Boasting in the Cross

Boasting in the Cross

Scripture: Galatians 6:11-18, Matthew 23:27
Date: 12/31/2011  Lesson: 14
Nowhere do our 'glorious' human wisdom, our riches, and our might appear more clearly in all their futility and vanity than before the Cross of Christ.

Formula 4 Faith by Doug Batchelor

Formula 4 Faith by Doug Batchelor
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in California. The west coast of the united states of America where it is a wonderful day and we are excited that you are joining us from across the country and around the world as we sing songs, we praise the Lord this morning, and we open up God's Word and we study together. I hope that you have had a wonderful week and we are ready to sing; however, we have a surprise for you this morning. Behind me you see a whole bunch of smiling faces, right? Yeah, they are now. This is the Sacramento central concert choir and we are having our Christmas concert this evening - those of you who are joining us online, tune in at 6:00 pm.

m. Pacific standard time and you will be blessed. This morning we are going to have the choir sing for you 'the first noel' - I apologize profusely to each and every one of you who wrote in and saying this was your favorite song. I ran out of time - crazy - and I didn't have time to print out the list with your names. So I know that you know who you are and I know that God knows who you are, so this song is for you - 'the first noel' by the central church choir.

Directed by handerson pantel. Were you blessed by that? The choir has worked very hard for the last ten weeks and we are excited that today is here. If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, it's super simple. Go to our website at saccentral.org, click on the 'contact us' link and send in your favorite hymn request and we will do our best to sing that with you on an upcoming Sabbath. At this time, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, we love you this morning and we know that you love us. You've given us life - health. There's many of us right now that aren't feeling so well, but we're here this morning and I know that you have a special blessing for us. Those that are at home, those that are shut in, those that are watching from hospital beds. Father, may they sense your presence in a very special way this morning.

We just thank you so much for loving us, for dying for us and for giving us the joy of music. We pray that you'll be with Pastor Doug as he brings us our lesson study. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor - he is our senior pastor here at Sacramento central church. I want to welcome our friends again, and to our friends who are watching online - as debbie mentioned - you may want to tune in and join us.

It'll be streaming live - 6:00 here at the central church website and we encourage you to tune in. I think it will be a blessing. I also want to welcome our friends who are watching around the world. We've got e-mail from somebody who's out in alice springs, australia - that's out in the outback somewhere, I believe, and they watch via the internet. We have members that are in remote places of Canada and the tundra that - they say, 'this is it.

' Our friends in nova scotia - I had a report this week of people who are in newfoundland and they're out in these scattered villages watching online. And I want to welcome some of the extended members of the central church family. We're glad that you're worshiping with us and studying with us today. In a moment we'll get to our last lesson in the book of Galatians, but I just want to mention, because it's our last lesson, next week we are going to be entering into a new quarter study, and just for any who may be confused, we actually record these lessons about three weeks ahead of the rest of the world church so that they can be edited. They put the closed-captioning on them for people who are hearing impaired.

They send them out to the different networks such as 3abn and hope channel, safe tv and others that carry the Sabbath school. But, so - first of the year - those who are viewing will be seeing we're going into our new study dealing with 'glimpses of our God' and it promises to be, I think, a very interesting lesson. I know that in the next study we're going to be talking about the trinity and - a very interesting subject - and often misunderstood. All right, today, last lesson - #14 in Galatians. And the lesson is dealing with boasting in the cross.

Now, that sounds a little incongruous, doesn't it? The idea of the cross and boasting seem to go against each other. And we have a memory verse. The memory verse is from - oh wait a second - before I give you the memory verse I have an important announcement to make. You know, this is - this may be my last chance. How many of you know - the church has been putting things on the website and there's been a number of announcements - I saw an announcement in the review.

Our church is - pardon me. Our church is encouraging all of the members to spend the first days of the new year especially praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the title is 'operation global rain' and I hope that you will maybe make - if you've got an outlook on your computer, where you've got a calendar, or you've got a calendar on your wall someday, it'd be great if all the church would Mark off those days as special days to pray for the outpouring of the spirit on God's people. Now, at the culmination of those days, things just lined up where we are going to be back in Washington d.c. Amazing Facts is going to be broadcasting from the general conference auditorium a special series of four presentations called 'reclaim your faith.' And this series of meetings will be broadcast on the hope channel January 13 through 15. Now, do we all know somebody that used to go to church and doesn't go to church anymore? Do we know that not all, but most churches will have one number for membership - and let's say that membership is 200 - and then you've got another number that actually shows up Sabbath morning.

