Faithfulness Running a Purpose Driven 2011


Every December 25 we celebrate God’s wonderful gift to us! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God in His great love, sent His Son, Jesus, to save us. We must never forget God’s love!

But after we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, why doesn’t God bring us to heaven immediately? Well, He still has a race for us to run and He desires for us to run it well and to finish strong – to be faithful.

As we read in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Witnesses and Weaknesses In our race as followers of Jesus, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, men and women of faith like Jacob, David and Rahab, who have gone before us. Although they weren’t perfect, by faith and repentance, they finished strong. But their lives bear witness to the hindrances and entanglements that sin can cause in this race. That’s why Paul urged us in verse 1, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

We need to rid ourselves of all that holds us back in our race, all the sinful habits, wrong choices and pointless pursuits. There are obvious sins for us to throw off such as immorality, and idolatry, as innumerated in Galatians 5:19-20, but we also need to rid ourselves of the less obvious and thus tolerated, “respectable” sins such as anxiety, unthankfulness, pride, and the sins of the tongue. Also, wrong choices that lead to negative consequences can entangle us as Galatians 6:7 warns us, “…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” God has a destination for us in our race but pointless, selfish pursuits are a focus that distract us, determine our direction and keep us from reaching the God’s destination. As Paul adds to his exhortation, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

Transformation and Inspiration Jesus Christ in not only our Savior but also our Lord. The ultimate purpose of our Christian life is for us to be so in love with Jesus that we surrender our life to Him and are thus transformed into Christ-likeness. However, the reality is that we can experience a struggle between our carnal nature and the work of the Holy Spirit in our livesmuch like the struggle Paul described in Romans 7:15-18. Sadly, some of us call ourselves Christians yet there is a great disconnect between who we say we are and the way we live. Why? Because we are disconnected from fellowship with God and with fellow believers. But we do have the Holy Spirit to give us the power to run well and to finish strong. That’s why we need to run in the power of the Spirit daily.

The Christian race is unique. It is not about who finishes first – it’s about who finishes strong. It has been said that to finish first, one runs fast; but to finish strong, we run together. There are people in this world living life unaware that they need Jesus to be their Savior and Lord and that there is a race to run. We, who are in the race, should live our life in such a way that it will inspire others to love and follow Jesus and take their place in the race.

Mission and Vision Paul continues in Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” As believers and followers of Christ, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author of our faith, who has designed us for Christ-likeness. He’s also the Perfecter of our faith, for He began our transformation and He will complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

So, let us be faithful to what God has called us to do: to make visible the invisible Christ by touching people with His love. Our CCF Mission is to make Christ-committed followers who will make Christ-committed followers. Our Vision is to see a movement of millions of committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, meeting in small groups – Transforming Lives… Families… Communities…Nations… For the glory of God!

Hebrews 12:2 finishes by saying that Jesus, “…endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We have been given a mission. Let’s be faithful in running the race in spite of trials and problems ahead.

In 2010 as you ran the race were you transformed into becoming more like Christ? According to Ptr. Rick Warren, “Only changed people can help change people.” Have you become better or bitter? Let’s make sure we run better in 2011! We have the Holy Spirit’s power and the promise of victory! We are on the winning side!

So, on your Mark! Get ready. Get set. Run in the power of the Holy Spirit!

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The Freedom to Experience Real Relationships


Every one of us has relationships. Our relationships have many levels. Most relationships remain shallow or never go deeper than being comfortable with each other. Now it’s true that we can’t be intimate with every human being we meet. Sadly, most of us walk through life lacking any depth in the level of relationships with people whom we should be very close to. God’s ideal is we go to the deepest level of relationship and intimacy possible with these people. How is that possible? Jesus. He frees us to experience real relationships.

In intimate relationships between two imperfect persons, conflict and problems are inevitable. There will come a time when a difficult issue will arise and need to be addressed. How does one confront someone about a difficult issue? The better question to ask first is this: “What gives me the right to confront someone about a difficult issue?” The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6. What is the godly response when we see our brother or sister caught in sin?

Throughout Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he is reminding us that the whole issue of salvation and sanctification is solely the Spirit’s work in our lives. It is given by grace, not earned by our hard work. Our job is to participate with the Holy Spirit. The flesh contests with the Spirit’s will; the Spirit empowers us to live lives pleasing to God. Salvation is God’s work, from start to finish.

