August 24, 2008

Jesus Directs Us How to Follow Him - Aug 24, 2008

Education Sunday Introduction

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).

Of all the different types of learning, Christian Education is the highest. Through Christian Education we learn about things that even the wisest people cannot fully comprehend. We learn to fear God’s anger over our sins. We learn to rejoice in the forgiveness of sins that Jesus freely gives. Through Christian Education we come to know God. Today the portions of God’s Word selected for our worship center on the topic of Christian Education.

Reading Talks

Faith Comes By Hearing

God’s believers are always one generation away from extinction. That is why Christian education is so important. Faith is not passed down to our children in the same way that they receive their hair color. Faith comes to children when we introduce them to Jesus through the waters of Holy Baptism. Faith comes to children when we teach them what God says about sin and forgiveness. Faith only grows and matures through continual contact with God through His Holy Word. As it says in Romans,

“…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV).

Judges 2:6-19 (NIV)

6After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.

8Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

16Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’S commands. 18Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

Jesus Prepares Us For Life

All the secular educators in the world cannot bring peace to a troubled heart. But with Jesus as the teacher, peace is one of the first lessons. Jesus prepares children for the real world, by taking the burden of sin and guilt off of their backs. As forgiven sinners they can then weather the storms of life knowing that God is truly with them.

Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV)

25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

27“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Spiritual Weapons For a Spiritual War

When children leave home and go out into the world on their own, they are going to war. There are dark powers that have aligned themselves against God and His people. These dark powers will seek to feed on the souls of our youth. Ordinary weapons will not protect them. For a spiritual war we must equip our children with spiritual weapons. Christian education is a tool to help us put God’s weapons into the hands of our youth.

Ephesians 6:12-18 (NIV)

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.


Grace and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A while back I took my family hiking. It was in the springtime, and about halfway up the trail we discovered that not all the snow had melted yet. Our daughters were excited to hike in the snow, so we trekked on even though we hadn’t brought snowshoes.

Sometimes Allison would run ahead, but when the going got tough dad had to lead the way. Tromp, tromp, tromp, up the steeper snow banks I would go making a stair case of footprints that little legs could climb. At first I had to direct her, “Here honey, step in my footprints.” But after a while she understood.

Our walk with Christ is a lot like that. We have lots of freedom on the path of Christ, but sometimes Christ tells us, “Here, put your foot right here.”

In our sermon reading for today, Jesus directs us how to follow Him. He directs us to step under the burdens of our fellow Christians. He directs us to complete His law of love.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

These are the words of God, spoken through His Eternal Holy Spirit, to us. Let us consider them carefully, digesting each shade of meaning in them. For through these words, God is speaking to us now.

Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand the Holy Spirit. We have to study, chewing up His words, getting every bit of flavor out of them.

One method for digesting small, dense portions of God’s word is to emphasize words in the passage under study. If you take a passage and emphasize each word separately, new understanding emerges. The Holy Spirit speaks through His living Word.

I’d like to do this with Galatians 6:2 today. I’ll read through that passage again, emphasizing a different word each time. As I do this, think about what that emphasized word adds to what Jesus is telling us.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Jesus is directing us to actually do something. We are to expend our energy actually lifting up and carrying along, the burdens of our fellow Christians.

In the Greek this verb expresses on-going action. Our carrying of each other’s burdens is to continue as long as we live on this earth.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

This work of carrying burdens for others is done indiscriminately. We don’t just help those who help us. We help bear the burdens of any in need, knowing that it is Christ whom we are serving.

In Matthew five Jesus said:

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42 NIV).

In Luke six Jesus said,

…love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back...” (Luke 6:35 NIV).

If God tells us to do good even to our enemies, how much more shouldn’t we carry the burdens of our fellow Christians? Paul says this very thing toward the end of his letter to the Galatians,

9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

This burden Jesus instructs us to bear is not our own. God hasn’t placed it on us directly. We have the choice to pick it up or to walk by it. As we stand on the road of life, looking down at the burden of someone else, our sinful heart says, “I have enough burdens of my own. I have carried the burdens of others all to much in the past. Surely, I’ve done my share, let someone else do it.”

At the core of our sinner’s heart we believe, “It is not fair that I have to carry the burden of others”. But would we tell that to Jesus? Was it fair that He should carry the enormous weight of our sins to the cross? Was it fair that He should pay the price for our ticket to heaven? Oh, no. That was not fair to Him. Nor was it fair to us, for we got forgiveness that we did not deserve.

Our sinful nature doesn’t like being reminded of Christ’s love. But that’s okay, the New Man that God has created inside us does. When the New Man inside us is reminded of the total unfairness that secured our forgiveness, the New Man sings for joy.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

In the Greek, the word for “burdens” literally means “weights”. If you go into a gym the weights are difficult to lift for two reasons: they’re heavy, you’re weak.