And those two Numbers are usually very different. In most churches you may have, let's say 200 - to use that number - on the wall, you may only have 80 or 100 on average - it's sometimes half of what you actually show on the books that are there. And then there are a lot of people that are no longer on the books, that once were members of the church, so that if there are approximately 1 million in North America - and this program is going to be broadcast internationally, but I'm just using North America right now as an example. If you have 1 million on the books in North America, there may be somewhere between - I talked to one church leader that said that it's anywhere between 2 and 3 million people in North America that are alive that used to go to church and no longer do. There are a lot of wandering sheep out there.

Wouldn't it be a good form of evangelism to go after those people that once knew the message but became distracted with the world or somebody hurt their feelings, or whatever the problem was, and they don't come anymore. And so, we're doing this special program, at the end of these 10 days of prayer, called 'reclaim your faith.' Now, the idea is not only that you pray, but if you know anybody in that category - friends, family - say, 'you know, we're having some special programs our church is broadcasting and I'd like to invite you to our home and, if you get hope channel - it's on direct tv as well - it'll be on the internet - invite them over to have some juice and cookies or hot soup and say, 'would you view just the first program with us?' Don't scare them by saying all four programs. Then you invite them back for the next one, and the next one. And I think if we work together and we pray together, that we can reclaim some of these people who have drifted. Wouldn't that be wonderful? And so, I hope that you'll plan on that now friends.

One more time, if you'd like to know more about it there's a website called 'faithreclaimed.com'. There's more information there. And spend some time praying for ten days. You remember how the Holy Spirit fell after the disciples prayed for ten days in the upper room? What prevents us from doing that? I mean, the Lord promised to send it. So, I hope we'll all take advantage of these programs - 2012 is beginning with some real programs in the Spirit.

It's probably a good idea the world thinks - according to the mayan calendar and nostradamus - the world is going to end in 2012. So we ought to at least start praying, huh? Okay, what was I saying? Oh, I'm supposed to be teaching a lesson somewhere along the way. That's right. We're doing 'boasting in the cross' lesson #14 in our book - our study guide on Galatians. Memory verse - Galatians 6:14 and I want to read it out of the new king James version, just because I'm more familiar with that.

Galatians chapter 6, verse 14. You want to say it with me? "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Now, in keeping with our custom, I'm going to read through the assigned verses in Galatians here - we're reading the last verses in Galatians beginning with Galatians 6, verse 11, to the end of the book, which is verse 18. I'll read it out loud and you can just follow along with your eyes, and then we're going to take it apart piece by piece and study these passages. Galatians 6:11 "see with what large letters I have written to you in my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me for I bear in my body the Marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, amen.

" All right. We've now, in our last quarter at least, read through the whole book of Galatians. That feels like an accomplishment amen? Now, let's back up and look at these verses piece by piece. First of all, under the section 'Paul's own hand' - Paul's own hand - he says, 'see with what large letters.' In Greek it's the word grama. You know what grammatical is - or grammar - 'see with what large letters I've written to you in my own hand.

' Now, who knows what is the longest letter of Paul? I'll tell you a trick. If you want to know what letters are longer of Paul, they're placed in the Bible in order of their length. So what is the first letter of Paul in the Bible? After the book of acts you've got Romans, then 1 Corinthians. What follows Corinthians? Quick! Corinthians, very good. I knew you'd get that one.

Romans is longer than Corinthians - don't go by the chapters, go by the amount of words because when they divided them they didn't even have chapters and verses. Romans, 1 Corinthians, Corinthians, so where is Galatians on that continuum? Is that his longest book? So when he says, 'see with what large letters I've written to you, he's not talking about the length of the letters, he's actually talking about the size of the characters. The letters were written largely. Now, why is this? You'll notice in your lesson it talks about the thorn in Paul's side. Let me read this to you from - and, by the way, somebody's got acts 9, verses 8 and 9.

Who has that? We've got a microphone here. We've got a microphone there. We got - right up front here, let's get a mic to mike. Okay. And while we're doing that, I'm going to read 2 Corinthians :7-9 talking about the thorn in Paul's flesh.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of Revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing" - that he doesn't name specifically - "I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And he said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I'd rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ might rest upon me." Now, just before we get to that, what is this thorn in his flesh. First of all, I think it's very, very, very, very, very important for us to notice Paul - spirit-filled apostle - prayed for people - layed hands on them - they were healed. He's got some physical ailment he prays about and it's not healed.

