The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

also known as the Seventh Sunday of the Pentecost Season

July 17, 2022

We Have Been Justified by Faith

(There is Only “Right” Way…..and Many Wrong Ways… Be Justified Before God)


 What would happen in a school if teachers allowed their students to set their own academic standards and give

themselves their grades?  How many of those students would fail themselves?   Do you think they would even try to work to their potential if they knew they could get an “A” while doing nothing? 

            Of course, it would be foolish to run a school that way.   But is it any less foolish for human beings to expect that God, Who is absolutely holy, either would let our sins “slide” by ignoring them, or would approve of us and let us into heaven based on our “best efforts” (good works)…….even though those efforts/works fall far short of the absolute perfection that He demands of us in His Law?   

            Yet, that’s precisely the approach that many persons….including so-called “Christians”…. take to “religion.”   If they even believe in God (and many today don’t….), most “Spiritual” and “religious” people fully intend to stand before God on the foundation of  “Well, nobody’s perfect, but I did my best to be good….and I was better than most.”   Sadly, no matter how good their intentions or efforts, anyone who expects to stand eye-to-eye before God on the basis of his/her merits instead is tragically mistaken, and is going to find him- or herself sent to hell for eternal condemnation because belief in God as the “Supreme Being” isn’t enough.   We’re all guilty of both inherent sin as well as actual, daily sins of thought, word and deed.   Being good – even better than most – isn’t enough.  Unless you or I are perfect (and none of us are), we can’t get into heaven due to our goodness.

            Consequently, to assume that the God Who says, “Be holy, as I the LORD your God an holy” (Leviticus 19:12) doesn’t really expect us to “be holy” is about as correct as thinking that one plus one should equal three.    Simply put, to trust that your best personal efforts and good behavior will be enough to earn God’s favor and a place in heaven is, instead, a certain ticket out of heaven and into damnation (that’s the lesson Jesus tried to teach the young man in today’s Gospel Lesson).  

            The Apostle Paul also will acknowledge that hard-to-hear-and-accept fact in our Second Lesson for this morning.  At one point in his past he thought he could earn heaven by his rigorous, outwardly righteous life as a Pharisee, which he assumed would please God.   It couldn’t.  However, by God’s grace, once He was brought to faith and became a Christian, Paul learned (and later taught) the truth:   that heaven is ours only through faith in all that Jesus Christ lived perfectly, died sacrificially and rose gloriously to earn for us.  Faith in Jesus(never in our goodness) is sufficient for salvation.   Paul celebrated God’s mercy, which miraculously converted him from his unbelief and hostility to Christianity and brought him to saving faith in Christ.   He was saved only by God’s grace.  So are we.

            In our First Lesson Paul will also talk about God’s gracious justification of undeserving sinners in connection with the example of Abraham and his faith in God.   As “good” as his good works were, Abraham trusted – not in his personal accomplishments, but – in God’s mercy alone as the surety for his forgiveness and salvation.   That’s why Paul frankly told the Romans (3:23-24) “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” ……  Our justification comes, not through our spiritual accomplishments, but ONLY through faith in what Jesus suffered and accomplished for us.   In the words of today’s Children’s Lesson), everyone has sinned and deserves damnation….not salvation…. because “the wages of sin [for everyone] is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Salvation is a gift…not something we earn.

            Finally, as we continue our summer sermon/service series on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we turn to the closing portion of chapter two for our sermon text.   There the Apostle will make three key points: 1) that we have already been justified before God by what Christ accomplished through His life, death and resurrection for us;   2) As a result of our sins (and us) being entirely punished on Christ’s cross, God does not and will not punish us.  That gives us the motivation to live our Christian lives faithfully and gratefully for Him;   and finally, 3) while sin’s curse has corrupted life here on earth, making it unpleasant and even difficult, because Christ suffered the “ultimate” curse of sin – namely, being forsaken by God forever, enduring all that hell us for us – we have the God’s assurance of eternal life in heaven through faith in Christ.


An Overview of the Doctrine of Justification

            What is the doctrine of justification? The doctrine of justification reveals to us the amazing truth that by a forensic (a declaratory, judicial) act, God unilaterally (on His own) declared objectively (with no exceptions) that all guilty sinners were “not guilty”/innocent of their sin and its damnable curse.   The act of justification was accomplished by God through the redemptive work of God the Son, Christ Jesus.   God accomplished this by reconciling the world to Himself through Christ’s sinless, substitutionary life, His death for us on the cross, and His bodily resurrection. 

             In II Corinthians 5:18-21 the inspired Apostle Paul makes it very clear that God didn’t need to be reconciled to man; He had done nothing wrong!    Man was the guilty party which had broken faith with God due to Adam’s voluntary “fall” into sin as well as to humanity’s subsequent, inherent and active  disobedience.  If God and sinful humanity were ever going to live together again in perfect harmony and peace, God would have to be the One to act on mankind’s behalf.   That’s because we sinners were hopelessly incapable of reconciling ourselves to God – no matter how much we might care or how hard we might try.  God simply HAD to reconcile man to Himself;   there was no other real option.  

            God accomplished this justifying reconciliation by “not counting men’s sins against them.”   The picture that Paul paints in II Corinthians 5 is that of an accounting process where in humanity’s account there were only the debits of sin.  But in an amazing act of love our God made the ultimate transaction.   He didn’t just wipe man’s sin-slate clean and forget about that debt of sin;   He couldn’t do that.  You see, God is perfectly holy, and His justice demanded that the debt of sin must be paid for in full.   So he took mankind’s sin and charged it entirely to the account of His own Son, Jesus Christ.   

            Paul put it this way: “God made Him Who had no sin, to be sin for us.”   And what did God do to that One Who was “made sin for us?”   He cursed Jesus with our sin-debt, rejected Him, and condemned Him to suffer His eternal wrath against sin.   As Paul would write in Romans 3:26: “God did this to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One Who justifies the man who has faith in Jesus.”  

