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Thursday, September 12 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Gal. 5:22 [AMP]
In the next few weeks, we will be considering the fruit of the Spirit. It is very easy for anyone to “claim” they are living life by the Spirit as Paul admonished us to; but it’s only those who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit that are truly living life by the Spirit. In Matthew 7:16 (KJV) Jesus Christ said “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
It is also interesting to note that the Spirit produces ONLY ONE "symbolical" fruit as opposed to fruits that is generally quoted. It is a singular fruit that consists of graces such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; all these rich variety of graces, of conduct and character, are not isolated graces, but all connected, springing from one root and constituting an organic whole. The Amplified version refers to the fruit as “the result”, the Greek word that was used can be translated as “the harvest”. So, the result, product or the harvest of the Spirit within us is all of these graces.
Today, we shall be starting with the first of these graces called LOVE
Love is an attribute that spans across very many spectrums; it is also one attribute that is very easily confused. So, before delving into it, I will bring it to perspective.
The love referred to here is more than the one that stems from our emotions; it is one that is nonpartial and unconditional. It is Agape - the highest form of love!
It is firstly our love for God; and then our fellow man; a perfect and absolute guide for living life by the Spirit!
LOVE FOR GOD
Jesus revealed this in Matthew 22: 37-39 (KJV):
“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Emphasis mine
1 John 5:3 says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
Without this love for God, we will just be going through the motions and only fulfilling the law and ticking the boxes. We should deliberately cultivate and express this love regardless of who the recipient is, give it unconditionally. Not getting it back is not an excuse not to give it!
It is when we love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds that we are able to, without difficulty or the compulsion of law, share this love with others through acts of kindness and service.
LOVE FOR OURSELVES
It is important that we are able to love ourselves; Jesus was deliberate in making mention of us loving our neighbours as ourselves because you can’t give what you don’t have.
Psalm 139:14 (TPT) says: “I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
Ephesians 5:29a (TLB) says: “No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it,”
LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOUR
Without getting over spiritualized about this; our neighbour doesn’t necessarily have to live next door to us or in the same locality but anyone and everyone our paths cross in our day to day life! Your neighbour can therefore be a family member, a colleague at work; a superior, a subordinate, a client, a patient, a guest, a student, a teacher, a church member, etc.
This love translates to caring for others who are in need. It also means, not hating another or wishing them ill or harm. It is this love that forms the basis of “duty of care” (a moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or wellbeing of others). It is the love that expresses itself by giving. John 3:16a says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”
It is expressing the Father’s heart to others not because of what one wishes to receive in return but service to and for everyone in need, regardless! Romans 12:9a (NLT) admonishes us to love others genuinely. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”
Also, “passive love” does not exist! Love can only be seen by our actions! Here are the characteristcis of this love as spelt out in 1Cor.13:4 -7 (MSG)
Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” [NIV]
Luke 12:15: “And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” [KJV]
James 4:16: “As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil”
James 4:6b: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Matt. 20: 25-27: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”
Romans 10:12: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”
Prov. 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
1 Peter 4:8b “love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,”
Psalms 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night
Heb.10:36: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Prov. 3:5a: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Luke 9:62: “Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Matt.24:13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Romans 6:9: “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce a harvest of graces that the Law has nothing against but conforms to. The first of the graces is divine love in all its varied expressions. We see the attributes this divine love possesses in 1Cor.13:4 -7 (MSG) and why it is applicable in every facet of life. In church, at work, at home, everywhere.
Parts of this study was culled from: https://isekhua.wordpress.com/relevance-building-blocks/
Thursday, September 05 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study we looked at living our lives by the Spirit of God; where we examined how to live in the liberty of Christ and using this liberty in serving one another in love and walking in holiness. The contrary to living by the Spirit is living in the flesh. And that is what we will be considering in today’s study – being able to identify the acts and works so as to be able to avoid and or discard them when faced with them. Galatians 9:19-21 (AMP) says:
“19 Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behaviour, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Let’s read the same scripture in The Living Bible version:
“But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine, 21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Paul starts off by saying: " Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these" and then he lists them
What is the flesh?
Paul uses the word "flesh" to mean: "something that is totally human, with no special grace attached." In Paul's use of the term "flesh" in Galatians, he does not simply mean: "possessed of a physical body"; rather, he means: "limited to only a physical body and the physical strength it contains."
So the flesh is what you do in your own power, in your own strength, what you can do yourself - which is legalism. Legalism is anything that I think I can do in order to make myself more righteous before God. It is human achievement; it's a form of self-righteousness.
To walk after the flesh is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself. Doing all kinds of religious things in the flesh. The flesh can preach a sermon, sing songs of praise, pray, fast, etc.
Most humans do not spontaneously, naturally and consistently humble themselves to serve others in meekness and kindness. Matter of fact, right attitudes and actions do not come out of us as naturally as light and heat come out of the sun. We know they don't.
On the other hand, walking in the flesh takes almost no effort whatsoever on our part - it comes quite naturally. What takes constant hard work and diligence is walking by the Spirit.
What Paul was delivering here to the Galatian churches is that if the flesh is defined as our humanity, and as life without the power of the Spirit of God, then let us just look at humanity without God and ask ourselves: Where does humanity go if God isn't in the picture?
As people are just left to do it themselves, where do they go? Do they become more righteous? Do they become more moral? Or do they just drift away from God into sin? Paul is saying the answer to that question is pretty obvious: just look around.
The same applies to us today. "You know what the flesh produces, just look around." Look at every environment where God (and true worship) has been pulled out from and ask yourself: Is that environment becoming more righteous or less? Is it becoming more moral or less? (Romans 1:21-32)
(a) SEXUAL: The first three sins Paul listed could be categorized as sexual: immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control).
Immorality: Foremost among the acts of the flesh is immorality, this is from the Greek word porneia, which is often translated as fornication.
Impurity: It is a more general term than immorality, going beyond the act to the evil thoughts and intentions of the mind. It could refer to what we would call perverted forms of sex - homosexuality, child abuse, and various strange and kinky sexual practices.
Sensuality: It speaks of someone who flaunts their immorality ((total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), throwing off all restraint and having no sense of shame, propriety, or embarrassment.
We are often appalled at the sexual immorality of our day, but we should remember that the times Paul wrote in were as bad, if not worse. The purpose of Paul listing out these works of the flesh is for our realization and abstinence. Clearly, God's will for believers is sexual purity
Let's look at some of the Bible's exhortations against this sexual sin:
(b) RELIGIOUS idolatry, sorcery,
The next category is Religious sin and Paul mentions two:
Idolatry: Idolatry is the worship of something or someone other than the true God. Christians commit idolatry when they put anything ahead of God. When we put our careers, business or family before God, we commit idolatry. Some people make money their god. Anything that we put in the principal place of our lives other than God Himself is idolatry.
Sorcery: Sorcery is the use of magical arts, often in connection with idolatry. This sin attempts to do something that normal means cannot accomplish. It steps into the domain of mysteries and exploits occult powers to enter the supernatural.
(c) THE FALLEN NATURE: The next category is sins toward others comprising of a fairly long list of sins we are conversant with. The Living Bible version lists them out clearly, hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine,
Paul now lists sins toward others. Sins of faulty relationships flow naturally from the fallen nature of the sons of Adam. Non-believers may be cultured or refined, but they are unadulterated flesh. They cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). They do what comes naturally. They do not care whether it is right or wrong, religious or irreligious. Life is simple for non-believers, because all they have is flesh. Every believer has the same potential as a lost person, if he or she allows the sin capacity to operate without the power of the Spirit. Victory comes to the believer, not by changing his or her overt behaviour patterns, but by the counteracting power of the Spirit of God.
