gives to his disciples?  He describes the leaven of the Pharisees as “hypocrisy.”  Are there any ways you and I engage in hypocrisy today?
  5. Here is a quote from Leo Rosten, a playwright.  “I can’t believe that the purpose of life is to be  happy.  I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be compassionate.  It is above all to matter, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”  Do you agree or disagree with this and why?  Do you think Paul agrees or disagrees with this and why?
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday, and thank you for your partnership and encouragement you have given to me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"The Work of the Gospel" - Doug Rehberg

This week in a message entitled, “The Work of the Gospel”, we are going to see that it is not only the Gospel that can change us. Another way of saying it is that the finished work of Christ not only justifies us before a Holy God, it sanctifies us before Him as well.

In Ephesians 2 we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works. So that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that one should walk in them.” These are familiar words to many, but notice, if you examine them carefully you will find not justification by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone in the first two sentences, but sanctification in the third and final sentence. Paul’s point is all the work that must be done in our lives is a work of grace.

It’s to truth that Paul points in our text – Galatians 2:6-14. In verse 14 he declares, “I saw that their conduct was not in step with the Gospel…” What Paul seems to be saying is that the Gospel sends out a line of conduct that should characterize the active grace of God in our lives.

Here’s a historic example of that line of the Gospel. It’s said that no one treated Abraham Lincoln with more contempt than Edwin Stanton. He not only denounced his policies, he called him a “low cunning clown.” Stanton nicknamed Lincoln “the original gorilla.” He used to say that explorers didn’t need to go to Africa to try to capture a gorilla, all they needed to do was travel to Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln said nothing in reply. In fact, he made Stanton his war minister because he thought he was the best man for the job. He treated him with every courtesy. When Lincoln died, one of the first people to see the dead president was Edwin Stanton who said, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

Now what was it in Lincoln’s life that changed Stanton? It wasn’t a scolding from the President. It was pure unadulterated grace. The grace of God in Lincoln’s life melted the heart of Edwin Stanton.
In Acts 21:20 we read that when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Jerusalem there were many thousands of Jews who had believed in Christ. All Paul and Barnabas had to do was to stand up and preach to the people and excoriate the false teachers and their teaching. But they don’t operate like that. They don’t speak to the people. Rather, they meet with the leaders of the church behind closed doors. And in so doing, they absolved them of their error.

We see the same thing in Peter’s visit to Antioch described in Sunday’s text. What we see here is the dynamic force of the Gospel in the daily lives of these early Christian disciples. There’s so much here in this last half of chapter 2 that we will spend this Sunday and next Sunday unpacking it.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. How is it possible to be a genuine Christian and still live in bondage?
  2. What is the root of such bondage?
  3. How do the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:27-30 relate to Paul’s argument in Galatians 2:1-14?
  4. How do you explain Peter’s behavior in Antioch, especially after the Jerusalem meeting in Galatians 2:1-10?
  5. How did false teachers in Jerusalem and Antioch demonstrate that they fail to understand grace?
  6. Why do the Christian leaders in Jerusalem ask Paul to remember the poor (verse 10)?
  7. Why does Paul say that it is something he is eager to do?
  8. What does Paul mean in verse 14 when he says that their conduct is out of step with the Gospel?
  9. How does the Gospel change the Christian’s walk?
  10. Who are you more like – Paul or Peter?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"The Truth of the Gospel" - Doug Rehberg

During the 18th Century Great Awakening, the great British columnist and evangelist George Whitefield wrote to his converts:  “My brethren, let us plainly and freely tell one another what God has done for our souls. To this end . . . form yourselves into little companions of 4 or 5 and once a week tell each other what is in your heart; that you may then pray for each other and comfort each other as need shall require. None but those who have experienced it can tell of the unspeakable advantages of such a union and communion of souls.”

That’s what Paul found in Antioch. The Book of Acts tell us that Barnabas recruits Paul to come to Antioch (the first place Christians were called by that name) to assist him in preaching and teaching. Together they spend a year establishing a church and developing a deep discipleship among the believers of Antioch. After news reaches Antioch that false teachers have arisen in Jerusalem, the Christians of Antioch send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to stand up for the truth of the Gospel.
Now the issue in Jerusalem was circumcision. The false teachers were claiming that a person had to keep the ceremonial laws of Israel in order to be a Christian. Think of it. The same laws God gives His people Israel to show them the depth of their own uncleanness, and their need for a substitute, are the same laws those teachers said had to be kept for someone to be acceptable to God. According to these men, it wasn’t that Christ’s sacrifice was ineffectual, it just wasn’t enough.