            Jesus’ substitutionary death in our place (sometimes referred to as His “passive”/suffering obedience), however, was only half of the transaction which God performed on our behalf to reconcile us to Himself.    It is true that through the death of His Son, God took away all the guilt of the world’s sin.   But we needed more than just an absence of sin to one day enter life with Him in heaven.   We needed to be actively righteous….to be sinless….to be perfect in the view of God’s Law.   God not only took all our sin from our account and imposed it on Christ, He also credited to our account the righteous/holy life that Christ lived in our place   (we call this Jesus’ “active obedience.”).   In connection with His substitutionary work of holy living we say that Christ’s righteousness has been “imputed”/credited to us.

            And the result?   That we have been justified (declared just/righteous) by God…..reconciled and restored to Him through the redeeming accomplishments of Christ on our behalf.   This beautiful Gospel message of justification is the core, the very foundation of our Christian faith!   On the basis of what God’s Word clearly teaches we believe that Jesus Christ accomplished reconciliation for the entire world (objective justification).  Consequently, the status of every single human being has been changed.  This is an objective, true fact whether or not a person believes it or even knows about it.    And so, on the basis of God’s gracious imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us you and I can confidently sing:


Jesus, Your blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress

Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed

With joy shall I lift up my head.     CW 376 v.1


            Since Christ died to forgive the sins of the whole world, does that mean then that every human being will be saved?    Sad to say, no.   Although Christ has accomplished reconciliation for all people, (Objective Justification), only those who, by the grace and converting work of God the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3) are brought to faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior will personally receive and enjoy the blessings of reconciliation – namely eternal salvation and life in heaven, (Subjective Justification).   That is why Paul urged the Corinthian Christians, “Be reconciled to God.”   That’s just another way of saying, “believe on the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31).

            Regarding the doctrine of justification, Article IV of the Augsburg Confession declares on the basis of God’s Word:

“Also they [we Lutherans] teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, Who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith, God imputes for righteousness in His sight.”

Selected Bible Passages Regarding The Doctrine of Justification

A Definition:    “Justification is God’s declaration that sinners are not guilty because Jesus Christ has fully paid for all their sins.

Selected Bible Passages on Justification:

1)         We are justified by faith, not our works  – Romans 3:28

2)         We are all sinners – Romans 3:23

3)         Christ fully atoned (paid for) all sin – I John 2:2 – for the whole world ….. II Corinthians 5:19;   John 3:16;   Romans 5:19

4)         His resurrection is the confirmation/proof of this – Romans 4:25

5)         God has forgiven all our sins purely for the sake of His Son – II Corinthians 5:21

            ….this is true even for the ungodly – Romans 4:5

….such forgiveness is an absolutely free gift from God – Romans 5:18, Romans 8:33

            ….it is also an accomplished fact – Romans 3:3;    II Timothy 2:13

6)         Justification is offered to all people through the Gospel – I Corinthians 2:7-11;   Romans 1:17;   Romans 3:21-22

7)         This promise is something that we accept by faith in what God says – Romans 10:17

8)         Faith in Christ….NOT a person’s merit or efforts….alone justifies the sinner

….the reality of this justification is not affected by a sinner’s attitude – Romans 3:3;   Romans 4:5;  Romans 3:28

….It cannot be accomplished by personal effort/desire, or good works of any sort…..Ephesians 2:8,9;   Romans 3:24;   Galatians 3:11;    Romans 9:16

9)         Justification is a “judicial” (forensic) act of God – Romans 4:5-8;   Matthew 12:37;  Proverbs 17:15

10)       Justification is complete and perfect – Psalm 103:3;    Colossians 2:13;   Ephesians 1:7

The Results of our Being Justified in Christ are:

  1. A) We enjoy a “state of grace”
  2. Peace with God….Romans 5;1
  3. Good consciences….Hebrews 9:14;   Hebrews 10:22
  4. Assurance of God’s protection…..Romans 8:28;   Hebrews 13:5
  5. Deliverance from fear…..Psalm 34:4
  6. Triumph in death…..I Peter 1:3;   I Corinthians 15;55-57

  1. B) We enjoy membership in the invisible (Holy Christian) Church

                                   Colossians 1;12-14;   Ephesians 2:19;    Ephesians 3:15

                                   and so we are heirs of heaven – Galatians 4:7


  1. C) We are blessed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – Titus 3:5,6;   Acts 2:38;   I Corinthians 3:16,17;   II Corinthians 6:16,19;    John 14:23

  1. D) We are restored to the “image of God” (the new man) – Colossians 3;10;    Ephesians 4:24

Prayer Upon Entering Church   Heavenly Father, You showed Your grace by bringing me to faith in Christ through the work of Your Holy Spirit, and then by giving me the blessing of being called Your child.  Though what I offer You today is so small, compared to all You have done for me, please accept my humble offerings of praise and thanksgiving, as well as my gifts.  Also, Lord, help me gladly hear and take to heart the Good News of salvation from sin for me and all people through faith in Your Son, my Savior.  Renew and invigorate me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day, that I might live a confident life of faith and love to Your glory,  and that I might share, by all possible means, at every opportunity, the same Good News of salvation through Christ which has filled my life with peace and purpose.  Amen.

The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019, The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via  #A712831

Prayer upon entering the sanctuary                                                                                           Pre-service Music


We Praise Our God

Service Introduction and Invitation to Worship


The Opening Hymn                                                                                                  Hymn 389   “Rock of Ages”


1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me,   Let me hide myself in thee;

Let the water and the blood   From thy riven side which flowed

Be of sin the double cure:   Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.


2 Not the labors of my hands   Can fulfill thy law’s demands.

Could my zeal no respite know,   Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone;   Thou must save and thou alone.


3 Nothing in my hand I bring,   Simply to thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress,   Helpless, look to thee for grace.

Foul, I to the fountain fly –   Wash me, Savior, or I die!


4 While I draw this fleeting breath,   When mine eyelids close in death,

When I soar to worlds unknown,    See thee on thy judgment throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,    Let me hide myself in thee!


after which the Congregation will rise

The Invocation

     Pastor        We begin this service in the name of the Father


     Congregation   Who gave us our lives through His almighty power.


            P:   And of the Son


                 C:   Who redeemed our lives with His precious blood.


                 P:   And of the Holy Spirit

                 C:   Who gave us eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

                 P:   Amen.