VERSE 21 - CONCLUSION
Sexual promiscuity in our day is less shocking than it once was. Homosexual sins are less outrageous. This is because sexual looseness has become pandemic through television and other forms of media. Most everyone in our culture grows immune to this deterioration of standards because of the sheer weight of non-Christian information and communication in our society.
Some Christians “practice” some of these sins at least mentally every day. There will be great shock at the judgment seat of Christ when Jesus will hand out very few rewards because they allowed themselves to fall prey to the deterioration of morality. We can hardly distinguish between the standards of believers and non-believers today. Carnal Christians characterized by moral corruption shall not inherit the Kingdom of God
This study was culled from: http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/galatians/5_22.htm and https://versebyversecommentary.com/galatians/galatians-520/
Thursday, August 29 2019
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
Introduction: Last week we looked at the issue of freedom as it relates to the message of Paul found in his letter to the church of Galatia. Now that we know we are free in Christ; how do we live? If we are not to live in the circumcision of Law, how will others see us different from the world? How can we display our faith in Christ through the Spirit to others so they will know that we are different than the rest? Today by the grace of God we shall endeavour to provide answers to these questions as we continue in this lesson.
Aim: The aim of this study is to examine how to live in the liberty of Jesus. Using liberty to love each other and using liberty to walk in holy living.
How to live in the liberty of Jesus
13 For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
2. (Vs 16-18) Using Liberty to Walk in Holy Living
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Conclusion: The triumphant Christian life is a life by the Spirit. It is to live in the liberty of Jesus. Our liberty must be used to love each other and not as an opportunity to sin. You as a believer must consciously walk in the Spirit and ensure that the words of God dwell in you richly so as not to fulfil the desires of the flesh.
Culled from Enduring Word Bible Commentary Galatians Chapter 5.
Friday, August 23 2019
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
INTRODUCTION: So far we have learnt about how Paul defended himself against the charges against his integrity and authority as an apostle while also writing some harsh words to those who bring lies (Chapters 1 and 2). Paul goes on to document the gospel revealed to him was God's intent from the beginning, tracing his documentation back to the promises of God to Abraham (Chapters 3 and 4) that they need nothing other than faith in Christ in order to be saved. Now, we will start to look at how Paul explains the aim of the gospel as true freedom, not only freedom from the Law but also from the bondage of sin. (Chapters 5 and 6).
THREE KEY WORDS (VS 1)
WARNING: Attention Drawn to The Warning About Circumcision (VS 2-6)
There are many various beliefs that some certain acts (i.e.: Baptism) can secure you a place in heaven and many do these things just to gain salvation which is not correct. The Galatian Christians looked at circumcision in a similar light and here Paul directly confronted the issue of circumcision. Circumcision was viewed as an act that lead to salvation (Act 15:1), which although painful and inconvenient, was a small price to pay to be more spiritual/saved. Vs 2 then highlights the point that if you believe all you needed to do for salvation is circumcision then you naturally will lack faith in Christ for salvation.
These days if an unbeliever is baptized, he or she won’t be any better off, or any worse off just because they are now baptized. However, when the Galatians performed the circumcision act, it carried with it much bigger consequences, but they did not seem to understand that. Circumcision then implied certain binding obligations.
Paul decided to focus on the issue of circumcision in these verses to point out the consequences of circumcision (highlighting that there is a high cost – Everything was in line to be lost by it and nothing was to be gained) as although maybe some of the Galatians have already practiced this act, there would have been others still thinking on whether or not to do it.
He begins vs 2 with “Listen! I, Paul, tell you this” trying to express the gravity of what the warnings he is about to pass on to the Galatians. The introductory words are used to shock the Galatians into a realization of the seriousness of circumcision which some might be contemplating on. Paul was in fact rebuking them for even contemplating the idea at all
In vs 3 Paul points out the fact that anyone who is circumcised is looking to establish their righteousness before God simply by keeping “laws” and no longer by faith. While in vs 4 Paul lets them know if they do then they have “been cut off from Christ” and “fallen from grace”. However, please note Paul’s teaching here does not indicate that anyone submitted to circumcision immediately lose their salvation but rather he is stressing the implications of circumcision (an acknowledgement that one is enslaving themselves under the law – turning from grace and setting aside Christ work which is wrong). Sometimes we do things when we are not fully aware of the terms and conditions and what Paul was doing here is making it clear to the Galatians that circumcision wasn’t just an act like they thought it carried far much more implications.
Vs 5 and 6 brings Paul’s arguments against submitting to circumcision to a close. Here he mentions two characteristics of Christian faith and practice.
ASSESSMENT: Consider the Apostolic Viewpoint (VS 7-12)
In verse 7 Paul moved on from the advice against circumcision to the people supporting circumcision. He started the verse by pointing out how the Galatian saints had once “run well,” but were no longer doing so. Something happened at some point which is now hindering them from obeying the truth they were well aware of before.
Paul then in verse 8 in trying to eliminate the source of the change in the Galatians points out the obvious truth that it was certainly not from God. This is very important, because when we Christians turn from the truth that we know to error (deciding to be disobedient), we almost always try to give God the credit or say God told me this is the way now (remember God NEVER changes! – Same yesterday, today and forevermore). Been deceived and trying to prove that they have seen a new truth and that their sins are sanctioned by God. That’s what Paul disregarded here making it plain that they had turned from the truth, openly giving out to them that God was not the author of their error but rather, their change had come from another source.
Paul uses the exact same expression he used in 1 Corinthians 5:6 in verse 9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul used it to express how letting a man’s moral sin go unchallenged was a corrupting influence on the entire church. The principle here is simple: what seems to be a little thing can do a lot of damage. Paul uses this phrase to show them how much damage a seemingly little thing (such as circumcision) can do.
Verse 10 is a display of Paul’s confidence in all of this. In trusting the Lord he is confident that they will not adopt a different gospel/teaching and he is also confident that God will deal justly with those confusing and causing trouble in the Galatian churches. Paul is confident of the destiny of the Galatian saints, because he knows without a doubt that it is God who has called them, and God is faithful to fulfil His purposes (Phil 1:6). Hence why Paul is so confident that God will deal in justice with those who lead others astray (2 Peter 2).
The principle in verse 11 is clear. The false teachers were teaching that Paul himself encouraged circumcision. After all Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised in Acts 16:3. Therefore, Paul had to disprove this claim by pointing out that he was still being persecuted. He was ridiculed because he did not preach circumcision. If he continued to preach circumcision, as he had done prior to his salvation, he would not be persecuted. The fact that he was still persecuted proved that he did not, as the false teachers implied or stated, preach circumcision.
Paul’s aim in verse 12 was to press the error of the false teachers who were teaching that circumcision contributed to a man’s righteousness. Surely if cutting off a little flesh is good, cutting off more flesh is even better. The words Paul used here “I would they would even cut themselves off” (NKJV) expresses his wish to the false teachers for God to judge them so that they will cause no more harm to the churches. Paul does not speak out of hatred, but out of a passion to the glory of God and for the good of his people.
Applying the above to this present days, some believe in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. To those who hold this doctrine, salvation cannot be obtained other than by means of baptism. Apart from changing the ritual from circumcision to baptism, this teaching does not differ from the above. There are other “rituals” which fall into this same category so let us beware of viewing some “rite” as the passageway into a higher spiritual standing!
Very simply, anyone who trusts in Christ has been set free. The Galatians were in danger of wasting that KNOWN freedom, by swerving off in one of two directions. We should do well to steer clear of any such deviations.
Thursday, August 15 2019
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
INTRODUCTION: In our last study, we considered and reiterated the truth that we (as believers in Jesus Christ) are children of God through our faith in Christ Jesus and not by our observance of the law given to Moses. We will continue in digging deeper into this truth as we consider the allegories between two distinct covenants, distinguishing the life of faith (freedom) from that of the flesh (bondage). This is key to successful Christian living under this current dispensation.
