How ISIS Reveals What We REALLY Believe

The events, stories, and commentary surrounding the most recent ISIS attacks have bombarded us over the last week and have been overwhelming. I have struggled (like so many others) to know the biblical way to respond in thoughts, words, and actions. Unfortunately, I am nowhere near qualified to claim to have definitive answers for this incredibly complicated issue. So I won’t. Thus this blog is not going to serve in assisting you with the answers and in fact it will just be asking more questions. Let me explain.

Earlier this week, I was doing my Bible study and the author took us to Genesis 3: the serpent deceiving Eve. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say…'” My Bible study’s focus is the book of Nehemiah and she was just making a minor point from the third chapter of the Bible, but the Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks. Did God actually say…? My mind was immediately flooded with verses.

This past week, I have heard Christian after Christian explain their points. I have read article after article and have had conversation after conversation trying to drudge through this very real global and increasingly local situation. I kept going back and forth with different Scriptures in my mind praying through what the biblical response was to all of this. Again, this blog is not going to have your neat and tidy answers.

My intention today is to instead share a few of the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit revealed that some of us Christians don’t really believe–at least our responses are proving that we don’t (“out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Luke 6:45). We have instead believed the words of the hater of our souls: God didn’t really say…

  1. Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and TO DIE IS GAIN.” If we truly believed that to die is GAIN, we wouldn’t be so scared. Paul screams to us from his jail cell: “IT’S BETTER TO BE WITH CHRIST!!” Maybe we have gotten too comfortable with this life that heaven doesn’t really seem that much better…May God open our eyes to the magnificent, unending joy that awaits us in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ himself. Christ is unexplainably better than anything this life can offer.
  2. Romans 5:10, “…while WE WERE ENEMIES we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” With a very imminent, obvious, and real life enemy in our midst, it has given me a new perspective on my relationship with God before Christ saved me. I was his enemy. I don’t think we as Christians really believe that. I think we don’t think we were that bad. I mean, we are thankful that Jesus saved us and all, but–come on–we weren’t killing anybody the day he showed up either! Right? Colossians 1 says that we were “hostile in mind” toward God. We hated him. We were his enemies and instead of running away from us, he ran toward us in the cross. Again, this is not a political commentary. Just a reminder that maybe we have heard the liar say to us, “did God really say you were all that bad?” and believed him. Kill any pride or self-righteousness in your soul. Or it will be killing you.
  3. Acts 9, the conversion of SAUL, THE CHRISTIAN KILLER. Terrorist. Do we really believe the words on the pages of Acts 8 that say that Saul oversaw the murder of Stephen? Do we really believe that he was going from house to house looking for Christian men and women to chain them up and drag them to Jerusalem? Have we entered into the reality of Saul’s terrorism–in the name of his religion? Then, we reach the blessed words of Acts 9 proclaiming Saul’s salvation for generations of mankind to read. Do we believe that God saves terrorists? Or was that a one-time deal just for Saul? Are you praying for ISIS? Do you think they’re unreachable? Unsaveable? Believe Jesus. His very name proclaims, “Yahweh saves!”
  4. Matthew 5:44-45a, “But I say to you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Honestly, this was the first verse that jumped into my mind after reading the words in Genesis. Did God really say….love your enemies. Yup, he did. Yes there are verses that say that God hates the wicked. God is all-together righteous and can do whatever he wants. But here’s the thing: we’re not God. Under the new covenant, I don’t believe we have the option to love or hate.
  5. Matthew 20:1-16, The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Speaking out of my flesh, this is easily one of my least favorite passages in all of Scripture. You wanna know why? Because. It’s. Not. Fair. Here’s the thing: doing a full day’s work and getting paid the same amount as someone who does one hour?? Yeah, not fair. The words of the vineyard owner are piercing, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong…Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” May we always remember that everything about our lives–even the very place we were born–is a grace from God (Acts 17:26). We haven’t earned anything apart from him allowing us to have it. The moment we begin to feel entitled to certain things, standards, and lifestyles, we have forgotten grace. Do we really believe that God has the right to show grace to whomever he wishes?
  6. Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he DOES ALL THAT PLEASES HIM.” God is in control. This is only one of many verses that tells us this. Do we really believe that ISIS could be wiped out with a single snap of God’s fingers? Yet, he chooses not to. Do we really believe that he knew about the Paris, 911, and countless other attacks? God’s permissive will is easily one of the most difficult theological doctrines to struggle through in this life, but God’s sovereignty is one of the bedrocks of our faith. Christ-followers should be displaying an unshakeable and irresistable peace to a terrified and watching world.
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20a, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, God making his appeal through us.” Christian, we have been given the blessed task of taking and preaching the gospel to everyone. As those who have been reconciled to God through Christ, we have the responsibility and privilege of sharing the best news on the planet with those who haven’t heard it yet. Do we really believe that God ordained the church as an integral part of his redemptive plan for the world? Do we really believe that we are all ambassadors for Christ? Or do we think that someone else will take care of it?