We Confess Our Sins


Pastor:      As we approach the Lord in worship today, let us all confess our sins and seek God’s forgiving mercy:


Congregation: O Lord, hear my prayer,   +    Listen to my cry for mercy   + and in Your faithfulness, come to my relief.    +    Do not bring Your servant into judgment,   +   for no one living is righteous before You.    +  

Answer me quickly, O Lord;    +    my spirit fails.   +     Do not hide Your face from me,   +    For I have put my trust in You.    +     Show me the way I should go,   +   for to You I lift up my soul.   +    Teach me to do Your will,   +   for You are my God.


Almighty God, merciful Father,   +    I, a troubled and repentant sinner    + confess that I have sinned against You  in my actions, thoughts and words.    +    I have not loved You with all my heart;   +    I have not loved others the way I should.   +    I have not been a faithful steward  of the time, abilities, opportunities and resources    +    which You have entrusted to my care.    +   I have not always been eager and willing to worship You, serve You, or learn from You as I ought.   +     My transgressions,  whether deliberate or done out of ignorance    +    are too numerous for me to recall.   +   I know that because of them   +    I deserve Your punishment  both now and eternally.    +    But I truly am distressed by   +   and deeply sorry for my sins.    +   And so I implore You,  for Jesus’ sake,   +   to have mercy upon me   +   and to forgive me,   +   a poor, sinful being.

Pastor:            Jesus says to His followers:    “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”    Do you believe this word and promise of your Savior?

Congregation: Yes, I believe.

Pastor:            Then according to the command and promise of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and in His place, I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.    Amen.     Be at peace once

more with your God, assured that you are a dear child of God and an heir of eternal life in heaven through faith in Christ Jesus.

Congregation: O Lord, my God    +   I called to You for help   +   and You answered me.   +   I thank You for the love  You

                  have shown me  in Jesus Christ, my Savior.    +   Through Him You have rescued me from the guilt and curse of

 my sin.   +   Renew me now, through Your Holy Spirit    +   that I might faithfully fight against all temptation,   +   correct whatever wrongs I can,   +   and live in the peace of Your forgiveness.   +    Let my life be filled with Your love and praise.   +   Now and forever.   +    Amen.


Our Grateful Response for God’s Forgiveness

To the tune of “Nun danket alle Gott”

(“Now Thank We All our God”)


                             The Lord, my God be praised                         To Him with joyful song

                             My God, Who, ever-living,                            Our praises we are bringing

                             To Whom the heavenly host                          And with the angel throng

                             All praise and honor, giving –                        Thrice “Holy,” we are singing.          

                             The Lord, my God, be praised,                       With one united voice

                             In Whose great name I boast,                        The Church does Him adore.

                             God Father, God the Son                                The Lord, my God, be praised

                             and God the Holy Ghost.                               Now and forevermore.    Amen.

The Prayer for Today

O Lord God,   +   You know how proud, stubborn, demanding, and self-righteous we can be.    +    We often think too highly of ourselves,   +   and appreciate too little the many mercies You daily extend to us     even though we do not deserve anything from You,   except punishment for our sins.   +   Thank You for Your grace to us in Christ Jesus.   +    And for His sake, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts as we now meditate upon Your Word,   +   so that our faith might increase,   +   and so that we might be more humble, grateful, joyful, and faithful   +   in the Christian lives that we lead for Your honor and glory.  +   All this we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.



after which the Congregation will be seated for

The Baptism of Silas Everett Galvan

The Baptism Hymn                                                                              Hymn 295  “Dearest Jesus, We Are Here”

verses 1-3


1 Dearest Jesus, we are here,   Gladly your command obeying; 

With this child we now draw near   In response to your own saying

That to you it shall be given   As a child and heir of heaven.


2 Lord, your Word is clear and plain,   And we will obey it duly:

“He who is not born again,   Heart and life renewing truly,

Born of water and the Spirit,   Can my kingdom not inherit.”


3 Therefore we have come to you,   In our arms this infant bearing.

Here we shall forgiveness view.   May this child, your mercy sharing,

In your arms be shielded ever,   Yours on earth and yours forever.


during the final verse, the family and witnesses for Silas will come before the baptismal font

The Blessings and Purpose for Baptism


The Lesson                                                                                                                                    Mark 10:13-16

13 Some people began bringing little children to Jesus so that He would touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said, “Let the little children come to Me! Do not hinder them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Amen I tell you: Whoever will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And He took the little children in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

The Exhortation to the Parents


The Exhortation to the Witnesses


                                                                                               After which the Congregation will rise for


The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;   Born of the Virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;   Was crucified, dead and buried;   He descended into hell;   The third day He rose again from the dead;   He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;   From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost;   The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;   The resurrection of the body;    And the life everlasting.  Amen.



The Sacrament of Baptism


The Exhortation to Grace Lutheran Congregation


Our Prayer for Silas Everett Galvan

After Silas and his family return to their seats, our service will continue as  

We Give Our Attention To God’s Word

The First Lesson                                                                                                                        Romans 3:18-4:8

19 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.

21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all who believe.

In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 Whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat through faith in His blood. God did this to demonstrate His justice, since, in His divine restraint, He had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so that He would be both just and the One Who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.

27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law. 29 Or is He only the God of the Jews? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, also of the Gentiles, 30 since there is one God Who will justify the circumcised person by faith and the uncircumcised person through the very same faith. 31 So are we doing away with the law by this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we are upholding the law.

4:1     What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered according to the flesh? 2 If indeed Abraham had been justified by works, he would have had a reason to boast—but not before God. 3 For what does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

4 Now to a person who works, his pay is not counted as a gift but as something owed. 5 But to the person who does not work but believes in the God Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.

6 This is exactly what David says about the blessed state of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:   7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered.   8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.

The Second Lesson                                                                                                                 Philippians 3:1-11

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things again to you, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs. Beware of the evildoers. Beware of the mutilation.  3 For we are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who are confident in Christ Jesus, and who place no confidence in the flesh, 4 even though I have grounds for confidence also in the flesh. If anyone else thinks that he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 in regard to zeal, persecuting the church; in regard to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

7 But, whatever things were a profit for me, these things I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. 8 But even more than that, I consider everything to be a loss because of what is worth far more: knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake, I have lost all things and consider them rubbish, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, which comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God by faith. 10 I do this so that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 in the hope that in some way I may arrive at the resurrection from the dead.