Someone might have said to Paul, 'physician, heal thyself.' And he prayed three times. Why not? Does that mean that he didn't have enough faith? Have you heard churches say before that if you've got enough faith God will heal anything? I do believe in biblical healing - we did an anointing this week and I'm praying and believing in healing. But sometimes God says, 'no.' And typically, even if you take care of yourself, you live long enough, you're going to get sick and die. I mean Elisha the prophet was a mighty prophet - it was through Elisha that naaman was healed of his leprosy. But then you read in the Bible that he got a sickness and finally died from it.

And so, people do get sick and die. And that - it doesn't mean that you don't have faith. God does not heal every sickness. What Jesus did when he went through towns and healed everybody was a little different. The apostles also did healing, but sometimes God says, 'no, you've got this ailment because it will keep you humble - because you've had so many Revelations Paul.

You've seen heaven open. You saw Jesus. You've had Revelations of truth. And, you know, just to keep you in check to avoid you being proud, I'm going to let this thing stay.' God has often done great ministry through people that had physical ailments. God often accomplishes great things with people who may have some kind of physical ailment or something.

Amazing Facts was started by joe crews, largely, and maybe you noticed that Joe Crews had polio in one arm - but it didn't prevent him from holding the Bible in his other arm. And the man who wrote the Amazing Facts lessons - bill may - was in such tremendous pain, he told me he wrote most of the Revelation seminar study guides and the Amazing Facts study guides on his knees because he couldn't sit. And so, you know, sometimes God has to humble people. I've got hay fever - y'all pray for me. Now, there's a lot of speculation about what was Paul's thorn.

I suspect, as many other commentators do, that it was his eyesight. Some say it was epilepsy. I think it's important that you don't fall for that because the ones who say it was epilepsy also say 'it was during an epileptic fit that he had a vision of Christ and he didn't really see Christ, it was epilepsy.' So, I think it's important to understand what this probably was. Now, here's some evidence for that. Okay mike, you're up.

Acts - well I'll let you say which verse it is. Acts 9, verses 8 and 9. "Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

" After Jacob wrestled with the angel, did Jacob survive that wrestling match? Was he blessed at the end of that wrestling match? Did he limp the rest of his life after that wrestling match? Did Israel grow into a nation even while Jacob limped? Even though Paul was struck blind from the vision of Christ, it tells us that he was - and by the way, if we read verse 18, acts 9:18, after ananias came and prayed for him it says, "and there fell from his eyes something like scales." It's almost like something had been burned - some cataract fell off his eye - "and he received his sight at once. Now, we don't know if he received 20/20 vision. He was able to see again, and if you're totally blind and you can see again, you're happy for a little sight. But Paul may not have been issued a driver's license from that point on. And one reason we say that is because when he writes in Galatians 'behold with what large characters I write', most of Paul's letters were written by other people.

Now, he is the most eloquent and educated of all the apostles. He is the most multi-lingual. He said, "I speak with tongues more than you all.' That didn't mean he babbled more, it meant that he spoke many different languages. He was born in tarsus. He also spoke Hebrew.

He spoke latin. He spoke Greek. He probably spoke some of the languages of asia. He was very well studied. Why was someone always writing his letters for him? Even when he was in prison he'd have to bring secretaries in to write for him.

It's probably because he had problems seeing. It wasn't that he was totally blind, but he had bad vision. Notice 1 Corinthians 16, verse 21. "The salutation with my own hand - Paul's." He often finished his letter by saying, 'I'm going to authorize this letter by writing a line or two in my own handwriting. Again, Colossians 4:18.

"This salutation by my hand - Paul. Remember my chains that grace be with you all." That's all he said there - just kind of a blessing. Thessalonians 3:17. "The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write." You know, they even had forgeries back in Paul's day. People would write things and they'd put it on his letterhead and say, 'here's a message from Paul.

' Some apocryphal books that were starting to float around - and to avoid that Paul would write things in his own hand and they would compare his letter with his signature with other signatures he had left with them and they'd say, 'ah, this is Paul's signature.' And one of the things that you noted about it was the large characters. Somebody look up for us Galatians 4, verse 15. Who has that? We gave that verse to somebody. Hold your hand up if you've got Galatians 4:15. I don't see a hand.

Okay. Going once - a volunteer? I got a couple volunteers. Barry - go ahead and hand the microphone to somebody over there. Give it to jan. Yeah, go ahead - actually, they need a minute to get you set up for that.