VERSES 8-11: “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”
According to Scripture, there are two kinds of people in the world: the free and the enslaved. The categories are not physical but spiritual. The free are those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, are no longer under the dominion of sin, guilt, condemnation, and death. Jesus purchased an eternal redemption from this spiritual bondage by his atoning sacrifice on the cross. And this glorious freedom is for all who put their trust in Christ (John 8:36).
On the other hand, those outside of Christ are in a state of spiritual bondage. This describes the natural condition of all of us. Because of sin, we are helpless to make ourselves right before God and escape his just judgment. Nothing we can do can atone for our past sin, and we are unable to do anything meeting God’s perfect standard of holiness. This is the bleak reality Jesus taught. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).
The apostle Paul tells the Galatians that, because God sent forth his Son into the world, they are no longer slaves but sons of God (4:4-7). And they have come into this freedom not on the basis of the good works they have done, but because they put their faith and trust in Christ as their Savior. Our justification, which is true liberty, is by faith alone.
But because false teachers have crept into the churches and have persuaded the Galatians they need to keep Jewish laws in order to be saved, Paul fears the Galatians may be losing the very freedom that the gospel promised.
VERSES 12-14: “Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.”
Become like me – This means to give up relying on works and self-righteousness like Paul had already done. See Philippians 3:4-10. They needed to realize what Paul already realized, that works could not save them.
For I have become as you are – 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul ministered among them. He adopted their customs, ate their food, stayed in their homes. He became like one of them to win them for Christ. He became like them (outwardly) so that they could become like him (inwardly).
Firstly, we should follow Paul’s ministry example. We should not be separate from those we minister to. We should make sure that our habits, language, and dress do not offend them. Secondly, we should remember the goal. Our goal is not just to fit in. We try to become like those we minister to (outwardly) as a mean to an end. The end goal is their salvation. We want them to become like us. We must therefore be careful that we only become like them outwardly and not inwardly. Some churches have attempted to become like the world to win the world. But if you become like the world then there is nothing left to win the world too because we aren’t any different than they are.
You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first – God uses all things to work together for good. Even suffering, illness, disasters, and disease are used by God to accomplish His purposes. At the time, Paul’s illness certainly wouldn’t have seemed like a good thing. It was obviously painful and inconvenient, painful enough to change his ministry plans. What good could come out of such agony? The answer is: a lot! The church at Galatians was evidently established because Paul went there to recover from his illness.
VERSES 15-20: “What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.”
VERSES 21-26: “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
VERSES 27-31: “For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.”
Therefore, spiritually speaking, Sarah is the mother of all Christians—of people whose lives are not merely the product of human resources but of God's supernatural work in their heart. Our real life is not, like Ishmael's, simply owing to the work of man. Our real life is owing to the work of God in us fulfilling his promise to make for himself a people (Genesis 12:1–3) and to put his Spirit within them (Ezekiel 36:27) and write his law on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
CONCLUSION: Finally, Paul concludes in verse 31 that we—that is, we who live by faith in the Son of God and don't rely on what we can achieve on our own—are not in the slave category but in the category of the free.
Thursday, August 01 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we looked at the relationship between the Law and the Promise and how Paul directed the attention of the Galatians to the enduring covenant that God made with Abraham and the temporary law that God gave to Moses. We learnt that Paul’s epistle to the Galatians and ultimately us was to make us fully appreciate the meaning and significance of Christ’s work of redemption.
In today’s study we see Paul continuing with the significant work Christ did by explaining further what it means to be God’s children through faith; and what the purpose of the Law was before Christ came.
VERSES 23-24: BEFORE FAITH CAME
“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. 24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”
Here we see the purpose of a loving God acting as a shepherd, protecting His people from the lions and wolves that would otherwise have them for lunch. As the Shepherd, He provided the law to keep us safe as sheep would be shut up in a sheep pen for the night with the shepherd guarding the entryway to keep them safe. Before Christ came, God gave the law to keep people from straying into dangerous territory so that they would be prepared “for the faith which should afterwards be revealed”—faith in Jesus.
A story is told of children who lived near a cliff. They couldn't go out to play because they were afraid of falling off the cliff. So one day the adults built a very high wall at the cliff's edge; so the children where now able to play without fear. Instead of restricting them, the wall liberated them!
So it was with the law. God gave it for the people’s protection. He gave the law as a mentor to guide the people of Israel as a way of preparing them for Christ. The law gave them a framework for moral behaviour, and the prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah. And when Christ came, he changed the emphasis from salvation by merit (an impossibility) to salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ.
VERSES 25-27: NOW THAT FAITH HAS COME
“And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.”
As born-again Christians, we respect the Jewish law, because we find great wisdom there. But we no longer look to the law for our salvation, but instead turn in faith to Christ.
When Paul talks about putting on Christ, he uses this clothing metaphor to describe a transformation that God has wrought in their lives. While clothing might seem merely external, as contrasted with a change of heart, Paul uses this clothing metaphor to describe a truly changed person. People who have put on Christ are new people—redeemed people—forgiven people—people whose demeanour and actions (external) reflect the fact that God has given them a new heart (internal).
VERSES 28-29: WE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
We are Now One: In verse 28, Paul mentions some of the many divisions that separate people—Jews vs. Greeks (Gentiles), slave vs. free, male vs. female. These are hardly the only major divisions that keep people apart. Paul doesn’t intend these three divisions (Jew vs. Greek, etc.) he cited as comprehensive, but rather as illustrative. Others include rich vs. poor, literate vs. illiterate, First World vs. Third World, black vs. brown vs. white, Asian vs. European, socialist vs. capitalist, the list goes on and on. The truth however is this:
In Christ, all the barriers that divide one person from the other person are rendered null and void.
This was what Jesus prayed about in John 17:20-21, 23. He prayed, not only for his disciples of that day,
“but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me…that they may be perfected into one”.
We are Now Heirs: In Genesis 22:18, God promised that through Abraham’s Seed all nations on earth will be blessed because Abraham obeyed Him.” Galatians 3: 16 says:
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”
The coming of Jesus, the “Seed” has made all Christians become “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.”
An heir a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death. One who has the legal right to an inheritance. The word promise is from the word epaggelia which suggests a gift rather than something that a person can win by hard work. In that sense, it is akin to the word grace, which is the free gift of salvation—something that God bestows on us rather than something we have earned.
CHAPTER 4:1-4: IMMATURE HEIRS
“Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world”.
Paul goes further to explain what he meant in Chapter 3: 23-29 and makes it even clearer to the Galatians. It is only until an heir is mature before they can have their inheritance. Before Christ came, we were like such immature children – slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world”.
VERSES 4-7: THE AMAZING PURPOSE WHY GOD SENT HIS SON
“4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father! 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
The reason that God sent his Son into the world (a human under the same circumstances as the commoner) was to accomplish two things. The first was “that he might redeem those who were under the law” (the Jewish people). The second was that “we might receive the adoption as children.” (You and I!)
Apart from our adoption into God’s family, being no longer slaves but God’s own children, He has also given us the gift of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba, Father!”
“Abba! Father!” is the kind of phrase that a small child would use for his/her father. It is a sign of God’s love that he permits this kind of intimacy, not just from the great saints, but from all saints.
Note that Paul used the word “you” (singular) instead of “we”
Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. This a very personal statement. It applies to each of the Christians to whom this letter is addressed; and to each of us who reads it today in faith. We are brought into proper relationship with God as individuals not en masse. Through faith in Christ we have been transformed from slaves to sons and daughters; adopted into God’s family and engrafted into God’s family tree.