After which, out of respect for Jesus’ words the Congregation will rise for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                  Matthew 19:16-30


16 There was a man who came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing should I do that I may have eternal life?”

17 Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? Only One is good. But if you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked him.

Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. 19 Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these. What am I still lacking?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had many possessions. 23 Jesus said to His disciples, “Amen I tell you: It will be very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Then Peter answered, “Look, we have left everything and followed You! What then will we have?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Amen I tell you: In the renewal, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left homes or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, because of My name, will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”



after which the Congregation will be seated for

The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                    Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Eternal Life Is God’s Gift To You….

….Not Something You Have to Earn”

Hymn of the Day                                                                  Hymn 376   “Jesus Your Blood And Righteousness”


1 Jesus, your blood and righteousness    My beauty are, my glorious dress;

Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,  With joy shall I lift up my head.


2 Bold shall I stand in that great day–   Who can a word against me say?

Fully through you absolved I am   From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.


3 Lord, I believe your precious blood,   Which at the very throne of God

Forever will for sinners plead,   For me — e’en for my soul — was shed.


4 Lord, I believe were sinners more   Than sands upon the ocean shore,

You have for all a ransom paid,   For all a full atonement made.


5 When from the dust of death I rise   To claim my mansion in the skies,

E’en then this shall be all my plea:   Jesus has lived and died for me.


6 Jesus, be worshiped endlessly!   Your boundless mercy has for me,

For me and all your hands have made,   An everlasting ransom paid.



after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Greeting

Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May the God of peace fill you with all joy in believing!   Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                                                                                      Galatians 2:11-21

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly wrong. 12 For before some people came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when those people came, he drew back and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision group. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not acting according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, “If you, a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, why do you compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews?”

15 “We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners. 16 We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. So we also believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were also found to be sinners, then is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not!

18 “In fact, if I build up again those things that I destroyed, I bring on myself the judgment of being a lawbreaker. 19 Indeed, through the law I died to the law that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not regard the grace of God as nothing. As a matter of fact, if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”

If You Want to Be Justified Before God

after which, the Congregation will remain seated for    


The Post-Sermon Blessing

Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him to glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.  Amen!


We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address  (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:

after the offerings are brought forward, the Congregation will rise for

The Prayers for this Day

A Prayer of Intercession for Roger Kattestad, who has been hospitalized this week with a leg infection;   and

A Prayer of Intercession for Bill Krizsan, who is   contending once again with cancer of the bladder; and

A Prayer of Thanksgiving that our God, in His grace, took home to heaven the soul of our brother Dan Beck this past Thursday evening;   and

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Tammy and Ken Abernathy, whose wedding anniversary is this Friday.

closing with…..

P   Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.   In His name we offer this prayer and continue now, by praying: 

C: Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name;   Thy kingdom come;  Thy will be done    on earth as it is in heaven;   Give us this day our daily bread;    And forgive us our trespasses,    as we forgive those who trespass against us;     And lead us not into temptation;     But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the kingdom,  and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.  Amen.



We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


Pastor           The Lord be with you.

Congregation   (Sung) And also with you

Pastor          Lift up your hearts.


Congregation   (Sung) We lift them up to the Lord.

Pastor          Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.


Congregation   (Sung)   It is right to give Him thanks and praise.

Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                                                                            

Pastor          The peace of the Lord be with you always.

Congregation    (Sung)   Amen.

The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper



(Please read the following if you have not spoken with our Pastor about taking communion.  Thank you.)


       At Grace Lutheran Church, on the basis of what the Bible teaches, we practice what is known as “Close Communion.”   That means we are able to offer the Lord’s Supper this morning only to those individuals who – after completing a thorough study with us of the doctrines contained God’s Word – have already publicly committed themselves to be members of our fellowship because of their agreement with those teachings.   In so doing we are endeavoring to express our comprehensive commitment (and unity which we – as a Christian congregation – share with each other as members of this fellowship) to all the teachings of the Scriptures. and to our striving to put them fully and faithfully into practice in our ministry.  

     That “comprehensive commitment” requirement (which our Lord expects of all His children and so of every church – please see Romans 16:17-18;   2 John 10-11;   I John 4:1-3;   John 8:31-32;   Matthew 28:19-20 …among other portions of Scripture that express this)  allows us only to offer the Lord’s Supper to those persons who are already committed, confirmed, communicant members of Grace Lutheran congregation, or who have become members of one of the congregations of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.               We do this, not to offend anyone, but  because the Scriptures teach that only those who are “one,” that is, in complete doctrinal agreement, united in a comprehensive public confession of faith, are to commune together at the same altar (see I Corinthians 10:17 and I Corinthians 1:10).

    Through membership in a particular congregation or church body (for us, that church body is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran

Synod), each person makes a public statement that he/she is in full agreement with the teachings and practices of that body.    Because not every congregation, church body or Lutheran Synod teaches and practices the same things, we at Grace and in the WELS want to be honest in our recognition of the doctrinal/teaching differences that, here on earth, separate us from other church bodies.    


     To our Guests this morning…..  We want you to know that we sincerely appreciate your presence among us today, and we do rejoice that we share faith in Christ with you.   Please understand that by asking you to refrain from communing with us this morning we are NOT judging your faith in Christ.   What we are doing is expressing – as a congregation – our complete unity of faith in Christ, as well as our joint commitment to all the teachings (doctrines) of God’s Word.   Consequently, we hope that you will do us the courtesy of kindly respecting our Biblical practice of close communion practice by refraining from taking the Lord’s Supper with us today.

      It is our hope that our Scripture-based practice of “Close Communion” will encourage anyone among us this morning who is not presently in full doctrinal fellowship with us to seriously examine the teachings and practices of his/her church in order to determine if those teachings and practices are really in full agreement with God’s Word.     In fact, we pray that all of our guests – and many others – will one day share with us in this “close” fellowship which we enjoy at Grace Lutheran and in the WELS, by your studying God’s Word with us , by joining us in this joint, comprehensive commitment to His Biblical teachings that our Lord wants us to have with each other, and by committing yourself to membership in our church family.