Again, I promise you that this is not a political statement, nor even a commentary on how I think we should respond as Christians, and I pray that you don’t read it as such. There are much better articles written by much smarter people about the details of the ISIS situation. But I’m more concerned about us, the church of Christ, believing, loving, and obeying Scripture–it is our very life (Deut. 32:47). No matter what situation we find ourselves struggling through, we need to always endeavor to have a biblical worldview.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would be gracious to reveal where you have allowed the enemy to whisper, “Did God really say….?” and believed him.

8 Things God Taught Me In Seattle….

Last Tuesday marked exactly two years since I moved across the country and started my new life in Seattle. Anniversaries have a way of making us reminisce. It obviously came up in my time with the Lord and I spent some time journaling a few specific things that he taught me first-hand during (and because of) the last two years.

Two more things before we jump in: (1) this list certainly isn’t exhaustive and (2) I can’t promise that you’ll read anything you didn’t already know. But there’s something about lessons taught through experience that takes knowledge to a new depth in our soul.


I will not bore you with Mars Hill’s stats when I came on staff in November 2013. I will not tell you our attendance numbers. I will not tell you how many people were on staff. I will not tell you how many locations we had or how many states we were in. I will not tell you our annual budget numbers. It’s unnecessary and honestly, I don’t know all those numbers. The point is this: no one, NO ONE, saw the close of Mars Hill Church coming. Ministry was thriving. Growth was happening. Mars Hill was known to be one of the most innovative and fastest-growing churches in America. Mark Driscoll was known (and loved) worldwide for his unmatched style of Bible-teaching. Mars Hill wasn’t going anywhere no matter what her critics were doing on the outside. She was too big. Or that’s what I and many others thought…

The close of Mars Hill will likely remain one of my most heart-breaking, most surreal, most shocking events in ministry. It taught me that God gives, and God takes away. No matter how unfathomable that might be or impossible that might seem. God is in control and he knows best…and his name is to be praised.


This is actually something that I heard Mark Driscoll preach time and time again. But I saw this proved true, as people in the church quickly turned from hurt to hate. Whenever a person is the source of our joy, security, peace, or acceptance, and then they inevitably fail us, they threaten (instead of provide) those things in our lives. They who were our perceived savior, quickly become our enemy.


Mark Driscoll definitely had his stuff–we all do. He preached often about his struggle with the sin of pride and anger. But God chose him–even in the midst of his stuff. God chose to save a 19-year old kid, gifted him mightily, and led him into ministry for the good of people and the glory of God.

Also, let me say this publicly here since I’ve been asked several times: I had the privilege of meeting weekly with Pastor Mark because of my role on staff. I had several casual encounters with him at staff meetings and other functions. I never, NEVER experienced anything other than grace, honor, humility, love, appreciation, and pastoral care from him. He has a pastor’s heart and loves people.


I have cried at the strangest times–one of those times being while writing this blogpost. But I’m thankful for the grief, because the current pain proves the previous joy. I loved everything about my time at Mars Hill: the people who became my family, leading worship at one of our locations, the work I got to do, my pastors, serving a church who had done so much for me for years.