The consequence of being a child of God is inheritance (v. 7). The Galatian believers had been told that they must be related to the descendants of Abraham through observance of the law in order to inherit the promises God made to Abraham. But Paul has now demonstrated how faith in Christ makes one a child of God and so an heir of God. None of us can make ourselves children or heirs of God. Only God can make slaves into sons and daughters, and sons and daughters into heirs. And we can only receive this gift by faith! Also, the promise of inheritance is the promise of the Spirit. (Gal.3:14b). “so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Our greatest inheritance is not only the abundance of things the Father gives us, but the character of his Son which the Spirit of his Son is forming within us.
Friday, July 26 2019
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: last week, Paul reminded the Galatian Churches that salvation was by faith and not by keeping the laws. He furthered his augment by pointing out the following facts;
a, they received the Holy Spirit by faith Gal.3:2-4
b, they experienced divers miracles by faith Gal.3:5
c, Abraham was justified by his faith Gal.3:6-9
d, they were redeemed from the curse of the law by faith Gal.3:10-14
This week, Paul directed their attention to the enduring covenant that God made with Abraham and the temporary law that God gave to Moses.
We need to understand that the epistles were given, or written, so that we might fully appreciate the meaning and significance of Christ’s work of redemption.
"Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
In verse 15, Paul used an example from Greek and Roman law. Wills are unalterable by anyone other than the person who made the will. The same is true in this case. God made a promise to Abraham and to his seed that he would receive an inheritance from God, among other things, a worldwide family according to Gen.12:3, 22:18;
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
In verse 16&17, It's important that we notice here that Christ is the recipient of the promise. It is to him as Abraham's seed that a family is promised. The Gentiles join Abraham's family via Christ, the seed, not via the law which came 430 years later. The problem with the law is not just that it came later and did not alter the already given promise. It's also that the law and promise are directly opposed just as works of the law and faith were.
When God makes a promise, it is not like promises humans make which are often broken. God’s promises are covenants. The law cannot cancel the promise. Since Abraham came prior to the law, one might fall under the false assumption that the law was written to add or to void the promise God made to Abraham (that through him all the nations will be blessed). Paul is clear to say that is
not the case.
Observing the works of the law was dividing Christ’s family into two family: Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, or the two groups: the circumcised and the uncircumcised
In verse 18, the inheritance of every believer in Christ comes through the promise given to Abraham, not through the law.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe
In verse 19, This brings us to the question: what was the point of the Law of Moses if it was not the means of justification? Paul’s short answer is that the law was added because of transgressions. What exactly does this mean? In Rom.5:20;
“Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
The law showed that the law does not curb sin and showed that the law is not the answer to the sin problem. The law simply showed all the sins Israel was committing. Some scholars suggest that Paul used the word “transgressions” (rather than “sin”) for good reason. Prior to the law, sin had existed, but sin was not revealed as a “transgression” until the law. In other words, the law reveals what sin is to us. It shows us that sin is a violation against God.
The law demonstrates man’s total sinfulness, our inability to please God by our own works, and our need for God’s mercy and grace. The law didn't free Israel from the power of sin, even though the sacrificial system was in place and did deal with sin in some limited sense. They, like all the rest were still under sin's power according to Rom.3:23.
In verse 21, The law is not contrary to the promises nor does it contradict them. The promise promises righteousness by faith (Gen.15:6), and the law paves the way to the one in whom we must put our faith. The law was necessary for Christ to fulfil it in our place (Matt.5:17-20). That was part of the promise, that one, The Seed (Jesus Christ), would come through whom we would all be blessed.
He would have to also take upon himself the punishment of the law that was reserved for transgressors according to 2 Corin.5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Then he became the Redeemer, the Saviour, in whom we could put our faith and be justified in him. Now we can say that we had fulfilled the requirements of law in Christ, if we are in Christ. There is no contradiction here at all between the law and the promise, they serve God’s ultimate purpose.
In verse 22, The scripture in Rom.3:23 brought every soul under sin through the law so that salvation can be by faith in Christ alone. All we have to do is acknowledge our need for the Saviour and put our faith in him. Yet the false teachers were actively teaching that the Galatian Churches must follow the law now that they have put their faith in Christ. It is like those who tell us that now that we are saved, we must work hard to maintain our salvation: now that we have received God’s grace, we must work hard to fulfil all that the Bible requires of us.
This does not mean that we do not live by the teachings of the Bible, but that we live by faith because we are in the image of God, and the Bible teachings is in sync with the Holy Spirit’s wishes for us who believe. 1 John 2:20 “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”
Wednesday, July 17 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study, we considered the conflict at Antioch and how Paul handled it. How he made nonsense of the logical conclusion of the circumcision party - that keeping the law was sufficient to justify a person – because this wasn’t true! Christ died for this reason! We also learnt that It is vital that we stand for the principles of our faith, even when others don't understand. And finally, that it is best to serve the Gospel without any cultural inclinations.
In today’s study, we see Paul directing his argument from the circumcision party to the Galatians as he demonstrates to the Galatians that salvation is by faith, not by the law.
1. PAUL’S PAIN AND OUTBURST (VERSE 1)
" Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has hypnotized you and cast an evil spell upon you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had waved a placard before you with a picture on it of Christ dying on the cross." Emphasis mine
"Foolish" is not a compliment. Paul used this word to describe the Galatians because they had abandoned what Paul had so clearly portrayed for them! If they were struggling with it initially Paul would not have been surprised; but they used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death clearly! It's almost as if someone had cast a spell on them, to result in such a change of understanding. Paul had made clear to them that Jesus' death and resurrection changed everything! Jesus fulfilled the law, which is now obsolete. Rather than the Galatians needing to be circumcised in order to be saved, they need only to put their faith in Christ's finished work on the cross. Faith, not law, is the order of the day.
2. RECEIVING THE SPIRIT (VERSES 2-5)
“2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by trying to keep the Jewish laws? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you heard about Christ and trusted him to save you. 3 Then have you gone completely crazy? For if trying to obey the Jewish laws never gave you spiritual life in the first place, why do you think that trying to obey them now will make you stronger Christians? 4 You have suffered so much for the Gospel. Now are you going to just throw it all overboard? I can hardly believe it! I ask you again, does God give you the power of the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you as a result of your trying to obey the Jewish laws? No, of course not. It is when you believe in Christ and fully trust him.”
Paul's first argument of faith rather than law is drawn from the Galatians' common experience of the Holy Spirit. His argument is simple. They had received the Holy Spirit long before the Judaizers came trying to get them to observe the Mosaic Law. Therefore, the Holy Spirit came through faith rather than the law. His argument rests on two inescapable truths: that receiving the Spirit was both:
The Galatians experienced the Holy Spirit in two ways:
3. ABRAHAM'S JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH (VERSES 6-9)
“Abraham had the same experience—God declared him fit for heaven only because he believed God’s promises. 7 You can see from this that the real children of Abraham are all the men of faith who truly trust in God. 8-9 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would save the Gentiles also, through their faith. God told Abraham about this long ago when he said, “I will bless those in every nation who trust in me as you do.” And so it is: all who trust in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received.” Emphasis mine
Paul's second argument for faith over law comes from Abraham, the Father of Faith. His argument is as follows:
4. THE LAW BRINGS A CURSE (VERSES 10-14)
“ Yes, and those who depend on the Jewish laws to save them are under God’s curse, for the Scriptures point out very clearly, “Cursed is everyone who at any time breaks a single one of these laws that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever win God’s favour by trying to keep the Jewish laws because God has said that the only way we can be right in his sight is by faith. As the prophet Habakkuk says it, “The man who finds life will find it through trusting God.” 12 How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says that a man is saved by obeying every law of God, without one slip. 13 But Christ has bought us out from under the doom of that impossible system by taking the curse for our wrongdoing upon himself. For it is written in the Scripture, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed” (as Jesus was hung upon a wooden cross). 14 Now God can bless the Gentiles, too, with this same blessing he promised to Abraham; and all of us as Christians can have the promised Holy Spirit through this faith.” Emphasis mine
Paul's third argument for salvation by faith rather than law is based on a concept of curses found in Deuteronomy 21:23. In this passage, Paul cites four verses and then argues from them, as might a rabbi, that Christ has freed us from the curse of the law on the basis of our faith. Here are the passages:
"'Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out. ‘Then all the people shall say, 'Amen!'"