It is also the Holy Spirit who enables us to have real relationships with others. When Adam and Eve were created, God intended them to experience a deep level of openness with Him and with each other. Our deepest relationships are with God, with your spouse, family, and dgroup. They are the ones we should go to with our hurts, and meet them in a safe place.

The human heart is looking for that safe place. In there, the human heart is able to talk to another about the most sensitive heart issues. In there, the human heart is able to share openly and honestly about heart issues. In real relationships we move beyond a distant or impersonal “surface or comfort level,” to a “safe place” where two persons can allow each other to be completely open. In that safe place, secret wounds can be shared. In that safe place secret wounds are mended.

That can only happen when the confrontation is done God’s way. God’s way provides the right level of personal relationship between two intimates. God’s way gives us the right to confront others with heart issues and allows us to receive the Holy Spirit’s help and empowerment. When we have the answer to who gives us the right to confront, the Holy Spirit shows us the how.

God’s way is this: the Holy Spirit, the Creator of our hearts, gets involved in our relationships. He is the one who understands the human heart the most, and he helps us understand others. So even in dealing with conflicts and heart issues we need to walk in step with the Spirit.

A heart filled with the Holy Spirit will bear the fruit of joy and love and gentleness… everything we need to put us in the right attitude to approach or confront others. So what gives us the right to confront? Power and motive.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass… Paul sets the condition: if any of our brothers unintentionally blunders into sin–not just when our brother is willfully sinning do we confront him.

…you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness… When we are filled by the Holy Spirit, then we can take the step to restore our brother. Our approach: gentleness, which is the Spirit’s fruit. We can’t confront our brother without the Spirit. Restoring our brother is then about him and the Lord; not ourselves, not our egos. Your motive is to restore – not embarrass, not humble, show your right, put him in his place. …each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted… When you are empowered by the Spirit He keeps you humble. He knows you can fall into the same sin if not careful. One such pitfall is spiritual arrogance–”I’m spiritually superior and you’re not” thinking. This is a very real temptation. Contrast this with a spirit of humility: When the person knows you believe you could fall also, he does not feel judged. He feels safe!

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ… When our motive is to restore brothers then their burden is not just theirs. It becomes ours, too. This is the love that Christ exhorted to show each other.

Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself… People empowered by the Spirit never think they are to special to help. Instead, they assume Christ’s attitude and realizes they are servant to all. God brings people within our circle of influence for a purpose. Ultimately, it is to bring glory to His son.

But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another… It is not a spirituality contest with anyone. Our only desire is to imitate and please Christ.

For each one will bear his own load… The great freedom this brings is that you are responsible to love and help your fallen brother – no matter what his reaction is. Whether he listens or not is not your concern. Your concern is to do God’s will.

You let God deal with it.

May the Holy Spirit free you and take you to that safe place in your relationships.

Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness


In an upper room where He celebrated the Passover with the disciples, and where He washed the feet of His disciples as a servant would, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” According to Him, all men will know that they are His if they love one another. (John 13: 34-35)

Love one another just as I have loved you – Just how easy is this new commandment from Jesus? How about we look at some of the people described in the Bible to be “loved by Jesus”?

Jesus loved the disciples who were with Him in the said upper room. Jesus loved the siblings Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). But Jesus also loved the rich, young ruler who chose to hold on to his wealth rather than follow Him (Mark 10: 21). Jesus loved His disciples James and John, the brothers who asked Him to call down fire from heaven and wipe out a stranger they saw was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He also loved temperamental Peter who had taken his sword on the high priest’s servant Malchus during Jesus’ arrest. And Jesus loved Judas Iscariot, His disciple who betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus loved them all – and us too – just as they are, faults, failures and all. “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person to meet the needs of that person in such a way that causes sacrifice,” says Dr. Harold Sala, well-known speaker, author and Bible teacher.

And in John 13: 34-35, Jesus is asking His followers, both His disciples and us, to give the same kind of love.

The problem is, we tend to divide people into two categories: that which we like about them and that which we dislike. And the bigger problem is that, every person has idiosyncrasies, mannerisms or habit patterns that have the potential to be unlikeable, offensive even. And unlike a wormy apple which we could cut to salvage the good part, we can’t love people in slices. And Jesus wouldn’t want us to. Paul even wrote to the Romans, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

When you really love someone, you have to accept them as they are with the expectation that God will work in their hearts and He will be the one who changes them.