If you find your grief stalling, give it to the Lord. He knows best how to allow your heart to heal.


I really struggled with feeling guilty for missing Mark’s preaching so much. I felt way less mature than the many people around me who kept saying, “Mars Hill isn’t about Mark. We are a family no matter who our pastor is!” Things like that–which were true. But through a lot of time journaling and praying, I realized that it was OK for me to miss Mark, his preaching, and his content. He is easily one of the top five most influential people regarding my spiritual formation. I needed to allow myself to grieve his preaching. The Holy Spirit had used him to teach me such life-changing truths that even the sound of his voice (having been a podcaster for 6-7 years) was comforting. It was peaceful for me. But just because I missed a man, did not mean that I idolized a man.

Having an earthly hero and grieving your loss of them is perfectly normal. Don’t let people try to tell you otherwise. Devastation, however, is another story.


No one can deny what God did through Mark Driscoll. No one. There are quite possibly hundreds of thousands of people who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ through that man. The current situation does not negate any of God’s previous work. He is the first person who clearly told me, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make him love you less.” Freedom. Life-changing. Life. Changing. There is nothing that will ever discount my appreciation for his ministry in my life. Nothing.

Similarly, any current sin issue or consequences of past sin in your life does not demean or devalue what God has done through you in the past. If the enemy is attacking you this way, ask the Lord to remind you of his goodness to you and his grace through you to others.


I have no idea what God has planned for Mark Driscoll. But I know he has something for him because (a) God has prepared good works for him to do and (b) he’s still breathing. Yes, there is need for repentance, growth, healing, and restoration, but God is able to do abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine.

Likewise, if you find yourself in a current season of sin, rebuke, and consequences, do not let the enemy convince you that you’re out of the game. As long as there is repentance, it’s simply not true. Hold onto the precious truth of Romans 8:28 that he works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.


I write that sentence with tears welling up in my eyes. It’s true: his unbelievable favor blows my mind. He is the prize. He is my prize. If you find yourself in a tough, tough situation today, hold onto Jesus with all you have. He is your prize. He is enough. When ALL around your soul gives way, HE THEN is all your hope and stay.

galatians…week 15 **ADOPTION**

There is a tender story circulating across the country through all sorts of media. I first saw it last week, through a Facebook post, then last night, I heard it discussed on a cable news show. It is the story of 15-year old orphan, Davion Only, who decided to go to church to make his plea for a forever family. (Since there is a high probability that most of you have heard/read it, I’m not going to rehash all of the details, but I have hyper-linked it if you haven’t seen it elsewhere before now.)

Davion’s story is undoubtedly a heart-wrenching one. However, when I first read it last week and then when I heard it again last night, the very first statement used to introduce the story each time was “Davion Only believes that God helps those who help themselves.” Cringe. How many of you have heard that statement, regardless of the context in which it was used? “God helps those who help themselves.” Double-cringe.

Let me be clear: I so appreciate Davion’s boldness and precious, God-given desire to find a family. Since he believed those six words, he took a giant step of action–and I pray God will bless him with a family who loves him unconditionally…

BUT, oh, how my heart was grieved…

Instead of those six cringe-worthy words that depict God as some boss who only pays you if you come to work, I wish he had been told about an ever-gracious God who is the Boss who does all your work for you, and then pays you anyway because you can’t even get to work. And then comes by your house after He has finished all your work to take you out for ice cream just because He wants to hang out with you! Mercy and grace.

Those six words that have been attached to this story do NOT describe the God of the Bible. I wish Davion, as a desperate orphan, had heard Scriptural truths such as, God is the “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) or God helps those who CANNOT help themselves (Romans 5:6) or God’s heart is already toward orphans and widows in spite of their inability to do anything about their situation (Deuteronomy 10:18, James 1:27). THAT is my Jesus.