Let me read you another verse that makes me believe that it was his eyesight. Acts chapter 23, verse 2. When Paul is arrested and he goes to the high priest "and the high priest, ananias commanded those who stood by Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, 'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and you command me to be struck contrary to the law?' And those who stood by said, 'do you revile God's high priest?' And Paul - I imagine he was squinting and he's looking towards the bench - he said, 'I didn't know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'you shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.'" So here he's in a courtroom and someone commands him to be struck and he says, 'oh, I didn't know you were the high priest. It kind of tells you - I mean, he's right there in the room - he can't see very well.

All right, go ahead - read for us Galatians 4:15. Galatians 4:15. "What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me." Isn't it interesting that he says - both from the book of Galatians - 'I'm writing with big letters. I know you cared so much you would have given me your own eyes.' Well, you wouldn't give your eyes to someone who had good eyes of their own, would you? So, this and a number of other verses lead us to think Paul had problems with his eyesight and he almost always traveled with somebody because he needed to be escorted different places. All right, let's go ahead and go on to the section 'boasting in the flesh.

' Galatians 6, verse 13. "For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they might boast in your flesh." Now, what does he mean by that? He's talking, again, to the Galatians about - and, by the way, the big issue in the book of Galatians - is being battled - Paul is writing to the galatian Christians who are being kind of hounded by the Jewish Christians that had converted to Christianity - the jews - that are saying they needed to keep all of the ceremonial laws and all the mosaic law in addition to the Ten Commandments and Paul was saying don't let them put all of those things on you, they're just trying to sort of brand you and boast in your flesh. And you've probably seen that before. You get into some of these religions that have certain peculiar doctrines that sort of make them stand out. In some churches the women can't come into church unless they cover their heads.

And they may feel when they can study with you and finally get you to agree to cover your head, that they've won a victory. Now, you may have all kinds of other problems in your life, but as long as you've covered your head they feel like, 'you're one of us! Now you've been branded. We've won you over with our doctrine.' I've got some friends - there may be someone here today - that have been in prison, and they said one of the first things that happens when you get into prison - some of these larger prisons - is there's just a whole spectrum of gangs. And all the different subgroups and gangs have got their tattoo logos that tell what gang you're in. And if you're not in one gang, then you have no protection and you're harassed by all gangs.

And so, one of the new people that come in - all of the various gangs kind of work on them and say, 'if you're smart you'll be part of our gang and we'll brand you.' And they give them the tattoo of that gang. And they say, 'aha! We've got them. You're one of us now.' And there was almost this mindset among the Jewish Christians that when the gentile Christians accepted Jesus they said, 'now, you've got to be circumcised. We want you to be a real Christian. Not just one of these gentile halfway Christians, but be a real Christian and be a real child of Abraham.

' And Paul was saying, 'they're not even keeping the law of Moses, they just want to boast in your flesh.' You see what he's saying? They want to brand you so that they can feel like they've got some accomplishment - and it's pride. They say, 'I won an argument.' Have you ever seen two people trying to argue over doctrine and neither of them are converted? And they're proud about their doctrinal positions and their theology and they want to win the debate. They want to win the argument - but is anyone ever saved in those debates? No, it's not the right spirit. So, Paul is talking about having other people boast in your flesh. Now, then Paul, he says, 'I'm going to give you an example,' he says, 'if anyone can boast in the flesh, I can boast in the flesh.

' He says, 'for example.' And you look in 2 Corinthians 11 - this is not the first time that Paul was facing these issues. Corinthians 11, verses 21-30. He's talking about an example of boasting in the flesh and he says, "to our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold I speak foolishly" - he's prefacing what he's about to say. He says, 'this is going to sound very proud and foolish and selfish. It's going to sound immature for a Christian.

' "I speak foolishly - I am bold also. Are they Hebrews?" - Again, he's talking about the Jewish believers that were trying to get all the gentile believers to keep all of the mosaic laws and the feast days. "Are they Hebrews? So am i. Are they Israelites? So am i." Now, what made Paul a Hebrew, his spirit or his flesh? His flesh. He was genetically a Hebrew.

So he's boasting in his flesh. You see what he's saying here? "So am i. Are they Israelites? So am i. Are they of the seed of Abraham?" - Again, he's saying, 'I - here, I'm just as Jewish as they are and I'm telling you, you don't have to be circumcised. I'm just as Jewish in my flesh as they are.