     A brochure further explaining the Biblical basis for this Close Communion practice is available on the entryway tract/brochure rack.    We encourage you to carefully examine it – especially the Biblical references within it –  and also to speak with our Pastor after the service (or, at your convenience) so that you might better understand and appreciate our Biblically-based “Close Communion” practice.

     Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and for your presence here among us this morning.   May God bless you, as you are a blessing to us !


The Distribution Hymns


                                                                                                  Hymn 306    “Before You, God, the Judge of All”


1 Before you, God, the Judge of all,   With grief and shame I humbly fall.

I see my sins against you, Lord,   My sins of thought and deed and word.

They press me sore; to you I flee:   O God, be merciful to me!


2 O Lord, my God, to you I pray:   Oh, cast me not in wrath away!

Let your good Spirit ne’er depart,   But let him draw to you my heart

That truly penitent I be:   O God, be merciful to me!


3 O Jesus, let your precious blood   Be to my soul a cleansing flood.

Turn not, O Lord, your guest away,   But grant that justified I may

Go to my house at peace to be:   O God, be merciful to me!



                                                                                        Hymn 315    “Here, O My Lord I See You Face to Face”


1 Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face;   Here would I touch and handle things unseen,

Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,   And all my weariness upon you lean.


2 This is the hour of banquet and of song;   Here is the heav’nly table spread anew.

Here let me feast and, feasting, still prolong   The brief bright hour of fellowship with you.


3 I have no help but yours nor do I need   Another arm but yours to lean upon.

It is enough, O Lord, enough indeed;   My strength is in your might, your might alone.


4 Mine is the sin but yours the righteousness;   Mine is the guilt but yours the cleansing blood.

Here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace:   Your blood, your righteousness, O Lord, my God.


5 Too soon we rise; the vessels disappear.   The feast, though not the love, is past and gone.

The bread and wine remove, but you are here,   Nearer than ever, still my shield and sun.


6 Feast after feast thus comes and passes by,   Yet, passing, points to that glad feast above,

Giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,   The Lamb’s great marriage feast of bliss and love.



Following the distribution, the Congregation will rise for


The Conclusion of our Worship Service

Pastor       May the Lord be with you.

Congregation     And also with you.

Pastor             Now, to Him Who is able to keep you from falling  and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy –

Congregation   to the only God, our Savior,   be glory, majesty, power and authority,    through Jesus Christ our Lord,   before all ages,    now and forevermore!  Amen.



The Benediction

     The LORD bless you and keep you.

     The LORD make His face to shine upon You and be gracious unto You,

     The LORD look upon you with favor,  and give you His peace.   Amen.

Closing Hymn                                                            Hymn 321  “Savior, Again To Thy Dear Name We Raise”

1 Savior, again to thy dear name we raise    With one accord our parting hymn of praise.

Once more we bless thee ere our worship cease,   Then, lowly bending, wait thy word of peace.


2 Grant us thy peace upon our homeward way;   With thee began, with thee shall end the day.

Guard thou the lips from sin, the hearts from shame,   That in this house have called upon thy name.


3 Grant us thy peace, Lord, through the coming night;   Turn thou for us its darkness into light.

From harm and danger keep thy people free,   For dark and light are both alike to thee.


4 Grant us thy peace throughout our earthly life,   Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife.

Then, when thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,   Call us, O Lord, to thine eternal peace.

Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-service music


Last Week at Grace                                                                             Worship Attendance: 46    Online views: 32

Sunday Bible Class: 23   (Online views 8)         Sunday School: 2

Tuesday Bible Study: 11     Budgetary Offerings: $2867          Online: $110              Capital Improvement:   $50

Anniversary & Birthdays  July 19 – Heath Jones;    July 20 – Andrea Bratton;

July 22 – Ken & Tammy Abernathy;    July 23 – Murray Mansch

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


     Today        Morning Worship, with the Lord’s Supper  9:30 a.m.  

                  Fellowship, 10:45 am                                                                                      Bible Class/Sunday School, 11 am  

     Tuesday    Morning Bible Class,   10:30-11:30 am

     Saturday   Outreach Calls, 10 a.m.

     Sunday      Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.

                       Fellowship, 10:40 am    Bible Class/Sunday School – 11am

Serving Us Next Sunday (7-24)                                                                         Elders: Rick Tragasz, Steve Stone

Ushers: Taylor Ashley, John Johnson, John Wambold                   Fellowship:   ????

Altar Guild:   Mary Karloski, Vicki Walker

July 31 Voter’s Meeting AND Potluck/Cookout/Indoor Picnic …..although it’s still two weeks from happening, please make a note now to be part of our July 31 pot-luck/cookout/indoor picnic.   Prior to the meal we’ll hold a congregational/voters’ meeting.


 Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas


is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:      Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word, serving each Soul.

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls

through Worship, Education and Fellowship.

Authentic Apostleship vs False Teachers

2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1

One of my wife’s and my favorite movies was filmed almost 30 years ago.   It’s simply called “Dave.”  The title character, played by actor Kevin Kline, is a presidential impersonator who’s a dead ringer for the president.   He gets hired by the real president’s chief of staff to serve as a double for the president, who had a stroke and is on life support.   Why not tell the truth?  Because the chief of staff wants to keep the vice president from rightfully assuming the presidency.  He covets the position for himself.  The chief of staff even tries to set the vice president up in a bribery scandal so that the VP can be disqualified and he (the COS) can be appointed by Dave as his replacement.   After that his scheme will see that the stroke-ridden president is allowed to die and he (the chief of staff) will become the president.   Meanwhile, Dave is to quietly return to his former life as an impersonator.  In the course of the movie, Dave has to fool the First Lady into believing his actually her husband, as well as to lead the country as if he were the president.  I won’t spoil the ending for you (so you’ll have to watch the film), but I will say Dave is wonderful comedy, as well as a lighthearted, clever satire of American politics developed around a case of false identity that results in an ordinary, everyday person temporarily functioning as the President of the United States.

