Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

Invention, Tradition or Revelation?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Galatians 1:6-7

Where did the gospel come from? Some people say that the gospel came from Paul—he invented it. Others would say that the gospel must have come from the church—it was handed down by tradition over the centuries. But if you’re going to stake your life on the gospel, you need to have confidence that it’s true…

The gospel did not come from Paul

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. Galatians 1:11

If Paul invented the gospel, if his teaching is an expression of his own thinking, then we have liberty to disagree with him. But Paul says emphatically, “The gospel I’m preaching is not a human invention.”

Paul reminds us of this plain fact of history—he once poured himself into opposing the gospel message that he now proclaimed: “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13).

Paul was once an enemy of the gospel, and since he openly opposed the gospel message before he began to proclaim it, it stands to reason that he could not have invented it!

The gospel did not come from the church

I want you to know, brothers, that… I did not receive [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it.  Galatians 1:11-12

Many people assume today that the gospel is a tradition of the church—that it has been distorted and manipulated in the interests of those who hold power. So you hear people saying, “Well, of course the church wrote the Bible.”

If it were true that the church wrote the Bible, then the task of each generation would be to update that teaching to fit the ever-changing needs of the church. Paul makes this quite clear here: “It did not come to me from the church. It is not a tradition to be developed adapted or changed.” It’s not the church that creates the gospel. It’s the gospel that creates the church.

The gospel came from Jesus Christ

I want you to know, brothers, that… I received [the gospel] by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12

The gospel came from the highest authority. Paul’s gospel came to him by revelation, directly from Jesus Christ. So, we can confidently affirm that the message of Paul is the message of Jesus.

You can stake your life on it

The problem addressed by the gospel is bigger than finding peace, building confidence, overcoming fear, or finding fulfillment. If the problem was internal to us, it might be possible to find an answer from a scientist, a psychologist, or maybe a theologian, or even a friend.

But the problem addressed by the gospel is that our planet is under the wrath of God. That’s why a message invented by Paul, or a message handed down to us by tradition would be of no use to us. It would leave us still under the curse and judgment of God!

If our problem is with God, only a gospel that is from God can help us. The reason the gospel is good news is that it’s from Jesus Christ. It comes from the highest authority, and that’s why you can stake your life on it.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Nov 12, 2006) called: “The Gospel is from God,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “Grasping the Gospel.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting UnlockingtheBible.org/LifeKEYS and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

Was Jesus Really One of Us?

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”  Luke 1:35

Was Jesus really one of us? Yes…and no. He was fully human like us, but he was also “the holy one.” Jesus is made like us in every respect except one. He’s without sin. Not only did he not commit any sins, but he was not even drawn to sin.

Man’s desperate struggle

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Romans 7:24

The apostle Paul was a man who desperately wanted to live a holy life, but the nature he inherited from his parents was far from holy. I have no doubt that his father and mother were respectable people. Paul was a Roman citizen, born into a privileged family. His parents educated him in the finest schools, and surrounded him with every advantage that they could give him in life.

They gave him everything he could ever want, but they could not give him holiness: “My nature gives me all kinds of struggles. If I try to pursue a holy and a God-centered life, I find myself swimming upstream, going against the flow,” he says. “I find that I’m in a battle against myself. How am I going to get free from this?”

Finally, a holy man

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:19

This struggle against sin that all of us are born with goes all the way back to Adam. But Christ breaks the chain. He takes our flesh, even though he is holy.

But if Christ doesn’t have the pull of sin ingrained in him, has he really taken our flesh? Is it possible to be fully human and yet never sin? Yes, this has always been God’s plan. Is it possible to be fully human and yet never die? Yes, this too has always been a part of God’s plan. And it would have been true of Adam and Eve, if sin had not entered the world.

Invitation to a new life

As far as his nature is concerned, Christ began where we will end. He entered at birth what we shall not enter until our death. But by his grace we shall at last end where be began “the holy one to be born.”