I've got the same reasons to boast that they've got to boast, and I'm telling you, you don't have to keep these ceremonial annual feast days.' There are still people around that are pushing that. "So am i. Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool" - he feels so guilty saying it. Twice he says, 'I'm talking like a fool but I've got to make a point.' By the way, why does he say, 'I speak as a fool and he keeps speaking? There is a very interesting proverb. I know I've quoted it to you before but we always have new people here and new people listening so it bears repeating.

Solomon gives a proverb and someone might even look it up and remind me - I forget what the verse is, but it says, 'answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes.' Then immediately afterward it says, 'answer not a fool or you sound like him.' So, in one breath he says, 'don't answer a fool or you sound like him' and in the next breath he says, 'answer a fool or he's wise in his own eyes - meaning you don't win when you try to answer a foolish question. But sometimes you have to address those things on an elementary level so that's what Paul says, 'I'm sorry, I know I sound like a fool, but if anyone's got a reason to boast, I do.' And then he goes on and says, 'I am a jew. I am a son of Abraham. I'm an Israelite. I'm a minister.

' "I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors" - he said 'I've got more to boast about than they do.' And listen to - this is quite a legacy here. "In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure." - 'I've lost count of how many times I've been whipped.' When a person was whipped it left stripes. You know, it says with Jesus - 'with his stripes we are healed.' "With stripes above measure. In prison more frequently. In deaths often.

From the jews five times I received forty stripes minus one." - Not the Jewish Christians, but the jews in Jerusalem. Five times whipped 39 times! Wow. They believe Jesus may have been whipped twice 39 times before the cross. Paul says, five times. And then, when we get to the end of the letter, you know we've already read it - he says, 'I bear in my body the Marks of the Lord Jesus.

Do you think Paul was scarred? He got a whole lot of faith. "Three times I was beaten with rods;" - I don't know how many of you remember the story about - was it singapore that some young American had - he spray painted some graffiti somewhere and he was arrested - was it Michael faye? Was that the name? - And they had a law they were going to beat him with a rod. Just three whacks with a bamboo pole. Anyone remember this? Oh boy, folks just went ballistic in America. This savage barbaric treatment.

And you just got to be careful not to spray graffiti in singapore, that's the law. But it leaves a welt. It really hurts. And in some cases it can even scar and after all of the intercession of the American government and people, you know, campaigning, they still did it. They said, 'this is the law.

He's here. You've got to keep our laws in our country. It doesn't matter if you have a fit.' And since then they haven't had very many Americans spraying graffiti in singapore from what I understand. Which says something about penalties for the law. It says, he "was beaten with rods; once I was stoned;" - not too many people can say they were stoned to death.

Now, when Paul was stoned - and this is interesting - and I've got a theory and I don't know - he may have actually been stoned to death and God resurrected him. There's no way of really knowing. It says, 'while all the disciples stood around' - one of them should have gotten down there and prayed for a resurrection, but since none of them got down and prayed for him to be resurrected - they walked off assuming he was dead - maybe he was. But since none of the church went over and said, 'Lord, raise him up.' God says, 'look, I'll have to do it myself because I'm not done with Paul. All of a sudden he starts to move around and groan.

He gets up, dusts himself off, and he's able to make a trip that same day - after being stoned to death. 'Once I was stoned.' I mean, can you understand what that's like? That would be like you and I saying, 'I was even hung once. I was electrocuted once in the electric chair.' I mean, that was an execution sentence - when someone was stoned - it was written up in the Bible as the death penalty. It's amazing what he went through. And then he says, "three times I was shipwrecked.

" Now, some of you have heard me share this before - an amazing fact - how many of you can say you were shipwrecked three times? I capsized my sunfish sailboat numerous times but that's not quite the same thing as being shipwrecked. An amazing fact about the unsinkable violet jessup. Maybe you've heard this amazing fact before from somebody who was on the titanic. Violet jessup experienced and survived an almost unbelievable array of events. Listen, violet was born in 1887 in argentina, of irish parents, who had immigrated from dublin.

In 1903 she sailed to england and fell in love with the sea while crossing the atlantic. At 21 violet became a stewardess for white star lines, which was engaged in building a trio of the world's largest luxury ocean liners. The three sister ships were, the olympic, the britannic, the titanic. Violet first served on the olympic, which she loved. She stated that she was quite fond of Americans - that even though they were often arrogant, they were less demanding than other passengers and treated her more like a person.