So listen to what Paul does. Earlier, in Acts 16, Paul goes to preach in a region filled with Jewish residents he takes with him Timothy, a gentile convert, who he circumcises so as not to be a stumbling block to his Jewish hearers. But later when he hears that circumcision has become a requirement for salvation in Jerusalem, he digs in his heels. He says in effect, “over my dead body.” In fact, in Galatians 5, he says to purveyors of “Jesus plus circumcision” theology, “Why don’t you go all the way and emasculate yourselves?”

Now lest you think Paul lacks boldness look who he brings with him to Jerusalem. Not just Barnabas, he brings Titus. You know who Titus is? He’s an uncircumcised Gentile convert.  He’s exhibit A. Imagine bringing along an uncircumcised Gentile convert, who’s in love with Jesus, to make a point that it’s Jesus plus nothing equals everything.

Now all of this is background to Sunday’s message entitled, “The Truth of the Gospel.” It’s based on Galatians 2:1-10 where Paul talks of this trip to Jerusalem years after his conversion and years after meeting there with Paul and James. It’s a text that’s full of wonderful truth about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
1.      How important is Galatians 1:11-24 to what Paul says in Galatians 2:1-10?
2.      How important is Paul’s Arabian experience to his mission in Galatians 2:1-10?
3.      How is Paul’s trip a function of God speaking to him through other believers?
4.      What does it mean to say that the doctrine of justification by faith is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls?
5.      How do many Christians today rely on their sanctification for their justification?  What’s the problem in doing so?
6.      Why does Paul say in verse 5 that he didn’t yield for a minute to the teaching of the false teachers?
7.      Why do some point to verse 6 as the most important statement Paul makes in the entire letter?
8.      How does getting the Gospel wrong promote insecurity?
9.      How do the false teachers bastardize the law of God?
10.  How was Paul’s victory over the false teachers in Jerusalem perhaps the greatest victory recorded in scripture?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"The Gospel Call" - Scott Parsons

Sunday I will be preaching a sermon from Galatians 1:11-24 entitled "The Gospel Call". The concept of God's call is a rather nebulous one today. Perhaps it is because modern technology has changed our understanding of what a call is. Today, a call is simply an invitation to have a dialogue. First, we are notified that someone wishes to interact with us by a ringtone. Then we check to see who is calling in order to determine if we really want to have a conversation with this person. At that point we have three options. If we don't want to talk to the person, we can disconnect the call. If we would be interested in talking to them but it is currently inconvenient, we can simply not answer and trust that if it is important they will leave a message. The final option is answering the phone and having a conversation.  But even if we do answer, we do so knowing that we still have full control of the situation. If we do not like the person on the other end, or their message, or their tone of voice, we can simply hang up! The bottom line is that even if we do not initiate the conversation, we are still able to exercise control over it.
But God's call is different. His call is not an is a revelation. He places his call upon us. When he calls us, God reveals to us His glory, our sin, how wicked we are, and how good he is. His call is not an invitation, but a gift given that is gratefully received by people that have been spiritually awakened.
In this passage, Paul does not describe the events of his call (we find that in Acts 9). Instead he talks about the consequences of the call that God placed upon him. He describes how the call to be a follower of Jesus is not an invitation, but a life changing event in which our spiritual nature and our reason for living are eternally changed. As you prepare for Sunday, read our passage and ask yourself the following questions:
1) Have you been called by Jesus?
2) How do you know? How did his call change you?
3) How have your priorities changed? How is your life different than it was before he called you?
4) If you have been called by Jesus, what are your expectations of him?
5) How do others view your new life?



Thursday, September 15, 2016

"No Other Gospel" - Doug Rehberg

Years ago I remember reading an editorial at the back of “World Magazine”. It was the successor to “Eternity Magazine” that went belly-up almost twenty years ago. Anyway, the editor was talking about how much the apprehension of biblical truth is like bagging groceries. He explained that in his mid-western town there was a grocery store that employed learning disabled men and women as baggers – persons that take the groceries off the belt, after purchase, and load them into bags. He noted that every so often the store manager would have to hold a remedial class in grocery bagging when gallons of milk would be placed on top of loaves of bread. The editorialist said that it’s a lot like the Gospel in the life of a Christian. The Gospel’s not something you hear once and you’re done with it. Instead, it’s a message that must be beat into our heads daily, because it’s so foreign to what we think. And that’s the beauty of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Someone has said, “The amazing thing about Paul’s letter to the Galatians is that it is the essential message of Christianity. It’s a message not primarily for non-Christians, but Christians. It’s a family letter.”

According to Dr. Merrill Tenney, former Dean of Wheaton College graduate school and general editor of the Zondervan Bible Dictionary, “Christianity might have been just one more Jewish sect and the thoughts of the western world might have been entirely pagan had Galatians never been written.”