I knew the Lord was leading me to write a blog post about this because I have been meaning to jump back into Galatians, and Davion’s story fit perfectly with our next portion of text in chapter 4. Here it is:

1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way, we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Adoption. Beautiful, is it not? Earthly adoption, of course, but infinitely more beautiful is spiritual adoption of rebellious, hateful children by a perfect Father who sacrificed His own Son, to make us His forever family.

Here we see that God knew there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING, we could do to alter our situation “under the law” (v. 5). We could NEVER help ourselves, as the pithy quote suggests. GOD had to work. GOD had to act. GOD had to help us. GOD had to adopt us. GOD had to send His Son. GOD had to die…And He did…

And because Jesus did, we are adopted as sons and daughters, no longer slaves! God has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” God is not a slave-master, waiting for you to do “your part of the deal.” THERE IS NO DEAL! There is no contract! There is ONLY GRACE! There is only a forgiving Father running towards us with open arms (Luke 15:20)!

When God brings the right parents forward for Davion, do you think they will sit down with a contract stating demands, costs, duties, and things which he must uphold?? OF COURSE NOT! He has nothing to bring to the table. He has nothing to offer. He is helpless. He was born fifteen years ago to an incarcerated mother. She has since passed away, leaving Davion as a permanent ward of the state, unless someone else rescues him. Hear me loudly–if you have not trusted Christ to save you, THAT is your spiritual condition right now! You need a rescuer! Human beings have nothing to bring, nothing to offer God. We cannot help ourselves. In fact, Scripture says we are dead (Eph 2:1). When God adopts us, God rescues us by making us alive and entering into eternal, unconditional, covenant relationship with us (Eph 2:5).

If you believe that your heavenly Father determines whether or not He adopts you, or loves you, or helps you, or accepts you, or redeems you, or saves you, or forgives you, or approves of you, or delights in you, or listens to you, or anything else, based on WHAT YOU DO OR DON’T DO rather than on WHAT JESUS HAS DONE, then you are still “under the law” (v. 5)…Jesus came and was born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons….you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter. Believe it. Receive it. Live it. Freedom.

Can I ask you to pray for a fresh revelation of God’s grace shown to you through His adoption of you when you did nothing to earn it or keep it–or even ask for it? Pray for a truer, more real understanding of the Gospel. Pray for a heart-deep knowledge of Jesus’ finished work of righteousness granted to you. Pray for a day-changing realization of God’s perfect redemption of our souls through Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. Lastly, please pray that the Holy Spirit would rip every last shred of belief in the anti-biblical statement “God helps those who help themselves” out of your precious heart–it’s simply not true.

I’ll say this again: I pray that God will bless Davion with a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching family who loves him unconditionally…not because Davion helped himself, but because God is a good Father (James 1:17), whose redemptive heart beats for adoption.

galatians…week 14 **ALL ONE**


Happy birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We, as a country, duly honor him today for his life, vision, faith, work, and untimely murder. In his honor, I want to share a small part of his heart in quotes:

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

As I spent time today doing my memory work, I realized that the theme of Dr. King’s life is well-represented in the next passage of Galatians that we’ll address. Although I just wrote a blog post this past weekend, I felt as though the timing of today’s MLK holiday was perfect for the last few verses of the third chapter of Galatians:

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

I know it has been a while since we started this journey through Galatians so we must at this time refresh our memories regarding the purpose for Paul’s letter. Gentile believers were being convinced by the Judaizers, that in addition to Jesus, they also needed to keep the Jewish law, in order to be really saved. That faith in Jesus was good, but wasn’t quite enough. It was a starting point, but not the whole. Paul began destroying those lies with the truth of the gospel: JESUS IS ENOUGH.

Therefore, you see in this passage that we are “justified by faith” (v. 24) and we are “sons [and daughters] of God through faith” (v. 26). There is no other way for human beings to receive justification (being made positionally right with God) except through faith in Jesus Christ, his life, death, burial, and resurrection. We are saved by believing that Jesus’ perfect righteousness has been transferred to us by no merit of our own.