While serving upon the olympic in 1911, the ship experienced a violent collision with the british warship hms hawk. Considering the damage, it was a miracle that neither vessel sank. They limped back to shore and the olympic was ultimately repaired. The following year, at her friend's urging, she joined the crew of the newest ship, the titanic. Violet was asleep when the titanic hit the iceberg.

Up on deck she saw passengers calmly strolling about, but soon the women were clinging to their husbands as the crew tried to force them into the lifeboats with their children. At this point, a ship's officer handed violet a misplaced baby and ordered her into boat 16 to show the other women it was safe. From the water she witnessed all the terrors of the titanic sinking. After being rescued by the ship the carpathia, the baby was reunited with its mother. During the first world war, violet served in 1916 as a nurse with the british red cross.

Incredibly, she was now aboard the britannica, which had been converted into a hospital ship, when it struck a mine, exploded, and sank in the aegean sea. Violet grabbed her toothbrush before rushing from the cabin saying later that the one thing she remembered missing when she survived the titanic was her toothbrush so she instinctively - she said, 'oh, here we go again!' She said, 'I'm getting my toothbrush.' It's amazing how a person's mind works. As the britannic was quickly going down, she was forced to jump into the water. She said, 'I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship's keel, which struck my head. She attributed her survival to her very thick auburn hair that padded the blow.

At the war's end - she bobbed to the surface and was rescued - at the war's end, violet rejoined the white star lines, which once again had activated the ship the olympic, which she did not wreck on again. This Christian woman survived 42 years at sea, three historic shipwrecks, two world wars - she retired to gardening in suffolk, england - I would have retired sooner - where she lived until age 84. So there you've got someone else that survived three shipwrecks. Now, that's very rare, but for an apostle to go through all that he went through - did Paul have reason to boast? Talk about an adventurous life. And he, of course, wrote the majority of the new testament, so, when you're reading the writings of Paul, you're reading about somebody who really lived a pretty adventurous life once they accepted Jesus and he suffered for Christ.

So, if someone's going to boast about how they suffered for Jesus, Paul - oh, you know, I never even finished reading it all. I read "three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I spent in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - beside all other things that come upon me daily: a deep concern for all the churches." And then he closes this off in verse 30 by saying, "if I must boast, I will boast in all the things that concern my infirmity." So, if you're wondering, 'what does boasting in the flesh mean and what is boasting in the Spirit?' Now we're going to talk about boasting in the cross. So, go to Galatians 6:14. And here Paul says, "but God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." He's basically saying, 'I am dead to the world and the world is dead to me.' Well, I pray for that experience. Wouldn't you like to be dead.

..to the world? I think I always feel a little conflicted praying to be dead, but when you take up your cross and are following Jesus, in essence you're really saying - who was it - was it tozier that said, 'when you take up your cross it's a one-way trip.'? You're taking up your cross to your crucifixion. And it means that you're saying 'I'm not going to live for myself but I'm going to lay everything on the altar and I'm going to not boast in myself anymore.' My biggest problem is me. I don't know about you. Sometimes you're a problem for me but you're not my biggest problem. I'm my biggest problem.

And most of my troubles I bring on myself. But I have noticed, as I get older and a little wiser, I am able to stay out of more trouble. Usually you get to be about 25 and your self-induced trouble is reduced about 25 percent. That's why they'll finally rent you a car when you're 25, because statistically it's true - they actually say your brain is more fully developed by the time you're 25. And then if you make it to 50 you should be able to stay out of about 50 percent of the trouble you got into when you were 18 - or more.

You develop some wisdom. The problem was, you don't have the energy that you had back then. But still, I find I'm my biggest problem and most of my problems in my Christian walk - and I'm just saying what I'm saying about me because I figure you can apply it to yourself - is selfishness. And, you know, I notice that somebody - men get together and you'll tell some incredible experience some guy's telling his buddy some incredible experience - automatically, I instinctively think, 'do I have an incredible experience that I can match that incredible experience?' It's like we like to show off our scars and brag. We boast.

And women get together and they start bragging about their children and all their wonderful exploits and talents and the other mothers say, 'well, let me tell you about junior." And we're all that way, you know? We've got this thing where we boast in our flesh. But I want to come to the place where the thing I want to tell others about - when people are telling me about their experiences and all the wonderful things they've done - I want to be thinking, 'let me tell them about Jesus. I want to boast about Jesus. God forbid I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:7.