"See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright -- but the righteous will live by his faith."
"Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD."
"If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."
Other versions of verse 13 use the word “Redeem” instead of the word “Bought”. Here, Paul uses the word "Redeem" as a commercial technical term hence TLB translates it as “Bought”. In the Old Testament, the word "redeem" came from the concept of a kinsman-redeemer, whose responsibility it was as kinsman to redeem his kin from difficulty or danger, to keep their property in the family in case of poverty, to redeem them from slavery if they lost their liberty due to debt.
When we talk about Christ redeeming us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, we get just a glimpse of what it cost the Holy One to bear upon himself our sin, "to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The cost both to the Father and to the Son can be seen in that lonesome lament from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 and Psalm 22:1). And hence, the reason why Paul needed to be as firm as he was with the Galatians.
We need to be careful with who we give audience and who we allow speak whatever kind of words over our lives! The Galatians initially used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death clearly! But their understanding had been darkened; and Paul needed once again to enlighten the eyes of their understanding. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!”
Parts of this study was culled from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/galatians/4_faith.htm
Thursday, July 11 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study we learnt about how Paul became accepted by the other apostles. We also learnt that we can serve together with believers of other viewpoints if we cooperate in areas we agree about. In today’s study, we will consider the conflict at Antioch and how Paul handled it.
First, let’s look at the background to this study. Paul and Barnabas have been labouring for years in Antioch to teach the new believers who had come to Christ out of paganism. There were many bonds of mutual love and caring. Peter, also, comes to Antioch to teach and mingles freely with the new believers. Then, some Jewish Christians, supposedly representing James, (Jesus ‘brother, head of the Jerusalem church), also came to check up on the progress of the mission in Antioch. But these men are strict in their observance of the kosher laws. They have special food prepared for them in the prescribed manner and won't eat meals with the new believers in the church.
THE JEWISH CHRISTIANS FROM JERUSALEM CAUSE SCHISM (VERSES 11-13)
" When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."
Paul opposes Peter to his face; not behind him, not by spreading gossip because Peter was clearly in the wrong! It was not because of a rumour Paul had heard or for reasons he didn’t understand or aware of. He was clearly being a hypocrite and before long, it wasn't just a small group of Jerusalem believers who withdrew table fellowship from the new Christians, but all the Jewish Christians were now eating separate from the non-Jewish Christians! Barnabas too! Notice the reason for the separation: Peter "was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group" (2:12b). Peter wasn't acting out of conviction but out of fear of being smeared by the law-keeping Jews who threaten to ruin his reputation as the leading apostle of the Christian movement. As Peter wasn't acting from conviction, then he was therefore guilty of hypocrisy -- saying one thing but doing another. And this was a time to oppose the action!
PAUL CHALLENGES PETER (VERSE 14)
“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Paul found himself to be the only Jew who would now eat and associate with the Gentiles in the Antioch church. The Jewish-Christian circumcision party from Jerusalem -- who as yet didn't really understand the gospel to the Gentiles -- had staged a full coup.
So, Paul publicly confronted the situation. He wasn't just being difficult. There is a possibility that he may have privately tried to reason the whole situation out without any success. But the influence of the "men from James" was too strong. If he didn't publicly confront the situation, the mission to the Gentiles would shrivel up and die. Basically, Paul calls Peter a hypocrite publicly, acting one way when he's with Gentiles only, and another way when members of the circumcision party from Jerusalem are around. It was a potentially dangerous thing to do. After all, they were the "insiders" and "original believers," while Paul was a "newcomer" to the faith. But Peter's blatant hypocrisy was so inexcusable that Paul apparently won the day. He not only won over Barnabas, but eventually Peter and the others, too, but it required going back to Jerusalem to hash it out -- and apparently that didn't take place until after Paul's First Missionary Journey.
BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (2:15-16)
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Next, Paul tells the Galatians the theological argument he used when confronting Peter and the others over their refusal to associate with the Gentiles. The primary theological issue is how a person is justified before God -- by the law or by faith. "Justified" is dikaioō, generally, "to render a favourable verdict, vindicate." Here, it means, "be acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous."
These Jewish believers accepted that Jesus died for their sins. The reason they still kept the law was because it was their culture, their way of life. But sometimes they would slip back into their old thinking that their observance of the law somehow was enough to make them right in God's eyes. But Paul's logic is relentless: if they need Jesus to die for their sins to make them right with God, to justify them, then it stood to reason that keeping the law had not justified them. They hadn't thought it through -- as many Christians haven't. Being good doesn't justify us or prepare us for heaven. We are saved by Jesus dying for our sins -- period! The law is good, but it doesn't save. It isn't the core of the gospel -- Jesus the Messiah is.
CHRIST'S DEATH FOR SIN LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD (2:17-18)
“But if, while we seek to be justified in Christ [by faith], we ourselves are found to be sinners, does that make Christ an advocate or promoter of our sin? Certainly not! For if I [or anyone else should] rebuild [through word or by practice] what I once tore down [the belief that observing the Law is essential for salvation], I prove myself to be a transgressor.” [AMP]
The inevitable conclusion of this line of thinking is, since they are trusting Christ for salvation, not the law, they are now on the same level before God as the Gentiles. Christ's death for our sins -- which all believers acknowledged -- puts us all on an even playing field. Thus, not associating with Gentiles is hypocrisy, a way of pretending we are better, rather than recognizing that we are all the same under grace. So, Paul is saying, if I now depend upon Christ for my justification, it suddenly makes me realize that I'm a sinner needing his justification, no longer a Jew that seems secure in being "righteous" within the covenant. I'm suddenly aware of my sin and vulnerability because of it. Does this mean that Christ somehow makes me a sinner where I wasn't one before? No. That's foolishness! For if I build again — By my sinful practice; the things which I destroyed — Or professed that I wished to destroy, by my preaching, or by my believing; I make myself a transgressor — I show that I act very inconsistently, building up again what I pretended I was pulling down. In other words, I show myself, not Christ, to be a transgressor; the whole blame lies on me, not on him or his gospel.
DYING TO THE LAW, CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST AND THE NEW LIFE (VERSES 19-20)
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
First, Paul introduces a new idea to this letter -- dying to the law. How did we "die to the law" through or "by means of" the law? What Paul was referring to is that he is forever dead to the legalistic and Pharisaic notion that he can save himself by devotion to keeping the law. He is now forever dead to a legalistic understanding of salvation. For him it is now grace -- all grace -- a grace he will not "set aside." Then he goes further to indicate being crucified with Christ, that Christ has redefined his life and entire motivational system. Where once he acted as if he directed his own life, now Paul sees that this old life is dead. His life in this physical body is energized by Christ and his Spirit and lived on the principle of faith in Christ as his Leader and Saviour. That's the overall idea. But now let's examine the pieces of this remarkable statement.
"Christ lives in me" is another piece of the compelling evidence that the law has been superseded by the Spirit that the Messiah sends. This is an amazing truth: Christ lives in us by his Spirit! This is more than Christ living in us in a figurative sense because we share his values. This is the Spirit of Christ actually living within our bodies. Amazing! And then he brings every believer to the realization that our “new lives” must be lived by faith in Jesus who died for us!