Additionally, as far as the background of the letter, there was a specific instance of racism cited in 2:11-16 that Paul addressed, and most certainly was indicative of other occurrences between Jewish Christians and Gentiles as well. Paul undoubtedly had this racism in mind when he wrote the words in verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female…” In Christ Jesus, neither race, gender, age, position, religious background, nor any other differing category, is recognized to divide us or elevate one above the other.


We see plainly here, that the redeemed heart of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beat in tandem with the heart of our great God of grace and justice.

In your life, have you allowed pride to creep in? Do you think that you are better than other people because they look, dress, act, think, or speak differently than you? Do you judge other churches for how they worship? Do you make fun of other denominations for how they do or do not express affection for God? Do you think that other people aren’t “as spiritual” as you since they haven’t experienced the same things that you have in your walk with Christ? Do you put expectations on others in order for them to be “good Christians” and write them off as “bad Christians” when they don’t meet them?

We constantly need to search our hearts for this pride “for [we] are all ONE in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Birthday, Pastor King. I look forward to meeting you in heaven.

galatians…week 13 **PURPOSES**

I am convinced that if believers would understand–and I mean really understand–the truth of the following passage of Scripture, then we would walk in true freedom and magnetic peace. It’s huge. The evidence that most Christians do not understand what we are going to discuss today, is everywhere. You can see it in Facebook statuses. You can hear it in Christian songs. You can hear it at Christian bible studies. You can hear it in Christian pulpits. And most of all, you can hear it people’s hearts as they share their stories with you. I hear it All THE TIME.

If you have been following the blog through the book of Galatians, then this information will be nothing new to you. However, I, for one, need to re-believe this as truth every day of my life. Here’s our new text for today, Galatians 3:19-22:

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

I love the questions Paul asks. He is truly a teacher at heart. A good teacher is a good student. He/she knows how to look at their material and then scrutinize over what questions a student will ask. He has just gotten done in verse 18 talking about the inheritance coming by the promise and not the law. So, he asks what he thinks his audience will wonder: “Why then do we need the law?” He simply says, “because of transgressions.” Now, according to the ESV Study Bible, there are four possible explanations that theologians/scholars give regarding Paul’s answer:

  1. to provide a sacrificial system to deal temporarily with transgressions
  2. to teach people more clearly what God requires and thereby to restrain transgressions
  3. to show that transgressions violated an explicit written law
  4. to reveal people’s sinfulness and need for a savior

All four of these are theologically true and accurate, but the last is probably at the forefront of Paul’s mind.

I want to jump right to the heart of this passage: in any of those four reasons given above, do you see “provide righteousness” or “offer forgiveness” or “give redemption” or “make dead sinners live” or “save people from their sins”? NO!! The blessed point of this passage, and more specifically v. 21, is that God never intended for the law to GIVE LIFE…because (brace yourself for really great logic here) it CAN’T!!

We get really messed up in our Christianity when we become convinced, dare I say deceived, down deep in our hearts that the law’s purpose is to give us life and God’s covenantal love. It’s NOT!! Hear me–the promise was given, because God’s perfect love and acceptance COULD NOT COME BY THE LAW but only through Christ’s righteousness. You can never earn the very thing that God always intended to be a gift of grace.

Plainly (as plainly as God taught it to me just this week), the promise and the law have different purposes and thus have different functions.

Say I had a huge pimple–and I mean the kind of pimple that has earned the title “Z-I-T”–and I asked you for the miracle zit cream that you just created (and it really, really works). But instead, that night, after you gave it to me, I looked in the mirror and said, “Huh–that’s interesting. Those wrinkles weren’t there when I was 31!…maybe I’ll use this miracle cream to get rid of them.”

Question: when I see you the next day, can I be upset or hurt or angry at you that I still have my wrinkles, even though I used your miracle zit cream?? Of course not, that wasn’t its purpose!! Even worse, I still have my Z-I-T because I failed to use the cream for its created purpose!

The purpose of the promise was to give life by faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe (v 22). The purpose of the law was to show us that we need that life because we are dead in our trespasses and sins (v 19). Mixing up the two is bondage. Bondage. Bondage.