“To love a human being means to accept him, to love him as he is. If you wait to love him till he has got rid of all his faults, till he is different, you are only loving an idea. Love him with the love of Christ. This means accepting him as he is then lead him towards a goal he doesn’t see and, because I love, to attack all that is contrary to God with all of the energy of love,” wrote Florence Allshorn, a missionary to Uganda in the 1920s.

Admittedly, it is difficult to accept and love those who have offended us. And there are actually several other options on how we can respond to them. We can go “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” which leaves both parties blind and toothless. We can break off the relationship – something God never did with us, praise Him! We can live dejected, while letting your pain grow.

Don’t sound like great options either, right? But Jesus is telling us, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” (Luke 6:28)

We need to understand that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) When we stand at the foot of the cross, we will all be on level ground. No one could look down on someone else and say, I am better than this person. Paul even wrote to the Galatians, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3) This is compassion and humility – elements that make up the love of Jesus Christ.

Aside from blessing and praying for those who have offended us, Jesus tells us that we must also forgive them. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean the offense was okay. Forgiveness means, you are giving up your “right” to hurt the person back. When you forgive somebody, you release a prisoner – you!

Sounds tough? Nah… IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! Apart from the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that is. We need to ask the power of the Spirit to respond to Jesus’ call to love, accept and forgive as He does. And we ask for the filling of the Spirit by

1. Acknowledging our need for it;
2. Confessing our sins;
3. Giving ourselves, as is said in

Romans 12: 1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…”;

4. Asking the Holy Spirit to fill us; and
5. Accepting the filling of God’s Spirit and walking in simple obedience.

When we ask and accept the filling of God’s Spirit with thanksgiving, and reach out, take Jesus’ hand and walk with Him, only then can we respond to the impossible call of Jesus. Only then can we love, accept and forgive one another as He has done so with us.

Practice True Freedom


True freedom is defined as not the ability to do whatever you feel like doing but the ability to say no to sin and yes to God. Titus 2: 11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, the grace of God brings true freedom.

Unfortunately, there are some Christians who are free but are not enjoying their freedom. There are also those who choose to be enslaved to sin, and legalism. Paul, thus, reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

In the slope of Grace-living, true freedom is indeed slippery. On one hand is the idea of licentiousness, which is doing whatever you please, and on the other is legalism wherein you need to do certain things in order to go to heaven.

The reason God loves you is not because of who you are or anything you’ve done, it’s because of what Christ has done for you on the cross. Until you understand grace, you will not be delivered from slavery because your Christian life will be all about performance.

TRUE FREEDOM is by the GRACE OF GOD

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace is something that we don’t deserve to receive. It is what Christ has done for us.

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6) It is difficult for us to understand GRACE, because all throughout our life we have been brainwashed that we earn favors and rewards based on good performance. We are made to believe that to please God we must do this and that, we become legalistic. True freedom is the power to love and to serve God and others.

LEGALISM and LICENTIOUSNESS

Many of us are guilty of legalism, i.e. I must do this, must do that…to earn the favor of God. For example, when we couldn’t come to Sunday worship due to some compelling reason, we start thinking that something bad will happen to us because we failed in our ‘obligations’. Because we do not understand grace, everything we do
becomes an obligation. This can drag us down later on.

There is nothing we can do to merit salvation. We cannot manipulate God to favor us with our good works. The extreme of legalism is licentiousness – doing what you feel like doing because you are free (v.13). Don’t use it as an excuse to sin. This is not freedom but also slavery (Romans 6:14).

GRACE and LEGALISM

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Grace and legalism do not match. If you think you can go to heaven by obeying the commandments and rituals you are like saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough, because you need to add something in the equation. If you are doing good works to go to heaven, you are not doing it for God but for yourself.

Christ died for us to set us free; not just to be free from legalism and condemnation but to be free to love and to serve. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”” (Galatians 5:13-14)

The paradox of true freedom is when Jesus becomes our Master, we experience maximum freedom. When we allow ourselves to be our master, we experience slavery.

True freedom is defined as not the ability to do whatever you feel like doing but the ability to say no to sin and yes to God. Titus 2: 11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, the grace of God brings true freedom.

Unfortunately, there are some Christians who are free but are not enjoying their freedom. There are also those who choose to be enslaved to sin, and legalism. Paul, thus, reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

In the slope of Grace-living, true freedom is indeed slippery. On one hand is the idea of licentiousness, which is doing whatever you please, and on the other is legalism wherein you need to do certain things in order to go to heaven.

The reason God loves you is not because of who you are or anything you’ve done, it’s because of what Christ has done for you on the cross. Until you understand grace, you will not be delivered from slavery because your Christian life will be all about performance.

