Monday, August 5, 2013

Who's Your Boss by Martin Wiles

Galatians 1:1-5

The boss is an interesting individual. Some people like their boss and some do not. Some work harder when the boss is around than when he or she is absent. Many bosses are very difficult to work for while others are very laid back. The boss might be a gentle person or a hard-driving maniac. Whoever the boss is and whatever characteristics he may have, his employees are responsible to him. It does not matter whether you like his mannerisms or every decision he makes, he is the boss. You may appeal your case of disagreement, but the final word belongs to him. He is the boss. I suppose many have quit jobs because of their boss. Others have appealed to higher powers, if there are any, because of the actions of their boss. Some bosses sexually harass their employees. Others are completely ignored by their boss. We should have no trouble determining who the boss is though. I have worked some places where it seemed I had more bosses than I needed, but I knew who the boss was. He was the person I reported to. He was the person who made sure I performed all the functions of my job. He was the one who could terminate me if I performed poorly or did something I was not supposed to do.

Paul was keenly aware that his boss was God. It was not those Judaizers who were trying diligently to destroy his ministry. It was not the ones questioning his authority. It was not the ones destroying the doctrine he was teaching. God was his boss and had been since he met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. He had served him with determination since that day.

As Christians, we too should know who our boss is in spiritual matters. The boss is not the pastor, church, some teacher, an organizational leader or committee member. The boss is God. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. He is the one sent by God to give his life for the church. He is the head or boss, and we are the employees. He tells us what to do and expects us to do it. We have the freedom to disobey just as we do in a secular job. We also have to endure the consequences if we choose to do so. Because of who our boss is, there are some special privileges and responsibilities we have.

Paul claimed the authority of an apostle. God was the one who appointed him as an apostle. It was no human agent or agency who gave him this authority. An apostle is one sent with a commission, and God sent Paul with a commission. An apostle was an envoy, ambassador or messenger. Jesus Christ himself trained the apostle to proclaim the truth of the gospel. Thus in the technical sense, the only apostles were the original twelve. They were given power to heal and cast out demons as a sign of their divine authority.

In a wider sense, the title is used of men like Barnabas, Silas and Timothy. They were more specifically called messengers. Neither of the two references to these groups signaled any perpetuation. Their offices were not passed down to those who followed them.

This caused a problem for Paul. He was not one of the original twelve disciples. He had not walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry or seen him in his resurrected form. Because he had not seen the risen Christ after his resurrection, he had to explain his apostleship in ways they did not. Paul explained to the Corinthian church how he met the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. He was going there to arrest Christians, but he met the Lord instead. Through the godly prophet Ananias, the Lord declared Paul a special instrument to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles.

False teachers were accusing Paul of being self-appointed. If this was true, he would have no authority to teach or rule in the churches. But Paul's commission was no ordinary one. He was commissioned through Jesus Christ. After several years of preparation, God sent him to the Gentiles to proclaim God's love to them. He certainly had a vastly superior commissioning to the false teachers who were questioning his authority.

The work of the apostle in the early church was very important. They boldly claimed to speak and write in the name of God. They spoke to the church the doctrine of God. The apostles received their doctrine from God, and the church in turn received her doctrine from the apostles.

Because of who our boss is, we too have authority. We have not seen the risen Christ, but we have received a commission from the risen Lord. That commission is to spread his love throughout the world. We are to begin where we are and branch out from there. God commissions us to meet the needs of people and in the process show them his love. God gives gifts and talents, and we go out with authority equipped to do his work. We have the authority to proclaim the forgiveness of sins based on a person's repentance. We have the authority to say their sins are not forgiven based on their failure to repent. We have the authority to share with them their eternal destiny based on what decision they make.

I remember when I worked at Greenwood Mills. At one point, I was the head grader on third shift. There was no supervisor, so I was in charge. I had to supervise those who worked on that shift and in that department to make sure they did their job. I was not the boss, but the boss told me what I was supposed to do, and I was responsible to him for doing it. I did not have his authority, but he gave a certain amount of authority to me. I had a certain measure of authority because of my relationship with him. The same is true of the Christian. We are not the boss, but we have authority because of who our boss is.

Paul says the gospel he preached was not from humans. His message was not of human origin. It came from God. This made it authoritative. He received his message as a direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

The message concerned grace and peace. Grace is the source of salvation and peace is the result. We are saved by grace through faith. It is not by works but a gift from God. Grace takes care of our position while peace is the practical result. Both come from God the Father through Jesus Christ his Son.

The Judaizers attacked this message. The system of law they taught was an attempt to bind Christians under Jewish ceremonies and regulations that were now out of date because of Christ's work. If our salvation comes by works, as the false teachers were teaching, then it is not of grace. Grace and works are mutually exclusive. If it is not of grace then peace cannot come either. We can never know whether or not we have done enough good works to guarantee our eternally security.

By turning back to this legalistic system, the Galatians were ignoring the significance of the work of Christ. The heart of the gospel was forgiveness through the grace of Jesus Christ. To deny this was to destroy the gospel message. His death atoned for our sins. His ministry alone might have pointed people to a great and wonderful God, but unless he died for our sins it would not have benefited us. There was no way out of the power of sin apart from grace. There is no way to know reconciliation with God apart from the work of Christ.

The purpose of Jesus' work was to deliver from the bonds of sin. His death was a rescue mission. He would rescue us from the consequences of our sin through the offering of himself. The moment we accept him as Savior, he rescues us from the penalty of our sins. This is made evident in that all familiar verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  The Bible also says; “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12)

Perhaps many of you are familiar with the show Rescue 911. It is continuing stories of rescue efforts to deliver people from death, accidents and other similar situations. They have the authority to do this, and they are in the rescue business. Because God is our boss, we too are to rescue people from their bondage to sin by loving them in the name of Jesus and proclaiming his word to them.

Paul's motive for all he did for Jesus was for glory to come to God. He wanted no glory or praises himself. He wanted it all to go to God. This was his supreme purpose.

This too must be our purpose in our work for God. This is the attitude our boss would have us to adopt. If we seek the glory for ourselves, we are disobeying his orders. He must receive the glory from all we do for him.

Who is it that you are working for? If you are involved in the work of the church, God is the boss. No individual or committee controls his church. We must answer to him. He gives us authority to go out in his name to do his work. He equips us with the message of salvation that is able to deliver people from the chains of sin, and he expects us to do it all for his glory.

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