Matter of fact, I don't think I've given it out, but somebody look up for me 1 Corinthians 2, verses 2 and 3. If you haven't read a Scripture yet, maybe you'll look that up. Corinthians 2, verses 2 and 3. Hold up your hand if you find that. You found that already or you're just optimistic? I think he's optimistic, but we'll give him the microphone.

Corinthians - what did I say - Corinthians 2, verses 2 and 3 - and hold on, don't read it yet. I'm going to read Philippians 3, verses 7-11. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ." - The other things that we used to boast about, we thought were so important, they're nothing for Christ - for "yet indeed I count all things loss for the excEllence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things," - had Paul suffered the loss of all things? "And count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ." And then you can go to verse 10. "That I might know him and the power of his resurrection." The knowledge of Christ - knowing him. The power of his resurrection.

The fellowship of his sufferings. Have you ever really thought that it would be a blessing to be able to experience the fellowship of his sufferings? I don't usually crave that. But didn't Jesus one time say, 'blessed are you for this, blessed are you for this, blessed are you for this,' - and finally he says, 'and blessed - rejoice and be exceeding glad if you are persecuted for righteousness sake. To be counted worthy to suffer with Christ. According to the Bible valuation, that's supposed to be a privilege - to share in his sufferings.

And then - oh, I didn't read the last part - "that I might know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death that, if by any means, I might obtain to the resurrection from the dead." That's the privilege that we all want - to be - experience that resurrection. All right, read for us Corinthians 2 - I think we're ready for that - 1 Corinthians , verse 2 and 3. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling." So, you realize, friends, that that's really the key of it - 'determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.' That's having that total experience of saying, 'the priority for me is to lift up Christ.' Doesn't Jesus say, 'if I am lifted up I will draw all men unto me.' And that's really what this is talking about - having the experience of boasting in the cross. Every opportunity you want to tell someone about Jesus, and it's the first and foremost thing in your mind.

And then, finally, we've got under 'new creation' - it's not our final section - is based on Galatians and somebody - I think I gave somebody 1 Corinthians :19, where's that? Did someone get that slip? Okay, jeanne, we'll get you a microphone. Galatians 6:15 "for in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation." Now, the big thing that's being mentioned over and over again here in Galatians, as I said, some people have used Galatians and Paul's comments about the law to think that it deletes the Ten Commandments or it deletes the Sabbath commandment - it had nothing to do with that, it had to do with the ceremonial laws. The big thing being contested in Galatians is circumcision. It's mentioned over and over again and they're wondering how to respond to that. Let me give you one more.

Galatians chapter 5, verse 6. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." And then finally, jeanne, why don't you read the next one for us? 1 Corinthians 7:19. "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision in nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." Now, have you noticed that? Three times I just read to you in the Bible where Paul says, 'circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing.' Is he saying that you have to be circumcised? Is he saying it's wrong to be circumcised? He says, 'circumcision, you don't have to - it's nothing. Uncircumcision - it's nothing.' He said the issue no longer is that covenant in the flesh, it is now the covenant in the heart that matters to God. And notice at the end of each one he never says the same thing.

One time he says, 'but a new creation.' The other time he says, 'but faith working through love.' And the last time, 'but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.' He says, 'these are the priorities.' And then we read in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new." That's what God is really wanting from us is for us to be new creatures. To be a new creation.

Ezekiel 36, verse 27 - no, I'm sorry - Ezekiel 36, verses 26 and 27 where he says there, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit in you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments and do them." So, with Christ, what is salvation really all about? It says 'a new creation.' When God says, 'I'll put a new heart in you, what does that mean? Does it mean a heart transplant like they do in some hospitals? Or is it talking about a brain transplant? Or is it really talking about a new way of thinking. When we read in Romans it says, 'be not conformed to the world but be transformed" - by the what? "The renewing of your mind that you might prove what the good and perfect and acceptable will of God is." God is calling for us to have new minds. Do you have a new heart? Somebody look for me - John 3:3 - where do we have that verse? Right here. Gospel of John, chapter 3 - and, of course, in the Gospel of John chapter 3 you find a lot of information on that subject.

God wants us to experience a new birth and to have that new heart. All right, gene, I think they're ready, why don't you read that? John 3:3. "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.'" What's the difference between the new heart - how do you know if you've got a new heart? How do you know if you've got a new mind? How do you know if you've been born again? Well, what's in your heart? Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Do you love to talk about Jesus? Do you boast in the cross? Is the primary thing in your life that you want to not only have eternal life but you want to share eternal life? Do you have the Spirit speaking to you and if temptation comes you desire nothing more than to be victorious over that and to live successfully? That's the reason you can tell if you've been created again and if you've got that new heart. And then, final remarks.