TRUE FREEDOM is by the GRACE OF GOD

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace is something that we don’t deserve to receive. It is what Christ has done for us.

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6) It is difficult for us to understand GRACE, because all throughout our life we have been brainwashed that we earn favors and rewards based on good performance. We are made to believe that to please God we must do this and that, we become legalistic. True freedom is the power to love and to serve God and others.

LEGALISM and LICENTIOUSNESS

Many of us are guilty of legalism, i.e. I must do this, must do that…to earn the favor of God. For example, when we couldn’t come to Sunday worship due to some compelling reason, we start thinking that something bad will happen to us because we failed in our ‘obligations’. Because we do not understand grace, everything we dobecomes an obligation. This can drag us down later on.

There is nothing we can do to merit salvation. We cannot manipulate God to favor us with our good works. The extreme of legalism is licentiousness – doing what you feel like doing because you are free (v.13). Don’t use it as an excuse to sin. This is not freedom but also slavery (Romans 6:14).

GRACE and LEGALISM

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Grace and legalism do not match. If you think you can go to heaven by obeying the commandments and rituals you are like saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough, because you need to add something in the equation. If you are doing good works to go to heaven, you are not doing it for God but for yourself.

Christ died for us to set us free; not just to be free from legalism and condemnation but to be free to love and to serve. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”” (Galatians 5:13-14)

The paradox of true freedom is when Jesus becomes our Master, we experience maximum freedom. When we allow ourselves to be our master, we experience slavery.

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Smile: You Are Now A Son


The apostle Paul had been shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, beaten nearly to death. He is one tough guy. And yet in his letter to the Galatians he wrote about being “astonished” (Gal. 1:6), “perplexed…” (Gal. 4:20), and “fearing for them” (Gal. 1:7). Paul worried about the Galatians who were being confused by men trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Wouldn’t you be astonished yourself if you find in your backyard a beautiful butterfly – with great, big, colorful wings for flying freely – crawling on its belly as if it were still a caterpillar? Paul earnestly reminds the Galatians in Chapter 4, “The Lord Jesus has set you free! You are now sons and no longer slaves. Don’t go back to living like a slave. Slavery and sonship do not mix!”

You are now sons and no longer slaves

Verses 1-3 talk about an heir who could not lay a hold of his inheritance because of his young age. Until the time set by his father, he is placed under the watchful eye of a guardian. We were like the child once. Before coming to know Jesus Christ we were slaves – to the law. Whatever we think could draw us closer to God, we do sincerely, hoping that if we try hard enough maybe we could win God’s favor and even deserve entry to heaven. Jesus even said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.” (Jn. 5:39-40) But He declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6) Salvation and sonship are only possible through redemption, a giving in exchange of something. Thus, when the time had fully come, God sent His Son to redeem us who were under the law. Referring to Jesus, Isaiah 53:2-6 say, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Redemption has always been God’s plan. It was not an afterthought God had made up as things went along in the history of mankind.

God has sent Jesus Christ not just to redeem us as His sons. Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” God has also given us a new heart and put on us a new spirit when Jesus Christ redeemed us into sonship. Ezekiel 36:26-27 say, “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” Through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross, God has given us true freedom – freedom from our old selves and from obedience to God just out of obligation. Just as he reminded the Galatians, Paul is reminding us today: when we accepted Christ, we have become sons of God, no longer slaves. No need to crawl on our bellies like a caterpillar – we can fly freely like a butterfly. Remember, the evidence of true sonship is a changed life.

Don’t go back to living like a slave

In verses 9-10 of Chapter 4, Paul scolds the Galatians, saying, “…how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? [10] You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” The Galatians were becoming obsessed all over again with obeying Section A, Article 1, Item 278… The principles, the items may be right things to do, but if they’re doing them for all the wrong reasons, they’re back in slavery all over again. Paul warned the Colossians, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col. 2:23)

We are not exempt from falling into a similar pit. It is entirely possible that we do the right things – attend worship, go to D-Group, serve in a ministry, attend Bible study, have quiet time, go to dawn watch – all for the wrong reasons. We might be doing these things: out of routine & tradition; to help make up for sins; to belong, conform & comply; to overcome my guilt, out of people’s expectations; because God will be angry & punish us if we don’t; to impress and look good; because God will love me more if I do, etc. We need to be sure that we’re doing these things as an outflow of our gratitude to God. We need to be sure we’re doing these things under the power of God’s Spirit. If we’re not careful, we might just end up being sons living like slaves.