CONCLUSION (VERSE 21)
"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! "
We shall look at three parts in conclusion. First, Paul’s amazing conclusion of this section of his letter with a summary verse that combines in a single sentence his main themes: grace, righteousness (or justification), law, and Christ's death. The logical conclusion of the circumcision party was that keeping the law was sufficient to justify a person. But if this were true, says Paul, then Christ died needlessly.
Secondly, church politics can be ugly. We see that in Paul's day it was ugly too. What is however important is that Paul did not “wash” his hands of all church politics, instead he addressed issues where they existed. It is vital that we stand for the principles of our faith, even when others don't understand.
Finally, the root of the conflict in Antioch is a common issue of mixing the gospel with culture. We should be able to decipher between what the core gospel is, that we teach new believers and how much of our own culture we import into it when reaching out to other cultures. It is therefore best to serve the Gospel without any cultural inclinations.
Parts of this study was culled from http://www.jesuswalk.com/galatians/3_justified.htm
Thursday, July 04 2019
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
In our study last week, Apostle Paul gave a detailed account of his journey into salvation – the revelation of the Gospel he preached to the Gentiles, his zealousness when he was in Judaism, how the grace of God found him and made him the carrier of the gospel to the Gentiles, his period of preparation etc. So much to learn from this uniquely humble, yet fiery servant of the Most High God. We will continue in our study of the book of Galatians today as we learn some more life applicable lessons from the account of Apostle Paul during his visit to Jerusalem to meet with the reputable apostles.
Galatians 2 vs 1: “Then after a period of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem, [this time] with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.”
This probably refers to the events taking place during the Jerusalem Counsel. See Acts 15:1-2 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Paul and Barnabas disagreed greatly and debated with them, so it was determined that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others from their group would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders [and confer with them] concerning this issue.
About Titus - To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior (Titus 1:4 AMP)
About Barnabas - Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus, who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement) (Acts 4:36 AMP)
Galatians 2 vs 2: “I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a [divine] revelation, and I put before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so in private before those of reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run [the course of my ministry] in vain.”
To those who were of reputation – Namely Peter, James, and John. Remember that Paul is defending his apostleship. During this trip to Jerusalem, his stance on circumcision and legalism was at stake. He did not doubt that what he was preaching was true since it was revealed to him directly by God. It seems some of Paul’s attackers were claiming that these three apostles were real apostles, while Paul was not. The next few verses describe their conclusion on the gospel Paul was preaching. He didn’t need their endorsement since he knew what he was preaching was directly from Christ, but their endorsement would act to give “his gospel” more credibility in front of those false teachers and the church at large. The church in Jerusalem was still considered the Mother church by many and the apostles’ opinions who served there might sway some people who weren’t swayed by Paul.
Paul met privately with these three apostles. This was not because he wasn’t sure if the gospel he was preaching was genuine or not. It is clear that it was revealed to him directly by Christ and he was willing to stake everything on it. Instead he wanted to meet privately with these three, probably to make sure they agreed and would support him during the full counsel. During this first meeting he didn’t want everyone there with lots of opportunity for debate and/or disagreement. Instead he preferred to keep the circle small and limited to the leaders who would be deciding the issue (Let’s take a cue from this. Jesus did same. Sometimes, it’s wise to deliberate matters in a smaller gathering than in a bigger one, why?) This was an issue worth fighting for, and yet Paul realized there was a right way and a wrong way to fight for it. See 1 Corinthians 14:40 - Everything should be done decently (appropriately) and in an orderly fashion.
Galatians 2 vs 3: “But [all went well, for] not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, despite the fact that he was a Greek.”
Paul won a resounding victory. Titus was not compelled to be circumcized! Circumcision was a key issue among the Judaizers. They believed that one could not be saved without being circumcised. However, circumcision is a work. If circumcision was required for salvation, then salvation would at least be partially by good works. We must also realize today that salvation is not by good works. Some people almost equate baptism with salvation. They don’t believe that they are a true Christian until they have been baptized. If that were the case, we would be falling into the same trap of endorsing a type of good works salvation. The results of this teaching would have been devastating because;
Care must be taken by teachers of the Word to avoid this pitfall of salvation by good works.
Galatians 2 vs 4: “My concern was because of the false brothers [those people masquerading as Christians] who had been secretly smuggled in [to the community of believers]. They had slipped in to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us back into bondage [under the Law of Moses].”
The false brethren secretly brought in. Satan is sneaky and devious. He often doesn’t attack head on. Rather he sneaks and spies. His attacks tend to be more subtle. He still sends false teachers into the church. These don’t always identify themselves immediately. Sometimes they observe for a while. They blend in. Then when they think the time is right, they lay the snares. They promote division. Their goal was to enslave them to false teachings and ruin their Christian freedom.
We must always be alert. Satan has not given up. A wounded lion is the most dangerous kind. We must diligently study the Bible so that we can recognize false teaching. Beyond that, we must diligently stand up to and fight against false teaching wherever we see it.
Galatians 2vs5: “But we did not yield to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would continue to remain with you [in its purity].”
No compromise! For the sake of the gospel, Paul would not budge or compromise one inch. One might question why Paul didn’t just let Titus be circumcised. After all, it is not sinful to be circumcised. The problem is that if he gave in, the false teachers would take it as proof that circumcision was ALWAYS necessary. They would say even Paul required his disciples to be circumcised. Then the true gospel would be in danger of being forever tainted by a works-based foundation.
Application: There are many areas we can and should compromise. We should compromise when our personal preferences or convenience is at stake. For example, I shouldn’t always demand that my family eat what I like or go where I like. But on Biblical issues, where the Bible speaks clearly, we must not compromise. How do we balance Christian unity with no compromising on truth? Notice that Paul refused to compromise on a gospel essential issue. The entire gospel is at stake. We should not compromise on our Biblical convictions, but neither should we promote disunity or gravitate to conflict.
This is a difficult balance to maintain. Many believers go off on one side or the other. Some enjoy arguing. They will latch on to any disagreement with other believers, even on small issues, and argue about it. Their attitude is often prideful, and they will look down on others if they don’t agree with them. Their first solution to many problems is to divide and start their own group/church. Others prefer an ecumenical approach (encourage unity among Christian churches). They can seemingly accept any and every doctrine and position. Doctrinal issues are not very important to them. In turn, they may look down pridefully on those who emphasize doctrine. How can we balance these issues?
We can serve together with believers of other viewpoints if we cooperate in areas we agree about. For example, two believers with different viewpoints about speaking in tongues as one of the evidences of Holy Ghost baptism, can go out and share the gospel together. But it is not advisable to hold an end times seminar together with a believer who doesn’t believe in the rapture. We can still fellowship together and partner for some activities. Don’t compromise, but also be diligent to maintain unity. Ephesians 4:3. John 13:35. 2 Timothy 2:15. Perhaps humility is the most important ingredient for dealing with believers who embrace different doctrines.
Galatians 2vs6: “But from those who were of high reputation (whatever they were—in terms of individual importance—makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality—He is not impressed with the positions that people hold nor does He recognize distinctions such as fame or power)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me [that is, they had nothing to add to my gospel message nor did they impose any new requirements on me]”
Paul mentions their reputation not because he cares about it, but because some would respect and believe what the apostles in Jerusalem said. I would say that the apostles had very good credibility. Today, we should not believe something just because a famous preacher said it. It is not a good argument to say, “I believe…because Pastor Jones Swagalo said…” One huge point of the entire Protestant Reformation is that every person can come to the Bible, read it, understand it, and apply it on their own. God does not show favoritism. It is unhealthy to attach ourselves as followers of people. Paul was not happy with the Corinthian church because they divided into camps based on their favorite preacher. They said, “I am of Apollos” or “I am of Paul.” Neither should we identify ourselves based on which preacher or speaker we like. That would create problems and disunity.