Galatians 6 - here's where Paul closes things out and we end the book of Galatians. "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the Marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you in spirit." Now, what he said as many as walk according to this rule. What rule is he talking about? He's saying, 'these guidelines that I've just given you.

' He says, 'I have just outlined the truth for you. This is to be the rule by which you practice in your churches.' They were hearing all kinds of different voices saying, 'you ought to do this and you ought to do that.' There were false ministers that were coming in saying, 'you've got to be circumcised, you've got to keep the annual feasts and the levitical laws and Paul is saying, 'I am giving you the rule. I am an apostle. Was Paul an apostle? He calls himself an apostle. He maybe wasn't there on the day of pentecost but he was specifically chosen by the Lord and he said, 'if you walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and on the Israel' - why does he say the Israel of God? Through this whole passage he's talking about people who say 'we're jews - you must be circumcised if you want to really be a child of Abraham.

' So when Paul says, 'peace upon the Israel of God' what Israel is he talking about? Not just literal jews, I think he's talking even more about those who are Christ's are Abraham's seed. And this is one of the central themes in the new testament writers. They said, it's not those that say, 'we have Abraham as our father.' But it's those who have Christ in their hearts. 'He is not a jew which is one outwardly, he is a jew which is one inwardly.' John the baptist said, 'think not to say within yourself, 'we have Abraham as our father and so you've got to save us.' God is going to bring many from the east and the west and they'll sit down in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the children of the Kingdom will be in outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth.' So to say, 'but I'm circumcised, you've got to save me.' Or to say, 'I'm a literal jew, you've got to save me.' That's not how it works. He says, 'now, unto the Israel of God, from now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the Marks of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He said, 'if you want to boast in the flesh, if people are going to question my credentials - are you going to question my credentials?' And he said, 'look on my back and look at my scars.' He said, 'I bear the Marks of the Lord Jesus Christ on my body. Matter of fact, Paul's sight problems, the thorn in Paul's eyes, that was connected with his seeing Jesus. Every time you looked at Jacob limp, you knew he wrestled with an angel, right? Every time you saw Paul reach out and have someone lead him around, it was a reminder he saw Jesus and he was never the same. Periodically, you know, amazing facts does a lot of evangelism training and there are a lot of people - I won't name their names and embarrass them, but there are a lot of people in North America and around the world that are now pastors and evangelists - some church administrators - that came through Amazing Facts. And, while I believe in higher education - I went to southwestern - not all of these young people - some are older now - have credentials from institutions.

But their credentials are a lot of people are baptized wherever they go. And, you know, Paul went everywhere raising up churches and he said, 'you know, I'm an apostle, I've got credentials in my ministry, I've got credentials on my back, so if you're trying to decide who to listen to, you stack it up and go by this rule.' So he closes out his letter with that and finally, "the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, amen.' And so, what a wonderful book! I've enjoyed my study of Galatians, haven't you? I learn a lot doing this. I trust you do too, friends. By the way, we have some more - if you would like to know more about studying the Bible, we have a website that is specifically dedicated to that - it's called Bibleuniverse.com. Some of you have seen the cars going around Sacramento and the country that say 'Bibleuniverse.

com' - we've just re-done this website - Bible studies in about ten different languages. I hope you'll send the link to your friends all over the world and get them involved in these Bible studies that help them find the truth. Don't forget, in our next study we'll be dealing with our new lesson dealing with 'glimpses of our God.' Thank you so much for joining us. God bless you and you have a happy new year. How many of you know somebody that was once walking with Jesus, but for whatever reason they became discouraged or maybe there was some conflict and they no longer attend church? Well, we're going to have a special program to reconnect with those who are sort of drifting in their relationship with Jesus.

It's called, 'reclaim your faith.' It'll be broadcast by amazing facts on the hope channel from January 13th through the 15th and it's an excEllent opportunity for you to share with some of your friends that may have become discouraged or distracted - to help them to reconnect with Jesus. If you'd like to know more about how you can participate in reclaim your faith then simply go to 'faithreclaimed.com'. We hope that you'll be praying for this broadcast and there'll be a rich harvest of souls as a result. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including Amazing Facts presents.

One location. So many possibilities. AmazingFacts.org.

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