Slavery and Sonship do not mix

Galatians 4:22-26 says: “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”

Slavery and Sonship cannot mix. The formula cannot be faith in Christ plus good works, equals salvation. Good works is on the other side of the equation because it is the response to the gift of salvation. The Christian life is designed to be a life of joy. There are many, many reasons to be joyful in the Christian life: we have been redeemed as sons of God; we are no longer slaves to the law nor to sin nor to our old selves; we have become heirs with an eternal inheritance; we have been given a new heart and a new spirit; we can love and worship the Lord, freely. So stop frowning. Go on and smile.

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God’s Promise Is Greater Than The Law


Many years ago, God made a covenant of blessing to Abraham. The Lord promised him that he would be the father of nations. That his descendants would be as numerous as the stars! However, at the time, Abraham and his wife Sarah were both well advanced in age so it seemed humanly impossible for them to still have a child. What’s more, Sarah was barren. The fulfilment of the promise was completely up to God! But Abraham believed and God declared him righteous because of his faith
(Genesis 15:6).

In the same way, God in His amazing grace grants us salvation when we completely put our faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do in our own capacity to earn it. God requires perfect righteousness that we would never be able to live up to. But Jesus, when he became man, lived a sinless life. He died on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sins. Then when He rose again on the third day, He conquered sin and death, not only proving that He was the Messiah but also fulfilling, in our behalf, what was needed in order to receive salvation. And if we place our faith in Jesus, God gives us His life and righteousness and forgives us of every sin. This is the Good News! We receive God’s promise of salvation simply by believing in His Son, and not by righteousness through the Law. Once we accept His salvation, it is complete and everlasting.

However, some men called “Judaisers” came and said that God’s work is not enough. According to them, aside from placing our faith in Christ, we must also follow the law to the letter in order to gain salvation. This kind of teaching is called “legalism” which in effect says that the Law is greater than God’s promise. Paul wrote to the Galatians to correct this.

Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

The Pre-eminence of the Promise. Galatians 3:15-16 says, “Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Part of God’s covenant with Abraham was the coming of Christ Jesus, the Savior of mankind!

The Law was like a legal contract but God’s covenant with Abraham was as a promise. God gave the Law to His people through Moses but made the covenant with Abraham. He was asleep and covered in animal blood (read Genesis 15) when God made His promise, which was also symbolic of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross.

Paul said, if a man-made contract is strictly followed, how much more God’s covenant with Abraham? The Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant already ratified by God so as to nullify the promise (Gal. 3:17). God cannot take back His promise of salvation by grace through faith just because of the Law. “For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise” (Gal 3:18). Because God is faithful in keeping His promises, salvation remains a free gift. God’s promise is unconditional. Absolutely nothing can cancel it!

The Purpose of the Law. “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made” (Gal 3:19).

The Law is like a mirror, showing us that we have a sin problem. Like a flashlight in the dark, it shows us the way but does not take out the darkness. Like a plumb line, it can only show us the correct alignment to God’s standards and nothing else. “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God?” Paul asks and answers: “No!” The Law is given to us to show that we are all guilty of not living up to God’s perfect standards. By doing so, it guides us to understand and appreciate the grace of God. It doesn’t give the solution to our sin problem. God has an entirely different reason for giving us the Law. It shows us His holiness and our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior.

The Law was also given to protect us from lawlessness. Like a guardian or tutor, the Law guides us on how we must live. Praise God for His wisdom! The Law was added because of transgressions until the seed–that is, Christ– would come (Gal 3:19). Paul writes, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” The Law was meant to show us that we are sinners, thatwe cannot make it on our own and lead us to Christ who fulfilled the promise of God.

Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly with His sinless life. When we place our faith in Him, God credits Jesus’ righteousness to us. Our salvation in Christ is complete. Praise God!

The Position of the Believer. Not only does God save us from eternal damnation, He also gives us a new identity. Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” God adopts us as His hildren. And as part of God’s family, we should live according to the standards of God in character, in words, in everything (Ephesians 1:5). (Note: Baptism is the public declaration of one’s allegiance to Christ and not a requirement for salvation.)

We now belong to God. We were given the right to become His children (John 1:12). We are assured of eternal life with God (1 John 5:13). All believers become one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). He gives us a new name and a new home. Our faith in Jesus as our Savior brings us into the family of God. God’s gospel welcomes, loves, and values everyone equally regardless of race, social status, or gender.