While the movie “Dave” is a comedy, there was nothing funny about what happening to the Christians in Corinth  during Paul’s day.   As you know, the Apostle had brought the Gospel to these Gentiles on his second missionary journey, and God the Holy Spirit had blessed Paul’s work.   Many were brought to faith in Christ, trying in His life, death and resurrection for their eternal salvation.   But after Paul left Corinth, false teachers arrived (we refer to them as “Judaizers”).   They claimed Paul was not an authentic apostle, while they were the real representatives of the Christian faith and had the support of the “mother church” and Jesus’ original disciples in Jerusalem (which, of course, was a lie).   They also claimed that Paul’s Gospel message was inadequate.  Yes, faith in Christ was necessary to go to heaven, but not faith alone.   These Judaizers maintained that faith in Jesus had to be accompanied by good works – specifically obedience to the Old Testament Mosaic Law, and particularly embracing the practice of circumcision.   Undermining Paul’s personal authenticity (he had been called and trained by Christ Himself) as well as the reliability of his Gospel, these “false apostles” deceived the Corinthians into thinking that they were the superior teachers of the truth.  The result was Spiritual chaos and confusion…..and the endangering of the souls of the fledgling Christian community in Corinth.

Paul had to do something, and he did.   He wrote a serious, blunt, forceful, but also Biblically faithful letter that we today know as his Second Letter to the Corinthians.  It’s not so much a defense of his position or person, as it is a defense of Christ’s Gospel that he proclaimed in his role as an Apostle.  In spite of what some people were critically feeling about him, Paul loved the members of the church in Corinth.   He also knew that the souls of the Corinthians  were at stake, and would be lost if they believed the works righteousness lies of those false teachers.   Although he’s already been addressing this issue in prior chapters of his letter, Paul continues his defense of his apostolic office and his Gospel ministry here in chapter 6.

6:3       “reason to stumble in any way”  – Paul couldn’t make the Gospel effective….only the Holy Spirit can do that.

But he could hinder it.  For example, he could lead a lifestyle that was inconsistent with the Gospel and contradicted its message.  His goal was not to cause “offense” in any way at all, and in so doing cause anyone to “stumble” Spiritually.   This was a continuing concern for him….which the present tense verb indicates.

“that our ministry will not be blamed”  — Paul was dedicated, as God enabled him, to live and honorable life that brings credit, rather than discredit to His Lord and to the ministry God had entrusted to him.   The Greek word for “blamed” also implies “ridicule.”

6:4       “we show ourselves in every way”  – our Apostle was committed to leading a demonstratively

commendable, righteous life in every way he could.  Why?   What people see adversely in the messenger can hinder his God-given message and, in so doing, keep souls from believing in Christ.

“God’s ministers”  – we belong to God, having been created and redeemed by Him, and we exist to serve Him…which is what “ministry” means.

Paul begins with a list of the afflictions he has experienced thus far.   He groups them into “threes” with

three terms that describe affliction in general.   Paul had previously told the Galatians (Acts 14:12) that we Christians will go through many hardships before we enter the Kingdom of God in heaven.  He personally experienced those hardships throughout the course of his ministry.  (See Acts 9:16)

“endurance” – being stretched beyond our limits, and yet not breaking.  Going farther that we can imagine going.

“troubles” – The first of the first group of three.   Jesus promised that in this world His followers would experience troubles of all types (John 16:33).    Paul certain knew trouble in life.   From persecutions to failing fiends, from physical impediments that hindered his daily living to being in danger from robbers, shipwrecks and more.   No matter what, he always trusted that in everything, God was working for his earthly and everlasting good (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11).

            “hardships” – quite possibly a reference to being tortured.

“difficulties” – this could also be translated “tight squeezes”…..situations where Paul felt certain that he was not going to escape unscathed, and perhaps not escape at all.

6:5       “beatings….imprisonments….riots”  – the second group of threes, this group dealing with public abuse at the

hands of hostile government and hostile citizens.   We think of Paul’s imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16) as well as the riot he was caught up in (and almost killed) in Ephesus (Acts 19).   Note the plurals throughout this section, which indicates that these things occurred more than once.


“hard work” – this can also be translated “toil”…..the kinds of activities (even when good results come) that wear a person down and wear him out.   Think here of Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

“sleepless nights” – Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 2 Thess 3:8 that he worked day and night to serve them…..possibly referring to a combination of his ministry and the way he supported himself through making tents.

            “times of hunger” – Typically refusing to accept material support from the congregations he served, there

were times when Paul didn’t have enough means to feed himself adequately.  No doubt Paul did this voluntarily, so that the work of the Lord could be advanced.

What follows are two groups of four things.   First, Paul speaks about the attitude and approach with which he ministered to the Corinthians.   Next, he speaks about the tools/means that he employed in his ministry.

            “purity” – Paul strove to be as godly in serving others as his sinful nature would permit.  

“knowledge” – He tried his best to be informed/knowledgeable about the people he served.   In other words, Paul got to know personally the sheep of his flock.    (See Jesus’ words in John 10:14).  The Greek term used here for “knowledge” speaks to acquiring information that is useful.

“patience” – Many times the people Paul served with the Gospel were not receptive, particularly right away.  They also were frequently Spiritually disappointing and disobedient.   It required great patience on Paul’s part to keep on serving them.   See 2 Timothy 4:2.  Sometimes the Greek word used here is translated “long-suffering,” the steadfast determination never to give in or give up.

“kindness” – See Ephesians 4:32;   Mark 9:41;  and Matthew 25:34-36.   Works of kindness are not the cause of our salvation, but they are among the evidence that we have been saved.

            “in the Holy Spirit” – This begins the next group of four…..speaking about the means/methods Paul

employed in his ministry.  He begins with a reference to the One Who began faith in Him (and in us):  God the Holy Spirit.   Paul realized that his conversion, and well as the conversion of anyone he would serve with the Gospel would come about solely because of the Holy Spirit’s enlightening power….and not by his (Paul’s) persuasiveness and effort.

            “in sincere love” – the Greek word for “love” is “fileo” – the same brotherly love Jesus asked of Peter in John                 21:17…’s not the selfless, perfect love of Christ/agape-love (which we’ll be able to share in heaven, but not here because of our imperfection).   Rather, this is the “love” that cares deeply (and so is “sincere”….not hypocritical) about others.  Paul’s love for the Corinthians, by the way, was evidence of his genuine commitment to them and their souls.  It served to favorably contrast Paul over against those false teaching “super apostles” who only wanted to use the Corinthians for their gain and self-aggrandizement.

