St. Johns
Transforming Grace: Picture Perfect Faith
March 11, 2018

Transforming Grace: Picture Perfect Faith

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Speaker: Dr Jon Lovelady | Series: Transforming Grace

(The YouTube video above was shown during this sermon and included here for your convenience.)

Easter is only a few weeks away, and this weekend is about changing the light! Since we will begin Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, March 11, we will be “springing forward” one hour. Of course, by beginning our days earlier, we will have the advantage of “lengthening” the daylight. In our sermon series, “Transforming Grace,” we are seeking to lengthen the light of Jesus Christ in our lives. We have been studying the life of the Apostle Paul, and in the last segment of this study, David Nasser goes to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. This church is built upon the site that is believed to be the place where Saint Paul was beheaded by Emperor Nero during an early Christian persecution. The church contains paintings depicting the life of the Apostle Paul from before his conversion to his execution. David Nasser asks the simple question, “What will be the pictures that detail our lives?” In the sermon, “Picture Perfect Faith,” we consider a similar question: what is a “picture perfect” faith that will help us to be free from our broken human nature, and set us right before God? Our scripture for this Sunday, Galatians 2:15-21 answers this question, but it is perhaps one of most difficult passages to fully comprehend without a deeper knowledge of the book of Galatians. “The Message” translation will be used to give us a greater understanding of Paul’s communication to this church, and now, to all of us through the Holy Spirit! Galatians 2:15-21 (MSG): We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous.  If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan. What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

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