God’s Promise is indeed greater than the Law. Salvation is not about achieving; it’s all about believing. Because of His promise of salvation, we have peace, joy, and hope through Jesus. We are free to live lives that glorify God! As God’s children let us live according to the new identity that God has given us.

If you, on the other hand, are asking yourself if you are you saved, know that salvation is available to you because of Jesus. In whom do you place your faith for salvation: in Christ or in fulfilling the Law? This is the most important decision you will make in your life. We pray that you choose Christ Jesus, who loves you and gave His life for you (Galatians 2:20).

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Inspiration From Chile’s Miners


By Jim Whelchel

Once in a while the world is riveted by good news…like others around the world, we in the Philippines have watched with nervous anticipation as the amazing rescue effort for the 33 miners has unfolded, ever so slowly, and has finally come to an amazingly smooth conclusion.

But one of the stories behind the story has been the work of the Chilean Campus Crusade for Christ ministry to reach out to and encourage the miners even while they were still trapped hundreds of meters below the surface.

Some weeks ago, our national director in Chile, Christian Maureira, initiated contact with the rescuers to offer moral and spiritual encouragement to the miners. Although the rescuers initially were hesitant to allow contact, eventually they realized that they needed all the help they could get to keep the miners’ spirits lifted and to create an environment of hope.

The Campus Crusade for Christ ministry provided MP3 players with the Jesus Film audio, and large portions of scripture, for the miners to listen to. It turns out that there were believers among the miners, and they had daily prayer meetings together twice a day. One of the miners, Jose Samuel, wrote to Christian Maureira from inside the mine to thank him for the MP3 materials. Some of his comments were:

“I want to express my appreciation for this great blessing for me and my co-workers, it will be very good [for] our edification” (referring the MP3’s)
• “I am well because Christ lives in me”
• “We have prayer services at 12 a.m. and 6 p.m.”
• “I ask all of you for pray not only for us here, but for all the lost people in the world”
• At the end of the letter he signed off with Psalm 95:4 “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and mountain peaks belong to him”.

Upon reaching the surface, many of the miners were wearing the tee shirts given to them by the ministry, with the Jesus film logo on the sleeve (see attached picture), and with Ps. 95:4 written on the back. Many also made their first words upon reaching safety praise and thanksgiving to God for His sustaining grace.

We know they still a long road of readjustment to overcome. Please pray for them. And pray that the story of their faith in God and the role He played in their rescue would be used for God’s glory around the world.

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Stand For The Truth


Through the work of the Lord in the lives of the apostles and the early church, the Gospel began to spread not only among the Jews but also among the Gentiles and many there being converted to the faith (Acts 15:3). However some Jewish Christians began teaching that, in order for Gentiles to become Christian, they must first be circumcised and practice Jewish traditions. This issue created some confusion in the early Church.

As Christians, we are free to discuss and even disagree on some issues. But there are truths that are not debatable and we must be willing to stand up and even die for. One such truth is that of the Gospel. It is of first importance and we must be willing to stand up for it.

This is exactly what Paul did in Galatians 2. Paul, along with Titus and Barnabas, was sent by God to Jerusalem, the capital of Christianity at that time, to meet with the church leaders. Paul wanted to make sure that the Gospel he was preaching was the same one being taught by the leaders: ìA man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justifiedî (Galatians 2:16). In Acts 15, Paul said, ìGod, who knows the heart, testified to the Gentiles, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us, Jews. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith… We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.î Amazing is our God who gave us amazing grace! Everyone can receive salvation from God by placing their faith in Jesus alone, and not by obeying the Law. Good works is the result of genuine salvation. As Paul testified in Galatians 1: ìYou have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. God, who had set me apart even from my motherís womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.î Paulís life was transformed by the Gospel. He who once persecuted Christians is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy. Praise God! In standing up for the truth of the Gospel, Paul did not fear conflict. Rather, he considered himself accountable to confer with the church leaders the message he was preaching to the Gentiles. Accountability begins among the church leaders. Because there is only one Gospel and it cannot be changed, Paul wanted to make sure that the teachings of the leaders in Jerusalem was consistent with what he was teaching the Gentiles. The pillars of the church, James, Cephas (Peter) and John formally recognized Paul as the preacher to the Gentiles. The Gospel they preached was one and the same. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, resulting in transformed lives.