6:7       “in the Word of truth” – The Holy Spirit (see above) works through the Means of Grace to establish and

maintain faith.  That is, through the Word of God as it is written and spoken, and as that Word is utilized in connection with the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.    NOTHING ELSE (not guilt, manipulation, reason, scientific evidence, etc.) can work faith.  ONLY the Word of God.

“in the power of God” – The Greek word for “power” here is “dynamis” from which we have our word “dynamite.”   Paul would say in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

            “with the weapons of righteousness on the right and on the left” – Paul depended on the power of God as the

Holy Spirit provided it in the Means of Grace to conduct his Christian life and ministry.   He describes those “weapons” with which he fought as one of God’s soldiers against the Devil in Ephesians 6:10-18.  The term “right hand” often referred to offensive weapons, while “left hand” referred to defensive weaponry.

6:8       “through glory” – God was glorified when souls were converted and strengthened in their faith through

                        Paul’s ministry.

“and dishonor” – At other times God was dishonored or disrespected when people rejected the message that He had given Paul to bring to them.    See Luke 10:18.

6:9       “treated as unknown” – The false apostles indicted Paul as an imposter and unauthentic.   The word in Greek

speaks about someone who is not worth knowing.   Sadly, some of the Corinthians tended to accept their false characterization of Paul.

“and yet being well known” – Paul was fully known by God, Who knew his heart (and so his genuineness;  he was not a hypocrite nor was he an imposter).    God’s recognition of us, ultimately, is all that matters.   Nevertheless, some of the congregation’s members also realized Paul was a genuine believer and an Apostle of the Lord.  Their support and acceptance greatly encouraged Paul.

“as dying, and yet look – we live” – In 2 Corinthians 4:11 Paul had told the Corinthians that he was always facing death as a Christian for the glory of God and the good of souls, and yet so often God delivered him (see Psalm 118:18).   Eventually, as he anticipates it in 2 Timothy 4:18, Paul will be martyred through execution for his service to Christ and the Church.  And yet, he steadfastly looked forward to the eternal life in heaven, the crown of righteousness that was promised to him (and to all who believe) for Jesus’ sake.

            “as punished and yet not put to death” – so often in his ministry Paul “flirted” with death for Jesus’ sake.

6:10      “as grieving” – Life didn’t always put a “smile” on Paul’s face.  Life in a sinful world as a sinner dealing with

sinners is hard….and it often hurts.   As Jesus reminds us, “in this world you will have trouble.”  (John 16:33)

“yet always rejoicing” – Still, no matter what happened to Paul and no matter how it hurt physically or emotionally, Paul had a deep-down joy in his heart because God not only had graciously called him out of unbelief into saving faith in Christ, but had granted him – the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15) – the added blessing of being able to serve Christ by being an ambassador of the Gospel for Him.  That’s why he could tell the Philippians (and us) that no matter what our circumstances in life might be, the Christian can “rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, rejoice.”  (Philippians 4:4)

“as poor” – probably Paul is speaking of his typical material poverty here.   But he could be speaking about his Spiritual poverty too……that he had nothing of value to bring to God either to secure his salvation (which, of course, is impossible for any sinner) or to express his gratitude for the free gift of salvation from God.

“yet making many rich” – See 2 Corinthians 8:9.   Christians are not necessarily “rich” in monetary terms (though God blesses some that way, as He sees fit), but are in possession of even greater “riches”:   the treasure of eternal life in heaven through faith in Christ.   Something that all the wealth of the world couldn’t purchase for even a single soul, let alone the souls of all humanity.   Poor as Paul was, materially, he offered the Corinthians and others he served the greatest treasure of all through Christ.

“as having nothing” – The unbelieving world saw Paul and sees all Christians as “losers” because of what we give up in the way of worldliness and because we don’t embrace the wisdom of the world.  See I Corinthians 1:18-31.

“yet possessing everything” – However, we have “everything” insofar as we have God’s promise of everlasting pleasure and glory in heaven.   Even if we had everything this world has to offer for our short lifetimes, it would be nothing, by comparison, to what heaven offers those who believe.

6:11      “we have spoken to you openly” – The Greek here literally speaks about opening ones mouth, and means to

speak frankly.  Paul was honest and transparent with the Corinthians.   He didn’t pretend to be something he was not (as the false apostles did) and he said what he meant and meant what he said.   In particular, he didn’t “beat around the bush” when it came to sin.  Don’t you wish most people today were that honest and transparent?  

            “Our heart is standing wide open” – Paul’s transparency let him to express his emotions and love for the

Corinthians.  He literally “wore his heart on his sleeve” before them.  The Greek word refers to someone who has no secrets.    He was emotionally exposed, and so he made himself vulnerable to them……and some took unfair advantage of that to hurt Paul with their criticisms and indifference toward him.

6:12      “we have plenty of room for you, but you do not have room for us in your affections” – he cared for them,

but that care was not reciprocated as it should have been by all the members of the church.   He freely offered them his affection, but many of them withheld or restricted their affection from Paul.  The word “affections” in Greek literally means “inner parts” and refers to the contents of a person’s  abdomen (the heart, lungs, liver).  It is used to describe a person’s deepest emotions and is the strongest word in Greek for the expression of ones compassion.

6:13      “as my children”  – as their “Spiritual Father,” having brought the Gospel to them, Paul regarded the

Christians in Corinth as his Spiritual children, caring deeply for them and especially their souls’ salvation.

6:14      “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”  – by turning away from Paul and his Gospel to the legalistic

lies of the false, super apostles, the Corinthians were – in effect – having fellowship with unbelievers and so were endangering their souls.   The Greek verb used here intends to strongly prohibit habitual action… this was something (being unequally yoked in a false fellowship) that the Corinthians were regularly doing.   It had to stop….now!     This passage is critical in our day and age, particularly because of the “ecumenical movement” that urges us to regard all religious as equal, each offering a worthy path to God and heaven.   Nothing could be farther from the truth.   There are not many paths to heaven through many religions.   There is one way:   Christ alone (John 14:6;   Acts 4:12).   All the other avenues into eternity lead, not to heaven, but to hell (Matthew 7:13-14).    God, through the Scriptures, provides us with a multitude of warnings about the necessity of our avoiding false teachers and unbelievers.    See Romans 16:17-18;   2 John 8-9;   and Galatians 1:6-9….among others.