Galatians 2vs7-8: “But on the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles), just as Peter had been [entrusted to proclaim the gospel] to the circumcised (Jews); (for He who worked effectively for Peter and empowered him in his ministry to the Jews also worked effectively for me and empowered me in my ministry to the Gentiles).”
What task has God entrusted you with? Do you know what God has called you to do? Have you been faithfully doing it this past week? We should be as clear in our own minds as Paul was in his what our calling is. This big picture goal can help you make decisions on little things. For example, if my calling is to train and equip believers for sharing the gospel and starting groups I would likely decline if the church asked me to become a choir member. We would do well to have a clear vision of how we believe God wants to use us. We must also learn to appreciate and encourage people to know and pursue their call and RESPECT their unique callings, regardless of how insignificant this may be perceived to be.
Galatians 2vs9: “And recognizing the grace [that God had] bestowed on me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars [of the Jerusalem church], gave to me and Barnabas the [c]right hand of fellowship, so that we could go to the Gentiles [with their blessing] and they to the circumcised (Jews).”
Remember that Paul’s point in all of this is defending his apostleship and the gospel he has been preaching. Here he notes that the pillars of the Jerusalem church agreed with him and extended to him the “right hand of fellowship.” This “represented a solemn vow of friendship and a mark of apostleship.” Clearly, they affirmed Paul as a true apostle and the gospel he preached as the true gospel. This is also confirmed in Acts 15.
Conclusion – Galatians 2vs10: “They asked only [one thing], that we remember the poor, the very thing I was also eager to do.”
Remember the poor. The poor are sometimes easy to forget. We get comfortable in our own worlds and don’t always think of those who are in less fortunate positions than we are. When we do think of them, we sometimes even blame them for their misfortune and say trite things like “he should work harder.” You don’t need to look far to realize this is an issue the Bible talks a lot about. Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 5:42, Luke 3:11.
Some parts of this study was culled from https://studyandobey.com/inductive-bible-study
Wednesday, July 03 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we saw the urgency with which Apostle Paul addressed the situation reported of the churches in Galatia. Where those who live by Jewish practices persuaded the Galatians to adopt Jewish practices—circumcision in particular. In the first few verses of chapter one, Paul rebuked the Galatians for their fickle turn away from the Gospel which they had been taught—and he pronounced a curse on those who had seduced them to observe Jewish practices or anyone who preached a contrary gospel for that matter. In today’s study, we see how he defends both his apostleship and the Gospel he preaches in the hope that what he writes will persuade the Galatians to forego the practice of observing Jewish law.
NOT BY MAN, BUT BY REVELATION – Verses 11 -12
“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Paul continued here by making it clear that the Gospel preached by him was not the product of human thought or human instruction. There were, of course, people involved in Paul’s conversion and maturing in the faith. After Jesus appeared to Saul (who later became known as Paul) on the road to Damascus, Jesus called Ananias to lay hands on Saul so that Saul could regain his sight and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:12-19). When Jews tried to kill Saul, disciples lowered him in a basket through a hole in the wall so that he might escape (Acts 9:23-25). In Jerusalem, where the disciples knew Saul’s reputation and were afraid of him, Barnabas served as Saul’s advocate so that Saul could proclaim the Gospel there (Acts 9:26-30).
The content of Saul’s preaching came through revelation of Jesus Christ. This revelation began on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, and continued thereafter. Paul had not learned his theology by sitting at the feet of more experienced apostles.
EXCEEDINGLY ZEALOUS, PRE-ENCOUNTER - Verses 13-14
“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. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”
Saul had been a persecutor of the church prior to seeing a vision of Jesus on the Damascus road. He had been present at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). He might or might not have been one of those throwing stones to kill Stephen, but he clearly approved of that action (Acts 8:1).
He “ravaged the assembly (church), entering into every house, and dragged both men and women off to prison” (Acts 8:3) and, “still breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
Saul’s reputation as a persecutor traveled quickly, and Jesus’ disciples feared him. See Acts 9:13-17 and 27-31).
CALLED BY GRACE, SENT TO THE GENTILES - Verses 15-17:
“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.”
Paul makes several important points here:
In verse 16b Paul established that the Gospel that he preached was the product of direct revelation rather than by sitting at the feet of more established Christian leaders in Jerusalem which was, for a time, the chief city for Christian disciples. It was where the church was established at Pentecost (Acts 2). It was where the Jerusalem Council met (Acts 15:1-35), and it was a gathering place for the church’s leadership.
Note that Paul speaks of “those who were apostles before I was”—not “the senior apostles.” He doesn’t speak of them disrespectfully, but neither does he speak of them reverently. They have their place in the church, and Paul has his. He felt no need to seek out their guidance and counsel, because he had learned what he needed to know through divine revelation. He also went on a personal retreat in Arabia located to the east and south of Damascus; seeking solitude to pray and to consider how he might proclaim the Gospel.
THE PERIOD OF PREPARATION - Verses 18-19
“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas (Peter) and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.”
Paul went to Jerusalem to visit Peter, who was the leading disciple/apostle from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through Acts 12. Paul’s point in telling of his visit to Arabia and the three-year time period was to tell his readers that he had been active in considering the revelation that God had given him—and what he would do with it. In other words, he didn’t visit Peter until his faith and understanding had matured.
But Paul could nevertheless profit from the time he spent with Peter. Peter had been one of Jesus’ first disciples (Matthew 4:18)—and remained with Jesus until Jesus’ ascension. Paul had not seen Jesus until after Jesus’ ascension, so Peter could relate details from his day-to-day walk with Jesus throughout Jesus’ ministry on earth. He also met James, the Lord’s brother. James was not a disciple of Jesus prior to the crucifixion and resurrection, but became a disciple and a leader of the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ ascension. As a measure of his importance, he was a decision-maker at the Jerusalem Council, and gave the final report of the Council’s findings (Acts 15:12-21). Paul refers to him as an apostle (Galatians 1:19).
THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AND AMAZING TESTIMONY - Verses 20-24
“I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.”
Paul knows that his opponents will challenge his account, so he adds this note about his truthfulness. Paul’s statement skirts on the edge of violating of Jesus’ injunction against oaths and vows (Matthew 5:33-37)—but it also shows Paul’s seriousness in defending himself. He and his readers understand that it would be a gross sin to make this kind of statement if it were not true. In his travels, Paul preached the Gospel on these visits, still depending on the revelation given him by God rather than other apostolic influence. Paul had met with Peter and James, but was unknown to the disciples of Judean churches. The disciples didn’t know Paul by sight (v. 22), but were aware of his reputation as a persecutor of the church. They glorified God for transforming the former persecutor into a disciple and an apostle.
This is a perfect example of a time for everything - a time to be silent and a time to speak. (Eccl.3:7b). This was a time to speak for Paul! When we evaluate what is at stake; we should not be afraid or ashamed or too “humble” to speak out! The churches in Galatia were not aware of the process Paul had gone through and his encounters with the Lord and other apostles that would rebuff his critics and give assurance to the Galatians of the authority he had in preaching to the Gentiles so he needed to write this letter. Paul’s motivation was clear. Knowing that the glory of Christ and people’s souls were at stake didn’t hold back even if it appeared that he was “blowing his trumpet”. If that’s what it would take to convince the churches in Galatia not to be led astray, he was ready to do it.