Tim Keller says, “For years I thought what most Christians think – the Gospel is for people who don’t believe in Christianity. I thought it was primarily a tool of evangelism; the milk of biblical truth. But I now know differently. You never move on. The Gospel is the milk and the meat of biblical truth.” It is the fullest of the Full Gospel. It is as essential to the believer as it is the non-believer. If you have been a Christian for two minutes, two hours, two days, two weeks, or two decades, you need the Gospel as much as when you had not yet heard it.

If you are confused, you need the Gospel. If you are suffering you need the Gospel. If all is rosy and wonderful you need the Gospel. And if you are sliding back into old habits, old sin patterns, etc., it is the Gospel that you need. And that’s why Galatians is so crucial. It is what no growing Christian can ever neglect. And that’s why the portion of Galatians we will focus on this Sunday – Galatians 1:3-12 – is so important. For here we find four marks of the Gospel that stand as a test to determine whether we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ at all. In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following: 
  1. After last week’s message someone sent me the following quotes: “Trust Him with your inability to trust Him.” Do you agree?
  2. How about this one? “He cannot love you more…and He will never love you less than He does right now.” Do you agree?
  3. How are both quotes compatible with Galatians 1?
  4. How many times does Paul use the word, “Gospel” in his writings? Is it more or less than other New Testament authors? Where does he get it?
  5. How does the Gospel prove that Jesus is not primarily an example?
  6. How does Paul refer to the Galatians’ abandonment of the Gospel in verse 6?
  7. What does he mean when he says God “called” them?
  8. What does the word “distort” mean in verse 7?
  9. What does this mean, “The less amazement you have about the Gospel, the more you show you don’t know it”?
  10. What is the essential reason for Paul’s astonishment in verse 6 and following? 
See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"The Revelation" - Doug Rehberg

Robert Farrar Capon was an Episcopal priest, author, and chef. A lifelong New Yorker, for almost thirty years, Capon was a full-time parish priest in Port Jefferson, New York.
Among his classic works are The Supper of the Lamb, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, Between Noon and Three, and The Parables of Grace. Much of Capon’s contributions to the church over the last half century has been his pithy, poignant quotes that have made a lasting impact.

I have a dear friend who wrote and delivered a sermon recently with this title:  “200 Proof Grace.” Do you know where he got that title? Robert Farrar Capon. 
In his book, Between Noon and Three:  Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace, Capon writes:

 “The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in a dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of 1500-year-old, 200 proof Grace – bottle after bottle of pure distillate of scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves (rescues) us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel – after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself  in the heaven by worrying about the perfection of your boot straps – suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved (rescued) were home before they started. . . Grace has to be drunk straight no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”
Over the coming weeks I may refer to some of Capon’s other quotes, because they capture in miniature the astonishing, astounding, stupendous truth of what the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus is. That’s what Martin Luther discovered after studying the Book of Galatians. That’s what the men and women of the Great Awakening discovered in reading Luther’s commentary on Galatians. Of all the descriptions used to summarize Paul’s letter to the Galatians – 200 proof Grace is arguably the best. And, as Luther admonished, it is the Gospel of Grace that is needed at every moment of one’s life. To think of the Gospel of Grace as only the threshold of the Christian faith is to bastardize the Gospel. If you are a new Christian weeks into your walk with Jesus, or a Christian who’s been walking with Jesus for decades, the Gospel of Grace is exactly what you need to move forward. And that’s exactly what Paul tells us from the opening verses of this majesty letter.

Last week Dave Shrader gave us a wonderful start in his message, “The Rescue.” This week we will seek to build on that foundation with a message entitled, “The Revelation”. In preparation for Sunday’s message you may with so consider the following:

1.       Read Galatians 1:3-12 and Ephesians 1:3-10.

2.       Why does Paul forego his greeting in Galatians?

3.       What is Paul saying in verse 1 when he talks about himself?

4.       How important has this letter been in the history of the church?

5.       How were the Galatians losing touch with the Gospel?

6.       Why did Luther say that he was “wed” to this epistle?

7.       How can Christians miss the Gospel?

8.       How is the Gospel known?

9.       How are verses 3 to 5 a summary of the whole Gospel?

10.    On what grounds will you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"The Rescue" - Doug Rehberg

The Book of Galatians has been called:
  • “A little bomb” in the center of the New Testament
  • “The Magna Carta” of the Christian Faith
  • “A Capital Epistle” used to judge the authenticity of other canonical writings

William Holland was a friend of Charles Wesley. When he got his hands on Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians and read the preface, he showed it to Wesley. They read it aloud to each other several times, and then they carried it around, reading it door to door. Holland writes:

“There came such a power over me that I cannot well describe it. My great burden fell off in an instant. My heart was so filled with love and peace that I burst into tears. I almost thought I saw our Savior. My companions, seeing me so affected, fell on their knees and prayed. And afterwards when I went into the streets, I scarcely thought I could feel the ground on which I tread.”