                        “Yoked” is an obvious reference to prohibitions by God found in Deuteronomy 22:10 and Leviticus

 19:19.   The concept of the yoke was used in relation to marriage and also to agreeing with teachers and their doctrine.  A Spiritually mixed marriage, or cooperation with one who had a different doctrine was considered being “unequally yoked.”

At the same time, Paul is not saying that believers and unbelievers cannot have any contact        whatsoever.  (See I Corinthians 5:10).   If we totally avoided unbelievers, how would they hear the Gospel?  Nevertheless, we must be Spiritually vigilant when we associate with them, where we fill the role of the teacher-witness, rather than the other way around.

“righteousness” – While we are called and empowered by God the Holy Spirit to live sanctified, godly lives,

as sinner-saints we can never attain functional righteousness here on earth.   Our true “righteousness,” therefore comes not from our behavior, but from Christ’s holiness applied to us.   That being the case, as people who are forgiven and declared righteous in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake, why would we want to revert to our former (prior to conversion) state of ungodliness, hostility to God and general lawlessness?

“lawlessness” – the state of the unbeliever…..who is naturally hostile to God (Romans 8:7) and committed to a life lived in constant violation of God’s holy will (Romans 1:18-32).

“fellowship” – the intimate commitment to worship, work together, and influence one another in Spiritual matters.   The Greek word refers to things held in common or done together.

            “light” – faith, and faithfulness.

            “darkness” – unbelief and wickedness.  See John 1:5. 

6:15      “what agreement does Christ have with Belial?”   – Belial is another name for Satan.    It means “that which

is wicked and lacking worth.”   Christ came to destroy the devil’s work (I John 3:8), not to work together with him (Luke 4:6-8).  

“what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?” – Good question.   We do share a sinful nature. 

We also – currently – share a common location, living here on earth.  But we will never not share the same  eternal destination, and we do not serve the same master.

6:16      “mutual agreement”  – harmony, commonality.   How can an unbeliever and a believer agree on anything

                        Spiritual?   They can’t and won’t.

“God’s temple” – another way of describing the Christian (see I Corinthians 6:19,20).  We are, after all, the dwelling place/temple of the Holy Spirit.   And through the way we think, talk, and action God is (at least ought to be) worshiped.    The term “temple” in Greek was often used in connection with the inner-most sanctuary of a temple, where the divine presence was supposed to be located.

            “idols” – anything in this life that a person loves more than God.   (See I John 2:15)

“I will live and walk among them”  – this certainly could refer to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20 that He would always be with us.   It also could refer to Christ’s Incarnation, where He became fully human in order to become one of us by living under the law, and living with us and for us.  He understands us because He identifies in every way with us – except that He never sinned  (Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15;   also Hebrews 13:5).

“I will be their God and they will be My people” – God chose Abram to be His follower, all by His grace, not due to Abram’s merit or decision.   God has also chosen us (Ephesians 1:3-11) to be His people and has graciously revealed Himself to us as our God.  Having redeemed us through the substitutionary, sacrificial work for us, we now belong to Him (Acts 20:28;   I Corinthians 6:20)

6:17      “Therefore” – This is a single, small word in Greek (oun) that packs a big punch.   It looks back to what has

been said and then looks ahead to an important conclusion or point.   When we see this word, we want to get ready for God to tell us something significant.

“come out from them… separate” – again, these words are reminiscent of Romans 16:17.    In the original Greek the verb is an aorist imperative.   In other words, the command is to do this right now and don’t repeat it!   It has always been God’s will that His people (John 15:19;   John 17:16-17;   Romans 12:2;   Ephesians 4:22-24)

“touch no unclean thing” – as part of the Mosaic Covenant Law, the Old Testament believers were directed by the LORD to not come in contact with a variety of things (a dead body, a leper, certain foods, etc) that He had deemed “unclean.”  Why?   To reinforce on a regular basis the unacceptable reality of their inherent and functioning sinfulness, as well as the world’s sinfulness all around them.   They need to see their sin/uncleanness, in order to want God’s forgiveness/cleanness.

“I will welcome you” – God will accept us, for Jesus’ sake.   One day, He will welcome us into heaven’s perfection for the sake of our Savior.   (See Matthew 25:34-35)

6:18      “I will be your Father and You will be My sons and daughters” – see Matthew 7:11;   John 1:12;  

Romans 8:15-16;   I John 3:1.     What a wonderful privilege and assurance!   By His grace alone, God allows us to address Him as “our Father” (Matthew 6:9) and brings us undeserving sinners into His “family of faith” for all eternity.

            “the Lord Almighty” – the God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present.

7:1       “So then”  – Another important conclusion is coming on the basis of what has just been stated.

“since we have these promises” – The verb in Greek is in the present tense, indication that our possession is a continuous one.    The promises are the ones just stated in 2 Corinthians 6:16 and 18.   We sinners have been promised fellowship with the holy God for Jesus’s sake, and also fellowship with all His people who believe in Him.   Consequently, in the case of the Corinthians, they will want to cleanse themselves of any false fellowship with the Judaizers and any other false teachers, in order that they might live in a faithful fellowship with the Lord.

“dear friends” – even though they have not always treated Paul as a friend and brother in the faith, Paul regards them – weak though they are – as his fellow believers and friends in the true faith.

“let us cleanse ourselves from everything that defiles flesh and spirit” – The form of the verb in Greek is a “hortatory subjunctive” and the tense is “aorist” which indicates that a complete break with uncleanness needs to occur promptly.    “Flesh and spirit” refers to the outer man and the inner man….what we do (and what is seen by others) as well as what is inside….in our heads and hearts.    God expects us to keep clear of any- and everything that can negatively influence, contaminate, damage and even destroy faith.    Do you?

“as we seek to bring sanctification to its goal”  – “sanctification” means “the process of making holy/godly” and refers to the Christian’s continuing growth/progress in faith and faithful living.   The goal is perfection (Leviticus 19:12;   Matthew 5:48), which is unattainable here on earth, but will be granted to us in heaven.

“in the fear of God”  – “fear” here primarily refers to “respect and reverence” for God, but it also keeps in mind the awesome power God possesses to judge with hell those who refuse to believe in Him.   (Matthew 10:28)