The purpose of the law was NEVER to cleanse us from our sins. But so many of us try to make it perform that very function. We think that keeping the law (doing all the right things, not doing the wrong things) will do what it was never intended, and therefore unable, to do. Just like the miracle zit cream couldn’t erase my wrinkles, the law can’t put us in right-standing with God–it can only make us see our wrong-standing.

If you believe in your deepest heart of hearts that God is pleased with you or displeased with you based on what you do or don’t do; if you think that He changes his opinion of you according to your behavior; if you feel secure in your relationship with God only when you have been a “good” Christian, but feel like He’s mad at you if you have been “bad”; then hear me loudly and clearly, you have the purposes mixed up, devastatingly mixed up.

Receive the freeing truth of Galatians 3. Reject the binding lie of the hater of your soul.

“Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not!” (v 21) They just have different purposes.

galatians…week 12 **PROMISE**

Well, well, well…2013. Where did you come from?

I suppose I should catch you up on things around here since I have been M.I.A. (Missing-in-Action, for those of you who thought I was talking about Miami International Airport) for a few–did I say a “few”? I meant “SEVERAL”–months.

PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME–I finished Galatians in regards to committing it to memory (although I slacked on posting what I was learning on here). I completed the book at the end of November 2012, which left me with the five weeks of December for a SHORT book before I started my Scripture Memory work/plan for 2013. The Lord led me to Paul’s letter to Philemon…such a powerful little letter. I am so thankful to have those words of forgiveness and restoration memorized.

And now, I am two weeks into the beautiful book of First Peter! I am up to verse 1:11 this week. It is 105 verses and, Lord-willing, I will complete it in five months (21 weeks) and then move on to Ephesians. Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers is 155 verses and will take me to the end of 2013.

So there you have it!

I am just in love with God’s Word…memorizing the very breath of God is the most fruit-bearing and fulfilling discipline I’ve ever practiced! This is the beginning of my third year in consistent and purposeful Scripture Memory and I can’t think of a better way I could’ve spent my time. Anticipating and praying that the Spirit has led you to do your own Memory Plan, here is a tool for you! It is a short booklet that was very helpful to me as I started to memorize books of the Bible in 2011. Also, if you need additional motivation and encouragement, or structure and planning, feel free to join Living Proof Ministries’ Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2013.

I pray that the truth of the last blog entry’s text, that Christ redeemed you from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for you, has really, and I mean really, begun to flesh out in your every day thoughts and actions. It really is a life-changing truth, if we let it do its perfect, freeing work in our hearts–DAILY.

If you’ll allow me to jump right back in where we left off, we continue today in Galatians 3:

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

I am going to assume that everyone reading this blog has either been in a wedding ceremony, attended a wedding ceremony, or at the very least watched one on TV or in a movie.:) So, what does the couple DO during the ceremony to “enter into covenant” (i.e. to get married)? This isn’t a trick question, I promise. They simply pledge their love and make a vow of commitment–they PROMISE.

Imagine with me for a moment: a couple you know gets married. Biblically-speaking, they enter into the covenant of marriage. They stand before their family and friends and make a promise of love and lifetime commitment. A few years pass by. Now, let’s say that you get a phone call from the wife (let’s call her “Sue”) and she tells you that her husband (we’ll call him “Bob”) has recently presented her with a list of things she must do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly in order for him to stay married to her. The moment that Sue does not do ALL that Bob’s list entails or if she doesn’t do them WELL ENOUGH, she is no longer his wife. Marriage is over. Covenant is void. Done and done.

I really hope that you would first ask Sue if she’s joking because what she has just explained to you is THE MOST RIDICULOUS and not to mention, one of the CRUELEST things that you’ve ever heard.

This is exactly the point the Apostle Paul is making here in Galatians 3. God made a promise to Abram in Genesis 12 that He would bless him and bless all the nations through him. God entered into covenant with Abram in Genesis 15, telling him that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God instituted circumcision, the sign of the covenant, and changed Abram’s name in Genesis 17, promising the inheritance of God Himself to Abraham and his offspring.