When we think about carrying each other’s burdens, we might think first about helping others fulfill their responsibilities.

If a fellow Christian is homeless, we help find them a home. And we let ‘em stay at our place until they find one. If our brother or sister in Christ just lost their job we might give them some money, or a big load of groceries to help feed their family until they get back on their feet.

But, when you examine the context of Galatians 6:2, the burdens that Paul is writing about aren’t the ones that appear because of heavy responsibilities. The specific burdens that Paul is writing about here are the burdens that appear because of spiritual weakness.

Christians, we know the weaknesses of each other all to well. Here Jesus tells us to support one another when we see each other being tempted and when we see each other sinning.

Right before our passage Paul wrote,

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(Galatians 6:1 NIV).

Then Paul continues…

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Carrying each other’s burdens means supporting others when they are weak. It means helping them to see when they are sinning. It means forgiving when we are sinned against.

People who don’t forgive, can’t bear the burdens of others. Those who do forgive, also seek to support their fellow Christians even when they are the ones who have been sinned against. This is Christ-like.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

It might seem silly to emphasize the word “and”. But like every good author, the Holy Spirit uses every word with a purpose. The word “and” points us to what will happen when we carry each other’s burdens. When we carry each other’s burdens then we are fulfilling the law of Christ.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

There are many different ways do what Christ commands us to do. But stepping forward to help our fellow Christians is one specific way that we follow Christ.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

In the Greek the “you” here is plural. Paul is writing to all the Christians at Galatia. But Paul is writing to them as individuals who make up a fellowship that follows Christ. It is the individuals who will take action to do what Christ says.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Paul is not directing the Galatians to look back and see how they’ve failed to support each other in the past. Paul is directing these followers of Christ to look forward. Paul is saying, “Look, this is the way that you will fulfill the law of Christ in the future. This is the way to follow Him.”

Through Paul’s writing, Jesus is saying, “Here, put your foot right here.”

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

The Greek word for “fulfill” has the root idea of “filling”. It’s like the law of Christ is a cup that He gives us to fill up with our doing of what He says.

Christ’s command is like a bottle of water packaged in a factory. First the plastic bottle is made. Then the label is attached, letting everyone know what is supposed to go inside. That bottle must be filled with pure water before it can be enjoyed by a tired and thirsty person.

When we carry each other’s burdens we are filling up the law of Christ with our doing of the law of Christ! As water bottles are meant to be filled, Christ’s commands are meant to be done.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

The word, “law” reminds us that this is not merely a suggested way in which we might choose to follow Christ. This is a command from God.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ(Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Just what is the “law of Christ” that we are fulfilling when we support one another? Well it is clear from the rest of Galatians that the “law of Christ” is not a law that we keep to earn our way to heaven.

Paul made it very clear to the Galatian Christians that if any of them were trying to keep the old Jewish laws in order to erase their sins, they were doomed to fail.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4 NIV).

In Romans Paul makes it very clear that keeping the law cannot take our sins away:

20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20 NIV).

So, what is the “Law of Christ” if it is not the Ten Commandments? In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian congregation he wrote:

…I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law…” (1 Corinthians 9:21 NIV).

The Ten Commandments are God’s frightening law. They demand perfection. They offer no forgiveness. But the Law of Christ is the set of commands that come from Christ after He has revealed to us that He has taken our sins away. These commands from Christ do not scare us, for when we fail to keep them, His forgiveness remains intact.

The “Law of Christ” is all the good things that Christians are directed to do, not out of fear, but as God’s forgiven people.

Christ hasn’t destroyed the Ten Commandments. They still stand over us, but Christ has kept those commands of God for us. We stand under Christ’s law whose first commandment says, “Your sins are forgiven because of Me.”

When trying to define what the “Law of Christ” refers to, some point to what Jesus said to His disciples:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you(John 15:12 NIV).

Perhaps it was this specific command that Paul had in mind when he wrote:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ(Galatians 6:2 NIV).

Certainly when we take the burdens of others on ourselves, we are loving them like Christ loved us. Though the little that we are capable of bearing for others is tiny when compared with what Jesus carried for us.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).

So, what how does Galatians 6:2 relate to the subject of Christian Education? Well, today we’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit through His word. We’ve meditated on what it means to carry each other’s burdens, and how we complete the law of Christ when we do carry each other’s burdens. We have been taught another lesson in the school of the Holy Spirit.

Now we must go forward and actually use the lesson we have learned. Now we must step forward into the footprint that Christ Jesus has directed us to.

Let’s pray.

Holy Spirit, move us to live what you teach. Jesus, give us the strength to follow in your footsteps. Father, continue to teach your children. In Christ we pray,


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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