You Don’t Need to Get Away to Get Close to God

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 6

Big Idea: True religion does not isolate worshippers from one another. To make a disciple, we need a church – the whole people of God – to do it.

Max has done things he deeply regrets. “When I was young, I drank, sold drugs, everything,” he confessed. “When I ended up in prison, I knew it was time for a change.” That was 20 years ago.

Continue reading “You Don’t Need to Get Away to Get Close to God”

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Religion Might Make Nice People; Jesus Makes New Ones

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 5:13-26 (redux)

Big Idea: No person can make another person good. There’s no ideal combination of ‘carrot and stick’ available to eliminate vices and induce virtues. Christianity provides another way. God does our makeover Himself. When complete, this sinner-to-saint makeover is so thorough that the original convert becomes a new person altogether.

Yellowjacket is not just Ant-Man’s nemesis, it’s also the name of a real-life wasp. Most wasps are harmless. They lay their eggs in a nest, and over time the larvae become insects. Not so for the Costa Rican ‘zombie wasp.’1 She lays her eggs on a spider’s belly!

From here things get even weirder. Continue reading “Religion Might Make Nice People; Jesus Makes New Ones”

All Rules are Destined to be Broken

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 5:13-26

Big Idea: Every religion has rules to stop their followers from immorality. Except Christianity. The Bible says we are the source of all our problems. No threat of punishment or promise of reward will ever be sufficient to turn us into saints. So the Christian God provides a more radical solution. He offers to inhabit our bodies and remake us from the inside out.

How should we stop people from doing bad things?

Continue reading “All Rules are Destined to be Broken”

True Freedom is Not Doing Whatever We Want

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 5:1-12

Big Idea: The world thinks freedom is being able to do whatever we want. But such absences of constraint actually exposes our slavery to sin. Religion, however, is not the solution. That simply exchanges one form of slavery for another. True freedom comes from letting ourselves be constrained by Christ instead.

They came in pairs – young, slim, and beautiful – all 230 of them. North Korea’s ‘army of beauties’ were one of the breakout stars of the 2018 Winter Olympics. (This cheer squad outnumbered their athletes by roughly 10-to-1.) Their matching outfits and perfectly choreographed singing, clapping, and dancing, mesmerised the crowds. This was the North Korea that Kim Jung-Un wanted the world to see. (Kim’s wife is herself a former cheerleader.)

Continue reading “True Freedom is Not Doing Whatever We Want”

Who Your Parents Are, Matters

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 4:8-31

Big Idea: Faith is not the most important thing. What matters more is who we have faith in. No matter how sincere our faith, if it’s directed towards the wrong object it will still amount to nothing. The two mothers – Hagar and Sarah – show the two paths people can take in response to the gospel. But only one path can lead us to God the Father.

We’ve been parenting all wrong, says Amy Chua.1 She should know. Her two daughters recently graduated from Yale and Harvard.2 ‘Tiger Mom’ Chua attributed their success to her strict rule-based parenting.

Continue reading “Who Your Parents Are, Matters”

Why Be Slaves When You Can Be Sons?

Counterfeit Christianity – Galatians 3:26-4:7

Big Idea: Many Christians believe what we need most after conversion is the law. We need to learn how to behave properly so that God would love and bless us. But emphasising morality, at the expense of the gospel, is not progress, but regression. The law makes us slaves. Only the gospel produces children of God.

“I’m about to die. Please take Hyun Sook with you back to America,” her grandmother pleaded with Rick. They had met only one week ago.

Continue reading “Why Be Slaves When You Can Be Sons?”

Christians Need the Law as Much as Humans Need an Appendix?

Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 3:15-25

Big Idea: God’s laws in the Old Testament are not God’s most important revelation. To read the Bible with an emphasis on how God expects us to behave is to misread the Bible completely. God’s most important revelation is the gospel – God’s gracious promise to Abraham fulfilled by Jesus – that sinful people can be loved by a holy God for all eternity.

Everyone is born with an appendix – a small worm-like pouch dangling from the end of our large intestines. But no one would seriously miss it if it’s gone. So why do we have it at all? Biologists say it’s probably a remnant of our human past. (Hint: google “human vestigiality.”) It was very important ages ago, but not anymore.

Continue reading “Christians Need the Law as Much as Humans Need an Appendix?”

The Gospel is Not African, British, or Chinese

Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 2:1-10

Big Idea: The gospel of Jesus is not tied to any single race or culture. To impose the racial norms of one group onto all other believers distorts, rather than preserves, the gospel message. Legalists tend to disguise cultural norms as religious obligations to pressure others to conform.

What does religious freedom look like?

Continue reading “The Gospel is Not African, British, or Chinese”

When Truth is Too Incredible to Believe

Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 1:11-24

Big Idea: Paul did not create the gospel message from his own imagination, nor did he learn it from anyone else. What he preached – hard as it was to believe – came directly from God. His own transformed life was proof of the gospel’s truth.

How do you convince someone of the truth when the truth seems unbelievable? Continue reading “When Truth is Too Incredible to Believe”

Beware of Counterfeit Gospels!

Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 1:1-10

Big Idea: All people need rescue from sin; no one can save themselves. That’s why the Christian gospel has a laser-like focus on Jesus’ cross and resurrection. Any additions to this will dilute or distort God’s true message to humanity. All counterfeits are worthless imitations, undermining our faith in the genuine gospel.

Fake money can cause serious damage to a country. It creates confusion and undermines the value of the real thing. That’s why the Secret Service was first founded in 1865 – not so much to protect the President, but to restore confidence in the U.S. currency.1 Counterfeiters are just as dangerous as assassins in destroying a government.

Fake gospel can likewise do just as much damage to Jesus’ church. Continue reading “Beware of Counterfeit Gospels!”