Summary: What does it really mean to be crucified with Christ?
One of the reasons some Christians keep changing churches is that they can’t seem to get along with anyone. Maybe they don’t like the preacher or the minister of music, or the deacons.
A ship captain sailing through the South Pacific saw smoke rising from a little island. When he arrived he found a man who had been stranded there alone for ten years. As they were preparing to rescue him, the captain noticed there were three grass huts built near the beach. He said, “What are those three grass huts?” The man said, “Oh, I live in one of them, and, since I’m a Baptist, the other one is where I go to church.” The captain said, “What about the third hut?” The Baptist said, “Oh, that’s where I USED to go to church.”
Some people can’t even get along with themselves! Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Galatia, the area of Southern Turkey, to warn them about divisive people who had infiltrated their ranks. Paul had founded the churches preaching the simple Gospel of Grace, “For by grace we are saved by faith, not of works, lest any person could boast.” But false teachers had invaded the church and were adding works to grace. They demanded these Gentile believers become full-blooded Jews before they could be saved.
Paul wrote this strong-worded letter to reinforce the gospel of grace: Jesus plus nothing equals salvation. He warned them NOT to stray from the grace-way.
Galatians 6:11-15. “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.”
We believe Paul dictated his letters to an assistant, but as he came to the conclusion of this letter, he wrote the words himself. Some of his enemies questioned his authority or whether this letter actually came from Paul, so this is his way of signing his name. Why did he use such large letters? We know from chapter 4 that Paul had some kind of eye problem, either an eye disease or an eye injury from his numerous stonings and beatings. So, his eyesight might have been so poor that he had to use large letters. Or it might have been as simple as Paul wanting to really emphasize his final comments. We still do the same thing: When we want to say something really important we use a larger font.
When I introduced the title of this message you might have visualized the three crosses at Calvary, the central cross of Jesus, and the two crosses on either side where the two thieves died. But this verse is about only one cross, the cross of Jesus, but there are three different crucifixions.
Let’s examine Galatians 6:14 again: “May I never boast except in (1) the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, (that’s the first crucifixion) through which (2) the world has been crucified, (there’s the second crucifixion) and (3) I (have been crucified) to the world.” (There’s the third.)
Let me tell you the true story of a young songwriter named Isaac. Back in ‘92 he was an 18-year old pastor’s kid who grew up attending church every Sunday. He loved the Lord, but he thought the music at church was awful. It was slow and sad, and hardly any young people sang. Isaac was fed up with it, so he finally complained to his dad. He said, “Dad, the music at church stinks. When are we going to sing some new songs?” His dad said, “Son, if you think you can do better, why don’t you write some new songs for church?” So that’s exactly what Isaac did that week. He wrote two new songs for the next Sunday. When they sang them, there was a mixed reaction. Many of the older people hated it. But most of the young people were inspired and so Isaac kept on writing new songs.
But I’m not talking about 1992; I’m talking about the year 1692. That’s when Isaac Watts started writing hymns. Eventually he wrote over 600 songs of praise including “Joy to the World.” Before Isaac Watts, the only music in church was the singing or chanting the Psalms. Young Isaac introduced a revolutionary, but controversial, style of writing words that didn’t come right out of the Bible. For most his life, his music was considered too radical to be sung in churches.