For Holland and Wesley, as for Luther, the Book of Galatians sets forth a RESCUE that only the God of the universe could plan and execute! What a Fall we have set before us!!

See you Sunday as we begin our series on "The Rescue".

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"No Father Like Him" - Doug Rehberg

A few weeks ago a friend of mine stopped me before one of the worship services to tell me that he had read my e-newsletter article that week where I referenced the prodigal son’s motivation in returning home. I said that it wasn’t repentance, but a scheme. He disagreed. And after seeking to explain myself, he reinforced his opposition by saying, “I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.” 

I’ve thought about that brief exchange often since that day. The trigger for such thoughts has been my preparation for our fall series, “The Rescue”.

What I’ve found in studying the first three chapters of Galatians is the need to go back to Luke 15 and spend a little time dissecting this 3-part parable that ends with the greatest story ever told.

The story of the Prodigal is the stuff of legend. Myriad books have referenced it. Countless sermons and teachings have sought to explain it. It’s a story I thought I understood well until a decade or more ago when I came face-to-face with Dr. Kenneth Bailey, an expert in the culture of the ancient Near East. Bailey lived and taught in Lebanon for nearly 40 years. And his insight into this parable opened my eyes to something I had never seen with such clarity – the pure, unvarnished Gospel.

Suddenly, all three stories that make up this parable came together. What’s more, each story builds to a crescendo in the final story of a man and his two sons.

There’s so much here; and yet, this week we are going to discipline ourselves to look at only one part of the parable – the father and his “reckless” son. For here in these few verses is the Gospel in miniature. It’s a Gospel that Paul elucidates beautifully in Galatians.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. What is the nature of the lostness of the younger son?
  2. What does he mean when he says, “Father, give me the share of the property that is coming to me?”
  3. What does Jesus mean in verse 13 when He says, “He gathered all he had and took a journey…”?
  4. What is the nature of his “recklessness”? See verse 13.
  5. Why would this Jewish son hire himself out to feed pigs?
  6. What does Jesus mean when He says in verse 17, “But when he came to himself…”?
  7. What biblical parallel is there to his words in verse 18?
  8. Why does his father run to meet him?
  9. Why does his father interrupt his speech?
  10. How is this story a perfect description of the Gospel?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"The Hope of a Future" - Doug Rehberg

Sixty-five years ago in London, a violinist was scheduled to give a concert and the place was sold out. Now normally such a concert would not have attracted much attention. But this night the violinist was scheduled to play a $10,000 instrument, and all across the city music lovers flocked to hear what it would sound like.

As soon as the bow hit the strings everyone knew that they had made the right decision. They were mesmerized. They had never heard anything like it. They listened with rapt attention all the way through the middle of the third piece, when suddenly the musician stood up and began smashing his instrument on the stage.

The audience was stunned. For several minutes they sat motionless until the stage manager came out and said that the maestro would be right back after he uncased his $10,000 instrument. The one he had been playing was a $100 violin he had picked up earlier that day at a bargain music store.

And you know something? When he returned to the stage and started to play, no one could tell the difference; because in the hands of the Master, it’s not the instrument that matters, it’s the Master.

Corrie ten Boom was once asked, “How do you stay humble when Christians all over the world long to see you and hear your testimony?” Corrie smiled and said, “Do you think, for one minute, that the donkey that carried the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem thought the crowds were cheering for Him?”

This week we’re going to go to the beach together where we find Peter and the other disciples learning again from Jesus the essence of the Gospel – Jesus + nothing = everything.

It’s not Jesus + obedience. It’s not Jesus + good works. It’s not Jesus + the approval of others or our own performance. It’s Jesus alone! For He alone is our Hope of a future.

In preparation for Sunday’s message, “The Hope of a Future” based on John 21:4-22 and Jeremiah 29:8-14, you may wish to consider the following:
  1. What does Paul mean in Galatians 2:14(a) when he says, “When I saw that their conduct was not in step with the Gospel…”?
  2. How is Peter’s self concept in John 21 out of step with the Gospel?
  3. Why does Peter say to the others, “I’m going fishing”?
  4. What is the significance of Jesus’ question in verse 5?
  5. What is the significance of the catch He provides?
  6. What is the significance of this being the third revelation of Jesus to His disciples?
  7. What does Peter’s love for Jesus have to do with his restoration?
  8. How is Jesus’ instruction to him in verse 17 the essence of discipleship?
  9. How is Peter’s response in verse 20 & 21 stereotypical of a “works righteousness” attitude?
  10. How is the Gospel our only sure future?
See you Sunday!