The Law was given to Moses in Exodus 19. The Law, which came hundreds of years later, by no means, nullified the promises of God! God didn’t just come up with things all of a sudden that he wanted/needed human beings to do in order for Him to keep His promise of covenantal love! It would be even more wicked than what Bob had done to Sue in our fictional example, simply because of the eternal ramifications. That would be completely against the character of God. He is a promise-keeper (Psalm 119:140). He cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

So, if you are a Christian, if you have trusted Jesus’ life and death for your forgiveness of sins, then God made a promise to you. He made a promise of never-ending, perfect, all-encompassing, all-knowing, all-forgiving, all-redeeming, never-condemning, infinite, living, breathing, “I-love-you-the-most” covenantal love…

…and He WOULD NEVER come back to you and say, “Now this is what you need to do to keep it…” NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.

“For if the inheritance [God Himself] comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise, BUT GOD gave it to (insert your name) BY A PROMISE!!” (3:18)

galatians…week 11 **ALL**

Happy middle-of-the-summer! I hope you are loving the book of Galatians as we go through it several verses at a time! I really wish that we could discuss these Scriptures together in real life. I wish that I could hear how God encourages you, challenges you, and reveals more of Himself to you through His book–that’s what it’s all about, after all!

I am teaching through Philippians this summer with a group of college girls and my greatest joy, besides the Word itself, is seeing and hearing about what God is teaching them. I wish I could experience the same with you…I pray for each individual reader every time I publish a new post. Know you have been prayed for.

Let’s jump right into the text: Galatians 3:10-14.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

There is one tiny 3-letter word in verse 11 that should absolutely bring every religious person to their knees: ALL. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26 here and tells his readers, “if you rely on the law to save you, you have to do it ALL, or you are cursed. Period.” All. ALL. ALL.

Question: have you kept, are you keeping, can you keep ALL of the law? My guess is you answered with a resounding “no.”

Here’s another question: have you ever or are you currently relying on some part (even a tiny one) of the law to save you? Again, I would guess you would answer, “Nope.”

Think on this for a moment: does God’s approval, acceptance, love for you change based on what you do or don’t do? If you have read your Bible every day, had some great times of prayer, shared your faith, been pretty obedient, held your tongue, resisted outbursts of anger, been active in your ministry, been a so-called “good Christian”, is God more pleased with you? If you haven’t read your Bible, or spent time in prayer, or shared your faith, or been obedient, if you haven’t acted kindly, if you called out of your church involvement, if you’ve been a “bad Christian”, do you feel like God is now less pleased with you?

If that is you–you go through the mental and spiritual anguish of good Christian/bad Christian–then you are relying on works of the law (v. 10). Hear me loud and clear: if you rely at all on what you do or don’t do to gain right standing with the Lord, then you must keep the whole law perfectly in order to acquire eternal life by it (v. 12)!

I love Paul’s dogmatic claim in verse 11: Now it is EVIDENT that no one is justified before God by the law. So he has just quoted Deut. 27:26 about being cursed if one doesn’t keep the whole law, but then he follows it right away with an emphatic, “But of course, that CAN’T BE DONE!”

And that is why “the righteous shall live by faith,” another Old Testament quote from Habakkuk 2:4.

And why are we freed from the law to live eternally by faith? Because Christ became our curse for us.

Verse 13 is one of my all-time faves: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. This is what Martin Luther called “The Great Exchange”–Jesus becomes a curse, we become redeemed. Glorious.

If you are a redeemed believer in Jesus Christ, then He has become the curse for you, and has given you the blessing. He has fulfilled the law of works and given you the law of grace. He has halted your insufficient efforts and granted you His worthy completion. He has taken away your filthy sin, and given you His perfect righteousness.

When the weight and magnitude of those simple, yet profound, biblical truths seep deep down into your heart, then you will KNOW that “It. Is. Finished.”

Stop working.

Stop earning.

Stop trying.

Christ already became that curse FOR YOU.