Today, we must also practice accountability just as the pillars of the early Church did. We are encouraged to be part of a discipleship group where we can be accountable to one another. The D-group observes a covenant to correct each other when needed, and to practice and accept corrections with humility and loving-kindness.

Some people are willing to acquiesce to the majority for the sake of ìharmonyî and conflict-avoidance. But not Paul. When he saw that Peter fell into hypocrisy, Paul opposed him to his face (Galatians 2:11-13). Standing up for the Gospel means we need to care enough and have the courage to correct our brethren should they fall away from the truth. Even though Peter was an ìoriginalî apostle, Paul corrected him. No one is infallible, not even church leaders. If theyíre not careful, they can fall like anyone else because of past weaknesses. When we see our fellow believer making mistakes, we should not be afraid to correct them. We should not take sides in favor of our friends or leaders for the sake of friendship or deference specially if we know that they are already doing wrong.

As a general rule we should correct in private-one-on-one. This avoids gossiping, which is a sin. There are times, however, when we can correct in public with a selected audience to let others learn from the mistake as well. Paul corrected Peter publicly because his sin was done in public and influenced other leaders .The rest of the Jews joined Peter in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisyî (Galatians 2:13). Compromising is very dangerous. If a father, for instance, does not live a life of integrity, his children will see and copy his behaviour even if he tells them to do what is right. Thatís because actions speak louder than words. This principle is also true of church leaders and us people are always watching to see if our faith is authentic.

The Bible says we must ìspeak the truth in loveî (Ephesians 4:15). This is the example that Paul set when he rebuked Peter. Paul reminded Peter of the Gospel, and how his behaviour shows compromise and hypocrisy. This is why accountability in D-groups is important. So we can take care and watch out for each other (Galatians 6:1).

Peter’s reaction to Paulís correction is another example to follow. Peter did not think of himself as beyond committing mistakes. He did not react negatively to Paul just because he did not agree with him. In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter called Paul a beloved brother. Just like Peter, we must be humble to receive correction and to change so we can stand up for the truth. When Peter saw the error of his ways, he did not insist nor defend his actions. Instead, he accepted the correction humbly and realigned himself with the Gospel. Let us not be too proud to join a D-group where we can receive correction. We all grow together in the Lord as we learn to be humble by practicing accountability, speaking the truth in love.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth that saves us. As recipients of this grace, we must all stand up for the Good News and share it with integrity, courage and humility. When we received Jesus, our lives became all about Him and no longer about us. Paul said, ìI have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.î Amen!

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The Gospel of Grace Transforms


The apostle Paul was a classic example of how the grace of God transforms. From his former life of persecuting and relentlessly trying to destroy the church of God (Galatians 1:13), he became a humble man passionately preaching His Word. The gospel of grace was able to transcend his past and transform him. This is because grace comes from God and not from men (Galatians 1: 11-12).

According to Galatians 1: 13-14, Paul’s life under Judaism was filled with traditions. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with traditions, those that are not Biblical can create barriers to the gospel of grace. We need to understand and base our practices on the truth. Mark 7: 6-9 says, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: this people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

The gospel of grace also says that just like Paul, who had been set apart from his mother’s womb and called him through His grace (Galatians 1: 15), we too are not products of accidents. God already had a plan for us before we were born. Just like Jeremiah, He appointed us while we were still in our mother’s womb. Just like David, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In short, even our mistakes and failures have already been ordained.

Verse 16 continues that when God transforms us, He not only forgives our past but also elevates us to a different calling. Paul locked up many of the saints in prison, voted for them to die, forced them to blaspheme and pursued them even in foreign cities (Acts 26: 10-11). But when he was journeying to Damascus, he heard a voice saying to him in a Hebrew dialect, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 26:12). Then the Lord said to get up on his feet, appointed him to minister and be a witness not only to the things he has seen but also what was yet to come (Acts 26:15). Then he was given a mission: “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26: 18-19).

After God transformed Paul, He gave him a mission. As Christians, we cannot just sit in church every Sunday, thinking that that is how the Christian life is. Our lives as Christians begin when we come to know Jesus and the end result should be to bring glory and honor to God by serving Him. That is God’s design and purpose for our lives.

So three years later, Paul went to Jerusalem and stayed with Cephas, otherwise known as Peter, for fifteen CCF Weekly Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 40 October 3, 2010 CCF Mission: Making Committed Followers of Christ days (Galatians 1:18). And then “went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me” (Galatians 1: 21-24). Then he went back to his hometown in Syria and Cilicia and shared the good news. As a result, he glorified God.