The enemy has no hold over him. Without sin, death has no hold over him. The only reason Jesus died was that he chose to lay down his life. Nobody could take it from him. He is the Son of God. He does not struggle to attain holiness. He is holy, and this is the life that he offers to you.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Mar 18, 2000) called: “The Manger,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “10 Keys for Unlocking the Bible.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

To receive the LifeKeys weekly eDevotional, scroll to the bottom of unlockingthebible.org and sign up.  You can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on facebook and twitter.

This Still Speaks To Us Today

Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire… the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.  Exodus 19:18–19

Have you ever wondered why God gave the law to Israel? What purpose, if any, does it serve for the Christian today? The starting place is to remember that the law of God was never a ladder for unsaved people to climb up to heaven. It was always a pattern of life for God’s people who had been saved from judgment by the blood of the lamb.

Why keep the law?

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Exodus 20:2

God said these words before he delivered the 10 Commandments to God’s people. He was not saying, “I’m giving you these commandments, so that by keeping them you may become my people.” He was saying, “I am giving you these commandments, because you are my people.”

The message of the law to us today is not that we must keep these laws in order to be saved, but rather that because we are saved, we should keep these laws. The law tells us how people who belong to God ought to live.

Misunderstanding the Bible

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Romans 6:15

Some people had the idea that in the Old Testament God tried to save people by getting them to keep the law. But then He found that people couldn’t do this, so he came up with a better way of saving people through Jesus Christ.

If this were true, we would conclude that the Old Testament is a book of law and the New Testament is a book of grace, therefore the Old Testament has nothing to do with us because we’re not under law, we’re under grace. But that’s a complete misunderstanding of the Bible.

 The grace of God

“I will put enmity between you and the women, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

God promised a redeemer on the very day that sin entered the world. The whole Bible is a book of grace. God has one plan from beginning to end, and it all fits together. God has always saved his people by grace and through faith.

The law is specifically given to people who have experienced the grace of God and have become his people, and for this reason it still speaks to us today.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Feb 6, 2000) called: “The Law,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “10 Keys for Unlocking the Bible.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting UnlockingtheBible.org/LifeKEYS and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

What It Means to Walk With God

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the dayGenesis 3:8

God is Spirit. He’s invisible. So, how is it that we can “know” him? Right from the beginning of the bible story, God has been reaching out to make himself known. That’s why He made himself visible, “walking” with Adam in the garden. 

God’s desire for fellowship

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name ‘Immanuel’ (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

We call each appearance of God in visible form a “theophany.” The Old Testament has many examples of this, but in the New Testament the Son of God becomes a man, so it should not seem strange that he should appear in a visible form here. These appearances show us God’s intense desire to establish fellowship with man. 

It is almost as if the Son of God could not wait to come. He burst out of heaven, entering human space and time, so he could walk with the first man and woman in the garden. Adam and Eve heard the crackling of twigs and the rustling of leaves. They walked with the Son of God in Eden as surely as Peter, James, and John would walk with the Son of God in Galilee.

We have access to God

As Adam and Eve walked with God, they asked questions and enjoyed conversation. Can you imagine what this must have been like? God was interested in what Adam had done during the day, and He listened to what was on Eve’s mind. God also spoke with them. The man and the woman were walking in fellowship with God.

When God appears visibly to Adam and Eve, he does for them what he does invisibly for all his people. We cannot see God, but when we come to him in faith, Jesus Christ gives us access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). This is God’s way of creating a relationship with you.  His presence is as real as it was when he appeared in visible form to Adam. Think about that next time you pray.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Jan 2, 2000) called: “The Garden – Part 1,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “10 Keys for Unlocking the Bible.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting UnlockingtheBible.org/LifeKEYS and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago. Before coming to the United States in 1996, Colin served as Senior Pastor of the Enfield Evangelical Free Church in London for 16 years. He is heard daily on the radio broadcast Unlocking the Bible, speaks regularly at preaching conferences, and is the author of more than two dozen books and booklets. Follow Pastor Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS, and Unlocking the Bible @UnlckngtheBible.

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