This study was culled from https://www.sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/galatians-111-24/
Wednesday, June 19 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Paul founded the Church in Galatia (modern Turkey) on his first missionary journey with Barnabas. (Acts 13-14). In Galatia, they found people eager to hear about Jesus but it really upset the local Jewish community. They were jealous. So they talked the authorities into throwing the apostles out of the area. Eventually the Apostles returned to their home base of Antioch in Syria for a breather. But news of the controversy got back to Jerusalem. Acts 15:1-2 tells us the story
“Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.”
While Paul and Barnabas made plans to travel to Jerusalem to resolve the issue with the other apostles, news arrived that some of these legalists had sent their own teachers to the new churches in Galatia and were causing havoc. They claimed that Paul had not shared the whole gospel. He’d left bits out like circumcision to make it more popular. These new teachers taught with the authority of an ancient and respected creed. They offered membership of the true people of God. They were ‘true sons of Abraham’, after all weren’t all the Apostles circumcised Jews? And Jesus as well? They were being offered membership of the historic church of Jerusalem, not some independent outfit led by a former renegade rabbi named Paul. They probably also said that Paul wasn’t a real Apostle. He hadn’t been picked by Jesus. He was just a self-appointed leader with no credibility and no credentials.
In today’s study, we will consider how Paul responded to this message in his letter to the Galatians
1. PAUL EXERTS HIS AUTHORITY (1:1-5)
There are three observations we can make about these opening verses:
“Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead - and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia”
Paul was not self-appointed. He was an apostle - that means ‘one who is sent’ - by Jesus the Son and God the Father.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”
Paul went ahead to introduce the heart of his message.
The Source of the Gospel - “according to the will of our God and Father”
The Heart of the Gospel - “Jesus gave himself for our sins”
The Purpose of the Gospel - “”to rescue us from the present evil age”
The Fruit of the Gospel - “Grace and peace to you”
“to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul’s motive was the glory of God. The hard words and the stinging rebuke and the scathing anathemas, which follow, were motivated by his passion for the glory of God. Paul exerts his authority. His ministry, his message, his motive. Now we see how:
2. PAUL EXPRESSES HIS DISAPPOINTMENT (VERSES 6-7)
“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. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Paul knew he needed to act very urgently; you will notice that in this letter there was no praise, no prayer, no thanksgiving, no commendation. Instead he went straight to dealing urgently with the matter at hand and sternly warning the churches in Galatia. He did this because he observed the following:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you” (Galatians 1:6)
The word for “desert” means to transfer your allegiance. It is a word used to describe a soldier who rebels against his commander, or deserts to the enemy. By adding to the gospel they were turning away from it (Acts 15:1). This is what marks off all the cults and ‘isms’ from authentic Christianity. They say ‘yes’ to Jesus but… then add their own beliefs or additional requirements.
But you cannot add to the finished work of Christ. “The work of Christ is a finished work; and the gospel of Christ is a gospel of free grace. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, without any adding of human works or merit. Our salvation is solely due to God’s gracious call.” To depart from the gospel is to desert God. For there is only one gospel. There is only one way back to God. Only through Jesus’ death in our place.
“Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
The word ‘pervert’ means to distort or reverse. This is what the false teachers were doing. They were reversing the flow of biblical revelation. They were taking these young believers back to the law of Moses; confusing them and reversing the gospel. They were leading people in the wrong direction; away from God. Paul inferred that perverting the gospel was synonymous to deserting God. Because in the Scriptures God has revealed Himself fully and finally in Jesus Christ. He died in our place.
You can’t add to it without taking away from it. Any message, any sermon, any book or article that adds to the finished work of Jesus is not only a perversion it’s a sign of a desertion. To add is to take away.
3. PAUL EXPOSES HIS ADVERSARIES (VERSES 8-10)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”
If Paul is astonished at the Galatian churches, he is outraged at these false teachers. Here we see Paul using some of the strongest language in the Bible. It was a universal condemnation with no exceptions. It equally applies to human teachers, angelic beings or even the apostle Paul himself. It was not an emotional outburst but an unmistakable condemnation.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The threat comes not just from those outside the Church but also from those who may be on the inside. It happened then and it happens today. If people can be made right with God through their faith, or their good works, through circumcision and obeying the mosaic rules, or offering animal sacrifices, or because of their race, then Jesus died for nothing. Paul declared his motive in the letter he wrote to the Corinthians.
“We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23)
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
This lesson was culled from: https://www.stephensizer.com/sermons/galatians1.htm
Saturday, June 15 2019
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Recap from the book of Ephesians: Last week we finished our studies in the book of Ephesians.
Paul, by the Holy Spirit, gave us deep insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. He dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.
Ephesians, more than any other book, presents the purpose and plan of God for the church. This book sets forth one of the clearest presentations on the relation between positional truth and experiencing positional truth in one’s life. We concluded with the revelation of God’s armour for every believer in Christ.
The book of Galatians is one of the books Apostle Paul wrote (Gal.6:11; See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!) to the Churches in respond to certain issues in the Churches. In this letter, Paul was addressing the confusion brought upon the Churches in the province of Galatia by the Jewish Christian who came from Jerusalem, teaching them about the necessity of incorporating Judaism with their faith in Christ. Gal.3:1-3;
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
The challenge was to help the believers to get a good understanding of the concept of the salvation we have by faith in the Messiah and the need for us to keep the commandments without depending on the works of the law for salvation.
The Author; Gal.1:1
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
It is very important to note that Paul who was converted from Judaism wrote this letter to the Churches in Galatia. It should also be noted that Paul was a Jew and was still practicing the Jewish traditions. We have proofs in the book of Acts that:
This implies that Paul would not have taught anything that was contrary to what Jesus had taught. We know what Jesus taught regarding the commandments. Matt.5:17-18;
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
We must study the Epistle to the Galatia Churches knowing that it was written by a well-educated Jewish scholar that had had a personal encounter with his Messiah. He was called as an apostle to the gentiles and knew the separation between the practice of Judaism and Christianity.
Since we have established the author, let us see what we know about the original recipients of the letter.
The Recipient; Gal. 1:2
“and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.”
According to the Gregory-Aland numbering, the epistle was dated to somewhere between 175-225 C.E.
It was written to a group of non-Jewish believers in Jesus (Gal 4:8, 5:2, 6:12). They resided in the Roman province of Galatia. The province of Galatia included cities like: Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia. These are today located in modern Turkey.
Province of Galatia
Since this was a Roman province, it is assumed that the epistle was written in Greek language. It is most likely that this epistle was not sent to one specific group of believers, but to a number of assemblies in the province/region. This is an interesting fact, as the rest of Paul’s epistles are all addressed to a specific assembly.
The Purpose of the Epistle; Gal.1:6-7
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
Paul felt the need to write this warning due to a group of people that came to the believers in the Churches of Galatia with a different gospel. They required them to be circumcised before they can become true believers. The major theme of this Epistle is a warning about the perversion of the gospel.
The Central Theme of the Epistle; Gal.3:29
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Paul was teaching the gentiles that they became part of Israel (blessing of Abraham) through their faith in the Messiah and not by circumcision or becoming a Jew by observing the law of Moses. Gal.2:3;
“Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
Paul explains that the gospel is not something he was taught, but something that was directly revealed to him by Christ. Thus, it is not the teaching of men. Therefore, he is so adamant that any other gospel, even from the angels, would be a false gospel. Gal.1:11-12;
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This epistle reveals the importance of context. If you want to get to the real meaning of a scripture, it is necessary to understand the why, when and who as well. It is easy to twist a piece of scripture to fit a specific doctrine. The Epistle to the Galatians is one of the prime examples of how the historical context shines a completely different light on the verses that we have read repeatedly.
It is also very important to get to know the author. If we know exactly who Paul is, and what he had written in his other works, it is a lot easier to see what he actually meant in this epistle to the Galatians.