The grace of God also transforms through problems and failures in order to wake us up and help us learn from the experience. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:8-10, “and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

However, change from the truth and the gospel of God happens only when you respond to it in the right way. Until you surrender to the grace of God, this will never impact your life. So for some who are in the wrong path and heading in the wrong direction, you need to go back to the truth, read God’s Words and surrender to His calling. Then His grace will transform your life.

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Know the Truth, Live the Truth


Truth matters! What you believe will impact your life, your decisions and your future. In our day and age many people think that what you believe does not matter as long as you are sincere. However, it is possible to be sincere but sincerely wrong.

Paul wrote to the Galatians because he was shocked that they were already turning away from the true gospel to follow a false gospel. (Galatians 1:6, 3:3, 4:9) They had distorted the gospel of grace by added religion, circumcision, good works, among others as necessary for attaining salvation. Studying the book of Galatians will help us to correct our beliefs and doctrine, especially when it comes to the gospel.

Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-9, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

It’s imperative to know the truth. Truth doesn’t change. According to Paul no one can change the gospel, not the Apostles or even the angels. And if anyone does preach a gospel contrary to the true gospel, Paul says, “…he is to be accursed!” That is how serious the truth is! Truth is 100% accurate. Counterfeit truth is often 99% true. To discern truth from error, we need to systematically study the Bible. Flannery O’Connor says, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

If truth – the Gospel is being distorted then, even before early first century Christians, how much more today? What is our safeguard? Go back to the Scriptures. Paul states the truth about the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The truth of the gospel is that Jesus was born, died for our sins and rose again on the third day. We are saved when we believe this by faith alone, not by good works or being religious. Galatians 1:16 says, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus”, even we Vol. 22 No. 39 September 26, 2010 CCF Weekly Bulletin CCF Mission: Making Committed Followers of Christ have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

We may not understand it or even believe it but God’s truth does not and will not change. However, truth will change our lives when we believe it and live it. It changed the life of Paul as stated in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” The word bond-servant means a volunteer servant somebody who was given the freedom to go but who chose to stay and serve his master as Paul chose to serve Jesus. That is the power of the gospel.

The truth is important because the truth will set the direction of our lives. If the direction of our life is wrong, we will not reach the right destination. Intention does not determine our destination. We need to change our direction by aligning it with the truth, because only this determines
your destination.

To do this, the solution is simple: Study and follow the Word of God. Cling to the truth; for the truth will set us free.

Truth matters! What you believe will impact your life, your decisions and your future. In our day and age many people think that what you believe does not matter as long as you are sincere. However, it is possible to be sincere but sincerely wrong.

Paul wrote to the Galatians because he was shocked that they were already turning away from the true gospel to follow a false gospel. (Galatians 1:6, 3:3, 4:9) They had distorted the gospel of grace by added religion, circumcision, good works, among others as necessary for attaining salvation. Studying the book of Galatians will help us to correct our beliefs and doctrine, especially when it comes to the gospel.

Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-9, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

It’s imperative to know the truth. Truth doesn’t change. According to Paul no one can change the gospel, not the Apostles or even the angels. And if anyone does preach a gospel contrary to the true gospel, Paul says, “…he is to be accursed!” That is how serious the truth is! Truth is 100% accurate. Counterfeit truth is often 99% true. To discern truth from error, we need to systematically study the Bible. Flannery O’Connor says, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

If truth – the Gospel is being distorted then, even before early first century Christians, how much more today? What is our safeguard? Go back to the Scriptures. Paul states the truth about the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The truth of the gospel is that Jesus was born, died for our sins and rose again on the third day. We are saved when we believe this by faith alone, not by good works or being religious. Galatians 1:16 says, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus”, even we Vol. 22 No. 39 September 26, 2010 CCF Weekly Bulletin CCF Mission: Making Committed Followers of Christ have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

We may not understand it or even believe it but God’s truth does not and will not change. However, truth will change our lives when we believe it and live it. It changed the life of Paul as stated in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” The word bond-servant means a volunteer servant somebody who was given the freedom to go but who chose to stay and serve his master as Paul chose to serve Jesus. That is the power of the gospel.

The truth is important because the truth will set the direction of our lives. If the direction of our life is wrong, we will not reach the right destination. Intention does not determine our destination. We need to change our direction by aligning it with the truth, because only this determinesyour destination.

To do this, the solution is simple: Study and follow the Word of God. Cling to the truth; for the truth will set us free.

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